Music

Marty Balin’s influence on rock & roll both in front of the mike and behind the scenes was enormous. He soared to fame during the summer of love as one of the main singer-songwriters for Jefferson Airplane. He passed away over the weekend in Tampa, FL, where had had made his home. The cause of death is, at this time, unknown

Born Martyn Buchwald in Cincinnati, Balin got interested in music at an early age. He recorded two singles in 1962 for the small Challenge Records label. It was that label that changed his name to Marty Balin.

Relocating to San Francisco, Balin hooked up with musicians Paul Kantner, Skip Spence, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen and Signe Anderson in 1965. That same year, he and some partners also opened the hugely influential Matrix nightclub that was a launch pad for many Bay Area groups including the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Steppenwolf.

Jefferson Airplane became the first of those San Francisco groups to land a contract with a major label, recording their first album for RCA in 1966. Ms. Anderson, one of the Airplane’s lead singers became pregnant and left the band. She was replaced by Grace Slick. Drummer Spence also left and was replaced by Spencer Dryden.

It was the Airplane’s second album, “Surrealistic Pillow,” that catapulted them to superstardom. While Balin was sharing most of the lead vocal duties with Slick, it was Slick’s songs that became the group’s first hits. From then on, the media tended to focus their attention on Slick and who could blame them? In addition to her powerhouse vocals, she was also an extremely good-looking young woman. Tensions within the band escalated until Balin left in 1971.

The band then renamed themselves Jefferson Starship and continued along. By 1975, Balin had rejoined his old group; and this time, it was his songs that led to their biggest chart successes – “Miracles” “Count on Me,” “Runaway” and “With Your Love.”

Balin left the group again in 1978 avoiding the band’s slide into corporate rock as simply Starship in the 80s.

Balin recorded some solo albums and appeared with his former bandmates in various aggregations, including a full-fledged Jefferson Airplane reunion tour in 1989 and with a reincarnation of Jefferson Starship in the 90’s.

He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and was still writing and singing right into this year.

Simon & Garfunkel achieved a phenomenal level of success with a minimal number of albums. The boys released just 5 studio albums during the 1960s and none of them were a live album.

It wasn’t planned that way. The duo had several of their shows recorded, but those recordings went unreleased for several years.

If you are a fan of Paul & Artie (and what Baby Boomer isn’t?), here is a list of all the official releases of their live albums:

Live from New York City, 1967 – This could’ve been their first live album, recorded at Philharmonic Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City on January 22, 1967. This was right before the release of the movie, The Graduate, that really catapulted them to the upper echelons of rock acts.

As such, it contains live versions of many of their earlier album tracks as well as a handful of tunes they never recorded in the studio.

For whatever reason, this album sat on the shelf for years. Five songs from the concert were included on a Simon & Garfunkel box set that was released in 1997.

When the live album was finally released in 2002, 35 years after its recording, one of the songs used on the box set (“Red Rubber Ball”) was omitted.

Live 1969 – The duo went on tour just after recording, but prior to the release of Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Columbia recorded many of these shows with the thought that they would finally release a live Simon & Garfunkel album. Why this album was shelved, no one is saying. Perhaps the fact that Simon & Garfunkel quickly went their separate ways after Bridge Over Troubled Waters decreased Columbia Records’ enthusiasm for the project.

Two of the songs from this album were the first live material released when “For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her” and “Kathy’s Song” showed up on 1972’s “Simon & Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits.”

The album finally had its first public release as a Starbucks-exclusive CD in 2008 before receiving a wide general release in 2009. It was also included as the second disc in a 2-CD reissue with Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

The Concert for Central Park – The third attempt at a live recording was actually the first to be released.  It was recorded in 1981 when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel had decided to reunite for a special benefit concert. The show in Central Park attracted more than 500,000 people. and was video-taped for HBO. A double album of the concert was released in 1982.

The success of this event led to Paul and Artie reuniting on a world tour and starting work on a new studio album. But the old tensions re-emerged and Simon had Garfunkel’s vocal tracks erased, releasing the album, titled Hearts and Bones, as a solo effort.

Old Friends: Live on Stage – The boys patched up their differences and embarked on another reunion tour in 2003. This album is compiled from a series of shows they performed at Madison Square Garden that year. This set is unique because it also features the Everly Brothers as special guests. Obviously, a huge influence on Simon & Garfunkel, Don & Phil performed a couple of their classic tunes and then joined Paul and Artie on “Bye-Bye Love” (which S&G had previously recorded for their Bridge Over Troubled Waters LP). The Everly Brothers solo songs do not appear on the CD, but are included on a DVD version of this release. This release also features one new Simon & Garfunkel studio song, “Citizen of the Planet,” a tune Simon wrote in 1980’s, but did not complete with Garfunkel until the time of this tour.

So, there you have it. Simon & Garfunkel have now released almost as many live albums as studio albums. Have fun listening!

We are in the process of installing a new music player and switching to a new streaming service. We hope to have the music up and running as soon as possible! Thank you for understanding!

In the very early days of rock & rioll music, magazines like 16 and Tiger Beat were the ONLY rock journalism you could find. We've come into position of a comendium of articles from 16's glory days (under the direction of Gloria Stavers) and we will be reprinting these vintage pieces from time to time.

 

We talk quite a bit about essential rock albums every self-respecting Baby Boomer should own, but in this age of giant flat screen TVs and surround system, let’s take a look at  10 Rock & Roll DVDs that should be in your collection!

  • A Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles) – It all starts here. With this low budget, black & white movie, the Fab Four (and director Richard Lester) completely re-wrote the rules what a rock film should be. Generally credited with creating the art form that came to be known as the music video.

  • Stop Making Sense (Talking Heads) – Director Jonathan Demme captures the Talking Heads at their very peak and had the good sense not to overwhelm the movie audience with a lot of flashy camera work. Instead, he keeps his shots and editing tight and lets the band overwhelm you. The film also pioneered digital audio, so the music sounds amazing.

The revival of interest in the music of the late 1950s and early 1960s that occurred in the mid-1970s hit Great Britain even harder than it did America. Bands like The Rubettes, Showaddywaddy and Wizzard scored huge hits on the UK charts with modern updatings of early rock sounds.

Here in the States, the hits were harder to come by, but one British import not only cracked the U.S. market, it became a bigger hit here than in its native England. The record was a tribute to the Beach Boys and the early 60’s surf music called “Beach Baby.” The artists behind the record were known in the UK as The First Class. In America, “the” was dropped and DJ’s simply called them First Class.

What’s the real story behind he song?

The True Stories Behind Rock’s “1-and-Done” Classics

“Angel of the Morning” (1968)

As is often the case with 1-Hit Wonders, the composer and producers of “Angel of the Morning” actually had long, successful careers, even if the Turnabouts did not.

The song was written by Chip Taylor, the same many who gave us “Wild Thing,” “I Can’t Let Go” and others. He has said the line “There be no strings to bind your hands, not if my love can’t bind your heart” came to him out of the blue one morning. Within ten minutes, he had written the entire song.

He hoped the song would be the breakout single for a young lady named Evie Sands. But Evie would have a career filled with near misses. The small label that produced her version of “Angel of the Morning” went belly-up shortly after they released it. With no push from the label, the song died a swift death.

At this point, Paul Revere of “and the Raiders” fame enters the story. Revere had been pushing a Seattle band he believed in, Merilee Rush and the Turnabouts.  Revere secured them a recording deal with hitmakers Tommy Cogbill and Chips Moman. They gave “Angel of the Morning” to Merilee and her band and that version quickly became a million-selling hit.

Sadly, Merilee never cracked the Top 40 again although she continued to perform for many years.

One other interesting note, the Turnabouts guitarist Carl Wilson (no, not the Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys) eventually hooked up with two sisters named Anne & Nancy Wilson and helped them form a band called Heart.

While everybody regards “Respect” as Aretha Franklin’s signature song, it didn’t start out that way.

The song was written and first recorded by Otis Redding in 1965. A solid tune, it hit the top 10 on the R&B charts and the Top 40 on the pop charts, but it was a typical anthem of male posturing – I’ll buy you anything you want if your respect me when I come home.

Just two years after Otis’ version, Aretha was looking to follow-up her first hit single. After over 10 years of trying, she had finally scored a top 10 success with “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” in early 1967. She heard “Respect” and thought, with a little work, it might be perfect for her.

So, she and her sister Carolyn began reworking some of the lyrics to bring the song around to a female point of view. The first line: “What you want, honey, you got it” became “What you want, baby, I got it!” Now it wasn’t about buying your sweetheart something material, but about the things a woman would give to her man IF he showed her some respect.” They also added the gimmick of spelling out the word: “R-E-S-P-E-C-T,” which proved to be the thing most people remembered about the song.
During the recording session headed by master producer Jerry Wexler, Aretha also threw in the “sock it to me” and “TCB” ad libs that added to the song’s energy.

Behind the scenes, Ms. Franklin was in the midst of a troubled marriage that would eventually dissolve in 1969. Most rock historians think that added fuel to Aretha’s no-holds-barred performance.

The song, of course, became a monster hit, Aretha’s first #1 and firmly established her preeminence among female R&B singers. It also was adopted as an anthem in the feminist movement that was just getting underway as the 1960s drew to a close.

In music circles, Aretha has had nothing by r-e-s-p-e-c-t ever since.

One of the most iconic of all surf instrumentals, “Wipe Out” by the Safaris, almost never came to be.

The song was composed and recorded on the spot when the band was in the Pal Recording studio in Cucamonga, California. The lads thought their first big smash would be “Surfer Joe,” but they needed something for the single’s B-side.

The band members, Bob Berryhill, Pat Connolly, Jim Fuller and Ron Wilson, launched into an enthusiastic bit of a jam, keyed by Wilson’s energetic drum solo. In keeping with the surf theme of the A-side, the boys christened the tune “Wipe Out” after the term surfers used when one of their own fell off their board in an often-painful way.

For a finishing touch, the band added a sound effect they thought sounded like a surfboard breaking up as well as a maniacal laugh and the expression “wipe out” voiced by the group’s manager, Dale Smallin.

To theSafaris’ surprise, “Surfer Joe” failed to get much airplay. But their throwaway instrumental proved to be a different story. Although the single was released by the tiny DFS label, it attracted the attention of Dot Records, a national label. They bought the rights to the single and released it in the summer of 1963. By fall, it had climbed all the way to #2 on the charts, selling well over a million copies. Even more amazing, the song returned to the Top 20 just 3 years later, reaching #16 in 1966.

It sold still more copies when it was featured on the soundtrack of the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

Unfortunately, the band was never able to duplicate their initial success. They released only 4 other singles and were soon “gone with the wave.”

But for Baby Boomers, there was once only one true test of a great drummer – could he play the drum solo from “Wipe Out?”

It happened again last week. We read an account of The Bee Gees’ career by a noted “music historian” that repeated the lie. The farther away we get from this time in music history, the more urgent it becomes to set the record straight.

What is the lie?

Glad you asked. The lie is that the Bee Gees were washed-up and desperate before they wrote the soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever.

Poppycock! Balderdash! And other archaic exclamations!

Yes, the Bee Gees’ career (like many other bands – see also, “The Beach Boys”) had ups and down, but here is the true story…

Two new CDs may be of interest to Baby Boomers. They are both 2-disc live recordings. The first is a bit of a time capsule. The second is a more recent recording capturing one of rock’s great singer/songwriter/producers running through bravura versions of his greatest hits.

The Who Live at the Fillmore East 1968 was supposed to be released back in the day as the band’s follow-up to The Who Sell Out and before their massive breakout LP, Tommy. Recorded during a two-night stand at NYC’s Fillmore (the shows were the first by a British act at that venue), the tapes sat on the shelf for years due to audio problems. The first couple of songs were not satisfactorily recorded on either night. But thanks to modern technology, the surviving tapes were cleaned up and we now have the shows just in time for their 50th anniversary.

This is still the raw, energetic Who before superstardom overtook them. You get two Eddie Cochran covers (the perennial Who concert fave “Summertime Blues” and the much less heard “C’mon Everybody"). You also get two songs from The Who Sell Out as well as an extended version of their first “mini-opera” “A Quick One.”

The second disc captures a tremendous 30-minute version of “My Generation” that concludes with the guitar smashing and drum kit destruction that was the band’s calling card back in the day.

The other new release is from Jeff Lynne, Wembley or Bust, featuring his newly constituted group Jeff Lynne’s ELO. For various reasons, Lynne does not use the full Electric Light Orchestra name. Just as well, as Lynne is the only original member present. But as he was the composer, lead singer, arranger and producer for all of the band’s albums, we doubt you’ll notice the difference.

If you had heard that ELO was not as big in their native England as in the States, don’t believe it. This 2-disc set was recorded in June of 2017 at sold-out shows in London’s Wembley Stadium. You’ll hear tens of thousands of Brits applauding and singing along as Lynne and his cohorts roar through a set that includes ELO’s very first song “10538 Overture” right up to a selection from ELO’s comeback album Alone in the Universe. Lynne also manages to squeeze in one of the tunes he wrote and recorded with the Traveling Wilburys (“Handle With Care”) and yes, he does perform the title track from Xanadu, the movie that ended Olivia Newton John’s acting career. Too bad it was such a cheesy movie because the title song is a pretty good little rocker.

One minor quibble: each of the tracks on the CDs fade out at the end rather than flowing one into another as they would at the live show.

However, as an added bonus, the set does include a Blu-Ray disc of the live show and on video, the concert is presented without fade outs.

If you are fan of either band or both bands, these two releases come highly recommended!

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