Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Tracey Ullman - You Broke My Heart In 17 Places

Before she got into her comedy career on television and film, Tracey Ullman was a singer and dancer in a number of West End musicals in London. Stiff Records label found her style interesting and released her debut album You Broke My Heart In 17 Places on November 25th of 1983. The album peaked at number 14 on the UK charts; three of the singles also scored well on the UK charts. In the US, the album went to number 34 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Foster the People - Torches

A trio of guys from Los Angeles, California, formed an indie pop band in 2009. Together, Mark Foster (vocals, keyboards, guitar), Cubbie Fink (bass and backing vocals), and Mark Pontius (percussion) are Foster the People.

After a three song, self-title debut EP in January of 2011, they released their first full length album Torches in May of 2011. The album hit number 18 in New Zealand, number 13 in Ireland, number 12 in the UK, number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 1 on the US Alternative, US Mainstream Rock and the Australian charts.

Happy Birthday, Cindy Wilson

Today (February 28th) is the fifty-fifth birthday Cynthia Leigh Wilson, vocalist and founding member of the Athens, Georgia, party band the B-52’s.

Cindy was working as a waitress at age 19 when she and her old brother Ricky joined up with other local musicians for a little jam session. On Valentine’s Day in 1977, they played their first concert for a party for friends. And thus the B-52’s were born.

Monday, February 27, 2012

DVD: Santana - Live At Montreux 2011

Just released by Eagle Rock Entertainment is a two-disk DVD set of a live performance by Santana, recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, in July of 2011.

The show and Santana go together like peanut butter and jelly. The Santana band got its big break by playing Woodstock in 1969. Two years earlier, Claude Nobs established the Montreux Jazz Festival, an annual celebration of music from around the world.

The two came together when Carlos Santana played the festival in 1970, and that was the beginning of a long standing relationship.

Willie Nelson - Always on My Mind

On February 28th of 1982, Willie Nelson released Always on My Mind, a mix of original songs and covers of some known classics. The album spent ninety-nine weeks on the US Billboard Hot 200 charts, including three weeks at the number 2 spot. On the US Billboard Country charts, it spent an impressive 253 weeks on the charts, which included a total of 22 weeks at the number 1 spot. Given both of those runs, it is no surprise that it became Billboard’s number 1 country album for 1982. In the thirty years since its release, it was certified Platinum multiple times over in the US and in Canada (it reached number 20 on the Canadian charts).

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Alarm - Declaration

Yesterday (February 25th), Welsh singer-songwriter and guitarist Mike Peters celebrated his fifty-third birthday.

The Alarm followed their self-titled EP from the summer of 1983 (click here for my review of that one) with a full length album in February of 1984. Declaration went to number 6 on the UK album charts and number 50 on the US Billboard Hot 200. It included a couple tracks from the EP and a few other singles the band had released between the two records.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Alabama - Mountain Music

The country/southern-rock quartet Alabama got their start in 1969 but did not take their current band name until 1972.

On February 25 in 1982, exactly thirty years ago from today, they released their third studio album on the RCA label. Mountain Music was multi-Platinum in the US (where it went all the way to number 1 on the Country Album charts and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 200) and in Canada (where it reached number 38). It won them the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group that year, which further helped make it their most successful album.

Friday, February 24, 2012

George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Happy sixty-second birthday today (February 24th) to the American blues/rock performer from Delaware - George Thorogood.

In 1974, Thorogood recorded a demo record which didn't see release until 1979. Along with his band, he released the self-titled debut album George Thorogood and the Destroyers in 1977.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Howard Jones - Human's Lib

Happy fifty-seventh birthday today (February 23rd, which also happens to be my birthday) to British musician, singer-songwriter Howard Jones.

On March 17th of 1984, Jones released his first studio album Human’s Lib, a record that debuted at the number 1 spot on the UK album charts and spent a total of fifty-seven weeks on the charts. It went to number 8 in Germany and number 5 in Sweden; in the US it got as high as number 59 on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart. He was involved with the composition of all of the tracks and played all keyboards and synthesizers. Davey Payne provided the saxophone on the album.

TV: Survivor - One World (episode 2)

Last week was a solid opening for Survivor: One World - lots of interaction, lots of conflict, lots of potential.

This week's title "Total Dysfunction" not only described one of the tribes but also the whole episode in general.

Let's look at the episode...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Prince - Controversy

On October 14, 1981, Prince released his fourth studio album Controversy. The album peaked at number 21 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and reached Platinum selling status by early 1982. On the US Billboard R&B charts it went all the way to number 3.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Fleshtones - Roman Gods

In the mid-1970’s, four guys from Queens, NY, formed a garage rock band. It started with roommates Keith Streng and Marek Pakulski on guitar and bass respectively. They added friends Peter Zaremba (on harmonica, keyboards and vocals) and Lenny Calderon (on drums). In May of 1976 they played their first gig at CBGB, the famed Manhattan club, as the Fleshtones.

Monday, February 20, 2012

TV: Once Upon A Time (ep. 13)

Ratings were down for Once Upon A Time last Sunday (I suspect due to the Grammy Amwards running at the same time). A shame as "Skin Deep" was a solid episode.

This week's episode is entitled "What Happened to Frederick". In Storybrooke, David finally acts to end his loveless marriage to Kathryn by revealing his secret relationship with Mary Margaret. In the land of fairy tales, Prince Charming's search for Snow White includes a dangerous task by Abigail to recover something precious that was lost to her.

Let's get to the episode breakdown, shall we?

Rod Ballou - Where Hell Meets Highwater

One of the things I like about being online in places like Twitter and with my blog is discovering new music that I wouldn’t hear otherwise. Another recent example of that was my getting to know a country artist from Frisco, Texas.

Rod Ballou has always been fascinated by music. He purchased his first guitar at age twelve. After college, he got married, started a family and settled into a career in carpentry. Still, music dreams kept resurfacing and today he is trying to make that dream a reality. His debut CD is called Where Hell Meets Highwater.

The J. Geils Band - Love Stinks

Happy sixty-sixth birthday today (February 20th) to American rock guitarist and singer J. Geils.

In 1980, the J. Geils Band entered into their second decade of recording with the album Love Stinks. The album went to number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 200 chart and generated a couple of singles.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Beat / The English Beat - Wha'ppen?

This week marks the birthdays of two members of the Beat/the English Beat. Today (February 19th) is the fifty-sixth birthday of guitarist and songwriter Dave Wakeling and Tuesday (February 21st) is the fifty-first birthday of singer Ranking Roger. So, let’s celebrate with a little Ska.

Following their debut album I Just Can’t Stop It (click here for my review of that one), the Beat put out their second studio album in June of 1981. Wha’ppen? went to number 3 in their native UK (just as the previous album did); in the US it spent six weeks on the Billboard Album chart and peaked at number 126.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, John Travolta

Today, February 18th, is the fifty-eighth birthday of American actor, dancer and singer John Travolta.

Born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey, Travolta was the youngest of children. All got the love of music and acting from their mother who worked in radio before becoming a high school English and drama teacher. After high school, we got a roll in a touring company of Grease and then on Broadway in Over Here!.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Green Day - Dookie

Happy fortieth birthday today (February 17th) to American rocker Billy Joe Armstrong.

In February of 1994, the California rock band Green Day released their third studio album Dookie. This was a breakthrough record for them, their first on a major label, as it launched the band into worldwide fame and sales. The album reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 1 in Australia, New Zealand and Canada, number 4 in Germany and number 13 in the UK. It has sold over 15 million copies worldwide and it won the band the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1995.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

TV: Survivor - One World (episode 1)

It has been a few months, but Jeff Probst is back on the air on Wednesday nights with season twenty four of Survivor. Even though we're still in Upolu, Samoa, once again, Survivor: One World comes with a bunch of new twists.

In the past, the two starting tribes were kept on seperate beaches. Not so this time. Both tribes are living together in one camp right from the start. Two make things easier to remember who is on what tribe, the tribes start out split as men vs. women (which has been done a few times previously).

Gone is the concept of Redemption Island, at least for this season.

Final twist involves the hidden immunity idols. If a castaway finds the idol for their tribe, they can use it for themselves. But if they find the idol for the other tribe, they have to give it to someone on the other tribe. That should make for some interesting dynamics.

Let's look at the first episode...

Simon & Garfunkel - The Concert In Central Park

Today (February 16th) marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s 1982 live double-album The Concert In Central Park. The duo had gone their solo ways over a decade before but they reunited in September of 1981 for a free concert on the Great Lawn of Central Park in New York City. The show was attended by more the 500,000 people and was videotaped for an airing on HBO in 1982.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Melissa Manchester - Melissa Manchester

Happy sixty-first birthday today (February 15th) to American singer-songwriter and actress Melissa Manchester.

In October of 1979, Manchester released her eighth studio album, the self-titled Melissa Manchester. The album was a mix of original material and songs from other sources. Unlike some of her previous records, this one failed to generate any huge hits. However, it did have some strong presence on the adult contemporary charts.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Matchbox Twenty - Yourself Or Someone Like You

Happy Valentines Day and happy fortieth birthday today (February 14th) to American rock singer and songwriter Rob Thomas.

In the Fall of 1996, Thomas and his band Matchbox Twenty released their debut album Yourself or Someone Like You. The record was a huge seller, going multi-Platinum in a number of countries. It reached number 50 on the UK charts, number 11 on the Canadian charts, number 5 on the US Billboard Hot 200, and number 1 in Australia. It also was nominated for a number of awards including a Grammy and two American Music Awards.

Monday, February 13, 2012

TV: Once Upon A Time (ep. 12)

This week's episode of Once Upon A Time was entitled "Skin Deep", written by Jane Espenson of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

A burglar has robbed Mr. Gold's house, and sheriff Emma is concerned that the businessman will attempt to seek vigilante justice. Meanwhile, Mary Margaret plans a Valentine's Day night out for the girls with Ruby and Ashley.

In the land of Fairytales, we learn the story of Belle which includes a fateful deal with Rumpelstiltskin.

Let's get to the episode breakdown, shall we?

Haircut One Hundred - Pelican West (30th anniversary)

Happy fifty-fourth birthday today (February 13th) to percussionist and vocalist Marc Fox.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Haircut One Hundred's debut album Pelican West.

For my review of this album, please click here.

To celebrate, I'm going to cue this one on my iPod and have a "Fantastic Day".

Sunday, February 12, 2012

XTC - English Settlement

Today (February 12th) marks the 30th anniversary of the release of XTC’s fifth studio album English Settlement. The 1982 release went to number 5 on their native UK album charts; in the US it reached number 48 on the Billboard Album chart.

The original UK album was a double-disk set with fifteen tracks total. The initial US vinyl release was a single disk containing ten songs and the world-wide release had a similar configuration (with the eighth track being different between the two). For this album review I will cover the US release.

Book Review: India's Summer

A few weeks ago I got a notice on one of the Twitter feeds I follow about a free book available for the Kindle. Having the Kindle app on my iPad, I figured "what the hey..." and downloaded the book. After all, free is free and I do like to read. The book was India's Summer by Therese, an author I had not really heard of prior to this. Turns out, this is her first published book.

As I started to read this one, I found it rather interesting. Here is a British teacher named India Butler who works with troubled teens. She's about to turn 40 and wants a bit of a change. On break from school, she flies to Los Angeles to visit her twin sister Annabelle and her family. What follows then is how India becomes immersed into the Hollywood lifestyle full of fashion, facades and paparazzi.

The problem for me is that the book failed to keep me completely interested.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sheryl Crow - Tuesday Night Music Club

Happy fiftieth birthday today (February 11th) to American singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow.

Born and raised in Kennett, Missouri, Crow was exposed to music at a very young age. Her father played the trumpet and her mother taught piano. After graduating high school, she enrolled in the University of Missouri and got her degree in Music Composition, Performance and Education. She worked as an elementary school music teacher by day and performed in bands on weekends. From 1987 to 1989, she toured as a backup vocalist for Michael Jackson on his Bad world tour. She also did some backup work for other artists.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thompson Twins - Set

In February of 1982, the English pop group Thompson Twins released their second studio album Set on their own imprint label T Records. It charted in the UK, climbing to the number 48 position on the album charts. At this time, the band consisted of seven members (the known trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway who would continue with the group name after this album, and Chris Bell, Peter Dood, John Roog and Matthew Seligman).

Thursday, February 9, 2012

DVD: Queen - Days of Our Lives

The title of this 2011 BBC documentary about the legendary rock band Queen comes from a track from their 1991 album Innuendo, their final studio release with lead singer Freddie Mercury. Drummer Roger Taylor penned a song called “These Are the Days of Our Lives” for that record. The title too could reflect a bit of the American soap opera by the same name for, as this documentary points out, the band went through quite a bit of trials and tribulations in their twenty years as a group.

Happy Birthday, Holly Johnson

Happy fifty-second birthday today (February 9th) to artist, writer and musician Holly Johnson.

Born in Liverpool, England, Johnson started out as a bassist and vocalist in the punk-rock/new-wave band Big In Japan in 1977. That gig lasted for two albums and two years.

From 1980 to 1987, he served as lead singer and lyricist for the band Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

Since the mid-90's, he has worked as a painter with his artwork exhibited in places such as the Royal Academy and Tate Liverpool gallery. He has also been a contributor to the monthly magazine Modern Painters.

Johnson can be found interacting with friends and fans on his Twitter and Facebook pages. He also posts occasional new music on ReverbNation.

To read my reviews of his work with Frankie Goes to Hollywood, see the links below:

- for their 1984 debut smash Welcome to the Pleasuredome, click here

- for their 1986 second and final album Liverpool, click here

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mötley Crüe - Shout at the Devil

Happy fifty-first birthday today (February 8th) to American guitarist and singer Vince Neil.

Following their 1981 debut Too Fast for Love (click here for my review of that one), Mötley Crüe released their huge hit album Shout at the Devil on September 26th, 1983. The record went multi-Platinum in the US (where it reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 200) and in Canada (where it reached number 23 on the charts).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bronski Beat - The Age of Consent

Happy fifty-second birthday today (February 7th) to Steve Bronski, one of the founding members of the British synthpop trio Bronski Beat.

While sharing a flat in Brixton, Bronski along with Jimmy Somerville and Larry Steinbachek began to play music together as Bronski Beat. After doing under a dozen live gigs, they were signed to a recording contract with London Records.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rick Astley - Hold Me In Your Arms

Happy forty-sixth birthday today (February 6th) to Rick Astley.

After his best-selling 1987 debut album Whenever You Need Somebody (click here for my review of that one), the English pop singer stuck with producers Stock, Aiken and Waterman for his second disk, the 1988 release Hold Me in Your Arms. The record reached number 8 in his native UK, number 19 on the US Billboard Hot 200, and number 3 in both Canada and Germany. It has reached Platinum sales in both the UK and Canada.

DVD: Styx - The Grand Illusion/Pieces of Eight LIVE

In November of 2010, the current line up of Styx (Tommy Shaw on guitar/vocals, James "JY" Young on guitar/vocals, Lawrence Gowan on keyboards/vocals, Todd Sucherman on drums/percussion, and Ricky Phillips on guitar/vocals) did a concert at the Orpheum Theater in Memphis, TN. That performance was captured in high definition video with eleven cameras, to create a live performance package for those not lucky enough to catch a show on the tour.

The idea for the show was a novel one. Take two of the big classic Styx albums from the late 70's - the Grand Illusion and Pieces of Eight - and perform them live from start to finish. That meant eighteen songs total, three of which the band had not played live previously. This DVD set gives you that show in all its musical brilliance.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Guns N' Rose - G N' R Lies

Happy forty-eighth birthday today (February 5th) to bassist Duff McKagan and fiftieth birthday tomorrow (February 6th) to singer Axl Rose.

Following their smash hit debut album Appetite for Destruction (click here for my review of that one), Guns N’ Roses followed it up a year later in 1988 with G N’ R Lies. This one too went multi-Platinum in sales and scored well on the charts; it reached number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 7 in Sweden, number 13 in Canada, number 15 in Switzerland and number 22 in the UK.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

John Denver - Seasons of the Heart

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of John Denver’s sixteenth studio album. 1982’s Seasons of the Heart went to number 39 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 18 on the US Country Album charts. This Gold selling album generated a trio of marginally successful singles.

The album cover is kind of a different choice. It is rather dark and shadowy with Denver descending down some stone steps to the Purple Cloud Cave in Hangzhou, China. Only the sunlight off of his blonde hair give any indication that it is the singer for his face is completely in shadow. This was taken of him while he was over in China where it would appear he also wrote a number of these songs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Kinks - Low Budget

Happy sixty-fifth birthday today (February 3rd) to guitarist Dave Davies.

The Kinks closed out the 70’s with one of their best-selling non-compilation albums to date with 1979’s Low Budget. All eleven tracks were written lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Ray Davies. The record peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Record Breaking January

I wanted to take this moment to thank every one of my readers for a record breaking month in January of 2012.

As you can see from the chart accompanying chart (click on it to see it larger), it was the best month ever on my blog with 8995 pageviews over the thirty-one days last month.

I am completely blown away!

Bertie Higgins - Just Another Day In Paradise (30th anniversary)

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Bertie Higgins' debut album Just Another Day In Paradise.

For my review of this album, please click here.

To celebrate, I'm going to revisit this one on my iPod and head back in time.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nick Lowe - Nick the Knife

In February of 1982, the English singer-songwriter, musician and producer Nick Lowe released his third solo album, the first one since he and the band Rockpile split a year prior. Assisting on the album are former Rockpile bandmates Terry Williams (on drums) and Billy Bremner (on guitar) as well as English keyboardist and singer Paul Carrack.

Nick the Knife went to number 50 on the US Billboard Album chart and number 99 on the UK album charts.
Side one opens with the bouncing beat of “Burning”, the second single from the album. This song about unrelenting desire has a bit of country-twang to it.