It was a canny move on the part of producer Stevie Van Zandt — he of E Street Band and “Sopranos” fame — not to try to shoehorn a “modern” sound onto “Introducing Darlene Love,” his comeback vehicle for perhaps the greatest backup singer of all time. After all, if there’s anyone who doesn’t need a reboot it’s Love, whose soulful, booming vocals are, amazingly, just as rich as they were when she first belted out “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” in 1963. Instead he goes full-Spector for most of the album, and the results are joyous — for Love, who sounds like she’s having the time of her life, for Van Zandt, who gets to indulge his inner Wall of Sound, and for songwriting collaborators like Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello and Jimmy Webb, who contribute lush pop confections that could have come straight out of the ‘60s-era transistor radios they probably once kept under their pillows. The two tracks Springsteen penned are definite standouts — in particular “Night Closing In,” which sounds like a …
An overlooked group, a legendary producer, and a songwriter I should have gotten to know better
Are moments like Beatles on Sullivan, The Elvis Comeback, Moonwalk on Motown and the Smells Like Teen Spirit music video doomed? Here’s some random speculation as to why that may be so.
A Christmas Gift For You celebrates 50 years
In which we list the 12 best albums to put you in the Christmas mood, which means you aren’t allowed to argue with us.
If you’re a fan of catchy pop tunes and you aren’t familiar with the Paley Brothers, prepare yourself: you’re about to get an education. Andy and Jonathan Paley released their lone album – a self-titled effort – on Sire Records in 1978, just on the heels of the punk rock explosion, featuring a cover photo of brothers looking like they were born to be teen idols, but their music, while certainly not as raw or rough-and-tumble as their labelmates the Ramones, also wasn’t just your typical disposable pop fare. But despite the best efforts of label head Seymour Stein and even with fans like Brian Wilson and Phil Spector in their corner, the Paley Brothers never managed to take off in a big way. Heck, they didn’t even get a chance to suffer through a sophomore slump! Andy and Jonathan soon began working independently of each other, with Andy gaining considerable press for his production work a few years later, and although they’re still tight, they’ve never managed to release another album…until now. Sort of. …
Following the releases of new albums by David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine and Justin Timberlake, 2013 might go down as the year of the unexpected comeback (your move, Dr. Dre). For lovers of lush, harmony-laden orchestral pop, the most pleasant return may be that of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s the Heavy Blinkers, whose ten-years-in-the-making Health was finally released on July 30. Fans of the group could be forgiven for having given up thinking they’d ever hear the long-gestating follow-up to 2004’s The Night And I Are Still So Young. After all, despite occasional reports of new songs and sessions as far back as in 2005, a blog dedicated to the recording of the album (which optimistically promised that Health would “be mixed and mastered by Oct 31 2008”) had last been updated in August 2008. In fact, the group was dormant for so long that Jenn Grant, who joined the Heavy Blinkers as an unknown singer following the release of The Night… and who shares vocal duties on Health with Melanie Stone and Stewart Legere, found …
‘River Deep – Mountain High” was the greatest record to ever be rejected by the American public
Spring Breakers, a splash of Upstream Color, and more.
The Friday Five is back and shuffling you into the weekend.
Even in an era of dance crazes not every one took off
“I’ll finish you all now! You’ll pay!” So said Paul McCartney to Ringo Starr when Ringo tried to convince Paul to hold his solo album release so it wouldn’t conflict with the release of Let It Be. In a court affidavit describing the incident, Ringo said Paul “told me to put my coat on and get out” of his house. At Ringo’s urging, John and George relented, and Let It Be was shelved for a couple of weeks. And with a head start, McCartney reached #1 on the Billboard 200 before Let It Be dethroned it, on June 13, 1970. Let It Be held the top spot for four weeks, the shortest run of any Beatles album to hit #1 except for Anthology 2 in 1996. Although Let It Be was recorded before Abbey Road, it has the feeling of an album patched together out of bits and pieces, the sort of thing bands release as a stopgap or a last gasp. In early 1969, when the band’s squabbles were at their hottest, it looked as …
Shuffle into the holiday weekend with this week’s Friday Five!
Remembering Darlene Love’s second greatest Christmas song
The Drifters were legendary for their music, and their story
In 1965 the Righteous Brothers had a year that has seldom been equaled in the annals of popular music.
According to crazy people, next year will see the wholesale demise of compact discs as well as the heroic efforts of Jon Cusack saving the world from cataclysmic disaster. With that in mind, you’d think the year’s crop of reissues, box sets and other catalogue sets would be wildly disappointing. In fact, they managed to improve upon what wasn’t too shabby a year before. It felt like a week could not go by without reporting on some sort of vintage-oriented title, and with 2012 fast approaching, the time has come to tick off some of the best and the brightest – arranged in no order but alphabetically. The Beach Boys, The SMiLE Sessions (Capitol) It’s still hard to believe it’s legally possible to buy a set of material from The Beach Boys’ fabled unreleased album, the heartbreaking turning point for a band that should have had more years of transcendent pop music in them. Debate its merits as much as you want: at five CDs and a handful of vinyl, it’ll strike some as too comprehensive or too much like Brian Wilson’s completed …
A look at the songs and the story behind 50 years of the Beach Boys, American’s greatest pop band.
There’s no denying the stone-cold classics found in this week’s edition of AM Gold.
Jerry Leiber, a founding father of rock and roll, and one of the greatest songwriters in the history of popular music, died this week. Ken Shane pays tribute.
Put your headphones on and your cares away, and come back with us once again to the world of Time-Life’s “AM Gold” — 1963 style!
The second installment of Digging for Gold explores more of 1962’s hippest tunes. And Gene Pitney.
Popdose breaks down the first five songs from Time-Life Music’s AM Gold: 1962 compilation album, and takes time to enjoy a classic 1980s Dom DeLuise commercial.
One year after his death, a group of George Harrison’s friends got together to pay tribute to him. The stunning film of that event is now available on Blu-ray.
After a three-month hiatus, Jeff, Jason, and Dave are back to rip apart a Billboard Top 10 from 1985. It’s the Popdose Podcast, Episode 16: CHART ATTACK! Edition!
On the fourth day of Mellowmas, Jeff and Jason wander into a dark, cold place where pitch, intelligible lyrics, melody, and steady tempo have ceased to exist.
The latest entry in the esteemed PBS series American Masters covers the post-Beatles years that John Lennon spent living in New York City.
Fittingly, the first installment of our alternative look at Bruce Springsteen’s career puts its foot to the floor and doesn’t look back.
Everyone knows Ben E. King. He’s the guy who co-wrote and sang the immortal “Stand By Me,” which was a Top Ten hit in 1961, and again in 1987. True enough, but he is also a lot more than that. In 1958, still using his birth name, Benjamin Earl Nelson, the future Ben E. King became the lead singer of a doo wop group called the Drifters. He only recorded ten songs with the group, but among them were classics like “There Goes My Baby” (which he co-wrote), “This Magic Moment,” and the great Doc Pomus-Mort Shuman hit “Save the Last Dance For Me.” In 1960, the singer left the Drifters as a result of a salary and royalty dispute, and took the name we know him by, Ben E. King. He remained with the Drifters’ label, Atlantic Records, and recorded for their Atco imprint. King’s first solo hit was “Spanish Harlem,” written by Phil Spector and Jerry Lieber. His very next recording was “Stand By Me,” which he co-wrote with Lieber and Mike Stoller. …
Where are they now? While we wait for the next round of Parlour to Parlour video interviews, Michael Fortes catches up with last year’s Parlour to Parlour subjects, starting with an exciting development in the world of The Brother Kite.