January 26: Lucinda Williams was born in 1953 , Happy Birthday!

Like so many, I discovered Lucinda Williams when she released the fantastic album, Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. I went to the record store (yes, we actually did that in the old days) and bought as many of her albums as I could find. There were four albums before Car Wheels.., great albums, I love them all. Since then I’ve awaited all Lucinda Williams albums with great excitement. She’s always good, most of the time she’s great.

Half an hour of the wonderful Lucinda Williams live at Paradiso Amsterdam (2013):

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January 25: John Phillips released John The Wolfking of L.A. in 1970

“…not exactly a great lead vocalist. Phillips knew this, and, according to his book, Papa John, he purposely buried his voice in the mix. This proved to be a bit of tragedy, because underneath it all, this is an excellent album. Songs such as “April Anne,” “Malibu People,” and “Holland Tunnel” bear out what a fine songwriter he really was, and indeed, these are some of the finest songs of his career. The performances on this record are spectacular. Backed by an all-star group of musicians (most of Elvis Presley’s band, including James Burton, as well as the Wrecking Crew, among others), the record’s decidedly country feel is crafted to the extreme. Mamas co-founder Denny Doherty has always felt that had the Mamas & Papas recorded this album, it would have been one of their finest. There’s no doubt.
– Matthew Greenwald (Allmusic)

John Phillips (John, the Wolf King of L.A.) is the first solo recording by the Mamas & the Papas leader John Phillips. All songs were Phillips originals, dealing mostly with recent events in Phillips’ life, including references to his new girlfriend Geneviève Waïte and longtime friend Ann Marshall (“April Anne”). The backing musicians included members of Wrecking Crew. Today the album receives favourable reviews from fans and critics alike. The album was selected as one of ShortList’s 50 Coolest Albums Ever. Continue reading “January 25: John Phillips released John The Wolfking of L.A. in 1970”

January 24: The great late Warren Zevon was born in 1947

All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles
I’m gonna drink ’em upAnd if California slides into the ocean
Like the mystics and statistics say it will
I predict this motel will be standing until I pay my bill
~Warren Zevon (Desperados Under the Eaves)

Few of rock & roll’s great misanthropes were as talented, as charming, or as committed to their cynicism as Warren Zevon.
~Mark Deming (allmusic.com)

Live in Passaic NJ, 1982 (The Full Concert):

BF: Who are some of your favorite songwriters?
Bob Dylan: Buffett I guess. Lightfoot. Warren Zevon. Randy. John Prine. Guy Clark. Those kinds of writers.
~Bob Dylan (to Huffington Post – May 2009)

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January 24: Aretha Franklin released Young, Gifted and Black in 1972

Young, Gifted and Black is the twentieth studio album by American singer Aretha Franklin, Released on January 24, 1972 by Atlantic Records. The album is Top 10 Gold-certified. The album won Aretha a 1972 Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance of the year. It takes its title from the Nina Simone song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” In 2003, the TV network VH1 named it the 76th greatest album of all time.

“…of this stunning era, Young, Gifted and Black certainly ranks highly among her studio efforts, with many arguing that it may be her greatest. And with songs like “Rock Steady,” that may be a valid argument. But there’s much more here than just a few highlights. If you really want to go song by song, you’d be hard-pressed to find any throwaways here — this is quite honestly an album that merits play from beginning to end.”
– Jason Birchmeier (allmusic)  Continue reading “January 24: Aretha Franklin released Young, Gifted and Black in 1972”

January 23: David Bowie released Station To Station in 1976

The return of the Thin White Duke
Throwing darts in lovers’ eyes
Here are we, one magical moment, such is the stuff

Station to Station is a collection of soul, rock, funk, and disco, twisted by an influence of experimental German artists. This is David Bowie’s “plastic soul” mixed with krautrock. This is the introduction of the “Thin White Duke”.

It is Bowie’s tenth album, one of his most important and in my opinion, one of his very best!

stationtostation2

David Bowie came from the soul infused “Young Americans” into Nicolas Roeg’s film, “The Man who fell to Earth” (the picture on the cover is a still from the film) and then into this masterpiece of a record. If you see the film and listen to Young Americans you get a sense of what made the album. There is a switch from popular dance oriented music into a more artful approach. But, without losing the pop sensibility. It is also a start for Bowie on his journey back to a more  European approach to his music, even if it was recorded in LA.

“I know it was in LA because I’ve read it was”
– David Bowie

TVC15 (from rehearsals for the Station to Station tour 1976):

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Van Morrison: 5 Great Live Versions of His Brilliant “Warm Love”

Look at the ivy on the cold clinging wall
Look at the flowers and the green grass so tall
It’s not a matter of when push comes to shove
It’s just an hour on the wings of a dove

The great song was included on his 1973 album Hard Nose the Highway. It was first performed live May 21, 1973 (Odyssey Room, Sunnyvale, CA, USA), and last time VM played it in concert was December 5, 2017 (Europe Hotel, Belfast). It has been performed 82 times live, mostly in 1973, 1974 & 2017.

Here are 5 great versions…

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