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: 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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January 22: Aretha Franklin released Lady Soul in 1968

…1968’s Lady Soul proved Aretha Franklin, the pop sensation, was no fluke. Her performances were more impassioned than on her debut, and the material just as strong, an inspired blend of covers and originals from the best songwriters in soul and pop music.
~John Bush (allmusic.com)

Chain of Fools – Live 1968:

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January 18: Warren Zevon released Excitable Boy in 1978

“The further these songs get from Ronstadtland, the more I like them. The four that exorcise male psychoses by mock celebration are positively addictive, the two uncomplicated rockers do the job, and two of the purely “serious” songs get by. But no one has yet been able to explain to me what “accidentally like a martyr” might mean–answers dependent on the term “Dylanesque” are not acceptable–and I have no doubt that that’s the image Linda will home in on. After all, is she going to cover the one about the headless gunner? A-”
– Robert Christgau

Excitable Boy is the third album by Warren Zevon, it was released in 1978. It includes the top 40 success “Werewolves of London”. The album brought Warren to commercial attention and remains the best-selling album of his career. A remastered and expanded edition was released during 2007.

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January 17: Aretha Franklin released Soul ’69 in 1969

One of her most overlooked ’60s albums, on which she presented some of her jazziest material, despite the title. None of these cuts were significant hits, and none were Aretha originals; she displayed her characteristically eclectic taste in the choice of cover material, handling compositions by Percy Mayfield, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, and, at the most pop-oriented end of her spectrum, John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind” and Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Her vocals are consistently passionate and first-rate, though, as is the musicianship; besides contributions from the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, session players include respected jazzmen Kenny Burrell, Ron Carter, Grady Tate, David Newman, and Joe Zawinul.
– Richie Unterberger (allmusic) Continue reading “January 17: Aretha Franklin released Soul ’69 in 1969”