Monday, August 31, 2009

Les Paul Wonders How High The Moon (1951)

I really didn't want too much time to pass before I said something about the great Les Paul who passed away a couple weeks ago at the age of 94. He was a pioneer in sound, music and inventions which helped create modern day rock n' roll. He experimented with, and eventually created what is known as the solid-body-electric guitar, which was what made the rock sound possible.

His most famous invention bears his name, the Gibson Les Paul, perhaps one of the best known styles of guitar in rock music. Most of the early pioneers of rock used this style of guitar to create their sound, among them Chuck Berry and Bill Haley, some of the first artists to introduce rock n' roll to the masses.

In addition to being a music innovator, Les Paul himself was also a very talented musician. He had many hit records that he performed with his wife, country singer Mary Ford. Today's track comes from a Les Paul compilation album called 'Les Paul Now' and features a great track by Les Paul and Mary Ford.

The song is "How High The Moon" and has Mary Ford on vocals and Les Paul playing guitar. The track is from 1951, but already you can hear the emergence of the rock sound from Les Paul's guitar.

Keep in mind when you listen to the track how unique guitar work like this would have been in the early 1950's. This was four years before Bill Haley's "Rock Around The Clock" and Elvis Presley's "That's Alright Mama", both of which are considered to be some of the first true rock n' roll songs.

So happy trails to Les Paul. One of the true creators of Rock n' Roll. Click the link to see how high the moon really is.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Al Green Could Be The One (1975)

One of the biggest icons of 1970's soul music is Al Green. In the late 60's and early 70's, a lot of R&B music began to all sound pretty similar, but Green created his own sound. Within the first few bars of any Al Green song, one can easily identify the artist. His melodies and voice sounded soulful, but also had an element of romance and sensuality that was new and exciting.

He succeeded in creating a new sound, one unique to him; And along with artists like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder he helped to take R&B music to new heights throughout the 70's.

He is perhaps most well known for tracks like "Let's Stay Together" from the 1971 album of the same name. But today's track comes from one of his lesser known albums 'Al Green Is Love' from 1975. This is another album that is difficult to find on CD (why a great artist like Al Green's entire catalog is not readily available on CD is beyond me) which is why it is lucky that I happen to have a vinyl copy.

The song is "Could I Be The One" and it is an excellent example of Al Green's romantic and soulful sound. So click the link below to find out if Al Green is truly the one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Booker T. Takes You On A Hi Ride (1971)

Today's track comes from the most famous and influential instrumental soul band of the 1960's; Booker T. & The MG's. The group got their start as the backing band for the Stax/Volt record label. These early soul recordings featured artists such as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett on vocals, but the great southern soul sound came from keyboardist Booker T. and his house band.

In the early 60's the group began putting out instrumental records under their own name. The most well-known of which was their 1962 album 'Green Onions". That title track song went on to be a top-ten hit for the group and to date has been used in countless TV and film projects. The song is forever in rotation for its fun, infectious groove.

Today's song of the day is off of Booker T's very last album with Stax Records called 'Melting Pot'. The album was released in 1971 and featured a looser and more jam-session style of songs and sounds.

So here is the song "Hi Ride". I do wonder why the title uses "hi" and not "high"? There would never be a thinly veiled drug reference in 60's and 70's pop music, right?

Click the link to go on a groove-centered hi ride.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lost In Soft Shadows With The Monotones (1958)

It's time again for Raf's thrift store find of the week!

I am a Long-Play collector, but occasionally while sifting through albums at various venues I come across some fun 45 singles. I only buy them if I find an artist or a label that I really like (Anything with a Motown or Apple Records label I must get).

Often my 45's just end up in a box, and rarely get played. There they sit, waiting for the day I can get my own classic jukebox in my home, and load it up with my great finds from over the years. This last week I found a winner amongst many old Andy Williams albums, a 45 single with the famous 'Chess Records' logo.

Chess Records was a Chicago based R&B label that appeared in the 1950's. It was the label that first gave us artists like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and my favorite, Bo Diddley.

The record label was also the basis for last year's film 'Cadillac Records' which really should have been called 'Chess Records'. The label was nicknamed "Cadillac" because the founders would often gift new cars to its artists when their albums went gold (with the money coming out of the artist's share of the royalties, of course).

When I found the single with the Chess label, I just had to pay the thrift store price of 50 cents. It is from the Doo-Wop group The Monotones, and the single was their one-hit-wonder song "The Book Of Love" from 1958.

But on this blog, we always ask, "What's on the flip side?" Well, the b-side is the track "Soft Shadows" which also highlights the great early R&B sound of that era. This song demonstrates that maybe the group shouldn't have had only one hit.

Anyway, click the link below to get lost in some soft shadows.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Roy Orbison Says He's My Girl (1965)

The other night while flipping through channels I happened to stop on my local PBS station. They were having a telethon to raise money for public broadcasting while also airing the 1987 concert special 'Black & White Night' featuring Roy Orbison.

I watched the show for quite a while, watching Orbison perform with the likes of Elvis Costello and Bruce Springsteen (Man did everyone look super-cool in '87!) and was reminded what a great artist Roy Orbison really was.

I have been a fan of his since I first heard the opening guitar riff of "Pretty Woman" sometime early in my youth. As I got more into music, I grew to appreciate the uniqueness of Orbison's operatic voice which was combined amazingly with a rock n' roll sensibility.

Roy Orbison, along with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis was one of the original Sun Records recording artists. That southern rock sound, often called 'rockabilly', helped launch pop music to a whole new level in the late 1950's.

Today's track comes off of Roy's 1965 album titled wonderfully as 'Orbisongs'. This was the album that also contained maybe his most famous song "Pretty Woman". The song is "Say You're My Girl" and features a fun beat and that great swooning Orbison voice.

Click the link below to say you're my girl.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Edwin Starr Moves To Soul City (1968)

Hey blog followers! My whirlwind travels and work schedule have finally gotten to a point where I can post a new tune.

Also, word has it some of the links on my older posts have died, so I have re-upped many of the tunes on previous entries, so if you haven't yet, be sure to check them out. Keep in mind these links only stay active for about a month, so it pays to be a loyal follower of this blog.

Todays song is a great Motown track. Motown in the 60's had the best backing band in the business, which created that legendary Motown sound. I find it amazing that the same set of studio musicians could create the sound for The Temptations, The Miracles, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, and many others.

If you can, check out the documentary 'Standing In The Shadows of Motown' about the greatest rhythm section in pop-music history, who have played on more hit singles that Elvis, The Beatles, and The Rolling Stones combined.

One such Motown artist was 60's soul singer Edwin Starr. He is best known for his rousing anti-Vietnam song "War". That song asks the eternal question, "War. What is it good for?" That song was a huge hit for Starr in 1969.

Today's track comes from a year earlier off of his 1968 album '25 Miles' which contains not only the great title track, but a bunch of rare songs still yet-to-be-released on CD. One of my favorite of which is "Soul City (Open Your Arms To Me)".

Click the link to take a trip to "Soul City".