music friday: rolling stone's 500 best albums of all time

So Rolling Stone updated its list of top albums ... I think this is version 3. Here are a few selections.

Prince, Purple Rain (#8):

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run (#21):

Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out (#189):

Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings (#480):

music friday: 35 years ago today

September 18, 1985 was a big night for Bay Area concerts. David Lindley played a club date at the Old Waldorf:

The Manhattan Transfer played a somewhat bigger venue at De Anza College in Cupertino:

The legendary Harry Belafonte was at the 12,500 seat Concord Pavilion:

We missed all of those shows, because we were here, with 50,000+ fans, in a baseball stadium near the end of the Born in the USA tour:

music friday: prince 9-11-2004

We saw Prince for the last time on this date in 2004. It was the last show of the Musicology Tour. Maceo Parker was in the band. Prince did a lot of covers ... "Georgia on My Mind", "Satisfaction", "Whole Lotta Love", Stanley Clarke's "Lopsy Lu", "Knock on Wood". Nikka Costa was the opening act.

I think this was my fifth time seeing him, going back to the Dirty Mind tour in 1981. Here he is, a week before we saw him in '81:

And here is the full show that started the Musicology tour:


OK, I know it's not Friday, but I've got Pink on my mind, so I thought I'd give her a little blog post. It is her birthday tomorrow, after all (she'll be 41).

Pink is a legendary live performer, known mostly for her in-the-air acrobatics, which are impressive but c'mon, she can sing, too. I first saw her in 2002, and in 2006 I saw her at the Fillmore (capacity 1,273), where she fit right in, even singing Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz". Here's a video of her from a 2006 concert:

I've never seen her in a small club since, although we've seen her five times in those years. I think it was the 2009 Funhouse Tour where she started with the acrobatics, and she wowed them at the 2009 MTV Awards with her high-flying "Sober". The next year, it was the Grammys, where she gave them "Glitter in the Air". Trust me, she couldn't have done this at the Fillmore (ignore the title of the video):

Nowadays, her signature live performance at each show is "So What".

music friday: mark ronson

Today is Mark Ronson's 44th birthday. Ronson is a producer ... he records the occasional album under his own name, but the world knows him for his productions. Here are a few of them. This is from 2006:

From 2008:

And, from 2014, perhaps his most famous track (it was even released under his name):

As I type this, the above video has been viewed 3.9 billion times, with 14 million likes. It has also inspired more than one video like this one (which has 54 million views itself):

music friday: emmett till

On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till was lynched in Mississippi.

A.C. Bilbrew wrote "The Death of Emmett Till", which was recorded in 1955 by The Ramparts, who was actually Scatman Crothers.

In 1962, during his first radio interview (hosted by Cynthia Gooding), Bob Dylan played a new song that wasn't officially released under his name until 2010. It was called "The Death of Emmett Till".

On her 2011 album, Hard Bargain, Emmylou Harris included "My Name Is Emmett Till", which she also wrote.

music friday: jazz at the fillmore, 1967

On this date in 1967, during the Summer of Love, the Count Basie Orchestra and the Charles Lloyd Quartet played the second show of a two-night visit.

Lloyd had been there all week, opening first for Chuck Berry and then for the Young Rascals. He is still with us, 82 years old. Lloyd was popular with the budding Bay Area "underground radio" community (KMPX had gone to 24/7 rock music two weeks earlier). Forest Flower, recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966 and released in early 1967, was big, as was Love-In, recorded at the Fillmore in early 1967 and released about a month before this concert. In both cases, the Quartet featured legends Keith Jarrett on piano and Jack DeJohnette on drums, with Lloyd on tenor sax and flute.

Here are two from Love-In. First, "Temple Bells":

And the Beatles' "Here, There, and Everywhere":

Far as I can tell, these were the only two nights Basie played the Fillmore for Bill Graham. Basie was a prolific artist ... there is some conflicting evidence, but he recorded somewhere between 4 and 6 albums in 1967 alone, when he was in his 60s. The album Basie's in the Bag, featuring mostly hits of the day, was recorded a couple of days before the Fillmore shows.

I'd be remiss without including two other Basie tunes. "Blues in Hoss' Flat" was used as the theme song for Bay Area legend Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins on his various radio and TV shows:

And on television, Basie's "Jumpin at the Woodside" would signal the appearance of another legend:

revisiting 20 favorite albums

A couple of years ago, I did a 20 Favorite Albums thing on Facebook that I cross-posted here. I was looking at the list again, and it couldn't be more Boomer Centric if I tried.

There was A Hard Day's Night, and Highway 61 Revisited, and Surrealistic Pillow, and Beggars Banquet, and Astral Weeks, and an Aretha Franklin hits package, and a Velvet Underground album, and John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. There was James Brown Live at the Apollo, and Elvis'  68 Comeback Special. That 10 albums if you're counting at home, out of 20. Toss in Layla and Horses and Born to Run and Broken English, and I still haven't really escaped the 60s.

Only six albums stood apart from that trend: a Little Richard hits collection that featured mostly stuff from the 50s, along with The Clash, Prince, Hüsker Dü, Sleater-Kinney, and Pink.

So I know it's not Music Friday, but here are a couple of more recent releases that have gotten my attention.

The inescapable Cardi B with Megan Thee Stallion:

The inevitable Billie Eilish, "No Time to Die":

Haim, "Summer Girl":

Lori McKenna, "The Balladeer":

Sorry ... it appears the only current artists I listen to are women.

music friday: the hot 100, august 14 1970

I got the idea of revisiting a Top Five list, and chose 1970, 50 years ago today, wondering if the list would be good or bad. As expected, it was a mix. (On August 14, 1970, I was 17, two months beyond graduating from high school, with no idea what to do with my life.)

5. Mungo Jerry, "In the Summertime". They got their name from T.S. Eliot. Ray Dorset wrote this song in ten minutes.

4. Eric Burdon and War, "Spill the Wine". One of the odder songs to become a hit. By 1971, Burdon was a solo artist. War became one of the biggest bands of the first half of the 1970s.

3. Stevie Wonder, "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours". Wonder was 20 years old. His first big hit came seven years earlier. War was big, but Stevie Wonder ruled the 70s (won 12 Grammies in the 70s alone).

2. Bread, "Make It with You". Everything here is David Gates ... he wrote it and played every instrument except drums. This track, and #1, are examples of "Soft Rock", which ruled the airwaves for a long time. I will grudgingly admit there was some good music under the "Soft Rock" label. This song wasn't good.

1. The Carpenters, "(They Long to Be) Close to You". Some of my best friends love The Carpenters. I can make fun of Bread, but Carpenters fans are still out there, and they can be vicious. Perhaps the most famous person to ever post a comment on this blog was Jimmy Iovine, who ripped me a new asshole for bitching about Karen Carpenter. (That particular post received 56 comments, which may be a record for me ... 56 and counting, since the post was from 2003 but it was getting comments as recently as 2017.)

ah, radio

I'm sure I've written about radio many times. I could search for relevant posts. But what I'm thinking about today is the category I assigned to Radio. Categories on this blog are there to help you find things. There's a category for Baseball and Bruce Springsteen, for Film and Film Fatales and Geezer Cinema, for Music and Pink and Sleater-Kinney. Recently, I added a category for African-American Directors ... haven't yet turned it into something "official" like my Film Fatales posts, but I tagged a lot of appropriate movies from past entries.

Well, the first time I tagged a post with "Radio" (and thus, the time I invented it as a category for the blog) wasn't as long ago as I might have thought. The post was called "Serial Radio", and it drifted from the Serial podcast to some thoughts about Old Time Radio, with examples. The date was November 13, 2014. Like I say, I know I've talked about radio before, especially FM "Underground" Radio in the 60s. I may have to go back and tag a few posts, make the Radio category relevant. Because after that first post, I wrote one Radio post a year for three years, with the last one being in 2017, when I talked about William Conrad and Gunsmoke.

The other two posts were tied to my life with radio. One came when longtime Bay Area sports announcer Lon Simmons died. Baseball fans develop close, interesting relationships with the people on the radio who describe the action for six months out of the year.

The other Radio post was the most personal of them all: "Al Collins, Grasshopper Pie, and Me". I think it's a good one, so I won't quote it here ... check out the link. Al Collins was a legend, but a good half of that post is about the grasshopper cocktail and grasshopper pies.

What would I write about radio today? The main place I listen to the radio is in the car, and guess what? There's a quarantine, and we never drive anywhere. Spotify playlists are what pass for music radio in 2020, and I will still listen to Giants games when I'm not watching them on TV.

But perhaps what I'm saying is there's a reason why I have so few radio posts. Radio just isn't as important to me any more.