In 1970 director Russ Meyer introduced a new rock band, The Carrie Nations, to audiences in his film epic “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.” With music written by Stu Phillips, and featuring the talents of Lynn Carey, The Strawberry Alarmclock, and The Sandpipers, the film contained some of the freshest and most dynamic rock music ever written for a film, reflecting the sounds and attitude of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip culture. But the music would be ignored by the Billboard charts and barely found an audience while one of the key players was mysteriously missing from the soundtrack album. An introduction to the world of “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and the music of The Carrie Nations.
This week we said goodbye to The Sugar Man. In 2012 Detroit based singer/songwriter Sixto Rodriguez inspired struggling musicians and music fans world wide via the Oscar winning documentary “Searching for Sugar Man.” The lessons I learnt from Rodriguez, how his story changed the way I thought and wrote about music, and a loving tribute to his songs and legacy.
A forgotten soundtrack to an obscure French exploitation film, Jean-Pierre Mirouze’s exciting and exotic soundtrack to “Le Mariage Collectif” went ignored and undistributed when test printings were made in 1971. Nearly lost forever it wasn’t until a discarded acetate containing the music was pulled out of a Parisian garbage dump in 2010 that the world finally had the chance to hear the best film score you’ve never heard before, which gained a cult following amongst audiophiles and music hipsters.
In 1980, to celebrate his 40th Anniversary, Frank Sinatra blasted off into outer space for a kooky intergalactic song cycle called “The Future” on his album “Trilogy: Past Present Future.” A divisive recording amongst critics and fans, it’d be the biggest recording session of Sinatra’s career. A look at this bizarre entry into the Sinatra songbook. Extra: The release of “New York, New York” and how it recentered Sinatra’s legacy.
In 1956 Roy Orbison and his band, The Teen Kings, arrived at Sun Records in Memphis, Tennessee to recut their record “Ooby Dooby.” However, despite being signed by Sam Phillips, Roy would find himself floundering at the legendary label and wouldn’t find chart success until 1961 and at a different label. Why did it take Roy Orbison so long to make it, and how did Sam Phillips allow Roy Orbison to slip through his fingers? A look at Roy Orbison at Sun Records.
When Bruce Springsteen released “Born in the USA” he went from struggling singer/songwriter to a rock n’ roll icon. But when President Ronald Regan name dropped The Boss, perhaps he should have listened to Springsteen’s lyrics first. A look at “Born in the USA” and the history of Republican politicians who have foolishly tried to use it. Extra: How Bruce Springsteen keeps Sam Tweedle’s spouse up at night.
After getting thrown out of a Hollywood restaurant in 1965, a fed up Sono Bono wrote an emotional manifesto titled “Laugh at Me,” which became his only hit record, A look at “Laugh at Me,” Sonny’s fight for respect, and why he allowed the laughter to continue through the 1970’s and beyond. Extra: The lasting legacy of Sonny and Cher, and Chaz Bono’s attempt to reinvent “Laugh at Me” as a transgender anthem.
When Sonny met Cher in 1962, he was a struggling songwriter working as an underdog in Phil Spector’s studio, and she was a teenage runaway with dreams of stardom. Ambitious and in love, the pair spent three years being kicked around the LA scene until 1965, when Inspired by the love that bonded them together, Sonny Bono wrote one of pop musics greatest love songs, “I Got You Babe,” catupultiing them to the top of charts and international stardom. A look at the early days of Sonny and Cher.
Were The Monkees a real band, or four guys who were hired to play a band on TV? For nearly six decades, fans have been arguing with cynics and music snobs over the legitimacy of Davey, Mike, Mickey and Peter who, despite being one of the most successful pop acts in the history of music, have never been able to escape their preassembled origins. A defense of The Monkees and why their music matters.
When Bob Dylan released his sacond album, “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” in 1963, he gained world wide fame for his political writings and anti-war musings. But behind the songs was the influence of his then girlfriend Suze Rotolo, who was immoralized walking with him on the album’s front cover. Who was Suze Rotolo, and how did she help shape the legend that would become Bob Dylan? A look into their relationship and Suze’s important place in the Bob Dylan mythos.
Whether you know it as the theme song to “The Young and the Restless,” “Nadia’s Theme” or “Cotton’s Dream,” Perry Botkin Jr and Barry De Vorsan’s composition has become one of the most recognizable instrumentals of the 20th Century. A deep dive into the song’s many incarnations and lives from “Bless the Beasts and the Children,” to the 1978 Olympics to….David Hasselhoff?? Extra: Who were The Sounds of Sunshine, and why did they successfully sue The Dead Kennedys?
If Jethro Tull and The Doors had a love child, it’d be Mashmakhan. Montreal based prog-rockers Mashmakhan had a massive hit in Canada and Japan with “As Years Go By” but the less commerical psychadelic infused tracks that made up the remainder of their 1970 debut album confused radio programmers and record buyers, making them a “one hit wonder.” An appreciation of one of the best underappreciated Canadian albums ever recorded.
How a wobbly voiced Hollywood garage band got the best of everything, and moved to the top of the charts. Was it nepotisim, or being in the right place at the right time? A deep dive of 60’s pop act Dino, Desi and Billy. Extra: Billy Hinche reveals the real story behind being signed by Frank Sinatra, and D,D & B’s special relationship with The Beach Boys.
Although it was one of the biggest box office bombs of the all time, Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 film “Zabriskie Point” spawned one of the best soundtrack albums of the era with original music by The Grateful Dead, The Youngbloods, Kaleidoscope and Pink Floyd. The resu.t was a soundtrack album more culturally relevant and remembered than the film that spawned it. Extra: A brief overview of the lives of the couple on the cover, Mark Frechette and Daria Halprin,.
40 years after her self exile from the music industry, singer/songwriter Bobbie Gentry has finally found appreciation amongst modern music fans. Too honky tonk for rock fans and too progressive for country fans, Bobbie was perhaps too ahead of her time in the 60’s and 70’s, but is finally gaining a modern cult following for her swampy blues-country originals and genre spanning crossover masterpieces. However, while the world finally listens, Bobbie doesn’t want to be found.
His first solo album in years, David Bowie’s 1993 album “Black Tie/White Noise” got little attention upon it’s original release, but has reemerged as one of Bowie’s most powerful statements about racial conflict and American hate. How the LA riots juxtopossed with his mariage to Iman inspired Bowie to write an overlooked masterpiece which deservesd rediscovering.