Saturday, September 24, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/24/2016 Update

Today we quickly touch on another act that made a big impression at the 2015 Coachella Festival.

We actually first profiled punishing drums and bass duo Royal Blood and their solid self-titled debut on the Odd & Ends mix of our 2014 collection, but the Brighton act was so good at Coachella with their Pablo Honey crossed with Led Zeppelin II sound that I felt they had to be part our 2015 Coachella Starters mix, hence the inclusion of the badass Little Monster.

Here's a fan video of the Coachella performance of the song.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/23/2016 Update

Today we return yet again to our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars mix and check out another small-time continental act that had by far its biggest moment in 1967.

Though not quite one-hit wonders (they cracked the top-100 five or six times in the back half of the 60s), Oklahoma-born, Texas-based pop act The Five Americans had only one major chart topper in their 1965-1969 career, that being their AM classic Western Union, which peaked at #5 on the Billboard weeklies.

Primarily known for their fine Beatles/Hollies-esque vocals and heavy use of electric organ, the group came up with the lyrical concept for the super-catchy Western Union almost by accident, after band members suggested an unusual riff lead-guitarist Mark Rabon was poking around with sounded like an old-time telegraph key.

But unlike many of the acts featured on this mix, The Five Americans never forged ahead on the nostalgia circuit after their peak years ended.

Following the band's split in 1969, Rabon and organist John Durrill moved on and found a fair degree of success in other musical songwriting and performing ventures (quite literally in Durrill's case - he was also a member of The Ventures), while bassist Jim Grant, drummer Norman Ezell, and rhythm guitarist Jimmy Wright all left the industry and moved on to careers in education and photography.

Nonetheless, the ear-candy delight of Western Union endures, so here's a televised performance of it and another song from the band's small catalog.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/22/2016 Update

Today, we cut back to our 2015 Circuit Teasers mix, and take a listen to the latest from one of the most popular electronic festival acts of the last decade.

Love Is The Future is my favorite of many likeable singles from endearing British Electro-Pop/Funk act Hot Chip's sixth full-length release Why Make Sense?.

Continuing in the vibe of previous efforts, Why Make Sense? finds the band again celebrating the joys and benefits of committed, long-term romantic relationships. So to keep things fresh this time out, they took a much more relaxed, spartan approach to the music, recording the album in just four days and with a minimum of layered instrumental or vocal overdubs.

The result in the loosest, "live-est" feeling record of their career and another winning addition to their already very solid discography. In addition to Love Is The Future, (which won its spot on this mix primarily due to those goofy/funky backing vocals), I also highly recommend catching the songs Need You Now, Huarache Lights, and Dark Night.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/21/2016 Update

Today we return once again to our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars mix, and touch on one Grammy Hall Of Fame song's highly unlikely origins.

Though it may seem like the most romantic song on the entire 1967 collection, those old enough to remember know that Dusty Springfield's version (the first of many) of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's The Look Of Love was originally written and conceived by Bacharach for purely comedic purposes, as the hyper-sexualized score to the over-the-top seduction scene between Ursala Andress and Peter Sellers in the 1967 James Bond spoof Casino Royale (a scene Mike Myers would steal from liberally decades later for his Austin Powers movies). In truth, Bacharach didn't even come up with the lyrics for the song until after seeing Ursala's performance in an early rough cut of the film.

But despite the song's comic origins, that didn't stop near every balladeer in existence from wanting to record their version of it, and it would go on to become one of the most covered songs of the era.

In just the next three years alone, alternate versions were recorded and released by the likes of Andy Williams, Lanie Kazan, Morgana King, Sergio Mendes, The Four Tops, Dorthy Ashby, Son Tres, Issac Hayes, and Nina Simone.

So in honor of the song's origins, here's the track set to some snippets of the film.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/20/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 2015 Coachella Starters mix, and take a listen to one of the most mainstream popular songs in our entire 2015 mix collection.

Most of acts that make up each year's Coachella lineup, at least once one gets past the EDM portion of the bill, are there primarily because of glowing critical reception to a recent album or body of work, rather than any sort of mainstream popularity.

But each year there does seem to be one artist that is booked purely because, at the moment the lineup was put together, they had "the" hit - which doesn't mean that they had the biggest hit of the year, but rather that they had the biggest hit of the year that also established cred with the snobbier indie listeners that traditionally make up a major portion of Coachella's regular audience.

In past years, this artist was Gotye, with Somebody That I Used To Know, or The Lumineers, with Ho Hey, but on the 2015 line-up, there's no question the artist who was there just because of one single song was Irish indie soulster Hozier with his megahit, Take Me To Church, the number 14 song on Billboard 2014 year-end Hot 100.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/19/2016 Update

Today, we turn back to our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars and take a listen to Spooky,  the first national hit for Florida-born, Atlanta-based soft southern rock pioneers the Classics IV.

A reworked instrumental originally written by Atlanta saxophonist Mike Sharp to which the band obtained the rights, added vocals, and shifted the arrangement, Spooky actually shouldn't have been the act's first national hit, but their previous breakout single, the Frank Valli-ish Pollyanna, was muscled off of New York radio in 1966 just as it was gaining traction by The Four Seasons' management team, who felt the song offered "unwelcome" stylistic competition.

Following the success of Spooky, the band would split into a separate performing and recording lineups arrangement similar to that of some of the other acts on this mix, though in this case, it was a more consensual decision between band and management.

Original guitarist J. R. Cobb, who disliked the stress of touring, stayed back in Atlanta with producer/manager Bobby Buie.  The duo began writing songs at a prolific rate, and then assembled a crack team of Atlanta session musicians that became, for all practical purposes, the band on record. Meanwhile, original drummer Dennis Yost, who held the rights to the band's name, moved up front as lead singer for the touring unit and become the face of the band.

This arrangement would continue until the mid-70s when the Cobb/Buie led session/songwriting team broke away to become The Atlanta Rhythm Section, basically relegating the Yost-led performing act to the nostalgia circuit for the rest of their careers.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/18/2016 Update

All right, so we're now a few month into the preliminary phase of our 2015/1967 countdown.

By my count, after this post today, we will have 52 songs left to get to that were included in our 2015/1967 mix collections but will not be represented in either album or single form in any of our countdowns before we can get to the countdowns proper.

I'll try to start doubling and tripling up profiles when time and thematic emphasis for the day allows, but for today, we look at just one track, another fascinating electronic number featured on our 2015 Dream Weavers mix.

Hailing from London, England, Ghost Culture is the performing/recording name for young studio engineer/DJ James Greenwood, who with his self-titled debut became one of the latest roster editions to the highly influential electronic music label Phantasy.

Very much in the flavor of Dan Snaith's Caribou, but with a darker, post-punkish vocal-vibe, I've chosen the debut's fantastic first track Mouth, originally released as a single in 2013, to represent here. With its eerie, glitchy opening build that's both haunting and dreamlike, it felt like the perfect track to start off this mix, though another favorite track from the album that didn't make our collection, Guidecca, might have served almost as well.