Friday, September 30, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/30/2016 Update

Today,we return to our 2015 Women Who Rock mix, and take a listen to Desirethe hard-charging opening track from promising young Toronto quartet Dilly Dally's full-length debut Sore.

Centered around the grungy talents of one-time high school besties Liz Ball and Katie Monk (sister of Tokyo Police Club's David Monk), Dilly Dally's screeching yet melodic vocals and thundering, fuzzed-out guitars will appeal to just about any fan of early 90s Pacific Northwest grunge acts like Hole. In addition to Desire, I am also a big fan of Sore tracks Green, Ice Cream, and Purple Rage.

Very excited to hear what these girls come up with next, but for now, here's Desire.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/29/2016 Update

Judy In Disguise (With Glasses), a spoof written as a lyrical parody of the Beatles Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, was the only number-one hit for Louisana-based blue-eyed soul act John Fred And His Playboy Band.

A bit older than most of the one-hit wonders featured on our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars mix, the band had actually scored some significant airplay in the late 1950s with the song Shirley, but failed to generate much momentum at the time, including turning down an invitation to appear on American Bandstand, due to Fred's heavy commitments as a two-sport collegiate athlete.

Unfortunately for the band, that inability to generate momentum after a chart hit would also plague them in 1967.  Following the success of Judy, they were quickly branded a novelty act despite actually being a very tight, long-running performing outfit, and were never able to attract much interest from national listeners again, though they remained well regarded in Louisianan for years to come.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/28/2016 Update

Today, we continue working through those songs that were celebrated in our 2015 and 1967 mix collections but will not factor in our upcoming best-of countdowns for those years.

Five or six years ago, when twee, folkish indie was at its peak, Baraboo, Wisconsin's Fiest-like sextet of high school classmates PHOX would have felt almost "dime-a-dozen" on the line-up.

But times change, and by 2015, wedged into an early afternoon outdoor theater slot on a day otherwise dominated by punk, rock and dance acts, the band's catchy, delicately arranged songs played like a musical breath of fresh air.

It didn't hurt that lead singer Monica Martin has a stunning live voice either.

I choose the playful Shrinking Violets from their self-titled 2014 debut to represent them on our 2015 Coachella Starters mix, but their ballad Laura was also strongly considered.

Here's an early live performance of the song from a different venue in 2013.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/27/2016 Update

Today, we go back once again to our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars mix, and take a listen to an all-time Rock Steady classic.

Though not widely known in the states at the time, The Paragons were one of the biggest Rock Steady/Ska/Reggae acts in Jamaica during their 1964-1970 heyday, proud owners of many number one hits on the Jamaican charts.

Money issues (or more specifically, a lack of royalties received on the heels of all those hits) would tear the group apart, but their songs would live on as go-to source material for numerous bands in the 70s and 80s like UB40, Massive Attack, and most notably Blondie, whose cover of the song we are presenting here, the Paragon's biggest 1967 hit The Tide Is High, became a US chart-topper in 1980.

So here's the original.

And as a bonus here's the goofy video of that famous cover.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/26/2015 Update

Another one of my 2015 mainstream favorites was without question ex-Canadian Idol contestant turned pop megastar Carly Rae Jepsen's Run Away With Mefrom her much better than you would think third full-length release Emotion

Included on our 2015 Crowd Pleasers mix, this slice of ear candy doesn't strive to be any more than the simple teen romance anthem it is, but still, I find Run Away With Me to be oddly inspiring in a Kate and Leo on the deck of the Titanic sort of way.

Must be that intro.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/25/2016 Update

Usually a hit is the best thing that can happen for a band, except when it's not.

Today, we return to the 1967 edition of Nancy's Favorites and take a listen to one case of the latter.

Different Drum was the only top-twenty hit for the Linda Ronstadt-fronted folk-rock act The Stone Poneys before unrelenting record label pressure to repackage Ronstadt as a solo artist tore the group apart, even though Ronstadt's ties with guitarist and principal songwriter Bob Kimmel went deep.

Six years Ronstadt's senior, Kimmel had been performing with Linda intermittently since he discovered her as an Arizona high school freshman in 1960 singing with her brother and sister at local Tuscon haunts. The two maintained a correspondence whenever Kimmel returned to Los Angeles, and by 1964, he had convinced her to come to LA and form a proper band. The two teamed up with Kimmel's occasional songwriter partner Kenny Edwards, and the Stone Poneys were soon regulars on the LA club scene.

But right from the start, label interest was exclusively on Rondstadt.

The group held out, and eventually signed with the newly formed FolkWorld arm of Capital Records, the one label that would allow them to stay intact, but the pressures to put Ronstadt front and center continued. Originally a Peter, Paul, & Mary-styled outfit that shared tight group vocals and worked almost exclusively from high-quality Kimmel/Edwards compositions, the inclusion of Different Drum (written by Monkee Mike Nesmith and recorded with just Ronstadt and session musicians instead of Kimmel/Edwards) on their more rocking sophomore LP Evergreen, Vol. 2 was basically the group's death knell, though they would manage to release one more record before officially disbanding in 1968.

Ronstadt, obviously, went on to have a significant solo career...just as label execs had predicted.

Here's a very different sounding live performance of the song from 1967.

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.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/17/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 1967's Super "Sensational" Summer Of Love mix, and look at another huge folk-rock anthem from that year.

Unlike The Youngblood's Get Together, which took two years and a commercial plug to become a hit, The Grass Root's Let's Live For Today needed no such grace period finding its audience.  It was an immediate hit for the act in the states, (the first of over a dozen in the years to follow), and went on to become one of the most popular songs of the decade, almost an anthem of sorts, for U.S. servicemen fighting overseas in Vietnam who were facing the prospect of death on a daily basis.

But as direct and uncomplicated as the song's social impact was, the band's history is anything but.

Initially, the band was nothing more than a prepackaged act built as a live performance vehicle for the songs of the Lou Adler mentored songwriting duo of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri.  In fact, the performing version of The Grass Roots was already on its third fully revamped line-up when Let's Live For Today hit the air in May 1967.

But though, other than vocals, most of the band's early recorded music was performed by LA's famed collection of ace studio musicians, The Wrecking Crew, the performing version of the band, though it would pass through over fifty different members in its lifetime, would go on to have an astonishingly long career well after Sloan and Barri had lost all interest.

Led by third-lineup bassist Rob Grill, who sang lead vocals on Let's Live For Today and who would become the one constant in the band until his death in 2011, The Grass Roots became mainstays on the state fair/festival circuit in the 70s and 80s and the nostalgia circuits of more decades. In fact, even though Grill has now passed, a collection of replacements handpicked by him continues to perform under The Grass Roots moniker to this day.

So to introduce an act that kept it going long past its peak years, a comedian who in 1967 was well beyond his.

Friday, September 16, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/16/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 2015 Coachella Starters mix, and look at one last old-timer featured on the mix alongside all those indie upstarts.

After top-line names AC/DC and Steely Dan, there's no question one of the biggest "legendary" acts in the 2015 line-up were notorious psychobilly kingpins The Reverend Horton Heat.

Always a fiery, hysterically irreverent good time live, their Friday afternoon show was no different and no less awesome than those they have been performing now for over twenty years, so I wanted to represent them with one of their hysterically irreverent and quintessential tracks ever, the 1993 fan-favorite Bales Of Cocaine.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/15/2016 Update

Today, take a look at two very different 1967 bubblegum hits, and the production team that linked them.

The 1910 Fruitgum Company's Simon Says (featured on Volume 4 - 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars) and The Music Explosion's cover of Little Bit O' Soul (featured on Volume 8 - Nancy's Favorites) were two early critical hits for the Buddah Record's bubblegum-oriented production team of Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz.

For the originally more garage-y Mansfield, Ohio-based Music Explosion, Little Bit O' Soul would be their only hit, peaking at #2 in the weeklies and finishing #11 on Billboard's Year End Hot 100, but it would empower the Katz/Kasenetz team and set them on a path of producing several more bubblegum classics.

Simon Says, a later hit for the Katz/Kasenetz team that same year, would be more typical of their actual process, pairing an unknown act, in this case, New Jersey's Jeckell And The Hydes, with various anonymous studio musicians to cut the track.

Released in December of 1967, Simon Says peaked at #4 in the weeklies and ended up taking the #33 spot in the 1968 Year-End Hot 100.  A string of additional hits for the quasi-manufactured band would follow over the next few years, enough to sustain various incarnations of the lineup as a performing act to this very day.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/14/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 2015 Crowd Pleasers mix, and check out FourFiveSeconds, a fluke one-off collaboration between Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney that quickly became one of my favorite mainstream pop songs of the year.

Powered by one of Rihanna's very best vocals and a fantastic, understated, almost tropical feeling guitar riff, it's a ridiculously catchy tune, and was met with widespread acclaim.  It ended the year at #42 on Billboard's year-end Hot 100, and presently stands at #72 for 2015 on

Here's the official video. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/13/2016 Update

Today, we go back yet again to our 1967's Super Soulsters' Deep Cuts Review, and revisit an all-time great track that needs little introduction.

Aretha Franklin appears multiple times in our 1967 collection, but Chain Of Fools, unlike all the other tracks included, was not part of her landmark 1967 album I Never Loved A Man The Way That I Love You. Rather, the single was originally penned at the urging of Atlantic producer Jerry Wexler by veteran soul singer/songwriter Don Covay for Otis Redding.

Upon hearing a rough demo, Wexler decided the song was better suited for Aretha, and passed it along to her instead, making it the second song in this year's collection that Aretha in some way stole from Otis Redding (the other obviously being her cover of Respect).

Chain Of Fools was released late in 1967, reached #2 on the pop charts in early 1968, and would later be included on Franklin's fantastic 1968 full-length release Lady Soul.  Rolling Stone later ranked it as one of the all time 500 greatest songs in popular music, and it presently sits in the #342 position on

Monday, September 12, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/12/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 2015 Bigger In Britain mix, and look at another quality American act that hasn't yet gained sizable traction in the United States.

Vertigo, featuring a guest vocal from the Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner, comes to us courtesy of Mini-Mansions, the Lennon-esque, power-pop side project of Queens Of The Stone age bassist Michael Shuman, from the band's solid 2015 sophomore LP The Great Pretenders.

Deftly combining the soaring vocal richness of Brit Pop from eras past with a bit of QOTSA's darker edge and gnarly guitar-driven wonkiness, The Great Pretenders isn't a knock-out, but it is a lush, adventurous work that boasts a number of quality tracks and is definitely worth a bit of your time.

A quick parental warning, however, the song's official video here does contain some nudity.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/11/2016

For today's 9-11 countdown post, I wanted to highlight one of the most positive and life-affirming songs in either mix collection, so we return to the 1967 editon of Nancy's Favorites, and take a listen to one of The Troggs' biggest hits.

Though never very popular in the States, and more known for lust-focused early proto-punk and garage hits like Wild Thing, With A Girl Like You, and I Can't Control Myself, Andover England's The Troggs were actually one of the most stylistically versatile of the original British Invasion acts, and never was that counter-persona versatility more on display than with their classic flower-power ballad Love Is All Around.

Released late in 1967, the sweet, disarmingly simple song would go on to become a major charter in 1968 and an enduring fan favorite. It has been covered countless times by other acts, including REM, and for Christmas fans, most notably in lyrically reworked form as a shameless holiday commercial ploy by aging rocker Billy Mack, hysterically portrayed by veteran British character actor Bill Nighy, in Richard Curtis's Love, Actually.  

If I'm being completely honest, I know it was the Love, Actually version that inspired Nancy to pick this track for her mix, so here's a video for that version of the song as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/10/2016 Update

Today, we return our attention to our 2015 Laurel Canyon Revelry mix and focus on one of the two songs featured on that mix by British folk singer Laura Marling from her self-produced fifth LP,  Short Movie.

In truth, Short Movie is probably the best 2015 release I won't review in depth for this calendar year or include in our 2015 album countdown, even though I believe it to be better than many of the albums that will make our countdown. Alas, there's only so many albums I can work fully through my listening rotation in any given year, and at a certain point, the time comes to just do a quick Spotify scan of the most notable albums and singles I've yet to catch for that calendar year and move on.

That's what happened to Short Movie, which was very close to the top of my next purchases list when I cut 2015 off, but later, when I did my quick two-pass listen on Spotify, the album blew me away.

"What's this?" I said. The normally placid, spartan Marling had suddenly gotten outright dynamic, working in all manner of electric instrumentation on a number of tracks, and invoking sonic structures that would have sounded right at home beside Love, Tim Buckley, and others on a couple of Nancy and I's 1967 mixes.  The rolling, life-lesson spewing, Four Sail-ish Gurdjieff's Daughter is a perfect example of this new dynamic, not to mention a song I would love to play for my teenage daughter for the nuggets of wisdom it passes on, though I doubt she'd take the time to listen.

And while even here Marling's singing remains a touch too intentionally anti-melodic for my tastes, it rarely gums up the works on these tracks like it has on past efforts like her sophomore LP I Speak Because I Can.

So overall, even though I've only given Short Movie two full listens, I have nothing but praise for the album, and it leaves me excited for what Marling will do next.

Can you believe this young woman, already five full-length albums into her career, is barely twenty-six?

Friday, September 9, 2016

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

Today, we turn once again to our 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars mix, and listen to the song that owned awards season that year, Up, Up, And Away, the breakout hit for the LA-forged vocal quintet The Fifth Dimension.

The poppiest soul act of their era and definitely among the most camera friendly (both original female members, Marilyn McCoo and Florence LaRue, were ex-beauty contest winners), their songs were often closer in dynamics to the sound of West Coast Sunshine acts like the Beach Boys, The Mamas And Papas, and The Association than anything happening in the soul world at the time.

Formed in 1965, they floundered for a couple of years until they were signed by Soul City label founder Johnny Rivers, who then paired them with budding songwriter Jimmy Webb, who would pen Up, Up, And Away and a significant portion of the band's material over the next few years.

And Up, Up, And Away didn't just do well on the charts (peaking at #7 in the weeklies and #47 on Billboards year-end Hot 100).  It also went on to dominate the 1968 Grammies, taking home both the Song and Record of the Year awards, as well as also winning in several lesser categories.

In hindsight, given all the remarkable music produced in 1967, those awards speak more to the never-ending cluelessness of the Grammy Awards than to the greatness of the song, but I'm sure at that moment it was a tasty bit of professional revenge for an act that had once been rejected by Motown's Berry Gordy.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/08/2016 Update

Today, we quickly turn back to our 2015 Women Who Rock mix, and take a listen to Evans The Death's Bad Year.

Bad Year is my favorite track from the London-based indie-rocker's sophomore LP Expect Delayswhich was a fairly eclectic outing, even though overall it demonstrated a clear stylistic shift into harder-hitting, more post-punkish territory.

As much as I liked Bad Year, I can't say I loved the album in full, but it is definitely worth a listen as it does contain some other appealing songs, especially the title track and Intrinsic Grey.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/07/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 1967's Super Soulsters' Deep Cuts Review mix and touch on three minor soul acts who had by far their biggest moments in 1967.

Louisiana-born, Compton-raised Brenton Wood's undeniable The Oogum Boogum Song, though his first single to ever chart, was not his biggest single in 1967. That honor goes to follow-up single Gimme Little Sign, which finished #26 for 1967 in Billboard's year-end Hot 100.

But over the year's, though both tracks have shown legs, it's been The Oogum Boogum Song that's most endured in the minds of critics, fans and musicians alike, covered by Big Star's Alex Chilton, and recently brought back into public consciousness via its prominent usage in the soundtrack of HBO's comedy series Eastbound And Down.

Though Wood produced only three more charting singles over the next decade, he has remained active in music to some degree to this present day.

Expressway To Your Heart was the first and biggest single ever for Philadelphia's Soul Survivors, who would place a few more songs on the R&B charts over the next seven years.

It's notable in this mix for being the only inclusion by a predominantly white band, but it's a far more important song historically, as it was the first hit single for the songwriting/production team and future Philadelphia International Records label heads Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, who would be amongst the most dominant names in soul and disco throughout the 1970s.

True one-hit wonders, Rochester, New York's Soul Brothers Six, though active for over a decade (1965-1976) with an ever-shifting line-up, only made the charts once.

But talk about a song with legs.  Though their original version of Some Kind Of Wonderful only peaked at #91 on the weekly Billboard charts, covers of the song would chart three additional times, (most notably the Grandfunk Railroad cover in 1974, which would reach #3), and the song would also go on to inspire a John Hughes-produced movie of the same title in 1987.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/06/2016 Update

Today, we turn to the 2015 version of Nancy's Favorites, and look at a couple of songs she pilfered from the original version of my 2015 Coachella Starters mix, and one additional song I used to replace them.

Like A Mighty River comes to us courtesy of the Birmingham, Alabama retro-soul act St. Paul & The Broken Bones, from their 2014 full-length debut Half The City.

A blistering live act, fronted by the pudgy, bespectacled Paul Janeway who looks much more like a miniaturized John Candy than a classic soul singer until he starts ripping into the band's songs like a possessed Al Green/James Brown cross, I was lucky enough to catch some of their 2015 set at Coachella, where they were, quite simply, on fire.

Like A Mighty River itself, however, is a bit of an anomaly from the just decent Half The City, one of only a few bouncy, uptempo barnburners on an album too repetitively stacked with individually good but too samey Try A Little Tenderness-like slow-building ballads. A few more tunes in the vein of River to break things up would have really served the album well.

As good as St. Paul was at Coachella, a quartet of young Chapman Film School upstarts that go by the name of Saint Motel was even better - lively and joyous as one can be, boasting a Tropicalia meets Franz Ferdinand musical style and joined by a sextet of young Can-Can dancers on stage.  It comes as no surprise to me that Nancy lifted their unbelievably catchy hit single and set closer My Type to open her mix this year.

To replace My Type on my 2015 Coachella Starters mix, I pulled another recent song from the band, Cold Cold Man, which is almost as good, and in its playful James Bond-inspired music video clearly betrays the act's film school roots.  If Saint Motel can deliver another few songs like these two on their October 2016 full-length follow-up, they could be in for very big things in the years ahead.

Monday, September 5, 2016

McQ's 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/05/16 Update

Today we take a quick look at the last song on Volume 7 of our 1967 collection, The Calm Before The Calm, that won't in some way make our best of 1967 countdown.

Darling Be Home Soon was one of the last hit singles for The Byrd's main American mid-sixties folk rock rivals - the New York-based The Lovin' Spoonful - and the song hit big at just about the same time Canadian lead guitarist Zal Yanovsky, fearing deportation, named his supplier after being busted for drug possession in San Francisco, an action which inspired a counter-culture boycott of the band from which the group would never really recover.  Yanovsky left the band just weeks after the incident, and within a year, lead singer and principal songwriter John Sebastian would also depart.

But prior to that moment, throughout 1965 and 1966, The Lovin' Spoonful were among America's biggest and most likable hit makers, and Darling Be Home soon, originally released on the soundtrack for the movie You're A Big Boy Now (for which Sebastian had provided much of the music) but repackaged as a single in '67, and then later also a hit for Joe Cocker, perfectly encapsulates their sweet, upbeat, folksy, jug band charm.

The band will be a much bigger part of our 1966 retrospective to come next year, but for now, enjoy this fine track.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 09/04/2016 Update

All right, so my son is off for his first year of college. Time to get back to working through those songs that were included in the 2015 and 1967 mix collections but will not be represented in our best of the year rankings before we start the countdowns proper.

Today, we look at three older tunes featured on our 2015 Coachella Starters mix.

For those less familiar with our annual mix collections, each year's Coachella Starters mix highlights some of the top undercard acts I saw at the same calendar year's Coachella Festival.

Though I always strive to stay current, this is the one mix where I will really relax from sticking to a same-calendar-year or prior-year release date criteria with regards to song inclusion.  If a band I might not profile again produced its best song three years ago, that's what goes in here.

But this year, three of the songs on this mix date way, way back.

The best of the three and one of the very best songs I saw performed by any band the entire festival weekend was veteran Brit Rockers Kasabian's Club Foot.

The track opener for the band's 2004 self-titled debut, it's a Stone Roses/Madchester styled groover of the first order that absolutely destroyed in the Mojave Tent early Saturday Night.

Sadly, it's the only song of the three profiled today where a decent video of the Coachella performance is still available online.

Another hard-charging rocker that totally stood out amongst all the 2015 weekend's music was former Kyuss drummer Brant Bjork's searing rendition of long-time fan favorite Low Desert Punk.

Just a funky stoner rock anthem, the song dates back all the way to Bjork's 1999 solo debut Jalamanta, but the recorded version included in this mix, as fun as it is, doesn't do justice to how extraordinary the song played live.

Videos of that Coachella performance are no longer available, but this video of a European performance five years prior comes the closest to representing the fantastic vibe that day.

Our final deep reach back is the breathtaking Jon Hopkins / King Creosote collaboration Bats In The Attic, which originated on the duo's gorgeous 2011 collection of ambient folk-tunes lyrically anchored around life in a Scottish sea town, Diamond Mine.

In truth, I only caught a few moments of Hopkins' 2015 Yuma DJ set, and doubt this track was part of his set that day, but since I had already mined much of the material from Hopkins' more recent and equally impressive 2013 release Immunity a few years back, I wanted to shine the spotlight on Diamond Mine here instead.

Oh, and if you haven't heard this song before, you might want to grab a tissue. This one really pulls at the heartstrings.