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January 29, 2011

This Week in Rock History: Six Strings to Heaven

Rock music has a robust history, so every Wednesday, J.A. Bartlett of the Hits Just Keep On Comin' talks about the biggest and most intriguing moments from years past...

This week in 1938, James Jamerson was born on Edisto Island in South Carolina. Originally a jazz musician, he became one of the most frequently heard and influential bass players in history as part of the house band at Motown. It's his bass that opens My Girl, and he's heard moving the earth on Dancing in the Street -- and upwards of 30 other #1 singles. He died in 1983.

This week in 1957, Eddie Van Halen was born in Amsterdam. He's one of rock's most inventive guitar players with an instantly recognizable sound, and his Wikipedia entry is worth reading mainly for its obsessive attention to details Van Halen himself might not be aware of. Here's Eddie on Late Night With David Letterman in 1984, performing a smokin' instrumental version of Panama:

History that sucks, after the jump.

Continue reading "This Week in Rock History: Six Strings to Heaven" »

January 25, 2011

WNEW Rock News: Pearl Jam Doc on the Way

Pearl_jam Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary celebration continues with the deluxe reissues of their 1993 set, Vs, and their 1994 long-player, Vitalogy, a band-curated festival this summer and the release of their Cameron Crowe-directed documentary.

Called Pearl Jam Twenty, it includes archive footage, live performances and interviews from the past 20 years.

"I just saw a rough cut," bass player Jeff Ament told Rolling Stone.

"It was so [expletive] weird seeing footage of stuff I didn't know anybody was taping at the time. The whole movie is Cameron's love letter to us – but it's equal parts complimentary and really painful.

"It shows our growing pains and some real bad times," he added, "including Roskilde [the 2000 festival in Denmark during which nine fans died during a performance]. It was just really hard to watch."

No word on when the album will be released.

Video Classics: 'Destroyer' - The Kinks

To honor WNEW's legendary Firecracker 500, every day we are highlighting the music that populated the 1991 and 1996 lists, with classic videos, live performances and little-known facts about the songs and how they came to be...

By the time they minted their album Give the People What They Want, English rockers The Kinks were already well into their second go-around as a popular band. Their heyday had been from about 1967 to 1972, but after drifting a bit in the mid-'70s (as so many bands that found game in the '60s did), they enjoyed something of a silver age from the 1977 until the mid-'80s. Destroyer, the lead single from Give the People What They Want, was one of their most memorable songs of this era, first released in 1981.

Destroyer was the biggest mainstream rock hit the Kinks enjoyed, though it was hardly original, inasmuch as the band borrowed previous works in order to complete it. The main riff was taken from All Day and All of the Night. The lyrics, in turn, are based on their song Lola.

Despite all of the borrowing, Destroyer is a fine-enough song in its own right. While All Day and All of the Night only came in at 492 on the 1991 Firecracker 500, Destroyer hits spot #446. Neither holds a candle to Lola, however, which made a Top-25 #25 in 1991, and #36 on the 1996 list.

Have memories of this song or the Firecracker 500? Add your thoughts to the comments below or take a look at Video Classics past...

January 24, 2011

Video Classics: 'Breakfast in America' - Supertramp

To honor WNEW's legendary Firecracker 500, every day we are highlighting the music that populated the 1991 and 1996 lists, with classic videos, live performances and little-known facts about the songs and how they came to be...

One can, perhaps, read much into the nature of the internet when Gym Class Heroes' song, Cupid's Chokehold (which sampled Supertramp's Breakfast in America extensively) has a far more voluminous Wikipedia entry than the classic rock song that they were sampling and which will continue to be a radio staple long after Cupid's Chokehold is forgotten (just as it was for the decades previous).  Here's the Roger Hodgson performing the original ... 

Breakfast in America was the title track of a 1979 album by the band, and was a minor hit in the U.S. (going to #16 as a single) but which went all the way to #9 in the U.K. It comes in at spot #298 on the 1996 Firecracker 500. The song tells a story from the point of view of someone who has (ironically) never been to America.

Continue reading "Video Classics: 'Breakfast in America' - Supertramp" »

WNEW Rock News: I'm From Barcelona to Release New Set

Imfrombarcelonaxb9 Mute Records has announced the release of the third album from I'm From Barcelona.

Called Forever Today, the disc will drop on April 19th. IFB will preview the record with the release of the album's first single, Get in Line, on February (including remixes by Montag and Flairs).

The album was recorded over two sessions, the first being a 5 day marathon in Germany that saw participation from all 27 members. Bandleader Emanuel Lundgren called the second sessoion "a soul searching weekend spent by the sea, looking out at the surfers defying gravity outside."

"Something happens when we come together", he continued, "we wanted to capture that energy on tape so we decided to record the entire new album live in the studio."

Get more information here.



January 23, 2011

WNEW Rock News: Truth & Salvage Company Add Southern Dates

By their own admission, Truth & Salvage Company are a scraggly bunch of road-experienced, well-worn rock and rollers whose sum is greater than their parts. Four different singer songwriters with great harmonies, T&SC play good old-fashioned straight-ahead rock and roll.

They'll be spending four days on a rock and roll cruise with Skynyrd, followed by some dates in the South, including some gigs with another excellent group, Jonathan Tyler and the Northern Lights.

Wed 01/26/11 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits    
Thu 01/27/11 Atlanta, GA Smith's Olde Bar    
Fri 01/28/11 Birmingham, AL WorkPlay Theatre    
Sat 01/29/11 Nashville, TN 12th & Porter    
Sun 01/30/11 Memphis, TN Newby's
*Tue 02/08/11 Little Rock, AR Sticky Fingerz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack
*Wed 02/09/11 Jonesboro, AR Brickhouse
*Tue 02/22/11 Lincoln, NE Knickerbockers    
+Sat 02/26/11 Boulder, CO Fox Theatre    
+Wed 03/16/11 Fresno, CA Fulton 55    
+Fri 03/18/11 West Hollywood, CA Troubadour    

*Appearing with Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights

+ Appearing with Stockholm Syndrome

Rock Flashback: Don Kirshner's Rock Concert

Much of rock's history is shrouded in the haze of legend, or even in danger of being forgotten. Join J.A. Bartlett of the Hits Just Keep On Comin' each Saturday as he reminds us why we love this music like we do ...

The death of music mogul Don Kirshner this past week has the children of the 1970s remembering late nights in front of the TV watching Rock Concert, the music show he produced between 1973 and 1982. Rock Concert was syndicated to local stations, which could run it anytime they chose. Most ran it after the late local news on the weekend, and if you were lucky enough to live where it ran on Friday, you could watch it back-to-back with The Midnight Special, which ran on NBC Fridays after The Tonight Show. That's a lot of rock 'n' roll for your sleepover, or whatever you might have been doing on Friday nights in the 1970s. 

According to the episode list at IMDB, Rock Concert premiered in September 1973 with the Rolling Stones, the Doobie Brothers, and Earth Wind and Fire. In the first season alone, the show welcomed a range of acts from Van Morrison, Johnny Winter, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra to Foghat, Kansas (a Kirshner discovery), and REO Speedwagon, at a time when the latter three were not yet the major stars they would become. Sometimes acts performed especially for the show, and sometimes the show featured performances filmed elsewhere.

The show’s most infamous guests appeared early in 1975 -- Black Sabbath, a band that was never going to get much TV exposure anywhere else, played for nearly half-an-hour in a segment recorded especially for Rock Concert. After the jump, see Sabbath's performance of Paranoid.

Continue reading "Rock Flashback: Don Kirshner's Rock Concert" »

January 21, 2011

Top 10: Great Moments in Rock and Roll Habersdashery

Ten great hat-wearing personalities in rock and roll history

Clarence Clemons 10) Clarence Clemons

9) Charlie Daniels

8) Dr. Hook

7) Ronnie Van Zant

Elton-john 6) Elton John

5) Janis Joplin

4) Sly Stone

3) Little Steven

Dr.johnheaddress 2) Peter Tosh

1) Dr. John



Video Classics: 'Highway to Hell'

To honor WNEW's legendary Firecracker 500, every day we are highlighting the music that populated the 1991 and 1996 lists, with classic videos, live performances and little-known facts about the songs and how they came to be...

With a title like Highway to Hell and the band's lead guitarist sporting devil horns and a tail on the album cover, some people might be forgiven for wondering if the members of AC/DC were into Satanism. The truth, apparently, may be a little tamer. The title of the 1979 album and song (which squeaked into the 1996 Firecracker 500 in the very last position) was apparently coined from an answer given by lead guitarist Angus Young to a Guitar World reporter regarding the band's notoriously grueling touring schedule.  According to Wikipedia ...

He (Young) stated in the magazine Guitar World that 'when you are out on the road on a bus sleeping with a guy's smelly sock in your face, it's like you're on the highway to Hell.' Rumors persisted that the band members were Satanists, and this comment plus the album cover depicting Angus with devil horns and tail only added fuel to the fire. (The band has denied having anything to do with Satanism, rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young having even commented that 'Me mum would kill me for that!')

Highway to Hell was AC/DC's first million-selling album, bringing the band a degree of success which was tragically short-lived for lead singer Bon Scott. He died from acute alcohol poisoning after a night of partying six months later.  But while the success brought by Highway to Hell may have contributed to the death of Scott, it also set up even greater things for the band.  Their 1980 album Back in Black (with new frontman Brian Johnson), which was recorded as a tribute to Scott, went on to become the second-best-selling album of all time.

The video features a classic AC/DC stage performance, with a shirtless Scott belting out the lyrics while Angus Young gives the distinct impression that he could not possibly be more into playing those guitar riffs.

Have memories of this song or the Firecracker 500? Add your thoughts to the comments below or take a look at Video Classics past...

WNEW Rock News: Black Country Communion Plan Second Set

Black Country Communion are planning a sophomore release in 2011.

The supergroup -- consisting of Deep Purple singer-bassist Glenn Hughes, Led Zeppelin drummer Jason Bonham, Dream Theater keyboardist Derek Sherinian and guitarist Joe Bonamassa -- that released an album in september and played their first live shows in December are looking at June for their second long player.

The group are also planning a full tour to support album number two, something they weren't able to do this past fall.

Stay up to date with the band at their website.

wNew Rock Review: New Cut Copy Disc on the Way

Cut copy Cut Copy have a new album on the horizon. Called Zonoscope, the 12-track set will be released on February 28th.

Cut Copy were formed in 2001 at Melbourne, Australia, as a project by Dan Whitford. In 2003, Whitford recruited a band and in 2005 toured with acts like Franz Ferdinand, TV on the Radio, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Junior Senior.

Zonoscope will be their third album.


1. Need You Now
2. Take Me Over
3. Where I’m Going
4. Pharaohs & Pyramids
5. Blink and You’ll Miss a Revolution
6. Strange Nostalgia for the Future
7. This Is All We’ve Got
8. Alisa
9. Hanging Onto Every Heartbeat
10. Corner of the Sky
11. Sun God
12. Take Me Over (Azari & III Remix)

Get more information here.

January 20, 2011

Video Classics: 'Centerfield' - John Fogerty

To honor WNEW's legendary Firecracker 500, every day we are highlighting the music that populated the 1991 and 1996 lists, with classic videos, live performances and little-known facts about the songs and how they came to be...

As a bit of American Rock served straight-up with no pretension or embellishments, it's hard to beat John Fogerty's 1985 hit, Centerfield. The title track to his album of the same name, it was also the leading hit single from that effort, though Rock and Roll Girls and The Old Man Down the Road also did well. Centerfield charts at #430 on the 1991 Firecracker 500, and at #485 on the 1996 version of the list.

Centerfield was Fogerty's first album in nine years, and the first since his days with Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was also the source of a great deal of legal wrangling between Fogerty and Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz (the latter claiming defamation of character and asserting also that Fogerty plagarized from earlier Creedence songs to which Fogerty no longer owned the rights). In his turn, Fogerty sued for lawyer's costs after he prevailed in one case, and Fogerty v. Fantasy ended up going all the way to the Supreme Court (where the musician ultimately prevailed).

The lyrics of Centerfield are rife with baseball references, guaranteeing that the song will live on for years as the accompaniment to baseball highlight reels. The original video below is a treat not just for fans of classic-sounding rock, but also for fans of classic baseball, composed as it is almost entirely of historic footage of the sport. After the jump, check out a more recent version where Fogerty teams up with Keith Urban for a performance on CMT.

Continue reading "Video Classics: 'Centerfield' - John Fogerty" »

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