Dave's Music Database books

Wednesday, December 8, 1976

The Eagles released Hotel California: December 8, 1976

Originally posted 12/8/11. Updated 3/1/13.

left to right: Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner


Release date: 8 December 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Hotel California (2/26/77, #1 US, #8 UK, #10 AC, sales: 0.5 m) / New Kid in Town (12/18/76, #1 US, #20 UK, #2 AC, #43 CW, sales: 0.5 m) / Life in the Fast Lane (5/14/77, #11 US) / Wasted Time / Wasted Time (Reprise) / Victim of Love / Pretty Maids All in a Row / Try and Love Again / The Last Resort

Sales (in millions): 16.8 US, 1.5 UK, 31.4 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 18 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Hotel California proved a major milestone for the already immensely popular Eagles. The departure of Bernie Leadon and the arrival of guitarist Joe Walsh shifted the group’s sound from its original more country-rock leanings to a more straightforward rock sound. Walsh and guitarist Don Felder give the Eagles “arena-rock heft” WR and have much to do with this becoming “the Eagles’ biggest-selling regular album release, and one of the most successful rock albums ever.” WR

Life in the Fast Lane

Nowhere is that stylistic shift more apparent than on Life in the Fast Lane, a song which “drew a line between the band’s country-tinged past and rock and roll future” TL as it “captured coke culture in a catchphrase.” BL

That song was one of six which Don Henley either wrote or co-wrote, signaling another main shift for the Eagles. He was now “the band’s dominant voice, both as a singer and a lyricist.” WR Though his songs, he “sketches a thematic statement that begins by using California as a metaphor for a dark, surreal world of dissipation; comments on the ephemeral nature of success and the attraction of excess; branches out into romantic disappointment; and finally sketches a broad, pessimistic history of America that borders on nihilism.” WR

Those themes are clearly on display on the title track, “a sprawling epic” TL that “framed Hollywood…in terms so impressively vague they seemed mythic.” BL The song had “Satanic undertones that might have been subconsciously cribbed from Jethro Tull’s ‘We Used to Know’ when the bands toured together. As for the warm smell of colitas, fans are split on whether the word is Spanish slang for cannabis buds or an easy lay. Given the band and the era, the safest guess is both.” TL

Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Friday, October 1, 1976

Bob Seger releases Night Moves: October 1, 1976

Originally posted October 1, 2011.



“Bob Seger recorded the bulk of Night Moves before Live Bullet brought him his first genuine success, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it’s similar in spirit to the introspective Beautiful Loser, even if it rocks harder and longer. Throughout much of the album, he’s coming to grips with being on the other side of 30 and still rocking.” STE Critic Robert Cristgau said the album is for those no longer in their teens, but that it is still comprised of classic rock and roll riffs in the vein of Chuck Berry or The Rolling Stones. WK Seger “floats back in time, turning in high-school memories, remembering when wandering down Mainstreet was the highlight of an evening, covering a rockabilly favorite in Mary Lou.” STE

“Stylistically, there’s not much change since Beautiful Loser, but the difference is that Seger and his Silver Bullet Band – who turn in their first studio album here – sound intense and ferocious, and the songs are subtly varied. Yes, this is all hard rock, but the acoustic ballads reveal the influence of Dylan and Van Morrison, filtered through a Midwestern sensibility, and the rockers reveal more of Seger’s personality than ever.” STE Rolling Stone reviewer Kit Rachlis said that Seger sounded like Rod Stewart and wrote like Bruce Springsteen. WK In addition, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section lends a hand on 4 of the album’s songs. WK

“Seger may have been this consistent before (on Seven, for example), but the mood had never been as successfully varied, nor had his songwriting been as consistent, intimate, and personal.” STE

“Thankfully, this was delivered to a mass audience eager for Seger, and it not only became a hit, but one of the universally acknowledged high points of late-‘70s rock & roll. And, because of his passion and craft, it remains a thoroughly terrific record years later.” STE




Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Tuesday, September 28, 1976

Stevie Wonder released Songs in the Key of Life: September 28, 1976

Originally posted September 28, 2012.

image from revivalist.okayplayer.com


Release date: 28 September 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Disc 1: Love’s in Need of Love Today / Have a Talk with God / Village Ghetto Land / Contusion / Sir Duke (4/2/77, #1 US, #2 UK, #1 RB, #3 AC) / I Wish (12/4/76, #1 US, #5 UK, #1 RB, #23 AC) / Knocks Me Off My Feet / Pastime Paradise / Summer Soft / Ordinary Pain

Disc 2: Isn’t She Lovely (1/8/77, #23 AC) / Joy Inside My Tears / Black Man / Ngiculela-Es Una Historia-I Am Singing / If It’s Magic / As (11/5/77, #36 US, #36 RB, #24 AC) / Another Star (8/27/77, #32 US, #29 UK, #18 RB, #29 AC)

EP: Saturn / Ebony Eyes / All Day Sucker / Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)

Sales (in millions): 5.0 * US, 0.3 UK, 11.0 world (includes US and UK)

* Because this is a double album, the RIAA certifies it as having sales of 10 million.

Peak: 114 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Thanks to a boatload of Grammys and a slew of hits in the early 1970s, Motown renewed Stevie Wonder’s contract to the tune of an unprecedented $13 million sum. Then two years went by – “an eternity in R&B.” TL However, he spent that time working relentlessly, sometimes logging 48-hour sessions. NRR The resulting album proved well worth it; it “featured more true classics than even most great artists write in a lifetime.” TL

Originally packaged as a double album plus an EP, Songs in the Key of Life, was “Wonder’s longest, most ambitious collection of songs.” AMG It “is a Grand Artistic Statement, meant to demonstrate Wonder’s ability to entertain just about any audience he chooses.” EK It is “like stumbling into a cave full of treasure” JM and not knowing “which piece of gold to stuff into [one’s] pocket first.” JM It “touched on nearly every issue under the sun, and did it all with ambitious (even for him), wide-ranging arrangements and some of the best performances of Wonder’s career.” AMG

Isn’t She Lovely

However, as is generally true of double albums, one can “argue what can get cut to make a lean, mean single album. Songs in the Key of Life could almost be gotten down to fighting weight just by cutting tracks off when they start to drag. Do we need three minutes of baby noises on Isn’t She Lovely,” EK an otherwise lovely celebration of the love for a newborn child? How about “the two-part, smooth-and-rough Ordinary PainAMG where “the second half…sounds like a completely different song?” EK The album showcases “all of Wonder’s most endearing characteristics – intricate and inventive arrangements, the sheer joy of music-making – and all of his most aggravating (mawkishness, a less-than-industrious approach to his lyrics) in one package.” EK “Stevie seems to be vacillating between pure genius and only-slightly-inspired mediocrity—sometimes within the same song.” JM “It’s like one of those giant novelty sundaes that’s free if you can finish it in one sitting. Delicious, but in the end a bit much.” EK It might be necessary to try “skipping by the schmaltzy, whip-creamed tracks and focusing on the funk and jazz fusion-driven scoops of goodness.” JM

As

One long track which holds up well is As, “which builds perfectly over the course of its seven minutes, thanks in large part to one of the most memorable choruses Stevie Wonder ever wrote (which is seriously freakin’ saying something).” EK It “could have/should have been the ‘Hey Jude’ of the 1970s.” EK

Sir Duke

Among highlights are “the torrid fusion jam ContusionAMG and Sir Duke, “a big, brassy hit tribute to the recently departed Duke Ellington.” AMG It ”is not only a delight, but it also something of a statement of purpose for Wonder. It’s telling that he name-checks Basie, Miller, Armstrong, Ellington, and Fitzgerald over, say, Mingus or Miles.” EK “The bumping poem to his childhood, I Wish,” AMG is “one of the most joyous of Stevie’s singles…[which is] really saying something.” EK

I Wish

While not organized as such, Songs in the Key of Life “contains nearly a full album on love and relationships, along with another full album on issues social and spiritual. Fans of the love album Talking Book can marvel that he sets the bar even higher here, with brilliant material like the tenderly cathartic and gloriously redemptive Joy Inside My Tears, …the bitterly ironic All Day Sucker, or another classic heartbreaker, Summer Soft.” AMG

“Those inclined toward Stevie Wonder the social-issues artist had quite a few songs to focus on as well: Black Man was a Bicentennial school lesson on remembering the vastly different people who helped build America.” AMG This “eight-minute tour of Stevie’s prowess as a musician and a lyricist” JM has been called “the apex of the album,” JM but can also be an example of excess. It “starts out great – positive message, bubbling funk, nice flourishes throughout. But as those teachers go on hectoring those poor students (which, by the way, flies in the face of all known pedagogical theories), [one] can’t help wishing they would just knock it off already.” EK

Pastime Paradise

Pastime Paradise examined the plight of those who live in the past and have little hope for the future.” AMG It became the basis for Coolio’s smash rip hit, “Gangsta’s Paradise,” nearly two decades later. Village Ghetto Land is “a fierce exposé of ghetto neglect set to a satirical baroque synthesizer” AMG while “Saturn found Stevie questioning his kinship with the rest of humanity and amusingly imagining paradise as a residency on a distant planet.” AMG

“If all this sounds overwhelming, it is; Stevie Wonder had talent to spare during the mid-‘70s, and instead of letting the reserve trickle out during the rest of the decade, he let it all go with one massive burst. (His only subsequent record of the ‘70s was the similarly gargantuan but largely instrumental soundtrack Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants).” AMG

Songs in the Key of Life was a powerhouse – a rare moment when a master was faced with a new level of pressure, and responded by taking his game to new heights.” TL


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):


Saturday, September 4, 1976

Abba hits #1 in the UK with “Dancing Queen”: September 4, 1976

Originally posted September 4, 2012.


This content is taken from the The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999, available at DavesMusicDatabase.com as a standard book or ebook!

This song has mistakenly been rumored to have been written for the wedding of the King and Queen of Sweden. KL Abba did debut the song at a televised tribute to Sweden’s Queen Silvia and King Gustaf XVI, a day before their marriage on June 19, 1976. SF However, since the song’s origins date to August 1975, TB it hardly could have been written with the nuptials in mind.

The lyrics deal with a visit to a disco, but the song hones in on the joy of dancing. AMG That has aided the song’s durability since it isn’t just tied to disco, but to the greater world of dance-pop music. AMG The song is “arguably the world’s first Europop disco hit” SF with a rhythm inspired by George McCrae’s 1974 “Rock Your Baby.” BBC

Björn Ulvaeus says that when he and Benny Andersson, his co-writer and co-member in Abba, finished mixing the instrumental track, he was so excited he drove all over Stockholm to find someone to listen to the song. He ended up at his sister’s house, playing it over and over. As he says, “We couldn’t believe how good it sounded.” BBC

Neither could the rest of the world. The song topped multiple international charts, BBC notably becoming the group’s biggest of their nine #1 songs in the U.K. and part of an 18 consective top ten singles streak. BR1 In the U.S., the song was the group’s best-selling single LW and only hit to reach the chart pinnacle.


Awards:


Resources and Related Links:
  • DMDB page for “Dancing Queen”
  • Abba’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 “Sold on Song Top 100” (2004).
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 458.
  • KL Jon Kutner/Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 222.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 137.
  • SF Songfacts.com
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 163.




Friday, April 23, 1976

The Ramones released their debut album: April 23, 1976

Originally posted April 23, 2012.

image from last.fm


Release date: 23 April 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Blitzkrieg Bop / Beat on the Brat / Judy Is a Punk / I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend / Chainsaw / Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue / I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement / Loudmouth / Havana Affair / Listen to My Heart / 53rd & 3rd / Let’s Dance / I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You / Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world

Peak: 111 US, -- UK

Rating:


Review: “Prog rock, prepare to die.” BL “Like the Pistols and the Velvet Underground, it’s hard to overstate the importance of the Ramones in the development of post-punk and alternative music.” PK “Music historians long ago decided that Ramones is punk rock’s Rosetta Stone.” TL This “29-minute explosion of bratty speedy unschooled punk knocked the wind out of art-rock.” UT As Joey Ramone said, “Rock & roll had got bloated and lost its spirit.” BL

“Legend has it that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy spent a total of $6,400 recording this debut.” TL The question is, “Where’d all the money go? These…tracks sound like they were mixed on a runway at LaGuardia, but the playing is impressively clean…and Joey’s singing proves you don’t need range to sound exuberant.” TL

“The Ramones highlight the difference between American and British punk in the mid-1970’s – unlike the Pistols and other British punk bands, who had a frequently political message (if an occasionally garbled one) behind their aggressive and stripped down music, the Ramones opted for a raw, regressive sound without the political sloganeering. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend has nothing in common with ‘Anarchy in the UK,’ save a DIY aesthetic that had no need for the pretentious artistry which had seized control of mid-70’s rock music.” PK

I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

By way of “ripped denim, dumb lyrics and fuzz-toned guitars,” BL the Ramones delivered a collection of “imaginative reductions of early rock & roll, girl group pop, and surf rock.” AMG “Classic rock fans ambivalent about ‘punk’ should recognize that the Ramones were really just the Beach Boys on speed: a ‘1-2-3-4’ intro, simple 4/4 beat, and 3 surf guitar chords played at rapid-fire pace…Of course, instead of singing about surfing and riding in hot rods, the Ramones sang about glue-sniffing misfits.” PK The Ramones “reminded their fans that music is supposed to be fun, loud and fast, like The Beatles and The Beach Boys before they strove to be ‘artists.’” RV

53rd & 3rd

Songs like Judy is a Punk, 53rd & 3rd and Blitzkrieg Bop “succeed mostly because of the pop influences at their core.” TL The latter, with its “three-chord assault,” AMG includes the “famous ‘Hey! Ho!/ Let’s go!’…[as] an homage to the Bay City Rollers,” TL a decidedly pop group.

Blitzkrieg Bop

The Ramones begins at a blinding speed and never once over the course of its 14 songs does it let up.” AMG “None of the songs clock in at any longer than two and half minutes, and most are considerably shorter.” AMGThe Ramones is all about speed, hooks, stupidity, and simplicity.” AMG “It’s easy to consider Ramones a dumb album, considering the quirky lyrics, a nuance-free lead singer, simple three chord progressions and band members who haven’t quite learned to play their instruments. But the album is a carefully disguised act of rock criticism, knocking down rock ‘n’ roll’s idols.” RV

“Not only is the music boiled down to its essentials, but the Ramones offer a twisted, comical take on pop culture with their lyrics.” AMG “Songs about sniffing glue and headbanging would never again prove so incredibly revolutionary.” RV They also offer “the horror schlock of I Don’t Wanna Go Down to the Basement, the drug deals of ‘53rd and 3rd’, the gleeful violence of Beat on the Brat, or the maniacal stupidity of Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” AMG

Beat on the Brat

“And the cover of Chris Montez’s Let’s Dance isn’t a throwaway – with its single-minded beat and lyrics, it encapsulates everything the group loves about pre-Beatles rock & roll. They don’t alter the structure, or the intent, of the song, they simply make it louder and faster.” AMG

“In comparison to some of the music the album inspired, The Ramones sounds a little tame – it’s a little too clean, and compared to their insanely fast live albums, it even sounds a little slow – but there’s no denying that it still sounds brilliantly fresh and intoxicatingly fun.” AMG “Only The Beatles can claim to have influenced more bands than Joey Ramone, whose group somehow defined punk music and gave rise to an entire music movement.” RV “Within 12 months [of the album’s release], thousands picked up guitars, and punk rock grabbed headlines.” BL

Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue


Resources and Related Links:


Award(s):