Monday, January 30, 2012

The Top 50 Phil Collins and Genesis Songs

Phil Collins was born on January 30, 1951. He originally made his name as the drummer with Genesis in the early 1970s, but became the group’s singer after Peter Gabriel left in 1975. Under Collins’ guidance, the prog-rock outfit shifted to a more classic rock sound. Even as Genesis put out monster album after monster album, Collins also nurtured a solo career. In celebration of his b-day, here’s a list of Collins’ biggest songs – both with and without Genesis – as determined by Dave’s Music Database:

1. Another Day in Paradise (1989)
2. In the Air Tonight (1981)
3. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) (1984)
4. A Groovy Kind of Love (1988)
5. You Can’t Hurry Love (1982)

6. You’ll Be in My Heart (1999)
7. One More Night (1985)
8. That’s All (1983) *
9. Invisible Touch (1986) *
10. I Can’t Dance (1991) *

11. Sussudio (1985)
12. In Too Deep (1986) *
13. Follow You, Follow Me (1978) *
14. Easy Lover (with Philip Bailey, 1985)
15. Land of Confusion (1986) *

16. Two Hearts (1988)
17. Separate Lives (with Marily Martin, 1985)
18. No Son of Mine (1991) *
19. Tonight, Tonight, Tonight (1986) *
20. Hold on My Heart (1991) *

21. Misunderstanding (1980) *
22. Home by the Sea (1983) *
23. Throwing It All Away (1986) *
24. Abacab (1981) *
25. Take Me Home (1985)

26. Turn It on Again (1980) *
27. I Wish It Would Rain Down (1989)
28. Mama (1983) *
29. Jesus He Knows Me (1991) *
30. Something Happened on the Way to Heaven (1989)

31. Do You Remember? (1989)
32. Man on the Corner (1981) *
33. I Don’t Care Anymore (1982)
34. I Missed Again (1981)
35. No Reply at All (1981) *

36. Paperlate (1982) *
37. Keep It Dark (1981) *
38. Both Sides of the Story (1993)
39. Don’t Lose My Number (1985)
40. Illegal Alien (1983) *

41. Everyday (1994)
42. Hang in Long Enough (1989)
43. Dance into the Light (1996)
44. True Colors (1998)
45. Domino, Part 1: The Last Domino (1986) *

46. Inside Out (1985)
47. That’s Just the Way It Is (1989)
48. Duchess (1980) *
49. Never a Time (1991) *
50. Dance on a Volcano (1976) *

* Genesis songs are marked with asterisks. Only Genesis songs from the post-Peter Gabriel are included in this list.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Aretha Franklin held her first Atlantic Records recording session: January 27, 1967

Aretha Franklin launched her recording career in 1960, releasing her first single for Columbia when she was 18. The song, “Today I Sing the Blues”, reached #10 on the R&B charts and led to a handful of other hits, including two more top tens (“Won’t Be Logn” and “Operation Heartbreak”).

However, she opted not to resign with Columbia when her contract expired in 1966. She’d made nine albums with the company, but didn’t have any money to show for it. Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records quickly signed her and took her to Alabama’s legendary FAME Studios for her first recording session with the new company on on January 27, 1967. Along with the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, Aretha was joined by Stax Records’ Chips Moman and Tommy Cogbill. While she had largely covered standards while with Columbia, Atlantic would help her forge a new direction which allowed her to display her gospel roots and become one of the most important acts in R&B history.

One of her first endeavors at forging her new direction was a blues ballad called “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You”. The song topped the R&B charts for eight weeks, peaked at #9 on the pop charts, and gave Aretha her first gold single. During Aretha’s Atlantic stint, she sent more than 30 songs into the top ten of the R&B charts; 17 of those went to #1.

Aretha’s 1967 album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You also featured the classic “Respect”, a #1 pop and R&B song. The album comprised those first legendary recording sessions as well as recording she did in New York City. The “Queen of Soul” had been born.

Awards for Aretha Franklin:

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Mahalia Jackson charted with “Move on Up a Little Higher”: January 24, 1948

The Reverend William Herbert Brewster composed “Move on Up” almost as a sermon in which he built up the imagery of a “Christian climbing the ladder to heaven.” WK It was originally intended for one of his religious pageants or passion plays. WK

However, the song also had a strong undercurrent about civil rights for “black Americans’ gradual ascent to economic and social power.” TM The reverend acknowledged that “There were things that were almost dangerous to say, but you could sing it.” TM

When it came to singing it, the task was put to Mahalia Jackson, “The Queen of Gospel.” She was born in New Orleans and, at age 16, moved to Chicago where she joined a Baptist church choir. In 1929, she met Thomas A. Dorsey, a composer often heralded as “The Father of Gospel Music.” Over the next decade and a half, she toured singing his songs.

While she gained a name for herself, it was after signing to Apollo in 1947 that she gained her greatest fame. In her hands, “Move on Up” transcended the boundaries of gospel music and thrust itself upon the secular world as well. It found an audience with whites and blacks alike, reportedly becoming the best-selling gospel song to date. NRR Her singing was accompanied only by the standard church instruments of piano and organ, but her “delivery has the rhythm of preaching and the force of a lightning storm.” TM She blended “the vocal styles of blues singers, such as Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, with the heartfelt emotion and commitment common to traditional gospel singing.” NRR


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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Top 100 R&B Acts of All Time

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With the passings of Etta James (see blog entry here) and Johnny Otis this week, the timing seemed right for a list of the best R&B acts of all time. Besides, today also marks the birthday of Sam Cooke (born January 22, 1931) who I consider the best soul singer of all time. However, the aggregated list says otherwise. Here are the results of 26 consolidated lists with R&B related awards and chart performance also included.

Louis Jordan

1. Stevie Wonder
2. Aretha Franklin
3. Marvin Gaye
4. Michael Jackson
5. James Brown
6. Ray Charles
7. Sam Cooke
8. Smokey Robinson
9. Luther Vandross
10. R. Kelly

The Drifters

11. Whitney Houston
12. Al Green
13. Prince
14. Gladys Knight & The Pips
15. Patti LaBelle
16. Otis Redding
17. Mariah Carey
18. Etta James
19. The Isley Brothers
20. Janet Jackson

Ray Charles

21. Barry White
22. Curtis Mayfield
23. Diana Ross
24. Mary J. Blige
25. Teddy Pendergrass
26. The Temptations
27. The O’Jays
28. Earth, Wind & Fire
29. Chaka Khan/Rufus
30. Boyz II Men

Sam Cooke

31. The Supremes
32. Dionne Warwick
33. The Drifters
34. The Jackson 5/The Jacksons
35. Usher
36. The Miracles
37. Four Tops
38. Kool & the Gang
39. Jackie Wilson
40. Donny Hathaway

James Brown

41. Wilson Pickett
42. Little Richard
43. Beyonce
44. Spinners
45. Alicia Keys
46. Bobby Womack
47. Lionel Richie
48. Louis Jordan
49. Fats Domino
50. Sly & the Family Stone

Marvin Gaye

51. Jerry Butler
52. IsaacHayes
53. The Impressions
54. Parliament/Funkadelic
55. Sade
56. The Dells
57. Chuck Berry
58. Rick James
59. New Edition
60. Babyface

Aretha Franklin

61. Joe Tex
62. Tina Turner
63. Anita Baker
64. Bobby “Blue” Bland
65. LL Cool J
66. The Clovers
67. Ashford & Simpson
68. Solomon Burke
69. Johnnie Taylor
70. Destiny’s Child

Stevie Wonder

71. The Chi-Lites
72. Ruth Brown
73. Commodores
74. Donna Summer
75. Keith Sweat
76. Nat “King” Cole
77. B.B. King
78. Tyrone Davis
79. Aaliyah
80. Joe Simon

Michael Jackson

81. The Platters
82. The Whispers
83. Elvis Presley
84. Robert Flack
85. Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
86. TLC
87. Freddie Jackson
88. Bobby Brown
89. Hank Ballard & the Midnighters
90. Cameo

Mariah Carey

91. Maxwell
92. Dinah Washington
93. Jay-Z
94. D’Angelo
95. Little Willie John
96. Erykah Badu
97. Ohio Players
98. Brook Benton
99. En Vogue
100. Peabo Bryson

R. Kelly

Saturday, January 21, 2012

LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” logs its 29th week in the top 10: January 21, 2012

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In the January 21st, 2012, issue of Billboard magazine, LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” logs its 29th week in the top 10. Only two songs stand ahead of it – Santana’s “Smooth” (30 weeks) and Leann Rimes’ “How Do I Live” (32 weeks). Here are the eight songs which have spent 25 weeks or more in the top 10:

1. Leann Rimes “How Do I Live” 32 weeks in 1997-98
2. Santana & Rob Thomas “Smooth” 30 weeks in 1999-2000
3. LMFAO “Party Rock Anthem” 29 weeks in 2011-12
4. Jewel “Foolish Games/You Were Meant for Me” 28 weeks in 1997-98
5. Savage Garden “Truly Madly Deeply” 26 weeks in 1997-98
6. Chubby Checker “The Twist” 25 weeks in 1960 and 1962
7. Toni Braxton “Un-Break My Heart” 25 weeks in 1996-97
8. OneRepublic with Timbaland “Apologize” 25 weeks in 2007-08

Interestingly, such a significant chart distinction is not a guarantee for “classic song status”. According to Dave’s Music Database, “The Twist”, “Smooth”, “Un-Break My Heart”, “How Do I Live”, and “Apologize” rank in the top 1000 songs of all time. However, it should be noted that “Party Rock Anthem” has the best shot for joining those songs in the top 1000 list since as the newest song it is still gaining ground in regards to long-term status. It also currently rates as the top song of 2011.

  • Rated best song of the year by DMDB

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Etta James: 1938-2011

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Etta James, “one of the great voices of the 20th century who fused R&B with gospel and blues,” RS died January 20, 2012, less than a week shy of her 74th birthday. The Grammy winner was an inductee in the Blues Hall of Fame, R&B Foundation, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her song “The Wallflower (Roll with Me Henry)” (1955), was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and “Tell Mama” (1967) was selected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll. However, she may be most associated with wedding favorite “At Last” (1961), a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, National Recording Registry entry, and one of the top 100 jazz songs of all time according to the DMDB. At his inauguration, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama danced to “At Last” as sung by Beyoncé, who portrayed James in the 2008 film Cadillac Records.

James was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and battled other health problems such as drug addiction, dementia, and hepatitis C. At one point, she ballooned to a reported 400 pounds and then cut that weight in half. Lupe DeLeon, her longtime friend and manager, said “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world…She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.” CNN

She was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles in 1938. Her teen mother largely abandoned her and never revealed the father’s identity, although James suspected it was famed pool player Minnesota Fats. CNN Johnny Otis, best known for the song “Willie and the Hand Jive”, discovered James when she was 14. She hit #1 on the R&B charts with “The Wallflower”, a song Otis wrote as an answer song to Hank Ballard’s “Work with Me Annie”.

Over the next decade, James charted a dozen top ten hits on the R&B charts, most with Chess Records. Her most successful run on the pop charts was “Tell Mama” with a #23 peak. She discussed her songs with CNN in 2002: “Most of the songs I sing, they have that blue feeling to it. They have that sorry feeling. And I don’t know what I'm sorry about.” CNN

She continued touring until sidelined by illness in 2009. She has been cited as an influence by current British singer Adele. In 2008, Bonnie Raitt told Rolling Stone, “There’s a lot going on [in] Etta James’ voice…A lot of pain, a lot of life, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there's a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.” RS She also said, “Anybody who has a bluesy side to what they do can point to Etta James as the bridge between R&B, blues and pop singing.” UT

As James told Rolling Stone, “Life’s been rough…But life’s been good. If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would live it the exact same way.” RS


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gleeks and Beliebers Rejoice: In Defense of Pop

Originally published in my "Aural Fixation" column on on January 18, 2012. See original post here.

image from

Pop music makers like Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry may get the kiss off from critics, but really, what's the harm in getting your pop groove on to their style of music?

In the early ‘90s, I worked in an after school program. I jokingly teased one of the kids about her infatuation with the New Kids on the Block. “They’ll never be as big as the Beatles,” I told her. Armed with this knowledge, she still astonishingly failed to discard her copy of Hangin’ Tough in favor of Abbey Road

By decade’s end, New Kids on the Block was a distant memory, but I still earned my paycheck the same way. I no longer endured tweens singing the praises of “You Got It (The Right Stuff)”. Instead, they regaled me with self-choreographed dances to the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”. I’d long since abandoned hope of convincing pre-teens of the better music they were overlooking. After all, how do you tell an eight-year-old her tastes are wrong?

I’m prepared to go a step further. I’m reminded of a famous quotation often attributed to French philosopher Voltaire, although it was actually written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, as a summary of Voltaire’s attitude. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” For my purposes, I’ll mangle the words to preach that “I disapprove of your music, but I will defend to the death your right to listen to it.”

Truth be told, I have no intention of falling on a sword over someone’s right to load an iPod with Justin Bieber or any other music lumped under disparaging monikers like “bubblegum pop” or “teeny bopper music”. However, there also isn’t any act which I’d fall on a sword to avoid. Well, maybe Celine Dion.

Celine Dion, image from

I once penned a blog entry entitled “The Styx Defense”. I professed that they were my first favorite band, despite routine slamming from critics. My argument was that you love a band regardless of critical status or commercial clout. You love them just because you love them.

As such, I see no benefit in disparaging anyone else’s music. In fact, I consider it offensive when someone shreds another person’s musical tastes. Put another way, here’s a line from my book No One Needs 21 Versions of “Purple Haze”: “To mock people’s music is to ridicule their souls.”

However, pop music is routinely subjected to ridicule at the hands of snooty critics bent on eviscerating it as unoriginal, disposable, or paint-by-numbers. I recently read an article, “12 Extremely Disappointing Facts About Popular Music”, posted on by Dave Stopera. The title alone hints at the common bias that pop music will bring about the apocalypse. Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration.

The reader, however, can practically hear Stopera shake his head in disgust while he thumbs his nose at the Glee Cast, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Rihanna, the Black Eyed Peas, Ke$ha, Celine Dion, Creed, and Barbra Streisand. On the flip side, the artists he deems worthy include The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Marley, Simon & Garfunkel, and Nirvana.

Katy Perry and Nirvana - together?

So what is it about that first group, which we’ll call the B List, that evokes such scorn while the second group, the A List, are regularly praised? I should point out here that “Katy Perry sucks” or “Led Zeppelin rules” are not valid arguments. More importantly for the purposes of this article, however, is how is it that one of those lists is considered pop—and the other is not?

Lest the critics forget, “pop music” is merely shorthand for “popular music”.  Billboard magazine has long been considered the authority on measuring the musical tastes of the public with its weekly charts. However, Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles (12th edition, 2009), lists the two most successful acts in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart as Elvis Presley and The Beatles. So if anyone wants to rip on pop music, they’ll have to start with The King and The Fab Four.

Elvis and the Beatles, image from

For those who argue “But that was a different time” and “Music just isn’t as good anymore”, I say “Pffft”. Every generation worships its music as sacred and categorizes everything that comes after it as crap. While teenage girls shrieked at Elvis swiveling his hips, parents lamented how times were so much better in the Big Band Era. While The Beatles led the British Invasion, the previous generation’s battle cry was that no one could croon like Frank Sinatra.

It could be argued that charts aren’t the best measure of commercial success. How about sales? According to Wikipedia, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Led Zeppelin, and Queen have claimed sales of 300 million + for albums and singles. Celine Dion is the first B-lister to show up and not until the next rung, the 200-299 million range.

So if chart success and sales give the edge to the A-Listers, maybe pop music is defined more by genre. The A List is a pretty healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll, while the B List relies heavily on adult contemporary and dance. Still, there are no absolutes here. Creed is rock and roll, but their cred level is on par with Nickelback. On the flip side, Michael Jackson is the quintessential dance-pop artist – and it would be folly to argue that the self-proclaimed “The King of Pop” was anything but.

Michael Jackson, image from

Maybe career longevity is the key; e.g., pop musicians are flash-in-the-pan artists who have a few big hits before disappearing into oblivion. Well, this argument doesn’t work either. Jimi Hendrix may have churned out more posthumous releases than about anyone in history, but his career was pretty much 1966-1970. As dominant as The Beatles were, their chart life as an active group stretched a mere eight years in their native UK and two years less than that in the United States. Simon & Garfunkel called it quits in 1970 after making their first chart appearance only five years earlier. Nirvana exploded on the scene in 1991 and were defunct by 1994.

By contrast, B-Lister Rihanna first hit the Hot 100 in 2005, so she’s already had a longer career than Hendrix, Nirvana, or Simon & Garfunkel. The Black Eyed Peas first charted in 2001 in the US, meaning they’ve outdone The Beatles for years of chart success while an active group. Let’s not even discuss why Barbra Streisand is on the B List, but her ongoing chart career dates back to 1964.

Barbra Streisand, image from

If we can’t use charts, sales figures, genre, or longevity to evaluate what is or isn’t pop, then what criteria is left? Demographics. Readers will likely agree that Ke$ha, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and other B-Listers appeal to a much younger crowd than, well, about anyone on the A List.

Here’s the problem with that. Most acts’ initial audience base is in their teens and 20s. Justin Bieber isn’t the first mop-top to elicit screams from teenage girls. The Beatles practically invented the form after watching the teeny-bopper crowd swoon over Elvis. Since the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, record companies have marketed themselves heavily toward youth and young adults because that’s the demographic that buys the most music. Most recording acts experience their greatest success in their earliest years, as well.

Once charts, sales, genre, and demographics are eliminated as markers of what is and isn’t pop music, about the only factor left to separate the B-List from the A-List is snobbery. Look, I own the entire catalogs of most of the A-Listers and only a handful of albums by all of the B-Listers combined. I would much rather listen to Jimi Hendrix than Ke$ha. Here’s the thing, though. Who cares? Why must some music be dismissed as unworthy of an audience?

So you Gleeks and Beliebers rejoice in your music. Employ the Styx Defense if you must, and cast haters aside with the proclamation that you can like what you want and don’t have to defend it. After all, what kind of jerk do you have to be to tell an eight-year-old she’s a loser for listening to New Kids on the Block?

Like whatever music you want to like without shame.
image from

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Benny Goodman performed at Carnegie Hall: January 16, 1938

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Band leader and clarinetist Benny Goodman, “touted as the ‘King of Swing’ at his peak,” NRR was “the first real jazz musician to capture a mass bourgeois white audience in America.” AZ He was also the first to stage a full jazz concert at Carnegie Hall. SY His publicist, Wynn Nathanson, initially suggested it as a publicity stunt, but after “his film Hollywood Hotel opened to rave reviews and giant lines, he threw himself into the work.” WK It sold out its capacity 2,760 seats at the then-high top price of $2.75 a seat. WK

This snapshot of his “fantastic performance at Carnegie Hall” AZ started with three contemporary numbers, then played a history of jazz, and then a jam session on Honeysuckle Rose, “which found sidemen of the orchestras of Duke Ellington and Count Basie interacting with Goodman's star.” SY Later some “trio and quartet numbers were well-received and a vocal on Loch Lomond by Martha Tilton provoked five curtain calls.” WK

“This concert has been regarded as one of the most siginificant in jazz history” WK and “one of the greatest concerts ever captured on record.” SY This was “a turning point in the way jazz is judged by outsiders.” SY It had “finally been accepted by mainstream audiences.” WK “It is hard to believe that tapes of this momentous event were kept in a closet, forgotten until rediscovered by accident in 1950” SY by Benny’s sister-in-law in a closet in his apartment. WK

The performance “captures Goodman and his orchestra at the peak of their performance.” AZ He is “fronting top performers and appearing before an energetic audience.” NRR His “stellar bandsmen were joined by Lionel Hampton and members of the Count Basie and Duke Ellington ensembles for this famous festival of jazz during the height of the swing music era.” NRR

“There are many, many high points, including exciting versions of Don’t Be That Way and One O’Clock Jump, a tribute to the 20 years of jazz that were then on record; …exciting performances by the Trio and Quartet; and, of course, Sing, Sing, Sing with Gene Krupa’s creative (if not too subtle) drumming and Jess Stacy’s remarkable ad lib piano solo.” SY This “belongs in every serious music library, capturing Benny Goodman and the swing era in general at its height.” SY


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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” hits #1…again: January 13, 1962

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“The Twist” became the only song in U.S. history to top the pop charts in two separate runs, but began life quite humbly as a B-side by Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. RS500 The song’s inspiration has been cited as a new dance Ballard saw Florida teens doing, SF but Ballard claims that his band invented it from their on-stage dance routines. SJ Whatever the origins, the dance became a craze because anyone could do it. As Checker said, “It’s like putting out a cigarette with both feet.” SJ

Philadelphia DJ Buddy Dean played the song on a TV dance party show and the kids’ reaction encouraged him to recommend it to Dick Clark at American Bandstand. SF When it became that show’s hottest dance, BR1 Clark tried to come on and perform it. When the deal fell through, he turned to Checker, who’d impressed him with impersonations of Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, the Coasters and the Chipmunks SF when Clark and his wife had gone to Cameo Records to record an audio Christmas card for friends. BR1

As for the results, Ballard said, “they cloned it.” SF However, he was not bitter considering the huge songwriter royalties he received once Checker’s version became a hit SF – twice. The song owed its first wave of success to the teens. However, when adults discovered the song and Checker performed it on The Ed Sullivan Show, it was re-released BR1 in January 1962 and went back to the top. The two chart runs gave it a record 39 weeks on the Hot 100 for a #1 song, a feat that lasted until 1988 when UB40’s second chart with “Red Red Wine” gave that song 40 weeks on the charts. BB100

This song is featured in the DMDB book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999.


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Gotye charts with “Somebody That I Used to Know”: January 14, 2012

Originally posted January 14, 2013.

image from

Writer(s): Wally de Backer (see lyrics here)

Released: 5 July 2011 First charted: 14 January 2012

Peak: 18 US, 15 UK, 18 AC, 112MR, 16 AA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 6.7 US, 1.3 UK, 10.0 world

Radio Airplay (in millions): -- Video Airplay (in millions): 361.98

Review: In 2012, Gotye exploded on the music scene with his multi-format #1 smash, “Somebody That I Used to Know.” However, the Belgian-Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist born Wouter (“Wally”) De Backer wasn’t a complete newbie. He’d been releasing albums for ten years as both a solo artist and as a member of the rock trio The Basics. Originally released in July 2011, “Somebody” didn’t take hold in the U.S. until six months later. In April 2012, it topped the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States; it hit #1 in 25 other countries as well, WK selling more than 10 million copies worldwide along the way. WK

Gotye wrote the mid-tempo, indie-pop ballad about his experiences with relationships. As he said, the song deals with “the memory of those different relationships and what they were and how they broke up and what’s going on in everyone’s minds.” WK Allmusic’s Jon O’Brien described it as “an oddball break-up song whose stuttering rhythms, reggae hooks, and hushed vocals sound like The Police as remixed by the XX.” AMG

It samples the 1967 instrumental “Seville” by Brazilian jazz guitarist Luiz Bonfá. He used New Zealand singer Kimbra for the female vocal on the song after a higher profile singer dropped out. The video, which has nabbed well north of 300 million views, showed a naked Gotye and Kimbra slowly being covered in a paint pattern thanks to stop motion animation. It was an MTV Video of the Year nominee. In a true sign of the video’s viral quality, it has been covered by Walk Off the Earth, featuring all five group members playing the song on one guitar. It has received 143 million hits.’s Bill Lamb said of the song, “Pop perfection does not come along often, but Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ is flawless.” WK Click Music’s Martin Davies said it is “that rare example of a track that hits you squarely between the eyes.” WK

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

The History of the Dave's Music Database Blog

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Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

The third anniversary of the DMDB blog is right around the corner (January 22). It has come a long way in three years! That first post, entitled “How to Get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame”, mocked that institution’s biases with five observations about what will (or won’t) lead to canonization in Cleveland.

A couple weeks later, I put up the post “2009 Grammy Nominees for Album of the Year”. I analyzed the five hopefuls for the big prize and correctly predicted Robert Plant and Alison Krauss would take home the gold for Raising Sand.

I didn’t post again until July. By year’s end, I’d put up a whopping 13 posts. I upped the ante in 2010 with 14 posts. Things didn’t really get moving until mid-way through 2011 when I changed the focus of the blog from essays on music-related topics to more objective snapshots of musical history tied to that particular day.

The second DMDB publication gathered all the essays posted here on the blog. Click on the book cover to go to the DMDB website where you can order the book.

The move paid off in spades. Prior to the thematic switch, my biggest month was September 2009 with 422 hits. I more than doubled that number in June 2011 with the new approach. The numbers have gone up every month since. December 2011 saw more than 7300 hits and January 2012 looks to be on pace to double that number! Over the blog’s three-year life time, it has been seen by more than 31,000 pairs of eyeballs. The top post of all time is “Live Aid: July 13, 1985” with 1500+ hits, more than double the runner-up, “The Top 50 Pink Floyd Songs”.

Graph shows number of hits each month from May 2009 to December 2011.

I haven’t done lots of research to figure out how to garner such numbers and am not entirely certain why my numbers keep growing by leaps and bounds each month. I have followed a few basic tips which I think have made the difference. When I switched from essay to daily history format, that meant two things – I put up daily content and posts were shorter, generally 300-500 words. I also added images and video. However, I think most of my hits have simply come from google searches which land on the key words I’ve connected to each blog.

I don’t know exactly how it has happened, but I’m grateful to everyone who’s either read faithfully since the beginning or merely stumbled across an entry here and there. It has been a great journey and one I plan to continue indefinitely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Top 100 Drummers of All Time

I’m off by a day, but yesterday marked the birthdays of two significant drummers. Max Roach, born in 1924, was a jazz drummer who played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, and others. He is also one of the top 1000 music makers of all time. Aynsley Dunbar, born in 1946, is an English rock drummer who has lent his sticks to John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, the Jeff Beck Group, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Journey, Jefferson Starship, Whitesnake, and more. Happy belated!

In their honor, here is a repost of a list originally put up on the DMDB Facebook page on August 23, 2010, and then revised on January 22, 2011. 30 best-of lists (see here) were aggregated to create this one. As tends to be the case with these lists, it heavily slants toward rock drummers, so while far from flawless, the aggregate approach to creating this list should assure that this is a more representative list than any other out there. Groups or performers most associated with the drummers are listed in parentheses.

Neil Peart, Rush’s “YYZ”

1. Neil Peart (Rush)
2. John “Bonzo” Bonham (Led Zeppelin)
3. Keith Moon (The Who)
4. Ginger Baker (Cream)
5. Stewart Copeland (The Police)
6. Ringo Starr (The Beatles)
7. Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
8. Dave Grohl (Nirvana/Foo Fighters)
9. Bill Bruford (Yes/King Crimson)
10. Ian Paice (Deep Purple)

John Bonham, Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”

11. Lars Ulrich (Metallica)
12. Danny Carey (Tool)
13. Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)
14. Terry Bozzio (Frank Zappa/Jeff Beck)
15. Charlie Watts (The Rolling Stones)
16. Buddy Rich
17. Roger Taylor (Queen)
18. Phil Collins (Genesis)
19. Bill Ward (Black Sabbath)
20. Nick Mason (Pink Floyd)

Keith Moon, drum solo

21. Carl Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer/Asia)
22. Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
23. Maureen “Moe” Tucker (Velvet Underground)
24. Dave Lombardo (Slayer)
25. Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden)
26. Travis Barker (Blink-182)
27. Steve Smith (Journey)
28. Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa/Sting/Jeff Beck /Herbie Hancock/Chick Corea)
29. Joey Jordison (Slipknot)
30. Carter Beauford (Dave Matthews)

Ginger Baker, Cream’s “Toad”

31. Aynsley Dunbar (John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers/Jeff Beck Group/Journey)
32. Topper Headon (The Clash)
33. Jimmy Chamberlin (Smashing Pumpkins)
34. Alan White (Yes)
35. Tommy Lee (Motley Crue)
36. John Densmore (The Doors)
37. Gene Krupa
38. Cozy Powell (Black Sabbath/Rainbow)
39. Bernard Purdie
40. Tommy Aldridge (Ozzy Osbourne/Whitesnake)

Stewart Copeland, The Police

41. Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
42. Larry Mullen, Jr. (U2)
43. Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge)
44. Tim Alexander (Primus)
45. Jaki Liebezeit (Can)
46. Billy Cobham (Horace Silver/Miles Davis/Mahavishnu Orchestra)
47. Mike Shrieve (Santana)
48. Frank “Tre Cool” Edwin Wright III (Green Day)
49. Art Blakey
50. Steve Gadd (Paul Simon/Steely Dan/Eric Clapton)

Mitch Mitchell, drum solo

51. Al Jackson, Jr. (Booker T & the MGs)
52. Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac)
53. William “Benny” Benjamin (Funk Brothers)
54. Hal Blaine
55. Klaus Dinger (Neu/LA Dusserldorf)
56. Tony Williams
57. Vinnie Paul (Pantera)
58. Max Roach
59. Zigaboo “Ziggy” Modeliste (The Meters)
60. Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses)

Buddy Rich vs. Animal from The Muppets

61. Elvin Jones (John Coltrane)
62. Matt Cameron (Soundgarden)
63. Max Weinberg (Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band)
64. Simon Phillips (Toto)
65. Brann Dailor (Mastodon)
66. Deen Castronovo (Bad English/Journey)
67. Jim “The Reverend” Sullivan (Avenged Sevenfold)
68. Phil Rudd (AC/DC)
69. Dave Weckl (Chick Corea)
70. Dominic Howard (Muse)

Aynsley Dunbar, drum solo on Journey’s “To Play Some Music”

71. Dave Garabaldi (Tower of Power)
72. Chris Adler (Lamb of God)
73. Anton Fier (Feelies/Pere Ubu/Golden Palominos)
74. Jeff Porcaro (Toto)
75. Rick Allen (Def Leppard)
76. Alan “Reni” Wren (Stone Roses)
77. Clive Bunker (Jethro Tull)
78. Josh Freese (A Perfect Circle/Desert Sessions)
79. John French (Captain Beefheart)
80. Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth)
81. Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa)

Gene Krupa vs. Buddy Rich

82. Louie Bellson
83. Jon Theodore (Mars Volta)
84. Don Brewer (Grand Funk Railroad)
85. Mike Giles (King Crimson)
86. Zak Starkey (The Who/Oasis)
87. Stanton Moore (Galactic)
88. Earl Palmer
89. Don Henley (Eagles)
90. Damon Che Fitzgerald (Don Caballero)

Max Roach, drum solo

91. Scott Travis (Judas Priest)
92. Levon Helm (The Band)
93. Tico Torres (Bon Jovi)
94. Thomas Lang
95. Clyde Stubblefield (James Brown)
96. Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section)
97. B.J. Wilson (Procol Harum)
98. Stephen Morris (Joy Division/New Order)
99. Kenny Aronoff (John Mellencamp)
100. Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs/Winger)

Ian Paice, drum solo

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Albert Campbell hit #1 with "Ma Blushin' Rosie": January 5, 1901

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Albert Campbell was a member of the hugely successful Peerless Quartet, which yielded six #1 hits including “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” and “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier”. From 1904 to 1924, that group charted more than 100 hits.

The quartet also gave Campbell a valuable duet partner in Henry Burr. They had their first chart hit in 1911 and charted 48 hits through 1925, including #1 hits like “Till We Meet Again”, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles”, “The Trail of the Lonesome Pine”, and five other #1 hits. From 1916 to 1922, the pair also recorded as The Sterling Trio with John Meyer, another member of the Peerless Quartet, and racked up another 13 hits.

However, before any of those endeavors Campbell was a tenor balladeer whose recording career launched in 1897 on Berliner Records. He didn’t rack up many hits – he only charted nine times as a solo act prior to his run with the Peerless Quartet – he still had some success, most notably with #1 songs like “My Wild Irish Rose” and “Ma Blushin’ Rosie”.

The latter marked Campbell’s greatest success as a solo act. Fay Templeton introduced the song in the 1900 Weber and Fields show Fiddle-Dee-Dee and by year’s end, Campbell charted with his recording of the song. S. H. Dudley hit #3 with his 1901 recording of the song. While it didn’t chart, Al Jolson also recorded what today is probably the easiest version of the song to find. He sang it in 1946’s The Jolson Story and 1949’s Jolson Sings Again.


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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Psychedelic Rock Albums – Top 50

image from

Originally posted on the DMDB Facebook page on 7/29/11. Updated 1/4/12.

These are the top 50 psychedelic rock albums of all time as determined by Dave’s Music Database. The list was created by consolidating 16 best-of lists into one aggregate. The albums on this list are almost exclusively from the latter half of the 1960s, when the movement started. Some of the biggest bands of the day (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds) dipped their toe into the psychedelic rock pool while other bands (Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead) were birthed as a result of the movement. Check out the DMDB blog entry from last month (Psychedelic Rock Goes Mainstream: June 24, 1967) for a more in-depth explanation of psychedelic rock.

1. Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967)
2. Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow (1967)
3. Love Forever Changes (1967)
4. The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow (1968)
5. The Doors The Doors (1967)
6. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Electric Ladyland (1968)
7. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
8. Country Joe & the Fish Electric Music for the Mind and Body (1967)
9. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (1967)
10. Jefferson Airplane After Bathing at Baxter’s (1967)

11. The Byrds Fifth Dimension (1966)
12. Cream Disraeli Gears (1967)
13. The United States of America The United States of America (1968)
14. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators The Psychedelic Sounds of the Thirteenth Floor Elevators (1966)
15. Big Brother & the Holding Company Cheap Thrills (1968)
16. Donovan Sunshine Superman (1966)
17. The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967)
18. The Grateful Dead Anthem of the Sun (1968)
19. The Beatles Revolver (1966)
20. The Doors Strange Days (1967)

21. The Grateful Dead Live/Dead (1969)
22. Traffic Mr. Fantasy/Heaven Is in Your Mind (1967)
23. The Soft Machine The Soft Machine (1968)
24. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators Easter Everywhere (1967)
25. The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesty’s Request (1967)
26. Iron Butterfly In-a-Gadda-Da-Via (1968)
27. The Small Faces Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake (1968)
28. Spirit Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (1970)
29. Syd Barrett The Madcap Laughs (1970)
30. Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon (1973)

31. Ultimate Spinach Behold and See (1968)
32. The Byrds Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
33. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold As Love (1967)
34. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour (1967)
35. The Moody Blues In Search of the Lost Chord (1968)
36. Frank Zappa Freak Out! (1966)
37. Pink Floyd A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)
38. Quicksilver Messenger Service Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968)
39. Jefferson Airplane Crown of Creation (1968)
40. It’s a Beautiful Day It’s a Beautiful Day (1968)

41. Syd Barrett Barrett (1970)
42. Incredible String Band 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (1967)
43. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Trout Mask Replica (1969)
44. H.P. Lovecraft H.P. Lovecraft (1967)
45. The Grateful Dead Aoxomoxoa (1969)
46. The Red Crayola The Parable of Arable Land (1967)
47. Moby Grape Moby Grape (1967)
48. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band Safe As Milk (1968)
49. Love Da Capo (1967)
50. The Zombies Odessey & Oracle (1968)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sun Records opened: January 3, 1950

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Sam Phillips opened the Memphis Recording Service in Memphis, Tennessee, on January 3, 1950. The building served as the headquarters for the failed Phillips Records and his later Sun Records label. He used the studio to record amateurs such as B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Junior Parker and then sold their performances to larger record labels. During its 16-year run, Sun produced 226 singles and more rock and roll records than any of its contemporary record labels. WK One of the most significant songs to come out of Sun was “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats. The song was released by Chess in 1951 and has been called the first rock and roll record by some historians.

Phillips was interested primarily in the blues, an art form which he thought both white and black people understood. As he said, it was how people “relieved the burden of what existed day in and day out.” WK In addition to the blues artists mentioned above, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Little Milton, and Rufus Thomas recorded there.

Part of the company’s appeal, however, was its broad range of genres. Sun has become most associated with launching the careers of more rockabilly-oriented artists like Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison. Of course, the label benefited most from its discovery of Elvis Presley. When Sun was experiencing financial trouble in 1955, Phillips famously sold Elvis’ contract to RCA Records. The sale helped boost some of the other artists, most notably the distribution for Carl Perkins’ “Blue Suede Shoes”, the first national hit for Sun Records.

In 1959, Phillips Recording opened to replace the old facility. Phillips sold the label in 1969. Gary Hardy reopened the original building in 1987 as Sun Studio and attracted artists such as U2, Def Leppard, Ringo Starr, and Bonnie Raitt. In 2003, the building was recognized as a National Historic Landmark.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top of the Pops aired for the first time: January 1, 1964

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Also check the Dave’s Music Database Facebook page for daily music-related posts.

The British music television show Top of the Pops launched on New Year’s Day in 1964. BBC producer Johnnie Stewart created TOTP, inspired by the Radio Luxembourg show Teen and Twenty Disc Club. Each show counted down the hits from the past week. The #1 song was featured every week, but otherwise a song did not generally appear if it had been on the previous week or was heading down the charts.

The inaugural show featured The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies, and Dusty Springfield. The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the #1 song that week.

The show ran until Christmas Day 2006. After that it became a radio program. Traditionally TOTP aired on BBC 1 on Thursdays, but in 1996 it moved to Fridays and then in 2005 it moved to Sundays on BBC 2. Each week consisted of performances of some of the most popular music artists and counted down the week’s hit singles. While the show aired live, artists actually mimed to the songs. Over the show’s history, however, there were times when songs were performed at least partially live.

The show also aired an annual look at the best-selling singles of the year on Christmas Day. Even after the show’s cancellation, that tradition continued.

intro and outro for January 29, 1970 show

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