Music

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Before We Was Fab: Benny Spellman, “Fortune Teller”

Music
Before We Was Fab looks at some of the best songs of the pre-Beatles era, in search of great singles that have largely been forgotten. If you've heard of Benny Spellman at all, chances are it's because of his association with groups such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The O'Jays, or The Hollies -- all of whom covered his songs. As it happens, I was listening to the iconic Who album Live at Leeds and paid particular attention to their live rendition of "Fortune Teller." The Who, as with many English rock bands of the time, had a deep love and appreciation for popular and obscure R&B, and that's where "Fortune Teller" comes in. The song was written by the great Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym Naomi Neville, and was first recorded by Spellman as the B-side of his only hit si
Club 99: Nat King Cole, “Nothing in the World”

Club 99: Nat King Cole, “Nothing in the World”

Music
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: “Nothing in the World" The Artist: Nat King Cole #99 Chart Date: August 11, 1958 Just one week after our last entry peaked at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100, one of the 20th century's greatest crooners grabbed the spot. And my friends, this is about as smooth and sumptuous a recording as we're likely to come across during this project. As far as I can tell, this song was actually the B-side to "Acércate Más (Come Closer to Me)", released on Capitol Records F4004, which itself peaked at #41 in September 1958. In addition to Cole's smoother-than-butter vocals,
Club 99: Billy Williams, “I’ll Get By (As Long As I Have You)”

Club 99: Billy Williams, “I’ll Get By (As Long As I Have You)”

Music
In Club 99, I look at songs that peaked at position #99 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and help to put them into context. Together we can decide if the song deserved more success or got too much. The Song: "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" The Artist: Billy Williams #99 Chart Date: August 4, 1958 Today's entry is the first #99 in the Billboard Hot 100 era, "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" by Billy Williams. Williams charted several times going back to the mid-1940s, but by far his biggest hit was "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," which hit #3 in the summer of 1957. Just over one year later he released "I'll Get By (As Long As I Have You)" as the b-side of "It's Prayin' Time." In just about every important way, "I'll Get By" is a carbon c
Billboard Time Capsule — August 14, 1965

Billboard Time Capsule — August 14, 1965

Music, Retrotisements
In Billboard Time Capsule, we journey through an old issue of Billboard to see what the most popular and advertised albums of the day were. Not through charts, but rather through advertisements. In each capsule you'll see ads for classic songs and albums, both promoting new recordings and trumpeting ones that had already gained traction. Some songs listed here have YouTube video links for your enjoyment. Clicking on almost any song title brings you to Amazon, where you can be a good, law-abiding citizen and download. Remember that any purchase made through this site helps me out immensely. For those
Greatest Misses: Kiss (Spotify Playlist)

Greatest Misses: Kiss (Spotify Playlist)

Music
I'm starting a new music series on this site that I call Greatest Misses, with a debt owed to the Devo collection of the same name. The premise is simple -- I ID the least listened-to song for every (or most) of a band's studio records available on Spotify. A few caveats: Short, interlude-type songs don't count for me, and I also don't count live albums, compilations, or records of the like. Up first is Kiss, for whom every studio albums is currently available as of this posting except for 2009's Sonic Boom. Not surprisingly, this 20-song playlist is composed almost entirely of deep cuts that only the diehards would know (think "Two Timer" from Dressed to Kill or "Murder in High Heels" from Animalize.) But there are a few ones I was shocked to see heard so little. "Escape from ...
Listening Booth — The Who, “Had Enough”

Listening Booth — The Who, “Had Enough”

Listening Booth, Music
One of my resolutions for 2016 is to start publishing more Listening Booth posts, but why not get a head start before 2015 finishes? Here's a gem from the last studio album by The Who to feature the legendary Keith Moon. It's "Had Enough" from 1978's Who Are You LP. https://youtu.be/B9DWS67fMrM Roger Daltrey reportedly hated the string arrangement on this song, but I love it. It lends an extra element of emotion to a very world-weary track from John Entwistle. I especially love the chord progression on the chorus, which is nothing short of brilliant. Don't forget you can hear most of the songs from in my Listening Booth series on Spotify.
The Ultimate Hit Collection Spotify Playlists

The Ultimate Hit Collection Spotify Playlists

Music
Because I can't get enough of Spotify playlists or of gathering things into lists, I have undertaken what I think you'll agree is a great public service that combines those two loves. I am in the process of creating playlists -- which I've helpfully dubbed "Ultimate Hit Collection" -- that gather together every song to chart in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 U.S. singles chart. These aren't your typical hits playlists, in that I'm not curating but collecting. That means if a song ever got into the top 10 and it's on Spotify, it goes into the playlist. So you get to hear some all-time classics and some head-scratching dross. Thus far I've completed my playlists for the 1980s, am almost halfway through the '70s, and have just started the '60s. I may one day get to the 1990s but that...
In Concert: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Sellersville Theater, 1/9/15

In Concert: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies at Sellersville Theater, 1/9/15

Music
Like most Cherry Poppin' Daddies fans outside the Pacific Northwest region, I first heard the band when their Zoot Suit Riot compilation CD rode the wave of the late '90s swing revival to immense popularity. And if I'm being perfectly honest, I sort of lost tracks of the group a few after when it was clear they weren't about to be constrained by the retro-swing sound that so many new fans expected from them. But with the release of 2013's Black Teeth, White Thoughts, the Daddies' first all-swing record since Zoot Suit Riot, I was firmly back in the camp of Daddies fans again. Maybe that makes me a fairweather fan, but I just know what I like to hear. All this is to say that when the Daddies brought their tour to my area for one of the relatively few times in recent years, and announc...
Relax With My Weather Channel Classic Local Forecast Spotify Mix

Relax With My Weather Channel Classic Local Forecast Spotify Mix

Music
You don't even have to be a weather geek to appreciate the sublime beauty that once was the Weather Channel's local forecast segment. In addition to the classically spartan graphics -- courtesy the vintage WeatherStar I, II, III, and 4000 systems -- the 1980s and '90s brought us viewers perhaps the greatest collection of smooth jazz and New Age music ever. Bands and songs that I would not normally listen to under most circumstances somehow become not just tolerable but enjoyable when paired with those charmingly simple graphics and radar loops. And thanks to the yeoman-like effort put in over at The Weather Channel Classics, the names of many of those songs are readily available. So I decided to take my love of those old forecasts to the next level but compiling a Spotify Weather Cha