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The Ultimate Hit Collection Spotify Playlists

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 won’t be anytime soon. So think of this as the greatest oldies radio station in the world, if you will.

One thing I should state clearly is that if an original song isn’t available on Spotify, it’s not in the playlist. This means songs for artists that aren’t on Spotify at all, like George Harrison, the Beatles, and Bob Seger aren’t in here. Likewise, I have tried my best to exclude re-recordings of songs (this happens a lot with older songs especially). I think I have a good ear for that sort of thing, but if I missed any please let me know.

I’ll update this post as new playlists come online, but here are the links as of now.

The Beach Boys - Good Vibrations1960s

Love Will Keep Us Together1970s

Billie Jean1980s


Cherry Poppin' Daddies

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

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.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies - White Teeth, Black ThoughtsBut 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 announced that they were going to be doing a show very much in the mold of Jazz Age Cotton Club music, I had to go. So on a frigid night I made my way to the quaint but lovely Sellersville Theater in Pennsylvania to see Steve Perry and company bring the swing.

And let me tell you, the Daddies did not disappoint. The band delivered a highly fun and energetic performance — Perry especially worked his ass off the entire time — as well as a fantastic mix of original songs and timeless American classics. And yes, they absolutely played “Zoot Suit Riot” and it absolutely killed.

Normally I would have been writing down the set list, but to be honest I was just having so much fun, as was most of the decidedly older-skewing crowd, that it never even occurred to me. I can tell you that the band delivered smoking renditions of many songs found on the Zoot Suit Riot CD, including “When I Change Your Mind,” Brown Derby Jump,” “No Mercy for Swine,” and my all-time favorite from the Daddies, “The Ding-Dong Daddy of the D-Car Line.”

And then there were a host of expertly delivered selections from the Great American Songbook such as “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” 42nd Street,” and a beautiful take on Cole Porter’s “Night and Day.” Also played were some rambunctiously bawdy tunes outside the Songbook like Wynonie Harris’s “Bloodshot Eyes” and Louis Jordan’s “Doug the Jitterbug.”

I should note that one of the best aspects of the show was watching all the people dancing just in front of the stage. It took me back to a time when a show like this would’ve been performed in a theater with no seats at all, and even I would be up and swinging.

If you have the chance to see the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies live, find an excuse to do it. And if you can’t do that, pick up one of their last few CDs. Then you’ll know the answer to the question posed by the Ray Davies and the Kinks 50 years ago, “where have all the good times gone?” The answer is that they’re still here if you know where to look.

Relax With My Weather Channel Classic Local Forecast Spotify Mix

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.

weather channel local forecastBands 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 Channel Soundtrack playlist made up of nothing but the music heard on local forecast segments up through about the mid-1990s. It’s still a work in progress but it now has almost 200 songs taking up nearly 15 hours of playing time.

So enjoy classic Weather Channel music from the likes of Pat Metheny, David Sanborn, Yellowjackets, Spyro Gyra, the Rippingtons, and many more! Spotify users who subscribe to my playlist will get updated when I add new songs.

Joe Sample

Sunday Jazz: RIP Joe Sample (1939-2014)

It’s been far too long since my last Sunday Jazz installment, but I’m compelled to post now to mourn the loss of one of my all-time favorite musicians — the great Joe Sample, who passed away yesterday at age 75.

Sample’s contributions to the music world are immeasurable, but primarily I will remember him both for his work with the Jazz Crusaders and for some of his great solo music. What once was contemporary jazz is now known (derisively by some) as smooth jazz.

Writers far better than I will have much more profound thoughts to share on Sample’s music, so I’ll just share some of my favorite moments from his long career.

First up is a fine Jazz Crusaders side, “Tortoise and the Hare,” from the group’s 1962 LP Lookin’ Ahead. It’s a prototypical slice of the particular brand of soul jazz Sample and his bandmates played so well.

Next up is my favorite selection from the next incarnation of the band, known by 1971 as just the Crusaders. It’s the title track from 1971’s Pass the Plate, and there is some wonderful Sample playing on here, both of a funk and gospel nature.

And finally, here’s the opening cut from Sample’s first solo album of the ’70s, 1978’s fantastic “Rainbow Seeker.” Again, call it smooth jazz if you must, but the groove and melody on this is hard to beat.

RIP Joe Sample, one of the all-time greats.

Listening Booth — Scorpions, “The Sails of Charon”

For Friday, here’s a slab of vintage 1970s metal and progressive rock all rolled up into one beautiful, German package. Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Anyway, this song is on the excellent 1977 Scorpions LP Taken By Force. It was the last Scorps record with the inimitable Uli Jon Roth.

This is a promo video and thus features the horribly synced drumming you’d expect to see in such a thing.

For those on Spotify, you can check out this track and most of the ones featured in my Listening Booth series by subscribing to this playlist.

Kiss (1974) band photo

Listening Booth — Kiss New York City Loft Rehearsal, 1973

Kiss (1974) band photo

Well, today’s the big day. After years of waiting, and a whole lot of politics and gossip in the meantime, Kiss is finally being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And so I felt it only appropriate to publish the first edition of the Listening Booth in more than a year. And this one should be a real treat for devoted members of the Kiss Army.

Today’s offering is a bootleg from the earliest days of the band, before they even had an album out. Hell, when this was recorded no one outside the immediate New York City area even knew who Kiss was.

This recording, my friends, was reportedly made by Gene Simmons while the band played for an audience of no one in their New York City rehearsal loft (located at 10 East 23rd Street). What you will hear on this is a band still gelling, still trying to find their sound and nail down their repertoire. It’s a short recording — just six total songs over 35 minutes — but one that any Kiss fan will want to hear.

The vocals on this are distant and somewhat muffled, but otherwise you can hear the raw power of the early Kiss sound in its (almost) full glory. After a brief soundcheck the band launches into two of their signature songs, “Strutter” and “Firehouse.” The arrangement on “Strutter” sounds more like what’s on the famous Bell Sound Studios demo than what was laid down on the Kiss LP. Likewise with “Firehouse,” which is not nearly as tight as it would become by 1974.

Up next is “Watchin’ You,” which is pretty much fully formed by the point but didn’t appear until the second Kiss album, 1974’s Hotter Than Hell. Things return to the first album then, as we get a run-through of “Let Me Know.” It’s one of my favorite Kiss songs but, sadly, it was dropped from the setlist after the Kiss tour.

Finally, a pair of songs for the faithful. First is the ultra-rare “Life in the Woods,” a bizarre tune that disappeared after the band’s club days. To my ears it sounds more like Wicked Lester material, or maybe Kiss’s best Doobie Brothers impression, but it’s still worth hearing. And hey, Peter Criss gets in some vocals so that’s a bonus.

Finally there’s “Acrobat,” a song a lot of fans heard for the first time in live form on the 2001 Kiss Box Set compilation. This song was cut down considerably when it was included on the first album, but you probably know it better as “Love Theme from Kiss.”

But enough preamble. Here’s the entire recording, uploaded to YouTube by yours truly. Enjoy it before the Google Police take it down and ban my account.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies

GFS Record Club: Cherry Poppin’ Daddies – White Teeth, Black Thoughts

I largely stopped doing music reviews on this site for two reasons — one, I find that the process of reviewing an album takes a lot of the joy out of just listening to it, and reviewing music doesn’t quite fit in with the shifting focus of this site. I make an exception for that today because I got a wonderful surprise and I want to share it with you.

Cherry Poppin' Daddies - White Teeth, Black Thoughts

You may remember the heady days of the late ’90s Swing Revival, when mainstream music became fun once again (even if just for a few years). You may also remember one of the acts from that revival that rose to prominence during the time — Eugene, Oregon’s own Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. Their 1997 album Zoot Suit Riot was not only a surprise hit that year, but became one of my favorite releases of the genre.

The Daddies strayed from that neo-swing sound on subsequent albums, and to be honest I lost interest. It’s not that I don’t support artists following their own muse, but I came for the swing and the swing alone. But I knew they were still out there plying their trade, and so I rooted for them from the sidelines and I hoped that one day they would return to that style. And return they have on the recently released White Teeth, Black Thoughts.

I’ll spare you a lot more words and I’ll tell you that if you liked Zoot Suit Riot, you will like this album and you should buy it. Bandleader, lead singer, and main creative force Steve Perry has crafted a set of fun, inviting songs that more than anything else are just plain fun to listen to. The album kicks off in style with the punchy Dixieland-inspired romp “The Babooch,” and all of a sudden it’s 1997/98 all over again.

It’s pretty much one big party from there on. Some of the highlights for me are “Whiskey Jack,” a rocket-powered cover of Louis Jordan’s “Doug the Jitterbug,” and the slightly dark, slinky title track. White Teeth, Black Thoughts is a bit front-loaded but the dropoff isn’t terribly noticeable. There’s a neat little production trick on “Jake’s Frilly Panties” that adds a scratchy record effect and a heavy dose of compression to help you imagine what it would have been like hearing CPD back in the day. Also, “Huffin’ Muggles” has cool to spare and is probably the best song on the back half.

So to sum up: This is a really fun album, I’m thrilled to see the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies doing what I think they do best, and you should buy the album and go see them live. You can get all that information on their website.

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Dinner Music: Peach Cobbler and Otis Redding

Dinner Music #2: Peach Cobbler & Otis Redding

In the Dinner Music series, I present a recipe from a vintage magazine and pair it with some appropriate music. Feel free to make the meal, listen to the tunes, and let me know how it turned out!

For this entry I thought I’d lighten things up a bit. It is July after all. So I think some sweet dessert and some equally sweet music is in order. This week’s recipe comes from the March 17, 1952 issue of Life magazine, and is for Hunt’s Heavenly Peach Cobbler.

Hunt's Heavenly Peach Cobbler recipe from Life - March 17, 1952

The Recipe

  • 1 No. 2 1/2 can Hunt’s Peach Halves
  • Butter
  • Nutmeg
  • Milk

Roll biscuit dough 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 1/2 inch strips. Cut Hunt’s Peaches in quarters. Place in greased baking dish with syrup. Dot with butter. Sprinkle with nutmeg. Arrange strips of dough lattice fashion on top of peaches. Pinch edges of dough securely to edge of pan. Brush with milk. Bake in hot oven (425 F.) 18 to 20 minutes or until done. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The Music

When you think of peaches, you think of Georgia do you not? I did. But instead of going right to Ray Charles I opted for someone a little… cooler. So I give you one of the greatest soul singers of all time, Dawson, Georgia’s own Otis Redding. Specifically, his superlative 1965 LP for the Stax/Volt label, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. It’s so hot you may not even need an oven for the cobbler — although cooking dessert on your stereo will probably void the warranty.

For more great music and recipes, check out the rest of the Dinner Music series. To hear all the music from the series, subscribe to the playlist in Spotify or Rdio.

Dinner Music: Goulash and Franz Liszt

Dinner Music #1: Hunt’s Tomato Sauce Goulash & Franz Liszt

In the Dinner Music series, I present a recipe from a vintage magazine and pair it with some appropriate music. Feel free to make the meal, listen to the tunes, and let me know how it turned out!

For no particular reason, I’m kicking off my new Dinner Music series with a goulash recipe from the June 15, 1953 issue of Life magazine. It’s from an advertisement for Hunt’s Tomato Sauce. For those not familiar with the dish, here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it: “Goulash (Hungarian: gulyás) is a soup or stew of meat, noodles and vegetables (especially potato), seasoned with paprika and other spices. Originating within the historical Hungarian ethnic area, goulash is also a popular meal in Scandinavia and in Central and Southern Europe.”

Hunt's Tomato Sauce goulash recipe, 1953

The Recipe

  • 3 tbsp. fat
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 lbs. stewing beef, cubed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can Hunt’s Tomato Sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 4 potatoes, peeled and quartered

Cook onion in fat until tender. Add meat, cook till browned, stirring occassionally. Add the rick, flavory Hunt’s Tomato Sauce, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer till almost tender, about 1 hour. Add potatoes, simmer till done, about 30 minutes longer. For thicker gravy, blend in 2 tsbp. flour and cook till thickened. Makes 4 servings with that delicious Hunt’s flavor you can’t forget!

The Music

Few people are more synonymous with the rich musical heritage of Hungary than the classical composer Franz Liszt (1811 – 1886). And so for this recipe I’ve chosen one of his meatier (see what I did there?) compositions, one which made its public debut almost a century before this recipe was printed. It’s the four-part Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major. The concerto consists of four movements, which are performed without breaks in between, and lasts approximately 20 minutes. It premiered in Weimar, Germany on February 17, 1855, with Liszt at the piano and Hector Berlioz conducting.

For more great music and recipes, check out the rest of the Dinner Music series. To hear all the music from the series, subscribe to the playlist in Spotify or Rdio.