Category: folk rock

On this day in music history: October 10, 1966…

On this day in music history: October 10, 1966 – “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme”, the third album by Simon & Garfunkel is released. Produced by Bob Johnston, it is recorded at Columbia Studios in New York City from December 1965 – August 1966. Their first full album since breaking through with the revamped and remixed version of “The Sound Of Silence” in late 1965, many of the songs are written while Paul Simon is traveling through the UK by himself in the Fall of 1965. Several are re-recorded by the duo (including “I Am A Rock” and “Patterns”, and later “Kathy’s Song”) after Simon records his solo project “The Paul Simon Songbook”, not released in the US until 1981 on the box set “Collected Works” and reissued again on CD in 2004. The album is proceeded by the single “Homeward Bound” (#5 Pop), also written during Simon’s trip to England in 1965. The full length is met with critical and commercial success upon its release, and is widely regarded as one of Simon & Garfunkel’s best albums. It yields several classics including “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” (#11 Pop) (released as a single belatedly in 1968 when it is featured in “The Graduate”), “The Dangling Conversation” (#25 Pop) and “The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy)”. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 with two bonus tracks. An exhaustive search through Sony Music’s archives is conducted for the original first generation master tapes, which had been misfiled and lost for years. The classic title is also reissued on vinyl by Sundazed Records in 2008. “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: October 10, 1966…

On this day in music history: October 10, 1966 – “Georgy Girl” by The Seekers is released. Written by Tom Springfield and Jim Dale, it is the biggest hit for the Australian folk quartet. Formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1962, The Seekers consisting of lead singer Judith Durham, Keith Potger (guitar, banjo, vocals), Bruce Woodley (guitar, mandolin, banjo, vocals) and Athol Guy (double bass, vocals), become one of the first Australian groups to achieve major success outside of their native continent when they score a worldwide hit in 1965 with “I’ll Never Find Another You” (#3 Pop, #1 UK and Australia). During this time, Woodley also collaborates with Paul Simon, co-writing the hit song “Red Rubber Ball” (#2 Pop), covered by American pop band The Cyrkle in 1966. The song “Georgy Girl” is written by folk musician Tom Springfield (brother of blue eyed soul and pop singer Dusty Springfield) and musician, stage and film actor Jim Dale (“Pete’s Dragon”, “Hot Lead And Cold Feet”, “Barnum”) as the title song for the British romantic comedy/drama starring Lynn Redgrave, James Mason, Alan Bates and Charlotte Rampling. The Seekers are tapped to perform the song and is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London, with Tom Springfield producing. Like the film itself, the instantly catchy title song is an immediate hit, giving the group their biggest selling single, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on February 4, 1967 (behind The Monkees’ “I’m A Believer”). “Georgy Girl” is also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1967, but loses to “Born Free”. The popularity of “Georgy Girl” endures over the years, being featured in an ad campaign by Mattel for Barbie and on the TV shows “The Simpsons” and “Get A Life”. “Georgy Girl” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 25, 19…

On this day in music history: September 25, 1965 – “Eve Of Destruction” by Barry McGuire hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, it is the biggest hit for the folk-rock singer from Oklahoma City, OK. Originally a member of the legendary folk music group The New Christy Minstrels, Barry McGuire is one of the first artists signed to producer Lou Adler’s Dunhill Records in early 1965. McGuire records a number of songs for his first album including “California Dreamin’”, though his vocals are wiped from the master tape (though part of his vocal on the intro is still audible on the released recording), and The Mamas & Papas add their vocals to the track, becoming their breakthrough hit. Adler assigns staff songwriter and producers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri to work with McGuire. Influenced by Bob Dylan, the pair begin writing a song about the growing anti-war sentiment over Vietnam, The Cold War and struggle over Civil Rights, openly expressing fears about where those conflicts may lead. Recorded in July of 1965, “Eve Of Destruction” features members of The Wrecking Crew playing on the track including Hal Blaine (drums), Larry Knechtel (bass) and P.F. Sloan himself (guitar). McGuire records his vocal in a single take, and the song is given a quick rough mix. The producers play the just completed “Destruction” for Dunhill Records VP Jay Lasker who loves it immediately and believes that it will be a hit. Leaving a copy of the tape with the executive, the song ends up on the radio the same afternoon. Lasker gives the tape to a promotion man at the label who takes it over to KFWB in Los Angeles who in turn begin airing it immediately as “an exclusive”. At first, Adler, Sloan and Barri are upset since they feel the record “isn’t finished”, but it matters not. “Destruction” is an instant smash and is rush released by Dunhill in early August of 1965. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on August 21, 1965, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. Though Barry McGuire does have another major pop hit after his chart topping debut, he is later name checked by The Mamas & Papas on their 1967 hit “Creeque Alley”. After his initial brush with fame, McGuire becomes a born-again Christian in the early 70’s carving out a successful career as a Contemporary Christian music artist. After the incident at Columbine High School in 1999, McGuire begins performing “Eve Of Destruction” again after many years of declining to perform it in concert.

On this day in music history: September 20, 19…

On this day in music history: September 20, 1982 – “Nebraska”, the sixth album by Bruce Springsteen is released. Produced by Bruce Springsteen, it is recorded at Springsteen’s Bedroom in Colts Neck, NJ on January 3, 1982 and April 1982. Starting the 80’s with the huge success of “The River”, Bruce Springsteen then takes an unexpected turn. Writing dozens of new songs, they are influenced in part by Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History Of The United States”, and by the punk band Suicide. He asks his guitar tech Mike Batalan to set up some recording gear for him. Bruce records the songs in his bedroom at home. The majority are cut in one session, using a four-track Tascam cassette Portastudio and a pair of Shure SM57 mics. Mixed down to a boom box with a Gibson Echoplex to add reverb, the end result is a cycle of intimate, but powerful and dark songs. The tape is intended to serve as a demo for the E Street Band to learn, but fate has other plans. They record full arrangements of the songs in March of 1982, but Bruce feels they lack the impact of the demo. Springsteen re-records them solo in the studio, but feel that the remakes also miss the mark. He wants to release the demo, but there are several technical issues. The cassette is recorded at only 3 ¾ IPS (inches per second), rather than higher quality grade recording tape running at 15 or 30 IPS. Phasing from improper azimuth alignment on the tape is also a problem. Springsteen asks engineer Toby Scott if it can be polished up enough to release. Transferring the cassette to ¼ two-track open reel tape and cleaning up the sound as much as possible, He takes the tape to several different mastering facilities to cut lacquers. Bob Ludwig, Stephen Marcussen, Dennis King and engineers at Sterling Sound and CBS all try, but initially can’t make an acceptable master. Using King’s mastering notes and with Ludwig using the EQ chain at his studio, the final lacquers are cut. At first, Columbia Records is not enthusiastic about the dark and spare album, but issue it as is at his behest. Though it’s only a modest seller, “Nebraska” receives major acclaim and is regarded as one of Bruce Springsteen’s most important works. No singles are issued in the US, but “Atlantic City” (#10 Mainstream Rock) and “Open All Night” (#22 Mainstream Rock) are released in Europe. Several of the songs on “Nebraska” are covered by other artists including Johnny Cash, and inspires the tribute album “Badlands – A Tribute To Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska”, featuring covers by Aimee Mann & Michael Penn, Son Volt, Los Lobos, and Hank Williams III. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued in 2014, also being reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP as part of the box set “Bruce Springsteen – The Album Collection Vol. 1”. The CD and LP are also issued as separately in 2015. “Nebraska” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: September 7, 196…

On this day in music history: September 7, 1965 – “Positively 4th Street” by Bob Dylan is released. Written by Bob Dylan, the stand alone single is issued between the releases of “Highway 61 Revisited” and “Blonde On Blonde” but is not included on either album. Over the years there has been much speculation over the meaning of the songs lyrics. Most believe its bitter and cynical tone is Dylan’s rebuke of the New York folk music community (4th Street being where Dylan lived in Greenwich Village) where he first gained fame as a songwriter and performer, feeling that many have turned on him when he begins moving away from his acoustic based folk sound towards a more band oriented electric sound. The track is recorded at Columbia Recording Studios in New York City on July 29, 1965, during the same session that produces the songs “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”, and “Tombstone Blues” (both featured on “Highway 61 Revisited”), The session features musicians such as Mike Bloomfield (guitar), Al Kooper (organ), Harvey Brooks (bass), Paul Griffin (piano), and Robert Gregg (drums). When Columbia Records releases the single, some early copies are accidentally pressed with an outtake version of “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?” (another take is released as the follow up to “4th Street” on December 21, 1965). “Positively 4th Street” peaks at #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 on November 6, 1965. The song goes on to become one of Dylan’s most popular and often covered songs. The original US 7" and picture sleeve are both replicated in the limited edition vinyl box set “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?”, released on Black Friday Record Store Day in November of 2011 in the US, and in Europe in April of 2012. “Positively 4th Street” makes its full length album debut on “Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits” in March of 1967.

On this day in music history: August 30, 1965 …

On this day in music history: August 30, 1965 – “Highway 61 Revisited”, the sixth album by Bob Dylan is released. Produced by Bob Johnston and Tom Wilson, it is recorded at Columbia Studio A in New York City from June 15 – August 4, 1965. The second “electric album” by the prolific singer/songwriter features the first side with Dylan backed by musicians including Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Harvey Brooks, while the second side is primarily acoustic ballads. The album has more of a blues oriented sound than his previous work, inspiring the albums title which is the highway that runs from Dylan’s hometown of Duluth, MN down to the Mississippi Delta. It features several songs that become standards in Dylan’s catalog including “Like A Rolling Stone” (#2 Pop), “Ballad Of A Thin Man”, “Tombstone Blues” and “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry”. The album becomes one of his most acclaimed and best selling albums.

The initial stereo pressing of the LP, is issued with an alternate take of “From A Buick 6”, that was used in error while compiling the original master tape. It is quickly substituted with the correct take on all subsequent pressings. All copies of the mono release contain the intended take.

“Highway 61” is remastered and reissued in 2003 as a limited hybrid SACD in digi-pak packaging by Sony, before reverting to a standard redbook CD only release. In 2014, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissues “Highway 61” as a double vinyl LP set mastered at 45 RPM, and as a hybrid SACD. The album is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2002.“Highway 61 Revisited” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: August 11, 1969 …

On this day in music history: August 11, 1969 – “Barabajagal”, the seventh album by Donovan is released. Produced by Mickie Most, it is recorded at Olympic Studios in London in May 1968, and American Recording Company in Los Angeles, CA November 1968 and May 1969. The album features musical backing by The Jeff Beck Group (on the title track) as well as background vocals from Graham Nash, Mike McGear (aka Michael McCartney), Rod Stewart, Lesley Duncan and Madeline Bell. It spins off two singles including the double A-sided single “Atlantis” / “To Susan On The West Coast Waiting” (#7 Pop) and the title track (#36 Pop). The album also marks the end of Donovan’s long term collaboration with producer Mickie Most, with Most shifting his attention to his newly formed label RAK Records, signing artists such as Hot Chocolate, The Arrows, Smokie, and Suzi Quatro. “Atlantis” is later used in a memorable scene in director Martin Scoresese’s “Goodfellas” in 1990. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued in 2005. The album is also remastered and reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013, the first release of the album in that format in nearly thirty years. “Barabajagal” peaks at number twenty three on the Billboard Top 200.

On this day in music history: July 25, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 25, 1965 – Bob Dylan performs an “all electric” set at the Newport Folk Festival in Newport, RI. Backed by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, this is a radical departure for the formerly acoustic based folk rock musician. Having released his fifth album “Bringing It All Back Home” in March of 1965, his first to feature electric instruments, it is immediately controversial among Dylan’s contemporaries. The act of a folk musician playing an electric guitar is considered by the audience to be musical heresy, and react negatively by booing Dylan. He leaves the stage after just three songs. The incident inspires Dylan to write and record the song “Positively 4th Street” four days later, a rebuke of former friends in the folk music community who have criticized him for “going electric”. Bob Dylan accidentally leaves the guitar that he plays during his set at Newport behind on the private chartered plane he travels from the venue on. The sunburst 1964 Fender Stratocaster thought to have been lost for over the last four decades, is found in the possession of the pilot’s family in 2012. The guitar is found with several sheets of paper in the case containing early drafts of several unfinished songs. The instrument sells at auction (from Christie’s auction house) for a record breaking $965,000 (to an anonymous bidder) in December of 2013. It surpasses the amount paid for the previous record holder, Eric Clapton’s black Fender Stratocaster nicknamed “Blackie”, which had sold for $959,000 in 2004.

Born on this day: July 21, 1948 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: July 21, 1948 – Singer, songwriter, musician, and humanitarian Yusuf Islam (aka Cat Stevens) (born Steven Demetre Georgiou in Marylebone, London, UK. Happy 70th Birthday, Yusuf/Cat!!

On this day in music history: July 20, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 20, 1965 – “Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan is released. Written by Bob Dylan, it is the first single released from the landmark “Highway 61 Revisited” album. Dylan writes the song (starting off as a ten (or twenty) page poem before it is edited down) after returning home from a tour of England in June of 1965. The track is recorded over two days at Columbia’s Studio A in New York City on June 15 and 16, 1965. Initially written and demoed in ¾ time, Dylan abandons the original arrangement after attempting five takes, and searches for another way to express the song. Musician Al Kooper who plays Hammond Organ on the second session, is a key element in “Like A Rolling Stone” being changed to the rock arrangement, it becomes known for when he improvises the riff that runs through the song. Initially, producer Tom Wilson is not impressed by Kooper’s playing, but allows him to sit in when Paul Griffin is moved from organ to piano. The other musicians on the session include Paul Butterfield Band guitarist Mike Bloomfield, Frank Owens (piano), Joe Macho, Jr. (bass), Bruce Langhorne (tambourine) and Bobby Gregg (drums)  Written in a literal stream of consciousness, the lyrics are originally composed as Dylan refers to as “a long piece of vomit”, twenty pages long before paring it down. Eventually the lyrics are crafted into four verses and a chorus. The Columbia Records is initially very hesitant, to release the six minute long track as a single, but are forced to when it is leaked to several popular and influential DJ’s who lead the charge for its release. The record is revolutionary in rock & roll history, as being the first to shatter the “three minute rule” set by AM top 40 radio. “Like A Rolling Stone” peaks at #2 on the Hot 100 on September 4, 1965. The single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1998.