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Throwback Thursday – Aerosmith’s Toys In The Attic

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Formed in Boston 1971, Aerosmith featured Joe Perry (lead guitar), Tom Hamilton (bass guitar), Steve Tyler (lead vocals and harmonica), Joey Kramer (drums) and Brad Whitford (guitar) – who replaced Ray Tabano. They rapidly grew a local following playing clubs. A year later they signed with Columbia Records and produced the self titled first album in 1973 which peaked at #166 on Billboard, featuring the minor hit Dream On (peaked at #59) along with Mama Kin and a cover of Walking the Dog which became crowd favorites during concerts.

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In 1974, Get Your Wings was released and the band began to receive national airplay for their cover of an old Yardbird’s hit Train Kept A Rollin’ and Same Old Song and Dance. The album continued the band’s fusing blues with hard rock and also produce other favorites Lord of The Thighs, S.O.S. Too Bad and Seasons of Wither.

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The 1975 release of Toys in the Attic (the title is a euphemism for being crazy) became the band’s international breakthrough behind the power of the hits Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way. Following on the album’s success Dream On was also re-released to peak at #6 to become their best charting single in the 70’s. Later, Walk This Way was covered by Run DMC in 1986 supported by a music video featuring Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler and Joe Perry playing the song on the other side of a wall that the Hip-hoppers break through, giving Aerosmith a broadened fan base that spanned genres.

Aerosmith is sometimes referred to as the bad boys from Boston and reputedly the greatest American Rock band, but despite the band’s popularity int he 70’s, it wasn’t until the band’s resurgence int he late 80’s. largely due to they crossover hits on the pop charts along with the awards won for the Walk This Way collaboration with DMC that catapulted the group into another level of stardom. They were indicted in the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

#70sMusic #Aerosmith #SteveTyler #JoePerry #RunDMC

 

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Throwback Thursday – Jethro Tull’s – Aqualung

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As much as I might like to say I was a fan of Jethro Tull from the band’s beginning, I had not heard of them before the hit song Living In The Past began receiving airplay. I dare say others who were my age were a lot like me. The band went through a number of changes in their musical style as well as personnel over the years, Ian Anderson (lead vocals, guitar and flute) being the only member involved in every iteration of the band.

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Still, I wasn’t a fan of the group until, while visiting my sister at Wittenberg University, I accompanied her to a coffee house that was featuring a guitar toting folk singer. He played a cover of Cross-eyed Mary, a song that, at the time, I had never heard, and so I believed wrongly that it was an original composition. Afterward, I went up to the singer and complimented him, particularly on that song. He told me he loved doing Jethro Tull songs. And so, I knew I needed to do a little more research into the group’s musical library.

At least I knew the band’s name did not refer to any member of the group. That has always irked me when someone says of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Jethro Tull, “Oh yeah, he’s good.” Anyway, I located the then recently released album containing the song Cross-eyed Mary and purchased it. What I discovered was that I liked the whole album, especially Locomotive Breath and Hymn 43.

Although the album is regarded as a concept album about the distinction between religion and God, Ian Anderson refused that label. In fact, in response to so many calling it a concept album, he wrong and record what he termed the ‘mother of all concept albums ‘Thick As A Brick’, an album which is essentially one song spanning both side of the LP record.

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Aqualung was a different listening experience, from the musical style to the controversial views expressed in the lyrics – essentially saying that religion is not a necessary intermediary to have a personal relationship with the Divine aspect in nature. That might seem radical concept to a teen who had been brought up in a conservative Baptist household, except it was very close to what I personally believed.

The album also touched on other themes such a man’s inhumanity featured several characters portraying the human condition and what is commonly called the ‘rat race’.

Jethro Tull released a number of successful albums in the 70’s, several generated hit songs and received airplay as the band defined a unique niche in progressive rock that fused folk and blues with a harder edge rock. In its many different lineups the band received several gold and platinum album awards and even a surprise Grammy in the late 80’s that is often cited by purists as evidence of how out of touch the award had become. Jethro Tull beat out favorite Metallica for the best Heavy Metal album of the year. The band’s management advised members that they had no chance of winning the award and so they were not in attendance for the ceremony.

#70sMusic #JethroTull #IanAnderson #Aqualung #ThickAsABrick

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Throwback Thursday – ZZ Top Tres Hombres

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ZZ Top, that ‘lil’ ol’ band from Texas’ holds a rare distinction among Rock’n’Roll Hall of Famers. From their debut album in 1971 to present, the members of the band have not changed. Billy Gibbons (guitar, vocals, lyrics and arrangement) formed the band in Houston, Texas in 1969. Though the band went through some personnel changes early on but settled on the solid rhythm section formed by Dusty Hill on bass and co-vocals and Frank Beard on drums. Yes, Frank’s the one in the group without the long beard.

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Tres Hombres is the groups third album. Released in 1973 it contains the hit La Grande about a small town brothel not far from Austin that cared to politicians made famous in Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The song selection epitomizes the band’s characteristic song and sense of humor blending bluesy riffs with a hard driving back beat. The band followed up a live album titled Fandango that included five live tracks from the Tres Hombres tour. The song Tush became a top 20 hit, receiving a lot of FM airplay.

My introduction to the band was connected to my Senior English project in high school. Yeah, I’ll explain. You see, my best friend and I wrote a rock opera based on Beowulf. And the rock band to which I belonged at the time recorded it. While the recording engineer, my best friend and I were taking a break from remixing the rock opera we titled One Thane, my best friend suggested we play Tres Hombres on stereo we were using for playback – it was a pretty good system for my first listen to the album. Years later, when I was studying at The University of Texas at Austin, my roommate and I had the rare chance to see Z Top perform live in a honkey tonk. They were getting ready to go back on tour and their appearance was hastily arranged and went unannounced until the last minute. Even so the bar was packed. They made a lot of music for just three guys.

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Although the band realized some success in the 70’s they also released some albums that only hard core ZZ Top fans own. in 1979 they released Deguello which included I Thank You, Sam and Dave and Cheap Sunglasses, the latter hitting of what was to come in the 80’s.

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The confluence of forces coincided in the early 1980’s. After the release of El Loco in 1981 which featured Pearl Necklace and Tube Snake Boogie, the band began experimenting with synthesizers, slightly altering their sound in a commercially appealing way. With the launch of MTV they began experimenting with music videos to support their singles. 1983’s Eliminator became the bands monster album release selling 10 million copies and producing three hits Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, and Gimme All Your Lovin’. The band also won their first MTV Video Music Awards for Legs and Sharp Dressed Man.

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ZZ Top’s fame has extended beyond playing their music. After recording the theme song for Back To The Future III and performed in the movie – they’re the band playing at the dance party. Billy Gibbons has also appeared in a recurring role on the TV series Bones as Angela Montenegro’s father.

#70sMusic #ZZTop #Texas #Eliminator #TresHombres #HallofFame #MTV         

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Throwback Thursday: Rush – Canadian Rock, Progressive Style

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I’m not sure any discussion 70’s music could ignore Rush, a Canadian band formed in Toronto in 1968. Although early not he band had some personnel changes, since mid 1974, after the release of their self titled debut album, the current members of Geddy Lee (bass, keyboards, lead vocals), Alex Lifeson (guitar and backing vocals) and Neil Peart (drums and percussion) have been performing together ever since.

Although the band released a single in 1973 that was a cover of the Buddy Holly song Not Fade Away, it received little attention or response from record companies. The band formed their own label, Moon Records and a year later their debut album featured a hit Working Man, receiving some local attention. When a DJ at Cleveland rock station WMMS put the song on her playlist its popularity resulted in Mercury Records rereleasing the album. Some have made comparisons of the album’s bluesy style to the British band Led Zeppelin. The lyrics for the first album were penned by Geddy Lee though with he addition of Neil Peart, lyrical duties were seeded to him. As a result the bands songs took on more science fiction and fantasy themes.

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In 1975, Fly By Night was released and its title cut became the band’s second successful hit. The album also included the bands first epic tale, By-Tor and Snow Dog, that hinted of things to come. Later in 1975 Rush released Caress of Steel, a large departure from Fly By Night presenting two extended cuts back to back. Due to the lack luster sales of the album the record label pressured the band to produce more commercially viable songs. However, the band continued in the direction they had been heading releasing 2112 in 1976, featuring a 20-minute title track. The album became a commercial success reaching platinum status in Canada.

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A Farewell to Kings and Hemispheres round out the bands work in the 70’s, with their direction moving further in the progressive direction. Both albums were recorded in Wales and evidence the groups progressive influences from such bands as Yes and King Crimson.

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1980’s Permanent Waves incorporated new wave and reggae musical influences turning the band in a new direction with songs like Freewill and The Spirit of Radio. Supported by the airplay of the hit songs the album became the band first Top 5 in the US. 1981’s follow up Moving Pictures featured the lead track Tom Sawyer, perhaps the band’s most well known song, that propelled the album to #3 on US charts.

Rush continued to record and perform throughout the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, supported by a following of devoted fans. They took a hiatis from recording and touring for several years from 1997 to 2002 in the wake of person tragedies Neil Peart suffered with the loss of his daughter and wife. Since then the band has returned to creating new music and touring. Rush has also been inducted into both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

#70sMusic #Rush #ProgressiveMusic #CanadianMusic

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Throwback Thursday – New Years Day Edition – Layla by Derrick And The Dominoes

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Eric Clapton was a member of the legendary British blues/rock group the Yardbirds that also included at one time or another other guitar virtuosos Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. After leaving the band, Clapton formed the highly successful supergroup, Cream, with Jack Bruce (bass) and Ginger Baker (drums). Following the breakup of Cream, Clapton worked on projects like Blind Faith and with Delany and Bonnie. At the time in his native England he was regarded as a guitar god. His name on a play bill guaranteed a sellout performance but it also concerned concert promoters who were concerned of damages to the venues and bodily injury to concern goers. When Clapton began the Derrick and the Dominoes project in 1970, the group’s name originated from the interest in keeping Clapton’s membership in the band low key.

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Clapton had become close friends with George Harrison of The Beatles, having played uncredited on Harrison’s signature song, While My Guitar Gentle Weeps on The Beatles’ White Album. Harrison had reciprocated playing guitar under a pseudonym on some of Cream’s songs. Through his association with Harrison, Clapton met and fell madly in love with Harrison’s wife, Pattie Boyd. His unrequited affections inspired him to compose a ballad Layla, the centerpiece of the double album recording sessions of the supergroup.

Along the way Clapton met and became close friends with Duane Allman of the Allman Brother’s Band who contributed guitar work during the recording session, most significantly the opening guitar riffs on Layla as well as slide guitar and solos. Allan’s work transformed the ballad into a rocker.

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The album features some of the most innovative guitar work to that time and produced two songs that received airplay on progressive FM stations, the title track as well as Bell Bottom Blues. However, the album was not initially a commercial success in either the UK or the US, partially due to the lack of association of Clapton to the project. The length of the track Layla limited its airplay on commercial radio stations though it would be chart as part of a Clapton Compilation album. A later UK release of the song would peak at #4 in the UK.

Member of the group included: Eric Clapton, guitars, vocals; Duane Allman – guitars; Jim Gordon, drums, piano; Carl Radle, bass; Bobby Whitlock, piano, organ, background vocals.

#EricClapton #DuaneAllman #DerrickAndTheDominoes #Layla #BellBottomBlues #GeorgeHarrison #PattieBoyd

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Throwback Thursday – Early Edition – Joe Walsh’s The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get

(Note: because I will be out of town for the next couple of days I’m posting this one a day early – Enjoy!)

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The year was 1973. As I was ‘m finishing up my junior year of high school and deciding which college to attend former James Gang lead guitarist and singer, Joe Walsh released a second album with his group Barnstorm which proved to be the band’s last combined effort. Though Walsh would continue to release other solo material and join the Eagles for the album 1976’s Hotel California, it was The Smoker You Drink The Player You Get was propelled into the Billboard hot 100’s top ten albums on the strength of commercial airplay for the single Rocky Mountain Way. The album also included Meadows, which was a minor hit that failed to break into the Top 40.

The album is memorable for me as it was the first that I played upon setting up my stereo system in my dorm room at Purdue University. I used it to test the speaker placement of my quadrophonic system. Released by ABC Dunhill Records the album was available in both Stereo and QS Quadrophonic. My receiver has a built in SQ/QS decoder for multiple channel playback. It was one of a half dozen albums I owned that was Quad compatible but always one of my favorites.

Within music circles Walsh was respected as a multi-instrumentalist. As a singer, songwriter and guitarists for the James Gang he had commercial success with several hits like Funk 49, Walk Away and Midnight Man but it wasn’t until he departed the group that he gained full recognition of his talents, reaching super star status.

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On his 1978 album, But Seriously Folks, Walsh reflects on the craziest aspects of fame with the satirical lyrics of his hit single Life’s Been Good, a crowd favorite he performed live with the Eagles, four of whom appeared on the album. In the song he pokes fun at the Rock’n’Roll lifestyle, talking about tearing up hotel rooms and having accountants pay the bills, staying out late partying to the point of not being able to find the door, owning a Maserati that does 185 but losing his license and owning a really nice mansion that he’s never seen.

#JoeWalsh #Eagles #Barnstorm #JamesGang #RockyMountainWay #LifesBeenGood #70sMusic

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Throwback Thursday – The Moody Blues Days Of Future Passed

5. The Moody Blues-Days of Future Passed (1967) Days of Future Passed

In 1972 something pretty unusual happened in music. An album released five years before was climbing the charts again, riding on the popularity of a song that had failed to chart in the US when it was released five years before. The album, Days of Future Passed and the song Nights In White Satin received a resurgence of attention after a late night DJ decided to play the track while he took an extended restroom break. Afterwards, the station received many requests to hear the song again, and so, it was rediscovered. Eventually Nights In White Satin peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the best selling song in the Moody Blues history.

The band was originally formed in 1964, though membership changed over the next three years. Their first charting hit was Go Now. Although the band released an album titled the Magnificent Moodies for Decca Records and had recorded a series of singles, their music was not commercially successful.

The Mark II line up of the band that recorded the second album, Days of Future Passed, included the current remaining members of the band: Graeme Edge, Justin Hayward and John Lodge in addition to Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas.

Before recording “Days’ in 1967 the band was heavily in debt to Decca for advances and their recording contract was about to expire. They made an arrangement with Decca to record a stereophonic demonstrator album for a subsidiary label, Deram Records, featuring a rock’n’roll version of Antonin Dvorak’s New Word Symphony. In exchange for the recording session the label would cancel their outstanding debt. Their manager Hugh Mend l arranged for the band to have creative control over the project, something rare given the circumstances. Although the demonstrator album material was recorded the project was eventually scrapped but the band recorded several tracks to be used for a concept album that followed the life of everyman through a day.

Days of Future Passed originated in a time of experimentation. The Beatles had released songs using exotic instruments and sound effects. They had also experimented with blending of classical instrumentation into rock music. The Moody Blues expanded upon that idea creating a complete album with interludes between songs performed by classical musicians. Although the album sold well in the UK its initial response in the US was lackluster. The idea was slightly ahead of its time, but five years later there was an audience or the sound.

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The Moody Blues had released several albums between 1967 and 1972 gaining a following worldwide for their mellotron driven sound. Many of their fans believed they lyrics were somehow prophetic leading the band to write a song in response, “I’m Just A Singer In A Rock’nRoll Band”. Oddly enough the album containing that song, aptly named Seventh Sojourn, as it was the bands seventh offering, was also released in 1972 and rode somewhat on the wave of resurgent interest in a five-year-old album. The song did well on the charts that year.

#MoodyBlues #DaysOfFuturePassed #NightsInWhiteSatin #SeventhSojourn #70sMusic