Saturday, December 12, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 13

1961:  The movie The Young Ones, starring Cliff Richard, premiered in London.
1961:  Mike Smith of Decca Records saw the Beatles perform at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.
1962:  Elvis Presley had his 13th #1 song in the U.K. with "Return To Sender".

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 12

Here are six more songs selected to be The Best 150 Christmas Songs of All-Time*, meaning we are up to 72 so far:
"Here We Come A-Caroling"
by the Ray Coniff Singers

One of the great songs by one of the best Christmas acts--Ray Conniff & the Singers.  Difficult to not be happy listening to this.  This is from the 1965 album The Real Meaning of Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 12

1955:  Bill Haley & the Comets recorded "See You Later Alligator".
1955:  Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash were at the National Guard Armory in Armory, Mississippi.

1960:  Elvis Presley had been around four years and already his career hit total was up to 43.  Even better, he had the #1 song for the third straight week with "Are You Lonesome Tonight?"

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 11

We continue our Christmas special with six more Christmas favorites.
"Jingle Bells"
by the Singing Dogs

Don Charles of Copenhagen, Denmark recorded this version in 1955.  If you have a dog, you know they are an important part of Christmas and you will smile listening to this song.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 11

1958:  The Coasters recorded "Charlie Brown", with guest saxophonist King Curtis.
1960:  Aretha Franklin made her New York debut at the Village Vanguard in New York City.
1961:  Shirley Bassey was a guest on Bing Crosby's first Christmas special on ABC-TV.

Springsteen Has No Plans To Retire

There's no slowing down for The Boss.

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 10

Other sources will give lists of The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time; this site actually lets you hear them so you can see which ones you like the most.  We have 150 of them and six more are featured below!
"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas"
by Bing Crosby

Bing's version was recorded in 1951.  With his deep baritone voice, if Bing said it, it was true!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 10

1949:  Fats Domino recorded his first songs for Imperial Records, including "The Fat Man", which later became his nickname.
1961:  After their first live concerts in south England, the Beatles returned to Liverpool for a show at Hambleton Hall.
1961:  James Brown performed at the Evergreen Ballroom in Lacey, Washington.
1961:  The Beatles and Brian Epstein reached an informal managerial agreement, on the condition that Epstein would get the group a recording contract.

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 9

"The Christmas Song"
by the Carpenters

This classic which BMI shows as the most-performed Christmas song of all-time was written by Mel Torme and Bob Wells in 1966.  The Carpenters' magical touch enabled them to record a version that would put them alongside Nat King Cole.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 9

1957:  Smooth Sam Cooke remained at #1 on the R&B chart for a third week with "You Send Me".
1961:  The Beatles paid their dues at the Palais Ballroom in Aldershot, England before 18 people, as the show had not been promoted well by Sam Leach.  Leach thought he had booked the group in London, but Aldershot was a small military town 37 miles from London.  Leach had paid the local newspaper with a check, but they only took cash for new customers and Leach hadn't provided them any contact number.  To add insult to injury, a neighbor called the police, and when the group emerged from the Ballroom, they were told to "leave town and never return".  With nowhere to go, the Beatles drove to London and played a set at the Blue Gardenia Club in Soho in the early morning hours.  All this difficulty, and they still became the most successful music act the world has ever known.  

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 8

 "Ring Christmas Bells"
by Ray Conniff & the Singers

We've already heard "Carol of the Bells" in our special.  Minna Louise Hohman wrote an alternate version that includes more Nativity-based lyrics.  When you hear that version, the song is called "Ring Christmas Bells".

And who better than the group that may as well have called themselves the Christmas Singers for it is Christmas songs that they excelled at and they did it better than just about 

Monday, December 7, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 8

1958:  A new artist was introduced that would continue to hit the charts for the next 30 years.  Neil Sedaka debuted with his first career single "The Diary".
1958:  "A Lover's Question" by Clyde McPhatter was the #1 song on the R&B chart.
1960:  Fabian visited Elvis Presley at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 7

Welcome to Day Seven of The Best 150 Christmas Songs of All-Time*:
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"
by the Weavers
This popular caroling song is from the West Country of England from the sixteenth century.  The song got its origin from the English tradition whereby wealthy people of the community gave Christmas treats to carolers on Christmas Eve.

This song stands out from other versions due to the unique musical delivery of the words.

"Sleigh Ride"
by the New Christy Minstrels
This version of the popular song is from Christmas with the Christies from 1966.  The enthusiastic and cheerful adaption and unique presentation (there is no other version like it!) gets the Minstrels a spot in The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time*.  Many people think it is the best version.

"Oh Holy Night"
by Celine Dion
Celine Dion gives a rousing rendition of perhaps the most faithful and reverent of all the Christmas songs.

"Ding Dong Merrily on High"
by Roger Whitaker
George Ratcliffe Woodward wrote the lyrics, first published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book:  Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, and Other Seasons.  Charles Wood put music to the words in The Cambridge Carol Book, borrowing from the dance tune "le branle de l'Official", from the dance book Orchesographie by Jehan Tabourot (1519-1593).  

Whittaker's interpretation of the light, airy, almost magical sound of bells stays true to the dance origins of the song.

"Mistletoe and Holly"
by Frank Sinatra
This song was written in 1957 by Hank Sanicola, Sinatra and Doc Stanford and appeared on Frank's first full-length Christmas album A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra.  Sinatra's version is by far the most popular.

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year"
by Andy Williams
This great song was written by Edward Pola and George Wylie.  It was recorded for the album The Andy Williams Christmas Album and was selected as the theme song for Christmas Seals in both 1968 and 1976.  Since its release, the song has received more airplay each year and, although other versions have been recorded, Williams essentially "owns" the song.  To me, it's not Christmas unless I hear this song.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

This Date in Rock Music History: December 7

1958: George Harrison joined the Quarrymen, named after John Lennon's school. The group also included Paul McCartney, Len Garry and John Lowe.  (Note:  most websites show this date as February 6, however, David Bedford, in his book 'The Fab one Hundred and Four', contradicts this date.  Bedford points out that guitarist Eric Griffiths left the group because he was being replaced by Harrison.  In new research conducted by Bedford, he shows the Merchant Navy records of Griffiths, who joined his first ship on February 11.  Obviously, one doesn't just hop aboard a ship right after deciding to join the Navy.  In fact, Eric qualified as an officer cadet in January, 1958, meaning that in order to complete his training, he would have had to sign up for the Merchant Navy no later than mid-December, 1957.  All sources agree that Harrison joined the Quarrymen following an audition at Wilson Hall in Liverpool.  Records showed that the Quarrymen played the venue on December 7, after which time Griffiths quit music and joined the Navy.)   
1959:  J.P. Richardson ("The Big Bopper"), who had the big hit "Chantilly Lace" and died in the tragic plane crash on February 3, was buried in Beaumont, Texas.

Scott Weiland Has Died

In some respects, it's surprising that he lasted so long, given his lifestyle.  Scott Weiland, lead singer with the Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, died of cardiac arrest from drugs on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota.  Weiland was 48.

Discography: Carole King

One of the great Brill Building songwriters early in the Rock Era, this great talent began keeping more for herself, and built a successful solo career.  Here is the complete Discography* for Carole King:

The Top Christmas Songs of All-Time, December 6

There are now thousands of Christmas songs, and it's hard to sort through them.  Don't go through the hassle; we already did it for you.  Here are six more of The Best Christmas Songs of All-Time*:
"Away in a Manger"
by Anne Murray

This traditional Christmas favorite was first published with two verses in the Evangelical Lutheran Sunday School collection called Little Children's Book for Schools and Families in 1885, edited by James R. Murray (1841-1905).  The words were set to a tune called "St. Kilda", credited to J.E. Clark.

Murray's reverent treatment of the song makes it special.