Dave's Music Database books

Wednesday, December 5, 1973

Paul McCartney & Wings released Band on the Run: December 5, 1973

Originally posted December 5, 2011.



“The consensus of critics, as well as cold hard sales figures, says that Band on the Run was Paul McCartney’s most successful solo album.” RG “Neither the dippy, rustic Wild Life nor the slick AOR flourishes of Red Rose Speedway earned Paul McCartney much respect, so he made the self-consciously ambitious Band on the Run to rebuke his critics. On the surface, Band on the Run appears to be constructed as a song cycle in the vein of Abbey Road, but subsequent listens reveal that the only similarities the two albums share are simply superficial.” STE

“McCartney’s talent for songcraft and nuanced arrangements is in ample display throughout the record, which makes many of the songs – including the nonsensical title track – sound more substantial than they actually are. While a handful of the songs are excellent – the surging, inspired surrealism of Jet is by far one of his best solo recordings, Bluebird is sunny acoustic pop, and Helen Wheels captures McCartney rocking with abandon – most of the songs are more style than substance. Yet McCartney’s melodies are more consistent than any of his previous solo records, and there are no throwaways; the songs just happen to be not very good.” STE

“Still, the record is enjoyable, whether it’s the minor-key Mrs. Vandebilt or Let Me Roll It, a silly response to John Lennon’s ‘How Do You Sleep?,’ which does make Band on the Run one of McCartney’s finest solo efforts. However, there’s little of real substance on the record,” STE although it should be noted that the album is “an artistic triumph over very trying conditions – the defection of two-fifths of Wings.” RG Still, “no matter how elaborate the production is, or how cleverly his mini-suites are constructed, Band on the Run is nothing more than a triumph of showmanship.” STE




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Friday, October 5, 1973

Elton John released Goodbye Yellow Brick Road: October 5, 1973

Originally published October 5, 2012.

image from myq105.cbslocal.com


Release date: 5 October 1973
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Funeral for a Friend / Love Lies Bleeding / Candle in the Wind (3/2/74, #6 US, #5 UK, #2 AC) / Bennie and the Jets (2/16/74, #1 US, #37 UK, #15 RB. sales: 1.0 m) / Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (9/29/73, #2 US, #6 UK, #7 AC. sales: 1.0 m) / This Song Has No Title / Grey Seal / Jamaica Jerk Off / I’ve Seen That Movie Too / Sweet Painted Lady / The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1909-34) / Dirty Little Girl / All the Girls Love Alice / Your Sister Can’t Twist But She Can Rock ‘N’ Roll / Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting (7/7/73, #12 US, #7 UK) / Roy Rogers / Social Disease / Harmony

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.3 UK, 15.0 world

Peak: 18 US, 1 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road is Elton John’s “commercial and creative apex.” ZS It “plays like a greatest hits album, overflowing with classic songs” RV which “remain standards more than 30 years later thanks to Bernie Taupin’s sharpest lyrics, John’s propulsive keyboard skills and vocals that leap into falsetto without losing any of their power.” TL This “flamboyant tour de force” ZS is “a recap of all the styles and sounds that made John a star” AMG although this was also where his “personality began to gather more attention than his music.” AMG He “achieved superstardom with this effort and never matched its mastery again.” RV

The was recorded in a mere 12 days in Europe after a failed effort to record in Jamaica. CRS It “demonstrates the ease with which John and Taupin could write not only the hit singles, but the outstanding album tracks.” ZS While it has been called “Elton’s White AlbumZS and a “stunning song cycle with no filler” ZS this double album also can be said to suffer from being “overstuffed.” TL Nonetheless, it “holds claim to a lot of brilliant, very pop-savvy music” AZ and is “considered the high watermark of Elton’s reign of popularity.” CRS “Its individual moments are spectacular and the glitzy, crowd-pleasing showmanship…pretty much defines what made Elton John a superstar in the early ‘70s.” AMG

The opening kick-off of Funeral for a Friend and Love Lies Bleeding has been called both a “prog rock epic” AMG and a “Wagnerian-operalike combo.” RS500 The album quickly announces that it will be “all over the map” AMG by immediately careening into the balladry of Candle in the Wind,” AMG which pays tribute to Marilyn Monroe and, more than 20 years later, was revamped as a memorial to Princess Diana.

Candle in the Wind

There’s also “the ready-made nostalgia of The Ballad of Danny BaileyAZ which features “Bernie Taupin’s literary pretensions,” AMG, “the downbeat melodicism of Harmony,” AZ “novelties [like] Jamiaica Jerk-Off…and everything in between.” AMG

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting

Elton shows off his rock side with “the fairground jive of Your Sister Can’t TwistTB and “the strutting rock and roll” RS500 of “the Stonesy rocker Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting.” TB Meanwhile Bennie and the Jets “was a nod in the direction of Bowie’s Ziggy.” TB

Bennie and the Jets

Songs like “This Song Has No Title and Grey Seal had gospel-tinged melodies and progressions” TB and “the title track harnesses the fantastic imagery of glam to a Gershwin-sweet melody.” RS500

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road


Resources and Related Links:

  • Elton John’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
  • album page on DMDB website (even more in-depth look at album)
  • AMG All Music Guide review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
  • AZ Amazon.com review by Rickey Wright
  • CRS Tim Morse (1998). Classic Rock Stories: The Stories Behind the Greatest Rock Songs of All Time. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  • RV The Review “100 Greatest Albums of All Time” by Clarke Speicher (October – November 2001; Vol. 128: numbers 12-23).
  • RS500 Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
  • TB Thunder Bay (2005). Albums: The Stories Behind 50 Years of Great Recordings. Thunder Bay Press; San Diego, CA. Page 162.
  • TL Time Magazine’s All-TIME 100 Albums by Josh Tyrangiel and Alan Light (11/13/06).
  • ZS Zagat Survey (2003). Music Guide: 1,000 Top Albums of All Time. Coordinator: Pat Blashill. Music Editor: Holly George-Warren. Editors: Betsy Andrews and Randi Gollin. Zagat Survey, LLC: New York, NY. Page 134.

Award(s):


Friday, August 3, 1973

Stevie Wonder released Innervisions: August 3, 1973

Originally posted August 3, 2012.

image from popmatters.com


Release date: 3 August 1973
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Too High / Visions / Living for the City (11/10/73, #8 US, #15 UK, #1 RB) / Golden Lady / Higher Ground (6/18/73, #4 US, #29 UK, #1 RB, #41 AC) / Jesus Children of America / All in Love Is Fair / Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing (4/6/74, #16 US, #2 RB, #9 AC) / He’s Misstra Know It All (4/13/74, #10 UK)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.08 UK, 6.0 world

Peak: 4 US, 8 UK

Rating:


Review: “The boy genius comes of age.” BL As “the preeminent artist of his era” BL with “a career full of towering achievements” RV and a “plethora of deeply funky soul recordings” WR Innervisions stands as Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece.” RV This is “the summit of the wunderkind’s blend of funk-addled synth-pop and socially conscious lyrics.” UT He “dove headfirst into the murky waters of urban America (‘Living for the City’), while still finding time for romance with his Golden Lady.” VB He “mastered angry, socially conscious, ingenious music that remained danceable.” BL

“Introspective, melancholy, sassy and uplifting, it transcends all notions of soul as schmaltz.” WR It is “by far his most political work” RV with “songs addressing drugs, spirituality, political ethics, the unnecessary perils of urban life, and what looked to be the failure of the ‘60s dream – all set within a collection of charts as funky and catchy as any he’d written before.” AMG

Living for the City

Living for the City, “an eight-minute mini-epic,” AMG is “Wonder’s finest moment.” RV He “preaches without being preachy about the injustices suffered by the black community, using the microcosm of a Southern boy who visits New York City and gets arrested for drug trafficking. Wonder sings with unbridled emotion and ends the song with the hope that the listeners have learned something.” RV “He also uses his variety of voice impersonations to stunning effect.” AMG

Too High is just as stunning, a cautionary tale about drugs driven by a dizzying chorus of scat vocals and a springing bassline.” AMG That song and ‘Living for the City’ “make an especially deep impression thanks to Stevie’s narrative talents.” AMG

Higher Ground

Higher Ground, a funky follow-up to the previous album’s big hit (‘Superstition’), and Jesus Children of America both introduced Wonder’s interest in Eastern religion. It’s a tribute to his genius that he could broach topics like reincarnation and transcendental meditation in a pop context with minimal interference to the rest of the album.” AMG

“Wonder also made no secret of the fact that He’s Misstra Know-It-All was directed at Tricky Dick, aka Richard Milhouse Nixon, then making headlines (and destroying America’s faith in the highest office) with the biggest political scandal of the century.” AMG

He’s Misstra Know-It-All


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Friday, June 15, 1973

Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On”: Even Jack Black Can’t Deny Its Charms

Originally posted June 15, 2011.



On June 15, 1973, Marvin Gaye released what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame calls “the unabashedly erotic ‘Let’s Get It On’.” It topped the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts in the U.S. and ranks as one of the top 1000 songs of the 20th century according to Dave’s Music Database.

However, as a testament to Gaye’s phenomenal catalog, it is often overshadowed by his definitive version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and his politically poignant “What’s Going On.” Both songs are featured in the book The Top 100 Songs of the Rock Era, 1954-1999. When it comes to sensuality and sexual explicitness, “Sexual Healing” steals some of the thunder from “Let’s Get It On” because it marked a comeback for Gaye before he was tragically shot by his father.



All three songs are named in the Rock Hall’s list of Top 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll and sit alongside “Let’s Get It On” on the DMDB top 1000 song list. Competing with such bona fide classics can be a daunting task.

According to Wikipedia, Ed Townsend, Gaye’s co-writer on the song, had originally conceived it with a religious theme. It then became a political song before evolving into what Rolling Stone called “a masterpiece of erotic persuasion” in naming it one of the top 500 songs of all time. In 2008, Billboard magazine produced a list of its Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. It called “Let’s Get It On,” which came in at #32, “one of the greatest sexual liberation anthems of all time.”

Just this week, I watched High Fidelity again. John Cusack’s character runs a record store, giving him access to more obscure music than the general population. Nonetheless, he and his girlfriend proclaim “Let’s Get It On” as their song. When Cusack hosts a party at the movie’s conclusion, he is understandably nervous about letting co-worker Jack Black to perform, convinced he’ll offend everyone. After all, Black had mercilessly berated a customer earlier in the movie for asking for Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Instead, Black surprises Cusack with a soulful version of “Let’s Get It On,” proving that even the most cynical music fans can’t deny what Gaye called the “aphrodisiac power” RS of the song.






For more information, check out Marvin Gaye’s entry in the DMDB music makers’ encyclopedia and the DMDB page for the Let’s Get It On album. Gaye is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He ranks in the top 100 of all time as both a singer and songwriter according to Dave’s Music Database.



Saturday, April 28, 1973

Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon hit #1: April 28, 1973


Charted: 17 March 1973
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Speak to Me / Breathe / On the Run / Time (live – 12/10/88, #34 AR) / Breathe Reprise / The Great Gig in the Sky / Money (5/19/73, #13 US, #37 AR) / Us and Them / Any Colour You Like / Brain Damage / Eclipse

Sales (in millions): 18.0 US, 3.91 UK, 45 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 11 US, 2 UK

Rating:


Review: Dark Side of the Moon is that rare album to garner astronomical sales (45 million worldwide, making it one of the top three best-selling albums of all time), staggering chart success (a record-setting 14 years+ on the Billboard album chart and 294 weeks on the UK album chart), CA and near-reverential critical acclaim.

No one could have predicted Pink Floyd’s success based on their first five years. They burst out of the gates with 1967’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn, an album spearheaded by then-leader Syd Barrett. When he was overcome by psychedelic drugs and mental instability, the band struggled to find its identity, ironically finding commercial success with “an album whose central theme is madness,” CRS tackling topics like “death, violence, and paranoia” SM as well as “alienation, insanity and the tragedy of the human condition.” RV

It “isn’t as much a concept album as a continuous, masterful” RV suite. While bassist and chief songwriter Roger Waters possesses an “almost peerless genius for writing profoundly evocative, yet unforced lyrical metaphors,” RV Dark Side also “exemplifies Pink Floyd’s musical range and technical virtuosity.” RV “The sound is lush and multi-layered” RS but “the songs are mainly slow to mid-tempo” AZ “creating its own dark, haunting world.” AMG

Moon became “one of the great headphone albums;” SM “copies…could always be found in hi-fi stores.” CA The album was loaded with special effects like “stereophonically-projected footsteps and planes flying overhead (On the Run).” AZ

Time

Other highlights include Time, whose ringing clocks “leap out and grab your ears and tear them from the side of your head.” AD On Money, “cash registers rattle and coins chink from left speaker to right speaker on the introduction.” CA The latter became the group’s breakthrough single in the U.S.

Money


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