14 Followup Albums That Were Almost Great

(via music aficionado) by Chris Willman

If only our all-or-nothing culture gave out ribbons for “almost as good.” But you definitely won’t find many critics devoting their energy to praising (or knocking) the slightly flawed appendices to blockbusters and masterpieces.

So here’s to those awfully good, B+ albums that really suffer only in comparison to what directly preceded them. And let’s relive, if you will, these Great Moments in Slightly Inferior Follow-ups! May we all be blessed to wane this well…

Eagles – ‘The Long Run’

Talk about a non-self-fulfilling prophecy of a title: Of course the Eagles would break up after putting this much blood, sweat, tears, and bickering into a follow-up to Hotel California, only to have the world sigh en masse, “Yeah, I like it about three-quarters as much as the last one.” Already inclined toward perfectionism to begin with, the band was following what mainstream rock fans would consider one of rock’s perfect albums, with nowhere to go but (slightly) down. The result was a 7-million seller—hardly a bummer, unless you’re rating it against 16 million ‘Hotel’ check-ins (or the still record-breaking 29 million certified units for their first Greatest Hits collection). Given the pickiness and expectations that made things tense in the studio, then, it’s a wonder that ‘The Long Run’ has as much looseness and life as it does. Leaving the three big singles out of it, this has some of their strangest and most mordantly funny album tracks, like Those Shoes and The Disco Strangler, not to mention the not-so-dark Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks, a song it’s still hard to believe that guys who took themselves this seriously let onto an LP. On top of those period-cynical oddities, you get one of Don Henley‘s best elegiac album-closers in Sad Café, a near-acknowledgement that the Eagles would be saying sayonara for 14 years. A lot of folks loved the ’80s just a little less without having their SoCal snark to take a temperature of the times…

Read more:

https://web.musicaficionado.com/main.html?fbt=previous#!/article/14_Albums_That_Should_Have_Been_Great

A Hard Day’s Night: Solving a Beatles Mystery with Mathematics

(via ABC Australia) by Joel Werner

It’s probably the most recognisable sound in popular music.
“This is the one chord that everyone around the world knows,” says Randy Bachman, a rock star in his own right from The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive.
It dates to July 1964 — the height of Beatlemania. The band was about to release its third album.
For the first time, it was all original music. Plus, the Beatles were shifting away from their rock ‘n’ roll roots to a more poppy sound, and this album was to be the soundtrack for their first feature film.
They needed to make a statement…

Read more:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2017-11-05/a-hard-days-night-how-mathematics-revealed-beatles-secret/9093348

50 Iconic Album Covers: The Fascinating Stories Behind the Sleeves

(via NME) by Emily Barker

They’re images you’ve seen a thousand times, but what do they mean, and how did they end up on the cover of your favourite ever albums?

We rounded up 50 of the most iconic pieces of album artwork from indie releases from Joy Division, David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Nirvana, The Smiths, Strokes, Killers and more and dived into their back stories. Some of the tales of these covers’ creation are as interesting as the albums themselves…
Read more:
http://www.nme.com/photos/50-iconic-indie-album-covers-the-fascinating-stories-behind-the-sleeves-1429676/

Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Greetings From Asbury Park, N.J.’: 10 Things You Didn’t Know

(via Rolling Stone) by Dan Epstein

Bruce Springsteen is a bold new talent with more than a mouthful to say,” raved Lester Bangs in his Rolling Stone review of Springsteen’s 1973 debut, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. “He’s been influenced a lot by the Band, his arrangements tend to take on a Van Morrison tinge every now and then, and he sort of catarrh-mumbles his ditties in a disgruntled mushmouth sorta like Robbie Robertson on Quaaludes with Dylan barfing down the back of his neck. It’s a tuff combination, but it’s only the beginning. Because what makes Bruce totally unique and cosmically surfeiting is his words. Hot damn, what a passel o’ verbiage!”

Read more:

https://www.rollingstone.com/music/lists/inside-bruce-springsteens-greetings-from-asbury-park-w514897

A Musical Tribute to Moody Blues Flutist Ray Thomas

Just a couple weeks ago this blog celebrated the upcoming induction of the Moody Blues into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now the full band reunion we and active band members hoped for on that day can’t come to pass; their long time flutist, songwriter and vocalist Ray Thomas passed away January 4th at age 76.

Ray was the man who played what is certainly one of rock’s most iconic flute solos on the classic “Nights in White Satin”.

But as a founding member of the Moodies (only drummer Graeme Edge now remains from the original Denny Laine-fronted lineup) he predated even acclaimed writer, singer and face of the band Justin Hayward, and was also a respected writer and singer in his own right.

Thomas, who released two solo albums in the 70’s during a hiatus by the band, retired from the Moody Blues in 2002 due to health issue and had revealed a prostate cancer diagnosis in 2013.

In their heyday of 1967-72 the Moody Blues benefitted from having five bona fide contributing songwriters within the band, and Thomas’ writing output and flute defined both the band’s sound and artistic direction perhaps as much as any member except Hayward.

With bassist John Lodge’s energy, guitarist Justin Hayward’s soaring melodies, Thomas’ lilting, reflective ballads, keyboardist Mike Pindar’s existential ponderings, and drummer Edge’s trippy poetry, the band released one psychedelic classic album after another during this span. And being five writers deep, each album from 1967’s Days of Future Passed to 1972’s Seventh Sojourn was a trove of musical delights, wondrously reflected (both on the band’s albums and Thomas’ solo LPs) by the lush cover artwork of Phil Travers.

Thomas’ absence from the band has been keenly felt over the past decade and a half.

We’d like to share a small sample of the man’s work with the band. Enjoy…

Songs You May Have Missed #626

Walker Hayes: “You Broke Up with Me” (2017)

This blog doesn’t plug many contemporary country tunes. But we do like to give props to a clever song in any genre. And we think “You Broke Up with Me” transcends the typically safe, vacuous ear fodder emblematic of the current country genre.

Walker Hayes brings a playful lyric sensibility and vocal delivery that may bring rapper Macklemore to mind. While bro country wants to keep singing that same clichéd song that ticks the usual boxes (Friday nights, drinking beer, pickup trucks, painted-on jeans and all the other obligatory country markers) hopefully Hayes signals something fresh.

Video of the Week: How Fleetwood Mac Wrote “The Chain”

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