AT40, Music, Music Countdowns, Radio, Retro Rock

1974 Singles: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

I remember listening to AM radio on my transistor radio and hearing the novelty hit, “Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)” during the summer of 1974.

Some music historians would point to the “one hit wonder” song by Reunion and proclaim that it was indicative of how bad the music was on Top 40 during 1974.   Many musical experts completely pan the entire year of 1974 music, claiming it to be the worst year ever for Top 40 radio. Is that hypothesis correct?

I completely understand why some folks may not like a lot of the top songs from 1974, as many of those tunes are horrid. However, I refuse to throw out the baby with the bath water.

During any given year, there are plenty of good songs and also bunches of wretched, insipid tunes. I refuse to categorically describe all music released during 1974 as wretched. I prefer to place the music from 45 years ago into three silos: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

For this edition of my musical musings, I will be investigating the Top 100 songs of 1974, which were compiled by Cashbox and Billboard music publications.

Here are the Top 20 songs from Cashbox:

 

  1. Show And Tell – Al Wilson (Rocky Road)
  2. Come And Get Your Love – Redbone (Epic)
  3. The Most Beautiful Girl – Charlie Rich (Epic)
  4. Rock Me Gently – Andy Kim (Capitol)
  5. The Way We Were – Barbra Streisand (Columbia)

 

  1. Sunshine On My Shoulders – John Denver (Rca Victor)
  2. You Make Me Feel Brand New – The Stylistics (Avco)
  3. Rock On – David Essex (Columbia)
  4. Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks (Bell)
  5. The Joker – The Steve Miller Band (Capitol)

  1. You Haven’t Done Nothin’ – Stevie Wonder (Tamla)
  2. Bennie And The Jets – Elton John (Mca)
  3. The Loco-Motion – Grand Funk (Capitol)
  4. Love’s Theme – The Love Unlimited Orchestra (20th Century)
  5. Spiders And Snakes – Jim Stafford (Mgm)

 

  1. Nothing From Nothing – Billy Preston (A&M)
  2. TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia) – MFSB (Philadelphia Int’l)
  3. You’re Sixteen – Ringo Starr (Apple)
  4. The Night Chicago Died – Paper Lace (Mercury)
  5. Top Of The World – Carpenters (A&M)

Here are the Top 20 songs from Billboard:

  1. “The Way We Were” – Barbra Streisand
  2. “Seasons in the Sun” – Terry Jacks
  3. “Love’s Theme” – Love Unlimited Orchestra
  4. “Come and Get Your Love” – Redbone
  5. “Dancing Machine” – The Jackson 5

 

  1. “The Loco-Motion” – Grand Funk Railroad
  2. “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” – MFSB
  3. “The Streak” – Ray Stevens
  4. “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John
  5. “One Hell of a Woman” – Mac Davis

  1. “Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” – Aretha Franklin
  2. “Jungle Boogie” – Kool & the Gang
  3. “Midnight at the Oasis” – Maria Muldaur
  4. “You Make Me Feel Brand New” – The Stylistics
  5. “Show and Tell” – Al Wilson

 

  1. “Spiders and Snakes” – Jim Stafford
  2. “Rock On” – David Essex
  3. “Sunshine on My Shoulders” – John Denver
  4. “Sideshow” – Blue Magic
  5. “Hooked on a Feeling” – Blue Swede

As you can tell from comparing the two 1974 year-end surveys, there are distinct differences with these listings. I will be selecting my choices for Good, Bad and Ugly from these two lists.

The musical landscape of 1974 is dear to my heart, as my first job in radio started in April of that year. At age 18, I was hired to be a remote engineer by Top 40 radio station WROV in Roanoke, Virginia. My responsibilities at the station included setting up equipment for remote broadcasts, running the soundboard and playing records, while a WROV DJ was in charge of announcing duties.

Dave Woodson playing records for WROV Roanoke remote broadcast during 1974.

During my first remote broadcast, I worked with the legendary WROV DJ Larry Bly. The first song I played that day was “Come and Get Your Love” by Redbone, so for sentimental reasons, I am placing that song in the Good category for 1974 singles.

Two other Good 1974 songs associated with WROV are “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band and “Blackwater” from the Doobie Brothers. The Roanoke radio station added “The Joker” during the fall of 1973, and was credited with a “gold record” by Capitol Records, as WROV was the first station in America to play the song.

Then during September 1974, WROV music director Chuck Holloway started playing “Blackwater” as a Doobie Brothers album cut on his nighttime DJ air-shift. The WROV request line lit up every time “Blackwater” was played and it immediately became a hit in Roanoke.

Soon after, Phil Beckman at WQRK Norfolk and Buzz Bennett with KDWB Minneapolis added “Blackwater” to their playlists. Finally, Warner Bros Records released the song as a single and it became the first number 1 tune for the Doobie Brothers during March 1975. Later that year, WROV proudly received another “gold record” for breaking “Blackwater” in America.

Working for WROV gave me a chance to thoroughly evaluate the music from 1974. From my perspective, there are a whole lot more Good songs than Bad or Ugly tunes from this year.

Since I will be evaluating just the top singles of 1974, according to Cashbox and Billboard, there are many Good songs that I will not be mentioning with this message. The sole parameter that I am using will be if the song made one of the year-end surveys for 1974.

Before I reveal my Top 10 good songs from 45 years ago, I am going to share some other significant songs from 1974. I consider all of these songs to be Good.

  • I Shot the Sheriff—Eric Clapton
  • Beach Baby—First Class
  • Sideshow—Blue Magic
  • Nothing From Nothing—Billy Preston
  • Rock on—David Essex

  • The Air That I Breathe—The Hollies
  • Annie’s Song—John Denver
  • Goodbye Yellow Brick Road—Elton John
  • Help Me—Joni Mitchell
  • Please Come to Boston—Dave Loggins

  • Be Thankful For What You Got—William DeVaughn
  • Then Came You—The Spinners & Dionne Warwick
  • Whatever Gets You Through the Night—John Lennon & Elton John
  • You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet—Bachman Turner Overdrive
  • (I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long—Chicago

  • Hello It’s Me—Todd Rundgren
  • The Lord’s Prayer—Sister Janet Meade
  • Midnight Train To Georgia—Gladys Knight & the Pips
  • I Got A Name—Jim Croce
  • You Make Me Feel Brand New—The Stylistics

Now I will be focusing on what I consider to be the top ten Good songs of 1974.

The top ten songs that I have selected fit into the following categories: I deem the 10 songs to still be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant. There are no rankings with my listing and the songs are placed in a random order.

 

Time in a Bottle—Jim Croce    

 

After Jim Croce died in a plane crash during September 1973, “Time in a Bottle” was released as a single and became a posthumous number 1 hit.   The haunting lyrics of mortality and the wish to have more time, brings sadness to this melodic tune. The song truly resonated with music listeners and is one of Croce’s greatest musical achievements.

 

Band on the Run—Paul McCartney & Wings

 

The musical structure of “Band on the Run,” is absolutely incredible. Continuous switching of tempos, with three distinct music segments, the song flows into a musical masterpiece. Paul and Wings provide excellent three part harmonies throughout the song, which utilizes rock, funk and country influences. I consider “Band on the Run” to be the best song recorded by McCartney after the break up of the Beatles.

Living For the City—Stevie Wonder

 

Prior to 1974, Stevie Wonder sang mostly love songs and stayed away from controversial issues. This changed with his hit, “Living for the City.” It became one of his first songs to deal with racism and gave Wonder a chance to express concerns facing life in America. The other thing I admire about this song is that Wonder played all the instruments on this wonderful tune.

 

You Haven’t Done Nothin’—Stevie Wonder

 

The second good Stevie Wonder song of 1974 is “You Haven’t Done Nothin’.” With backup vocals from the Jackson 5, Wonder unleashes fiery lyrics about U.S. President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal. Ironically, Nixon resigned his presidency in August, the same month that Wonder’s song was released as a single.

Cat’s in the Cradle—Harry Chapin

 

Listening to Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” for the first time, one may think it is a mellow song. However, the subject matter is any thing but mellow. Chapin’s signature song paints a sorrowful picture with a father neglecting his son, and then when the son becomes a man, he actually neglects his father, the same way he was treated as a boy. This folk rock song gives a baleful warning with brilliant lyrics.

 

Sweet Home Alabama—Lynyrd Skynyrd

 

One of the most iconic Southern Rock songs from the 70’s, “Sweet Home Alabama” pans multiple political subjects and stoked controversial topics. The lyrics mention Neil Young and his song, “Southern Man,” the Governor of Alabama, George Wallace and the Watergate scandal. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first hit record has become an anthem for the state of Alabama.

For the Love of Money—The O’Jays

 

First Timothy 6:10 states, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.” That message is the basis for the O’Jay’s hit song, “For the Love of Money.” This R&B groove features powerful vocals and has a killer bass line. The group from Philadelphia gives a powerful warning about the misuse of money on the toe-tapping soul song.

 

Takin’ Care of Business—Bachman Turner Overdrive

 

During the summer of 1974, Canadian rock band Bachman Turner Overdrive had one of the hottest sounding songs with, “Takin’ Care of Business.” Randy Bachman, formally of the Guess Who, teamed up with Fred Turner to give us straight-up catchy guitar rifts and tongue in cheek lyrics. The band from Canada sure knew how to rock during this year.

Keep on Smilin’—Wet Willie

 

Making lemonade out of lemons is the main message on Wet Willie’s song, “Keep on Smilin’.” The band was from Alabama, giving Southern Rock more exposure on Top 40 radio. A positive message is heard on the chorus, “Keep on smilin’ through the rain, laughin’ at the pain, just flowin’ with the changes, till the sun comes out again.”

Wet Willie’s biggest hit happened during the summertime.

 

Radar Love—Golden Earring

 

Throughout the history of Rock and Roll, there have been songs dealing with death. The Dutch band, Golden Earring, gave us a perfect “death rock” song in 1974. “Radar Love” is actually a “Rock Suite” and has two distinct musical segments. Lyrics mention Brenda Lee, driving at a high rate of speed in the middle of the night, and reconnecting with his angel “in the sky.” It is an excellent highway road song.

The next 6 songs are in the Bad category.

 

Spiders and Snakes—Jim Stafford

 

I don’t like spiders or snakes, and I sure don’t like Jim Stafford’s number 1 song about arachnids and serpents. “Spiders and Snakes’ ” lyrics of sexual innuendo are not clever and are down right trite. Stafford’s follow up hit, “My Girl Bill” was equally insipid and wretched to my ears. I don’t know why this became a hit record.

 

Midnight At The Oasis—Maria Maldaur

 

Some may call this song a guilty pleasure. I call the fantasy desert love affair song, “Midnight at the Oasis” lascivious. Maldaur’s stereotypes of Arab “sultans and sheiks” are appalling and her suggestive sexual euphemisms are way over the top. Lyrics like, “But you won’t need no harem, honey, when I’m by your side, and you won’t need no camel, when I take you for a ride” are absolutely insidious.

 

Maria Muldaur

The Streak—Ray Stevens

 

When the streaking craze happened in 1974, someone had to record a song on the topic. That someone was Ray Stevens. His novelty song, “The Streak” may have been funny the first time heard. After the second hearing, the song became annoying. These are lyrics I never want to hear again: “Don’t Look Ethel”, “Ethel, you shameless hussy”, “Ethel, you get your clothes on” and “Say it ain’t so, Ethel.” Ray Stevens’ number 1 song is a dud.

 

You’re Sixteen—Ringo Starr

 

Ringo Starr should have never covered the song “You’re Sixteen.” The Beatles drummer was 33 years old when he recorded the song, and it was creepy listening to it on the radio in 1974. I attended Ringo’s concert with His All Starr Band last month, and he is STILL performing “You’re Sixteen” during his shows. Hearing a 79 year old man singing this song is beyond disgusting. It is atrocious.

 

 

Ringo Starr at Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

I Can Help—Billy Swan

 

Country crossover artist Billy Swan hit number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his dreadful song, “I Can Help.” The singer pleads, begs and promises to do any and every thing possible in order to be her lover. The last line of the song is unbelievable: “If your child needs a daddy, I can help, It would sure do me good to do you good, let me help.” Any woman that is gullible enough to believe that line definitely needs HELP!

 

Dark Lady—Cher

 

Normally, I can tolerate story songs but Cher’s number 1 song from 1974 is rather sordid. “Dark Lady” is a New Orleans fortune-teller, which the narrator of the song (Cher) goes to see. When money is paid for a fortune, the woman proclaims that Cher’s lover has been unfaithful and gives this advice: “Leave this place, never come back and forget you ever saw my face. “ Of course, Cher goes back to the fortune-teller with a gun, catches her lover kissing the woman, and shoots them both dead. Some may claim the song is clever, I maintain the song is just wretched.

 

Cher

Finally, here are 6 songs in the Ugly category:

 

I’m Leaving It Up To You—Donny and Marie Osmond

 

Every time that I heard Donny and Marie’s horrid song during 1974, I would sing, “I’m heaving it up on you.” Listening to this song made me want to puke! In deference to Marie Osmond, she should have never recorded any duets with her brother. Every single Donny Osmond song is completely detestable and obnoxious to my ears. Same for the Osmond Brothers. The song is ugly to the max!

 

Hooked On a Feeling—Blue Swede

 

Why would Swedish pop band sing, “Ooga-chaka, Ooga-Ooga, Ooga-Chaka” over and over, with their cover version of, “Hooked on a Feeling?” Why ruin a wonderful song, which B.J. Thomas made popular in 1968? I prefer listening to Thomas singing “Hooked on a Feeling.” Listening to Blue Swede’s “Hooked on a Feeling” is worse than torture for me.

 

Blue Swede

The Night Chicago Died—Paper Lace

 

One may think that “The Night Chicago Died” was based on a true story. However, it is about a fictional shoot-out between the Chicago Police and members of Al Capone’s crime syndicate. Instead of Capone and his men meeting their doom, the lyrics state “about 100 cops are dead” at the hands of the gangsters. Even worse than unbelievable lyrics is the “bubble gum pop music” that Paper Lace performs on this vapid tune. Chicago would have been better off without this song by Paper Lace.

 

Billy Don’t Be a Hero—Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods

 

One of the sappiest bubble gum songs of 1974, “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” is the ultimate, miserable death pop music song. With the Vietnam Conflict still going on in 1974, many folks assumed that “Billy Don’t Be a Hero” was associated with the Southeast Asian war. However, the lyrics suggest it is about the American Civil War. A young woman is distraught that her fiancé chooses to enlist with the Army. Eventually, Billy is killed in action during a battle. A dreadfully sad tune, that continues to be irritating to me 45 years later.

 

(You’re) Having My Baby—Paul Anka

 

Besides being a duet with Odia Coates, I can’t think of anything positive about this Paul Anka song. “You’re Having My Baby” is overtly sentimental, sappy and the most sexist record of 1974. With Anka declaring, “it is his baby” without acknowledgement of the mother and her part in the pregnancy, is the ultimate in male chauvinism. Furthermore, the song was voted the number 1 “Worst Song of All Time” by CNN in 2006. Needless to say, this is one horrible tune.

 

Terry Jacks

Seasons in the Sun—Terry Jacks

 

The bubble gum, death pop tune, “Seasons in the Sun,” quite possibly is one of the worst songs ever made. The tune is an English-language adaptation of the song “Le Moribond” by Belgian singer-songwriter Jacques Brel with lyrics rewritten by American singer-poet Rod McKuen. The singer laments that he is dying and says goodbye to his Papa, Michelle and a trusted friend. Terry Jacks’ singing delivery is a schmaltzy, emotional mess. Just hearing the opening chords of this song makes me shiver. Rolling Stone ranks the record as the 7th “Worst Song of the 70’s. I proclaim “Seasons in the Sun” as the ugliest of ugly songs of 1974.

 

Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on the Good, Bad and Ugly singles from 1974, I am curious to find out your opinion on the music of that year.

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of the 100 biggest songs from 1974. The songs that you might feel are the Good, Bad and Ugly, maybe be completely different from my selections.

So I am asking for your opinion: What do you consider to be the Good, Bad and Ugly songs for 1974? There are no right or wrong answers. I welcome your thoughts.

If anyone ever suggests that the music from 1974 is all bad and ugly, I hope those folks educate themselves. The majority of the top 100 songs from 1974 are on the good side of the ledger. Long live Top 40 music from 45 years ago!

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

Gotta turn it up louder, so my DJ told me

Life is a rock but the radio rolled me

At the end of my rainbow lies a golden oldie

 

To subscribe to my blog via email, please click the “Follow” button in the menu above. I am looking forward reading your comments on my latest blog message.

 

 

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Concert Reviews, Music, Retro Rock

Ringo Starr: With a Little Help From My Friends

 

What would you think if I sang out of tune?

Would you stand up and walk out on me?

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song

And I’ll try not to sing out of key

 

Oh I get by with a little help from my friends,

Yes I get by with a little help from my friends,

With a little help from my friends

 

Imagine being 79 years old, headlining a rock concert tour and playing songs that were popular last century: Would you need a little help from your friends to pull off a successful concert tour? Most folks would probably say “yes” in answering that question.

Richard Starkey, professionally known as Ringo Starr, wasn’t afraid to ask for some help on his latest concert tour. In fact, Ringo’s All Starr Band provided a great deal of help to the drummer who first rose to superstardom as a member of the Beatles.

On Tuesday August 13th, Ringo and His All Starr Band came to Roanoke, Virginia, performing at the Berglund Center. For those who attended the show, Ringo and his band put on an excellent performance.

Founded 30 years ago, Ringo’s All Starr Band is actually a rock supergroup. Its members are all renowned musicians and instrumentalists who played in other prominent bands prior to joining Ringo’s rock group. Here are the current members of the All Starr Band and the former bands and artists associated with each member:

Ringo Starr – vocals, drums, piano (Beatles)

Colin Hay – guitar, vocals (Men at Work)

Hamish Stuart – bass, guitar, vocals (Average White Band, Paul McCartney)

Gregg Bissonette – drums, backing vocals (David Lee Roth)

Steve Lukather – guitars, vocals (Toto)

Gregg Rolie – organ, vocals (Santana, Journey)

Warren Ham – saxophone, keyboards, percussion, vocals (Kansas, AD, Toto)

Ringo Starr at Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

The setlist for Ringo Starr and His All Starr Band consisted of 24 songs. Ringo performed 12 songs, while Gregg Rolie, Steve Lukather, Hamish Stuart and Colin Hay performed three songs each.

Ringo’s Setlist

  1. Matchbox (Beatles)
  2. It Don’t Come Easy (Solo)
  3. What Goes On (Beatles)
  4. Boys (Beatles)
  5. Don’t Pass Me By (Beatles)
  6. Yellow Submarine (Beatles)
  7. You’re Sixteen (Solo)
  8. Anthem (Solo)
  9. I Wanna be Your Man (Beatles)
  10. Photograph (Solo)
  11. Act Naturally (Beatles)
  12. With a Little Help From My Friends (Beatles)

(Give Peace a Chance: Chorus)

Gregg Rollie’s Setlist

  1. Evil Ways (Santana)
  2. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Santana)
  3. Oye Como Va (Santana)

Steve Lukather’s Setlist

  1. Rosanna (Toto)
  2. Africa (Toto)
  3. Hold the Line (Toto)

Hamish Stuart’s Setlist

  1. Pick Up the Pieces (Average White Band)
  2. Cut the Cake (Average White Band)
  3. Work to Do (Isley Brothers/Average White band)

Colin Hay’s Setlist

  1. Down Under (Men at Work)
  2. Overkill (Men at Work)
  3. Who Can It Be Now (Men at Work)

Although Ringo had played at other venues in Virginia, this was the first time the Beatles’ drummer performed a show in Roanoke. It was also the first time that my wife Priscilla and I had ever attended a show with Ringo and His All Starr Band.

Just after Priscilla and I parked our car at the Berglund Center lot, we ran into my friend Dave Delaney, and then Dave introduced me to his friend Randy Lohr.

As the four of us waited in line to gain entry into the concert venue, I asked Delaney and Lohr if they could submit their comments to me after the show. Both agreed to share their thoughts with me and I am going to be sharing their comments below. I will also be sharing comments from some other friends and acquaintances that also attended the concert.

Priscilla and David Woodson before Ringo concert. Photo by Alice Webber

Before I share the comments on Ringo’s show, I am going to reveal the most common thread among every single person submitting their thoughts to me: Everyone said they were extremely disappointed and could not understand why there was no encore at the end of the concert.

The last song of the evening was “With a Little Help from My Friends,” along with the chorus of “Give Peace a Chance.” There was no encore and fans were not happy. Surely, Ringo and His All Starr Band could have performed songs like, “Back Off Boogaloo,” “The No No Song,” or “Goodnight Vienna” for encore songs? The lack of an encore was a major letdown for the crowd at the end of the evening.

Here now are thoughts and comments about Ringo’s show from those who attended the concert.

Dave Delaney (Roanoke, Virginia):

“The whole All-Starr Band was great as always, with Colin Hay from Men at Work as the surprise standout, such a distinctive voice! Even if he is a little bit stiff on stage. Steve Lukather on guitar is as impressive as ever. If there were any disappointments, it was that Ringo didn’t make any mention of being in “The Star City of the South” – how could you not say something about that?

“The Average White Band songs were fun to hear, but kind of fell flat in terms of featuring Hamish Stuart (which is the point of doing the “All Starr” songs). It could have been any cover band or this band covering any song. Other big surprise: apparently low attendance! I saw large sections of seats with no one in them. Based on the enthusiasm we get for “1964 The Tribute” every year, I would have thought there were a lot more Beatle/Ringo fans in Roanoke and the surrounding area.”

Randy Lohr (Richmond, Virginia):

“Ringo, in this setting, was the gracious host who was willing to give up the chance to play more of his songs so that his fellow artists could perform their big hits and entertain the crowd with them. It was like a great mix-tape of curated classic rock from the late ‘60s to the early ‘80s, ranging from the jam rock of Santana to the Brit funk of Average White Band, from the pop rock of Toto to the quirky new wave of Men At Work. Each of the “All Starrs” – Greg Rolie, Hamish Stuart, Steve Lukather, and Colin Hay – had an obvious blast playing back-up roles for each other, I think in deference to the ultimate back-up player in the house, Ringo himself!

“The concert started promptly at 7:30 (fitting for a musician whose job is to set the time!) and ended almost exactly two hours later at 9:30, with a rousing rendition of “With A Little Help From My Friends” (got a little goose-bumpy again as Ringo sang those first lines – so perfect) and then a pseudo-encore of “Give Peace A Chance,” for which Ringo ran back on stage to help finish, flashing his signature peace sign, and wishing us all well.”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

Sammy Oakey (Roanoke, Virginia):

“Any 79 year old who ends their two-hour concert by doing jumping jacks on stage has my respect, not that Richard Starkey lacked that before his recent Roanoke concert on August 13th. The current collection of All Starr Band members truly complement Ringo’s style and music, and the entire concert was enjoyable for the many generations that attended.

“While I love the songs that Ringo selected to sing, they’re the same numbers that he has been performing for several decades now, and I yearn for a few of his more obscure nuggets. “Only You”, “Octopus’ Garden”, and “”Goodnight Vienna” would surely be great additions to his show.

“Ringo looked and sounded great! While it was a blast to see him front and center at the microphone, it was equally exciting to see him climb up on his drum kit and play along to the other band members’ songs. He looked SO at ease on drums, and the years melted away with each beat of his drums. Having Greg Bissonette on the other drum kit was a great idea, as his stellar percussion and superb stage presence make him a true unsung hero.

“Instrumentalist Warren Ham also added a great deal to the show, with his various instrumental skills as well as some high vocals during “Africa”. While I enjoyed Steve Luthaker, Greg Rawley, and Colin Hay, I’d say my favorite band member (after Sir Ringo, of course!) was Hamish Stuart. The former Average White Band (and Paul McCartney band) member was more than stellar on his numbers, showing that he has lost none of his funk from the 70’s. “

Anne Fox (Roanoke, Virginia):

“I’ve loved Ringo since elementary school and would have gone to see him even if he just stood on stage and smiled. I found him funny and engaging and enjoyed all of his songs, esp. “Yellow Submarine” and “A Little Help From My Friends”. But the best treats of the evening came from his All Star Band, my favorites were from Santana and Toto. “Hold the Line” was great! From where we were sitting, the dialogue was difficult to understand. All in all, I had a delightful time and LOVED seeing Ringo!”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo By David Woodson

Alice Webber (Salem, Virginia):

“I was super excited about seeing Ringo. Probably my last chance to see a Beatle. I wish he had sung a few more Beatles songs. “Octopus’s Garden” would have been nice instead of “You’re 16” (which makes me cringe every time I hear it.) But overall it was really special to see him, he was a great showman, great with the audience, and you could tell he enjoyed the men he shared the stage with. What I didn’t expect (because I did no research) was the caliber of his All Starr band! Hearing “Africa,” “Down Under,” “Evil Ways” and the others was a wonderful surprise. The whole night was GREAT! Loved it!”

Stevie Holcomb (Roanoke, Virginia)

“Great concert, of course he has a way to let his All Stars have their moment without making you wish there were more Beatles songs. Having seen him before, I knew what to expect. It is nice to hear Santana and Average White Band song’s sprinkled through. Still, he did a few favorites and thankfully, didn’t do Liverpool 8 (even though he DID do Anthem, which may be just as bad, Ringo is not a great lyricist) which is plumb awful.”

Michelle Lionberger (Roanoke, Virginia):

“As an elder statesmen in the world of rock, Ringo still has it. Not only did he give a fantastic performance himself, he also put together a truly all star band featuring some outstanding musicians.”

Chuck Lionberger (Roanoke, Virginia):

“This was a fun concert. Ringo was awesome, of course and I equally enjoyed singing-a-long with Men At Work, Toto and Santana songs. It was like being transported back to high school. Not only was there incredible vocal talent but also amazing musical performances. These guys can play and sing along.”

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

Nancy Helms Childress (Vinton, Virginia):

“I thought the concert was very well organized; letting Ringo sing with the other musicians taking turns singing their big hits. That was a great format. I was truly mesmerized watching the dual drummers, perfectly in sync! Amazing! Sometimes when Ringo was on the drums, I imagined John, Paul and George being on the stage with him. What a thrill that would have been! I have seen Paul McCartney in concert and now I have seen Ringo and I feel I am truly one of the lucky ones! I would go again to either or both if the opportunity ever comes up!”

Gayle Deel (Roanoke, Virginia):

“Ringo was in great form both physically and vocally, singing several of his signature songs, along with Yellow Submarine, which enthused all the Beatle fans.

This was special for me as I took my two sons, both drummers, to see him for the first time. Although they did note Ringo’s drum was not miked, only a true musician would notice that detail. The music of Santana, Average White Band. Toto and Men at Work brought back so many memories and was spot on.

“Ringo spoke and performed to the audience like he was playing in our living rooms. At one point he mentioned his “first” band: I know we all thought he was going to say The Beatles, but he gave a shout out to his original band, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Starr also mentioned his Beatle mates and ended his show with John’s “Give Peace a Chance,” with Ringo’s signature line, “peace and love” with the two finger V. I left in chills.”

 

Steve Lukather Roanoke Concert 8/13/19. Photo by Sammy Oakey

Thanks to everyone who submitted their comments for this Ringo Starr concert review.

Before I end this message, I will be sharing my favorite song by each of the four singing members of the All Starr Band and on the “Starr” of the concert, Ringo!

Gregg Rolie: “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen”

Although I loved “Evil Ways,” a song that Rollie sang at Woodstock 50 years ago as lead singer of Santana, it was actually “Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen” that was musically pleasing to me. Rollie’s organ, Steve Lukather’s guitar and the rest of the All Starr Band bought out one of the best overall musical performances of the entire evening.

Steve Lukather: “Africa”

The All Starr Band played one of the greatest Yacht Rock songs of all time: Toto’s biggest hit “Africa.” Their version extended Colin Hay’s guitar and Warren Ham’s saxophone, which complimented Lukather’s guitar and vocals in an excellent way. The crowd seemed to resonate with the tune during this performance.

Hamish Stuart: “Pick Up the Pieces”

This song has always been a favorite tune for me. I had the opportunity to meet Stuart when the Average White Band played a concert in Roanoke in 1975, while I worked for radio station WROV. Every member of the All Starr Band contributed to the success of this tune, with superb musicianship on the stage. It was a true meshing of instrumental talent on this selection.

Colin Hay: “Overkill”

With terrific songs like “Down Under” and “Who Can It Be Now,” it was extremely hard for me to pick “Overkill” as my favorite song. I loved all three of the Men at Work songs, but Hay’s best vocals of the night came when he performed “Overkill.” Collectively, the All Starr Band had wonderful blending of guitars, keyboards and saxophone. I maintain it was the best overall performance that evening by the band.

Ringo Starr: “It Don’t Come Easy”

Easily my favorite Ringo song of the night was “It Don’t Come Easy,” which was co-written by George Harrison and became Ringo’s first solo hit single during the summer of 1971. I enjoyed hearing Warren Ham’s saxophone and Steve Lukather’s guitar on one of the most musically demanding Ringo tunes. I appreciated the All Starr Band’s playing on this timeless classic.

Ringo Starr Roanoke Concert 8/13/19 Photo by Sammy Oakey

It may sound like a cliché but Ringo has paid his dues. As the Roanoke Times music writer Tad Dickens stated in his review of Starr’s concert, “The Beatles drummer, who turned 79 last month, is an energetic and groove-oriented onstage presence, 30 years removed from rehab, and 30 years into leading his own All Starr Band.”

Ringo has paid his dues and he can now sing the blues. He did so with His All Starr Band in Roanoke on August 13th, 2019. Rock on, Ringo Starr!

It don’t come easy,

You know it don’t come easy.

 

Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues,

And you know it don’t come easy.

 

You don’t have to shout or leap about,

You can even play them easy.

 

Forget about the past and all your sorrows,

The future won’t last,

It will soon be over tomorrow.

 

I don’t ask for much, I only want your trust,

And you know it don’t come easy.

 

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Broadcasting, Music, Radio, Retro Rock

Back in the Summer of ’69

I got my first real six string,

Bought it at the five and dime,

Played it til my fingers bled,

Was the summer of ’69.

But when I look back now,

That summer seemed to last forever,

And if I had the choice,

Yeah, I’d always wanna be there,

Those were the best days of my life.

 

The “Summer of ‘69” was a time when Canadian rocker Bryan Adams was buying his first guitar and reminiscing about that summer being the “best days of his life.”

That summer of 1969 was an eventful time for those in the United States. The Vietnam War continued with over 500,000 American troops still in Southeast Asia and Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

During August, the Woodstock “3 Days of Peace and Music” Festival happened, with over 400,000 people attending one of the greatest events in rock music history. Meanwhile, the Beatles recorded their last album, “Abbey Road” just before John Lennon quit the legendary rock band.

The summer of 1969: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” to quote Charles Dickens from his book, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

Various Records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

It was during the hot summer of 1969, that I listened to the radio 10 to 12 hours a day and made a decision that I wanted to be a radio announcer when I grew up. My pursuit to become “DJ Dave” started in the summer of ‘69.

I have fond memories of listening to Top 40 radio during the summer of ‘69. Living in Roanoke, Virginia during this time, I would mostly listen to legendary Top 40 WROV 1240 AM in the daytime, with DJs Jack Fisher, Fred Frelantz and Bart Prater. I also would occasionally tune into WBLU 1480 AM Salem, a second Top 40 station in the Roanoke radio market. WBLU DJ’s Chris Shannon, Les Turpin and Bill Cassidy played the hits, while Dave Moran was the general manager at the station.

At sundown, WROV reduced their power and WBLU signed off the air, so I tuned my radio into stations hundreds of miles away from my Virginia home. Since radio waves changed on a nightly basis, I would listen to a variety of 50,000 watt, clear channel AM stations on any given night.

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

The two main stations that I listened to during the nighttime were WLS 890 AM Chicago and WABC 770 AM New York. On the Big 89 WLS, Larry Lujack, Chuck Buell and Kris Erik Stevens were my favorite DJs. When listening to WABC, Dan Ingram and Cousin Brucie (Bruce Morrow) are the two radio DJ voices that I remember from that hot summer.

On nights that WLS or WABC were hard to pick up, I had other clear channel stations that I could listen to. Among those other stations: WOWO Fort Wayne, WCFL Chicago 1000 AM, CKLW Windsor, Ontario (Detroit) 800 AM, WKBW Buffalo 1520 AM and WKYC Cleveland 1100 AM.

Because I spent so much time listening to Top 40 radio that summer, I decided that I wanted to become a DJ when I became an adult. My desire to work in radio became a reality for me five years later in 1974, as I landed a remote engineer position with WROV Roanoke when I was 18 years old.

Dave Woodson playing records for WROV Roanoke remote broadcast during 1974.

For the remaining portion of this message, I will be focusing on the music that was played on Top 40 radio during the summer of 69. I will be highlighting hits songs from 50 years ago that are still considered relevant here in 2019.

Musically, the summer of ‘69 is considered part of the “Golden Age of Top 40 Radio.” Diversity accurately describes the music that accounted for the biggest hits during that summer.

It was not uncommon to hear different genres played back to back: A DJ might start a music set with country crossover, “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash, segueing into a gospel song, “Oh Happy Day” from the Edwin Hawkins Singers and finally playing a reggae tune, “Israelites” by Desmond Decker and the Aces.

 

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

To further show the diversity of the music, here are five songs that reached number 1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Cash Box Top 100 charts during the summer of 69:

 

1. Get Back—The Beatles with Billy Preston

2. Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet—Henry Mancini & his Orchestra

3. In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)—Zager & Evans

4. Honky Tonk Women—The Rolling Stones

5. Sugar, Sugar—The Archies

 

In addition to those five songs, “In the Ghetto” by Elvis Presley spent the last week of June at the number 1 position on the Cash Box Top 100 chart.

 

WLS Chicago Hit Parade Surveys 7/21/69 & 8/4/69. Courtesy of Pete Battistini: Author of AMERICAN TOP 40 WITH CASEY KASEM (THE 1970’S)

Before I reveal my Top 10 most relevant songs from 50 years ago, I am going to share some other significant songs from the summer of ‘69.

Top Underrated Songs:

1. I’m Free—The Who

2. See—The Rascals

3. Marrakesh Express—Crosby Stills and Nash

4. Spinning Wheel—Blood Sweat and Tears

5. Polk Salad Annie—Tony Joe White

 

WROV Roanoke Super Summer Survey 8/24/69. Courtesy of DJ Steve Nelson and WROV History Website/Pat Garrett.

Top Love Songs:

1. What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)—Jr. Walker & the All Stars

2. Love (Can Make You Happy)—Mercy

3. Baby, I Love You—Andy Kim

4. My Cherie Amour—Stevie Wonder

5. My Pledge of Love—Joe Jeffries Group

 

My 45 RPM single of the Rascals “See” record that I bought in 1969.

Top Miscellaneous Subject Songs:

1. Grazing in the Grass—Friends of Distinction

2. Color Him Father—The Winstons

3. Black Pearl—Sonny Charles & the Checkmates

4. Sweet Caroline—Neil Diamond

5. More Today Than Yesterday—Spiral Staircase

 

My 45 RPM single of Oliver’s “Jean” record that I bought in 1969.

Now I will be focusing on what I consider to be the top ten 1969 summer radio songs. These are songs were either released and/or were hits between June and September 1969.

The top ten songs that I have selected fit into the following categories: I deem the 10 songs to still be culturally, historically, aesthetically significant, meaningful or relevant. There are no rankings with my listing and the songs are placed in a random order.

 

My 45 RPM single of CCR’s “Fortunate Son/Down on the Corner” record that I bought in 1969.

One—Three Dog Night

When the Beach Boys and the Byrds started to wane on Top 40 radio, a new vocal powerhouse came upon the scene: Three Dog Night. Group members Chuck Negron, Danny Hutton and Cory Wells were all talented vocalists and their blended harmonies and vocal versatility soared with their catchy, up-tempo rock tune. “One” spent 3 weeks at number two on Cash Box Top 100 chart and was the first of 21 consecutive songs to reach the Billboard Top 40 between 1969 and 1975 for Three Dog Night.

Easy To Be Hard—Three Dog Night

Just after their song “One” became a hit, Three Dog Night had a second smash tune during the summer of 69: “Easy To Be Hard” from the Broadway musical “Hair.” Chuck Negron has excellent passion when singing the lyrics that question the harsh treatment of humanity: “How can people be so heartless, how can people be so cruel, easy to be hard?” Three Dog Night went on to have a 3rd Top 10 hit with “Eli’s Coming,” a Laura Nyro tune, during the fall of the same year.

Bad Moon Rising—Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)

The second CCR song to reach number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, after “Proud Mary” in the spring of ‘69, is considered to be one of the first tunes in the “Swamp rock” genre of music. Plus, “Bad Moon Rising” has perhaps the most misheard lyric ever in modern music history. Many folks think CCR’s leader John Fogerty sings “There’s a bathroom on the right” instead of “There’s a bad moon on the rise.” “Bad Moon Rising” remains popular and is still played at many sporting events here in 2019.

Fortunate Son—Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)

Summer of ‘69 was huge for CCR. The band played at Woodstock, 4 hit singles charted and their “Green River” album was released. Then in September, the band released “Fortunate Son.” The song quickly became an anti-war movement anthem and is considered a signature song for John Fogerty. In 2013, “Fortunate Son” was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

 

Crystal Blue Persuasion—Tommy James and the Shondells

With the Vietnam War ongoing, Tommy James had his 3rd consecutive top 10 hit, a song longing for a future age of brotherhood, harmony and living in peace. James has been quoted multiple times, stating that the inspiration for “Crystal Blue Persuasion” came from him reading the books of Isaiah, Ezekiel and Revelation in the Bible. The melodic acoustic guitar and organ on the tune help to make this song still sound good, 50 years later.

Get Back—The Beatles with Billy Preston

A song that was originally performed at the historic Beatles “Rooftop” concert in January 1969, the single “Get Back” was the first number 1 song, on both Billboard and Cashbox charts, during the summer of ‘69. The Beatles’ “Get Back/Don’t Let Me Down” single is the only time that another artist was credited on a Fab Four recording, with Billy Preston sharing the honor for the biggest Beatles single in 1969. “Get Back” was also the Beatles’ first single released in America in true stereo.

Get Together—The Youngbloods

With the catchy chorus, “Come on people now/Smile on your brother/Everybody get together/Try to love one another right now,” the Youngbloods created a timely classic with their “Love and Peace” anthem “Get Together.” American involvement in the Vietnam War remained strong in 1969 and the song was a huge hit on Top 40 radio. It was also embraced by many Christian churches during this time period, that wanted to promote “Love and Peace” in their congregations. A true quintessential song from the golden age of Top 40 radio.

Put a Little Love in Your Heart—Jackie DeShannon

It is interesting to look back on how many of the most significant songs from 50 years ago were on the subject of love and peace. Jackie DeShannon’s biggest hit record, “Put a Little Love in Your Heart” is one of those “Love and Peace” songs that resonated with radio listeners in the summer of 69. Along with DeShannon’s other big hit, “What the World Needs Now,” her message of seeking love and peace, rather than war, is still relevant today.

In the Ghetto—Elvis Presley

For most folks who think about Elvis songs, very few remember his songs of social concerns. “In the Ghetto” is completely different than almost every other Elvis tune and provided a comeback for the “King of Rock and Roll” in 1969. The Mac Davis-written song tells a narrative of generational poverty that is set in the city of Chicago. With the success of this song, Elvis charted two consecutive number 1 songs in 1969: “In the Ghetto” and “Suspicious Minds.”

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes—Crosby Stills and Nash (CSN)

When CSN played at Woodstock during August 1969, the band opened up their set list with “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.” The song was the second single from the CSN self-titled debut album, after “Marrakesh Express” and was released as a single in September ‘69. The tune is made up of four separate sections and is seamlessly woven together by excellent harmonies of the band. Truly, “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” is the signature song for CSN.

 

Various records that I bought during the summer of 1969.

Now that I have humbly submitted my thoughts on the most significant singles from the summer of 1969, I am curious to find out your opinion on the music from 50 years ago.

Obviously, I do not want to come across as authoritative with my critique of music from the golden age of Top 40 radio. The songs that you feel are the best from the summer of 1969 could be completely different than my selections.

So I am asking for your opinion: What songs do you feel are the best, greatest or most significant singles from the summer of 1969?

Listening to the music on Top 40 radio in 1969 highlighted some of the best days of my life. Rock on!

I leave you with the ending lyrics to “Crystal Blue Persuasion:”

Maybe tomorrow.

When he looks down,

On every green field,

And every town,

All of his children,

In every nation,

There’ll be peace and good,

Brotherhood,

Crystal blue persuasion

 

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Music, Retro Rock

Gayle Deel: Mega Beatles Fan Explores England and Iceland

 

The Beatles Story Museum exhibit in Liverpool. Photo by Gayle Deel

Imagine no possessions

I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger

A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people

Sharing all the world…

 

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

Imagine if you were inside the childhood house of Paul McCartney in Liverpool and a tour guide invites someone on the tour of the home to play a song on Paul’s piano? It may sound like a dream but it actually became reality for Beatles fan and Roanoke, Virginia native Gayle Deel.

While on tour at McCartney’s home, Gayle played John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine” on the same piano that Paul himself played and sang “When I’m 64”, along with James Corden, on a June 2018 Carpool Karaoke episode of The Late Late Show. It was truly one of the highlights of Gayle’s trip to England to visit multiple Beatles sites during September of last year.

I first came in contact with Gayle shortly after I published Dave & Steve Delaney: Beatles Pilgrimage to England on my blog last October. Through our mutual friend Bruce Bias, Gayle and I communicated about me possibly sharing her Beatles experience after she enjoyed reading about the Delaney Brothers Fab Four trip.

Earlier this month, I interviewed Gayle about her trip to England and a secondary visit to Iceland to visit a John Lennon memorial, The Imagine Peace Tower. Gayle’s passion and knowledge of the Beatles was evident as she reminisced about various things associated with the band that got their start in Liverpool.

As a retirement gift to herself, Gayle Deel planned a trip of a lifetime: Touring Beatles sites in London and Liverpool, England. Gayle retired from the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salem, Virginia where she worked in the Radiology department for many years.

Exhibit at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Accompanying Deel on the trip were her brother Douglas Nauman of High Point, North Carolina and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes of Roanoke, Virginia. The three embarked to England on September 11, 2018 and spent 7 days viewing various Beatles sites in Liverpool and London.

Gayle’s love for the Beatles began on February 7th, 1964 when she watched the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite with her father. As Gayle stated to me, “I fell in love. My dad just shook his head.”

Deel went on to say, “That’s when I became a Beatle devotee for life and I anxiously awaited any magazine that was published just to own a piece of them in print. My only prized possession at that time was a 45 rpm “I Want to Hold Your Hand” –played repeatedly on a portable turntable.”

After getting off the airplane at England’s Heathrow Airport, Gayle and her traveling companions boarded a train in London bound for Liverpool. Gayle mused on that initial train ride: “I just knew it was going to look like the same train: I hear “A Hard Day’s Night” (from the 1964 movie where the Fab Four ride on a train from Liverpool to London).

The first location the trio visited in Liverpool was the Cavern Club. The Beatles played many concerts there during their early days as a band but the original building was closed in 1973 due to construction on a new underground rail loop. A new building for the Cavern Club came in 1984 and this site is now one of the most visited tourist sites in England.

Gayle Deel at the Cavern Club Liverpool, England.

Gayle accounts her experience at the historic music site in Liverpool: “The first stop was the Cavern Club, taking the steps down into the cellar with music flowing, signatures of thousands across the ceiling and “The Stage” where my heroes began their journey. All I could hear was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “Twist and Shout” in that hallowed cellar.”

Every Beatles fan has a favorite Beatle, and Gayle has been a John Lennon fan since the days that the Fab Four performed on the Ed Sullivan show during February 1964. She shared with me that visiting Lennon’s Liverpool childhood home was her favorite event on the Beatles pilgrimage.

Gayle Deel at John Lennon exhibit in Liverpool, England

Here is Gayle describing her tour of the Lennon home: “It was emotional to walk into the back yard and enter the kitchen knowing John had been through that door many times with friends such as Pete Shotton, Ivan Vaughan and sometimes Paul McCartney. The most chilling was being in the small bedroom where John spent young years and teenage years reading about other musicians, listening to American artists and beginning to craft his own musical talents.”

Paul McCartney childhood home in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Gayle’s second favorite visit on the trip was her visit to Paul McCartney’s home on 20 Forthlin Road in Liverpool. Gayle also shares her thoughts on this memorable happening:

“On to Paul’s home – the second thrill of my trip, because it was here that I played, in his living room, the very same piano that THE Paul McCartney had played. Actually the song that rolled off my fingers was “Imagine” by John Lennon, not a McCartney song. But I found it applicable as I had imagined many times the reuniting of these two brilliant musicians. Another young Beatle fan joined me and we played “Let It Be”. He with the melody and me on the chords. I’ll never forget it!”

The other tourist stops on the trip to Liverpool are too numerous to name. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Penny Lane
  • Strawberry Field
  • St Peter’s Parish
  • Eleanor Rigby’s grave

The Beatles Story Museum in Liverpool, England. Photo by Gayle Deel.

After spending a few days in Liverpool, it was then time to take what Electric Light Orchestra sang about in 1979, the “Last Train to London.” The next day, Gayle’s touring group hit various Beatles sites in and around London.

The first memorable site Gayle visited was 3 Savile Row, which was the location of the Beatles last live performance ever: The Rooftop Concert. This mini concert became the climax of the 1970 documentary film “Let It Be.”

Visiting 3 Savile Row was a surreal experience for Gayle as she shared with me,

“The Beatles’ rooftop concert with Billy Preston, was the last time the group ever played together as a band. The Apple building was once owned by all four Beatles and each had an office in that structure. I went in and experienced being in the former beautiful wooden offices, now lined with clothing to purchase. What a shame this building is not a museum. I hear, “Get Back.”

The other highlight for Gayle in London was visiting Abbey Road. The iconic street is known around the world as John, Paul, George and Ringo were photographed walking across thoroughfare and the Beatles made it the front cover of the “Abbey Road” album. In Gayle’s words, “The walk across “Abbey Road” in London: no words can explain and then to turn and see Abbey Road Studios. I hear “Come Together.”

Gayle Deel walking across Abbey Road in London, England.

As trips go, Gayle, her brother and boyfriend all enjoyed their Beatles trip to England. However, Gayle wasn’t finished visiting sites associated with the Beatles.

On December 4th of last year, Deel and her boyfriend Douglas Rhodes went to Iceland to view the Imagine Peace Tower.

The memorial to John Lennon by his widow Yoko Ono, is dedicated to peace, and the tower’s name comes from Lennon’s signature 1971 solo hit song, “Imagine.”

Gayle had a wonderful experience visiting Iceland and the Peace Tower. Here are some of her thoughts as she recalls visiting the Nordic island country in the North Atlantic.

Iceland town. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Iceland is a beautiful country. The air is clean and crisp and it is a quiet, peaceful country. It looks like a scene from Santa’s workshop.”

“The Peace Tower is located on Viday Island and a boat ride is required to get that location. We went at night. It was cold, windy and there were several inches of snow on the ground. We made the trek up the hill to the beautiful monument that shone a blue light into the heavens. Engraved on its’ sides is “Imagine Peace” in 24 languages. It is inspiring and moving. Yoko has also placed a stone that says: “I dedicate this light tower to John Lennon. My love for you is forever – Yoko Ono October 9, 2007.”

Whale watching boat, Atlantic Ocean, along the coast in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

“Yoko chose Iceland with the blessings of the Icelandic people to build the monument there because it is between Liverpool, England, the land of John’s birth and New York City, the city he loved as it reminded him of Liverpool. Iceland is also considered the most peaceful country in the world – thus The Peace Tower.”

“The light is visible for many miles and the blue hue of the light just exudes a peaceful feeling and a yearning for self and world peace. The sole purpose of this trip was to experience that peace. And it happened: I hear ”Give Peace a Chance.”

As you can tell from Gayle’s writing above, she was deeply moved by her time in Iceland visiting the Imagine Peace Tower. She told me during our interview that she would like to revisit Iceland again in the future.

Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland. Photo by Gayle Deel.

Next up on Gayle’s bucket list is visiting Bermuda. This was the location where John Lennon wrote the songs for his last album, “Double Fantasy” which was released just prior to his assassination on December 8th, 1980. Gayle would love to listen to Lennon’s song, “Watching the Wheels” while visiting the Caribbean Island.

Now that Gayle is retired, she has taken up photography. You can view some of Gayle’s photography work on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/gaylendeelphotography/

Thanks to Gayle for sharing her pilgrimage to England and Iceland. After hearing and writing about her experiences, this Beatles fan is ready to travel in England and beyond to visit Fab Four sites.

These are Gayle Deel’s words to live by:

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will live as one

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Music, Retro Rock

What is Frat Rock?

 

 

 

Now the seats are all empty

Let the roadies take the stage

Pack it up and tear it down

They’re the first to come and the last to leave

Working for that minimum wage

They’ll set it up in another town

 

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps

Haul them trusses down and get’em up them ramps

Cause when it comes to moving me

You guys are the champs

But when that last guitar’s been packed away

You know that I still want to play

So just make sure you got it all set to go

Before you come for my piano

The lyrics above are from Jackson Browne’s 1977 song “The Load Out,” which mentions roadies. I had this song rolling across my mind, as I was a roadie for Andrew Peterson’s “Behold the Lamb of God” tour in Roanoke, Virginia last month. While taking a break from roadie duties that day, I received a call from my friend Bruce Bias.

After finishing small talk, Bias asked me the question: “What is Frat Rock?” My friend had been listening to E Street Radio on SiriusXM and heard Bruce Springsteen mentioning that he used to play Frat Rock music in the early days of his career before the release of the “Born to Run” album in 1975.

I didn’t know quite how to respond to his question. The only thing that initially came to my mind was music that was played in the 1978 film, “Animal House.” Or maybe it was music that is played by garage bands?

Before ending our phone chat, I told Bruce that I would research the meaning of Frat Rock and get back with him. Obviously, I educated myself on the subject and am ready to share my thoughts with Bruce and to everyone else who is reading about Frat Rock now.

The week that I was researching Frat Rock, I watched the 1996 film, “That Thing You Do!” for the first time. Written and produced by Tom Hanks, the movie chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional 1964 “one hit wonder” garage rock band.

The film accurately portrays what a typical garage band would be like in the mid-60’s and paints the picture of what many Frat Rock bands had to deal with during that time period. My daughter Amy recommended the film to me and I am now recommending the movie to all who are reading this message.

So what is Frat Rock? This genre of music is closely associated with the garage rock bands that became popular after Beatlemania swept across America in 1964. Frat Rock is also associated with 60’s R&B grooves: songs that have fast up-tempo beats and explosive choruses that can be sung by multiple singers.

Many of the early Frat Rock songs sounded like a party was happening in the studio when the song was being recorded. Backup singers on these early recordings would hand clap, shout, laugh, holler and make it sound like a party was being thrown while the song was actually being made into a record.

Quite a few Frat Rock songs released in the 60’s were made by rock bands that were either “one hit wonders” or tended to not have more than two or three major Top 40 hits. Later on during the 70’s, Frat Rock’s biggest acts were J. Geils Band and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. These two bands featured plenty of guitars along with keyboards and saxophones.

One of the finest examples of Frat Rock from Bruce Springsteen comes from “The River “ album and the song, “Sherry Darling.”

During the 35th anniversary of Springsteen’s “The River” tour in 2016, Billboard Magazine had this to say about his “Sherry Darling” song: “The whooping party noises on this throwback frat-rock stomper provide a funny contrast with the lyrics, all about a guy stuck driving his girl’s pain-in-the-butt mother to the unemployment agency. Springsteen based the tune on ‘60s classics like the Swingin’ Medallions’ ‘Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,’ and he nails the vibe while injecting just enough sociopolitical angst to make it his own.”

During the late 60’s and early 70’s, Frat Rock songs became a mainstay for college fraternity parties. Perhaps the most celebrated Frat Rock song of all time is the tune called, “Shout.” The Isley Brothers wrote and recorded the song in 1959 but in was immortalized in the 1978 movie, “National Lampoon’s Aminal House.”

In the “Animal House” film, Otis Day and the Knights perform a cover version of “Shout” at a fraternity party that features drunken frat boys in togas dancing with sorority sisters. “Shout” is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame and Rolling Stone magazine ranks the song at number 118 on their, “500 Greatest Songs of All Time Listing.”

So what do music critics consider to be the best Frat Rock songs of all time?

ThoughtCo.com has a listing of their Top 10 Frat Rock songs:

  1. Double Shot Of My Baby’s Love—The Swinging Medallions
  2. Louie Louie—The Kingsmen
  3. Wooly Bully—Sam the Sam and the Pharaohs
  4. Nobody But Me—The Human Beinz
  5. Quarter To Three—Gary “U.S.” Bonds

 

  1. Shout—Isley Brothers
  2. 96 Tears—? And the Mysterians
  3. Land of a 1000 Dances—Cannibal and the Headhunters
  4. Farmer John—The Premiers
  5. Mony Mony—Tommy James and the Shondells

There is even an album called, “Frat Rock! The Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Party Tunes of All-Time.”

Some of the songs on this compilation album from Rhino Records include:

  1. Gimme Some Lovin’—Spencer Davis Group
  2. Hungry—Paul Revere and the Raiders
  3. Keep on Dancing—The Gentrys
  4. Barbara Ann—The Beach Boys
  5. Wipe Out—The Surfaris

 

  1. Wild Thing—The Troggs
  2. Do You Love Me—The Contours
  3. Dance To The Music—Sly and the Family Stone
  4. Reelin’ and Rockin’—Chuck Berry
  5. Function at the Junction—Shorty Long

 

And now some of my favorite underrated Frat Rock Songs:

  1. (We Ain’t Got (Nothin’ Yet)—Blues Magoos
  2. Pushin’ Too Hard—The Seeds
  3. Talk Talk—The Music Machine
  4. You, I—The Rugbys
  5. Shape of Things To Come—Max Frost and the Troopers

 

  1. Birthday—Underground Sunshine
  2. Hot Smoke and Sasafrass—Bubble Puppy
  3. I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)—Electric Prunes
  4. Psychotic Reaction—Count Five
  5. Did You See Her Eyes—The Illusion

Obviously, my thoughts on Frat Rock are just the tip of an iceberg. If you want more information about this genre of music, there are many places on the Internet to satisfy your curiosity about the various aspects of Frat Rock.

To Bruce Bias, as I promised to you: an investigation and a blog message on Frat Rock. Enjoy the read!

And to everyone else who is reading this message now: You don’t have to be a former college fraternal brother to enjoy the type of music described on this blog.

Everyone can delight listening to this musical genre. Long live, Frat Rock!

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Music, Retro Rock, Virginia Artists

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

Agents of Good Roots Celebrate 25 Years

In 1993, “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston was the biggest single of the year, Michael Jackson played the Super Bowl halftime show and the Dave Matthews Band from Charlottesville, Virginia released their live album, “Remember Two Things.”

While the Dave Matthews Band was gaining popularity nationally during 1993, another Virginia band was formed that same year in Richmond: the Agents of Good Roots (AOGR). Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers, friends from Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Virginia, hooked up with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl to form the band that became a darling of East Coast college campus venues and club circuits throughout the 90’s.

Agents of Good Roots are celebrating their 25 years as a band by performing two Virginia concerts. AOGR will playing at The Broadberry in Richmond on December 21st and then the next night will be performing at Roanoke’s 5 Points Music Sanctuary.

My connection with AOGR goes back to the late 80’s when I met Tom and Nancy Myers along with their son Stewart. I was a sound engineer for Grace Covenant Church in Roanoke, Virginia and Stewart played bass with the worship team during his high school years.

Stewart Myers met Andrew Winn at Patrick Henry High School. The two boys played together in various rock bands and formed their musical bond during this time period. After graduation from high school, Winn attended James Madison University and Myers went to school at William and Mary.

By 1993, both Myers and Winn ended up in Richmond and formed a band with Brian Jones and J.C. Kuhl. The original name of this new band was River Jacks and their first show was played at Shockoe Bottom in Richmond 25 years ago. Quickly after the first concert, the band became Taxicat and then finally came up with the name Agents of Good Roots within the first year of the band’s forming.

From 1995 until 2001, AOGR toured up and down the East Coast and had a regional following. The band toured with Virginia artists Dave Matthews Band and Bruce Hornsby, along with Blues Traveler during their active touring years.

Agents of Good Roots recorded five studio albums, two EP’s and released four singles during the years 1995 through 1999. Two of the AOGR singles received airplay on Triple A rock radio stations and one of the band’s videos was played on MTV.

The single, “Smiling Up the Frown” was a radio hit on Triple A rock radio stations and reached number two on the Billboard Triple A chart during 1998. Another popular single for the band in 1998 was “Come On (Let Your Love Come Alive).” This tune also received airplay on Triple A rock radio and MTV added a video for this song to their rotation when the song was popular.

Starting in 2001, AOGR cut back on their massive touring schedule and maintained a limited amount of concerts in and around the Richmond area. Then in 2006, the band went on hiatus and remained dormant until 2017.

According to the official Agents of Good Roots website, the band, “reunited for a memorial show for their tour manager and spiritual advisor, Jeff Peskin.” Since that time in October 2017, AOGR have performed 12 concerts in Richmond, Roanoke, Hampton, Charlottesville and Arrington, all in Virginia, plus in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C.

I had the opportunity to attend the Agents of Good Roots Roanoke concert back in October and also met with band members Andrew Winn and Stewart Myers three hours before the beginning of their concert that evening. It was great reconnecting with Myers and a pleasure meeting Winn for the first time at the 5 Points Music Sanctuary concert venue.

So how does one describe what kind of band AOGR is and what genre of music they play? I asked this question to Winn when we met and he came up with one word: “improvisational”. My one word to describe AOGR’s music is “hybrid”. They play rock, pop, jazz and old school R&B with some retro grooves. The band is known for playing its songs differently each time they perform live.

If you are attending one of AOGR’s 25th anniversary concerts, here is the lineup you will see:

Drums, Vocals / Brian Jones

Tenor, Bari, Soprano Sax / J.C. Kuhl

Bass, Vocals / Stewart Myers

Guitar, Keys, Vocals / Andrew Winn

So what are the “day jobs” that the Agents of Good Roots members are performing here at the end of 2018? Winn now lives in Roanoke and is an anesthesiologist with Carilion Clinic. Myers works in the recording industry and recently produced an album by Virginia folk/country artist Sarah White. Kuhl and Jones both teach college jazz courses at the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond and Virginia Commonwealth University.

If you are looking for more current facts on AOGR band members, Tad Dickens of the Roanoke Times provided an excellent article on the band just before their Roanoke concert during October. https://www.roanoke.com/arts_and_entertainment/music/reunited-agents-of-good-roots-in-it-for-fun-headed/article_c6cdc4b0-7258-5857-8068-06eb8f9c5db9.html

Recently, I asked Andrew Winn a couple of questions on AORG music:

What are the Top 5 AORG songs?

  1. “Sidewinder”
  2. “Smiling Up the Frown”
  3. “Bucks in Cash”
  4. “Shot Down”
  5. “The Ballad of Hobby and the Piano

What is the signature song of AOGR?

“Sidewinder”

AGOR’s member Brian Jones wrote “Sidewinder” and here are the opening lyrics to the signature song from the band:

“Standing in the Eden Garden

Lying in the shade

Sidewinder in the dirt

Grass cutting King of Spades

Sidewinder

Adam was combing hair

Eden was bearing fruit”

Agents of Good Roots Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Agents-of-Good-Roots-1630761856948921/

Agents of Good Roots Official Online Page: https://www.agentsofgoodroots.com/

Agents of Good Roots: Photo by Dylan King

As I mentioned above, I attended AOGR’s Roanoke concert a couple months ago and I came away impressed with the musical variety and musicianship of each member of the band. I enjoyed their show and would definitely attend another concert by AOGR.

If you ever have the opportunity to attend an Agents of Good Roots concert, you will not be disappointed. Happy 25th anniversary to the band.

 

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Music, Retro Rock

The Beatles White Album: They Say It’s Your Birthday—50 Years

50 Years of The Beatles White Album

“They say it’s your birthday, we’re gonna have a good time, I’m glad it’s your birthday, happy birthday to you” are the opening lyrics to the song “Birthday” off of The Beatles’ legendary White Album.

The White Album, officially named “The Beatles,” turns 50 on November 22nd. Originally released in 1968, the double album has a plain white sleeve with no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed on the front cover of the album.

The White Album contains 30 tracks and is diverse with many musical styles. Rock, pop, blues, country, reggae, avant-garde, folk, psychedelic and Indian music are all featured on this landmark album. It was a groundbreaking eclectic mix of musical styles for the year 1968.

While there were no singles released from the White Album, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” were both recorded during the same recording sessions but left off the album. This was the same pattern that was used when “Penny Lane” and Strawberry Fields Forever” were left off the Beatles, “Sgt. Pepper” album in 1967.

By no means will this article attempt to rank songs, claim to be a definitive source or declare that any tune from the White Album is the “greatest or best” from the album. If you are looking for that type of analysis, I would encourage you to check out other Internet sources for that kind of information.

According to The Beatles Bible, most of the songs from the White Album were written during a “transcendental meditation course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh, India, between February and April 1968.”

During the time the band was in India, Beatle fans were clamoring for more music. The “Lady Madonna” single became a number 1 song during that time period but that was the only music released by the band.

After the Sgt. Pepper’s album was released in May 1967, The Beatles did not put out any more full-length studio albums for a year and a half. The six-track “Magical Mystery Tour” EP and the four new songs for the “Yellow Submarine” LP were the only new Beatles music being produced. Some wondered if the band were all washed up.

Once back in England, the Beatles started recording the White Album in May 1968 and didn’t complete the process until October of that year. It was an extremely long and arduous undertaking that many music historians link to the beginning of the end for the most popular band of the 60’s.

Along with the recording of the White Album, the band also formed the Apple Record Company, which brought many new challenges to the Beatles’ empire.

Most of the tracks of the White Album were recorded at the Abbey Road Studios in London. But as my friend Steve Delaney of Virginia Beach shared with me, a few of the tracks on the album were also recorded at London’s Trident Studios. Delaney learned of that information when he and his brother Dave Delaney visited the legendary Abbey Road Studio during August 2018.

Beatles record producer George Martin decided to take two tracks from the White Album recording sessions, Hey Jude and Revolution, and release those songs as a double A sided single during August 1968. “Hey Jude” was not only was the biggest song of 1968 but also was the best selling single for the entire 60’s decade.

One of the most interesting quotes that I read researching the history of the White Album is from writer Jann S. Wenner that was published in Rolling Stone Magazine on December 21st, 1968:

“There is almost no attempt in this new set to be anything but what the Beatles actually are: John, Paul, George and Ringo. Four different people, each with songs and styles and abilities. They are no longer Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and it is possible that they are no longer The Beatles.

Wenner’s review is almost seems prophetic as the demise of The Beatles became reality when John Lennon privately told his band mates that he was leaving the band ten months later during September 1969. (Public announcement of the Beatles break-up came in April 1970 when Paul McCartney announced that he was also leaving the band).

For this 50th anniversary of the White Album, I have asked some of the biggest Beatle fans that I know for their thoughts on the album released exactly 5 years after the assassination of U.S. President John F Kennedy on 11/22/63.

But before I share my friends’ thoughts on various songs from the White Album, I want to express what are my favorite songs from the album turning 50 years old this month. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” is my absolute favorite Beatles song of all time and “Back in the USSR” is my third favorite song ever by the band.

You can listen to a countdown of my favorite Beatles songs of all time when I was a guest DJ for a My Fab Four segment with The Beatles Channel on SiriusXM. This SoundCloud audio file is from August 2017.

Besides “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Back in the USSR”, rounding out my top 5 songs on the White Album are “Blackbird,” “Helter Skelter” and “Revolution 1.”

If you ask 100 individuals what are the top five songs on the White Album, most likely you would end up with 100 different answers. With this in mind, I have asked friends of mine who are huge Beatles fans, to share some of their thoughts on this legendary album.

David Hollandsworth: Roanoke, Virginia:

“I was only 11 when the While album came out so it wasn’t until a
couple years later that I first heard it at a friend’s house. I was
intrigued by it because it was a double LP release in a plain white
jacket.

Favorite songs would include “Back in the USSR”, “Birthday,” “Ob-La-Di,
Ob-La-Da,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Blackbird,” “Happiness Is a Warm
Gun” and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”.
Probably my favorite is “Dear Prudence”; I’ve just always liked the
melancholy chord progression and mood.

I used to think this was kind of a hodge-podge album but it’s grown on me over the decades and next to Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper’s, I would say this is my third favorite Beatles album. Hard to believe it’s turning 50 years old! Happy birthday to ya!”

Sherry Hicks Richardson: Roanoke, Virginia:

“The Beatles White Album is one of my all-time favorites. I remember getting this album for Christmas and listening to it non-stop for weeks. It’s iconic. Wow! Favorite song off the album? I really like “Glass Onion” for the historical references (although Paul was not the walrus — John was) and I still remember photos of Paul with his sheepdog Martha, so “Martha My Dear” is a big fave too. I’ve always liked “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by George — it’s one of his best Beatles songs. It is just too hard to pick just one favorite.”

Gayle Deel: Roanoke, Virginia:

“The White Album – 50 years ago – I was 14.  I had been what I call myself an ‘original Beatlemaniac’ since 9 years old. This album helped to continue the hunger for more music, more Beatles, more growth in their societal involvement.
The album was an eclectic contribution by all four of my favorite musicians and idols.

What I know factually is that they recorded for many weeks and for many 24-hour marathons and it was during this period that they first recorded on an eight-track tape machine.

From the hard driving “Back in the U.S.S.R.” to the ironic “Happiness is a Warm Gun” to the moving “Julia” or the most beautiful of the album  – George’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – I loved them all. I can’t choose. It is impossible.

Love you John, Paul, George and Ringo – thank you for all the creativity, the dedication, the genius that has personally helped me through many times and provided me with a lifetime of memories.” 

Dave Delaney: Roanoke, Virginia:

“I have definitely gone through phases with the White Album. I remember my brother Steve and I hearing this for the first time in late 1968, visiting our grandparents for Thanksgiving. The next-door neighbor had a teenager who had gotten it and played it for us.

Even at 11 years old I could tell that these were no longer songs meant to blow up the pop charts. This was music that older kids would sit down and listen to, even more so than Sgt. Pepper’s had been. Later I remember thinking that the whole album was a bit of a sloppy attempt at self-indulgence (“yeah we’re the Beatles – it doesn’t matter what we play – people will listen to it”). Only later did I really come to appreciate that this was indeed additional ground-breaking work. I grew to love this album so much that I named my car after it! And the Beatles song people most ask me to play when I’m sitting around holding a guitar is ‘Blackbird.’”

Steve Delaney: Virginia Beach, Virginia:

“I think perhaps more than any album, the White Album highlighted the amazing range of musical styles they were able to pull off. Contrast “Julia” with “Helter Skelter” or “Yer Blues” with “Mother Nature’s Son.” Then add in unusual tracks like “Ob-La-Di” or “Piggies” and you have a smorgasbord of styles and sounds.

It also might be interesting to point out that the White Album wasn’t entirely recorded at Abbey Road. A few tracks were recorded at Trident Studios in London. They had 8 track equipment as opposed to EMI’s 4 track machines.”

Here are the 30 tracks on the White Album:

  • Side 1

Back In The USSR

Dear Prudence

Glass Onion

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Wild Honey Pie

The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Happiness Is A Warm Gu

  • Side 2

Martha My Dear

I’m So Tired

Blackbird

Piggies

Rocky Raccoon

Don’t Pass Me By

Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?

I Will

Julia

  • Side 3

Birthday

Yer Blues

Mother Nature’s Son

Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey

Sexy Sadie

Helter Skelter

Long, Long, Long

  • Side 4

Revolution 1

Honey Pie

Savoy Truffle

Cry Baby Cry

Revolution 9

Good Night

Fifty years after the White Album was released, it remains one of the greatest rock albums of the 20th Century. In 2003, the White Album was ranked number 10 on the Rolling Stone “Greatest Albums of All Time” listing.

Critics all rank the White Album as one of the top three Beatles albums of all time. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but one thing is sure: The Beatles’ White Album is a beautiful collection of songs and is now celebrating 50 years of wonderful music.

They say it’s your birthday: I am sure glad that John, Paul, George and Ringo recorded the White Album, “All Those Years Ago.” Rock on!

 

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