Friday, October 30, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Eagles (10/30/07) 2nd Birthday!

21VEkq2rGmL._SL160_The Eagles were the quintessential 70’s soft-country-rock band, an amalgam of the pure country-rock of Poco and the harmonies and jangle guitar-rock of the Byrds with far greater recording production supporting their obvious talents as performers and songwriters (Eagles playlist here). The Eagles defined the 70s L.A. soft pop-rock sound and opened the way for the 80s light MOR country-pop sound that members Don Henley and Glen Frey exploited with multi-platinum albums. In the 70s the Eagles produced five #1 singles, 14 Top 20 hits overall and six #1 albums (including two of the best selling albums of all time, 1975’s Eagles: Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and 1976’s Hotel California. By the end of 20th century, the Eagles were still going strong, although mostly as a huge selling retro-band, with an audience leaning toward the “classic rock” sounds of the 70s era the Eagles dominated. The band released sporadic reunion and “live” revival albums until Long Road Out Of Eden, their first album of any kind in 13 years and their first studio release in over 20 years, came out two years ago on October 30, 2007. Long Road Out Of Eden is a throw-back collection of songs that mirror their peak years (and initially available only at Wal-Mart Stores, the colossal global discount retailer). In an age where great rock music is limited, even a retro-album like Long Road Out Of Eden is a relief. It’s on my buy list and recommended for any Eagles fan or lover of 70s soft-rock.

Long Road Out Of Eden is now available (not just at Wal-Mart) as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

 

Album of the Day: The Byrds (10/29/69) 40 Years!

51xqT6c1NvL._SL160_The original line-up for the Byrds lasted just three short years, from 1965 through mid-1968, long enough to produce the timeless tracks “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (among a dozen others), plus four great folk-, psychedelic- and early country-rock albums. But guitarist Roger (nee Jim) McGuinn was forced to reconstitute the band when, over an 18-month period, original members Gene Clark quit, David Crosby left for Crosby, Stills & Nash, and Michael Clarke and Chris Hillman left for the Flying Burrito Brothers. From 1968 to their eventual breakup in 1972, McGuinn and the in-name-only Byrds underwent several other rounds of personnel changes, the middle of which led to the October 29, 1969 release of The Ballad of Easy Rider. The album has (obvious) close ties to the terrific July 1969 cult counterculture movie, Easy Rider, starring Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. The film soundtracked several Byrds tunes, including the title track and the wonderful, rambling, spacey, folk-rock gem “Wasn’t Born To Follow.” Interest in a revitalized Byrds peaked after the movie’s summer release, and the working title of the album was originally Captain America (after the film’s anti-hero character). Despite all the hype, The Ballad Of Easy Rider peaked at just #36 in the U.S. Nonetheless, it’s a great late-60s country-rock album.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Prince (10/27/82)

51VXXGHHBYL._SL160_Prince found national prominence with his October 27, 1982 release, 1999, which set the table for his blockbuster 1984 LP, Purple Rain (check my Prince playlist at www.DrRock.com).

A double album, 1999 was Prince’s first Top 10 release (it peaked at #9) and the fifth best-selling album in all of 1983. And rightly so. 1999 is great electro-pop-R&B-soul as only Prince (or Michael Jackson) could deliver. Prince beat Michael’s Thriller LP into the record stores by all of five weeks, giving him a leg up of sorts in the race for supremacy atop the Top 80s R&B charts. Of course, Jacko ultimately won that contest, but not before Prince and 1999 delivered three big, enduring hits: the title track, “Little Red Corvette” and “Delirious,” plus the lesser hit “Let’s Pretend We’re Married.” The album benefited from heavy airplay on the-fledgling MTV, which was barely 15 months old when 1999 came out. Rolling Stone Magazine lists 1999 as #163 on its Top 500 Albums. Jacko’s Thriller is #20.

1999 is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Monday, October 26, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Sam & Dave (10/26/67)

51iNZ2fdrJL._SL160_Southern soul team Sam & Dave were arguably the greatest all-male R&B/soul duo of all time. Samuel Moore and David Prater recorded a string of hits in the mid-60s on the Stax label, the hugely influential Memphis-based affiliate of Atlantic Records. With songwriting, production and leadership from Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Sam & Dave topped the R&B and pop charts with “Soul Man” (1966), “Hold On! I’m Coming” (1967) and “I Thank You” (1968). “Soul Man” became the (sort of) title track to the duo’s October 26, 1967 album, Soul Men, which included several great non-hit songs penned by Hayes and the superb backing by Booker T. & The MG’s, the renowned house band at Stax.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

 

This Week's Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:
Oct 25
1942 ● Helen Reddy → "I Am Woman" (1971)
1944 ● Jon AndersonYes
1947 ● John Hall → Orleans
1948 ● Glenn Tipton → Judas Priest
1956 ● Matthias Jabs → Scorpions
1957 ● Robbie McIntoshPretenders

Oct 26
1946 ● Keith Hopwood → Herman's Hermits
1952 ● David Was → Was (Not Was)
1953 ● Keith StricklandB-52s
1963 ● Natalie Merchant10,000 Maniacs

Oct 27
1949 ● Byron Allred → Steve Miller Band
1949 ● Gary Tallent → E Street Band
1951 ● "K.K." Downing → Judas Priest
1958 ● Simon LeBonDuran Duran
1967 ● Scott Weiland → Stone Temple Pilots

Oct 28
1936 ● Charlie Daniels
1941 ● Curtis Lee → "Pretty Little Angel Eyes" (1961)
1941 ● Hank Marvin → Shadows
1945 ● Wayne Fontana → The Mindbenders
1947 ● George Glover → Climax Blues Band
1948 ● Telma Hopkins → Tony Orlando & Dawn

Oct 29
1944 ● Denny LaineMoody Blues, Wings
1946 ● Peter GreenFleetwood Mac
1948 ● Ricky "Ricochet" Reynolds → Black Oak Arkansas

Oct 30
1937 ● Frank Ifield → "I Remember You" (1962)
1939 ● Eddie Holland → Holland-Dozier-Holland
1939 ● Grace SlickJefferson Airplane/Starship
1945 ● Henry Winkler → "The Fonz"
1946 ● Chris Slade → Manfred Mann, The Firm, AC/DC
1947 ● Timothy B. SchmitPoco, Eagles

Oct 31
1937 ● Tom Paxton → Folk singer
1940 ● Eric Griffiths → The Quarry Men
1944 ● Kinky Freidman → Country singer/bandleader
1947 ● Russ Ballard → Argent
1951 ● John Ford Coley → Partner of "England Dan" Seals
1952 ● Bernard Edwards → Chic
1961 ● Larry MullenU2

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Cheap Trick (10/24/08)

51eCrYWkBrL._SL160_Cheap Trick hired former Beatles producer George Martin to oversee their fifth studio LP, All Shook Up, which was released on October 24, 1980 (to view my Cheap Trick playlist, click here). Despite Martin’s extraordinary work with the Fab Four – he produced all but one of their original albums, arranged and conducted the classical music instrumentation in many of their more complicated songs, and played piano on several – he and the band were unable to turn the trick. All Shook Up was widely labeled a disappointment, especially after the huge success of 1979’s Dream Police. All Shook Up couldn’t crack the Top 20 in the U.S., peaking at #24, and only had one single, “Stop This Game,” which reached to #48. All Shook Up wasn’t a bad album at all, it just wasn’t up to the level of raw, crunching power pop of Cheap Trick’s first four albums and the celebrated At Budokan live set.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Led Zeppelin (10/22/69)

41UGySBN4OL._SL160_We’ll argue forever about which Led Zeppelin album is better, their debut or Led Zeppelin II, which came out 40 years ago today on October 22, 1969, nine months after its predecessor. If you’re on the “other side’, you still can’t deny that Led Zeppelin II was a monster album, and together they are a formidable duo of highly influential hard blues-rock music (tracks from both are included in my LZ playlist on DrRock.com). One interesting fact: while Led Zeppelin I was recorded at a leisurely pace in the fall of 1968, Led Zeppelin II was laid down during breaks in the band’s hectic touring schedule in the U.S. and U.K. between January and August 1969. With no time for unlimited retakes and overdubbing, II is a raw and energetic album, a full set of great guitar riffs, distorted vocals, heavy metal rhythms and very memorable tunes (“Ramble On,” “Whole Lotta Love,” “Thank You” and “What Is And What Should Never Be” are the best).

Now back to the argument at hand. Rolling Stone magazine fails provide any true guidance on the issue of which is better. Led Zeppelin II is listed on the RS Top 100 albums at #59, is included on the RS200 (there were no rankings on that one), and takes the #75 spot on the RS Top 500 list. Led Zeppelin I isn’t on the Top 100 or Top 200 lists, but finds itself at #29 on the Top 500 list. Go figure.

Led Zeppelin II (my pick of the two) is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Human League (10/20/81)

21N6ESNY12L._SL160_New Wave synth-pop band Human League had a rough go from formation in 1977 until the hugely successful third album Dare!, which came out on October 20, 1981 and featured the hit “Don’t You Want Me” (one of the highest selling British singles of all time). HL started out as an all-male quartet playing art-synth-rock, although only two of the members (Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh) had any real depth in music. After two disappointing albums and with mounting debts and pressure from their record label, HL splintered and Ware and Marsh quit to form Heaven 17. That left Philip Oakley (lead vocals) and Adrian Wright (not much more than an equipment manager) to hire accomplished musicians to support them while Wright began to learn the synthesizer. Oakley ended up recruiting two teenagers, Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley, as backup vocalists, but they quickly moved to the front next to Oakley. Dare! was released on the heels of and includes three U.K. singles from mid-1981, “The Sound Of The Crowd” (#36), “Love Action (I Believe In Love” (#3) and “Open Your Heart” (#6). But it was the unexpected, runaway success of the chart-topping single lifted off the album, “Don’t You Want Me” that drove Dare! to #1 on the British album charts and #3 in the U.S.

Dare! is available as download tracks from iTunes (click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Monday, October 19, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Fleetwood Mac (10/19/79)

4159ESEEGJL._SL160_Fleetwood Mac scored two chart-topping albums in the late 70s, their self-titled “debut” in 1975 and the massively popular Rumours in 1977. Despite riding a huge wave of rock popularity, any chance of three-in-a-row was largely squelched by the semi-incestuous turmoil tearing at the band in the wake of Rumours, plus the decision to issue a double album with Lindsey Buckingham providing most of the creative direction. The result, Tusk (released on October 19, 1979) was too long, overly ambitious and musically uneven. While it sold handsomely and reached #4 in the US, it could have and should have been released as a single disc. The three hits from the album, Christine McVie’s “Think About Me” (#37), Buckingham’s “Tusk” (#8) and Stevie Nicks’ “Sara” (#7) might have fit nicely with “Angel,” “The Ledge”, “That’s Enough For Me” and another two or three McVie floating ballads to create a neat single disc package. The rest is weird and unnecessary Buckingham experimentation.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

 

This Week's Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:
Oct 18
1926 ● Chuck Berry
1938 ● Ronnie Bright → The Coasters
1943 ● Russ Gigure → The Association
1947 ● Laura Nyro
1961 ● Wynton Marsalis

Oct 19
1934 ● David Guard → Kingston Trio
1944 ● Peter Tosh (Winston Hubert McIntosh) → "(You Gotta Walk) Don't Look Back" (1978)
1945 ● Jeannie C. Riley → "Harper Valley PTA" (1968)
1946 ● Keith Reid → Procol Harum
1950 ● Patrick SimmonsDoobie Brothers

Oct 20
1945 ● Ric Lee → Ten Years After
1950 ● Tom Petty
1951 ● Al GreenwoodForeigner
1964 ● Jim "Soni" Sonefeld → Hootie and The Blowfish

Oct 21
1917 ● John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie
1940 ● Manfred Mann (Manfred Lubovitz) → Earth Band, solo
1941 ● Steve CropperBooker T & the MGs
1942 ● Elvin Bishop → Paul Butterfield Blues Band, solo
1947 ● John "Rabbit" Bundrick → Free, solo, The Who
1952 ● Brent MydlandGrateful Dead

Oct 22
1942 ● Annette Funicello
1942 ● Bobby Fuller → Bobby Fuller Four
1945 ● Leslie WestMountain, West Bruce & Laing
1946 ● Eddie BrigatiThe Rascals

Oct 23
1939 ● Charlie Foxx → "Mockingbird" (1963)
1940 ● Fred Marsden → Gerry & The Pacemakers
1943 ● Greg Ridley → Humble Pie, Spooky Tooth
1956 ● Dwight Yoakham
1959 ● Weird Al Yankovic

Oct 24
1930 ● The Big Bopper (J. R. Richardson)
1936 ● Bill WymanRolling Stones
1944 ● Ted Templeman → Producer
1950 ● Dale "Buffin" Griffin → Mott The Hoople

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

 

Album of the Day: R.E.M. (10/17/88)

51GC6VDF3ZL._SL160_Alternative rock pioneers R.E.M. released Eponymous on the IRS label on October 17, 1988. The album is a collection of some of the best material from R.E.M.'s first five albums. But it’s not a “Greatest Hits” collection, since there were few R.E.M. “hits” in broader sense, anyway, prior to 1987. Before “The One I Love” came out with Document in 1987, R.E.M.’s only real chart action was on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock listing for airplay on album rock stations. “The One I Love” was their first placement above #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for all sales and airplay, and it topped out at #2 in late-87. IRS released Eponymous shortly after R.E.M. left for a new contract with Warner Brothers. The album was a last chance for IRS to cash in on R.E.M.'s growing popularity. Nevertheless, Eponymous is also a great compilation of eight of R.E.M.'s better-known songs from 1981-1987, plus a the original version of “Radio Free Europe,” remixed versions of “Finest Worksong” and “Gardening At Night,” and a previously unreleased track, “Romance.”

For the uninitiated looking to explore R.E.M. for the first time, Eponymous is a good place to start (but only after you view my own R.E.M. "Best Of..." playlist in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com). In addition, Eponymous is available as download tracks from iTunes click here) and as a CD from Amazon (click here).

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Friday, October 16, 2009

 

Vintage Video: The Tremeloes (1967)

Tremeloes1964The Tremeloes (click here for today’s Vintage Video) had what it took to give The Beatles a run for their money in the mid-60s. Catchy tunes, good looks, respectably long hair, a supportive record label (Decca) and a growing legion of fans. But the recipe didn’t bake cake, and the Fab Four pasted the Tremeloes in the race to British Invasion superstardom. That left Brian Poole (lead singer and guitarist) and his bandmates to swallow their pride, which wasn’t hard to do with more than a dozen British #1’s and two Top 20 US hits. The Tremeloes broke up in 1970, just a few short years after they recorded this version of their hit cover of Cat Stevens’ “Here Comes My Baby” in 1967 for the BBC.

Dr. Rock’s take on the best 50 tracks from the British Invasion includes another Tremeloes hit song, “Silence Is Golden”, also from 1967.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Yes (10/15/69)

316ZDSWKM0L._SL160_The eponymous debut album by British prog-rockers Yes is considered to be the first progressive rock album. And Yes the band (for my Yes playlist, click here) is considered to be the most venerable and commercially successful prog-rock band. Their debut album was released on October 15, 1969 in the waning days of psychedelic rock, and just ahead of the big splintering of rock music into a multitude of sounds and genres that made the 70s the best decade for rock music. With their next three albums, Yes became a major and defining force on the progressive side of rock music. But the debut LP didn’t fare well, even though it’s a decent collection of early Yes songs. The biggest reason: Yes was released within a few weeks of several notable late-1969 rock albums by the heavy hitters of the time, including Tommy by The Who, Led Zeppelin II, and the Stones’ Let It Bleed. By 1973, that would all change.

By the way, Yes includes two very ambitious and interesting covers of songs by the Beatles (“Every Little Thing”) and the Byrds (“I See You”). To download Yes from iTunes, click here. For a CD from Amazon, click here.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Jethro Tull (10/14/74)

416C4XVJ70L._SL160_War Child, Jethro Tull’s seventh studio album, was released on October 14, 1974 (a Tull playlist and albums are on DrRock.com). Originally conceived as a two-disk soundtrack epic (similar in length and/or style to the two previous Tull albums, 1972’s Thick As A Brick and 1973’s A Passion Play), War Child became a single disk when the movie project was abandoned for lack of financial resources. That in itself was probably a good move, but it also spared us from a double album with material of questionable strength without a movie behind it. As it turned out, three tracks on War Child weren’t written for the movie soundtrack anyway, but were leftovers from the 1972-73 recording sessions for Thick As A Brick and A Passion Play. Killing the movie project brought “Only Solitaire,” “Bungle In The Jungle” and “Skating Away On Thin Ice” to vinyl, with the latter two becoming minor chart hits. Overall, War Child spent a short time in the Billboard Top 20, reaching #2 for several weeks.

For more about the aborted movie, click here to visit Tull’s website and read band leader Ian Anderson’s recollections. To download War Child from iTunes, click here. For a CD from Amazon, click here.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Billy Joel (10/13/78)

51wG0Y3dNAL._SL160_Billy Joel’s first #1 album, 52nd Street, was released on October 13, 1978 (to see my B.J. playlist and albums, click here). Following on the breakout success of 1977’s The Stranger, Joel’s rise to superstardom was complete with 52nd Street. The album sold over two million copies in the first month after its release and won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 1979. For those thrilled with Joel’s piano-based pop-rock, 52nd Street was and still is a triumphant album. Three Top 40 hits (#3 “My Life,” #14 “Big Shot” and #24 “Honesty”) drove radio airplay and sales, but the remaining tracks, including the jazzy “Zanzibar”, the staccato “Stiletto” and the ballad “Until The Night” are not filler by any stretch. In fact, those three are among the best of Joel’s recordings from the late 70s. 52nd Street is included at #352 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 albums of all time. It’s further distinguished by being the first rock album to be issued on CD when the new format entered commercial distribution in 1982. 52nd Street is available on Amazon (as a CD) and iTunes (as track downloads).

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Monday, October 12, 2009

 

Album of the Day: U2 (10/12/81)

51pbVxKom4L._SL160_When U2 (click here for my playlist at DrRock.com) formed as a band in 1976 in Dublin, all of the four members were still in their mid-teens and three (Bono, The Edge and Larry Mullen) were practicing Christians. A short five years later, they released their second album on October 12, 1981. Appropriately titled October, it was less a progression forward than a reaffirmation of the booming rockers that marked their debut LP, Boy in 1980. More so than Boy, October’s lyrics tended toward religious themes and subjects (“Gloria,” “Tomorrow” and “With A Shout” in particular). In early 1981, Adam Clayton was the only U2 member who didn’t join a certain Christian group in Dublin. The experience led the other three to question the inevitable conflict between their religious beliefs and their growing rock n’ roll stardom. And they used that effectively on October, for combining religious statements with their signature sound placed them in a totally different realm than those of their early 80s punk-rock and synth-pop contemporaries. However, October didn’t sell well and is rarely counted among U2’s better albums. Nevertheless, it’s a good predecessor to their third studio album, War (1983), which launched U2 on the trajectory that made them global megastars by the end of the decade. October is available on Amazon (as a CD) and iTunes (as track downloads).

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

 

This Week's Birthdays

Happy Birthday this week to:
Oct 11
1949 ● Daryl Hall → Hall & Oates
1950 ● Andrew Woolfolk → Earth, Wind And Fire
1962 ● Scott Johnson → Gin Blossoms

Oct 12
1935 ● Sam Moore → Sam And Dave
1942 ● Melvin FranklinThe Temptations
1948 ● Rick Parfitt → Status Quo
1955 ● Pat DiNizio → The Smithereens
1960 ● Bob Mould → Husker Du, solo

Oct 13
1940 ● Chris Farlowe (John Henry Deighton) → "Out of Time" (1966)
1941 ● Paul Simon
1944 ● Robert LammChicago
1947 ● Sammy Hagar → Montrose, solo, Van Halen
1950 ● Simon Nicol → Fairport Convention


Oct 14
1927 ● Bill Justis → "Raunchy" (1957)
1930 ● Robert Parker → "Barefootin'" (1966)
1940 ● Cliff Richard
1945 ● Colin Hodgkinson → Whitesnake
1946 ● Justin HaywardMoody Blues
1958 ● Thomas Dolby → "She Blinded Me With Science" (1982)
1965 ● Karyn White → "Superwoman" (1988)

Oct 15
1935 ● Barry McGuire → "Eve Of Destruction" (1965)
1938 ● Marv Johnson → "I'll Pick a Rose For My Rose" (1968)
1942 ● Don Stevenson → Moby Grape
1946 ● Richard Carpenter → The Carpenters
1948 ● Chris de Burgh → "Lady in Red" (1986)
1953 ● Tito Jackson → The Jackson 5

Oct 16
1937 ● Emile Ford (Emile Sweetman) → The Checkmates
1942 ● Dave Lovelady → The Fourmost
1943 ● C.F. Turner → Bachman-Turner Overdrive
1947 ● Bob "Ace" WeirGrateful Dead
1953 ● Tony Carey → Rainbow
1960 ● Gary Kemp → Spandau Ballet
1962 ● Flea (Michael Peter Balzary) → Red Hot Chili Peppers
1969 ● Wendy Wilson → Wilson Phillips

Oct 17
1941 ● Jim Seals → Seals & Crofts
1942 ● Gary Puckett → Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
1946 ● James TuckerThe Turtles
1968 ● Ziggy Marley
1972 ● Wyclef Jean → The Fugees, solo

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

 

Album of the Day: Talking Heads (10/8/80)

41KKVNSS1QL._SL160_For their fourth studio album, Remain In Light, the Talking Heads added African flavors to their tight, eccentric and edgy brand of post-punk, New Wave pop-rock. Using a recording studio in the Bahamas probably helped as well, for the result was a lighter, more upbeat and danceable album than anything previous. Remain In Light was released on October 8, 1980 and begat two singles, “Crosseyed And Painless” and “Once In A Lifetime.” The latter features frontman David Byrne’s preaching lyrics chanted from a gospel-revival pulpit atop a polyrhythmic African jam, and like the rest of the album it finds the link between the listener’s head and feet. Remain In Light was the third and final Heads’ album produced by Brian Eno. A marginal seller despite reaching #19 on the U.S. album charts (only briefly, though), it is nevertheless one of their best and ranks #126 on Rolling Stones’ list of the Top 500 albums of all-time. The Talking Heads are in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com and Remain In Light is available on Amazon (CD) and iTunes (track downloads).

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