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According to Billboard chart statistics, Chicago is second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles. Judged by album sales, as certified by the R.I.A.A., the band does not rank quite so high, but it is still among the Top Ten best-selling U.S. groups ever. If such statements of fact surprise, that's because Chicago has been singularly underrated since the beginning of its long career, both because of its musical ambitions (to the musicians, rock is only one of several styles of music to be used and blended, along with classical, jazz, R&B, and pop) and because of its refusal to emphasize celebrity over the music. The result has been that fundamentalist rock critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low. At the same time, however, Chicago has succeeded in the ways it intended to. From the beginning of its emergence as a national act, it has been able to fill arenas with satisfied fans. And beyond the impressive sales and chart statistics, its music has endured, played constantly on the radio and instantly familiar to tens of millions. When, in 2002, Chicago's biggest hits were assembled together on the two-disc set The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning and the album debuted in the Top 50, giving the band the distinction of having had chart albums in five consecutive decades, the music industry and some music journalists may have been startled. But the fans who had been supporting Chicago for over 30 years were not.
Chicago marked the confluence of two distinct, but intermingling musical strains in Chicago, IL, in the mid-'60s: an academic approach and one coming from the streets. Reed player Walter Parazaider (born March 14, 1945, in Chicago, IL), trumpeter Lee Loughnane (born October 21, 1946, in Chicago, IL), and trombonist James Pankow (born August 20, 1947, in St. Louis, MO) were all music students at DePaul University. But they moonlighted in the city's clubs, playing everything from R&B to Irish music, and there they encountered less formally educated but no less talented players like guitarist Terry Kath (born January 31, 1946, in Chicago, IL; died January 23, 1978, in Los Angeles, CA) and drummer Danny Seraphine (born August 28, 1948, in Chicago, IL). In the mid-'60s, most rock groups followed the instrumentation of the Beatles -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- and horn sections were heard only in R&B. But in the summer of 1966, the Beatles used horns on "Got to Get You into My Life" on their Revolver album and, as usual, pop music began to follow their lead. At the end of the year, the Buckinghams, a Chicago band guided by a friend of Parazaider's, James William Guercio, scored a national hit with the horn-filled "Kind of a Drag," which went on to hit number one in February 1967.
That was all the encouragement Parazaider and his friends needed. Parazaider called a meeting of the band-to-be at his apartment on February 15, 1967, inviting along a talented organist and singer he had run across, Robert Lamm (born October 13, 1944, in New York, NY [Brooklyn]). Lamm agreed to join and also said he could supply the missing bass sounds to the ensemble using the organ's foot pedals (a skill he had not actually acquired at the time).
Developing a repertoire of James Brown and Wilson Pickett material, the new band rehearsed in Parazaider's parents' basement before beginning to get gigs around town under the name the Big Thing. Soon, they were playing around the Midwest. By this time, Guercio had become a staff producer at Columbia Records, and he encouraged the band to begin developing original songs. Kath, and especially Lamm, took up the suggestion. (Soon, Pankow also became a major writer for the band.) Meanwhile, the sextet became a septet when Peter Cetera (born September 13, 1944, in Chicago, IL), singer and bassist for a rival Midwest band, the Exceptions, agreed to defect and join the Big Thing. This gave the group the unusual versatility of having three lead singers, the smooth baritone Lamm, the gruff baritone Kath, and Cetera, who was an elastic tenor. When Guercio came back to see the group in the late winter of 1968, he deemed them ready for the next step. In June 1968, he financed their move to Los Angeles.
Guercio exerted a powerful influence on the band as its manager and producer, which would become a problem over time. At first, the bandmembers were willing to live together in a two-bedroom house, practice all the time, and change the group's name to one of Guercio's choosing, Chicago Transit Authority. Guercio's growing power at Columbia Records enabled him to get the band signed there and to set in place the unusual image the band would have. He convinced the label to let this neophyte band release a double album as its debut (that is, when they agreed to a cut in their royalties), and he decided the group would be represented on the cover by a logo instead of a photograph.
Chicago Transit Authority, released in April 1969, debuted on the charts in May as the band began touring nationally. By July, the album had reached the Top 20, without benefit of a hit single. It had been taken up by the free-form FM rock stations and become an underground hit. It was certified gold by the end of the year and eventually went on to sell more than two million copies. (In September 1969, the band played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival, and somehow the promoter obtained the right to tape the show. That same low-fidelity tape has turned up in an endless series of albums ever since. Examples include: Anthology, Beat the Bootleggers: Live 1967, Beginnings, Beginnings Live, Chicago [Classic World], Chicago Live, Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Magnum], Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Onyx], Great Chicago in Concert, I'm a Man, In Concert [Digmode], In Concert [Pilz], Live! [Columbia River], Live [LaserLight], Live Chicago, Live in Concert, Live in Toronto, Live '69, Live 25 or 6 to 4, The Masters, Rock in Toronto, and Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival.) To Guercio's surprise, he was contacted by the real Chicago Transit Authority, which objected to the band's use of the name; he responded by shortening the name to simply "Chicago." When he and the group finished the second album (another double) for release at the start of 1970, it was called Chicago, though it has since become known as Chicago II.
Chicago II vaulted into the Top Ten in its second week on the Billboard chart, even before its first single, "Make Me Smile," hit the Hot 100. The single was an excerpt from a musical suite, and the band at first objected to the editing considered necessary to prepare it for AM radio play. But it went on to reach the Top Ten, as did its successor, "25 or 6 to 4." The album quickly went gold and eventually platinum. In the fall of 1970, Columbia Records released "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," drawn from the group's first album, as its next single; it gave them their third consecutive Top Ten hit.
Chicago III, another double album, was ready for release at the start of 1971, and it just missed hitting number one while giving the band a third gold (and later platinum) LP. Its singles did not reach the Top Ten, however, and Columbia again reached back, releasing "Beginnings" (from the first album) backed with "Colour My World" (from the second) to give Chicago its fourth Top Ten single. Next up was a live album, the four-disc box set Chicago at Carnegie Hall, which, despite its size, crested in the Top Five and sold over a million copies. (The band itself preferred Live in Japan, an album recorded in February 1972 and initially released only in Japan.) Chicago V, a one-LP set, released in July 1972, spent nine weeks at number one on its way to selling over two million copies, spurred by its gold-selling Top Ten hit "Saturday in the Park." Chicago VI followed a year later and repeated the same success, launching the Top Ten singles "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" and "Just You 'n' Me."
The next Top Ten hit, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," was released in advance of Chicago VII in the late winter of 1974. The album was the band's third consecutive chart-topper and another million-seller. "Call on Me" became its second Top Ten single. Chicago VIII, which marked the promotion of sideman percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged bandmember, appeared in the spring of 1975, spawned the Top Ten hit "Old Days," and became the band's fourth consecutive number one LP. After the profit-taking Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits in the fall of 1975 came Chicago X, which missed hitting number one but eventually sold over two million copies, in part because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning number one single "If You Leave Me Now." Chicago XI, released in the late summer of 1977, continued the seemingly endless string of success, reaching the Top Ten, selling a million copies, and generating the Top Five hit "Baby, What a Big Surprise."
But there was trouble beneath the surface. The band's big hits were starting to be solely ballads sung by Cetera, which frustrated the musicians' musical ambitions. They had failed to attract critical notice, and what press attention they were given often alluded to Guercio's Svengali-like control as manager and producer. Chicago determined to fire Guercio and demonstrate that they could succeed without him. Shortly afterward, they were struck by a crushing blow. Kath, a gun enthusiast, accidentally shot and killed himself on January 23, 1978. Though he, like most of the other members of the band, was not readily recognizable outside the group, he had actually had a large say in its direction, and his loss was incalculable. Nevertheless, the band closed ranks and went on.
Guitarist Donnie Dacus was chosen from auditions and joined the band in time for its 12th LP release, which was given a non-numerical title, Hot Streets, and which put prominent pictures of the bandmembers on the cover for the first time. The sound, as indicated by the first single, the Top 20 hit "Alive Again," was harder rock, and the band's core following responded, but Hot Streets was Chicago's first album since 1969 to miss the Top Ten. Chicago 13 then missed the Top 20. (At this point, Dacus left the band, and Chicago hired guitarist Chris Pinnick as a sideman, eventually upping him to full-fledged group-member status.) Released in 1980, Chicago XIV, the last album to feature de Oliveira, didn't go gold. By 1981, with the release of the 15th album, the poor-selling Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, the band parted ways with Columbia Records and began looking for a new approach.
They found it in writer/producer David Foster, who returned to an emphasis on the band's talent for power ballads as sung by Cetera. They also brought in one of Foster's favorite session musicians, Bill Champlin (born May 21, 1947, in Oakland, CA), as a full-fledged bandmember. Champlin, formerly the leader of the Sons of Champlin, was a multi-instrumentalist with a gruff voice that allowed him to sing the parts previously taken by Kath. With these additions, the band signed with Full Moon Records, an imprint of Warner Bros., and released Chicago 16 in the spring of 1982, prefaced by the single "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," which topped the charts, leading to a major comeback. The album returned Chicago to million-selling, Top Ten status. Chicago 17, released in the spring of 1984, was even more successful -- in fact, the biggest-selling album of the band's career, with platinum certifications for six million copies as of 1997. It spawned two Top Five hits, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration."
The renewed success, however, changed the long-established group dynamics, thrusting Cetera out as a star. He left the band for a solo career in 1985. (Pinnick also left at about this time, and the band did not immediately bring in a new guitarist.) As Cetera's replacement, Chicago found Jason Scheff, the 23-year-old bass-playing son of famed bassist Jerry Scheff, a longtime sideman with Elvis Presley. Scheff boasted a tenor voice that allowed him to re-create Cetera's singing on many Chicago hits. The split with Cetera had a negative commercial impact, however. Despite boasting a Top Five hit single in "Will You Still Love Me?," 1986's Chicago 18 only went gold. The band recovered, however, with Chicago 19, released in the spring of 1988. Among its singles, "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" made the Top Five, "Look Away" topped the charts, and "You're Not Alone" made the Top Ten as the album went platinum. Another single, "What Kind of Man Would I Be?," originally found on the album, was included as part of the 1989 compilation Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (which counted as the 20th album) and became a Top Five hit, while the album sold five million copies by 1997.
At the turn of the decade, Chicago underwent two more personnel changes, with guitarist DaWayne Bailey joining and original drummer Danny Seraphine departing, to be replaced by Tris Imboden. Chicago Twenty 1, released at the start of 1991, sold disappointingly, and Warner rejected the band's next offering (though tracks from it did turn up on compilations). Chicago, however, maintained a loyal following that enabled them to tour successfully every summer. In 1995, Keith Howland replaced Bailey as Chicago's guitarist. The same year, the band regained rights to its Columbia Records catalog and established its own Chicago Records label to reissue the albums. They also signed to Giant Records, another Warner imprint, to release their 22nd album, Night & Day, a collection of big-band standards that made the Top 100. They were now able to combine hits from their Columbia and Warner years, resulting in the release of the gold-selling The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 and its follow-up, The Heart of Chicago, Vol. 2 1967-1998 (their 23rd and 24th albums, respectively). In 1998, they released Chicago 25: The Christmas Album on Chicago Records, and they followed it in 1999 with Chicago XXVI: The Live Album. In 2002, Chicago began leasing its early albums to Rhino Records for deluxe repackagings, often with bonus tracks. And the success of The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning demonstrated that their music continued to appeal to fans. Feeding off the renewed interest, the band reappeared in 2006 with the new album Chicago XXX on Rhino. The rejected Warner album from 1993 was finally released by Rhino in 2008 as Stone of Sisyphus: XXXII.
Source: William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
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Deriving their name from the metric total of semen ejaculated by the average male, the tongue-in-cheek British art-pop band 10cc comprised an all-star roster of Manchester-based musicians: vocalist/guitarist Graham Gouldman was a former member of the Mockingbirds and the author of hits for the Yardbirds, the Hollies, Herman's Hermits and Jeff Beck; singer/guitarist Eric Stewart was an alum of Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders; and vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Kevin Godley and Lol Creme were both highly regarded studio players.
Formed in 1970, 10cc began as a session unit dubbed Hotlegs; after establishing residence at Stewart's Strawberry Studios, Hotlegs scored a surprise U.K. smash with the single "Neanderthal Man," subsequently issuing an LP, Thinks: School Times and touring with the Moody Blues. After signing to Jonathan King's U.K. label and rechristening themselves 10cc (a name suggested by King himself), the group backed Neil Sedaka before recording 1972's "Donna," a sly satire of late-'50s doo wop.
The single reached the number two position on the British charts, establishing not only a long-running string of major hits, but also the quartet's fondness for ironic and affectionate reclamations of musty pop styles. The follow-up, "Rubber Bullets," topped the charts in 1973, and both the subsequent single "The Dean and I" (a nostalgic look at academia recalling Jerry Lee Lewis’ "High School Confidential") and an eponymously titled debut LP further solidified 10cc as a major force in British pop.
While 1974's Sheet Music and singles, including the Brian Wilson-esque "Wall Street Shuffle," "Silly Love" and "Life Is a Minestrone" continued 10cc's dominance of the U.K. charts, they found the American market virtually impenetrable prior to the release of 1975's "I'm Not in Love," which topped the charts at home and climbed as high as number two in the States.
After 1975's Original Soundtrack and the next year's How Dare You!, Godley and Creme exited to focus on video production as well as developing the Gizmo, a guitar modification device the duo invented. In the wake of their departure, Gouldman and Stewart continued on alone, enlisting the aid of session men to record 1977's Deceptive Bends, highlighted by the perennial "The Things We Do for Love."
After recruiting guitarist Rick Fenn, keyboardist Tony O’Malley and drummer Stuart Tosh as full-time members, 10cc returned in 1978 with Bloody Tourists, which yielded the number one reggae nod "Dreadlock Holiday." Following a series of unsuccessful efforts, including 1980s Look Hear?, 1981's 10 Out of 10 and 1983's Window in the Jungle, the group disbanded; while Stewart produced Sad Cafe and worked with Paul McCartney, Gouldman supervised recordings for the Ramones and Gilbert O’Sullivan before joining Andrew Gold in the duo Wax.
In 1992, the original line-up of 10cc reunited for the LP Meanwhile, while only Gouldman and Stewart remained for 1993's Mirror Mirror. ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
For The Record
Members include Paul Burgess (unofficially joined group as tour drummer, 1973), drums; LolCrème (born Lawrence Crème on September 19, 1947, in Manchester, England; left group, 1976), guitar, vocals; Rick Fenn (joined group, 1977), guitar;Kevin Godley (born on October 7, 1945; left group, 1976), drums, vocals; Graham Gouldman (born on May 10, 1945, in Manchester, England), bass, vocals; Tony O'Malley (joined group, 1977), keyboards; Duncan Mackay (joined group, 1978), keyboards; Stephen Pigott (joined group for tour, 1993), keyboards; Eric Stewart (born January 20, 1945, in Manchester, England), guitar, vocals; Stuart Tosh (joined group, 1977), drums, vocals; Gary Wallis (joined group for tour, 1993), drums.
Stewart and Gouldman became members of Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, 1966; Stewart, Godley, and Crème form band Hotlegs and record number-two U.K. single "Neanderthal Man" on Fontana Label, 1970; Gouldman joined Hotlegs for tour supporting Moody Blues, 1970; Hotlegs used as studio and backup band for Neil Sedaka's Solitaire album and subsequent tour, 1971; 10cc signed by Jonathon King's U.K. label, 1972; first single, "Donna," charted at number two in U.K., 1972; released debut album, 10cc, 1973; "Rubber Bullets" single reached number one in U.K., 1973; released Sheet Music, 1974; released Original Soundtrack on Mercury label, 1975; released How Dare You!, 1976; Crème and Godley left group to pursue career as musical duo and market Gizmo musical instrument, 1976; Stewart and Gouldman recorded Deceptive Bends with hit single "The Things We Do for Love," 1977; Stewart and Gouldman hired Paul Burgess, Rick Fenn, Tony O'Malley, and Stuart Tosh, 1977; Duncan Mackay hired as keyboardist, 1978; released Bloody Tourist, 1978; original lineup of Crème, Godley, Stewart, and Gouldman reunite for album …Meanwhile, 1992; Stewart and Gouldman re-formed 10cc without Godley and Crème for album Mirror Mirror and Japanese tour, 1993.
The singles were collected on the group's 1973 self-titled first album, a recording that, according to Jonathon King in the liner notes for the reissue of their first two albums, "made many converts. They were literate, witty, tongue in cheek but musically superb. At that stage they reflected the past magic of groups like the Beach Boys yet added a whole new lyrical dimension of their own." 10cc toured to support the first album, appearing at the Isle of Man in August of 1973 with drum support from Paul Burgess.
10cc's second album, Sheet Music, was considered another step forward for the group in terms of artistic growth. Singles such as "Wall Street Shuffle" and "Silly Love" increased the band's popularity, while the song "Worst Band in the World" was refused airplay for its cynical portrayal of rock stardom and its hedonistic urges. The album is often considered a classic of the early 1970s in terms of production and songwriting. According to King: "This album was, and is, I still believe, a pop classic. It contains incredible brightness and sparkle which emerged effortlessly, almost without trying."
Following the first two albums, 10cc failed to capitalize on the overwhelming positive reviews they had received from the American rock press. They abandoned UK Records and signed with Mercury/Phonogram, releasing Original Soundtrack in 1975. Featuring the Stewart and Gouldman composition "I'm Not in Love," the album became a major American hit. According to Stewart, the song involved 16 recordings each of three different voices, creating an eerie production quality that serves as an ironic commentary on the lyrics.
The group's fourth album, How Dare You!, contained the modestly successful singles "I'm Mandy Fly Me" and "Art for Art's Sake." Declaring that the "music is so blazingly bright, the songs so brashly witty, and the effect so cumulative" in a Phonograph Record review, critic Bud Scoppa noted: "Every song on How Dare You! is gem-hard, multi-faceted, and informed by some delicious irony…. The group is all the more impressive because—unlike Beefheart or Steely Dan—it holds itself rigidly within the stylistic parameters of pop."
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In the 1970s, Tom Waits combined a lyrical focus on desperate, lowlife characters with a persona that seemed to embody the same lifestyle, which he sang about in a raspy, gravelly voice. From the '80s on, his work became increasingly theatrical as he moved into acting and composing.
Growing up in southern California, Waits attracted the attention of manager Herb Cohen, who also handled Frank Zappa, and was signed by him at the beginning of the 1970s, resulting in the material later released as The Early Years and The Early Years Vol. 2. His formal recording debut came with Closing Time (1973) on Asylum Records, an album that contained "Ol' 55," which was covered by label mates the Eagles for their On the Border album.
Waits attracted critical acclaim and a cult audience for his subsequent albums, The Heart of Saturday Night (1974), the two-LP live set Nighthawks at the Diner (1975), Small Change (1976), Foreign Affairs (1977), Blue Valentine (1978), and Heart Attack and Vine (1980).
His music and persona proved highly cinematic, and, starting in 1978, he launched parallel careers as an actor and as a composer of movie music. He wrote songs for and appeared in Paradise Alley (1978), wrote the title song for On the Nickel (1980), and was hired by director Francis Coppola to write the music for One from the Heart (1982), which earned him an Academy Award nomination. While working on that project, Waits met and married playwright Kathleen Brennan, with whom he later collaborated.
Moving to Island Records, Waits made Swordfishtrombones (1983), which found him experimenting with horns and percussion and using unusual recording techniques. The same year, he appeared in Coppola's Rumble Fish and The Outsiders, and, in 1984, he appeared in the director's The Cotton Club.
In 1985, he released Rain Dogs. In 1986, he appeared in Down By Law and made his theatrical debut with Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre in Frank's Wild Years, a musical play he had written with Brennan. An album based on the play was released in 1987, the same year Waits appeared in the films Candy Mountain and Ironweed.
In 1988, he released a film and soundtrack album depicting one of his concerts, Big Time. In 1989, he appeared in the films Bearskin: An Urban Fairytale, Cold Feet, and Wait Until Spring. His work for the theater continued in 1990 when Waits partnered with opera director Robert Wilson and beat novelist William Burroughs and staged The Black Rider in Hamburg, Germany.
In 1991, he appeared in the films Queens' Logic, The Fisher King, and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. In 1992, he scored the film Night on Earth; released the album Bone Machine, which won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album; appeared in the film Bram Stoker's Dracula; and returned to Hamburg for the staging of his second collaboration with Robert Wilson, Alice.
The The Black Rider was documented on CD in 1993, the same year Waits appeared in the film Short Cuts. A long absence from recording resulted in the 1998 release of Beautiful Maladies, a retrospective of his work for Island. In 1999, Waits finally returned with a new album, Mule Variations. The record was a critical success, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk album, and was also his first for the independent Epitaph Records' Anti subsidiary.
A small tour followed, but Waits jumped right back into the studio and began working on not one but two new albums. By the time he emerged in the spring of 2002, both Alice and Blood Money were released on Anti Records. Blood Money consisted of the songs from the third Wilson/Waits collaboration that was staged in Denmark in 2000 and won Best Drama of the year.
After limited touring in support of these two endeavours, Waits returned to the recording studio and issued Real Gone in 2004. The album marked a large departure for him, in that it contained no keyboards at all, focusing only on rhythm-stringed instruments. ~ All Music Guide
Source: www.artistdirect.com; William Ruhlmann
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Maverick...It’s a word given to an increasing number of individuals in the art world. If ever a word summed up one man so aptly, its John Martyn. Born in Surrey in September 1948. His real name was Iain David McGeachy.
Following his parent’s divorce when he was five, he spent much of his time in Glasgow and the cultural influences of the city would impact on Martyn’s early work. Learning to play guitar at 15, he began playing in some local folk clubs and came under the guidence of Hamish Imlach, one of the leading lights of the Scottish scene.
Following some success locally, Martyn befriended Clive Palmer, later to form the influential Incredible String Band and began heading south. Upon arriving in London, he was quickly established as a key figure on the folk scene and was soon signed to Island Record becoming their first white artist.
His first release came in 1967 “London Conversations” is a decent but unspectacular debut concentrating very much on the folk sound that was comfortable and safe for an 18 year old. The following year saw the release of the follow up. “The Tumbler” was a great shift forward. Although still very much in a folk style, this time more jazz and blues influences are evident enhanced by flute and saxophone, all under- pinned by some excellent acoustic guitar.
By now, Martyn was gaining a reputation as a fine guitarist and was recruited to be part of the backing band at a recording session for folk singer Beverly Kutner. Not only did they hit it off musically, but in 1969 they married and as a duo recorded “Stormbringer”. Released in early 1970, it saw the introduction of the Echoplex guitar technique that became a trademark of the John Martyn sound for both live and recorded material. Recorded out in New York it gave Martyn an early glimpse of the rock elite, meeting Hendrix and having members of the Band and the Mothers Of Invention playing on the album. Sympathetically produced by Joe Boyd, it contains strong vocals from both with wonderfully subtle guitar and the tracks “Sweet Honesty” and “John The Baptist” are classics.
Quickly following this release up with “The Road To Ruin”, also released in 1970, and this time backed by members of Pentangle and Fairport Convention, the album has a much jazzier feel to it. The playing remains as excellent as ever and the tracks are more varied ranging from bluesy acoustic to brassy laid back soul. The standout “Auntie Aviator”, featuring some gentle underplayed guitar gives an indication of the future direction Martyn would take. A decision was taken by Island that Martyn should revert to being a solo artist once more and with a young family to look after, Beverly was sidelined.
The subsequent release, “Bless The Weather” marked the move away from folk with the instrumental track “Glistening Glyndebourne” showcasing the extraordinary Echoplex sound. At this time, his friendship with bassist Danny Thompson was cemented and the pair would continually work together on albums and live shows.
Able to fill clubs and sell his albums to a committed and loyal fan base, he was also able to indulge in the excesses of drink and drugs that would regularly punctuate his career. “Bless The Weather” and the next album “Solid Air” would give Martyn the biggest success he was to achieve. “Solid Air” has grown in stature and is now accepted as a classic of the era. Finding great popularity with the student masses of the day, its warm ambience is like having a high tog quilt thrown over you as the warmth of the album works its way into your body. The vocals are slurred, almost foreign, allowing one to grab just a tantalising word or phrase. The title track was written as a eulogy to Martyn’s friend Nick Drake and is a distant, disturbing sound. Containing two of his most enduring tracks, “May You Never” and “Rather Be The Devil” it’s an album that never leaves you. Widely considered to be Martyn’s best work, it regularly appears in top album lists.
“Inside Out” and “Sunday’s Child” released in 1973 and 1975 respectively, helped establish Martyn as an important artist. With live shows selling out to small but committed audiences and his record releases having high profile guest artists such as Stevie Winwood, Richard Thompson and Bobby Keyes. Despite his critical success, he made little major commercial impact and this may have contributed to a lifestyle that was becoming more and more fuelled by drink and drug intake.
The strain that this put on his marriage was reflected in the lyrics of his next album “One World”. Recorded out in the open air to pick up ambient sounds from the countryside, the albums eclectic mix of styles made it a firm favourite with fans and critics and contained two of his most popular songs, the title track and “Small Hours”. There was to be a three-year gap before the release of the next album as Martyn’s demons took hold resulting in a final breakdown of his marriage to Beverly.
As could be expected, the resulting album “Grace And Danger” was an extremely emotional affair where Martyn laid bare his soul for the world to hear. It is a stunning work but uncomfortable to listen too. Island boss, Chris Blackwell, delayed the release for months as he found the album to depressing.
Following a change of label to WEA the next two releases saw Martyn move more and more into rock territory and his live shows only allowed a few acoustic numbers. “Glorious Fool” (1981) produced by Phil Collins who had become a close friend, and “Well Kept Secret” (1982) were supported by extensive tours and had two of Martyn’s more successful chart placings.
The next couple of years saw Martyn in a better place. Now remarried, his writing reflecting his happier state. Returning to Island Records, he travelled to the Bahamas to record “Sapphire” in 1984. It proved to be a hard album to make and it much of the production was left to Robert Palmer. While this album was full of smooth soft rock, the next album “Piece By Piece” was recorded in Glasgow with just his touring band. The first commercially released CD single, “Angeline” a superb love song to his new wife preceded this release, in 1986 Still disappointed at the lack of full on commercial success, the next couple of years saw Martyn deep in an alcoholic daze.
In 1988 he was given an ultimatum from doctors to give up the drink or die. He seemed to heed the warning and focused on recording. The results of this were the albums “The Apprentice” and “Cooltide”. While both were good, compared to the beauty and originality of much of his previous work, they can only be considered adequate.
With a couple of stopgap albums re working some vintage songs in between, it was not until 1996 that the next studio album was released. And taking influences from the trip hop scene, it was a clear indication that Martyn was still trying to move his music forward. A covers album “The Church With One Bell” was released the following year (1998). A magical album taking in songs from artist as diverse as Portishead and Billie Holliday all performed in his own inimitable style. “Glasgow Walker” followed in 2000 containing one of his most poignant love songs in “Wildflower” while “You Don’t Know What Love Is“, recorded for the film “The Talented Mr Ripley” has one of his best vocal performances for many years.
In 2003 he had part of his right leg amputated and was forced to spend much of his time in a wheelchair. His final album was released in 2004. “On The Cobbles” recorded across many studios it signed a return to the folky, acoustic songs of old and is a fitting epitaph to a long recording career.
John Martyn died on the 29th of January 2009 in hospital in Ireland. A troubled man with an addictive personality he made friends for life as people welcomed his warmth and charm. Never achieving significant commercial success, He attracted fiercely loyal and committed fans that treated him like a member of their family. Always willing to forget the times they were let down by non-shows or performances marred if he had one to many. He was held in great affection and his talent was admired and respected.
His early albums were fine examples of British folk but it was his desire to experiment that moved him away from the ordinary. With the trio of albums “Solid Air”, “Inside Out” and “One World” an artistic peak was reached. He gave us many gentle and at times unbearably poignant love songs and has left a legacy of music that is unmistakably unique. Perhaps it is best to leave it to John Martyn himself to describe this. Speaking in 1988 regarding the release of "The Church With One Bell" he said “There’s a place between words and music and my voice lives right there” The track here is from an early club show in 1968 "Would You Believe".
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Martin Turner and Steve Upton were forming a band in 1970, so legend has it, and they couldn’t choose between Andy Powell and Ted Turner (no relation) on lead guitar. Thus were born the greatest exponents of the glorious and pretty much exclusively Prog Rock phenomenon, twin lead guitars.
If you’re not familiar with this sound you need to download "Blowin’ Free" and you’ll struggle to believe that what seems at first to sound like a clever echo is in fact the two guitars jousting. It’s a staggeringly accomplished track, whether or not in its original electric format, or more Folk-like acoustic, and demonstrates the assurance of a band into its third great album in as many years ("Argus" – 1972).
Perhaps understandably, given that it is the closest the band ever got to a concept album, Wishbone Ash are primarily remembered for "Argus". At the time Wishbone Ash seemed quite heavy, in the Deep Purple mode, whose stable they shared, and whose own guitarist, one Ritchie Blackmore, is reputed to have been godfather to the band persuading Deep Purple’s own label to take on Wishbone Ash – ironically Turner’s and Powell’s guitars seemed to have aged more gracefully than the iconic Blackmore’s. Listening to Wishbone Ash today, in our post-Prodigy world, the Folk Rock influences, like their contemporaries such as The Strawbs, shine through. Given that Wishbone Ash abounds with myths, it is fitting that "Argus" conjures medieval visions, and Arthurian allusions, a theme common enough in their other work, and through the great Prog Rock bands generally, but at its most complete in "Argus". "Argus" works very well, and the lead guitars take us on epic Tolkienian journeys ("Time Was", "The King Will Come", "Throw Down The Sword", "The Warrior"), and the understated vocals are unusual in that they are reduced to a support function.
While "Argus" and its standout track "Blowin’ Free" should be regarded as essential, their eponymous debut (1970) and 1971’s outing "Pilgrimage" are in many ways its equal, with some equally outstanding tracks, including the legendary "Phoenix". Wishbone IV (1973) and "There’s The Rub" (1974) refine the Wishbone Ash sound, but Punk Rock was knocking, and despite sterling work since, and excellent live gigs ("Live Dates" is an outstanding album) Wishbone Ash had had their spell on the top table.
The generally accepted wisdom is that Wishbone Ash needed a front man, and Wishbone Ash themselves are rumoured to have agreed, leading to the band's first change of personnel in the mid seventies. Competent vocals, and totally appropriate to their sound, but in a world that wanted more Bolan, Broughton, Bowie, Hammill, Gabriel, Daltry and Plant, and was as ready as it was going to be for the emerging Mercury, they weren’t quite Gillan.
While the band has had its share of Floydian internecine squabbles over the years, it’s still active, and has consistently featured Andy Powell on lead guitar. Wishbone Ash is a great personal favourite, and highly recommended. Everything that’s good about lead guitar – restrained and yet flamboyant – in the best possible taste. The most thoroughly British of bands.
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One of the best and most successful of the Progressive Blues bands that flooded the scene in the late 60's. Although the tradition was for musicians to have played in Dance Bands or in freelance backing bands for touring vocalists, Free bucked the trend by becoming established at an early age after having served only a limited apprenticeship in the music biz.
Paul Kossoff, the 17-year-old son of actor David Kossoff, had started playing guitar aged twelve and played in his first band, Black Cat Bones, along with 18 year old drummer, Simon Kirke. Wanting to develop their sound, they soon left the band and recruited 18-year-old lead singer Paul Rodgers who had played briefly in some bands around his hometown of Middlesbrough before moving to London in 1968. Completing the line up was bassist Andy Fraser, who remarkably was already a veteran of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers aged just 15. Blues stalwart Alexis Korner was an early supporter of the band, suggesting the name “Free” and recommending them to the flourishing Island label.
At their first rehearsal, the band jelled immediately and straight away they bought out the best of each other playing the blues music they loved but feeling confident in each others ability to start writing new songs. With the agreement of the others, Andy Fraser declared himself to be the bands leader and began booking gigs where the band soon established their reputation as a outstanding live act.
In October 1968 the band went in to the studio to record their debut album. They were assigned the maverick producer Guy Stevens who oversaw the sessions but relied heavily on engineer Andy Johns to convert his ideas into sound. “Tons Of Sobs” was released in November 1968. Containing mostly self-penned songs, it relied heavily on the songs played at the live shows. Given the young age of the band, they translated their version of the blues with remarkable feeling. Book ended by the acoustic “Over The Green Hills” the band soon hit their stride with “Walk In My Shadow” with some soulful guitar and vocals that were soon to become their trademark. The album also contained the standout track “The Hunter” a Booker T and The MG’s song that featured in Free shows throughout their career.
Disappointedly, the album failed to make much of an impact commercially and they soon returned to the studio to record the follow up. This time produced by the head of Island, Chris Blackwell, “Free” was a huge leap forward in both sound and texture. A quieter album overall than the predecessor.The mournful guitar from Kossoff is most effective on “Free Me” and “Woman” , while Fraser and Kirke had developed a rhythm section of both power and subtlety.
Tensions however were mounting within the band. With eight of the nine compositions supplied by Fraser/Rodgers, they were becoming both the creative and business leaders of the band. Kirke and the fragile Kossoff were feeling sidelined and only the diplomacy skills of Blackwell allowed the album to be completed. Blackwell decided that the band would be the perfect support for Island Supergroup Blind Faith and their tour of the States. Despite some early sound problems at the important Madison Square Garden show, the seven-week tour proved to be a positive learning curve, particularly for Kossoff, who felt empowered again after mixing with “God” Clapton.
Back home again, the band played at the Isle Of Wight festival and continued to gig, building up a strong fan base that helped push “Free” into the charts, reaching number 22 upon its release in October 1969.
Anxious to keep momentum going, they returned to the studio, often between gigs, to record the next album. Disappointed with the sound that Blackwell had overseen on the last album, the band persuaded their boss to let them produce this next effort themselves. With Rodgers favouring more soulful vocals and Kossoff playing his most refrained guitar to date, “Fire And Water” is a somewhat dark album containing some of Free’s most trademark songs. Its most upbeat track closes the album. “All Right Now” gave the band its breakthrough. With its driving beat, rolling bass, enthusiastic vocals and a guitar solo to die for, the song (edited as a single release at Blackwell’s insistence) shot up the charts reaching number 2 in the UK and number 4 in the States. The album followed this success reaching number 2 in the UK and 17 in the States. The band were now stars and sell-out gigs in large halls were common-place climaxing in an appearance at the third Isle Of Wight festival along side the likes of The Doors, The Who and Jimi Hendrix.
Once again they rushed back into the studio to record what would be their fourth album in two years. “Highway” proved to be a big disappointment with a lot of tracks sounding the same and some of the “edge” gone. The exceptions are the slower tracks “Love You So” and “Bodine” with some fine keyboards to the fore and the moving “Soon I Will Be Gone”. The album only reached a lowly 44 in the UK, a shock to the band who had only seen upward progress. The already tense feelings in the band came to head and following tours in the US, Japan and Australia, the band split in April 1971. The official press statement announced that “They felt limited in Free” but perhaps the real reason was success had come to quick to these young men, still only 21 or younger. “My Brother Jake” was sitting at number 4 as they split and a live album imaginatively titled “Free Live” was rushed out in September ’71. They were quick to form new outlets for their talents. Rodgers formed Peace; Fraser launched Toby, while Kossoff and Kirke teamed up with Rabbit and Tetsu in a new four piece.
As all four took stock, it was apparent that the split hit Kossoff the hardest. The fragile confidence and camaraderie that the band gave him had disappeared. Already dabbling with hard drugs and now convinced that he alone was responsible for the failure of the band he loved, his depression worsened acutely as his habit escalated. Dismayed at the guitarist decline, Andy Fraser was the first to suggest that reforming the band would help their friend and give him a focus once more and so in early 1972, they were once again “Free” and in June that year a new album “Free At Last” was released. Using mostly songs that had been written for their solo projects, the album contained some decent tracks. Kossoff was subdued but then so was the whole album with only rare glimpses of the fire that had previously burned. Rodgers song writing had become introspective with emphasis on the birth of his soon to be born child and although this resulted in some beautiful tracks like the heartfelt “Guardian Of The Universe” and “Child”, it was the hit single “Little Bit Of Love” that helped the album to go high in the charts. Touring was proving to be a huge problem, however, with Kossoff either not showing up for the gigs or only lasting for a couple of songs and by the time a Japanese tour was ready to start, Andy Fraser, tormented by what was happening to Kossoff and the effect it was having on the rest of the band, left the band for good. Kossoff also pulled out of the tour promising again to get help and Rabbit and Tetsu were recruited to see the band through the dates.
Desperate to keep Kossoff working, they hit the studio again to record “Wishing Well” and set out on a UK tour that was disastrous. Back in the studio to record “Heartbreaker”, Kossoff was marginalized. Only able to play in short bursts, and contributing only on 5 tracks, session players were forced to help out. Despite this, the instantly recognisable guitar lines in “Come Together In The Morning” were sublime. With “Wishing Well” yet another big hit single, the band arranged a tour of America. After deciding to leave Kossoff at home, the guitarist announced he was leaving the band and ex Osibisa guitarist Wendell Richardson was drafted in. Everyone was by now unhappy to be in the band and as “Heartbreaker” climbed to number 7 in the UK charts, they knew it had to finish. "Free" had run its course and the band were no more.
Rodgers and Kirke went on to form Bad Company with Mick Ralphs and Boz Burrell and became a stadium-rock band having many hit albums and singles. They have just announced a UK tour in 2010, without Burrell who died in 2006. Acknowledged as one of the best vocalist in rock, Rodgers also took over the vocal duties for Queen.
Fraser formed the short-lived Sharks and the Andy Fraser Band without great success. He went on to write best selling hits for the likes of Joe Cocker, Robert Palmer, Paul Young and Chaka Khan.
Paul Kossoff carried on his self destructive way. Releasing a solo album in 1973 and forming Back Street Crawler who released two albums of mediocre rock with precious little signature guitar. He did play a couple of shows in the States being joined on stage by Rodgers and Kirke. He played well, happy to be on stage with his best friends. These were his last ever shows and he died on a while on board a flight in America in March 1976 aged just 25.
One of the best of the Progressive Blues bands of the late sixties, the soulful vocals, driving rhythm and magical guitar became a statement for everyone else to match. Few did. Maybe success came too easily and too fast for the band ever to sustain their initial impact. In hindsight, it would be easy to predict the tensions and the drug problems. Maybe, most remarkable of all, is that they made seven albums. The power and raw chutzpah of the first three releases make them classics of the genre and this is how I like to remember the band.
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Formed in New York City in 1971, the New York Dolls are an American Rock group whose proto-punk sound was to not only inspire such great punk-rock acts as The Ramones, The Clash and the Sex Pistols, but many more diverse bands from Kiss to Guns N’Roses to The Smiths. Their visual style was to become the basis of many new wave and 1980’s glam metal, and they also began the local New York scene that later gave bloody birth to Blondie, Television and Talking Heads.
The band in its original form was created by Sylvian Sylvian (so good they named him twice) and Billy Murcia, two school friends who used to play in a band called ‘The Pox’ together who recruited Johnny Thunders to play bass. The band called themselves ‘The Dolls’, a name which apparently was inspired by a doll repair shop called the New York Doll Hospital which was opposite Sylvian and Murcia’s clothing business. The band soon dis-banded when Sylvian left to spend some time in London.
Thunders was then recruited by Arthur Kane and Rick Rivets who had been playing together in The Bronx. He suggested replacing the original drummer with his old band-mate, Murcia. After a turbulent few months of twisting and turning, the band settled into its unsettled primary form, consisting of singer David Johansen, guitarists Johnny Thunders and Rick Rivets (soon to be replaced by Sylvian Sylvian), bass guitarist Arthur Kane, and Billy Murcia on drums. They played their first gig on Christmas eve, 1971 at a homeless shelter.
Although their rock influences were obvious, early Rolling Stones, MC5 and The Stooges – they blended this with a heady cocktail of rhythm and blues, Marc Bolan-esque glam rock, and a few shakes of something indefinably original. The band was characterised by a certain self-conscious wit, Johansen’s on-stage aggression and energy carried through their records, giving depth and thoughtfulness to what has otherwise been considered a relatively bland vocal range.
Their songs were predominantly short vignettes about life in the New York underground; songs like Bad Girl and Who Are The Mystery Girls perfectly captured the vital energy seething below the city. Although they self-destructed fairly quickly, their two albums New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon created Punk Rock before the term even existed. In 2004 former Smith's vocalist Morrissey, who was former president of a British New York Dolls fan club, invited the band to reform at the Meltdown festival which he was curating that year. The set was well received and resulted in a live DVD being released, along with a number of offers for other festival dates. Unfortunately Kane had to check himself into hospital with what he thought was a bad case of flu, her turned out to have Leukemia and died only a few hours after. The band have since recorded new material which was released in 2006 entitled One Day it Will Please Us To Remember Even This.
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Green Is Blues, Hi Records, 1970.
Considered by many music writers as the last true successor of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, Al Green has enjoyed a long and rewarding career as a pop and gospel singer. His pop and religious works have earned consistent praise from musicians and critics alike. Unlike the great R&B shouters and early soul singers, Green has a voice that, although capable of rich blues-drenched tones and soaring falsetto cries, displays plaintive emotion without harsh delivery or guttural technique. His silken voice landed him a string of million-selling hits in the 1970s. Following his departure from popular music in 1980, he became a member of the ministry and a singer of gospel music. His recent return to pop music and the appearance of his music in documentaries and film soundtracks has once again brought him widespread notice. Able to straddle the fence between secular and religious music, he has devoted himself to the universal message of music.
Albert Green was born on April 13, 1946, in Forrest City, Arkansas. As a teenager Green and his brothers, Walter, William, and Robert, formed a gospel quartet, The Green Brothers. Though he sang in the gospel group, Green had developed an affinity for both religious and popular music. He stated, as quoted in the book Black Popular Music by Arnold Shaw, "I didn't make distinctions between spiritual and secular music to any great extent back then. If they sang with feeling, from their hearts, I loved the music."
At age 12 Green moved with his family to Grand Rapids, Michigan, a city about 180 miles west of Detroit. Four years later he and several school friends formed a pop group, the Creations. In 1967 the group, renamed Al Green and the Soulmates, recorded the pop hit "Back Up Train" for the Hotline label; the song rose to number five on the R&B charts and number 41 on the Billboard charts. Despite the song's success, the group did not score a follow-up hit and disbanded soon after.
In 1968 Green performed at a club in Midland, Texas, backed by Memphis bandleader and trumpeter Willie Mitchell (who had scored a hit with a remake of King Curtis's instrumental "Soul Serenade"). Impressed with Green's talent, Mitchell, a part-time talent scout and producer for Hi Records in Memphis, invited the young singer to record on the label with the promise that he could make Green a star within a year. About six months later, Green arrived in Memphis. As author Shaw explained in Black Popular Music, "Together, Green and Mitchell sought to forge a style that combined the pop-soul of Detroit's Motown with the down home soul of Memphis's Stax [label], aiming for a black-white synthesis that blended black soul with white pop." In the studio Mitchell assembled a stellar lineup of backing musicians to perform behind Green. They included the family team of guitarist Teenie Hodges, organist Charles Hodges, and bassist Leroy Hodges, as well as veteran members of Booker T. and The MG's and Stax studio drummer Al Jackson Jr. (who had also played with Otis Redding). The music formula put forth by Mitchell and Green proved an outstanding combination. As music writer Peter Guralnick wrote in Sweet Soul Music, "Willie Mitchell and Al Green came up with an old idea phrased in a new way, the last eccentric refinement of Sam Cooke's lyrical gospel-edged style as filtered through the fractured vocal approach of Otis Redding and the peculiarly fragmented vision of Al Green himself."
In 1968 the Green-Mitchell collaboration released a cover of the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand", as well as a commercially unsuccessful rendition of the Hayes-Porter ballad "One Woman." Not until he recorded a remake of the Temptations' hit "I Can't Get Next to You" did Green establish himself as pop singing star. For Green's next single, "Tired of Being Alone," Mitchell sought a more subtle sound in Green's voice. "We started working, trying to get him to sing softer," explained Mitchell in the Chicago Tribune. "We started coming up with jazz chords—pretty music on top and heavy on the bottom. And it just clicked." Accompanied by Teenie Hodges's relaxed and tasteful guitar work, "Tired of Being Alone" emerged as Green's first smash hit. These singles appeared on Green's 1971 LP Al Green Gets Next to You, which also included Green's gritty number "I'm a Ram," as well as a cover of blues pianist Roosevelt Sykes's "Driving Wheel." (Green's rendition was inspired by a later remake of the song by blues singer Little Junior Parker.) Green's original "You Say It" owes a debt to Green's early Memphis singing mentors Sam and Dave.
He duetted with Annie Lennox on ''Put A Little Love In Your Heart'' in 1988 and 2008's album: ''Lay It Down'' was his most successful in 35 years, hitting #9 in the Billboard Charts.
Awards: Grammy Awards, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1994; inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1994; inducted into Gospel Hall of Fame, 2004; inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame, 2004; BMI, Icon Award, 2004.
Addresses: Office—Full Gospel Tabernacle Ministries, P.O. Box 9485, Memphis, TN 38109. Website—Al Green Official Website: http://www.algreenmusic.com.
Sources: Wendy Gabriel; Enotes.com
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For over thirty years the Buzzcocks have been a figurehead of the English punk movement. In all these years the Buzzcocks never made concessions to freaks of fashion or dominant trends. Instead, they remained loyal to their own sound: beautiful songs drenched in punk energy, combining raw guitar riffs with intelligent lyrics.
Buzzcocks was formed in Manchester in the mid-seventies. Guitarist and vocalist Pete Shelley and vocalist Howard Devoto started their first musical project in 1975, inspired by electronic music, Brian Eno and American proto-punk groups like The Stooges. When Shelley and Devoto read an NME review of the first Sex Pistols live performance, the Buzzcocks as we now know them were born. In the spring of 1976 Shelley and Devoto organised two concerts of the Sex Pistols in Manchester’s Lesser Free Trade Hall. The second gig was supported by the Buzzcocks, by now complete with drummer John Maher and bass guitarist Steve Diggle.
Soon the Buzzcocks themselves became one of the most popular punk bands. In late 1976 they issued their debut EP ‘Spiral Scratch’ on their own label ‘New Hormones’. This was a milestone in the punk movement. The EP sounded raw, energetic, repetitive and minimalist and became a guideline for the punk sound. Establishing your own label to issue a record was later often repeated, at the summit of the do-it-yourself attitude of the punk era.
After these first eventful months Devoto left the band to form Magazine. Pete Shelley took over the vocals and Diggle switched from bass to guitar. With Steve Garvay as bass guitarist they signed with United Artists Records in 1977. The first single to be issued on this label was ‘Orgasm Addict’, a song which is still brash today, but caused a real stir in England of the 1970s. The BBC banning the single didn’t damage the sales figures whatsoever. The following albums ‘Another Music In A Different Kitchen’ and ‘Love Bites’ stormed the charts and the Buzzcocks toured all over Europe and America. They issued a third album ‘A Different Kind Of Tension’, before the group split up in 1981. Since 1989 the Buzzcocks have been reunited. The current line-up includes Shelley, Diggle, bass guitarist Chris Remington (who replaced long-standing band member Tony Barber in 2006) and drummer Danny Farrant. The Buzzcocks released their eighth studio album ‘Flat Pack Philosophy’ in 2006. In the 21st century the Buzzcocks are still relevant, not just as an innovative guitar band, but also as a continuing source of inspiration for the younger generation.
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Venom, formed in the 70s in Newcastle, had a massive influence on the evolution of thrash and black metal. The were originally a five-piece group known as Oberon, but soon became a trio, consisting of Conrad “Cronos” Lant (guitar), Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and Tony “Abaddon” Kiss – now calling themselves Venom. Influencied by Motorhead, the band developed a dark, satanic sound, leading to their release of their 1981 release ‘Welcome to Hell’, followed by the LP ‘Black Metal’.
Venom's third album, ‘At War with Satan’, followed in 1983, and two years later they released ‘Possessed’. Lineup changes plagued the group in the years to follow, with Mantas exiting in 1985, with guitarists Matt Hickey and Jimmy Clare were as his replacements, making their debut on 1987's Calm Before the Storm. Cronos then quit, however, took both Hickey and Clare with him as he left. At that point Mantas rejoined Abaddon to form a new edition of Venom with onetime Atomkraft vocalist/bassist Tony "The Demolition Risk" Dolan and guitarist Al Barnes. Confusing? Very.
The new lineup made its bow on 1989's Prime Evil; Tear Your Soul Apart appeared a year later.
After 1991's ‘Temples of Ice’, Barnes quit Venom, being replaced by guitarist Steve "War Maniac" White, who along with keyboardist V.X.S. was recruited in time for 1992's ‘The Waste Lands’ before both quickly exited.
The trio of Mantas, Abaddon, and Dolan continued touring throughout the middle years of the decade, although no more new studio recordings were forthcoming; finally, in 1996 Cronos returned to the Venom fold, making way for Dolan's departure. The original lineup's return to action was heralded by the release of the mini-album Venom '96, followed in 1997 by the full-length Made in Stone. After a world tour, Venom issued the two-disc New, Live & Rare in mid-1998. Buried Alive appeared a year later, and in the spring of 2000 the group returned with ‘The Court of Death’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast’.
In 2006 they celebrated their 25th anniversary with ‘Metal Black’, followed two years later by ‘Hell’.