Saturday, January 9, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 10

1956:  It was indeed a magical day in the Rock Era as Elvis Presley recorded "Heartbreak Hotel" at the Methodist television, radio & TV studios in Nashville, Tennessee in his first session since he signed with RCA Victor. 
1958:  The Quarrymen (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Eric Griffiths, Colin Hanton and Len Garry) played at the New Clubmoor Hall in Norris Green, Liverpool, England.
1958:  Jerry Lee Lewis held down the #1 spot in the U.K. with "Great Balls Of Fire".

Report: Beyoncé Will Join Coldplay for Super Bowl Halftime Show

Entertainment Tonight is report that Beyoncé will join Coldplay for the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show next month, three years after her own headline performance at the National Football League Championship.  The two superstars teamed up for "Hymn For The Weekend" on Coldplay's album, A Head Full Of Dreams.

Phil Harvey, artistic director for the British band, previously said that there would be "special guests" in the performance, and Bruno Mars has already been confirmed as part of the show.  There are rumors of still another act that will join Coldplay, but Inside The Rock Era cannot confirm those rumors at this time.

Friday, January 8, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 9

1961:  Comedian Bob Newhart reached #1 on the Album chart with The Button Down Mind Strikes Back!
1961:  Jerry Butler posted a seventh week at the top of the R&B chart with "He Will Break Your Heart".

Thursday, January 7, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 8

1957:  Bill Haley & the Comets, Lavern Baker and Joe Turner opened an Australian tour at Newcastle Stadium in Newcastle.
1957:  Elvis Presley passed a United States Army pre-induction exam in Memphis, Tennessee on his 22nd birthday.
1960:  Eddie Cochran had his last recording session in Hollywood, California.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 7

1955:  "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & the Comets debuted on the U.K. chart.
1961:  Johnny Tillotson had the #1 U.K. song with "Poetry In Motion".
1964:  Long John Baldry formed the Hoochie Coochie Men.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 6

1956:  Elvis Presley performed at Randolph High School in Mississippi.
1957:  Elvis Presley made his third and final appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in New York City, singing "Hound Dog", "Don't Be Cruel", "Love Me Tender", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Peace In The Valley", "Too Much" and "When My Blue Heart Turns To Gold Again". 
1958:  Gibson patented its Flying V electric guitar.  Jimi Hendrix, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Marc Bolan of T. Rex are among those who played the Flying V.

The weakest year in music?...

Having compiled a database of over 13,000 songs and ranking The Top 5000 Songs of the Rock Era (1955-2015)*, which will be available soon for purchase, Inside The Rock Era is probably in as good a position as anyone to answer this question.  We don't answer with our heart or with our head; rather, our answer is taken straight from the data ranking the songs.

As many of you know, one of the main criteria that we use in rankings is the competition--the strength of other songs out at the same time.  We strongly assert that it is the only way that songs can legitimately be compared across months, years and decades.

While finishing up our research on The Top 5000 Songs* to prepare it for publishing, we came across an interesting finding, albeit an embarrassing one to music of this century.  In the entire process of finding the Top 15 songs out at the same time as each of the 13,000+ songs under consideration, we easily found those 15 competing songs, because they each had a ranking of 5,000 or less (they were all ranked in The Top 5000*).  In many years, those 15 competing songs were all ranked in The Top 500*.

However, beginning in the summer of 2006 and extending all the way through 2007, this was not the case.  For each song released in that time, there were at best 9 other songs released at the same time that are in The Top 5000*.  For many songs, there were only four other Top 5000* songs out at the same time.  There had been a strong downward trend in the level of competition since about 1999, but the group of Top 15 songs for competition consisted entirely of songs within The Top 5000*.  This extreme lack of competition is the first time we have ever come across this phenomenon--it has heretofore been unheard of.  The weak period lasted from 2006 all the way to 2011 for all but the biggest hits.

From this data, a child of eight can easily determine that 2006-2011 was the weakest time for music in the last 50 years.  The four years since haven't been much better.  So when you hear that a song reached #1 in that period, take it with a considerable grain of salt.

*A footnote to the above--we looked for a sign or signal that may have triggered a jolt in the music business around the time of 2011.  In January of 2011, Adele came out with her album 21, which contained the smash hits "Rolling In The Deep", "Someone Like You" and "Fire In The Rain".  Coincidentally, or perhaps not, she seems to have given an uptick to the quality of music since then.  The first two of those songs mentioned above made The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, which by the way are the last two songs to achieve that feat.  

Robert Stigwood Has Died

Robert Stigwood, legendary producer and record company owner, died today in London at the age of 81.

Stigwood helped guide the careers of the Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, Cream, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, founded the Robert Stigwood Organization in 1978.  The label RSO became the most successful label at the time, featuring the Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Player, Clapton and Yvonne Elliman.  Stigwood promoted Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart at David Bowie.

But it was the the classic movie Saturday Night Fever and its accompanying soundtrack which really put Stigwood and RSO on the map.  Columbia, the company which oversaw the project, believed the movie would make $18 million worldwide.  Today, it has made well over $250 million.   The soundtrack album, featuring the Bee Gees, Elliman, K.C. and the Sunshine Band and the Trammps, became the #1 album of all-time, a position it held until Michael Jackson eventually overtook it with his Thriller album. 

Stigwood followed up that blockbuster with another, Grease, which again starred Travolta with Olivia Newton-John.  Both the movie and soundtrack were highly successful as well.

Stigwood was one of the first people to see how the various forms of media fit together, staging the London production of Hair.  Stigwood also staged Jesus Christ SuperstarSweeney Todd and Evita in the West End.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Featured Unknown/Underrated Song: "The Dangling Conversation" from Simon & Garfunkel

It has lasted nearly half a century already, proving its worth to programmers who refused to play it in the 60's:

"The Dangling Conversation"
Simon & Garfunkel

Lyrics and Music by Paul Simon

It's a still life water color,
Of a now late afternoon,
As the sun shines through the curtained lace
And shadows wash the room.
And we sit and drink our coffee
Couched in our indifference,
Like shells upon the shore
You can hear the ocean roar
In the dangling conversation
And the superficial sighs,
The borders of our lives.

And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we've lost.
Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,
Couplets out of rhyme,
In syncopated time
And the dangled conversation
And the superficial sighs,
Are the borders of our lives.

Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
"Can analysis be worthwhile?"
"Is the theater really dead?"
And how the room is softly faded
And I only kiss your shadow,
I cannot feel your hand,
You're a stranger now unto me
Lost in the dangling conversation.
And the superficial sighs,
In the borders of our lives.

This Date in Rock Music History: January 5

1954:  Elvis Presley recorded a 10-minute demo tape at Memphis Recording Studio.
1957:  Pat Boone began filming the movie Bernadine.
1957:  Ivory Joe Hunter took over from Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" at #1 on the R&B chart.  "Since I Met You Baby" moved into the top spot after Fats had owned the position for 11 weeks.
1958:  Pat Boone was the mystery guest on the television show What's My Line? on CBS.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: January 4

1936:  Billboard magazine debuted the first music chart that based results on national sales.
1950  RCA Victor Records announced that they would begin manufacturing long-playing records.