Written by: Matt Wardlaw
In a perfect world, I'd have all day everyday to sit around and watch the album "making of" documentaries and videos featuring the "stories behind the songs," but too often, I see something of interest, bookmark it to watch it later and then never get around to it.
But when I saw that Richard Marx had put a video blog online with the story behind "Hold On To The Nights" teasing "a little behind the scenes info you may not have heard before," I had to watch it. One of the things that I love as a music fan, is continuing to learn about the inner workings of an album or an artist, whether it's an album that you got today, or one which has been in your collection for many, many years, which is the case with Richard's self-titled debut, a longtime favorite of mine.
I've touched on the general territory before, writing about "Don't Mean Nothing" a few years ago when I learned that Joe Walsh had played guitar on the song. As I found out, I was apparently the last person to realize that.
"Hold On To The Nights" was my song. One of those that you hear and you just totally identify with it....but how was that possible, considering that I was barely a teenager when I first heard it? It was just so raw and emotionally atmospheric and it was one of the early songs that I had heard which was mostly mid-tempo for the bulk of the song, building to a somewhat unexpected big power ending. Power ballad, indeed. When I heard it for the first time, I of course immediately wanted to hear it again. So there I was, glued to my radio, back when you used to do that kind of thing, waiting for them to play it again.
The radio in my area played what I would come to learn was the live video version of "Hold On To The Nights," which was 200 percent more awesome than the studio version in my opinion. When the band reached that power ending, they really went for it, above and beyond what had been captured on the studio version of the song.
Years later, when I tried to find that video version in audio form, I discovered it was quite an impossibility to track down, because for whatever reason, it had never made it to any of the Marx hits compilations. I finally found it as a bonus track on an import 3" CD single.
The first time I went to see a Richard Marx concert in the late '90s, he didn't play "Hold On To The Nights." Thus began a quest to see a show where it was in the setlist. Finally, after four or five shows over the next few years, I got to see him do it...and he nailed it.
Remembering now that it was his first number one hit, it's kind of curious that he doesn't have it in the setlist as an automatic....what's the story there? I'm not sure, but the story behind the song itself is pretty awesome. Here it is, in Richard's own words...
"Hold On To The Nights" was my first number one pop single and it was the fourth and last single from the first album. I wrote "Hold On To The Nights" in the middle of making the first album, so it wasn't a song that pre-existed. I really only had one real ballad on the record, which was the last song, "Heaven Only Knows" and I felt like I needed another ballad for this first album.
I went into produce "Hold On To The Nights" with my engineer David Cole and we deliberately produced it in such a way....I was listening to the So album by Peter Gabriel non-stop at the time. Because I made this record in 1986 and it came out in 1987. So 1986 was the year of Peter Gabriel's So, so "Sledgehammer," "Don't Give Up," "Red Rain" and all of those amazing tracks from the So album. When I would listen to Peter Gabriel's record, I was so blown away by the space and the atmosphere in those records that he made.
And that's what I wanted to do with "Hold On To The Nights." I didn't want it to be a standard pop ballad. I got a lot of flak from the record company and radio because the drums didn't come in until the very end of the song. There's just a lot of atmosphere and space in the production of "Hold On To The Nights." It's really just about the lyric and my vocal and my piano a little bit. And even that, it's almost produced in a way that it shouldn't have been a hit, because it didn't sound like anything else on the radio. But again, I think that people relate to that lyric and there was just something magical about it that I didn't know at the time.
I built the track up - I played the keyboards on it and Mike Landau's guitar playing had all of this little spacey atmosphere guitar and his solo was amazing. I was lucky enough to get Patrick O'Hearn, the bass player from Missing Persons, to come in and play the fretless bass. Again, not somebody I knew, but I knew a guy who knew him and he was kind enough to come in and help out this young kid making his first record, being me. I had worked a little bit with a drummer named Tris Imboden and Tris, I was a big fan of, because he'd played with Kenny Loggins on the road and had played on a lot of Kenny's albums, so he played drums on "This Is It" and "Keep The Fire" and all of the "High Adventure" album, which I really loved. It was a big album in my life.
I'd become friendly with Tris, so I asked him to come and play drums and all I told him was "hey, when the drums come in at the end, all I know is I want it to be a really dramatic fill, kind of like "In The Air Tonight.'" When Phil Collins' drums come into "In The Air Tonight," everybody goes crazy, because it's so exciting. I kind of wanted that kind of thought. So I think it was really the first take and Tris played that....all of those triplets, it was just so incredible and we were all screaming in the studio. We knew right then and there that we'd made the record that we wanted to make.
I absolutely did not think this was a hit record. I thought it was the opposite of a hit record, but like so many other times, I was wrong, luckily and "Hold On To The Nights" became my first number one single.
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
This one's near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. 1) I love Hall & Oates and 2) there was that one time that (in my mind) I almost had a Fiero.
It was the '80s (of course it was) and KWES (my local radio station) was giving away a Fiero. I had the great idea that I could register to win it and we could keep it in our garage until I was old enough to drive it. Dad - who was always very cool in my eyes - said no when I presented him with the idea.
Of course, I now realize that little things like "must be 21 years of age or older to win" probably would have kept me from winning my dream car. Still, it was a lot of fun to dream...
(Kudos to the girlfriend for sharing this picture with me!)more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
It feels so good to type the words "new Ben Folds Five." For those of you living under that proverbial rock, Folds has an awesome rarities collection coming out that for some reason, we have to wait patiently until October to hear.
We're not so good with the whole waiting thing.
Three newly completed Ben Folds Five tracks are part of the collection and one of them, a tune called 'House' makes its premiere via the NBC website for 'The Sing-Off.'
You can stream the new song here.
Allegedly, Ben Folds Five will come together in December to record a new album. How great would that be?more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Legendary former Plain Dealer rock music critic Jane Scott passed away early this morning at 92. She leaves behind an incredible legacy of writing that covered a variety of subjects and spanned four decades. John Soeder has a lengthy tribute online now including some audio excerpts from a 2002 interview with Scott at the time of her retirement that goes a long way towards explaining who Jane Scott was and why she was so special.
I first met Jane in the early '90s at a Rib Cook-Off performance by the reunited Foreigner. At 19 years of age, meeting someone like Jane Scott was my equivalent of meeting a rock star. I had read her writings religiously since coming to Cleveland in 1989 and as soon as I saw her, I knew exactly who she was and although I was shy, I had to say hello.
Jane asked me if I had ever seen the group and I told her very excitedly that it was my first time seeing the band and something I figured I'd never have the chance to see, since Mick Jones and Lou Gramm had bitterly split apart in the late '80s. She told me amazing stories (the first of many that I'd hear about any band or artist every time that I came in contact with her) of covering Foreigner in the '70s during the early period when they were just about to break.
The whole time that we were talking, she was making notes in a notepad and it soon became very clear that it was that notepad that held the key to the magic within her stories, always a hybrid of what was happening on stage, mixed with personal input from the people that were there to see the show. It was an important early lesson to me that sometimes those nuggets for a potential story are right there, all around you.
And as a young music fan, how could I not be impressed by the genuine love that people like Bruce Springsteen showed for someone like Jane? Every time he would come into town for a show, you could count on Jane Scott getting a song dedication or mention from the stage. But she had earned that love with many, many years of fair and respectful coverage. She was always one to take the high road. I heard a story about Elvis Costello being less than kind to her backstage at an Agora show - Jane's response on the following day didn't involve slamming Costello in print, but instead, she gave additional column space to the young opener, Eddie Money.
I didn't just run into her at shows like Foreigner - I later ran into her on the side of the stage for Black 47 at the Phantasy and at 75 years of age, there she was covering Woodstock '94.
Frankly, my common sense told me it would be foolish to go to Woodstock ‘94 in Saugerties, NY.
Hundreds of thousands of people as far as your trifocals could see and probably very few senior citizens. I might be the oldest one there. But then, I might never get another chance (Woodstock 2019 seemed a little far away).
So go I did.
I must say that the young people there didn’t stare at me, or even question what I was up to. However, one streetwise 19-year-old took me under her wing and said I should get with the 90’s. Her binoculars unscrewed and revealed two flasks of hootch.
But I was done in, along with three young things, by a dirty three-letter word: Mud. I not only slipped on a little hill the second day, but couldn’t get enough traction to stay up.
A kindly photographer retrieved my mud-covered glasses and led me through the tent cities to the press area.
I sneaked out early the third day and watched Bob Dylan on pay-per-view while nuzzled in a cozy armchair at a nearby bed and breakfast.
In spite of the flaws and failures, there was good music. Melissa Etheridge came into her own with her strong, raspy voice. The Neville Brothers and Blues Traveler stirred up the crowd, mud-coated Nine Inch Nails was electrifying. And who could forget Dylan.
Jane was a true original, a pillar of the music scene here in Cleveland and we're all very fortunate to have been able to share her musical view. A view that according to her own estimated calculations when she retired in April of 2002 included over 10,000 concerts and musical events.
Amazing stuff, Jane. Thanks for sharing it with all of us!more
Written by: Matt Rowe
There's lots of good content happening over at MusicTAP this week including a great post about the addition of vintage concert videos to Wolfgang's Vault. We welcome Matt Rowe of MusicTAP back with a review of the new Hot Tuna album.
Lucky is what Hot Tuna fans are. Many classic bands that recorded back in the ’60s/’70s find it quite the chore to produce an album of immense worth, a worthy addition to a successful catalogue. It usually seems to be a blended mess of current musical styles and the “breath” of the original sound that got them onto turntables and radios in the first place. Not a good mix. But when a band opts to continue recording the stuff that got them attention in the first place, as this current Hot Tuna band has done, well, the results can be stunning.
Hot Tuna began as a side venture for Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (both members of Jefferson Airplane), which allowed them the vent with which they let their blues steam from. Once they began releasing albums, they found an audience that never let go. Over the decades, the constant stream of Hot Tuna albums solidified the band’s legacy.
With the release of Steady As She Goes, Hot Tuna have added to an already strong body of work that began way back in the early ’70s with their debut released in 1970. The album is loaded with 12 excellent tracks, acoustic and electric. Kaukonen’s guitar is as sharp as it has always been, as is Casady’s bass. And with Barry Mitterhoff, and drummer, Skoota Warner, along with a few pals, Hot Tuna has delivered an unforgettable album worthy of being spoken of with reverence.
There are no bad tracks on the album. And that’s quite a bonus. To isolate certain songs as great examples would be to shortchange the album as a whole. Hot Tuna fans, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. Steady As She Goes is a classic Hot Tuna album, fitting in with every other album created by the band. Do I have favorites? Yes, all twelve tracks.
All twelve tracks.one
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
Part of the fun, adventure and sport of being a Neil Young fan is that you never really know what you're going to get from Neil....or if you're going to get it at all!
But lately, there have been a flurry of releases from Young and fans of both Neil's music and vinyl in general will be happy to hear that the parade of releases will continue in June with the release of A Treasure, a live country album recorded with The International Harvesters during tour dates in 1984 and 1985. The 12 track live album (featuring five cuts that are previously unreleased) will be released on CD, Blu-ray and digital download on June 14th (pre-order via this link).
A special vinyl edition will be released prior to that, available at Record Store Day retailers and NeilYoung.Com on May 24th. The vinyl edition of A Treasure was pressed onto 180 Gram double vinyl at Pallas and mastered at Bernie Grundman Mastering by Chris Bellman and features three sides of music with a fourth side of vinyl featuring specially etched artwork.
Young himself previews the release in musical mad scientist form with the following 13 minute Youtube video and from the crudely inserted "Blu-ray" voiceovers from Neil, one could almost guess that this release has been in the planning stages for a while (ya think?).
I had the opportunity to hear an advance preview of the album and as you'll hear from the video, which offers a more than adequate tease of the material, A Treasure is going to be a great one for fans to sink their teeth into and even if you're a vinyl hound like me, I think many will want to accessorize and pick up the deluxe Blu-ray package as well!
Here are some additional notes from the official press release....
The 12-track live album, A Treasure includes songs – 5 of which are previously unreleased -- recorded during Young’s 1984 and 1985 U.S. tours without the support of an album or Young’s then record label due to unique and unusual circumstances. Among those, “Grey Riders” will be the first track serviced to radio. A Treasure features Young’s onstage work with some of the greatest artists in the history of country music, including the late, great Ben Keith on steel and slide guitar and Rufus Thibodeaux on fiddle, along with living legends Spooner Oldham and Hargus “Pig” Robbins on piano, Tim Drummond and Joe Allen on bass, and Karl Himmel on drums, among many others. A Treasure is Young’s first release since last year’s Grammy- and Juno Award-winning album, Le Noise.
The live album captures this iconic artist during a fascinating time in his career, when he was facing criticism and lawsuits from his then current record company for exploring a more traditionally country sound. “You can call me erratic,” Young said when asked at the time about his tendency toward musical shape-shifting, “but I’ve been consistent about it, consistently erratic.” Always celebrated for his musical versatility, A Treasure, is akin to a sonic time capsule, instantly transporting the listener to the time and place when it was made. “I love this record,” Young says. “I hadn’t heard these takes in 25 years, but when we unearthed them co-producer Ben Keith said, ‘This is a treasure.’”
Part of what makes A Treasure so compelling is the musical contributions of The International Harvesters, with whom Young was playing at the time. Many of them were already paragons within the country music world and their notoriety has only grown in the years since. “I just love to hear those guys,” Young says. “They’re all country music legends.” Those behind the scenes also made significant contributions to A Treasure’s sonic potency. Tim Mulligan mixed and mastered the tracks. At the time these songs were recorded, Bob Sterne was the tour manager, Tim Foster ran the stage, and Larry Cragg was in charge of the band’s instruments.
A Treasure will be released in several formats, including standard CD, vinyl, digital download with and without videos, and as a deluxe CD/Blu-ray package. The Blu-ray version will feature a curated selection of video that lends context and imagistic power to the tracks. “I like to look at these old live videos and listen to what I think are the best versions of these songs,” Young says. “It’s fun to see what we looked like when we were playing it then.”
The city and track-listing for A Treasure is as follows:
* Denotes Previously Unreleased Track
1 *Amber Jean (9/20/84) Nashville Now TV - Nashville, TN
2 Are You Ready For The Country? (9/21/84) Riverbend Music Center - Cincinnati, OH
3 It Might Have Been 9/25/84 Austin City Limits TV - Austin, Texas
4 Bound For Glory 9/29/84 Gilleys’s Rodeo Arena - Pasadena, TX
5 *Let Your Fingers Do The Walking (10/22/84) Universal Amphit - Universal City, CA
6 Flying On The Ground Is Wrong (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
7 Motor City (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
8 *Soul Of A Woman (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
9 Get Back To The Country (10/26/84) Greek Theater - Berkeley, CA
10 Southern Pacific (9/1/85) Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
11 *Nothing Is Perfect (9/1/85) Minnesota State Fair - St. Paul, MN
12 *Grey Riders (9/10/85) Pier 84 - New York City, NYmore
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
By now, hopefully you've managed to obtain your very own copy of the excellent new Don Dixon-produced Smithereens release 2011. I've been keeping uncharacteristically mum regarding my thoughts on the album, because I'm working on an interview to dig deep into the 2011 album via conversations with the band. But that won't stop me from telling you about the band's new video for "Sorry," the lead single from Smithereens 2011.
The Smithereens will be out playing shows in support of 2011 and perhaps they're coming to a venue near you! For Cleveland fans, we'll get our first Smithereens show in a long time on Friday, April 29th at the Tangier in Akron. If you're in the mood for a road trip, the band will also be in Pittsburgh the following night at Diesel.
I'd like to say I'm sorry for posting this video, but I won't.more
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
As Record Store Day approaches, there are two items on my "must have" list amidst the many other items on the list of releases that fall into the "would like to have" category (I'm looking at you, Tom Petty vinyl reissues). One of those items is the Foo Fighters vinyl compilation that collects many of their best cover versions onto one release for the first time ever. Happily, I can cross the other item off my list right now and so can you!
Originally announced as a Record Store Day exclusive, Crowded House and Kufala have made their North American Travelogue release available early with a limited quantity for sale online prior to the official Record Store Day release date on April 16th. This is good news, particularly for international Crowded House fans, since Kufala ships anywhere in the world. Price for the release is $23.00 and that price includes shipping and handling for U.S. orders (although shipping for international orders will probably be more).
Click here to check out the track listing (49 tracks on three CDs!) and order your own copy of North American Travelogue. Stoked!zero