Wednesday, November 10, 2004

History Lesson: The Yanks Are Coming

November 10, 1998: Bruce Springsteen releases the box set Tracks, a collection of demos, outtakes, and unreleased tracks covering his entire career. Every time Springsteen sat down to assemble an album, he had lots of material to choose from, and the revelation in the Tracks set is that the stuff that got left off was often every bit as good or better than the stuff that was put on. Essential tracks--plenty, such as "Thundercrack," which feels like a sloppier "Rosalita," "Wages of Sin," "Roulette," and "The Wish," which is as gorgeous a song as Springsteen ever recorded.

November 10, 1986: Springsteen releases another sprawling collection, Live 1975-1985, consisting of five vinyl discs. Few live albums have ever had the immediacy of this one--you are right there in the hall, and you get Springsteen's fabled charisma even without seeing him. Essential tracks--again, plenty. "Thunder Road," if I had to pick one.

Birthdays Today: Greg Lake is 56. He could be both an expressive singer and a doomy one, a talent that served him well during his years with Emerson Lake and Palmer--although if you've heard him lately, he sounds pretty ragged now. Gregg Allman is 57. For his 13th birthday in 1960, he got a guitar, which he and his brother Duane learned to play by listening to blues records. And the rest, as it's said, is history.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1990: "Love Takes Time"/Mariah Carey.
This was the first hit for Carey, possessor of an amazing five-octave voice, which she's used to sing some of the blandest songs imaginable. Even accounting for all the hits that came afterward, this is probably still the best of the bunch.

1979: "Heartache Tonight"/Eagles. I was the first jock on my college station to play the long-awaited album The Long Run on the air. We were betting on "The Disco Strangler" to be the key track. Turns out it was this one--a big, crunchy classic, co-written by Bob Seger, and it shows. Forgive us; we were young.

1974: "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet"/Bachman-Turner Overdrive. This is one of a handful of 70s records about which I am totally irrational. Great adolescent-boy crunch rock. Thirty years later, it still makes my car go faster when it comes on the stereo.

1965: "Get Off My Cloud"/Rolling Stones. The other night I listened to December's Children, the album from whence this comes, and was amazed at how raw and frightening some of it sounds, a protopunk noise assault 10 or 12 years ahead of its time. "Get Off My Cloud" is actually one of the more harmless-sounding tracks.

1918: "Over There"/Enrico Caruso. Caruso, the great opera star and recording pioneer, was actually the fourth performer to take this classic World War I song to Number One. His version, which featured verses in both English and French, would top the charts on Armistice Day, November 11. You can read more about the song and hear a bit of Caruso's recording here.


At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Heartache Tonight" about a song that is just as great today as it was back in 1979. When you get right down to it, autumn of 1979 saw some great album releases such as:
*The Long Run/Eagles
*In Through the Out Door/Led Zeppelin
*Tusk/Fleetwood Mac
*Head Games/Foreigner
*The Wall/Pink Floyd
That's a great start to a Classic Rock radio
station! -----Shark


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