If you’re like me, most Christmas music makes you want to stab yourself in the eyeball with a sharpened candy cane. Luckily, since everyone and their mother has attempted a holiday album (I mean, most of them are X-mas-centric), there are some gems in the mix.
The Beach Boys and Christmas music go together like Christmas and getting drunk. It’s an obvious choice, sure, but this album also wins because of the originals, which they put just as much effort into as their regular classics. “The Man With All the Toys” kicks enough ass to be listened to all year round.
Some would say the greatest Christmas album of all time, featuring classic productions by Phil Spector, with The Crystals, The Ronettes, Darlene Love and other Spector favorites. Every other version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” sucks compared to this one.
Turns out, contrary to those famous Chuck D/Public Enemy lyrics I once believed applied to me, that some of my heroes do in fact appear on some stamps since tomorrow (June 5th) one of my longtime musical heroes Johnny Cash will be honored with the release of a limited-edition Johnny Cash Forever stamp. And in celebration of the new Man in Black stamp tomorrow in Nashville there will be a big First Day Of Issuance Ceremony at the Tennessee city's Ryman Auditorium with be family and friends of the late great country music legend to be either speaking or performing including John Carter Cash, Carlene Carter, Larry Gatlin, Jamey Johnson, The Oak Ridge Boys, The Roys, Marty Stuartand Randy Travis. The USPS sponsored event is free and open to the public and starts at 10:30am but doors open a little earlier at 9am to sell the collectible stamp. The musical legend's son John Carter Cash said, in a prepared statement, that “It is an amazing blessing that my father Johnny Cash be honored with the issue of this stamp. Dad was a hard-working man, a man of dignity. As much as anything else, he was a proud American, always supporting his family, fans and country. I can think of no better way to pay due respect to his legacy than through the release of this stamp.”
Remembering jazz saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr. (born in Buffalo, NY) - December 12, 1943 - December 17, 1999.
On this day in music history: December 17, 1955 - Musician Carl Perkins will write the rockabilly classic "Blue Suede Shoes." The song is inspired by a story told to Perkins by his friend and Sun Records labelmate Johnny Cash. Cash tells him about a black airman referring to his military regulation shoes as "blue suede shoes." Not long after that, Perkins is playing a dance and from the bandstand he'll see a couple dancing and he'll hear the man say "uh-uh, don't step on my suedes!" After the show, he will begin writing the song on his guitar laying down the chord progression when the lyrics start coming to him. With no other paper around, Perkins will begin scrawling the words down on a brown paper potato sack. Two days later, on December 19th, Perkins and his band will record the song at Sun Studios in Memphis. It will be released on January 1, 1956. Initially radio stations begin playing the singles' flipside, "Honey Don't." DJ Bill Randle at WERE in Cleveland will flip the record and begin featuring "Blue Suede Shoes" on his nightly radio show. By the end of January, the record is a hit in the Cleveland area and begins to spread to other cities. Within another month the single is a national hit, simultaneously climbing the pop, country, and rhythm & blues charts. Tragedy will strike on March 22, 1956 for Perkins when, while traveling to New York City to make a television appearance on the Perry Como Show, he and his band are involved in a serious car accident. The singer and his brother sustain serious injuries. Fortunately this incident does not stop the record's momentum. "Blue Suede Shoes" will spend three weeks at #1 on the Country & Western chart, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart and #2 on the Rhythm & Blues chart, selling over a million copies. Carl Perkins recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" will be inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1986.
Rock music has way too many incredibly memorable guitar riffs to limit a best of list to just one hundred, but the 100 riffs that guitarist Alex Chadwick of The Chicago Music Exchange came up with for the above video performance ain't half bad, and it is a nice informal overview of the history of rock n' roll. Sure it's a subjective selection that includes a lot of mega hits of the genre, and no doubt every rock fan could come up with their own unique list of a hundred best guitar riffs. But I like what Alex has done: from his playing to his choices of riffs, and from how he segues from song to song, to how he plays it on his 1958 Fender Stratall in chronological order. Below is that list of songs and artists in order with the artist names that are blue highlighted linking back to the Amoeba Online Store. where you can find their respective music (CDs, LPs, DVDs) including (in near all cases) the song played by Alex.
SONG/ARTIST PLAYLIST & AMOEBA SHOP LINK OF ALEX'S 100 GUITAR RIFFS (IN ORDER):
On this day in music history: June 4, 1962 - The single "Surfin' Safari" by The Beach Boys is released. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, it is the bands' debut release on Capitol Records. The released single is actually the second version of the song recorded, with the band previously cutting a version with engineer Hite Morgan at World Pacific Studios on February 8, 1962. The first recording also features guitarist Al Jardine who is replaced shortly afterward by David Marks (when Jardine drops out of the band for a year), and is not released until January of 1970. The second (and released) version is recorded at United/Western Recorders in Hollywood on April 19th with band manager and Wilson brothers father Murry Wilson credited as producer. Also recorded on the same session is the B-side "409," which will also chart (#76 Pop). "Surfin' Safari" will peak at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 13, 1962.