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jerryking : pop_music   9

(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — why Otis Redding’s biggest hit wasn’t actually a soul song
October 6, 2019 | FT.com | by Dan Einav.

“This is my first million seller,” announced Otis Redding to nervous-looking studio bosses in early December 1967. He was referring to his upcoming record, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, which would indeed prove to be his first seven-figure release, eventually selling several times that amount. It would also be the last song he ever worked on. Two days after his second recording session on this breezy new ballad, he was dead — killed in a light-aircraft crash.

Executives at Atlantic Records cynically requested that a new song be released immediately. Redding’s collaborator and studio guitarist, and the song’s co-writer, Steve Cropper, was forced to set aside his grief and transform the rough cuts of “The Dock of the Bay” into a coherent track in just 24 hours. The result was an unassuming yet near-perfect composition that would serve as a fitting legacy for one of soul’s greatest talents.

But “The Dock of the Bay” wasn’t really a soul song in the conventional sense. In the summer of 1967, Redding immersed himself in The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and was inspired by the band’s devotion to stress-testing the limits of popular music. “It’s time for me to change my music,” said Redding, as his wife and employers voiced concerns about his “poppy” new direction which took him away from his roots in soul and R&B.

That autumn Redding was recovering after a punishing touring schedule on a houseboat in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, owned by promoter Bill Graham. It was there, idly watching the ferries sail to-and-from the harbour, that he conceived of that scene-setting first verse and the basic chords for “The Dock of the Bay”. Back in the studio, he asked Cropper to flesh out the melody and the brilliant, bittersweet lyrics.
'60s  1967  Atlantic_Records  Beatles  music  music_labels  Otis_Redding  pop_music  R&B  singers  songs  soul  Stax  tributes 
october 2019 by jerryking
Hootie & the Blowfish, Great American Rock Band (Yes, Really)
June 6, 2019 | The New York Times | By Jon Caramanica.

Even in the years before Hootie, an earnest and deceptively easygoing roots-rock band, became a global pop phenomenon, there were indignities. The South by Southwest festival turned them down, year after year. Record labels sent stiff rejection letters.....Hootie persevered, thriving in the face of indifference. .......Released with something of a whimper in July 1994, three months after Kurt Cobain’s death, “Cracked Rear View” went on to become one of the defining albums of the 1990s, spawning three indelible, sublime Top 10 hits: “Hold My Hand,” “Let Her Cry” and “Only Wanna Be With You.” It’s the 10th most successful album of all time in this country according to Recording Industry Association of America certification.......For about 18 months, there was no more prominent artist in music: ....post-1996, Hootie became, to some, a punch line — shorthand for the kind of middlebrow rock music that arrived in the wake of grunge’s demise......In the 25 years since the release of “Cracked Rear View,” the band has been generally reviled, or shrugged off, or forgotten. At minimum, it is excluded from conversations about the great rock music of the 1990s. When Hootie was functioning at an exceptionally high level, it was not perceived as functioning at an exceptionally high level. And once the band began to recede from the center of pop, it was effectively erased......At its peak, Hootie & the Blowfish was a genuinely excellent band. Earthen, soothing, a little ragged. And also deft, flexible and unflashily skilled. It splendidly blended the Southern college rock of the late 1980s (the dBs, R.E.M.) with shades of vintage soul, bluegrass, blues and more, rendering it all with omnivorous-bar-band acuity. In the gap between late grunge and the commercial rise of hip-hop and rap-rock, Hootie was a balm.....For the three years before the release of “Cracked Rear View,” grunge had dominated the American rock music conversation, an ostensible triumph of gritty, real-emotion guitar music over the blowhard arena rock of the 1980s, and gangster rap was experiencing its first mainstream success. The country was hovering at a steady boil — the first gulf war, the Los Angeles uprisings, an economic recession. Pop music was tense and serrate.

And then came Hootie, catapulted to success not by critics, or alternative-rock radio, but by an appearance on the “Late Show With David Letterman.”.....even though Hootie had some compatriots — Gin Blossoms, Dave Matthews Band, Toad the Wet Sprocket — in the retrospectives of the 1990s, it became a footnote, a casualty of a war it never asked to fight......During the “Letterman” performance of “Hold My Hand” that catapulted the band into the national spotlight, Rucker sang with a voice that verged on scarred; behind him, the rest of the band propped him up with hope.

That balance was the hallmark of the best Hootie songs. Rucker has — no exaggeration — one of the great voices in contemporary pop music, a dynamic and sophisticated baritone that’s full of gravity. It ensured that even the brightest Hootie songs weren’t frivolous, and has secured him a long-running second career as a country music star. .......Hootie was stupefyingly famous, until it wasn’t. The fall happened quick. After 1996, the year Hootie won two Grammys, it never again cracked the Billboard Hot 100, and after 1998, none of its albums placed in the Top 40 of the album chart.....In the last decade, Rucker has become one of country music’s biggest stars, not a complete shock, given that Hootie provided a template for the roots-rock that occupies such a prominent spot near the center of contemporary country music.....“‘Cracked Rear View’ would have to be a country record today,” Rucker said.

That might say less about country music than it says about the desiccated state of contemporary rock. The sort of centrist, agnostic, big-tent rock that Hootie specialized in, and that served as a bridge between eras of far more abrasive material, has all but vanished from the rock mainstream, inasmuch as there is even a rock mainstream anymore.
'90s  anniversaries  erasures  grunge  indignities  journeyman  music  pop_music  roots_rock  the_South  uncool  under_appreciated 
june 2019 by jerryking
Guaranteed to Raise a Smile
May 19, 2017 | WSJ | By Dominic Green

Pop music, psychedelia and nostalgia fused together in the album that defined the 1960s.

Universal Music Group, which owns Capitol Records, is marking the anniversary by issuing a multi-disc box set. There is also a box-full of books intended to reintroduce to us the act we’ve known for all these years. Brian Southall, a pop journalist when the band was together, handled publicity for EMI in the 1970s. Mike McInnerney designed the sleeve of the Who’s “Tommy.” Lavishly illustrated, their books reflect the synthesis between pop entertainment and thoughtful art that the Beatles were after......The 1960s formed the Beatles. The Beatles, with a little help from their friend, producer George Martin, made “Sgt. Pepper.” Now “Sgt. Pepper” defines the ’60s............“Pepper” endures not just because it caught the mood of the Summer of Love, or because it married pop music to the modernist techniques of the collage and the tape loop, or because it sounds quaintly futuristic. “Pepper” endures because it entered the past so quickly. On June 25, 1967, little more than three weeks after the album’s release, the Beatles joined Maria Callas and Picasso in the first live international satellite broadcast, for which they performed a new song, “All You Need Is Love.” The event initiated our age of simultaneous global media and announced the triumph of television. Like its Edwardian costumes and parping brass, “Pepper” was a colorized document from history—from a past in which music, not the visual image, could still change the world.
Beatles  '60s  anniversaries  music  iconic  cultural_touchpoints  pop_music  psychedelic  nostalgia  art  1967  kaleidoscopic 
may 2017 by jerryking
Golden Oldies: Stax Releases A 50th-Anniversary Boxed Set - WSJ.com
APRIL 4, 2007 WSJ JIM FUSILLI. A joy from the first cut to the
last, "Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration" is a reminder of the glory
days of R&B, when singer, song & band came together with fervor
to spark body & soul. The music all but sweats with the musicians'
passion: No drum machines & no vocal bent to pitch by software. The
punchy horns are real brass & reeds, not lines played on
synthesizers. Now & then, a musician flubs a note or misses a cue,
but an absolute reliance on musicians' creativity can deliver brilliant
pop music that's timeless. Especially if the vocalists are the likes of
Eddie Floyd, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and the Staple Singers...Stax
began when Jim Stewart & his sister Estelle Axton started Satellite
Records in Brunswick, Tenn. They moved it to Memphis and converted a
movie theater into a recording studio; Stewart and . Axton retained the
theater's sloping floor and angled walls, creating a room that was
responsible for the label's distinctive clean sound.
Stax  soul  R&B  blues  anniversaries  music_labels  Jim_Fusilli  music  Memphis  golden_oldies  music_catalogues  pop_music 
june 2011 by jerryking
They Don't All Sound Familiar - WSJ.com
Jim Fusilli's review of the best rock and pop music of 2008
music_reviews  Jim_Fusilli  pop_music 
january 2009 by jerryking

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