Posts by Chris Willman

  • 'Rock Around the Clock' Turns 60: The Most Important B-Side of All Time

    Chris Willman at Yahoo Music4 days ago

    For a song destined to rock around the centuries, "Rock Around the Clock" — recorded 60 years ago this week — had the humblest of beginnings, starting life as a lowly B-side that didn't even have a genre to call its own.

    Bill Haley & the Comets recorded it on April 12, 1954 almost as an afterthought, devoting 40 minutes and two takes to the tune at the tail end of a session otherwise devoted to "Thirteen Women (And Only One Man in Town)," a novelty song about the happy benefits of sexual inequity after a nuclear blast. After being patched together from those two hastily recorded takes, "Rock Around the Clock" was relegated to flip-side status when first released a month after the session, taking a back seat to A-side "Thirteen Women," which did not rock anyone 24/7.

    The biggest indignity of all: When it came time to assign a genre or dance mode to "Rock Around the Clock" on the 45's label, as was common in that day, the term "rock 'n' roll" hadn't yet been assigned to the nascent style of music the song represented. So Decca Records designated it as a fox trot record.

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  • Getting It On: How Marvin Gaye Came Up With the Two Sexiest Songs of All Time

    Chris Willman at Yahoo Music14 days ago

    Marvin Gaye would have been 75 years old on April 2. Meanwhile, there are surely untold thousands of people aged 40 and under who owe having any kind of birthday at all to "Let's Get It On" or "Sexual Healing."

    Those two Gaye smashes might be competing against each other on a lot of music fans' rankings of Sexiest Song of All Time. Unlike other R&B lotharios like Barry White and Teddy Pendergrass, Gaye wasn't known initially or exclusively as a sexual smooth talker. His initial run of hits for Motown throughout the 1960s was appropriately innocent for that era of Top 40, and by the early '70s, he was better known for socially conscious concept albums like "What's Going On." But when the title track of the "Let's Get It On" album became ubiquitous in 1973, it forever shoved "protest singer" and "tuxedoed Tammi Terrell duet partner" off the top of the list of what Gate would be best remembered for.

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  • F-F-F-Foolin’: Rock’s Greatest Pranks, Hoaxes, and Outright Lies

    Chris Willman at Yahoo Music15 days ago

    If you can't trust people in the music business, who can you trust? But not all of them have been Honest Abes over the years. Some have pulled playful one-time pranks, others obfuscations or outright hoaxes that have gone on for years. Fans can't be trusted with the truth, either, as attested to by any number of undying urban legends. It's all fodder for an April Fool's Day look at some of rock's greatest lies:

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  • Rolling Stones Revive Oldie for First Time in 41 Years

    Chris Willman at Maximum Performance1 mth ago

    The Rolling Stones seem determined not to let their set lists get too mossy. This week in Tokyo, the band played the Goats Head Soup song "Silver Train" on stage for the fifth time ever... and the first four of those five times were all back in 1973.

    One likely reason the Stones haven't played it in 41 years — besides the fact that it was a B-side (to "Angie"), not a proper single — is that it prominently featured second guitarist Mick Taylor, who quit the group at the end of that '73 tour. When Taylor retired from the Stones, this feisty album track was retired, too.

    But as any Stones fan well knows, Taylor has been brought back into the fold for the 2013-14 tour, not as a full-time member, but a guest player on two or three songs per night. That's led the band to revive some of the early '70s tracks he played on — some giants from the Stones' catalog, like "Midnight Rambler" (the one song Taylor solos on every night), and some more obscure, like "Sway."

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