Category Archives: Music on Mondays

Music on Mondays (7-28-14)—Rock instrumentals

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Instrumental music by hard rock, heavy rock, and heavy metal groups always has seemed kind of oxymoronic to me.

As I was doing research for this post, I remembered that my all-time favorite rock/pop star, Sir Paul McCartney, and his group, Wings, won a Grammy Award in 1980 for “Rockestra Theme” in the category “Best Rock Instrumental Performance.” It was a new category that year and was eliminated beginning with the 2012 awards.

So for today’s Music on Mondays, let’s listen to some rock instrumentals, beginning with my favorite two, both by Black Sabbath:

“Laguna Sunrise,” Black Sabbath, 1972

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“Fluff,” Black Sabbath, 1973

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Next I have three instrumentals associated with my all-time favorite non-classical group, The Beatles.

“Flying,” The Beatles, 1967
This is the first Beatles song
which had the writing credited to all four Beatles.

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“Rockestra Theme,” Wings, 1979

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“Marwa Blues,” George Harrison, 2002
This was on the album “Brainwashed,” released posthumously.
It illustrates Harrison’s distinctive guitar style at its finest.

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Sting weighs in with the instrumental that got me to thinking about rock instrumentals.

“Saint Agnes and the Burning Train,” Sting, 1991

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One of the first rock instrumentals came along in 1962 and hit #1 on the charts in both the United States and Great Britain, a unique feat.

“Telstar,” The Tornados, 1962

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There are many rock instrumentals based on classical music, usually done by musicians who were classically trained before hopping over to the rock/pop genre. Here are my favorite two:

“In the Hall of the Mountain King,” Electric Light Orchestra, 1973

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“Abaddon’s Bolero,” Emerson, Lake & Palmer, 1972

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Metallica, a heavy metal group if ever there was one, checks in with a very heavy metal instrumental from their “Master of Puppets” album, arguably their heaviest heavy metal album.

“Orion,” Metallica, 1986

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I would be remiss in my instrumental duties if I did not include something by The Who—and there are many—so I chose one from their classic rock opera, “Tommy.”

“Underture,” The Who, 1969

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My music computer includes complete music collections from many groups. Three of those groups which are relevant to instrumental music are The Alan Parsons Project, Rush, and Yes. Picking just one song from those three groups is arduous. Here I go, though:

“Mammagamma,” The Alan Parsons Project, 1982

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“YYZ,” Rush, 1981

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“Sign Language,” Yes, 1997

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There are hundreds more that I have in my music collection but I didn’t want to totally overwhelm you this Monday morning. We’ll visit rock instrumentals again in the future.

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Music on Mondays (7-21-14)—Rapid Roy has the blues because his stock car is at the car wash

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

There are many high-priced restaurants in San Diego, all of them out of my price range. I have, however, eaten at all of them….

….except one.

I have never eaten at Croce’s Restaurant & Jazz Bar, which is downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter, the historic heart of San Diego.

Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California

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Croce's in the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, California

Croce’s is named after singer-songwriter Jim Croce and was founded by his widow, Ingrid, in 1985. She sold the restaurant in 2013.

Since the awesome Julian thinks Jim Croce’s songs are fine fine fine, I thought we would share his five best songs, picked by Julian.

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Music on Mondays (7-14-14)—Take me out to the dead man’s party

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Yesterday I got to tour Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres. Looks like this from centerfield:

Petco Park panorama from center field

Speaking of center field….

“Centerfield” by John Fogerty, 1985

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The views of San Diego were more spectacular than actually touring the ballpark. For example, here’s a picture of the two-year-old Skybridge that connects the Hilton Bayfront and the San Diego Convention Center with Petco Park and the 9-month-old San Diego Central Library:

Skybridge San Diego

Speaking of bridges, here’s an underappreciated song:

“Seven Bridges Road” by The Eagles, 1980

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Speaking of eagles, here’s….

“Fly Like An Eagle” by The Steve Miller Band, 1976

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Speaking of Miller, that reminds me of beer, which takes us back to the ballpark….

“I Like Beer” by Tom T. Hall, 1975

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Speaking of Tom T. Hall, one day in 1968 I got in trouble at school. The principal called my wise old grandmother to come get me. Playing on the radio on the drive home was “Harper Valley P.T.A.” by Jeannie C. Riley, written by Tom T. Hall.

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I had been expelled from school for two days, and I’ll just leave it at that. There’s a reason I didn’t become a teacher—I would have had a class full of little monster Russels…………….

Speaking of monsters, Comic Con International starts on July 24. Zombie Walk is Saturday, July 26. It’s basically a….

“Dead Man’s Party” by Oingo Boingo, 1986

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2013 San Diego Comic Con International

Comic Con International 2012 in San Diego California

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Music on Mondays (7-7-14)—For the pipers of the world

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Julian is due back from Texas this week, possibly as soon as tomorrow. If you haven’t met Julian, see this post: Meet Julian Saenz.

One of Julian’s friends, Jack Waldman, plays the bagpipes, which brought back a flood of memories from when I was a lad even younger than Julian (16) and Jack (presumably 16, plus or minus a few months).

When my wise old grandmother adopted me in December 1965, we spent the next year visiting relatives throughout Texas. One of my great uncles was a career soldier in the U.S. Army. He had fought in World War II and was stationed in 1966 at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He played the bagpipes. He had played them at army bases throughout the world during the war, and was in the Fort Sam Houston Pipers. The first time I heard him play the bagpipes, I thought it was the strangest-looking instrument….

….but I fell in love with the sound.

For today’s Music on Mondays, let’s see what music we can find with bagpipes.

The first one that comes immediately to mind for me is “Mull of Kintyre,” a 1977 song by Paul McCartney & Wings, and YOU, good follower, know how big a fan I am of The Beatles, with Paul being my favorite. Here’s Mull of Kintyre:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Mull of Kintyre” was written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine. Laine was a member of Wings but was probably better known at that time as a founding member of The Moody Blues.

“Mull of Kintyre” was not a hit in the United States; in fact, I knew about the single’s release but could find it nowhere in Houston at the time. That’s how much of a non-hit it was in the United States. I finally acquired the record at a Beatles convention in Houston six months later.

On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, “Mull of Kintyre” became Great Britain’s biggest selling single ever, and that includes all the hits by The Beatles! It was the first single to sell two million copies and still is Great Britain’s all-time best selling NON-CHARITY single. NON-CHARITY is important because Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” rewrite/re-recording in memory of Princess Diana is the #1 selling single, but its proceeds went to charity.

Bagpipes have been in rock music from at least 1968 that I know of when they appeared in “Sky Pilot” by Eric Burdon & The Animals:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I did not add “Sky Pilot” to my music collection until around 1978. By that time, bagpipes had appeared in “The Silent Boatman” by Parliament (1970), “Anthem” by The Sensational Alex Harvey Band (1974), and “It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Want To Rock ‘n’ Roll) by AC/DC (1975).

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The call and answer interplay between the lead guitarist and the bagpipes in “It’s A Long Way To The Top” is among my favorite bagpipe sections.

Although there might be more songs that I could find by research, I only use songs that are in my collection here at Music on Mondays. I have one more song in my collection: “Tomorrow” by U2 (1981)

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Then there are the pipers themselves, a strange bunch if ever there was. To wit:

The BadPiper
performing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” as never performed before

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The Unicycling Darth Vader Piper from Portland:

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The American Rogues, America’s Celtic Band:

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Music on Monday (6-30-14)—…I kind of like The Beatles

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

It should be no secret to my readers that I’m a huge Beatles fan. I often get asked which is my favorite Beatles song, and the answer has been the same since around 1970: Let It Be. However, the single version is much better than the album version.

I thought for today’s Music on Mondays, instead of playing songs by The Beatles, we’d explore some songs that reference The Beatles. These are not all of them by any means, but these are some of my favorites, and I only used songs which I have in my music collection

“I Saw It On T.V.” by John Fogerty, 1985

‘Cause four guys from England took us all by the hand.
It was time to laugh, time to sing, time to join the band

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“Never Been To Spain” by Three Dog Night, 1971

Well I’ve never been to England, but I kind of like The Beatles.

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“All The Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople, 1972

And my brother’s back at home with his Beatles and his Stones.

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“Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers, 1973

All summer long we spent dancin’ in the sand
And the jukebox kept on playin’
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

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“Shooting Star” by Bad Company, 1975

Johnny was a school boy when he heard his first Beatles song.
“Love Me Do,” I think it was and from there it didn’t take him long.

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“We Didn’t Start The Fire” by Billy Joel, 1989

British Beatlemania

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“The Seeker” by The Who, 1970

They call me the seeker. I’ve been searching low and high.
I won’t get to get what I’m after till the day I die.
I asked Bobby Dylan, I asked The Beatles,
I asked Timothy Leary, but he couldn’t help me either.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays—Safe at night in my secret rose garden having a garden party

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Mary Lennox is a troubled 10-year-old girl who was born in India to selfish, wealthy British parents who had never wanted her and were too wrapped up in their own lives to love or care about her.

That is the first sentence of the plot summary in the Wikipedia entry for “The Secret Garden,” a novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was published in 1911.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Barnett

I first read it in 1962 when I was in second grade at Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah.

Lake View Elementary School in Brigham City, Utah

Ever since I read that book, I have always dreamed of having a secret garden. I never have, but I have had hundreds of gardens, specializing in cactus and succulents, although my back patio right now is full of geraniums, pelargoniums, and begonias, and sometimes a cool cat.

Zoey the Cool Cat

My trip to Bird Song a few weeks ago (Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance)  reminded me yet again how much I love gardens, how much they take the stress away of everyday life, how much they mean to me. Sitting in my gardens with a cool cat while reading and listening to music is a natural high for me.

I thought we would explore gardens in music for today’s Music on Mondays. Following are five of my favorite songs about gardens and plants.

“Safe In My Garden” by The Mamas & The Papas, 1968

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“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson, 1970

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“Garden Party” by Ricky Nelson, 1972

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“Gardening At Night” by R.E.M., 1982

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“Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen, 1995

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Music on Mondays (6-15-14)—A long time ago when the Earth was green

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Yesterday’s post, Leave room in your garden for the fairies to dance, inspired today’s Music on Monday’s post.

Let us see what kind of magical creatures we can find in the world of music. I only used songs in my collection and did not consider full albums.

“The Purple People Eater”
Sheb Wooley, 1958

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“Puff (The Magic Dragon)”
Peter, Paul & Mary, 1963

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“The Unicorn”
Irish Rovers, 1968

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“Werewolves of London”
Warren Zevon, 1978

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Music on Mondays (6-9-14)—Beep beep

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

On this date in 2006, the movie “Cars” was released. Since we have had so much fun recently with old cars and car music, I thought we would continue with our cars theme for today’s Music on Mondays.

Our last cars-themed Music on Mondays ended with 1957, so let us continue with 1958. All of these songs are, of course, in my music collection.

“Hop In My Jalop”
Chuck Alaimo Quartet

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“Let’s Go For A Ride”
The Collegians

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“Spark Plug”
Four Teens

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A couple of years ago I was going through Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” looking for the title of singles that I used to have on vinyl but had not been able to find on CD or in digital downloads. That’s when I discovered Jan & Dean’s older music; you’re probably familiar with three of their hits: #1 “Surf City,” #3 The Little Old Lady (From Pasadena), and #8 Dead Man’s Curve. Dean was drafted into the Army in 1957, and while he was gone, Jan teamed up with Arnie to continue the surf rock sound that Jan & Dean eventually would become quite famous for. Here’s Jan & Arnie:

“Gas Money”
Jan & Arnie

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“The Ballad Of Thunder Road”
Robert Mitchum (yes, the movie star)

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When I graduated from high school in 1973, two friends and I spent the summer touring the United States west of the Mississippi River. We made it to every national forest, every national monument, and every national park, as well as every city with a population of 100,000 or more. Sometimes we just drove through to say that we had been there.

1954 Nash RamblerLarry, who had just bought the 1973 Buick Apollo that we went in, had grandparents in Sacramento, California (we lived in far south Texas, in Kingsville). We stopped to spend the night with his grandparents, and his granddad started comparing his 1954 Nash Rambler with Larry’s 1973 Buick Apollo (with a 400 ci engine). Granddad took us for a ride in his Nash Rambler, which had been slightly modified to include an 8-track tape player. The tape we listened to comprised nothing but car songs, many of them classics now. One of them was “Beep Beep” by The Playmates, which tells of a “little Nash Rambler” keeping up with a Cadillac. Oh, the disgrace for that poor Cadillac.

“Beep Beep”
The Playmates

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Music on Mondays—Everything was fine up the Grapevine Hill

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Dare I say that one of the highlights of this millennium for me was being a vendor at the May 3 fundraiser for Cat House on the Kings? Yes. I’m just a silly softie for Mother and Father Nature’s critters, especially those rather closely related to Zoey the Cool Cat.

Zoey the Cool Cat

Jim and I drove from La Mesa to Fresno, 350 miles. Going over Grapevine Hill (“The Grapevine”) between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, with its twists and turns and up to ten lanes of traffic in each direction, was an experience itself.

Grapevine Hill

Go to location on Google Maps

Hundreds of big rigs were going up to 25 mph in the two right lanes while trying to make it up the 6% grade to the top of Tejon Pass, elevation 4,183 feet. They had their emergency lights flashing and were stomping on the brakes going down the other side. There are many runaway truck ramps on both sides of Tejon Pass.

Grapevine Hill is one of only two places in the United States where traffic is inverted, i.e., northbound traffic is on the left side of the freeway instead of the right side. Yuma, Arizona, has an east/west inversion.

Grapevine Hill handles extremely high traffic volume at all hours of the day between Los Angeles and the Central Valley (Bakersfield and points north). Traffic can be doing 110 mph in the fast lane and 25 mph in the slow lane. I tended to stay in the middle lanes doing 50-70 mph since I was unfamiliar with The Grapevine.

Back before Interstate 5 was built, The Grapevine was a long, winding road notorious for racing and accidents, made famous in the 1951 hit song, “Hot Rod Race” by Arkie Shibley & His Mountain Dew Boys.

“Hot Rod Race” tells the story of a Ford and Mercury racing on Grapevine Hill, neither driver gaining an advantage, and staying “neck and neck” until they both were overtaken by a kid in “a hopped-up Model A.”

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In 1955, Charley Ryan & The Livingston Brothers recorded “Hot Rod Lincoln” as a response to “Hot Rod Race”:

“You heard the story of the hot rod race that fatal day, when the Ford and the Mercury went out to play. Well, this is the inside story and I’m here to say, I was the kid that was a-drivin’ that Model A.”

At 0:45 is this verse:

Left San Pedro late one night
The moon and the stars were shining bright
Everything went fine up the Grapevine Hill
We were passin’ cars like they was standing still

San Pedro to the north side of Grapevine Hill is a whopping 100 miles, not exactly a leisurely drive, but this was when the car culture was gaining momentum in Los Angeles.

San Pedro to Grapevine Hill

Go to location on Google Maps

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Probably the most recognizable version of “Hot Rod Lincoln” is the 1972 song by  Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen which peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

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Music on Mondays (5-26-14)—It took 43 years?

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Arguably the top story in music news this past week was the lawsuit against Led Zeppelin by the relatively unknown (compared to Led Zeppelin) rock group Spirit. Spirit had its greatest success in the 1960s and ’70s. I have a complete collection of music by both groups.

My high school friends introduced me to the two groups when I was 16. Everyone knew how much I loved music since I played the piano and violin, and sang in the high school choir. When they had a surprise birthday party for me in March 1971, Mark Johnson gave me Spirit’s “The Family That Plays Together” album and Jamie Perez gave me “Led Zeppelin III.”

Happy anniversary to Jim & Russel

Led Zeppelin is in the process of re-mastering and re-releasing their music. The re-mastered Led Zeppelin I, II, and III are out. Led Zeppelin IV, their most famous album since it contains the incomparable “Stairway To Heaven,” was due to be re-released in a few weeks.

The lawsuit claims that Led Zeppelin plagiarized “Stairway to Heaven” from an instrumental section of Spirit’s song “Taurus.” I have known about the supposed similarities since 1997 when Randy California of Spirit discussed it in an interview just before he died. It should be noted that Led Zeppelin and Spirit toured together in 1968 and 1969. “Taurus” was released by Spirit in January 1968. “Stairway to Heaven” was released by Led Zeppelin in November 1971.

Have a listen; it’s the guitar in the introduction of “Stairway to Heaven” that is said to be plagiarized. Listen to “Taurus” beginning at 0:44 and then listen to the guitar in “Stairway to Heaven,” specifically the first 2:15.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

What do I think? Here’s what I think:

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

“All You Need Is Love”…. One of the greatest plagiarized songs of all time! (LOL). In the beginning you hear a Beatles rendition of the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in April 1792. Other bits and pieces include “Greensleeves,” first registered at the London Stationer’s Company in September 1580 by Richard Jones (“A Newe Northen Dittye of ye Ladye Greene Sleves”), and Glen Miller’s “In The Mood.” Sources indicate that The Beatles paid royalties to Glen Miller for his contribution.

The Spirit lawsuit seeks to give Randy California writing credit on “Stairway To Heaven” and to block the re-release of “Led Zeppelin IV.”

So it took 43 years for Spirit to realize a similarity and file a lawsuit? Hmmmmmmm. Dubious. Then again, maybe it’s not too late for Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle and Richard Jones!

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