The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

Stories behind memorable albums of the 1970s as told by the artists

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Shake, shake, shaking booty with KC and The Sunshine Band

Once tickets had been secured for the KC and The Sunshine Band show Aug. 8 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, it occurred to me that I maybe hadn’t put enough thought into the specifics of attending the concert.

In the days leading up to the show, one question loomed large: At this age, could I actually shake my booty for an entire KC concert without pulling a hamstring, throwing out my back or asking a paramedic to sit in the seat next to me with a defibrillator at the ready?

At the height of its popularity in the 1970s, KC and The Sunshine Band was all about dance music. No surprise there for those of us who grew up listing to it. The opening lines to one of the band’s biggest hits are, “Everybody, get on the floor, let’s dance. Don’t fight your feelings, give yourself a chance. Oh … Read more

Rock the Yacht 2015 review: All the hits . . . and hearty handshakes, too

The next time I see Robbie Dupree, I’m going to have to apologize to him. You see, I may have been a little overly aggressive in our initial meeting.

Dupree is part of this year’s Rock the Yacht 2015 tour. Joining him on the show is Stephen Bishop, Player, Ambrosia and Little River Band.

I had the opportunity to see the first concert of the tour recently at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, N.J. My friend Patti Myers, who serves as official webmistress for Player, hooked me up with a ticket and backstage access. An interview with Player’s Peter Beckett talking about the making of the band’s 1977 self-titled debut album appeared in The Vinyl Dialogues.

The night of the show, Patti was taking a friend of hers and me backstage to meet Beckett and Ronn Moss of Player. We went up on stage through a side door, … Read more

The story behind ‘A Horse With No Name,” straight from the horse’s mouth

There’s a sign that makes the rounds on Facebook that frequently gets posted to my timeline. It reads: “All I’m saying is, at any point during that ride through the desert, he could have given that horse a name.”

The reference is, of course, to the song “A Horse With No Name” by the band America. My friends know I am a longtime fan of the band, so that’s why this sign is frequently posted on my Facebook page.

It turns out, though, that I have a little insight on this, thanks to the guy who wrote it.

The song was written by Dewey Bunnell, who along with Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek, founded the band America in 1970. Its self-titled debut album, released in 1971, didn’t initially contain the song. But after “A Horse With No Name,” which featured Bunnell on lead vocals as well, became a hit and … Read more

The highly emotional and personal magic of a special Brian Wilson song

Music speaks to different people in different ways. But there is a point in every Brian Wilson show that lasts a little more than two minutes that I claim as my own: It’s when he sings “Surfer Girl,” and like a great song does, it brings back a flood of memories that touches deep in my heart and soul.

It reminds me of the time that Brian once rode along with me in my car when I really needed him.

On Jan. 4, 1988, a bitterly cold day, I had just arrived to work at a newspaper in La Salle, Illinois, when I got a phone call from my wife. “You’d better come home. Something is wrong and I think we need to go to the hospital.”

She was pregnant with our first child, but it was 10 weeks from the scheduled due date. I rushed home, got her and … Read more

Forget Taylor Swift, ‘Fanilows’ come out in force in Philly

While waiting in line in the men’s room after the Barry Manilow concert Saturday night in Philadelphia, one of the more creative gents suggested out loud that he was surprised to see any kind of line in the loo because he didn’t think there would be that many men at a Barry Manilow concert.

We all kind of chuckled at that, likely because we were all kind of thinking the same thing. And no sooner had that comment been uttered when into the men’s room walked seven or eight women, intent on sharing our facility because the line to women’s restrooms were too long and they really had to go.

It wasn’t a scenario that I necessarily anticipated that I would experience at a Barry Manilow concert, but very little concert behavior surprises me anymore. Women using the men’s room at a concert elicits a mere shrug of the shoulders … Read more

The Beach Boys and America: As close to a perfect evening as possible

While waiting for the Beach Boys/America concert to start in the ballroom of the Borgata in Atlantic City Saturday evening, April 18, a little old lady came in and sat down beside me.

I don’t think she was from Pasadena. Atlantic City is, after all, a long way from California. (Beach Boys fans will get that joke.)

She was quiet throughout the hourlong set by America – Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley – who sound as good today as they did 40 years ago when they were making their fifth studio album, “Hearts,” which will be featured in “The Vinyl Dialogues Volume II: Dropping the Needle.”

America has always been one of my favorite bands, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to see them live. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how good these guys are and how much I love their songs. So it’s no … Read more

The class of Darlene Love plus the comedy of Cheech & Chong equals vinyl magic

Lou Adler was looking for some help. He was producing Cheech & Chong’s third comedy album, Los Cochinos, in 1973 and the duo was in the recording studio ready to make the song “Basketball Jones.”

Since it was an actual song and not a comedy bit, Adler needed some real musicians to sit in on the recording session, which was being done at A&M Records on North La Brea Avenue near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

In addition to managing the careers of Cheech & Chong, Adler also managed a veritable All-Star lineup of other artists: Sam Cooke, Carole King and The Mamas and The Papas, among them. So Adler started making calls to some of those artists asking them to come on down to the studio and participate in the recording of “Basketball Jones.”

The day of the recording session, Adler also went through the A&M studio seeing who else … Read more

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