The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

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

Looking back 50 years: Jim Messina revisits a better sounding Poco album

As a producer, Jim Messina became very aware while working at CBS studios that most of the engineers at the Epic Records label there were quite competent at what they had been doing, which was jazz, pop and classical music. 

But when it came to rock and roll, Messina believed it just didn’t register with those engineers. They had been educated in a different way.

So when Buffalo Springfield split up in May 1968 before the release of its third and final studio album, Last Time Around a few months later, Messina and Richie Furay — who had been members of the Springfield at the end — joined with Rusty Young, George Grantham and Randy Meisner to form the band Poco.

Jim Messina
(Photo by Mike Morsch)

Poco’s first album, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, released May 19, 1969, on the Epic Label — which Messina would produce — was … Read more

The traumatic experience that inspired the hit ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’

I was supposed to be at a concert this weekend, one that I was really looking forward to — a triple bill featuring Pure Prairie League, Poco and Orleans.

Sherman Kelly onstage in the 1970s.
(Photo courtesy of Sherman Kelly)

But that didn’t happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there’s still a question here in early May 2020 if we’ll get back to having any concerts at all this year.

Nevertheless, in the weeks leading up to this show, I had been watching YouTube videos of all three bands, particularly the Orleans cover of the great King Harvest song, “Dancing in the Moonlight.”

That song, written by Sherman Kelly, has always been one of my favorite tunes from the 1970s. Released on July 9, 1972, it became a big hit for King Harvest, reaching No. 10 on the Cash Box Top 100 singles chart, No 13 on the … Read more

An inside look at the humility and humanity of Carl Wilson from one of his co-writers

Robert White Johnson’s parents had a cottage on a lake about an hour away from where he grew up in Moline, Illinois. On those weekend drives in the 1960s, Robert and his brother Gary would pass the time in the car listening to Beach Boys records on a battery-operated 45 rpm record player, singing harmony along with the voices on the records.

Carl Wilson
(Photo courtesy of the Beach Boys)

Two decades later, Robert would be writing songs with Carl Wilson, who along with his brothers Brian and Dennis, cousin Mike Love and high school friend Al Jardine founded the Beach Boys in the early 1960s.

Two songs that were co-written by Johnson and Carl Wilson — “It’s Getting Late” and “Where I Belong” — ended up on the Beach Boys’ 25th studio album titled The Beach Boys, which was released on June 10, 1985. The album got to … Read more

The Beatles took the U.S. by storm, and then almost got taken by a storm themselves

The Beatles – John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (pictured here during a solo show at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, in 2015) – first appeared in the United States on Feb. 9, 1964, on the “Ed Sullivan Show.”
(Photo by Mike Morsch)

In February 1964, a snowstorm had blasted the northeast. The region was paralyzed and air travel had virtually shut down.

Sandy Yaguda was at his home in Brooklyn, waiting out the storm. 

Yaguda — stage name Sandy Deanne — was one of the original members of the group Jay and the Americans, which by winter of 1964 had recorded a couple of hit songs, most notably “She Cried,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1962.

And then the phone rang Feb. 10 at Yaguda’s house. It was the band’s manager.

“He called and said, ‘Listen, you guys … Read more

The making of the Beach Boys’ ‘Holland’ album and the back story on ‘Sail On, Sailor’

On Jan. 8, 1973, the Beach Boys released the “Holland” album, which included the hit “Sail On, Sailor,” featuring Blondie Chaplin on lead vocals. Here is an excerpt from a chapter in The Vinyl Dialogues Volume IV: From Studio to Stylus that includes an interview with Blondie Chaplin about the making of the “Holland” album and the back story on how he was chosen to sing lead on “Sail On, Sailor.”

After spending about three months recording in Holland over the summer of 1972, the Beach Boys had returned to the United States thinking they had finished their 19th studio album.

But when they presented the album — called Holland — to Warner Brothers, record company officials rejected it because it didn’t appear to the suits that it had a song that could be marketed as a potential hit single.

Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson had co-written another song — … Read more

Whoa-oh-oh, listen to the music: The best concerts of 2019

Generally, there’s no such thing as a bad concert, and 2019 was no exception. While my criteria for what’s constitutes a good concert experience changes a bit from show to show — the location of my seat, the ticket price, whether I got to go to the meet-and-greet, the quality of the photos I get — I can usually find a lot of things I like about a show. 

I couldn’t limit the list to the Top 10 shows of 2019, so I made it Top 11 this year. Really, all the concerts were very good, it’s just that these were just a little bit better.

11. Steely Dan — The Met/Philly (Nov. 9) — There was a lot right and a few things wrong for me at this show. First and foremost, the music was brilliant, Donald Fagen can still deliver the goods, and his band is nothing short … Read more

New album ‘Ghost Town’ masters the art of the story song

In August of 2013, Gordon Glantz had gone to a Steve Earle concert in Sellersville, Pa. During the show, Earle started talking about the kinds of songs he had written for “The Low Highway” record he was touring behind.

Earle related anecdotes about traveling through smaller towns and seeing boarded up factories, which offered him a look at a different side of America. That had an impacton Glantz.

“My interpretation of what Earle said was that there are people out there whose stories aren’t being told,” said Glantz, a veteran journalist in the Philadelphia area. “It comes out of the Springsteen cloth a little bit. All of the songs on ‘The Low Highway’ album were right to the point, no layers, no interpretation of poetry.”

The inspiration provided by Earle redirected Glantz’s longtime passion for songwriting, the end result of which is a collection of 19 songs on the recently … Read more

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