The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

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

Category: The Vinyl Dialogues Book Page 8 of 16

Paul Anka capable and comfortable being the ‘Keeper of the Cool’

Paul Anka is a lot of things: singer, songwriter, entertainer, actor, author, one-time teen idol, boyfriend of Mouseketeer Annette Funicello when they were kids and de facto Rat Pack member and confidante.

Add Keeper of the Cool to that list.

Frank, Dean and Sammy would be proud. Anka is a professional, a showman and has always realized the importance of being a snappy dresser. At age 75, he still dances with the one that he brought and closes his show with “Diana,” a song he wrote as a teenager and recorded in 1957 that was a No. 1 hit in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and reached No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Certainly one’s level of cool is subjective in the eye of the observer. And this was my first time seeing Anka perform live. But here’s how cool he was at his Dec. 16 … Read more

Still stone in love with the music of The Stylistics

It was pretty exciting when my dad got me a cassette tape recorder and a handful of blank tapes. Given the audio technology of the times, my plan in 1972 as a 13-year-old eighth-grader was to record my favorite songs off the radio onto the blank tapes and create my own music library.

Recording songs off the radio wasn’t an exact science. Growing up in central Illinois, I was listening to WLS out of Chicago. If the disc jockey didn’t give the listeners an advance heads up as to what songs were going to be played, one had to be able to recognize a song from the first fews notes, then simultaneously push “play” and “record” on the recorder.

I wasn’t very good at that. And I didn’t want to start the tape during the commercials because I didn’t want the ads messing up my music. Thus, I had entire … Read more

‘One Toke Over the Line’ meets the Lawrence Welk Show again . . . 45 years later

In their stage show, Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley are fond of telling audiences that they’re the only guys on the planet – “and probably in the universe” – who have written a song that has been performed both on the Lawrence Welk Show and by the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead.

That song, “One Toke Over the Line,” first recorded by Brewer and Shipley in 1970 and featured on the duo’s third studio album “Tarkio,” became an interesting and unique bit of pop culture. It got the attention of the Nixon administration, which labeled the singer-songwriters subversives to American youth because the song contained a drug reference in its lyrics.

But because it was a hit single, the song also attracted the attention of Lawrence Welk, who liked to feature popular songs of the day sung by Welk Musical Family singers on his weekly television show. In … Read more

Elton John live: A unique perspective from behind the stage

The first time I saw Elton John perform live was in 1976 at the Chicago Amphitheater. It was my first concert.

We had secured tickets from a young fellow named George Jasinski, a Chicago native and a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, who was the teaching assistant for the first journalism class I took in high school. He would become a big influence on me becoming a journalist, despite the fact that he abandoned journalism altogether and decided to go to law school to become a lawyer, which he is to this day.

We called him “Mr. J.” and he was Chicago cool. One day after class he taught Mikki Milam and I how to do “The Hustle” dance. Her father, Jerry Milam, owned Golden Voice Recording Co. in South Pekin, Illinois, where the Head East album “Flat as a Pancake” was recorded in 1975. The making of … Read more

First Bruce Springsteen concert a perfect beginning . . . and maybe a perfect ending

Who knew that farmers could predict the future of rock and roll?

When I moved into the dorms my first year at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, the guys who lived next door were enlightened and entertaining characters. Al Steinbach, a New Yorker with a dry wit, was studying engineering there in the middle of the Heartland. I’m not sure why he went all that way to do that. His roommate, Duane Morrison, was a rural gent from Grinnell, Iowa, who was studying farm management. That made more sense to me, since the university is surrounded by roughly a bazillion cornfields and two bazillion cows.

What made these guys cool to a youngster experiencing being away from home for the first time was that they had a turntable, a vinyl collection and an open-door policy. Anyone could drop in and listen to records at almost any time.

Duane was … Read more

Connecting Cher to the Lawrence Welk Show via ‘One Toke Over the Line’

This is a story about Cher almost being knocked on her keister in 1983. But to get there, I’ve got to first go through the rock-folk duo of Brewer and Shipley and the squeaky cleanness of the Lawrence Welk Show.

In Volume I of The Vinyl Dialogues, I had interviewed Michael Brewer and Tom Shipley about the making of their 1970 album “Tarkio.” The album would include what would become Brewer and Shipley’s biggest hit single, “One Toke Over the Line.”

“One Toke Over the Line” is a song about drugs. According to Shipley, before a gig in Kansas City, someone had given him a block of hashish and recommended he do two hits. But Shipley decided to do three hits, and by the time he got to the stage, he was wasted. “Jesus Michael, I’m one toke over the line,” Shipley said to Brewer.

Brewer thought that was hysterical, … Read more

My inaugural Dylan concert: It was Bob being Bob . . . with a little swagger and prancing

dscn5771The between-song banter by Mavis Staples – who is opening for Bob Dylan on his summer tour – Wednesday night at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Philadelphia included an interesting and somewhat unexpected observation.

“Oh, that Bobby Dylan. I love listening to him sing, but I also love to watch him move,” said Ms. Staples, 77, a longtime member of the gospel, soul and R&B family singing group The Staple Singers and later a solo artist, who revealed last year that Dylan once proposed to her when they were teenagers and she turned him down. “He’s got that swagger.”

“Does Bob move with a swagger?” I asked my friend Ted, who has seen Dylan approximately 25 times in concert and had driven all the way from Illinois (919 miles and 14-and-a-half hours in what has been dubbed the 2016 Iron Undershorts Tour) to accompany me to my … Read more

Page 8 of 16

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén