The Vinyl Dialogues Blog

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

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The Hooters and The Doobie Brothers: Rushing the stage at any age

A weekend of rock and roll ended with me doing something I don’t normally do — rushing the stage for the band’s encore.

Of all the concerts I’ve seen, I don’t ever recall rushing the stage. I think that’s because I normally don’t sit close enough to the stage for most shows. I once sat in the front row for an oldies show and there was no place to rush to. I was already there. Mostly, though, I sit in the cheap seats, the ones so far away from the stage you’d need to hail a cab to get up front.

The other aspect is at this age, I don’t “rush” to go anywhere. I usually mosey, lumber, meander or traipse, with an occasional dilly-dally thrown in, and when I’m really motivated, a lollygag or two.

The music weekend kicked off Nov. 2 with a show by The Hooters, a … Read more

John Sebastian reminds us of the magic of The Lovin’ Spoonful at inaugural Pocono Folk Festival

Singer-songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Sebastian was the headliner for the inaugural Pocono Folk Festival Sept. 15 in Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania, and he reminded us – as he has for more than 50 years – just how good his band The Lovin’ Spoonful was in the mid- to late-1960s.

With hits like “Do You Believe in Magic,” “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice,” “Daydream,” “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind,” Summer in the City,” Nashville Cats” and “Darling Be Home Soon,” Sebastian has written on his website that, “We were grateful to the Beatles for reminding us of our rock and roll roots, but we wanted to cut out the English middlemen, so to speak, and get down to making this new music as an ‘American’ band.” Which is exactly what the Spoonful did from 1965 to 1970

Sebastian is a … Read more

Still riding the ‘Love Train’ with The O’Jays

Kenny Gamble had written a song, but it wasn’t complete. He was stuck without a second verse, and he couldn’t quite get it.

But The O’Jays were in the studio – Sigma Sound Studios at 12th and Race in Philadelphia – and ready to go. They had already laid down nine other tracks for an album as well as the background vocals to the final song and were anxious to see how the rest of it would sound.

Gamble called for a five-minute break, left the recording booth and retired to a small back room at Sigma Sound to work on writing the second verse of the song.

The O’Jays – Walter Williams, Eddie Levert and William Powell – thought that a couple of songs for the album had the potential to be something special. They had a technique they used with background vocals – they would double and sometimes … Read more

The backstory behind the hit ‘Sara Smile’ by Hall & Oates

Daryl Hall was living on the Upper East Side of New York in 1975 when he and John Oates began producing material for the “Daryl Hall & John Oates” album – which would come to be known as “The Silver Album” because of its glam rock style cover. Living with Hall at the time was his girlfriend, Sara Allen.

Oates had introduced Allen to Hall a few years earlier. According to Oates, he had met a flight attendant – called “stewardesses” in those days – and a girlfriend of hers on the streets of New York and had struck up a conversation with them. One of those flight attendants was Sara Allen.

Oates eventually took that chance meeting and turned it into a song titled “Las Vegas Turnaround” that appeared on the duo’s second album, “Abandoned Luncheonette,” released in 1973. He also eventually introduced Hall to Allen.

By 1975, Allen … Read more

The song that didn’t belong on the ‘Pet Sounds’ album

Brian Wilson’s masterpiece “Pet Sounds” – arguably one of the best albums ever made – was released 52 years ago this month by the Beach Boys. And as great as that album is, there’s a song on it that just doesn’t fit on the album, according to one of the band members.

The story of “Pet Sounds” is well chronicled. By the mid-1960s, Brian had tired of touring with the Beach Boys and wanted to stay in California, writing and arranging new music for the band. He was growing as a songwriter and producer and wanted to focus more on those aspects of the music industry.

To fill in for Brian on tour, the Beach Boys first hired Glen Campbell, who had been a member of the famous “Wrecking Crew,” a group of brilliant Los Angeles studio musicians who were used by a lot of artists for their studio albums … Read more

A collectively creative effort: Kool & the Gang still celebrating good times

Ronald Bell was sitting at the piano one day when his brother Robert “Kool” Bell walked in.

“You got anything for me?” said Ronald Bell.

“Yeah, I got two things for you,” said Robert Bell. “Hanging out. And ladies night.”

“A lot of people hang out,” said Robert. “But Ladies Night, man there’s one of those everywhere in the world. That’s gotta be a hit.”

The brothers and other founding members of Kool & the Gang had experienced some success with the group’s fourth studio album, “Wild and Peaceful,” in 1973. The album produced the band’s first three Top 10 singles – “Jungle Boogie,” which got to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts; “Funky Stuff,” which made it to No. 5 on the R&B chart and No. 29 on the singles chart; and “Hollywood Swinging,” which topped the Billboard … Read more

With Judy Collins and Stephen Stills, ‘There were sparks right away’

Judy Collins and Stephen Stills were driving around one day in Malibu, California, when Stills had an idea.

“He said, ‘You know, we need another song on this album,’” Collins says.

It was mid-1968 and Collins was coming off the success of her sixth studio album “Wildflowers,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts after its release in October 1967. The album featured Collins’ Top 10 hit cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.”

Stills’ band Buffalo Springfield had just broken up in May, 1968. When Collins and producer David Anderle were planning the next album, “Who Knows Where the Time Goes,” they decided to record it in Los Angeles.

“This was an opportunity to go to California and I was thrilled to be able to do that,” Collins says. “My producer said, ‘I want to bring you to California to make sort of a live album.’”… Read more

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