Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Farewell to THE Bassist

This week, we lost one of the greatest bassists of all time: Jack Bruce. Known primarily as a member of the British power trio Cream, Bruce was an innovative multi-instrumentalist, combining blues, rock, and jazz music. A classically trained cellist (with a scholarship to the Royal Scottish Academy of Music) who learned jazz as a teenager, he performed with several bands including John Mayall & The Bluesbreaker (where he met Eric Clapton) and Manfred Mann, eventually forming Cream with Clapton and drummer Ginger Baker. Gaining international recognition playing blues-rock and jazz-inflected rock music, Bruce sang most of the lead vocals, with Clapton backing him up (who eventually sang lead himself). Before breaking up in 1968, Bruce co-wrote most of Cream's single releases with lyricist Pete Brown, including the hits "Sunshine of Your Love," "White Room" (previously featured here) and "I Feel Free." In addition to solo albums, collaborative efforts with musicians continued as a theme of Bruce's career. The Scottish musician died of liver disease on October 25th at the age of 71.

Released in December 1966, "I Feel Free" was the first song recorded by Cream and their second hit single, reaching #11 in the UK. Written by Bruce (with lyrics by Pete Brown), this classic tune showcases the band's musical diversity, effectively combining blues rock with psychedelic pop.

Written by Bruce and Brown with Clapton, "Sunshine of Your Love" was released as a single in January 1968, becoming Cream's only gold-selling single in the US. Featuring Bruce's distinctive bass riff and Clapton's iconic guitar solo, it reached #5 in the America and #25 in the UK. After Bruce and Clapton attended a Jimi Hendrix Experience concert in London, Bruce returned home and wrote the riff that runs throughout the song. Clapton later wrote the song's refrain (which also yielded the song's title) and drummer Ginger Baker came up with the song's temp, which was based on African drumming. Ranked among Rolling Stones' 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, be sure to also check out the famous live performance of Cream's Farewell concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1968 (here).

Farewell to incomparable Jack Bruce.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Farewell to the Madman of Rock 'n' Roll

Paul Revere, leader of Paul Revere & The Raiders, passed away last Saturday in his Idaho home at the age of 76. As rock organist and founder of The Raiders, Revere (the blond on the left) teamed up with singer Mark Lindsay in 1958, and found their biggest success in the mid-'60s and early '70s with hits like "Kicks" (featured here), "Hungry," and the Platinum-certified #1 single
"Indian Reservation" (1971). With Revere's hyperactive, enthusiastic stage presence, the band's fame grew as The Raiders appeared on shows like American Bandstand and Where the Action Is, with thanks to Dick Clark.
Paul Revere remained active with The Raiders for decades, becoming a fixture on the oldies circuit in recent years.

 From their 1967 album Revolution!, "Him or Me - What's It Gonna Be?" was written by Mark Lindsay with the band's producer Terry Melcher, and became a #5 hit on the Billboard chart. Although they're missing their three-cornered hats in this video, here are The Raiders in their signature, Revolutionary attire. Gotta love the dance moves.

Here's some great footage of Paul Revere & The Raiders on Hollywood Palace in late 1966 with host Ray Bolger (the famous scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz). A #20 hit, "The Great Airplane Strike" was based on an instance when all planes were grounded and The Raiders were forced to bus their way to their next gig. Oh yeah, forgot to mention: The Raiders hold the title of having more television airings in the decade of the 60's then any other rock band in history, over 750 airings!

And as a bonus video, this is another great quality one from NBC's Hullabaloo! Introduced by guest host Michael Landon, Paul Revere & The Raider serve up another rockin' performance of "Steppin' Out." (And where can I find a Mondrian dress like these dancers'!).

Farewell to this vivacious rock organist, lovingly referred to as the "Madman of Rock 'n' Roll."
 Paul Revere will be greatly missed!