Fresh Air: Rock History
No Hits, No Problem: Captain Beefheart's Major...03/31/15
In 1970, Warner Bros. Records had an unusual philosophy: they'd sign artists and, instead of wanting a hit single immediately, they'd develop them over several albums. Hence, Captain Beefheart.
50 Years Of The Hollies
Not many bands can celebrate a silver anniversary, which is why Fresh Air music historian Ed Ward wishes more people made a bigger deal out of The Hollies.
The Furniture Company That Sang The Blues
In the mid-1920s, Paramount Records was the leading blues label in America. The second box set featuring this music was released in late 2014.
Producer Cosimo Matassa Always Believed In New Orleans
In the '60s, musicians left New Orleans, major labels lost interest, and Motown and Memphis took over the black music charts. But one producer didn't give up.
Bob Dylan's 'Basement Tapes' Formed A Legend
During a hiatus, some tapes surfaced of new songs Bob Dylan been writing: the infamous Basement Tapes. These songs have been collected in a box set.
The Mysterious Case of Arthur Conley, Otis Redding's...
Singer Conley had a number of hits before disappearing in the '70s, a few years after his mentor Redding died in a plane crash. So where did he go? To Europe, where he changed his name.
The Toil And The Oil That Fueled The Bakersfield Country...
Bakersfield, Calif., has become famous for its own brand of country music. It evolved through a music scene that was wild and wide-open during the 1950s and '60s.
The Story Of Little Feat's Fame, Destruction And Revival
The archetypal '70s band had a charismatic frontman and wonderful songs, but they also had drug problems and kept breaking up. Their Warner Bros. recordings are in a new box set called Rad Gumbo.
Box Set Looks Back On Pioneering '5' Royales
With the release of the 131-track collection Soul and Swagger: The Complete "5" Royales, the group has finally gotten the recognition they deserve.
A Label Paramount To Early Blues And Jazz
Between 1917 and 1932, the label released thousands of records. Jack White's Third Man Records has joined with the reissue label Revenant to release the first of two packages documenting Paramount.
The Animals: The British Invasion That Wasn't
Largely ignored today, the rough-and-tumble quintet from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne gets reassessed in a new box set, titled The Mickie Most Years & More.
The Soul Singer Who Never Quite Made It
There was a time when people in the know in Memphis described James Govan as Otis Redding's natural successor. A new compilation collects some of his unreleased recordings.
When Memphis Made A Move On Nashville's Country Monopoly
A new nine-hour box set, titled Sun Country Box: 1950-1959, collects Sun Records' country output.
A Nostalgic — But Bumpy — Journey With The Beach Boys
In 2012, the band became another rock group that was celebrating its 50th anniversary. This year, it released Made in California, an eight-hour, six-disc retrospective of their career that, perhaps inadvertently, shows how this once-great force in...
Bumpy, Bikers And The Story Behind 'Leader Of The Pack'
When record producer and songwriter George "Shadow" Morton died on Valentine's Day this year, he left behind a legacy as murky as his nickname, which he got from disappearing on long benders. A new compilation collects Morton's hits for The...
The Dawn Of Sun Records: 15 Hours Of Blues
In 1950, a red-haired Alabama boy who'd learned about radio and electronics in the U.S. Army opened a recording studio to document the blues and country music he loved. A new box set compiles the beginnings of Sam Phillips' Memphis Recording Service,...
Fame Studios And The Road To Nashville Songwriting Glory
One of America's great songwriters, Dan Penn has written dozens of soul classics, often with keyboardist Spooner Oldham. For a while, the two were on the staff of Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala. Ace Records has just released an entire CD of Penn's...
Arctic Records: Drafting A Blueprint For The Philly Sound
Ed Ward takes a look at Philadelphia's long and complex history of black pop music. Specifically, he looks at small labels like Arctic, where several famous artists got their start — and which has just released a set of CDs covering all 60 of its...
Jerry Lee Lewis: Live, Singing As If Life Depended On It
In 1958, Lewis suffered a precipitous decline in popularity when people learned that his new wife was not only 13, but also his cousin. Nobody would touch his records. Then, in 1963, he signed a deal with Smash and it looked like things were getting...
Johnny Cash's Columbia Catalog Out Now — As A 63-Disc Box...
Cash spent half a century in the limelight as a country singer turned American icon. Between 1958, when he first recorded for Columbia, until 1986, when it didn't renew his contract, he recorded more than 50 singles and 60 albums for the label.
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