Fresh Air: Rock History
The Toil And The Oil That Fueled The Bakersfield Country...10/08/14
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 Set
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.
The Moving Sidewalks: Where The British Invasion Met Texas Blues
Before he became the guitarist for ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons was in a band called the Moving Sidewalks that just missed its shot at stardom. The album the Moving Sidewalks never released in the late 1960s was released in late 2012 and is very much a...
Aretha Franklin Before Atlantic: The Columbia Years
Franklin found her voice in songs such as "I Never Loved a Man" for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Before Atlantic, however, Franklin recorded for Columbia, and in those early recordings you can hear the legend just beginning to emerge.
The Unsung Pioneer Of Louisiana Swamp-Pop
In the early 1960s, Joe Barry combined Cajun and country music into a whole new sound. In honor of a new anthology of Barry's music titled A Fool to Care, critic Ed Ward tells the forgotten musician's story.
Turning Up The Volume On The Electric Blues
A new 12-disc compilation traces the history of electric blues from its inauspicious start through its heyday in the 1950s and '60s. Critic Ed Ward says Plug It In! Turn It Up! does "a great job of illuminating one particular aspect of the blues."
The Insect Trust: An American Band Deconstructed
One of the great fantasies of the hippie era was that new combinations of music would emerge from the experimentation that was going on. Still, very few lived it. Ed Ward says The Insect Trust was one of the exceptions.
The Big Man Behind 'Shake, Rattle And Roll'
Six feet tall, weighing in at 400 pounds and in his 40s when stardom hit him, Big Joe Turner is behind a load of rock 'n' roll hits. His hardest-hitting singles have been collected on a new compilation, titled Big Joe Turner Rocks.
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