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What the Riff?!?

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WHAT THE RIFF takes a look at a “rock and roll” album that debuted or peaked on the Billboard charts during a month in a year between 1965-1995. Four friends discuss four tracks from the album as it plays in the background - one well-known and three deeper cuts. Then we expand into 4 “staff picks” of other tracks that were also in the charts during that specific month and year -and share a little look into the culture and what was going on at the time. A great way to remember old time rock and roll - or hear something new to you that you might get into.

WHAT THE RIFF takes a look at a “rock and roll” album that debuted or peaked on the Billboard charts during a month in a year between 1965-1995. Four friends discuss four tracks from the album as it plays in the background - one well-known and three deeper cuts. Then we expand into 4 “staff picks” of other tracks that were also in the charts during that specific month and year -and share a little look into the culture and what was going on at the time. A great way to remember old time rock and roll - or hear something new to you that you might get into.
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Location:

United States

Description:

WHAT THE RIFF takes a look at a “rock and roll” album that debuted or peaked on the Billboard charts during a month in a year between 1965-1995. Four friends discuss four tracks from the album as it plays in the background - one well-known and three deeper cuts. Then we expand into 4 “staff picks” of other tracks that were also in the charts during that specific month and year -and share a little look into the culture and what was going on at the time. A great way to remember old time rock and roll - or hear something new to you that you might get into.

Language:

English


Episodes

1972 - June: David Bowie “Ziggy Stardust”

10/21/2019
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The actual title of David Bowie's fifth studio album is The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. This influential album from the highly creative David Bowie would become the standard bearer of early 70's glam rock. This genre was outrageous, decadent, and a departure from the heavier, revolutionary political tone of late 70's rock music. Bowie created a character named Ziggy Stardust - an androgynous, bisexual rock star channeling aliens to save the earth from...

Duration:00:35:48

1986 - October: Drivin' N Cryin' “Scarred but Smarter”

10/14/2019
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Athens, Georgia may have been known as the music hotbed during the middle 80's, but Drivin' N Cryin' out of nearby Atlanta was benefitting from the Georgia focus as well. Scarred But Smarter was their debut album created on a shoestring budget, with songs that reflect the sound of the Athens scene (where the album was recorded), but with lyrical depth and variety. After several down years, Drivin' N Cryin' is on the upswing again, and you can catch them on tour today. We are thrilled to...

Duration:00:36:54

1983 - October: Genesis “Genesis”

10/7/2019
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Most bands make their first album the eponymous one, but Genesis waited until their twelfth studio album to name it Genesis. This one continues the trend toward pop that started with "Abacab" and "Three Sides Live," but maintains the prog rock and art rock connections of their roots. By this time Genesis consisted of Mike Rutherford on keyboards, Tony Banks on guitar, and Phil Collins on drums and lead vocals. Collins would become a celebrity shortly after this album was released. Folks,...

Duration:00:44:33

1973 - July: ZZ Top “Tres Hombres”

9/30/2019
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Yes, those bearded wonders, the trio of ZZ Top would find their breakthrough hit in LaGrange off their third album entitled Tres Hombres. With Billy Gibbons on guitar, Dusty Hill on bass, and Frank Beard (ironically the only member without a beard) on drums, ZZ Top would begin their climb to stardom via Texas blues/rock with this album. ZZ Top started in 1969 in Houston, Texas and are still playing together today after 50 years. ​We hope you enjoy this treat from the Texas blues trio as...

Duration:00:33:43

1984 - April: The Cars “Heartbeat City”

9/22/2019
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The CarsHeartbeat City “Magic” This is one of the five single hits produced by this album. The video featured Ocasek "walking on water" in a pool at the Hilton estate. During the production, the Plexiglas used to facilitate the stunt cracked, dumping Ocasek in the water. “Looking for Love ” This deeper cut has a more New Wave feel. Ric Ocasek was the songwriter for The Cars. “You Might Think” The funny and strange video for this cut is iconic, and beat out Michael Jackson's...

Duration:00:41:35

1974 - October: Ted Nugents Amboy Dukes “Tooth, Fang & Claw”

9/16/2019
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With Tooth, Fang, and Claw, the Motor City Madman released this seventh and final album as Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes​. When they started in the 60's the Amboy Dukes were more popular, but over time Ted Nugent's star would overshadow the group until finally Nugent would go out on his own. Over time, Ted Nugent's personality and politics have become so prominent that it can overshadow his musicianship, and it is good to remember how incredible he is as a guitarist. ​Join us as we explore this...

Duration:00:42:51

What the Riff Remembers Eddie Money

9/14/2019
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Today we take a moment to remember one of our favorite artists, Eddie Money, who passed away yesterday, Friday, September 13, 2019. Nothing fancy, just three songs: Two Tickets to Paradise, Baby Hold On to Me, and I Want to Go Back. We hope you enjoy sharing our memories and remembering the joy that music brings, and the sadness that comes when we lose somebody special. RIP Eddie Money.

Duration:00:11:33

1990 - August: Queensryche “Empire”

9/9/2019
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The fourth Queensrÿche studio album followed what was to become a classic concept album entitled "Operation: Mindcrime." The successor to this prog rock masterpiece would be their most commercially successful release. “Empire” is filled with hard charging, somewhat melancholy metal singles and their subdued masterpiece hit, "Silent Lucidity." In a time when hair bands were waning and grunge had yet to take over, Queensrÿche was a welcome heavy metal/prog rock alternative. We hope you enjoy...

Duration:00:43:59

1973 — December: Jim Croce “I Got a Name”

9/2/2019
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When you list the greatest singer/songwriters of the rock era, it will not be long before the name Jim Croce appears. Rob shares that this fifth and final album entitled “I Got a Name” was posthumously released in December after Croce’s tragic death in an airplane accident in September of 1973. The pilot struck a pecan tree at the end of the runway - the only tree in the area - killing all 5 on board a small plane in Nachez, Louisiana. Croce was the child of Italian immigrants and grew up in...

Duration:00:36:41

1994 - June - Stone Temple Pilots - Purple

8/26/2019
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Debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart, Purple would establish the Sone Temple Pilots as a superstar group. This second studio album from San Diego-based STP would continue the grunge sound, but would expand a bit into other styles like psychedelia, country, acoustic, alternative, and mainstream rock. ​Stone Temple Pilots was influenced by Aerosmith, and the band members were fans of Kiss. The band was one of the most commercially successful bands of the 90's. The band was originally...

Duration:00:41:38

1976 - January - Styx - Equinox

8/19/2019
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This week, Wayne brings us Equinox, the fifth studio album by Styx. This would be their first album for A&M Records and their last album with guitarist John Curulewski. He would be replaced by guitarist and singer Tommy Shaw on their next release, “The Grand Illusion,” at which point Styx would take the form which most of us remember as one of the groups that make up the soundtrack of our childhood. Equinox would only go to #58 on the album charts, but would see a resurgence with the release...

Duration:00:40:45

1994 - March - Soundgarden - Superunknown

8/12/2019
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Brian has us riffing on Soundgarden. If they were “superunknown” at the time, it wouldn't last past the release of this fourth studio album. Soundgarden would break into super stardom with this heavy hitting, 5-time platinum effort. The strength and distinctiveness of Chris Cornell's vocals are obvious. Sometimes called Stoner Rock, Soundgarden would be a key element in solidifying the "grunge" sound of Seattle. They won two Grammy awards for "Black Hole Sun" and "Spoonman." The album cover...

Duration:00:39:21

1988 - February - The Church - Starfish

8/5/2019
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Bruce presents the fifth album by Australian rock band The Church. It would be their breakthrough album for international success. After starting as a new wave band in 1980, The Church drifted into a little alternative, a little psychedelic, a little goth - some would call it dream pop. The lyrics and music are both a little dark and wistful, a result of their recording far from home in Los Angeles, and pouring their feelings of being in a strange place they didn't really like into their...

Duration:00:41:04

1979 - October - Toto - Hydra

7/29/2019
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Coming off the success of their debut album, Toto took a turn toward the progressive rock sound with their sophomore studio album, Hydra. While many LA bands were hitting the club circuit, Toto was making their mark in the studios. The members of Toto are some of the most sought-after session musicians, but the band itself is made of high school friends and family, many of whom came from musical families and circles. Jeff Porcaro claimed that the name came from the Latin phrase “in toto,”...

Duration:00:47:15

1984 - November - Bryan Adams - Reckless

7/22/2019
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His fourth studio album would move Bryan Adams from a successful singer-songwriter to super-stardom. The multi-platinum album, “Reckless” is packed with hits, as six of the ten tracks would hit the charts including the evergreen hit “Summer of 69.” Adams took some time off following his multi-year tour "Cuts Like a Knife," and that brief retreat would result in a burst of creativity that would result in many of this album's hits. Friend of the show Vann Mathis joins us for this...

Duration:00:43:13

1967 - May - The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced

7/15/2019
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Undoubtedly the most influential electric guitarist of the rock era, Jimi Hendrix burst on the scene in the form of “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” with his debut album, “Are You Experienced.” The band was formed by Mitch Mitchell on drums and Noel Redding on bass, but the centerpiece was Jimi Hendrix on lead and lead guitar. Creative with the distortion, fuzz, and other guitar effects, Hendrix played left-handed, played a light string, and tuned his guitar down a half step, giving him even...

Duration:00:34:27

1982 - April - Thomas Dolby - The Golden Age of Wireless

7/8/2019
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With this debut album Thomas Dolby merged a synth-driven electronica sound with the new wave sensibility cresting on the airwaves in the early 80's. The Golden Age of Wireless would follow a loose theme of radio and communication in its tracks. Thomas Morgan Robertson's affinity for keyboards, tapes, and electronics earned him the nickname "Dolby" from his friends, and he stuck with it for a stage name after a few legal documents from the Dolby Corporation. This debut album did well on both...

Duration:00:39:44

1986 - June - The Smithereens - Especially for You

7/1/2019
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Especially for You is the debut full-length album from “The Smithereens.” This platinum-selling album was almost a "greatest hits" because the New Jersey band had been playing for 5 years before releasing this album. The Smithereens filled a void in the mid-80's pop scene that would become categorized as Alternative Rock or College Rock, and there are a number of hits from the group that hold up well today. In retrospect, the album is just solid, straightforward rock-and-roll. Friend of the...

Duration:00:43:03

1979 - January - Elvis Costello and The Attractions - Armed Forces

6/24/2019
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With his third studio album, the creative and unlikely rock star Elvis Costello took a turn from the punk style of his previous album and moved towards new wave music. Armed Forces was also the first album to name The Attractions as a part of the rock group fronted by Costello. Many of the tracks on this album reference British imperialism. Elvis Costello has a way of creating an upbeat sound while weaving in poignant, even depressing lyrics. This is a difficult artist to pin down. He...

Duration:00:35:46

1968 - November - The Seekers - Best of the Seekers

6/17/2019
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The Seekers were an Australian folk pop quartet, the first Australian group to see significant success in the U.K. and the U.S. The Seekers were voted "Australians of the Year" in 1967. Judith Durham joined what was originally an all-male quartet, and their style was hard to define - too pop to be folk, too folk to be pop. That didn't keep them from achieving success, as they were the first Australian group to reach number 1 in the UK with a debut record - a feat that neither The Beatles nor...

Duration:00:28:01