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The Isley Brothers are one of the longest running bands in Music history Tags: isley brothers music history word life production music hall fame feature blog

From the Fifties onward, the Isley Brothers have been a musical institution whose prolific career has explored the musical intersection of gospel, R&B, rock, soul, funk and disco. Having been a family-based group since their inception, the Isley Brothers originated with four gospel-singing brothers: Ronald, o’Kelly, Rudolph and Vernon (the last of whom was killed in a bike accident in 1955). The three surviving brothers left their hometown of Cincinnati in 1957 for New York City, where they recorded several songs for small labels. Their breakthrough came with their fervent recording of “Shout,” an original inspired by a line from Jackie Wilson’s “Lonely Teardrops” and shot through with raucous, gospel-style testifying.

The period 1959-1962 was a creatively fruitful one for the Isleys that yielded such staples of the rock and soul canon as “Respectable” (later a hit for the Outsiders), “Nobody But Me” (recut in a Top 10 version by the Human Beinz) and “Twist and Shout” (an enduring R&B classic recorded by the Beatles and played by countless cover bands). Throughout the Sixties, the Isleys recorded for a variety of labels, including RCA, Atlantic, Scepter/Wand, United Artists, their own T-Neck and Motown’s Tamla subsidiary. Their brief stay at the latter yielded the melodic soul classic “This Old Heart of Mine,” written and produced by the Motown production team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. As a historical footnote, a pre-psychedelic Jimi Hendrix played guitar for the Isley Brothers in 1964, and his style can be heard in the playing of younger brother Ernie Isley, who joined the group at the end of the decade.

The Isley Brothers took business matters into their own hands in 1969 by re-establishing their own label, T-Neck (named for their home base of Teaneck, New Jersey). The group also expanded its lineup with the addition of three younger family members: brothers Ernie and Marvin and cousin Chris Jasper. The new arrangement immediately yielded the biggest hit of their career, “It’s Your Thing,” which won a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. This marked the start of a period in which they dominated the black-music realm, placing a staggering 50 singles on the R&B chart between 1969 and 1988.

Throughout the Seventies, the Isley Brothers’ rock-disco fusion – driven by a propulsive beat, Ernie Isley’s snaky funk guitar lines and the smooth, sinuous vocal blend of the three elder Isleys – generated considerable crossover appeal. The Isleys took the novel approach of giving a hardcore R&B treatment to rock songs such as Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” and Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With.” The group also connected with originals such as the unrelenting, funky “Fight the Power,” “The Pride,” “Take Me to the Next Phase” and “I Wanna Be With You” – all of them Number One R&B hits. On the quieter side, the Isleys recorded a number of sexy, seductive ballads such as “Don’t Say Goodnight (It’s Time for Love)” and “Between the Sheets.”

The mid-Eighties brought changes to the Isley Brothers’ platinum empire. The younger band members struck out on their own as Isley-Jasper-Isley in 1984. Two years later, o'Kelly suffered a fatal heart attack. Remaining members Ronald and Rudolph Isley continued as a duo. In 1990, Ronald Isley returned to the charts in a Top 10 remake of “This Old Heart of Mine,” sung as a duet with Rod Stewart.”

In 1991, Ernie Isley and Marvin Isley reunited and recorded the album Tracks of Life, which was released in 1992. That same year, the Isley Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Little Richard. In 1996, they recorded Mission to Please, which became the group’s first million-selling album in 13 years, and in 2001, Ronald and Ernie recorded Eternal, which sold 2 million copies.

On June 6, 2010, Marvin Isley died of complications from his diabetes. Ronald and Ernie have continued to perform together.

Source: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

 

The Doobie Brothers-World Gone Crazy Tags: doobie brothers word life production ultimate classic rock

The Doobie Brothers' John McFee, Tom Johnston and Patrick SimmonsThere’s no separating the unparalleled legacy of the Doobie Brothers from their latest release World Gone Crazy – not that anyone would want to. Nevertheless, the new album may be most remarkable for the extent to which it stands completely on its own. Yes, World Gone Crazy is another chapter in one of the great American music stories, but it’s neither comeback nor nostalgia. An exhibition of aggressive and emotional performances, evocative storytelling, unapologetic attitude and world class musicianship, the collection is its own justification.

In a sense, World Gone Crazy is an analogy for the Doobie Brothers as a whole. With founding members Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons, and 30 year-plus veterans John McFee and Michael Hossack, the Doobies have perfectly honored the band’s legacy with an offering that grows in unexpected new directions.

The songs on World Gone Crazy all feature Johnston and Simmons as writers and lead vocalists. Adding dimension to the project, in some cases there were co-writers involved, as well as some notable contributions or “guest appearances” by other vocalists.

Long time Doobie drummer Michael Hossack unfortunately passed away in early 2012, but his contributions on World Gone Crazy stand as a testament to his uniquely lyrical style of drumming. Producer Ted Templeman has said “He’s the first band member-drummer in a rock group that was as good as or better than any session player out there…”, and Michael’s drumming is the rhythmic backbone of the album, continuing a tradition that began with his drumming on the band’s first hit single, “Listen to the Music”.

Multi-instrumentalist Doobie veteran John McFee says “I just tried to do what I could on this project as a team player to serve the songs and the band”. Modest words from an in demand musician whose work can be heard on classic recordings with such artists as Van Morrison, Steve Miller, the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Rick James, Link Wray, Glen Campbell, Huey Lewis and the News, the Beach Boys, and many, many others.

“This album has been in the mix for five years, but we didn’t seriously start putting the nuts and bolts together until three years ago,” Johnston says. Simmons adds, “We had been compiling songs with the idea we would eventually do a record. Our old producer Ted Templeman came by tour rehearsals one day and was impressed with how we were sounding. He asked if we were doing any new material or thinking about recording. And that’s where it really started.”

Aside from a few years of inactivity in the mid-eighties, the Doobie Brothers have continued to perform, create and record for over 21 consecutive years. “The Doobies have always been about playing live,” Johnston says. “We’re not a studio hot house group and we’re not a concept album band. We’ve always just brought in the tunes we had, put them together and made an album. That’s the way it’s been from the very first album and that’s still the way it’s being done.”

Reuniting with Templeman, whose first hit record as a producer included the playing of the Doobies’ own John McFee (Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey album featuring the song “Wild Night”), and who produced all the band’s albums through 1980, greatly influenced the project. “I’ve got a lot of songs on my home studio hard drive,” Johnston says. “That was a boon of having Teddy involved. He came up to my house in Northern California and we went through everything.”

Doobie Brothers - World Gone Crazy“Tommy gave him some demos and I did the same,” Simmons says. “It took off from there. He got together with both of us at different times, went through the material and collected certain songs he wanted to start with. We did a little warm up at a couple places and ended up cutting the basic tracks at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles.”

McFee recounts “Teddy kept asking me to submit songs, but I really felt like this project was the time for me to step back from the songwriting and let Tommy, Pat, and Ted get back to the chemistry that got this train rolling in the first place.” This from a Grammy nominated songwriter with numerous BMI awards to his credit.

Co-writers run the full spectrum from an enthusiastic young fan (P.J. Heinz) Simmons met years ago to musical icon Willie Nelson. The former contributed to the bittersweet love song “Far From Home” after years of musical encouragement from Simmons. The latter was a vocal collaboration as well, with Nelson joining Simmons in the studio for the recording of their composition “I Know We Won”, which features Doobie Brother John McFee (who, as a member of the group Southern Pacific was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s Walkway of Stars) on banjo, mandolin, and lead guitar.

Johnston says recording hasn’t changed much, but that may be the only similarity to earlier albums. “…The way the song comes in has changed a great deal because I’m using software to write. It frees me up to write the drums, bass and everything else. I can sing the background parts and do all the guitar and keyboard parts I had in mind.” This serves as a more complete guide of the writer’s vision when the other players get together to do the actual recording.

Acclaimed pianist Bill Payne (Little Feat), Grammy award winning sax man and long time performing Doobie lineup member Marc Russo, Santana percussionist Karl Perazzo, Tower of Power horn legend Mic Gillette, Ringo Starr’s drummer of choice Gregg Bissonette, Elton John keyboard player Kim Bullard and others joined the process over an extended period. “It’s been on again, off again as much as we’ve been on the road – a lot longer than you normally spend doing an album,” Johnston says. “But we’ve also utilized that time to really fine-tune stuff. It has worked out for the best.”

Simmons agrees. “We were able to reach out a little further to do all the things on the songs we had been imagining, which in the past was not always the case. We’d run out of time or didn’t have the opportunity to do some things we wanted. Because we weren’t rushed with a deadline we were able to get to the end of our ideas so the tunes feel a lot more complete.”

“I had a guy come in and play cello on one track,” Simmons continues. “On another song I wanted to bring in our friend Norton Buffalo on harmonica. It took me a while to get it all arranged, but I was able to get that done. We went a little further this time.”

“A Brighter Day,” Johnston says, is a case in point. “The song went from okay to where it is now solely because it took us so long to do the album. That gave us the chance to sit back, listen and figure out what each song needs.”

The project also gave Templeman an opportunity to address one of his longstanding frustrations. “Nobody,” the band’s first-ever single from their self-titled debut album, was never the recording Templeman hoped it would be – particularly the hard-to-distinguish rhythm section. “The nuts and bolts are the same, but there’s an intro that wasn’t there before,” Johnston says. “John’s doing a new Dobro part and the drum pattern is different.”

As the new album’s lead single, “Nobody” brings things full circle. World Gone Crazy also offers classic Doobie style harmonies and rock edge on “Chateau.” And the rhythm guitar work on “Old Juarez,” unmistakable vocal additions from Michael McDonald on “Don’t Say Goodbye” and doubled guitar work on “Young Man’s Game” ring Doobie true.

“The rest of the tunes go to places the band hasn’t necessarily visited before,” Johnston says. “‘World Gone Crazy,’ ‘A Brighter Day,’ and other songs were written on keyboards, not guitar. The style of songs like ‘Old Juarez’ and ‘New York Dream’ are a departure from anything we’ve ever done.” Simmons’ touching ballad “Far From Home” with his distinctive finger picking guitar work augmented with cello melodies, and “Don’t Say Goodbye” featuring John McFee’s Stéphane Grappelli-like violin intertwined with Norton Buffalo’s beautiful chromonica playing also break new ground.

The Doobie Brothers' John McFee, Tom Johnston, and Patrick SimmonsAnd if fans have any understanding of what to expect from the Doobie Brothers, it’s probably the unexpected. “In a certain sense, it’s vintage Doobie Brothers,” Simmons says. “It certainly has the two original writers and there’s a certain signature there in terms of the vocal sound that comes from each of us as writers. As far as the songs are concerned, there are elements of things we’ve done in the past and some new ways we’ve applied them. There are also some newer approaches and elements we haven’t used.”

McFee says “The one thing that has always been true of the Doobie Brothers is an avoidance of limiting the music stylistically – it’s always been about making the best music the band can do, no boundaries involved.”

“The band is the band, and that’s a good thing,” Johnston says. “You don’t want to go so far that people say, ‘Who the hell is that?’ The vocals are big identifiers as Pat and I have voices people seem to know. And a song like ‘Old Juarez’ has a Doobie-ish feel even though it’s a Latin style track.”

“That’s been the goal with all of our records,” Simmons sums. “To try to achieve that diversity but at the same time remain true to ourselves.” And if World Gone Crazy is a microcosm of the (greater) Doobie Brothers, then the Doobie Brothers are as appropriate a projection of American music as can be found in one long running association of musicians. “This band represents a lot of American music styles,” Johnston says. “From the finger-picking stuff that Pat does – and John can do as well – to blues, jazz, rock and roll. By the time you get done you’ve got, to lift a song title from another group, an American band.”

Like the nation that spawned the many musical styles they’ve adopted, the Doobie Brothers’ deepest traditions are change, growth, striving and an abiding faith in the future. And so World Gone Crazy pays tribute to the Doobie Brothers legacy the most appropriate way possible … by moving resolutely forward.

Source: Official Website

The Allman Brothers Band remain an incendiary performing unit for whom “the road goes on forever.” Tags: allman brothers band music hall fame word life production feature blog

Inductees: Duane Allman (guitar; born November 20, 1946, died October 29, 1971), Gregg Allman (vocals, organ, piano; born December 8, 1947), Dickey Betts (guitar, vocals; born December 12, 1943), Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson (drums; born July 8, 1944), Berry Oakley (bass; born April 4, 1948, died November 11, 1972), Butch Trucks (drums; born May 11, 1947).

As the principal architects of Southern rock, the Allman Brothers Band forged this new musical offshoot from elements of blues, jazz, soul, R&B and rock and roll. Along with the Grateful Dead and Cream, they help advance rock as a medium for improvisation. Their kind of jamming required a level of technical virtuosity and musical literacy that was relatively new to rock & roll, which had theretofore largely been a song-oriented medium. The original guitarists in the Allman Brothers Band - Duane Allman and Dickey Betts – broke that barrier with soaring, extended solos. Combined with organist Gregg Allman’s gruff, soulful vocals and Hammond B3 organ, plus the forceful, syncopated drive of a rhythm section that included two drummers, the Allman Brothers Band were a blues-rocking powerhouse from their beginnings in 1969.

The group’s marathon concerts, best captured on the classic The Allman Brothers Band At Fillmore East (1971), are the stuff of rock legend. Surviving ups and downs, including the deaths of several members, the Allman Brothers rank among rock’s greatest performing entities. Moreover, their success paved the way for other bands from the South, including Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Charlie Daniels Band. To date, the Allman Brothers Band have had ten gold albums, four of which have been certified platinum (At Fillmore East, Eat a Peach and Brothers and Sisters) or multiplatinum (A Decade of Hits).

The group formed around the nucleus of Gregg and Duane Allman. Younger brother Gregg initially taught and encouraged Duane to pick up the guitar. With Duane dropping out of school in order to master the instrument, the brothers played in bands around Daytona Beach, Florida, as far back as 1961. They formed the Allman Joys in 1965, combining the Southern blues and soul influences that they’d grown up hearing with the with rocking new sounds of the British Invasion bands (especially the Yardbirds). Evolving into the Hourglass, the brothers and their bandmates recorded a pair of albums in Los Angeles for the Liberty label, one of which (Power of Love, 1968), foreshadowed the sound that would fully emerge with the Allman Brothers Band.

The Allman Brothers Band evolved out of jams in Jacksonville, Florida, involving Duane and members of the Second Coming (guitarist Dickey Betts, bassist Berry Oakley) and the 31st of February (drummer Butch Trucks). Another drummer, Jai Johanny Johanson (a.k.a. “Jaimoe”), was a veteran of the soul-music circuit, having played with Otis Redding and others. A magical five-hour jam among the musicians at Trucks’ house cemented the union and prompted this remark from Duane Allman: “Anybody who doesn’t want to be in my band is going to have to fight his way out the door.” Gregg was summoned back from California, where he was unhappily fulfilling a contractual obligation as a solo artist. The Allman Brothers Band were officially formed in March 1969 and signed to Phil Walden’s fledgling Capricorn label, which became the main driving force of the Southern-rock insurgence of the Seventies.

During the early stages of the Allman Brothers Band, Duane also worked as a session musician at Fame Recording Studios, where he acquired a reputation as the guitar player in the South. From 1968 through 1970, his blazing fretwork graced records by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, King Curtis and Clarence Carter. His contributions to the double album Layla...and Other Assorted Love Songs, by Derek and the Dominos (led by Eric Clapton), cannot be overestimated. Jerry Wexler, producer and vice-president of Atlantic Records, had this to say about Duane Allman’s prowess as a sideman: “He was a complete guitar player. He could do everything: play rhythm, lead, blues, slide, bossa-nova, with a jazz feeling, beautiful light acoustic – and on slide guitar he got the touch. Duane is one of the greatest guitar players I ever knew and one of the very few who could hold his own with the best of the black blues players.”

Duane was also the linchpin of the Allman Brothers Band, lighting a fire under the other members. In Gregg’s words, “My brother was one of the most intense people I’ve ever met. When he was playing, he just pulled it out of you. I don’t care if you were dog-tired or half asleep, something happened. It was like he demanded it from you.”

The group’s first two studio albums - The Allman Brothers Band (1969) and Idlewild South (1970) - contained classic songs like “Dreams,” “Whipping Post,” “Midnight Rider” and “Revival.” Both were hard-hitting announcements of the Southern-rock sound. However, it was in concert that the band burned brightest. Led by Duane Allman’s searing guitar, the Allman Brothers Band’s live shows left devoted fans in their wake. The March 1971 concerts recorded for At Fillmore East in New York caught them at their peak. Sadly, the Allman Brothers Band was dealt a catastrophic blow when Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in Macon, Georgia, on October 29, 1971. A year later, on November 11, 1972, bassist Berry Oakley died under eerily similar circumstances only a few blocks from where Duane’s accident had occurred.

However, the group regrouped and persevered. Duane was not immediately replaced; instead, a second keyboardist, Chuck Leavell, added a jazzy new dimension. Oakley was replaced by bassist Lamar Williams. As a testimony to the Allman Brothers Band’s resilience, the group’s most commercially successful albums came in the wake of their tragic losses. The double album Eat a Peach (1972), which included Duane’s last three studio performances, reached Number Four, and 1973’s Brothers and Sisters was Number One for five weeks. Guitarist Dickey Betts moved to the forefront, opening up the band’s sound with the country-rock approach of “Blue Sky” and “Ramblin’ Man,” and with the lengthy instrumental pieces he composed, including “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” “Les Bres in A Minor” and “High Falls.” The Allman Brothers Band’s pinnacle of popularity came on July 28, 1973, when they performed on a bill with the Grateful Dead and The Band at the Grand Prix Racecourse in Watkin’s Glen, New York, before 600,000 rock fans.

In the mid-Seventies, the road got rocky again for the Allman Brothers Band. Internal dissension and substance-abuse problems triggered a two-year hiatus in the mid-Seventies. However, a joint appearance between the Gregg Allman Band and the Dickey Betts Band in August 1978 led to a full-fledged reunion and the release of Enlightened Rogues in 1979. The reformed Allman Brothers Band reverted to their classic dual-guitar lineup with the addition of Dan Toler on guitar. In 1980, Dan’s brother, Frankie Toler, would replace Jaimoe on drums. This lineup moved from Capricorn to Arista Records, where they released the albums Reach for the Sky and Brothers of the Road.

The Allman Brothers Band disbanded again in 1982. In 1989, the box set Dreams was released, and the group reunited again for what turned out to be one of the most productive chapters in its storied history. The addition of guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody revitalized the band, leading to some of the strongest playing that had been heard since the days of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. In fact, the most stable lineup in the Allman Brothers Band’s history crystallized in 1991 as a septet comprising Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Warren Haynes, Allen Woody and percussionist Marc Quinones. Haynes came closer than any other player who passed through their ranks to capturing Duane Allman’s passion and technique. The Allman Brothers Band released two of the most inspired studio albums of their entire career - Shades of Two Worlds and Where It All Begins – in the early Nineties. This lineup’s six-year run ended with the departure of Haynes and Woody, who devoted themselves full-time to their band Gov’t Mule.

In 1999, the Allman Brothers Band celebrated their 30th anniversary with an 18-night stand at New York’s Beacon Theatre. To this day, they remain an incendiary performing unit for whom (to quote a line from “Midnight Rider”) “the road goes on forever.”

The Como Brothers are the Future of Rock Tags: como brothers future rock entertainment word life production feature blog

The Como Brothers Band is quickly becoming a recognizable fixture in many music venues and festivals throughout the Northeast. Formed by songwriters Matt and Andrew Como, the band is known for their catchy lyrics and contagious melodies. Having grown up performing in a Beatles tribute band on Long Island the Como Brothers are no strangers to the Long Island music scene. Matt and Andrew Como have been honing their craft as established singer/songwriters and performers and are ready to make an indelible mark on the music industry. Just off the heels of the release of their sophomore EP "Still Waters" (March 2013), the Brothers plan to release their first full length album "Baby Steps" on

October 1, 2013.  The Como Brothers Band brings an energy, excitement, and originality to the stage that leaves fans wanting more and more of them!

“Songwriting is our primary focus. For us, writing songs is a daily obsession. We want to write songs that are original, creative, and have integrity.”  Matt Como

 

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