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Today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announces its Inductees for 2015:

Performer Category:

  • The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  • Green Day
  • Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
  • Lou Reed
  • Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble
  • Bill Withers

Award for Musical Excellence:

  • Ringo Starr

Early Influence Award:

  • The “5” Royales

“As we mark 30 years of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductions, we’re proud to honor these artists,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President Joel Peresman. “These Inductees epitomize rock and roll’s impact over the past 50 years and continuing through today.”

The 30th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Klipsch Audio, will take place on Saturday, April 18, 2015, at Cleveland’s Public Hall. Tickets go on sale Thursday, December 18, 2014, at 10 a.m. EST. Additional ticketing details are below.

The 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performer inductees were chosen by a voting body of more than 700 artists, historians and members of the music industry. To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2015 nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1989.

Induction ceremony presenters, performers and broadcast information as well as additional details about the week of events leading up the show ceremony will be announced at a later date.

Tickets to the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony go on sale to the public on Thursday, December 18, 2014 beginning at 10 a.m. EST. To purchase tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.com or call 800-745-3000. Individual tickets to the Induction Ceremony are available for $75, $150 and $300. Tickets are expected to sell out quickly. A two-ticket limit applies to all purchases.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to engage, teach and inspire through the power of rock and roll. The institution carries out its mission by giving voice to the stories of the people, artifacts and events that shaped rock and roll — through Museum exhibits, materials in the Museum’s Library and Archives, traveling exhibitions, and a wide array of innovative educational programs and activities. The 150,000 square-foot Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, located in Cleveland’s rapidly developing North Coast Harbor, is home to major artifact collections, four state-of-the-art theaters, and year-round educational and concert programming.

About the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees:

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

“I was born in Chicago – nineteen and forty-one…”  The racially mixed Paul Butterfield Blues Band blasted off from the Windy City with a wall-of-sound fueled by Butterfield’s inspired harmonica and lead guitarist Mike Bloomfield’s explosive lead guitar – at that moment, American rock and roll collided with the real Southside Chicago blues and there was no turning back. Along with original members Elvin Bishop on second guitar and Mark Naftalin on organ, they conquered the landmark 1965 Newport Folk Festival. It was there Bob Dylan borrowed Bloomfield and the Butterfield Band’s African-American rhythm section of Sam Lay on drums and bassist Jerome Arnold (both former Howlin’ Wolf band members) for his world-shaking electric debut that Sunday evening. The Butterfield Band converted the country-blues purists and turned on the Fillmore generation to the pleasures of Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and Elmore James. With the release of their blues-drenched debut album in the fall of 1965, and its adventurous East-West follow-up in the summer of ‘66, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band kicked open a door that brought a defining new edge to rock and roll.

The “5” Royales

The “5” Royales are responsible for crafting some of rock and roll’s first true standards. Over the course of two decades, from 1945 to 1965, the group created a remarkable body of work that laid the foundation for a host of music that followed in its wake, with pivotal recordings and performing techniques that helped define a variety of styles under the rock and roll umbrella. The group transitioned to secular music by the early 50s, and they were among the very first to incorporate elements of gospel, jazz and blues into the genre of group vocal harmony. Their resoundingly soulful sound was built around the dual-lead vocals of siblings Johnny and Eugene Tanner. That combination paired perfectly with Lowman Pauling’s exceptional songwriting and innovative guitar playing, which profoundly influenced the likes of Steve Cropper and had many similarities to the single-string soloing favored by Albert King and Freddie King. With a move to King Records in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1954, the “5” Royales hit a stride that produced “Dedicated to the One I Love,” which decades later became a hit with versions by the Shirelles and the Mamas & the Papas; and “Tell the Truth,” later recorded by Ray Charles and also covered by Eric Clapton. The “5” Royales’ “I Think” was a Top 10 R&B hit in 1957 and is a nearly unclassifiable masterpiece. In 1960, “Think” made the R&B Top 10 for a second time in a radical re-working by James Brown and the Famous Flames that pointed toward future funk classics like “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” and “Cold Sweat.” In 1993, Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger recorded a version of “Think” for a solo album, Wandering Spirit. Not long after recording a handful of singles produced by James Brown, the “5” Royales disbanded in 1965.

Green Day

Fueled by the manically prolific imagination of lyricist, guitarist and lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day are the perennial punk adolescents, true to the ethos of every basement and garage-rock band that preceded them. Building on the trail blazed by the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, Green Day are forever wed to The Wild One credo: “What are you rebelling against?” What do you got?”  The pickings were slim for a pair of teenagers from the East Bay enclaves of Berkeley and Oakland in the 80s, when Armstrong and bassist/backing vocalist Mike Dirnt first hooked up and began playing in high school. Within three years, the drum chair was filled by Tré Cool, and Green Day were on their way. Arguably, the 75 million or so records they have sold, the tours and the Grammys haven’t changed their outlook very much – they’re still on the outside looking in. Who doesn’t hold dear their battered CD of Dookie, with its litany of hits – “Longview,” “Basket Case,” “Welcome To Paradise,” “When I Come Around” and “She” – that collectively held radio hostage for over 15 months in 1994-95? Green Day touchstones raved on as the millennia changed: “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” spent an astounding 43 weeks on the pop chart in 1997-98. Their rock opera masterpiece American Idiot was a damning indictment of the Bush administration, catapulting the group to another level.  “American Idiot” went all the way to Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs Of All Time;” and 2004’s “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams” took the Grammy for Record of the Year. Anyone who caught Armstrong in one of his hair-raising stints as St. Jimmy in the Broadway musical of American Idiot witnessed something special.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts created a potent mix of hard rock, glam, punk, metal and garage rock that sounds fresh and relevant in any era. Their biggest hit, “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll” (Number One in 1982) is a rock classic – as pure and simple a statement about the music’s power as Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven.” The honesty and power of their records make you believe that rock and roll can change the world. As Jett once described rock and roll: “It’s a feeling thing, it’s emotion. You don’t think about it. If you start thinking rock ‘n’ roll, you’re f**ked. That’s when you’re homogenized. That’s when it’s boring. And that’s when it’s bullsh*t.” From her days as a founding member of the all-female Runaways, Jett has made loud, hook-laden records that convey toughness and joy. Sporting black leather and a shag to create a sexy and androgynous look, Jett took over a role formerly reserved for male rockers. She formed the Blackhearts in 1982, and their classic four-piece sound (with Gary Ryan on bass, Lee Crystal on drums, and Ricky Byrd on guitar) muscled past the synthesizers that dominated the 80s and carried the flag for rock and roll. Three of their albums – I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll, Album and Up Your Alley – reached the Top 20, behind songs written by Jett and manager Kenny Laguna. By covering songs from all corners of the rock catalogue – from Gary Glitter to Tommy James to Sly and the Family Stone – the band effortlessly broke down barriers between genres and eras. In the 90s, Jett’s no-nonsense attitude and vocal style was a major influence on the riot grrrl movement, and she went on to produce Bikini Kill and record with L7. She continues to be an inspiration for young female rockers.

Lou Reed

With the Velvet Underground, Lou Reed created music that ranked him among the Beatles and Bob Dylan in terms of both importance and influence. Every alternative movement that arose from the late 60s until his death in 2013 – from punk to grunge and beyond – owed Reed an essential debt. In the course of a fearless solo career that lasted more than 40 years, Reed both solidified and enhanced the stature he had attained with the Velvet Underground. He consistently took an uncompromising stance in the service of his artistic vision – often following commercial breakthroughs with daring, experimental projects that initially confounded both fans and critics only to gain recognition decades later. That willingness to follow his creative instincts wherever they led him, regardless of the cost, made him a figure of tremendous symbolic significance to succeeding generations of artists – from David Bowie to R.E.M., from Iggy Pop to U2, from Patti Smith to Arcade Fire. In addition, like James Joyce with Dublin or Bruce Springsteen with the Jersey Shore, Reed became inextricably associated with New York, transforming the city in his songs into a cauldron of moral challenges, a spiritual proving ground in which damnation and redemption were sometimes impossible to tell apart. Reed both observed the world and transformed it, definitively shaping the sound and the sense of contemporary music. His impact has been so total that it can be easy to overlook. It’s hard to remember that one man could be responsible for so much that came after him, but in the case of Lou Reed, it’s not only true, but also undeniable.

Ringo Starr

Ringo Starr is one of the greatest and most creative drummers in rock and roll history. He got to know the members of the Beatles while both groups were playing clubs in Hamburg, Germany, and occasionally sat in with them. He joined the group in August 1962, providing the musicianship and personality that the group needed to become stars. Starr’s drumming was key to the Beatles’ overall sound. Their songs rested on his always-steady backbeat, and he added creative, memorable fills on songs like “Ticket to Ride” (1965) and “A Day in the Life,” (1967) one of his finest moments on record. Throughout the Beatles’ career he sang on many lighthearted and funny songs (“Yellow Submarine,” “Octopus’s Garden”), providing sly humor and clever turns of phrase that helped cultivate the group’s image and persona. Starr was the first Beatle to have significant solo hits in the 1970s.  “Back Off Boogaloo,” “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Photograph,” “Oh My My” and “The No No Song” dominated the U.S. and U.K. charts. His 1973 album Ringo, produced by Richard Perry, is the best representation of this period – a time during which he also played on some of the best Beatle solo records of the era, such as George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and John Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band. Starr’s revival with the All-Starr Band has lead to the recording of a series of strong albums, including Time Takes Time (1992), Ringorama (2003) and Liverpool 8 (2008), a reflective album about his birthplace. Starr continues to be a vital rock and roll musician.

Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble

Legends run deep when memories of Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990) are invoked. David Bowie said, after seeing the 28-year-old Dallas blues guitar sensation for the first time at Montreux in 1982: “SRV completely floored me. I probably hadn’t been so gung-ho about a guitar player since seeing Jeff Beck in the early 60s.” Famed music man Jerry Wexler arranged for Vaughan’s big-time debut at Montreux (which led to him playing on Bowie’s global Number One hit, “Let’s Dance”). Equally famed John Hammond led Vaughan to Epic Records. The studio and live LPs released during the last seven years of his life etched SRV into Stratocaster immortality and influenced the next generation of blues guitarists. From the opening onslaught of “Love Struck Baby,” “Pride And Joy” and “Texas Flood” on the group’s first LP (with Tommy Shannon on bass and Chris Layton on drums), it was clear that Vaughan belonged in the highest ranks of guitar greats. His devotion to Jimi Hendrix emerged on his second LP, with a blistering cover of “Voodoo Child (Slight Return).” It turned into a staple of nearly every SRV show, along with Hendrix’s “Little Wing.” After joining the group in 1985, Reese Wynans would add a layer of keys to the group’s final two albums, Soul to Soul(1985) and In Step (1989). Vaughan laid out his dedication to the great masters for all to see, especially Guitar Slim (“The Things (That) I Used To Do”) and Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers Buddy Guy (“Mary Had A Little Lamb”), Freddie King (“Hide Away”) and Albert King (“Blues At Sunrise”). During his short-lived career, Vaughan also recorded show-stopping collaborations with B.B. King, Jeff Beck, Paul Butterfield, Dick Dale, Lonnie Mack, Albert Collins and many others.

Bill Withers

In a recording career that lasted only 15 years, Bill Withers mastered the vocabularies of the acoustic singer-songwriter, R&B, disco and even mainstream jazz, while maintaining a distinctive personality as a composer and vocalist. A 33-year-old Navy veteran when he had his first hit, Withers remained detached from the hype and nonsense of show business and walked away for good when commercial interests tried to interfere with his art. But what a legacy he left behind: the bittersweet “Ain’t No Sunshine” was a breakout smash in 1971, produced by Booker T. Jones, with backing from Stephen Stills and the MG’s. With his second album, Withers moved onto the funkier territory of “Use Me” and his most enduring hit, “Lean On Me.” Over the next few years Withers scored hits with pop (“Lovely Day”) and duets with several jazz musicians, including “Just The Two Of Us” with Grover Washington Jr. When Withers dropped out of the music industry, his songs stayed alive. Meshell Ndegeocello had a Number One dance hit with Withers’ “Who Is He (And What Is He To You).” Club Noveau brought a cover of “Lean On Me” to the top of the pop charts. The Number One “No Diggity” by BLACKstreet with Dr. Dre sampled Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands.” Withers’ songs have been covered by an astonishing range of artists – from the Temptations to Garth Brooks, Anne Murray to Mary J. Blige, Gil Scott-Heron to Widespread Panic, along with Isaac Hayes, Fiona Apple, Big Daddy Kane, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Aaron Neville, Mick Jagger and Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys and Rob Thomas, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, Michael Stipe and Brian Eno and the cast of GLEE. Stubbornly his own man, Bill Withers wrote songs that spoke for everyone.

Courage My Love released their latest LP Spirit Animal this year and it’ s a great one. Any record label should be proud to have them on their label – they have imagination, confidence, and have accomplished a great deal since their start.  But this week shows why they are amazing. Drummer and vocalist Phoenix Arn-Horn  took to social media this past week for a public coming-out message and to offer support to other young gay people.

On Wednesday (December 10), the musician posted the following message via Facebook:

Turns out I’m gay. I’ve known since I was 14 and my parents knew since even before then. Don’t be scared to be yourself. People have told me not to post about it because it might “hold me back,” but I’m proud of who I am and the beautiful girls I’ve dated. People have even told me not to post about it because it could “limit our fan base.” Honestly, I don’t write music for those people.

I write music because it’s the only way I can exorcise certain parts of myself. I write music for people with the same demons as me. I know there are people out there going through things that need some form of release. People like me. THAT’s who I write music for. If someone listens to a song I’ve written and it helps them in some small way, then I’ve done what I set out to do. And I’ll try not to listen to the people that bring my sexuality into the equation, because that’s not what this is about. My sexuality has nothing to do with it.

*mic drop*

She followed it up with another message yesterday (December 12):

Some of you probably already saw, but a few days ago I posted something really important to me on Twitter/Facebook. I’ve never really tried to hide it, and it’s probably pretty obvious, but for the first time in my life I typed out the words “I’m gay” and posted them. It might not seem like a big deal (and honestly it shouldn’t be), but to me it is. I can’t tell you how liberating it is to come right out and say it. I’ve known since I was 14 and my parents and sister knew since even before then. I’m so lucky because none of them even cared.

Unfortunately I can’t say the same for some other people.

I had a rough time with it as a teenager, I still don’t even really want to talk about it. I still try not to even think about it. The worst part is, I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one who has things they can’t talk about, or memories they’ve worked hard to block out. And I got off easy compared to most of them. I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and for the most part, supportive friends. Others don’t…

If something I say can get someone else through the night okay, why the fuck would I not post about it? HOW the fuck could I not post about it? I know that not everyone will see it the way I do, I know that not everyone will understand, but at this point, I don’t care. If I’m the one that stands up and says something, then maybe there’s someone else out there who will see that it’s okay. If I’m the one that the hurtful words get aimed at, then maybe it will take away the hurt from someone else. I’m sorry for the people that won’t understand or get offended. I’m sorry that it bothers you so much. The thing is, I’ll always be sorry for you, never sorry to you. Hopefully one day you can see the difference and one day we can be friends, because if you got to know me, you’d know that I’m just like you.

I know I might get some hate for this but I also know that it doesn’t matter. Not anymore. I would’ve cared when I was 14. But things get better. People can be kind. The world is a beautiful place. Love you guys, thank you.

She wins the internet this week.

From Gigom:

Facebook’s photo sharing service is starting to show some impressive user stats. Just nine months after hitting 200 million monthly active users, Instagram has passed the 300 million threshold. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has 600 million monthly active users and Facebook Messenger has 500 million. Instagram is far past Snapchat, which reportedly has 100 million monthly actives.

With the news, Instagram also announced that it will be introducing verified profiles for public figures and companies.

Check out Bob Dylan speak on the first four lines of The Waste Land for his XM Radio show Theme Time Radio Hour.

By the way, if you were a fan of the show, Dylan’s announcer “Pierre Mancini” was suspected to be the voice of Producer Eddie Gorodetsky.

With the release of multi-platinum Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Rush’s self-titled 1974 debut this past April, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) kicked off its own celebration of the legendary Canadian prog-rock band’s 40th anniversary since that first album. In 2015, vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, who joined the band in July, 1974, shortly after the release of that first album and two weeks before the group’s inaugural U.S. tour, will see the reissue of the remaining 14 albums in their Mercury catalog in chronological order, starting with Fly By Night, which will be available in high-quality vinyl with a download code for a 320kbps MP4 vinyl ripped Digital Audio album download; high resolution Digital Audio editions in DSD (2.8mHz), 192khz / 24-bit, 96kHz / 24-bit; and an additional Blu-Ray Pure Audio version with 96kHz / 24-bit 5.1 surround sound and stereo, on January 27. A Farewell to Kings and Signals are the other two albums which will be reissued in Blu-Ray Pure Audio.

The remaining 13 titles will be released one or two a month through the end of the year. The band performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April 2013 at L.A.’s Nokia Theater after receiving a loving, humorous induction speech by super-fans Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, who joined the group on-stage before a crowd of boisterous Rush supporters. “When the f**k did Rush become cool?” wondered Grohl, while recounting his own history as a rabid fan. “They broke all the rules,” added Hawkins. “And isn’t that rock ‘n’ roll?”

January 27: Fly by Night (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): The 1975 release of Fly By Night was the first to feature drummer Neil Peart, who also became the band’s lyricist. The singles included the title track and “Making Memories.” Fly By Night reached #113 on the Billboard chart, going platinum in both the U.S. and Canada.

February: Caress of Steel (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The second album to be released in 1975, the band’s third release marked their emergence into more hard prog-rock styles as opposed to the blues-based style of the group’s first two albums. Singles included “The Necromancer: Return of the Prince” and “Lakeside Park.” Although the album peaked at #148 on the Billboard charts, it has since gone gold in both the U.S. and Canada.

March: 2112 (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The group’s fourth album, first released in 1976, proved a breakthrough, highlighted by its seven-part title suite written by Lee and Lifeson, with lyrics by Peart, recounting a dystopian story set in the year 2112. It came in at #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of “Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time.” Most Rush fans consider it the band’s definitive recording, as the album sold 3 million in the U.S., going triple-platinum.

All the World’s a Stage (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1976 double-live album was recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall June 11-13, during the band’s 2112 tour, with the title a nod to William Shakespeare. The record climbed to #40 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and going platinum in the States and Canada.

April: A Farewell to Kings (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): This 1977 release, the band’s fifth studio album, was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and mixed in London’s Advision Studios. It became the band’s first U.S. gold-selling album within two months of release, and went platinum. The singles included “Closer to the Heart” and “Cinderella Man,” while the album peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 and #22 on the U.K. album charts.

May: Hemispheres (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Another favorite of true Rush fans, this sixth studio album, released in 1978, once more explored fantasy and science fiction themes in Neil Peart’s lyrics. The final track, the ambitious nine-and-a-half minute “La Villa Strangiato,” was the band’s first instrumental The album peaked at #47 on the Billboard charts, and was the group’s fourth consecutive gold album in the U.S., featuring the singles “The Trees” and “Circumstances.”

June: Permanent Waves (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The seventh studio album was released on January 1, 1980, and recorded at Le Studio in Quebec, becoming the first U.S. album to go Top Five, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts. The effort marked a transition from the band’s long, conceptual pieces into a more accessible, radio-friendly style on such rock airplay hits as “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill,” with the album going platinum.

July: Moving Pictures (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Rush’s eighth studio album, released in February, 1981, also turned out to be their biggest-selling in the U.S., rising to #3 on the Billboard charts (and #1 in Canada), as one of the first discs to receive the RIAA’s first-ever multi-platinum designation, scoring 4 million sales to date in the U.S. on the strength of classics like “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Vital Signs.”

Exit… Stage Left (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in August, 1981, this live album was recorded during the Moving Pictures tour at the Montreal Forum and in Glasgow Scotland, peaking in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts, buoyed by live versions of “Close to the Heart,” “Tom Sawyer” and “A Passage to Bangkok.”

August: Signals (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-ray Audio): This September, 1982, release marked the band’s increase use of electronic instrumentation, especially sequencers and electric violin (played by Ben Mink), peaking at #10 on the Billboard charts and eventually going platinum. A total of five singles were released from the album, including “Subdivisions,” which became a live staple of their concerts, along with “New World Man,” “The Analog Kid,” “The Weapon” and “Countdown.”

September: Grace Under Pressure (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in April, 1984, the band’s tenth studio album reached #10 on the Billboard chart and went platinum. Alex Lifeson called it “the most satisfying of all our records.” It was the first album they recorded without long-time producer Terry Brown, eventually producing it themselves. The song’s themes were influenced by the growing tensions in the Cold War. The music itself continued the presence of synthesizers introduced on Signals, as well as incorporating elements of ska and reggae into their sound. Singles included “Distant Early Warning,” “The Body Electric,” “Red Sector A:” and “Afterimage.”

October: Power Windows (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1985 release was Rush’s 11th studio album, and the first time they worked with producer Peter Collins, who recorded the album at The Manor in the U.K., George Martin’s AIR Studios in Montserrat and Sarm East Studios in London. It was also the group’s first CD release. More keyboards and synths were introduced into the sound, with “The Big Money” and “Mystic Rhythms” made into videos for MTV. The album once more hit #10 on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold a million copies, earning platinum status. Other singles included “Territories,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon,” the latter two topping the U.S. Mainstream Rock airplay charts at #10 and #6, respectively.

November: Hold Your Fire (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in September, 1987, Rush’s 12th studio album continues the band’s commitment to exploring new songwriting territory, with Aimee Mann contributing vocals to “Open Secrets” and “Time Stand Still,” appearing in the video for the latter. The album debuted at #13 on Billboardand eventually went gold. The other singles included “Force Ten” (#3 U.S. Mainstream Rock), “Lock and Key (#16 U.S. Mainstream Rock) and “Prime Mover.”

December: A Show of Hands (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The band’s third live album was released January, 1989, recorded while on tour in Birmingham, U.K., New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego during the 1988 Hold Your Fire tour, as well as in the Meadowlands in New Jersey during the 1986 Power Windows tour. The opening track “intro” features the Three Stooges theme song, “Three Blind Mice,” a song the band used to open many of their concerts during the ‘80s. That same year, the group released a video of the same name on VHS and Laserdisc featuring the Birmingham show, while a DVD version was included as part of a 2006 box set and as a stand-alone the following year. The album reached #21 in Billboard, going gold, with the singles including “Closer to the Heart” and 12” promos of “Mission” and “Marathon.”

Amateur saxophonist and Johns Hopkins surgeon Charles Limb has an abiding interest in the neuroscience of creativity. He’s also an unabashed fan of music – Mahler, the Beatles, Miles Davis, whatever. And he heard things most of us don’t. “I was fascinated by this question of how sound can make you feel something,” says the Johns Hopkins otolaryngologist. “If you think about it from a kind of abstract philosophical level, it’s unusual that acoustic vibrations in the air can make you feel deep emotion, something that can affect your life.”

In one study Limb talks about in this marvelous TEDx talk, he has his patients play spontaneous variations on a MIDI keyboard in a functional MRI tube in order to study blood oxygen levels in various parts of their brains.

But he also gets to hang out in the technologist’s booth, ”trading fours” with captive musician Mike Pope, whom he describes in his TED Talk, above, as “one of the world’s best bassists and a fantastic piano player.”

Concord Music Group and Stax Records are proud to announce the digital release and physical reissue of two comprehensive box set titles:  The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 2: 1968-1971 and The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975. Originally released in 1993 and 1994, respectively, these two compilations will be re-released back into the physical market in compact and sleek new packaging. Each set includes full-color booklets with in-depth essays by Stax historian and compilations co-producer Rob Bowman. The volumes feature stalwart Stax R&B artists including Isaac Hayes, the Staple Singers, Rufus Thomas, Johnnie Taylor, Carla Thomas, the Bar-Kays and William Bell, as well as bluesmen Little Milton, Albert King and Little Sonny,and “second generation” Stax hitmakers like Jean Knight, the Soul Children, Kim Weston, the Temprees, and Mel & Tim. Many of the tracks included in these collections will be made available digitally for the very first time.
 
The story of the great Memphis soul label Stax/Volt can be divided into two distinct eras: the period from 1959 through the beginning of 1968, when the company was distributed by Atlantic and was developing its influential sound and image (chronicled in acclaimed 9-CD box set The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1959-1968, released by Atlantic in 1991); and the post-Atlantic years, from May 1968 through the end of 1975, when Stax/Volt began its transition from a small, down-home enterprise to a corporate soul powerhouse.

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In Stax’s early years as an independent label, founders Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton struggled with the loss of its back catalog to Atlantic/Warner Brothers Records and the loss of the label’s most lucrative artist, Otis Redding, who tragically died in a plane crash months before. In need of funding and new stars, Axton and Stewart sold the label to Gulf + Western, bringing on promotion head Al Bell (who would soon become an equal partner and major figurehead of the label). In his Vol. 2 essay, Rob Bowman recalls, “As the sun arose in Memphis on May 6, 1968 [the day Stax officially became independent of Atlantic], Stax had been essentially gutted. For all intents and purposes it was a new record company poised to issue its first few records.”
 
Comprised of nine CDs, Vol. 2 focuses on this period, 1968 through 1971, when Stax/Volt was forging ahead as its own entity. The 216-song collection includes all of the singles issued by the label during this time period, and features some of the biggest and best-loved hits of the day, including Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft,” The Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself” and Johnnie Taylor’s “Who’s Making Love,” as well as a number of little-known gems by both major and less-familiar artists. 
 
By the end of 1971, Bowman notes, “Al Bell’s dream of [Stax/Volt] becoming a diversified full-line record company was several steps further along the line to being reality. The label now recorded a wealth of different styles and flavors of black popular music, ranging from the jazz and easy-listening proclivities of Isaac Hayes to the blues of Little Milton to the’70s disco-infused vocal style of the Dramatics to the gutsy soul of the Staple Singers.” Indeed, the early 1970s found Stax/Volt a much bigger entity than ever thought possible during its initial split from Atlantic, with Isaac Hayes as its breakout star. Spurred by the success of Hayes’ GRAMMY Award-winning Shaft soundtrack in early 1972, the label was casting its net across a wide cross section of the entertainment industry, entering into new territory with soundtracks, comedy records, and even investing in a Broadway play. The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, out coming Spring 2015, covers this era of success and excess, when Stax’s stars were shining bright, but the label was on the verge of its dramatic denouement. The 10-disc box set contains all 213 soul singles issued by Stax/Volt during this time, including such hits as Shirley Brown’s “Woman to Woman” and the Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There.
 
In 1976, faced with involuntary bankruptcy and an unsuccessful distribution deal with CBS Records, Stax was forced to close its doors. In his liner notes for Vol. 3, compilation co-producerBill Belmont writes, “Stax’s difficult and inglorious end in no way diminishes its vital contributions to rhythm and blues and soul. Today, the music of Stax maintains a strong and steady presence, heard continually in cover versions by major artists, in movies and on television. Simply put, the Memphis Soundlives.” And indeed it does.
 
With a revival of the label in recent years, through Fantasy Records, the 2003 opening of the Stax Museum of American Soul Music in Memphis, Tenn., as well as several developing theatrical performances around the label, the music of Stax will continue to influence generations of musicians and fans alike.
 
 
 

From Saving Counry Music:

When Big Machine Label Group’s President and CEO Scott Borchetta signed Maddie & Tae, a completely unknown 18-year-old singing duo based seemingly on the strength of one song, it seemed like a risky move, and one betting on the fact that the country music public was tiring of the Bro-Country trend and heading towards a backlash. Though the rise of “Girl In A Country Song” has been very slow (which is customary with many premier singles from previously-unknown artists in country), Scott Borchetta’s gamble has paid off, and the song is now #1 on country radio according to Mediabase. The distinction shatters a slew of dubious distinctions for the country format, and helps to slay the absolute dearth of female representation on country radio.

“Girl In A Country Song” received 7,986 spins from November 30th to December 6th according to Mediabase, besting its nearest competition, Tim McGraw’s “Shotgun Rider” by an impressive 684 spins. The song also gained 502 spins week over week. These numbers are good enough to land Maddie & Tae at #1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart to be published Monday afternoon.

What does this all mean? This:

“Girl In A Country Song” becomes:
First #1 song on radio by a female act in over 2 years.
First #1 debut song on radio by a female act in nearly 5 years.
First #1 debut song not by Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert, or Taylor Swift in 10 years.
First #1 song on radio for DOT Records in 40 years.
Only second #1 debut song from a female duo in Billboard’s Country Airplay Chart 25 year history

Will Butler will release his debut solo album Policy on March 10, 2015 in North America and March 16, 2015 in Europe. Today, we are excited to announce the first tour dates for Will Butler including the SXSW festival in Austin, TX. Tickets will go on sale Friday, December 12 at 10 a.m. ET via mergerecords.com.

Listen and share Policy opener “Take My Side” described by Stereogum as “a jumpy, wiry rock ‘n’ roll track.” Also, watch the album trailer featuring music from the album.

A full list of tour dates is below with more to come! Pre-order Policy on CD or LP (with an exclusive t-shirt bundle option) now in the Merge store.

Will Butler on tour:
Mar 6 Boston MA – TT the Bears
Mar 7 Brooklyn NY – Baby’s All Right
Mar 12 Pittsburgh PA – Brillobox
Mar 13 Philadelphia PA – Boot & Saddle
Mar 14 Washington DC – Rock & Roll Hotel
Mar 15 Durham NC – The Pinhook
Mar 16 Atlanta GA – The Earl
Mar 18 Austin TX – SXSW
Mar 19 Austin TX – SXSW
Mar 20 Austin TX – SXSW
Mar 21 Austin TX – SXSW
Mar 24 Bloomington IN – The Bishop
Mar 25 Grand Rapids MI – Covenant Fine Arts Center
Mar 27 Toronto ON – Horseshoe Tavern
Mar 28 Montreal QC – Bar le Ritz PDB

Recorded in Jimi Hendrix’s old living room at Electric Lady Studios in New York, Policy was finished in two weeks. Arcade Fire’s Jeremy Gara played drums, and musician friends contributed woodwinds and backing vocals. Most everything else was played by Will. Keep up with Will on his website butlerwills.com.