Vinyl Icons

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Johnny Black  |  May 28, 2020
Almost two years of recording and with his funds dwindling fast, Steve Winwood was beginning to wonder if the attempts to encourage him to come out of retirement really were misplaced. Yet success in the States was to turn his music career around

You'd think somebody who did a record called Arc Of A Diver could swim,' owned up Steve Winwood in 1988, 'but I was scared stiff.' In fact, it was not until the late '80s that the British singer overcame his phobia, taking lessons from a former Olympic swimmer, by which time Arc Of A Diver, released a decade earlier, had enabled him to keep his head above water in fine style.

Mike Barnes  |  Sep 11, 2020
Released in 1973, the singer's 16th album marked his transition from child star to a musically mature performer able to grapple with the social issues of the day and make sense of them for an audience wedded to pop. And he was just 22 years old...

Stevie Wonder's 1973 album Innervisions is widely regarded as one of his best and has featured prominently in magazine polls of the greatest albums of all time. But apart from all the plaudits, it's astonishing that it was his 16th studio album and was released shortly after he had turned 23. At that point the man born Stevland Judkins had already been in the music business for a decade – his single 'Fingertips' had topped both the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles and the R&B singles charts when he was just 13 years old.

Johnny Black  |  Aug 20, 2019
The runaway success of her 1987 single 'Luka' propelled this singer into the limelight leaving the album from which it was taken somewhat in the shade. Yet this delicate mix of sharply observed stories told with unassuming vocals is as iconic as they come

The unexpected success of Suzanne Vega's 1985 debut album put her under considerable pressure from her manager, Ron Fierstein, to record a follow-up. Despite that pressure, the album she delivered in 1987, Solitude Standing, pole-vaulted her to international multi-platinum status, establishing Vega as the pre-eminent female singer-songwriter of the era.

Johnny Black  |  Mar 19, 2021
Released as a double album on the Columbia label back in 1969, one LP electric with a supporting trio the other acoustic and solo, it only belatedly received recognition for being such a groundbreaking work. Is it time to re-evaluate our views on the blues?

Exactly why Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, better known as Taj Mahal, has never been hoisted shoulder high as the quintessential bluesman to emerge from the 1960s remains a mystery that may be never be explained. But we'll have a go.

Johnny Black  |  Mar 27, 2020
Come 1979, punk was pretty much over. Would one of its leading lights fade with it, or could the band capitalise on their UK success and clamber to even greater heights without losing the force and the fire that made their first two albums so compelling?

The Clash were formed in 1976 after guitarist Mick Jones attended a Sex Pistols gig in the February of that year and realised that the whole UK music scene was about to change. Keith Levene, Jones's former bandmate in London SS, was drafted in on guitar, Terry Chimes played drums and the three were joined by Paul Simonon, who'd had aspirations to be a lead singer but decided to buy a bass guitar instead. Essentially he was learning on the job. Joe Strummer who had been in the pub rock band The 101ers was the new vocalist and after Levene left he also played rhythm guitar. Simonon thought up the group's name.

Mike Barnes  |  May 11, 2021
In 1969 the band were riding on the success of a hit single and would play a concert at Madison Square Garden, but the year also saw the singer's arrest, cancelled shows and The Soft Parade, one of the group's most adventurous yet most critically divisive albums

Like many groups that enjoyed a high profile at the end of the '60s, The Doors felt the need to progress. But in which direction? Their self-titled debut album released in January 1967 had peaked at No 2 in the Billboard charts and the single, 'Light My Fire', had reached No 1. They undoubtedly had something of the night about them, but their gothic darkness was tempered by vocalist Jim Morrison's teen appeal and a certain cheesiness – a bass guitarist who had played uncredited studio sessions with the group once told this writer that in his estimation they sounded like 'A cocktail bar jazz band on Quaaludes'.

Mike Barnes  |  Oct 19, 2021
It was a debut LP with a difference as three seasoned musicians set about serving up an edgy yet smooth blend of melodic pop and soft reggae to an audience still hungry for the energy of punk. Would the fans of the emerging new-wave of bands bite?

In the UK in the late '70s, the convulsion that was punk may have been short-lived but the ripples it sent out were far reaching. According to The Jam, this was now The Modern World, so if you considered yourself a new-wave band, or were venturing into the pop field and didn't want to look like some kind of throwback, you needed to look sharp or look 'street'. And it helped if you had a snappy name that included a definitive article. Hence monikers like The Motors, The Yachts, The Rich Kids, and The Police.

Mike Barnes  |  Jul 15, 2021
The '80s is generally looked back upon as a time of glossy escapist pop, yet by writing songs about topics such as vegetarianism, street violence and despair, Mancunian quartet The Smiths became one of the biggest and best-loved indie bands of the decade

The Smiths' debut single 'Hand In Glove' was released in May 1983. Although ostensibly indie guitar-pop, it was a fresh take on the genre. Ushered in by blasts of wheezy harmonica and punctuated by cymbal crashes, the singer intoned, in sinuous melody lines, a tale of a pair of defiant lovers in the verses, while the instrumental choruses were based around an intricate guitar refrain.

Mike Barnes  |  Jun 06, 2019
Released in the UK at the tail end of a decade that was becoming defined by tribalism and industrial strife, this eponymous debut drew on the energies of both punk and ska music, bringing the band's mission to promote racial equality to the mainstream

Ska originated in Jamaica in the late 1950s and was first taken up in the UK in the early '60s by the mods. It began to gain mainstream popularity towards the end of that decade, yielding hit singles such as The Pioneers' 'Long Shot (Kick The Bucket)', Desmond Dekker's 'The Israelites', Jimmy Cliff's 'You Can Get It If You Really Want' and 'The Liquidator' by the Harry J Allstars.

Mike Barnes  |  Apr 10, 2019
Produced over a six-month period in 1968 by the group's manager Kit Lambert, this was the first big rock opera to appear on LP. Today it is regarded as Pete Townshend's 'magnum opus', yet on release there were those who derided it for being in poor taste

For The Who, 1966 was a pivotal year. Listen to their debut album My Generation, released in 1965, and it's clear they were essentially still a mod band – posters for a Marquee residency the previous year had them billed as 'Maximum R&B'. But once you've reached the maximum, where do you go from there?

Johnny Black  |  Nov 13, 2020
Waits once joked he wrote only two kinds of songs, describing them as grim reapers and grand weepers. And while this 1978 album was not a best-seller, it saw him refine his beat poet balladry by drawing on the blues, resulting in some of his greatest tracks

Millions first encountered the name Tom Waits when he was listed as the composer of 'Ol' 55', one of the stand-out tracks on The Eagles' 1974 album On The Border. Anyone sufficiently smitten by that ultra-smooth slab of Californian country rock to wonder who this songwriter was, probably went on to discover that Waits resembled The Eagles about as much as Bob Dylan resembled Peter, Paul And Mary.

Mike Barnes  |  Apr 22, 2021
They went from post-punk hopefuls to stadium headliners in just five years, but keen to avoid repeating themselves the band turned to producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois to reshape their music, a strategy that resulted in one of the best selling records of all time 

It was relatively brief, but the cultural convulsion of UK punk in the late '70s prompted an upwelling of rock groups, leaner and hungrier than their predecessors. One of these began life in 1976 at Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf, a coastal suburb of Dublin. First calling themselves Feedback and then The Hype, before settling on U2, the group comprised four teenage friends: vocalist Bono Vox (real name Paul Hewson), guitarist The Edge (aka Dave Evans), Adam Clayton on bass and Larry Mullen Jr on drums.

Pages

X