The Essential Songs: 1980

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Classic rock was in fine form in 1980 with Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and Queen having major success on the album charts. London Calling by the Clash and Bruce Springsteen’s The River topped the critic polls. John Lennon released his first album in over five years, while punk rock/new wave energy was still spitting out fantastic songs

The Essential Songs: 1979

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Blondie, the B-52s, and the Talking Heads were cross pollinating dance beats/rhythms into a traditional rock context. Pink Floyd built the wall, Cheap Trick brought Budokan to the States, and AC/DC paved the highway to hell. 1979 – the year is gone but it’s not forgotten.

Iris DeMent's "Sing The Delta" Reviewed

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This is music of Dement’s geographic and spiritual roots, songs inspired by the Arkansas Delta based upon church piano and organ instrumentation. If you can make peace with DeMent’s voice, which often savors every syllable on the slower songs, you may fall in love with this album.

The Essential Songs: 1978

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Saturday Night Fever ruled the box office and the soundtrack did the same to the pop charts, creating a series of smash hits by The Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, and The Trammps. The Clash had replaced The Sex Pistols as the great hope of the punk rock movement and Elvis Costello was truly that year’s model. Sprinkle in a high quality albums by veterans like The Rolling Stones and Neil Young with fine debut efforts by Van Halen and The Cars and the result is a very good year.

Peoria Haunts Me

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Dan Fogelberg passed away from prostate cancer in 2007, yet will most likely taunt me from the grave every holiday season for the rest of my life. Nobody gets the last laugh on Dan Fogelberg.

The Essential Songs: 1977

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Punk rock was proving to be an excellent singles medium, with The Buzzcocks and The Jam and The (non-Tom Petty) Heartbreakers undeniably making that point. An English nerd named Declan MacManus excited critics with his wordplay and craftsmanship. Disco and Fleetwood Mac ruled the Top 40 airwaves, while groups like Television and The Ramones and The Talking Heads were establishing a New York dump named CBGB’s

The Essential Songs: 1976

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While citizens across our great nation were celebrating our Bicentennial, Jeffry Hyman, John Cummings, Douglas Colvin, and Thomas Erdelyi entered a recording studio in New York and created a new genre of rock ‘n’ roll that would remain viable for decades. The Ramones started the revolution.

Neil Young 2012: Rust Getting Drowsy

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Neil has gotten the boys together for two head scratching releases this year (perhaps Cortez told Neil to race the Mayan calendar) and there is one undeniable conclusion – the man needs an editor.

The Essential Songs: 1975

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it was in 1975 that Mr. Springsteen ran onto the cover of both Time and Newsweek. He faded into obscurity the following year and is believed to be manning a hot dog stand in Atlantic City at this time. Patti Smith reaped critical hosannas with her unhinged, beatnik, word slinging persona and an English blues band named Fleetwood Mac morphed into a pop sensation

Peter Criss' "Makeup To Break Up" Reviewed

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Criss takes on his old cronies, accusing Gene of having indiscriminate taste in groupies and often reeking of body odor. Stanley’s feminine mannerisms and lifestyle choices are detailed, without getting in the legal trouble of calling him gay. Of course, Ace was a train wreck.

The Essential Songs: 1974

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As we continue our Soul Train line dance through the 1970s, we’ll note that 1974 was the first year that music was produced as much for the dance floor as it was the transistor radio

The Essential Songs: 1973

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Satan was working overtime in ’73, loading the pop charts with demonic material by Tony Orlando and Down, the Carpenters, and Marie Osmond. However, during Beelzebub’s lunch breaks, the New York Dolls and Bruce Springsteen and Iggy Pop pushed some timeless goodies into the marketplace.

The Essential Songs Of 1972

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In 1972, David Bowie took his space age glam rock into the stratosphere with assistance from Mick Ronson, who served as the guitarist for the wonderfully named Spiders from Mars

The Essential Songs: 1971

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Hendrix, Joplin, and Morrison were proactively making the early transition from rock star to worm food (they would combine to release 3, 478,279 posthumous records). On a positive note, John Prine released what was both his debut and career album, Marvin Gaye took Motown soul into the world of political consciousness, and the Rolling Stones raised glucose levels throughout the English speaking world

The Essential Songs Of 1970

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As we begin out trip through the essential songs of the 1970s, we will note that the disco ball production line didn’t start in 1970 and safety pins were still a clothing tool, not a facial accessory. The Jackson 5 were at the top of their classic singles run; Neil Young, Van Morrison, and The Velvet Underground released timeless albums; and James Brown was solidifying his position as the funkiest musician in the galaxy.

Root Hog or Die – Music from The Natural State

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Arkansas. A place where people spontaneously yell “Woo Pig Sooie!” for no particular reason. The state that gave us Wal-Mart and Tyson’s Chicken and Dillard’s Department Stores and Mary Steenburgen and Billy Bob Thornton… and some notable musicians

Bob Mould's "Silver Age" Reviewed

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Mould simply shows how the old school punk rock house was built, raining sheets of sonic guitar blasts that rip potholes into the linings of your brainpan and then searing spackle into the remaining crevices.

John Anderson At The North Texas Fair, Saturday, August 25th, 2012, Reviewed

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The setlist has remained largely the same since he had his last Top Ten country hit in 1994. Multi-instrumentalist Joe Spivey has played with Anderson for years and his mandolin performance on “An Occasional Eagle” and his frenetic fiddle sawing on “The Orange Blossom Special” were two of the highlights of the evening. Spivey and drummer Tommy Rivelli locked into a viciously wonderful boot stomping groove on “Wild and Blue.”

The Essential Songs of the 1910s and 1920s, Part I

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This article is the first of a three part series on the “Essential Songs of the 1910s and the 1920s.” The determination of what songs are essential is based on simple listening pleasure instead of historical relevance. Archeology has its own rewards, but in the words of modern day philosopher Gretchen Wilson, “We’re here for the party.”

The Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1969

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The Essential Songs of 1969 closes the decade out on a high note. Creedence Clearwater Revival released three albums that year, tossing out superb singles like alt-country candy. Led Zeppelin were establishing a new brand of heavy metal while the Stooges were embracing the aesthetic that would evolve into punk rock in the 1970s

The Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1968

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The best cover song ever recorded (Hendrix on Dylan), Glen Campbell continued to deftly deliver Jimmy Webb material, and the Byrds transition from jangle pop to a country band. Sam Moore and Dave Prater hated each other with such gusto that they refused to speak to each other for 13 years during their working relationship, but they could still create magic in the studio for 2 and a half minute intervals.

The Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1967

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teppenwolf introduced the phrase “heavy metal” to music listeners, Sly and the Family Stone became one of the first popular racially integrated bands, and Jimi Hendrix was teaching electric guitars to play sonic assaults that they did not know were possible. The Beatles released a decent album that year, as well.

Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1966

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The Essential Songs of 1966 reflect the evolution of the album as being the central music experience for serious music fans – “Blonde on Blonde,” “Revolver,” and “Pet Sounds” represent a lyrical and sonic sophistication unimaginable a few years before. To compete with the British Invastion, the Monkees were created and in other genres garage rock and Motown continued to flourish.

Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1965

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The Essential Songs of 1965 introduces “groovy” to our musical lexicon, while Robert Zimmerman off-handedly released two classic albums. Gloria Jones was busy establishing the career of Soft Cell, the Statler Brothers were harmonizing about Captain Kangaroo, and the Sonics were gobbling the world’s most interesting drugs in the Pacific Northwes

The Essential Songs Of An Essential Decade: 1961

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By 1962, a producer named Phil Spector started working with The Crystals and a band in England solidified their line-up by putting Ringo Starr behind the drum kit. In the meantime, Ben E. King had two chart toppers after leaving the Drifters, Patsy Cline added another classic to her repertoire, and Etta James continued her string of Top 5 R&B hits.

The Essential Songs Of The Essential Decade: 1960

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Includes established rock stars Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry; the soulful sounds of Ray Charles, James Brown, Jerry Butler, and Bobby Bland; as well as the first “girl group,” the wonderful Shirelles. Also, a little label in Detroit which eventually would be called Motown was open for business.

Ray Wylie Hubbard “The Grifter’s Hymnal" Reviewed

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If you haven’t experienced the wit and passion of Ray Wylie Hubbard, this is a fine starting point. As Texas songwriters go, he’ll never have the gravitas of Willie Nelson, but in 2012, he’s more inspired than Joe Ely and less trigger happy than Billy Joe Shaver.

Loudon Wainwright III – Career Moves

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Everyone in the Wainwright family became fair game for Loudon’s often acerbic music. Martha received a parental divorce notification in “Your Mother and I” and a birthday song for “Five Years Old.” His breast feeding son was the subject of “Rufus Is a Tit Man.”