Rising from the remains of the UK post-punk band Joy Division, New Order successfully embraced music from the underground club culture years before it’s mainstream acceptance.
When Joy Divisions’ vocalist Ian Curtis hung himself in 1980, the remaining members immediately disbanded. Soon they reformed with the addition of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert to form New Order and released their first music in 1981. Their first material was originally written for Joy Division but it was not long before they were drawing on influences from the New York club scene and Germany’s electronic band Kraftwerk to create their own synthesizer driven sound. In the UK they had their first hit in 1983 with Blue Monday.
Their success in Europe was enough to draw the attention of Quincy Jones who signed the band to his record label. It took until 1985 for the band to break through in the US with the top 40 single True Faith.
New Order took advantage of the dance music craze in the late 80s – a trend that they predated with their early 80s albums. In 1990 the group recorded the theme song for England’s World Cup team. World in Motion was the band’s only number one hit.
The band was on again, off again through the 90s as members focused on side projects. In 2001 they released a new album with a different guitar driven sound. Since then the band has been together for performing or recording new music only occasionally. Most recently they released a single in 2020 and a live album and film this year of their 2018 London show.
Songwriter Burt Bacharach incorporates elements of cool jazz, soul, Brazilian bossa nova, and traditional pop to create breezy yet sophisticated pop songs that dominated the charts in the 60s and 70s. Along with his songwriting partners Hal David and later Carole Bayer Sager, Bacharach has had songs recorded by over 1000 artists with over 70 appearing in the Top 40.
Bacharach’s mother was an amateur songwriter and musician who insisted he study piano as a child. His first interest was in Jazz, and he went on to study music at McGill University in Canada then in California. Following a stint in the Army, Bacharach worked for several years as a pianist and bandleader for pop singers of the 50s including Vic Damone, Steve Lawrence and the Ames Brothers.
Bacharach’s career accelerated when he became Marlene Dietrich’s music director, touring with her and writing songs in his spare time. Meeting Hal David in New York started a fruitful partnership which began with a number one country song in 1957 recorded by Marty Robbins.
Burt Bacharach and Hal David wrote songs for many successful artists and movies in the 60s and their songs have become standards in many genres. The pair wrote songs specifically for Dionne Warwick which sold over 12 million copies over twenty years. During the 60s the pair contributed songs to the movies What’s New Pussycat and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid while also winning a Grammy for the broadway show music for Promises, Promises.
After the partnership with David ended, Bacharach paired up with Carole Bayer Sager to pen more hits and in the 80s and 90s more new artists picked up his songs and brought them to a new generation of listeners. In 1998 Elvis Costello, a long time fan of Bacharach paired with the artist to produce the Grammy winning album Painted from Memory. At 88 Bacharach composed his first film score in sixteen years and in 2020 at 92 Bacharach collaborated with Daniel Tashian to create his first new material in 15 years, earning a Grammy nomination for the result.
Initially formed to play a series of dates at a Melbourne bar in 2000, Australia’s Bamboos have continually modified their sound from New Orleans and old school funk instrumentals to todays’ multi vocalist sound that draws from rock and psychedelia to add to their funk origins.
The band released its first recordings as vinyl 45s before their first full length album in 2005. Mostly instrumental, the band added more vocals on their second release Rawville in 2007. That was the first time the band worked with vocalist Kylie Auldist who has since joined the band, appearing on all following albums. Auldist initially appeared with the band to add some vocals for a festival appearance but the result was so good they decided to do even more.
The Bamboos got their greatest exposure by providing music for the Nintendo game De Blob when the game went multi-platinum, Placement of music in popular tv shows and movies has also expanded the bands’ reach including spots on Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty and Crazy Stupid Love.
On their tenth studio album, the Bamboos took their nine piece band to a sprawling country house just outside Melbourne and brought in some like minded guest artists like Durand Jones and Joey Dosik from Vulfpeck. The 21 year old band has managed to reinvigorate a classic sound, seamlessly incorporating contemporary influences to create something altogether brand new.
Happy Birthday Bono! The U2 band leader turns 61 today. The band started in Dublin in 1976 and although it is most often recognized as a post punk era band, they started before the punk movement had even arrived in Ireland. Drummer Larry Mullen, Jr posted a notice on his high school bulletin board seeking musicians to form a band. Initially a Beatles and Stones cover band called the Feedback, they changed their name to U2.
The first break came during their last year in high school when they won a talent contest and attracted the attention of the manager of the Stranglers who offered to manage them. They did well in Ireland but had trouble connecting elsewhere. Slowly they expanded their reach and with producer Steve Lillywhite found a sound that could break through elsewhere. 1983’s War proved to be the first big album for the band, reaching number one in the UK and number twelve in the US. From this point on U2 has been a headliner.
It is hard to imagine anyone listening to the radio in the 80s and 90s could have missed hearing about U2. One of the best selling artists in the world, the band has sold more than 150 million albums, won 22 Grammys and made the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on their first ballot appearance.
In addition to their music and elaborate tours, the band is newsworthy for their activism. Amongst the causes Bono and his bandmates have are Band Aid, supporting famine relief, Greenpeace’s efforts to limit nuclear power and Jubilee 2000, an effort to reduce third-world debt. Bono’s work has earned him a knighthood and the French Legion of Honor . Most recently the band donated millions for the purchase of protective equipment for Irish healthcare workers during the COVID pandemic.
Combining B movie zaniness with some powerful punk and surf rock licks, the B-52s broke out with 1979’s Rock Lobster, a quirky hit playing on the emerging mainstream interest in new wave music.
The band formed in 1976, allegedly after the new bandmates shared a flaming volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant in Athens, Georgia. Named for the beehive hairstyles Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson wore on stage, the band first played publicly in 1977.
Rock Lobster was their first release winning fans and landing the band gigs at CBGBs and Max’s Kansas City. Rock Lobster traveled the world, gaining the band shows in Europe and reaching #1 in Canada.
The band saved most of their concert staples for release on their second album with the intention of carrying the success of Rock Lobster through at least two albums. It worked, with their second release Wild Planet generally regarded as their best album.
The B-52’s had their most productive years in the early 80s, playing at the inaugural US Festival alongside Talking Heads, Oingo Boingo and the Police. In 1984 the band took a year off before returning to play in Brazil and work on a new album. In 1985 band member Ricky Wilson died from AIDs, an illness that had not previously been disclosed to most of his bandmates.
It was a devastating loss for the band and they chose not to tour with their new album – but the band recovered to release their first top 10 hit, the party anthem Love Shack.
In 2008 the B52s released their first new album in 16 years. Funplex became the bands second highest charting album. Still touring today, the band may have received its greatest honor last year when it was announced that they would be featured in a comic book – Archie Meets the B-52s.
Artist – Album – Title – Release Year
Robert Earl Keen – What I Really Mean – Ride – 2005
Mary Chapin Carpenter – Record Company Made Me Do It – I Feel Lucky – 1994
Justin Trevino – The Scene of The Crying – Three’s A Crowd – 2012
Loretta Lynn – Woudn’t It Be Great – Ruby’s Stool – 2018
Fred Eaglesmith – Falling Stars and Broken Hearts – Ordinary Guy – 2002
Charley Crockett – 10 for Slim: Songs of James Hand – In the Corner – 2021
Brent Cobb – Keep ‘Em on They Toes – Keep ‘Em on They Toes – 2020
Janet Simpson – Safe Distance – Nashville Girls – 2021
Bryan Haraway – Not That Fast – Cold Beans – 2021
Ween – 12 Golden Country Greats – Powder Blue – 1996
NRBQ – Workshop – RC Cola and a Moon Pie – 1973
Pure Prairie League – Bustin’ Out – Amie – 1972
Marty Stuart – Country Music – By George – 2003
Drive-by Truckers – Decoration Day – Sink Hole – 2003
Rosie Flores – Working Girl’s Guitar – Surf Demon #5 – 2012
The Bottle Rockets – Live in Hellbronn, Germany – Indianapolis – 2003