Air Flight-My Favorite Air Supply Songs

One of the greatest Adult Contemporary Duos in music was Air Supply. This act from Australia was a major act on the Pop Charts, along with Lite Rock Music in the 1980s. Members Graham Russell (guitar) and Russell Hitchcock (lead vocals) met in 1975 while performing Jesus Christ Superstar, and broke big in America in 1980, being a major act for Arista Records (which was the home of Barry Manilow in the 1970s until 1985). Air Supply is sometimes the butt of many jokes for their mellow sound, but their music is used in many movies, commercials, and TV shows to this day, which proves their longevity.  When I try and write short stories, I put on their “Greatest Hits” Album and for some reason, the words just flow onto the computer screen. So here are my favorite Air Supply songs and the albums they are on.

 

  1. “All Out Of Love” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song was written by Graham Russell and Clive Davis, and was named one of VH1’s Greatest Love Songs. The album was the first to hit the U.S. Charts, and the single reached #2. Not only is it a great song, but the vocals by Hitchcock at the end are so high, along with the holding of the final note. Donny Osmond even recorded the song for his 2002 covers album.
  1. “Every Woman in the World” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song hit #5 on the U.S. Charts and was #2 on the AC Charts. This was the third single from their “Lost in Love” album, which also had three Top 5 singles. This song has a catchy guitar riff at the beginning and is a duet between the two singers. This is a great Pop Song.
  1. “Even The Nights Are Better” (Now and Forever- 1982). This was a #1 Hit on the AC Charts for the duo, although it reached #5 on the U.S. Charts, it exited the Top 40 charts the week after it peaked, dropping to #42 (Taylor Swift later did the same thing on the charts). This was surprising to me because this song was played all the time at the roller skating rink and school dances where I lived when the song was released.  This is just a happy song that I love.
  1. “Two Less Lonely People in the World” (Now and Forever- 1983). This song was on the last album to hit platinum in the U.S. and reached #38 on the charts, along with #4 on the AC Charts. This song’s lyrics deal with a guy who is down on his luck and meets someone feeling just like himself.  This song would still be a great wedding song today without being dated.
  1. “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” (Greatest Hits-1983). This song was a huge hit when it came out, hitting #2 on the U.S. Charts. The song was written by Jim Steinman, who wrote the song for Meatloaf, but Meatloaf’s label wouldn’t pay him for the songs, so he passed it to Bonnie Tyler, which ended up passed to Air Supply (although Tyler recorded a version of it). The song was the last U.S. Top 10 hit for the duo, and was actually kept out of the #1 spot by Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which was also written by Steinman. The song features Rick Derringer on guitar as well. I love the song for the powerful lyrics, especially the last verse, talking about “I can make the runner stumble, I can make the final block” and “I can make all the stadiums rock.” This is my favorite Air Supply song.
  1. “Just As I Am” (Air Supply- 1985). This is probably my second favorite song that the act released. It was also one of their last hits in the U.S. reaching #19 on the charts. Just like the time period, the song has big, loud sounding drums and is about a guy who seems to mess up all the time but his girl still loves him. The song was co-written by Dick Wagner of the Alice Cooper Band fame and also played on “Destroyer” by Kiss.  Even though the music scene was starting to shift to harder rock, the song is still a great Pop Song.
  1. “Lost In Love” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song was originally recording years earlier on their “Life Support” Album, but was re-released in 1980, which hit #3 in the U.S, along with #1 on the AC Charts. This was one of the first songs I heard from the band, and while seeing a live show on television of them (“Live in Hawaii’), this was the song that made me get back into the band.

Even though Air Supply gets ignored when the 1980s are mentioned, they were a big part on the music charts and were underrated. The band still performs today and is putting out music. They had many other great songs, like “Here I Am,” and “I Can Wait Forever,” among others. They seemed to got lost during the MTV Generation with their videos, but they were still all over the radio charts.

 

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Book Review: Motorhead Book Deals A Winner

In his book “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers: The Rise of Motorhead” (ECW Press, out May 2017), Martin Popoff takes the reader through an entertaining and informative journey through the early years of the Metal Band Motorhead.  The book focuses on the classic lineup of the band from 1977-1982, featuring members Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Taylor, and Eddie Clarke.

The book begins by examining the early days of how each member ended up in the band, including how Kilmister was a roadie for Jimi Hendrix, along with his time in the band Hawkwind. His trouble at the border in Canada led to his dismissal in Hawkwind, and started his creation of Motorhead, which eventually led to hiring Clarke and Taylor.

There are many entertaining stories in the book, including Clarke’s audition for the band, which he had to pay for the audition space, and was told (several days later) he got the gig when Lemmy showed up at his door with a leather jacket and a bullet belt. Clarke says that Lemmy told him that he got the gig, “turned around and off he went.” Other stories involve Lemmy’s first show where he played only 20 minutes, the band becoming the loudest band in music, and the band’s jokes with media reporters, including walking out on a female journalist, and an interview session that involved a fire hose.

The “Classic” lineup: Clarke, Kilmister, and Taylor.

The book follows each of the band’s recordings, with a track by track commentary about the songs, along with interviews by the early band members and fellow musicians that were around the band at the time.  Popoff intertwines the interviews from magazines along with his own personal interviews to make the book feel like the reader is sitting right next to those speaking.

One of the most entertaining parts of the book is towards the end, where Popoff covers the breakup of the classic lineup.  He gets the perspectives of Clarke and Taylor during each step of the separation, including the relationship between Kilmister and Plasmatics lead singer Wendy O. Williams, which had a major impact on the breakup. The flow of the book during this part feels like a VH1 “Behind The Music” episode, with the author doing a great job of getting as many sides of the story as he could.

The book, at the beginning, dealt a little too much on discussing the argument if Motorhead was a Metal Band or just a Rock Band, but the rest of the book was an easy and wonderful read. There are some great stories told by Dee Snider of Twisted Sister about Lemmy helping Snider’s band gain respect right before Twisted Sister’s major breakout. There is also a small part covering Clarke and Taylor’s music careers after they left the band, including when Clarke formed the band Fastway, as well as the last lineup of Motorhead before the deaths of Taylor and Kilmister.

My limited knowledge of the band Motorhead was their song “Ace of Spades,” Lemmy’s recording the entrance music for WWE Wrestler HHH, and seeing the movie about Lemmy, but Popoff’s book was such an entertaining read, it makes someone who does not know much about the band become educated, along with wanting to dig into the band’s recordings.  The book is very detailed with the track listings going through the years, along with Popoff’s writing coming from a fan of the band, and not just writing a historical piece. A true fan of the band will enjoy this book as well as the casual one. Martin Popoff and ECW Press have a must-read book for metal fans in “Beer Drinkers And Hell Raisers,” whether or not the reader is a Motorhead fan.

A special thanks to ECW Press for the Advanced Reading Copy of the book. For more information about ECW Press, go to www.ecwpress.com.

For information about Martin Popoff and his other books, visit www.martinpopoff.com

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Teen Titans: Idols Who Returned To The Charts

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The term Teen Idol was used a lot in music from the 1950s-1970s, which stood for a young artist reaching stardom with a younger audience. The word “Idol” is overused today, especially thanks to those bad reality shows, but there was a time when the word was a hinder for musicians trying to shed the image of their early career. Some of the Teen Idols in music were Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Rick Springfield, Michael Jackson, Paul Anka, and even The Beatles.  However, in terms of most of these artists, they continued recording songs from their early years to later years.  I want to look at a few of the Teen Idols who had a comeback on the U.S. Charts after being away from the charts for a while.  I am not counting artists who went solo after being in a band in this list, but I want to list a few of my favorite Teen Idols who made comebacks in their later age (the age of the artist when they got their first hit to return are listed-give or take a year from the release of the single to the top chart appearance).

  1. Rick Nelson (Started age 17, returned at age 30). When discussing the term Teen Idol, you have to start with one of the first ones ever, and that was Rick Nelson, who has been termed by magazines as the first artist to be label Teen Idol. When he started on his father’s TV Show, young Ricky hit the charts with songs like “I’m Walking” (which hit #4 on the U.S. Charts in 1957) and “Poor Little Fool” (#1 in 1958). Even though he never stopped recording, The British Invasion ended his chart appearances until he hit in 1972 with “Garden Party “ (#6 U.S. Charts, #1 AC Charts).  “Party” was to be Rick’s comeback as he worked on recordings, including an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” singing a remake of “Dream Lover.” However due to record company politics, the album was held on too long before being released, and hurt the momentum.  Nonetheless, Nelson’s last chart appearances was 1964, and he waited until 1970 before getting on the charts, and then in 1972.  I happen to love his late 1960s-1970s music, which included several Bob Dylan remakes (He actually hit the charts with “She Belongs To Me”, a Dylan song, which hit #33 in 1970, but most remember “Garden Party” as the big comeback, so I’m sticking with “Party” as the comeback song). Nelson is considered the first Teen Idol, and his talent proved he hit the charts again at a later age with the right momentum.
  1. Donny Osmond (Debut age-14, returned age 32). This is one of the best comeback stories in ANY form (not just in music), and sounds like a Pro Wrestling storyline.  After hitting the charts with his brothers with songs like “One Bad Apple” in the 1970s, and his duets with his Sister Marie, Donny was a huge star.   He had hits like “Go Away Little Girl” (#1 in 1971) and “Puppy Love” (#3 in 1972), and had a successful Variety TV Show.  His resume later included being a game show host and a Broadway star. However in the 1980s, his name was basically poison when it came to making an album or single.  In 1989, a New York Radio Station started playing a song called “Soldier of Love” by an unknown artist. After getting flooded by calls, the momentum continued until the song hit #2 on the U.S. Charts. Well the mystery artist was…Donny Osmond! The album had another hit, the ballad “Sacred Emotion.”  Osmond still records and tours today, currently doing a Vegas Show with Marie. His 2001 Album, “This Is The Moment,” is a great album full of Broadway Songs (the album hit #64 on the charts) and his “Love Songs of the 1970s” hit #27 on the charts.  Osmond has a mature voice that I like even better than his teen years, and Osmond waited from his last chart single in 1976 to 1989 (13 years) to return.  His story is a great feel good inspiring tale of determination and patience.
  1. David Cassidy (Debut age-20, returned at age 40). Just like Donny Osmond, David Cassidy was one of the top Teen Idols in the 1970s with a TV Show and a huge following in the teen magazines and touring. He had hits with The Partridge Family, hitting #1 in 1970 with “I Think I Love You,” and solo hits like “Cherish” in 1971(#9).  Cassidy had an 18 year drought until he hit with the song “Lyin To Myself” in 1990, which hit #14.  Unfortunately his label Enigma Records closed shortly after the release of the self titled album. I remember getting the cassette single of “Lyin To Myself” and was fortunate to find a CD copy of the album years ago, and it is a good album that was produced by Phil Ramone.  “Lyin” was one of my favorite songs of that year. Cassidy spend time on Broadway as well during his time away from the charts, but had a great comeback single. Cassidy has been in the news lately discussing health issues, but any musician my age grew up wanting to be Keith Partridge, Cassidy’s famous persona.
  1. Neil Sedaka (Debut age-19, returned at age 36). Many know Sedaka as one of the greatest Pop Music Songwriters of all time, but some also forget that at one time he was a Teen Idol in the 1960s. He started his chart debut in 1958 with “The Diary” (#14), and had a string of hits in the 1960s with “Calendar Girl” (#4 in 1960), “Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen” (#6 in 1961), and the #1 Hit “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” in 1962. Even though he was writing for other artists, Sedaka came back onto the charts after an 11 year absence with 1974’s #1 hits “Laughter in The Rain” and “Bad Blood” (“Bad Blood” features Elton John on backing vocals). He also wrote the #1 hit “Love Will Keep Us Together” for Captain and Tennille in 1975.  Sedaka made music history as being the first (and only to my knowledge) singer/songwriter to have a Top 10 hit with a different version of the same song, when he hit #1 on the AC Charts, and #8 on the Pop Charts, with “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,” this time as a ballad. He also had another 4 year absence from 1976-1980, when he hit the charts again with “Should’ve Never Let You Go,” (#19).  Sedaka wrote and performed some of the best Pop Songs in Rock Music.

 

  1. The Monkees (Debut age 21-24, returned age 41-42). People have their own opinion of The Monkees, but they were definitely Teen Idols who had great success on the charts. They debuted on the charts with “Last Train To Clarksville” in 1966 (#1) and “I’m A Believer” (#1) in 1966.  They also hit #1 again in 1967 with “Daydream Believer.”  After 1968, the Monkees did not hit the charts again until 1986 with “That Was Then, This Is Now” (#20), which was added to a new collection album.  Even though the band only consisted of Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork when the song was released, it still gave the band the spotlight again, with their songs shown to a new generation. The video for the song was on many video shows, including MTV, and got heavy rotation throughout the country on radio. The Monkees came back in 2016 with the great “Good Times” album, the first since the death of Davy Jones. The “Good Times” Album hit #14 on the U.S. Charts, and was #1 on the Vinyl Album Charts. After the release of “That Was Then..” the band’s TV Show started getting replayed on various TV Channels.  I strongly suggest getting “Good Times,” it was the best album I heard of the year.
  1. Dion DiMucci (Debut age 19, returned at 29). In 1958, Dion and the Belmonts hit the charts with “I Wonder Why” (#22). The group was known as one of the early Do-Wop Bands of Rock and Roll, and also charted with the smash “Teenager In Love” (#5 in 1959). Dion then went on to record hits like “Runaround Sue” (#1 in 1961) and “The Wanderer” (#2 in 1961).  Even though he was still recording songs, he didn’t hit the charts again until 1968 with “Abraham, Martin, And John” (#4).  Just like Neil Sedaka, many people do not remember that Dion was a Teen Idol at one time.

 

Many people consider the term “Teen Idol” as something that relates to Boy Bands in the 1980s, however, the term was used many decades before. In the 1970s, other “Idols” like The Bay City Rollers, Leif Garrett, Shawn Cassidy, and Andy Gibb were all over the teen magazines, however their spotlight did not last long, and they did not have another chart hit.  Some music acts, just like actors, may not be able to overcome the stereotype of the term, but this list shows that there were that did overcome, and some are still putting out quality music to this day. Go back and revisit some of these acts.

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Back In Time: Forgotten One Hit Wonders From The 1980s

 

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Several people remember music from the 1980s as one with many One Hit Wonders. I’m sure the decade had no more or less than some of the other decades, but it seems the 80s had their share of several good ones that are forgotten. Many people think acts like The Escape Club or Men Without Hats were One Hitters, but they weren’t (at least not in the U.S.) I want to bring attention to a few acts that may be forgotten now but are still good songs, even if they did not make it past the one charted single. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. The Dream Academy. This act released the hit “Life in a Northern Town,” which hit #7 on the U.S. Charts. This was a neat song with the pop ballad feel combined with a African type chant in the chorus. The single was also produced by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. There have been a few other covers of the song since its released, from Rick Springfield to a few country acts.
  1. The System. This duo had a hit in 1987 that went to #4 on the Pop Charts and #1 on the R&B Charts in the U.S with “Don’t Disturb This Groove.” The duo had a few hits on the R&B charts before and after, but this was their only Pop Hit. The duo of David Frank and Mic Murphy went on to work with Phil Collins and Chaka Khan.  Frank worked on song “Genie in a Bottle” years later. This song was always a favorite of mine ever it came out and I love the lyrics in the song, which was different than the other R&B hits of the time with a poetic feel to the words.
  1. Moving Pictures. “What About Me” hit #29 in 1982, and #46 in 1989. I remember having the 45 single and loving the song when it was played on Kasey Casem’s “American Top 40” every week. The song was rumored to be about an autistic child being ignored at a counter waiting on lunch. The song was huge in Australia, and although the band had a single on the 1984 “Footloose” soundtrack, the band didn’t get another U.S. hit, even though the song appeared twice on the charts. The lyrics of the song talks about the total underdog who is getting ignored by the world and is looking for his break in life.
  1. The Breakfast Club. This act from New York had many band member changes, including Madonna and former American Idol’s Randy Jackson. The band started in the 1970s, and did hit the dance charts with a remake of the 1967 Soul Survivor’s “Expressway to Your Heart” hit in 1988, but didn’t really have the success after “Right On Track.”  The music video, like many from the decade, seemed to lessen how great the song really is. This has always been one of my favorite songs from the era. This is a great dance song, and one of my all time favorite songs from the decade.
  1. Oran “Juice” Jones. The Juice’s song “The Rain” was a staple in the 1980s and 1990s at my local roller skating rink. It was played all the time. The song hit #9 on the Pop and #1 R&B Charts in the U.S. The song got a remake in 2016’s movie “Suicide Squad.”  The song was just great, especially the humorous ending.
  1. Waterfront. This Welsh band broke big in 1989 with their hit “Cry” (#10 Pop, #1 AC Charts).  I have the CD and there are some other good songs on the album, but this was their only U.S. Hit and frustrates me that my local radio station does not play it much when they have their 80s weekend shows.  The band made a country version of the song in 2011. This was a great Pop/R&B song that gets overlooked.
  1. The Jump N Saddle Band. Most people forget about this band’s hit “The Curly Shuffle,” a novelty hit about the Three Stooges in 1984 (#15 Pop). The song was a regional hit in the band’s native Chicago and was later added to their album when the band signed a national deal. This song is not only for the Stooges fans, but it also was a throw-back to the 1950s and 1960s when novelty hits were always on the charts. The big band style was different from the synth-pop singles of the decade. Years later former Stray Cats member Brian Setzer hit the charts with the big band style throwback songs. One could argue that  The Jump N Saddle Band set the start to the style being brought back to a commercial success in on the U.S. Charts.
  1. Climie Fisher. This London duo hit with “Love Changes Everything” in 1988 (#23 Pop). The duo had a hit outside the U.S. with “Rise to the Occasion.” Rob Fisher worked with Rick Astley after this single before Fisher’s death in 1999, and Simon Climie went on to work with Eric Clapton, JJ Cale, Taylor Hicks, and  Michael McDonald. Climie also had a hit with “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” in 1986, which was a hit for George Michael and Aretha Franklin.  “Love Changes” has a nice catchy hook to it, although the video discredits the song.
  1. Jimmy Harnen. In 1989, Jimmy Harnen, along with the band Synch, hit the charts with “Where Are You Now,” a song that was successful, hitting #10 on the Pop and #3 on the AC Charts, even though the band was disbanded by the time the single broke the charts.  The song was first released in 1986 and only hit #77 before the band broke up. It wasn’t until DJ Kid Kelly and his staff kept playing it due to fan requests that it broke again in 1989. Harnen is now a record executive with Big Machine, which is the label for stars Taylor Swift and Florida Georgia Line.  “Where Are You Now” was such a favorite of mine, that it took me years to find a copy of it in any form, from CD to just the 45. I found the 45 years ago when I was in college. This was a great ballad.

There were several other acts I could’ve listed that have been forgotten who had hits in the 1980s, including Johnny Lee, Joey Scarbury (who I mentioned in my blog page “Favorite Themes of the 1980s), Sylvia, Sly Fox, Timex Social Club, and Pseudo Echo.  Maybe you’ll check out more of some of the forgotten acts from the 1980s, and maybe this post brought back some memories.

 

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Rollermania Still Rollin’ : My Favorite Songs of The Bay City Rollers!!

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One of my earliest memories of music (besides Kiss) was Scotland’s The Bay City Rollers.  I remember as a child watching the Sid and Marty Krofft Saturday Morning TV Show, “The Krofft Superstar Hour” (later named “The Bay City Rollers Show”) when the Rollers were on hosting the show while performing every week. One of the earliest records we had in our house was the band’s U.S. Album “Rock And Roll Love Letter,” which was a greatest hits release, with a few new songs, geared mainly to capture on the U.S. success the band had in the late 1970s.  The band is usually considered One Hit Wonders with their song “Saturday Night,” but they actually had six Top 40 U.S. hits, along with world-wide success. Throughout several member changes and the success before and during the Disco craze, the band had several underrated songs that were not just Disco (check out their VH1 “Behind The Music” show on them-it’s pretty amazing).  Here are some of my favorite Bay City Rollers songs (in no particular order) featuring the band  consisting of Les McKeown, Eric Faulkner, Alan Longmire, Stewart Wood, and Derek Longmire.

 

1.“Eagles Fly” (1975). This song was on the 1975 “Wouldn’t You Like It” Album, along with  1976’s “Rock and Roll Love Letter.” This song shows an Acoustic Pop feel, which was different from the Dance/Disco songs the band gets lumped into. This song could have been on any Adult Contemporary or Pop Charts from the era.

  1. “Dedication” (1976). This song was the title track of the 1976 Album where Ian Mitchell, who replaced Alan Longmire, sang lead vocals on the song about a listener wanting the radio deejay to play a song for him. A year later, a single with Les McKeown on lead was released. The song hit #60 on the U.S. Charts in 1977. The song reminds me of the days when I would listen to the Top 40 National Radio shows, like Casey Kasem and Wolfman Jack, where fans would dedicate songs on air. It reminds me of a lost time in radio.
  1. “You Made Me Believe In Magic” (1977). This song, from the “It’s A Game” Album, which hit the U.S. Top 10, with McKeown singing lead. The song was a mid tempo song that was a perfect fit for the music scene of the time. The vocals are perfect in the song, which starts off soft and builds in the chorus. This is a great dance song.

4.”The Disco Kid” (1975).   From the albums “Once Upon A Star” and “Rock And Roll Love Letter,” this song was one I played over and over on the album I had as a kid. I always enjoyed the song, and even the drumming is somewhat different from the normal dance songs of the time. I liked the lyrics on the song and the phrasing of the lyrics. The production on the song, especially on McKeown’s vocals is pleasant and unique as well.

  1. “Don’t Stop The Music” (1975). This song, also on the U.S. Album “Rock And Roll Love Letter” and the album “Wouldn’t You Like It” was a favorite of mine by the band. This song is a great Disco Song of the era. I always wanted to play this song in the bands I played in, but for some reason, the members never liked it. I always thought the song would be a good crowd pleaser and get people dancing. Listen to the instruments at the end of the song, softly layered, which also showed the musicianship of the band.
  1. “The Way I Feel Tonight” (1977). This song is a ballad from “It’s A Game” Album. The band was musically gifted, which is overlooked when looking at the band (most of the songs were written by Stewart Wood and Eric Faulkner). The band, as mentioned before, was always mislabeled as a Disco band, and had plenty of good Pop, Ballads, and Rock songs.  This is one of their great ballads. The song ended up being the band’s final charted hit in the U.S., hitting #24. The songwriter of this song was Harvey Shield, who worked as a drummer with Ian Gillian and Dusty Springfield among others, along with becoming an actor.

A few other songs that are a must listen by the band are “Too Young To Rock And Roll,” “Wouldn’t You Like It,”  “La Belle Jeane, ” “Rock N Roller,” and “Maybe I’m A Fool To Love You.” Even though several people viewed the band as teen idols only, the music proves otherwise. I encourage you to go deeper into their songs, besides “Saturday Night.” You may be surprised by how talented the band really was.

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Underrated Albums You May Not Know

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If you grew up in the 1960s- 1990s, you may remember going to the local mall or record store and spending hours trying to decide on an album to buy (or cassette or CD). Malls and even most record stores are rare anymore, so today’s music lovers just download songs or watch a video on YouTube or their phones for music. The record labels don’t back their artists like the used to, if they do at all, and some albums get lost in the shuffle.

A friend recently asked me what I thought were some rare underrated albums that either were missed when they came out, or just not brought up when naming some of that artist’s better works. So here are some of my most Underrated Albums that you may want to check out. I also list a few of the songs that are underrated each album.

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1.“Wild Hope”- Mandy Moore (2007).  When Moore started her singing career in 1999, she was lumped into the Teen Pop genre with Britney Spears and the Boy Bands. Moore went on to a successful acting career, with movies like “The Princess Diaries,” “A Walk To Remember” and currently in NBC’s “This Is Us.”

After coming off a great covers album (which you should check out as well entitled “Coverage”), Moore switched labels and released “Wild Hope” in 2007, filled with a female singer-songwriter feel to the songs. The songs were co-written by Moore while spending time in Woodstock, New York, and the songs have the coffee shop vibe to them. I was always a fan of Moore’s work, and this album proved a maturity from the Pop music (which was evident in the covers album as well). I loved the CD so much I had the original release and the Target Release with extra tracks.  The songs “Extraordinary,” and “Looking Forward to Looking Back” were played on one of my former workplace’s store radio station.  If Moore decides to go back to music, I hope she’d go back to this route, instead of the disappointing album she put out after this album. This is where Moore shines the most on her albums. There’s not a bad song on this release.

Songs: “Slummin in Paradise,” “Looking Forward to Looking Back,” “Ladies Choice,” “Could’ve Been Watching You,” “Gardenia.”

  1. “The Beach Boys” –The Beach Boys (1985). If you have read this blog for a while, you’ll see this album mentioned many times, being my favorite Beach Boys album. Critics say this album had too much drum machines and samplings in the songs, but it was the mid 1980s-everyone was doing it. This was the first album after the death of drummer Dennis Wilson, so the band was coming off of a tragedy. The album had a Top 30 Hit on the U.S. Charts, “Getcha Back,” and had, in my opinion, some great songs on it. This album became the groove that set the band into the “Kokomo” era, which became a smash hit for them. This album seems to be overlooked, even when Mike Love and Brian Wilson mention it in their books. This album, especially the song “Getcha Back” was a big part of my junior high years, and when I hear the song, it reminds me of my youth. The album has guests like Ringo Starr, Stevie Wonder, and Gary Moore on the tracks.

Songs: “Getcha Back,” “It’s Getting Late,” “Crack At Your Love,” “She Believes in Love Again,” California Calling.”

3.”An Innocent Man” –Billy Joel (1983).  It’s hard to believe such a smash album is not mentioned when speaking of an artist’s work, but this album seems to be when talking about Billy Joel’s works. The album was the very first cassette I ever bought (again-childhood memories), and had hits like “Tell Her About It,” “Uptown Girl,” and “The Longest Time.” The album lost to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” at the Grammy Awards. Joel’s tribute to the 1950’s and 1960’s Music had some great songs that some don’t think of. Every track was great and no filler.

Songs: “Careless Talk,” “ Leave A Tender Moment Alone,” “This Night,” “Keeping The Faith.”

  1. “Danger Danger”-Danger Danger (1989). This band was in the Glam Metal era which reminded me more of Warrant. When every record label was signing bands that had a blonde-haired lead singer that could sing mostly ballads, this band got lost in the mix. Some say that there are too much keyboards on the record, but it (to me) was no more or less than some of the other bands. The video “Naughty Naughty” was featured on MTV when it was released, and I remember rushing out to get the cassette the day it came out. I loved the comic book cover on the album as well. Wrestling fans will remember the song “Rock America” being used in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, being the theme for a short while of Chris Jericho and Lance Storm’s The Thrillseekers tag team. The band is still putting out music, and singer Ted Poley has several solo releases as well.  This was a good glam album that was missed by many.

Songs: “Don’t Walk Away,” “One Step From Paradise,” “Feels Like Love,” “Saturday Nite.”

  1. “Henry Lee Summer”- Henry Lee Summer (1988). Summer had a hit with the song “I Wish I Had A Girl” that was played constantly when it came out in my area (the single hit #20 on the U.S. Charts, and #1 on The Mainstream Rock Charts). The first major album of Summer (he released two albums before this one) had a mix of Blues and Rock and catchy hooks to the songs. He charted higher on the Mainstream Rock Charts than on the U.S. Singles, but still had some great songs, which his next album had the song “Hey Baby” (Which hit #18 on U.S. Charts).  Summer worked with many acts before his solo career, but this album is his best work, which almost every track was great. The ballad “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t” was in rotation at our school dances when it came out.

Songs: “Darlin’ Danielle Don’t,” “Hands On The Radio,” “I Wish I Had A Girl.”

  1. “Hard At Play”- Huey Lewis and The News (1991). After the string of hits with the albums “Sports” and “Fore,” Huey Lewis and The News was racking up chart singles, but this album started a little decline for the band, even though it went Gold and had 2 singles, the album is not mentioned by many, which is a shame because it is just as great as their other work. The bands 6th Album had the singles “Couple Days Off” (#11) and “It Hit Me Like A Hammer” (#21). This album is full of good ballads and up tempo Pop songs, just like one expects from the band. There are only 1-2 songs that aren’t my favorite. A few of the songs were played live when I saw them after this tour. I remember wearing out my VHS tape when I recorded the band on The Tonight Show performing “He Don’t Know” from this album, which is still one of my favorite songs on ANY of their albums.

Songs: “He Don’t Know,” “That’s Not Me,” “We Should Be Making Love,” “Best of Me,” “Don’t Look Back.”

  1. “A Thousand Memories”- Rhett Akins (1995). In the mid 1990s, Country Music was booming, thanks to people like Clint Black and Garth Brooks. I remember watching the TV Channel TNN, also known as The Nashville Network at the time (before going to Spike TV), and Rhett Akins was on the video shows with his song “That Ain’t My Truck,” which I fell in love with the song and the songs on this cassette, which I wore out walking through my college campus with my Walkman. I saw him live open for Reba McIntyre and Tracy Bird, and thought he was going to be a big thing (he even came through the crowd singing the first song, which at the time was rare in Country Music). Akins had a #1 hit on his next album (“Don’t Get Me Started”), but every song on this album was a great debut, including Alabama’s “Katy Brought My Guitar Back Today.” He now writes for acts like Jason Aldean, Blake Shelton, Chris Young, and Brantley Gilbert, and his song is in the business (Thomas Rhett). I really liked Akins as a songwriter and singer on this album.

Songs: “That Ain’t My Truck,” “Katy Brought My Guitar Back Today,” “A Thousand Memories,” “She Said Yes.”

  1. “My Own Best Enemy”- Richard Marx (2004). After his first three albums, some people stopped listening to Richard Marx and I don’t know why. He is still putting out some great music (I mentioned him when discussing rare Christmas Songs on this page). As much as I like his first three Albums, this one may be my favorite. The release had a darker edge to it, but still has the Pop feel (much like his song “Hazard” years before). One of the two singles, “Ready To Fly,” hit #22 on the Adult Contemporary Charts. Even though many of the songs are darker, there are still some positive lyrics on some of the songs, like “Someone Special” (Which was originally on the 2000 “Days in Avalon” CD) This is the album to study for commercial style songs about loneliness.

Songs: “The Other Side,” “Ready To Fly,” “Someone Special,” “When You’re Gone.”

  1. “Lonesome Wins Again”- Stacy Dean Campbell (1992). Another album that got lost in the Country Music boom of the 1990s is this one. This album is a more traditional, rockabilly feel to it, which may have been why, but it is still great. Dean’s singles off the album hit the mid 50s on the Country Charts, and is now a writer/director for music videos and TV Shows. I remember watching his concert promoting this album on TNN, and loved playing the cassette. Full of acoustic ballads and mid tempo songs, this album is great to just kick back with and relax, especially if you like Country. This album has a Rick Nelson feel to it.

Songs: “That Blue Again,” “That Ain’t No Mountain,” “Poor Man’s Rose.”

A few more albums that I would suggest (there are so many) are:

1.”United World Rebellon” -Skid Row (EPs 2013, 2014)

  1. “Erase The Slate”- Dokken (1999)

3.”Just Getting Started”- Loverboy (2007)

4.”Find Your Own Way Home”- REO Speedwagon (2007)

5.“Can’t Slow Down”- Foreigner (2009)

6.“Trixter”- Trixter (1990)

Maybe you will dig deeper into these albums if you are bored with the same stuff that is out there in your collection.

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Clicking Back to the 1970s-My Favorite TV Theme Songs

As a sequel to a previous post on my favorite TV Themes of the 1980s, I decided to visit the topic again, only a decade before- the 1970s. There were some great theme songs from that time (and some not so great) that once you hear the song, you know immediately the show. These are in no particular order. So once again, hum or sing along.

  1. “Moving On Up” (The Jeffersons). One of the more popular theme songs is from this second spin off of “All and The Family,” which ran from 1975-1985. The song was written by Jeff Barry, who wrote or co wrote songs like “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Then He Kissed Me,” “Be My Baby,” “Chapel of Love,” and “Sugar Sugar,” along with actress Ja’net Dubois, who also sang on the theme for “Good Times” and played the character Willona Woods on the show.  The choir in the theme is a great addition to the clap along song about moving up to the rich side of town. Also of note, Barry is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and helped on songs like “Hanky Panky,” and helped produce songs for The Monkees.  With all of the success of the show and co writers, it’s kind of surprising that this song did not chart in the Top 40.

 

  1. “The Streetbeater” (Sanford and Son). This funky song by Quincy Jones is a favorite of mine, and when I hear it, I can think of that pickup truck coming down the road filled with junk for Redd Foxx to sell. Some may not know that the show, which ran from 1972-1977 was actually based on a BBC show called “Steptoe and Son.” Nonetheless, the show was not only great, but this theme song as well- it also makes a great ringtone!!
  1. “The Theme to Barney Miller.” Barney Miller (1975-1982) was a favorite show of mine growing up. It was a different type of cop show- it was a comedy but not slap stick comedy. The characters were great, especially Fish, the grumpy old New York cop.  The theme was performed by Chuck Berghofer, who worked with Glenn Campbell, and Nancy Sinatra. He also played on themes for “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Carol Burnette Show,” and a few of the Rocky films. We would play the theme during sound checks when I was a local drummer in several bands.
  1. “Those Were The Days.” (All in the Family) One of my favorite shows of the 1970s was this one featuring Archie Bunker. During the 1971-1979 run of the original show, it was one of the top rated shows of its time. The opening was different, seeing actors Caroll O’Conner and Jean Stapleton sitting at the piano singing. The theme song actually charted on the AC Charts in 1972, reaching number 30. The writers were Lee Adams and Charles Strouse, who are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame for their works that include “Annie,” “Bye Bye Birdie,” and the film “Bonnie and Clyde.”  The theme is perfect for the character of Archie Bunker, a man who is set in the old ways of life.
  1. “Come On Get Happy” (The Partridge Family). This theme song was the second one used for the show, and is the most famous. The show about a traveling family in a rock band was based on real life band The Cowsills, and ran from 1970-1974. The show made David Cassidy a superstar and start a singing career (he and Shirley Jones were the only two actors allowed to sing on the recordings).
  1. “Welcome Back” (Welcome Back Kotter). One of the best own TV songs of the decade was this one by the Lovin Spoonful’s singer, John Sebastian, and hit #1 on the charts in 1976. The song was rumored to be called “Kotter” but Sebastian changed it due to not being able to find words that rhymed with the name, so the TV executives changed the title of the show. Not only was the song popular, but the show also brought comic books, clothing, and action figures. The show about a teacher coming back to where he went to school had great characters like Freddy Boom Boom Washington and Vinnie Barbarino, who was played at the time by an actor named John Travolta.  The theme song is one that fits with the idea of the show perfectly.
  1. “Happy Days.” (Happy Days). This was the second theme used by the show. In Season 1, the theme song used was Bill Hayley’s “Rock Around the Clock” which tied in with the 1950s theme of the show. There were a few different singers that worked on this theme, but the producers decided on the one that became the most known by Pratt and McClain, which hit #5 on the charts in 1976. The theme was written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel, who worked on the themes for “Wonder Woman,” “The Love Boat,” and “Laverne and Shirley.” The Pratt and McClain version started in Season 3-10.  This show was also known for creating the TV term “jumping the shark,” which means that there is an outlandish plot in order to get ratings. This happened in 1977 when the character Fonzie went waterskiing over a shark. The show did continue a few years after this and even had two spin offs, “Laverne and Shirley” and “Joanie Loves Chachi.”

 

The 1970s had some great shows, along with great music. However the 1970s did not seem to be the decade of top charting songs compared to the 1980s.

 

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Book Review: Bach’s Life on Skid Row is an Enjoyable Ride

bach-book-cover

 

One of the biggest bands in the late 1980s was Skid Row, who was known all over MTV for their songs “18 and Life,” “Youth Gone Wild,” and “I Remember You.”  Singer Sebastian Bach was one of the most recognized faces in the hard rock magazines and on MTV. His recently released book “18 and Life on Skid Row” takes the reader through the wild ride the band had during stardom, along with his career after the band on Broadway and TV.

The lengthy book (424 pages) starts with Bach describing his early years growing up in the Bahamas, California, and Canada. His early childhood was one of a child loving to sing in a church choir until he discovered the band KISS in 1978 at age ten, which made him want to be a rock singer. The book goes through the time his father took him to see KISS on the Dynasty Tour and meets Jon Bon Jovi years later at a wedding which helped him find his way to the guys that started Skid Row, which he states that “Whereas the focus on my previous bands was more about the look than the sound, Skid Row was first and foremost about the sound. The Songs.”

The book takes the reader through the wild tours with Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and being on the Moscow Music Festival. Since Bach was known for his partying, the band got in trouble with several bands who were trying to become sober.

Bach also talks about his friendship with Guns n Roses Singer Axl Rose, along with some wild times he shared with Rose, his relationship with a famous 1980s actress, and his friendship with original Kiss Member Ace Frehley.

Like any band from the 1980s, Skid Row also dealt with some business issues, like having to pay Gary Moore money for the name Skid Row, Bach not getting songwriting credit for some of the biggest hits, and finding out that even though their second album “Slave to the Grind” was the #1 album its first week on the charts, the band was in a short fall.

“If we blew up too many bombs, drank too much booze backstage, all the fun stuff would be paid for after we paid the management and accountants. We would pay to play if we didn’t watch the budget.”

Bach also states his side of why the band broke ties with him, saying that “Nobody really understands why we broke up,” and when approached about a reunion, he writes, “ People ask all the time why we don’t have a reunion?..the real reason we are not together, in my mind,  is publishing royalties.”  The story about the band breaking up with Bach over being the opening act for the KISS Reunion Tour is also covered in the book through Bach’s perspective. His thoughts on Skid Row’s “Subhuman Race” album (a favorite among fans years later) and why during that tour he realized the music world was changing are in the book.

skid-row
Bach with Skid Row.

Bach also takes the reader through his solo career in music, his reality shows for VH1, his appearances on the “Gilmore Girls” show, and his time on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde, Rocky Horror, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Overall the book is a great read for fans that like this era of music, however some things are just glossed over (but then again the book is long enough, some things had to be left out). One thing that is not covered in the book is how Bach feels about the lineup of Skid Row after he left the band, and there are only a few mentions of his former band mates Snake Sabo and Rachel Bolan after his time with the band was over. He also doesn’t give much in depth information about his solo touring, except mentioning a few of the albums (not much about the band members or road tales). There is not much bashing in the book, which is a relief to other books in the genre, and Bach even talks about how his partying affected his attitude looking back now. The inside cover of the book has a pull out mini poster of Bach, which to some may sound cheesy, but since he grew up in the era where albums were popular and  buyers wanted things like that in the album, it is well suited for the book.

I saw Bach in 1997 on his solo tour in Boardman Ohio, and enjoyed his work, along with the band Skid Row after his departure. This book was enjoyable and worth the money to read about one of the most underrated singers of the time.

“18 and Life on Skid Row” is available from Dey ST. , which is part of Harper Collins books.

 

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Book Review: Sterban’s Start with a Legend to Become One.

 

sterbans-book

Richard Sterban’s and Steven Robinson’s 2012 Book “From Elvis To Elvira” My Life On Stage” is an interesting read from someone who has been singing professionally for decades.  Sterban is of course known for his time as a member of The Oak Ridge Boys, but his stories early in the book about working with Elvis provides an insight about Elvis that readers may not know.

I got the autographed book at an August 2016 Oak Ridge Boys show to add to my collection (I have Joe Bonsall’s books “From My Perspective” and “On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys” on my Kindle), and read the book in less than 10 days. The book is just shy under 300 pages, and is full of text, which sometimes is not the case with self published or smaller book companies.

The book starts off with Sterban talking about his early childhood and his love for singing and Gospel Music. One story involves him walking home from a concert in the rain, trying to protect an album he purchased at the merchandise table hoping the cover was not ruined by the time he made it home.  He talks about his early influences and his start in the Gospel Music Business. It was his involvement with J.D. Sumner and The Stamps that helped him get the job as a backup group for Elvis (One interesting fact is Sterban states that The Oak Ridge Boys was one of the other bands at the time that was rumored to be up for the gig as well).

One of the more interesting chapters in the book is called “Suite Life,” where Sterban talks about his time with Elvis.  He discusses about Elvis’s hatred for singer Bobby Darin, and the time Darin showed up at the hotel Elvis was staying at, and Presley pulled a gun on Darin. Sterban tells a tale of Elvis throwing knives at the TV Speakers when Robert Goulet was on the television.  However, the book is not a trashing of Elvis and has some lighthearted stories, including the time Elvis pulled a practical joke on the members of the group via a fake death threat that resulted in a fake shoot out, and the time Elvis had a golf cart race that lead out of Graceland and onto the highway in early morning.  Sterban writes that Elvis loved practical jokes, but after his divorce with Priscilla, the all night sing along concerts after shows and the jokes that he was known for became less and less.

By the time Sterban joined The Oaks in 1972, he writes that Duane Allen and William Golden almost sold their publishing rights to the Gospel Songs and went to Johnny Cash to see if Cash would buy them. Instead of buying the only thing the group had left, Cash gave them a loan and allows the group open for them because Cash believed the group would be big. Sterban also details how the Christian Community gave the group backlash, and even walked out on shows when the group adding lights to their stage show, which seems unheard of now days with pyro and spinning drum sets are now added to many Christian Bands’ live shows. Even with the backlash, the group still stood by their faith, which Sterban mentions being a part of a Jimmy Buffett recording session that they almost walked on, but due to their contracted agreement, they recorded the record.

sterban-singing

One of the parts I enjoyed most about the book is Sterban’s take on William Golden leaving the band and the Oaks replacing him with guitarist Steve Sanders. He writes that when Golden left, “If we only talked our way through those situations, it would have likely, saved us a lot of heartaches, but we just didn’t do it. Instead we walled ourselves off from each other and allowed perceptions to take us over.”

He also states that “Looking back, more than anything else, we suffered misunderstandings caused by a lack of communication.”

This honesty is rare in books where bands have to deal with member changes and usually becomes a blame game against the member who leaves the band. The reader who has followed the band knows that in the end Golden comes back into the band  (and is still touring with him today), which from seeing their live show, one can tell how much respect the members each have for one another after so many years of touring.

The Steve Sanders part of the book intrigued me, because there is not much written about that time period and what happened internally. Sterban writes that “Steve was a talented singer-and a heck of a showman-but he fought the demons of depression and drink. They were equal partners in his troubles, his professional demise, and sadly, his premature death in 1998.”

Sterban also writes that “In the months leading up to Steve departing the group, we could sense the end was near. We knew he wasn’t happy-and we certainly weren’t happy.”

There is more on the Sanders era of the band in the book, not much, but it describes what happened when Sanders left the band, but in an honest way that is not bashing the person , and does not gloss over his contribution to the band which was still making hits after Golden’s departure.

The book is filled with stories of Sterban’s views on each member of The Oaks and their roles in the band, the political figures they have met and performed for throughout the years, his love for baseball, wine, cycling, and beaches. There is a story that involves the press confusing him being with a disco singer as well which is worth the read.

This book is overall a great read for anyone that likes music, whether it’s Country Music, Gospel, or early Rock and Roll. Even though Joe Bonsall seems to be the one member that puts out more books than the others, don’t bypass this one, because it was funny, entertaining and knowledgeable (Now will Duane Allen write one soon? We will have to see).

Oak-Ridge-Boys

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This book is available at: http://www.amazon.com, http://oakridgeboys.richardsandsouthern.com/  and at Oak Ridge Boys Concert Merchandise Tables.

 

 

Work Cited

Sterban, Richard and Steven Robinson. “From Elvis To Elvira: My Life On Stage.” Richards and Southern Books, 2012.

Music Review: The Oaks New CD Makes A Great Celebration

 

oaks-celebrate-christmas

There are usually two types of albums that I usually avoid, even if it by my favorite artists; Live albums and Christmas albums. Not that I am against these acts doing the genre, but very few acts can make these purchases worth the money. I own very few Christmas CDs (Barry Manilow, Richard Marx, Mariah Carey’s and Michael Buble’s are the only ones I have), not because I despise Christmas, but because the songs on the CDs are either ones you have heard many times over in the same traditional way, or just badly composed, almost like the company forced the artists to do them.  In the past few years The Oak Ridge Boys have changed my thinking with releasing great albums in both categories, especially with their newest holiday product Celebrate Christmas.

Much like their 2014 live album, Boys Night Out, this Christmas CD is an entertaining surprise. Celebrate Christmas is billed as a Gaither Gospel Series release and would been a pass for me if it wasn’t for the band performing two of the songs on their tour when I saw them in August (you can read the review in the “Archives” section), especially the song “Rest in You Tonight,” which does not sound like a typical Christmas song, but more of a Gospel ballad, which is not surprising because it was written by Bill Gaither and Gerald Crabb, focusing on a mother and young daughter having come across hard times and crying out to Jesus. This is a touching song that seems oddly put on a typical Christmas CD, however, that makes this CD even better because the Oaks are not sticking with a normal Christmas CD.

Oak-Ridge-Boys

A few other notable songs are “There’s Nothing Between Us (But Love Anymore)”, which features William Golden on lead vocals (which was the other song I saw them before live in concert) which could be played on an Adult Contemporary station,  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” with Richard Sterban on lead vocals (with great piano playing by Gordon Mote complimenting Sterban on the song), and “That’s Christmas To Me” with Duane Allen and Joe Bonsall’s solid singing on the song.

The track “Santa Claus is Real” has a swing vibe to it and resonates to the listener that the band  had fun recording this song, because it has a up tempo fun Christmas feel to it, especially at the end when Sterban sings his Santa “Ho Ho Ho’s”, and Allen’s comments that Santa “sounds like Richard.” I wonder how much fun the guys had recording this one because the song makes you feel good from start to finish.

There are some traditional songs on the CD for those that like their songs unchanged, from the opening track “Joy To The World,” which sounds just like the band does live, to other standards like “Away in A Manger,” “Jingle Bells,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” and “Come To The Manger.”  It would be a shame not to hear an Oaks Christmas CD without Richard Sterban doing “Blue Christmas,” which is on here as well, considering his past with singing for Elvis Presley, and proves how underrated his singing is.

Besides “Rest In You Tonight,” another gem on the CD is the last track, “The Hallelujah Chorus,” which has a pop feel to it, channeling the Oaks popularity in the early 1980s when they hit the Pop Charts. The vocal on this song is layered and proves that the guys still have the vocal abilities (and then some). Joe Bonsall shines on this one, along with the others, with Bonsall and Sterban being spotlighted at the beginning of the song, and Allen and Golden coming in towards the end to layer the song with vocal fireworks.

The production on this CD is wonderful- you can hear each member shine not only on the lead, but in the background with their rich harmonies, which is a credit to Allen and his co-producers. This is a great CD that needs to be added to your collection, especially if you like holiday music. The Oaks still have the great vocals and quality musicians on the recordings (along with a great live band if you get to see them live).  Celebrate Christmas is indeed a Christmas Present that you need to have.

Track Listings:

  1. Joy To The World 2.That’s Christmas To Me 3.I’ll Be Home For Christmas 4.Santa Claus Is Real 5. O Come, All Ye Faithful 6. Rest In You Tonight 7. Away In A Manger 8.There’s Nothing Between Us (But Love Anymore) 9. Jingle Bells 10. Blue Christmas 11.Come To The Manger 12. The Hallelujah Chorus

Celebrate Christmas is available from Spring House Productions by the Gaither Music Group, copyright 2016.

Part of “Rest In You Tonight” found on youtube.

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