Friday, February 27, 2015

MY TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 1975: Still Fresh After 40 Years!

MY TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 1975:
Still Fresh After 40 Years

Don't ya love those "Best of Whatever
lists? Gosh, I sure do. I love reading 
them, and I love creating them. And 
fortunately for my enormously large
worldwide audience, my insights
and are ALWAYS 100% spot-on. 
I hope you enjoy my latest!
______________________________________

1975 — the White House was occupied by the first and (so far) only president never to be elected to the office, the economy was in the toilet, and polyester leisure suits were considered cool. (Stop laughing, kids.)  I was just 12 years old in 1975, and I rarely was separated from my "best friend" — my trusty AM headset / radio. The glorious "golden god" era was winding down and the disco craze was revving up. The year gave birth to a bumper crop of records that would set new industry standards and launch the careers of several soon-to-be pop / rock stars. While some of the releases that year would further cement the careers of many established artists, others marked the end to longtime platinum-selling streaks. 40 years later, we now can look back with 20/20 hindsight clarity and recognize the truly great records of 1975 — the ones that continue to stand the test of time.

25

Defying the dreaded "sophomore jinx,"
this British supergroup delivered a
Top Ten album packed with such
high-octane classics as "Good
Lovin' Gone Bad" and "Feel Like
Makin' Love." This one makes
the list, hands-down, based on
Mick Raphs' sonic crunch alone.
______________________________

24

Produced by founder, Maurice White, the
sixth LP from this Chicago-based band held
down the #1 position on Billboard's Top 200
for three weeks in May 1975. From the
smooth groove of the Top 20 title track to
Philip Bailey's super-human, nut-busting
performance on "Reasons" to the badass
funkiness of their only #1 single, "Shining
Star," That's the Way of the World was
(and still is) the "whole enchilada" — and
it remains the crown jewel of the band's
extensive catalog — 40 years later!
______________________________

23

Produced by Paul Simon and Phil Ramone,
this splendid, chart-topping treasure
showcased arguably Simon's best '70s
era work. It also boasted an amazing
four Top 40 hits — the title track (#40),
"Gone at Last" w/ Phoebe Snow (#23),
"My Little Town" w/ Art Garfunkel (#9),
PLUS the monster-size hit "50 Ways
to Leave Your Lover" (#1).
______________________________

22

From the mind-expanding, synth-
driven "Shine on You Crazy Diamond"
(all parts), to the hypnotic and spacey
"Welcome to the Machine"to the tasty
 (near) groove flavor of "Have a Cigar"
to the undeniable charm of the timeless
title track, this record remains (for my
money) Pink Floyd's finest work. Even
without the benefit of the drugs that I
may or may not have taken back in the
day, it still offers me a personally more
engaging listening experience than that
other popular album that they put out.
______________________________

21

Florida's "Guitar Army" created a bona
fide, southern-fried masterpiece with the
release of their 1975 debut. Packed with such 
chicken pickin' nuggets as "Waterhole" and
"Knoxville Girl," as well as the FM staples,
"There Goes Another Love Song" and "Green
Grass and High Tides," the album is iced with
layers of the band's deliciously tight-knit,
signature harmony vocals  light years 
beyond the music being produced by their
contemporaries at the time, or since.
______________________________

20
STYX 

Released in December 1975, Equinox arrived
following the breakout success the band had
experienced with the surprise Top Ten single,
"Lady," just a few months earlier. It marked
the final contribution from longtime guitarist
John Curulewski, as Tommy Shaw would
soon come on board. In addition to the Top
30 hit, "Lorelei," the record also features the
Dennis DeYoung-penned staples, "Light Up"
and "Suite Madame Blue." One of the more
powerful Styx efforts  before they went
all, well, you know.
______________________________

19

After slogging through the rock and roll
trenches for nearly a decade, fronting
The Amboy Dukes, Ted Nugent finally
became a household name when his
debut solo album hit FM airwaves in
1975. This multi million-seller oozed
such signature standards as "Just
What the Doctor Ordered," "Snakeskin
Cowboys,""Stormtroopin'" and "Motor
City Madhouse," PLUS the undisputed,
stripper anthem of all time — 
"Stranglehold." Great Gonzo, dude!
______________________________

18

Although I can think of very few things in
life as personally traumatic as enduring the
music of Bob Dylan, his self-produced 1975
offering seemed, um, different. Even to my
rather unsophisticated 12-year-old pallet, I
recognized immediately that this was a
truly great record. Solid, organic-sounding
songs accented by compelling storytelling.
In sum, Blood on the Tracks remains one
of my absolute favorites.
______________________________

17

The pied pipers of prog-pop dropped a
doozie with this million-selling operatic
opus. Although "Bohemian Rhapsody"
has since achieved super-uber icon
status, the brightest gem in this royal
"crown" actually is John Deacon's
Top 20 hit, "You're My Best Friend."
_____________________________ 

16
LED ZEPPELIN
-Physical Graffiti-

Produced by Jimmy Page, this double-slab
showcases Zep at its absolute apex. The
. band's last great record, Physical Graffiti 
was a treasure trove, featuring a buttload 
of biggies, including "The Rover," "In My 
Time of Dying,""Houses of the Holy," 
"Trampled Under Foot" and "Ten Years 
Gone," as well as a relatively unnoticed
little dittie entitled, "Kashmir." However, 
the album did suffer from one MAJOR
design flaw — seeds and stems became
too easily trapped between the die-cut
window openings on the front cover and
the inner sleeve. Just sayin'.
______________________________

15

Long before the rampant global demand,
this Scottish hard rock act was already
supplying "more cowbell" with the
classic title track from it's 1975 breakout
album. The sweet rasp of Dan McCafferty's
whiskey-soaked vocals pinned against the
crunchiness of Manny Charlton's heavy
guitar riffs made for a magical, platinum-
selling combination. In addition to such
signature cuts as "Beggar's Day" and
"Whiskey Drinkin' Woman," the record
also featured the band's Top Ten single,
"Love Hurts" — a true blue "power
ballad" that dominated the airwaves years
before that term had even been coined.
And what legitimate '70s era teenage rock
fan can forget the record's iconic album
cover, created by David Fairbrother Roe?
Now you're messin' with 
son of a bitch, indeed!
______________________________

14

Produced by longtime manager, Bill Ham, the
fourth album from that "lil' ol' band" was a
stroke of pure genius. Side A featured super-
charged / super-raw live tracks. Side B offered
newly recorded (and equally engaging) studio
 tracks — including (arguably) the band's two
all-time greatest creations "Tush" and "Heard
it on the X." In sum, this blistering, hunka-hunka
burnin' vinyl is THE ultimate ZZ Top record.
______________________________ 

13

Considering the cultural climate of '75, 
The Tubes' controversial live show 
combined with such outrageous debut 
album tracks as "Mondo Bondage," 
"What Do You Want From Life?" and 
"White Punks on Dope" made this 
California collective simply too cool 
for mass consumption — at the time.
But even as a pre-teen, I totally 
"got" their act, and to this day, they 
remain one of my favorite bands. 
#RandyMantooth 
#PaulWilliamsInKneePads
#ABabysArmHoldingAnApple
______________________________

12

One shouldn't be fooled by the polyester
panache of the band members or the
album's disco-dominate #1 single,
"Love Roller Coaster." Ohio Players
were ferocious badasses, and Honey
was perhaps their strongest effort.
Case in point, "Fopp." 'Nuf said.
______________________________

11

As a wide-eyed church boy, just reaching
my teens, I wasn't yet terribly familiar
with Alice Cooper's unique brand of
shock rock and super-cool persona in
early '75. Then came that glorious day
in April when I entered the record
department of my local Sears store and
I discovered this sacred gem. The album
cover alone had me sold. Then, I heard it.
From the eerie opening of the title track
to the fading I gotta get out of here(s)
at the conclusion of "Escape," I loved it
— to death. Even now, as an old man in
my 50s, "Devil's Food," "Department
of  Youth" and "Cold Ethyl" still get
my fists AND blood pumping!
______________________________

10

Prior to being promoted-up as purveyors
of platinum-selling pablum in the '90s,
Aerosmith actually was a darn snappy,
dirty little rock and roll band during the
'70s. That was a very long time ago. But
fortunately, producer Jack Douglas
captured the boys from Beantown in
all their smacked-out glory within the
stanky grooves of this 1975 classic — 
a record from which I learned the other
definition of "muffin." If the question is,
"Will there ever be a time when 'Adam's
Apple' and 'No More No More' aren't 
completely freaking cool?" — then the
answer is a resounding, "No way, dude!"
______________________________

9

The songs  heartfelt and real.
The voice — honest and pure.
The band  impeccable.
And after 40 years, it all
still sounds as fresh as ever.
A true masterpiece.
______________________________

8

The singles were top-shelf. The title
track rocked with the best of 'em.
"Listen to What the Man Said" is
one of Paul and Linda's most perfect
pop songs. And "Letting Go" was
beautifully brooding. Yes, Wings
certainly was flying high with this
1975 chart-buster. BTW, "Magneto
and Titanium Man," "Medicine Jar"
and "Call Me Back Again" also
were most excellent treats. My
second-favorite of McCartney's
post-Beatles records.
______________________________

7
JEFFERSON STARSHIP
-Red Octopus-

For me, the music of Jefferson Starship
was far more engaging than any of Paul
Kantner's previous"far out," counterculture
projects. C'mon, I was 12! Through Red 
Octopus, I discovered a new guitar hero
in Craig Chaquico, a new "rock star" in
Papa John Creach.and a new pin-up girl
in Grace Slick. From the first time I heard
"Miracles,"  I was completely enthralled
— I still am. But the album possessed
many equally seductive selections,
including "Fast Buck Freddie," "Git
Fiddler," "Sweeter Than Honey" and
"Play on Love." It still sounds current.
______________________________

6

Country-meets-rock at an all-night,
old school L.A. pool party. Hey man, 
anybody got any ludes? Exquisite songs.
Perfect musicianship and production
craftsmanship.The single greatest female
vocal recording in the history of mankind.
PLUS she was SUPER hot!
______________________________

5
KISS 

For hard rock fans, there was only ONE
band and only ONE record in 1975. The
band was KISS and the record was Alive! 
There was never anything cooler — before
or since. Henceforth, the double-live LP
became an industry mandate for ALL
recording artists  from Rush and REO
to Seger and Skynyrd to Bette and Barry.
Nice work, Starchild.
______________________________

4

The new band members breathed a certain
freshness into what were, for me, some of
Elton and Bernie's most exciting songs ever.
It would also be his last US #1 album.
______________________________

3

The last great record to feature the classic
Elton John Band line-up. This set is so
powerfully moving that, to this day, it
still prompts me to immediately ball-
up in a corner and sob like a forgotten
schoolgirl on prom night.
______________________________

2

The tenth time proved to be the charm
for this British-American combo. With
it's "classic" line-up in place, the record
spawned three Top 20 singles — "Over
My Head," (#20) "Rhiannon" (#11) and
"SayYou Love Me" (#11), and ultimately
reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200
album chart. A magical and organic
collection, this is Fleetwood Mac's
best work ever — bar none!
______________________________

1

I often refer to Hearts as my "Abbey Road."
Given Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and
 Dan Peek's penchant for British pop / rock,
and the fact that the album was overseen by
longtime Beatles producer, George Martin,
that analogy isn't really much of a stretch.
Every track is a glorious gem — from "Half
a Man" and "Midnight" to "Tomorrow"
and "Seasons" to the hit singles, "Daisy
Jane" and "Woman Tonight" to the iconic,
chart-topping "Sister Golden Hair."
A perfect record from start to finish
______________________________

I hope that you've enjoyed this little trip down Memory Lane. Maybe you discovered a new musical treasure, or perhaps rediscovered one of your personal favorites. I further encourage everyone to leave comments (below) and to share your own stories, picks and insights. But for now, I gotta go my crew is all ramped-up to watch an awesome rerun of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert on Roku — in five minutes!

-Christopher Long
(February 2015)


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

2015: So Far, So Good!


Offering great promise of what's
to come, the holiday season is a
magical time. But with Valentine's
Day approaching quickly, New
Years Eve is now merely a memory.
So how's 2015 shaping up? Well,
for me, it's been pretty darn good.
_____________________________________

SURF, SAND AND CENTRAL LIFE
As a longtime resident of Florida's Space Coast, I became a HUGE (yet anonymous) admirer of Senior Pastor Randy Alonso and his thriving local, multi campus Central Life Church at the time of my spiritual awakening back in 2010. I was drawn immediately to the powerful "Good News" message of Jesus Christ as presented on Central Life's popular radio show, heard weekday mornings on my favorite hometown station — WMIE 91.5 FM. Hence, I was delighted when this faith-focused, grace-based, non-denominational church recently launched its newest campus in Indialantic, Florida  (practically) inches from my beachside home.

An incredible faith-focused, grace-based, non-denominational church.
Doing church at Central Life with my baby brother - C'MON!
Pastor Randy and I "connected" quickly upon my first visit to the new CL campus last November and I also was welcomed warmly by campus pastor Ryan Alonso as well as the entire church family. In fact, as 2015 has unfolded, and relationships have developed, I've been afforded wonderful opportunities in which to serve at CL — I even expect to accompany Randy on a pilgrimage to Israel, later this year. Good stuff, to be sure. But the best part of this story is that I now can more easily entice friends to join me for church, as this new beachside CL locale is geographically quite appealing to many of my most-loved peeps. 

Welcome to Central Life Church - Indialantic, FL.
2015 pre-Super Bowl cookout at Central Life Church.
I look forward to sharing much more about the incredible things that God is doing throughout my hometown surf community via Central Life Church in my various 2015 feature stories. Stay tuned!

SERVICE WITH A SMILE!
I'm honored to serve as the new "Coffee Boy" at Central Life Church.
A "SERIOS" CELEBRATION
After a few years of inactivity, my award-winning hard rock band Dead Serios was snatched from the jaws of retirement when we (rather surprisingly) found ourselves performing at a major U.S. music festival on September 26, 2014. And on January 24, 2015, we celebrated our official 30th anniversary, live onstage at the legendary King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Florida.

My longtime security guy, Kirk Sands, protects me from ALL worldly harm!
Dead Serios band and cast members, backstage at The King Center.
Here I am in my dressing room on 1.24.15 with cast member, Leia Dunn, 
who plays the role of "Juicy Lucy" in the Dead Serios show.
We pulled out all the stops (and props) for our high-energy anniversary concert — delivering 14 of our best-known classics, a full cast of crazy onstage characters and a host of special guest performers for the hundreds of hometown fans who packed the King Center's Studio Theatre. And with the exception of tearing the popliteus muscle in my right calf  just two seconds into the show (which hurt like a muther), our performance was a well-executed, arena-caliber production. Mad props to our world-class crew. *FULL DISCLOSURE: If you lack an adolescent sense of humor and / or a penchant for brash garage-rock, you may hurt yourself getting flustered during Dead Serios' (relatively) wholesome, PG-rated show.  

We opened the show with the Dead Serios 
classic, "Lawn Care Studs."
Dead Serios bassist, Joe DelCorvo, onstage with world-renown guest
violinist, Michelle Jones, during the January 2015 King Center concert.
Dead Serios stage show character, "Buster," attempting to
entice guitarist, Stephen Pooley, with "something green."
The Dead Serios anniversary show proved to be an incredible experience for band members and fans alike. We even had the performance shot professionally for an upcoming concert DVD release. Although I remain uncertain regarding the long-term future of the band, we will likely make at least two more major concert appearances in 2015. (Dead Serios on the web

More than a mere band, Dead Serios has become a "theater army!"
Dead Serios fans are the best in the world.
Shot live during our January 2015 performance, the first-ever
Dead Serios concert DVD will be released in late February.

(Watch the YouTube preview now)
VINYL CONFESSIONS
I had a little free time on my hands one Saturday shortly after the holidays. Recognizing the dire need for new floor mats and seat covers for my just-purchased Chevy, I ventured out for the first time in years to the one place where I knew that all of my wildest dreams could (and would) come true Melbourne, Florida's world-famous Renniger's Flea Market, located just a few miles west of my hometown, Satellite Beach.

As I took in the hundreds of vendors and specialty shops, offering an array of such must-have items as fluorescent smart phone cases, personalized trucker hats, costume jewelry, NASCAR memorabilia, lawn care gadgets, chili dogs, gyros and used Mariah Carey CDs, I stumbled into Flashback. Owned and operated by my new pal, Frank, Flashback possesses all the authentic charm of an old school record shop. With the intoxicating fragrance of strawberry incense permeating the air, Frank's place boasts wall-to-wall bins and crates full of reasonably-priced, top-quality vintage LPs from an endless "Who's Who" roster of iconic / classic rock artists, as well as a second-to-none selection of eye-catching pop culture posters.

For the iGadget generation whose only "music" purchases involve keying in redemption codes from their iTunes Christmas gift cards, a visit to Flashback may seem as random as spotting an actual musician at the recent Grammy Awards. However, for those who yearn for the good ol' days visiting the local record store and "talking shop" with that "cool guy," sporting the ponytail as he cues up the hottest grooves on the in-store turntable, a Flashback experience may be more exciting and satisfying than an excursion to The Magic Kingdom

Located at the flea market in Melbourne, Florida, Flashback offers an 
incredible selection of used LPs and super-cool pop culture memorabilia.
FIRST AND GOAL
Although I'm certainly not a gambling man, I do enjoy what's become the friendly annual Super Bowl wager with my (near) lifelong friend and current writing partner, Bryan Dumas. Now residing in Shreveport, Louisiana, Bryan is a manly, NFL know-it-all-type, while I carry a pink Hannah Montana purse and have had little connection to the game since Emmitt Smith retired. However, my gift of revelation regarding the NFL became abundantly clear when I accurately predicted the outcome of the Denver / Seattle match-up in last year's "Big Game." That friendly, pre-kickoff wager won me a $10 Starbucks gift card, courtesy of Bryan. Then, I did it again when I predicted the outcome of the recent New England / Seattle championship. And by the next morning I had received my second annual $10 Starbucks electronic gift card. Thanks Bryan — I look forward to taking your money again when I predict the outcome of the New England / Dallas Super Bowl, next year. FYI, when it comes to the NFL, always listen to the guy wearing rainbow nail polish.


COMING ATTRACTIONS
Yes, it may only be mid-February, but 2015 is playing out quite nicely. And it's only gonna get better. Next month, I'll be heading to Orlando's Amway Center for one of the final stops on the current Fleetwood Mac world tour. Although I've seen both Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham live as solo artists, oddly, this will be my first time seeing the actual full band. And as part of a special VIP promotion, I'll even be participating in an exclusive pre-show, Mick Fleetwood meet-and-greet. Stand by, that story is gonna be a doozie! #BucketListCompleted

-Christopher Long
(February 2015)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

NIGHT OF THE CLASSICS: Recreating Vintage Rock

NIGHT OF THE CLASSICS:  
Recreating Vintage Rock
__________________________________________________

Concert ticket prices continue to soar, 
while more and more legendary artists 
are touring less and less frequently 
 if at all. Hence, live rock and roll
tribute productions have become wildly 
popular among fans in recent years.
__________________________________________________

With award-winning singer / guitarist Adam Sikora leading the charge, the southeast production upstart, Night of the Classics first launched on Florida's Space Coast in 2013. Since then, NOTC has staged several successful events that have brought the classic music of such legendary artists as Pink Floyd and The Beatles to thousands of enthusiasts.

In an exclusive interview with "The Show Biz Guru," Sikora recently shared his passion for vintage rock and roll, as well as his enthusiasm for producing NOTC concerts  including the upcoming "day of Woodstock" at Cocoa, Florida's Cocoa Village Amphitheater on March 7th.

Adam Sikora
Nick Hildyard
"My goal for Night of the Classics is to keep doing 
shows more frequently and to eventually bring the 
recreation of these great bands across the nation."
-Adam Sikora

Night of the Classics presents the music of The Beatles.
Brandon Rapone
However, Sikora was particularly jazzed about his next NOTC production. Pairing the classic crunch of AC/DC with timeless tracks from Led Zeppelin, the event takes place at The Gleason Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne on Friday, January 23rd. The group's lineup will once again feature members of such popular Florida-based bands as Red Tide and Hot Pink, PLUS, internationally-known frontman Nick Hildyard. Tickets are affordable — ranging from $15-$20.  Doors open at 6pm and the show kicks off with a bang at 7pm.


Sikora's long-term vision is bold, but Night of the Classics already has a proven track record. And given his outfit's current popularity, the future appears bright, indeed.

-Christopher Long
(January 2015)


The latest from author Christopher Long
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...
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