Tough Times For Musicians

On May 25, 2010, in Favorite Music, by admin

Seems that music is having a real tough go of it lately. Starting with the multiple illnesses of Poison frontman and 40 year type 1 diabetic, Brett Michaels to the deaths of Ronnie James Dio of Black Sabbath fame, and Paul Gray of the ever dark band Slipknot.

Brett Michaels

Michaels is a story all to himself. No one has done a better branding job than Michaels which has left him solidly in the spotlight for years after his initial popularity with ‘hair band’ Poison in the 80’s.  Of course a constant schedule of touring with Poison and his individual act has help keep him in front of the image curve.  But nothing has done more than to continue the image trend of the 80’s into this era…that of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, 2010 style.  In reality, I believe most of this  is just image.  Michaels is resilient, and my hats are off to him.  Even with his latest ‘hole in the heart’ medical issue discovered when entering the hospital for a mini stroke (now doesn’t that make a great title of a song he should write about), despite this was the final (hopefully) in the trifecta of medical issues for Michaels, he plows on with an attitude that just does not stall for any reason.  Again, I respect this one, it is his attitude, I am convinced, that completely transcends him beyond the many issues he has faced recently as well as being a diabetic for 40 years. I look forward to seeing him once again when Poison tours this summer.

Ronnie James Dio

Good god, the elf has left the house! Known primarily for his time in Black Sabbath following the departure way back when of Ozzy, I knew him more as a solo artist with some great material.  I have seen him in concert 7 times, enjoying each.  This guy stood about 5’1”, about 110 lbs, wiry hair that made him look like a mini-troll under the bridge.  But when he opened his mouth to sing, the pipes on this guy were amazing.  Truly one of the top 10 voices in music, ever, period. His passing from Stomach cancer set off a round of well wishers to the family that impressed. All stated that he was truly a kind and caring person, void of all that rock music bullshit that so many performers think they must be or deserve, somehow. Every concert I witnessed of him, he seemed truly appreciative of the fans.  Of course, not knowing personally, you never, know, and people tend to say the nice things when you croak…but on this one, I believe every kind thing that was said of him.  I will miss him and his performances; and that soaring voice that came from the little elf looking guy with a heart as big as his body

Paul Gray

Fresh on the death list, the cause of his death is still under investigation.  Gray was founding member of dark metal band Slipknot. Known for wearing hockey masks on stage and carrying simulated pig heads on stage, these guys try to portray the evil image.  Their true fans refer to themselves as “maggots” .  It will be interesting to see what took this one from this world. The band started in Iowa, and this is where he passed, as well. I have seen slipknot 4 times.  I must say, not a big fan  of the masks and think their image thing is a bunch of bullshit.  What I can say, is over the last several years, their music has gotten more mainstream, and in my opinion, quite likeable. Their last song “snuff”, I absolutely think is great stuff, although, one could argue that this songs format and type merely follow the successful songs from Corey Taylor (lead singer of Slipknot) with his side project that is now two CDs old, Stone Sour. I must say, I like them even more that Slipknot, and have seen them  3 times. Whatever the cause of death of Gray, yet another band must look for replacements.  Lets hope we see slipknot back out on tour again soon…

Peace

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For any of you that use Yahoo as your landing page, you are aware that the ‘trending now’ searches for the last week have included Bret Michaels, lead singer of Poison and reality TV star, as they like to say. The reality TV star I could care less for, but as a musician and a guy who has recieved an A+ for branding himself, I applaud. Bret Michaels as had a recent tough go of, first for an emergency appendectemy, which derailed his tour with his personal band labeled under ‘Bret Michaels’, then as recovery set in, he is rushed to the hospital with headaches. The diagnosis was a brain hemorage that left him in critical condition. Bret Michaels must be some sort of survivor.  The news now comes out that he may resume his bands tour on May 26 if he does not have any major set backs. This, despite the fact, that the doctors have never pin pointed the actual location or cause of the hemorage.

Now Bret Michaels can conjure up many varied opinions based upon his personna, or as I call it ‘branding’. I for one, respect this guy.  I highly respect the fact he lives a full life, despite being a type I diabetic from childhold. Tough to deal with the blood sugar variations and stabbing yourself four times a day while keeping the schedule and branding that Bret Michaels does.

As the lead singer of Poison, this Michaels started his success full speed from the hair band days. But quite predictably, that music phased passed quickly with the advent of the Seattle driven, flannel shirt wearing era of grunge rock lead single handedly by the appearance of Nirvana. Gone quickly was Poison’s popularity along with the other bevy of hair bands that commanded the lions share of airplay.  It took Bret Michaels a while, waiting until the fans of the hair bands grew up, got overly responsible with matters of life, and missed the hair bands, touching off a resurrection reunion tours of hair bands that have been going on now for nearly 10 years. (I have seen Poison nearly yearly for the last 8 years). But the true branding of Bret Michaels leveraged this hair band life style into the bevy of reality based shows which has made him pretty much a house hold name. Again, great branding.

This was really a set back for Michaels.  But this is not anything that will hold him back. He enjoys touring with solo, and knows the value of touring with Poison, which as its own resurrected branding thanks to the cross marketing traffic that the Bret Michaels branding has resulted.

Here is hoping to no set backs in his recovery and resuming his tour may 26

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Country Music Is So….

On February 17, 2010, in Favorite Music, by admin

I think these are actual songs. Interesting list sent in from a friend.  Love the names

Country Music Is So….

Top Ten Country & Western Songs

10. I Hate Every Bone In Her Body But Mine
9. I Ain’t Never Gone To Bed With an Ugly Woman But I Woke Up With A Few
8. If The Phone Don’t Ring, You’ll Know It’s Me
7. I’ve Missed You, But My Aim’s Improvin’
6. Wouldn’t Take Her To A Dogfight ‘Cause I’m Scared She’d Win
5. It’s Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night That Chewed My Ass All Day
4. My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend And I Miss Him
3. She Took My Ring and Gave Me the Finger
2. She’s Lookin’ Better with Every Beer
And the Number One Country & Western song …

1. I’m So Miserable Without You It’s Like You’re Still Here

By the way…I think the number 10 song above is not a country song, but written by C.C. DeVille of Poison, at least he always sings this when he demands his solo time at a Poison concert (off key ususally, as well)

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Top 10 Fogelberg Songs…Do We Care?

On February 15, 2010, in Favorite Music, by admin

Today’s post comes from Dave with my comments edited…he took it upon himself to list his top 10 list of Dan Fogelberg songs. The question I have for you out there is, do we care? While much can be argued about his work depending upon your musical background or tastes, I believe we should care. Some call his work a sappy collection of songs that at best, may be reflective of the era in which he was popular. I would agree to a great extent.  “Run For The Roses” is a prime example of this…and there are others.  However, there is a complexity to his works that go far beyond the songs that were the hits.  Dave even indicates this below in that his favorites largely were not the radio airplay songs. I chose one of his songs in my top 10 that we ran a while back.  One of his albums is in my top 10. It is somewhat paradoxical, because I dislike much of his stuff as well. But if you listen to most of the fine works on “Netherlands”, the music, the themes, and lyrical content are superb. So I decided to go ahead and publish this list below, as it largely does reflect the better of Dan Fogelberg…although I would add “Netherlands” and “Sketches” to the list below and remove “Part of the Plan”.  Of course, Fogelberg is no longer with us….passed a away a few years ago after battling cancer for several years.

Here is my Top 10 Dan Fogelberg Songs
1) Gambler
2) Part Of The Plan
3) Tulamore Dew/Phoenix
4) The Last Nail
5) The Reach
6) Netherlands
7) As The Raven Flies
8) Along The Road
9) Scarecrows Dream
10) The Innocent Age
Note that only one of those was a “hit” (I think). That would be # 2……

Thanks Dave

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Totally Against My Better Judgement

On February 14, 2010, in Favorite Music, by admin
I do not know why I do this.  But here is Dave’s Top 30, yes count ’em, 30 favorite Beatles songs.  Against my better judgement becuase I HATE THE BEATLES.  But, I figured he worked hard on it, so there you go, I will post it.  Now, again, Dave, if you could only master Word program, my job would be easier.
I just realized, I have never sent my Top  30 Favorites.  These are not the most influential, or ones that had the biggest impact, but my fave’s.  Over the years the list will change, but here it is as of today. Good Times….

1) Let It Be  —I still choke up every time I hear it
2) Hey Jude
3) Here Comes The Sun
4) Can’t Buy Me Love
5) In My Life
6) Day Tripper
7) Blackbird (although the whistling part is very annoying)
8) While My Guitar Gently Weeps
9) Back In The USSR
10) She Loves You
11) And I Love Her
12) If I Fell
13) Paperback Writer
14) Rain
15) Ticket To Ride
16) Help
17) Across The Universe
18) The Long and Winding Road
19) I Saw Her Standing There
20) Long Tall Sally
21) Twist And Shout  (Yes I know they didnt write #20 and #21–but they kicked butt on those two)
So there….equal access for all to redd granite!
22) I’ll Follow The Sun
23) All My Loving
24) Nowhere Man
25) This Boy
26) With A Little Help From My Friends
27) This Bird Can Sing
28) Sgt Peppers Lonely Harts Club Band (the opening and the Reprise)
29) I Feel Fine (What an incredibly cool riff)
30) The entire second side mash-up of “Abbey Road”  (Yeah, I know that’s kinda cheating–so sue me)

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Now its time to move onto favorite music groups of all time.  This time, we will list in order from 10 to 1.  I will list in two posts  of 5 each.  As usual, feel free to comment, or mail me at jay@reddgranite.com with your list and I will be happy to post. And no, if you think this is going to be filled with Led Zepplins, Who’s, and the like, you are dead wrong.

10. Head East. www.headeast.com. Most remember this group more as a one hit wonder than a top 10 band. But many albums and a long history dating back to 1969, they go far beyond their branded hit “Never Been Any Reason”  Actually, I liked their follow up album to Flat As A Pancake, “Getting Lucky” much better than the signature album.  Fronted by a great voice in John Schlitt.  For those of you in the Christian Rock arena, he fronted Petra for two decades until the band broke up.  Now he has solo career. Maybe I like these guys because of their Central Illinios start. Have a look at the website.  They still tour today, only the founder and resident ass hole Roger Boyd is the only original. Owns rights to the name, I believe.

Queensryche. www.queensryche.com. Often confused as a hair band, these guys carved a separate path laced with highly intelligent lyrics and a different sound.  A true think tank type of group. A bit theatrical. My daughter will shoot me on this one, as we have seen them several times in concert together, and well, I agree with her, they just do not translate well into concert. But still like them anyway….and if you read earlier posts on top 10 songs, they have one of my top 10, “Eyes Of A Stranger”  Because, each of us a just a little bit insane.

Dokken. www.dokken.net. Rockin with Dokken. Great band with not only the dynamics lead vocals, but if you listen closely, some of the best guitar riffs in the industry. Of course, the latter was due to the talents of George Lynch, who split long ago from the group.  Rumored to be returning, but seemingly at a stalemate, since George wants to return only if Jeff Pilsner, another original member is on tour. Jeff is off doing some work for a Christian music project and ‘not available’.  Seems George wants Jeff there to counter the sometimes bipolar personality of Don Dokken. Loose the bottle Don if you cannot handle it.

REO Speedwagon. www.speedwagon.com    Man, whats with the Illinios connection here?  From Rockford, Illinios, they started out as a truly hard rock band turning into a hits writing machine which moved them squarely into pop. Still touring endlessly these days…usually with another Illinios outfit and favorite, three band mates are original members. Met lead singer Kevin Cronin once at the Orleans in L.V., was staying on the same floor as us.  Nice guy, but really, I do like the music.  See story about one of their songs in the comments section under the favorite songs posts by Dave earlier.  It is quite humorous.

Warrant. www.warrantweb.net. Speaking of bipolar…ex,ex,ex,ex,ex, hell, I cannot remember how many times lead singer Jani Lane has been in and out of this group.  Cannot get his shit together. . Unfortunately, he is the voice.  Other groups with prolific lead singers have done a good job of replacing them, but not Warrant.  I have seen these guys 12 times. About 2/3 of them with Lane.  I have seem him do tremendous shows, and drunken slobberly shows. Too bad. The group knows they need him, thats why they keep putting up with him time and again. Right now, Lane is out. Have not seen the new guy, and I will go see them with him at the helm. Cannot hurt. But this is a group that really needs Lane in there.  And, by the way, they go far beyond the seemingly only song people remember from them, “Cherry Pie”. Just listen to the greatest hits CD….OK, you have to like melodic rock and a bit of raunch, but truly great stuff.

Next five in next post. Comments welcome.

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You May Have Noticed…

On December 30, 2009, in Other Interests, by admin

…the Follow Me button on the right of the website. This, of course, is tied to Twitter, the one of the social web programs available that has gotten wide popularity. If you punch this, will you see it come up as “iamjimmorrison” as the account to follow. I use this sound bite in my apparant mulitple personalities. Of course, no surprise to the reader who participated in the Top10 favorite songs list. Any future top 10 favorite songs or other lists will likely be dominated by The Doors. So no surprise….but the real discussion here is social networking. This twitter account is not really used.  I do not put updates on it despite the call from my domain/web comrades (something which I am still learning) who use Twitter, Facebook and others to build traffic. A couple of things here…..1) There are only so many updates one can do during a day if you have a real job, and 2) I am perplexed and very careful not to try to use friends as a means to sell something, which, is what most of what my comrades do.  Yes, I have ads on this site. Yes, I would love for those to partake if they see something of interest or need, as it helps defray costs of a format like this blog which I choose to do instead of Facebook so our collective music can be available to those interested. (Still hope to add a lot more).  But I do not want to be in the position to spam friend network.  These sites take a shitload to maintain.  Yes, I am trying to build traffic to this site (this is what the related links under posts is all about), and yes, I am interested in continuing my learning in this industry for income streams, this site being one of my early entries. But bottom line, this site is for personal use.  I do many known and calculated errors on this site for SEO purposes and building traffic because I use this forum for my personal blog and interests. By definition, it will never be one that has so much traffic driven to it for commercial purposes. There are others for this purpose, others, that are not blogs that hit my social network, but mini-sites with landing pages designed for commercial.  There will be more from me as well, as I own a few names that would be decent for this purpose. www.moneyspank.com is one of my sites for the above purposes.  (yes, the name is a bit grotequesly catchy, isn’t it!). I amy even try a few names for comment in this forum before I develop.  Becuase, this is one of my interests as well as music. Other sites include South Padres Lodging . This was my first and developed by hand and, it shows. And of course, some of you know I have a consulting practice with a good friend and the technically competent person who helps me with this mess.  Kurt developed our site Penland Corner Consultants, and it is really cool….a practice that is slowly beginning. 

Bottom line of all this rambling, I have backed off of Facebook, do not really do Twitter (over 50 follow me without any updates….all it is tied to someone selling something), interests like these keep me out of trouble, maybe earn a little $$ (very little as of now),  and certainly provide an outlet for discussion. Now back to the music after the New Years

Do not forget, Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant NYE. Be there

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And The Last Top 10

On December 19, 2009, in Favorite Music, by admin

…before we move to another catagory…will be another top 10. But this time groups, in order. Getting tougher.

 But first Marty from www.dazzlingweaselfaces.com list.  I had lost it and Dave replaced, and, Marty knows how to write formatted mails, unlike some other folks we know.

  Always been a softie, always will be.  Not ashamed of it, either.   Here’s what I sent to Jay:    
  Top 10 Favorite Songs – Marty Floyd   Jay has asked for my top 10 favorite songs, so here goes.  I’ve always been a sucker for harmonies, beautiful love ballads, and the Beatles, so this list will be heavily weighted accordingly.  Also, the more I thought about it, the more there were some I just couldn’t leave off of my favorites list, so there are more than 10.  

1.  If You Could Read My Mind (written and recorded by Gordon Lightfoot) – I’ve always been a sucker for folk music harmonies and beautiful love ballads.  This one has great lyrics and absolutely perfect production.  I loved it the first time I heard it as a 16-year-old in 1971, and ever since then I’ve loved it more and more every time I’ve ever heard it.

  2.  For My Lady (written by Ray Thomas and recorded with his band, The Moody Blues) – I’ve also always loved the ocean, and this is an incredibly beautiful song which combines a love song with seafaring imagery.  The recording utilizes a concertino and makes you feel like you’re on an old sailing ship bounding over the waves out on the high seas.  The live version from Red Rocks, Colorado (1992) is awesome for the orchestral background, even if composer / singer Ray Thomas did mess up the lyrics.  

3.  Superstar (written by Leon Russell, recorded by The Carpenters) – this song was enhanced to perfection by Karen Carpenter’s voice.  It doesn’t matter what type of music you prefer; the warmth and richness of Karen’s voice puts her up there with any woman who ever sang a note on the planet.  I don’t know whether the following is true, but I’ve read that the version that was commercially released by them was the first time she ever sang it.   The rest (no particular order):  

I’ll Be Back (written by Lennon/McCartney, recorded by The Beatles) – Lennon said this is a rip-off of a Del Shannon song (although he didn’t particularly name the particular song, I’d have to say he was referring to “Runaway,” based on the chord progression).  He also said once that this was an early favorite of his, which I’ve always found to be personally gratifying, since it’s always been one of my favorites.  The double-tracked harmony absolutely fascinated me when I was younger, and I still consider it to be a great recording.  

 I’ll Follow the Sun (written by Lennon/McCartney, recorded by The Beatles) – This one is a deceptively simple song, yet rather sophisticated in its structure (particularly the use of the 7th off of the 4-chord in the melody).  The early Beatles’ harmonies were as good as any ever recorded.  The blend of Lennon’s and McCartney’s voices from their early recordings has never grown old, as least not to my ears.  I’ve come to believe producer George Martin probably never got enough credit for the Beatles’ early sounds.  Many of their early recordings have a qualitative difference that in retrospect is conspicuously absent from most contemporary recordings of  the day; yet not long after the Beatles hit it big, recordings of numerous other bands (the Hollies come to mind) began to emulate the style.  

I Feel Fine (written by Lennon/McCartney, recorded by The Beatles) – for my money, one of the greatest feel-good rock-and-roll songs ever, despite the fact that they finished writing it in the studio because they needed another filler song (it went to #1 on the charts).  It’s also one of the first songs to use feedback on the recording.  Finally, when my daughter was a little girl, I used to dance with her to this recording.  

And I Love Her (written by Lennon/McCartney, recorded by The Beatles) – still the prettiest thing McCartney ever did, and one of the prettiest that ever came down the line, by anybody.   Cherish (written by Terry Kirkmen, recorded by The Association) – Along with the Beatles “And I Love Her” and Climax’ “Precious and Few,” this is one of the prettiest songs that ever came down the line.  

Precious and Few (recorded by Wilt Nims, recorded by Climax) – Along with The Beatles “And I Love Her” and The Association’s “Cherish,” this is one of the prettiest songs that ever came down the line.   Only the Heart May Know (written and recorded by Dan Fogelberg) – this is from my favorite album of all time, “The Innocent Age.”  It’s a typical Fogelberg ode to the lost innocence of youth, which was pretty much the theme of this entire album.  Emmylou Harris sang harmony with him.  

 Forever Autumn (written by Jeff Wayne, Gary Osborne and Paul Vigrass, recorded by Justin Hayward) – This is a relatively obscure song, although I believe Justin (better known as lead singer on much of the Moody Blues material) released it as a single in the late 70’s.  The lyrics and melody for this song are absolutely haunting.  Justin has said it’s one of his favorites to perform, and although he frequently does it in his solo performances, but it’s not been included in the Moody Blues play lists during the times that I’ve seen them live.  In my opinion, Justin Hayward has the most soulful voice in popular music today.  

Oh, Pretty Woman (written by Bill Dees and Roy Orbison, recorded by Roy Orbison) – Reportedly inspired when Orbison’s wife interrupted Dees and Orbison as they were trying to write a song, and when she asked for some cash, they replied, “A pretty woman like you doesn’t need money!”  It is, quite simply, the greatest feel-good rock-and-roll song of all time.  After 45 years, it still hasn’t grown old.  At all.  

Don’t Worry Baby (written by Roger Christian and Brian Wilson, recorded by the Beach Boys) – another great feel-good rock-and-roll song, with the Beach Boys’ inimitable harmonies.  It is Brian’s clone of “Be My Baby,” which is his favorite song, and would likely be on this list, except it’s a little before my time.  

Ryhthm Of The Rain (written by John Claude Gummoe, performed by the Cascades) – my favorite pre-Beatles rock-and-roll song, and of the few from the era which has what I would consider to be of the same high-quality recording style as much of the early Beatles material.  

Unchained Melody (written by Alex North and Hy Zaret, recorded by the Righteous Brothers, among many others) – This is simply the most intensely beautifully rock-and-roll ballad of all time.  As I did research to make my selections for this list, I learned that the song was first used in an obscure prison film (1955) called “Unchained.”  It was been recorded over 500 times, but the best known and definitive version was done in 1965 by the Righteous Brothers.  

   There’s a WHOLE bunch more that I could have put on a favorites list, but I’ll stop for now.

Thanks Marty.  Impressive, you are the only guy to list the writers….

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Back To The Top 10 – A Late Entrant

On December 17, 2009, in Favorite Music, by admin

So we needed to bring this list in for John.  Inspite of his jaded love of The Pack, which lessens all that is his life, I have to say, an interesting list of top 10.  Being a college student, he brings in a different perspective. But notice, a lot of his favorites were older than him….well, here it is.  now if I could only get him and his old man to figure out how to use MS Word so I do not have to decipher e-mail chaos…as you can see from below in the arrangement.

 1. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zeppelin) – No explanation needed

2. Let It Be (The Beatles) – can’t have a top ten without the 4

 3. Feeling This (Blink182) – Probably would be my number one album if this was a top 10 list of
     albums.
 4. Stolen (Dashboard Confessional) – Total girls song, but I like it anyways
 5. Hotel California (Eagles) – Best lyrical song of all time

 6. Everlong (Foo Fighters) – Had trouble narrowing down a Foo Fighter song, but i know i
    needed to have 1

 7. Sweet Child of Mine (Guns N’ Roses) – can’t argue with
     the opening rift

 8. Secret Crowds (Angels and Airwaves) –

 9. Don’t Stop Believing (Journey) – it’s the National Anthem

10. Simple Man (Lynard Skynard)
11. Schism (Tool)

12. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen) – Muppets did it better.
13. Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers)

14. Free Fallin’ (Tom Petty)
15. Pinball Wizard (The Who)

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One Hit Wonders Top 10

On December 9, 2009, in Favorite Music, by admin

Recently Yahoo Music issued story on one hit wonders. I always like these. At the end of the day, many of these songs have great meaning or association in our lives, or otherwise,  were such huge hits that they played themselves deaf to your ears because top 40 stations rotated them in every 20 minutes, and yet, when you think of the artist; blank. One song, 15 minutes of fame, then gone.  Many of these artists are off to careers you and I particpate with not a trace of their past success for that short period of time.

Some of the top one hit wonders I can think of are listed below, I left the artist blank to see if some of you can fill this in…..this is sort of a top 10, and I encourage you to post your top 10 in this catagory.  But for now, I will list a few and you see if you can fill in the artist….you can post here, or e-mail me at jay@reddgranite.com

Ooh, Ooh Child…OK, you can cheat here, was one of Dave’s Top 10 songs, so the artist is buried in a post on this site.

Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes

Vehicle (baby)

Incense and Peppermint (ah the wonders of the drug crazed era)

Snoopy Verses the Red Baron

Precious and Few

Don’t Give Up On Me Baby

C’Mon Eileen

Always Something There To Remind Me

Broken Wings

In The Year 2525

Don’t Pull Your Love Out On Me Baby

There you go, I did get more than 10. A few notes, there are one or two of these, while one hit wonders, really did try to follow up the hit with additional CDs…Broken Wings is one example, the group put out several other CDs….just never had the playtime on much  of anything else in their music.

Your Input is respectfully requested….and no cheating, no going to Google on this, you lazy bums

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