The Grateful Dead - Aoxomoxoa (Warner Bros., 1969)

Art Work: The Grateful Dead’s “Aoxomoxoa”

Legendary artist Rick Griffin not only came up with the design of the Grateful Dead‘s Aoxomoxoa, it was his fascination with palindromes that resulted in the album’s title.

aoxomoxoa 385 Awesome Album Covers: Grateful Deads Aoxomoxoa

“The Grateful Dead hired Rick based on his reputation for his concert posters (which he created for the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore West),” said his widow, Ida, in 100 Best Album Covers. “They told him he could design anything he visualized and was given total artistic freedom. The guys in the band would OK the final artwork, but basically they just loved his style.”

For Aoxomoxoa, Griffin shot for a design that was “tribal,” evoking a surfer’s paradise with the blue sky, circling a skull and crossbones with the sun and a garden, injecting his love of the water in the album’s fluid lettering.

J. Geils Band - Love Stinks

Top Rock Hits of 1980

The US Hockey team beat the Russians, CNN debuted, J.R. was shot on TV and the pop charts were a mix of later-era disco, new wave and rock and rollers reaching their commercial peak. Here are the Top 10 Rock Hits of 1980 according to me (who else?!).

10. The J. Geils Band – “Love Stinks”

I was 18 at the time. Love did stink.


9. John Lennon – “(Just Like) Starting Over”

Sadly, it was just coming to an end.


8. The Pretenders – “Brass in Pocket”

I still don’t know what the lyrics are to this tune. And don’t want to spoil it by learning.


7. Bob Seger – “Against the Wind”

A lot of people slag on this album as being pretty weak but I never thought so.


6. The Vapors – “Turning Japanese”

Writer David Fenton said “‘Turning Japanese’ is all the clichés about angst and youth and turning into something you didn’t expect to.” I thought it was about girls.


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Going For The Gold: Nicolette Larson

Nicolette Larson - Nicolette (Warner Bros., 1979)

Nicolette Larson – Nicolette (Warner Bros., 1979)

By the time Nicolette Larson had entered the studio to record her debut album, she had lent her angelic voice to project ranging from Neil Young‘s Comes a Time to Emmylou Harris‘ Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town to the Doobie Brothers‘ Minute by Minute.

For Nicolette, she chose the Doobs producer, Ted Templeman, a stable of  famed musicians (including Linda Ronstadt as well as members of the Doobie Brothers and Little Feat) and two dozen songs that covered rock, pop and country.

Of those tunes, eleven made the cut. Among the highlights were Lauren Wood‘s “Can’t Get Away From You,” Glen Frey and J.D. Souther‘s “Last in Love” and, of course, her #8 cover of Neil Young’s “Lotta Love.”

Nicolette was eleased in November ’78 and took just three months to sell a million copies and win a gold record.

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Free MP3: LeVar Thomas’ “Missing You”

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When I introduced LeVar Thomas a few weeks ago, I compared this South Carolina singer’s music to the Chi-Lites and Boyz II Men. For his encore, LeVar’s feeling his inner Stevie Wonder.

It’s the opening notes — the two-part harmony over a simple Fender Rhodes chord progression — that makes me think of Stevie when I listen to “Missing You.”

The harmonies become more complex, the string parts begin to weave in and out and we’re feeling all full of Philly soul, like Gamble and Huff are back at the desk working their magic.

Along with my girl Ayah and Boyz II Men kick we dropped yesterday, I’m putting together a little “midnight magic” mix tape. All I need is a little wine, a medium size fire and a big desire for a little one-on-one time.

Originally written for MP3.com.

Buy LeVar Thomas’ music on iTunes.

Levar Thomas – Missing You

Suede - It Starts And Ends With You

Free MP3: Suede’s “Barriers”

It’s been over ten years since Suede has put out a record. The drought ends March 19 when they release Bloodsports.

Sounds like we’re headed back to the 90′s with this one. Look at the video for “It Starts And Ends With You,” download the new single, “Barriers,” and pre-order from Amazon.

Suede – Barriers (From Bloodsport, Out March 19)

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