Best Albums of 2014: Two Views

Forget the lists in Rolling Stone, Pop Matters, Spin and all the other music publications and sites; MRRL’s annual list of the Best CDs is the work of two unrepentant rock and roll junkies who boast a combined total of nearly 120 years of being slaves to the music. With no record company freebies to influence their decisions, Mid-Michigan’s Dr. J and Metro Detroit’s Larry V. present the best of what they bought, borrowed and burned for the 5th consecutive year.

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Lennon: Through A Glass Onion

Lynn-J and I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 opening night performance of Lennon: Through A Glass Onion at the Union Square Theatre in New York City. Being a major fan of John Lennon, going to the show was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I knew that I would enjoy the music but would the presentation do justice to one of rock and roll’s most interesting and talented individuals?

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96 Tears to be Dedicated as Bay City's Official Rock and Roll Song

By Cole Waterman

BAY CITY, MI — Nearly five decades since a group of first generation Americans recorded one of the best known and most influential songs of the 1960s in a humble, homespun studio in Bay City, the ditty is garnering recognition in its hometown.

Equal parts protopunk and garage rock anthem, Question Mark and the Mysterians' "96 Tears" is to be declared Bay City's official rock 'n' roll song by Mayor Christopher Shannon at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 14, at Old City Hall, 814 Saginaw St. Following the dedication, the band is expected to perform at the downtown Bay City eatery.

Shannon said he has been in discussions with local music historian Gary Johnson for some time regarding how to properly give the song some recognition.

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Crossing Borders with Roy Hockley

For a ten-year period from 1958 through 1967, the top nightspot in Bay City, Michigan, was Art Narlock’s Empire Show Bar. The biggest attraction at the club during the 1960’s was a Canadian rock and roll band billed as Roy Hockley and The Chessmen featuring Joie Jaye. Playing six nights per week, the band routinely packed the house at the Show Bar before Narlock’s business began to crumble due to financial difficulties that were rumored to be the result of gambling debts caused by heavy losses at Las Vegas casinos.

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Elvis: In The Beginning...

On July 5, 2014, rock and roll music celebrated its 60th birthday. Why was that date selected as the birth of rock and roll? Most rock music historians would undoubtedly claim that the much-disputed first rock and roll song was recorded well before that date.

The reason is Elvis Presley. It was on that day in July that Presley, along with guitarist Scotty Moore, bassist Bill Black and Sun Records owner Sam Phillips, recorded “That’s All Right” in Memphis. This event turned out to be the “big bang” of rock and roll and hailed the emergence of the artist who would define this new genre of music like no other.

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Stookey Was A Spartan

Noel Paul Stookey achieved world-wide fame as 'Paul' in Peter, Paul and Mary, the most important and successful folk music trio of the 1960's. During that decade, Peter, Paul and Mary charted 20 singles on Billboard's Hot 100, including 5 Top Ten hits ("If I Had A Hammer", "Puff The Magic Dragon", "Blowin' In The Wind", "Don't Think Twice It's All Right", "I Dig Rock And Roll Music") and the group's sole #1 – 1969's "Leaving On A Jet Plane". In addition, the trio had 11 hit albums, including two that reached # 1; their debut "Peter, Paul & Mary" in 1962 and "In The Wind" in 1963.

Only a minority of the fans of Peter, Paul, and Mary, however, know that Stookey moved to Michigan when he was an adolescent, and that he started his recording career in the state as a member of a high school doo wop vocal group called The Birds Of Paradise. Fewer still realize that he began honing his skills as an entertainer and folksinger while a freshman at Michigan State University, and that his first college sweetheart was a pretty young co-ed from Bay City, Michigan.

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Spending A Night With Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin was the first white woman to rise to prominence as a blues singer and also one of the first successful female lead singers in rock. Her brief but meteoric rise to fame ended prematurely at age 27 by a heroin overdose, but her influence is still being felt more than four decades later. Joplin is currently the subject of a highly entertaining and informative musical production titled A Night With Janis Joplin at the venerable Lyceum Theatre located at 149 West 45th Street in New York City.

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