Documenting Popular Music

Documenting Popular Music

Documenting Popular Music is a radio-documentary series that examines the artists and music from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Through research and interviews by veteran journalist Robert Neil, the series provides an inside look into the unforgettable music from that period. Additionally, some episodes feature reviews of new albums from artist connected to the 60s, 70s and 80s. Additionally, the program occasionally spotlights artists from outside those decades, including new and/or unknown artists that merit attention. The shows are produced at the O&F Studios (www.OandFStudios.com).... Show More

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British superstar Cliff Richard has released his first album of new material in 14 years, and the man who launched his career in the late 1950s as England’s answer to Elvis Presley, still sounds fresh and energetic.   The album features songs written by some of Richard’s long-time associates, including Terry Britten (“Devil Woman,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It”), Christopher Neville Eaton ("Lost in a Lonely World,” “Saviour’s Day... Read more

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One of the true joys of Christmas is music, which brings out the emotions of the season; however, many radio stations and streaming services only play a small selection of songs. As a result, many wonderful tunes go unheard. This episode of Documenting Popular Music takes a look at 10 songs that are either unknown or underplayed in the United States at this time of year. The selections include songs from well-known American artists... Read more

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If you’ve ever thought your favorite superhero theme songs would sound great as original jazz tunes, then pianist extraordinaire Randy Waldman has the new album you’ll need to add to your collection.  Waldman is one of the music industry’s most successful and popular session players, and he’s been featured on songs and album from numerous top-selling artists such as Barbra Streisand, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Madonna, Olivi... Read more

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The songwriter who could easily be considered America’s unofficial poet laureate has a new album in which he revisits past composition with new recordings and new interpretations. Paul Simon has been writing the soundtrack to multiple generations’ lives since the 1960s, when he and childhood friend Art Garfunkel took folk-rock music to new heights of popularity. Simon’s subsequent solo career allowed him to continue growing as a wr... Read more

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(This is Part II of the episode and runs about 20 minutes. Part I, which also runs about 20 minutes, is also available.  The documentary is also available uncut in a 37 minute edition.  Please check the menu for all episodes of ‘Documenting Popular Music,’ or visit http://documentingpopularmusic.libsyn.com or iTunes.)   In the 1970s, the most popular song of the entire decade was Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which spend 10... Read more

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(This is Part I of the episode and runs about 20 minutes. Part II, which also runs about 20 minutes, is also available.  The documentary is also available uncut in a 37 minute edition.  Please check the menu for all episodes of ‘Documenting Popular Music,’ or visit http://documentingpopularmusic.libsyn.com or iTunes.) In the 1970s, the most popular song of the decade was Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which spend 10 weeks at... Read more

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(This version of the episode is presented in its entirety and runs about 37 minutes; however, for listeners who prefer shorter episodes, the program is also available in Part I and Part II editions, which each run about 20 minutes. Please check the menu for all episodes of ‘Documenting Popular Music,’ or visit http://documentingpopularmusic.libsyn.com or iTunes.) In the 1970s, the most popular song of the decade was Debby Boone’s “... Read more

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Rita Coolidge was one of the staples of Top 40 and Adult Contemporary radio in the 1970s and early 1980s. She’s back with a new album entitled 'Safe in the Arms of Time,' which takes a unique look at love, life and relationships. The songs on the album reflect the maturity of someone who has already gone through the highs and lows of love and is now experiencing what the emotion is like at this stage of her life. Coolidge gives voi... Read more

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That unmistakable sound of West Coast smooth rock was all over the radio in the late 1970s and early 1980s with groups such as Hall&Oates, Player, Steely Dan, the Little River Band, Boz Scaggs, the Michael McDonald lead version of the Doobie Bros and many others. The genre, which incorporated elements of smooth jazz and soul, is making a comeback, and a group helping to make the past current is Young Gun Silver Fox.  The band is ma... Read more

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In the late 1970s, when Neil Diamond was asked to star in the movie the Jazz Singer, his career was at the peak of popularity, and he had not only established himself as an elite performer, but also an accomplished songwriter.  Similarly, Gilbert Bécaud, who had reached stardom more than a decade before Diamond, was also revered as a top performer and songwriter in France and other European countries. These two men came together in... Read more

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For this ‘Throwback Thursday’ (TBT) episode of Documenting Popular Music, we are replaying our 2015 review of James Taylor’s ‘Before this World' album.  To date, it is the last studio album Taylor has released, and he has been performing songs from the album on his current concert tour. ‘Before this World’ was produced by one of Taylor’s long-time collaborators, Dave O’Donnell, and the core musicians who perform on the album have a... Read more

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The Monkees TV show debuted in September of 1966 and ran until March of 1968.  During that time, the band saturated the music charts and radio stations with songs such as “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Valleri,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” and many others. The group consisted for Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Pete... Read more

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The Monkees TV show debuted in September of 1966 and ran until March of 1968.  During that time, the band saturated the music charts and radio stations with songs such as “I’m a Believer,” “Daydream Believer,” “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Valleri,” “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You,” “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” and many others. The group consisted for Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith and Peter... Read more

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Dan Fogelberg passed away 10 years ago this month.  His memory has been kept alive this year by a number of events, including the release of two new albums, ‘Live At Carnegie Hall’ (a previously unheard performance from 1979) and a tribute album that features a long list of musicians that loved Fogelberg’s music.   This episode of Documenting Popular Music takes a look at the tribute album and artist such as Garth Brooks, who perfo... Read more

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It was 1971, and a 25-year-old Barry Manilow was still a struggling musician and commercial jingles writer when he came up with a melody he felt was very special. That melody would become the song “Could It Be Magic,” which featured a chorus based on the chord changes in Chopin’s Prelude in C Minor.   “Could It Be Magic” had several early incarnations, including a version produced by a well-intending Tony Orlando that Manilow says ... Read more

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About two years ago, Sarah Partridge began working on a project to bring new life to Janis Ian’s songs by presenting them with fresh jazz interpretations.  Ian, who debuted during the folk scene of the 1960s, rose to fame with her hits “Society’s Child” (1967) and “At Seventeen” (1975), and she’s written numerous songs – some of which were previously unrecorded – that deal with social, political and relationship issues. Partridge a... Read more

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Documenting Popular Music puts a spotlight on the thriving musical scene in Alabama and the city of Birmingham, where musician Scott McDavid was born and raised.  McDavid’s journey is representative of numerous other musicians who work under some anonymity, but who have been vital to the creation, maintenance and spread of popular music in America.   McDavid’s career began in his hometown, where he played with a number of local ban... Read more

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Documenting Popular Music puts a spotlight on the thriving musical scene in Alabama and the city of Birmingham, where musician Scott McDavid was born and raised.  McDavid’s journey is representative of numerous other musicians who work under some anonymity, but who have been vital to the creation, maintenance and spread of popular music in America.   McDavid’s career began in his hometown, where he played with a number of local ban... Read more

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For this ‘Throwback Thursday’ (TBT) episode of Documenting Popular Music, we are replaying our 2014 review of Neil Diamond’s Melody Road album.  To date, it is the last studio album of all new songs Diamond has delivered, and he is currently out of the country with his concert tour, celebrating 50 years in music.  The TBT replay of the album review is a small way to satisfy Diamond’s legion of fans during his absence. The episode a... Read more

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After more than 50 years in music, Rusty Young, the leader of the group Poco, has recorded his first solo album.  The new set is entitled ‘Waitin’ for the Sun,’ (Blue Élan Records) and it features 10 songs that not only give you a peek into Young’s life, but also into his emotions, as the “Crazy Love” singer/songwriter is unabashedly sentimental.   In an interview with veteran journalist Robert Neil, Young tells the stories behind ... Read more

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