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#XPN5050: 1970

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1970.

Some might say that 1970 really started in 1969. In August of 69 at Woodstock, the youth and pop culture celebrated with three days of peace and music at Woodstock, marking an historical moment. Santana, who performed at Woodstock would release their debut in August 1969, but in 1970 they released Abraxas. The Beatles would release their final album together, Let It Be in 1970. That same year, however, Paul would release his solo debut. Beatle George would release the now classic triple album, All Things Must Pass, and Ringo Starr would play drums on John Lennon’s solo debut album.

Singer-songwriters in 1970? No shortage here. Simon & Garfunkel released Bridge Over Troubled Water, Neil Young released After The Gold Rush, Van Morrison dropped Moondance and His Band And The Street Choir, and Cat Stevens released Tea For The Tillerman, and Mona Bone Jakon. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young were still very much on our minds with Deja Vu, Stephen Stills went solo, and Joni Mitchell released Ladies Of The Canyon. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Quatro Crazy” by Y La Bamba

Photo by Steffannie Walk | Courtesy of the artist

Y La Bamba is the musical nom de plume of Luz Elena Mendoza. Menodza formed the group in 2006 in Portland, Oregon, and created an eclectic mix of folk, ethereal pop, and traditional Latin music. The daughter of immigrants from Michoacan, Mexico, she’s worked with an evolving cast of players on her records, however at the heart of Y La Bamba is Mendoza’s musical vision. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1990

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Robert Drake is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1990.

For those of you who are into the math, 1990 was 29 years ago. 1990 was a year marked by influential songs from all genres on the musical spectrum. Sinéad O’Connor released I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got and her #1 single “Nothing Compares 2 U” topped the charts around the world. Sonic Youth released Goo with an appearance by Chuck D of Public Enemy, the hip-hop group who released their own album in 1990, the ground breaking Fear Of A Black Planet. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “For Real” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Tom Petty | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

Tom Petty’s new two-disc collection, The Best of Everything: The Definitive Career Spanning Hits Collection 1976-2016 includes many of Petty’s best known songs. Songs like “Breakdown,” “Listen To Her Heart,” “Free Falling,” and dozens more. The Best of Everything includes solo Petty, Tom with the Heartbreakers, and Mudcrutch. Continue reading →

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XPN’s Gotta Hear Song(s) of the Week: Discover The Latin Shade of Texas Soul with Adrian Quesada and more

Look At My Soul recording sessions | still from video

Texas Chicano soul music is given the spotlight on an excellent new collection of new music that celebrates the influence of soul and R&B on Latin music in the 50s and 60s.

Look at My Soul: The Latin Shade of Texas Soul pays tribute to the sounds of old with new recordings, produced and spearheaded by producer and musician Adrian Quesada, who has performed with Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, The Echocentrics, and other bands. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1973

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1973.

Seriously. Look at how many incredible albums came out in 1973. We’re talking about some of the most classic of the classic rock albums of all time like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin, Quadrophenia by The Who, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Band On The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut, Bruce Springsteen’s first and second albums, Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy and incredible albums by The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Yes, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music, The Rolling Stones, Little Feat, and ZZ Top.

In 1973, R&B was on fire. Stevie Wonder released the ground breaking Innervisions, Marvin Gaye dropped Let’s Get it On, and Oakland’s Tower of Power gave us their seminal self-titled album. In other sounds, Herbie Hancock released the jazz funk classic Head Hunters, The Wailers released Catch A Fire, Tom Waits released his debut, Closing Time, and Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention blessed us with Over-Nite Sensation. Jazz fusion was in full effect: Mahavishnu Orchestra released Birds of Fire, and Mahavishnu drummer Billy Cobham debuted Stratus, a record that would serve as the musical blueprint for trip-hop when Massive Attack sampled it in 1991 on their song, “Safe From Harm.” Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “When Somebody Loves You Back” by Teddy Pendergrass

Teddy Pendergrass’ 1978 album Life Is A Song Worth Singing

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “When Somebody Loves You Back” from Teddy Pendergrass’ 1978 album .

There’s an amazing scene (one of many) in the extraordinary new Showtime documentary, Teddy Pendergrass: If You Don’t Know Me, a look at the Philly R&B superstar who sang lead on so many classic Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes songs, and who then went to an incredible solo career. In the clip, Pendergrass appears on television talk show host Tom Snyder, who introduces him by saying “May I just list four songs? ‘Come Go With Me,’ ‘Close The Door,’ ‘Turn Off The Lights,’ ‘Do Me.’” After a quick pause, both laugh, and as Pendergrass extends his arm for a handshake, Snyder aks “Have I got it?” Pendergrass, lighting up with a big smile says, “You got it.” Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Love, Need, and Want You” by Patti LaBelle

Patti LaBelle’s I’m In Love Again | via Genius

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Love, Need, and Want You” from Patti LaBelle’s 1983 album I’m In Love Again.

From Motown to Stax, every classic label had its own musical style and signature. In the late 60s through the 80s, the records produced at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia, under the production guidance of Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, were no exception. The Sound of Philly was applied to the incredible Patti LaBelle, when she signed with Philly International after releasing four solo albums on Epic Records. With her mid-70s success behind her, she released her sixth studio album, I’m In Love Again, in 1983.

I’m In Love Again put LaBelle back on the record charts and the radio after several years. The album produced two hits, the biggest of which was “If Only You Knew,” which spent four weeks as the number one on the Billboard R&B charts. The follow-up single, was “Love, Need and Want You,” written by Kenny Gamble and Bunny Sigler. The song is a quintessential Philly International turn-the-lights-down low and let’s make love jam. Vocally, it’s pure Patti. She rides the melody like gorgeous midnight blue, yearning in love, hopeful in love, shouting about being in love at the top of the mountain. Continue reading →