From David Sanborn’s storied Sunday night NBC television show comes this performance of Miles Davis’s “Tutu” with Kenny Garrett, Sanborn, Adam Holzman, Marcus Miller, Foley and Don Alias. This short-lived program offered some of the hippest music to ever grace the television airwaves.
By the time of his third album, altoist David Sanborn’s popularity and influence was growing month by month. Most of these numbers feature Sanborn with an enlarged rhythm section (with such studio vets as guitarists Hugh McCrackenand David Spinozza, Don Grolnick or Richard Tee on keyboards, vibraphonist Mike Mainieri, bassist Herb Bushlerand drummer Steve Gadd). However, “Short Visit” is something special, for Sanborn was joined by what was mostly the Gil Evans Orchestra; Evans even wrote the chart. Otherwise, this is a typical Sanborn release with plenty of danceable rhythms and the focus on his passionate alto.
On this day in music history: October 28, 1972 - “Talking Book”, the fifteenth album by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Stevie Wonder, it is recorded at AIR Studios in London, Electric Lady Studios in New York City, Crystal Studios and The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA from March - September 1972. Issued just seven months after “Music Of My Mind”, it is the second album Wonder writes and produces after gaining full creative control of his music. The album also features Wonder playing most of the instruments, assisted by associate producers Robert Margouleff and Malcolm Cecil with the synthesizer programming, guitarists Jeff Beck, “Buzzy” Feiten and saxophonist David Sanborn making guest appearances on the tracks “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love” and “Tuesday Heartbreak” respectively. It produces several classics including the chart topping singles “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” and “Superstition”. It is a huge critical and commercial success upon its release, winning three Grammy Awards including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male. The album is also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. Over time, other songs including “You And I”, “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” and “I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever)”, are covered by numerous other artists. Wonder’s original recording of “I Believe” is later featured in the film “High Fidelity” in 2000.
“Maybe Your Baby” is also used in the comedy “Money Talks” in 1997.
The original LP pressings feature the title and artist name embossed on the front cover in braille, with an additional message from Wonder (also written in braille) on the inside gatefold that reads, “Here is my music, it is all I have to tell you how I feel. Know that your love keeps my love strong. - Stevie”. The album’s iconic cover and inner gatefold photos are taken co-producer Margouleff. Originally released on CD in 1984, it is remastered and reissued in 2000. The album is also remastered and reissued as a 24K gold CD by Audio Fidelity Records in 2010 (with HDCD encoding). The Audio Fidelity release also includes braille embossing on the CD booklet, replicating the same printing found on original press run LP’s. It is also reissued on vinyl by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab, as part of their “Silver Label Vinyl Series” in 2011. High resolution SACD and Blu-ray disc editions of the classic title are released in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Finally, the album is given another vinyl reissue by Motown/UMe in December of 2016, also replicating the original vinyl LP packaging. “Talking Book” spends three weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B Album chart, peaking at number three on the Top 200.
I can’t remember who or what put me on the scent of American progressive rock curious Crack the Sky – but I can promise you it wasn’t the assholes at Rolling Stone magazine, who declared this “debut album of the year” in ‘75, because their endorsement would have surely put me off their scent for good.
But I sought out, found, listened to the album, yet still I wondered: who were these weird cats playing, singing and staring at me, like an earlier incarnation of Cheap Trick’s patented half-jock, half-nerd gimmick?
Well, turns out Crack the Sky formed in a place called (I’m not making this up) Weirton, West Virginia, and though their newborn independent label, Lifesong, couldn’t turn that unexpected critical acclaim into sales, these songs still resonate 40 years later with quirky schizophrenia and good humor.
You’ll find sardonic tales of gang wars on “Surf City,” allusions to transvestite beauties on “She’s a Dancer” (*), class struggles on “I Don’t Have a Tie,” and cyborg solutions for lonely high school outcasts in “Robots for Ronnie,” which recalls Gabriel-era Genesis in all of its well-heeled lunacy.
Musically, while the band’s two lead guitarists (Rick Witkowski and Jim Griffiths) ensure plenty of firepower behind “Hold On” and the hammer-on-happy “Ice,” there’s abundant evidence of respectable classical educations underscoring (pun intended) the expertly orchestrated “A Sea Epic” and “Sleep” (including violins which inevitably recall Kansas).
So, clearly, Crack the Sky had no instrumental slouches, but their driving force was definitely the follically-challenged John Palumbo – lead singer, songwriter keyboardist, guitarist – who, based on modern day pictures, now sports a luxurious bouffant.
Weird miracles, indeed.
* Featuring a funky breakdown for the horns of David Sanborn and the Brecker Brothers!