l.a. music scene

“Nightrain” by Guns N’ Roses

Top Metal Songs of the 80′s - #62

Wake up late
Honey put on your clothes
Take your credit card
To the liquor store
That’s one for you and
Two for me by tonight
I’ll be loaded like a freight train
Flyin’ like an aeroplane
Feelin’ like a space brain
One more time tonight

The third song on their landmark debut album, it is probably best known for the opening riff and how it backs the chorus. It also helped solidify the notion that GNR wasn’t a metal band that relied on power chords, but instead they brought bluesier riffs. Of course, the lyrics are classic as well, and like most of the album, the band seems to be bragging about their lives on the streets and in the L.A. music scene - at least until the actual stories started surfacing that most of what they were singing about was true (and even more subdued than reality). 

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On this day in music history: June 5, 1970 - “Express Yourself”, the fourth album by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band is released. Produced by Charles Wright, it is recorded at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, CA from December 1969 - March 1970. Originally formed in 1962 as Charles Wright & The Wright Sounds by guitarist and lead singer Charles Wright, the band build their reputation on L.A.’s R&B music scene over the next five years. In 1967, the band are discovered by producer and Keymen Records owner Fred Smith who changes their name to The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band. They release their first single “Spreadin’ Honey” (#44 R&B, #73 Pop) in August of 1967, becoming their first chart entry. Prior its release, the band meet comedian Bill Cosby who is looking for musicians to back him on his first music album. Wright and the band sign on as the backing band on “Bill Cosby Sings: Silver Throat”, yielding the hit single “Little Ole Man (Uptight Everything’s Alright)” (#4 Pop). Cosby assists them in securing a contract with Warner Bros. Their first two albums “Hot Heat And Sweet Groove” and “Together” perform modestly, but the band makes their real breakthrough in 1969 with the album “In The Jungle, Babe” and hit singles “Do Your Thing” (#11 Pop, #12 R&B) and “Love Land” (#16 Pop, #23 R&B). Amending their name to Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band later that year, they begin work on their fourth album. Wright pens the ultra-funky horn driven “Express Yourself”, recording it at Gold Star Studios in early 1970. With “Love Land” having made a slow but steady climb up the pop and R&B charts before finally peaking in mid-July, Warner Bros. releases “Express” as a single the first week of August 1970. An instant classic, “Express Yourself” (#3 R&B, #12 Pop) quickly rises up the charts, becoming the bands biggest hit. Initial pressings of the album feature the song “Road Without An End” as its opening track. Re-pressings drop this track, replacing it with “Love Land”. Wright & Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band re-visit their biggest hit on the follow up album “You’re So Beautiful” in 1971. Titling it “Express Yourself II”, it is converted into a slower stripped down call and response. The original version is revived in 1989 when N.W.A. samples it for their hit of the same name, and is featured in the film “Remember The Titans”. Out of print in the US for over thirty years, the “Express Yourself” album is reissued on CD in 2005 by Collectables Records with the original first pressing running order. In 2007, Rhino Records UK releases a remastered edition on CD in Europe with nine additional bonus tracks including original radio spots, mono single mixes and previously unreleased tracks. “Express Yourself” peaks at number twenty seven on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number one hundred eighty two on the Top 200.

In the fall of 1967, David Crosby wandered into a coffee house in Coconut Grove, Florida, and heard Joni Mitchell. Infatuated with both the songs and the singer, Crosby pursued Mitchell and eventually brought her to his boat.

The personal relationship did not last long but Crosby mentored Mitchell through the L.A. Music scene and produced her first album. Crosby also suggested to Joni that she look out for a new friend, Graham Nash.

Both wrote about the other. This is Mitchell writing in the “Cactus Tree”. Crosby wrote about Mitchell in “Guinnevere”.