January 29 – Sarah Topped A Flood Of Canadian Talent Doing Good

Yesterday’s birthday girl, Sarah Mclachlan (she turned 55 in case you were wondering) was busy showing again why she was given the Order of Canada. And that the message of Live Aid lived on two decades later. On this day in 2005, she headlined a concert at GM Place in her adopted hometown of Vancouver that she’d hastily arranged along with Nettwerk Records boss Terry McBride. It was to raise funds for charities helping victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami which had occurred a month earlier.

Sarah was winding down her tour and promotion for the late-’03 album Afterglow but had done a set on Good Morning America the previous week. She had, of course, experience setting up multi-star concerts through her involvement in the successful Lilith Fairs or the late-’90s.

A sell out crowd of 18 000 turned out to see the event, including according to local newspaper the Georgia Strait, an “older portion…dressed in their Sunday best.” The crowd was “bitch-free” according to the newspaper, with only one police officer, a female patrolling the arena halls “eating an overpriced hot dog” seen. Sets included ones from  Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, the Barenaked Ladies (whom apparently “drew the largest applause and brought everyone to their feet”) , Raine Maida (of Our Lady Peace) and his wife Chantal Kreviazuk and perhaps most surprisingly, comic Robin Williams “resplendent in a crimson suit” were on before Sarah’s set. the four hour event was event hosted by TV comics Brent Butt and Rick Mercer and . The show raised over a million dollars (about $3 million by some accounts) and she did it again two nights later in Calgary.  The event took place a week after a similar and even larger benefit concert in Wales drew 66 000 to see a lineup headlined by Eric Clapton, with Jools Holland and Manic Street Preachers among others on the bill.

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January 24 – A Tale Of Two Delilahs

Sometimes someone only barely peripherally involved in your life can turn it around. Such was the case of one Delilah DiCrescenzio on Tom Higgenson’s life, it would seem.

Higgenson was the leader of a struggling Chicago-area band who happened to see Delilah through a friend of a friend. “I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, “ he recalled. “I told her ‘I have a song about you’.” He didn’t at the time, but he soon did. She was apparently not impressed enough to dump her boyfriend for him… but the situation worked out well for Higgenson nonetheless.

Higgenson’s band is the Plain White T’s, a band he formed in 1997 with a couple of high school friends. Higgenson was early on the driving force in the T’s, being their lead singer, guitarist , main writer and in time, keyboardist when required.

They signed to an indie label, Fearless, and put out their first album in 2000. a rather forgettable and almost unnoticed piece called Come on Over. However, on this day in 2005 the tide began to change a little for them with the release of their third album, All That We Needed, an album that drew decent reviews. Allmusic for instance, rated it 4-stars and referenced Tom Petty and Big Star in its review, noting they sounded like Jimmy Eats World wannabes less than in the past. That in itself might not have counted for much for the T’s were it not for that one song Tom wrote for Delilah, the last track on the record. “Hey There Delilah” was by most accounts, their best song by far to that point … and the one that got their career jump-started. It didn’t happen overnight however.

The song, and the album, did almost nothing in 2005. The one significant thing it did though was garner interest from Disney, of all people, who signed them onto their major-distribution Hollywood label. Their debut on that label, Every Second Counts came out the next year, with a remixed version of “Hey There Delilah” on it. Things took off of course; with the album hitting the top 10 at home and in Ireland and the single becoming omnipresent in 2007, hitting #1 in the U.S. and Canada and #2 in the UK. The song about the optimistic high schooler who was gonna win the girl and the good life with his guitar fit almost every contemporary radio format, it seemed, and went 4X platinum in the States – their biggest hit to date by a long stretch. So popular was it that the first album it showed up on, All that We Needed began to sell and eventually went gold for them despite never charting at all on Billboard.

The T’s carry on to this day, to less mainstream success. They had one more top 40 hit, “1,2,3,4” in 2008 and put out their eighth album in 2018, on the same Fearless label that they started out on. These days Higgenson says that writing is his favorite part of the whole musical experience and that their roots in Chicago kept them down to earth and made them who they are. Which would seem to be pretty good guys, at least in his case. He was in the news this month when he gave a surprise performance of the song to an eight year old girl name Delilah who was undergoing cancer treatment and happened to love the song.

As for Delilah of the song… well, she did attend the Grammys with Higgenson in 2008 (their song lost out to Amy Winehouse for Song of the Year, but she and he apparently don’t keep in touch. Drummer De-mar Hamilton says “She does like the song though!” Apparently millions of others do too!

January 18 – Not So Much A Roar As A Sweet Purr

When you think of great alt-country, Americana style music, you might think it could come from, say, Nebraska. You probably wouldn’t think of it arising from Sweden’s largest city. Yet, that has been the case at times recently Stockholm by way of Omaha, thanks to the Swedish sisters Joanna and Klara Soderberg, aka First Aid Kit. They began to garner international attention on this day in 2012, with the release of their second album, The Lion’s Roar.

At the time, Klara was still a teenager and Joanna, 22. But they’d made a name for themselves in Sweden, first via MySpace and busking in downtown Stockholm, then with their first album, The Big, Black and the Blue, which sold decently for them at home two years earlier. Both were proficient in English and fans of ‘western’ music. Klara in particular was fond of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Emmylou Harris music, influences which come through in their music.

For The Lion’s Roar, they traveled to Omaha, Nebraska to record with Mike Mogis, a producer and multi-instrumentalist member of the indie band Bright Eyes. He and his band filled in on instruments the girls didn’t play – Joanna played keyboards and autoharp, while Klara was on guitar – except bass. Keeping in mind their ages, perhaps, their dad, Benkt Soderberg was there on the bass and no doubt keeping an eye open for his girls.

The resulting album was a great ten song effort that the duo wrote themselves but seemed to channel southern California and the Appalachians more than Scandinavia. The song “Emmylou” in particular, written for their hero Ms. Harris, evoked Americana and got them widespread notice on this side of the ocean, with them playing it on Conan O’Brien and David Letterman’s talk shows and with Rolling Stone listing it among the year’s ten best songs.

The album drew great reviews far and wide, including Britain’s NME (8 out of 10), and Q, 4-stars, with American Rolling Stone rating it 3.5-stars. Soon after, allmusic gave it the same score, calling it a blend of “autumnal folk and wistful ’60s Americana”, centering out “Emmylou” (“juxtaposing the girls glorious ethereal harmonies with a genuine sense of melancholy”) and the “lush acoustics of ‘I Found a Way’” as highlights.

The album quickly went to #1 in Sweden – the first of three in a row for them – and won the Nordic Music Prize for best album. Although it’s success was more limited elsewhere, it did go gold in the UK , where it hit #35 and at least charted in North America. In so doing, it opened up the doors for even greater success with their follow-up, Stay Gold.

January 2 – A Smooth Start To The 21st Century

We had gotten through the Y2K scare unscathed, so by this day in 2000, we could all relax a little and take a deep breath…and chill while enjoying some tunes. And the tune many of us were enjoying that day was from an icon of the Hippie era. Topping the Billboard charts to both end the 1900s and kick off the 2000s was Santana, and the tune was indeed “Smooth.”

Of course, he had a little help on this astounding career revival. The voice you heard, or couldn’t avoid in fact for months on end, was Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20 who sang the tune with Santana’s distinctive guitar stylings behind him.

The smash single, from the smash Supernatural album (which would become the biggest of Carlos Santana’s career, selling 15X platinum in the U.S. and topping an incredible 30 million worldwide) came about from a meeting almost three years earlier. Clive Davis had been the head of Columbia back in Santana’s heyday in the Woodstock era. Over the years, Davis had left and done various things, by the late-’90s running the Arista Records label. Santana, meanwhile, had fallen out of fashion, with (as Davis describes it) music that “swung unpredictably” from spiritual new age stuff to “less than successful attempts” to sound modern and relevant. He invited Davis to a show he was playing, and chatted with him afterwards. Davis said “he had lost none of his energy and passion” and he “still had his magical touch” on the six-string. And he wanted to be relevant again. “He had three children and it was hurtful to him they had never heard him on the radio.” He asked Davis for a contract, and a comeback.

Davis, and Arista were willing…with reservations. While they knew Carlos’ remarkable capabilities playing guitar and improvising, they questioned his ability to write material that sounded radio-friendly. Davis asked him if he would take advice and work with current, pop radio hit-making artists. Santana said yes.

Smooth” was actually one of the last tracks to be done for Supernatural. It began with writer/producer Itaal Shur. He visited the studio and heard several of the recorded tracks, including ones with Dave Matthews and Wyclef Jean. He said “there wasn’t one with a standard Santana groove like ‘Black Magic Woman’, ‘Oye Como Va’ … I went home and wrote this track on guitar.” He also penned lyrics about a couple getting back together after years for a tryst in a motel, and called it “Room One Seven,” and presented it. Arista loved the tune, but not the lyrics. They felt they were too overtly sexual for Carlos or for radio, and brought in Rob Thomas to fix it. Thomas was at the time a hot commodity, being the singer for Matchbox 20, whose debut album was only just starting to drop down the charts after being a #1 for them with radio smashes like “Push” and “3AM.”

Thomas wrote the lyrics for “Smooth” thinking about his wife Marisol, a Puerto rican lady (which explains the latin references) as well as songs of his youth that he loved like Elton John’s “Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters.” He wrote the lyrics thinking George Michael should sing them, but Arista figured he was perfect himself, but “if you listen to the melody and the cadence, it’s an attempt to emulate (Michael) in many ways,” Thomas says.

Whoever he was thinking about or singing like, it worked. The song hit #1 in the U.S. for a remarkable 12-straight weeks (and also topped Canadian charts) the first top 10 single he’ d had since “Black Magic Woman” nearly three decades earlier. It managed to end up among the 50 biggest-sellers of both the 1990s and the 2000s. Santana was clearly back. “Smooth” went on to win the Record of the Year Grammy, and the album, the Album of the Year one.

October 30 – U2 Left Behind ’90s Experimentalism

It was time to put the 20th Century to rest, the U.S. was seeing the Clinton presidency come to its end…and U2 decided to ditch the ’90s as well. Twenty years ago they put out their tenth studio album, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, arriving this day in 2000. And while not exactly War redux, it was certainly a return to the basics that made them so popular in the ’80s as opposed to a continuation of the sometimes odd musical experimentation they’d had on the previous trio of albums, Achtung Baby (and mainly) Zooropa and Pop.

Pop took the deconstruction of the rock & roll band format to the nth degree,” guitarist The Edge says, adding they wanted a return to more basic guitar/bass/drums-oriented songs. As well, for the first time in nine years, they went back to the producers they knew well that had delivered the goods for them in the past, Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. That pair had guided the band in the studio through their most successful period, from The Unforgettable Fire through Achtung Baby.

The result was an 11 song set that returned to more conventional territory…and to strong praise for the band. While The Edge’s edgy guitars weren’t as blazing as they had been two decades prior, there was no shortage of catchy rock songs exploring a vast array of feelings, from the bold, upbeat lead single, “Beautiful Day” through the frustration of “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of” to the gentler optimism of “Peace on Earth.” The latter, along with a song entitled “New York” and the cover, apparently showing the band in an airport later had some convinced it was written about the 9/11 attacks…but, seeing as how the record came out almost a year before that, well, that seems improbable!

Critics who’d not necessarily cared for the band’s electronica experiments of the second half of the ’90s generally were impressed. Entertainment Weekly graded it an “A” saying it was “startling” and a “welcome reversal of fortune” for the quartet. Rolling Stone graded it 4-stars and declared it the band’s “third masterpiece” after The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby. Three years on, they’d rank it among the 200 greatest records of all-time, suggesting it was “full of ecstacy, mourning and release”. Across the sea in the UK, the NME rated it 7 out of 10 and Q posted it as a 4-star release.

Fans agreed. It hit #1 in the UK, the band’s own Ireland, Australia and Canada, where it was their seventh. In the States, it stalled at #3, but still went 4X platinum, contributing to worldwide sales topping 12 million. Strangely, the album’s missing the top spot in the U.S. was probably based on lukewarm response to the singles. “Beautiful Day” only got to #21, and other released missed the top 40 altogether, whereas in Canada, four singles made it to #1: “Beautiful Day”, “Walk On”, “Elevation” (a #1 in Ireland too) and “Stuck in a Moment…” Two of those songs got U2 into the record books, and books about records. “Beautiful Day” won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2001, and “Walk On” took the same award in ’02, making it the first album to ever launch two “records of the year”. Seems it was a good thing that conventional rock sound was one of the things U2 couldn’t leave behind!

In honor of the 20th Anniversary of the album, U2 are released several new editions of All That You Can’t Leave Behind in 2020, including heavy vinyl LP versions and CD box sets with photos from Anton Corbijn and a concert DVD from the subsequent tour.

October 21 – Shins Legged Their Way To Popularity

Say “Sub Pop” and one usually thinks right away of Nirvana. But there’s a whole lot more to the respected Seattle indie label than the origins of the Mythology of Kurt, and while not many of their other acts went on to become mega-selling stars, they’ve had a good run of promoting highly-respected (and less self-destructive) bands through the decades, including Band of Horses, Flaming Lips and the Shins. Speaking of whom, they put out their second, critically-acclaimed album, Chute’s Too Narrow this day in 2003.

The Shins are a Portland-based project that is essentially James Mercer and whatever friends happen to be around at the time. An introspective singer/songwriter and guitarist he says he went into music because “it got me out of my shell and gave me a social life.” He formed them while he was in a band called Flake, in Alburquerque, but relocated to be closer to the “scene” when he got a chance to tour with Modest Mouse, which in turn got them signed to Subpop.

Their debut, Oh Inverted World, won them good reviews which continued to grow, with their reputation for this one. This time around The Shins were a quartet, with Mercer helped out by drummer James Sandoval, bassist Dave Hernandez and keyboardist Marty Crandall, who’s role was slightly lessened as they shifted towards a slightly more jangly guitar-based sound which at its best sounded vaguely like a less morose Smiths.

He wrote and recorded the ten snappy songs (only two run past four minutes) in his basement in a run-down neighborhood of Portland. Still, a young band with moderate sales had to economize and he said since the equipment was there, why bother renting a studio? “It only cost $60 to buy deadbolts for the doors,” he noted. They did get it finished up and mixed in a Seattle studio mind you.

Critics sat up and took notice with the release, despite them lacking a real “hit” thus far. Rolling Stone gave it 4-stars, noting it was “more substantial than what is sold in the mainstream” and was a record of “old-school pop songwriting, full of ’60s-style psych-folk music.” Entertainment Weekly gave it an “A-”, comparing them to “conservatory dropouts raised on Beach Boys.” Blender thought it “equally charming and more consistent” than the first one. Later, allmusic graded it 4-stars, suggesting “they excel at sounding happy, sad, frustrated and vulnerable at the same time… bursting with nervous energy.” they singled out the “under-stated…winding ‘Young Pilgrims‘ “ and the first single, “the bouncy but brooding ‘So Says I’” as highlights.

If mainstream radio largely ignored The Shins, their fans in the entertainment world didn’t. The album got boosts from TV and movies – “Those to Come” appeared in both the Scarlett Johannson romcom In Good Company and the Will Ferrell flick Winter Passing, they got to perform “So Says I” live in an episode of Gilmore Girls and proving that there are certain “perks” to being an indie rock star, Crandall’s girlfriend wore The Shins t-shirts three times on the show she was on – America’s Next Top Model.

For all that, the record was only a modest success. Singles “So Says I” and “Fighting in a Sack” did OK on college radio but barely made the regular charts and the album stalled in the 80s on both American and British charts. However, eventually it would go gold at home and pave the way for their follow-up, Wincing the Night Away to be a top 10 hit in the U.S. and Canada.

September 25 – Lifehouse Sprang To Life

Your childhood church probably didn’t sound like this! Out of the California pews and onto worldwide radio, Lifehouse put out their first – and biggest – single on this day in 2000, “Hanging By A Moment”.

Lifehouse were put together in 1995 under the name Blyss by guitarist/vocalist Jason Wade who was just 15 at the time. He and two friends, drummer Jon Palmer and bassist Sergio Andrade formed the band which was largely spiritual in nature and played churches as well as some colleges. They put out an EP under the name Blyss in 1999, which got them noticed by DreamWorks who signed them. After a name change, Lifehouse went to work on their first album No Name Face with up-and-coming producer Ron Aniello. He seemed to be the perfect man for the job (and would later go on to produce records for the likes of Barenaked Ladies, Jars of Clay and one Bruce Springsteen) seeing as how he seemed to have a Christian background similar to the band’s, and he was multi-talented, filling in their sound with additional guitars, keyboards and percussion! Plus he knew Brendan O’Brien, famous for producing Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam, who he got to do the final mix of the record.

The first song on the CD was the first one they put out as a single, rather wisely. “It was the most up-tempo, radio-friendly song,” Wade explains.

Radio-friendly it was, and probably in Wade’s mind, a true gift from God. And who’s to say he’s wrong? He says it was the easiest song he ever wrote. “I heard the melody in my head before it was written,” he recalls but he noted “I couldn’t tell if it was a song on the radio.” When convinced it wasn’t “I picked up a guitar and it was kind of creepy because the song was almost written by itself. Within five minutes the lyrics and everything were finished.”

That was a very productive five minutes! Although being an unknown band it didn’t instantly jump up charts, it didn’t take long to find a receptive home on several types of radio formats with its catchy rock melody, grungey singing and vague message of love. Before long it would end up going to #2 on Billboard and spend three weeks at #1 on the Alternative Rock chart. It hit #1 in Australia and even got noticed in the UK, where it reached #25. In Canada it didn’t chart due to not being put out as a physical single, but it was the most-played song on radio for 2001; at home in the U.S. it was the #1 song of ’01. Curiously it was only the third song to be the biggest of a year without topping a weekly chart, “Wooly Bully” by Sam the Sham in 1965 and Faith Hill’s “Breathe” in 2000 being the others. “Hanging By A Moment” accomplished that by staying on the charts for 54 weeks and being dominant on alternative rock, mainstream rock, pop and other types of radio. Wikipedia point out that it was “one of the biggest rock hits ever by a contemporary Christian band crossing over to the mainstream.” And it helped the album, No Name Face, rise into the top 10 at home, in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark, selling better than four million copies.

Lifehouse have put out six albums since, scoring another top 10 hit in 2005 with “You and Me” but it’s hard to tell if Lifehouse is still “live.” They haven’t put out a new album since 2015 and recently were scrapped from a Goo Goo Dolls tour for unknown reasons and Wade has been busy with a spin-off band, Ozwald.

September 20 – Maybe Bubblegummy Song Wasn’t Crazy

Maybe it’s appropriate that it came out on the same day that one of the most bubblegummy of all pop hits reached the top 42 years earlier. On this day in 1969, “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies hit #1. And on this day in 2011, one of the century’s biggest – and most bubblegum-sounding – singles came out : “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. Love it or hate it, soon there was no escaping the song that was everywhere. The Village Voice put it best by calling it “utterly earwormy.”

Jepsen was by then a 25 year old former barista and Canadian College of Performing Arts student from the Vancouver area. She’d risen to minor fame in Canada being a contestant on Canadian Idol in 2007 (she finished third) and putting out a moderately well-received slightly folkish album, Tug of War.

Fast forward to 2011 and she began working on a new record for the small local 604 Records label. “Call Me Maybe” was one of the first things she’d come up with, writing it with her friend Tavish Crowe. She said the song was “basically a pickup (line). What person hasn’t wanted to approach somebody before and stopped, because it’s scary.” They wrote it as a relatively folk-countryish tune originally but brought in multi-instrumentalist Josh Ramsay, of underground alt rock band Mariana’s Trench, who “helped us pop-ify it.” That he did, as well as between him and Crowe, playing guitars, bass, drums and synthesizers on the now upbeat ditty.

It was the lead single on the Canadian EP Curiosity, which was soon added to and made into a full album, Kiss, which was put out in the States, first on the small Schoolboy label, then when the single took off, being picked up by Interscope. And take off it did.

First it began to get airplay in Canada, which drew the attention of fellow Canuck teen-sensation Justin Bieber, and his then girlfriend Selena Gomez. Both raved about the song on social media and it really took off, no “maybe” about it. Soon it got to #1 at home…and in the U.S., where it spent nine weeks on top, and in the UK, Australia, France…18 countries in all. In an age of diminishing sales of music, it went through the roof (largely through downloads on sites like I-tunes), going diamond in both Canada and the U.S., and 15X platinum Down Under where it was the biggest-seller of 2012. When all it was said and done it had sold “maybe” 18-20 million copies. So far, it’s been streamed 895 million times on Spotify. It was the first #1 song by a Canadian female since Avril Lavigne had scored one in 2007 and is presently the biggest-selling single by any female so far in the 21st Century.

Of course, a song as popular as that would find other sources of fame. “Call Me Maybe” was popular for lip-synching videos, which included American Air Force personnel in Afghanistan. Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster put his own spin on it, singing “Share It Maybe.” It seemed it was everyone’s “guilty pop pleasure,” as VH1 termed it.

Although she’s kept busy singing and at times acting, and has had a couple of chart hits since, she’s never come close to the level of mega-success she had from this single. But she has a new album due next month. She could be back on top soon…”maybe.”

September 5 – The Turntable Talk, Round 6 : Don’t Forget About Power Pop?

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! As by now, regular readers know, that’s when I have several interesting guest writers sound off on one topic related to the music that we look at here daily. This is our sixth round of it, and if you’re new here, I recommend taking a look back at some of the earlier topics we’ve covered like why the Beatles are still relevant, or “did video kill the radio star?”

This time around, we’re calling it “Shock Rock.” But wait, there’s a twist – it’s not about Marilyn Manson and his contemporaries…unless our writers want it to be. Rather, its more about what some would call “guilty pleasures.” Songs or records that you like that would “shock” most people. Ones that go against the grain of most of what you listen to. I once asked a well-known radio DJ who loved new music, alternative and artsy rock if he had a musical guilty pleasure and he responded that he’d always liked “Moonlight feels Right” by Starbuck… a ’70s piece of laid back yacht rock with a xylophone solo! (Hey, we like it too!) Not his usual fare, but a song that he loves regardless. Maybe the heavy metal types have a soft spot for a bit of late night opera. Or an “all-60s rock” person loves Bruno Mars too. You get the idea.

So, today we have Max from Power Pop Blog. There he looks at a slice of pop culture that interests him, primarily music. We know he’s a big fan of the British rock that emerged in the ’60s…he’s the guy to go to if you want to know about The Who or early Rolling Stones. But does he like anything more modern? Well…

When I heard this song I thought it was an older song. That was put to rest when I heard the uncensored version that is titled “F*** You”. When I heard it was CeeLo Green…I was shocked. It’s so catchy and I liked the video. I knew CeeLo Green as a rapper and I’m not a fan of that genre. Modern Country, death metal, and rap just don’t appeal to me very much.

The surprise came when I heard this Motown-sounding song over the radio back in 2010 by him. Uncensored words like that don’t really bother me at all but the shock came from it being CeeLo Green and modern…he sings this really well. 

I had to laugh when I heard the other version but I try to keep my post a little tame so we will go with “Forget You today. But…if you want to hear the other version be my guest. They never thought about releasing a clean version until a little later and it was a surprise hit. Here is a live version with Daryl Hall that is really good. 

This song peaked at #2 on the Billboard 100 in 2011. The songwriters were Bruno Mars, CeeLo Green, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine. The song has a good pop hook and it has a few different styles thrown in.

You may have thought the inspiration for this song was from a breakup but Green said the hit came about as a result of creative differences with his label, Elektra Records.

CeeLo Green: “I did ‘F— You’ to be an a–hole, to be spiteful toward the label,” “Because it had taken about three years to do The Lady Killer, and I just felt that after recording almost 70 songs I could not please them.”

Bruno Mars: ‘I wanna work with CeeLo Green.’ We came up with the title and sung the chorus for him. We were a little nervous about it cos we didn’t want it to be like a skit. He said, ‘That’s incredible, let’s go.’ We wrote it in two hours.”

 

 

 

August 23 – Jon Found An Island Home

It wasn’t a fun time for Jon Bon Jovi seven years back. Longtime guitarist Richie Sambora had just quit the band (Bon Jovi) and then on this day in 2015, Jon announced he was “leaving” (some said “being dumped by”) Mercury Records, the only label Bon Jovi had recorded for in their 32 years. This was only two days after they released the tellingly-titled Burning Bridges record. That album had the title track with lyrics noting “here’s the last song you can sell” and “after 30 years of loyalty, they let you dig your grave.”

Jon said “I am the longest tenured artist on Mercury, but my deal was up and that’s that.” It was a bit perplexing perhaps given that he and the band were not only the longest-tenured act on Mercury, they were the biggest-selling one, outdoing others like John Mellencamp, Rush and even Def Leppard who’d at times been label-mates. A few days ago here, we looked at his Slippery When Wet album, which was the label’s biggest-seller of all-time. But it would seem the company was of a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude; Mercury apparently complained his last top 40 single, was way back in 2007, “Make A Memory”. Nonetheless, his previous album, What about Now? had gotten to #1 on the charts in North America and as recently as 2013 he was the biggest concert draw in the world.

He landed on his feet mind you, the next year Bon Jovi had signed to Island Records and that company was re-releasing remastered versions of the back catalog. He’s put out two albums since. This House is Not For Sale , in 2016, became his sixth #1 in the U.S. and gave him a top 10 hit on adult contemporary charts, perhaps surprisingly, with it’s title track while 2020 (which came out not surprisingly in 2020) made the top 10 in the UK and Australia and scored him another adult contemp. hit with “Do What You Can.”.