Classic Albums

  • Hot Stuff: The History of Gershon Kingsley's "Popcorn"

    As one of the first hit songs to ever use a Moog synthesizer, "Popcorn" was both a sign of its times and a look far ahead into the future of music. Before soft synthesizers were ever a glimmer in an engineer's eye, electronic-music pioneers like "Popcorn" writer Gershon Kingsley were using big, bulky analog units with no presets to create musical magic.

    Kingsley, now 95-years-old, began playing the synthesizer in the 1960s, but that’s not where his love of music began. Kingsley had already earned a name for himself in the world of musical theatre, even earning a Tony Nomination in 1958 for his Conducting and Directing. Throughout his lengthy career, he’s arranged music for film and television, Broadway musicals, and many songs for Jewish religious ceremonies, but his most famous work is an instrumental synth-pop song inspired by a salty snack. Continue reading

  • Pharaoh's Dance: The Making Of Miles Davis' Bitches Brew

    In the 1960s, jazz was considered “commercially dead.” The most popular genre of the past three decades had finally given way to the more successful sounds of rock music.

    By then, Miles Davis had already made significant contributions to jazz music. He laid the groundwork for cool jazz in the early 1950s with Birth of Cool, and in 1959 he released the best-selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue. Yet, his most groundbreaking work still lay ahead.   Continue reading

  • Turn Me Up Real Loud: The Making of Van Halen's Debut

    There's no doubt about it — Van Halen is one of the most influential rock bands of all time. They've sold over 56 million albums in the US, including at least 10 million copies of two different albums, and hold the record for most number-one hits on the Billboard Rock charts.

    As for the music itself, Van Halen created a unique mix of hard rock, blues and heavy metal that featured a sonic force never heard before. The combination of Eddie Van Halen’s innovative guitar playing, David Lee Roth’s near-performance art approach to being a frontman and the powerful Van Halen/Anthony rhythm section cemented them as rock gods. The off-stage antics like the "no brown M&Ms" on their rider? The cherry on top of it all. Continue reading

  • The Year Punk Went Pop: The Making of Green Day's Dookie

    1994 was a weird year in music history. Ace of Base had three of the Top 10 Billboard singles in the US. Kurt Cobain died. Left Eye burned down that mansion. Oh, and three different major labels got in a bidding war over a band who wrote songs about smoking pot and masturbation.

    Earlier this month, Green Day's Dookie turned 24-years-old, but it's youthful exuberance and pop prowess still seems fresh all these years later. Read on to get insight into how three Berkeley punks were able to create a modern punk masterpiece in the era of grunge domination. Continue reading

  • Your Time Is Gonna Come: The Making of Led Zeppelin's Debut

    Last week on the Vintage King blog, we took a deep dive into the drums sounds on Led Zeppelin's "When the Levee Breaks." We're discussing Zeppelin once again, but this time we are covering the history behind the recording and release of their self-titled debut from January 1969. Continue reading

  • Trophies Of War: 50 Years of Jimi Hendrix Experience's Axis: Bold As Love

    Jimi Hendrix is an icon. A rock legend, often described as the greatest guitarist of all time. But his career only lasted four short years before his life was cut tragically short at 27.

    In that time, he was able to release three albums with the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Are You Experienced acted as their loud and flashy introduction. Electric Ladyland proved to be their grand finale, featuring some of their most memorable songs. Continue reading

  • 40 Years of Excess: The Making of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours

    Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is a monument to excess; fueled by enormous budgets, sleepless nights and mountains of cocaine. Earlier this year, the album celebrated its 40th anniversary and we decided to take a look at what exactly went into the recording and mixing process of this classic album.

    Rumours was recorded over 12 months at The Record Plant in Sausalito, California in 1976. Even the studio owners thought Fleetwood Mac were going overboard. Chris Stone said, "They would come in at 7 at night, have a big feast, party till 1 or 2 in the morning. And then when they were so whacked-out they couldn't do anything, they'd start recording." Continue reading

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