Archive for Throwback Thursday

Wanna rock and roll all night and party every day? Kiss is gearing up to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with its first-ever Rolling Stone magazine cover, an epic summer co-headlining tour with Def Leppard and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frontman Paul Stanley also has a new tell-all memoir, “Face The Music: A Life Exposed.” To get up to speed on all the action, check out our playlist of the pioneering hard rock band’s classic songs.

Kiss 3

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EltonBlog[1]With the 40th anniversary reissue of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Music Unlimited has been knee-deep in Elton John’s back catalog this week. We’ve picked him as an MU Icon and you can find a playlist of essential tracks on the service now.

The biggest musical force to emerge at the dawn of the 1970s, Elton John ruled the airwaves during that bell-bottomed, bespangled decade, conquering FM rock radio, the pop hit parade, disco dance floors and even the R&B charts. John, who was a strange combination of shy piano nerd, raw musical talent and showman, used the glitzy glam-era costume trappings to give his concert performances a boost while his songs spoke for themselves.

Influenced by everything from New Orleans R&B and rockabilly to classical music and 1950s pop, Elton John unified it all through his peerless, idiosyncratic melodies. The lyrics were penned by Bernie Taupin and it’s the songs from their 1970s partnership that form his essential body of work.

In less than a decade, John and Taupin nearly matched the quality/quantity peak of Lennon/McCartnety by crafting a dozen (!!!) classic albums, including the double platters Yellow Brick Road and Blue Moves.

Normally, part of the fun of doing an MU Icons playlist is digging through all the deep cuts and unearthing hidden gems. Well, John/Taupin scored over 20 huge hits during the first wave of their partnership. We’ve added additional cuts, but even they include such widely heard classic rockers as the prog epic “Funeral For A Friend” and the propulsively romantic “Razor Face.”

Elton John would go on to score deserved hits without Bernie Taupin but it says something that after years apart they now work together again. While their 2013 release The Diving Board scored Elton John his finest reviews in a long stretch it’s their 1970s collaborations that will be listened to well into the next century.

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TemptationsIt was 50 years ago today that The Temptations released their debut album, Meet the Temptations. It was the start of a career that would provide some of the most incredible pop music ever laid down on wax. To celebrate, we’ve gathered a decade-spanning list of rule-breaking hits in The Temptations: MU Icons Playlist, now on Music Unlimited mobile & web.

“The Way You Do the Things You Do” has the mark of songwriter Smokey Robinson all over it, but the group’s own harmonies make the song swing effortlessly. The Smokey/ Temptations connection would also bring us “My Girl”, giving David Ruffin his first shot at lead vocals and (along with that guitar line from The Funk Brothers’ Robert White) providing one of the most recognizable pop songs in history.

In 1966, Norman Whitfield came aboard as a producer and the band began to carve out something more hard-hitting and funkier. First evidence was “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg”, the finger-snapping classic with David Ruffin again killing it on those strained vocals. With Whitfield, the band began releasing track after track of hugely inventive chart-toppers, songs which showed an appreciation for both the nascent counterculture movement and the deep sounds of inner city funk. “Cloud Nine”, “Ball of Confusion” , “I Can’t Get Next To You” were all daring, immediate and positively mind-blowing.

As the vibe of popular music mellowed, so did the Temps, perfectly exemplified by the Eddie Kendricks-sung “Just My Imagination” setting the template for ‘70s love jams to come. As sweet and beautiful as that song was, they could still amaze with the about-face long-form brilliance of 1972’s “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”. Here was 12 minutes of stunning, dark cinematic soul, armed with a wah-wah pedal and some frankly pretty bleak lyrics. It might just be their crowning achievement.

And they didn’t stop there. The Temptations have weathered disco, ‘80s soul-pop, ‘90s New Jack and hip-hop – racking up hits and touring for the faithful.

But if you’re of the mindset that The Temptations are just an oldies act, dive deeper and discover the haunting soul and celestial harmonies that lie at the center of Motown’s finest group in our playlist.

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In spite of cold temperatures, February is heating up for Valentine’s Day tomorrow, with nearly every corner of the internet reminding you to dote on your loved one… or that you’re single. While flowers and candy are nice, there is nothing more romantic than music, and we’ve dialed up the romance to the extreme in our new Slow Jams Channel, now available on Music Unlimited.

Lean back and enjoy some of the most soulful and sensual tracks ever cut to wax (metaphorically speaking). We’ve handpicked tracks from the ‘70s up until now, bringing you the smoothest, romantically inclined music – from Marvin Gaye and Anita Baker to Usher and Frank Ocean.

Spend this #ThrowbackThursday shuffling through the greats as we dive headfirst into into V-Day. Enjoy!

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MUIconsMost people have a favorite band or a favorite song. Chances are, you’ve got a few. While part of the fun of living is being able to figure out just who belongs at the top and who doesn’t – there exist some artists who unquestionably belong in the upper echelon. The outliers, as Malcolm Gladwell might say. Okay, so maybe this is an entirely subjective matter, but we’ve developed the MU Icon Playlists to spotlight artists we feel ABSOLUTELY belong in that top tier. These are artists with a body of work that is influential and rewarding. The players who changed the game, defined an era and maybe even changed the course of music entirely. Artists who you NEED to acquaint yourself with (or more likely reacquaint yourself with).

We’ll be picking an artist each week and examining their catalog and offering a bit of an old-school primer on the songs you ought to know. This week, we’re diving into the work of the mighty Queen, whose hard rock theatrics and dazzling guitar/vocal work still has the power to awe. Queen joins the ranks of artists like metal progenitors Black Sabbath, jazz pianist Bill Evans, UK punk revolutionaries The Clash and the blue-eyed soul of Hall & Oates who have also earned the majestic title of MU Icon.

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MU_BruceSpringsteenArtistRewind_US_FB-WallThe Boss. Few artists paint an immediate mental image from their real name, let alone their nickname, but Bruce Springsteen isn’t just any artist. He is the artist for devotees who have followed his career over 40 years, 18 studio albums, five live albums and relentless touring. His catalog includes a staggering amount of hits that have been sewn into the fabric of the history of music and awarded him a whopping 20 GRAMMY® Awards, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award (y’know, to name a few) and a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Decades later, he is continuing to put out music, with his latest effort, High Hopes dropping this past Tuesday. It’s a slightly different release as it contains songs written for previous albums and performed live for over 10 years, just now recorded and compiled. This is an essential for fans who have come to love these songs live and itching for a proper recording.

To celebrate the release of High Hopes, we’ve put together a comprehensive list in our latest retrospective channel, Artist Rewind: Bruce Springsteen, available now on Music Unlimited. It’s an essential mix of rock, R&B, pop and soul through album highlights, live performances and more. Enjoy!

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bleach-nirvana-cover-album-1988News broke yesterday of the bands and artists nominated for inclusion in that most prestigious of institutions, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To celebrate some monumental names being added to the list – in some cases well after they were originally eligible – we’re taking this Throwback Thursday to look at some of their debut albums.

While the Seattle Grunge band wouldn’t really break into mainstream awareness until the release of 1991′s Nevermind, their debut album Bleach still stands as a testament of a band honing its sound, with lots of great things potentially ahead of it.

The makeup, the hair, the rock swagger. It was all there on the group’s 1974 debut, which was reportedly made almost entirely in less than two weeks. Lots of hits would follow.

The ReplacementsSorry Ma I Forgot To Take Out the Trash
The songwriting prowess of Paul Westerberg and others echoes through countless dorm halls in the early- to mid-1980s as the band picked up where the first wave of punk left off and brought it home to suburbanites everywhere.

N.W.A.Straight Outta Compton
It’s hard to think of another group that wound up influencing so much of rap’s early years. With Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and others who would go on to solo stardom, this record brought rap to the masses in a big way.

Because everyone needs a little prog-rock in their lives. Over the years – and through countless personal lineups – Yes would go on to encourage radio listeners to air-synth and inspire some great moments in the movie School of Rock.

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TheX-FilesThis past Tuesday the entertainment world marked the 20th anniversary of a milestone in the world of sci-fi television: The X-Files.

Whether you don’t know your Smoking Man from your black ooze or simply want to relive the chemistry between Agents Mulder and Scully, we’re here to help. Watch all nine seasons of this groundbreaking sci-fi drama or other sci-fi series influenced by the iconic episodic such as Fringe, Bones and Supernatural to name a few.

And if you’re a sci-fi movie buff, watch the two movies spawned from the X-Files franchise, 1997’s Fight the Future and 2008’s I Want to Believe.

The Truth is out there. Find it by celebrating X-Files greatness with Video Unlimited.

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Image via Yahoo! Movies

Image via Yahoo! Movies

Yesterday, film fandom was abuzz as the new Transformers 4 poster was unveiled, with the subtle subtitle Age of Extinction. The unveiling of the name brought renewed speculation that the Dinobots – robots that turn into dinosaurs instead of vehicles – would be part of the movie’s plot, energizing Transformer fan-boys and moviegoers alike.

So we thought it would be worth taking this Throwback Thursday to look back at the Transformers franchise across film and music and how its rich media legacy has now captured the imaginations of two generations.

First airing in 1984, the original Transformers cartoon series coincided with the toys’ introduction on store shelves and featured a simple premise: After their ship crashed on Earth the heroic Autobots swore to protect humanity and stop the evil Decepticons from acquiring Energon, the power source that would help them conquer the world and their home planet of Cybertron.

While future series like Beast Wars kept the fires burning, the Transformers re-emerged on the world’s stage with the 2007 big-screen, live action feature. Introducing characters such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, Bumblebee and the rest, this film stoked the nostalgic fires of now-grown fans as well as whole new, younger generation of Transformer devotees. Directed by Michael Bay, the first movie was popular enough to spawn two sequels - Revenge of The Fallen and Dark of the Moon – to date.

Those movies also have great music you can listen to. The 1986 animated Transformers: The Movie has a great soundtrack, the highlight of which is “The Touch,” which as good an 80′s synth-driven anthem as you’ll ever find.

Each of the current movies also has a couple options to feel like you’re inside the movies or just hear songs that were inspired by them. The 2007 original has a score and a soundtrack with tracks by Smashing Pumpkins, MUTEMATH and a host of others. Dark of the Moon has a score and a soundtrack with songs by Paramore, My Chemical Romance and more. Finally, Revenge of The Fallen has both a score and a soundtrack featuring acts like Green Day, Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and others.

With a storied history and a renewed resurgence, the rich media legacy that has accompanied the great Transformer franchise will endure through next summer and beyond when another installment of good robots versus bad comes to a theater near you.

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MU_ArtistPicksLLCoolJ_US_FB-WallLast month LL Cool J released his lucky 13th studio album Authentic, now part of the entertainment empire he has built that includes film, TV and entrepreneurial endeavors. At the heart of his career is the music, with a history of songs that have defined the shape of Hip-Hop in its formative years and those to follow.

We gathered a variety of LL Cool J’s biggest tracks and cult favorites in our Artist Rewind: LL Cool J Channel, now available on the Music Unlimited service. This includes songs from across his catalog, including “Mama Said Knock You Out,” “Doin’ It” & “Around the Way Girl,” as well as “Bath Salt” & “We Came to Party” from Authentic.

We love LL Cool J, so today’s #ThrowbackThursday is dedicated to our favorite of his songs with “love” in the title.  Browse the list below and hear more in the new channel!

I Need Love
Bigger & Deffer


One Shot at Love
Walking With a Panther

Hey Lover
Mr. Smith

Born to Love You”

I Fall in Love” 
Exit 13

Give Me Love

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