Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NEIL SEDAKA: Ten Reasons...

     
TEN REASONS why you should love:

NEIL SEDAKA

     You know what is really sad?  Legendary Rock and Pop singer/songwriter Neil Sedaka is not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. I’ve been upset that they haven’t inducted great artists like The Monkees and Harry Nilsson but when I read that Neil Sedaka was not already in, I lost all faith in the people who run that ‘business.’  OK, so maybe I had already lost faith in them long before but that was the final Neil in the coffin, so to speak.


     Neil started his career way back in the ‘50s. In fact, he’s celebrating 60 years as a successful singer/songwriter this year! He first made his mark with what he calls his ‘sandwich’ songs: the most memorable hooks are at the beginning and end of the song and the ‘meat’ is found right there in between.  Just listen to “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” and “Calendar Girl” for prime examples. You’ll notice that the ‘dooby doos’ and ‘tra-la-las’ that you remember so well are predominantly featured at the start of the track and then during the fade-out (and occasionally in the ‘meat’ of the song as well).  Go ahead and give one of those songs a spin and you’ll see what I mean…


     Neil was a smart cookie – he discovered a winning formula and achieved success all over the globe. “Oh Carol,” “Happy Birthday Sweet 16” and so many others made Neil became one of the most beloved Pop and Rock artists during the latter part of the ‘50s and into the ‘60s. Well, until The Beatles came along. Like his contemporaries, The Beatles’ arrival in 1963-64 stopped a lot of careers dead in their tracks, including poor Neil.

     By the late ‘60s, Neil had moved away from the ‘sandwich’ songs and began composing songs filled with emotional depth and beauty. Ignored by the press and record labels in the U.S., Neil focused on the UK, Europe, Australia and other countries where he was still respected as a songwriter and hit maker. In the early ‘70s, he hooked up with Eric Stewart, Lol Crème, Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley (later known as 10cc) and recorded at their infamous Strawberry Studios. These recordings began to raise interest in Sedaka and by 1974, he was having hits again. His SEDAKA IS BACK album – itself a compilation of tracks from his UK-only albums – was a best-seller in the U.S. and thus began the second phase of Neil’s career, which was even more successful than the first!


     When the ‘70s morphed into the ‘80s, Neil’s career lost a little momentum but at least he wasn’t cast aside like he had been when the British Invasion washed ashore. He has continued to tour and still records sporadically. His latest album, I DO IT FOR APPLAUSE, was released at the tail end of 2016 and contains material on par with his ‘70s heyday. Although he is well into his 70s, he still sounds phenomenal.

     Some might think of Neil as a relic from the past but he has proven over and over again that he is as much part of the present as he is of the past. Neil Sedaka is a gem, a true talent that shines brightly year after year.  We should all be thankful we are walking on the same planet as him.  I know I am.



     Choosing 10 tracks from his inspiring and successful career is a challenge that I do not take lightly.  I’m going to mix a few hits with some lesser known gems just to give you a sense of his bottomless talent. There are at least a hundred tracks I could list but then you’d be here all day.  I’d rather motivate you to run out and buy as much Neil Sedaka as possible. You can thank me later.

I've decided to skip the majority of the 'sandwich' songs and focus on the recordings he's made since that fruitful period in his career.  Many of these tracks might not be considered 'Rock And Roll' by Hall Of Fame standards... but they voted Run DMC in and, while talented, the Rap trio are certainly not 'Rock And Roll' by anyone's standards.  Well, unless you are a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame board member...

And yes, I missed many Sedaka classics.  What do you expect when I've limited myself to only 10 songs? 

Many of his biggest hits were co-written with Howard Greenfield or Phil Cody. You can find more info on Neil, his music, his co-writers and his career over on Wikipedia or on Neil's website.


1. CALENDAR GIRL


2. RAINY DAY BELLS


3. SOLITAIRE


4. LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER


5. BEGINNING TO BREATHE AGAIN


6. WORKIN' ON A GROOVY THING


7. BREAKIN' UP IS HARD TO DO


8. THE HUNGRY YEARS


9. THE IMMIGRANT


10. LAUGHTER IN THE RAIN


Keep on truckin',
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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