‘The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society’ was both ahead of and behind the times when the British rockers released the album in November 1968. A critical success, but commercial disappointment at the time, the ‘Village Green’ LP eventually became the Kinks’ bestselling studio album, prompting frontman Ray Davies to once refer to it as “the most successful flop of all time.”
‘With the Beatles’ was a hit before it was even released. By November 1963, Beatlemania was raging across the U.K.. On the heels of the Fab Four’s debut LP, ‘Please Please Me,’ and the smash singles ‘From Me to You’ and ‘She Loves You,’ ‘With the Beatles’ could have featured 33 minutes of Ringo Starr performing Shakespeare and it still would have topped the charts.
In 1983, “the only band that matters” was poised to become the biggest band in the world. Over the course of a few years, the Clash had gone from punk upstarts to a passionately eclectic band capable of rocking stadiums.
As Jackson Browne prepared to release his sixth studio album, the singer-songwriter was at the peak of his pop success. His previous LP, 1980’s ‘Hold Out,’ was Browne’s first (and only) album to hit #1 on the Billboard charts. Plus, he had scored his biggest hit single with 1982’s ‘Somebody’s Baby,’ featured on the soundtrack to ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High.’
'Street-Legal,' Bob Dylan’s 18th album, was created during a period of personal and artistic strife. The year before the record's release, Dylan finalized the divorce of his 11-year marriage to Sara, underwent a custody battle for his kids and continued to edit his ill-fated, four-hour movie ‘Renaldo and Clara,’ which had been shot in 1975.
In May of 1968 – nearly a year after the release of the triumphant ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ and a few months after the major movie blunder ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ – the Beatles began working on their next album. They had been writing songs (including ‘Dear Prudence,’ ‘Mother Nature’s Son’ and ‘Sexy Sadie’) during their trip to India earlier in the year. In May, they began to lay down demo versions at George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher, England.
Is it better to burn out than fade away? Or is it best to have one last, blow-out show? ‘The Last Waltz,’ as a concert, a film and an album, served as the Band’s farewell to performing and recording – at least in its original incarnation.
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