1973 saw a slew of influential records released across genres — many of which broke barriers and set standards for music to come. GRAMMY.com reflects on 20 albums that, despite being released 50 years ago, continue to resonate with listeners today.
Fifty years ago, a record-breaking 600,000 people gathered to see the Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers Band and the Band play Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. This is just one of many significant historical events that happened in 1973 — a year that changed the way music was seen, heard and experienced.
Ongoing advancements in music-making tech expanded the sound of popular and underground music. New multi-track technology was now standard in recording studios from Los Angeles to London. Artists from a variety of genres experimented with new synthesizers, gadgets like the Mu-Tron III pedal and the Heil Talk Box, and techniques like the use of found sounds.
1973 was also a year of new notables, where now-household names made their debuts. Among these auspicious entries: a blue-collar songwriter from the Jersey Shore, hard-working southern rockers from Jacksonville, Fla. and a sister group from California oozing soul.
Along a well-established format, '73 saw the release of several revolutionary concept records. The Eagles’ Desperado, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, Lou Reed’s Berlin and the Who’s Quadrophenia are just a few examples that illustrate how artists used narrative techniques to explore broader themes and make bigger statements on social, political and economic issues — of which there were many.
On the domestic front, 1973 began with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade. Internationally, the Paris Peace Accords were signed — starting the long process to end the Vietnam War. An Oil crisis caused fuel prices to skyrocket in North America. Richard Nixon started his short-lived second term as president, which was marked by the Watergate scandal.
Politics aside, the third year of the '70s had it all: from classic- and southern-rock to reggae; punk to jazz; soul and R&B to country. Read on for 20 masterful albums with something to say that celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2023.
Laid down at EMI’s studio in Lagos, Nigeria and released in December 1973, the third studio record by Paul Mcartney & Wings is McCartney’s most successful post-Beatles album. Its hit singles "Jet" and the title cut "Band on the Run" helped make the record the biggest-selling in 1974 in both Australia and Canada.
Band on the Run won a pair of GRAMMYS the following year: Best Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus and Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical. McCartney added a third golden gramophone for this record at the 54th awards celebration when it won Best Historical Album for the 2010 reissue. In 2013, Band on the Run was inducted into the GRAMMY Hall of Fame.
Released Oct. 13, Herbie Hancock’s Head Hunters was recorded in just one week; its
four songs clock in at just over 40 minutes. That the album was not nominated in the jazz category, but instead Best Pop Instrumental Performance, demonstrates how Hancock was shifting gears.
Head Hunters showed Hancock moving away from traditional instrumentation and playing around with new synthesizer technology — especially the clavinet — and putting together a new band: the Headhunters. Improvisation marks this as a jazz record, but the phrasing, rhythms and dynamics of Hancock’s new quintet makes it equal parts soul and R&B with sprinkles of rock 'n' roll.
The album represented a commercial and artistic breakthrough for Hancock, going gold within months of its release. "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon," which was nominated for a Best Instrumental GRAMMY Award in 1974, were later both frequently sampled by hip-hop artists in the 1990s.
Bruce Springsteen, 22, was the new kid in town in 1973. This debut was met with tepid reviews. Still, Greetings introduced Springsteen’s talent to craft stories in song and includes many characters The Boss would return to repeatedly in his career. The album kicks off with the singalong "Blinded by the Light," which reached No. 1 on the Billboard 100 four years later via a cover done by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. This was the first of two records Springsteen released in 1973; The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle arrived before the end of the year — officially introducing the E Street Band.
This Stevie Wonder masterpiece shows an artist, in his early 20s, experimenting with new instrumentation such as TONTO (The Original New Timbral Orchestra) — the world’s largest synth — and playing all instruments on the now-anthemic "Higher Ground."
The song reached No.1 on the U.S. Hot R&B Singles Chart, and Innervisions peaked at No. 4. The album won three GRAMMYS the following year, including Album Of The Year. Wonder was the first Black artist to win this coveted golden gramophone. In 1989, Red Hot Chili Peppers kept the original funk, but injected the song with a lot of rock on their cover — the lead single from Mother’s Milk.
Critics perennially place this Pink Floyd album, the band's eighth studio record, as one of the greatest of all-time. The Dark Side of the Moon hit No.1 and stayed on the Billboard charts for 63 weeks.
A sonic masterpiece marked by loops, synths, found sounds, and David Gilmour’s guitar bends, Dark Side of the Moon is also a concept record that explores themes of excessive greed on tracks like "Money." Ironically, an album lambasting consumerism was the top-selling record of the year and has eclipsed 45 million sales worldwide since its release. The album’s cover has also become one of the most recognized in the history of popular music.
This debut release features several of the northern Florida rockers' most beloved songs: "Gimme Three Steps," "Tuesday’s Gone" and "Simple Man." The record, which has since reached two-times platinum status with sales of more than two million, also includes the anthemic "Free Bird," which catapulted them to stardom. The song with its slow-build and definitive guitar solo and jam in the middle became Lynyrd Skynyrd's signature song that ended all their shows; it also became a piece of pop culture with people screaming for this song during concerts by other artists.
The first Led Zeppelin record of all originals — and the first without a Roman numeral for a title — Houses of the Holy shows a new side of these British hardrockers. Straying from the blues and hard rock of previous records, Houses of the Holy features funk (“The Ocean” and “The Crunge”) and even hints of reggae (“D’Yer Mak’er”). This fifth studio offering from Page, Plant, Jones and Bonham also includes one of this writer’s personal Zeppelin favorites — "Over the Hills and Far Away.” The song was released as the album’s first U.S. single and reached No. 51 on the Billboard charts. Despite mixed reviews from critics, Houses of the Holy eventually achieved Diamond status for sales of more than 10 million. Interesting fact: the song “Houses of the Holy” actually appears on the band’s next record (Physical Graffiti).
The double-album rock opera followed the critical success of Tommy and Who’s Next. Pete Townshend composed all songs on this opus, which was later adapted into a movie. And, in 2015, classically-scored by Townshend’s partner Rachel Fuller for a new generation via a symphonic version (“Classic Quadrophenia”). The story chronicles the life of a young mod named Jimmy who lives in the seaside town of Brighton, England. Jimmy searches for meaning in a life devoid of significance — taking uppers, downers and guzzling gin only to discover nothing fixes his malaise. With sharp-witted songs, Townshend also tackles classicism. His band of musical brothers: Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon provide some of their finest recorded performances. The album reached second spot on the U.S. Billboard chart.
Produced by Bob Ezrin, Berlin is a metaphor. The divided walled city represents the divisive relationships and the two sides of Reed — on stage and off. The 10 track concept record chronicles a couple’s struggles with drug addiction, meditating on themes of domestic abuse and neglect. As a parent, try to listen to "The Kids" without shedding a tear. While the couple on the record are named Caroline and Jim, those who knew Reed’s volatile nature and drug dependency saw the parallels between this fictionalized narrative and the songwriter’s life.
The original cover was enclosed in a sleeve resembling a Zippo lighter. Only 20,000 of this version were pressed. Even though it was creative and cool, cost-effective it was not — each individual cover had to be hand-riveted. The replacement, which most people know today, introduces reggae poet and prophet Robert Nesta Marley to the world. With a pensive stare and a large spliff in hand, Marley tells you to mellow out and listen to the tough sounds of his island home.
While Bob and his Wailers had been making music for nearly a decade and released several records in Jamaica, Catch a Fire was their coming out party outside the Caribbean. Released in April on Island Records, the feel-good reggae rhythms and Marley’s messages of emancipation resonated with a global audience. A mix of songs of protest ("Slave Driver," "400 years") and love ("Kinky Reggae"), Catch A Fire is also notable for "Stir it Up," a song American singer-songwriter Johnny Nash had made a Top 15 hit the previous year.
The New York Dolls burst on the club scene in the Big Apple, building a cult following with their frenetic and unpredictable live shows. The Dolls' hard rock sound and f-you attitude waved the punk banner before the genre was coined, and influenced the sound of punk rock for generations. (Bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and KISS, cite the New York Dolls as mentors.) Singer-songwriter Todd Rundgren — who found time to release A Wizard, A True Star this same year — produced this tour de force. From the opening "Personality Crisis," this five-piece beckons you to join this out-of-control train.
This David Bowie record followed the commercial success of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & The Spiders from Mars. Many critics unfairly compare the two. A career chameleon, with Aladdin Sane, Bowie shed the Ziggy persona and adopted another alter-ego. The title is a pun that means: "A Lad Insane." For the songwriter, this record represented an attempt to break free from the crazed fandom Ziggy Stardust had created.
A majority of the songs were written the previous year while Bowie toured the United States in support of Ziggy. Journal in hand, the artist traveled from city to city in America and the songs materialized. Most paid homage to what this “insane lad” observed and heard: from debauchery and societal decay ("Cracked Actor") to politics ("Panic in Detroit") to punk music ("Watch That Man"). Top singles on Aladdin Sane were: "The Jean Genie" and "Drive-In Saturday." Both topped the U.K. charts.
This fourth studio album — and the final release in this incarnation by this experimental avant-garde German ambient band — remains a cult classic. Recorded at the Manor House in Oxfordshire, England (Richard Branson’s new Virgin Records studio and the locale where Mike Oldfield crafted his famous debut Tubular Bells, also released in 1973), Faust IV opens with the epic 11-minute instrumental "Krautrock" — a song that features drones, clusters of tones and sustained notes to create a trance-like vibe. Drums do not appear in the song until after the seven minute mark.
The song is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the genre British journalists coined to describe bands like Faust, which musicians largely did not embrace. The rest of Faust IV is a sonic exploration worthy of repeated listens and a great place to start if you’ve ever wondered what the heck Krautrock is.
Great art is often born from grief, and Brothers & Sisters is exemplary in this way. Founding member Duanne Allman died in 1971 and bassist Berry Oakley followed his bandmate to the grave a year later; he was killed in a motorcycle accident in November 1972. Following this pair of tragedies, the band carried on the only way they knew how: by making music.
With new members hired, Brothers & Sisters was recorded with guitarist Dicky Betts as the new de facto band leader. The Allman Brothers Band’s most commercially successful record leans into country territory from the southern rock of previous releases and features two of the band’s most popular songs: "Ramblin’ Man" and "Jessica." The album went gold within 48 hours of shipping and since has sold more than seven million copies worldwide.
Call Me is considered one of the greatest soul records of the 20th century and Green’s pièce de résistance. The fact this Al Green album features three Top 10 Billboard singles — "You Ought to Be With Me," "Here I Am" and the title track — helps explain why it remains a masterpiece. Beyond the trio of hits, the soul king shows his versatility by reworking a pair of country songs: Hank Williams’ "I’m so Lonesome I Could Cry," and Willie Nelson’s "Funny How Time Slips Away."
This Roberta Flack album was nominated for three GRAMMY Awards and won two: Record Of The Year and Best Female Vocal Pop Performance at the 1974 GRAMMYs (it lost in the Album of the Year category to Innervisions). With equal parts soul and passion, Flack interprets beloved ballads that showcase her talent of taking others’ songs and reinventing them. Producer Joel Dorn assembled the right mix of players to back up Flack — adding to the album’s polished sound. Killing Me Softly has sold more than two million copies and, in 2020, Roberta Flack received the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award.
The album's title cut became a No.1 hit in three countries and, in 1996, the Fugees prominently featured Lauryn Hill on a version that surpassed the original: landing the No.1 spot in 21 countries. The album also includes a pair of well-loved covers: Leonard Cohen’s "Suzanne" and Janis Ian’s wistful "Jesse," which reached No. 30.
Co-produced by Arif Mardin and Barry Manilow, the self-titled second studio album by Bette Midler was an easy- listening experience featuring interpretations of both standards and popular songs. Whispers of gospel are mixed with R&B and some boogie-woogie piano, though Midler’s voice is always the star. The record opens with a nod to the Great American Songbook with a reworking of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael’s "Skylark." The 10-song collection also features a take on Glenn Miller’s "In the Mood," and a divine cover of Bob Dylan’s "I Shall be Released." The record peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. charts.
Released in October, Imagination was Gladys Knight & the Pips' first album with Buddha Records after leaving Motown, and features the group’s only No. 1 Billboard hit: "Midnight Train to Georgia." The oft-covered tune, which won a GRAMMY the following year, and became the band’s signature, helped the record eclipse a million in sales, but it was not the only single to resonate. Other timeless, chart-topping songs from Imagination include "Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me," and "I’ve Got to Use My Imagination."
The three-time GRAMMY-winning Pointer Sisters arrived on the scene in 1973 with this critically-acclaimed self-titled debut. Then a quartet, the group of sisters from Oakland, California made listeners want to shake a tail feather with 10 songs that ranged from boogie-woogie to bebop. Their sisterly harmonies are backed up by the San Francisco blues-funk band the Hoodoo Rhythm Devils. The record opens with "Yes We Can," a hypnotic groove of a song written by Allen Toussaint which was a Top 15 hit alongside another cover, Willie Dixon’s "Wang Dang Doodle."
This pop-leaning country record of orchestral ballads, produced by Billy Sherrill, made Rich rich. The album has surpassed four million in sales and remains one of the genre’s best-loved classics. The album won Charlie Rich a GRAMMY the following year for Best Country Vocal Performance Male and added four Country Music Awards. Behind Closed Doors had several hits, but the title track made the most impact. The song written by Kenny O’Dell, and whose title was inspired by the Watergate scandal, was the first No.1 hit for Rich. It topped the country charts where it spent 20 weeks in 1973. It was also a Billboard crossover hit — reaching No. 15 on the Top 100 and No. 8 on the Adult Contemporary charts.
1972 Was The Most Badass Year In Latin Music: 11 Essential Albums From Willie Colón, Celia Cruz, Juan Gabriel & Others
Photo: Getty Images for the Recording Academy
Paul Simon's GRAMMYs bash included moments of vulnerability, generation-straddling duets and plenty of other surprises. Stream it on demand on Paramount+ and read on for eight highlights.
Many tribute shows for legacy artists end in a plume of confetti and a feel-good singalong. But not Paul Simon's.
At the end of the songbook-spanning "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Tribute To Paul Simon," the only person on the darkened stage was the man of the hour. Sure, the audience had been baby-driven through the Simon and Garfunkel years, into the solo wilderness, through Graceland, and so forth. But all these roads led to darkness.
Because Simon then played the song that he wrote alone, in a bathroom, after JFK was shot.
It doesn't matter that Simon always ends gigs with "The Sound of Silence." After this commensurately cuddly and incisive tribute show, it was bracing to watch him render his entire career an ouroboros.
That "The Sound of Silence" felt like such a fitting cap to a night of jubilation speaks to Simon's multitudes. The Jonas Brothers coolly gliding through "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover," juxtaposed with the ache of Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's "The Boxer," rubbing up against Dave Matthews getting goofy and kinetic with "You Can Call Me Al," and so on and so forth.
The intoxicating jumble of emotions onstage at "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Tribute To Paul Simon" did justice to his songbook's emotional landscape — sometimes smooth, other times turbulent, defined by distance and longing as much as intimacy and fraternity.
Here were eight highlights from the telecast on Dec. 21 — which you can watch on demand on Paramount+ now.
Read More: Watch Jonas Brothers, Brad Paisley, Billy Porter, Shaggy & More Discuss The Legacy And Impact Of Paul Simon Backstage At "Homeward Bound: A GRAMMY Salute To Paul Simon"
After Brad Paisley's rollicking opening with "Kodachrome," the momentum cheekily ground to a halt as Harrelson dove into a rambling, weirdly moving monologue.
"The songs of Paul Simon really are like old friends," the cowboy-hatted "The Hunger Games" star remarked, interpolating one of his song titles and crooning the opening verse.
Harrelson went on to recount a melancholic story from college, where the spiritually unmoored future star clung to Simon songs like a liferaft. We can all relate, Woody.
Brooks has always been one of the most humble megastars in the business, praising his wife Trisha Yearwood — and his forebears — a country mile more than his own. (Speaking to GRAMMY.com, he described being "married to somebody 10 times more talented than you.")
The crack ensemble could have made "The Boxer" into a spectacle and gotten away with it, but Brooks wisely demurred.
Instead, the pair stripped down the proceedings to guitar and two voices; Brooks provided an aching counterpoint to Yearwood.
The "Pose" star blew the roof off of Joni Mitchell's MusiCares Person Of The Year gala in 2022 with "Both Sides Now," so it was clear he would bring napalm for a Simon party.
Given the gospel-ish intro, one would think he was about to destroy the universe with "Bridge Over Troubled Water."
Instead, he picked a song of tremendous personal significance, "Loves Me Like a Rock," and dedicated it to his mother. The universe: destroyed anyway.
The question remained: who would get dibs on the still-astonishing "Bridge Over Troubled Water"? A song of that magnitude is not to be treated lightly.
So the producers gave it to generational genius Wonder, who'd bridged numberless troubled waters with socially conscious masterpieces like Songs in the Key of Life.
But he wouldn't do it alone: R&B great Ledisi brought the vocal pyrotechnics, imbuing "Bridge Over Troubled Water" with the grandiosity it needed to take off.
Simon embraced the sounds of South Africa with his 1986 blockbuster Graceland, yet his island connection is criminally underdiscussed; since the '60s, Jamaican artists have enthusiastically covered his songs.
For instance, it's impossible to imagine a "Mother and Child Reunion" not recorded in Kingston, pulsing with the energy of Simon's surroundings.
Enter genre luminaries Jimmy Cliff and Shaggy, who flipped the tribute into a bona fide reggae party.
Leave it to the Recording Academy to avoid superficiality in these events: Mitchell's aforementioned MusiCares tribute included beyond-deep cuts like "Urge for Going" and "If."
Most remember "Homeless" as Ladysmith Black Mambazo unaccompanied vocal cooldown after bangers like "You Can Call Me Al"; eight-time GRAMMY-winning vocal group Take 6 did a radiant, affectionate rendition.
When Simon took the stage at the end of the night, he was visibly blown away. Touchingly, he shouted out his late guitarist, Joseph Shabalala, who founded Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
"Imagine a guy born in Ladysmith, South Africa, [who] writes a song in Zulu and it's sung here by an American group, singing his words in his language," Simon remarked. "It would have brought tears to his eyes."
Graceland was Simon's commercial zenith, so it was only appropriate that it be the energetic apogee of this tribute show.
Doubly so, that this section be helmed by two African artists: Angélique Kidjo, hailing from Benin, and Dave Matthews, born in Johannesburg.
"Under African Skies," which Simon originally sang with Linda Ronstadt is a natural choice — not only simply as a regional ode, but due to its still-evocative melody and poeticism.
"This is the story of how we begin to remember/ This is the powerful pulsing of love in the vein" drew new power from Kidjo's lungs.
Afterward, Matthews — a quintessential ham — threw his whole body into Simon's wonderful, strange hit, "You Can Call Me Al."
With his still-gleaming tenor and still-undersung acoustic guitar mastery, Simon brought the night home with "Graceland," a Rhiannon Giddens-assisted "American Tune" and "The Sound of Silence."
At 81, Simon remains a magnetic performer; even though this is something of a stock sequence for when he plays brief one-off sets, it's simply a pleasure to watch the master work.
Then, the sobering conclusion: "Hello darkness, my old friend," Simon sang, stark and weary. With the world's usual litany of darknesses raging outside, he remains the best shepherd through nightmares we've got.
And as the audience beheld Simon, they seemed to silently say: Talk with us again.
15 Essential Tracks By Paul Simon: In A Burst Of Glory, Sound Becomes A Song
Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
Some acts have few or no original members because they simply can't keep the band together; others turn over their memberships somewhat by design, and act as bona fide academies for new waves of musicians. Here are 15 diverse examples.
Ever hear of the Ship of Theseus thought experiment? It asks the reader to picture a ship whose components have been replaced — hull, mast, sail, rudder, and every single plank of the deck. Is it still Theseus' craft? Or something else entirely? The question still bedevils philosophers.
Now apply this framing to beloved musical groups of the 20th century. That's what Rolling Stone writer David Browne did in his 2022 feature, "The Future of Classic Rock Tours: One or Two Surviving Members…or None?"
As Browne illuminated, estate-authorized acts like the Allman Brothers Band Presents: Trouble No More are bringing beloved songbooks to audiences thirsting for them — without most or all of the parent band's original members. (Lynyrd Skynyrd is down to one.)
And with the passage of time, Trouble No More could become a model for keeping acts on the road — and, in turn, streaming numbers up, and the brand in people's mouths.
Audiences may feel one way or another about seeing Woodstock-era favorites Canned Heat with one almost-original member: Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra. (Side note: they still cook.) But what if the massive turnover isn't an unfortunate hurdle due to members dying or leaving? What if, to some degree, it's the whole point?
Welcome to the sphere of music where classic ensembles act as hubs for emerging talent; they turn over like college alumni or sports teams. Many of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers became jazz legends; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers gave the world Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Peter Green.
And this model applies across the board: to big band, to classical, to cumbia and salsa. Slipknot and Tower of Power arguably qualify. So do Yellowjackets. And so did Miles Davis' and David Bowie's various groups. Doo-wop is full of them. There's one titanically important electronic band, extant since 1967, passed to a new heir.
All ensembles may consist of mortals with shifting priorities, but their music doesn't have to disappear when they do. Here are 15 longstanding acts who replaced most or all of their planks — to borrow a metaphor — and made the most of it.
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers aren't only a serious contender for the greatest jazz band of all time, they functioned as an unofficial jazz university, with drummer Blakey as their tempestuous headmaster. The group featured dozens of cats throughout its four-decaderun: Horace Silver, Hank Mobley, Jackie McLean, Joanne Brackeen, Wynton and Branford Marsalis were all nurtured as Messengers, and that's just scratching the surface. When Blakey died in 1990, saxophonist McLean said just about the only three words you can say: "School is closed."
From the Mingus Big Band to the Duke Ellington Orchestra to the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra (once known as the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra), jazz is replete with big bands whose leaders died long ago. Some call them "ghost bands," whether or not their musicians appreciate the tag. Whatever your chosen vocabulary, Count Basie Orchestra is one of the most prestigious ensembles without their fearless leader, who formed the group in the mid-1950s. As for the Basie band's current incarnation, led by the illustrious Scotty Barnhart? They were nominated for a GRAMMY in 2021, for Live at Birdland!.
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers hold the strange distinction of being written and talked about more than listened to. Any biography of the Rolling Stones, Cream and Fleetwood Mac will invariably mention them, but when's the last time you cued them up on Spotify? That shouldn't be the case, necessarily; they made classics like 1966's Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton and fostered guitar gods in all three of those household names. And best of all, they’re still at it.
Founded in 1946, the Juilliard String Quartet is critically important to the evolution of chamber music stateside. William Schumann, the then-president of the New York school, founded it; violinists Robert Mann and Robert Koff, violist Raphael Hillyer, and cellist Arthur Winograd formed the OG lineup. Areta Zhulla, Ronald Copes, Molly Carr, and Astrid Schween are currently in their seats; over the decades, they've won four GRAMMYs and been nominated for 16.
Since their founding in 1960, Colombian cumbia greats La Sonora Dinamita have played an instrumental role in the form's popular resurgence. Beneath the unchanging banner, their lineup has turned over, and over, and over: original singer and musical director Lucho Argain's passing in 2002 didn't stymy their constant evolution. In the 2020's, with current players at the vanguard of cumbia, they remain absolute dinamita, releasing music with abandon.
Do you typically think of boy bands as being relatively static, membership-wise? Maybe one or two members in and out, but the familiar faces remaining? Feast your eyes on Menudo's Wikipedia page: a whopping 38 past members. Since the brand's formation in 1977, Menudo has provided a launching pad for international stars Ricky Martin and Draco Rosa, and weathered tragedy and legal battles. But they're not ending anytime soon — thanks to Mario Lopez and his global talent search.
Who's the most prolific, dynamic and influential ensemble in funk history? It's borderline axiomatic that the answer is P-Funk. Together or apart, Parliament and Funkadelic haven't just made bona fide classics — press play on 1971's Maggot Brain or 1978's One Nation Under a Groove — they architected their own bizarre, hyper-imaginative, Afrofuturist universe. And it goes even deeper: under the tutelage of George Clinton, members like Bootsy Collins, Bernie Worrell and Eddie “Maggot Brain” Hazel became stars. The collective is still going today; looking at the astonishing headcount over the years, it seems hard to find someone who wasn’t in P-Funk. To everyone who was, is, and has been — what a feather in your cap.
New Orleans is Pres Hall is New Orleans: watch the wonderful 2018 documentary A Cuba to Tuba to find out why. These days, countless historical jazz sites in the Big Easy are crumbling and collapsing, but institutions like the Preservation Hall Jazz Band — as well as Dirty Dozen Brass Band, among others — ensure the music is unscathed. Founded in the early 1960s as the house band for the hallowed French Quarter venue, the ensemble has never reneged on its mission: "nurturing and perpetuating the art of New Orleans jazz."
Founded in 1967, the German electronic music pioneers join Guided by Voices and the Grateful Dead with this distinction; you could only listen to Tangerine Dream and be well-stocked with jams for the foreseeable future. As the brainchild of Edgar Froese for decades, they made classics like 1972's Zeit, 1974's Phaedra, 1980's Tangram… the list goes on. The band could have understandably folded when Froese passed in 2015, but his successor, Thorsten Quaeschning, remains the bearer of the flame. And by the sound of their stunning 2022 album Raum, rightfully so.
If infectious, pre-Beatlemania tunes like "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" have been basically implanted in your skull from birth, thank one man first and foremost: Frankie Valli. His Four Seasons have provided a platform for numberless singers and instrumentalists since then — through the '70s, '80s, '90s, and up to the present day. These days, 88-year-old Valli is the only remaining original member of these Jersey boys — which says much less about the integrity of the original group than his capacity to hand out hat-hanging legacies.
Whether or not the ska revival swept you up or not — and regardless of the volume of checkerboard threads in your closet — the fact remains that the Skatalites are pillars of the form. Like the Four Seasons, the instrumental supergroup began during Beatlemania time, and never stopped mutating and evolving. Decades past their early hits, like "Guns of Navarone," they give younger players like New York saxophonist Anant Pradhan a chance at ska royalty while offering legends the chance to bring Jamaica's freedom sounds to new generations — like 85-year-old percussionist Larry McDonald.
Ah, the Temps: Detroit legends, undersung psychedelic voyagers, the first Motown signees to win a GRAMMY. (That was in 1968, for "Cloud Nine"; how could Membership back then sleep on "My Girl"? We digress.) In 2018, the Broadway show Ain’t Too Proud gave opportunities beyond the purview of the endlessly shapeshifting original band. Come the 2020s, Otis Williams is the only original Temptation; many, many men have been one. Imagine the feeling of learning you're one. A certain jam from '68 might sum it up.
We're used to hearing this band name glued to "Bob Marley &"; is their association with Marley the long and short of their importance? Heavens, no, as at least two other members were legends in their own right: Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. After Marley's death in 1981, the band continued under various permutations and spin-offs — including The Original Wailers — with talented members in and out the door. These days, Aston Barrett Jr. and Emilio Estefan Jr. are at the helm of the Wailers Band; Barrett's been nominated for a GRAMMY, Estefan's won two.
Despite being something of a '60s relic, the Yardbirds' whole catalog holds up; they were as psychedelic as anyone, white British boys with a deep command of the blues. In their heyday, they launched the careers of Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck; Led Zeppelin originally took flight as the New Yardbirds. And their lineup churn continues; original drummer Jim McCarty remains.
So many members of the Allmans have dropped, but their popularity remains undimmed. (Crank up 1971's At Fillmore East on a good system and you'll see why.) Their estate has tried a unique tack: sending an estate-approved band called Trouble No More on the road, platforming young talent while giving the people the jams they require. Diehards' mileage may vary regarding a completely reconstituted Allmans. But the magnitude of talent from the multiracial, multigender ensemble might make haters eat a peach.
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Photo: Gary Miller/Getty Images
To cap John Mellencamp's busy year — which included a biography, a new record, an exhibit at the New York Academy of Art, a deluxe reissue of 'Scarecrow' and a new exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — GRAMMY.com revisits 12 of his standout songs.
Renaissance man. Curmudgeon. A hard-nosed blue-collar worker who knows how to pen catchy choruses, John Mellencamp can also delve deeper — making social commentary amidst and alongside chart-topping sing-alongs. The GRAMMY-winning, Songwriters Hall of Famer, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, painter, father, and humanitarian, needs no introduction.
Despite worldwide success, this Midwestern boy — forever an advocate for the downtrodden — never abandoned his roots. As the opening stanza from one of his most beloved songs decrees: "I was born in a small town/And I live in a small town/ Probably die in a small town/ Oh, those small communities."
The numbers alone illustrate Mellencamp’s mastery: 67 singles and 22 Top 40 hits, including 11 in the Top 10. In the U.S. alone, the songwriter has sold more than 30 million albums and boasts more than 4.8 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
Mellencamp’s storied career spans more than four and a half decades and shows no signs of slowing. The 71-year-old is hitting the road in February 2023 for a 76-date North American theater tour that kicks off with a pair of home state dates in Bloomington, Indiana. A new record (Orpheus Descending) is also coming next year. In honor of John Mellencamp's storied — and very much continuing — legacy, GRAMMY.com combed his catalog to highlight 12 essential tracks.
Forty years on, this "little ditty" from Mellencamp’s commercial breakthrough, American Fool, still hits. The one that started it all for this restless outsider — and cantankerous kid from Seymour, Indiana — is a wistful ballad. This nostalgic nod pays homage to those carefree days that slip by in the wink of an eye: growing up, and teenage love found and lost.
The song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Recording Industry Association of America later included it on its 365 Songs of the Century list. Try not to sing along to its catchy chorus: "Oh yeah, life goes on/ long after the thrill of living is gone."
Taken from the raucous and raw 1983 album Uh-HUH!, many misinterpreted "Pink Houses" as a patriotic anthem that applauded the "home of the free."
In reality, the song speaks of the "winners" and "losers" and the failure of the American dream. The enduring song also reveals Mellencamp’s depth as a songwriter.
Mellencamp’s muse — part fact and part fiction — arrived while driving home one day along Interstate 65 in Indiana. The image of a Black man sitting alone in his front yard staring at the road struck him. The result: an enduring song, which is usually the final encore, that comments on racism and classism via sarcasm with this simple three-word chorus: "Ain’t that America."
As Ronald Reagan began his second term in the White House in the early '80s, the farm crisis lingered. Families lost their homesteads and foreclosures piled up. In America’s heartland, these property auctions often turned violent. For Mellencamp, who had been raised in a farming community, that was more than enough to inspire this politically-charged song.
While not one of the album's hits, Scarecrow’s leadoff track is its most profound. "Rain on the Scarecrow" opens with deafening drums and electric guitars, setting the tone. Mellencamp’s gravelly and urgent vocals then arrive: "Scarecrow on a wooden cross blackbird in the barn / Four hundred empty acres that used to be my farm."
The song naturally became a rallying cry for the plight of family farmers. The same year Scarecrow was released, Mellencamp founded Farm Aid, along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young.
Another Scarecrow cut, this Mellencamp composition peaked at No.6 on the Billboard charts and remains a fan favorite. Born in Seymour, Indiana (population 21,489), the songwriter has lived most of his adult life not far from the rural community where he was raised. Unlike many stars, the rock ‘n’ roller never sought the bright lights of the big city. This song is an ode to all those small towners, like Mellencamp, who never stray far from their roots or forget where they come from.
The album opener from The Lonesome Jubilee is a hard-hitting number that once again sees Mellencamp return to a common theme: the haves and have-nots. The song hit No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
To illustrate this economic disparity, the accompanying video was shot in the poorest, most underserved Black neighborhood in Savannah, Georgia. Mellencamp invited all of this area’s residents to join in the shoot and revel in the streets of this shantytown in the midst of the rest of the cities’ gentrification. The addition of violin and accordion to the final mix signaled a change in instrumentation for the songwriter that gives the song a rootsier, country-leaning vibe.
Like many artists before — and since — Mellencamp never liked the fame, fortune and fake hero worship that often comes with artistic success. The song from Big Daddy is a satirical look at the music industry’s fabricated stars — those one-hit wonders and fame-at-all-cost seekers whose looks and image are more important than talent. The song’s video shows Mellencamp wearing clown-like make-up, adding to the underlying message of what record company executives feel matters most in the pop-star economy — looks — and the perils of idolatry.
Despite reaching the Top 20 and going Platinum, Whenever We Wanted got lost in the zeitgeist — i.e. the rise of grunge with Pearl Jam’s debut Ten and Nirvana’s sophomore smash Nevermind, both released that same year. Yet Whenever's lead track, "Love & Happiness," is a Mellencamp masterpiece.
Penned in the wake of George H. W. Bush launching Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, the song opens with a 30-second instrumental marked by Kenny Aronoff’s drum assault. The lyrics waste no time picking up this melodic mood — letting the listener know this is no love song. Rather, it’s a tongue-in-cheek sermon that unleashes Mellencamp’s ire at the rhetoric coming from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: "Well we’re dropping our bombs/ In the southern hemisphere/ And people are starving/ That live right here."
While not the No. 1 single from Mellencamp’s 12th record (that was "What if I Came Knocking,") Human Wheels’ title track is the one that lingers the longest. The album and song features the production of GRAMMY-winner Malcolm Burn, while the lyrics are a reworking of a eulogy Mellencamp’s good friend and songwriter George Green delivered at his grandfather’s funeral. With its haunting rhythms and poetic lines like "this land, today, my tears shall taste/And take into its dark embrace," the song also acts as a tribute to John Cascella, the band’s long-time keyboardist and multi-instrumentalist, who died suddenly of a heart attack during a break in the Human Wheels’ sessions.
In 1998 Mellencamp took a long look in the mirror and wondered where that good-looking young kid went. "I'm Not Running Anymore," with its bouncy rhythms and dance beat, reflects the songwriter’s state of mind at the end of the 1990s. Dane Clark delivers explosive percussion on this track, filling in for long-time Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff.
This song — and the self-titled album it is from — marks new beginnings. John Mellencamp was the first album released on Columbia Records after 22 years with Phonogram.
Critics called Mellencamp a sell-out upon this song’s release. The reason: the songwriter gave this patriotic composition to Chevrolet to help them launch its newest pickup truck, the Silverado.
While the songwriter knew how to play the game, (much like Bob Seeger, whose "Like a Rock" was also used in a Chevrolet ad back in 1991), Mellencamp was not immune to the inherent hypocrisies that existed in having one of his compositions help sell a product. Yet the song helped Freedom’s Road have his highest Billboard debut (No.5).
This song is more country leaning than the artist's previous output, but still rocks. This fact is not surprising since Little Big Town provides backing vocals on eight of the album’s 10 tracks. With honest lyricism, this song reflected Mellencamp’s spirit and newfound hope that there is room for everyone in the U.S. of A. singing in a smoky, road weary voice: "from the East Coast to the West Coast and the Dixie Highway back home … this is our country."
A lovely folk-rock lullaby from the T-Bone Burnett produced Life, Death, Love and Freedom, "Longest Days" ruminates on life and death and time’s non-stop ticking. A troubled troubadour, approaching 60, Mellencamp peers in the rearview, sees the lines on his face deeper than the white lines on the Interstate and ponders existentially on what it all means.
This soulful, stripped down acoustic number with poetic lines like these in the chorus, "Sometimes you get sick and you don't get better / That's when life is short even in its longest days," shows a singer-songwriter, who long after he is gone, deserves to stand alongside the greats of the American songbook: Guthrie, Dylan, Prine and Springsteen.
The first single teased in the fall of 2021 from Mellencamp’s critically-acclaimed 2022 release Strictly a One-Eyed Jack, "Wasted Days" is an unadorned duet with Bruce Springsteen that packs a punch. The song finds two masters of their craft, singing together for the first time.
The message is direct and not deep: the years are short and the days are long, so spend your time with people who fulfill you and follow your passions. The video features the aging rockers, sitting at a kitchen table, playing their acoustic guitars. Just a pair of weathered journeymen and chroniclers of the days of our lives taking stock of their mortality and asking simple questions like "who on earth is worth our time?"
Bruce Springsteen Essentials: 15 Tracks That Show Why The Boss Is A Poetic Rock Icon
Photo: Prince Williams/Wireimage via Getty Images
Here are the can't-miss releases and massive new albums dropping in November 2022 from BTS' RM, Run The Jewels, Honey Dijon, Wizkid, and many others.
Although November might bring cooler weather, the month's releases are hot enough to keep you toasty. From psychedelic folk and ambitious rap, to gleaming pop and future bass, November's release calendar boasts a variety of bold returns.
This month sees Drake and 21 Savage pull up with their surprise collaborative album Her Loss, as well as Roddy Ricch's highly anticipated Feed Tha Streets III. Brockhampton will reunite one last time to release The Family, and Weyes Blood will blend soft rock and folk on And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow. Gryffin will start the month off right with his futuristic record, Alive, while Dolly Parton fans can turn back the clock with her greatest hits collection.
Below, check out a guide to the must-hear albums dropping in November 2022, from big names you know to newcomers you'll want to add to your playlist. — Taila Lee
Tennessee native Russell Dickerson is no stranger to country music chart domination, having clocked No. 1 four times, beginning with 2017's "Yours." This month, he returns with his self-titled third album, featuring 15 songs that hit all the hallmarks that fans love.
Like 2017's Yours and 2020's Southern Symphony, Russell Dickerson covers heartstring-plucking love songs ("God Gave Me A Girl"), wistful reflections on the past and regret ("Blame It On Being Young" and "I Wonder") and foot-stomping party-starters ("All the Same Friends" and "Beers to the Summer"). Then there's the gleefully goofy "Big Wheels," an ode to country life with a music video that sees Dickerson rolling on the back of a big wheel tractor.
Dickerson was a co-writer and co-producer on all 15 tracks, working with veterans like Dann Huff, Zach Crowell and Josh Kerr to shape the album's pop-country sound. "No matter how far we get into this, I want people to know it's still me," Dickerson said in a statement. "I'm still the hyper, outgoing, fun-loving, crazy dude on stage. But also these songs are so meaningful to me." — Jack Tregoning
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One of the most intriguing new talents straddling the worlds of rap and R&B, Hawa has been steadily building to her debut album. Now based in Brooklyn, Hawa was born in Berlin and grew up in Conakry, Guinea, and this intersection of cultures is ever-present in her music.
In 2020, the classically trained musician released an eight-song EP, The One, which featured her idiosyncratic vocals weaving through delicate, trap-influenced electronic production. Its Cadenza-produced single, "My Love," appeared in Michaela Coel's breakout HBO series, "I May Destroy You." Hawa then followed The One last year with "Wake Up," a gleaming single that paired a clean, seductive beat with her hazy vocalizing.
Hawa's debut album, Hadja Bangoura, is dedicated to her great-grandmother, who passed away this year. Featuring 11 songs, including the bristling lead single "Gemini," Hadja Bangoura is executive produced by Brooklyn rap maven Tony Seltzer and comes out via 4AD, the legendary independent British label that Hawa calls home. — J.T.
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The release cycle for Drake and 21 Savage's collaborative album has been nothing but surprises. On Oct. 22, the duo announced their record unconventionally via a surprise message in the video for their high-energy collaboration "Jimmy Cooks" — the final track of Drake's Honestly, Nevermind. Yet, two days before the album was supposed to drop on Oct. 28, Drake disclosed on Instagram that producer Noah "40" Shebib had tested positive for COVID-19, halting the record's final production steps.
Now slated for release in early November, Her Loss might just be one of the most highly anticipated rap records of the year. If the album is anything like Drizzy and 21's most recent collaboration, fans can expect a spirited pop-rap synthesis of Drake's classic R&B melodies and 21's languid drawl. — T.L.
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American DJ Gryffin is ready to soar to new heights with Alive, his second studio album dropping Nov. 4 — which comes just a month after his headlining set at the debut Bay Area edition of the Breakaway Music Festival.
Alive shifts from tropical house to future bass with ease, shaping his distinct electronic style with elements of pop and hip-hop. While Gryffin's sound has long been fluid — just listen to his collaborations with EDM legend Illenium, alt R&B singer Tinashe, and Carly Rae Jepsen — there's always some friction present in his multifaceted EDM. The album's brooding title track, which features friend Calle Lehmann confessing that "I'm nothing without our love alive," signals that Alive will be about beating hearts and chasing highs. — T.L.
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As vital as ever at 73, Bruce Springsteen set out to challenge himself on his 21st album, Only The Strong Survive. After baring his soul on 2020's critically acclaimed Letter to You, the Boss set aside the pen and paper to focus on singing his heart out.
Conceived during COVID lockdown, Only The Strong Survive is a collection of 15 soul music classics. "I wanted to make an album where I just sang," the rock icon said in a statement. "And what better music to work with than the great American songbook of the Sixties and Seventies?"
Recorded in his native New Jersey, the album sees Springsteen belting out classics and some lesser-known gems from the catalogs of Motown, Gamble and Huff, Stax and more, including his take on Frank Wilson's "Do I Love You (Indeed I Do)," released as the album's first single.
In a video announcing the project to fans, Springsteen called soul music "some of the most beautiful vocal music ever written and recorded", and marveled at the opportunity to stretch his voice outside his comfort zone. Who better than the Boss to try it? — J.T.
Read More: Bruce Springsteen Essentials: 15 Tracks That Show Why The Boss Is A Poetic Rock Icon
Beloved rap duo Run The Jewels enjoy defying expectations, and RTJ CU4TRO is one of their most intriguing swerves yet. Out Nov. 11, RTJ CU4TRO is a reimagining of the pair's 2020 album, RTJ4, through the lens of an all-Latin lineup.
El-P and Killer Mike were inspired to try the concept after hearing remixes of their material by two Mexican artists, Mexican Institute of Sound ("Ooh La La") and Toy Selectah ("JU$T"). To create an album's worth of interpretations from LATAM-based artists, the duo went to their longtime collaborator Nick Hook to co-produce the album and use his connections to build the guest list.
"We set out to make a remix album, but we consider the end result of RTJ CU4TRO to be more than that," El-P said in a statement. "It's a reimagining of RTJ4 through the lens of collaboration and a fusing of numerous musical cultures and influences." That melding of cultures is represented by Honduran-born producer TROOKO, Colombian band Bomba Estéreo, Mexican DJ and producer Danny Brasco, Canadian-Nicaraguan musician Mas Aya and more Latin American all-stars. — J.T.
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Louis Tomlinson is tearing down walls. Two years after the success of his debut album Walls, the former One Direction member announced Faith in the Future. Out Nov. 11, the release may be his most experimental and emotional yet.
His recent single "Out Of My System" shows a new side of the English singer-songwriter. Tomlinson balances edgy playfulness and emotional gravity as he cries out, "Demons, I'm takin' all of my demons/ Putting them where I won't see them. The single's disorienting video places Tomlinson among flashing red lights, slick guitar licks and harsh drums.
Tomlinson's desperation for catharsis indicates that Faith in the Future might explore grittier, darker pop. However, based on the album title's suggestion of stable optimism, it seems Tomlinson might not stray too far from his saccharine pop roots. — T.L.
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With four GRAMMY Award nominations and one win to his name, Lagos-born singer Wizkid is a true Nigerian superstar. The singer earned international acclaim with his GRAMMY-nominated 2020 album, Made In Lagos, which clocked up a billion streams and was certified Gold in the U.S.
Its single, "Essence," featuring Tems, blew up worldwide, introducing many to the Afrobeats genre. One of the song's biggest fans was none other than Justin Bieber, whose remixed version of "Essence" became the first African song to reach Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100.
Wizkid returns this month with his fifth studio album, More Love, Less Ego, which has all the signs of another mega-hit. The singer began the rollout with back-to-back singles, "Bad To Me" and "Money & Love," each produced by his longtime studio partner P2J. Both singles capture Wizkid's laidback yet hyper-confident star power — how many others could pull off the shirtless lime green suit look from the "Bad To Me" video? — J.T.
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Hoping to redefine the term "boy band," the seven-member group is known for their DIY, dynamic hip-hop that often blurs into pop. After canceling dozens of tour dates and announcing an indefinite hiatus in January, Brockhampton is finally back.
The band first teased The Family — out via Question Everything and RCA Records — at the end of their 2022 Coachella performance, flashing the words "Final Album. 2022." onscreen after exiting the stage. The Family's colorful album cover zigzags between graphic cartoonish elements and eye-catching magazine cutouts — visually capturing Brockhampton's genre-blending, ambitious and unpredictable music. — T.L.
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The title of Weyes Blood’s upcoming album captures the duality of the singer-songwriter’s music: haunting yet heartwarming. The artist describes And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow as a “dystopian romance novel," where warmth and gloom mingle in her signature psychedelic folk and experimental rock landscape. Influenced by church music, And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow is a sacred, safe space to reflect on "the sound of your soul."
The record is also the second of a trilogy, following Weyes Blood’s ethereal 2019 album, Titanic Rising. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow arrives just in time for her In Holy Flux tour, which will kick off in Los Angeles on Dec. 8. — T.L.
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'Tis the season: on Oct. 22, Roddy Ricch posted an image of himself at a Thanksgiving feast. The on-theme scene celebrates the upcoming release of Feed Tha Streets III, the third collection in his mixtape series.
Glamour populates the video for Ricch's latest single, "Aston Martin Truck." Among swinging gold chains and popping champagne, Ricch looks rather at home as he rests on a private jet — it's clear he's confident that Feed Tha Streets III will allow him to feast from the good life buffet.
The Compton rapper, who's influenced by the likes of Lil Wayne, Future and Young Thug, is known for his Hot 100 No. 1 single "The Box." Feed Tha Streets III follows the Compton rapper's 2021 sophomore album, LIVE LIFE FAST, which thrilled with Ricch's signature unpredictable flows over bouncy beats. — T.L.
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Honey Dijon has been doing her thing at the forefront of the Chicago house scene for decades, and now the world is quickly catching up. The DJ and producer releases her second studio album, Black Girl Magic, on Nov. 18, featuring a stacked roll call of her friends. In choosing her guests, the Chicagoan looked to a new generation of queer people and people of color, including Compton's own house sensation Channel Tres, Atlanta singer/songwriter Hadiya George, and regular vocal collaborator Ramona Renea.
In true Honey Dijon style, the songs on Black Girl Magic are brimming with dance-floor energy, heartfelt emotion and positive vibes. "This album is dedicated to love," Honey said in a statement announcing Black Girl Magic. "Love of music, community, but most of all the love of self. Being true to who you are in spite of everything else and having the courage to love fearlessly." — J.T.
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Dolly Parton's next album is sure to be a treasure. Titled Dolly Parton — Diamonds & Rhinestones: The Greatest Hits Collection, the record will feature a whopping 23 tracks from Parton's star-studded discography.
Featuring music released between 1971-2020, the album highlights Parton's extensive and extraordinary career. Although the icon is also known for her bluegrass and gospel ventures, Diamonds & Rhinestones primarily showcases Parton's deep country roots. However, some EDM finds its way onto the record via "Faith," Parton's 2020 collaboration with Swedish dance pop duo Galantis and Mr. Probz.
Out Nov. 18, this greatest hits collection will prove that Parton's discography indeed shines like a gem. — T.L.
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UK grime trailblazer Stormzy returns this month with his third album, This Is What I Mean. The rapper has been on an incredible hot streak since 2019's celebrated Heavy Is The Head, collaborating with everyone from Ed Sheeran to Headie One and becoming the first black solo British artist to headline Glastonbury (wearing a stab-proof vest designed by Banksy, no less).
Now a household name in the UK, Stormzy got far from the spotlight to record his third album. This Is What I Mean mostly came together during a retreat on the privately-owned Osea Island in the UK county of Essex, where Stormzy surrounded himself with talented friends. The only plan was to hang out and make music when the moment took them. "We're all musicians, but we weren't always doing music," Stormzy said in a statement. “Some days we played football or walked around taking pictures. And the byproduct to that was very beautiful music."
Stormzy recently flexed his cachet in the music video for standalone single, "Mel Made Me Do It," which features cameos from Usain Bolt, Little Simz, Headie One and many more. With no featured rappers announced on This Is What I Mean, there's no distraction from Stormzy's shine. — J.T.
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For the November issue of Rolling Stone, genre-crossing hitmaker Pharrell Williams sat down for a "musician-on-musician" chat with BTS' RM. Their chat covered many topics, from dealing with superstardom to finding purpose in a career, while also touching on some tantalizing details about RM's forthcoming solo album, rumored to be dropping on Nov. 25.
"Like 90 percent of the work is done," RM told Pharrell. "I've released some mixtapes as one of the members of the band, but it was just an experiment. I think this time it's maybe my official first solo album." Coming hot on the heels of solo releases from fellow members Jin ("The Astronaut") and j-hope (Jack In The Box), news of RM's solo album has sent the BTS ARMY into overdrive.
In the course of the Rolling Stone interview, Pharrell and RM casually made plans to work on something for RM's album — completing "that last 10 percent," as Pharrell put it. (BTS is already set to feature on Pharrell's upcoming collaborative album, Phriends.) Other rumors of possible guests on the RM album are already flying around the internet, including South Korean sensation BIBI and BTS member Jungkook.
Whoever makes the cut, RM's solo effort is feverishly anticipated by fans, and will ease the long wait for BTS to reconvene as a group "around 2025" after all members fulfill South Korea's mandatory national military service. — J.T.
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