Tales from the Atomic Age

Sopranos in the Sky

In the 1950s, coloratura vocalists were more open to the idea of working as background singers on pop recordings, surely considered a disastrous turn of events to a classical or opera purist. For every Yma Sumac (who famously claimed to be a Peruvian princess), an exotic singer unyielding in her pursuit of mainstream recognition, there were scores of uncredited sopranos who presumably preferred being in the background. In this implied downgrade of musical culture, the ... MORE ››

Top 100 Lists

The Beatles

The Fab Four show up nine times on the list of the Top 100 Two-Sided Hits of the '50s and '60s. Total: 18 Beatles songs! Check out all 200 smash A and B sides... MORE ››

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Featured Artist


Booker T. Jones

In his youth, Booker T. Jones practiced on a variety of different instruments (ukulele, clarinet, bass, oboe, saxophone, trombone), finally settling on the piano as his favorite. In church he took his playing to another level as an organist. In the early '60s the teenaged Booker played bass with a band headed by Gene (Bowlegs) Miller, a regular fixture in a number of Memphis nightclubs. While still in high school he formed his own Booker T. Washington Combo (named after the school) with two already-graduated friends, pianist David Porter (later a super-songwriting Stax-man) and Maurice White (still later the founder and frontman of Earth, Wind and Fire). Before graduating he began sitting in during evening recording sessions at Stax. Jim Stewart was impressed with the... MORE ››

Vinyl Attack Wilbert Harrison

Kansas City
by Wilbert Harrison

Crazy little women? That's reason enough for a guy to head to either of the same-named cities on the border of Kansas and Missouri...provided he's bought into what Wilbert Harrison said in his classic rock and roll hit "Kansas City." The song, already seven years old before hitting the mainstream, didn't initially guarantee an overabundance of wild ... MORE ››