My name is Mike. I live in Lancsater County. I used to live in Hawaii. i like Burritos, Guitars and Stuff.
It continues to boggle my mind at the intuition, or maybe even blind luck of Clive Davis. He walks the earth today with nothing to prove. You will not find a more finely tuned ear for talent. The roster of legendary singers and bands that he signed was extraordinary, Janis Joplin, Santana, Chicago, Billy Joel to name but a few. To cry foul on Davis’ alchemy skills would only serve to brag of your own tin ear.
I can only imagine what goes into launching the career of any artist. Is it business savvy, intuition? Was it just an accident? There has to be an inner voice, some inner dialogue that says that an artist is worth a shot.
In 1973, pop music was king. Top 40 radio was awash with songs by Elton John, Jim Croce and the Carpenters. This was their heyday. Saccharine sweet songs about tying ribbons around old oak trees, dueling banjoes and Diamond Girls. It would be easy to accept that most record companies were looking for the next heartstring tugging sentimental serving of singable syrup to send up the charts.
What happened on this day in 1973 had nothing to do with the feel good melodies of 1970’s AM radio. What happened today set off a shockwave that we are still feeling today. Columbia records packed up and shipped out debut albums by two acts, who were not a product of the Los Angeles studio elite, but of hard working touring rock and roll musicians honing their craft in the clubs and stages of the north eastern quadrant of the United States. Their albums both high on energy but sonically wearing the scars of hurried almost haphazard production resulting in a muddy mess of low end and midrange.
The albums I'm referring to here are Bruce Springsteen’s “Greetings from Asbury Park NJ” and the self titled debut from Aerosmith. Both of these albums were met with fair reviews, and dismal sales. It would not be for another 2 or 3 years before these albums were seriously looked at by record buyers. Aerosmith released “Dream On” as a single and it tanked. In 1975, while Aerosmith was enjoying growing popularity on their third album Toys in the attic, Davis and Columbia reissued Dream On, and it hit the top 40, and became a classic.
Things were no easier for Springsteen. Columbia issued both Blinded By The Light, and Spirits In The Night as singles, but they didn’t crack the charts. Again, the third time was the charm. Springsteen was facing a full count with the label, and needed a home run to stay on the roster. That came with Born To Run in 1975. And again, curious ears wandered to the earlier catalog which was overlooked. Manfred Mann enjoying a resurgence in 1977 recorded a version of Springsteen’s failed single Blinded By The Light, and landed on the top 40. Mann, decided to make hay while the sun was shining and added another track to his Roaring Silence album, which was yet another Springsteen composition from the same ill fated debut from 1973 called Spirit In The Night.
I don’t think there could have been any way to forecast the impact that these two albums by (at the time) unknown performers would have. 40 years on, both artists have released albums within the last year or so, and not only consistently sell out arenas and stadiums all over the world, but are bona fide icons.
Something very right happened in the halls of Columbia Records on January 5th 1973. If you look below, you’ll find two video files which include the entire albums by Aerosmith and Bruce Springsteen that were issued 40 years ago today. I hope you enjoy listening to them.