January 26, 2011 A recent 13-CD box set called Next Stop Is Vietnam: The War on Record 1961-2008 documents the music that dominated the airwaves during the Vietnam War. Rock historian Ed Ward says the compilation could have used some "conscientious curation."
January 24, 2011 Goldwax, a label which issued some of the greatest soul records ever made in Memphis, is almost completely unknown. Given the quality of what it released, it had very few hits, but its legend has lived on. Ed Ward reports on the label's impressive run from 1963 to '70.
December 21, 2010 Hendrix spent years recording with whomever he could before being discovered and whisked off to London. A new Legacy box set, West Coast Seattle Boy, showcases Jimi Hendrix as sideman to a number of musician. Rock historian Ed Ward takes a look at it today.
November 2, 2010 The Beatles' Apple Records put out the Fab Four's own singles and albums, as well as music by other performers the individual Beatles liked. Critic Ed Ward takes a look behind the scenes at Apple Records, and at the full albums the label released.
August 30, 2010 One of American popular music's great enigmas, says critic Ed Ward, is what would have happened to Patsy Cline's career if it had lasted longer. She was poised to revolutionize the role of the solo female singer, as well as Nashville's place in the music business, when she was killed in a plane crash. Decca has just released her complete recordings on an album called Sweet Dreams.
July 29, 2010 Critic Ed Ward tells the story of one of the most unusual female soul singers to come out of the early 1960s. Sugar Pie DeSanto, who grew up with Etta James, rose to national prominence when her single "I Want to Know" reached the Billboard charts. Fifty years later, she continues to perform and do her signature move, a back flip, on stage.
July 14, 2010 Of the three great blues guitarists named King — B.B., Albert and Freddie — arguably the most influential was also the least well-known: Freddie. But his most important work has been unavailable until recently. Critic Ed Ward reviews a recent release, Taking Care of Business, which spans much of King's career.
May 27, 2010 The name Louie Ortega doesn't spring to mind when Mexican-American contributions to rock 'n' roll history come up. But at least for some people, he's a legend based on a band he put together in Prunedale, Calif., in the late 1960s. Critic Ed Ward, who has been a fan since he first heard the band, celebrates the release of its long-rumored second album.
March 23, 2010 In 1975, Michael Abramson decided to photograph the blues clubs of Chicago. The pictures Abramson took in Pepper's Hideout, among other venues, have been released in a set called Light on the South Side. Jazz critic Ed Ward takes a listen to Pepper's Jukebox, the CD released along with the photographs.
February 2, 2010 The '70s Memphis-based rock band Big Star won rave reviews for their albums and influenced countless followers, but never managed to become stars. Rock and Roll historian Ed Ward says a new box set and a collection of recordings by founding member Chris Bell offer a chance to look back on the band's troubled life.
October 28, 2009 Dobie Gray, in his hit "The In Crowd," famously said, "The original is still the greatest." But is it? Ace Records in London has put out a CD called You Heard It Here First!, with 26 original versions of hit songs. Rock historian Ed Ward takes a look.