Anyone who ever clocked Alan Merrill's vocals with glam rock geniuses The Arrows back in the mid-1970s, and thought they detected a hint of American R&B lounging around the edges, probably wrote it off as a trick of the light. Certainly, they could never have expected Merrill to follow through (eventually) with this, a 23-song tribute album to Arthur Alexander and Otis Blackwell, recorded with ex-Yankees frontman Jon Tiven, and dropping so neatly into the very heart of the songs that one wonders precisely what else Merrill has tucked away in his quiver. First and foremost, Double Shot Rocks' closest living relative is Denny Laine's Wings-powered tribute to Buddy Holly, Holly Days. There's the same sense of simply rolling through the songs for fun, of relaxing into the words and rhythms, and of caring less for slickness and studio trickery than for the sheer joy of singing and playing such great songs.
Brigadier General Frank D. Merrill leads the 3,000 American volunteers of his 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), aka "Merrill's Marauders", behind Japanese lines across Burma to Myitkyina, pushing beyond their limits and fighting pitched battles at every strong-point.
Following the breakout success of the Jackson 5 in 1970, it was practically inevitable that a pre-existing quintet of brothers, who had already enjoyed almost a decade in the national spotlight, would follow them to teen idol superstardom. With dynamic youngest brother Donny as a focal point (much like Michael was for the Jacksons), the Osmonds did exactly that, enjoying a run of massive popularity during 1971-1972.
Handel wrote Floridante in 1722 for a London audience infatuated with Italian opera. The plot, like that of so many Baroque operas, was taken from ancient history and concerns romantic liaisons thrown into turmoil by political rivalries, in this case between Persia and Tyre. Handel wrote over 50 Italian operas, and it's remarkable that he was consistently able to summon such a high level of inventiveness and inspiration when faced repeatedly with librettos that must have come to look depressingly alike in the conventions of their labyrinthine plots. Handel, however, had strong enough musical and dramatic convictions that he refused to make alterations to the score of Floridante that would have changed the opera's character, after London's Royal Academy of Music informed him that changes in the performing personnel would require him to rewrite the vocal parts. Handel eventually made some adjustments, but stood firm about others – a bold position, considering the relatively low status of composers in the world of opera at the time. After the premiere with a less-than-ideal cast, Handel restored the score to his original intentions and it's that version that's heard on this recording.