Sunday, March 13, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Pt. V


"Sad Eyes"--Robert John
Bobby first hit the Billboard in 1958, as 12-year-old Bobby Pedrick singing about "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes."  Then his cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" hit No. 3.  Third time proved the narm when this so-long to a side-piece became one of the few #1 songs of 1979 that wasn't a booty-shaking good time.
        Am I supposed to feel bad that Bobby and his jumpoff have to sever sex ties with the imminent return of his wife/girlfriend?  Aww, monogamy?  I'll admit, the build to the chorus is so glorious though, like a million angels exploding in a glitter storm.

"Sentimental Lady"--Bob Welch
Welch was a member of Fleetwood Mac in the relatively brief period between Peter Green's incarnation of the band and the blockbuster line-up with Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham.  When Welch made his solo debut three years after quitting the Mac, his first single was a revisit of a song that had originally appeared on the group's 1972 LP Bare Trees.  He took "Sentimental Lady," threw her in something low-cut and velvet, guided her onto a yacht, and they spent the weekend together on a record industry pal's friend's island.
        Without fail, this record grabs my shoulders and promises to stop swaying me to and fro only if I state my unshakable belief in romantic love.  I swear I mean it when I say I will, really I do.

"Montego Bay"--Bobby Bloom
Welcome to wherever you want.  The cares costs nothing, but happy hour is actually only twenty minutes.

"I Go Crazy"--Paul Davis
Maudlin acid rain.  Such a blatant attempt a tearjerker radio hit, crassly composed and barely performed.

"Hot Child in the City"--Nick Gilder
In 1976, Elton John was arguably the biggest rock star in the world.  Then he came out as "bisexual" in a Rolling Stone interview and saw his popularity take a massive hit.  Things got better, of course, but for awhile, Reg must have wondered why he opened his mouth.  See, for all the hoopla surrounding the 70s as a time of personal exploration and bold self-expression, there were things the population at large were not prepared to handle.  Illusions and delusions die hard, and they rarely go out alone.
        Nick Gilder, neither bisexual or the biggest rock star in the world, was just one example of the "Bowie-lite" acts (generally one-hit wonders) that the record-buying public supported because an androgynous image was just that, an image, and could be worn with the ease of a tube top or a denim jacket.  Did the artist really mean it?  Don't ask, don't tell, just look and act the part out accordingly.  It was, as account after account will attest, a naive time at best.  These were people who looked at Freddie Mercury and marveled at the amount of pussy a superstar like that must get.
        I don't have a larger point to make here.  I just write out whatever the songs make me think, and this is what you get.

"I'm In You"--Peter Frampton
"When I cry, you don't laugh."  Why is that noteworthy, if you don't mind my asking?  What were his relationships like before?  "Your mum's in hospital?  Cheers!"  If this is something you have to tell the girl, well, she clearly does not feel like you do.

"Do You Wanna Make Love"--Peter McCann
To you, sir?  No.  Maybe not to anyone else ever again, if this sudden vaginal paralysis doesn't pass.
        MTV destroyed schlubs like Peter McCann.  Him, Robert John, Rupert Holmes, all these sweaty bastards had a Zero shirt's chance in a Lamb of God mosh pit of surviving once visuals became a vital promotional tool.   And you know my thoughts on that?  Good.  Nothing of value was lost.  World somehow kept spinning without balding four-eyed jackholes trespassing in the waves.

"Seasons In the Sun"--Terry Jacks
A reinterpretation of Jacque Brel's "Le Moribond."  More accurately, a bastardization of a sardonic suicide note into a mawkish see-ya.  Even without foreknowledge, the song is imminently despicable.  Jacks doesn't even sing, he auditions.

"Feelings"--Morris Albert
If the popular music of the 1970s were represented as a salad, "Feelings" would be the lettuce:  bland and ubiquitous.  Ladies and gentlemen, what we-uh have hee-uh is trash.  Garbage.  Trash-garbage.  But what's funny?  The first handful of listens weren't bad. Albert's vulnerability, his desperate yearning for emotional respite, had definite appeal.  Then, listen six happened, and things went ass over teakettle.  And I've been a coffee gal ever since.

"Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me"--Mac Davis
Mac D. is rugged, what with the unkempt hairs, loose buttons and hard eyes.  Understand, he ain't no street corner rapper.  He's gonna give it to a gal straight, so don't you dare come at him sideways.  Don't be no fabric sheet, girl.  Pardon me, mister drummer sir, could you please stop being somewhat interesting back there?  I'm trying to wrap this up.
        The sole joy this song brings me is the memory of its mention in the Roseanne episode "The Getaway, Almost" (AKA, That Time Riot Grrl Got Mentioned On a Hit Sitcom):
        "Remember 'Baby Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me'?  'I'll just use you then I'll set you free. Use me and I'll set you on fire, you bastard."

"Show and Tell"--Al Wilson
Adult music for adult times.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I score "Show and Tell" a positive pregnancy test.  Who loves ya, baby, indeed.

"Rock Me Gently"--Andy Kim
Nothing here a spoonful of caramel syrup can't galvanize.  If and when Adam Driver gets casts in a Neil Diamond biopic, he'll look a lot like Andy Kim did when he captivated soft American ears with his only hit (well, only one he recorded; this is the man who co-wrote "Sugar, Sugar" after all).
        Wisely, Andy talk-sings more than he sing-sings.  Things are at a decent heat, then--that breakdown.  Where in the hell did did that come from, and where did it get those shoes?

"Sunshine"--Jonathan Edwards
Anti-authority or just anti-routine?  Why didn't Uncle Sam's mama tell her boy that it's rude to point?

"Undercover Angel"--Alan O'Day
From possibly tolerable to definitely tossable in fifty seconds.
        "So this fantasy girl got in the sheets with me last night, right?" is admittedly a unique way to begin a pick-up attempt.  Like whaaat?  Imagine being told that you're not only dead, but your only ticket out of purgatory is to seduce Alan O'Day so that he can get up the gumption to one night fuck a real live human broad.

"I Can See Clearly Now"--Johnny Nash
Inflation and unemployment and war and political corruption and "it's gonna be a briiight..."  Hey, I like my lies incandescent.

"You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"--Leo Sayer
The Simpsons and J Dilla both mined comedy silver from "You Make Me Feel Dancing."  Laughter counts!  I give this song considerable slack, since it extended the same courtesy to me.

"I Just Wanna Stop"--Gino Vannelli
Montreal memories taste sweet, but life's vicissitudes can't keep the melancholy dogs at bay. Gino's the Canadian-Italian George Benson if I'm being generous; the Canadian-Italian Barry Manilow if I'm being realistic.  Blow and tickle.

"Magnet and Steel"--Walter Egan 
Sensitive dude; the album on which this appeared is called Not Shy, for Chrissake.  Alan Alda couldn't sing this sweetly, though.

"Just When I Needed You Most"--Randy VanWarmer
Nothing is forever, so why does the end still hurt so badly?  Here's how a man in the '70s could sound lovelorn and deserving of sympathy.  I believe Randy is suffering, but I also believe in Randy.  Chin up, sir.  See, the thing about us womenfolk, we be exchanging currency for goods.  So just ease up your mind, pay a visit to the nearest mall and find you a new woman.

"Welcome Back"--John Sebastian
The other TV theme on the comp.  A man leaves his much-derided hometown behind to pursue his dreams, only to return, mouth full of crow.  I never liked this song too tough in my best days, and I loathe it with the power of a million shiny Macintosh apples now.

"You Take My Breath Away"--Rex Smith
What's so sexy Rexy about layered hair and a vest?  Gross, man.  Is that an ocarina I hear?  Was this a demo?  People of the Seventies, did y'all top-ten a demo?

"She's a Lady"--Tom Jones
Delicates-dodger extraordinaire Tom Jones works his magic, and I don't have to tell you what he's stirring the potion with.  Of course she's a hell of a woman; she'd have to be, to handle Tsunami Tom.
        Paul Anka wrote this?  How in the...?  Oh, right.  Broken clock.

"Drift Away"-- Dobie Grey
Ever get out of the shower and just collapse on your bed?  Wake up an hour later and momentarily forget why your hair's wet?   That doesn't happen if you have music playing.  Try it sometime.

"Oh Babe, What Would You Say?"--Hurricane Smith
Guy in the industry pushing 50 takes one of his wife's songs and scores a surprise hit.  Less shocking is how forgettable the track itself is.  A name goes a long way, especially  meteorological ones (see also:  "Something In the Air" by Thunderclap Newman).

"Sometimes When We Touch"--Dan Hill
"You ask me if I love you, and I choke on my reply."  Dan should have taken a cue from the 10cc guy.  Record some session musicians blowing raspberries into the mic, manipulate the speeds on each individual track, layer them like a Smith Island Cake and pow--instant rhythm track.  Then, instead of going the introspective and tormented route, say the opposite of what you truly think and feel about her.
        Look, I've no beef with the sensitive man, but a guy can be perceptive and solicitous while still having balls.  But Dan Hill?  He sings like he's one strong cough away from weeping, not to mention he looks like a cross between the GEICO caveman and Harley from Epic Meal Time.  I'd rather choke down a mouthful of glass-filled cow heart then hear this one more time.

"Please Come To Boston"--Dave Loggins
Man goes cross-country in search of success, and at each stop he beseeches his down South lady love to join him, but each time she shoots him down with reminders of what a fool he's currently being.  Not even finally striking gold in L.A., house with a hella view and all, can sway her.  Easily the least compelling love story since Dax and Deral on Deep Space Nine.

"Wildfire"--Michael Murphey
A gauzy, depressing tale of untimely death and unseemly obsession, beloved by the same people whose lives were changed by Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  I can't even make it to the vocals before my eyes go all Spirograph.  The world is a worse place for this song having been recorded.

"It Never Rains In Southern California"--Albert Hammond
Under the lights, dreamers either wither or expand.  Well done, Al; crushing disappointment has rarely sounded so catchy.

"I'd Love You To Want Me"--Lobo
"I feel the blood go to my feet."  Hmm, that could be neurocardiogenic syncope.  Or love. Only tests will tell.

"Rock On"--David Essex
A good way of coping with unanswerable questions?  Ask some of your very own.
        The twin illusions of space and time command the stage.  Less polyester, more polyrhythms.  Speed limits exist to be broken and reassembled.  When someone's down and out, they have only one way to go--bullshit.

"Escape (The Pina Colada Song)"--Rupert Holmes
The final #1 of the 1970s.  Sure, "I was tired of my lady" is a pretty harsh line, but turns out she was tired of him too!  Oh, Rod Serling, eat your heart out.  Who can begrudge anyone their need to feel wanted?  Maybe this couple reconnected and learned to appreciate trees.  Maybe they ditched the square life and took to the roads, committing themselves to a life of spontaneity.  Maybe they got real bold and tried some bourbon!  Speaking of which, I could really use some to wash my blood clean.
        The footage used in the infomercial is taken from this clip.   Behold that man.  That showmanship.  Air guitar.  Perpetual smile, 'cause he knows he is defying the odds of nature just being at that place in that time doing that thing.  Hand gestures so frequent that KRS-One would have told them to scale back.  Get a load of  "stair mode"!  There was around the same time another, lesser Time Life compilation being hawked after hours, Yacht Rock-Soft Pop whatever it was called, and "Escape" appeared on that one as well.  The footage used there was from an entirely different performance, some talk show it looked like, with Rupert decked out in a blue and white track suit (I think), lip-syncing in front of some curtains and looking inexplicably over to his right.  It took a bit before my friend and I made the connection.  Obviously the talk show performance took place after the "stairs" one, and Rupert was still dealing with some displacement issues. 

"Bad, Bad Leroy Brown"--Jim Croce
A straight boss hog MF'er, quick with the silver, luster of the gold, answers to no one since Sylvester Ritter left town.  All the pants he left bunny-eared, the flesh he left open, the guy just needed himself a nice girlfriend.  That he no doubt would cheat on habitually but still.  Let's see some effort, Leroy.
"Crocodile Rock"--Elton John 
The man born Reg Dwight has notched a total of nine #1 singles in the U.S., the first six coming in the Seventies (placing him second behind the Bee Gees, who you will notice are missing from here, at least nominally).  "Crocodile Rock" kicked it all off, a semi-classic Farfisa-palooza celebrating the joys of good love and great music.  The lyric "Suzie went and left us for some foreign guy" left me confused as a wee lass--what other guy is he talking about?  Ah, the days when I had yet to appreciate the many ways a speaker of English could wield the language (especially the English)!

"Will It Go Round In Circles"--Billy Preston
My dad's favorite song was "Nothing From Nothing."  I much preferred Mr. Preston's other #1.  Occasionally I entertained the idea of starting a nice debate, but I could never muster the necessary bravery.  My dad was the sort that you not only needed to step on eggshells around, you would also be advised to check the size and color of the fragments.
        The last year of his life he was confined to a bed in the living room, entirely dependent on my mother.  The stereo/CD player sat in the kitchen some twelve feet away, but rather than have it relocated, Dad would yell for Mom to put in The Best of Billy Preston, a disc which kicked off with my songHis song was all the way at number seven.  Sometimes, Dad would let my song play; most times, he'd yell again, telling Mom to skip ahead.  I'd clench my teeth and remind myself that I could just buy my own The Best of Billy Preston to avoid this angst.
        I don't know the reason(s) my father so loved "Nothing From Nothing."  It was difficult for me to fathom that he was capable of enjoying something so simple as a song.  If I could have ten more minutes with him, I would ask.  Then I'd tell him why I love "Will It Go Round In Circles," because I'd finally know for sure he cared.
        This bites down and locks on.  This lets the bad guy win, but only sometimes.  The chorus makes the center of my chest all Grinch-y.  It doesn't tell me; it asks.  It makes me wonder.  Great feat for a song to pull off; for a person, a parent, maybe not so much. 

"Cat's in the Cradle"--Harry Chapin
Mrs. Chapin cobbled "CITC" together shortly after pushing out their first kid, worried as she was that her husband's workaholic ways would prevent him from being the best father.  Points for effectiveness, but as a staunch non-breeder, the song's moral will forever be seen and never felt.

"American Pie"--Don McLean
A bold, ambitious look at a turbulent era in the nation's history.  From the cold milk comfort of the 1950s to the scorching chaos of the 1960s, "American Pie" hit people square in their chests.  Was it really such a long, long time ago?  Anyone who claimed pop music and poetry were mutually exclusive had to eat humble pie when McLean's melancholic masterpiece hit the top of the charts in the winter of 1972.
        Fuck all the way off.
        McLean's legacy is as a sideline reporter.  The fucking Jim Lampley of rock.  He's not a poet, he's a peanut.  He's not a seer, he's a sucker.  All the artists McLean referenced were his superiors beyond debate, and yes that includes the Big Bopper.  Beginning with the Day the Music Died and concluding in Altamont, Donny Boy manages to grow even more grating and self-righteous with every overthought, overwrought line, until he actually attenuates his ultimate message.
        Well, I wasn't there, so I guess I don't get it.  Except there's nothing to get.  "American Pie" is not a social movement, or a philosophy, it's a song.  And it's not enjoyable on any level.  Even criticizing it makes my legs restless.  The only tragedy that took place on a football field in 1969 was Super Bowl IV.  Okay?
        "American Pie" makes me hate North America, South America, pie, men named Don, and former Vancouver Canucks goalie Kirk McLean.  On those rare occasions I have made it to minute four, "American Pie" has even made me hate music.

Of the 150 songs on Pop Goes the 70s, none won the Grammy for Song of the Year, and only one earned Record of the Year honors: "Love Will Keep Us Together."
        67 hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100, and all 150 made the top ten.
        For various reasons, there are no songs by the Bee Gees, Carole King, the former members of the Beatles,  Elvis (whose biggest hit of the decade, "Burning Love," is my personal favorite of his), and many many others.  But to lament what wasn't included is to miss the point.  As an amusing time capsule of a legendary era is where Pop Goes the 70s finds enduring value.
         I leave you with my top 10 and bottom 10 songs from the entire shebang.

TOP 10
1.  "Will It Go Round In Circles"
2.  "Miracles"
3.  "Right Back Where We Started From"
4.  "I'm Not In Love"
5.  "Go All the Way"
6.  "If I Can't Have You"
7.  "A Horse With No Name"
8.  "Jackie Blue"
9.  "Rock On"
10. "Le Freak"

1.  "American Pie"
2.  "(You're) Having My Baby"
3.  "Afternoon Delight"
4.  Hooked On a Feeling"
5.  "Wildfire"
6.  "I Go Crazy"
7.  "How Do You Do?"
8.  "Do You Wanna Make Love"
9.  "Higher and Higher"
10. "Puppy Love"/"Shannon"

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Pt. IV


The frilly, spineless pop of the era wasn't all that punk rock was rebelling against.  There was also arena rock.  Led Zeppelin, Queen, the Eagles, et. al, hedonistic millionaires who redefined what it meant to be considered a "rock star."  But one thing those groups had in common with the Ramones and Sex Pistols?  None of them landed a track on Pop Goes the 70s

"Go All the Way"--The Raspberries
Take a guy younger than many, smarter than most, and more full of himself than some.  Give him a guitar.  You know those songs that burst onto the scene and end as many incipient bands as they inspire?  This is one of those songs. 

Between Pilot and the Bay City Rollers, Scotland threatened to take over, I tell ya.  Happier than a smiley face eating chocolate-covered vanilla fudge.  Love indeed is magic, all tricks and sleights and cutting a woman in half.  You can believe in love; I prefer to believe in tacos.  Love will break you, but only you can break tacos.  Unless you go soft shell, which you should.

"Reminiscing"--Little River Band
Weekends are for winding down, not winding up.  The street lights reveal puddles on the road, and the moon takes care of the rest. 

"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)"--Looking Glass
Hard luck broad surrounded by open shirts and closed hearts.  The working woman can't win.  Or, I'm never around when they do.  Heh.

"Little Willy"--Sweet
A glam rock snot rocket.  Sing along, dance along, make up phallic parody lyrics...above all, have a below-the-belt blast.

"Brother Louie"--Stories
A gritty song about an important social topic.  You immediately thought of Louis C.K., right?

"Precious and Few"--Climax
Are the seconds my ears can stand.  This shit would lose a pillow fight with a baby chipmunk.

"Miracles"--Jefferson Starship
The post-coital yak of hippies shouldn't sound so pretty.  Especially when it mentions cunnilingus and a fox-trotting penis.  Again, shouldn't be a rapturous classic--yet it is.

"Jackie Blue"--Ozark Mountain Daredevils
Veruca Salt grew up and hit the hallucinogens heavy after her dad died of a massive inevitability and her mother retreated to the woods.  She moved to NYC, hooked up with a chick named Karen, and the rest is all crashing waves that make the pills go down easier. 
        "Singing drummer" finally scores a win!  Larry Lee, cool job.  You make Leo Sayer sound like Barry White!  Not even Smashing Pumpkins could ruin this lysergic noodle soup. 

"Saturday Night"--Bay City Rollers
As punk as Pop Goes the 70s dares to get.  Amateurish all the way 'round, yet still incredibly likable.  These kids didn't even comprehend the inhibitions they lacked.  The chanting escalates, till visions of wind-up toys shuffling towards the table's edge dance in my head.  More fuzz on the guitar than on any band member at the time of recording. 

"Baby Come Back"--Player
Exposure makes the brain grow sharper, so after two weekends, my then-BF and I knew the infomercial by heart like we were a pair of lungs.  We anticipated certain songs, certain visuals.  When "Baby Come Back" hit?  Forget it.  We celebrated like the people of Vatican City at the sight of white smoke.  (I would've felt bad for our neighbors had they been anything other than obnoxious, Bush-the-band-probably-also-the-President-loving white trash.)
        "Baby come back!"  BOOM went the kryptonite. 

"Signs"--Five Man Electrical Band
Some great lines here.  Some killer alliteration near the end of the final verse.  The right to own property vs. the right of Earth to exist sans violation.  No rights, no wrongs, just thoughts, just words.

"Sky High"--Jigsaw
Another singing drummer.  The most striking aspect of the infomercial was how often the men looked prettier than the women.  The hair, mostly.  The key is always in the hair.

"Saturday in the Park"--Chicago
The sights and smells of nature clash with the sights and smells of humanity.  Infectious, yes...but so is yawning.

"Play That Funky Music"--Wild Cherry
Tight on top, loose on the bottom. 

"I'm Not In Love"--10CC
Ultra sound.  He is in love, actually, see, because his wife wondered why he never told her more frequently and he was all, well if I say it every day it's a meaningless phrase, innit?  So, right, listen--I don't love you!
        What seems upon initial impression to be a misted-over glow from a ramshackle light source is one of the most inventive tracks of the decade, and also one of the very best.

"In the Summertime"--Mungo Jerry
I thought it was just the one guy, and can you blame me?  (Were the mutton chops considered the other band members?)  Singer Ray Dorset not only had resembled an eight-year-old Andre the Giant, he was one of drunk driving's most fervent champions.  A body doesn't need money--much less a car--to drink from a sweaty pitcher of lemonade or inhale a freshly mown lawn.

"Come and Get Your Love"--Redbone
Jerky smash from a rare flock.  Chris Pratt dances like a doofy.

"Black and White"--Three Dog Night
Songs stressing the need for social equality can sound so cringey because the very idea that social equality is something that needs to be stressed and sold is itself cringey.

"Sweet Mary"--Wadsworth Mansion
I'd love to be all, "Yeah, this sounds like a couple wads worth!" but nah.  A little saucy, a little crusty, "Sweet Mary" sounds like a relic of the prior decade.  Send 'em back to Christmas 1967, present them their stockings stuffed with effects pedals, and a spot on a Nuggets compilation would have been theirs.

"Last Song"--Edward Bear
Leave it to Canadians to name their racket-gang after Winnie the Pooh's real name.  "Last Song" is pure Eeyore, and yet another Sixties sound-a-like. 

"Nice To Be With You"--Gallery
Micro pave RNR.  Forever in burlap sack.  You guys, the punks were really unfair to arena rock.

"Baby I'm-A Want You"--Bread
Baby I'm-a vomit.  Wallace and a-Gromit.  It's simple mathematics, you gotta love it:  three Tylenol for one Bread song.  I can't imagine the number of overdoses these guys were responsible for.  Soft rock?  More like soft fat.

"Moonlight Feels Right"--Starbuck
There are four reasons to remember "Moonlight Feels Right".

        1) Coffee
        2) Marimba solo
        3) Singer fond of wearing a flapjack on his noggin
        4) Chesapeake Bay!

        These guys weren't even from Maryland.  Crazed.  Crabs.  Let's get crackin', hon.

"My Sharona"--The Knack
Critically derided as inauthentic, The Knack scored their first (and biggest) hit a mere year after playing their first live gig.  The lyrical content is ick-fest, but perhaps the fact that the real Sharona remained friends with singer Doug Fieger until his death mollifies that somewhat.  Nothing more than huge drums, huge chords, and huge hook, but honestly?  Still one of the most overrated things I'll ever hear. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Pt. III


"YMCA"--Village People
The outrageous spirit of the era, embodied in a silly dance song with its own silly dance.  The two key components of disco:  pulse and sleaze.  So fun, not even abuse by lazy spoof artists can extinguish its charms.

"Boogie Fever"--The Sylvers
This act made much better music, but hey, James Jamerson just showed up and he brought pizza!

"Boogie Oogie Oogie"--A Taste of Honey
Get up and.  Sweeter than a double dose of honey wine.  Two chicks rocking guit-fiddles, whoa, what?
        *record scratch*
        *double-take pigeon*
        Groovy, quite.  Do not ask her name--just dance.

"Disco Lady"--Johnnie Taylor
A cultural landmark--the first number one hit with "disco" in the title.  "Oughta be on Soul Train"--unf, that's the panty-dropper right there.
        There's a danger in attaching too much bait to the hook; no fish will be fooled at the sight of so much temptation in one place.

"You Sexy Thing"--Hot Chocolate
I'll have a six-pack of vibrato to go, please.  Hasn't aged as well as agenda-driven editing suggests.

"Fly, Robin, Fly"--Silver Convention
I'll have a six-pack of words for here, please.  The first German act to nab a number one in the States, and a proven guilty pleasure.  Blame it on the bass, I guess.  Why the robin, though?  A decent bird.  A muted Baltimore Oriole, if I'm being honest, but at least they don't attack cardinals.  Unlike some other, more colorful birds I could name....

"(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty"--KC & The Sunshine Band
Party starter, party pusher, over here there and everywhere.  Put your treasure chest in the air and wave it like you kinda sorta care.  I get it, Time Life; "Get Down Tonight" would have made every other butt-bumper on the collection sound like Requiem Mass in D Minor in comparison.

"More, More, More"--Andrea True Connection
Crazy to think Linda Lovelace could have maybe had Helen Reddy's career.  Given Andrea's claim to fame, no surprise how stiff her single hit sounds, from her delivery to the brass to that vaunted piano breakdown.  The rare song structured pre-pre-chorus, pre-chorus and chorus.

"If I Can't Have You"--Yvonne Elliman
A stunner from one of the most important albums of the decade.  Love me, love this song.  The bros Gibb had the knack for dance-floor dramatics that stopped just short of ridiculous, insuring their tunes turned out timeless.  Funny, it's the vocal tracks that pushed me into love, and for years I had no clue it was even the culprit!  I blamed the string arrangement for a long time.

"Le Freak"--Chic
Need I tell you the legend of Chic?  No, I need not, for I trust that if you are not already aware, you will sooner than later take the initiative to confirm it for yourself.  Just don't blame me when you get lost in the rabbit hole.
        I don't know if people in the 70s--listeners or critics--were willing to recognize that dance/disco music was producing true classic material.  Between the best of Chic, the Donna Summer/Giorgio Moroder juggernaut and the Bee Gees' takeover during the last few years of the decade, the genre's detractors seem less like traditionalists concerned for the integrity of the art form and more like grouches with no rhythm.

"Rock Your Baby"--George McRae
The genre wasn't always at its best, but listeners didn't really seem to mind, so long as the groove persisted.  This sounds like mashed potatoes in search of gravy.

"Ring My Bell"--Anita Ward
The sins of the drums are absolved by the right deeds of the guitar.  I'm begging for an itch to scratch.

"I Just Want To Be Your Everything"--Andy Gibb
Everything here flows, freshness to freshness.  The path is a bit too straight,; I would have preferred "Shadow Dancing" here, one of the finest concoctions to escape the Lab Gibb.

"Rock the Boat"--Hues Corporation
Nearly as fun as swimming on concrete.  Suck on with yo' bad self.

"Turn the Beat Around"--Vicki Sue Robinson
When a person becomes ensnared in the music, poetry tends not to result.  The ideal is to not to stink up the joint like fish in the net would.  But holy mackerel, that percussion--so busy, so vibrant--leaves my brains scrambled with a drizzling of Texas Pete.  Killing me none too softly.


"The Streak"--Ray Stevens
In 1973, Time magazine reported on the campus craze known as "streaking."  On a bet, a dare, or as a form of protest, naked students would run around the halls or on the field during athletic events.  This was not a recent fad, of course, but calling it "streaking" was.  It soon went beyond colleges.  The easily-pleased were content to run around their neighborhood at night.  Fanny-flashers with big dreams saved it for sporting events, and even to this day people are willing to be forever known as sex offenders just to run butt-ass naked in front of thousands.
        Stupid as all hell.  So if someone was going to write a stupid song about a stupid activity, it had to be the author of "Guitarzan" and "Cletus McHicks and His Band From the Sticks."  I was amused by this a child.  I also found Full House funny.  Ray Stevens is basically the male cast of Full House in one guy.

"Gonna Fly Now"--Bill Conti
A vehicle to victory for the universal underdog.  Conti works the hook like a speed bag.  I wish you luck in making it through more than five seconds without imagining yourself standing in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

"Indian Reservation"--Paul Revere and the Raiders
If you've never heard "Indian Reservation," you are automatically a better person than me.

"The Candy Man"--Sammy Davis, Jr.
Not better than the version from Willy Wonka, but pay dirt takes flight regardless.  The best song about a drug dealer not sung by Curtis Mayfield.  People gorging themselves with Pop Rocks, Sugar Daddys, Laffy Taffy and Now and Laters made room.

"Disco Duck"--Rick Dees
The last novelty song to reach the apex of the Hot 100.  Clearly, "Disco Duck" killed the population's patience for aural knickknacks.  A bit like the "Boss Fight" tune in the NES Ninja Gaiden, with far more quacking.  Dees, being a DJ from Memphis and not a singer from Memphis, shows a fondness for elongating syllables--one of the many cheap tricks of the not-singer.  Gimme DJ Paul any day.

"Happy Days"--Pratt & McClain
Imagine a crinkle boot stomping on a human face--forever.

"I'd Like To Teach the World To Sing"--The New Seekers 
 First it was "the Coke song," then it was "the Mad Men song."  Never has it been "the New Seekers song," but never was that the point.  A greater understanding of interconnectivity and advancement was the point.  You can't eliminate homelessness, vanquish hatred, wipe out famine, preserve nature or destroy the weapons of war, but you can crack open a soda and think on how great the planet would be if you could do that pull off even one of those feats.

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight"--Robert John
Everyone knows about "the mighty jungle," but who recalls the "peaceful village"?  That's why we need to learn to sing!

"Kung Fu Fighting"--Carl Douglas
Tis better to dance the Kung Fu than to fight it.  Tis best of all to not follow up your novelty song with another novelty song about the same damn topic, but I guess Carl's manager was also his favorite uncle.  How many kids spent their idle time at the bus stop practicing their "moves," filling the air with "hai!" and "hah!" until even their own fathers wanted to see them run over by a runaway pimpmobile?

"The Rapper"--The Jaggerz
Folksy cautionary tale about a slick-talking professor of Suave Prick 101.  Surely he didn't bat a thousand.  Certainly he was on the unfortunate end of a nut-shot or two.  There must be women in the world sufficiently savvy to just ignore the guy.  But thanks for the heads up, Jaggerz.  That "z" is so 90s.  (Worse fashion statement--JNCO jeans or platform shoes?  Only one can cause physical as well as mental anguish!  That has to count for something....)

"Put Your Hand in the Hand"--Ocean
Just one of several Canadian acts on Pop Goes the 70s, but the only overtly gospel track.  Cutesy on the surface, but touches on the stone upon which any good religion is built--shame.  Mother may I not care about this song beyond the drum break?

"Billy Don't Be A Hero"--Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods 
Originally recorded by Paper Lace.  Someone else's life flashed in front of my eyes the last time I heard this.

"Hooked on a Feeling"--Blue Swede
A cover.  All these white Swedes did was cover songs!  Pop culture needs to let this dog die in the alley already.  Stop taking it home and nursing it back to relative good health.  That "ooga-chucka" stuff is the factual worst.  Inserting it into your commercial is the most effective way to assure I will never purchase your product and may, in fact, actively root for its failure.  I'm not big on conspiracy theories, but I'm 77% sure that Blue Swede were created out of uranium, tapioca pudding, and the stray hairs of ABBA.

"The Cover of Rolling Stone"--Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show
A largely-listenable parody positing the Show as pill-popping, blow-snorting, Guru-consulting, groupie-banging bards in the Keatsian tradition.  "Largely," since they left in one of the messiest abortions of an electric guitar part I've ever heard.
        The happy ending is that the band did indeed make the caricature.  Yeesh.

"Don't Give Up On Us"--David Soul
 Do give up.  Tap out with both hands. 
        David Solberg was actually a folkie before landing his iconic role on Starsky and Hutch, but only eighteen people knew that, and none of them were American, so he remains a novelty.  When you're starving, you don't care that the broth is tasteless and the noodles are overcooked.  That's why it's important to keep your ears well-fed.

"The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia"--Vicki Lawrence
The timeline here is all futzy.  Not to mention the morals.  I can understand little sister blowing away her bro's errant spouse, but why'd she let him go down for a crime he didn't commit?  Speaking of...his sentencing and execution are pretty damn speedy even by the standards of Down South corruption.
        Some listeners were upset at the perceived exploitation of Southern stereotypes, but sometimes you can't tell a story without running the risk of feeding someone's prejudices.  Screw it, tell a story anyway.

"Spiders and Snakes"--Jim Stafford
"Crocodile Rock" without the "rocodile."  Was that Stafford's natural accent, or an affectation? Either is unpleasant, but only one is excusable.  The music grooves like swamp life in heat, but the lyrics are putrid.

"Life is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)"--Reunion
Voiced by Joey Levine (the copper throat behind "Yummy Yummy Yummy"), this right here is Namedrop City, the original city built on rock 'n' roll.  "We Didn't Start the Fire" for people who don't care about world history, "Life is a Rock" would have benefited from a vocalist who didn't sound like Bruno Kirby after a helium hit.  (But not as much as we all would have benefited from never existing.)
        "Sam's cookin'."  Garrruuuuhhh.  "Carly Simon, I behold her."  Buuleeeuuugghhhaaarrr!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Pt. II


"Delta Dawn"--Helen Reddy
Tanya Tucker's version, recorded while she was still in the amniotic sac, is better.  But that's not the one on here, now is it?  Check it, the sequel to Gone With the Wind, with Rhett continuing to give none of the damns.  Cryptic enough to keep people re-listening, and a safer pick than the Australian's other number one, "I Am Woman."  (Which for all its flaws was emblematic of the increasing social mobilization of progressive females.)

"Mr. Big Stuff"--Jean Knight
Stay loose, baby, but remember to keep it tight.  The implied strength shines brighter than any ululation or bleat.  Flash, dash or cash, let's see you take it to the bank with that ass.

"Brand New Key"--Melanie
If this mononymous one-hit wonder taught me anything, it's the lesson that women need to demand more of themselves.  Ladies, let us endeavor to be more awesome overall.  Let us never be cloying, clinging Melanies wheeling after jive turkeys in hopes of catching a crumb or two of fickle affection.
        Think of all the sexual euphemisms you've ever heard used in the service of song, is there even one more ludicrous than roller skating?*  Melanie and INXS have both tried it, and at least the INXS song made me laugh, because "abrupt ska chorus" will kill arousal quick as a bullet to the brain.

"Torn Between Two Lovers"--Mary MacGregor
The fruits of feminism do not follow the same ripening process.  An airhead's confession of infidelity to her man (as written by a man, the "Peter" third of Peter, Paul & Mary) captured the interest of a clearly-bored nation.  Mary MacGregor sounds like a diaphanous gown.  Hard to imagine her enjoying sex, or least worthwhile sex.

"The Morning After"--Maureen McGovern
Winner of the Oscar for Best Song in 1972.  Hilarious, given that from top to bottom it screams "Made For TV."  Only the second-worst Academy Award given out that year, though.

"Have You Never Been Mellow"--Olivia Newton-John
Cruise control pop.  Don't skip breakfast, skip this song.

"Right Back Where We Started From"--Maxine Nightingale
I wake up, I want to see the sun.  I cue up a song, I want to hear the chorus.  Farewell, blues; hello, reset button.  ('Cause the "resist" button is stuck.)  Naive probably, wicked certainly.  A country ready to unite in dance had their boisterous anthem.  So pick up your feet and stick in your teeth. Even if it is equivalent to plopping a wig on a pig, what's the harm so long as no fibers get in the bacon?
        For sure blasting this one in Chinatown if the Caps win the Cup this year.

"Midnight At the Oasis"--Maria Muldaur
Mildly exotic, lightly erotic--how sexy is getting sand lodged in the dark places, really?  That's what fantasy is for, folks.  A sun-loving city girl can get lost and found in seconds.

"Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves"--Cher
The Waltons co-existed in millions of American homes with the Bunkers.  Men looked to Archie and saw their fathers.  The men of M*A*S*H provided a glimpse of what they, the sons, could become.  Women recognized themselves in Laverne and/or Shirley, while obsessing over which Angel they would be.
        Which man looked at Sonny Bono and said, "Far out!  I gotta get my mustache looking like that!"?  Which woman considered Cher and wanted her life?  Seriously.  What woman, without the benefit of personal stylists, wants to deal with that much hair cascading down from her head?
        All I'm saying is, how the hell did television not die after five years of Sonny and Cher variety shows?!  It's a minor miracle.  Oh, the song?  Who cares loses.

"You're So Vain"--Carly Simon
A sophisticated, smart aleck classic.  Simon as consistently claimed that the record addresses multiple men, not just a single rakish paramour, and the mystery continues to intrigue.
        That bass intro is no enigma, though.  God.  Damn.

"Higher and Higher"--Rita Coolidge
Choker.  I'm not referring to the accessory.  I'm making a request.
        All the high stakes of a Connect Four Battle Royale, all the romance of a sitting at a stop sign.  This song, "Undercover Angel" and "Do You Wanna Make Love" all placed in the Billboard top 15 for 1977.  You see, then, why punk rock had to happen.  The music world needed punk, needed new wave, needed no wave, needed those insolent outliers who bristled at the idea of achieving mega-success or being background noise for people who treated songs and albums like just more accessories cluttering up their lives.  Anxieties mount, frustrations multiply, and not everyone will run to the same outlet.  Some will create their own. 

R&B/Soul Groups

"Wild Flower"--The New Birth
The struggle is long.  Chin resting on a sunken chest, swollen eyes shut, waiting for the ache in her bones to fade.  The future is unimaginable.  But, in the absence of strife, a person has nothing to prove.

"Too Late To Turn Back Now"--Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose
Fat bee's take longer to die after they lose their stinger.

"Love Train"--The O'Jays
A hot licks unity anthem that entered the US Top 40 on the same day that the Paris Peace Accords were signed.  Earth days still ain't easy, but songs like "Love Train" make them easier.  Contrast this with "What's Going On."  Now that's not precisely fair, especially to the O'Jays, but while their song makes people feel good and hopeful, Marvin Gaye's shattering lament confronted listeners with the problems they were trying to avoid.  Both tracks are quality and both are necessary.  Now name two modern equivalents.

"Everybody Plays the Fool"--The Main Ingredient
"Dig this."  Ah, the infallible wisdom of perspective.  So many R&B and soul classics of the era feel friendly, even outright familial.  Fittingly, "Fool" starts with a literal talking-to.  Love is tougher than life.

"When Will I See You Again"--The Three Degrees
A redoubtable opponent, romance.  Every lyric is a question, so permit me to add my own:  "How long could he realistically stay away?"
        Amazing moment inspired by the infomercial #68: "Wait, the Three Degrees?  They were a real group?"
        Oh, Sanford and Son.  You tricked at least one white boy.

"Lady Marmalade"--Labelle
Christina Aguilera and her cadre did not ruin a classic.  They simply turned mud into dog poo.  I don't want to step in either one.  Why is this so beloved?  The French?  Well if that's the sort of thing that pricks your scalp, behold:  Das ist Müll, meine Schwester

"Best of My Love"--The Emotions
You wanna know what love is?  You want I should show you?  Too bad, I can only tell: love is when you inform your partner that cake is what's for dinner, and they don't even inquire what kind, they just roll with ya.  Love.

"Fire"--The Pointer Sisters
Circadian shenanigans.  Who can sleep with all that shaking going on?  Don't know what to do, total skip of the heart.  I would have mistaken this for a tune from the early 80s first time I heard it, had I not already known better.
        Convection carries away energy and brain cells.  Of all the romances to reference in your song, you pick two of the most tragic?

"Give Me Just a Little More Time"--The Chairmen of the Board
All hail patience.  Bake, don't fry.  The horns are pretty convincing.  Just don't crowd me.

"The Cisco Kid"--War
What.  A.  Stud.  That groove is a leading cause of "lemon face."  The words come in, water to the shore, and as soon as it recedes, here comes the sandpipers to peck and patter.
        (So glad this was selected over "Low Rider," which I fear has been indelibly stained by George Lopez.)

"Want Ads"--Honey Cone
Efficient girl-group fluff.

"O-o-h Child"--The Five Stairsteps
Uplift where we belong.  Rebirth and rejuvenation.  A person doesn't need to have all the answers, they just need to show concern.  Dare to care, hope to help.
        The fade-out is a bag fulla marbles and gravel, though.

"TSOP"--MFSB (feat. The Three Degrees)
(Largely) instrumental Philly soul (train) from the whole GD family.  This shit here's double knit.  The ladies aren't vital, but I doubt anyone would kick them out of bed for eating crackers.

*Yes.  Fishing

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Pt. I


"Stumblin' In"--Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman
An eye-opening love.  A heart-opening love.  A thigh-opening love.  The leather-clad bassist that I recall from her cameo in the "Hospital" episode of AbFab teams up with a guy I recall not at all.  Suzi's predictably fine, but Chrissy is staggering on fumes.  A Neil Diamond impersonator attempting a Joe Cocker impression is all I can tell you.
        Running a hand over the painted brick of their apartment building, almost running a hand over their hair (until they remember all that product in there), waiting for the man.

"Love Will Keep Us Together"--Captain & Tennille
 I want to hate "Love Will Keep Us Together."  I hate myself for not hating "Love Will Keep Us Together."  Nothing here is unexpectedly awkward.  The melody is fairly catchy and mildly sophisticated.  My only real beef here is with the Captain:  who changes their name from Dragon?  "I know I have a last name with the same spelling and pronunciation as a mythical flame-spewing lizard, but babe, check out this hat!"  I would not marry a man like that.  I would not go out on a second date with a man like that.*

"How Do You Do?"--Mouth & MacNeal
Dutch duo farts out a hit.  Every day for one week they ate naught but Play-Doh pancakes sprinkled with lead paint chips and drank naught but bubble bath straight from the bottle.  The only thing more inexplicable than the success of "How Do You Do?" is how it careens from decent attempt at mid-tier Southern rock to polka.  Perfect soundtrack for a one-act play about a one-man band and the OCD pastor's wife he's besotted with.
"A Horse With No Name"--America
Thing about face-melter brownies, you can't scarf down just two.  This still gets mistaken for a Neil Young song on occasion, but the lyrics gather purple moss in a way his never did.  (Twist: the horse is the one experiencing the psychotic break.)  Heat-haze harmonies shine on shine on the hourglass containing regenerating sand.

"I'd Really Love To See You Tonight"--England Dan and John Ford Coley
Sweat-beaded skin stretches on a summer night when love is important, but sex even more so.  Pretty guiltless way to spend a couple minutes of life despite (due to?) sounding as though it was ghost-penned by Joey Scarbury for use as the theme to a success-proof network drama series.
        "There's a warm wind blowin', the stars are out."  For a long while I wondered if the lyric was actually "There's a warm wind blowin' the stars around," which is far more evocative and thus, I really should have known better.

"Summer Breeze"--Seals and Crofts
Oh hello there, big bro of England Dan!  Six hours by the grill, six Bloody Mary's, countless sloppy kisses.  The wind swirls all the sweetness.  The sun feels fine, but sun-kissed skin feels finer.

"Rock and Roll Heaven"--The Righteous Brothers
An ignominious return to glory, but the fault lies not at the feet of either "brother."  The vocals are great.  The band is one hell of a:  distorted guitar, staccato horns, happy keys, solemn strings.  Blame, rather, writers Johnny Stevenson and Alan O'Day, men who managed one decent line ("If you believe in forever, then life is just a one-night stand") then blew it all to hell in the verses.  "Jimi gave us rainbows," oh shut up.  Your mama gave you rainbow suspenders. 

"One Toke Over the Line"--Brewer & Shipley
Amtrak first laid rails a year after the release of this bumpy ride that smells like tweed and weed no matter how many air fresheners are hanging around. 

"Rich Girl"--Hall & Oates
A pop/rock/soul blend that hinted at what the next decade would bring from these Philly flyers.  Every spoiled brat needs a shit sandwich (with just a slip of syrup) served to them. 

No Carpenters on this collection, by the way.  Guess Richard's stingy with the rights. 


In 1975 alone, six songs made it to the top of both the Billboard Hot 100 and Country Singles charts.  Traditionalists bristled, but if only they could have known about the Shania Twain to come!

"Let Your Love Flow"--The Bellamy Brothers
Honest and hypnotic, all bright rays and beams prettifying sparkling streams that you can and should drink from.  Rinse and repeat till rapture...won't take long.  The equivalent of a Buzzfeed list comprised wholly of pictures of dogs gobbling down pies.  YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHICH BREED LOVES KEY LIME!

"Rhinestone Cowboy"--Glen Campbell
One of those dual chart-toppers that also shows and tells how persistence pays off.

"Here You Come Again"--Dolly Parton
The main melody of "Love Will Keep Us Together" rejiggered and entrusted to a much more accomplished vocalist.  I'll keep it one thousand, Dolly could sell a swimming pool to a cat.  (She even requested the presence of steel guitar to keep the song's sound sufficiently "country.")  Her fickle ticker stands no chance against a single soft touch or a single jade look.  Or so the story goes.  Methinks she's got a trick or two to go.

"Take Me Home, Country Roads"--John Denver
The state song of West Virginia, a place it refers to as "almost heaven."  If heaven is a place that makes a person desire death as soon as they wake up, sure.  There is much about Appalachia to admire, believe it or not.  You will find little of it in West Virginia.

"My Maria"--B.W. Stevenson
The company and comfort of well-placed shade should never be overlooked, especially when it appears during life's transitory periods.  Straddling the line between jaunty and junky, between yodeler and the coyote he's being eaten by, "My Maria" makes for a good enough song.  It's place in my heart, however, is inextricably linked to the infomercial.  A long shot of Bee Dub, strummin' and singin' on one end of a bridge.  I sadly haven't seen the entire video, but I hope that it's just one static shot of him snailing it towards the camera on the other end of the bridge.

"Rose Garden"--Lynn Anderson 
One of the decade's biggest crossover hits, thanks in no tiny part to a first line that assures the rest of the track wrote itself.  The band earns theirs and then some.  The Seventies was the decade of many a thing, including The Decade of Discernible Female Country Vocalists.

"Don't Pull Your Love Out"--Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds
A lotta fanfare for what is essentially triple-tracked B.J. Thomas.

"It's a Heartache"--Bonnie Tyler
Listeners must have worried about the state of their speakers.  Not everyday you hear a rusty blade with a three-a-day habit singing at you, after all.  Bonnie's steel wool-lined vocal cords are the only thing here approaching interesting.

"(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song"--B.J. Thomas
The only thing sadder than a lost love is typing out that title, which remains the longest of any number one song in Billboard history.  At least until Will.I.Am comes along with "Shake It Shake It Shake It (Yeah Girl That Booty)" to share the honor.
        The quest for double vision involves one hand slapping a denim-covered knee and one hand clutching condensation in a plea for oblivion.  Jerks forth more mucus than tears, really.

"I Can Help"--Billy Swan
Another ditty that did double duty atop the pop and country charts.  'Bout as subtle as a hammer's face striking a human's nose.  A Farfisa-powered** declaration of dependability from the anti-Daryl Dragon.


"One Bad Apple"--The Osmonds
Hey, it's the host and his dumb brothers!  So sweet, so innocent, so terrible.  Starts with "yeah yeah," rhymes "girl" with "world," and hinges on one of the more poorly-constructed choruses ever to be.  Intended for the Jackson 5, who had much riper fruits to bite into and instead recorded "ABC."  (Now that was AGC.)

"Puppy Love," Donny Osmond
To quote my man Lenny out in Springfield:  "Stop insisting!"  Music for the overly-precious "females 7-12" demographic who lost hours of life staring at shiny head shots and didn't even move their hands once.  They swooned, but I just wanna go out and roll in some mud.

"Knock Three Times"--Tony Orlando and Dawn
So weird.  Dude, just have her yell real loud, YES or NO.  But, some guys just can't handle hearing "no."  (Hoo boy.)  Well, some girls don't like being told "I can feel your body swayin'" by a stranger who can't even see them.

"The Night Chicago Died"--Paper Lace
Grand opening, grand closing.  British people re-interpret American history (and geography).  The drummer sings lead, but what exactly did he sing?  Crap.  Utter and runny.  If only the Osmonds had recorded a song about that great leader of men, President Churchill.

"Heartbeat (It's a Love Beat)"--The DeFranco Family
Choreographed Canadian claptrap with matching pantsuits.  The Osmonds were a diluted J5, so one might guess the DeFrancos were a diluted Osmonds.  Perish the thought.  A diluted Partridge Family, more like, so they sped up the verse melody of "I Think I Love You" and promised an unforgettable fireworks display they couldn't deliver. 

"Julie, Do You Love Me"--Bobby Sherman
Blue-eyed, yes, but not especially ensouled.  I first saw Sherman on a beach-y episode of The Monkees, but it was years after until I finally heard a full song of the man's.  I promise that I will never voluntarily hear a second one.

"Beach Baby"--First Class
Second-rate...if my guts are rumbling from grub and goon, that is.  And if it's summertime.  British memories of 1950s Americana, all sock hops and soda pops, Chevys and levees, woo the unearned nostalgia just keeps on truckin'.  Remember "oh-oh-oh"?  Remember "whoa-whoa" and "shamma-lamma-ding-dong"?  Remember when shock therapy wasn't so frowned upon?

"Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)"--Edison Lighthouse
Homogenized hippie girl, no traces of rebellion or cannabis to be found, her smile a mile of cotton candy.  Edison didn't even invent the lighthouse, you nitwits.

"(You're) Having My Baby"--Paul Anka and Odia Coates
The recipient of a scathingly sarcastic honor from the National Organization for Women, which is understandable as it represents everything wrong with humanity.  But this was the very first interracial duet to top the Hot 100--wherefore were y'all, NAACP? 
        Of all the sins contained within, the use of "seed" in a non-agrarian context is the most atrocious.  Any other thoughts I have remain inchoate ones.  Fuck me--and please, use protection.

"Shannon"--Henry Gross
Not a lamentation sung in loving memory of a deceased mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, or even niece.  It is, rather, about a dog.  Not Henry's dog; Shannon was Carl Wilson's dog.  I suppose the falsetto was inevitable.  Here's what a sociopath thinks grief sounds like. 

"December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)"--The Four Seasons
0-2, drummers singing lead!
        Originally titled "December 5, 1933" and concerned with the end of Prohibition.  I find making America legally drunk again a much more entertaining subject than the sexual awakening of some unworldly schmo.  Whoever loves this colossal crapsack needs to avoid speaking to me about it, always. 

"Afternoon Delight"--Starland Vocal Band
Ain't never been a field as corny.  The result of a fiber-rich diet, right here.  Sticks and stones may break my bones, but they will never make me horny.  Is dude trying to make a tackle box/vagina metaphor?  Weirdos.  The least sexy song about sex ever sexed.  (Although "Marvin Gaye" by Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor is a real close number two.)

*Toni Tennille wouldn't have even gotten the honor of a first date with my ex.  "She is the epitome of the bland Seventies white woman," he opined, as we began what was probably watch ten.  "She's the total opposite of what I find sexy."
        "But she's got the long bob with the immaculate bangs goin' on," I mildly protested.
        "That's not, no, it's not enough.  She just looks like a grasshopper with hair."
        "At least the Captain loved her."
        "The Captain can go fuck himself with his own stupid hat."

**Yes, the instrument that distinguished the burgeoning new wave music of the decade, taken to the top by Billy Swan.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Snap and Crackle's Groovy Revenge, Introduction

"Now, all the most unforgettable, one of a kind Seventies radio hits are together!"

Ten CDs.  Fifteen songs per disc.  150 songs from the "Me" Decade.  How could I NOT fall in love?

The first place I called my very own sat at the bottom of a sloping street on the east side of my hometown.  I had been born and raised on the west side, but there was nothing overtly symbolic in my relocation.  I sought an affordable area in which to live and breathe, to do and be, and a two-story duplex located a mile from my job for just over 500 bucks a month rung the bell.

For a time, I shared said space with my then-boyfriend (who years later is still my closest confidant).  For a time, he and I decided to battle the anxieties that plagued as individuals, together, within "cozy" confines distinguished by a box staircase the width of a casket and party walls a newborn could slap through.  On the weekends, we fought off sleep together.  The TV aided and abetted this criminal activity.  I had never cottoned to the campy joys of infomercials, but then came that one early AM when our attention was grabbed by Time Life's Pop Goes the '70s.

Often, I struggle to remember what my life was like before I saw that infomercial.  Milquetoast entertainment icon Donny Osmond and alleged television personality Patricia Kara stood on a garishly-decorated sound stage, reciting hokum-pokum through mouths at half-smile (as if mourning the death of dignity).  The Seventies!  Social change!  Bright colors!  Crazy dudes in crazy duds!  Sedaka is back!  Pop Goes the 70s is the collection for older people who are scared that the Feds will break down their door the second their first download completes!  And if you don't trust paid celebrities, just have a look and a listen!  Thirty minutes of song credits scrolling over "live" performance footage of select tracks.  I regret to inform the reader that the full infomercial is no longer online, but luckily I sat through the thing in excess of twenty times.  Yes, it was that entertaining to behold.  It made insomnia fun again.  Everyone involved was dressed like they'd lost a bet.

That half-hour of salesmanship is my primary positive memory of that place.  The negative recollections--involving ornery neighbors, sketchy after hours shenanigans, and my ongoing struggles with physical and mental health--are really minor quibbles compared to slow motion footage of Gino Vannelli.

Initially I intended to make this a review of the actual advertisement.  I changed my mind even before its disappearance from the Internet, thankfully, so get ready for another TJMD track-by-track breakdown.  Rather than proceed disc by disc, however, I've separated the songs into nine categories:  Duos, Country Pop, Treacle Tart, Women of the 70s, R&B/Funk Groups, Dance, Novelty, Pop/Rock Groups and Men of the 70s.  You will note some are more sparsely populated than others, and many songs in one category could have fit snug into another.  In the end they were my decisions to make, and I stand by each of them.  And we're all wearing matching tracksuits.