Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 9

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Happy early Thanksgiving, mellow miners! It’s time for another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold, and today I’ve got two smooth songs for you – the perfect thing to listen to as you lie on the couch after a full turkey dinner – unless, of course, this music makes you nauseous, which…it might.

Dan Hill – Sometimes When We Touch (download)

Too easy, right? Maybe. I swear this wasn’t on my list when I first started doing these posts, and nobody has suggested I cover it. That being said, in surrounding myself with this music, “Sometimes When We Touch” has been brought up multiple times over the past few weeks. I’m taking it as a message. Yes, that’s right. A message. A message from….Emasculysus, God of Mellow Gold.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike, Warren and I were driving to the Acoustic ’80s gig. Somehow, this song came up in conversation. Warren astutely commented about how the song is an unbelievable ode to codependency. He repeated the chorus to us:

‘Cause sometimes when we touch
The honesty’s too much
and I have to close my eyes and hide
I wanna hold you ’till I die
‘Till we both break down and cry
I wanna hold ya ’till the fear in me subsides

Dan Hill makes Paul Davis look like Ted Nugent.

Those aren’t the only awkward lyrics, either. I think there are certain words that shouldn’t be used in songs, especially not in the first few words, and the word “choke” in “I choke on my reply” is one of them. And what about the bridge?

At times I’d like to break you
And drag you to your knees
At times I’d like to break through
And hold you endlessly

Lady, BACK AWAY FROM DAN HILL. This motherfucker’s crazy.

Then there’s the last verse:

At times I think we’re drifters
Still searching for a friend
A brother or a sister
But then the passions flares again

Dude. If you’re not sure if this girl is your sister or your girlfriend, and yet you still want to hold her until you die, stay where you are, I’m calling the cops.

Mike then came up with one of his best ideas ever: “I think the song woud be better if the line was ‘I wanna hold you ’till YOU die.'” I’m giggling just thinking about it. How awesome would that be?

Out of the blue, Jefito sent me this clip. It must be seen to be believed. I know I post a lot of YouTube clips on here. This one isn’t one of those “watch if you feel like it” clips. YOU MUST WATCH THIS VIDEO.

.

Could there be a more awkward-looking singer than Dan Hill? Or his band, for that matter? Feel free to peruse the comments over at YouTube on this clip. Someone hits it right on the nose with “Unfrozen Caveman Manilow.” How many of you knew a song like this was accompanied with a face like that? Would it have killed him to comb his hair? He looks like he was a homeless guy outside the studio who was brought in as a joke.

It’s not like the band is looking any better, though. The pianist looks like the guy who repaired our television sets in the early ’80s, or maybe Ben Folds in a grey wig. The other session players look like they’re thinking, “God, I wish I had gotten that Steely Dan gig.” And I think the drummer looks like Louie Anderson.

Poor Dan Hill apparently couldn’t play an instrument, and the record label wasn’t forward-thinking enough to put one in his hands, which was a shame, because the man had no idea what to do with his body. The worst happens at around 2:20, at which point we’re not sure if he’s about to do some air drumming or go for a jog. The hands just wave around. It’s uncomfortable. And then, when they’re not flailing, he slumps his posture and sticks ’em in his pockets, as if to say outright “yes, I’m a pathetic shlub. Please, walk out the door. It’s best for both of us.”

But you know, in a way, this song (and its video) says something positive about the state of the music industry in the ’70s. For starters, “Sometimes When We Touch” was Hill’s first hit, off of his third album, and yet, his label hadn’t dropped him. Can you imagine any other artist today releasing two albums without hits and not getting kicked to the curb? And secondly, can you imagine any artist LOOKING like Dan Hill and getting a hit? It just wouldn’t happen. Yet despite the beard that has taken over the majority of his face, his eyes that look like they just might bug out of his fucking head, and his band, half-dressed in plaid and weighing a combined 740 pounds, “Sometimes When We Touch” became a smashing success. And as you’ll see in comments on this song all around the Internet, people still truly love it.

Dan Hill had one more hit in his career: “Can’t We Try” in 1987, a duet with a then-unknown Vonda Shepard. I thought about including it as the second song here, but even though it is a mellow, wimpy song, it falls more into the cheesy ’80s realm than the Mellow Gold, don’t you think?

Contrary to what you might read in the YouTube comments, Faith Hill was NOT married to Dan Hill. She was married to a Dan Hill, but not this one. Maybe she just couldn’t handle the beard. Or the eerie lyrics.

Little River Band – Reminiscing (download)

As you may know, there are a number of Little River Band songs we could choose for Mellow Gold status. “Reminiscing” is not only my favorite, but reportedly one of John Lennon’s favorite songs of all time. (Specifically, it was considered by Lennon and May Pang to be “their song” during his infamous “lost weekend.”)

Hailing from Australia (which you’d never know from the vocals, clearly influenced by the music of the west coast), Little River Band originated as a band called Mississippi, but found that Australians didn’t seem to care for a band with such an American name. A street sign on their way to a gig in Australia influenced them to change their minds. Already huge in Australia, the band attempted to make it big in the UK, but were met with general indifference (much like other Australian bands at the time). Their manager, however, already had a strong sense of the American industry, and decided to set the band’s sights on the States.

Little River Band flourished in America: they became the first Australian band to truly hit it big, and sustain that success, in the United States. Between 1978 and 1982, the band had six consecutive singles in the Top 10, which at the time made them the only band – period – to claim such a feat. While their single “Lady” remains their best-selling single to date, “Reminiscing” was their highest charter, peaking at #3.

So why does “Reminiscing” groove in the mellow manner? A good question, since this song, thanks to its chord choices, rides close to the smooth jazz genre. First and foremost, Little River Band were a group strongly focused on vocal harmony, and their harmonies, while jazzy, were undoubtedly smooth. There’s not a lot of them in this song, but they do comprise the entirety of the chorus. (And they’re freaking awesome.) The lead vocal, courtesy of Glenn Shorrock, has that great lounge lizard quality. You’ve got gentle drums, that bass that starts off funky and kind of…devolves into mellow territory, strings low in the mix, and a trumpet solo that screams, “Take me, Lite-FM, I’m yours!” There’s guitar, but for the most part, they’re overpowered by keyboards, which is the Mellow Gold Way. Throw in the bongos all over the track, and baby, I’m hooked on your mellowness.

Songwriter (and LRB guitarist) Graeham Goble paints this black & white picture of a couple from the ’30s or ’40s as they court each other and eventually look back on their glory days together, and then throws this curveball at the end:

Now as the years roll on
Each time we hear our favorite song
The memories come along
Oh the times we’re missing
Spending the hours reminiscing

Zing! I actually really enjoy this last lyric; suddenly, the song has a touching, bittersweet quality.

Like many other ridiculously successful songs, “Reminiscing” almost didn’t happen. Goble had wanted to book a specific session player for the keyboards, but he wasn’t available. After two separate sessions with two different players, the band started to lose interest in the song altogether. Goble’s intended musician finally made it to the studio, the song was cut, and included on the record. Capitol Records, however, didn’t think the album had any worthy singles at all. Someone in their New York office eventually influenced the label to release “Reminiscing,” and the rest is pretty much history.

Little River Band today is much different than the group that evolved from Mississippi. For starters, no original members remain in Little River Band; the rights to the name belong to guitarist Stephen Housden, who was not an original member but has been with the band since 1981. Three of the original members still perform as Birtles Shorrock Goble: The Original Voices of the Little River Band,” which seems oddly similar to the way members of the Beach Boys seemingly have to perform these days. They can mention that they used to be part of the Little River Band, but can’t actually say they’re THE Little River Band. And they sure as hell can’t use their swimming platypus logo.

So that’ll do it for this week’s Mellow Gold! Have a very happy Thanksgiving, and see you here on Friday for CHART ATTACK!

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  • dan s

    Can’t wait to get home to listen to Little River Band. It sounds really tasty. As for the Dan Hill song, I don’t really it, although I hear it so often on radio I thought it was a recent song.

  • David

    You have yet to post a Mellow Gold song I don’t already own.

    (Raises mug in salute, then beats self to death with it.)

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    When I was twelve, I loved Little River Band’s first minor hit single, "A Long Way There".  It’s worth checking out as a kind of mellow/prog crossover (like Crime of the Century-era Supertramp is pop/prog crossover).  The extended version of "A Long Way There" used to get played occasionally on FM rock radio till they went thoroughly down the mellow road and lost whatever rock cred they’d had.
     

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    I am reading more about them now — I had completely forgotten "Help Is On Its Way", another excellent pre-"Reminiscing" song — and I had no idea that Glenn  Shorrock had been in a band called the Twilights that had an Australian #1 with a cover of the Velvelettes’ "Needle in a Haystack".  It’s so cool to know that song was a hit somewhere; it was an inexplicable miss in the states, a classic Motown song that somehow didn’t click, and the Velvelettes were dropped by Motown after (I think) three unsuccessful singles.  Their best-known song these days is "He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’", thanks to Banarama and Fun Boy Three.

  • http://www.jefitoblog.com jefito

    Yes, it’s true: Faith Hill was married to a Dan(iel) Hill. He’s now a Big Shot Music Publisher. Nice guy, too — he bought me a drink when I accidentally had dinner with him in Nashville.

  • Robert

    Here’s a question I asked in the comments section under a Dan Hartman posting over at Jefitoblog back in August (nobody saw my question, I guess, but I really am curious): who would’ve seen videos like this in 1977? MTV was still three years away. Were network shows like “The Midnight Special” airing videos? I’ve always been curious as to why record labels would spend money on videos for which there wasn’t a strong outlet for them. Someone please explain.

    That being said, it is interesting to see the pre-MTV look of promotional videos and then realize what MTV did to music in general. Sorry, fat drummer, but you’ve got to go. Tell Billy Carter we no longer require his services on the piano. And Dan, for God’s sake, take your hands out of your pockets!

    Wait, you mean the prettier people we hired to replace the drummer and the piano player can’t play any instruments? Alright, then just focus on their faces. Somewhere, Martha Wash isn’t laughing.

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    Yet MTV was great for Cheap Trick’s career.  You’ve just gotta have the right fat drummer.

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    That reminds me: How did Kenny Loggins remain a star in the MTV era?  Was there ever a more retarded-seeming stage performer?

  • woofpop

    Robert,
    Music would show up on TV in the strangest places pre-MTV. I remember seeing Joe Jackson doing "On Your Radio" on some NBC after-school show hosted by Bryant Gumbel.  Videos would show up on the Midnight Special, as you mentioned – also Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and sometimes on talk shows like Mike Douglas. HBO used to have a half hour video show, too. There were also locally produced video shows around the country – mostly late weekend nights, and, of course, there was Night Flight..TONS of money was spent at record labels in the 70’s for ton of reasons, a lot of which did not have to do with profit. It was a completely different world that would not happen today. The book "Hit Men" by Frederic Dannen gives an insight into this period business wise – a fascinating read. That said, videos were usually reserved in the 70’s for major, established stars for the most part.

  • woofpop

    If there hadn’t been movie songs – there wouldn’t be Loggins..

  • http://www.jasonhare.com Jason

    David – you had “More Than Just The Two Of Us” by Sneaker?

    Scraps – If you think Kenny Loggins was awkward THEN…I saw him live over the summer and he seriously looked like he had no clue where he was or what he was doing. But I’m with woofpop – Loggins knew how to write for soundtracks, and I remember the “musician/movie promo” music video being quite the thing back then…

    Great comments, all – going to listen to some other LRB songs and check out “Hit Men…”

  • Robert

    Thanks, woofpop. I’ll look into “Hit Men,” because I’ve always been curious why so many major artists had new albums out almost every year in the ’70s while constantly touring, even though that’s fairly rare these days (I’d rather buy a 45-minute album from these artists every year than a 70-minute album every three years). Is it because the major labels in the ’70s were making so much money and realized that supply needed to equal demand? In the ’80s it seemed like Prince was the only major artist making a new album every year, and he was eventually accused of oversaturating himself in the market.

    Enlighten me, music enthusiasts.

  • http://hitsjustkeeponcomin.blogspot.com jb

    “Reminiscing”: fabulously tasty.

    “Sometimes When We Touch”: creepy.

    Dan Hill’s other claim to fame was probably the near-hit “Unborn Heart,” which seems to be an anti-abortion record until about three-quarters of the way through, when Dan says “Lord give us the strength to someday find a world that lives in peace.” Perhaps because nothing rhymes with “abortion,” I don’t know.

    As usual, Jason, finest kind and thanks a lot.

  • woofpop

    It was a different paradigm – labels expected a new album every year (at least – a lot of artists would put out more than an elpee’s worth of tunes in a year..), most likely based on supply vs demand, but also because the album was viewed primarily as a tool for a hit or two. By ’76 or so,  the concept that an album was a MAJOR work of art that took years to create (and yielded multiple major hit singles) began to really take hold. It was easier for a label to work a third or fourth smash single off of a sure winner than to try an unproven new concept – even by an established artist. Record company executives, not known for their initiative, quickly embraced this concept as being the rule, to the point where an artist like Prince would face problems from a label for wanting to release more music. 
    "Hit Men" is a lot of fun – lots of tales of the seamier side of the business. There is a whole chapter on the madness that was Casablanca Records, plus much on the concept of independent radio promotion, and how there were suddenly so many multi-platinum albums in the late ’70’s (hint: it has to do with amount shipped out of the factory, not how many actually sold.) Definitely recommended..
    God, I was thinking of Kenny Loggins again.. Quick.. name one of his songs after 1980 that wasn’t part of a soundtrack? Does anyone remember the video for his song "Vox Humana"? Possibly the scariest video of all time…

  • woofpop

    No one knows how to suffer quite like Dan Hill.
    He looks like Kim Thayil from Soundgarden, or Sweetums, the really tall muppet from ‘The Muppet Show’

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    Was "I’m All Right" from a movie?  (Probably outing myself as the guy who never sees movies.)

  • Bob

    “Was “I’m All Right” from a movie?”

    Yes, Scraps. It was from “Caddyshack”.

  • Bob

    I was a high school senior in 1977-78 when “Sometimes When We Touch” was on the charts, so let me put it in the proper context: There was so much wussy, mellow music back then that this song, as wrong as it is, didn’t seem so bad at the time.

    Think I’m kidding? Here are some of the hit songs of the day, any one of which could be considered worse:

    I Like Dreamin’ – Kenny Nolan
    I Just Want To Be Your Everything – Andy Gibb
    Undercover Angel – Alan O’Day
    Can’t Smile Without You – Barry Manilow
    When I Need You – Leo Sayer
    Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul
    On And On – Stephen Bishop
    Looks Like We Made It – Barry Manilow
    I’m In You – Peter Frampton
    Sentimental Lady – Bob Welch
    Weekend In New England – Barry Manilow
    Lost Without Your Love – Bread
    Even Now – Barry Manilow
    Goodbye Girl – David Gates (of Bread fame)
    I Go Crazy – Paul Davis (already mined by Jason)

    And I haven’t even mentioned disco…

    I mean, you could have an entire year’s worth of Mellow Gold material just from Manilow and Bread’s careers alone — which might make for an interesting side-project; a Mellow Gold Lifetime Achievement Hall of Fame.

  • http://baldanders.livejournal.com Scraps

    And how about a shoutout for the Mellow Women of 1977-78:Mary McGregor, "Torn Between Two Lovers"Rita Coolidge, "We’re All Alone" (a great song)Samantha Sang, "Emotion"Marilyn McCoo (& Billy Davis Jr), "You Don’t Have to Be a Star"Melissa Manchester, "Don’t Cry Out Loud"Bonnie Tyler, "It’s a Heartache"Carly Simon, I’m sure there was something in there

  • jonfromcali

    A couple comments:  First, I’m taking notes on all you gangstas out there with your ’70s pop/pap collections.  (Of course, I have all this stuff too–indeed, I’m ridiculously excited that the version of "Sometimes" here is the FULL-LENGTH version with the last verse, which has been cut off of all the compilations the song has appeared on over the last 20 years.
    I agree that "Hit Men" is a really good book, one of several that dealt in really interesting ways with the industry in the 70s and 80s.  It makes one pine for that industry, as opposed to the one we have now–though it’s inarguable that more music gets heard today than did then, if we can find it.  I mostly miss the radio from back then, because terrestrial radio these days is just so evil and satellite radio, for all its charms, is too narrow-casted for my taste…  

  • http://djearlybird.blogspot.com mike

    "you had “More Than Just The Two Of Us” by Sneaker?"I didn’t have it, but I totally remember hearing it at the time – a memory that stayed repressed from 1980-ish until just now.

  • http://mostlymodernmusic.blogspot.com BD

    The jazz influence makes Reminiscing something special. It’s almost too upbeat to be mellow, like when the smooth jazz station that they play at my local blood donation center bursts out into some circa-1980 Genesis for some reason.

  • http://mostlymodernmusic.blogspot.com BD

    On the Dan Hill video — anyone else think the pianist looks like Paul Williams?The guitarists seem a little too emphatic, like they’re unhappy with their place in the mix or just learned how to play. "Look, Ma! I’m playing a bar chord! I can do it now!"

  • Michael

    Hey Jay…just my odd sense of thru the lens perspective.  In the opening side shots of Dan Hill, if you place your left hand over the raga muffin hair leaving the bearded wonder showing, which (non-bald) uncle does this resemble…timeframe is a bout right too…hmmm…freaky

  • http://www.jasonhare.com Jason

    Holy cow, Mike, you’re right. I never realized I was related to somebody so Dan Hill-ish.

    The more you guys suggest, the more I realize that yes, you could possibly do a post per day on this stuff…

  • Robert

    Thanks for more info, woofpop. As for a Kenny Loggins song post-1980 that wasn’t from a soundtrack, “Heart to Heart” comes to mind. That and “This Is It” are songs of his that I still like. One of the best “Yacht Rock” episodes is the one in which Loggins records “I’m Alright” and Michael McDonald worries that Loggins is losing “the smooth.”

    “The jazz influence makes Reminiscing something special. It’s almost too upbeat to be mellow, like when the smooth jazz station that they play at my local blood donation center bursts out into some circa-1980 Genesis for some reason.” That’s funny. When I lived in Atlanta, the Red Cross donation center broadcast a local smooth jazz station over the PA, and I remember being surprised when they’d suddenly play a Doobie Brothers song like “Minute by Minute” or “Mornin'” by Al Jarreau.

  • http://www.jasonhare.com Jason

    I’ll definitely be covering “Heart To Heart” and some of the other Loggins/McD collaborations in future MG posts.

  • http://mostlymodernmusic.blogspot.com BD

    Can’t let a Vonda Shepard reference go by without lamenting her role in the Mitchell Froom-Suzanne Vega breakup. Not cool.

  • woofpop

    Oh yes, "Heart to Heart" is probably  the last really good Loggins song, and a mellow classic.. 
    Hey BD – please elaborate on the Vonda Shepard role in that breakup – I had never heard that!!

  • Mike

    I just wanted you to know that I watched/listened to the Dan Hill video on Wednesday and here it is Friday and I’m still not right. 
    With each Mellow Gold posting, I have found myself enduring the inevitable battle between the ANGEL on my left shoulder encouraging me to download and reminding me of happpier, simpler times VS. the DEVIL on my right side calling me a wussy and questining my manhood.  Up until now, good has mostly prevailed over evil.
    But after the Dan Hill thing… I’m not so sure.  I can’t get the visual of him and his band of dorks out of my head.

  • http://extra-easymoney-bulletin.info/2006/11/23/superarmstronginfo-daily-news-feed/ Superarmstrong.info — Daily News Feed » Extra Easymoney Bulletin

    […] Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 9Happy early Thanksgiving, mellow miners!  It’s time for another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold , and today I’ve got two smooth songs for you – the perfect thing to listen to as you lie on the couch after a full turkey……………….Read more louie armstrong related news here……. […]

  • http://jasonhare.com/2007/02/23/chart-attack-20/ JasonHare.com » Blog Archive » CHART ATTACK! #20: 2/25/78

    […] 4.  Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill  See Mellow Gold #9.  Sadly, the video is no longer available, but read it anyway if you haven’t already.3.  Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel  Many stories have been told about "Just The Way You Are."  Without looking it up, let me see if I can piece together all the tidbits I’ve heard over the years: so Joel wrote this song as a gift to his first wife, Elizabeth (who was originally married to Joel’s Atilla cohort Jon Small).  He brought it into the studio during the recording sessions for The Stranger, whereupon drummer Liberty DeVitto threw a drumstick at Joel and refused to play it. […]

  • http://jasonhare.com/2007/05/30/adventures-through-the-mines-of-mellow-gold-34/ JasonHare.com » Blog Archive » Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 34

    […] We last talked about Little River Band back in Mellow Gold #9.  I’m sure you all go back and review those entries on a daily basis, but in case you’ve forgotten: […]

  • http://www.myspace.com/graehamgoblemyspace Tami

    Jason:
    Just leaving a correction on the chart information of Graeham Goble’s song, "Reminiscing".  It actually peaked at #3 on the US charts, not #5.  Please see Graeham’s bio on his Myspace page, which I manage, as well as Graeham’s website (http://www.graehamgoble.com) should you need further documentation.
    Thanks,
    Tami – Myspace Manager for GRAEHAM GOBLE
     
     

  • http://jasonhare.com Jason

    Thanks, Tami.  Although I’m surprised you didn’t call me out on misspelling his first name (I have since corrected it), I appreciate your diligence.  Please extend my apologies to Mr. Goble for shirking him two points on the charts.

  • MongrelPiano

    Hey Jason, I’m loving everything about this blog o’ yours. While it’s true that John Lennon is on record as being a fan of “Reminiscing,” it couldn’t have been the soundtrack to the Lost Weekend because it was released four years after the extended vacay. Anyhoo, keep up the good work!

  • Ray

    Hey Scraps

    Good call on the Velvelettes! Unfortunately because of the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and The Marvelettes they were a relatively low priority at Motown, but these girls could really sing and they finally received a full-length Motown CD with their “Very Best of the Velvelettes” in 1999. This has all of their singles along with b-sides, as well as a few unreleased tracks. About a year later a British version was issued with four more unreleased tracks included. If that wasn’t enough, about 3 or 4 years ago a British 2-cd Anthology was issued, featuring lots of alternate takes, even MORE unreleased material, a few songs sung in French and (best yet) five live tracks from late February, 1964 taken from a “battle of the groups” show where the Velvelettes emerged victorious over THE SUPREMES!!!!! The live tracks have surprisingly good sound quality as well, considering how long ago they were recorded (not to mention the technology available for live recordings at that time). Top that off with these ladies are still performing today and still sounding good!

  • Ray

    I also remember seeing a few music videos before the days of MTV, and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert aired quite a few that I clearly remember, including “I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You” by the Alan Parsons Project. One of my favorite old videos (although it is a bit on the cheesy side) is “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan. I remember seeing this on Soul Train and Dance Fever (among other places) and the video was pretty much a montage with five Chakas singing and sporting some very funky and somewhat revealing outfits.

  • larry

    Has anyone ever heard Al Jarraeu sing the song New York State of mind ??? I think it was him ??? Someone else made this song a hit other then Billy Joel…I think it was Al..??? Please Help,,,it’s driving me crazy..lol

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