Archive for February, 2007

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 22

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

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Welcome back to another Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! It’s frickin’ freezing outside here in NY, and I’m tired of it. I was going to save today’s track for a warmer month, but I need a little summer right now. And so do you. I’ve decided.

Jay Ferguson – Thunder Island (download)

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, my wussies!

“Thunder Island” has been recommended a few times here, and I can tell from other comments on the web that this is one of those well-loved summer tracks from the late ’70s. And with good reason! “Thunder Island” is a Mellow Gold gem in the same vein as songs like “Chevy Van” – ones where the protagonist doesn’t wind up sitting at home, quietly crying himself to sleep while clutching a teddy bear and a pint of Chubby Hubby, but instead actually gets the girl – and totally nails her!

First, of course, a little about Mr. Ferguson.


I’m whacking the shit out of the next person who mocks my shirt!

Jay Ferguson was a grew up in California and found his musical calling at a young age, learning the piano, banjo and drums and utilizing these skills in a number of bands – mostly garage bands, although he did form a bluegrass group at an early age with his brother Tom. His first successful band was formed after an afternoon love-in at Griffith Park.

awkward silence

Named Spirit, the group had a psychedelic sound (did the love-in give it away?) but also included elements of jazz and hard rock. The band had modest success, and a couple of Top 40 hits, but Ferguson left in the early ’70s to form Jo Jo Gunne with Spirit bassist Mark Andes. Jo Jo Gunne had a couple of hits as well, but Andes left to join a little wussy band named Firefall, and after a few more member changes, Ferguson embarked on a solo career. His first solo album was entitled All Alone In The End Zone.

awkward silence

The album wasn’t much of a success, but his follow-up Thunder Island – was a biggie. Produced by Bill Symsczk Szzymzyck Sczczczcz Szymczyk (as was the first), the title track reached #9 and brought both Ferguson and the album strong success. Ferguson did have other minor hits (most notably a song entitled “Shakedown Cruise”), but he never matched the success of “Thunder Island.”


We get it! You like showing off your chest! Now button up! And shave your moustache!
Look at his left hand next to the bushes: kinda looks like Wolverine, no?


Musically, this song is tons o’ fun: strong piano and drums, with a bass run at the end of each phrase that I’m pretty sure was timed to match up with pelvic thrusts on the beach. The backing vocals are joyful – the kind you can’t help but sing at the top of your lungs in a convertible (if you’re still in 1978, of course). And if the slide guitar sounds familiar, you can thank Joe Walsh, who guested on a number of Ferguson songs, including “Thunder Island.” Don’t go looking for any examples of musical mastery here; it’s not like we’re dealing with tricky bridges or endless chord changes like in “Never Gonna Let You Go.” Nope, this song is as simple as they come – but what more do you need, really?

And these lyrics – well, to start: I’m sure you’ll agree with me that nothing says humpin’ in the summer like Du Du De-Dit, Du De-Dit, Du De-Dit, Du Du Du Dit Du, right? Right. As we already know, there’s nothing more Mellow Gold than calling your female companion your “woman” or “lady.” I don’t know what the hell Ferguson means by “Sha-la-la-la-la-la, m’lady,” but it doesn’t matter. He’s stickin’ it to her and she’s not complaining. In fact, through the lyrics, Ferguson tells a fun story about this wonderful romp with his lady – “a summer’s day laughin and a-hidin’, chasin’ love out on Thunder Island.” I don’t think I need to tell you what he was a-hidin’. Huh? Huh?!?

But, of course, the wonderful days didn’t last. No, the sad truth is that one day – I’m choking up as I recount this story – it rained. Yup. They were “caught by the rain and blinded by the lightnin’.” And then she got struck by lightning and burned to a little crisp. No, I’m kidding. They rode out the storm. And then…yes. You guessed it. They went back to humpin’ around.

If any of these edge-of-your-seat plot points seem unfamiliar to you, I’m guessing it’s because you tuned out after the Du De-Dits and Sha-la-las. And that’s perfectly okay. Let’s face it, a song like this gets its point across within the first ten seconds. Here’s an appropriate comparison: remember “Make Me Lose Control” by Eric Carmen? Pretty much the same song. You remember the chorus – “turn the radio up for that sweet sound” etc – but you’d be hard-pressed to remember any of the lyrics in the verses. Again – totally fine. You’re enjoying both for the way they made you feel during the summer that you heard them. (Nevermind that “Thunder Island” hit the Top 10 in April.)

So where IS this magical Thunder Island, anyway? Maybe it’s this Thunder Island, located in beautiful Fulton, NY:

Let’s all hope this is not the paradise of which Jay Ferguson was speaking. (And it it just me, or is Tubby talking on his cell phone while presumably being sucked down a drain of some sort?)

Perhaps he was referring to a place of discovery and knowledge, pathways of knowing who you really are and how to create a world for All Our Relations and future generations to live and thrive in:

No, that’s not it. I know! He was referring to a place where you can buy some cheap bitches! Or maybe the state you’re in when you have some really fine coffee! Actually, if it were anywhere, it’d probably be here, right? After all, the song is quoted right there on their homepage. But Jay Ferguson isn’t Canadian (although there is a Canadian musician named Jay Ferguson, but that’s another story). The truth is, according to Ferguson, that “Thunder Island is an invention, with the idea that everyone is invited to fill in their own Thunder Island – real or imagined. My personal Thunder Island experience involved meeting the girl I later married….I was in a very erotic state of mind when I wrote that.”

awkward silence

Wanna see a great video? Here’s Ferguson performing “Thunder Island” in Japan, 1979. I’m not going to spoil it, but suffice to say that at around 4:00, he breaks out the big guns.

So what’s Jay Ferguson up to lately? Well, after releasing his final album in 1982, Ferguson opted to focus on composing music for television and films. He worked on the scores for movies such as License To Drive, Johnny Be Good, Tremors 2: Aftershocks, and even contributed the song “Pictures Of You” to the soundtrack for The Terminator. (Hey, Jefito…Lost Soundtrack Classic? Call me.) Chances are that you haven’t heard most of these. However, you might be familiar with the theme song to the US version of “The Office” – that’s all Jay Ferguson, baby!

So if you find that the winter weather’s getting you down, and you need just a bit of summer lovin’ to get you through…this is your track. Enjoy! And see you next week for another episode of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #20: 2/25/78

Friday, February 23rd, 2007


Crawling with Gibbs? Damn, that sounds like a tagline for a teen horror movie. "Don’t open the door. Don’t look under the bed. Don’t stare at the mirror, and don’t EVER recognize that tingling, slithering, itching feeling creeping over your skin… for if you do, your very flesh will be CRAWLING WITH GIBBS!!!

That’s a quote from Dw Dunphy in the comments section of last week’s CHART ATTACK!  He’s right, y’know.  It’s a scary thing when one family – one man, specifically – can occupy 50% of the charts on a given week.  Whether you like it or not, this is the week you must get on your knees and worship at the altar of Barry.  YOU HAVE NO CHOICE.

(iTunes is being wonky today, so just Amazon links are included.)

10.  How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees  Amazon
9.  Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton
  Amazon
8.  Night Fever – Bee Gees  Amazon
7.  We Are The Champions – Queen  Amazon
6.  Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) – Chic  Amazon
5.  Emotion – Samantha Sang  Amazon
4.  Sometimes When We Touch – Dan Hill  Amazon
3.  Just The Way You Are – Billy Joel  Amazon
2.  (Love Is) Thicker Than Water – Andy Gibb  Amazon
1.  Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees  Amazon

Before we start, it’s necessary for me to give credit where credit is due – Joseph Brennan’s Gibb Songs project was invaluable in tracking most this information down.  I highly recommend it if you’re interested in following the trajectory of the Bee Gees’ career.  Thanks, Joseph – this Chart Attack! would have been pretty short without you.

10.  How Deep Is Your Love – Bee Gees (download)  The Gibb brothers were a few songs into a new album when Robert Stigwood, producer of Saturday Night Fever, asked them to take charge of the soundtrack to the upcoming film.  He wanted a handful of dance numbers, and a love ballad.  Obviously, this was the love ballad. Originally intended for Yvonne Elliman, Robert Stigwood – producer of Saturday Night Fever – requested that the Bee Gees perform this one themselves.  Elliman was given "If I Can’t Have You," also penned by the Gibbs.

Of the five Gibb songs occupying this week’s Top 10, "How Deep Is Your Love" is my favorite.  I think it might be because it’s the least Bee Gee-ish of them all.  I personally find a lot of the Gibb vocals overpowering at times, and they’re just beautiful and gentle on this track. 

9.  Lay Down Sally – Eric Clapton  Have you ever listened to Grammar Girl’s podcast?  If so, you might have caught her reference to this song on back in January in her episode, "Lay Versus Lie."  She rightfully points out that Clapton really screwed this one up, since he’s using the word "lay" incorrectly: the correct word is actually "lie," unless he’s forcing somebody to lie lay her down in his arms to rest.  But what irritates me more, I think, is the absence of the comma in the title.  "Lie Down, Sally" sounds kinda lame, though, doesn’t it.  Oh well.  This little country/rockabilly tune was co-written by Marcy Levy, who also sings backup.  Levy later became a member of Shakespear’s Sister with Siobhan Fahey from Bananarama. 

8.  Night Fever – Bee Gees  This track was already completed by the time Stigwood came a-callin’.  His movie – at this point, still untitled – was based on an article in The New Yorker entitled "Tribal Rights Of The New Saturday Night."  (It was written by Nic Cohn, who – just as an aside – inspired Pete Townshend to write "Pinball Wizard.")  "Night Fever," naturally, provided the title.  As for the song itself…oh man, dig that Wah-wah!  "Night Fever" is porn-tastic.  And, like the majority of their songs, I can’t make out more than six words.

7.  We Are The Champions – Queen  I might be in the minority here, but "We Are The Champions" is one of those Queen songs I just have very little patience for.  I can only think of a handful of moments where I’ve really dug it (and I’m not saying whether one of them is in Revenge Of The Nerds).  Still, I’ll give credit where credit is due: Mercury and May did wonders for sports anthems, didn’t they?  And not only that, but the song itself, musically, is quite complicated; I’ve never been able to figure out those intricate harmonies in the chorus.

Have you ever heard Liza Minnelli’s version from the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert?  I don’t recommend it.

6.  Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) – Chic (download Remember, everybody, when we first heard about Snakes On A Plane?  Remember how excited we were, given the little information we had: namely, the star of the movie and the title?  Remember how let down we were by the movie?

This song is the Snakes On A Plane of 1978.

With a title like "Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowah, Yowsah, Yowsah)," I was expecting nothing less than the greatest freaking disco song in the history of disco songs.  What a let-down:  this song is eight minutes and twenty seconds of boring.  It’s as if Chic assembled all the typical clichés of disco and combined them into one interminable song: the strings are ever-present and irritating as hell, the bassline is remarkably static, the vocals are more repetitive than usual, and there’s a keyboard solo that may go down as one of the most annoying in music history.  Are there any redeeming qualities?  Well, maybe the actual line "yowsah, yowsah, yowsah," but in a song that mentions the word "dance" more than 100 times, it’s only spoken in three instances.

Still, I guess I must be in the minority on this one: the song did remarkably well, peaking here at #6 (as well as the R&B chart), and reaching #1 on the Club Play charts.  More importantly, it was Chic’s first single, and so it paved the way for Chic songs that actually had something to them.  This song, however?  Laaaaaaaaame.

Here.  Share in my misery.  Is it just me?

5.  Emotion – Samantha Sang  "Okay, Samantha – the Bee Gees are freakin’ huge right now.  We’re going to need to take advantage of this turn of events.  We’ve already gotten them to write the song, and they’re supplying all the backing vocals, but…could you make your lead vocal…I don’t know, a little…Gibbier?" 

Anybody who can distinguish where Samantha ends and Barry begins gets a cookie.  I didn’t even know that this song wasn’t by the Bee Gees.

Samantha Sang (real name: Cheryl Gray) was a successful Australian singer in the late 1960s when she moved to England to work with Stigwood.  Stigwood hooked her up with Barry, who wrote, produced and performed on her hit "The Love Of A Woman," a minor hit in 1969.  Sang teamed up with the Gibbs once more for "Emotion," which was a #3 smash.  Sang had a feeling, though, that perhaps her successes weren’t necessarily because of her own merits, and opted not to work with the Bee Gees again.  Bad move:  she never charted again.  The end.

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.

Elsewhere in the studio, Phoebe Snow and Linda Rondstadt were having sex.  (I think I’m remembering this correctly.)  They heard the smooth, dulcet tones of Joel’s bossa nova masterpiece, and insisted that it be included on the album.  Joel, never being one to say no to poontang, kept it as a part of The Stranger.

"Just The Way You Are" ended up giving Joel his first top 10, and his first Grammy nominations (and wins) for "Song Of The Year" and "Record Of The Year" in 1979.  I don’t know how DeVitto felt about the wins, but I can’t imagine it’s worse than he probably feels right now, being ousted as Billy’s drummer…but I digress.  The song was obviously hugely popular, and while Joel was appreciative of the success, he was never a huge fan of the tune to begin with.  He’d zone out while singing the song, thinking about what to get on the room service menu, and lose his place in the song.  He’d look to DeVitto, who’d sing the words to every song, and supposedly wound up singing the divorce-tribute lyrics "She got the house, she got the car."  (This is one of those stories that probably never happened, but sounds great.)

It’s true that Joel did get bored with the tune, however, and for that reason, he stopped playing it.  (I’m sure his divorce also had something to do with it.)  In the late ’80s, though, he did realize that Weber’s anonymity had its benefits; Joel couldn’t write another love song without speculation that it was about Christie Brinkley.

The song has been brought out of retirement a number of times in the past 10 years.  Say what you want about it – I’ll take "Just The Way You Are" any day over "All My Life," the pap that Sony’s promoting the hell out of at this very moment.

2.  (Love Is) Thicker Than Water – Andy Gibb  You know what?  Screw Andy Gibb.  Not only because I don’t understand the appeal of this stupid song, but also because Andy was halfway to destroying his own career by the time this song became a hit.  If we’re going to give any credit at all, let’s give it, once more, to Barry:  the week after this one, "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" replaced "Stayin’ Alive at #1…which was replaced by "Night Fever," which was replaced by Yvonne Elliman’s "If I Can’t Have You," also Gibb-penned.  This not only means that Barry Gibb was responsible for the #1 spot from February 4 to May 13, 1978, but remains the only performer to have written four consecutive #1 hits.  In fact, if not for three weeks in January, he would have had #1 hits since December of the previous year, with "How Deep Is Your Love."  (The song that ousted the Gibbs for three weeks?  "Baby Come Back."  Don’t worry, it’s on "the list.")

1.  Stayin’ Alive – Bee Gees  Well, here it is, folks:  the most popular Bee Gees song ever recorded or released.  I’m not saying it deserves to be the most popular Bee Gees song, but "Stayin’ Alive" is really a fantastic tune.  It’s hard to look at it objectively, though, due to:

- its mass media saturation
- endless parodies utilizing the song
- the fact that your relatives do the fucking John Travolta dance at every wedding you go to, despite the fact that John Travolta never did the dance to this song in the movie, and you’re stuck being the only one on the dance floor NOT doing the stupid dance, and then you look like a party pooper, and…oh wait, is this just MY life?

Anyway, where was I?  Oh yes.  The song is fantastic for a number of reasons – the unbelievable vocals, the bassline (supposedly influenced by Betty Wright’s "Clean Up Woman"), the orchestra – but even more interesting to me is the story behind the song, including the elements that didn’t make it into the final release.

When Stigwood called the Bee Gees and asked them to contribute to Saturday Night Fever, most of the songs were already in various stages of development.  "Stayin’ Alive" was created just for the movie, a request from Stigwood to have a song with an upbeat dance tempo and a romantic interlude in the middle.  A version of the song with a completely different middle section (incorporating the requested interlude) was created, but Barry nixed it almost as soon as it was recorded.

The Bee Gees were already recording at Le Chateau in France, where they had recently completed mixing their live album.  "Stayin’ Alive" was written  while they were sitting on the staircase – a staircase that, according to Robin, had been used in a number of porno flicks.  Drummer Dennis Bryon was unavailable for the recording session, so the group’s engineer simply looped a small snippet of the drum track to "Night Fever."

The song was not slated for single release, but was always intended to accompany the movie’s iconic shot of Travolta walking down the street.  When this opening was released as part of the movie’s trailer, people immediately started requesting a single from RSO Records.  As you can see, the tune was a smash – and when it fell from #1, no problem – it was replaced by "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water."

One final note: this is yet another Gibb songs that is practically indecipherable.  Who knew this song name-checked the New York Times?  I only figured that out recently.  So next time you’re at a wedding, tell your annoying cousin that she can’t do the dance if she doesn’t know the words.

Whew!  I don’t know about you, but I’m all Gibbed out!  Seriously, I couldn’t Gibb any more if I tried.  I mean, here a Gibb, there a Gibb, everywhere a Gibb-Gibb.  Okay, this joke’s dead.  (However, if you need more Gibb in your diet, Jefito can feed you.)  But you know what?  I just realized that this Chart Attack! has been completely devoid of YouTube filler clips.  So I’d like to present you with two on your way out.  The first is the "Barry Gibb Talk Show" parody with Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon from SNL.  This clip cracks me up every time – Fallon does a hysterical impression of Barry freaking out on a talk show.  I don’t think it’s accurate, necessarily, but it still makes me laugh.

The second clip is actually Barry Gibb actually walking out of an interview on Clive Anderson’s talk show.  The interview is full of little barbs back and forth, but in the last 20 seconds, Gibb has enough and just walks off, leaving the others to follow.  The look on Anderson’s face is priceless.

Hey everybody, guess what?  Next week starts the first of four guest posts, written by some absolutely fantastic writers.  Are you excited?  I’m excited…and a little nervous to see how they put me to shame.  So be sure to come back next week for the All-Guest Edition of CHART ATTACK!  Have a great weekend!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 21

Wednesday, February 21st, 2007

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Howdy, everybody, and welcome to another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Hope you didn’t put that cowboy hat away, pardner; we’re going back to the country side of Mellow Gold for today’s track!

Terri Gibbs – Sonmebody’s Knockin’ (download)

I’d love to tear this one apart, musically, but I really can’t. There’s simply not much to say about the song from a musical standpoint. “Somebody’s Knockin’” seems like a pretty straightforward country-twinged tune, except for when you throw in the harmonica, at which point it kinda sounds like Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home.” It’s pleasant enough; the song shuffles along at a nice pace, with a nice blend between acoustic guitars and piano. There’s not really a lot of synth – maybe just a few keyboard flourishes here and there – which, of course, is disappointing from the Mellow Gold perspective and doesn’t make much of an impact otherwise. Overall, this song is a musical snooze-fest. There’s just really nothing interesting going on. Even the lead vocal is just…there.

Well, except for one line: “Lord it’s the devil, would you look at him.” Excerpted below:

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Did you hear the way he said “him?” Go back and listen again. That’s not “him.” That’s “heee-um,” and qualifies for the most wimpy delivery of the word “him” since Roger Daltrey whined it in “Substitute” back in 1966. Let’s compare, shall we?

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Terri, I wasn’t so sure about how mellow this song was, but you suddenly qualified with just one word. Congratulations, you wuss.

So okay, maybe we don’t have much to go on from a musical perspective. But lyrically, we’ve got some good stuff here. “Somebody’s Knocking” is a song about the temptations of the devil. I’ll be honest, I’m surprised such a song could even make it onto the charts.

Somebody’s knockin’,
Should I let him in
Lord, it’s the Devil, would you look at him
I’ve heard about him, but I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans

Now, maybe it’s just because I’m not a religious sort, but songs about the devil and temptation and whatnot really irritate me (Charlie Daniels not included). But I’m actually not irritated here. I was during the first three lines, but then we got to this “blue eyes and blue jeans” business, and now I’m more confused than anything else. Why is this guy talking about the devil having blue eyes and blue jeans? Is he…(gasp) GAY? Is that what’s going on here?

Well, somebody’s talkin’,
He’s whisperin’ to me
Your place or my place,
Well, which will it be
I’m gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong
But I don’t wanna go wrong

I refuse to believe that 1980s radio – 1980s country radio – would have allowed such a song to make it to the top of the charts. There was no mention of the dark side of homosexuality on the charts in those days. Hell, there’s no mention of it now, either (“I Kissed A Girl” doesn’t count and you know it, so I don’t want to hear it.).

So here’s my theory: Terri Gibbs is thinking about shooting some smack. He hasn’t done it yet, but he’s thinking about it. All the paraphernalia is right there in front of him. And suddenly, the devil shows up. Terri knows he has a choice to make: “your place” – heaven – or “my place” – hell. The devil and the drugs are powerful, Terri. You’re gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong. But you don’t wanna go wrong. Hold on, Terri! HOLD ON!

He must have tapped my telephone line
He must have known I was spendin’ my time alone
He says we’ll have one heavenly night
My fever’s burnin’, so he oughta be right at home

Yeah, it’s gotta be drugs. Because otherwise, I take that “one heavenly night” line and I’m right back at the lowest common denominator on this website (butt sex). So, yes. I’ve decided: this song is about Terri turning away from the evils of heroin. Of course, the only line that doesn’t compute with this is the “blue eyes and blue jeans” part. I’m lost on that one. Was there some kind of denim backlash in 1980? Were only BAD people wearing blue jeans? And what the hell’s wrong with blue eyes? This song makes no fucking sense. Who the hell recommended this?

Anyway, let’s give you some history on Terri Gibbs, shall we? According to AMG, Gibbs was born in Miami in 1954 and raised from age one in Augusta, GA; blind from birth, she turned to music at an early age, and…

Wait a minute.

What?

I need to read that again.

she turned to music at an early age

Wait a second. TERRI’S A GIRL?

You have got to be kidding me. This can’t be true. Have you listened to “Somebody’s Knockin’” yet? That doesn’t sound like a girl to me! That sounds like a guy! Hang on while I go in search of pictures.

No, I’m still not buying it. That’s a DUDE.

Okay, getting closer. But still, that could be a really effeminate-looking guy. No. I need solid proof of this.

Huh. Well, you can’t make the message any clearer than that album title (located right below her name). I guess that’ll have to do it.

Okay, I’ll come clean: when writing all of the above, I obviously already knew this startling fact. But this shock is not an act. Last Friday, late afternoon, Mike called me:

Mike: So what’s on board for Mellow Gold next week?
Jason: I don’t know. I’m thinking about this song called “Somebody’s Knockin’,” it’s this creepy song about being tempted by the devil.
Mike: Never heard of it.
Jason: Listen to the way he says the word “him.”
(plays clip over the phone)
Mike: (laughing hysterically) That’s worse than…
Jason: ….Roger Daltrey! I know!
(Mike and Jason spend a minute singing “me for him” over and over again and laughing ’cause they’re clearly still in high school)
Mike: Who’s it by?
Jason: Terri Gibbs?
Mike: Never heard of him.
Jason: Me either. Let me see what he’s about.
(pause)
Jason: NO!
Mike: What?
Jason: Dude? That’s a girl.
Mike: IT IS NOT!
Jason: I swear.
Mike: No.
Jason: Yes! Hang on, let me find a picture.
(pause)
Jason: Holy shit.
Mike: What?
Jason:
She has an album called I’m A Lady.
(sends Mike the picture, more hysterical laughter on both ends)
Mike: The spelling of “Terri” should have tipped you off.
Jason: That does NOT sound like a girl! AND she’s blind! I guess that explains the hair.

So I want you to know, it’s not like I knew all along. I’d be curious to know if any of you knew Terri was a girl before getting to this part of the entry, especially if you listened to the song first.

See, NOW the song makes sense. The devil is a dude! With blue eyes and blue jeans! And he may or may not want sex of some sort. Maybe all he wants is to give Terri a haircut, I don’t know.

But anyway, about Terri Gibbs: yes, she was blind since birth, and learned to play the piano at the tender age of 3. Her hero was Chet Atkins, who heard her demo tape and suggested she head to Nashville. Unfortunately, success wasn’t forthcoming, and Gibbs wound up pursuing a number of different avenues – college, other bands – before returning to her hometown of Augusta, GA and shopping around another demo tape. The demo made its way to Ed Penney, a producer and songwriter who had penned songs for Jerry Lee Lewis, Anne Murray and Barbara Mandrell. Penney signed her to MCA, and teamed up with Jerry Gillespie to create “Somebody’s Knockin’.” Gillespie was a popular producer, having worked with greats such as B.B. King, Dusty Springfield, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, and….Dan Seals!

“Somebody’s Knockin’” was from Gibbs’ 1981 debut album, and performed admirably: not only did it reach #8 on the Country charts, but crossed over to the Pop charts at #13. It also reached the A/C top five. And apparently nobody else had a problem with knowing she was a woman. It was, apparently, just me. And Mike.

Gibbs never matched the success of “Somebody’s Knockin’,” but that’s not to say she was a one-hit wonder – far from it, actually. She had a number of Top 20 hits on the country charts, toured successfully with George Jones, and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Best New Female Vocalist” award, as well as the Country Music Association’s “Inaugural Horizon” award, which gives recognition to those with really big glasses.

And for all you hard-core gangstas who read Mellow Gold – you probably know “Somebody’s Knockin’” already! Don’t you remember DMX’s song “The Convo” from It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot?

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You have no idea how long it took me to uncover that one.

Well, now that “Somebody’s Knockin’” has completely forced me to re-evaluate my own skills of critical judgment, I think it’s time to sign off. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week for Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

A Call For Chart Attackers!

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007

I need a favor!

So here’s the story:  I’ve just been cast in a fantastic new play.  It’s entitled Postcards From A Dead Dog, and it’s being produced by Emerging Artists Theatre (EAT), a company that I have been privileged to be a member of over the past four years.  I also have another gig at The Bitter End coming up with Evil Prince Ludwig The Indestructible, and hopefully an ’80s acoustic gig with Mike later in the Spring.  I’ll definitely be plugging the hell out of all of these.

But the point of this post is that we’ve just started rehearsals on Postcards, and it’s going to be taking up most of my free time until it opens in about three weeks.  So I thought I’d ask you, my excellent readers and commenters: would any of you like to take a stab at guest-writing Chart Attack?  I’ll be able to keep Mellow Goldin’ it, but I’m not so sure about the Friday posts.  Plus, I’ve seen your unbelievable comments (which, I hate to admit, are often much better than the posts themselves), and I’ve also seen the way Jefitoblog thrives from the excellent guest Idiot’s Guide posts.  You and me, folks: we’re a match made in bad-music-heaven.

Here’s the way this would work.  I’d be looking for guests to write a Friday post for March 2, March 9, and March 16.  If enough people are interested, I’ll give up March 23rd as well.  As you know, I try to pick a corresponding week from somewhere in the Billboard charts – I usually stay comfortably within the ’80s but that’s certainly up to you – and the rest is pretty self-explanatory.  The Top 10s for each week aren’t readily available on the Internet, as far as I know (you can try here although I haven’t checked to see if they’re accurate).  You can request a year that you like, or I can surprise you with whatever year I’ve already lined up.  I’ll send you all the info, plus mp3s of every song in the Top 10, and you just let me know which two you’d like to offer for download.

So if you’re interested, drop me an e-mail and we’ll talk.  I’ll post in the comments after I have my three or four interested parties!

EDIT:  That was quick!  I’ve got four interested parties!  The month of March will officially be GUEST CHART ATTACK! month – I can’t wait until I’m eventually rendered completely obsolete at my own website!

CHART ATTACK! #19: 2/16/80

Friday, February 16th, 2007


Welcome back, everybody, to yet another edition of CHART ATTACK!  I know I’ve been hanging out in the late ’80s/early ’90s for the past few weeks.  I can’t help it; those are the years where I know most of the songs like the back of my hand.  Still, there are many other years to cover, and there’s a lot of fun in learning new stuff about mediocre songs.  And wouldn’t you know it – that brings us to the Top 10 for this week: February 16, 1980!

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  Amazon iTunes
9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  Amazon iTunes
7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Amazon iTunes
6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  iTunes
5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  Amazon iTunes
3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers  Amazon iTunes
2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen  Amazon iTunes
1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille  Amazon iTunes

10.  Desire – Andy Gibb  If you’re like me, you probably recognize that there’s a time and place for Bee Gee vocals.  Sometimes you really want to hear ‘em; other times, you want to stick shards of glass in your ears in order to stop them.  If this is one of those bad days, don’t listen to this song.  (Here, I’ll make it easier for you by not offering it for download.)  I can take the trademark vocal sound most of the time, but when they are pathetically reduced to little more than repeatedly whining an "aaaah," it’s time for me to go.

"Desire" wasn’t really an Andy Gibb song, actually.  It was recorded by the Bee Gees (with Andy on guest lead) in 1979, but wasn’t included on any of their albums.  Gibb, who had enjoyed massive success in the late ’70s (he was the first artist to hit #1 with his first three consecutive releases), was starting to fade.  "Desire" was his last Top 10 in America, and taken from his final album.

9.  On The Radio – Donna Summer  Peaking at #5, "On The Radio" was one of Summer’s final disco hits before giving the finger to record label Casablanca and wisely moving away from the already present backlash.  Produced by longtime Summer collaborator Giorgio Moroder, you have to wonder whether Summer had just had it with the whole disco thing.  I mean, here’s a video of her performing "On The Radio," and she doesn’t move at all throughout the song.  I didn’t know it was possible.  I know I can’t help but shake my booty to this one.  The song was featured as the theme song to the movie Foxes, which  had a Moroder soundtrack and featured (among others) Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.  I honestly have no clue whether I want to see this movie or not.  I kind of do, but I kind of don’t.

8.  Longer – Dan Fogelberg  I’m gonna keep my commentary on "Longer" brief, because I think I could definitely hit this one up in a future Mellow Gold post.  Here’s some chart-relevant info, however: "Longer" is easily Fogelberg’s biggest commercial success, climbing up to #2 four weeks after this one, selling millions of copies – and yet, Fogelberg never thought that highly of it.  He felt it was just a simple, "classic love song," and not his best work.  Still, it will be played at weddings until the end of time.  Fogelberg, when asked if he received royalties from weddings, joked, "I receive a slice of cake from each wedding. I have filled a room with them, and someday hope to build, using them as the bricks of my future."

7.  Sara – Fleetwood Mac  Remember what I said above about the Bee Gee vocals?  I’m the same with Stevie Nicks, except that I almost never want to hear her sing anything.  Still, as Stevie vocals go, this one isn’t bad, and I think the opening to the song is quite beautiful.  A single released off of Tusk, "Sara" peaked here at #7.

There’s a lot of talk on the ‘net about this song, so personal to Stevie Nicks that she almost never plays it in concert, and mysterious to her fans.  Some claim it’s about the dissolution of her relationship with Mick Fleetwood (who went on to date – and marry, because this is Fleetwood Mac we’re talking about – Stevie’s friend Sara).  Others say it’s about the aborted lovechild she had with Don Henley.  There’s another camp that say it’s about Lindsey Buckingham (I think this camp is full of cop-outs; saying a Nicks song is about Buckingham is like shooting fish in a barrel).  Here’s what I say: why does anybody care what the hell Stevie Nicks is yapping about?  Seriously, when I went to see Fleetwood Mac in 2004, the audience was firmly broken up into two camps: the obsessive, we-all-wear-scarves-’cause-we’re-gypsies-too! Stevie fans, and everybody else.  I don’t get it.  But if you do, and you want to hear some deep interpretation of "Sara," have at it.  Rumor has it that this song was originally sixteen minutes long.  Would you listen to a sixteen-minute "Sara"?

6.  Yes, I’m Ready – Teri DeSario with K.C.  This song is a lot more interesting if you imagine they’re talking about trying anal sex for the first time.

5.  Rock With You – Michael Jackson (download)  The second single from Off The Wall, "Rock With You" marked the beginning of Jackson’s collaboration with ex-Heatwave member Rod Temperton, who also wrote "Thriller."  Temperton had to make some changes to the song, however, as its original title/hook line "I wanna eat you up" didn’t sit well with the Jackson camp.  The video was rather primitive by Jackson standards, featuring the singer in the most awkward-looking jumpsuit ever (hello, sequins!) against some colorful lights.  Still, it was probably one of the last times you could truly say that Jackson was really concentrating on just the music.

While checking out the above video, I noticed this other clip on YouTube of Jackson performing the song at a charity event in 1980.  The quality is awful, but while watching it, I was struck with a thought I hadn’t had before: in 1980, Michael Jackson was just a kid in his early ’20s trying to shed his childhood.  You can’t help but notice it in this performance.

4.  Cruisin’ – Smokey Robinson  How lame is it that I actually hadn’t heard the original version of this song until this week?  I don’t know how it got there, but I’ve had the 2000 cover by Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis on my iPod since 2002.  I actually really love the cover (Paltrow has a great voice, and who doesn’t love Huey Lewis?), but it’s hard to improve on the great Smokey Robinson.  "Cruisin’," which peaked here at #4, was Robinson’s first Top 20 hit as a solo artist, followed by "Being With You" in 1981.  I didn’t really have much else to say about this song, so (of course) I went searching on YouTube for a video.  I couldn’t find one of Smokey, but I did find an odd amateur video, and if anybody could explain it to me, it’d be much appreciated.

3.  Coward Of The County – Kenny Rogers (download)  Go on.  Explain to me why the hell this song was a hit.  My personal belief is that it must have just been because it was released at a time where, like many other artists, Kenny Rogers could just do no wrong.  The reason I believe this is because this song sucks.  First of all, it’s a complete – complete – ripoff of "The Gambler."  The chords are similar, there are similar key changes, even the whole narrative form is the same.  I guarantee you that, when each verse ends, you’ll be stopping yourself from singing "You gotta know when to hold ‘em…"

And there is a story here: briefly, it’s about a dude (Tommy) who is known as the pussy coward of the county, mainly because his dad told him to never fight.  One day, three guys come around and rape his girlfriend Becky (uh…yeeee-hawww?), and Tommy beats the crap out of ‘em.  You go, Tommy!  I’ll be honest with you, I actually was riveted when listening to the song for the first time, because I was convinced Tommy wasn’t going to do anything about it.  I’m walking down the street actually saying, "what the hell is he going to do NOW?" and generally looking like a crazy person any normal guy on the streets of NYC.

Moral of the story?  Our fathers are full of shit.  Don’t listen to them.  Stand up for yourself when your girlfriend gets assaulted, you sissies.

2.  Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen 
Damn, do I love "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" – not only because it’s a fantastic song, but it was released at a particularly fertile time for the band.  The Game featured many of Queen’s trademark rock touches, but also showed the group branching out in unfamiliar directions, most notably funk and, with this track, rockabilly.  Freddie Mercury reportedly wrote this song while in the bathtub, and brought it to his bandmates with almost all the parts completed.  The song is also notable because it doesn’t feature Brian May’s trademark Red Special guitar; instead, he plays the lead parts on a Telecaster.

It’s amusing to note that Mercury also reportedly wrote the song on guitar, since he couldn’t really play very well at all.  Live, Mercury originally opened the song on an acoustic, at least until the mid ’80s, when he switched to a tinny Telecaster (most likely because it was easier to play).  May would join him on an Ovation acoustic, before switching to the Telecaster and then the Red Special.  Three guitar changes, one song.  Here’s a video of the group playing the song at Live Aid.  I’ve never seen anybody strum a guitar like Freddie.  If you notice closely, at around 2:04 he completely turns down the volume on his guitar.  I’ve never heard him play any more than the opening.



1.  Do That To Me One More Time – The Captain & Tennille 
See #6.

(Actually, we’ve talked about this one before, in Chart Attack! #12, which covered 12/15/79.  Go read it, if only for the comments about this song, which cracked my shit up.)

And speaking of the ’70s, please come on back next Friday, when we’ll cover a Top 10 absolutely crawling with Gibbs!  Until then, have a great weekend and thanks for joining me for CHART ATTACK!