Archive for April, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #29: 4/28/84

Friday, April 27th, 2007


Welcome back, everybody, to another week of CHART ATTACK!  This week’s another good one for the charts; I had a great time writing about every single one of these songs.  Hope you enjoy reading about them. Because 1984 was one of those years when just about every song had a visual counterpart, every single entry is accompanied by a music video.  Feel free to waste your entire day here, as we attack April 28, 1984!

10.  To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before – Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson  Amazon iTunes
9.  Automatic – Pointer Sisters
  Amazon iTunes
8.  They Don’t Know – Tracey Ullman  Amazon iTunes
7.  You Might Think – The Cars  Amazon iTunes
6.  Love Somebody – Rick Springfield  Amazon
5.  Miss Me Blind – Culture Club  Amazon iTunes
4.  Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins  Amazon iTunes
3.  Footloose – Kenny Loggins  Amazon iTunes
2.  Hello – Lionel Richie  Amazon iTunes
1.  Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins  Amazon iTunes

10.  To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before – Julio Iglesias & Willie Nelson

This is probably the only time I’m going to say this during this Chart Attack!: what is this shit?  And who can I blame for this one?  I suppose some of the blame has to go to Dick Asher, the CBS executive who plays a big role in the oft-recommended book Hit Men (I’m still reading it, don’t spoil the ending!), and was Iglesias’ primary champion when it came to bringing the biggest Spanish singer of all time to the U.S.  But enough blame has been thrown Asher’s way, according to the book, so I’m going to leave him alone.  Instead, let’s blame Willie.  Fuckin’ Willie.  Tell me the idea for this song wasn’t concocted while stoned.  I dare you.

I can get behind this duet, though it’s mainly for its unintentional humor.  I mean, as unlikely duets go, this is pretty unlikely.  Way more unlikely than Diddy and Sting, or Elton John and Axl/Eminem/Rick Santorum.  (That last one may not have happened, I’m not sure, but man, does Elton love him some homophobes.)  The differences between the two accents are hysterical, and I’m not positive that either one of them actually knows what they’re saying.

What’s that?  You want to see if it’s funny visually as well?  You got it!

You know how artists mainly just "know" how to duet in concert?  They know how to look at each other, at the audience, etc.  (See Cliff and Olivia in Mellow Gold.)  Willie and Julio have no idea how to do it.  When they look at each other, they look like they’re in love.  When they look at the audience, they look like they’d rather be anyplace else but the stage.  And Julio makes a few inappropriate gestures, too: check out the moment at :40 when he says "for helping me to grow" and then runs his hand down his stomach towards Lil’ Julio!  Or how about when he touches Willie’s stomach?  Julio, didn’t anybody tell you that Willie’s from Texas?  Did the fact that you’re in a tuxedo and he’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt not tip you off?  Not okay, Julio!  Not okay!

As for the song’s lyrical content, well…take a second to try and envision the girl that might have heard this song and thought, "holy shit…I slept with both Julio Iglesias AND Willie Nelson!"  Both attracted the ladies (in vastly different ways, of course), and saw their share of action.  Perhaps they should have left in the line "To all the girls I’ve loved before…you may want to get that rash checked out."

Here’s a little-known fact about "To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before": it actually came with its own disclaimer.

Effective upon the listening of this song, all the girls Mssrs Nelson and Iglesias have loved before, for themselves and for  their  successors, heirs, assigns, agents and representatives, completely, unconditionally and forever release, acquit and discharge Mssrs. Nelson and Iglesias, together with their respective successors, heirs, assigns, representatives, agents, affiliated entities, employees, attorneys, and partners, of and from any and all actions, causes of action, claims, contracts, debts, demands, liabilities, losses and damages of every kind and nature whatsoever,  whether known or unknown,  including but not limited to, alimony, paternity, loss of consortium, emotional distress, assault, abuse of controlled substances, sexually transmitted disease (including syphilis, gonorrhea, Chlamydia, crabs, and etc) or which in any manner relate to any and all whispering of sweet nothings, serenades, moonlit walks, hand holding, necking, heavy petting, french kissing, tender, sensual lovemaking, drug fueled orgies, quasi-satanic sex rituals, gay French sex farces, and all other instances of "before loving" between the Parties.

This disclaimer, of course, was only included on the 12" mix.

(thanks to the lawyer I stole the above from.)

9.  Automatic – Pointer Sisters (download)

I took stock of all the Pointer Sisters songs that I know.  (I know a lot: in the ’80s, I think they played all of them in my mother’s aerobics class.)   This one would easily be one of my favorites.  It’s not as good as "Pinball Number Count" from Sesame Street ("12345, 678910, 11 12!"), but it’s still up there.  Apart from the era-appropriate synth-and-guitar funk, it’s one of the few hits sung by Ruth Pointer, or as I like to call her, "Mr. Pointer."  (I’m on my way, Satan!)  I mean, I went through puberty at least a year or two ago, and Ruth can still sing lower than me.  She’s once twice three times the man I’ll ever be.  That’s just embarrassing.  In all honesty, though, I love her voice, and it’s the main reason why I really dig "Automatic."

What’s that?  You want a video that combines breakdancing, poppin’-and-lockin’, and weird guys playing with fans?  Here ’tis!

8.  They Don’t Know – Tracey Ullman

You have to love Tracey Ullman.  Even if you don’t love Tracey Ullman, you have to love Tracey Ullman.  The woman’s got balls.  Big balls.  Almost as big as Ruth Pointer’s.  As a performer, I can’t help but admire her for never doing a damn thing half-assed.  Here in the U.S., we didn’t know much about her until The Tracey Ullman Show became a hit for Fox in 1987, but between 1983 and 1985, Ullman was known for her singing career, and had five hits in the U.K. Top 40.  "They Don’t Know" was written by the late, great Kirsty MacColl (not to venture too far off-topic, but if you don’t know anything MacColl’s fantastic music and her tragic death, you should remedy this).  MacColl, for reasons beyond her control, was not able to create a success out of "They Don’t Know," but Ullman (her labelmate) hit #2 in the U.K. and peaked at #8 in the U.S.

What’s that?  You want a video featuring Paul McCartney in a cameo?  Piece of cake!

7.  You Might Think – The Cars

You might think wonder how I go about picking the weeks that I do for Chart Attack!  (Or you might not.)  Basically, I try to pick years that aren’t directly adjacent to the year I just attacked, and I pick whatever year gives me the best gut reaction.  Sometimes, I’ll pick a week I don’t know if I have the time to do all the research.  This week, I didn’t have much time, and thought, "awesome, two of these songs have been covered on Kurt’s This Week In Rock!  Less work for me!"  This song is one of the ones we covered – right here, as a matter of fact – so please stop by Kurt’s site and read what a bunch of brilliant nerds music bloggers have to say.  I’ll echo what I said on TWIR:  I always loved "You Might Think," but mainly because I was raised on MTV and its video was so iconic.  If not for MTV, I’m fairly certain I never would have heard the song at all. 

Musically, I never thought about it until my band, Evil Prince Ludwig The Indestructible, gave it a go.  This song is nowhere near as simple as you might think imagine.  (groan)  Sure, it’s only about four chords, but the synths and backing vocals really are so intricately layered and the production (courtesy of Mutt Lange) is so specific that it’s hard to accurately recreate the Cars/Lange sound.  That being said, I thought we did a credible job, and Mike, who tackled lead vocals, sounded great.  (Thankfully, he looks nothing like Ric Ocasek.)

What’s that?  You want to see the video that won Music Video Of The Year at the very first MTV Video Music Awards?  I’m here for you!

6.  Love Somebody – Rick Springfield (download)

This is the one song on the Top 10 that I didn’t recognize, not even for a second, when I heard it earlier this week.  When I saw the title, I started singing Bryan Adams’ "Somebody."  That’s how much I suck.

All this being said, when I finally did hear "Love Somebody," all I could think of was how much this song rocks.  Perfect ’80 glimmering rock song – perfect, perfect, perfect.  I dare you to find something wrong with it.  This is the sound that Adams and Eddie Money so desperately desire.  There’s even a bit of the Def Leppard choppy-guitar sound in there, as well as a clear tribute to Boston’s "Peace Of Mind."  Check out the bridge – I don’t know what those chords are, but I love ‘em.  Great transition.

Am I supposed to say something factual about this song?  Fine.  "Love Somebody" was part of the Hard To Hold album, also the soundtrack to his movie of the same name, and…aw, fuck it – I’m just going to shut up and rock out to this song.  If you want any factual matter on Rick Springfield, look elsewhere – like Jefitoblog’s Idiot’s Guide, for example.

But what’s that?  You want to see Springfield’s performance, somewhat digitized, at Live Aid – complete with big hair?  It’s yours!

And if that’s not enough – there are at least SIX other "Love Somebody" videos at YouTube.  (Hopefully it’s enough.)

5.  Miss Me Blind – Culture Club

Am I the only one whose childhood was a little screwed-up after seeing Boy George?  Being only six when this song came out (and yes, I was watching MTV at six), I just didn’t know what to make of this guy.  Girl.  Whatever.

All that said, I don’t have much to say about "Miss Me Blind."  I think it’s a good song, but I was never really a Culture Club fan.  Wham! is another matter entirely, but one I’m not sure I should divulge.  But what’s that?  You want to see the video that took away a little of my childhood?  Not a problem!

4.  Hold Me Now – Thompson Twins

The summer I was 17, I remember going to a party and dancing randomly with this girl I had just met.  "Hold Me Now" came on, and I started singing it while dancing.  I remember she was really impressed, for some reason, that I could sing the harmony line in the chorus (which is stupidly simple), and moved in a little closer.  It was that moment that I determined that "Hold Me Now" was the best song of all time(Note to self: if you don’t have anything good to say about a song, just shut up.) 

"Hold Me Now" was a departure from the electronic sound of the Thompson Twins’ previous work – not that many people noticed.  Previous singles had made a slight dent in the charts – "Lies," in 1983, made it to #30 – but this single remains their most successful and enduring hit.  Mike would like me to point out the whiny, nasal, thick-accented (or, as he just called it, "stupid") vocal of Tom Bailey.  Maybe so, but you can’t deny he had awesome hair.

What?  You want to see a "live performance" where Bailey plucks every note on his Rickenbacker with determination and fervor?  Here you go!

3.  Footloose – Kenny Loggins

What’s the definition of pathetic?  When you’re in your late teens, hear "Funk #49" by The James Gang for the first time and think, "hey, they stole this guitar riff from ‘Footloose!’"

Kenny Loggins – and his neverending soundtrack hits – have become an easy punchline, but I think "Footloose" is actually a very good song.  It’s light, it’s fun, and it’s no slouch in the music department, either: just listen to the extremely busy guitar and bass in the chorus.  Sure, it’s a blatant "Funk #49" rip, but I’m sure Joe Walsh was too coked up in ’84 to even care.  "Footloose" remains Loggins’ only #1 single, and he’s nowhere to be seen in the video.  And hey, isn’t this the height of cuteness: The Bacon Brothers covered the song on the Will & Grace soundtrack, which you can hear as part of Coverville #151 if you’d like.

What?  You don’t care about the official music video, but sure would love to see the scene from the movie?  Hot diggity-dog!

2.  Hello – Lionel Richie

I started taking piano lessons when I was seven.  By the time I was eight, I knew my way around the keys and could work my way through basic music.  However, since my teacher only taught classical music, I didn’t think too much about using the piano for contemporary songs I had heard on the radio.  So I guess it was 1985 when my mother bought me my first piece of pop sheet music: an easy piano version of "Hello."  I think even she’s a little scared that it’s 2007 and I’m still performing it.  Mike and I play it as part of our "Acoustic ’80s" set, and I think it’s probably my favorite of the bunch, because we were able to transform it into an uptempo guitar version.  A few people have asked to hear some mp3s from our gigs; here’s a 60-second segment of our version of "Hello," from December ’06.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

But I suppose I should talk about Lionel Richie.  The second single from Richie’s highly successful (over 20 million sold!) album Can’t Slow Down, "Hello" was a sensitive ballad of gargantuan proportions.  Hard to believe that it almost didn’t make the album – Richie didn’t think much of the tune, having written it before his first solo album and abandoned it a few years prior, but his wife Brenda, um, smacked some sense into him.

These days, the song is really known for its video, which I wouldn’t dare snark.  Not for the reasons you think, however.  It’s just that Stereogum did such a brilliant job with it a number of years back (before they jumped the shark) that I’m unconvinced I could improve upon their take, which you should read now.

What?  You want to see the video in its entirety?  You don’t?  Well, write your own goddamn Chart Attack!, then!

1.  Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) – Phil Collins

Here’s another one that we covered over at The Week In Rock.  (I tell another story about learning it on the piano, but I’m not going to bore you any more than I already have.)  I have to admit, I was surprised at how many other music bloggers like this song.  Like Kenny Loggins, Phil Collins is something of a punchline now, but you can’t deny that this is a fantastic ballad.  Collins has a hell of a voice, and makes this song sound much simpler vocally than it really is.  He screams his way through a good portion of this song in such a way that never sounds harsh, and is perfectly appropriate for the ballad.  I love it.

An Arif Mardin production, "Against All Odds" began life as a reject from the Face Value album, entitled "How Can You Just Sit There."  I wrote a similar song after my college roommate wouldn’t clean up his fucking dirty dishes.  Anyway, Taylor Hackford, director of the movie Against All Odds (and future Ray director) asked Collins for a song for the film, and he went back and found this one – one of many "dedicated" to his ex-wife.  According to the extensive Wiki for this song (which, sadly, devotes almost as much room on the Mariah Carey cover version), it’s one of six songs that Collins wrote specifically for soundtracks.  Eat it, Loggins!

Collins earned a nomination for Best Song at the Academy Awards, and rearranged his tour so he could attend the telecast.  However, he was not invited to perform it himself (rumor has it that the Academy didn’t know who he was).  Collins was stuck sitting in the audience, watching Ann Reinking perform his number:

That night, I was sitting in my seat and poor old Ann Reinking, who was singing the song, came in. She knew I was there and knew about all the fuss that had gone on about it. And … well, she may be a dancer, but she can’t sing. She was awful. I felt sorry for her. Kenny Loggins was sitting behind me and he said, "I can’t believe what they did to your song." He wasn’t performing his, either, so all I could say was, "You’ve got yours to come, mate."

Eat it, Loggins!

Regarding the disappointing evening, Wiki says:  "His perceived negative reaction shown on the telecast is considered to be one of the most awkward moments in the history of the ceremony, and has been a favorite reference for Dennis Miller to relate someone reacting in a horrified fashion." 

What?  You’d like to see the video with his negative reactions?  Well, too bad, I can’t find it.  You’ll have to settle for the original video.  Here at Chart Attack!, we always try to end with disappointment!

Okay, I’m spent.  I can’t possibly write anymore.  Hope you enjoyed the content, the downloads, and the videos – and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 29

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Hi everyone! Listen, I get it: I need to listen to ELO. Thanks for all the tips – and for enduring last week’s suckfest of Olivia and Cliff. I think this week’s a little better, but I’ll let you be the judge, as we dive into this week’s edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

Pure Prairie League – Let Me Love You Tonight (download)

Remember “Let Me Love You Tonight?” I don’t think it’s ever been suggested by anybody, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought of it off the top of my head – but one day, it just magically appeared on my iPod, and from the second it began, I knew we had a Mellow gem on our hands. But first, the questions on everyone’s mind:

1) Who were The Pure Prairie League?
2) What were their dreams and ambitions?
3) Is Jefito back yet?
4) This sucks. (Not technically a question, but you can’t deny it’s on your mind.)

If you want quick answers so you can go about your day, here you go: 1) A bunch of putzes with guitars, 2) to get laid, 3) no, and why does everybody keep asking me this, and 4) I agree, and I’m the one writing it. But you might as well stick around, since I’m going to write about Pure Prairie League whether you like it or not.

Here at ATTMOMG (first time I’ve acronym-ed that, y’all), we often mourn the loss of the good ol’ days, back when relations between artists and record labels were based on more than just the bottom line. Pure Prairie League is another band that reminds us of a sweeter time; “Let Me Love You Tonight,” the band’s most successful hit, was on their ninth record. The band formed in Ohio in 1969, and, after building a strong following in bars around the Columbus area, were signed to RCA Records a year later. Now, I’m not saying that the record execs were saints; they gave PPL a fightin’ chance, but after two albums and nary a success on the charts, the group was dropped by their label.

Other bands might have quit while they were behind, but Pure Prairie League went back to basics, and continued to perform constantly wherever they could land gigs, usually in the Midwest. Their dedication paid off: after two years of constant touring and promotion, radio stations went back to album #2, Bustin’ Out, and began playing a track entitled “Amie.”

A quick word about this song: while “Let Me Love You Tonight” was certainly the band’s most successful hit, it’s probably not their best-known; “Amie” gets that honor. This tune, despite being primarily acoustic and full of delicious backing vocals, is not Mellow Gold, so we can’t cover it here. However, the song is fantastic that I think it’d be a crime to deprive people of it.

Pure Prairie League – Amie (bonus download)

Pretty tune, right? Plenty of people felt the same way – enough, in fact, that RCA re-signed Pure Prairie League. They re-released Bustin’ Out, which hit the Top 40 and went gold, and “Amie,” which also made the Top 40. (Never mind that the song’s lead singer, Craig Fuller, was no longer in the band – a long story that involves some dubious claims in order to avoid going to Vietnam.)

The success was short-lived, however, and it wasn’t long before Pure Prairie League were once again wondering if they were going to be able to make it through the lows, not to mention the oft-shifting band personnel.

Enter this guy.

Doesn’t look familiar? How about now:

Still no? What’s wrong with you people?

I’m guessing not a lot of people know what Vince Gill looks like, ’cause when I searched for his image, I found a whole bunch with his name included. But anyway, Gill showed up at Pure Prairie League auditions in 1978. He wasn’t planning on trying out – he had just shown up with a friend – but he wound up jamming, and the chemistry was…well, I guess it was good enough to join Pure Prairie League, whatever that’s worth, I dunno.


PPL with Vince Gill. Five guys, five shitty haircuts.
Dr. Hook could only hope to look so good.

With Gill on lead vocals, the stage was set for mellow goodness. However, before the magic happened, the band had one more task to complete: another unsuccessful album. (One would argue that the group was on a roll.) This time, they left RCA for good. And oddly enough, you know who picked them up? Casablanca Records. Yup, home of Donna Summer and The Village People. I mean, yeah, PPL wore lame outfits and had no taste in barbers, but still, did they deserve to be put on the same level as The Village People?

Anyway, Casablanca was where they released album #9, Firin’ Up. And finally – FINALLY! – we get to talk about “Let Me Love You Tonight.” First, you’ve got your title. Mellow is the band that essentially asks permission before loving. We’re not even talking about knocking boots, here. We’re talking about cuddling. C’mon, guys, even Dr. Hook’s looking more manly than you! One has to wonder who rejected the original title, “Um, Pardon Me For Interrupting Your Lunch, But If You’re Not Terribly Busy Later On, Perhaps I Could, Oh, I Don’t Know, Love You Tonight, Pretty Please?” The rest of the lyrics are pretty damn simplistic. The band realized that the chorus, with its Eagles-esque harmonies, was the best part of the song; if they had their way, chances are this number would consist of “let me love you tonight” over and over again. But you have to have verses, and so I guess the tactic was to just write whatever rhymed until we heard that music chorus again. They even wrote a bridge.

When the moon has forgotten what the night’s about
And the stars can’t work their places out
Hold me tighter than tight
When the daylight comes, it’ll be all right


What the fuck is he talking about?
I’ve seen refrigerator poetry better than this crap. And yet, he’s asking the woman to hold him. This just in: Vince Gill has no nads.

So you’ve got your mellow lyrics. You’ve got your mellow harmonies. You’ve also got a sweet bassline and lots of piano. But what’s the mellowest of the mellow on this song? The saxophone! Oh god, the saxophone. It’s pissing all over this track. I actually listened, and there are only 19 consecutive seconds of saxophone-free music. Who the hell can’t put down the sax for more than 20 goddamn seconds?

Curses! It’s David Sanborn! I should have known! You know, earlier in his career, Sanborn was playing with Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, and the Rolling Stones. Later on, he fell into a dark life of smooth jazz. Could it be? Could the smooth stylings of Vince Gill, Pure Prairie League and “Let Me Love You Tonight” have led Sanborn down this tragic road? We may never know, but I’m going to blame them anyway.

In all seriousness, “Let Me Love You Tonight” is perfect Mellow Gold. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s rather wimpy both in musicality and sentiment, and it has way too much saxophone. What more could you want?

Gill left Pure Prairie League after – you guessed it – another unsuccessful album, which seemed just as well, as Casablanca Records bit the dust. Pure Prairie League essentially split up in 1987, but have reformed in recent years. In fact, if you really want, you can see them with a number of other MG bands: Poco, Firefall, and even Orleans! Just check their tour page and take your pick of venues: state fairs, aboretums, bars or even Renaissance Festivals. Pure Prairie League are still out there for your mellow pleasure.

Enjoy the two PPL tracks and we’ll see you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #28: 4/18/81

Friday, April 20th, 2007


Welcome back, everybody, to another edition of CHART ATTACK!  I know that you’ve been dying all week to know what was rocking the charts during the week of April 18, 1981.  Or not.  Well, either way, that’s the week we’re attackin’, so let’s get started!

10.  Don’t Stand So Close To Me – The Police
  Amazon iTunes
9.  The Best Of Times – Styx
  Amazon iTunes
8.  Being With You – Smokey Robinson  Amazon iTunes
7.  While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood  Amazon iTunes
6.  Angel Of The Morning – Juice Newton  Amazon iTunes
5.  Woman – John Lennon  Amazon
4.  Just The Two Of Us – Grover Washington, Jr. (with Bill Withers)  Amazon iTunes
3.  Morning Train (Nine To Five) – Sheena Easton  Amazon
2.  Rapture – Blondie  Amazon iTunes
1.  Kiss On My List – Daryl Hall & John Oates  Amazon iTunes

10.  Don’t Stand So Close To Me – The Police

So the question, of course, needs to be asked:  which version do you prefer, 1980 or 1986?  My first Police album was their compilation Every Breath You Take – The Singles, which only included the ’86 version, so that was my initial exposure to the song.  I suppose I preferred that version for a while (I love the backing vocals), until I finally heard the full original version.  Now, I’m not quite sure.  I think the ’86 version is much more consistent in its dark tone that matches the lyrical content, but then again, the ’80 opening – plus the dichotomy between the verses and choruses – sound pretty chilling as well.  Being that both are so different (and I love that they are), perhaps it’s not even worth comparing.  I can’t imagine anybody saying they prefer ’86, anyway; even if it’s true, it just sounds uncool.

Where was I?  Oh yes, "Don’t Stand So Close To Me."  Sting insists that the story of this song – a teacher falling for a student – was not based on his own pre-Police experiences as an English teacher.  Although the group had plenty of recognizable songs before this one – "Roxanne," "Message In A Bottle," "Can’t Stand Losing You" – none of these were big hits in the U.S.  "Don’t Stand" reached #10 and became their first stand-out single in the country.

Numerous sources point out – and I’m stupid for not realizing this before – that "don’t stand so close to me" is melodically quite similar to Sting’s "I want my MTV" cameo in Dire Straits’ "Money For Nothing" – so much so that when it was realized, Sting’s lawyers got involved and insisted Sting be granted a co-writing credit.  I’m not saying that they were wrong, but damn, Knopfler really felt that sting.  Huh?  Huh??!?  I just wrote that one!

In other news, did you guys hear that The Police are reforming?  True story.

9.  The Best Of Times – Styx

Suck it, Tommy Shaw!

I don’t know why I’m so down on Tommy Shaw.  I guess I just find it so funny that this man – one who really wants to rock but has the babyface of a bubblegum pop star – was stuck backing Dennis DeYoung, probably mumbling "this is fucking stupid" the whole time, and then had to sit back and watch DeYoung’s songs reach the top of the charts.  (Yes, Shaw had hits in Styx as well, but they never surpassed DeYoung’s.)  And "The Best Of Times" isn’t even that great a track.  I’ll give it credit for a strong, catchy opening (even if we’re subjected to DeYoung’s "hey look, I could be on Broadway!" vibrato), but not much else.  The keyboard/vocal "with you tonight" effect is creepy, and could they have possibly chosen worse dynamics later in the song, where they go:

these are the best OF TIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMES!

It makes me wince every time I hear it.  Incidentally, this song debuted at #31, which was the highest debut for any song on the charts in 1981.

8.  Being With You – Smokey Robinson

You gotta love the opening of "Being With You" – it seems separate from the rest of the track, and sounds like it belongs as the soundtrack to a Cinemax softcore porn flick.  The keyboards that accompany the rest of the song may give away the fact that it’s an early ’80s tune, but in my mind, Smokey Robinson’s sweet voice is timeless, so when I think of this one, I definitely don’t associate it with 1981.

Robinson had left his legendary band The Miracles back in 1972, and had only experienced minor success as a solo act until 1980, when he reached #4 with "Cruisin’."  That same year, Kim Carnes released "More Love," a cover of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles #23 hit from 1967.  It was Carnes’ first solo success (a year before "Bette Davis Eyes"), and a grateful Robinson decided to give her a song he had been working on, entitled "Being With You."  He handed it off to George Tobin, who had produced Carnes’ "More Love" (and would go on to record ’80s sensation Tiffany, but that’s another story).  However, Tobin was no longer collaborating with Carnes, and suggested that Robinson record it himself.

Tobin produced the track for Robinson, which wound up becoming his biggest solo hit.  It topped the UK charts, but couldn’t get past #2 in the US.  Keeping it from the top spot?  "Bette Davis Eyes."

7.  While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood (download)

"While You See A Chance" was a collaboration between Winwood and award-winning composer Will Jennings.  You know Jennings:  he either wrote or co-wrote hits like "I’ll Never Love This Way Again," "Up Where We Belong," "Didn’t We Almost Have It All," "Tears In Heaven," and (shudder) "My Heart Will Go On."  The collaboration between the two proved to be a good idea: "While You See A Chance" was Winwood’s highest charting single since "Gimme Some Lovin’" in 1966.  Jennings and Winwood went on to become frequent collaborators, and nearly all of Winwood’s hits in the late ’80s can be attributed to this partnership.

I’ve always liked "While You See A Chance."  It’s synthesizer central – good luck finding a guitar anywhere – and I especially love Winwood’s preference for the unmistakeable synthesizer sound that lies somewhere between a trumpet and a fart.  The synth opening is also memorable, and was actually a mistake on Winwood’s part: originally, he had written a drum track introduction (Winwood plays all instruments on this song and the accompanying album, Arc Of A Diver), but accidentally deleted it while getting ready to record his vocals.  Unable to recreate it, he quickly pieced together the synth intro.  Funny, though – I don’t think he had the same accident during the recording of "The Finer Things," which has an eerily similar intro – and, wouldn’t you know it, that track was also co-written by Jennings!

"While you see a chance, take it/find romance, fake it/because it’s all on you."  I love that line.  I shall put that next to Kenny Loggins’ "This Is It" on my list of Cheesy Songs That Inspire Me.

6.  Angel Of The Morning – Juice Newton

Ugh.  Ugh, ugh, ugh.  And I said this about the song back when all I knew was the chorus.  I hate this song.  Why have so many people recorded this song?  Olivia Newton-John, The Pretenders (Chrissie, how could you?), Ray Conniff, Percy Faith, and of course, Bonnie Tyler, because why should Bonnie Tyler leave anything well enough alone.  Anyway, I’ll try to get over my extreme prejudice of this song (what’s with the military drums and the tolling bells?  It’s about a one-night stand, not about someone going to war!) and give you a little bit of trivia about "Angel Of The Morning."  It was written by Chip Taylor (a stage name – his real name is James Voight, and yes, he’s Jon’s brother).  Taylor had a knack for writing songs that were moderate hits on first release, but were really destined to find true success later.  He wrote "Wild Thing," which was originally recorded by The Wild Ones, but wasn’t a hit until The Troggs covered it.  Similarly, he wrote "Angel Of The Morning," originally recorded by Evie Sands in 1967.  Sands’ version wasn’t bad, but stopped dead in its tracks once her record company went bankrupt.  The next year, Merilee Rush had a #7 hit with the same song.  Of course, it’s Newton’s version that most people remember best, which peaked at #4.  And, of course, who can forget Shaggy’s 2001 re-working of the song, entitled "Angel," which hit #1 and will now be in your head the rest of the day.

5.  Woman – John Lennon

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(If you’re new to the site and don’t understand what the hell that clip is all about, check out Mellow Gold #19, where we get into deep discussion about "Woman."  The rest of you – you know you were begging for me to post that clip.  Incidentally, I’m hoping that my "ramen" makes it into someone’s mash-up one day.)

4.  Just The Two Of Us – Grover Washington, Jr. (with Bill Withers)

Ahhh, Bill Withers.  I love Bill Withers.  Who doesn’t love Bill Withers?  (He’s like parfait.)  I was surprised to find out that this song isn’t primarily credited to Withers, but to Washington, a master of the saxophone who unfortunately got sucked into smooth jazz later in life (and supposedly was at least somewhat responsible for the rise of Kenny G).  I love the saxophone on this song, but it’s the piece as a whole – and notice, again, that there are no guitars to be found on this song – that is just a beaut.  Withers was a fan of Washington’s, as the saxophonist had covered Withers’ "Ain’t No Sunshine" on his debut record, Inner City Blues, but the two hadn’t met until Washington called him in for this recording.  Despite the enduring popularity of this song, Washington and Withers didn’t have any more of a relationship after recording than they had previously.  "Just The Two Of Us" remained in the Top 10 for a respectable eleven weeks.

Washington died in 1999 of a heart attack after an appearance on CBS’ The Early Show; Withers is still alive, and his music still permeates pop culture (I can’t help but think about Austin Powers when I hear this song, even though I don’t want to).  However, he barely records or performs anymore.  (Oddly enough, he can be found performing recently with Jimmy Buffett.)  As he says, "I didn’t quit the record business; the record business quit me."

3.  Morning Train (Nine To Five) – Sheena Easton

I mentioned this in a previous Chart Attack, but isn’t it hard to believe that this is the same Sheena Easton who later released the smokin’ hot "The Lover In Me" and became a Prince concubine?  How did that come about?  And did he offer her "Manic Monday" as well?  The world may never know.  (By the way, last week’s Chart Attack! was more popular than most, thanks to the Prince/Apollonia "Manic Monday" bootleg reaching the "Most Popular" list on Hype Machine over the weekend.  I can’t tell you how tempted I am to invent a Prince/Sheena Easton "Manic Monday" mp3 right now.)

"Morning Train (Nine To Five)," so re-named in America as to not cause confusion with Dolly Parton’s "9 To 5" (also a hit in ’81) was Easton’s first U.S. single, and what a great introduction:  it hit #1 in May, and remains her only chart-topper in America.  Overall, this song isn’t bad.  I mean, it’s really all about the chorus.  Clearly, they were going for some serious Manhattan Transfer-esque backing vocals, and when you put it all together with Sheena’s voice, you have a pretty catchy hook.   There are even two truck driver’s gear changes in this song, but you’ll notice that the very last one is tackled only by the backing vocalists.  No way was Easton going to sing the chorus in that key.

In fact, the real shame of the song is that the lyrics are completely idiotic and set feminism back about 80 years.  "My baby takes the morning train/he works from nine to five and then/he takes another home again/to find me waiting for him."  Somewhere in the world, Gloria Steinem had to be convinced not to take her own life.

Here’s the video.  I don’t care that it was 1981 – there’s no excuse for any of this.  The bike-riding, the hairdo, the makeup, the ugly aqua-blue pantsuit.  The belt.  THE BELT!!!  Somewhere in the world, Liberace had to be convinced not to take his own life.

2.  Rapture – Blondie

Why are we still proudly giving Blondie credit for introducing rap to the white people and the radio?  I don’t care if it’s true (and it’s probably not true).  My point is this:  has anybody listened to the rap?  It starts off promisingly, name-checking Fab Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash, and just goes downhill from there.  I can take it up until right after she mentions a Subaru.  Then she starts in with this tale of The Man From Mars eating cars and bars and, uh…guitars.  Who didn’t see that coming?  You know, I wrote a rap like this, once.  Only problem is that it was also 1981, and I was four.

Remember the video?  If you thought it was bad enough that white people were rapping, you should see them dance, DJ, and spray graffiti!

"Rapture" hit #1 earlier in the month, and was the first hip-hop song to reach the top.  That much is true.  Additionally, Debbie Harry was incredibly hot at the time.  This is also irrefutable fact.

1.  Kiss On My List – Daryl Hall & John Oates (remix download!)

I have very little to say about "Kiss On My List."  I love this song.  Love the piano part, especially, followed by those perfect H&O backing vocals.  It’s catchy, it’s light, it’s wonderful.  Apparently Daryl Hall believed (believes?) that Eddie Van Halen stole the piano part for the "Jump" synth part.  Anybody else think that’s complete bullshit?

While Hall wrote a number of songs with Sara Allen, this song was co-written by Sara’s younger sister, Janna.  Supposedly, this is the first song Janna ever wrote.  I don’t care if it’s true or not; I love "Kiss On My List."  I figure everybody has the original, so the version up for download is from a compilation of H&O remixes.  I decided to include it because last week, JB from the awesome The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ pointed me in the direction of Born Again ’80s, a fantastic site with tons of remixes of our favorite ’80s tunes.  Be sure to check it out!

And that’s it for another Billboard week!  Have a great weekend, and see you same time, same place next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 28

Wednesday, April 18th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

We’ve covered the men. We’ve covered the women. We’ve even covered a few people who run somewhere in the middle. But we have yet to cover the male-female Mellow Duet – and that’s what we’re going to tackle on this week’s Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard – Suddenly (download)

Hey, where’s everybody goin’?

Listen, before you start unplugging the computer from the wall, remember this: I can’t promise you amazing songs every week. Hell, I can’t even promise you mediocre songs weekly. Mellow Gold is like sticking a hot poker in your eye: even when it’s good, it’s still pretty bad. For every “Smoke From A Distant Fire,” you have an “I’ve Never Been To Me,” and for every “Moonlight Feels Right,” you have a “Suddenly.” Take your Mellow Gold lumps like a true wuss, wouldja?

Besides, I had to cover this song. It was on my iPod (I swear, I have no idea how it got there!), and as it finished…I played it again. And again. And again. I’m not saying that “Suddenly” is a good song, by any means. Something just attracts me to it. It’s a car-accident song, without a doubt.

So let’s talk a bit about our two equally smooth singers, although I don’t really need to say much, do I? Olivia Newton-John: huge celebrity, both as an actress and a singer. In 1980, she was still glowing from the massive success of Grease. Cliff Richard: immensely successful artist in the UK, moderately successful artist in the US. In 1980, Cliff was enjoying a resurgence on the UK charts after a number of years where he focused on gospel music. Americans probably don’t know that Cliff Richard has had more #1 hits in the UK, other than Elvis Presley and The Beatles. This guy was big (and still does pretty well, but that’s another story).

In 1980, Olivia Newton-John starred in Xanadu.

I’m really not going to say much about Xanadu. I’ll leave that to you in the comments, if you like. For starters, I haven’t seen it. Enough people have told me about it that I’m pretty sure I don’t need it entering my brain. Plus, I saw Two Of A Kind a number of times, and that was pretty much enough for cruddy Olivia Newton-John movies. Suffice it to say that the movie is that of legend, now; a colossal box-office failure and a waste of Gene Kelly that has now somehow not only become a cult favorite, but will appear on Broadway sometime this year.

The soundtrack, however, was a different matter: Xanadu, The Not-As-Shitty-As-The-Movie Soundtrack reached #4 and scored five Top 20 hits. The soundtrack, conceptually, was interesting: side A belonged to Olivia, and side B belonged to Electric Light Orchestra. (Wha?) Granted, I know about as much about ELO as I know about Xanadu, so again, my comments section is always open for tangential discussion. The soundtrack included our Mellow hit, as well as the title track and Magic, a #1 single.

“Suddenly” was written by John Farrar, who was Olivia’s longtime musical partner, doing much of the writing and producing for her big hits, including “You’re The One That I Want,” “Hopelessly Devoted To You,” and yes – “Have You Never Been Mellow” (which some might suggest is a better choice, but shit, I’ve written this much and can’t stop now). Farrar also knew Cliff Richard, having not only been a backng guitarist and vocalist for the singer, but was also a member of Cliff’s former group, The Shadows.

As for Cliff and Olivia, their connection dated back to the early ’70s when she regularly appeared on his variety show; as a matter of fact, Cliff’s first duet with a woman was with Olivia, in their 1972 telefilm The Case. “Suddenly” was their first charting duet together, and the lowest of the charting tracks from Xanadu. It only made it to #20, but it did reach #4 on AC. And AC, friends, is where Mellow Gold lies.

So have you listened to “Suddenly” lately, and if so, have you wondered if maybe Farrar had a crush on the Gibb brothers? “Suddenly” is, essentially, another Top 20 hit for the Bee Gees. Think about it. Actually, no, don’t think about it. Listen to it. Doesn’t Cliff Richard sound like a Gibb, especially that low, breathy vocal in the beginning of the song? Those gentle acoustic guitars playing through some weird effects pedal, the gentle keyboard and synth strings…has anybody called Barry about a lawsuit?

It’s true that I love me some Gibb, and for a while, I was thinking that maybe this was the reason I was so drawn to this number. But upon further reflection (and why anybody would spend this much time on anything from Olivia Newton-John is beyond me), I know what it is.

Suddenly, the wheels are in motion
And I-ah-ah-HA-ha
I’m ready to sail any ocean
Suddenly I don’t need the answers
‘Cause I-ah-ah-HA-ha
I’m ready to take all my chances with yooooou

There is something so guilty-pleasure awesome about the way Cliff and Olivia made a conscious choice to completely obliterate the word “I,” and the way they go all staccato on the penultimate syllable. I feel like a complete idiot for spending this much time on this one line (which, by the way, took me five minutes to spell). But it’s clearly the focus of the entire song. If you were to try and describe “Suddenly” to someone, what part would you sing? At what point would they go, “Oh! I know what you’re talking about, and I don’t think we can be friends anymore”? It’s right here! The breathy part! Here at the corner of Gibb and Vagina!

So it’s all because of that one part that I listen to this song over and over again. I sing it, too. Out loud. Both parts. I take turns. Sometimes I feel more like Cliff than Olivia. Sometimes, it’s the other way around, and then I go searching for the outfit she’s wearing in the above photo. Have I-ah-ah-HA-ha said too much?

The only thing better/worse/better again than listening to “Suddenly” is watching it. This is my favorite version, from some German “Hooray For Hollywood” TV special. I always think it’s going to turn into a porno, and it doesn’t, which is disappointing.

Then there’s this version, an awkward roller-skating scene from the movie which, oddly, kinda makes me want to see the whole film. Olivia reportedly fractured her tailbone during the filming of this number.

If you really like the song and want to hear it with a full orchestra (oh, the majesty!):

And finally, this one makes me laugh, mainly just because Cliff Richard is such a dramatic tool, especially when he’s lip-syncing.

And there you have it. Way too much space devoted to a mediocre song that I can’t turn off. Hopefully it does the same for you. And if not, there’s always next week! See you soon for another Adventure through the Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #27: 4/12/86

Friday, April 13th, 2007


You guys, not for nothing, but in my humble opinion, 1986 was a totally kick-ass year for music.  As I listen to the Top 100 for the year overall, I find myself skipping over only a few of them.  (I happen to like "Words Get In The Way," okay?  Shut up!) 

I wasn’t going to attack this chart, since Matthew did such a fantastic job of attacking 1986 just last month, but I couldn’t help it.  I hope you like 1986, because I have a funny feeling it may replace 1988 as my favorite year of the ’80s.  Why don’t you decide for yourself whether it’s a year worthy of attacking, as we take a look back at April 12, 1986!

10.  Tender Love – Force M.D.’s  iTunes
9.  Harlem Shuffle – Rolling Stones
  Amazon iTunes
8.  West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys  Amazon iTunes
7.  Let’s Go All The Way – Sly Fox  iTunes
6.  Addicted To Love – Robert Palmer  Amazon iTunes
5.  What You Need – INXS   Amazon iTunes
4.  R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. (A Salute To 60′s Rock) – John Cougar Mellencamp  Amazon iTunes
3.  Manic Monday – Bangles  Amazon iTunes
2.  Kiss – Prince And The Revolution  Amazon iTunes
1.  Rock Me Amadeus – Falco  Amazon iTunes

10.  Tender Love – Force M.D.’s (download)

See, here’s a song that I’m not quite sure could exist today.  I don’t know about you, but when I hear the name "Force M.D.’s," I’m thinkin’ gangsta.  Right?  It just sounds like a tough name.  Then they come out with this gentle thing – dare I say, the Mellow Gold of 1986 – and nobody knows what to think.  The only thing I’m sure of is that these guys would most likely get their asses kicked for this song in 2007.

Force M.D.’s, at least according to the Wikipedia, were "recognized by their street attitude."

Apparently, Force M.D.’s lived on Dumpster Clothing Street.

"Tender Love" was written by none other than Janet Jackson’s hitmakers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  The group did have one further success – a #1 on the R&B charts a year later – but "Tender Love" was the one and only time they’d make any significant impact on the Hot 100.  It should be noted that only one week prior, "Secret Lovers" had spent its last week in the Top 10 at #3.  I can’t even imagine the chart wussiness that would have ensued had these two groups shared a Top 10.

Still, when hearing this song – specifically the piano part – I can’t help but smile, and feel a wave of nostalgia wash over me.  I don’t know what it’s for, as I was 8 at the time.   What the hell did I have to be nostalgic about – that I apparently didn’t know how to comb my hair?  (Still haven’t learned this lesson.)

"M.D.," by the way, stood for "Musical Diversity."  I still hold out hope that, one day, a proctology practice will open up by the name of "Force M.D.’s."

9.  Harlem Shuffle – Rolling Stones

With songs like "Let’s Go All The Way" and "Rock Me Amadeus" appearing this week, I find it incredible that the Stones were responsible for the dumbest tune on the chart.

(Disclaimer: I’ve never been a Rolling Stones fan.  I think at some point, most people are forced to make a choice between The Who and the Stones, and I went with The Who.  I think I made the right choice.  We may have less living members, but at least our lead singer doesn’t look like an inside-out cat.)

"Harlem Shuffle" is a cover of the song originally performed by the R&B duo Bob & Earl in 1963.  Apparently it was a favorite of Keith Richards’, and he had been running through the song in the studio with Ron Wood and Bobby Womack while waiting for Jagger to show up.  Jagger dug the groove, recorded his vocals, and a shitty hit (which I suppose we can just refer to as a "shit") was born.  Womack’s on backing vocals, as is Tom Waits and Patty Scialfa, to which I say "if you say so."

And the video!  Oh, the stupid, stupid video!



I suppose it’s too late for me to start asking "why?" about anything having to do with this song.  But I’ll ask anyway: why?  Why the animated images?  Why is Mick Jagger dressed for a guest spot on Miami Vice?  (Obvious answer: because it’s 1986.)  Even the band looks like they’re regretting the entire thing.  I mean, Charlie Watts never looks excited, I know, but he actually looks like he’d rather be playing drums for Paul Anka than be stuck in this ridiculous video.  And you wanna know the stupidest thing of all?  This was nominated for Best Group Video Of The Year at the MTV VMAs in 1986, which just goes to show you that MTV was still apparently grasping at straws five years after their debut.

So yeah, I don’t get the video.  Especially the cartoons.  However, if you think it looks a little Ren-and-Stimpy-ish, you’re right: the animation was directed by John Kricfalusi, future R&S creator.

8.  West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

I always felt that Pet Shop Boys were one of the few groups that got the whole synthesizer domination thing absolutely right in the ’80s.  There’s not a genuine acoustic instrument to be found on this track, and it’s okay with me.  (In case anybody’s curious.)  The keyboard bass part is awesome, especially when it provides the main riff in the chorus.

This was the band’s second attempt at the song; the first version had been recorded in 1984 at a faster tempo, and was only a minor hit for the duo, reaching #1 in Belgium and appearing in dance clubs in other European territories.  Re-recorded under producer Stephen Hague (who went on to produce many other European acts…oh, and David Mead) and released in 1986, the song reached #1 in May, and became Pet Shop Boys’ first smash hit.  The song itself deals with the class differences between the two sides of London, and takes its inspiration from Grandmaster Flash’s "The Message."

7.  Let’s Go All The Way – Sly Fox (download)

Question 1:  Sly WHO, now?

Question 2: When Sly Fox (a duo, not an actual person) performed this song live, do you think they broke the audience up into two parts?:

"Okay!  Everybody on the left – you sing ‘zhung zhung!’  And you on the right!  Let me hear you sing ‘zinny ninny!’  Okay, let’s bring it all together!  Oh, this is awkward.  I knew we shouldn’t have taken this slot opening for Wham!"

There’s really not much to say about this stupid (but not as stupid as "Harlem Shuffle," thank you very much) song.  There’s something going on in the lyrics – something about the depression surrounding urban life and politics, I think – but they lose me with the "let’s go all the way" chorus, which seemingly has nothing to do with anything in the verses.  Someone on Songfacts says that "this is about someone with a humdrum existence seeking escape through casual sex."  I’m calling bullshit on that one.

I think that’s just about all I’m going to spend on this song.  I don’t hate it, I don’t love it, but if I try to think about these lyrics any further, my brain’s going to explode.  More on "Let’s Go All The Way" over at The 80s Rule!

6.  Addicted To Love – Robert Palmer

I’ll be honest – I’m one of those d-bags that doesn’t know Robert Palmer past his ’80s babe-video songs.  (And this is even with reading Jeff’s absolutely brilliant three part guide.)  So I can’t look at "Addicted To Love" as a part of his overall career and decide whether it stands up to the rest.  But given that this is a Chart Attack!, maybe I shouldn’t be doing so, anyway.  In 1986, this was a fantastic, crunchy, original song that deserved to be the hit that drove Palmer to the next level of success.  There’s more I could say about "Addicted To Love," but don’t you agree that the Week In Rock Roundtable can do it so much better? 

5.  What You Need – INXS

The very first hit for the band, I don’t think anybody can deny the infectious joy of "What You Need," which in my mind pretty much set the template for another INXS hit, "New Sensation."  I haven’t followed INXS in their 2.0 phase, and I was less of a fan by the time their story turned tragic, so I don’t find myself wistful or nostalgic for this period in their career; all I think about the fact that this was a great way for the band to make their initial mark on the charts.  Not to spend too much time quoting other sources, but whoever wrote the Wikipedia entry for "What You Need" hit it right on the nose:

The arrangement was spacious and the parts of the individual instruments simple, allowing them all to interlock easily — from the electronic drums and driving, rumbling bass line to the spare chordal strokes of the guitars and the stylish saxophone. During the chorus, the guitars suddenly kick up the intensity, hitting ringing power chords as the drums pound harder behind them. After the second chorus, there is also a breakdown in which Michael Hutchence chants the title over a drumbeat with effects layered over his voice; the guitar enters and plays a down-and-dirty single-note riff before returning to the verse figure.

Like nearly every great pop single, "What You Need" is tightly constructed, with no wasted space or unnecessary repetition anywhere. Even though INXS would prove themselves a terrific pop outfit many times over the next few years, "What You Need" remains one of their most infectious numbers.

4.  R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A. (A Salute To 60′s Rock) – John Cougar Mellencamp

Remember back in #10 when I talked about bands getting their asses kicked?  Next in line for an ass-kicking after Force M.D.’s is John Cougar Mellencamp.  I’m not such a big fan of his, either.  No, I don’t care that he finally sold out by giving his mediocre song "Our Country" to Chevy, and I only care a little that he took Peter Sagal a little too seriously when guesting on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! a few weeks ago.  (I don’t like anybody messing with my favorite podcast.)  So why is he getting an ass-kicking?

1)  For the parentheses.  Whose stupid fucking idea was this?  Were these necessary?  It makes the song sound less like a rock and roll single and more like a segment on the Miss America broadcast.  I will admit, though, that I didn’t know what the hell this song was about until I read them.  And neither did you – go ahead, name one lyric that’s not the chorus and that one part where they scream "they were rockin’!"  (And in reference to that one, I always thought they were giving a shout-out to Little Rock.)

2)  For the chords.  Really, John?  This is the best you could come up with?  What shall I sing over your chords – "What I Like About You" or "Cherry, Cherry?"  Your pick.

3)  For the device.  I’m not a big fan of songs that spend more than maybe 7 seconds specifically referring to other people or things that they love by name.  "R.O.C.K. in the whatever" mentions (deep breath) Frankie Lyman, Bobby Fuller, Mitch Ryder, (hey, what about the Detroit Wheels, asshole?), Jackie Wilson, the Shangri-Las, the Young Rascals, Martha Reeves, and let’s don’t forget James Brown.  The song is no better than any other song that pulls this shit:  "Vogue," "We Didn’t Start The Fire," "The Heart Of Rock And Roll," "Land Of 1000 Dances," etc.  In fact, it’s worse.  Why?  See #1.

4)  Flute solo.  Ocarina solo!

I have a terrible feeling that John Mellencamp is literally going to hunt me down and kill me.

3.  Manic Monday – Bangles

Just last week I was talking about Bangles songs I’d rather listen to instead of "Eternal Flame."  Here’s one of them: a really pretty, catchy song, written by His Purpleness.  I really adore it; it’s terribly girly but it’s never bothered me (in case you haven’t noticed, I, too, am terribly girly).

So yes, Prince wrote this song, although it wasn’t originally intended for The Bangles; it was first given to Apollonia for the album he was working on with her in late 1983 and early 1984, Apollonia 6.  However, at some point, Prince must have decided Apollonia wasn’t worth any good material.  In addition to pulling "Manic Monday" (which was included on cassette pre-releases of Apollonia 6), he also took away "The Glamorous Life" (which was actually written about Apollonia) and "Take Me With U," which was used on Purple Rain.  Daaaaamn!  When Prince got the hots for Susanna Hoffs, he wooed her the best way he knew how: he locked her in a bathroom he gave her this song for her band.  I hope Hoffs put out, as Prince gave the band their very first hit.

A rough, scratchy version of the Apollonia version is out there on the Internet – and wouldn’t you know it, I have it.

Apollonia with Prince – Manic Monday (download)

I’m pretty thankful we wound up with the Bangles version.

Here’s something else you may not know about this song: did you know that the line in the bridge is "Doesn’t it matter that I have to feed the both of us – employment’s down?"  I never would have known that in a million years had Mike not looked it up when he had to play it for a gig.  Even now, I’m a bit doubtful.

2.  Kiss – Prince And The Revolution

Here’s what I love: I love a week in which Prince can have two songs in the Top 10, and there’s absolutely no similarity between them at all.  (However, try singing "Manic Monday" over "1999" and you’ll realize that even Prince plagiarized himself every so often.)

Gawd, I love this song.  Overplayed as it is, I love this song.  I wish I could sing this song.  Okay, let me get specific: I wish I could sing this song well.  I can sing it now, but it’s not pretty.

"Kiss" is just a perfect slab of funk.  There’s not a thing wrong with it.  Prince just happened to make all the right choices: to sing almost completely in his 100% effeminate falsetto (even his screech at the end is perfect); to know exactly when to venture into his lower register; to find a chunky drum beat; and to know just how to use that wah pedal.

Believe it or not, I was more familiar with the Tom Jones/Art Of Noise version – I remember buying it on 45 at the time.  It was also, embarrassingly enough, the first time I had ever heard Tom Jones.

1.  Rock Me Amadeus – Falco

So over the course of this week, I’ve been listening to the Top 10 on my iPod.  "Rock Me Amadeus" comes on and I’m all "YES!  I LOVE THIS SONG!"  Instantly, I’m taken back to the summer I first heard this song, I’m remembering playing it on a mix cassette over and over again, rocking out to it and trying to memorize the spoken-word Mozart chronology in the middle.  I’m full of all sorts of excitement and nostalgia.

Then I hear the version I have and realize two things:

1) Wait a minute…this guy’s speaking GERMAN!
2) There’s no spoken-word part in here at all!

I figured I was going to have to come on here and tell you guys how stupid I was, how I must have dreamed the whole thing and you were there and you were there and oh Auntie Em, there’s no place like jasonhare.com…and then I realized that apparently the version I remember is the "Salieri Mix," which eliminates all of the German and does add in a spoken-word chronology.  In English. 

So nevermind.  And God bless America!

Still, I believe Falco’s success was based on the original German single, which is an impressive feat (let’s give it up for him and Nena, mentioned by Kurt in Chart Attack! #22).  "Rock Me Amadeus" eventually hit #1 before Americans realized, "hey, this song is boring – instead, let’s write parodies about it for the next 20 years!"  Seriously, there should be some law against parodying this song too many times, or at least a statute of limitations – like maybe we could have stopped after 1989.

Although Falco was the first person to record and release "Der Kommissar," we’re still going to consider him a one-hit wonder – the version we know and love is a cover by After The Fire.  Falco died in 1998, when…oh wait, I should probably say it in a format suited to the Salieri Mix:

IN 1998, FALCO DIED AFTER COLLIDING WITH A BUS WHILE DRIVING HIS MITSUBISHI PAJERO.  Amadeus, Amadeus!  Amadeus, Amadeus Amadeus!  Amadeus, Amadeus Amadeus!  Oh-oh-oh-Amadeus!

I’m going to hell.

That’s all for this week!  Thanks so much for stopping by – and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!