Archive for June, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #38: 7/1/89

Friday, June 29th, 2007


Hi hi hi hi hi!  Welcome back to another fun-filled CHART ATTACK!  This week we’re heading back up to the end of the ’80s – July 1, 1989!

10.  I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) – New Kids On The Block  Amazon iTunes
9.  Miss You Like Crazy – Natalie Cole  Amazon iTunes
8.  I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper  Amazon iTunes
7.  This Time I Know It’s For Real – Donna Summer  Amazon iTunes
6.  Express Yourself – Madonna  Amazon iTunes
5.  If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Simply Red  Amazon iTunes
4.  Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry  Amazon iTunes
3.  Satisfied – Richard Marx  Amazon iTunes
2.  Good Thing – Fine Young Cannibals  Amazon iTunes
1.  Baby Don’t Forget My Number – Milli Vanilli  Amazon iTunes

10.  I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) – New Kids On The Block

I know at least three women who can say their first concert was New Kids On The Block, including my wife – who, like the rest, spent most of the concert screeching at these five douchebags.  Every time I give her my "I’m disgusted with you" look over this fact, she reminds me that my first concert was Air Supply.  Whatever.  I was eight.

Listening to this song again, I’m reminded that they really were the white version of New Edition.  And they actually did have some talent – I don’t know who’s singing lead on this one (okay, yes I do, it’s Jordan, and I’ve always known that, and I hate myself), but he’s singing 98% of the song in falsetto and it’s really not that bad.

If you can’t remember how batshit everyone went over NKOTB back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, here’s the video so you can remind yourself.  Lots of shots of the guys engaging in some innocent activities with the ladies – shooting pool, eating pizza, etc.  I always thought it would have been funny to have one really quick shot of Donnie banging one of ‘em from behind.

9.  Miss You Like Crazy – Natalie Cole 

Y’know, I have nothing against Natalie Cole, but it doesn’t get much more boring than "Miss You Like Crazy."  With bland lyrics like "I can see the love shining in your eyes," my mind starts to wander, and I wind up thinking about how much more interesting this song would be if she were a deranged stalker singing to a framed picture of Billy Dee Williams.  Maybe the last chorus is sung while she’s in an orange jumpsuit, being dragged backwards to her cell while the backs of her heels are dragging in the dirt.

What the hell is wrong with me?

8.  I Drove All Night – Cyndi Lauper (download)

This is the third time a tune by the songwriting duo of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly has made a CHART ATTACK! appearance: the duo wrote "Like A Virgin" and "Eternal Flame," two songs we’ve covered before.  "I Drove All Night" was written with Roy Orbison in mind, and the duo actually succeeded in getting Orbison to record a demo with them; however, at the time, Orbison didn’t have a record contract, so there was no way for the song to be officially released.  Steinberg and Kelly passed the song on to Lauper, who had previously worked with the duo on her hit song "True Colors."  It was included on her album A Night To Remember, and peaked at #6.

I’m not a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper, but I do like this song – I appreciate the fact that she chose to sing it in her lower register, which wasn’t really where the money was, so to speak.

The Roy Orbison version is pretty good too, actually – completed by Jeff Lynne (as if you couldn’t tell from that snare drum) after his death.  And hey, the video features Jason Priestley and Jennifer Connelly.  I imagine at some point, this was a really big deal.

Of course, I suppose I need to mention the fact that Steinberg also wrote "Falling Into You" for Celine Dion, and when Chrysler was looking for a theme song for their campaign with her, he suggested "I Drove All Night."  You can find that video on your own.  I don’t enable readers when looking for Celine Dion videos.

7.  This Time I Know It’s For Real – Donna Summer 

You’re forgiven if, the first time you hear this, you go, "hey! Rick Astley!"  (Video here if you want to hear the song.)  After all, the song was written and produced by Stock Aitken Waterman, the Europop powerhouse trio that were responsible for the success of both Astley and Kylie Minogue.  Summer has always been smart enough to associate herself with successful writers and producers, and going to the S/A/W team was yet another wise move: this song gave Summer her first first Top 10 on the Hot 100 in six years.  She has yet to repeat that kind of success, although let’s give her credit for the 13 top 10 hits in her arsenal (including two that jumped 37 spots in a week’s time), and a staggering 14 singles at #1 on the Dance charts. (Not all at once, although wouldn’t that be really cool?)

6.  Express Yourself – Madonna 

It’s official: Madonna fans have absolutely nothing better to do but write the most detailed Wikipedia entries known to man.  So I invite you to check out the Wiki if you’d like to know why the song was only released as a max-single in France.  In the meantime, I’ll just say that like most of the songs on Like A Prayer (and I’ve already discussed how much I love that album), "Express Yourself" ranks among Madonna’s best, and it’s also one of her most powerful.  I feel like this is the vibe she was going for on "Music," which wasn’t nearly as effective.

5.  If You Don’t Know Me By Now – Simply Red 

This is a really good cover – Mick Hucknall doesn’t have anything on Teddy Pendergrass (who sang lead on the original, by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes), but he gives the song the passion it demands, and the ’80s blue-eyed soul sound of Simply Red works quite well.  That being said, I always seem to flip the station when this comes on the radio.  I tend to forget that it’s under four minutes long – I could have sworn that it clocked in at around six.

I also would have accepted a cover of this song by Natalie Cole.  You will never, never, never know me, Lando.

4.  Buffalo Stance – Neneh Cherry (download)

I love "Buffalo Stance."  I think the chorus is irresistable, especially the synth part.  I don’t know what a "buffalo stance" is and I don’t care.  I just feel like we should have given Neneh Cherry another chance at success.  Anybody who names an album Raw Like Sushi deserves more than one hit.  Instead, we got her freakin’ brother, Eagle Eye.  "Save Tonight" is another one of those annoying songs my college roommate would play 10 times in a row until I begged him to put on Chumbawumba or anything else.  They still play it at the gym, for reasons beyond me.

I think the director for "Buffalo Stance" probably called in sick on the day of the video shoot, and they just said, "fuck it, just put her in front of a green screen."

3.  Satisfied – Richard Marx 

Love this song.  I’m not going to defend my enjoyment of Richard Marx to you guys again.  (Actually, I was about to do it, but then I remembered I already defended him back in November.)   I’ll repeat, however, my belief that the man knows how to write a good hook – as evidenced by "Satisfied," which had topped the charts the week prior to this one.

So, you wanna hear a good Richard Marx story?  Too bad, I’m telling you anyway.  He told this one in concert last year.  (Yes, I went.  I took my mother.  Stop laughing.  We’re seeing Air Supply next month.)  So "Satisfied" was the first single off his highly successful sophomore effort, Repeat Offender.  While Marx was preparing for the tour, his management was figuring out how much money they could make in merchandising.  Marx came up with some ideas for products, but his greatest idea was, unfortunately, nixed: women’s panties with the words "Repeat Offender" on the back, and a photo of the back of his mullet on the front.  Heh!

2.  Good Thing – Fine Young Cannibals 

And the award for Least Accurate Title goes to this song.  Because "Good Thing" is, in fact, a very, very bad thing.  The beat and melody may have been somewhat unconventional, and certainly didn’t sound like anything else coming out of 1989, but that’s no excuse for the song reaching the #1 spot the week after this one.  No excuse at all.  Why did we let Roland Gift get away with singing like this?  At one point, he actually sounds like Jimmy Fallon when he tries to impersonate Barry Gibb.

On the bright side, I never have to say another word about Fine Young Cannibals again, since we pissed all over dissected "She Drives Me Crazy" a few months ago.  At the time, I said, "At least it’s not ‘Good Thing.’"  So there you go.

1.  Baby Don’t Forget My Number – Milli Vanilli 

You only have yourself to blame, Chart Attackers.  You helped Milli Vanilli reach the top of the charts.  Even if you didn’t buy the album or the singles, you know somebody who did.  (My friend Michele made a big poster out of oak tag dedicated to Milli Vanilli in 7th grade.)  Don’t be too hard on them, though: we were all fooled.  "Baby Don’t Forget My Number" was a catchy song, and the fact that they were complete poseurs does not take away from that, at least for me.  And that’s all I’m going to say on Milli Vanilli for the moment; let’s just say that a very special post is on the horizon.

That’ll do it for this time!  Thanks for reading, and see you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Repost: Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 2

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

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While I definitely think it’s too early in this site’s life to start reposting anything on a regular basis, it’s also the summer and I’m trying to take advantage of the season instead of spending all of my free moments hunkering down in front of my laptop. So occasionally, I’ll be reposting some of my Mellow favorites. Feel free to comment or ignore. I’ll be back for Chart Attack! on Friday; until then, remember how freaking LAME Paul Davis was?

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold
Part 2: Paul Davis Edition


We’ll talk about Paul Davis: The Man, The Myth, The Gentle in a minute. First, let’s get into the music.

Paul Davis – I Go Crazy (download)

Grab the song first, then we’ll talk.

What problem might I have with “I Go Crazy,” you may be wondering. It’s a valid question. After all, it’s pretty enough. Gentle vocal (and some unexpected ventures into the bass range). Light, unobtrusive strings. A 5-note riff on the keyboard after the chorus, stolen from Dennis DeYoung’s “Babe,” (update: reader Jhensy has pointed out that “Babe” came out after this single, so if anything, DeYoung is the dirty thief) that is guaranteed to become an earworm (or, near the end of the song, a buzzing fly). I don’t quite get the bluesy keyboard riffing at the end, but I’ll forgive it.

My problem is this.

Think of the songs you know that mention “going crazy” somehow in the title. I came up with “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, “I Go Crazy” by Queen (a b-side, but I’m a big Queen fan) and of course, who could forget the classic “Goin’ Crazy!” by David Lee Roth? (all of us, apparently.)

But here’s my point. All of these songs that mention going crazy have a sound reminiscent of someone perhaps, oh, I don’t know…going crazy. Not Paul Davis, however.

Here. Just for the hell of it, here’s a crude mashup of the four tracks. Excuse the sonic quality; I’m trying to prove a point. Tell me if one of these things is not like the others.

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At no point in “I Go Crazy” does Paul Davis actually sound like he’s really going crazy. Going Introspective? Maybe. Going Doubtful and Inquisitive? Sure. But we all know what this song should have been called. It should have been called “I Go Mellow.”

If Paul Davis is indeed going crazy when he looks in her eyes, then my friends, it’s the wussiest kind of crazy there could ever be. And that’s why it’s in the mines of Mellow Gold.

So listen back to those vocals. If you don’t already know what Paul Davis looks like, get an image in your head.

Whatcha got? Accountant? Small lil’ guy, neat, black hair? Maybe a suit? That’s what I’ve got. In fact, if you do a Google image search for Paul Davis, many of the images seem like they could be him.

This is Paul “I Go Crazy” Davis.

Motherfucker looks like Gregg Allman! This guy should be…I don’t know. Ripping a mean guitar solo? Smoking dope? Having his way with women? And instead, he’s approaching them gently, and giving them the message that he’d like to love them just a little bit, and if they’re not happy with it, then TOO DAMN BAD, WOMAN then it’s okay, they can leave, they don’t have to stay. He doesn’t want to offend anyone. (Looks down at the ground, shyly, shuffles his feet)

Which brings us to song #2.

Paul Davis – Cool Night (download)

I ask you this: do they get any smoother? Any more mellow? I seriously don’t think it’s possible.

Like “I Go Crazy,” this song is actually quite pretty. Gentle, unobtrusive backing vocals. This one actually has a drum beat to it, which means that it’s considered a Paul Davis “rock” song, I suppose. There are two main differences between “I Go Crazy” and “Cool Night,” however: the first difference is that “Cool Night” sounds exactly like you’d expect it to sound. Unlike track 1, we’re not expecting Paul Davis to go batshit insane on a song called “Cool Night.”

The other difference happens at 2:33. Paul Davis actually does go a little crazy. He lets his Gregg Allman-esque hair down and does something truly ballsy: KEY CHANGE!

I love the key change. When I sing this song to myself, I never have the patience to get to the chorus after the guitar solo. I always do the key change right away. That’s how much I love the key change.

I quoted him last week, but I’m repeating Mike’s quote in case you missed it. Mike sums up the emotion behind many of the Mellow Gold hits:

“I love you so much that I will never bother you again” or “come on baby, just allow me to be in your beatific presence and I will not even think of putting any kind of sexual move on you. I promise.”

That’s “Cool Night” in a nutshell. “If it don’t feel right, you can go.” I almost can’t believe he’s making the statement. A guy who looks like that? Come ON! I keep wondering if it’s a Jedi mind trick of some sort. Does the woman stay? Does she leave him to go find the guy from Firefall? (Whoa!) It’s a mystery, friends. A cool, mellow mystery.

I was going to end this post after two songs, but what the hell. Paul Davis had one more Mellow Gold hit in the ’80s.

Paul Davis – ’65 Love Affair (download)

Or as I like to call it, “The Boy From New York City.” I mean, come on. Right from the first few notes, I heard the similarities – and this was before the “doo-wop didddy-wop-diddy-wop doo” bit. Hmmm…the keyboard part in “I Go Crazy,” and now this…is Paul Davis pulling a Robbie Dupree?

If “Cool Night” was considered Paul Davis’ “rock sound,” “’65 Love Affair” features him firmly ensconsed in the “speed metal” phase of his career. Could we have done something about those drums? How about that awful 2-beat hit that’s supposed to sound like clapping or…something?

I’m not saying that Davis didn’t do a semi-respectable job of resurrecting the golden-oldie soul sound. However, the lyrics leave a little tons to be desired: “Well I asked you like a dum-dum/You were bad with your pom-poms/You said, ‘ooh wah go team ooh wah go!’ Ooh-ee baby I want you to know/” And he does mention in the chorus:”’65 love affair, we wasn’t getting nowhere.” I wonder if it’s because he told the girl she could leave if it didn’t feel right?

“I Go Crazy,” “Cool Night,” “’65 Love Affair.” I’m using all of these songs to make a point. That point is this: Paul Davis is a sissy.

I kid, I kid. I give Paul Davis credit, actually: the pop sensibilities of both “’65 Love Affair” and “Cool Night” were a departure from his previous country sound, and Davis was so disgusted with the commercialization of his music that he essentially quit the business altogether. Can you blame him? Look at those “’65 Love Affair” lyrics again. Also, here’s a crazy fact: Paul Davis was shot in 1986…and survived! (No word on whether he was shot by the woman who left because it didn’t feel right.)

Paul Davis seems to be doing just fine these days. He lives in Mississippi and likes to fish.

You have to wonder, though: did Paul Davis kill the fish? Did he catch it and tell it that it could go back in the water with the other fishes if it wasn’t happy? When the boat stalls, does he mutter “I Go Crazy?”

Hope you enjoyed this expedition into the Mines of Mellow Gold. Let’s do it again next week!

CHART ATTACK! #37: 6/26/82

Friday, June 22nd, 2007


Hi everybody!  Let’s see, in recent weeks we’ve done ’84, ’88 and ’86…so naturally, you know where I’m headed.  Let’s take a look at the charts during the week of June 26, 1982!

10.  The Other Woman – Ray Parker, Jr.
  Amazon iTunes
9.  Love’s Been A little Bit Hard On Me – Juice Newton Amazon iTunes
8.  Let It Whip – Dazz Band  Amazon iTunes
7.  Crimson and Clover – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts  Amazon iTunes
6.  Hurts So Good – John Cougar  Amazon iTunes
5.  Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson  Amazon iTunes
4.  Heat Of The Moment – Asia  Amazon iTunes
3.  Rosanna – Toto  Amazon iTunes
2.  Don’t You Want Me – Human League  Amazon iTunes
1.  Ebony And Ivory – Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder  Amazon iTunes

Before we delve into these ten tasty treats, let’s just look at these tracks as a whole, shall we?  In June of 1982, we certainly had our share of different genres occupying the top of the charts: you’ve got R&B, funk, country, pop, hard rock, and good ol’ rock & roll.  (Which is which, of course, is another story.)  Okay, let’s dig in!

10.  The Other Woman – Ray Parker, Jr.  (download)

Now, if you are anywhere near my age (30), the first thing you’re probably going to ask yourself is: "the  ‘I Want A New Drug’ ‘Ghostbusters guy’ had other successful songs?"  Yes, Virginia, Ray Parker, Jr. did have other songs; eight Top 40 solo songs, as a matter of fact – and that doesn’t include the five he had as part of Raydio!  "I Want A New Drug" "Ghostbusters" just happened to be his most successful.  Here are some other useless facts about him:  he played guitar on Talking Book and Innervisions, toured with Stevie Wonder’s band, and also wrote and recorded his own version of New Edition’s "Mr. Telephone Man."

Although it’s no "I Want A New Drug" "Ghostbusters," I do like "The Other Woman."  It’s a nice slab of funky rock.  And you have to love the man’s vocal: this guy is trying his damndest to sound like a sex god.  I get this kind of voice when I first wake up in the morning, or when I speak very quietly into the phone.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this song was recorded while he was chillin’ in bed.  Awwww, shucks!

9.  Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me – Juice Newton 

Yeah, I ripped on ol’ Juice a few months ago, although it was really more an assault against "Angel Of The Morning" than anything else.  And quick tangent – I never thought I’d say this, but I found a version of that song that I didn’t hate.  It’s by Girlyman, one of my favorite groups.  (One of their CD covers sits on the right-hand side of this website.)  It’s bootleg quality, but the harmonies are beautiful enough that I actually thought about taking back the bad things I said about the song.  Almost.

Girlyman – Angel Of The Morning (live) (download)

But anyway, back to Newton and this song.  I don’t really want to like it, but I do.  It reminds me of about three other songs, none of which I can remember at this point in time.  It’s a little bit rock, a little bit country, and a little bit ’80s, courtesy of that synthesizer in the opening riff.  Why do I feel like somewhere in America, right now, at least 15 people are line-dancing to this song?

Hey, you know what?  This song could be used in a Viagra commercial.  Either as the "before" OR the "after," if you think about it.  (Thank you!  I’ll be here all week!  Try the veal!)

Here’s the video for "Love’s Been A Little Bit Hard On Me."  I was going to play "Count The Douchebags!" with this video ("One!  One douchebag!  Ah, ah, ah!"), but I actually wound up enjoying the plot, in which a d-bag suitor continually beats the crap out of Juice.  It’s like a precursor to O.J. Simpson in The Naked Gun movies, except I’m pretty sure this Juice doesn’t wind up murdering anybody.  Anyway, by the end of the video (especially when they recap her various accidents), I was completely smitten.

8.  Let It Whip – Dazz Band  (download)

So when I first saw this title, I was perplexed.  I was almost positive I’d never heard this song before.  Of course, within 15 seconds, not only did I know exactly what song it was, but I was pushed out of my chair by some unexplainable force.  This force caused me to run back and forth across the apartment and shake my groove thing, shake my groove thing, yeah yeah.  I hope it does the same for you.  (By the way, did Michael Jackson steal this drum track for "Beat It?")

7.  Crimson and Clover – Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Can somebody tell me what people thought of Joan Jett back in 1982?  She had three songs in the top 20 in that year, and all three were covers.  First was "I Love Rock & Roll" – yes, it’s a cover, originally by The Arrows (thank you, Coverville, for that piece of education) then this song, originally by Tommy James & The Shondells, and then, "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" by Gary Glitter (yes, Gary Glitter, and no, I will not go there).  I’m not saying anything bad about Joan Jett – I think she fucking rocks, and undoubtedly puts her stamp on any song that she performs, cover or no, but does anybody remember what kind of legitimacy she had at this point?  I know she was 3 years out of her work with The Runaways, but that’s all I know (or care to look up).

6.  Hurts So Good – John Cougar 

"Sometimes love don’t feel like it should."  Hey, another Viagra commercial!  (Thank you!  Tip your waitress!)

5.  Always On My Mind – Willie Nelson 

I like Willie Nelson as much as the next guy (and personally, I don’t think anybody really likes Willie as much as they claim they do), but I don’t care for "Always On My Mind" very much.  Not this version, not Elvis’ version, either.  Admittedly, I haven’t heard Brenda Lee’s version or BB King’s version.  I do like the Pet Shop Boys’ cover, only because I like everything from the Pet Shop Boys.  I know it won boatloads of awards and was a huge hit for Willie, but I’m just not feelin’ it.  And I certainly regret the day I found Bon Jovi singing it with Willie Nelson.  Can we just not mention the words "Bon Jovi" and "country" for the rest of the week?  Thanks.  Anyway, I’d like to think that Wilie recorded this on the one day he didn’t smoke weed.

4.  Heat Of The Moment – Asia 

I’m only going to say this once:  I don’t care about Asia.  So if there are any Asia fans reading this, don’t try to convince me.  You already have me listening to mellow music that’s quickly making the hair fall out of my chest, and ELO is next on the list.  Don’t hand me no lines, and keep your Asia to yourself.

I’ll confess that I barely knew this song before I heard it featured in The 40 Year-Old Virgin.  I mean, I love that the opening sounds vaguely Outfield-ish to me and they actually name check the year 1982 in the song, but I give the rest of the song a meh.  The chorus doesn’t kick in nearly as hard as it should.  And it fades out!  BOO!  My friend Len really likes Asia, and is probably disappointed in me, but then again, I don’t think Len has read this blog in ages, so fuck you, Len, and I hate your new haircut.

I don’t care know what Asia is up to these days, but Jeff checked in on Geoffrey Downes and John Wetton a couple of years ago.  Those poor saps.  (And let this be a lesson to you: thar’s gold in them Jefito archives.)

3.  Rosanna – Toto (download

This has got to be one of the best songs of the decade.  I will never – ever – ever – get sick of "Rosanna."  I know it’s overplayed.  I know you’ve heard it a million times.  I know you’re sick of seeing them chase Cynthia Rhodes (who, by the way, is still very hot – damn you, Richard Marx) on the other side of the chain-link fence in the video.  You should get over it and just relish in "Rosanna."  I know you have it.  Download it again.

The musicianship on this song is just unparalleled: Bobby Kimball’s soaring vocal, high enough to ensure that I will never be able to cover it, David Paich’s multiple keyboard solos (yes, the sounds he chose are cheesy now, but they RAWKED in 1982), and, behind it all, the late, great Jeff Porcaro’s steady, rollicking drums.  This song – especially the instrumental in the middle – is flawless.  It deserved every Grammy it won (including Record of the Year, Best Vocal Arrangement For Two Or More Voices, and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocal, which I had no idea was a category but was probably created just for this awesome song).

Yes, the song was written by David Paich for Rosanna Arquette, even though he wasn’t the one dating her – that honor went to Steve Porcaro (not Steve Lukather, as has been erroneously reported for years).  You didn’t think it as Bobby Kimball, did you?  Have you seen the video?

Kimball, by the way, looks like a thinner version of one of those "that guy" actors from sitcoms in the ’80s and ’90s, but I can’t figure out who the hell it is.  Please, for the love of God, help me. Robert, I’m thinking this is your territory.

"Rosanna," of course, inspired one of the best of the Yacht Rock series.  Check it out.

One other question for you guys:  what is the low voice saying at 3:31?

2.  Don’t You Want Me – Human League 

Damn you, Human League, from keeping "Rosanna" from hitting #1!  (And while we’re at it, damn you too, Survivor, for the same crime.)  In researching Human League, I was intrigued to find out the following facts:

- "Don’t You Want Me" was a hit in 1982.  I know this is relatively obvious, but it sounds like a later ’80s hit to me, just like "I Ran."  ("It was ahead of its time," Mike recently said about "I Ran," at which point I hung up the phone);

-  One member was purely responsible for "onstage slides and films";

- After the massive (and misogynistic?) success of "Don’t You Want Me," the band had a few other hits, but at one point, refused to promote a follow-up album because "we thought we were so popular we didn’t have to";

- Despite the odds being against them, came back with the hit song "Human" in 1986;

- Hey, we’ve performed this song!  Mike sings lead, because obviously he wasn’t going to sing the female part.  That honor, of course, goes to yours truly.

1.  Ebony And Ivory – Paul McCartney with Stevie Wonder
 

Shhhh! 
Maybe if we don’t talk about it, we can pretend it didn’t exist!  Actually, I think I’m coming around the bend on this one: I’ve hated it for years, but now I want to perform it.  I’ll be Stevie or Paul.  It doesn’t matter to me.

Here’s the awkward video, featuring Stevie effectively humping a huge black piano key and multiple Paul McCartneys playing all the instruments.  Seriously, how many times has Paul used this fucking convention in his videos?

Wikipedia actually does have an interesting story about "Ebony And Ivory:"

The lyrics have long been thought to have been written by McCartney alone, but in a biography of McCartney written by Barry Miles it was revealed how Wonder contributed to the majority of the "bookends" or rhymes, and also came up with the song’s distinctive melody. McCartney claimed in the book that Wonder was afraid of how successful a tune with such a bold racial message would be if it was known that it had an African-American writer, and so pleaded for McCartney to take credit.

Hmm.  That doesn’t sound like Stevie Wonder to me, but if it’s in print, it must be true.

Wouldja look at that?  The end of another fun-filled week here on CHART ATTACK!  Have a great weekend and see you soon!  Thanks for reading!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 37

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

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A quick anecdote before we start today: on Saturday, Mike and I did one of our “Acoustic ’80s” gigs. In between songs, we somehow wound up mentioning Little River Band, which was met with unexpected enthusiasm from the crowd. Mike started playing the opening of “Reminiscing,” and before we knew it, we were doing the entire song (I had no idea I knew all the words). The crowd response made it clear that we’ll have to do a Mellow Gold acoustic duo evening at some point in time. Stay tuned.

Silver – Wham Bam (download)

I need to make something very clear to you right now: I did not pick this song. I’d never heard of it before, none of you had mentioned it in the comments, and I never received any e-mails requesting this song. Rather, this song picked me. It showed up on my iPod last Wednesday as I was running for a morning bus, and I was blown away that I had never heard it before (there are only 9,319 songs on my iPod, after all, a number that doesn’t even make sense to me), and that nobody ever requested it. This song may be more on the pop side of mellow, but it’s mellow. And even better, there’s some great, truly classic record label drama behind this song. I can’t wait to share it with you.

But clearly, the first question on your mind is: who the hell is Silver, and why should I give a shit? That’s an excellent question, especially since the band’s Wiki page doesn’t even bother to list all the members. For the record, though, the members were:

John Batdorf (of the duo Batdorf & Rodney, and I’m scared to see what you’ll write about them in the comments)
Brent Mydland (who eventually became “the new guy” in the Grateful Dead)
Tom Leadon (Bernie Leadon’s brother)
Steve Oates (John’s brother…okay, I’m making this one up. This guy’s not even in the band.)
Greg Collier (who?)
Harry Stinson (wha?)

And yes, THE Phil Hartman designed their record cover.

To quote Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, it’s like a Who’s Who of Who Cares.

There’s not much to say about these guys. They formed, put out this one album, and then broke up. “Wham Bam,” also known as “Wham Bam Shang-A-Lang,” was their only hit, peaking at #16 in August of 1976. Although it’s often labeled as “bubblegum,” I think it has plenty of the traits we’ve come to love from our Mellow Gold tunes.

Lots of strings……check!
Whiny guitars…….check!
Gentle drums…….check!
Limp backing vocals….check!
Stupid lyrics in the verses….check!
Even stupider lyrics in the chorus….check check check check check!

Let’s look at some of these. I won’t torture you too much with the lyrics, I promise. Just the first four lines.

Starry nights, sunny days
I always thought that love should be that way
Then comes a time that you’re ridden with doubt
You’ve loved all you can and now you’re all loved out

That’s right: “You’ve loved all you can and now you’re all loved out.” That’s just painful. And I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t point out the shitty chorus.

We got a wham (!) bam (!) shang-a-lang and a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing

Those exclamation points in there are to replace the strings that attack in between those words, by the way. I consider them to be part of the lyrics.

What the hell are these guys talking about? What does it mean? What point were they trying to get across? Next time Jessica and I have another one of our fights (“It’s McD or me!”), I’ll grab her by the arm, look her deep in the eyes, and inform her that she can’t possibly leave me. Not with all that we have together. After all, doesn’t she realize what she’d be giving up? We got a wham (!) bam (!) shang-a-lang and a sha-la-la-la-la-la thing. And then I’ll watch her run the hell out the door, never to return.

But here’s the real problem I’m having: I can’t get this chorus out of my head. The critics are right: it definitely is a bubblegum pop song. They sound like The Archies (who also had a shang-a-lang in one of their songs). I’ve been singing it for the past week, kinda groovin’ in my chair, and sticking my hand up in the air each time the strings attack in the chorus.

Don’t get me started on the rest of the lyrics. They’re inane. Pointless. Idiotic. Most Mellow Gold lyrics are pathetically impassioned. That’s not the case here. Just stupidity, repeated for three and-a-half minutes.

Sometimes I feel bad ripping on songs like these, but I’m not feeling any remorse over this one. You know why? Well, remember the story of Climax Blues Band and “I Love You” – how all of the members, save for one, hated “I Love You?” Well, this is kinda like that, except everyone in Silver hated “Wham Bam.” And you know who gets the blame? John Batdorf, who put fame and fortune above musical quality as a career goal. I know all of this because I’ve read Batdorf’s extensive history of Batdorf & Rodney, which includes Silver. It’s an interesting read, but it’s long, so here are the important parts.

Batdorf & Rodney were an acoustic duo known for their inspired instrumental jams. After having some success under the tutelage of Ahmet Ertegun, the guys broke up, only to reunite and sign with Clive Davis over at Arista. Davis had just experienced great success in getting Barry Manilow to record “Mandy,” a song that Manilow despised, but nonetheless was a gigantic hit. Batdorf & Rodney, eager to finally get the fame and fortune they desired, acquiesced to Davis’ desires, which included recording outside material and slicing the guitar solos out of all of their songs for their upcoming album. As Batdorf puts it, “it’s hard to argue with the man who made Barry Manilow a superstar…the album sold more than our previous albums so we went with it and kept our creative disagreements to a minimum.” And that, my friends, is how John Batdorf sold his soul.

So Davis brought them this song called “Somewhere In The Night,” which he knew was about to be released by Helen Reddy (and if Alan O’Day’s name just popped into your head, you are a true fan of this website). Davis wanted to get the single out before Reddy’s version did. Batdorf loved the song, but there was a catch: the duo had to also record “Wham Bam,” a song Davis was convinced would be a hit. Batdorf hated the idea and despised the song, but by now you know what Batdorf chose to do.

The duo recorded both songs, and Davis decided he didn’t care for Rodney’s parts. He had an outsider sing on “Somewhere In The Night,” and had Batdorf double track his vocal over Rodney’s on “Wham Bam.” Still, fame was on its way, right? They couldn’t possibly give up now!

“Somewhere In The Night” debuted at #80, but Reddy’s management figured out what was going on, and told the radio stations that they’d never get a song by Reddy again if they continued to play the Batdorf & Rodney version. The stations caved, and the duo’s song was dropped. Reddy’s version went to #19, but guess who brought it all the way to #9 in January of 1979? Barry Manilow. LOVE IT!

Rodney – and I have no idea why it took him this long – was fed up, and the duo split. Batdorf formed Silver, and…well, I’ll let Batdorf tell it:

Clive heard us and told us if we released “Wham Bam” as Silver’s first single he would sign us to an album deal. What choice did we have?
(Jason’s note: I dunno, walk away with what was left of your pride and dignity?) We replaced Mark’s parts and went on to cut the album. The single was a big hit but the album sounded nothing like the single and we didn’t draw well. We were a West coast sounding band with a stupid bubble gum single.

When it came time for Silver’s second album, Davis again wanted the group to bend to his will. Batdorf refused. The group eventually dissolved, and that was the last anybody ever heard of Silver.

If you’re still with me after all this text…is that a great story or what? In all honesty, I doubt I would have done anything different from Batdorf. I’ve done some pretty stupid things for money. Hell, I’ve done some pretty stupid things on this website. Still, it’s interesting to see how a string of fucked-up priorities led to this lame, yet ultimately successful tune.

See you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines of Mellow Gold!

Evil Prince Ludwig Returns!

Sunday, June 17th, 2007

EVIL PRINCE LUDWIG THE INDESTRUCTIBLE played another fantastic (if I do say so myself) gig at The Bitter End on Friday, June 15th.  Thanks so much to everyone who came out, and thanks to Jessica, who ran around sitting on strangers’ laps so she could take a zillion photos.  Here are some of the best pics; full album available here.

This one, I think, is my favorite.  This is me singing the really high "YEAH" at the end of "Sister Christian," and Mike losing his shit.