Archive for July, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #42: 7/30/83

Friday, July 27th, 2007


Welcome back to another exciting Friday!  Before we start this week’s attack, I just want to thank those of you who e-mailed and offered to send me the i-Ten album that we referenced last week.  I now have it, thanks to Kurt (who, like all rock stars, is out of retirement), and I think it’s the greatest album Foreigner ever released.  So here’s their original version of "Alone," later made hugely famous by Heart.

I-Ten – Alone (download)

Now, back to this week – July 30, 1983!

10.  Our House – Madness  Amazon iTunes
9.  Stand Back – Stevie Nicks  Amazon iTunes
8.  She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer  Amazon iTunes
7.  Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson  Amazon iTunes
6.  Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics  Amazon iTunes
5.  Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran  Amazon iTunes
4.  Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes  Amazon iTunes
3.  Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara  Amazon
2.  Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant  Amazon
1.  Every Breath You Take – The Police  Amazon iTunes

10.  Our House – Madness (download)

In general, I really don’t have a problem with artists who sell their songs for commercial use.  (You know, being a Who fan and all.)  However, if you’re gonna use the song, at least keep the original version, huh?  This Maxwell House off-key mangling of "Our House" really gets on my nerves.  Anyway, like System last week, I had no idea who sang this song until recently.  (No word as to whether Jeff has, had or lost the Madness CD – although he now has the System CD, heh heh.)  I’d love to call Madness a one-hit wonder, but I’m sure a number of you would remind me that they also had a #33 hit with "It Must Be Love" – which was also altered for use in a commercial for a British bank. 

Anything else interesting I can tell you about Madness?  They released a song called "Michael Caine" that actually featured Michael Caine in the video, but that’s not really so interesting.  Everybody knows Michael Caine will appear in anything.  I have the feeling there are probably some Madness fans reading this, so I’ll leave you to educate the rest of us regarding the finer points of the band.  (Yeah, I get lazy sometimes.)

Enjoy this version of "Our House," which is a slightly extended mix!

9.  Stand Back – Stevie Nicks 

All that I know about "Stand Back," I learned from our reader Elaine.  Elaine informed me that "Stand Back" was written by Stevie after hearing "Little Red Corvette."  You can find more information here.  Here’s a portion of the story, bolded emphasis mine:

I got married the day I wrote this song. We were driving to Santa Barbara and a new song by Prince came on, so we pulled over somewhere and got the tape. It just gave me an incredible idea, so I spent many hours that night writing a song about some kind of crazy argument, and it was to become one of the most important of my songs.

News Flash: don’t marry Stevie Nicks.  Worst wedding night ever!  Thanks, Elaine, for relaying the story and pointing out that Nicks is, apparently, a dedicated musician but a piss-poor wife.

As you’ll read in that link, Prince actually played the synths on "Stand Back" but declined to be credited.  (Wonder why.)  Elaine has requested that Mike and I, for Acoustic ’80s, perform a "Stand Back"/"Little Red Corvette" medley.  As soon as we stop obsessing over the chord changes in "Caribbean Queen," we’ll give it a shot.

By the way, I saw Fleetwood Mac live in 2003, when they were touring in support of Say You Will.  It’s always interesting to see how Fleetwood Mac fans are really split – they’re either Stevie fans, or they’re not.  Much like the Eagles a few years back, long ago the Mac decided it was in their best interests to include her massive hit in their set.  (What, no "Holiday Road" in tribute to Lindsey?  Grrr.) 

Well, there’s this one moment during "Stand Back" where she spins in a circle.  Maybe 10 times.  Not very fast, because she’s a big girl.  But the crowd goes wild.  It’s like when Townshend smashes a guitar.  I don’t get it.  She’s just spinning.  Now, if she fell down afterwards, I’d go wild.  Or if she did it while eating a pizza (a whole pizza, not just a slice) or maybe a donut.

There are a zillion "Stand Back" videos on YouTube (because Stevie Nicks fans are rabid), but I really like this one.  Liberty Devitto is on the drums.  Nicks is dancing all over the place.  The best part, however, is when a d-bag in pleated khakis and a leather jacket leaps into frame and starts this dramatic pas de deux with Nicks.  All she does is flip her head back on each cymbal crash, oddly reminding me of Miss Piggy.  Then, suddenly, he’s gone again.

Jesus.  Seven paragraphs on "Stand Back."  Shoot me.

8.  She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer
 

As the legend goes, Donna Summer was eating at Chasen’s Restaurant in Beverly HIlls.  When she went to the bathroom, she found the attendant fast asleep.  The attendant woke up and apologized, explaining that she was dog-tired after working two jobs.  Summer found her inspiration for the song from this incident, and featured the attendant, Onetta Jackson, on the back cover of the LP.  (Unfortunately, time constraints have prevented me from finding an image, but if you can track it down, let me know.)

I remember the original video fondly, although I’m not sure if I realized how similar she looked to Rick James at the time.  However, here’s a video of an "acapella mix" of the song.  I’m at least calling partial bullshit on this clip (at around 2:13, she sings but the microphone’s point out to the audience), but I have to admit it’s really well done – and does showcase Summer’s wonderful voice.  She-male comments aside, she gets nothing but love from me.  She’s one of the staples of CHART ATTACK!, after all, along with Tom Kelly.

7.  Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson

A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled "Thriller Revisited" over at my previous blog which pretty much sums up my feelings about this album.  Written back during the Off The Wall sessions, "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’" is an unbelievable track, and the perfect lead-off to Thriller: full of energy and promises, and thankfully, none of the tracks that follow disappoint.

Granted, I have no idea what MJ is talking about when he puts forth accusations of the listener being either a vegetable or a buffet, but I agree that if you can’t feed the baby, then don’t have the baby.  And I haven’t even mentioned "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa," which was lifted from saxophonist Manu Dibango’s "Soul Makossa," widely considered to be one of the first disco songs.  Thanks to Robert, here’s the track:

Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (download)

Dibango did sue Jackson, incidentally, and wound up with an out-of-court settlement.  I’m not sure of the terms, but I’d be willing to bet that he wound up with more money than Jackson has at this point in time.

6.  Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics 

I feel no shame in telling all of you that, as a kid, Annie Lennox scared the crap out of me.  What, she didn’t frighten you?  I mean, I just didn’t know what she was:  Boy?  Girl?  Bowie?  It was a mystery to me.  It’s true that I was six and also in the habit of confusing Cyndi Lauper with Madonna, but I don’t think I can be blamed for this one.  "Sweet Dreams" remains the group’s only chart-topper, which is a shame when you think of some of the other fantastic songs they’ve released.

Here’s a nifty mash-up of "Sweet Dreams" and "Seven Nation Army," notable because the video is a mash-up as well.  I can’t even imagine how much time it took to put this together.

5.  Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran

I know it’s my fault ’cause I pick the weeks, but man, I can’t believe I have to write about Duran Duran again.  I’d just like to give the Durans credit for adding to all the exciting punctuation happening this week.  Parentheses!  Apostrophes!  (That wild man Michael Jackson had TWO!  Two in one song!)  And now, a question mark!  Bravo, Durans!

"Is There Something I Should Know?" was only included on an album in the U.S., specifically when Capitol re-issued their ’81 debut album following the success of "Rio."  In England, it was released as a stand-alone single.

Did I mention the question mark thing?

4.  Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes

What?  You haven’t read Mellow Gold #4, where we totally discussed this song, its multiple keys, its phantom singers, and featured a picture of Sergio Mendes with a pepper in his mouth?  Go, go, go!  (Psssst…the download’s back up, too.)

3.  Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara 

Punctuation rules 7/20/83 once more!  An ellipsis!  And a completely unnecessary ellipsis at that!  I mean, with all the parenthetical abuse going on at the time, why didn’t they just throw ‘em in here?   "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" works just fine.  So does "Fl(ash)dance (What A Fee)ling."

Anyway, "Flashdance…………..What A Feeling" went on to win Best Song at the Academy Awards, as well as Best Female Pop Vocal at the Grammy Awards.  Just one of many Giorgio Moroder soundtrack hits, you cannot beat a song that features backing vocalists enthusiastically insisting "I am music now!" and "I am rhythm now!"  You can almost see the jazz hands, can’t you?  And as you may recall, a few months ago, Jeff and I totally outed Joe "Bean" Esposito as one of the backing vocalists.  We asked him if he had any qualms about singing those lines (he wa$ plea$ed to $ing them), but forgot to ask him about the jazz hands.  Dammit!

2.  Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant (download

Hey, have you seen Eddy Grant lately?  He looks great:

Oh wait, my bad.  That’s not Eddy Grant.  That’s Billy Ocean.  I shit you not.  He played his first concert on U.S. soil in 18 years last week – a free show in Coney Island with Air Supply.  Couldn’t we have done something a bit better for Mr. Ocean?  His first show in 18 years?  Jesus.

Anyway, about Eddy Grant and "Electric Avenue."  I love this song.  It’s ’80s synth mastery at its very finest.  Name the last time you heard a song this varied and funky that only contained one (one!) chord.  Plus, it’s about social ills!  (Not that I’ve ever taken the time to figure out the lyrics!)  Grant was doing a good thing with this song.  And how did we repay him?  Well…we didn’t.  Although I’m certain he’s probably doing pretty well off the "Electric Avenue" royalties.  Catch up with Eddy Grant at his MySpace page, where you can purchase the two-disc (two!) Hit Collection.  (Two!  Good God!)

Here’s the video, featuring Eddy Grant’s death stare, as well as a scene where the living room floor becomes water.  I think Billy Joel did this in "Pressure," too.



1.  Every Breath You Take – The Police

it’s hard to come up with anything interesting to say about this song that hasn’t been said before.  I know I liked it at one point – it’s a good song  but I can’t remember the last time I allowed it to play on either my iPod or the radio from start to finish.  (Guess it’s just me: according to CBS News, Sting pulls in almost $2000 a day from this song’s royalties.)  I do love the guitar riff, and I love loving the guitar riff, since Sting brought the just-about-completed song to the band and Andy Summers recorded his part on the spot, in one take.

I’ll be seeing The Police next Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to hear the band’s 2007 interpretation of this song.  (I’m just kidding: no, it won’t.  It’s likely to sound exactly the way it did back in 1983, and the audience will go wild, and I’ll patiently wait for Summers to play a bum note and get the stare-of-death from Sting.)

Another week, come and gone.  Dry your eyes – we’ll be back next Friday for another edition of CHART ATTACK!  Thanks for reading!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 41: Concert Edition!

Wednesday, July 25th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Welcome back, folks, to another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! This week’s post is going to be a bit different, since I attended a real, live Mellow Gold concert last Friday. I figure this is the perfect place to write about it!

Mellow Gold Concert Review:
Air Supply and John Waite, 7/20/07


Yes, you read that correctly. But you’re not really surprised, are you?

This past Friday, I took my mother to go see this concert at Westbury Music Fair North Fork Theatre at Westbury. My mother was a big Air Supply fan back in the day (“the day” = “back when they were popular”). She owned all of their records, and even a few of their 45s. I remember a day back in ’85, before the concert, when she surprised me by bringing home their new, self-titled album on the day of its release. (She also brought Hall & Oates’ Big Bam Boom home that day – but I was far more excited about Air Supply. My entire existence should now make sense to you.)

Times changed, though. Air Supply stopped having hits; 1985′s “Just As I Am” was their last significant single, reaching #19 in June of that year. I can remember maybe one song off of their 1986 album, Hearts In Motion. I bought my mom their album The Earth Is… back in 1991, which I believe may have received one listen before being relegated to the glove compartment of our ’88 Camry. My mom hadn’t really listened to Air Supply in 15 years.

So why did I buy her tickets? Simple: Richard Marx, Kenny Loggins and Lionel Richie aren’t touring. Had to do something. It was her Mother’s Day gift, and kind of a sentimental event for us: 22 years ago, she took me to Westbury Music Fair to see Air Supply. It was my first concert. I was eight. Neither of us had seen the band since 1985.

Anyway, my mother didn’t seem too enthused about the concert; she seemed more amused than anything else, but certainly not excited. I, on the other hand, was psyched. A few months ago, I had a few extra eMusic credits lying around, so I picked up The Singer And The Song – an “unplugged” disc by Air Supply. I was surprised at how well a number of the songs translated to the format – and how both of them still seemed to be in fine voice. So I was psyched for the show, despite the fact that it was a co-headline with John Waite. I mean, nothing against him, but all he was doing (in my humble opinion) was shortening the length of the Air Supply show. But I digress. On to the review!

I was pretty certain that Waite was going to be opening for Air Supply, as Waite’s had two hits and Air Supply’s had, like, a zillion. So we took our time getting to the venue. Sure enough, when we arrived, Waite had already taken to the stage and was making his way through “Back On My Feet Again,” which I later found out was a song from his previous band, The Babys. As we found our seats, I was disappointed; North Fork Theatre is in the round, and the stage rotates, so with the exception of maybe one section, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good view for a portion of the show. I hadn’t realized that this show was being presented in the half-round, which means the stage doesn’t rotate. So our seats, while nice and close (fourth row), were extreme stage right. My disappointment, though, was quickly forgotten as I set my gaze on John Waite’s Lyle-Lovett-In-Training pompadour.



So after “Back On My Feet Again,” Waite played “When I See You Smile.” Then he played another song, and then “Missing You.” Like the rest of the audience, I was psyched to hear “Missing You.” But at this point, I had absolutely no clue what else he could play. I screamed for “Missing You” again, but it fell on deaf ears. He did a few more of his own songs, and then a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Girl From The North Country” (not bad) and Led Zeppelin’s “Rock And Roll” (not good). He also played another Babys tune which sounded pretty good – I’m not sure of the name, but I know that I was able to sing “All Right Now” over the chorus. (And I did.)

Waite left the stage, and a slew of Beatles songs played over the loudspeaker. And just as the whole audience sang along to “It Won’t Be Long,” the lights dimmed and Air Supply took the stage and opened with “Even The Nights Are Better.”


A few quick thoughts ran through my head. The first one – which I’m sure is the same one that went through my mother’s head – was “Dear God, these guys are old!” Graham Russell looks pretty good, actually – he’s aged well.

Except for the fact that when he plays and sings together, he furrows his brow and kind of looks like he’s only moments away from a heart attack.

Russell Hitchcock…well, let’s just say that the years have not been kind to Russell Hitchcock. He kind of resembles an upside-down pear. He wears really tight boots and pants but has a bit of a gut on him, and he does this awkward skip-shuffle combo on the stage that does not befit a rock star. And I remember this guy with the huge, black ‘fro – these days, the fro is gone, and replaced with snow-white hair.

My snarky thoughts didn’t last terribly long, though, because I’ll tell you this: the man’s still got it. His pipes are powerful; the majority of the songs in the Air Supply canon (I just said “Air Supply canon”) remained in their original keys, and there wasn’t a note he didn’t nail. A few songs were lowered, and while that usually bugs the crap out of me, I forgave it instantly. After all, Air Supply recorded in ridiculous keys. I can’t hit the majority of those notes to save my life. Hitchcock is, what, 80 75 62 58 years old, and his voice is in tip-top shape.

The other thing that struck me is that he is ever the audience pleaser. Whether he’s singing or not, he spends the majority of his time connecting with the crowd: he waves to them, makes silly faces, and imitates whatever they’re doing with their arms. Occasionally, he touches his heart and points to the audience – a cheesy “I love ya, babe” – kind of move – and it suddenly doesn’t matter that he looks a touch like Grimace standing on his head. The audience loves him throughout. He’s a rock star of the Mellowest Order.

There weren’t many people on stage: Russell, Graham, a keyboardist, drummer and bassist. The band was, no doubt, incorporating backing tracks. There were numerous times I heard vocals, guitar and keyboard parts that were not coming from the group. I didn’t notice too much about the keyboardist or drummer, but I was absolutely fixated on the bassist. Why? Because he was fricking metal.

His name is Jonni Lightfoot and he’s quite the accomplished musician. But this doesn’t change the fact that he’s 34 years old – the youngest member of the band and, I might add, quite possibly younger than Graham Russell’s pubes. (I went there.)

Anyway, now that the audience realized they could spend the majority of their time successfully getting the attention of the guys in the band, they did so – and Jonni ate it up. Nothing is better than watching a musician make devil-horns at the crowd and frantically scan for ladies under the age of 40 (which, surprisingly, wasn’t difficult – there were tons of women there in their twenties). Oh wait, one thing is better: a musician who makes rocking-out faces during “Lost In Love.”

Air Supply played all the hits. The only one they missed was “Sweet Dreams.” They played a few new tunes, which weren’t half bad. Here’s “A Little Bit Of Everything.” I didn’t take this footage, and you certainly don’t have to watch the whole thing, but you’ll see the Russell Hitchcock skip-hop and the way he interacts with the audience. Also, occasionally the two meet up center stage and sing their songs to each other – which, I should mention, is really freaking awkward.

At this point, I need to share a story with you. So at that concert back in 1985, Russell Hitchcock left the stage to make direct contact with the audience. It was during “The One That You Love.” He seemed to walk directly to our section, hugging and kissing audience members while singing the song. He made his way up our aisle, shook a few hands, and embraced the woman in the row in front of me. Excitedly, I threw out my hand to him, in the hopes that he’d acknowledge me (my first brush with fame!). However, he turned back after embracing that woman, and my handshake was rejected.

I was eight. I was crushed. I spent much of the remainder of the evening sulking at being (hopefully unintentionally) rebuffed by Russell Hitchcock. (For the last time – no, I’m not gay.)

Fast forward to the here and now. The band starts playing “The One That You Love.” Hitchcock has three our four audience sections to choose from if he wants to interact with fans, but for whatever reason, chooses ours. He walks off the stage and heads for the aisle.

He comes up to my row. Smooches the woman in the aisle seat and high-fives her boyfriend, who’s more interested in his iPhone than the show. I’m sitting next to this dude.

I throw my hand out to reach him. Suddenly, I’m eight years old again. The hope is in my eyes, and all I want, more than anything, is to get that handshake. That recognition I missed last time around.

He shakes my hand.

I turn to my mother and scream, “FULL CIRCLE!”

Hitchcock continues going up the aisle, and the audience goes insane. It’s clear now that he’ll hug and kiss anybody who gets near him. Audience members from other sections scramble to get close. Hitchcock doesn’t just travel the aisle – he starts walking through rows, like he’s Roberto Benigni at the Oscars. It’s pandemonium. On the other side, the other Russell is playing guitar in the audience, but I don’t think anybody is giving a damn.

Finally he makes his way back down the same aisle.

“Mom, you gotta go get Russell Hitchcock.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Mom, you gotta do it!”
“No, no.”
“Mom!”
“Jason! Stop! I don’t want to!”
“For Christ’s sake. Excuse me, can my mom please get through? She absolutely has to hug Russell Hitchcock.”

I literally shove my mother past the other two people, into the aisle. I get the feeling she doesn’t want to look silly in front of me, which is kind of absurd when you think about the fact that I’ve sung every single Air Supply lyric for the past 35 minutes. She stands in the aisle and waits expectantly.

Hitchcock embraces her, gives her a kiss, whispers “gotta go” and heads back to the stage. My mom makes her way back to her seat, completely giddy. Unfortunately, the pic I took came out terribly blurry, but I know it’s him and I know it’s my mom, which is enough.

You know what I love about this picture? He’s kissing my mom and has his hand on another girl’s arm. This guy is my HERO.

The rest of the concert was great – and one of the first concerts I’ve been to in a long while where I thought, “that’s it?” These guys played a very short concert. Total time, including encore, was about 70 minutes. That’s a really short show. Granted, they played just about everything I wanted to hear (with the exception of “Love Is All”), so I really don’t have any complaints.

I know what you may be thinking: Jason, you’re glorifying the exact same crap you make fun of every week. You’re not wrong. But just as you have a soft spot for those songs you heard in the car with your parents as you drove down the highway 30 years ago, I have a soft spot for the music that filled my childhood. What can I tell you. If you too have a soft spot for these songs, go see Air Supply. You won’t be disappointed. If these guys can sell out three nights at BB King’s, clearly they’re doing something right.

It wouldn’t be a Mellow Gold post without some downloads, so here are a few tracks from The Singer And The Song.

Air Supply – Lost In Love (Unplugged) (download)

Air Supply – All Out Of Love (Unplugged) (download)

And here’s one more for you, “Yours Truly.” I had to include it: the first line is “Sometimes when I look at you, I wonder why you’re here with me.” What’s more mellow than that?

Air Supply – Yours Truly (Unplugged) (download)

(For fun, check out some of the other track titles and lyrics from the album Yours Truly. Maybe one day we’ll talk about “Body Glove,” with lyrics like “You and me, we’ve got enough/we live inside the body glove/You and me, we live for love/Deep inside the body glove.”)

And, just for fun, here’s that wonderful Time-Life Soft Rock infomercial you keep seeing on TV, hosted by the duo. (At least three of you have e-mailed me, in the middle of the night, to tell me about it.) Scary how many of these we’ve covered!

Come on back next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

Pete Townshend, Dancing Machine

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #41: 7/25/87

Friday, July 20th, 2007


Welcome back to another fun-filled edition of CHART ATTACK!  I really love this week.  At the time, I was 10 years old, and was starting to listen to the radio constantly – almost exclusively of other formats.  And the two best stations in NY – WPLJ and WHTZ – were both playing these songs, so if I didn’t care for the song on one station, it was almost guaranteed I could switch to the other and hear something I liked.  So regardless of whether these songs are actually any good, to me, most of ‘em are perfect.  Just an irresistible week.  Let’s start attacking July 25, 1987!

10.  Point Of No Return – Exposé  Amazon iTunes
9.  Don’t Disturb This Groove – The System  Amazon iTunes
8.  Heart And Soul – T’Pau  Amazon iTunes
7.  Something So Strong – Crowded House  Amazon iTunes

6.  Rhythm Is Gonna Get You – Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine  Amazon iTunes
5.  I Want Your Sex -  George Michael  Amazon iTunes
4.  I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston  Amazon iTunes
3.  I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2  Amazon iTunes
2.  Shakedown – Bob Seger  Amazon
1.  Alone – Heart  Amazon iTunes

(Here’s an important thing you should know: yesterday, I told Jeff I was covering 7/25/87, and he accurately guessed songs 10, 9 and 8.)

10.  Point Of No Return – Exposé (download)

I’m pretty sure my love for Exposé is completely irrational.  I mean, what’s so special about Exposé?  They’re a female dance-pop group – so what?  I know.  I can’t explain it.  I love every one of their hits.  Exposé had five top 10 singles in the ’80s, and three this year alone.  All their songs sounded vaguely similar, to the point where I might have heard the beginning of one and started singing the wrong song, but yet each one kicked ass.  In fact, all three in 1987 – "Let Me Be The One," "Come Go With Me" and this one – all sorta sound pretty much the same, right?  No matter.  They’re all great songs.

The history of "Point Of No Return" is interesting, and by "interesting" I mean "interesting only to music nerds."  Exposé were, like countless other bands before and since, a manufactured image, assembled by a management company.  The three original members released "Point" in 1985 on an indie label, which hit #1 on the US Club Play charts.  (Digital Eargasm has the original version, featuring a much weaker vocal.)

Within a year, though, all three Exposé members were out of the group, and three new members were selected.  I cannot find any documented proof of anyone protesting.  In any case, the group re-recorded "Point" (with, mind you, the original members still on the backing vocals!), which reached #5.  And I know what question is on your mind – yes, each replacement had to actually prove that they intended to feel the passion to the point of no return – oh, oh, oh.

Exposé broke up in ’96, but no weeping, Chart Attackers – they’re baaaack!  Yes, just last Saturday, the three girls (’87 version, y’all) reunited to play the Starlight Concert Series in Palmdale, California!  Appearing tomorrow:  The Village People!  Insert frowny face here.

9.  Don’t Disturb This Groove – The System 

Up until recently, you could have put a gun to my head and I wouldn’t have been able to tell you who sang "Don’t Disturb This Groove."  But you know who could have told me instantly?  Jeff.  (And probably half of you.)  Jeff loves this song.  I don’t know if it’s his "What A Fool Believes," but he loves it.  He even had the album.  It came with an instrumental mix of the song, simply entitled "Groove."  And that’s not all – he also had a 12" remix! 

Sadly, though, his groove was disturbed.  Yes.  Even after the pleas to not disturb aforementioned groove.  Everything System-related was lost in The Jefito Great Hard Drive Crash Of ’06.  So now poor Jeff is groove-less.  But I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing.  Too much System isn’t good for you, y’know.  Last year, my officemate overheard me playing the song.  He asked for a copy.  I sent it to him, and he turned it up, and together, we made sure our collective groove went generally undisturbed.  But then he played it again.  And again.  He left it on repeat.  I heard the opening drum/synth combo of this song around 20 times a day for a month.  Finally, he moved on to other types of music, and I can once again appreciate the song.  For a while there, it was dicey.

8.  Heart And Soul – T’Pau  (download)

And speaking of Jeff, he has much hate in his heart and soul for "Heart And Soul" (while still admitting that the song is "damn near flawless"), claiming it was overplayed.  He may be right.  It didn’t bother me – not once. Maybe this is another age thing – at 10, I didn’t care that these songs were played every two seconds on the radio.  (I didn’t experience that kind of irritation until "Two Princes," but that’s another story.)  I love the chorus, I love the counterline in the verses (which makes the entire verse unintelligible to me), and I love the fact that it this was just IT for them.  (More info on Jeff’s site.)  It’s one of my favorite one-hit wonders from the ’80s, along with "Electric Blue" by Icehouse.

Since Jeff loves the song so much, let’s throw in a 12" remix for fun, shall we?  This is encoded at 256kpbs, so it’s about 10 MB.

T’Pau – Heart And Soul (12" Remix) (download)

Ahhh, what the hell.  Let’s throw in another remix!  (I like this one better – what about you, Jeff?)

T’Pau – Heart And Soul (12" Remix 2) (download)

(Okay, so both of ‘em kinda suck – but I’ve made both my points:  1)  Jeff is wrong, and 2) Jeff is wrong.)

Two more versions available on their live album!  Walk, don’t run!

7.  Something So Strong – Crowded House

I have yet to find anybody on this planet who doesn’t like Crowded House.  So if you don’t, lay it on me.  I have to admit that I only became a fan of the band and the Brothers Finn over the past few years, but I’m playing catch-up and loving every minute of it.  I’m sure you know that Crowded House are touring this summer.  Here’s some fan-footage of the band playing "Something So Strong," the very first song written for the band, earlier this year.  Not professional video or audio quality, but it illustrates how great these guys sound after all these years.  Love the audience singing, too.

6.  Rhythm Is Gonna Get You – Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine 

There’s a lot of things I love about this song.  Here are two.

1)  "Tonight! (Duh DUH, Duh-Duh DUH!)"

A couple of years ago, I decided that just about every song could be improved upon if you threw in the above line at the end of a phrase.  Especially if it makes no sense.  It’s actually funnier if it makes no sense.  You have to sing the horn part, too.  Try it with, like, "Time In A Bottle" or something.  Here, it even works with "Something So Strong:"  "something so strong could carry us today…tonight!  Duh DUH, Duh-Duh DUH!"

2)  "Oh-ay-oh-ay" Or However You’d Spell It

Okay, so here’s what I’m thinking: imagine what an interesting social experiment it would have been if, back in 1987, you walked into a random crowd, sang out "Oh-ay-oh-ay!" and waited to see if anybody either a) echoed it back to you, or b) sang the "oh-ay-oh-oh-ah" line in response.  You know, kind of like "Tastes Great!/Less Filling!" but much lamer.  I thought about this on the subway last night (to give you an idea of how long and boring my commute is), and thought to myself, "If I was more of a man, I’d try this right now."  I wussed out.

Of all the videos no longer available on YouTube due to the Viacom suit, this is one of the ones I miss the most.  Remember how smokin’ Gloria Estefan looked in this video?  Mrrrowl!

5.  I Want Your Sex – George Michael 

Well, here’s a song that would barely register in 2007.  Can we even remember the controversy in the first place?  It certainly wasn’t the first song to extol the joys of bumpin’ uglies, but it probably the first popular song to be so goddamn direct about it, especially at a time where the AIDS epidemic was finally making a public impact.  If I recall correctly, BBC Radio 1 only played the song after 9 PM, and MTV demanded 3 re-cuts before they would allow it to air.  Michael had to not only record an intro to the video, explaining "this song is NOT about casual sex," but also wrote "explore monogamy" on his then-girlfriend Kathy Jeung’s body in lipstick.  However, the best factoid about "I Want Your Sex" comes from its Wiki page:

Also because of the song’s controversial content, on American Top 40, host Casey Kasem refused to announce the name of the song; only its artist. Also, due to the song’s suggestiveness, the show’s structure was altered slightly, so stations could opt out of the song. The only time the title of the song was announced on AT40 was when it left the charts several weeks later.

I’d love to hear an aircheck of this.  How did he do it?  "And now, here at #2, is ‘I Want Your Mmmph’ by George Michael."  Anyone know how he handled "Humpin’ Around?"  Anyway, you go, George Michael.  Anyone who manages to piss off Casey Kasem is a true hero in my book…although we do know that apparently, it’s not that hard.

For an artist who was trying to remove himself from Wham! and be taken seriously as a solo artist, you couldn’t beat this kind of publicity – and it was a great start to a phenomenal couple of years for him.  15 years later, he released a song called "Freek!" with the lyrics "I’ll be your sexual freak…your one-fuck fantasy."  I don’t really remember hearing much about it…do you?  Then again, we’re not hearing much about George Michael at all on these shores anymore.  (I’m still holding out hope he’ll tour…seriously.)

4.  I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston 

Do you think maybe Whitney Houston hallucinates about this video on a semi-regular basis?  "The frizz!  Get it off!  GET IT OFF!!!"

Still, Whitney’s version has nothing on David Byrne’s version.  What, you don’t think I’m serious?

David Byrne – I Wanna Dance With Somebody (live) (download)

3.  I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – U2 

I’ve already offered my opinion on U2 in a previous Chart Attack!:  I have nothing against them, but I just can’t bring myself to like them as much as I feel I should.  That being said, as long as I don’t have to hear the gospel-choir Rattle And Hum version of this song, I’m okay with it.  You know why?  Not because of its message, or the iconic video, or that beautiful riff from The Edge.  No, this song gets credit from me because Bono and co. had the balls NOT TO ADD PARENTHESES TO THE TITLE.  They could have easily – easily! – released it as "(I Still Haven’t Found) What I’m Looking For" or "I Still Haven’t Found (What I’m Looking For)" or "I Still Haven’t (Found What) I’m Loo(king) Fo(r)."  I think you already know The JasonHare.com Official Stance On Parentheses In Titles:  Fuck ‘Em.  Terje, I’m speaking to you.  (By the way, everybody, check out Terje’s site this week – he has a nice original song up for download!)

2.  Shakedown – Bob Seger

Every week, Glenn Frey receives flowers on his doorstep from Bob Seger.  (Not true.)  See, "Shakedown" was intended for Frey, who had recorded "The Heat Is On" for Beverly Hills Cop,  but according to Wiki, Frey was either "sick or unavailable."  (This means that Seger was told "Glenn’s sick," but the producers were told "Glenn wants too much money.")

Either way, Frey receives the flowers because this song wound up being Seger’s biggest hit.  ("Old Time Rock & Roll" only made it to #48.)  I wanted to show you the video because it’s one of those classic "half video, half movie montage" videos, but it doesn’t seem to be available on YouTube.  (Seger’s not on iTunes, either – why the hell is he holding out?)  If you’d like, though, you can check out Seger performing it live in 1996 (in a lower key, of course).

1.  Alone – Heart 

Damn, it’s the fourth mention of the songwriting duo Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly on CHART ATTACK!  These guys are on their way to being mentioned on here more often than McD.  (Perish the thought.)  It’s about time we show you who these two are:

I don’t know which one is which, but I know one looks like Tom Green.  Seriously, how rich are these guys, do you think?

Here’s an interesting fact I only learned in the past year or so:  the Heart version is actually a cover of a version released by the writers themselves.  Kelly and Steinberg were the principal members in a rock group called i-Ten, who released the song on their one and only album Taking A Cold Look.  The group featured some of the most amazing West Coast AOR players around:  Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro, and David Paich from Toto, Mike Baird from Journey, Richard Page from Mr. Mister…I need to find this album, like, yesterday.  You can hear the i-Ten version of "Alone" on Coverville #205, which is where I first heard about the song.  It’s featured at around the 19-minute mark.

Taking A Cold Look flopped and the band broke up, but obviously Steinberg and Kelly went on to write some of the most successful hits of the ’80s.  Upon hearing that Heart was looking for a Big Ballad, Kelly suggested they present the Wilsons with "Alone."  They did, and the rest is history.  I do love Heart’s version of "Alone," mainly because I’d listen to Ann Wilson sing just about anything.  Even "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You," which does get minor props from me (see song #3).

Well, folks, I’d stick around to chat more, but I’m off to greater things – tonight, I’m taking my mom to see Air Supply!  (Good son?  Pathetic son?  You make the call!)  John Waite is opening.  I’ll let you know what he plays after he’s done playing "Missing You" three times in a row.  Just for fun, I’m thinking about screaming out, "PLAY ‘MAN IN MOTION!’"  Think he’ll be pissed?

Have a great weekend!  See ya next Friday for more CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 40

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

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Welcome back, folks, to another week of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! I want you to know that I am covering today’s song under great duress. It took me a while to get up the nerve to write about it. Even my cat tried to stop me.

Todd Rundgren – Hello It’s Me (download)

It’s not that I have anything against “Hello It’s Me.” (Actually, I have a lot against “Hello It’s Me” but we’ll explore that later.) It’s just that…remember that episode of The Simpsons where Bart becomes famous for uttering the catchphrase “I didn’t do it” on Krusty’s show? And so everywhere he goes, people want him to say “I didn’t do it?” Well, for a brief period, this blog got very Rundgren-centric. People started both discussing and requesting “Hello It’s Me.” Terje sent it to me first. Robert mentioned it in the comments. So did Elaine. Finally, Mike began subtly dropping hints in online conversations.

Mike: What’s on the plate for MG this week?
Jason: Well, I don’t know. I…
Mike: (Rundgren)
Jason: I was thinking maybe I should…
Mike: (Ruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuundgrennnnnnnnnnnn)
Jason: Yeah, but I also thought that…
Mike: (RUNDGREN!)

So there’s a lot of pressure riding on this one. But I’m going to try and get it over with. There you have it, Mike. I am officially your Rundgren Monkey. (Now that’s a band name.) Hope you’re happy.

“Hello It’s Me” is really not Mellow Gold from a musical standpoint (from a musical standpoint, it’s a Carole King ripoff), but lyrically, OH MY GOD. It easily ranks up there with some of the very, very wimpiest of the wimpy.

Men have, for years, been implored to really get in touch with their soulmates. No more of this sitting-on-the-couch-and-watching-the-game bullshit. “Communication is essential. Talk about your feelings.” Todd Rundgren almost singlehandedly flipped that entire movement on its ass. “Hello, It’s Me” is so rife with emotional rambling that Todd should be sending every penny he made on this song to the people who were forced to listen to it. Think of it as a therapist fee.

Shall we take a look at these emasculating, damn near embarrassing lyrics?

Hello it’s me
I’ve thought about us for a long, long time
Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong

Ahhh, a Mellow Gold benchmark: contemplating your inadequacies, right in front of the girl woman lady to whom you’re singing. Well done, sir Rundgren!

There’s something here that doesn’t last too long

Okay, this isn’t even close to proper English, is it? When I was five years old, I wrote a song that rhymed “moon” with “baboon.” I feel like even then, I had one up on Todd.

Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine

Okay, just in terms of rhyming patterns, is this supposed to rhyme with “time?” That seems to be the only thing I can come up with, but for some reason, I’m thinking this pattern sucks.

Wait, he’s got more to say.

Seeing you
Or seeing anything as much as I do you

Yup, that’s right. “Seeing anything as much as I do you.” It’s like they had a contest to try and write the most awkward lyric.

I take for granted that you’re always there
I take for granted that you just don’t care

Just when I thought this song couldn’t get any dumber, it gets dumberer. So what are we talking about here, Todd? What’s up with this relationship? The first line tells me that the problem is that you’re not happy. The second line implies it’s the other way around. Unless you mean that she just doesn’t care if you treat her horribly. Are you both unhappy? Is it because you wrote this song and she had to listen to it? And did you know that there’s now a third unhappy party? Hello, it’s me!

Sometimes I can’t help seeing all the way through

Sometimes you can’t help seeing WHAT all the way through? The relationship? This goddamn song? I’m pulling my hair out listening to you ramble!

Oh shit, here comes the chorus.

It’s important to me
That you know you are free

If it’s so important to you, why can’t you sing those lines, you big sissy? Admit it! You pussed out! You figured: she hasn’t been listening to anything else I’ve said, I might as well try getting someone else to help put the point across! They’re like little gnats, buzzing around our ears. Please, Todd. Kill them.

‘Cause I never want to make you change for me

And there you have it, folks: with that one final line of the chorus, Todd Rundgren officially threw his hat into the ring for the Wussiest Line Ever. Somewhere, England Dan felt his ears getting hot, and he knew he had a challenge on his hands.

Think of me
You know that I’d be with you if I could
I’ll come around to see you once in a while
Or if I ever need a reason to smile

I’ll freely admit that I can be a tad dense sometimes, so please, help me out here. Am I missing the meaning behind this song? I still don’t understand who’s breaking up with who here. Is he breaking up with her because he’s a jerk? Am I just a maroon for trying to figure this all out? Is this why nobody will talk to me anymore? Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong.

Anyway, if the song ended here, we’d know that Todd had was a first class Fogelberg, through and through. But then, suddenly, Todd’s penis interrupts.

And spend the night if you think I should

You gotta love it. You just gotta love it. The man can’t help but just throw that little hint in there. But he’s smart: he makes it look like it’s not his idea. No, no, no! It’s important to him that she knows she’s free! But, you know, if she thinks he should, well, then. “Okayyyy…I guess if I have to…” And you know what? Todd’s pretty smart. After hearing this song, I imagine the girl woman lady would have done just about anything to get him to shut up. Well, done, sir! Well done! Your cunning little plan worked!

And yet…there is something 100% irresistible about this song, isn’t there? Once it’s in my head, it’s in my head for hours, and I honestly don’t mind it. I find myself singing it aloud. I think it must have to do with the music: those beautiful, minor 7 and 9 chords, and that key-change near the end, which I have to admit is pretty kick-ass. Those keyboards. The trumpet. It’s not Mellow Gold in the slightest, but man, is it catchy. Still, though, I’m overpowered by the lyrics. It makes me feel like maybe Todd Rundgren shouldn’t have sung this song. It should have been sung by Woody Allen, or some other nebbish-y, accountant-type guy.

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It’s official: I’ve lost any trace of dignity I had left. By the way, this is the voice of the guy who does my taxes.


So what could be worse than listening to this incessant rambling (either me or Todd)? How about listening to a version so unbearably slow that Rundgren’s version is referred to as “the uptempo version?” I’m dead serious.

Nazz – Hello It’s Me (download)

Yes, this is the version Rundgren recorded with Nazz, his psychedelic garage band from the late ’60s. When it started, I was wondering if maybe I was playing it at the wrong speed. Enjoy…or don’t. Either way, it’s time for us to move on to some video!

Behold! RUNDGREN, IN ALL HIS NIPPLED GLORY! This video could also be subtitled Todd Makes It A Point To Touch Every Fucking Hand In The Audience. I imagine this entire crowd came down with the flu shortly after the show.

By the way, if you listen carefully to the studio version of “Hello It’s Me,” you may notice that Todd attempts to riff/scat on the vocal. It’s kind of a mess, but it’s back in the mix and relatively subtle. Around the 2:17 mark of this video (or 1:45 if the counter’s going backwards), Todd goes for some falsetto riffing and fails so miserably that he makes LeBon’s Live Aid fuckup look like a Pavarotti performance.

Well, there you have it. That’s as much as I can glean out of this one for the day. I’m sure you have many thoughts about this Mellow classic, and I can’t wait to hear them. In the meantime, I’m going to go back and listen to this song again. I kinda love it. See you next week for yet another Adventure!