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Archive for July, 2007

CHART ATTACK! #40: 7/12/80

Friday, July 13th, 2007


Hooray for Friday!  The end of another work-week, and time to rip open another Top 10 from the vaults.  How about July 12, 1980?

10.  Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prairie League  Amazon iTunes
9.  Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson  Amazon iTunes
8.  Magic – Olivia Newton-John  Amazon iTunes
7.  Funkytown – Lipps Inc  Amazon iTunes
6.  Steal Away – Robbie Dupree  Amazon iTunes
5.  Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – Spinners  Amazon iTunes
4.  Little Jeannie – Elton John  Amazon iTunes
3.  The Rose – Bette Midler  Amazon iTunes
2.  It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me – Billy Joel  Amazon iTunes
1.  Coming Up (Live at Glasgow) – Paul McCartney and Wings  Amazon iTunes

I feel confident in saying that this week in 1980 was seriously, seriously lacking in balls.  However, in addition to Nutless Week here at jasonhare.com, it’s also Lazy-Ass Week.  You’ll see.

(Seriously, when "It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me" is the hardest-hitting song on the charts, you’ve got one wussy week.)

10.  Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prairie League 

Lazy-Ass Song #1!  I don’t need to tell you much about this one, because I analyzed it to death (unfortunately, perhaps) in Mellow Gold #29.  Suffice it to say that "Let Me Love You Tonight" is what happens when David Sanborn and Vince Gill French-kiss.

9.  Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson

I try not to make a big deal about the sacrifices I make to put up Mellow Gold and Chart Attack! every week.  However, I think it’s important that you know that I listened to nearly eight freaking minutes of "Let’s Get Serious" for this week’s entry.  It’s not that the song is bad at all – it’s actually quite catchy.  I just don’t need more than two, maybe three minutes of Jermaine Jackson at any given moment in time.  No, two.

As I began listening, my first thought was: "Jermaine!  Stevie Wonder called.  He wants ‘Do I Do’ back."  And then, at 2:50 (fifty seconds after the track should have ended, in my opinion), there’s Stevie himself, riffing on the chorus and adding a typical kick-ass vocal.  Turns out Stevie wrote and produced "Let’s Get Serious."  I admit to being a little surprised, as this song would have been a strong single for him; why give it to Jermaine?  Well, let’s just say that Jermaine’s career wasn’t doing all that well.  And let’s just say that Jermaine was married to Berry Gordy’s daughter, Hazel.  And let’s just say that Berry Gordy heard Stevie working on "Let’s Get Serious," and…get the picture?

This song peaked here at #9, but don’t feel too bad for Jermaine.  He’s had an impressive (for him, anyway) seven hits within the span of thirteen years, including a #18 hit called "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" with backing vocals by Devo.  (Sometimes these entries just write themselves.)

Here’s Jermaine in his best white-guy outfit on Soul Train.  I don’t know why they got an edited version of the song and yet I was forced to listen to the whole thing.

[youtube]-3tw2TY2C4A[/youtube]

8.  Magic – Olivia Newton-John

Lazy-Ass Song #2!

Behind a sensuous, rhythmic beat, chiming guitars, and strings that weave up and down through the arrangement, Newton-John actually conjures up what I feel is a dynamo performance: the sensuousness and passion she puts into the song, which normally ends up sounding like soft breathing, are perfect this time out. She actually fits within the tune perfectly–not just singing the song, but a true instrument.

No, that’s not me who has the hots for "Magic."  That’s our buddy Matthew Bolin, over at All-Time Champion, who listed "Magic" as his Secret Shame Song.  And I’m going to back up the Magic Man here (no, I didn’t come up with that nickname, that’s all him).  It’s not that I absolutely love "Magic," but I do happen to absolutely love Olivia Newton-John singing "Magic."  Check out this clip.  Hubba hubba!

[youtube]8sXLkKflnis[/youtube]

This is not an invitation to remind me that I still haven’t listened to ELO, but you guys know that Xanadu is on Broadway now, right?  And it actually got a good review?

7.  Funkytown – Lipps Inc

That sound you’re hearing?  That’s disco taking its last breath.  I think that "Funkytown" might actually be my favorite song on the Top 10 this week, which is saying so very little.  Anyway, Lipps Inc (say it out loud) was formed by Steven Greenberg, who wrote, produced, and played most of the music.  He hired Cynthia Johnson, a model and singer, to handle lead vocal duties.  "Funkytown" was their only hit, although it should be noted that they did attempt a disco cover of Ace’s Mellow Gold classic "How Long."  (Shudder)

I know I totally rely on YouTube clips more than I should.  (Then again, some might argue that anything that breaks up my rambling is a good thing.)  But I absolutely need to show you this clip of two random women performing "Funkytown" on a television program.  The one girl, in black, is totally hot and a great dancer, although she doesn’t actually seem to do anything.  However, the girl "singing" lead is freaking my shit out.  I feel like if I stare at her too long, lasers are going to shoot out of her eyeballs and kill me. 

[youtube]3BiuttQl0xM[/youtube]

As you may remember, this song was covered by Pseudo Echo in 1987 for no apparent reason.

6.  Steal Away – Robbie Dupree 

Lazy-Ass Song #3!  "Steal Away" was covered way back in the early days (you know, September) of this site during our very first Mellow Gold mission, and I want you to know that my anger hasn’t faded one iota since then.  I still maintain that Dupree lifted this entire hook from my hero, Michael McDonald.  However, I’m trying not to focus on my anger.  At least something good came out of it, and I got to have a fun on-air conversation with radio legend Bob Shannon.  Yeah, I know I’m all about Bob this week, but dammit, he brought a tear to my eye when he returned to WCBS-FM yesterday and said his first words: "As I was about to say…"  Congrats, Bob!

5.  Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – The Spinners

Let’s give kudos to The Spinners for their relatively consistent appearances on the US Hot 100 between 1972 and 1980, but this medley was pretty much the end of the line for them.  They had enjoyed great success with their "Working My Way Back to You"/"Forgive Me Girl" medley in 1979, climbing all the way to #2, so a repeat performance seemed like a smart move.  It was – this medley reached #4 – but their third attempt the next year didn’t even crack the Top 50.  I feel like the cards fell right where they should – their first medley was undoubtedly their strongest.

4.  Little Jeannie – Elton John (download)

I don’t want to like "Little Jeannie."  I feel like I shouldn’t like "Little Jeannie."  Not when it’s stuck being compared to, you know, anything Elton John released between 1970 and 1976.  But if I close my eyes real hard and pretend that this isn’t really Elton, I find that there’s something I just really like about it.  Especially that "you stepped into my life from a bad dream" refrain.  I could probably sing that all day.  Lame, right?  I feel the same about other songs from Elton’s "boring period" – "Kiss The Bride," "Mama Can’t Buy You Love," and "Nikita."  Wow, that’s a six-year span of boring.  This is what happens when you combine the massive drugs with the whole "marrying a girl" thing, I guess.  At least he didn’t put his head back in the oven.

3.  The Rose – Bette Midler 

I’d love to be able to hear this song and not think of all the people I’ve heard butcher it over the years.  Doesn’t matter where:  school, summer camp, auditions, talent shows…everybody wants to sing "The Rose."  I think it’s some teenage female rite of passage.  Still, it’s the best song Bette Midler has ever had on the charts.  Then again, the competition is stuff like "From A Distance," "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

If you have a soft spot for this song, you can read about its history at songwriter Amanda McBroom’s webpage.  Scary to think that McBroom found her inspiration only after hearing Leo Sayer on the radio.

2.  It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me – Billy Joel 

I like this song.  But then again, I don’t have a choice.  I’m from Long Island.  We’re required to like Billy Joel, especially songs that reference our fine, um, island.  This one namechecks the Miracle Mile – a long (a mile, perhaps?) stretch of stores along Northern Boulevard in Manhasset.  The main area of stores on the Miracle Mile is in a section called The Americana, and growing up, I went there every week or so because it housed the closest music store to my home, Record World.  It was just about the only store in The Americana that I could afford.  I guess I should start talking about Billy Joel now.

Taken from Billy’s "rock album" (which I only say to piss off Jeff), "It’s Still Rock and Roll To Me" was the first Billy Joel song to hit #1 (which it did a week later), and not a piano note anywhere.  Also notable is the fact that this song is from the era in which Billy Joel let his hair get totally out of control.

I recently downloaded a fantastic pro-shot DVD from Billy’s recent concert in Tokyo (you can find it on Dime if you have membership there), and in watching the whole show start-to-finish, I was reminded that Billy and his band know exactly when to place a song in a set.  Billy goes nonstop from "Big Shot" to "Rock and Roll" to "You May Be Right," and it packs a powerful punch.  Plus, he’s quite amusing when he puts away the piano and sings without any instruments.  I’m a sucker for his microphone stand tricks – I’d do half of them if only I didn’t run the risk of hitting one of our guitarists.  Here’s the version from Tokyo.

[youtube]WcuTTsn5TVM[/youtube]


1.  Coming Up (live at Glasgow) – Paul McCartney & Wings  (download)

Thankfully, it was the live version of this song that reached the top of the charts, because quite honestly, the studio version is horrible: apart from being a half-step lower, it doesn’t capture any of the joy, fun and overall optimism of this version.  Plus some really fun horns.  McCartney was writing lots of mindless, fun songs during this era: songs like "Goodnight Tonight,"  "Wonderful Christmastime," and "With A Little Luck," which all did quite well.  I would have guessed that John Lennon would have wound up banging his head on the table in frustration at a song like "Coming Up," but the truth is that the song reportedly inspired him to start recording again.

And here’s the video, featuring Macca times ten, in a group called "The Plastic Macs."  The results are much more interesting than when he repeated the idea for stupid "Ebony And Ivory."

[youtube]xvEQmyoP18E[/youtube]

The interesting thing about "Coming Up" is that the live version was included as the B-side to the studio version, and US jockeys completely ignored the A-side altogether.  Macca’s American record company encouraged him to put the live version on the upcoming release of McCartney II, but he refused – as a compromise, the live version was included on a 45 along with the album.  As the live version was topping the US charts, the studio version was reaching #2 in the UK.  Go figure.

And so we close another week.  We laughed, we cried, we made fun of Billy Joel’s hair.  Can’t ask for more than that.  See you next week for another CHART ATTACK!

Welcome Back, Bob Shannon and WCBS-FM

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

Today, at 1:01 PM, WCBS-FM (101.1) in NYC ditches JACK-FM and goes back to the great oldies format that NYers treasured for so many years.  Well, sort of – it’ll be updated to include the best of the ’60s, ’70s, and now, ’80s as well, and will have "the biggest in New York," according to Program Director Brian Thomas.  (For more insight about the switch, visit our good friend JB over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’.)

But the best part is that Bob Shannon will be back on the air, every day from 10 AM – 3 PM.  If you’ve been around here for a while, you’ll know that Bob was one of the very first fans of this website, highlighting my Michael McDonald obsession and even making the colossal mistake of having me call-in during the program.  Bob is a genuinely nice guy, and I’m giddy over the fact that he’s returning to where he belongs.  (Read his emotional post about returning to the building.)

So long, JACK.  I will miss you.  I think you’re a great format (I especially loved "Acoustic Sunrise"), and you belong in NY…just not at 101.1.

Congratulations, Bob and to all fans of WCBS-FM!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 39

Wednesday, July 11th, 2007

mellowgoldlogo.jpg

Hi again, everybody! It’s that time again – that time when we dissolve any sense of self-respect and go spelunking through the Mines Of Mellow Gold!

David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us (download)

Although this song has been on “the list” for a while, I hadn’t really planned on covering it anytime soon. I’ve always thought this song kinda ran just on the edge between Mellow Gold and schmaltzy ballad. However, every time I hear it, I lose just a little bit of hair on my chest, and so it does fit in with the other songs we’ve discussed here. Plus, I received two requests to post this song – from two of my favorite bloggers, Malchus and Terje – within 12 hours of each other. I don’t know if the two of them wrote to each other, called each other on the phone, whatever, but their message came through loud and clear. Hang on, it’s gonna get lame in here!

You guys all remember David Soul, right? I know I didn’t. In fact, when Malchus wrote to me and requested the song, I responded with, “Well, I already covered ‘Goodbye Girl…”” Yeah. That’s David GATES, of Bread. Not David Soul. Thanks for not calling me out on that one, Scott.

David Soul is best known for playing Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson from Starsky and Hutch. However, clearly he wasn’t just an actor; he was a musician as well. In fact, he was a musician before he was an actor, and he was also a baseball player; he was actually offered a contract to play with the White Sox. (This is starting to read like the Chuck Norris Facts webpage.) Soul’s greatest desire was to be known for his music. How can I say this with such certainty? Because he actually said it, repeatedly. See, in order to get the public’s attention, Soul would sing while wearing a ski mask. He eventually made his way to The Merv Griffin Show under the billing “The Covered Man,” and would say “My name is David Soul, and I want to be known for my music.” Then, he would pull out a sawed-off shotgun and yell, “Any of you fucking pricks move, and I’ll execute every motherfucking last one of ya!”

Okay, maybe that last part didn’t happen. But the ski mask part is true:


“Mommy, this Spider-Man costume you made me sucks!”

Hmmm…masking the wussy face as a gimmick…paging Leo Sayer!

Anyway, Soul was signed to the Private Stock record label, and the label’s owner paired him up with songwriter Tony Macaulay, who you may know if you’ve heard “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” – a hit for The Foundations in 1967 and later revived by Alison Krauss and Union Station. Macaulay didn’t write the song specifically for Soul, but found that it fit his voice perfectly. The public agreed – the single reached #1 on the Hot 100 in April of 1977, also spending 7 weeks in the Top 10.

So let’s talk about “Don’t Give Up On Us,” otherwise known as “David Soul waits patiently next to the dinner table, awaiting scraps from Barry Manilow’s supper plate.” This song has major wussicity on all fronts. Lyrically, it’s a fucking mess. Let’s start at the very beginning, as, y’know, that’s a very good place to start.

Don’t give up on us, baby
Don’t make the wrong seem right

“Don’t make the wrong seem right” is, quite possibly, the most awkward way of saying…whatever it is he’s trying to say here. Would this line of argument really work? I can’t imagine.

The future isn’t just one night

I like this phrase. It’s a nice, subtle way of saying “Don’t base the rest of our lives together on one unfortunate night of erectile dysfunction.”

It’s written in the moonlight
And painted in the stars
We can’t change ours

It wasn’t until the lyrics were actually written in front of me that I figured out what he means by “we can’t change ours.” He’s saying we can’t change our future. That’s a lie, David Soul. Your future hasn’t been written yet. No one’s has! Your future is what you make of it – so make it a good one, both of you!

Jesus, David Soul, you’ve got me quoting Doc Brown from Back To The Future III.

There are some other lyrics in this song. I’m going to mention them now, but you should know that I had to listen to the song at least three or four times before I caught them. I kept nodding off.

Don’t give up on us, sugartits baby
We’re still worth one more try
I know we put our last one by

Who wants to chip in and send a fucking rhyming dictionary to Tony Macaulay? Again with the awkwardness! Does anybody even say phrases like that last one? I should have stayed asleep.

Bridge, motherfuckers!

I really lost my head last night (this supports my erectile dysfunction theory)
You’ve got a right (awkward rhyme alert!)
to stop believing
There’s still a little love left even so

Okay, I can’t take any more of this. No more lyric talk. Let’s talk about music instead (like that’s any relief). I’m sure there are real rock n’ roll instruments on this song somewhere, but I can’t hear a damn thing through the orchestra. Clearly the conductor called in sick, and the session musicians just had a field day; these guys are whacking off all over this song like it’s Peer Gynt. I thought I heard a guitar somewhere in the song…yup, there it is: a snippet at…nope, that’s not it…hang on, I know it’s here somewhere…yup, found it – 2:10. Two lines, and then it’s bitchslapped by the flugelhorn. There’s a little bit of guitar at the end, too – right around 3:27. I’d like to think that the guitarist believed “Don’t Give Up On Us” was going to be his big break, only to be horribly disappointed with the five notes retained in the final mix. I’d also like to think that the guitarist was, like, Walter Becker or something.

Something interesting does happen in “Don’t Give Up On Us,” from a musical standpoint: there’s a key change fake-out, and then the actual key change is completely unexpected. I don’t expect you to listen to the whole song to find these two spots, so here you go: the fake-out is at around 1:30, coming out of the bridge, and the actual key change is at 2:42. Soul, as well as his backing singers (Soullettes? Soullesses?) all sing through the key change, and it sounds awkward as all hell. I don’t know who made these decisions. Clive Davis?

Enough with the blah-blah-blah. Let’s watch the video!

[youtube]P14BZVmbaEY[/youtube]

I love this video. I love the fact that we see multiple, seemingly body-less David Souls. I love that there are tons – tons! – of awkward, contemplative poses in between verses (that’s the actor in him, you know). And most of all, I love his haircut. He’s dangerously close to this guy:

Right?

After the success of “Don’t Give Up On Us,” and Starsky and Hutch, David Soul did other things, I’m sure. But I can’t be bothered to look them up. I’ve spent too much time on this song. Suffice it to say that nothing really matched his previous successes (although playing Jerry Springer in Jerry Springer – The Opera in London was probably up there), but he did have a cameo in the movie version of Starsky and Hutch, and of course, Owen Wilson threw a little David Soul tribute in there as well:

[youtube]UnAXlUQp3jg[/youtube]

Completely off-topic, but why can’t even the most proficient actors fake playing the guitar?

Oh, and by the way, Terje wants you to know about one of David Soul’s follow-up songs. Eager to cash in on the success of his wussy plea, Soul recorded a song entitled – and this is no joke – “Can’t We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over.” It’s from his album of the same sentiment, Playing To An Audience Of One. Remember how Eddie Murphy used to joke about Teddy Pendergrass, who would “scare the bitches into liking him?” Soul went the complete opposite direction and tried to pity the women into digging his unique brand of bittersweet folk rock. However, his pity party didn’t work. You only get one shot, David. Look at Dan Hill. Or Michael “Bluer Than Blue” Johnson. I’m not including “Can’t We Just Sit Down And Talk It Over,” even though Terje probably wants me to torture you. Nor will I include “Wait, Where Are You Going, I Thought You Said You’d Listen To Me, Okay, Hear Me Out, Just Thirty Seconds And I Promise You Can Go, And I Won’t Follow You, I Swear.”

Thanks again to Malchus and Terje for convincing me to spend way too much time on this one. I’ll never forgive either of you. Thanks for reading, and see you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!

CHART ATTACK! #39: 7/6/85

Friday, July 6th, 2007


Howdy, everybody!  We’re back for yet another week of this crazy lil’ thing called CHART ATTACK! Hope you’re ready to help me tear apart the Top 10 from July 6, 1985!

10.  Angel – Madonna  Amazon iTunes
9.  Voices Carry – ‘Til Tuesday  Amazon iTunes
8.  Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young  Amazon iTunes
7.  You Give Good Love – Whitney Houston  Amazon iTunes
6.  Would I Lie To You? – Eurythmics  Amazon iTunes
5.  The Search Is Over – Survivor  Amazon iTunes
4.  Heaven – Bryan Adams  Amazon iTunes
3.  Raspberry Beret – Prince & The Revolution  Amazon iTunes
2.  A View To A Kill – Duran Duran  Amazon iTunes
1.  Sussudio – Phil Collins  Amazon iTunes

10.  Angel – Madonna

While Madonna has certainly had a number of fantastic dance singles, she’s also had her share of cookie-cutter songs that fail to bring anything interesting to the table.  "Angel" is one of them, with the exact same chord progression through 99% of the song.  I also throw "Dress You Up," "Burning Up" and "Causing A Commotion" into the same category.  Maybe I’m the only one who felt this way, though, because "Angel" performed quite admirably on the charts, peaking at #5 and becoming her third Top 10 of the year.  Interestingly enough, the B-side to "Angel" was "Into The Groove," which, despite its popularity from Desperately Seeking Susan, wasn’t released as a single in the U.S.  Madonna’s record company didn’t want the song to compete with "Angel."  Ultimately, the B-side wound up being the more memorable of the two.

9.  Voices Carry – ‘Til Tuesday 

I hear this song all the time, way more than I ever really want to hear it.  ‘Til Tuesday is the first artist listed alphabetically on my iPod, so if I ever accidentally hit the "play" button while it’s not on shuffle mode, "Voices Carry" comes on.  Other songs that have held this top spot:  "Dancing Queen" by ABBA, "How Long" by Ace, and "P.I.M.P." by 50 Cent.  All but one of these is okay to accidentally play at work.  (I learned this the hard way: I was lying under my desk, testing the line-in jack of the computer, and had the speakers turned up way louder than appropriate.  I’ve never moved so quickly.)

What more can I talk about, other than the video?  Who doesn’t love the shit out of this video?  You go with your rat-tailed self, Aimee Mann!  Do yourself a favor and check it out; YouTube won’t let me embed the clip here.  I’ll wait.

Pretty good, huh?  I especially love "by the way…what’s with the hair?"  It’s more than a little heavy-handed, but at least they got somebody who was suitably dickish.  And while I do love this guy (apparently he’s an actor of very little renown named Cully Holland), why didn’t they get Billy Zabka?  I mean, it was 1985 and all.  (By the way, awesome Zabka story here.)
 
I’ll come clean: I don’t know anything else by ‘Til Tuesday.  Not only that, but as a kid, I thought she was singing "oh so scary."

8.  Everytime You Go Away – Paul Young

Longtime readers might remember that I have a beef with Paul Young.  (Read the comments section, which goes from an argument about what defines a "cover song" and rapidly devolves into Jeff calling me "asscheeks.")  My beef, which you can read about above, is essentially that Paul Young has never had a successful hit that hasn’t been a cover.  "Everytime You Go Away" was clearly his biggest hit, a great cover of the Hall & Oates tune from Voices, reaching the #1 spot for a week in July.  (I like it better than the H&O version, okay?  This is not about Paul Young.)  He’s only had one other hit in the Top 10 (also a cover, obviously).  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the biggest non-cover hit he’s had was when he sang the opening line to "Do They Know It’s Christmas."

7.  You Give Good Love – Whitney Houston

Behold: the song that essentially introduced Whitney Houston to the world.  Clive Davis had signed Houston to Arista in 1983, and confident she’d be a star, began soliciting songs from a number of songwriters and producers.  Originally intended for Roberta Flack (her assistant turned it down), this song was presented to Houston by a songwriter named LaLa.  It was the second single released from her self-titled debut and reached #3, which must have been quite the relief for Houston and Davis – her album was slow to sell and the first single, "Someone For Me," didn’t chart at all.  "You Give Good Love" set off a stream of Houston hits which were unstoppable on their rise to the top.  In the ’80s, she released two albums and 11 singles from those albums – 7 of which hit #1.

It’s hard to look past all the crazy shit that’s landed Houston where she is today, but I really enjoyed re-listening to this song and remembering what a powerhouse she was – and, presumably, still is.  Here’s a clip of her debut on The Tonight Show singing "You Give Good Love."  (Hard to say what I love more, the hair or the sweater.  Still, she’s adorable.)

[youtube]KI3YrAv0C-I[/youtube]

6.  Would I Lie To You?  – Eurythmics (download)

"Would I Lie To You?" very deliberately sounds to me like a cover, but a cover that can’t decide whether it owes more to early ’60s Motown or The Kinks.  This is not a criticism; "Would I Lie To You" is an awesome song, and a distinct change from previous singles by the group – the synths have been punished, sent to the back of the room in favor of those excellent horns.  And you can almost never go wrong when Annie Lennox opens her mouth to sing.  And hey, it’s our second video featuring a dickhead!

[youtube]P6uJwfix3fU[/youtube]

In this case, the dick is played by Steven Bauer, also an actor of little renown (he’s best known for marrying Melanie Griffith and a role in Scarface).

5.  The Search Is Over – Survivor (download)

All skate!  Now reverse!  Yet another roller-rink song for me.  "The Search Is Over" is just the perfect rock ballad.  I’m not going to say anything more about Survivor because anything interesting I could possibly say has already been mentioned over at Ye Olde Jefitoblog.  In fact, Jeff’s site is kind of a Survivor repository: there’s The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Survivor, the review of 2006’s Reach, and even a CAPTAIN VIDEO! post.  Somebody’s got a crush!

I’m offering "The Search Is Over" for download only because I want Survivor’s management to threaten me with legal action, like they threatened Jeff over the downloads in his Reach review.  Come get me, Groves!

4.  Heaven – Bryan Adams 

You know plenty about "Heaven."  For example, you know it sucks.  You also know that you secretly kind of liked it back then, too.  I know I did.  I played my Reckless cassette endlessly.  I mainly listened to "It’s Only Love" and that one part of "Run To You" where everything cuts out but the electric guitar.  I’d rewind that section repeatedly.  (Oh, what a lonely boy.)  You also know that you were relatively annoyed when the song resurfaced on hit radio stations across the country earlier this decade, remade in both ballad and dance versions.  (Less annoyed, I imagine?  Bryan Adams.)

But here’s what you may not know about "Heaven:" although not a #1 hit until June of 1985, the song was actually recorded and released in 1983, on the soundtrack to a movie called A Night In Heaven.

I admit that I haven’t seen it, but I’m guessing that it’s every bit as bad as it looks.  And by "bad," I mean "AWESOME."  We’re going so far off-topic here, but I don’t care.  Here’s just a bit of the plot summary from the Wikipedia entry:

Christopher Atkins plays Rick Monroe, a jock and a popular guy in college in Orlando, Florida; he is outspoken and overconfident. Lesley Ann Warren plays Faye Hanlon, Rick’s speech professor; she is prim and proper. At the end of his final report for his class, Rick cracks a joke and Faye is not amused. She decides to fail him and make him take the course over again.

Faye is going through a slump in her marriage to Whitney (Robert Logan), a rocket scientist who has just lost his job. Faye’s free-spirited sister Patsy, visiting from out of town, takes her to a strip club to cheer her up. The show features a performer called "Ricky the Rocket," who is none other than Faye’s student Rick. When he notices Faye in the crowd, he gives her a very special lap dance.

Go read the rest of it.  It gets even better – like when Atkins found out his penis accidentally made it into the movie!  And can you believe that Bryan Adams – who had already made a dent in the U.S. charts with Cuts Like A Knife and a few of its singles – got roped into supplying "Heaven" and one other song for this movie?  Maybe because it was directed by John L. Avildsen of Rocky, but still, that seems like no excuse.  Read more about this movie here and here.  Bravo, Bryan Adams!  Thankfully, you never made the mistake of writing a theme song to a terrible movie ever again.

3.  Raspberry Beret – Prince & The Revolution 

Prince confused me a lot when I was a kid.  (As opposed to now, when he makes perfect sense.)  I wasn’t sure if he was really a man, and all his music sounded dark and mysterious to me…and then I heard "Raspberry Beret."  I couldn’t understand why Prince sounded so…happy.  And the video – I’d love to show it to you, but it doesn’t seem to be on YouTube.  I remember it being all colorful, and joyous, and with Wendy on guitar.  No doves, no Prince coming out of a steamy bathtub naked…I can’t believe they allowed me to watch MTV as a child.

2.  A View To A Kill – Duran Duran

So here’s what’s interesting about "A View To A Kill:"

– It’s the only James Bond theme song to reach #1 on the U.S. charts, unless Chris Cornell’s "You Know My Name" is about to do something really surprising;

– It’s the last song that the original members of Duran Duran recorded together until 2002;

– It was performed at Live Aid during this month in ’85, quite famously, in fact: for starters, it was the original band’s last live performance for almost 20 years.  Secondly, Pat Boone publicly criticized the song lyrics of some artists at Live Aid, calling attention to the lyric "dance into the fire," as if anybody gave a shit what Pat Boone thought.  Thirdly, Simon LeBon completely boned one of the high notes.  It was terrible!  Here, watch it!  It’s in the last minute of the clip.

[youtube]mINh8ZOWSLw[/youtube]

Hahahahah!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched this.  Maybe a little less concentration on prancing and shoulder pads would have resulted in a more favorable outcome.

1.  Sussudio – Phil Collins

You all are free to disagree with me, but I honestly think that people hate "Sussudio" because they think they’re supposed to hate "Sussudio."  There’s no reason to hate it.  Yes, it’s a stupid word.  So what?  I don’t care what it means, whether it was the name of his daughter’s horse or dog or giraffe or whether it’s a girl’s name or his uncle’s name or whatever.  So it rips off Prince’s "1999" – I believe, when confronted with this information, Collins admitted he was a huge Prince fan.  (And, besides, "1999" rips off Prince’s own "Manic Monday."  I don’t think this is really helping the argument, I just wanted to re-state that fact.) 

Plus, the video.  I’ve always liked the fact that Collins clearly has a sense of humor about himself, and as Mike mentioned, it’s chock-full of Lee Sklar!  A skinny Lee Sklar!  (Not that Lee Sklar is fat now, but you know, skinnier.)  And he’s playing a headless bass!  I’m not sure if this is more Sklar Per Second (SPS) than other Collins videos (I feel like he’s more present in "Something Happened On The Way To Heaven" but that video’s no longer available.)  Anyway, this is even more impressive because Collins truly realized the Power Of SklarTM: he doesn’t even play bass on the recording!

[youtube]yA48-DatUHI[/youtube]

I also don’t really agree with its location at #24 on VH1’s "50 Most Awesomely Bad Songs Ever."  "Sussudio" was a damn catchy song in 1985 and while nobody will admit to liking it now, I guarantee you that once an indie band covers it, Stereogum will lose their shit.

Are there more songs that I should be more ashamed of loving?  You bet, and we’ll tackle ’em next Friday on another edition of CHART ATTACK!

Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold 38

Wednesday, July 4th, 2007

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Happy Fourth of July, dear readers! What better way to celebrate this country’s independence than to review yet another tale of unabashed codependency? And, of course, in conjunction with this fine holiday, you know which band I’m obligated to cover.

America – Sister Golden Hair (download)

Yes. Yesssss. Let the mellow flow through you!

Now, mind you, I love “Sister Golden Hair.” Like all the other classic America songs, it’s so darn sweet, melodic and catchy. (You may or may not recall me going ga-ga over their cover of “Winter Wonderland,” back during The Sixth Day Of Mellowmas.) Whenever I hear this song, I can’t help but sing along, and that includes wah-wah’ing out the lead guitar line that opens the track.

That being said, my GOD were these guys pussies of the highest order or what? I wonder if there was ever a showdown – Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell, and Dan Peek on one side, and England Dan and John Ford Coley on the other – in some sort of wuss-off. I don’t know, a “Who Can Tiptoe The Quietest Around The Ladies” contest or something. Everything about this song – from the meek vocal to some of the word choices in the lyrics – just screams “wuss.”

However, there’s a sentiment behind this song that is quite anti-Mellow Gold. I admit that I didn’t figure it out until recently, when I started to write this entry. If you don’t know the story behind the tune, the lyrics seem much wussier than they actually are. It’s about a man (and I use that term very, very loosely) who gets cold feet on his way to marry his lady (and I use the term accurately). Like I said: the anti-Mellow Gold. Mellow Deception, if you will. And I gotta tell you – a Mellow Man who’s not willing to commit makes absolutely no sense to me. This is really messing with my head right now.

Well I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damned depressed
That I set my sights on Monday and I got myself undressed

These lyrics make perfect sense when the above background story is applied: it’s the day of the wedding, he’s all dolled up in his powder-blue ruffled tuxedo, but realizes he can’t take the plunge, so he takes off the badass suit. However, out of context, all you wonder is why our protagonist is making a big deal about taking off his clothes after being bummed out. Then again, I wouldn’t question most mellow artists over such a move. Y’know, they wanna get close to nature or something. Or they’re high.

I ain’t ready for the altar but I do agree there’s times
When a woman sure can be a friend of mine

I’m more of a music guy than a lyrics guy, but I do tend to prefer lyrics that actually sound like they’re taken from a real conversation. That first line is okay, but “when a woman sure can be a friend of mine” is just about the worst lyric imaginable (y’know, other than “the heat was hot” from “A Horse With No Name”).

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you, can’t you see it in my eyes?

“Paul Is Dead” has absolutely nothing on the mysterious theories surrounding that first line. Who IS Sister Golden Hair, anyway (and more importantly, why do we care)? I keep thinking of Cousin Itt, personally, but that’s not as wacky as some of the other ideas as to the identity of this mysterious woman. Some think that it’s just a lover. Some think that it’s a nun (“Sister”). Some think that it’s Stevie Nicks. (I made that up, but it’s not really too far-fetched, is it?) But my favorite theory is that Sister Golden Hair is actually…his half-sister. I swear I’m not making this up – check out the Songfacts page, and look for the unbearably long comment. Here’s just a snippet. Educate us, Rob from Toronto:

The song is about a letter he writes to her after years of painful waiting for her to catch up to him in years and reach adulthood, and to see if they can move on without one-another, metaphorically, sunday but then monday means several painful years of tenuous, cautious, cat-like commitment to being there when she’s ready.

I realize the irony in making fun of a person like Rob, who sits around all day, deeply analyzing Mellow Gold songs like “Sister Golden Hair.” But fuck it, I’m making fun of him anyway. “Tenuous, cautious, cat-like commitment?” Dude, I’m not saying you’re interested in your own half-sister, but just in case, I’d put your relatives on high alert.

I’ve been one poor correspondent, and I’ve been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind

Imagine for a second that you’re the bride, standing in front of a church of 80 people, wondering where your groom is. When he finally shows up, he gives you this line. How long before you kick him in the nuts?

Will you meet me in the middle, will you meet me in the air?

What?

Will you love me just a little, just enough to show you care?

Another line that seems much wussier without the background story. “Will you love me just a little” is on the same level as “Do you have a love I can borrow?”. However, when the asshole-ditching-the-bride theory is applied, I actually find myself a little appalled that this guy is asking the bride to actually backtrack. “No, no, don’t love me like ‘you wanna marry me’ love me. Love me just a little. Just enough to show you care, so I can go back to watching the game.”

Well I tried to fake it, I don’t mind sayin’, I just can’t make it

While normally a phrase like “I just can’t make it” is par for the course around here, when put into context, we can only draw one conclusion. This guy is a Mellow Dick.

Okay, enough with the lyrical analysis. So the guy’s a jerk. It doesn’t change the fact that America were right up there with the best of the Mellow Gold artists, and “Sister Golden Hair” is a terrific, wimpy tune. Who doesn’t love this music? It’s a wonderful gentle rock groove, dominated by acoustic guitars and fantastic backing vocals. Even the electric guitars are gentle enough that you barely notice ’em.

Here’s a great video of America performing “Sister Golden Hair” live:

[youtube]rQ3ax8NWNGA[/youtube]

I love this video for many reasons, but mainly because of the unabashed dorkiness of Gerry Beckley.

What was he, like, 14? Remind you of anyone?

Thanks for reading, as always, and see you next week for another Adventure Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!