Archive for the ‘1985’ Category

The Universe Decides

Friday, December 9th, 2016

The winnowing of the vinyl continues. This week, I got back to work, sorting the pop, rock and R&B LPs in a swath that ran from Sade to Warren Zevon, keeping maybe 100 out of the 600 LPs I looked at, putting the rest in crates on the floor. (From there, they’ll go to boxes that we’ll take down to Minneapolis, probably in early January.)

There were some tough decisions: I let go of lots of Neil Young, and lots of stuff by Jesse Colin Young and the Youngbloods, War, the Waterboys, Stevie Wonder, the Who, Paul Simon and Simon & Garfunkel, and Steeleye Span. Much of that stuff is replicated in the digital stacks; some isn’t.

What did I keep?

Well, all the Bruce Springsteen stays here, as does all the Boz Scaggs. The same goes for Jesse Winchester, Southside Johnny (with and without the Asbury Jukes), Bobby Whitlock, the Sutherland Brothers (with and without Quiver) and Tower of Power.

There were, of course, other albums by lesser-known (and lesser-regarded) performers and groups. Some of those stayed and some were put on the floor to leave. I kept individual albums by, as examples, Huey “Piano” Smith., Tim Weisberg, Floyd Westerman, Paul Williams, Jennifer Warnes and Jimmy Webb. Among those set to leave are individual records by – again as examples – Warren Zevon, Michelle Shocked, the Turtles, Carly Simon, the Three Degrees and Rick Wakeman.

Many of the decisions were hard (the two hardest were letting go of twelve albums by War and six by Steeleye Span, keeping in each case an anthology), and I imagine that if I’d been doing this batch of sorting on another day, some of those decisions would have been different.

So what’s left to sort? Well, about 800 LPs sit on the bricks and boards I wrote about long ago in a tale about dad’s woodworking skills and my use of a saber saw, and I would guess about half of those will stay. That’s where you’ll find Bob Dylan, The Band, the Beatles, the blues collection, my dad’s classical collection, standard pop (including Al Hirt), country, and lots of anthologies.

I would guess that most of the anthologies will go; many of them are K-Tel and Ronco records with truncated versions of hits, and some of the country and standard pop will go. My goal – negotiated with the Texas Gal, whose aim is to trim down all of our belongings for the eventual move to an apartment – is to get to right around 1,000 LPs. And, as I said, some of the decisions are difficult. Some are not: There were no twinges of regret as I put albums by Uriah Heep and Bonnie Tyler, to name two, into the crates on the floor.

And sometimes the universe decides. At one point yesterday morning, I was holding Gold in California, a two-record anthology of the work of the late folk singer Kate Wolf, whose music I love. I’ve mentioned her a very few times over these nearly ten years, and I’ve gathered a bit of her stuff into the digital stacks, including all the tracks on Gold in California. But it was the only album of hers among the vinyl. So I was dithering.

I’d had my iTunes library playing on random as I sorted. And as I pondered what to do with the anthology, iTunes offered me “Carolina Pines,” one of only four Kate Wolf tracks among those 3,700-some selections. I nodded and put the album with the keepers. After all, who am I to argue with the universe?

Here’s “Carolina Pines.” It’s from Wolf’s 1985 album Poet’s Heart.

‘Our Love’s Got No Reason . . .’

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

When I started digging into the song “Even A Fool Would Let Go,” I figured I’d find more versions out in the world than I did. It’s a great song, I thought, with a catchy hook musically and lyrically. (In a post last week, I featured the 1974 original by Gayle McCormick and the 1982 cover by Levon Helm that brought the song to my attention.)

But it’s a song that’s never gotten much attention – I’ve found eight more covers so far, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the well is dry after those eight – nor has it had any presence that I could find on the major Billboard charts.

Nor, among the few covers I’ve found, have I found anything that grabs me very hard. Three years after McCormick first recorded the song, Kerry Chater – one of the song’s co-writers – released his version on Part Time Love, but the album got little attention. (A single release of the title track got to No. 97 on the Billboard Hot 100.)

Sporadic covers showed up for a little more than a decade. Among those I’ve listened to without much interest are versions by Kenny Rogers (1978), Dionne Warwick (1981) the Marshall Tucker Band (1982), Gloria Gaynor (1982) and Joe Cocker (1984). The worst of that bunch is the lifeless take on the tune by the Marshall Tucker Band, although Rogers’ cover was dull, as well.

Was there anything good? Well, I found a few covers that piqued my interest. Dolly Parton did a nice take on the tune on her Dolly, Dolly, Dolly album in 1980, and I find myself intrigued by the version country singer John Anderson offered on his 1985 album Tokyo, Oklahoma.

Finally, I took a listen – not for the first time – to the cover of the song offered in 1990 by the British folk-rock duo Clive Gregson and Christine Collister on their album Love Is A Strange Hotel. It doesn’t blow me away, but the duo’s very spare approach offers another way into the song than I’d heard elsewhere.

Saturday Single No. 268

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

The Texas Gal and my sister both have asked me in the past week for a Christmas list. So I complied, pulling out of the e-files a similar list I compiled last year. I eliminated those things that have come my way since then, and I split the list in two, so the two can shop without worrying about duplicating the other’s efforts.

The two lists were pretty slender. In order to actually give the two shoppers some options, I wandered off to Amazon and dug into the music and DVD catalogs there. I eventually found enough items to add to the lists, and along the way, I noticed one of the bulletin board discussions. It asked folks to consider the question: Which rock group benefitted most from the presence of its bass player?

I started running through lists of great bass players in my head, acknowledging to myself that I’ll always be better off sorting through the groups of the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s than those that came in later years. So, admitting that there are great bass players that came around later, those that came to mind immediately were Paul McCartney of the Beatles, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Jack Bruce of Cream and John McVie of Fleetwood Mac.

Then I stopped. The question was not aimed at identifying the greatest bass player; it was aimed at finding the group that most benefitted from the existence of its bass player. So I decided that in that framework Wyman and Bruce didn’t qualify. Why? Well, in the first case, I figure that Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Brian Jones were going to put a band together and find success no matter what. Yes, Wyman (and drummer Charlie Watts) provided an astounding floor for the other three – and the other Stones that followed – to build their sound upon. But the vision that created the group came, as I see it, primarily from Jones and then from Jagger and Richards.

Bruce was more integral to the sound of Cream, but to my ears, his contributions ranked third behind Eric Clapton’s guitar and Ginger Baker’s hyperkinetic drums. The sound of Cream – or whatever Clapton and Baker would have called the band with a different bassist – would be similar to what it was.

The necessity of the other two bassists I mentioned is a bit greater. From its early days as a blues band into its last decade of sublime West Coast rock, Fleetwood Mac rested – not always easily – on the rhythm section of McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. And consider that McVie is the Mac in Fleetwood Mac. Without him, the group’s identity is likely gone, although Fleetwood and Peter Green and the others in the early version of the band would likely have put together some kind of band. It just would not have been Fleetwood Mac in name or in sound.

Similarly, I would guess that, whether Paul McCartney had come along or not, John Lennon was going to put a band together that would succeed. It would have been a vastly different enterprise without McCartney, of course, and I think Lennon’s band would have been challenged for primacy first in Liverpool and then in all of England by the band organized by McCartney and his younger friend George Harrison. In this slender version of alternative history, Ringo Starr has a pleasant career with Rory Storm & the Hurricanes. And there are no Beatles. So maybe – at least during the years I tend to think and write about most – the Beatles are the answer to that question.

But as I thought about the question a little longer, another group popped into mind, one that I write about – and, to be honest, listen to – very rarely: the Police. Andy Summer and Stewart Copeland – on guitar and drums, respectively – are good musicians. But bass player Sting – from where I listen – is the heart, mind and soul of the Police. Maybe those who listen deeper into the band’s catalog and deeper into Sting’s solo catalog can say differently, but I hear Sting’s solo work as an extension of the music the group made: Topics, technique and musicality evolve, but always in the framework of Gordon Sumner’s aesthetic. Without Sting, there are no Police.

So which mattered more: the Police or the Beatles? I’d lean toward the latter, but I imagine there are those who came along later than I did who would argue for the former. And if either band had never formed, we’d have never known, of course. As my friend Rob told me as we discussed alternate history over coffee years ago, “We can never know what didn’t happen.”

And that’s okay, as it’s hard enough to make sense sometimes of the things that did happen. So we’ll close this odd (and possibly pointless) exercise with one of Sting’s tunes that tries to make sense of things that happened. Ranging from the British boys sent to war in 1914 to those abandoned by all around them some seventy years later, it’s “Children’s Crusade” from Sting’s 1985 album The Dream of the Blue Turtles, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Going Random Through The Eighties

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Last week, I took a six-tune random walk through the Seventies. Today, with my creativity evidently in a waning rather than a waxing phase, it seems like a good idea to do the same with a decade I tend to ignore: the Eighties. There are about 4,500 tunes from that decade in the RealPlayer, so let’s see where we end up.

Our first stop is a track from Showdown!, an album released in 1985 by blues veterans Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins and the newcomer (at the time) Robert Cray. Trading guitar solos and vocal takes throughout the album, the three bluesmen put together a set that All-Music Guide calls “scorching.” This morning’s track – “The Dream” – finds Cray taking care of the vocal and Collins adding the solo guitar work.

Then it’s onto a Duke Ellington/Bob Russell tune as interpreted by a Sixties icon for an album that originally wasn’t available in much of the world: “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” was recorded by Paul McCartney for his album Снова в СССP, which was issued in 1988 only in the Soviet Union. According to Wikipedia, McCartney “intended Снова в СССР as present for Soviet fans who were generally unable to obtain his legitimate recordings, often having to make do with copies; they would, for a change, have an album that people in other countries would be unable to obtain.” The Soviet release contained eleven songs at first, with two tracks added for later pressings. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the album was released world-wide in 1991 with one more additional track.

One of the mainstays of my music collection – and this will likely be no surprise – is Gordon Lightfoot. While he didn’t issue albums in the 1980s with the frequency that he did in the previous two decades, his Eighties work includes some of my favorites, especially the1986  album East of Midnight. While the track “Anything For Love” doesn’t top the list of my favorites from that effort – the title track does – it’s still a good effort worth a listen, and it’s our third stop this morning.

Hailing from near Liverpool, China Crisis started as a duo, according to AMG. But when Virgin Records picked up the single “African and White” in 1982, Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon put together a full band. The group never made much headway in the U.S., with only two of their eight albums even making it into the lower half of the Billboard 200 and one single – “Working With Fire and Steel” – reaching No. 27on the Dance Music/Club Play list. But somehow, I came up with a copy of the group’s 1985 album, Flaunt the Imperfection, and “Bigger the Punch I’m Feeling” from that album is where today’s journey finds its fourth stop.

It’s Hard, the 1982 album by the Who, contains one tune that truly grabs me: “Eminence Front.” Other than that, the album – billed as the last by the group at the time and released in conjunction with what was called a final tour – is kind of blah. That album’s “Why Did I Fall for That” is the RealPlayer’s fifth stop this morning. It’s a tune that has always come off to me as an inferior remake of the brilliant “Won’t Get Fooled Again” from the similarly brilliant Who’s Next.

And we come at last to a track from one of the albums I had long included on what I call my hopeless list: Albums I wanted to hear but that I thought were lost for one reason or another. In early 2007, during the first incarnation of this blog, I wrote a bit about the late Tom Jans, mentioning his final album Champion, which was released only in Japan in 1982. Having cobbled together a collection of the rest of Jans’ brief oeuvre, I dug a bit for the album without result and then gave up the quest. But during 2009, fellow blogger Chun Tao at Rare MP3 came up with a copy of Champion, which was as good as I’d hoped it would be. Here’s the magnificently sorrowful “Mother’s Eyes,” the final track on the album.

A Note:
A little more than a year ago, after I landed here at my own place, I began to set up an archive of the posts from Echoes In The Wind during its Blogger and WordPress days. That effort flagged for several reasons, and when I returned to it over the weekend, I decided to start over again. So at Echoes In The Wind Archives, I’m working on reposting material – without any active music links – from early 2007 through January 2010. As I said once before, I’m not sure how much interest there might be in my archives, but the site will eventually allow me to see what I might previously have written (as it did today in the case of Tom Jans).

All Elevens, All The Time!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

I had planned today to write about an obscure cover of an obscure Bob Dylan tune, discovered in my vinyl stacks via my current reading of two books about Dylan’s catalog. And I still will do that, and I’ll offer a chance to hear that tune. But that will likely come Thursday.

Why the delay?

Because along with digging into records from over the years, I also like playing with numbers, and today’s date just can’t be ignored: 1/11/11. And even though I played a similar game last Saturday with the number 18, well, it can’t be helped. Today’s date calls loudly for a look at records that were No. 11 during various years on January 11. We’ll start in 1965 and move ahead from there, this time in four-year increments. So here we go.

I’ve told the story about how my sister and I got the LP Beatles ’65 for Christmas one year (either 1964 or 1965, I’m still not entirely certain). The album, a late 1964 release, was one of those that Capitol created for the U.S. market by trimming a few tracks from Beatles LPs as they were released in the U.K. and then adding some tracks released only as singles in Britain. However it was put together, Beatles ’65 was my first album by the boys from Liverpool, and its tunes and track order remain ingrained in my memory. I loved “I Feel Fine,” “Rock and Roll Music” and “Mister Moonlight,” but one of the tracks to which I didn’t, to be honest, pay much attention at the time is the one that was No. 11 in the Billboard Hot 100 forty-six years ago today. Released as the B-side to “I Feel Fine,” “She’s A Woman” went to No. 4, according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, and I do think its crunchy chords and Paul McCartney’s great vocal tend to get lost a little bit today among the riches of the Beatles’ catalog. According to William J. Dowlding in his book Beatlesongs, the tune was written in Abbey Road studio the day it was recorded, October 8, 1964.

 

Having identified the No. 11 record from January 11, 1969, I turned to Whitburn’s book for more information, and a terse line told me that if I wanted information about the singer who called himself Derek, I needed to go read about Johnny Cymbal. It turns out that Cymbal was a Scottish singer who got three records into the Hot 100 in 1963, with “Mr. Bass Man” – an effort Whitburn tags as a novelty record – going to No. 16. Six years later, in 1969, Cymbal – who died in 1993 at the age of forty-eight – was recording as Derek and had two Hot 100 hits, “Cinnamon” and “Back Door Man.” The latter went to No. 59 in March 1969, but “Cinnamon” nearly made the Top Ten, peaking at the No. 11 spot it held forty-two years ago today.

The Four Tops seem so firmly planted in the mid-1960s with their string of superlative Top Ten singles – “Reach Out, I’ll Be There,” “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and “Bernadette” chief among them – that it’s sometime surprising when one is reminded that the Tops’ career stretched through the 1970s and into the 1980s (though with less chart success). One of the quartet’s most successful 1970s entries was sitting at No. 11 during this week in 1973. “Keeper of the Castle” would peak the following week at No. 10, giving the Four Tops their first Top Ten hit since “Bernadette” in early 1967. The Tops’ next single, “Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got),” did even better, going to No. 4 in April of 1973; it was the last Top Ten hit for the Four Tops. But thirty-eight years ago this week, it was “Keeper of the Castle” that folks were hearing on the radio.

The Sylvers were a group of nine brothers and sisters from Memphis who had three records reach the lower level of the Hot 100 in 1972 and 1973 before hitting it massively in early 1976 with the No. 1 hit “Boogie Fever.” Later that year, the group released “Hot Line,” and the record began to make its way up the chart. By the second week in January, the record was at No. 11, heading to No. 5. The group had two more hits in 1977, with “High School Dance” going to No. 17. I don’t recall that last record, but in late 1976 and early 1977, “Hot Line” was pretty much inescapable.

I never quite got the Police. Their music seemed brittle and fussy to me, and although I didn’t entirely tune it out, neither did I dig into it. Still, the group’s hits would pop up on the radio during my newspapering days as I made my way from interview to interview. And twenty-nine years ago this week, I likely heard “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” as I drove around Monticello and the record was perched at No. 11. A week later, the record would peak at No. 10, giving the Police their first Top Ten hit. They’d have five more through 1984. Here’s the official video for “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.”

I don’t suppose I have to say a lot about the record that was at No. 11 this week in 1985, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” Or maybe I do. I will note that more than a quarter century later, I still find myself amused by George Will’s fawning column about the Boss in which – after spending an evening at a Springsteen concert – he interprets “Born in the U.S.A.” as a patriotic anthem. And I suppose that it’s not all that far-fetched – though it is saddening – to think that all one needs to do these days is plug a few different proper nouns into the lyrics, and “Born in the U.S.A.” is timely today. Getting back to the record, it would peak at No. 9 two weeks later, Springsteen’s fourth Top Ten hit and the third of seven Top Ten hits from the album Born in the U.S.A.

I’ll be back Thursday, likely with that obscure cover of an obscure Bob Dylan tune.

We’re Twenty-Six Days Into Summer

Friday, July 16th, 2010

The summer’s been quiet so far. The Texas Gal has had a break from her studies for the last three weeks, so she’s been focused on those things she does not get to do while school is in session, quilting chief among them. And we’ve spent a few more evenings sitting out on the little concrete patio this year than we managed to do in the first portion of the season last year.

We’ve been more active in the garden this year, as it’s demanded more of our attention. That’s good. If the garden needs work, then the plants are growing. So far, we’ve pulled from the garden four zucchini, about two quarts of broccoli cuttings, maybe three quarts of wax beans, more butterhead lettuce than we could eat and enough peas for a side dish with dinner the other evening. All of those plants except the peas will continue to produce, and we are hopeful about the cucumbers, green beans, carrots and our second try at radishes. And when the tomatoes begin to ripen, we will have more of that red fruit than we will know what to do with.

Then there’s my own eccentric project: eggplant. Four of the plants seem to be thriving, and each of those has at least one of the purplish fruits that will sometime late this summer become participants in my attempts at ratatouille and mousakka. So things will get busier yet in the garden. Along the way, we’ll have to make certain our low fence is maintained, as we’ve both seen a small rabbit in the area; as cute as he is, he needs to learn that there truly is no such thing as a free lunch.

The summer will soon become busier for us beyond the garden fence as well. Our kitchen whiteboard lists several events – friends’ visits, a trip to the Twin Cities, a backyard barbecue – that will begin to fill the summer weekends remaining. And even though the Texas Gal’s coursework resumes Sunday evening, I think we’ll still find numerous evenings when we spend an hour or so on the patio, sipping a beverage and listening to the evening going on around us: the cars whirring by on Lincoln Avenue at the bottom of the driveway, the shouts of neighborhood kids at play, the chatter of a squirrel scolding us because we’re sitting near the flowerpot where he and his kind have lately begun to dig in the dirt, and sometimes, the sound of popular music carried on the wind from a not-too-distant radio.

Sitting quietly and listening to the evening is something my friends and I did at times during summers past, and if the music we heard on the air was different, the rest was pretty much the same on Kilian Boulevard as it is these days on Lincoln Avenue. And as today, July 16, is the twenty-sixth day of summer this year, I thought I’d dig into the charts and find a Six-Pack of records that were ranked at No. 26 on July 16 during some of the years this blog generally covers:

In 1960, the Skyliners’ “Pennies From Heaven” was at No. 26 on its way to No. 24. The song was the third and final Top 40 hit for the doo-wop quartet from Pittsburgh.

 

In 1965, the twenty-sixth spot on the chart on July 16 was occupied by the Dave Clark Five’s cover of a 1961 hit by Chris Kenner. Kenner’s version of “I Like It Like That” had reached No. 2; the cover by the Dave Clark Five peaked three weeks later at No. 7.

In the third week of July 1970, the No. 26 record was “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. We’ll skip past that one, as we only share that record on May 4.

At this time in July 1975, the slightly scandalous – to some, anyway – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris held down spot No. 26 with passionate coos and moans along with a slick R&B melody. The record, Harris’ only Top 40 hit, had peaked earlier, spending three weeks at No. 5 in late June and early July; the record also spent one week atop the R&B chart.

In mid-July of 1980, Mickey Gilley’s cover of Ben E. King’s classic, “Stand By Me,” was at No. 26. The record, from the soundtrack of the movie Urban Cowboy, would spend the first three weeks of August at No. 22 before falling back down the chart.

In 1985, the No. 26 record in mid-July was Madonna’s sixth Top 40 hit, “Angel,” which had peaked at No. 5 three weeks earlier.

And we’ll close this exercise with a look at 1990: The No. 26 record in mid-July that year was “Jerk Out” by the Time, which would spend the last week of August and the first week of September at No. 9. I couldn’t find a working video of the single edit, but here’s the track from the album Pandemonium.

And we’ll see you tomorrow with a Saturday Single.

Tunes To File Tax Returns By

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

During the adult years when I sailed my ship solo – from 1976 into 1978 and then again from 1987 through 1999 – April 15 was a scramble day. Despite my intentions every year, I was never organized enough to get my taxes done with anything more than a day left until the deadline for filing.

It’s not that my tax returns presented any real challenges: There were no deductions beyond the basic, no special forms to fill out, nothing out of the ordinary. I was just – as I have been in many areas all my life – disorganized. So I would generally complete my tax returns the night before and had to make time the next day to photocopy them somewhere and then run them to whichever post office was closest to my place of work.

I always got it done. The returns always made the mail on April 15. But not without a lot of stress and some extra commotion, which was good neither for me nor, I imagine, for my co-workers.

It’s different these days. The Texas Gal and I file our returns electronically, and – due to her organizational skills – generally do so by the beginning of February. It might have been a little later this year due to her schedule. But those tasks were done far in advance of the deadline of midnight tonight. And that’s good. I don’t miss the stress.

Anyway, trying to find something musical out of all that, I got to wondering what songs were at No. 15 on April 15 during some of the years that this blog looks at. I went back to 1960 for my first one, and found a song that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard: “Step by Step” by the Crests. It peaked at No. 14.

 

And then it was on to 1965 and another record that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard. If so, it’s been infrequently and not for a long time: Jack Jones and “The Race Is On,” which during the week of April 15 in 1965 was at its peak position of No. 15.

Five years later, Kenny Rogers and the First Edition were sitting at No. 15 with “Something’s Burning” as Tax Day came in 1970. The record peaked at No. 11.

In 1975, the No. 15 song on April 15 was one that I became tired of hearing probably the second time it came on the radio: Leo Sayer’s “Long Tall Glasses (I Can Dance),” a record that unaccountably made it into the Top Ten, peaking at No. 9.

Five years later, Queen’s first No. 1 hit was sitting at No. 15 as Americans were rushing to get their taxes filed. I can’t embed the official video for “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” but you can see it here.

And we’ll close this Tax Day exercise with a look at 1985’s No. 15 song as of April 15. Holding down that position twenty-five years ago today was “Lover Girl” by Teena Marie, a record that went to No. 4.

I don’t know about you, but for me, the purposefully blurry video on that last one gets tiring after about twenty seconds.