Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 586

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

We’re in a pocket of quiet as I write, with only a few flakes of snow drifting past the downstairs window. According to the Weather Channel and the folks at one of the Twin Cities television stations, though, sometime soon the snow will pick up and we’ll be getting maybe an inch an hour for the rest of the day and on into the night.

But I wonder. All of the radar projections I see have us on the north edge of the storm. It might not be as heavy a load as those folks are saying. We may have escaped the wrath of Winter Storm Xanto.

Xanto?

Yep, that’s the name that the Weather Channel slapped on this storm. According to a piece at Wikipedia, the cable channel has been naming storms since the winter of 2012-2013. Since we’re down to “Xanto” for this winter, that means that the storm that’s swirling around the Midwest today and tonight and then heading east is the twenty-fourth named storm of the season.

And the list of this winter’s storm names looks to me – with a few exceptions – like the class list for a Kindergarten teacher five or six years hence: Aiden, Benji, Chloe, Dylan, Ethan, Frankie, Grayson, Hunter, Inga, Jaxon, Kalani, Liam, Mateo, Noah, Oliver, Polly, Quinn, Riley, Skylar, Toby, Uma, Violet, Wilbur, Xanto, Yvonne, and Zoey.

The only two of those I doubt will show up in a Kindergarten class somewhere are Wilbur and Xanto. Well, you never know. But Wilbur seems too . . . Well, it reminds me of our rat and of the 1960s television show about a talking horse, Mister Ed. I hated the show, and I loved our rat. And according to the chart at babycenter.com, it’s not that popular a name these days, ranking No.11,685 (in the U.S., I assume) among baby boys’ names in 2017 and No. 10,312 among baby girls’ names in 2016 (with no data listed for 2017).

Then, Xanto. The website babycenter.com has no information on the name. Over at Baby Names, we learn that “The meaning of the name Xanto is ‘Golden’. The origin of the name Xanto is Italian.” And the name is not ranked in lists of births in the U.S. Still, I imagine some parent somewhere in the U.S. has – or soon will – name a child Xanto.

And as I’ve wandered among the names of winter storms and babies, Xanto’s wind and snow has returned. It looks unpleasant out there. So let’s celebrate Xanto and look through the digital stacks for something Italian and golden.

Well, it’s a stretch, but sometimes we must be elastic. Wikipedia informs us that conductor and arranger Don Costa was of Italian heritage, and in 1964, Costa released an easy listening album titled The Golden Touch. And to my ears, the best track on the album is Costa’s cover of Gene Pitney’s “Town Without Pity.” So in honor of Winter Storm Xanto, from Don Costa’s album The Golden Touch, “Town Without Pity” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 585

Saturday, April 7th, 2018

So we’re seven days into April, and here in St. Cloud, we got about nine inches of snow in two bursts this week, the first on Monday during the day and the second running from late Monday night into Tuesday. (I think that’s right; things tend to blur right now.)

And we’re supposed to get more measurable and plowable snow tomorrow afternoon and evening.

We’ve been here on the North Side for almost seven weeks and for four substantial snowfalls, and one concern I have so far about our new place is the snowplowing service. Our driveway gets cleared just fine, but the service road/alley on which we front doesn’t seem to get very good attention. Today, four days after a major snowfall – six inches – the road is basically two grooves in a field of ice. I imagine that I’ll have to attend the next meeting of our homeowners’ association and find out why.

In the meantime, the only appropriate song for today is “Sometimes It Snows In April,” a tune written by Prince, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman and first released on Prince’s album Parade in 1986.

The list of covers at Second Hand Songs offers names of artists like Native, Michelle Solberg, Montezuma’s Revenge, Sanne Salomonsen, the Knut Reiersrud Band, StarGate & Espen Lind and a few others. The name that grabs me most, though, is that of Meshell Ndegeocello, whose cover of the tune was released just three weeks ago on her new Ventriloquism. It’s sleepy and kinda trippy vibe makes it today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 584

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

A little bit more than two months ago, in my exploration of “When” for our ongoing Journalism 101 project, I wrote:

The short-lived British band McGuinness Flint managed one appearance in the Billboard Hot 100 when “When I’m Dead And Gone” went to No. 47 in early 1971, and as I listen today to that track and to “Malt and Barley Blues,” a 1971 Capitol promo single, I wish I had a lot more from the band on the digital shelves. I have Lo and Behold, a 1972 album by the group’s successor band, Coulson, Dean, McGuinness and Flint, and that’s fine, but I suppose I’m going to have to shell out some cash for the original group’s 1970 album. The group’s tangled history is best left to Wikipedia.

Well, as part of a minispree at Amazon this week, I now have more McGuinness Flint on the CD and digital shelves, as one of my selections was the CD titled The Capitol Years. It pulls together almost all of the group’s first two albums, the 1970 self-titled debut and the 1971 release Happy Birthday Ruthy Baby, along with two sides of a British single (released as a promo here, if I read the tea leaves correctly), and a couple of Brit B-sides.

Why did I say “almost all” in that last sentence? Because the 1996 CD fails to include the track “Brother Psyche” from the first album. I saw a note online somewhere – and I wasn’t bright enough to notice where – that the track had been left off due to time restraints. I snorted and thought to myself that the group would have been better served to leave off the two Brit B-sides, which would have left enough time to accommodate “Brother Psyche.” But I found the missing track elsewhere, so no harm and all that. But I found it an odd decision, and I found it even more odd that the decision wasn’t mentioned at all in the booklet notes, which were written by group founder Tom McGuinness.

So, how’s the music?

Actually, quite good, though I have to agree with Mr. McGuinness that the first album is better than the second. The reason for that, he says, echoing something I’ve often noted about many groups, is that the material on the first album was the result of an extended period of writing as the band coalesced, while the material on the second album was written in a brief time with the goal of recording a second album.

Even with that, it’s all a good listen, and the group has a rootsy sound, with sometimes adventurous instrumentation, that puts me in mind of The Band. Of course, it’ll take some time, some repeated listens, before I’ve absorbed the music (and I doubt whether I’ll ever again absorb music new to me these days the way I did when I was eighteen), but for now, I’m pleased with what I hear.

And we’ll leave you this morning with “I’m Letting You Know.” It’s from the group’s 1970 self-titled album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 583

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

So what would I have heard if I’d turned on my radio during a quiet Saturday on Kilian Boulevard in late March of my junior year of high school?

Here’s the Top Ten from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for March 30, 1970, forty-eight years ago this week:

“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz
“Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” by Lennon/Ono with the Plastic Ono Band
“Give Me Just A Little More Time” by the Chairmen of the Board
“Come and Get It” by Badfinger
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
“Walking Through the Country” by the Grass Roots

None of that, of course, would have surprised me, although I think I heard the Grass Roots’ record a little less frequently than I heard the other nine during that period of time. And there were some interesting records in the lower portions of that KDWB survey, including at least one record I do not think I have ever heard.

That would be “All In My Mind” by Pure Love & Pleasure. Neither the title nor the name of the group set off any small alarms. I went to YouTube and found no trace of the record, and the same is true at Amazon and iTunes. I suppose it might have been included in the couple of hundred K-Tel and Ronco compilations that used to gather dust on my shelves, but those are all gone now (and that saves me maybe an hour of sitting on the floor, scanning record jacket after record jacket).

All I know is that “All In My Mind” was at No. 32 on the KDWB survey, up from No. 34. It wasn’t a big deal nationally, either: The data at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive show the record being listed in the surveys of only three other stations: WTIX in New Orleans, KADI in St. Louis, and WFSO in St. Petersburg, Florida. The highest reported position for the record among the surveys listed for those four stations is No. 17 in New Orleans.

And Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles doesn’t offer much information. The record bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, reaching No. 104. It was the only record that Pure Love & Pleasure, a pop-rock group from Los Angeles, got near the Hot 100.

There are any number of online emporia offering copies of the 45 for sale, and we’ll see if I send any of my shekels to any of them, but anyway, I’m not going to be hearing the record this morning. Oddly, though, the record’s B-side, a chipper tune titled “What’cha Gonna Do” – a record that flirts so heavily with country pop rock that it might in fact be a joke – is available on YouTube as part of a collection called Lost Pop & Doo Wop 45s, Vol. 7.

Well, the universe works in strange ways, so I’ll yield to its whims and make “What’cha Gonna Do” by Pure Love & Pleasure today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 582

Saturday, March 17th, 2018

We’re going to double-dip here today for a couple of reasons: First, we have a friend coming over for dinner this evening, and we need to head out for comestibles. It will be the first entertainment-style visit to our new digs, and we’re excited.

(We’ve had a couple of friends pop by and take a quick look, and my sister and her family did the same last weekend after having attended another event in town, but that’s a little different than having dinner company.)

Second, I had a difficult night, dealing with the residue of a perfume insert in the copy of Rolling Stone I was reading just before bedtime. The residue made my throat start to swell shut, which called for: more medication than I usually take, rinsing my head in the kitchen sink, a nearly entire rebooting of my sleep clothes and a 1 a.m. session at the computer to unwind and encourage my sleep meds to kick in.

I know, TMI.

Anyway, along with popping for a Saturday Single today, we’re going to slot that single into a preview of an upcoming post, one we hope will show up this next week. In our series Journalism 101, our looks at tunes featuring in their titles the key words of reporting – who, what, when, where, why, and how – we’re up to “why,” and a quick look at the candidates on the digital shelves here showed riches beyond what could be offered in a four- or even five-song post.

So we’re going to give a quick preview of ‘Why” this morning, and to do so, we’re heading back to 1969. (We could have pushed it back to 1941-42 and a very early Muddy Waters recording, but we’ll see if we land on that one when we get to the main post.) That was the year that Eddie Floyd and the folks at Stax released “Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side).”

It didn’t do much, getting to No. 30 on the Billboard R&B chart and struggling to No. 98 on the magazine’s Hot 100. But, man, it should have done better. Starting with what can only be a Duck Dunn bass groove, the record finds Floyd laying out his worries that his woman is going to sample some of the other side’s sweet wine, worries that only make sense if Floyd himself has at one time or another imbibed some of that sweet iniquity. Add horns and keys, and it’s as sweet as that wine.

All of that is why Eddie Floyd’s “Why Is The Wine Sweeter (On The Other Side)” is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 581

Saturday, March 10th, 2018

It’s got lots of drums, it’s got surf-ish guitar, it’s loud, it’s more than fifty years old, it’s British, and it mentions Saturday in its title!

It’s “Saturday Nite at the Duckpond” by the Cougars, released in 1963 as Parlophone 4989. It came my way in a rip of the 1979 EMI release Instrumental Gems 1959-1970 (which includes among its selections the Beatles’ “Flying” from Magical Mystery Tour). A quick tour around YouTube shows that the track is available on numerous other compilations, as well.

And as the track played, it was familiar, so I went digging, and found this about the Cougars at Wikipedia:

Their single “Saturday Nite at the Duck-Pond” uses music from Swan Lake by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. The song achieved some notoriety for been banned by the BBC, despite which it spent eight weeks in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #33. Their songs “Red Square” and “Caviare and Chips” also borrowed themes from Tchaikovsky.

Widely available or not, brief or not, borrowed or not, the track serves its purpose this morning on a day when I hope to unbox and organize (in my own fashion) about 1,200 CDs. Thus, “Saturday Nite at the Duckpond” by the Cougars is today’s Saturday single.

Saturday Single No. 580

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Given the ways the days and dates intersect on the calendar as the years go by, sometimes there are stretches of years when a specific date – like today’s: Saturday, March 3 – are kind of rare. In the stretch of years I call my musical sweet spot – the years from, oh, 1968 through 1975 – there is just one time when March 3 fell on a Saturday: 1973.

I could, as I have sometimes done, look to earlier or later years in search of a single for a Saturday morning. March 3 fell on a Saturday in 1979, a year that holds little interest musically, and in 1962, which does hold more interest but will be saved for another day.

So off to 1973 we go. The top ten in Billboard on this date forty-five years ago was:

“Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack
“Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
“Last Song” by Edward Bear
“Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” by the Spinners
“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John
“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
“Love Train” by the O’Jays
“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” by Deodato
“Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver
“Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend” by Lobo

Well, there’s nothing there that falls in the “no, please don’t” category, but the only ones that I truly love are the singles by the Spinners and the O’Jays. I do like “You’re So Vain,” but it’s on a second tier, and I liked “Killing Me Softly . . .” when it came out, but I’ve long since gotten tired of it.

And, as we generally do, we’re going to look deeper at this particular Hot 100. Instead of playing Games With Numbers or getting too fancy, though, we’re just going to look at Nos. 40, 70 and 100 and see what we find.

At No. 40, we find a cross-over from the world of country: “Soul Song” by Joe Stampley, a Louisiana boy who – according to Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles – had sixty-one hits on the country chart between 1971 and 1979, with four of those going to No. 1. “Soul Song,” which peaked on the pop chart at No. 37, was his only record on the Hot 100. I likely heard it back then, but I don’t recall it. Listening this morning, I find it kind of dull and repetitious. Not my deal.

Candi Staton gives us some groovin’ advice when we get to No. 70: “Do It In The Name Of Love.” The biggest hit for the Alabama-born Staton, of course, was 1976’s “Young Hearts Run Free,” which went to No. 20 on the Hot 100 and was No. 1 on the R&B chart. “Do It In The Name Of Love” has a good funky vibe to it, but then, so did a couple thousand other singles in 1973. It peaked at No. 63 on the Hot 100 and at No. 17 on the R&B chart.

At the bottom
of the Hot 100 forty-five years ago today was “We Did It” by Syl Johnson, an R&B performer who was born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago. “We Did It” was one of seven records Johnson placed in or near the Hot 100, none of which reached the Top 40. (He had twelve records in the R&B Top 40, with his greatest success being his 1975 cover of the Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River,” which went to No. 7.) Like the Staton record, “We Did It” has a good groove, this one provided by Willie Mitchell’s production. It peaked at No. 95.

So, where does that leave us? Well, the No. 100 record sounds pretty damn good this morning what with the groove and the horns and all, and that’s enough to make “We Did It” by Syl Johnson today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 579

Saturday, February 24th, 2018

After four days of unpacking and dealing with crises in our new place, we have made progress, although both the Texas Gal and I wish we’d made more. Some rooms are nearly finished, awaiting touches of décor; some are functional, needing only a little more work; others are a mess. My portion of the lower level, which will become the EITW studio, is a mountain range of boxes, with a desk tucked into a corner that holds a functional computer.

The crises include the death of a freezer packed with mostly meat. Luckily, we noticed it soon after its demise on Thursday, and we headed across town to an appliance store owned by two fellow members of the St. Cloud Tech Class of ’71. On the phone, the Texas Gal told Bob what we needed, and by the time we got there, Bob had already unboxed a freezer for us and brought it to the showroom floor. His guys delivered the freezer an hour later, and we lost no food. Crisis No. 1 resolved.

We also bought a microwave oven. On the day we closed our purchase of the condo, the sellers’ realtor approached us. He told us that the over-the-oven microwave in the condo had died the previous day, and he gave us some cash. In the meantime, our own countertop model had begun to act balky. So when we were at the appliance dealer, the Texas Gal thought we should buy a microwave. It came with the freezer, and on Friday afternoon, another member of the Tech Class of ’71 – one whom I’d not seen since graduation – came to remove the old microwave and install the new one.

It didn’t take long, but because of its angled design, the old oven took more wall space than does the new one, and there is now a white area between the wall tile and the bottom of the new oven, thirty inches wide and one and three-quarters inches high. The tiles we bought yesterday afternoon from the local branch of a regional home improvement store were an eighth of an inch too tall, but the Texas Gal found some correctly sized one-foot tile strips online that would look very nice in the blank spot, if we can find someone around here who can cut one of those strips of tile in half. That can likely be done, so Crisis No. 2, while not yet resolved, is heading that direction.

So today, after a breakfast of cottage bacon, will be a day to finish the kitchen, to move some pieces of furniture to their destinations, to find the last boxes of my shirts, to hook up the Texas Gals’ stereo in the master bedroom, and to see if we can figure out how to put the two portions of the Texas Gal’s recliner together.

The RealPlayer did its best, but a search for “crisis” brought me the 1985 album Flaunt the Imperfection by China Crisis and a 1996 Dar Williams track titled “The Pointless, Yet Poignant, Crisis of a Co-Ed,” neither of which grab me this morning. And nothing comes up for “assemble,” although I could stretch that to come up with a tune by the Assembled Multitude. So I thought I’d just go with our constant condition this week and find a good tune that features the word “tired.’

And that’s how “So Tired” by the group Eva – from the soundtrack to the 1971 film Vanishing Point – became today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 578

Saturday, February 17th, 2018

I’ve hated change all my life.

Well, most of the time. When I’ve traveled, I’ve enjoyed seeing, doing, experiencing new things. Traveling was different.

But when I am home, I like my life, my days to be orderly. Even a minor change puts me off-kilter. Case in point: Monday is laundry day. When there’s a Monday holiday, I usually end up doing laundry on Tuesdays, and the whole week feels out of whack.

I know, I know. This is one of those things we call a first-world problem. But it’s true: Even the slightest change in my routines and patterns leaves me feeling out of place.

And here comes a major change as we move from our house on the East Side to the condo on the North Side.

(The truck comes Monday. I think we’ll be ready, although we have two very long days of work ahead of us, work I will get to as soon as I finish here.)

One would think that I’m apprehensive or put off balance by the prospect of moving, of going through one of the major changes we can have in our lives. Well, I was. For the past several years, as the Texas Gal has talked about finding a new place, I’ve been skittish. I’ve loved living here on the East Side, here with the thirty-four oak trees and the garden and the squirrels and the lilacs. Especially the lilacs.

But I’ve come to realize that my skittishness was when we talked about finding an apartment, some place that wasn’t ours. I didn’t want to leave my house, the place where I’d felt at home probably more than any other, for just another place that would feel temporary.

As soon as the Texas Gal brought up the idea of buying a place, there was a shift in me, one I didn’t see coming. Of course, I never saw our owning a place coming, either. And when we decided on the condo on the North Side, there was a major shift. I won’t say I looked forward to the packing, the work of moving, but the move itself, the idea of a place that was ours, felt right.

A little less than ten years ago, when we moved from the adjacent apartments into the house, I wasn’t sure it was the right thing. We were cramped, yes, but . . . well, I was set in a place and I knew where things were and all that. But moving to the house here under the oaks turned out to be the right thing. And I think our move to the North Side will be the right thing.

I think that’s been obvious in some of my work here. As I wrote a couple of weeks ago:

I know that it’s going to take some time, even after we move, for the condo to feel like home. Every move I’ve ever made – and this move will be my twenty-first since I left Kilian Boulevard during the summer of 1976 – has found me slowly acclimating to each new place, living there for maybe a month or two before it felt like home. There will be no “eureka” moment, I know, just an eventual recognition that the new place on the North Side is where we belong.

And it’s taken a couple of weeks since then to realize that for the first time in my life, I’m looking forward to a major change, and that’s something new for me, a reflection of a change in me that I never saw coming. And that’s an appropriate place to end this last epistle from the East Side.

Here, with their cover of one of Phil Ochs’ most lovely songs, are Ian & Sylvia with “Changes.” It’s from their 1966 album Ian & Sylvia Play One More, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 577

Saturday, February 10th, 2018

I was messing around yesterday with a bundle of mp3s I gained access to, mostly easy listening stuff from the Sixties and Seventies (a sweet spot for me, as readers might know), and I started work tagging the mp3s from an album titled Peter Nero Plays Born Free and Other Movie Themes, slapped with a date of 1966, which was when the film Born Free was released.

It didn’t take long to determine that the CD from which the mp3s came had seen tracks added as bonuses, as among the tracks were “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’,” which came out in 1971 and which I already had. It was Nero’s sole Top 40 hit, going to No. 21 in Billboard. (The record was once the subject here of a piece that spurred Nero to leave a comment, which – along with my love for easy listening – might easily be the reason I tend to collect his music.)

I compared the list of the original 1966 release that I found at Discogs – it then had the title Peter Nero Plays Born Free And Others – with the mp3s I was studying, and I found three others that didn’t belong, “Theme from ‘Love Story’,” ‘Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’,” and “Mack the Knife.” I dug a little further, and found that I already had “Mack the Knife” from a 1963 album titled Hail the Conquering Nero. “Love Story,” which was new to my collection, was released as a single in 1971 (and showed up on a couple of LPs as well).

Which left the track “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’.” (Never mind that the original rock opera did not use the unnecessary comma.) I dug through the content listings of a few of Nero’s albums from around 1970, when the rock opera came out, preferring not to use the sometimes balky search function at Discogs. No joy, so I used the search and learned that “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’” seems to have been issued on vinyl only as the B-side of “Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’.”

I wrote the other week of my renewed affection for the original release of Jesus Christ Superstar. Finding an unknown version of the rock opera’s main theme by one of my favorite easy listening performers is reason enough for a small celebration, so Peter Nero’s 1971 take on “Theme from ‘Jesus Christ, Superstar’” is today’s Saturday Single.