Posts Tagged ‘Who [The]’

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).

Saturday Single No. 205

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

Back in grade school – probably in fifth grade at Lincoln Elementary – we had a discussion one day on how newspapers work and how reporters do their jobs. It was pretty basic, focusing on the W’s: who, what, when, where and why. As basic as that is, it’s pretty accurate; focus on those five things, with an occasional excursion to look at “how,” and you’ll find your news story on just about anything you run into.

Being a news junkie already at the age of ten – if it was fifth grade, which I think it was – I found the discussion fascinating. I certainly didn’t realize at the time that the five W’s were going to be the foundation of a great deal of my life. But I had a glimmering idea that out of those five questions, the one that would interest me most was “why?”

Frankly, it’s not a question that’s easily answered by basic and immediate reporting. Knowing why something happens usually takes a bit longer to sort out. Sometimes it’s a question never answered. I think of the major news story of that year in fifth grade, maybe the major news story of my childhood. The lead paragraphs of the stories in every newspaper around the U.S. were pretty much the same, something like: “President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed today as he rode in a motorcade through downtown Dallas, Texas.” You’ve got your who, what, when and where right there. There was another “who” to come, as in who did it?  The answer to that, we’ve been told, is Lee Harvey Oswald. (I have my doubts.) But we’re almost forty-seven years gone from that day, and we still don’t know why. Think about that: Nearly a half-century after John Kennedy was killed, we still have no answer for one of the five most basic questions about the event.

Maybe it was that juxtaposition – the assassination of JFK with the classroom discussion of the basic functions of reporting – that shaped me. I don’t know. I’d never put the two together until this morning. But it could very well be that it was those two events that put me on the track of those five basic questions, especially “why?” Once I got into weekly newspapering, it was pleasing to realize that weekly publications can look more closely at the why and how of things than can dailies, which are swept along by immediate happenings.

That’s not to say that dailies don’t do analysis nor that weeklies don’t every once in a while cover a story that requires speed and limits reflection, but the general trend is there. And that suited me, for if one can have a favorite question in life, then I guess my favorite question is “Why?”

That extends to things beyond newspapering and beyond the regular chatter of day-to-day life. I occasionally had colleagues at the various newspapers where I worked who liked the same sort of thought. Late one Thursday afternoon during my years in Monticello, my colleague Bruce and I were sitting at the coffee table, and somehow the conversation wandered to the purpose of life, probably an outgrowth of something less than pleasant that had happened that week. I said something like, “So what’s the use? What is our purpose?”

“I don’t know,” Bruce said. Then he turned to a high school gal who did cleaning and other odd jobs at the paper. “What do you think, Steph? Why are we here?”

“Well,” she said as she dusted off a nearby counter, “I don’t know about you guys, but I work on Thursdays. That’s why I’m here.”

That might be the best answer I’ll ever get. So here’s a six-song trail of “Why,” with the final song in the trail being this morning’s destination:

First comes “Why Don’t They Let Us Fall In Love” by Veronica, a 1963 tune produced by Phil Spector. Also recorded by Sonny & Cher and a garage-rockabilly called the A-Bones that was active in the 1990s, the song gets the full Wall of Sound production for Veronica, who was better known as Ronnie Bennett of the Ronettes and later as Ronnie Spector. I have, appropriately, questions for which I cannot quickly find answers this morning: Is this the same recording that has in later years been identified as a Ronettes’ performance? Or were there two recordings of the song? I don’t know. Either way, the record does not seem to have charted.

Moving on, we run into “Why Can’t You Love Me,” a 1965 Atlantic release from Barbara Lynn. Three years earlier, her “You’ll Lose A Good Thing” went to No. 8 and was No. 1 on the R&B charts for three weeks. Though I can’t be sure, “Why Can’t You Love Me,” a nice slice of mellow R&B on Atlantic, doesn’t seem to have dented the pop chart.

Third in line is “Why Don’t You Haul Off and Love Me” by Bullmoose Jackson & His Buffalo Bearcats, a piece of jump blues/early R&B that was recorded in New York City and released on the King label in 1949. The record, says Wikipedia, was a cover of a tune “that had been successful for Wayne Raney as well as several country and western performers.” It’s a fun track, clearly a relic of a musical era that was vital before I was born.

And we stay in that era but switch genres, with Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me,” an MGM release recorded during January 1950 at the Tulane Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. The somewhat silly but still plaintive song – “Why don’t you love me like you used to do” – likely made the country chart of the time, but the notes for the CD where I found it are horribly insufficient. All-Music Guide says that the record went to No. 61 on the country chart in 1976, long after Williams’ death; I’m guessing the song was released as a single in connection with the release of a greatest hits album.

We move on to Mickey Newbury and his 1973 performance of “Why You Been Gone So Long” from the album Heaven Help the Child. I’ve written about Newbury at least once, noting his status as a country writer and performer who could easily have crossed over and who also could have been far more famous with a little more luck. On the other hand, I’ve gotten the sense that Newbury preferred a little anonymity, so who knows? From what I can tell, neither “Why You Been Gone So Long” nor Heaven Help the Child made the charts.

And our sixth stop this morning on the chain of whys is the Who’s “Why Did I Fall For That,” a track from the group’s 1982 album It’s Hard. The album made it to No. 8 on the Billboard chart, and five different singles from the record made it to one chart or another. “Why Did I Fall For That” was not among them. Nevertheless, it’s today’s Saturday Single:

The Who – “Why Did I Fall For That” from It’s Hard [1982]

Reader and pal Yah Shure passed on some chart information after I posted this. He noted that, as I suspected, Hank Williams’ “Why Don’t You Love Me” did make the country chart upon its original release in 1950, and that’s an understatement: The MGM release was No. 1 on the country chart for ten weeks. As to Mickey Newbury’s Heaven Help the Child LP, it made it to No. 173 on the Billboard 200. There was, however, no single release of “Why You Been Gone So Long,” as I suspected.