Friday, May 27, 2016

40 Year Itch : She's Gonna Get You

    Originally billed as England's answer to Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard managed to stat on the UK charts for decade after decade. But it wasn't until 1976 that he made his first serious foray into the US charts. "Devil Woman", written by Terry Britten and Christine Holmes, was released in May of 1976 and peaked for three weeks at #6 in October of 1976. In the UK, it topped out at #9.

Richard was reluctant to record the song because of its subject matter. He would later tell the story of an Australian fan who had become interested in witchcraft until this song convinced her to convert to Christianity.

   What isn't clear is whether Cliff Richard recorded the song before its co-author who sang ( flatly but with exuberance) under the pseudonym Kristine Sparkle.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

40 Year Itch : Samba of the Hills

   Angenor de Oliveir had vanished. This major figure in Samba, nicknamed Cartola ("Top Hat"), had composed songs heard all over the radio in Brazil in the 1930s and 1940s but following the death of his wife and his descent into alcoholism he was nowhere to be found until a journalist named Sergio Porto discovered the old man washing cars for a living.
  Championed by Porto, he recorded his comeback albums. Cartola II is an end to end masterpiece , ranked as the 8th greatest Brazilian album by Rolling Stone.
   "Preciso Me Encontrar", featuring a bassoon  as its lead instrument, can be translated to mean "I Need to Find Myself". 

Its lyrics:

Let me go I need to walk 
I am going there to search 
To laugh not to cry 
I want to see the sun's rising 
To see the water of rivers running 
To hear the birds singing 
I want to be born, I want to live...

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

40 Year Itch: There's No Scam Like The Royal Scam

"Turn up the Eagles/The neighbors are listening."
-"Everything You Did"

   In May of 1976, Steely Dan released its fifth album, the smart and cynical Royal Scam. The title suggests a theme that is interwoven through the album: as desperate characters come face to face with being cheated in one way or another: the immigrants of the title cut, the star abused by his druggie friends ("Kid Charlemagne"), the sniper holed up with a box of dynamite in "Don't Take Me Alive".

   This is a classic transition album. You can hear traces of Katy Lied and what would become, with more breathing space, the classic sound of Aja.

   As usual, this is a Steely Dan album so complex you can listen to it for years and still make new discoveries. Take a moment, if you haven't yet, just to listen to Larry Carlton's guitar solos on "Kid Charlemagne." Yes, theres gas in the car! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

40 Year Itch : A Knife, A Fork

  I was born in New York and I can promise you "a knife, a fork, a bottle and a cork / that's the way we spell New York" is not actually true. But it's a great rhyme and if we accept the premise that the toaster is blitzed out of his mind and rambling, then it makes plenty of sense.

Monday, May 23, 2016

40 Year Itch : Howzat

  Released in May of 1976, this pop confection from Australia's top band of the 1970's hit #4 in the UK and #61 in the United States, where listeners had no idea "Howzat" is a cricket phrase yelled by the fielding team to appeal to an umpire.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

40 Year Itch : New to the US Charts May 22, 1976

A mixed bag of singles debuted in the Hot 100 this week in 1976.

USA Hot 100 Debuts May 22, 1976

77 Santana "Let It Shine" --a funky but forgettable number from the Santana comeback album Amigos peaked at US #77.

78 Queen "You're My Best Friend" -John Deacon's love song to his wife would peak at US #16.

79 David Bowie "TVC 15" - Bowie sped up the Station to Station single for his Live Aid performance below. As a single it peaked at US #64 and UK #33.

80 Lee Garrett "You're My Everything" - a UK#15 hit, "You're My Everything" for American Lee Garrett who is blind.

81 Wet Willie "Everything That 'Cha Do (Will Come Back To You)" - This is one of the songs Wet Willie's live audience's ate up. It peaked at US #66. 

82 Narvel Felts "Lonely Teardrops"-this countrypolitan artist covered everyone from the Bee Gees to Jackie Wilson in order to repeat the success of 1975's "Reconsider Me". This was a Top 5 country hit but only peaked at #62 on the US Hot 100.

83 ABBA "Mamma Mia" - #1 on the UK Charts, this ABBA single peaked at #32 on the Billboard pop charts despite the schlocky video below.

86 Carole King "High Out of Time" - Peaking at US #74 despite vocals from David Crosby and Graham Nash.

89 The Crown Heights Affair "Foxy Lady" - This US R and B Top 20 hit peaked at #49 in the pop charts.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

40 Year Itch : Things Ain't What They're Supposed To Be

  On May 21, 1976 Blue Oyster Cult released their best-selling and best known album Agents Of Fortune. Credit goes to Buck Dharma's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", a US #12 hit mistaken by some as pro-suicide thanks to the line "Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity".

   "I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something," says Dharma " That was not my intention at all. It is, like, not to be afraid of it (as opposed to actively bring it about). It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."

   The song may be better known these days for a Saturday Night Live skit than for its classic rock success.

   Recorded at The Record Plant at the same time Aerosmith was making Rocks and Kiss was making Destroyer, Agents of Fortune may be more radio friendly than past efforts ( and it does feature guest vocals from Allen Lanier's then girlfriend, Patti Smith on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini") but that doesn't mean it's better.  Secret Treaties, from 1974, is the place to start for this "thinking man's hard rock band".