Saturday, February 6, 2016

40 Year Itch : Like a Rolling Bolt of Thunder

  The Four Seasons had Frankie Valli, one of rock music's greatest falsetto voices, but it was drummer Gerry Polci who sang lead on their biggest 1976 hit. ( #1 in both the UK and US) . It always seemed strange that within weeks of the Kennedy assassination, our hero is out having a one night stand with a "hypnotizing, mesmerizing" lady whose name he never catches. 

  Earlier versions had the lyrics taking place on December 5, 1933, the day Prohibition came to an end. 

UK TOP 10 FEBRUARY 8, 1976

1. Silk : Forever and Ever
2. ABBA : Mamma Mia
3. The Four Seasons : December, 1963 ( Oh, What a Night)
4. The Miracles : Love Machine
5. Donna Summer : Love to Love You Baby
6. R and J Stone : We Do It
7. Walker Brothers : No Regrets
8. Manuel and the Music of the Mountains : Concierto De Aranjuez
9. Barbara Dickson : Answer Me
10. David Ruffin : Walk Away From Love

Great video even if the sync is off

   As great as "December, 1963 ( Oh, What a Night)" is, and I do think this is a great song for every reason from its construct to its nostalgic value, this tune was destroyed by cover versions. I mean what the hell is going on below by Claude Francois below? And where can I get a suit like that? 

And a rare miss for the Fatback Band:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

40 Year Itch : It'll Make Your Day

   For two weeks in February,  Earth Wind and Fire's infectious "Sing a Song" peaked at #5 on the US pop charts, a month after it had topped the R and B charts. Like many Earth Wind and Fire hits, it was written and produced by the band's founder Maurice White, who passed away February 3 aged 74. 


   You could dig through the entire Earth Wind and Fire catalog and still not find a song that made you feel bad. Maurice White told Jet Magazine in 2005 "We've strived to push the idea of illumination and the vibration of positivity."
    White and his brothers changed the world. And to this day, no band can't instantly change your mood for the Earth Wind and Fire. What a legacy!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

40 Year Itch : Hurt Way Down Deep Inside

   This week in 1976 Elvis Presley spent five days recording From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee, live in a studio set up at Graceland. The second to last album released in his lifetime, From Elvis contains some of the King's darkest songs, most notably his cover of the 1955 Roy Hamilton hit "Hurt" which was a Top 40 hit in both the US and UK.

"If he felt the way he sounded", Dave Marsh wrote of Presley's performance, "the wonder isn't that he had only a year left to live but that he managed to survive that long."
    The album, released in May, also contains covers of Neil Sedaka's "Solitaire", Willie Nelson's "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" and "Danny Boy".

Monday, February 1, 2016

40 Year Itch: February 2, 1976

“ I’d adore to be prime minister. And, I believe very strongly in fascism … I dream of buying companies and TV stations, owning and controlling them.”
                -David Bowie in a February 1976 interview with Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe.
   On February 2, 1976 David Bowie kicked off his Isolar concert tour at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, BC. The tour was in support of the new album Station to Station. Dressed as one journalist put it, like a "businessman in drag", Bowie would perform his shows at night and then often go clubbing til the early hours. The next day he would sit in the back of a car with Iggy Pop, listening to his favorite music. The tour would not always go according to plan, but more on that later.

Also on February 2, The Ramones entered the studio to record their debut album at Plaza Sound in Radio City Music Hall. 

As Johnny Ramone remembered in his autobiography Commando 

The early songs, well, what would we write about --girls? We didn't really have any. We weren't artists or anything , so we wrote about simple things that we could relate to, We thought Communists and Nazis were funny. We thought sniffing glue was funny too, but we didn't even know that people were still doing it We'd write these sings and laugh, but we never thought we were wacky. We thought we were a normal rock band; but it soon became apparent we were a little off-kilter.

  Also on this date, Genesis released A Trick of the Tail, their first album without Peter Gabriel . After listening to the audition tapes of nearly 400 frontmen, the band discovered their new singer had been behind the drum kit the whole time.  His name was Phil Collins and to many he sounded just like the other guy.

"There was no striving to sound like Peter," Collins told Rolling Stone."When it comes down to it, you can't really do that. I used to sing behind the kit most of the time because Pete would be running around and he'd be off mike." 

Contrary to music journalist Chris Welch's proclamation that Genesis was dead, the band scored a UK#3 and US #31 album, ,highlighted by the bouncy single "Entangled".

   And in the UK Abba had finally moved Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" off the top of the charts with "Mamma Mia". 

 On February 2, the Australian music show Countdown broadcast a show from Abba's hometown, Stockholm, Sweden.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

January 1976 : Those We Missed

   Reflections was supposed to be a solo album but Garcia needed the Grateful Dead to help him finish it. Same groove as Blues for Allah. Just not nearly as memorable.

   Does the brilliance of "Silver, Blue and Gold" make up for the awfulness of the "Young Blood" cover? Discuss.

   A contractual obligation album from Flint, Michigan's finest which allowed the band to finally break up. The instrumental "Genevieve" is the stand out track to these ears.

   Bette Midler's third album was a surprising flop even though it contains a rare duet with Bob Dylan --on his own "Buckets of Rain".

   Talley's follow-up to the critically acclaimed Got No Bread, No Milk, No Money, But We Sure Got a Lot of Love would make a good soundtrack on the Bernie Sanders campaign buses. If you like the sound and leftist leanings of  "Forty Hours", you'll like the rest of the album.

Friday, January 29, 2016

40 Year Itch : Octoganic angel

  On January 30, 1976 T. Rex released Futuristic Dragon, a return to form after at least a year or two out of the spotlight, with Marc Bolan living in America and Monte Carlo and blowing his riches on cocaine. 

   "I'm more looney than I was before!" Bolan told a radio interviewer. By now T. Rex was Bolan,  his girlfriend, soul singer Gloria Jones, and whatever session musicians he could find.

   The album is unfairly overlooked, especially the A side which has both the electric warrior- like "Jupiter Liar" and "Chrome Sitar". By the time you get to the second side, these three chord wonders and tremelo vocals might wear on you. His UK tour went down very well much to his relief. Bolan admitted onstage he wasn't sure anyone would show up.

Siouxsie Sioux and Bolan

    Bolan was one of the few rockers who welcomed the oncoming punk explosion. He was a fan of the Damned and even invited Generation X to play on his short-lived 1977 TV show Marc.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

40 Year Itch: Hung Like a Hebrew National

   The ultra - cool Bill Murray is late night progressive FM radio DJ Mel Brewer and Christopher Guest is Ron Fields, an English (?) manager who has found a new band in this track from National Lampoon's Goodbye Pop album. For reasons they will hopefully be apparent, this was one of the funniest things my high school friends and I had ever heard.
    The album contains hilarious takes on Bob Dylan, Neil Young and, with "Art Rock Suite", introduces us to Sid Gormless of Dog's Breakfast, an early version of Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel.

Murray and Guest also teamed up on this somewhat comedic preview of the 1976 Super Bowl.