Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spread Your Chickens


Ian Dury and the Blockheads : Inbetweenies


On May 23, 1979 Ian Dury and the Blockheads had high hopes for their follow-up to New Boots And Panties!, especially because Do It Yourself was released in the wake of the chart topping "Hit Me with Your Rhythm Stick". That song did not appear on the original version of the album and neither did the U.K. #3 hit "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3". Nevertheless, the album reached number 2 on the album charts and sold 200,000 copies, enough to reach platinum status in the U.K. The album was released with 32 different covers each featuring a different kind of wallpaper.



The sessions were not especially easy as Dury's drinking and addiction to pills led to wild mood swings and difficult moments among band mates. Still, most of The Blockheads would hang on for at least another year


The Records : Teenarama


Thanks to one of the greatest power pop singles ever recorded the British band The Records scored a record deal with Virgin who released their debut Shades in Bed in May of 1979. "Mutt" Lange, who also produced AC-DC's Highway to Hell and The Boomtown Rats' Fine Art of Surfacing this year, only helped record a few songs before moving on to another project. The album didn't chart in the U.K but peaked at #41 in the United States on the strength of   "Teenarama"and "Starry Eyes" . Americans preferred the original single recording over the U.K. album's polished version.



Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Incitements All Around


Skids : Masquerade

[Purchase]

On May 23, 1979 The Skids had a new single in the U.K. charts, "Masquerade". The track peaked at #14. It might have gone higher but when viewers saw Richard Jobson dance in his red suit on Top Of The Pops they didn’t feel quite so compelled to buy the single for some reason. 



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Ultimate Discovery


Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark : Electricity


On May 21, 1979 Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark released their debut single, "Electricity". The band, made up of Manchester schoolboys Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, bonded over their love of Kraftwerk and Brian Eno. On this song, they wear their influences on their sleeves. OMD begins the song with a plodding bit of sizzling electronica that sounds like something from Another Green World. Then, 10 seconds in, comes the happiest Kraftwerk-ish sounds ever heard!


Factory Records released the single twice but it never charted, despite DJ John Peel's enthusiasm for it. Still, the single landed OMD a record contract and a spot opening for Gary Numan on his tour. New Music Express called it "the best example of Factory Records to date – excellent, melodic, synthesiser pop" and David Hepworth of Sounds wrote "unlike most synthesiser specialists (no names, no pack drills), these two aren't afraid of a tune and a bit of fun and this bubbling electrobop could see them in the charts.

Monday, May 20, 2019

U.K. Top 20 Singles, May 20, 1979


Blondie : Sunday Girl



On May 20, 1979 New Wave artists finally overtook Art Garfunkel's "Bright Eyes" as Blondie, Roxy Music and M's "Pop Muzik" topped the U.K. charts at 1, 2 and 3. David Bowie, The Police, The Undertones, Sparks, The Dickies and The Damned also made the Top 20.



1 SUNDAY GIRL  BLONDIE
2 DANCE AWAY ROXY MUSIC
3 POP MUZIK M
4 DOES YOUR MOTHER KNOW  ABBA
5 REUNITED PEACHES AND HERB



6 BRIGHT EYES ART GARFUNKEL
7 HOORAY HOORAY, IT'S A HOLI-HOLIDAY  BONEY M
8 BOOGIE WONDERLAND  EARTH WIND AND FIRE WITH THE EMOTIONS
9 BOYS KEEP SWINGING DAVID BOWIE
10 ONE WAY TICKET ERUPTION




11 KNOCK ON WOOD AMII STEWART
12 PARISIENNE WALKWAYS GARY MOORE
13 ROXANNE THE POLICE
14 SHINE A LITTLE LOVE ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA
15 BANANA SPLITS THE DICKIES



16 JIMMY JIMMY THE UNDERTONES
17 THE LOGICAL SONG  SUPERTRAMP
18 THE NUMBER ONE SONG IN HEAVEN SPARKS
19 NICE LEGS SHAME ABOUT HER FACE MONKS
20 LOVE SONG THE DAMNED

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Wonderful Tonight


Eric Clapton : Wonderful Tonight


On May 19, 1979 Eric Clapton married Patti Boyd, the inspiration for her ex husband George Harrison's "Something", "I Need You" and her new husband's "Layla" and "Wonderful Tonight". Eric and George remained the best of friends despite what happened. At the reception, three of the Beatles reunited on stage for what were reportedly drunken and very loose versions of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Get Back" and "Lawdy Miss Clawdy". Only John Lennon was absent. 

Enjoy the wedding album below:


There's Paul and Linda McCartney ( dragging on a cigarette unfortunately) at :42 in. Apple Publishing manager and longtime Beatles associate Terry Doran, George Harrison and his wife Olivia appear at :44.  And there's Paul, George and Ringo together with the King of Skiffle, Lonnie Donegan at :51.


Saturday, May 18, 2019

A Bit Roughed Up


David Bowie : Red Sails



“Brian (Eno) and I did play a number of ‘art pranks’ on the band. They really didn’t go down too well though".
-David Bowie

On May 18, 1979 David Bowie released Lodger. It is often considered the last of the fabled Berlin Trilogy recorded with Brian Eno even though the album was recorded in New York and Montreux where Bowie had homes. Still, Eno's impact on the album can be heard to an even greater degree than on Low and Heroes, especially in the way his Oblique Strategies cards encouraged accidents in the studio. Not all of the musicians enjoyed the experiments. Carlos Alomar called some of Eno's ideas "bullshit...I totally, totally resisted it"


Adrian Belew played guitar on most of the tracks:

“When I arrived they had about twenty tracks already done: bass, drums, rhythm guitar, but no vocals. They said, ‘Adrian, we’re not going to let you hear these songs. We want you to go into the studio and play accidentally – whatever occurs to you’ ... I would just suddenly hear ‘One, two, three, four’ in the headphones and a track would start ... I didn’t even know what keys the songs were in or anything. The one particular song where I remember I lucked out on was ‘Red Sails’, ‘cos I started the guitar feeding back and it was right in key. Anyway, they would let me do this maybe two or three times and by then I might know something about the song, so it was over.”


Some of the songs on Side One reflect Bowie's travels. "African Night Flight" is about a group of German fighter pilots Bowie met in Kenya. "Yassassin" combines Turkish melodies with a reggae beat. "Red Sails"  sounds like Neu recording a song set in the South China Seas. Side Two contains the hits ( "Boys Keep Swinging" and "D.J." as well as the final single from Lodger, "Look Back In Anger") . David Mallet returns to direct the music video.


RCA exec Mel Ilberman came out with the early spin on Lodger:

“It would be fair to call it Bowie’s Sergeant Pepper, a concept album that portrays the Lodger as a homeless wanderer, shunned and victimized by life’s pressures and technology.”

But, of course, record execs don't write the reviews. Writing for Rolling Stone Greil Marcus hoped for something bigger on the even of the 80's:

Lodger might have been an event, if only as a record we would someday look back on as work that mapped the territory between past and future. Instead, it’s just another LP, and one of his weakest at that: scattered, a footnote to “Heroes“, an act of marking time.

Robert Christgau was more taken with the album, giving Lodger a grade of A-:

I used to think Bowie was middlebrow, but now I'd prefer to call him post-middlebrow--a habitue of prematurely abandoned modernist space. Musically, these fragments of anomie don't seem felt, and lyrically they don't seem thought through. But that's part of their charm--the way they confound categories of sensibility and sophistication is so frustrating it's satisfying, at least if you have your doubts about the categories. Less satisfying, actually, than the impact of the record as a whole. 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Headin' For A Spin


Patti Smith Group : Dancing Barefoot


On May 17, 1979  Arista Records released Wave, the Patti Smith Group's fourth album. Produced by Todd Rundgren, the album's best known track is "Dancing Barefoot". Patti wrote about the song on her website PattiSmithLand.com :

I wrote the lyrics for Dancing Barefoot in late 1978 and it was recorded for Wave in 1979. The music stemmed from some ideas that Ivan Kral recorded on a cassette tape and gave to me. He had written "Rock and Reggae" on it. The music that became Dancing Barefoot was from an acoustic guitar riff that he wrote and that we developed as a band.



I had the concept to write a lyric line that would have several levels - the love of one human being for another and the love of ones creator. So in a sense, the song addresses both physical and spiritual love. Truthfully I always imagined Jim Morrison singing it, which resulted in me singing and recording it in a lower vocal register. I wanted the verse to have a masculine appeal and the chorus to have a feminine one. 

Our producer, Todd Rundgren, had a strong input, influencing the sounds of the guitars and Richard Sohl's keyboard line. Todd also wrote and played the bass line. The song was extremely popular in Europe and with the people of America, but in 1979 it was considered too provocative for American radio. 

The use of the word "heroine", which of course is used in the context of the song as the feminine of HERO, was objected to. It was suggested that I change the word "heroine" and consult the thesaurus for a suitable replacement. I am happy with my decision to let it stand as written.




The album begins with the first single,  the "Prove It All Night" sound-a-like "Frederick", written about her husband-to-be Fred "Sonic" Smith.  When the album failed to sell the way Easter did, the group broke up and Patti moved to Michigan with her husband and raised two children. She wouldn't return to recording until 1988's Dreams of Life.