Saturday, July 27, 2019

Living Easy, Living Free

AC/DC : Highway to Hell

On July 27, 1979 AC/DC released Highway to Hell, their first  top 20 album in the United States. In an attempt to break the States, which the band had been touring for nearly two non-stop years, Atlantic Records was ready to spend some money on the Aussie rockers. They flew the band to Miami to record with producer Eddie Kramer, whose credits included Jimi Hendrix, Kiss and Led Zeppelin. But the boys couldn't stand Kramer.

"We thought, we can't work with him," said guitarist Malcolm Young," but the label were going to drop us if we didn't. It was a tricky situation."

The band's manager came up with a plan. He convinced Kramer the band needed a day off and had AC/DC quickly record six songs which were dispatched to the manager's friend, Jeff "Mutt" Lange.  A talented musician and singer, with credits including The Boomtown Rats and Graham Parker, Lange agreed to produce the band in London's Roundhouse Studios. The sessions went all day and night, and lasted three weeks

“Mutt said: ‘Sit here and I’ll tell you what I want you to play’,” recalls Ian Jeffery who witnessed the sessions. “Angus was like, ‘You fucking will, will ya?’. But he sat next to Mutt and Mutt didn’t force it on him, just kind of pointed at the fretboard and, ‘Here, this…’ and ‘Hold that…’ and ‘Now go into that…’ It was the solo from Highway To Hell. It was fantastic! And that really stood them all to attention on Mutt too. He wasn’t asking them to do anything he couldn’t do himself, or getting on their case saying it’s been wrong in the past; nothing like that. He really massaged them into what became that album.”

Bon Scott managed to learn a lot about breath control from Lange, but nothing about self-control. He would drink half a bottle of bourbon, smoke some weed and snort something else before he entered the audio booth. In early 1980 he would be found dead in a car in London, having drunk himself to death.

Years later the band and the album's final track, "Night Prowler", came under the scrutiny of the Moral Majority and bad television shows after L-A serial killer Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez was arrested wearing an AC/DC T-shirt and claimed his crimes were inspired by that song. 

Watch as the correspondent below asks, quite seriously, whether AC/DC stands for "Anti-Christ/ Devil's Child".

Friday, July 26, 2019

Clang Clang

The Clash : Jail Guitar Doors

On July 26, 1979 CBS Records finally released The Clash's 1977 debut stateside. As an import, the album had already surpassed sales of over 100,00 copies. This version of the album was modified, replacing four songs from the original version ("Deny", "Protex Blue", "Cheat" and 48 Hours") to add five non album singles, including "Clash City Rockers", "Complete Control", "White Riot" and "(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais"; and B sides "I Fought The Law" and "Jail Guitar Doors". The result is the greatest punk album of its era. 

 The American credits who had praised 1978's Give 'Em Enough Rope now had something to really cheer about. Robert Christgau says as much in his review of the album which he grades with an A: 

 Cut for cut, this may be the greatest rock and roll album (plus limited-edition bonus single) ever manufactured in the U.S. It offers ten of the fourteen titles on the band's British debut as well as seven of the thirteen available only on forty-five. And the sequencing is anything but haphazard; the eight songs on side one divide into self-contained pairs that function as extended oxymorons on careerism, corporate power, race, and anomie. Yet the package feels misbegotten.

The U.K. version of The Clash is the greatest rock and roll album ever manufactured anywhere partly because its innocence is of a piece--it never stops snarling, it's always threatening to blow up in your face. I'm still mad the real thing wasn't released two years ago, and I know for certain (I made a tape) that the singles would have made a dandy album by themselves. Nevertheless, a great introduction and a hell of a bargain.  

The Clash (US Version) finished #3 on the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Critics Poll, between Neil Young and Talking Heads. It remains neck and neck with the Sex Pistols album as the #1 punk album of all time. 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Like Smoke in the Air

The Psychedelic Furs : Imitation of Christ

On July 25, 1979 radio listeners heard The Psychedelic Furs in a Peel Session recorded nine months before they would release their debut album. All four songs they played would wind up on the album, including "Imitation of Christ", "Sister Europe" and their first single "We Love You". Peel explains that he invited the band after listening to 491 demo tapes over a weekend. He must have been taken by the band's ability to merge the Velvets, Bowie and Roxy influences into one brand new sound. The version of "Imitation of Christ" here is especially good, sounding better than the one Steve Lillywhite produced, and with old lyrics about a guy who dances in a bar. The Furs weren't playing gigs at the time of the radio performance because they had lost a drummer. Peel put out a call for a new drummer. Vince Ely would soon save the day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

All Time Top Ten Richard Jobson

From the July 12-25 edition of Smash Hits: The Skids frontman with the flakey dance moves proves he's an art rocker at heart with generous selections of David Bowie and Bill Nelson's Red Noise. The odd choice is June Tabor's version of "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" from her 1976 Airs and Graces album.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Menopause Wives Are Hard to Handle

The Fall : Rowche Rumble

In July of 1979 (more likely in October) , The Fall released "Rowche Rumble", an updated version of "Mother's Little Helper" that scored the band a #21 on NME's year end list of the best songs of 1979. The myth behind the song is that Mark E Smith worked for the Roche pharmaceutical company and, thanks to a clerical error, he wound up with a huge unwanted delivery of barbiturates that he hid all over Manchester.  Smith never mentions this in his memoir Renegade : The Lives and Tales of Mark E Smith so I can't vouch for it.

The lyrics concern the Swiss company's distribution of valium all over the world:

Loads of wives around the world
Are given them by doctors, who think they're little girls
The doctors need prescriptions
The wives need their pills
So Rowche Rumble

In his review of the single for Smash Hits, XTC's Andy Partridge wrote:

What a starter--I wonder what made my hand land on this one? Sounds like the cover, cheap biro lines, bad relationships. Is this the theme of the medication? Great chemist's organ sound. Not one for young girls to make zips or brassieres mindlessly to on the factory floor. Good sound, bad song (down with pills). B side "In My Area" suffocating ill music, felt like I had flu, blanket over my head.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith and Willy

Ian Dury and the Blockheads : Reasons to be Cheerful, Pt 3

In July of 1979, Ian Dury and the Blockheads released "Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3", his third Top Ten U.K. single, peaking at #3. According to Dury, the song was inspired by a near-fatal accident involving a lighting roadie. Roadie Charley almost got electrocuted in Italy by a microphone stand while leaning over a mixing desk. Another roadie saved his life, hence 'no electric shocks' is included in the song's lyrics. 

Other reasons to be cheerful include:

Fanny Smith and Willy ( female and male genitalia)
Gigolos and Brasses (male and female prostitutes)
Smoking from bongs (lighting up the chalice) and
Coming out of chokey ( being released from prison

The song ranked #5 in Sounds end of year singles list.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Uncoolest hit of 1979?

Herb Alpert : Rise

On July 20, 1979 Herb Alpert released "Rise", a #1 disco instrumental in the United States, thanks in part to its use as the musical backdrop for the rape of Laura Webber by Luke Spencer on the ABC soap opera General Hospital and its appearance in the pornographic film Nurses Are Coming, starring Vanessa Del Rio. In all seriousness, the melody is catchy as hell and the song was inescapable during the second half of 1979. One last nostalgic smash for an entire generation who started listening to pop music before The Beatles came along.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Best Things in Life are Free

The Flying Lizards : Money (That's What I Want)

In July of 1979, The Flying Lizards released the U.K. novelty hit, "Money (That's What I Want)", a cover of  Barrett Strong's 1959 hit. It would quickly climb to U.K.#5, forever associating itself with the Summer of 1979. The Flying Lizards was actually one guy, David Cunningham, who played all the instruments. The detached vocal performance is by Deborah Evans-Stickland.

The song also managed to get radio airplay in the United States, peaking at U.S. #50 in January of 1980. By this point, I had started a band with a friend. He played guitar. I wrote lyrics and played percussion on whatever I could find, coffee cans or chair legs. There was something about the minimalist, avant-garde approach appealed to me. Of course I bought the album the following year!

Thursday, July 18, 2019

At My Wit's End

Nick Lowe : Cruel To Be Kind


In the Summer of 1979, Nick Lowe's "Cruel To Be Kind"  perked up the ears of radio listeners all over the world, peaking at #12 in the United States, the U.K. and in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The version we heard is the one Lowe later made this entertaining video for, a reenactment of his August 1979 wedding to Carlene Carter , with Dave Edmunds playing the limo driver. 

It's not the only version on record.

Lowe originally wrote the song with Ian Gomm for the final Brinsley Schwarz album, It’s All Over Now, which was never officially released.

“Initially... the inspiration was a song I loved by Harold Melvin + the Blue Notes called, 'The Love I Lost', and the bass line was the same... we loved that Philly disco stuff from the 70's, The O'Jays, all that stuff, we loved that," recalled Lowe.

This version was eventually released as a B side to Lowe's "Little Hitler" single.

Lowe's solo version of the song calls back his original Philly soul inspiration.

"And I love doing it," he told GQ. " I really love it. It cheers people up. How I do it now sounds quite different. In fact, it was on the radio the other day and I was quite amazed how differently I do it now. If they’re good songs, they really will stand the test of time.".

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

I've Met Everyone But Liz

Sparks : Beat the Clock

On the week of July 17, 1979 Sparks had a new single, "Beat the Clock", enter the U.K. charts at #49.
From the Giorgio Moroder produced album No 1 in Heaven, the single was a hit at dance clubs and peaked at U.K.#10. The duo has successfully reinvented themselves just in time for the 80's synth pop craze.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Along Came Jim Dandy

Ry Cooder : Little Sister

In July of 1979 Ry Cooder released Bop Til You Drop, alleged to be the world's first digital rock album and one of the year's critical favorites. The album finished #23 on the Village Voice's Pazz and Jop Critics Poll ,  #15 on the NME end of year list, #16 on the Sounds list,  #2 on the Melody Maker round up, just behind Fear of Music and #1 on the OOR critics list.

After a series of album Cooder felt were too quirky, this collection of mostly covers offered a different approach. "The style of song is well suited to my weird voice," he told Rolling Stone. "The idea is to blend warm vocal arrangements and the guitar sound so that one leans on the other."

Cooder might be the last artist you'd want to enter the digital recording era. His rootsy albums, like Into the Purple Valley and Paradise and Lunch, really have a life within the grooves. This album always struck me as sterile in comparison. It's not what I come back  to with any frequency.

OOR Critics Top 10 (Albums) – 1979 
 1. Ry Cooder - Bop Till You Drop
 2. Talking Heads - Fear Of Music
 3. Linton Kwesi Johnson - Forces Of Victory
 4. Joe Jackson - Look Sharp!
 5. The Undertones - The Undertones
 6. The Police - Regatta De Blanc
 7. Ian Dury - Do It Yourself
 8. Stiff Little Fingers - Inflammable Material
 9. The Police - Outlandos D’amour
 10. Frank Zappa - Joe’s Garage Act 1

Monday, July 15, 2019

Silicon Chip Inside Her Head

The Boomtown Rats : I Don't Like Mondays

On July 15, 1979 the new Boomtown Rats single, "I Don't Like Mondays", entered the U.K. charts at #15. Within a week it would be number one. The smash hit was inspired by a school shooting in California earlier that year.
On January 29, 1979 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer opened fire on children arriving at Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego from her house across the street, killing two men and wounding eight students and a police officer. Principal Burton Wragg was attempting to rescue children in the line of fire when he was shot and killed, and custodian Mike Suchar was slain attempting to aid Wragg.

Spencer used a rifle her father had given her as a gift. As to what impelled her into this form of murderous madness, she told a reporter, “I don’t like Mondays. This livens up the day.”

The quote inspired Bob Geldof of The Boomtown Rats to write the #1 smash "I Don't Like Mondays".

Geldof has heard about the shooting at a radio station in Atlanta when the telex machine started printing up wire copy about the shooting.

“I read it as it came out. Not liking Mondays as a reason for doing somebody in is a bit strange. I was thinking about it on the way back to the hotel and I just said 'Silicon chip inside her head had switched to overload.’ I wrote that down.”

“And the journalists interviewing her said, 'Tell me why?' It was such a senseless act. It was the perfect senseless act and this was the perfect senseless reason for doing it. So perhaps I wrote the perfect senseless song to illustrate it.” 

 “It wasn't an attempt to exploit tragedy,”

That hasn't prevented comedian Russell Brand from joking about the Live Aid organizer:

"Bob wonder he's such an expert on famine, he has been dining out on 'I Don't Like Mondays' for thirty years"

Brenda Ann Spencer is eligible for parole in 2019.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Summer's Really Here

The Undertones : Here Comes the Summer

On July 13, 1979 The Undertones released the Ramones-inspired "Here Comes The Summer", the Derry band's fourth single. With the help of a little Farfisa organ, the brief tune ( 1:45)  would peak at U.K. #34. There were two brand new B-sides, "One Way Love" and the Glam rocker "Top Twenty".

Friday, July 12, 2019

Life's Little Ironies

Buzzcocks : Harmony In My Head

On July 13, 1979 The Buzzcocks released a new single, the Steve Diggle penned "Harmony In My Head" b/w Pete Shelley's "Something's Gone Wrong Again". The single peaked at U.K.#32. Diggle sings lead vocals and related to Pitchfork a story that involved Kurt Cobain.

I mean, I was with Kurt in the weeks before he died. I couldn't believe it, he said to me he loved "Harmony in My Head", you know? And I told him that I smoked 20 cigarettes to get that sound because I'd read that John Lennon smoked a load of cigarettes on "Twist and Shout". And Kurt loved that.

Pete Shelley's "Something's Gone Wrong Again" lives up to its title when the guitar solo sounds completely wrong. Ad yet, one of my favorites of their songs.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Death to Disco

On July 12, 1979 the second game of a double header at Chicago's Comiskey Park was canceled after an anti-disco promotional event dubbed Disco Demolition Night got out of hand. The brainchild of local DJ Steve Dahl, the demonstration was supposed to consist of blowing up some disco records on the field between games.  

The White Sox hoped the event would increase attendance that night.The game actually did sell out  but thousands of  fans showed up without tickets to voice their hatred of disco. Many stormed the gates and filled the ballpark way beyond capacity, setting up a dangerous situation when Dahl blew up the disco records. Fans threw firecrackers and bottles onto the field, eventually rushing the field, starting fires and battling with police. You can re-live the night below.

Here's what the top 10 looked like that week:

1 1 RING MY BELL –•– Anita Ward
2 3 BAD GIRLS –•– Donna Summer
3 2 HOT STUFF –•– Donna Summer
4 5 CHUCK E.’S IN LOVE –•– Rickie Lee Jones
5 7 SHE BELIEVES IN ME –•– Kenny Rogers
6 6 THE LOGICAL SONG –•– Supertramp
7 8 BOOGIE WONDERLAND –•– Earth, Wind and Fire with the Emotions
8 4 WE ARE FAMILY –•– Sister Sledge
9 13 MAKIN’ IT –•– David Naughton
10 12 I WANT YOU TO WANT ME –•– Cheap Trick

Even notable rock bands were recording disco songs . Also on the charts were Kiss's "I Was Made for Lovin You"and  Electric Light Orchestra's "Shine a Little Light". Blondie, Rod Stewart and the Doobie Brothers all had chart topping hits that were disco friendly.

Some saw the demonstrations as racist and gay-bashing.“It felt to us like Nazi book-burning,” Chic’s Nile Rodgers once said. “This is America, the home of jazz and rock and people were now afraid even to say the word ‘disco.'”

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

This is Captain America Calling

The Kinks : Catch Me Now I'm Falling

On July 10, 1979 The Kinks released Low Budget, their biggest selling album in the U.S., peaking at #11 in the charts. Recorded quickly, mostly in New York, the album has a rough quality and no sign of the years The Kinks spent creating double album length rock operas. Now living in New York, Ray Davies takes on inflation ("Low Budget") , the gas crisis ("A Gallon of Gas")  and, on "Catch Me Now I'm Falling", America's foreign diplomacy:

Now I'm calling all citizens from all over the world 
This is Captain America calling 
I bailed you out when you were down on your knees 
So will you catch me now I'm falling 

While U.K. critics were lukewarm about Low Budget ("Low Budget is actually worth spending money on."--Melody Maker), the American critics were more welcoming. The album would make the Pazz + Jop year end critics poll at #40, and David Fricke of Rolling Stone wrote 

There is, however, no energy crisis on Low Budget, the hardest rocking Kinks record in recent memory...the Kinks haven’t mounted this kind of rock + roll attack since Lola. Low Budget may not be the best of their twenty-odd albums released in America, but it’s not bad either. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Take Me To Your Leader

The Sinceros : Take Me To Your Leader

In July of 1979, The Sinceros released their debut album, The Sound of Sunbathing. A British band that backed up Lene Lovich on her debut album , they took many of their cues from The Cars, scoring an Australian hit with "Take Me To Your Leader", which peaked at #70 in that country. Red Starr of Smash Hits wrote "fun to listen to, but the playing and arrangements are actually better than the songs themselves which tend to be forgettable, lacking punch and any real meat."

The record store shelves would soon be packed with similar faceless new wave albums

Monday, July 8, 2019

I'll Steal Your Chords

Adam and the Antz : Zerox

On July 6, 1979 Adam and the Ants released their second single, "Zerox", inspired by a David Bowie confession that when it came to finding inspiration for new songs, he was a "human Xerox machine". The song was a number one hit on the UK Indie Chart, but failed to chart on the UK Singles Chart upon its initial release. Following the success of their second album, Kings of the Wild Frontier, it reached number 45 in January 1981 upon re-release.

Here's Adam Ant miming the song all by himself:

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Surely Can't Be Any Fun

Wreckless Eric : Hit + Miss Judy

On July 6, 1979 Wreckless Eric released his fifth single "Hit + Miss Judy", inspired by a Spanish waitress he met who couldn't do anything right. A limited edition 12" single came pressed on orange vinyl with two additional tracks, "Let's Go to the Pictures" and "I Need a Situation".

Saturday, July 6, 2019

She Drove a Plymouth Satellite

The B-52's : Planet Claire

On July 6, 1979 The B-52's released their self titled debut album, recorded at Compass Point Studios in in Nassau, Bahamas with Island founder Chris Blackwell producing. NME visited the recording session and relates a mixing session for "Lava"  in an a June 9, 1979 article:

"Are you all sure you're happy with that?" Blackwell scrutinizes the faces gathered in the air-conditioned, hermetically sealed studio control room. A studio, to the layman, is like a hotel bedroom: once inside you could be anywhere. The B-52's glance anxiously at each other..."Because if you aren't happy, now is the time to speak up. Once the record is made, it'll be too late. That's it. It will always be The B-52's first album."

Kate, who take the most diligent interest in the protracted and distracting mixing process, pipes up first: "Do you think you could push Cindy's voice up a little at the end? When she slide up the register on the  'red hot lava' harmony...the effect is kinda lost."

Keith also applied himself, ensuring that none of the group's tightness is submerged. He wants to hear the guitar brought up a little. Or something.

I remember the first time I heard the album. A friend played side one for me in his room and I was immediately struck by how fresh, fun and quirky it sounded. The album begins with the single "Planet Claire", which struck me as surf rock from outer space. It's followed by "52 Girls", which has one of the great drumming performances of the year. Then "Dance This Mess Around" where Kate sings at the top of her voice "WHY DON'T YOU DANCE WITH ME?? I'M NOT NO LIMBURGER!!"  By the time the side ends with the epic"Rock Lobster", I knew I needed my own copy of the album 

A lot of people felt the same way. The album has gone platinum in both the United States and Australia

Most critics were fans as well. The album ranked #7 in the Pazz and Jop Critic's Poll. Robert Christgau gave the album an A, writing:

Fond as I am of the pop junk they recycle -- with love and panache, like the closet ecologists they are -- there's something parochially suburban about turning it into the language of a world view. So I'm more delighted with their rhythms, which show off their Georgia roots by adapting the innovations of early funk (a decade late, just like the Stones and Chicago blues) to an endlessly danceable forcebeat format. Also delightful is their commitment to sexual integration -- Cindy Wilson is singing more and more, although her voice occasionally gives out before her ambitions do. Major worry: only one of the copyright 1979 songs -- my favorite track, "Dance This Mess Around" -- is as amazing as the 1978 stuff.

Some, like Red Starr of Smash Hits,  found the joke wearing thin:

After all the fuss, this is a real disappointment. The American girls chant jokey lyrics over a pipe organ and sledgehammer drumming in songs that sounds like accidents. Quirkily amusing at first but gets very tiresome very quickly. More style (hairstyle mostly) than content

Hearing "Rock Lobster" in a disco is said to have motivated John Lennon to come out of retirement and begin recording again.

“I said, ‘That’s Yoko!,’” Lennon recalled that fall in an interview with the BBC. “I thought there were two records going at once or something. Because it was so her. I mean, this person had studied her. I thought, ‘Get out the ax and call the wife!’ I called her and I said, ‘You won’t believe this, but I was in a disco and there was somebody doing your voice. This time, they’re ready for us!” 

Thursday, July 4, 2019

I Got Your Number

The Jags : Back of My Hand

In July of 1979 The Jags entered the power pop pantheon with their debut EP, featuring the hit "Back of My Hand". In September the single would enter the U.K. charts, peaking at #17 and drawing comparisons to Elvis Costello to which lead vocalist Nick Watkinson responded "I'm no cheapskate Elvis Costello." He went on to tell Sounds 

"I've never tried to impersonate him. For a start, we're more humorous, more tongue in cheek than him. He's much more bitchy and venomous. Like a middle aged child! In any case, that Costello style of vocal all came from the Brinsleys ( Brinsley Schwarz). Both Costello and (Graham) Parker have just exaggerated and extended Nick Lowe's Brinsely vocal style. And that's all I've done."

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Since the River Took Emmy Lou

Neil Young + Crazy Horse : Powderfinger

In July of 1979 Neil Young and Crazy Horse released Rust Never Sleeps, a concert film and, strangely, a live album with most of the audience sounds removed. The band had reunited and spent much of 1978 on tour, working up some new songs like  the acoustic "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," the electric "Powderfinger" and the neo-grunge sounding "Sedan Delivery."  The album follows the dreary, return to Harvest-sound-alike Comes A Time, an album Young could no longer enjoy playing. Here, on Side Two at least, his feet and frets are firmly planted in rock + roll.

"I’ve got a job to do,” Young told Rolling Stone's Cameron Crowe. “The Eighties are here. I’ve got to just tear down whatever has happened to me and build something new. You can only have it for so long before you don’t have it anymore. You become an old-timer . . . which . . . I could be . . I don’t know.

 “After all, it’s just me and Frank Sinatra left on Reprise Records.”

I've always been a bit torn about "My My, Hey Hey (Out Of the Blue)", because it's not the story of Johnny Rotten, is it? The Sex Pistols had burned out, performing their last concert in San Francisco in January of 1978.  But it was Sid Vicious who had died earlier in this year. So Neil couldn't find a rhyme for Vicious? Superstitious? Suspicious? Ambitious? Golden Delicious? I'm probably way off because I haven't seen anyone else question the lyrics.

Sadly, Kurt Cobain would quote the song in his suicide note. "I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away." 

Rust Never Sleeps finished #2 on the Village Voice's Pazz + Jop critics poll, behind Graham Parker's Squeezing Out Sparks and buoyed by the magazine nominating Young as "Artist of the Decade". The album received a rare grade of A+ from the dean of rock critics, Robert Christgau who wrote :

For the decade's greatest rock and roller to come out with his greatest album in 1979 is no miracle in itself -- the Stones made Exile as grizzled veterans. The miracle is that Young doesn't sound much more grizzled now than he already did in 1969; he's wiser but not wearier, victor so far over the slow burnout his title warns of. The album's music, like its aura of space-age primitivism, seems familiar, but while the melodies work because they're as simple and fresh as his melodies have always been, the offhand complexity of the lyrics is unprecedented in Young's work: "Pocahantas" makes "Cortez the Killer" seem like a tract, "Sedan Delivery" turns "Tonight's the Night" on its head, and the Johnny Rotten tribute apotheosizes rock-and-roll-is-here-to-stay. Inspirational Bumper Sticker: "Welfare mothers make better lovers."

Rolling Stone's Paul Nelson was also a big fan of the album, writing:

For anyone still passionately in love with rock +roll, Neil Young has made a record that defines the territory. Defines it, expands it, explodes it. Burns it to the ground.

Monday, July 1, 2019

These Are The Good Times

Chic : Good Times

In July of 1979, Chic's "Good Times" skyrocketed up the American and U.K.charts where it would peak at #1 and #5 respectively. What the record buying and disco dancing public probably never guessed is that the grooviest tune of the summer was a protest song. Nile Rodgers broke it down in an interview at Seattle's Experience Music Project ( now MoPop):

At the time that we wrote Good Times, the country was undergoing the worst economic depression that it's seen like the since the Great Depression, which is what they used to say, and people were furious with us for writing a song Good Times. And we used to look at people, and we were befuddled, and we went, What are you talking about? And we realized that we had done our job so effectively that all of our lyrics were shrouded in double-entendre because there was no way that I was ever just gonna write a song about partying and dancing. I mean, I'm a Black Panther, what are you talking about? And so it was always about compromise.

So when we wrote Good Times, what did we do? We went back to the Great Depression. Here's Good Times, the lyrics are [sings from "Good Times"], "Happy days are here again," which is directly [sings "Happy Days" from 1930s]: "Happy days are here again, the sky's na-na, let's get together, how about a quarter to ten? The stars are gonna twinkle and shine this evening about a quarter to nine."

I mean, this was all seriously thought-out stuff. We didn't just randomly write this. This was protest shrouded in double-entendre. I mean it was all of this stuff that had, as Bernard and I used to call it, DHM: deep hidden meaning.
If the song didn't have any DHM, we weren't putting it out! We, we would work on a song until it had a sufficient amount of DHM, and then we were cool with it.