Archive for the bad '70s music Category

month of 70’s GPM: superstition (stevie wonder)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, music, political animal on January 19, 2009 by wrekehavoc

and to think that i saw it on sesame street!

only because happy birthday technically came out in 1980, i’ll pick a different stevie wonder song. (but happy birthday, Dr. King!) let me tell you — picking a stevie wonder pop hit for this is tough. this guy wrote some of the most amazing standards — and he’s still at it today, over 40 years after he started.

so i’ll just pick out superstition, a song originally meant for jeff beck. covered a zillion times by groups as varied as the jonas brothers (gah) and stevie ray vaughn — a phrase you can say about tons of wonder’s works, btw — it’s just a funky little jaunt into the world of old wives and the tales that love them.  when the song was recorded, stevie wasn’t little stevie anymore (the moniker must have driven him nuts when he was a teen), but he wasn’t exactly aged either — 22 or so. his clavinet just kicks, as does the horn section, as well as pretty much every damn thing about the song.

yep. so. damn. hard. to pick between this one and higher ground (for you power ranger fan kids, the red hot chili peppers covered this, not the other way around.)

or even harder to not mention my most very favorite wonder song — favorite, grand poohbah, top 10 favorite songs of all time as well — which he did but which wasn’t a hit. (but a song which i wrote, word for word, in my daughter’s first birthday card. i’m obsessive like that.)

okay, okay. i’m being completely and unalterably gushy. it’s hard for me not to be when it comes to stevie wonder, even though i just called to say i’m pregnant and you are black and i am white are two incredibly sappy songs which even i cannot tolerate. but then again, you get songs like my cherie amour, which played at my wedding when i danced with my daddy — but that song’s from 1969 and doesn’t count…

i’ll stop. but i think you get the picture. i’m a bit crazy about the wonder dude.

…not to be confused with the other wonder dude, whose birth we’re celebrating today.

month of 70’s GPM: we are family (sister sledge)

Posted in bad '70s music, FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 16, 2009 by wrekehavoc

i got all my brothers with me. no sisters, though. can i still qualify?

there’s nothing like the sound of philadelphia (except for the eponymous song, i suppose.) so many musical greats came out of that grey, grey city. while not in that league of greats, sister sledge certainly has had a decent career in the top 40, no thanks to me, of course. (i could care less, for example, for their song he’s the greatest dancer, which is utter drek.)

but i always love when families can put aside their sibling rivalries and form a band.  let’s see, there’s the osmonds, the jacksons, the cowsills, the partridges… such happy, loving people who always got along! and of course the sisters sledge, who really have been singing together since childhood. once the magical production team of nile rodgers and bernard edwards from chic took them under their proverbial wings, they came up with two hits. the latter i’ve already mentioned not liking.

but we are family? how can you NOT like this song? it’s joyful, it’s fun, and hell, it can even be construed as a feministic anthem for women everywhere.  (which may explain why it was also good enough for the pittsburgh pirates.)

anyway, my twisted mini-memory of this song comes courtesy of toms river intermediate west, which has since been renamed toms river intermediate north, which should ALSO not be confused with toms river high school north. (my hometown has a slightly screwy school-naming situation. it is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, one might say.)

the big excitement of eighth grade would be the year-end talent show. i still remember being one of the lucky kids selected to be in the end of year talent show, though i cannot, in fact, recall what my talent was or how i performed it. (i do remember the christmas show, where i performed a milquetoast song called christmas is a feeling while some high-pitched eunich boy sang along. yes, virginia, christmas is a feeling; a feeling of wanting to self-immolate.)

nevertheless, i do remember the big finale — everyone danced down the narrow stage to we are family. i still recall this one girl, angela, from south toms river (a place where i would not dare to go at that time for fear of being killed) who danced so amazingly. i wanted soooo badly to dance like her, but alas, as a nice jewish girl, i knew that i would not. i simply looked stellar in my white pants with attached suspenders (this was 1979, after all); in retrospect, considering there were strobe lights and such, i wonder whether everyone could see my underpants.  (thank Dog i had no idea at the time or i would have never, ever lived down my mortification.)

yep. we are family reminds me that no matter how stupid i looked, there were people in the world who still publicly admitted to being my relatives. lucky for me, they still do.

but just in case, i think i’ll avoid white pants at all costs.

month of 70’s GPN: jackie blue (ozark mountain daredevils)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, ms. malaprop, music on January 15, 2009 by wrekehavoc

drummers who can sing while they drum make me feel unworthy.

i don’t know much about the ozark mountain daredevils; in fact, i don’t think they ever had another hit after jackie blue.

no matter. jackie is a portrait of a alice in strung-out-land; a seeker of joy who never, ever seems to have the patience of finding it. the lazy slide guitar emotes some sort of druggy lethargy that pretty much clinched the song for me. everyone knows someone who, whether drugged up or not, seems to crave happiness but who is his or her own worst enemy in this department.

i just love people who ask me for advice, only to have them flout it afterwards. i mean, it’s not like i corner the market on sense, but if someone asks me what i think, i will take some time to consider things before i spout off my mouth. (well, if i care about them, lol. but seriously…) then, when they basically blow everything i said out the proverbial window, i wonder why i even bothered.

even better is when they return for MORE ADVICE. i sometimes wonder whether i ought to charge people. of course, as an amateur psychologist [read: kids, don't try this at home], i’m really not permitted to charge a la Lucy Van Pelt. but maybe it would be a deterrent. it’d probably be better for my mental health, at any rate.

but i digress. per usual.

anyway, in sum: don’t know much about the ozark mountain daredevils. love jackie blue. and don’t ask for my advice or opinions on matters unless you are prepared to consider it.

and if you come back with more questions after ignoring what i said initially, come prepared with a nickle.

and don’t be mad when i tell you i told you so.

month of 70’s GPM: will it go round in circles (billy preston)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 14, 2009 by wrekehavoc

it will if you keep smokin’ that shit, dude.

you know that keyboard solo in get back? you know, the one you compulsively play in your sleep, on your dashboard, on your kid’s head? (oh wait. that’s a thought that needs to stay inside my head. sorry, folks.) well, that’s the only non-Beatle to be credited as an artist on a Beatle album, the late, great william everett preston.

billy preston played keyboards probably before he was toilet trained, i suspect. at 10, he was playing in mahalia jackson’s backup band. 10. (10! that’s BC’s age. i cannot imagine girlfriend getting onstage with her flute to help out ian anderson.) he played with a lot of greats — you can pretty much name anybody, and i suspect he was there.

for a time, he had a great solo gig going, thanks to the continued support of his Beatle buddy, george harrison (hold onto your funky fresh ‘fro for outa-space.) for me, will it go round in circles is the best of his best. don’t really know what the hell the song is about. don’t really care, either. mr. man has included some amazing keyboard work, and the horns kill.

later on, he did a ton of work for the stones and others, but he returned to play at the stellar concert for george when his dear friend harrison died of throat cancer.  sadly, in spite of a kidney transplant, preston died only a few years later.

but his solos will spin circles around anyone else’s work forever.

month of 70’s GPM: american pie (don mclean)

Posted in bad '70s music, BS (beloved spouse), FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 13, 2009 by wrekehavoc

stifler’s mom never enters this discussion.

oh, i know. i hear you all groaning.  and in truth, i’m not as fond of this one as i was when i was a pre-teen; when i discovered the real meaning of american pie.

::insert melodramatic music here::

but i still think it’s worthy of my guilty-fied love. see, my oldest brother, aka BTD, had done a report in high school on the what the song was all about. i think it was the first time in my life i had ever actually figured out that words could have more than one meaning.

::insert melodramatic music here again::

in short, it freaked me out. (but in a good way, i would add.) i remember the frustration: you had to turn the 45 over to hear the rest of the damn song.  i also wasn’t thrilled that mclean trashed MY beatles and MY stones in favor of some bug-eyed dude from texas (who i have since grown to appreciate over the years, thank–you-very-much.) but i was enthralled by the idea of allegory (even if my fifth or sixth grade self was not yet acquainted with the term). i couldn’t wait to write some epic poem using this sort of subterfuge.

of course, i never did, though i did help that older brother decipher  sweet baby james for another paper, scouring out the meaning from a few heroin-soaked lines of nostalgia. (or did i write the paper for my class? not entirely sure all these years later, and i’m quite certain BTD has blotted out most memories prior to 1985. so i guess we’ll never know, fair reader. ah, these deep and impenetrable mysteries of life.)

anyway, i’m not a huge fan of mclean’s career (though vincent is a gorgeous, somber song), but i can acknowledge that american pie is a sort of landmark experience on the pop chart. and what happens when you write a landmark-type song?

parodies.

too many to list, of course, but a song like this is clearly inspirational to many.

there’s bye, bye french canadian guy.

there’s kelso’s version.

and of course, where’s there’s a parody, there’s always weird al.

[note to readers: bear in mind that BS will now be walking around the house singing about one day becoming a jedi, or however the hell that last song goes. in short, i have just punished myself for the entire month of really awful music from back in november. you're welcome.]

month of 70’s GPM: everything i own (bread)

Posted in bad '70s music, FAMILY, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 12, 2009 by wrekehavoc

okay, i expect to take a lot of crap for this one, but i don’t care.

you may find it utterly inconceivable that someone who likes this would also like this. and to be truthful, plenty of bread’s schlock rock output makes me want to hurl. but i have a soft spot in my heart for any song that has a really lovely melody. blame my dad: he’s the one who shared a ton of music with me at an early age. in the early 1970s, how many people had a dad who listened to prokofiev, leonard bernstein, scott joplin, and the beatles? and fraaaaaaaaankie, of course. show of hands, please?

i thought so.

now, i suspect my dad wouldn’t enjoy metal or punk much; and i don’t forsee him clamoring for country music any time soon. but over the years, he has been somewhat open-minded about music. i bet, for example, that if i made him a mixtape of some of the more melodic tori amos stuff i adore, he would enjoy it, too. (of course, he’d be baffled by the lyrics, but then again, isn’t everyone?)

but i digress.

anyway, behind the mellow sounds of bread, there was a whole lot of tension baking and burning. lead singer david gates also ended up writing the A-sides of singles, and singer jimmy griffith always ended up with the B-sides, in spite of the fact that he was an incredibly talented songwriter, partially responsible (under a pseudonym) for the academy award-winning song for all we know. yep, by 1973, you could stick a fork in this band; they were toast. (sorry; couldn’t help myself.) they reunited in various forms until griffith and drummer mike botts both succumbed to cancer in 2005.

but everything i own is gates’ beautiful tribute to his father. i don’t think i could ever write anything quite as beautiful for my dad, but i’ll keep trying. and as long as he tolerates my blather on these pages, well, that’s a start.

so here you go, dad. a song that’s melodic and just simply pretty.

enjoy!

month of 70’s GPM: i can see clearly now (johnny nash)

Posted in bad '70s music, BC (beloved child the elder), guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 9, 2009 by wrekehavoc

reggae, meet wreke. wreke, meet reggae.

love at first sight.

in 1972, plenty of americans had no earthly idea what reggae music was. pity, too, because this was a great time to hear bob marley and the wailers (before they split and then marley formed bob marley & the wailers. no, i don’t make this up.)  but american johnny nash was well aware of it, as he spent a ton of time in jamaica and knew marley, tosh, and others. in fact, several songs on the album from which i can see clearly now comes from are written by marley, including stir it up, which was first a hit for nash and NOT for marley.

but not i can see clearly now.

in an era where a lot of the pop was downer city, johnny nash’s bright, uptempo single simply shined. other 1972 hits were completely sad or very restrained — everything from alone again, naturally (a playful ditty about offing yourself) to the re-release of nights in white satin (okay, you got me on what this one’s about… but it’s very somber and takes itself waaaaay too seriously.) how couldn’t it shine with this sort of company?

it still shines, i think; and on days when i’m feeling especially sour, i listen to it in hopes that things will look up soon. (of course, that gets me nowhere during periods like this past fall, but it’s pretty to think it will work.)

anyway, it would be a few years before any sort of reggae would capture any bit of the american ear. (no, i don’t count clapton’s version of i shot the sheriff, which i loathe.) i know it seemed like love at first sight when i heard bob marley’s kind of music. i loved it so much, i asked for it to be played while i was in labor with BC. i thought listening to the wailers would keep me from needing pain meds. (seriously. delusional.)

but that music and i had met before. via johnny nash.

month of 70’s GPM: got to give it up (marvin gaye)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 8, 2009 by wrekehavoc

MORE COWBELL!

well yesterday, i did talk about songs that made me feel like i’m at a party. this is one of those songs that qualifies. and how. got to give it up (part 1) is a song by marvin gaye, a dude who was killed by his own dad  (which definitely gives one pause) way before his time.

frankly, i could do a month of songs i love by marvin gaye, but then i’d probably hear tumbleweeds flying across my blog. (unless, of course, i wrote about let’s get it on and provided some sort of references that would bring in the porn crowd. of course, according to my stats, they end up here anyway, probably thanks to my potty mouth. no matter.)

so let me stick to got to give it up. girlfriend loves  a song about shy guys, and this one concerns shy marvin (like i’d believe that) and his fear of the dance floor. fortunately, the groove gets him going and he and his bell bottoms live happily ever after… well, happily enough, in between two divorces, court dates, drug addiction, and his dad taking him out with a gun he had given pops a few months prior. [note to self: firearms make terrible presents.]

::going back to my happy place::

ehem. so, as i was saying. it’s a party song. i love me a good party. and i prefer the image of marvin dancing around as opposed to marvin rockin’ a coffin. hell, the song was so good, both michael AND the jacksons stole from it for later 70s hits.  (let’s dance/let’s shout/get funky what it’s all about! was not written by tito and the gang; it came from marvin.)

it’s not political like some of his work. it’s not even remotely grrrrrrrowly like some of his other work.

but it’s got a good beat. you can dance to it.

month of 70’s GPM: some kind wonderful (grand funk railroad)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 7, 2009 by wrekehavoc

not to be confused with the movie of the same name

some kind of wonderful is actually a cover song for grand funk, much like another monster hit, the loco-motion. it’s hard for me to choose which one i love better so i flipped a coin. (sue me; i don’t have to be logical. it’s my blog, after all.) kudos to one of my secret boyfriends todd rundgren who produced this LP for the band. it made them commercial, it made them real, all at the same time.

anyway, i was a wee lass of 9 when this song came out. it doesn’t bring back a specific memory, you should know. i just know that if this song comes out, it is impossible for me to be in a crap mood. (i know. you’re all disappointed i had nothing cynical to say about it. you know, the glass is sometimes half-full, people. it just is.)

and the loco-motion just makes me want to shake my ass. the production makes it sound like it’s live from someone’s basement party. there are songs that sound like they’re emanating from someone else’s good time; and whenever i hear them, it makes me feel like i’m at the party, too.

so there. i’m not being cynical. i’m just feeling happy. some kind of wonderful, you might say.

month of 70’s GPM: jet airliner (steve miller band)

Posted in bad '70s music, guilty pleasure monday!, music on January 6, 2009 by wrekehavoc

the unsolved mystery of the bleeped song… not solved here of course, but part of my memories nonetheless.

i must confess, i adore steve miller band’s 1970s output. i spent hours trying to figure out what the pompatus of love was; i nearly injured myself clapping along with take the money and run;  i loved the eerie goofiness of space cowboy; and i wondered why central jersey girls didn’t get their own special shout-out in keep on rockin’ me.  (don’t get me started on his ’80s output: i am horrified whenever i think of  the rhyme abra, abracadabra, i wanna reach out and grab ya.)

but  jet airliner is probably my favorite of his songs. i could never decide which version i liked better:the AM version i heard on my beloved 77 WABC played a line from the song as funky kicks going down in the city. well, of COURSE they did on AM radio. but on progressive FM stations back in the day, the song was played with it’s original lyrics in it’s original cussing glory: funky shit going down in the city.

in fact, i am mystified by my local FM station (which is about as progressive as someone’s grandpa and as local as McDonalds is, of course; a franchise of some uber national conglomerate), which simply bleeps the word shit. what gives? most of the people who remember the song remember the word shit in it and don’t care. but somehow, the worm has turned and bowdlerization is in order. Dog forbid the kids hear the word shit; nevermind the fact that they often listen to the latest misogynistic and violent music without blinking an eye.

ah well. i always think of my days at leonard baer day camp when i hear jet airliner. ah, the days of playing a game called skibble with shaved-down checkers; swimming lessons; plenty of sports; color war; and the inevitable camp out. 1977, when jet airliner was out, was my last year as a camper; and i remember the camp out vividly. we returned from an evening hayride to see our tents all pulled down and messed about. a radio show came on, warning us that the jersey devil was seen in the area. kids were crying.

i wasn’t.

i recognized the guy on the so-called radio show.  it was my big brother BTD and his  radio voice. i immediately figured things out and stayed quiet. eventually, the proverbial jig was up and all was well. but what fun!

i can’t find a camp like that around here for my kids. every camp is specialized: soccer camp, science camp, skating camp, harry potter camp, etc. it’s a pity. cos every time i hear steve miller telling me he has to be moving on, i realize that time has moved on, too. the world is a different place. too afraid, perhaps, of liabilities (hell, when our camp bus broke down, we WALKED a half mile to the pool and no one managed to get run over in the road!); too afraid of kids losing their educational edge in the summers; too afraid of simple fun.

for better or worse, this song immediately brings me back to those times. i wistfully remember them, and i sadly think about how my kids will probably never experience them.

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