Monthly Archives: July 2008

Midnight Tracker sampler, Vol. 8

Sucker for sunny pop goodness (and for charming ladies) that I am, I confess that Bananarama has long been one of my guiltiest pleasures.

You’ll find out how that came to be if you head over to The Midnight Tracker, our other blog.

Tonight’s selection is Side 1 from Bananarama’s self-titled album, which saw plenty of action on the turntable 24 summers ago.

You know “Cruel Summer,” the hit single off that album.

Another of my favorites is this cut, also from Side 1. It’s a sunny, sassy but ultimately sad tale about unattainable women.

“Dream Baby,” Bananarama, from “Bananarama,” 1984.

If you check out the album side, you’ll hear the secret cut that followed this tune at the end of Side 1.

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Far out, man!

Cheech and Chong are getting back together, planning their first standup tour in more than 25 years.

Why now, after having split up in the mid-’80s?

They offered a fairly sensible reason: “We’ve gotten to the age where we don’t feel like fighting anymore because the end is a lot closer than the beginning,” Cheech Marin said.

Theirs is a comedy of its time — the ’70s. I wonder how it’ll play to today’s younger audiences. Will they get what makes the following bit such great satire on several levels? You really had to be there, man.

“Let’s Make a Dope Deal,” Cheech and Chong, from “Big Bambu,” 1972.

Ever heard of Monty Hall, man? No? Where you been living, man?

Oh, you got the CD? Don’t worry about that “parental advisory” and “explicit lyrics” sticker, man. That’s just The Man trying to keep us down, man.

The tour starts Sept. 12, man. More details here.

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Frampton comes alive

Nothing, and I mean nothing, got my pal Herb more agitated than hearing Peter Frampton played like clockwork over the speakers at the pool where he worked during the summer of 1976.

The singles from “Frampton Comes Alive” were all over the radio that summer. You couldn’t escape them. Especially if you were a captive audience, as Herb was. He sat in that lifeguard’s chair day after day, hearing Frampton every two hours or so.

Herb would be so disappointed in me.

I went to see Frampton play at the fair earlier tonight. He was outstanding (as was his tight four-man backing band).

If you have a chance to see Frampton, go, even if you think you’ve had your legal limit of all those old hits. His summer tour goes through mid-September.

Frampton good-naturedly sized up a modest crowd, suggesting that everyone in Seymour, Wisconsin — the home of the Outagamie County Fair — was on hand. Doubtful. Seymour’s population is 3,335. Maybe 2,500 people turned out for Frampton in a venue that holds 6,500. Several hundred folks sat in the more distant grandstand rather than stand with the rest of us on the race track. Those of us who stood on the track got close to the stage. Real close.

Some of the highlights: Covers of “Shotgun” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” to open the show and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to close the encore. The less-often-heard “All I Wanna Be (Is By Your Side)” and “I’ll Give You Money.” Even though I’ve heard “Do You Feel Like We Do” a million times, it was pretty exciting to see and hear it played live, talk box noodling and all.

And, yes, the ladies still dig Peter Frampton. It seemed just like prom night in front of the stage as one couple — perhaps still in their 30s — slow-danced to “Baby I Love Your Way.”

After finishing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” Frampton promised his new album would explore the Motown sound. He also did back-to-back-to-back tunes from “Fingerprints,” his 2006 instrumental album. They were so good, I bought the CD after the show. Gotta support those artists, you know. (I don’t have anything else by Frampton, by the way.)

I’d forgotten that I’d heard Frampton’s cover of the following tune before, but it was a killer when seen and heard live.

“Black Hole Sun,” Peter Frampton, from “Fingerprints,” 2006.

Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready and Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron join Frampton on this one, recorded in Seattle.

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The itinerary

Our 13-year-old son is wrapping up a three-week trip to the ancestral lands on Mom’s side of the family — Scotland and Wales.

Evan also has been to Ireland and England, where the small, non-Germanic sliver of my side of the family hails from.

There are lots of swell things to see in the UK, but the itinerary for his tour group didn’t include one stop I’d make if it were my trip.

What? No stroll across Abbey Road?

Nor a visit to Carnaby Street, or even a ferry ride across the Mersey?

I wonder whether he heard this tune on his more conventional trip.

“Skye Boat Song,” Tom Jones, from “It’s Not Unusual,” 1965. The album is out of print, and this cover of the song isn’t available anywhere I could find.

It’s a traditional Scottish folk song, the tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s escape to the Isle of Skye after being defeated in battle in 1746.

Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing/Onward! the sailors cry/Carry the lad that’s born to be king/Over the sea to Skye.

It’s given a hard-driving R&B treatment by the pride of Wales.

Dig those horns and that Hammond organ, lads and lassies!

(Abbey Road crosswalk photo credit: MadWasabi of Caracas, Venezuela, as found at Worth1000.com)

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Midsummer rhythms

As the thunder rumbles overhead on a sultry, steamy Wisconsin afternoon, I think back to what we often did on this kind of a summer day back in the mid-’70s, when we were growing up in the suburbs of Wausau, Wisconsin.

Everyone ate lunch and dinner at home, so most of the action took place in the afternoon. The routine was much the same, day after day. Eat lunch, hop on your bike and take off. We lived out beyond where the sidewalks ended, so I had to ride along the highway for a mile or so before getting into the subdivisions.

I’d make the rounds of my friends’ houses. We’d hook up and head out. We hung out at the pool where our friend Herb worked. The ladies loved Herb, so it was good to be his pal. We also hung out at the other pool in town, the one where plenty of good-looking girls worked. My brother married one.

When pool break time came at 3 p.m., we’d head to the Stop-N-Go and hang out there for a while, seeing who came by. Our pal Marty lived around the corner from the Stop-N-Go, and we’d convene there for late-afternoon TV — “Match Game” followed by ancient Three Stooges or Flash Gordon shorts. And then home for dinner.

Of course, there are songs I associate with those days. This is one.

“Music,” John Miles, from “Rebel,” 1976.

Our local FM rock station usually was blasting from the speakers at the pools, so we’d sit there, checking out girls and listening to tunes. I vividly remember sitting in the bleachers outside the Rothschild pool in the early summer of 1976 and hearing this remarkable cut.

It careens back and forth from a huge, elegant orchestral sound to straight-up, guitar- and horn-driven rock, with Miles’ falsetto going right over the top. There was nothing else like it on the radio at the time. It certainly sounded out of place at the pool, which may be why I so vividly remember it after all these years.

Some years later, I bought this album solely for this cut. I found there’s more to “Rebel” than “Music.” Maybe we’ll get back to it another day.

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The crush

If you wonder why Linda Ronstadt was such a big deal back in the ’70s, allow me to offer the following into evidence:

And, of course …

Case closed.

(That said, Ronstadt didn’t care much for the image such photos suggested.)

I see in the paper that Linda Ronstadt turns 62 today. That simply is not possible.

You know plenty of her songs. Here’s one you probably know, but may not have realized she’d covered.

“Girls Talk,” Linda Ronstadt, from “Mad Love,” 1980.

This album often is dismissed as “Linda goes New Wave,” and dismissed because it lacks the edgy qualities of the New Wave. Well, duh. This was, and is, a mainstream artist and a mainstream release … even if she did cover three Elvis Costello tunes, including this one.

Ronstadt’s cover of “Girls Talk” — with Nicolette Larson and Rosemary Butler singing backup — is good enough, but Dave Edmunds’ cover remains the definitive version as far as I’m concerned.

This album came into the house when my albums and the lovely Janet’s albums became our albums. It also has the hits “How Do I Make You,” “I Can’t Let Go” (covering the Hollies) and “Hurt So Bad” (covering Little Anthony and the Imperials).

“Mad Love” more or less marked the end of Ronstadt’s dominance on the rock charts. It was the last of six straight Ronstadt albums to crack the Top 5, debuting there and reaching No. 3.

The end of that dominance had nothing to do with fading popularity. Rather, the 34-year-old Ronstadt — who by then had spent 14 years as a folk and rock star — simply decided she wanted to pursue other interests, among them performing on Broadway and recording in a variety of musical styles.

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Plenty cheesy

You may have heard in the news last week that a certain professional athlete seems to be having a tough time making up his mind.

When we last wrote about this athlete, he had decided to retire and leave our town — Green Bay, Wisconsin — for good, or so it seemed. That occasion brought to mind just one tune. I don’t have it, so enjoy this video.

“I’m Tired,” as performed by Madeline Kahn in the 1974 film “Blazing Saddles.”

“I’m tired/Tired of playing the game/Ain’t it a crying shame/I’m so tired/God dammit I’m exhausted”

“Tired, tired of playing the game/Ain’t it a crying shame/I’m so tired”

Now, however, this athlete apparently is no longer tired. That brings to mind one more tune, and one tune only. I don’t have this one, either, so enjoy this video.

“Release Me,” Englebert Humperdinck, from his 1969-70 television show.

“Please release me, let me go/For I don’t love you anymore/To waste our lives would be a sin/So release me and let me love again

“Please release me, can’t you see?/You’d be a fool to cling to me/To live a life would bring us pain/So release me and let me love again”

For those of us who must continue to report about this athlete, and for the many fans of his team, the latest news brings to mind another tune, and one tune only. Again, I don’t have this one, so enjoy the video.

“I’m Doing Fine Now,” New York City, from 1973.

“I’m doing fine now, without you, baby”

A perfect song in, oh, so many ways.

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Filed under July 2008, Sounds like bull to me