Monthly Archives: April 2013

In search of the girl from U.N.C.L.E.

A couple of thoughts in the wake of Record Store Day 2013.

Have we come full circle?

On the local hard-rock FM radio station last week, they were making a big deal about playing a vinyl record with Record Store Day approaching. They said they’d gotten the record from the attic. It was Phantom, Rocker and Slick doing “Men Without Shame.” Had to look that up. It was from late 1985, early 1986.

One day long ago, as we drove into Milwaukee in the earliest ’90s, we were listening to another hard-rock FM radio station. They were making a big deal about going digital, playing nothing but CDs. I don’t remember the song, but I vividly remember thinking it was the end of an era.

Funny how that’s worked out.

And am I just a square?

Record Store Day carries a certain vibe, a certain energy. People dig it. It’s good for the folks behind the counter. Yet it seems as if it disrupts the familiar rhythms of the laid-back record store. I’m left with the lingering feeling that Record Store Day is somehow not for me. It seems a bit like Amateur Night.

From that long list of special Record Store Day releases, my wish list was short. (I know, I know. I’m not in the record labels’ target demographic.) I’d hoped to find “The Girl from U.N.C.L.E” soundtrack re-release, but no.

Tempted by a Shuggie Otis comp (some of the songs I already have) and by the bright yellow vinyl of a Joan Jett re-release but working on a limited budget, this is what came home.

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“Never My Love,” Donny Hathaway, from the Atco 7-inch, a Record Store Day release. This Donny Hathaway fan blog guesses it’s from the mid- to late ’70s.

This is a gospel-tinged cover of the soft, gentle song that was written by the Addrisi Brothers and a hit for The Association in 1967. The flip side is “Memory Of Our Love,” a nice bit of sophisticated ’70s soul written by Hathaway.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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The kicker, the go-go girls and Nixon

On the sports wire today was a short item out of Missoula, Montana, that Errol Mann, an NFL kicker during the ’70s, had passed away.

That name rang a bell. He’d played for the Green Bay Packers, although almost no one remembers that. Needing to check a few details, I went to the microfilm. It took me back to the fall of 1968, when October turned to November.

These are some of the things you find while looking for other things.

They wanted to ban go-go girls in De Pere, the next town over.

The thinking was that the dancers lured an undesirable element to the bars that lined Main Avenue, just a couple of blocks away from St. Norbert College, a small Catholic institution.

“Nixon’s the one,” the Press-Gazette proclaimed on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

I vividly remember the night before. We lived an hour to the south, in Sheboygan. My friend asked me to help deliver his papers. So we sat at the Cities Service station until 10 p.m., when at long last the Sheboygan Press truck dropped off our stacks. We took one look at the front page, and we knew why the papers were six hours late. Sure, they’d waited for election results. But there also was a color picture of Nixon. In 1968, they rarely ran color because it took so long to set up the press.

Johnny Cash headlined a pair of sold-out shows at the Bay Theater in downtown Green Bay on Monday, Nov. 11.

Cash, then just 36, was touring to support “At Folsom Prison,” his smash LP. It had just gone gold two weeks before. He performed along with the Carter Family, his relatively new in-laws and Nashville royalty. His old pal Carl Perkins, a decade past his hit-making prime but also just 36, was on the bill, too. So were the Statler Brothers, who were just getting going. It was pretty much the same group that had performed at Folsom Prison in California 11 months earlier.

Green Bay was the second stop on a whirlwind tour that took Cash and his entourage from Iowa to Wisconsin to North Carolina to West Virginia to Tennessee to Missouri for seven nights of shows over eight days.

I was just 11. I knew about go-go dancers from watching TV with my dad. I watched the Packers with my dad on Sundays, and I fancied myself a kicker, so I knew about Errol Mann. But I don’t think I knew about Johnny Cash. It was before I started listening to Top 40 AM radio for hours.

On TV on Saturday mornings, and perhaps on a cereal box, there was this:

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“Bang Shang-A-Lang,” the Archies, 1968. Originally released on “The Archies” LP from that year. I have it on “The Archies’ Greatest Hits,” 1970, which is available on CD and digitally.

This song was among the “fastest movers” climbing the WLS Hit Parade in that first week of November 1968, up to No. 19 from No. 28.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Boom shaka laka laka by the lake

Depending on your passion, today was a day chock full of anticipation.

If you dig the Green Bay Packers, as many in these parts do, you likely enjoyed getting the first glimpse of the preseason schedule. Though preseason football is unwatchable, it means the season is that much closer.

If you dig music and beer, as many in these parts do, you likely enjoyed getting the first glimpse at the headliners for all the side stages at Summerfest. That’s the huge festival on the lakefront in Milwaukee.

In each case, you learn what you’ll be seeing, but not when.

There’s a fair amount of wishful thinking that goes into perusing that Summerfest list. Of the 63 side stage acts — Summerfest casts a wide net — only three or four look interesting.

I’d drive a couple of hours and put up with thousands of people to see Buddy Guy and Lewis Black, and to see whatever constitutes the Spinners and Morris Day and the Time these days.

Some of the acts I’ve seen: Billy Idol, Dr. John and Pat Benatar (all of whom I’d see again) and Alice Cooper, Styx and the Eagles (all of whom I’d pass on, unless Alice was playing his straight-up rock show minus the Halloween theatrics).

I’m most stoked for our son Evan. Three of his fave bands — Bad Religion, Social Distortion and Dropkick Murphys — are among the side stage headliners. It’s fun to see him digging it, but Pops must observe from a respectable distance these days. I get that. Maybe his experience will be like mine once was.

Thirty years ago, we saw Tina Turner on a side stage at Summerfest. She was just 43, but was considered an oldies act. She had split from Ike Turner, had no record contract and was touring with two backup singers.

Yet on that night, on that side stage in the middle of the Summerfest grounds, it was wild. To call her show sizzling or scorching or incendiary doesn’t do it justice. It was insane. You couldn’t believe what you were seeing and hearing.

tinaturnerballofconfusion45

“Ball of Confusion,” Tina Turner, 1982. It’s a single culled from “B.E.F.: Music of Quality and Distinction, Volume 1,” a British comp on which Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh of Heaven 17 did duets with a variety of partners. The LP is out of print but the single is available digitally.

Maybe we heard this. Hard to say. That long-ago night is a blur.

This Temptations cover became a top-5 hit in Norway in 1982. That got Turner a record deal in the UK. She and the gents from Heaven 17 then covered Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” a top-10 hit in the UK in 1983. That got her a record deal in the States. “Private Dancer” followed in 1984, and the rest is history.

Please visit our other blog, The Midnight Tracker, for more vintage vinyl, one side at a time.

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Filed under April 2013, Sounds