Tag Archives: 1977

Can’t you see? No, not really

Heard today that the Marshall Tucker Band will be playing our local vintage movie palace-turned-performance venue in a few weeks.

That show, on April 2, will come almost 40 years to the day since I saw the Marshall Tucker Band.


Well, sort of. The Marshall Tucker Band was on stage at the Quandt gym in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, on Friday, April 1, 1977. I was in the audience. I was 19. Many other details have been hazy ever since.

The Marshall Tucker Band was one of the biggest names in country rock, which itself was big at the time. They were at their peak, touring behind the “Carolina Dreams” LP and having just released “Heard It in a Love Song” as a single. Both the album and the single turned out to be their biggest hits.


It was a big deal that they’d play this small college town in central Wisconsin. Point was a half-hour’s drive south for us. When I say us, I can’t be more specific than that. Don’t remember who I went with.

We went to a house party before the show. I want to say it was a little house on Division Street, the main north-south drag in Point and just off campus. Someone knew some guys that lived there. Older guys, maybe seniors, maybe 23, 24, 25. Turned out to be way too much party for that 19-year-old kid.

Even so, I vividly recall sitting in the cluttered living room of that little house, really digging a Steely Dan record. It might have been “Countdown to Ecstasy.” That detail also has been lost to the haze of time. It’s proof, though, that I really must have been overserved. I never liked Steely Dan.

At some point, I was sure we needed to get over to the gym. Whoever I went with said, nah, we have plenty of time. So of course we were late.

This review of the show was from The Pointer, the student paper. It was written by a guy I met when we both transferred to college in Eau Claire that fall. Just about everything in his review is news to me, especially that it poured that night.


Turns out there was a mad rush to the seats. No wonder I wound up a million miles from the stage. One side of the Quandt gym has two tiers of bleachers. I found a spot along the front railing of the top tier, near an aisle. I sat and kneeled there as best I could.

There, my friends, is where the story fully fades into the haze of time.

Save for one detail. I never liked the Marshall Tucker Band, either.

Not when you could hear this fine piece of hippie country rock on the late-night free-form FM radio of the time.


“Two Hangmen,” Mason Proffit, from “Wanted,” 1969.

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Filed under February 2017, Sounds

Chatting with Michael

Never imagined yesterday morning that when I tweeted my two cents’ worth about the J. Geils Band’s prospects for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that I would wind up discussing it with a gent who knows a bit about rock and roll and fame.

Our brief exchange:

I would like to go to Cleveland and visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame someday. My friend Larry was there this summer. Judging from Larry’s pictures, it looked like the Hall of Fame had a bunch of fun stuff.

But that’s the extent of my interest. You go ahead and vote for this year’s nominees. I’ll sit it out.

I’ve never been particularly interested in who’s in …

That said, of the 19 nominees for the Class of 2017, I’d vote for the Electric Light Orchestra, Chic, Janet Jackson, Joe Tex and the MC5 before I’d vote for the J. Geils Band.

… nor outraged at who’s not …

That said, Harry Nilsson, Pat Benatar, Peter Frampton and Warren Zevon are not in. Def Leppard, Yes, the Guess Who and the Moody Blues are not in. Just the tip of the iceberg. So many more are worthy as well.

Now for that brief discussion with Mr. Des Barres, who has been rocking and rolling since the earliest ’70s and whom I listen to weekday mornings on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Sirius XM.

I’m still not sure the J. Geils Band merits enshrinement, even though I once wrote a fan’s guide to all 14 of their studio and live albums, which I have.

The J. Geils Band was a tremendous live band. They fortified their act by rescuing vintage soul, R&B and blues singles from obscurity and introducing them to new, younger audiences over the first half of a 15-year recording career that started in 1970. Those energetic covers have seemingly better stood the test of time than the original songs by Peter Wolf and Seth Justman that dominated the second half of that run.

In other words … “First I Look At The Purse,” “Lookin’ For A Love” and “(Ain’t Nothin’ But A) House Party” > “Love Stinks,” “Centerfold” and “Freeze-Frame.”

That said, I do wish them well and certainly would applaud their election.

I do. Yes, I do.


“I Do,” the J. Geils Band — then billing itself only as “Geils” — from “Monkey Island,” 1977. Also available digitally.

It’s a cover of the Marvelows’ 1965 hit. This is the studio version. They also do it live on “Showtime,” their third live album, which came out in 1982.


Filed under October 2016

The new year finally arrives

While working out on New Year’s Day, this was the first song to pop up on the iPod in 2013.


“This Time It’s For Real,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, from “This Time It’s For Real,” 1977. The album is out of print, but the song is available digitally.

This Jersey R&B stormer, written by Steve Van Zandt, was a great way to get the new year started. Love all those horns.

I should write that, I thought that day. But as so often happens, other stuff comes up and I didn’t write about it right away.

But now that the Packers’ season is over, so is our long grind at work. It comes with the territory when you’re part of the news biz in Green Bay, of course.

Many are disappointed after last night’s game. Me? Not so much. Feels a little like New Year’s Day all over again.

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

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Filed under January 2013, Sounds

I remember yesterday, too

You may know Donna Summer’s 1977 album “I Remember Yesterday” as the one that delivered “I Feel Love,” her groundbreaking techno-dance hit.

However, you may not know that “I Remember Yesterday” is a concept album. It showcased Summer’s versatility on tunes inspired by 30 years of popular music.

It was featured here in November 2008, on a day when we needed some sunny pop goodness to fend off the gloom.

Today, having heard the news of Donna Summer’s passing from cancer at 63, we again are in need of some sunny pop goodness to fend off the gloom.

So please follow this link back to our earlier post and enjoy the greatness of Donna Summer.


Filed under May 2012, Sounds

Back home for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving night, much like Christmas night, once was a time when we’d have our legal limit of the family, flee the house and hit the bars with our friends.

But it was a cruel tease, especially if you were in college. You had a long weekend, then had to head back to campus for to grind it out for roughly three weeks — including finals — before you could return home for Christmas.

You’d come home, disconnected from your hometown, out of the social loop. You’d make a few phone calls — or hope that someone would call you — to try to figure out who was around and what was going on.

This is the first such Thanksgiving weekend for my nephew Jake, who almost certainly has relied on texts and/or Facebook — who makes phone calls anymore? — to try to figure out what’s happening around his hometown.

When Jake drives back to school on Sunday, he’ll take the same road I did in November 1977, after my first Thanksgiving home from college. Our schools are about 25 miles apart.

So, Jake, wanna hear what your old unk was listening to back then?

Ah, didn’t think so. Too bad, man. Gonna cue it up anyway.

“Gettin’ Lucky,” Head East, from “Gettin’ Lucky,” 1977. The LP is out of print but available digitally.

That never happened during Thanksgiving break. Or Christmas break. Or summer break. This tune, written by guitarist Mike Somerville, rather neatly sums up that futility.

Head East was one of those Midwest rock bands we dug at the time.

“I Never Dreamed,” Lynyrd Skynyrd, from “Street Survivors,” 1977.

This laid-back tune about a spurned lover’s remorse comes from a record that got plenty of play at our tiny off-campus apartment that fall. Dig the sweet instrumental intro and outro.

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Filed under November 2010, Sounds

That ’70s song, Vols. 25 and 26

Amazing Records, our local used vinyl record emporium, is all but gone now. Jim thought he’d close the store at the end of April. That became the end of May, and then the end of June.

They were lugging the big wooden bins out the door as I drove past yesterday. But the “Open” sign was still on, as it was today. Jim said as long as it was on, it was OK to stop in.

Jim wasn’t there today, but Bruce was. Bruce helps out on weekends. He was throwing vinyl into boxes bound for California. I explained that Jim had said it was OK to stop in, so Bruce pointed me to three small stacks of LPs. Nope. Nothing there.

If you live near Cotati, California, near Sonoma State University, go visit Jim when he reopens Amazing Records later this summer. He’ll have a bunch of nice records.

Two of the records that kept tempting me during Amazing Records’ last days were albums with tunes from the charts in June 1970.

I thought about getting “Are You Ready,” the Pacific Gas & Electric LP with the hit single of the same name. It was the real thing from 1970.

I thought about getting “Just A Stone’s Throw Away,” the 1977 debut album by singer Valerie Carter. I bought it in 1977 only because it had a nice cover of “O-o-h Child,” the great single by the Five Stairsteps.

But I got neither.

As for PG&E, I just wasn’t in the mood for old West Coast blues-rock jams. I should have bought it for the album art alone.

As for Valerie Carter, I’d be buying it for the same reason I bought it in 1977 — for one song. That I rarely otherwise listened to the rest of it is why it went out in the Great Album Purge of 1989.

But I still dig those tunes from the summer of 1970.

“Are You Ready,” Pacific Gas & Electric, from “Are You Ready,” 1970. It’s out of print, but is available on this double CD with the group’s first Columbia album from 1969. This is the longer album version.

PG&E was that rare group, at least for the time, with black and white musicians. I always thought they were from San Francisco. Nope. They came together in Los Angeles in 1967 and lasted until 1972.

“O-o-h Child,” the Five Stairsteps, 1970, from “The Stairsteps,” 1970. It’s out of print. I have it on “The Best of Buddah,” a 1976 LP. It’s also available on “First Family of Soul: The Best of the Five Stairsteps,” a best-of CD.

The Five Stairsteps was made up of five kids — four boys and a girl — from the Burke family of Chicago. They recorded first on Curtis Mayfield’s Windy City and Curtom labels before moving to Buddah. They later became the Stairsteps and broke up in the late ’70s.


Filed under July 2010, Sounds

Songs for Andy

Andy is my friend. We are kindred spirits, throwbacks to old-school newsrooms that were full of characters.

Andy’s busy tonight. He’s getting ready to help some people who desperately need help.

Andy is, among a vast circle of friends, a legend. A burly, flat-topped, gregarious, swaggering legend.

Sometime in the next 24 hours, Andy will pass into legend.

Andy was sitting in the newsroom on Monday night, watching the 10 p.m. news. He had what his family calls “a significant brain incident.” Maybe a stroke, maybe an aneurysm. We don’t know.

Andy is 38.

Tomorrow morning, Andy will head to the operating room. He’ll be working with the organ procurement team from Madison, giving some other folks what they so urgently need.

Later on, we’ll say goodbye to Andy. Wherever they have it, there won’t be room enough for all of Andy’s friends.

A former football lineman who stood 6-foot-5, Andy spent his vacations working security at Summerfest in Milwaukee and at Brat Days in Sheboygan, where we both grew up. He covered cops, courts and fires and loved hanging with those folks. He worked at a bar on the side. He organized summer cookouts in the parking lot, Mardi Gras potlucks in the newsroom and countless other adventures. He quietly did countless small, random acts of kindness that no one ever found out about.

About now, Andy probably would demand that I shut the fuck up.

OK, how about a little Buffett, then?

“Growing Older But Not Up,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Coconut Telegraph,” 1980.

“Lovely Cruise,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.

It has been a lovely cruise. Peace, my man.

Postscript: Andy Nelesen passed into legend shortly after noon on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. According to Andy’s family, his death was caused by a burst blood vessel in the pons area of the brain stem.

A second postscript: Since Andy passed on Thursday, we have been treated to some gorgeously sunny days and some beautifully moonlit nights. Those nights have been so bright, the moon casts shadows on the snow. OK, pal, now you’re just showing off.


Filed under January 2010, Sounds