Tag Archives: 1978

Cuts from the Christmas crate

There are just too many Christmas records scattered around the blog’s world headquarters. Guess things get that way after 40-plus years. You find a couple every year while digging, and — BOOM! — you find yourself with 100 or so between the albums and the CDs.

Many I know by heart, so they get played less often. Last week, though, I pulled out the crate with the Christmas (and comedy) records and started playing some I haven’t listened to. Most are pleasant enough, but nothing to write home about. That said, here are a couple of cuts I enjoyed last week:

“Jingle Bells,” the Mistletoe Disco Band,” from “Christmas Disco,” 1978. I especially enjoy the Three Degrees/MFSB/”The Sound of Philadelphia” thing going on halfway through. It would not surprise me if the Mistletoe Disco Band was out of Philadelphia.

Of all the styles of Christmas music I’ve listened to lately, Christmas disco is the most fun and most vigorously resists being elevator music.

“Jingle Bells,” Jimmy McGriff, from “Christmas With McGriff,” 1963. Cool Hammond groove on this soul/jazz version arranged by McGriff, who was just 27, just getting started, at the time.

Please stop back for our traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day posts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2020, Sounds

The good, the bad and the Cubs

Van Halen memory No. 1

Eddie Van Halen’s death takes me straight back to when and where I heard Van Halen for the first time.

Summer 1978, home from college, sitting at the Bar Phoenix in Schofield, Wisconsin, a dive bar I’d never been in. The Bar Phoenix had a reputation as a tough place, sort of a roadhouse. We college kids didn’t go there. An older, vaguely countercultural, working-class crowd went there.

But we were there in daylight, on a sun-splashed summer afternoon. We were 21 and had been going to bars for three or four years, so maybe we were getting to look like we knew our way around the block. But probably not. In any case, there weren’t too many people in the bar. It was cool.

Van Halen LP, 1978

Then “Eruption” came on the radio or the jukebox. (No MTV yet!) Mind blown.

It wasn’t long before I went out and bought “Van Halen.” Loved it. Still love it. Still have it.

Van Halen memory No. 2

By the time “Van Halen II” came out in 1979, I’d talked my bosses at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram into letting me write record reviews. I’d worked at the paper for a year and change. I still was 21. I wasn’t all that sophisticated. All these years later, the cringe factor remains strong with these reviews.

I was stoked about the release of “Van Halen II.” Then I listened to it.

Eau Claire Leader-Telegram Record Review column sig

From my review of “Van Halen II” on Saturday, April 21, 1979:

“I want off the bandwagon and I want off now.”

“David Lee Roth seems intent on showing just how bad he can sing. His voice, kind of an I-dare-you stance punctured frequently by a howl reminiscent of a chicken with emphysema, gets boring quickly.”

Though I did like “Dance The Night Away” and “Beautiful Girls,” I didn’t like the rest of “Van Halen II.” Nor did I appreciate what Eddie Van Halen was bringing to the table.

Fun fact No. 1: Who remembers that the first cut on “Van Halen II” was a cover of “You’re No Good?” It was no good. Back then, Linda Ronstadt’s cover of “You’re No Good” from five years earlier was the only one I knew. Dee Dee Warwick? Betty Everett? No way.

Fun fact No. 2: For years, all I had were those two Van Halen records. I’ve since sold “Van Halen II,” never having played it again after reviewing it.

Fun fact No. 3: My other review that day was Joe Jackson’s “Look Sharp!” I liked that one but inexplicably compared him to George Thorogood in that both were serious about sticking to their musical roots. Yeesh, as the kids say.

Van Halen memory No. 3

The theme song to that wonderful summer of 1984, with many afternoons spent watching the Cubs chase their first playoff berth in forever.

Never saw Van Halen play live. Saw half of the group — Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony — and they were pretty good on the Van Hagar songs.

I can only imagine what the real deal was like.

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Filed under October 2020, Sounds

Changes in attitudes

My memories are hazy, but 42 years ago tonight, on March 31, 1978, I saw Jimmy Buffett play at the St. Paul Civic Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Because my memories of that night are hazy, I emailed my friend Doug this morning: “What are your memories, if any, of seeing Jimmy Buffett at the St. Paul Civic Center 42 years ago tonight, March 31, 1978?”

Doug and I had been friends and co-workers for little more than two months back then, but he asked me to go along. Sure, it sounded like an adventure. However, Doug’s memories also are hazy. “Did Linda Ronstadt open?”

No, man, it was Emmylou Harris, and I had look to that up some years ago. I remember nothing from her performance.

Our memories are hazy because both Doug and I are older than dirt, and because way too many substances legal and illegal were enjoyed that evening.

Man, how long ago was that night? I was still almost a year away from dating the young lady I eventually married. So long ago that she and I have since seen two Jimmy Buffett shows together but both were almost 30 years ago.

What I can tell you about that night, having found a review of that show:

— The Concert Bowl was set up in the Civic Center — a hockey rink — by hanging a huge black drape across one of the blue lines, cutting the place in half. There were about 6,000 of us in the place.

— The sound was terrible, especially for two acts with solo acoustic sets.

— It was the first stop on Emmylou’s American tour. She’d just wrapped up a six-week European tour and had a new version of her backing band, the Hot Band. She covered Chuck Berry’s “C’est La Vie” and the Beatles’ “Here, There and Everywhere.”

— Buffett played for almost two hours. Here’s the set list from two nights before at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee. Guessing the St. Paul show was much the same. I imagine 21-year-old me got pretty fired up when Buffett played “Margaritaville” and “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” and “Cheeseburger In Paradise.” But I really don’t remember.

42 years on, give me the more thoughtful songs that 21-year-old me almost certainly didn’t appreciate.

Like this one, co-written by Buffett’s friend, the late, great Steve Goodman.

“Banana Republics,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.

It’s said to be from another show on the Cheeseburger In Paradise tour, from June 1978, a little more than two months later, at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.

Somehow, it seems timely to still be singing about banana republics all these years later. Doesn’t seem that it’ll be too long before we have a bunch of soon-to-be expatriated Americans fleeing to the tropics, one step ahead of the law.

Late at night you will find them
In the cheap hotels and bars
Hustling the senoritas
While they dance beneath the stars

One more fun fact: The night before, Journey played the same venue with Van Halen and Ronnie Montrose as opening acts. Tickets were $6.

Van Halen was just a month into its first national tour.

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Filed under March 2020, Sounds

The summer of the Stones

Heard the other day that it’s been 40 years this month since the Rolling Stones’ “Some Girls” LP charted in America. That record always takes me right back to that summer. I wanted to write about that, to try to re-create that summer of 1978, but it’s been a challenge.

That was the first summer I lived away from home. I worked at the newspaper in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, the first of my 38 summers in the news business. Though a journalist, I never kept a journal. Nor can I find all of my old newspaper clips. Among what I can find, there are none from 40 years ago this week.

In the summer of 1978, when I was 21, I lived in a place called Beaver Lodge. One of my six roommates drove an old GTO. We had a spectacular accident with Johnny’s Goat one day. I didn’t have a girlfriend that summer, just as in all the summers that preceded it.

I started running that summer, wearing an old pair of adidas flats and pounding the streets near the base of the TV tower at the end of the block. I also often walked a couple of blocks to the park and shot baskets. I set my radio at the base of the pole. There, I heard “Miss You,” the first single from “Some Girls.”

The nice inner sleeve on my copy of “Some Girls” suggests I bought it at Inner Sleeve Records in my hometown of Wausau, Wisconsin. Probably did so during a visit home, perhaps for my birthday in June, just after it came out. Mike gave you a nice sleeve when you bought a new LP at the Sleeve.

My LP has the original die-cut cover that featured several celebrities who hadn’t approved of the use of their image.

40 years ago tonight, on Wednesday, July 19, 1978, the Rolling Stones brought the Some Girls Tour to the Sam Houston Coliseum in Houston. They played eight of the 10 cuts from “Some Girls” in the middle of the show. Nine days earlier, they’d played the St. Paul Civic Center, just 90 minutes from where I lived. But back then, going to shows was not something I did.

For as much as I’ve long loved this record, I’ve always been a Beatles man, and not a Stones man. I have only three Stones records. This one and the great live “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!” plus the “Hot Rocks” comp. I’ve sold some others. I vividly recall the baffled and vaguely disgusted looks I got from co-workers when I passed on seeing the Stones at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison in 1994.

Yet what was the last song on the iPod as I finished working out yesterday?

Yep, the Stones. From that record. From that summer.

“Respectable,” the Rolling Stones, from “Some Girls,” 1978.

 

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Filed under July 2018, Sounds

Shadoobie, sizzling, sizzling

This was one of the stops on the Great Heat Wave Road Trip earlier this month.

That day, July 5, brought plenty of sun and temperatures in the 90s. It didn’t seem all that different from 34 summers before, when I’d walk to that park, set my AM/FM radio at the base of that pole, flip it on and start shooting baskets.

In the summer of 1978, I was 21 and lived a couple of blocks away at a place we called Beaver Lodge. It was a three-bedroom cement-block house in a gritty, seen-better-days business district just off Highway 53 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

All the fuss over the Rolling Stones’ 50th anniversary brings me back to this place. That summer, the “Some Girls” LP came out. Starting with “Miss You,” its songs lit up the radio that sat at the base of that basket.

I picked up “Some Girls” so quickly that my copy has this early version of the original — and quickly withdrawn — die-cut cover. It featured several celebrities who hadn’t approved of the use of their image.

That’s Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball in the top row, Jayne Mansfield and Brigitte Bardot in the second row, Farrah Fawcett in the third row and Raquel Welch in the fourth row.

The songs, of course, are what I remember most. Rocking out to “Respectable.” Digging the laid-back cover of the Temptations’ “Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me).”

And on that basketball court at Highland Park, getting into a groove to the background vocals of “Shattered.” They got into my head and stayed there. They’re still there.

“Shadoobie, shattered … shadoobie, shattered, shattered.”

It is by far my favorite Stones record. Any one of its 10 cuts takes me right back to that hot summer of 1978, to that basketball court at that park. Yet as I listened to it again the other night, a most unexpected cut jumped out at me. Either I didn’t appreciate it much at the time or I’d forgotten how much fun it was.

“Far Away Eyes,” the Rolling Stones, from “Some Girls,” 1978. (The buy link is to a deluxe edition released in 2011.)

In which the boys go country, taking a road trip through Bakersfield and listening to the radio. Mick Jagger’s twang is not at all convincing but I dig it nonetheless. Ron Wood’s pedal steel guitar is much more authentic.

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

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Filed under July 2012, Sounds