Tag Archives: Men At Work

After Ringo, what’s next?

So anyway, we saw Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band in Milwaukee last month.

Ringo is surprisingly elfin and nimble for a gent of 78. That’s him in the striped pants in front of the drum kit with the star on it. He bounced from center stage up a few steps to his drum kit and then back down and back up and back down with ease. Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

The show was exactly as billed. A greatest-hits show by Ringo and his bandmates — Colin Hay from Men At Work (only Ringo got bigger cheers), Graham Gouldman from 10cc (a polite reception for his elegant songs), Steve Lukather from Toto (with a nod to those Weezer covers) and Gregg Rolie from Santana and Journey (“Oye Como Va” is still damn near a showstopper).

Of course, everyone was there to see and hear one of the Beatles. Ringo did not disappoint. Still irreverent, still cracking wise. Your favorite uncle sang his Beatles songs. Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Ringo opened with “Matchbox,” “It Don’t Come Easy” and “What Goes On,” noting that the latter was the only Beatles song credited to Lennon, McCartney and Starkey. “The credits should be reversed!” Ringo insisted, smiling. After one song each by his bandmates, Ringo did “Boys” and “Don’t Pass Me By.”

Then Ringo played “Yellow Submarine,” the 10th song of the show. After singing along like everyone else, I turned to Janet, smiled and said “OK, we can go now.”

But Ringo wasn’t done. There was “You’re Sixteen” (even the Ringo faithful at the show agreed it’s inappropriate now as then, and they’d prefer “No-No Song” to that) and “Anthem” (a polite reception for that one, too). “I Wanna Be Your Man” was dropped into the middle of a long set of songs by his bandmates.

The show wrapped with “Photograph,” “Act Naturally” and a wonderful sing-along medley of “With A Little Help From My Friends” and “Give Peace A Chance.” Peace and love, everyone, peace and love.

Which leads us to the question posed above. After Ringo, what’s next?

Our local record show, the Green Bay Record Convention, is coming up on the last Saturday of October. That night, there are two shows I’d like to see, each a distinctly different genre in a distinctly different venue. What say you?

Update: Thank you for your votes. But as it turns out, I did neither of these things after the record show. We went to see our niece play hockey instead.

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Filed under October 2018, Sounds

Gone in threes, yet here forever

They have gone in threes again this week.

There was Dick Clark. As he did when Don Cornelius passed earlier this year, my friend JB said everything I wanted to say about Dick Clark in his post over at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’. When I heard the news of Clark’s passing and thought of his legacy, I immediately thought Cornelius was more influential.

Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also had a fine piece on Clark, drawn largely from a new book that’s deeply skeptical of Clark’s role in how “American Bandstand” came to be integrated. The headline says it all: “Dick Clark’s TV legacy, including on race, is complicated.”

There was Levon Helm. He holds a singular place in the history of this blog. His PR people are the only ones to ask that a song be taken down in the five years we’ve been doing this. The tune we shared came off a free sampler his record label handed out at Record Store Day three years ago. Go figure.

There was Greg Ham. He was one of the Men At Work, the guy who played flute and sax and keyboards in a group that for a time in the early ’80s was one of the most popular bands in the world. Greg Ham, just 58, was found dead at his home in Melbourne, Australia, on Thursday.

After word spread of Ham’s death, his fans turned to Colin Hay. When you think of Men At Work, he’s the guy who comes to mind, and rightly so. He wrote most of their songs, sang lead on most of them and still performs charmingly reworked versions of them in his solo act.

Men At Work fans crashed Hay’s website while trying to read his statement about his friend’s death.

Greg Ham and Colin Hay were friends for 40 years, having met while seniors in high school. “We shared countless, unbelievably memorable times together,” Hay said. “We played in a band and conquered the world together. I love him very much. He’s a beautiful man.”

Less beautiful was that Ham felt his legacy marred by a copyright lawsuit. An Australian court ruled in 2009 that his memorable flute riff on “Down Under” was cribbed from “Kookaburra,” an Australian nursery rhyme written in the 1930s. Doubt anyone outside Australia hears it that way. You know the riff.

Men At Work put out only three albums. I had the first two — “Business As Usual” and “Cargo” in the early ’80s, then sold them at the end of that decade. Time, it seemed had passed them by.

Then, nine years ago, I discovered “Man @ Work,” a record on which Colin Hay covered some of those old Men At Work songs Hearing them again, it was clear how good those songs were, and are.

You also know Ham’s sax solo on “Who Can It Be Now.” It was, Hay said yesterday, “the rehearsal take. We kept it, that was the one. He’s here forever.”

Greg Ham is here forever, too.

“Be Good Johnny” and “Down By The Sea,” Men At Work, from “Business As Usual,” 1982. It’s out of print but is available digitally. The used vinyl is fairly common. I bought this record and “Cargo” last year for $1 each.

Ham and Hay composed the music for “Be Good Johnny,” and that’s Ham as the adult speaking to the kid.

“Down By The Sea,” composed by Ham, Hay, guitarist Ron Strykert and drummer Jerry Speiser, is the last cut on the album. It’s laid back, but still a bit of showcase for each of them.

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Filed under April 2012, Sounds