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Old 10-11-2022, 03:56 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Yes, we had a few warped albums too of course. As for the term "cowboy hats", if it ever made it outside your immediate family, I don't think it made the voyage across the Irish Sea, then overland to London.
Now though, the term has at last reached an international audience, Trollheart. Well done!
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Old 10-12-2022, 07:27 PM   #12 (permalink)
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From the album


Title: “How Deep is Your Love”
Artist: The Bee Gees
Year: 1978
Writer(s): Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb, Robin Gibb
Genre: Pop ballad
Highest chart position (if applicable) 3 (UK) 1 (US)
Album: Saturday Night Fever OST
Did I own it? No, I don’t think so
Album, single, both or neither? Definitely not the album, and I don’t think I had the single
Opinion then: Positive
Opinion now: Positive
These days: Still a classic, still widely played on radio, appears on love compilation albums, a timeless song

Hands up anyone who has not seen Saturday Night Fever! Well, you’re not alone: I did see it, but not in the cinema and not when it was released. It just wasn’t my sort of thing. I’ve already alluded to how I gave genres like synthpop, soul, reggae and punk short shrift when I was younger, and another that got the finger from me was disco. Never thought it was worth bothering with. While I was listening to deep progressive rock lyrics or metal anthems, these guys and girls were only concerned with dancing. As, indeed, is the movie: concentrated, I should say, on dancing, as anyone who has seen the film which made a star out of John Travolta will know.

Another thing, though, that it did was significantly raise the profile of three lads from Birmingham. The Bee Gees - brothers Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb - had been going since the late sixties, and had already scored some great hits, but as Barry himself noted as they wrote songs for the movie, “You've got to remember, we were fairly dead in the water at that point, 1975, somewhere in that zone—the Bee Gees' sound was basically tired. We needed something new. We hadn't had a hit record in about three years. So we felt, Oh Jeez, that's it. That's our life span, like most groups in the late '60s. So, we had to find something. We didn't know what was going to happen.”

What happened, of course, was that the Bee Gees immediately became synonymous with the movie and its music, and changed their style to the emerging white disco sound, and managed to not only revitalise a flagging career, but jump-start and turbocharge it. Some of their greatest and best known and most successful hits came after 1977, with the release of the movie, and up until the deaths of two of the three, the Bee Gees were as popular thirty years on as they had been when Saturday Night Fever hit.

What I love about this song is the deep, stirring opening with the organ and then the close vocal harmonies that the Bee Gees were famous for, and the simple idea in the lyric, so deep (sorry) and meaningful and yet so uncomplicated. In ways, I find the opening mirrors somewhat that of 10CC’s super hit “I’m Not in Love”, both songs now total classic love songs. It’s needless to say this has been covered many times, most notably perhaps by English boyband Take That in 1996, as well as Luther Vandross three years earlier, but the original remains people’s favourite, as it is mine.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpqqjU7u5Yc
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Old 10-15-2022, 06:24 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Title: “The Love Cats”
Artist: The Cure
Year: 1982
Writer(s): Robert Smith
Genre: Post-punk
Highest chart position (if applicable) 7 (UK) 52 (US)
Album: None; standalone single
Did I own it? No
Album, single, both or neither? Did not own the single
Opinion then: Mildly negative
Opinion now: Mildly negative
These days: I don’t hear it any more

I was never, and probably never will be, a fan of The Cure. I wasn’t a goth - as their following was seen to be, whether this is correct or not - but my sister was. She wore all the gear, from black clothes to black lipstick and powdered face, and she loved The Cure. I didn’t get it. I kind of still don’t. I did enjoy their album Seventeen Seconds but was not impressed with Pornography, which I’m led to believe is the more highly regarded in their catalogue. Over the years my impression of The Cure has been mostly videos of their Edward Scissorhands-like lead singer and frontman Robert Smith looking enigmatic on stage, and some odd videos, including the one for this movie, which featured, if I remember correctly, people dressed in cat costumes dancing about. There was also a video involving Smith as a huge spider, though that may have been one of my nightmares.

I do remember liking “Friday I’m in Love” and “In Between Days”, but generally speaking I was not a fan. And I was not a fan of this song either. It had a kind of whimsical, almost cabaret feel to it that did nothing for me. I remember Karen loved it because of her love of cats, but it meant and means nothing to me. I’m sure it’s a great song and all their fans love it, but for me it was just one to shrug at and pass by if I came across it, and I doubt time has changed that attitude.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mcUza_wWCfA
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Old 10-18-2022, 03:42 PM   #14 (permalink)
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From the album

Title: “Rock Me Baby”
Artist: David Cassidy
Year: 1972
Writer(s): Johnny Cymbal/ Peggy Clinger
Genre: Pop
Highest chart position (if applicable) 11 (UK) 38 (US)
Album: Rock Me Baby
Did I own it? No way!
Album, single, both or neither? Neither, but I reckon my elder sister did: she was a huge David Cassidy fan
Opinion then: Don’t remember it
Opinion now: Positive
These days: Completely forgotten about, as is he

If you were to walk up to any teenage girl in the early 1970s and ask who their favourite singer/pop artist was, you would probably find yourself cooling your heels in the local nick. But after you explained it was all a terrible misunderstanding and they let you go with the tradition kick in the nuts you could expect from the constabulary in the seventies, the answer would have been likely to have been David Cassidy. Although he is hardly known today, back then you couldn’t move without his smiling face and good-looking, girlish curls adorning every girl’s bedroom (what you would be doing in any girl’s bedroom might be a question the police would be eager to have an answer for, of course, complete with another complimentary kicking) looking at you. Cassidy was the epitome of the “safe” pop star, the nice young boy who was the very antithesis of people like Hendrix, Bowie, Marc Bolan and other rock stars whom mothers frowned on their daughters following.

Cassidy’s fame began in the very popular TV series The Partridge Family, which was a quasi-soap about a musical family, spawning albums as the eponymous family released their recordings to great acclaim, providing a springboard for David to launch his own solo music career and become not only a TV heart-throb but a pop one too. His first solo album gave him a number 2 single in the UK while his second, from which this single is taken, pushed him all the way to the top spot, though not with this song. Still making a respectable showing just outside the top ten, it was a mere blip on Cassidy’s chart career as he went on to have another number one hit and no less than six top twenty singles over the next five years.

Of course, to all things there is a season, as they say, and to all pop stars there is very much a lifespan, and Cassidy’s more or less ran out after 1975, when he had his last hit. He did engineer an unlikely comeback (somewhat like Donnie Osmond, who had also enjoyed enormous popularity throughout the early 1970s) in 1985, when his “The Last Kiss” reached number 6 in the UK, but that was a real blip, and since then, though he continued to release albums, the charts ignored them and nobody cared. The world had moved on, and there was no longer any room in it for David Cassidy.

I’m kind of gratified to see that, despite his clean-cut image, Cassidy was already rebelling in 1972, at the height of his fame, by posing naked on the cover of Playb - uh Rolling Stone (?) and taking drugs and drinking. In fact, it turned out he had a serious alcohol problem, which, combined with the onset of hereditary dementia, led to his retirement from music in 2017, hospitalisation and eventually his death. He passed away in 2017, at the age of only sixty-seven.

As for the song (yes, I’m not forgetting!) I was of course mixing it up with George MacRae’s “Rock Your Baby”, a splendiferous song, but not his one. So what was his like? Well to be completely fair, it’s not what I had expected, a sort of bluesy rock tune with some sweet piano, and I think I remember it now. Definitely more in the rock than pop arena. Melody reminds me of something, can’t quite place it.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wltbgc0G2Ec
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Old 10-26-2022, 08:52 AM   #15 (permalink)
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From the album


Title: “State of Independence”
Artist: Donna Summer
Year: 1981
Writer(s): Jon Anderson/Vangelis
Genre: Pop
Highest chart position (if applicable) 14 (UK) 41 (US)
Album: Donna Summer
Did I own it? No
Album, single, both or neither? Neither
Opinion then: Positive
Opinion now: Positive
These days: Seldom heard; Donna is more remembered for disco hits such as “I Feel Love” and “She Works Hard for the Money” and “On the Radio”

I can’t be one hundred percent certain, but I feel when I heard Donna’s version I was unaware of the Vangelis/Anderson connection. The two wrote it and included it on their album The Friends of Mr. Cairo, and released it as a single, but it bombed, although “I’ll Find My Way Home” did far better, getting to number six. A year later Donna recorded it for inclusion on her tenth album (self-titled for some reason) and had a bigger hit with it. It’s again one of those uplifting songs, somewhat in the vein, I feel, of Labi Siffre’s “Something Inside (So Strong)”, the kind of song that makes you want to contribute to good causes and start waving African flags.

I would say Donna perhaps puts on too much of the black African voice (yes I know she was black, but she didn’t sing like that) but I suppose you can’t blame her. I guess it’s better to hear a black woman sing about a state of independence than a white man. Maybe. Anyway it’s a great song and a real sort of slowburner, kind of makes you wonder how it became a hit, as it is over six minutes long. I suppose they shortened it for the chart single? Very Andersonesque lyrical material, and the synths used here on Donna’s version do have that Vangelis feel, that makes you wonder if he added his expertise to the song, but I see that no, he did not. The African chant chorus at the end is particularly moving.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XcKN0XbCbU
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Old 11-03-2022, 04:07 PM   #16 (permalink)
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From the album

Title: “Runaround Sue”
Artist: Racey
Year: 1981
Writer(s): Dion DiMucci/Ernie Maresca
Genre: Rock and roll
Highest chart position (if applicable) 13 (UK)
Album: Smash and Grab
Did I own it? Jesus Christ I did not!
Album, single, both or neither? Not guilty
Opinion then: Negative
Opinion now: Negative
These days: Tumbleweed: Racey? Never ‘eard of ‘em, mate! (Consider yourself lucky)

Oh dear lord in Heaven! For some reason around the seventies and early eighties bands that aped the style of fifties rock and roll bands became popular. Mud, Showaddywaddy, The Bay City Rollers - kids couldn’t get enough of them. The three mentioned had what you could reasonably refer to as distinguished careers, with hits and albums, and in general, are still thought of fondly. Then you have people like Alvin Stardust (the screens, the screens!), Shakin’ bleedin’ Stevens (aaaarrrgghh! My eyes!) and these guys. I mean, I do not understand how a band can release a single album, then break up and have no less than SIX compilations, greatest hits, best of collections in the following years? What do they put on these things? Never mind: I don’t want to know.

This lot didn’t even write their own songs, not that that was unusual back then, or even is so now. But I mean, what was the point of them? This one, as it happens, is not even an original - most of their material was either written by the lads from Smokie or the songwriting Midases Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman, who were behind hits for artists such as Suzi Quatro, The Sweet, Blondie, Smokie and The Knack - but is a cover of the old fifties Dion tune. Why did they bother? And yet, the UK record-buying public dragged it all the way into the top ten, almost. American audiences had at least a little more pride, and the decency to completely ignore it. Racey broke up in 1985, and I doubt anyone shed a tear. I know I didn’t.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkElNug1ofw
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Old 11-17-2022, 07:54 PM   #17 (permalink)
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From the album

Title: “We’ve Only Just Begun”
Artist: The Carpenters
Year: 1971
Writer(s): Paul Williams/Richard Nichols
Genre: Easy-listening ballad
Highest chart position (if applicable) 28 (UK) 2 (US)
Album: Close to You
Did I own it? No
Album, single, both or neither? Neither
Opinion then: Positive
Opinion now: Positive
These days: Still one of the classic Carpenters tunes that gets played all the time and pops up on both their own compilations and love song collections

Ah, from the ridiculous to the sublime! Laugh all you want (oh, you are) but I love The Carpenters. Part of this has to do with the fact that my mam was a real fan of them, another has to do with my sister being named after Karen Carpenter, and then there’s just the pure joy of listening to songs perfectly crafted and written. Though I see they did not write this one. But the story behind it is interesting. Seems it was originally written as a commercial for a bank, but when it didn’t quite work the bank dropped it. Richard then bumped into Paul Williams and the two of them decided to create a full song (there was originally only a verse and chorus) and for The Carpenters to record it. This led to the duo’s second hit, and was a huge boon to Williams, to whom the doors to songwriting with the stars were opened.

It’s the story of a young couple, just married, starting out on their life together, and all the things they envisage going through. Hell, you surely know it, and if not you should feel appropriately ashamed of yourself. Very naive, of course, but then isn’t that what McCartney called “silly love songs”? Anyway it’s a lovely song with a delightfully fragile vocal from Karen, and while there may be those who raised eyebrows at the idea of a brother and sister singing about being married, what can I say but **** them. Such thoughts are beneath this group. Just listen to the song and maybe remember how you felt the first time you saw that special someone. I can’t: I’m still waiting for them to come along. And they had better not leave it much later or I’m going.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__VQX2Xn7tI
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Old 11-20-2022, 06:19 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Warning! Major Trollheart diatribe ahead! Continue at your own risk! Trollheart Enterprises and its subsidiaries and affiliates accept no responsibility for any boredom or frustration you may encounter. Your statutory rights are not effective, or something.

From the album

Title: “Don’t it Make My Brown Eyes Blue”
Artist: Crystal Gayle
Year: 1978
Writer(s): Richard Leigh
Genre: Country
Highest chart position (if applicable) 5 (UK) 2 (US) 1 (US Country)
Album: We Must Believe in Magic
Did I own it? Yes
Album, single, both or neither? Single
Opinion then: Positive
Opinion now: Still positive, but see rant below
These days: It’s still the most recognised of Gayle’s hits, having been her first to make the crossover to the pop chart, and is regarded as her signature song. Probably plays all day every day on country music radio stations.

I can’t be entirely certain now, but I believe it’s possible that either this, or “Talking in Your Sleep” were my very first introduction to country music, certainly as sung by a female. Well I guess I probably heard “Stand By Your Man” somewhere, didn’t I? But it would certainly have been the first ever country record I bought. It’s a lovely bittersweet ballad, and the mid-paced honky-tonk piano makes it. It became, as noted above, Gayle’s biggest hit and her first crossover hit, but shove over there please, mind your feet. I’m moving my soapbox in and here I go, standing on it.

I understand how, in a traditionally male-dominated genre - notwithstanding the legendary Carter Family of course - it must have been extremely difficult for women to break into country music. Not many made it in the early days. You have Crystal and Emmylou, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, and of course Dolly, but here’s the thing: they weren’t exactly using their music to empower women were they? Gayle’s song here - written by a man - puts her in the unenviable position of a woman who is ready to forgive her philandering man for anything, and take the blame upon herself: “I didn’t mean to treat you bad/ Didn’t know just what I had”. It’s basically an admission that no matter what he’s done, it’s her fault for not being a good wife/girlfriend, and it is, I’m sorry to say, typical of the songs women in country were singing around this time.

Look at the other one I mentioned. “Talking in Your Sleep”, written a full six years after this, has her fretting over what her man is dreaming about. Is it her? Is it another woman? What has she done to turn him to another? How can she know for sure? Jesus ****ing Christ! And again written by a man, or in this case, two men. Emmylou, meanwhile, was recording a Bob Dylan song for her first single, “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight,” while in 1975 she was pining “If I Could Only Win Your Love” - another song written by men - and even as far on as 1982 it was “I Lost His Love (On the Last Date)” - can’t confirm who wrote that, but well into the 1990s she was still whining “Never Be Anyone But You”, yet another male-penned song.

As for Tammy, well, what can you say about “Stand By Your Man”? A classic it may be, but doesn’t it carry the message that no matter what he does a woman should be faithful, true and support her man, even if he is far from faithful or true? Okay, in fairness, she wrote this herself, or co-wrote it anyway, but it’s hardly girl power now is it? For that, you have to look to the rebel, Loretta Lynn, with song titles such as “Don’t Come Home a-Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind)” and “You Ain’t Woman Enough (To Take My Man from Me)”. Go, Loretta! And she wrote those herself! But she’s very much a lone voice for a long time: even Dolly is singing “Dumb Blonde”, “I’m Not Worth the Tears” and of course “Jolene”, followed by her aching ballad “I WIll Always Love You”, which I’m not entirely sure if it’s a song dismissing a lover or crying about having to leave. Either way, it’s a while before we get “Nine to Five”, isn’t it?

Look, there are definitely problems with early country music for women. As I noted, other than the Carter Family, the only real women in country at the start are your Bessie Smiths and your Ida Coxes, who all went more the blues road, even if they contributed to country music: they are not considered country artists. So women come late to country, and kind of understandably, when they do, they’re not exactly ready to kick over the tables and dance on them, but it’s sad that one of the biggest icons of country music at the time had to choose such wimpy songs whose lyrics unilaterally and unequivocally excused every man for everything he had ever done if he would only stay with her. You have to say, with some justification, shame on you, Crystal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udEZ_JjNz4E
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Old 12-11-2022, 06:19 AM   #19 (permalink)
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From the album

Title: “Moonlight and Muzak”
Artist: M
Year: 1980
Writer(s): Robin Scott
Genre: Synthpop
Highest chart position (if applicable) 33 (UK)
Album: New York - London- Paris - Munich
Did I own it? No
Album, single, both or neither? Neither
Opinion then: Negative
Opinion now: Negative
These days: Completely forgotten about. If anyone remembers them it’s for “that song”

I never got the attraction of M. Apart from the somewhat interesting gimmick of naming your band after the middle letter of the alphabet, nobody cared for them after the initial buzz of their one and only hit single, “Pop Muzik”, and even that was, I don’t know: there really wasn’t anything great about it, and yet it was a chart hit. I think the combination of Robin Scott’s deep voice and the clever(ish) rhymes helped secure it a place in the memory and made it catchy, but it was very definitely a flash in a very empty pan. This was their attempt to capitalise on that success, and it fell flat on its face. I mean, it’s not much of a song, and despite the obvious attempt to somehow link it to the hit by using a Z for music (yes I know muzak is a real word) it did not work.

It’s kind of a cross between the Human League at their not very best and in terms of melody, reminds me of another one-hit wonder, Landscape’s “Einstein a Go-Go”. It’s got none of the sharp wit of “Pop Muzik”, the beat is meh, the backing vocals are watery, and I think you can hear in Scott’s voice that he realised this one trick pony was headed to the glue factory. Gimmicks and one-hit-wonders are all very well, but if you don’t have any meat on the bones, then you’re going to end up with an album nobody wants once they’ve bought the single. And nobody did. It never even made it into the charts here, and barely scraped into the Billboard Hot 100 at a poor 79, and their next three albums were as unremarked, their career seeming to fizzle out in 1984.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oSqfW-1e7oQ
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Old 12-11-2022, 06:38 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Robin Scott is one of the great one-hit wonders. Pop Muzik was a favorite song of mine at the time. Did buy the album and, yeah, it kind of sucked. Oh, well.
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