Dave Loggins, Please Come to Boston

This is a sappy song with a heart felt series of verses, and a gumptious elaborate arrangement of strings and stuff on the chorus.

But there is detail and structure and melody here that make it a great song. Not a riff song, not a rock song, but a pop song that expands people’s horizons rather than shuts them down. It’s a song that addresses adult concerns (who lives where, and why) rather than adolescent ones (who grinds where).

That isn’t rock, but it is a bit rockish in that whole Rambling Boy idea. Feel free to search for all the alternative versions on YouTube. They all help explain how a simple story became a trope. And how songwriting transcends genre. This is a song that is a short story. Or an anecdote. Or both.

Song of the Week – Oh Girls, Girls, The Sparkles; Girls, Iggy Pop; Girls, David Johansen; Girls, Beastie Boys

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

The earliest rock and roll music dealt with a few recurring subjects – cars, fashion, school… and GIRLS!

There are a million rock songs about girls. Many call girls out by name – Gloria, Peggy Sue, etc.

Some pay homage to their geographical location.

California Girls – The Beach Boys
Italian Girls – Rod Stewart
Southern Girls – Cheap Trick
West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

Others deal with their emotions.

Big Girls Don’t Cry = Four Seasons
Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Girls Talk – Elvis Costello/Dave Edmunds

Today’s post is a tribute to a few of my favorite rockers about GIRLS.

I’ll start with “Oh Girls, Girls” by a Texas based garage band called The Sparkles.

This hep number was released in 1966 as the b-side to “The Hip.” The vocal is awesome. The urgency borders on lecherous.

Next is Iggy Pop’s “Girls” from 1979’s New Values.

The proto punk is in form for this release which came at the peak of the punk/new wave return to the straight ahead rock ‘n roll style he pioneered with the Stooges in the late 60s.

Another punk pioneer was David Johansen, originally of the New York Dolls. He released his song about “Girls” on his self-titled solo debut in 1978.

This is another party rocker. Like all of the others, the lyrics are just an unabashed ode to a guy’s infatuation for girls of all types.

By the mid-80s, Hip Hop had worked its way into mainstream pop culture. The Beastie Boys added their “Girls” to the ongoing history of the genre.

This is typical of the Beasties goofy, humorous take on any subject they tackle.

I apologize if any of these songs come across as sexist or politically incorrect. But it’s only rock and roll and I like it.

Enjoy… until next week.

Bevis Frond

In my never-ending quest to learn nothing about bands I discover, I learned something anyway. This band is basically Nick Saloman and the odd musician he picks up. He seems to be eclectic in his rock styles but the few other songs I’ve heard fall into the “interesting but hardly compelling” category. But I like this one, basic power pop with folk-rock leanings. Good guitar solo. I even like the lyrics that I can understand.

Muddy Waters, She’s 19 Years Old

There is so much going on here. Muddy seems to be copping to the idea he’s not up to the barely legal conversation. That’s the opposite of the mannish boy. But whatever is going on with that pales beside Luther “Guitar Jr.” Johnson’s guitar, which is bigger than life.

On this album, a live album, Johnny Winter makes some excellent appearances. He’s a great guitar player, but lordy, Luther makes a fairly straight blues into something else altogether. I know I’m sati-fied.

 

Song of the Week – Can’t Stand It, Wilco

IGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

Back in the early 80s I was a fan of Uncle Tupelo – the brainchild of Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar. When they split to form new bands – Tweedy with Wilco and Farrar with Son Volt – I was going to follow both.

Since then, Tweedy has come out on top. Wilco has been a hugely successful, critically acclaimed band and Tweedy has had further success as a producer and collaborator.

Wilco started covering the same alt-country terrain that was staked out by Uncle Tupelo. They would eventually record the adventurous Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and other innovative albums. The bridge between was Summerteeth (1991).

On Summerteeth, the band changed their recording style from “live in the studio” to more heavy reliance on overdubs and post production. Today’s SotW is “Can’t Stand It”, the lead off track from Summerteeth.

In fact, “Can’t Stand It” was originally recorded in a simpler form. But the record company suits at Reprise intervened and persuaded the band that it needed to be remixed to make it a more suitable single for a broader radio audience. I’ve never heard the original (I can’t believe it wasn’t included in the “expanded” reissue of Summerteeth along with the other bonus cuts) but I’ve read that they shortened the bridge and added bells. (Other than Naked Eyes version of “Always Something There To Remind Me”, who puts bells on a rock song?)

The lyrics tell the age old story of a broken relationship. This time it seems to center on the lies or misunderstandings between the couple.

The way things go
You get so low
Struggle to find your skin
Hey ho
Look out below
Your prayers will never be answered again

Phones still ring
And singers sing
Speakers are speaking in code
What now
Well anyhow
Our prayers will never be answered again

Depending on when you became aware of Wilco might affect how well you like this song. Fans of the later albums might find this too poppy. But I think the song has soul and the spirituality of the line “prayers will never be answered again.”

Enjoy… until next week.

Compare and Contrast: For the Love of Money

Live at Daryl’s House is this oddball show. The idea. Musicians go to Daryl Hall’s house and record songs with Daryl Hall.

When it started Daryl Hall seemed to be bankrolling these video casts, which were available on his website, and it was hard to see how this was a sustainable program. But the quality was always exemplary, the pairings interesting, the musicians great.

I came upon this O’Jays show tonight. Here’s For the Love of Money at Daryl’s House:

It’s not my favorite O’Jays song, it’s kind of a Temps’ rip, but there’s lots to like in that live version. Including Daryl Hall’s vocals . Here’s the much-more restrained original:

 

Song of the Week – Johnny Come Home, Fine Young Cannibals

fine_young_cannibals-funny_how_love_isIGNORED OBSCURED RESTORED

I’ve always found the history of the Fine Young Cannibals to be very strange and confusing – at least the ending.

The band came together in 1984 when The English Beat (“Mirror in the Bathroom”, “I Confess”) broke up and two of its members, Andy Cox (guitar) and David Steele (bass) struck out on their own to form a new band. They auditioned hundreds of singers before they found the unique voice of Roland Gift.

A year later they released their first album which contained a clever reworking of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” and their own “Johnny Come Home” which is today’s SotW.

That album and those songs were big hits around most of the world but received little attention in the US other than on alternative rock radio.

It took the band another 3 years to release their second album, The Raw and the Cooked (1989). All they had to show for the time between was a bunch of songs they recorded for the soundtracks to the films Tin Men and Something Wild, a few of which later ended up on The Raw and the Cooked.

That album was huuuuge! It reached #1 in the US, UK and Australia and spawned #1 singles hits with “She Drives Me Crazy and “Good Thing.” (I remember spinning both continuously when I was a club DJ in Boston.)

But this is where the story goes off the rails. The band never recorded a follow up. How could that happen? Was there tension among the band members? Did someone become ill? Were they trying to get out of a bad recording contract? The answer to all of these questions is no.

In a 2014 interview with the Sunday Express, Gift explained:

“I fully expected the band to carry on and make a few more albums, but to be honest, I’m not sure what happened. We just stopped functioning as a band. It was sad, really. There was a lot of pressure from people around us to sell more and more records, but music doesn’t work like that. It has to evolve naturally.”

That’s not a very satisfying explanation but it’s all we have. Too bad, because the band showed so much promise especially on the first disc. Now they’re little more than a footnote in the rock history of the 80s.

Enjoy… until next week.