song of the day #2 – “Fake Friends” | JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

It’s been interesting and fun in my research for the blog posts of this special series paying tribute to Casey Kasem.  Some might say it’s neither interesting NOR fun, but since Casey is my radio hero, and since I still am, at age 50, a proclaimed and proud chart nerd (I still check out the BILLBOARD Hot 100 each week, even though I don’t know most of the artists on there), I am digging this.  No, literally, today I AM digging into BILLBOARD chart history by looking up all of the songs that reached No. 35 between 1979 and 1989, and there are around 40 of them.  You could have Casey on repeat, saying, “And in at No. 35…and in at No. 35…”

If you look at the discography of the amazing Joan Jett, you can tell she had a penchant for cover songs, and then making them all her own – songs like “Crimson And Clover,” “Everyday People,” “Light Of Day,” “Roadrunner,” “Dirty Deeds,” “Love Hurts,” “Summertime Blues,” “Destination Unknown,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me?” and her huge No. 1 hit, “I Love Rock ’N’ Roll” – all of these gems were actually cover songs, whether you knew that or not (I’m betting you did).

album

For Joan’s third album, however (an album simply titled ALBUM), she took a different route – all but three of the album’s 11 songs were original songs, co-written by Joan and her longtime collaborator and producer, Kenny Laguna.  “I Love Playing With Fire” was actually written by Joan herself, but this song originally was performed by Joan’s former 70s Punk band, The Runaways.  One of the original songs on ALBUM was the effort’s first single (and album, er, ALBUM, opener), “Fake Friends.” 

fake friends 2

Debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 68 in early July 1983, “Fake Friends”  reached the Top 40 by the end of July, becoming the band’s fifth Top 40 hit in two years, and their first original composition to reach the Top 40.  But, like many songs that reach the Top 40 in a short amount of time, for whatever reason, the songs lose steam and they peak quickly.  In the case of “Fake Friends,” it peaked for two weeks at No. 35 in August 1983.  Joan and Co. were gone from the Hot 100 after just 10 weeks. 

After ALBUM’s second single, the aforementioned spirited cover of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People,” peaked at No. 37 in October 1983, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts wouldn’t return to the Top 40 until 1987, when the Bruce Springsteen-composed “Light Of Day” reached No. 33 on the Hot 100 in April of that year. 

light of day

“Light Of Day” was the title song from the film of the same name, starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett, her first film as an actress.  Michael and Joan starred as brother and sister, and their band was called The Barbusters.  On the Hot 100, “Light Of Day” was actually credited to The Barbusters, with Joan Jett & The Blackhearts in parentheses. 

The next time Joan & Co. would chart the Hot 100 again on their own accord was in 1988, when Joan’s second original song to reach the Top 40, “I Hate Myself For Loving You,” reached No. 8.

Oft-credited as the Queen of Rock ’N’ Roll and the Godmother of Punk, Joan and The Blackhearts were rightfully inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015.  Their last album was in 2013 (UNVARNISHED), and Joan and the band continue to tour. 

Last year, on a tour I had hoped to see but couldn’t, they performed with Heart and Cheap Trick, and starting June 14, 2017, they head out on a Summer tour with 70s and 80s Rock legends, Boston.  Don’t know if it’ll be this year, but one day I hope I get to see Joan Jett & The Blackhearts perform.  It’s long overdue.

boston-tour-jj-website-announce-768x354

I suppose it’s a bit weird to highlight a song called “Fake Friends” on a day of heartbreak (sadly again) in London, and much love and unity at the impressive One Love Manchester concert in Manchester, England, but Joan Jett has never been one to back down or not tell it like it is, and neither should I, and neither should you. 

one love manchester

And, if you should ever encounter one of these “fake friends,” whether on social media or in person, and feel dejected about the whole thing after you’ve told them to eff off, just remember what Joan says:

“Ya got nothin to lose / Ya don’t lose when you lose fake friends…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTDJWZ4WiI0

fake friends 1

Advertisements

song of the day – “Baby, Oh No” | BOW WOW WOW | 1982.

The London New Wave / Worldbeat band, Bow Wow Wow, didn’t get the proper love they should have when they were recording in the early 80s and got a pretty raw deal here in the U.S. (or, most of the world, actually).  Created by the late, great Malcolm McLaren, Bow Wow Wow (or, if you prefer, Adam And The Ants without Adam plus Anglo-Burmese teenager and singer Annabella Lwin) is mostly known for their spirited 1982 cover of “I Want Candy,” The Strangeloves’ classic original from 1965.  But there is so much more to Bow Wow Wow than that one great cover.  One of the many other songs Bow Wow Wow should be remembered for is the sweet bass-heavy gem, “Baby, Oh No.” 

In 1982, RCA (Bow Wow Wow’s label at the time) released a compilation titled I WANT CANDY, building on the success of the popular cover of the same name.  Co-produced with Kenny Laguna (famous for his work with Joan Jett), this compilation featured “I Want Candy,” plus remixes of songs like 1981’s “Go Wild In The Country” and “Jungle Boy,” and other songs previously released but not as readily available. 

i-want-candy-lp

“Baby, Oh No” was included on the I WANT CANDY album and was the follow-up to the “I Want Candy” single.  It just missed the BILLBOARD Hot 100, stopping at No. 103.  It fared better on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, however, reaching No. 58.  I haven’t heard that remix yet (which adds about three minutes to the original), but I’m sure it kicks some serious ass on the dance floor and then some.

After releasing their third and final studio album, the ironically-titled WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING, the band called it quits for about 15 years, reforming in 1997 for a two-year stint with Annabella Lwin and original bassist Leigh Gorman, plus guitarist Dave Calhoun of The Vapors and drummer Eshan Khadaroo. 

Original Bow Wow Wow drummer David Barbarossa did not rejoin them.  In 1997, he was in the Alt-Rock band, Republica, enjoying success with the single, “Ready To Go” (your prolly heard that at a local sporting event; I know I heard it many a time at Portland Pirates hockey games, when there was such a thing in Portland, Maine).  Original guitarist Matthew Ashman sadly died in 1995 at the age of 35 due to complications from diabetes. 

baby-oh-no

Bow Wow Wow, the band with three-times as many compilations as studio albums, is still around today, led by Leigh Gorman and most likely performing the songs – like “Baby, Oh No” – that they should be remembered for…and I think will be.

“Late Friday night, when I’m feeling alright / I’m so ready to go, and my baby, oh no / You make me lose my self-control…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-B82bxnudI

bowwowwow

xmas song of the day – “Little Drummer Boy” | JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS | 1981.

Happy Holidays!  Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.

stuck-holiday-show-promo-art

The song for Day 12 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS is a kick-ass rockin’ version of the Xmas classic, “Little Drummer Boy,” and a song that appeared on early editions of  I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL, the huge 1981 album by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.  It’s been a staple on my STUCK IN THE 80s holiday shows every year.

i love rock n roll

On an album with an even mix of original songs and cover versions of songs by Arrows (“I Love Rock ’n’ Roll”), Tommy James & The Shondells (“Crimson And Clover”), The Dave Clark Five (“Bits And Pieces”), and a song that was both a cover and a Joan Jett-penned song for her previous band, The Runaways (“You’re Too Possessive”), “Little Drummer Boy” (whose history dates back to 1941) seemed to fit right in.

After the 1981 / 1982 holiday season, “Little Drummer Boy” was replaced with “Oh Woe Is Me,” what would become the B-side to “Crimson And Clover and an original Joan Jett composition.  Not to worry, though – both songs were represented in the 1998 CD reissue and the 2009 vinyl reissue.  Rum pa pum pum 🙂

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5_gk-1OGXU

joan-jett

song of the day – “Tonight It’s You” | CHEAP TRICK | 1985.

One of the things that amazes me to this day is the where, when, why and how a song evolves from being just a song by a band or a singer to being a FAVORITE song by a band or a singer. 

On this date in 1985, Cheap Trick, one of the hardest working Rock bands out there, whose music I had enjoyed since the 1979 live version of “I Want You To Want Me,” debuted at No. 93 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 with “Tonight It’s You.”tonight it's you

From Cheap Trick’s eighth studio album, STANDING ON THE EDGE, “Tonight It’s You” was the Rockford, Illinois band’s first single to reach the Hot 100 in three years, and the last time they had reached the Top 40 in this country was back in early 1980 with “Voices” (from 1979’s DREAM POLICE album).

“Tonight It’s You” had a great first week on the Hot 100, moving from No. 93 to No. 73, and from there steadily rose an average of 2-3 positions each week.  By the time “Tonight It’s You” reached its No. 44 peak in mid-October 1985, I was more than a month into my first semester at college, attending the (then) New England School of Broadcasting (now Communications, or NESCom for short).  “Tonight It’s You” would stay on the Hot 100 for 17 weeks total, a longer stay than some songs that reach actually No. 1.

standing on the edge

Cheap Trick’s 1985 album, STANDING ON THE EDGE.

 

As to the where, when, why and how “Tonight It’s You” became my favorite Cheap Trick song, well, I think where and when happened while at NESB.  I went there to become a radio broadcaster, and part of the training was to have one weekly morning news slot and one weekly radio DJ slot on the Husson College (now Husson University) radio station, WHSN. 

whsn

Today, they may be Bangor’s Rock Alternative, but back in 1985, WHSN aired Adult Contemporary (AC) music.  I can’t remember if “Tonight It’s You” was considered “AC enough” to be aired on WHSN or if I aired it on my own volition (which I prolly did and is prolly the “how” in this equation), but somewhere along the way, a chord stuck inside of me that semester and I fell right in love with “Tonight It’s You.” 

In the original poetic-like ROLLING STONE review by the amazing David Fricke for STANDING ON THE EDGE, he mentioned this about “Tonight It’s You”:  “‘Tonight It’s You’ is gorgeous Top Forty mischief, reminiscent of the Raspberries’ 1973 neo-operatic nugget, ‘Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).’  Cascading acoustic guitars decorate axeman Rick Nielsen’s wall of monster fuzz while singer Robin Zander wails in front of sheetmetal harmonies. The cumulative effect is like three or four hit songs vacuum-packed into one.”

Cheap Trick would not have another Hot 100 hit until 1988, when their big comeback album, LAP OF LUXURY, gave them their first and, to date, only No. 1 song, “The Flame.”  I don’t know about you, but I can actually hear a bit of “Tonight It’s You” in “The Flame.”  I might not have been conscious of the similarity or inspiration right away, but after nearly 30 years, you’re bound to notice stuff like that.

With my dear and sensationally-talented friend, Hope, I saw Cheap Trick for the first time in 2015 on Portland’s Maine State Pier (opening for Peter Frampton), and they were phenomenal.  Though “Tonight It’s You” wasn’t performed, it was certainly worth the multi-decade wait. Cheap_Trick_Bang,_Zoom,_Crazy..._Hello

This year, Cheap Trick is on the same live bill as Joan Jett and Heart, and the tour was in Mansfield, Massachusetts a few nights ago.  They are also touring in support of their new album (released on 4.1.2016), BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY… HELLO.  It is their first studio album in seven years, and was not only well-received, but it’s their highest-charting album here in America since LAP OF LUXURY back in 1988.

As for the “why” in regards to “Tonight It’s You” being my favorite Cheap Trick song?  Well, I’m not entirely sure, but I do know I can definitely feel the honest passion in Robin Zander’s vocals: “All I want is a place in your heart / To fall into / All I need is someone to love / And tonight it’s you…”  He sings it like he means it, and I believe him.  And, “Tonight It’s You” will always have a place in my heart to fall into…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tL251usi-K8

cheap trick

album of the week – I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL | JOAN JETT & THE BLACKHEARTS | 1981.

It’s odd to think about now, but when I first saw the picture of Joan Jett on the cover of this week’s “album of the week,” I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL, I thought she looked a bit ghoulish.  But, as I would soon find out, there was nothing ghoulish about Joan Jett; just the opposite (although I’m quite sure she could still kick my ass).  Joan Jett was (and still is) a hard-working, hard-rocking woman and superstar.  And, in 1981, there weren’t many hard-working, hard-rocking women out there in music (maybe there still aren’t).

Pennsylvania-born Joan Jett has been labeled the Queen of Rock ’n Roll and the Godmother of Punk, and in 2015, she and her band, The Blackhearts, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  All deserved.

the runawaysJoan Jett was a founding member of the all-female rock band, The Runaways (their debut single, “Cherry Bomb” hit No. 1 in Japan and just missed the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1976).  In January 1981, her album, BAD REPUTATION, was released (which was a re-issue of her self-titled 1980 debut album), but BAD REPUTATION didn’t really take off until the release of her next album in November 1981, I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL.

Like many of Joan Jett’s albums, I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL was a mix of cool originals and kick-ass cover songs.  The title track starts off the album.  As soon as I heard it on the radio, I KNEW I had to have this album.  The guitars, the drums, the vocals all hit the right chords (pun intended).  Joan Jett heard the original “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” back in 1976 by the band Arrows, and it resonated with her greatly, and her version sure resonated with me.

The single “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll” hit No. 1 in the U.S. on March 20, 1982, and didn’t relinquish the top spot for 7 weeks. It was a worldwide hit as well, reaching No. 1 in Australia, Canada, Holland, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and the BILLBOARD Rock chart.  It also reached the Top 10 in at least 7 other countries and even reached No. 31 on the BILLBOARD Dance chart, which is impressive, considering most rock songs don’t even touch that chart.

i love rock n roll

The second single, “Crimson And Clover,” was a No. 1 hit for Tommy James and the Shondells back in 1969, and Joan & Co. took their updated rock version to No. 7 on the Hot 100 for a couple of weeks in late June 1982.

Other covers on the album include “Nag” (a 1961 hit by the Bronx doo-wop group, The Halos), “Bits And Pieces” (a No. 4 hit by The Dave Clark Five in 1964), “You’re Too Possessive” (written by Joan Jett, but originally recorded by The Runaways) and her kick-ass rockin’ version of the Christmas staple “Little Drummer Boy,” which was always a staple on my STUCK IN THE 80s holiday shows every year. 

Later editions of the I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL album would also include popular covers of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” and Richard Berry’s “Louie Louie,” popularized by The Kingsmen in 1963.

I’m actually blessed to own 2 copies of the I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL album – the one released before Christmas 1981 with “Little Drummer Boy,” and the one released after Christmas, with the Joan Jett composition, “Oh Woe Is Me.”  Other Joan Jett originals on the album include “Love Is Pain,” “Victim Of Circumstance,” “You’re Too Possessive,” and “Be Straight,” which was co-written with Greg Kihn and sounds like a cross between The Soft Boys’ “Wey Wey Hep Uh Hole” and Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy.”do you wanna touch me

The popularity of I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL invigorated new life into Joan Jett’s previous album, BAD REPUTATION, and her brilliant cover of Gary Glitter’s 1973 hit, “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” which spent 3 weeks at No. 20 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in September / October 1982.

Joan Jett has released 11 more studio albums since I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL, and hit the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 6 more times.  She’s also delved into acting, including 1987’s LIGHT OF DAY film with Michael J. Fox, appeared in the 2000 Broadway production of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW as Columbia, and recently made an appearance as herself on both the new Denis Leary show, SEX&DRUGS&ROCK&ROLL, and on the new TV series, THE MUPPETS.

My dear friend, Michelle, once said to me (the year we met in 1994), “You’re original at being nostalgic.”  It’s one of the best compliments I’ve even been given. I think the same could be said about Joan Jett and how she can take a cover song and make it her own, whether it’s Arrows, Tommy James, The Dave Clark Five, Sly & The Family Stone (“Everyday People”), Bruce Springsteen (“Light Of Day”), Jonathan Richman (“Roadrunner”), Missing Persons (“Destination Unknown”) or AC/DC (“Dirty Deeds”).

This year, Joan will be on tour with Heart and Cheap Trick, and I hope to be there.  Her last album, UNVARNISHED, was released in 2013, and I wasn’t able to find any info on whether or not she and her band, The Blackhearts, are going into the studio anytime soon, before or after the tour, but even if she doesn’t, I have many memories of the album where she got me and 10 million others to proclaim, “I LOVE ROCK ’N ROLL!”  And, whenever Joan sang those words, even though they weren’t initially her own, you believed her…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiegZra59uw

joan jett n the blackhearts