song of the day – “Belly Of The Whale” | BURNING SENSATIONS | 1983.

Your benevolent 80s overlord is back!  That wonderful term of endearment was the creation of one of my best friends, Hopey T.  We collaborated on many radio shows over the years, and last week, we started on our first writing collaboration, a screenplay for a Comedy / Drama film set in the 80s.  It’s gonna be pretty bleeping cool, much like Hopey T herself. 

Speaking of Hope, she got a song stuck in my head last week that I’ve never forgotten about, but just hadn’t thought about in awhile – the wonderful “Belly Of The Whale” by Burning Sensations.

Formed in the Los Angeles, California area in 1982, Burning Sensations was a Rock band founded by Tim McGovern, the former lead guitarist for The Motels (and former love interest for that band’s leader and lead singer, Martha Davis). apocalypso-cd

Tim had been with The Motels for their first two albums, and during the 1981 recording for their third album, titled APOCALYPSO, Tim had disagreements with the album’s producer Val Garay, who has worked with many artists like Kim Carnes (they shared a Record Of The Year Grammy Award for “Bette Davis Eyes”), Bonnie Raitt, Dolly Parton, Ringo Starr, Linda Ronstadt, Joan Armatrading and much more.

Well, by the end of 1981, Martha Davis and Tim McGovern broke up, he left the band and the APOCALYPSO album never materialized (Capitol Records said it was “too weird” and “not commercial enough”).  What turned out to be The Motels’ third album, 1982’s ALL FOUR ONE, would become their big breakthrough album and featured the Top 10 hit, “Only The Lonely,” plus “Take The L” and even a couple of songs co-written by Tim McGovern, “Art Fails” and “Tragic Surf.” 

burning sensations 2

After his departure from The Motels, Tim McGovern founded Burning Sensations, whose name might be a throwback to Reggae group names like The Wailing Souls or The Mighty Diamonds, or even non-Reggae acts like The English Beat. 

Burning Sensations released one EP (BELLY OF THE WHALE in 1982) and their self-titled full-length album in 1983, which featured covers of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival (“Down On The Corner”) and Jimi Hendrix (“I Don’t Live Today”). 

burning sensations LP

The BURNING SENSATIONS album also featured “Belly Of The Whale,” a song which fuses Rock and Calypso and whose sound may or may not have been inspired by that Motels album that didn’t work out.

belly of the whale

Though “Belly Of The Whale” did enjoy some success on MTV (the video features a tribute-of-sorts to the biggest music act of that year, Michael Jackson), it was never a hit, a fact that still surprises me to this day.  But, as I’ve come to realize over the years, some of the best songs ever released were never really hits at all.

Burning Sensations contributed one more cover in their short time together, with a cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Pablo Picasso” featured on the 1984 soundtrack to the cult classic, REPO MAN, with a sound harkening a bit to Wall Of Voodoo.

repo man

The six men who comprised Burning Sensations would be together for just five years, and broke up in 1987.  At last check, Tim McGovern leads a Classic Rock band in the Pacific Northwest called Knucklehead.  But, I’ll remember Tim most for writing one of the catchiest and danceable classics of the 80s that never became a hit, though it’s always been one with me.  Maybe even Ishmael and Jonah would agree.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZgtKt8K3ho

burning sensations

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song of the day – “Jeopardy” | GREG KIHN BAND | 1983.

Baltimore-born Greg Kihn found his way to California in 1972, and a year after painting houses, singing and working the counter of a Berkeley record store, relocating to the “Left Coast” proved to be a good decision, as he was one of the first recording artists signed to indie record label Beserkley Records, whose roster also included Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers. beserkley chartbusters

Greg Kihn was first featured on the 1976 Beserkley compilation, BESERKLEY CHARTBUSTERS.  He released an album every year between 1976 and 1986 (usually incorporating a moniker of his last name as the album’s title), toured extensively and built up quite the cult following. 

In 1981, he released his sixth album (and third with the Greg Kihn Band), ROCKIHNROLL, and it produced a big hit, “The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em).”  The now-rock staple spent 2 weeks at No. 15 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in September 1981 and 5 months on the chart, plus it also reached No. 15 in Canada and No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart.

Less than two years later, Greg and his band were back on the chart and blaring out of boomboxes worldwide with what would become his biggest hit – “Jeopardy” (from the album, KIHNSPIRACY).

jeopardy japan

“Jeopardy” even found its way to Japan!

“Jeopardy” entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1983, and the Top 10 in early April, and looked like it was headed to No. 1, but 1983 was the year of Michael Jackson, and in a 11-week span between March and May 1983 (save for a week when Dexy’s Midnight Runners was No. 1 with “Come On Eileen”), Michael commanded the top spot with “Billie Jean” and “Beat It.”  And it was “Beat It” that prevented “Jeopardy” from reaching No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.

Around the globe, “Jeopardy” reached the Top 10 in Canada, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland, the Top 20 in New Zealand, the Top 30 in Belgium and Holland, and even inspired a “Weird Al” Yankovic parody in 1984 called “I Lost On Jeopardy,” which reached No. 81 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 and even featured a cameo from Greg Kihn. 

i lost on jeopardy

If you’re a little disappointed that “Jeopardy” didn’t reach No. 1 because of Michael Jackson, well, you’ll be glad to know that the same week the song reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100, it replaced Michael’s THRILLER album at No. 1 (after 11 weeks) on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and was No. 1 there for 2 weeks.

Greg Kihn never again had the success of “Jeopardy,” but he’s still active with the band today; he was a radio DJ in San Jose, California for 16 years; he has done a lot of charity work, notably for the “Operation and Care Comfort” military support group that sends care packages for hundreds of units located throughout the world; and, he has even written six books, four of them horror novels.  His most recent book, 2013’s RUBBER SOUL, is a murder mystery novel featuring The Beatles.

Not many recording acts could pull off  having a solid Rock song (“The Breakup Song”) that’s still played today on Classic Rock stations, and then put out a massive Rock / Dance hit that endures in its own way in radio immortality, but Greg Kihn pulled it off with “Jeopardy.”  And he’s not in any jeopardy at all of me forgetting about it…

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

greg kihn band