song of the day – “Take Me With U” | PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION featuring APOLLONIA | 1985.

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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 2 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 2 this day.  4 me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks 2 the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, 4 the entire month of June, I will B 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 2 No. 1. 

As Casey used 2 say on AT40, “And on we go!”

When my radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, had its final show on my 50th birthday – and during the Maine Blizzard Of 2017 (Hope, Shawn and I had 2 literally shut WMPG-FM down afterwards; Shawn: “We’re rockin’ so hard, the station cannot handle it anymore!”; Hope: “No one can follow U Ron!”). 

shawn, hope + me

With the 2017 Maine blizzard in the window behind us, from L to R that’s Shawn, Hope and yours truly all sporting STUCK IN THE 80s T-shirts on the final STUCK broadcast on WMPG-FM, 2.12.17.

One of the songs I chose 4 the last show was “Take Me With U” by Prince & The Revolution featuring Apollonia.  As I mentioned on the last show, and will re-mention here (if I haven’t already on the bloggy thing), it’s one of my all-time favorite Prince songs that DOESN’T get nearly enough love as it should.

purple rain

Released as the last of five singles from 1984’s PURPLE RAIN and written by Prince (of course), “Take Me With U” was a duet between Prince and Apollonia Kotero, who played Prince’s girlfriend in PURPLE RAIN.  “Take Me With U” was initially 2 have appeared on the APOLLONIA 6 album (released on October 1, 1984, and featured one song from PURPLE RAIN – “Sex Shooter,” which Apollonia 6 played in the film). 

But, with Prince being rightfully particular about his songs (4 example, all of his videos that went back up after he died have all pretty much been removed from YouTube), he pulled the song off of the APOLLONIA 6 album, and included it on PURPLE RAIN. 

prince + the revolution

All of the singles from (and of course, the entire album) PURPLE RAIN were sensational, but unlike the other singles released from the soundtrack, “Take Me With U” had this really cool vibe 2 it, featuring a drum solo and finger cymbals at the beginning and the end of the song.  This Psychedelic-y style might have actually been the precursor 2 his next album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY, especially on the singles “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life.”

“Take Me With U” was released on January 25, 1985, exactly seven months after the release of the soundtrack 2 PURPLE RAIN, and almost exactly six months after the release of the film, and it only took a couple of weeks 4 the single 2 debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (at No. 61).

take me with u

Reaching the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in just its fourth chart week, “Take Me With U” became the fifth Top 40 single from PURPLE RAIN, and, at that point, Prince became just the seventh recording artist in history (if my math is correct) 2 have five or more Top 40 hits released from one album on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, following Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, Lionel Richie’s CAN’T SLOW DOWN, Billy Joel’s AN INNOCENT MAN, SPORTS by Huey Lewis & The News, Tina Turner’s PRIVATE DANCER, and the incomparable Cyndi Lauper, and her wonderful SHE’S SO UNUSUAL.  (The Cars would join that group a week later with “Why Can’t I Have You,” the excellent and highly-underrated fifth single from their fantastic 1984 album, HEARTBEAT CITY.)

“Take Me With U” spent a couple of weeks at No. 25 in late March 1985, and without much fanfare, faded out of the Hot 100 after 12 short weeks.  Over in the U.K., it was a double A-sided single with “Let’s Go Crazy,” and it reached No. 7.  I would like 2 think the folks in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland didn’t just listen 2 “Let’s Go Crazy” (as awesome as that song is), and flipped the record over and really enjoyed “Take Me With U” too.

let's go crazy take me with u

Everyone in The Revolution was involved with this gem, and the unity involved with this song is amazing.  And, 4 those who didn’t already own PURPLE RAIN by the end of January 1985, when “Take Me With U” was released, and were kind enough 2 buy the single anyway, and 2 those radio stations who were kind enough 2 play it, I thank U.  “Take Me With U” is that sorta-forgotten gem (though not by me) that, when U listen 2 it 4 the first time in awhile, U will remember why U loved it all those years ago, and, like me, U will love it 4evah…

“I don’t care where we go / I don’t care what we do / I don’t care pretty baby / Just take me with u…”

prince + apollonia

song of the day – “Clones (We’re All)” | ALICE COOPER | 1980.

forever young blog logoFor whatever reason(s), I’ve been unintentionally lax in my FOREVER YOUNG: MY LIFE STUCK IN THE 80s blog post output so far this year.  Last year, between January 11, 2016 (my first-ever blog post), until June 1, 2016, I had written 111 blog posts.  Not bad for a first-timer.  From January 4, 2017 through today, June 1, 2017, I’ve posted less than half of that 2016 amount.  Well, that changes right now.

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).

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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, and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  Today’s “song of the day” (June 1, 2017) will feature 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!”

In the 1970s, Alice Cooper was famous for his “snake-eyes” makeup and his being “The Godfather Of Shock Rock,” from Rockin’ songs like “School’s Out,” his first hit, “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and awesome ballads like “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry” and “You And Me.” 

welcome to my nightmare, 1975

Alice Cooper on the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE tour, 1975.

It was his ballads, actually, that gave Alice Cooper his biggest hits in the 70s, which isn’t really that strange, because if you think about it, just about all of the big Rock bands of the 70s, 80s and even 90s had their biggest success with a ballad (pardon me, that should prolly read “power ballad”) – a list that includes but is not limited to Styx, Journey, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Scorpions, Night Ranger, The Cars, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Kiss, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Queensrÿche, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Cinderella, Skid Row, Bad English (featuring John Waite) and Aerosmith, whose big song from the biggest film of 1998, ARMAGEDDON – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – gave the Boston band not only their first (and sole) No. 1 song, but their biggest hit in the 25 years they had been together at that point.

Well, by 1980, Alice Cooper wanted to try something new.  He ditched the makeup  and recorded the 28-minute album, FLUSH THE FASHION, with popular producer, Roy Thomas Baker, who, in the two years previous to FLUSH THE FASHION, had worked with bands like The Cars, Foreigner, Journey and Queen.

flush the fashion

FLUSH THE FASHION had a sort of New Wave influence, and since its release, it has been hailed as a “hidden gem” in the 26 studio albums Alice has released since 1969 (his 27th, PARANORMAL, is scheduled to be released in late July 2017).  At the time of the release of FLUSH THE FASHION, though, many longtime fans were bewildered at the change in Alice’s sound.

Still, FLUSH THE FASHION became Alice Cooper’s biggest album in three years, and returned him to the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for the first time in two years. alice clones

“Clones (We’re All)” was the first single released from the album, making its debut on the Hot 100 in mid-May 1980 at No. 77, just a few weeks after the release of FLUSH THE FASHION.  “Clones” had risen to No. 51 by early June, and reached No. 40 on July 5, 1980, but, sadly like Blondie’s brilliant “Atomic” (No. 39 that week), both songs lost steam and plummeted down more than half the chart the following week after just nine weeks on the Hot 100.

NERDY AT40 FACT: To my knowledge, “Clones (We’re All)” was actually never mentioned by Casey Kasem, because on that chart dated July 5, 1980, AMERICAN TOP 40 aired a special broadcast of the “AMERICAN TOP 40 Book Of Records” that week, so “Clones” was never even played on AT40 because it was gone from the Top 40 that following week.

“Clones” did have some chart success elsewhere, reaching No. 15 in Canada, No. 36 in Australia, No. 58 in Germany, and somehow all 2 minutes and 51 seconds of “Clones” was serviced to Dance clubs, and it actually reached No. 69 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

alice 1980 v2

Alice Cooper, 1980.

I’m not sure exactly how “Clones,” a song about forced conformity (“I’m all alone, so are we all / We’re all clones / All are one and one are are all…”), came onto my music radar, I just really liked it.  Strangely enough, today was the first time I ever saw the music video for “Clones,” and if videos were as popular then as they would be a year or so later, and if the 13-year-old version of myself had seen Alice’s frail-looking and somewhat menacing appearance, I am not sure if I would have changed my mind about the song.  But, honestly, whatever attracted me to this odd and yet topically-interesting song still attracts me to it 37 years later.

After “Clones” and FLUSH THE FASHION, his next few albums fizzled and most of the 80s were not good to Alice Cooper.  But, by 1989, he was on a new record label and returned with a vengeance with the album TRASH, his first Platinum album since 1975, which featured the biggest hit of his career – no, not a power ballad this time – the Hard Rockin’ “Poison.”  That song was certified as a Gold single and reached No. 7 on the Hot 100, plus it reached the Top 10 in (at least) the U.K., Australia, Austria, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.  Alice Cooper was back. 

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From the “Poison” music video…

In 1992, Alice appeared as himself in the highly successful and fun film adaptation of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, WAYNE’S WORLD, where he performed at a concert and got his intellectual on about Milwaukee, Wisconsin backstage with Wayne (Mike Meyers) and Garth (Dana Carvey).  In my humble opinion, they’re all worthy.

wayne's world

On top of a new album release this summer (an album which features contributions from Larry Mullen of U2 and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, among others), Alice will be co-headlining a tour in August with Deep Purple and Edgar Winter.

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You know, regardless of chart positions, I’ve always found it interesting how there’s no rhyme or reason to which songs we choose to like and keep liking and loving over the years, but when when do like and love them, those songs really matter, and will forever. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, or the radio dial if you prefer, as much as I love radio, and loved being involved in it for the better part of 32 years (so far), you’ve gotta wonder how a commercial and/or conglomerate station determines what songs are deemed “worthy” of being played forever and what songs are left behind.  I suppose that’s been the case all along (I mean, how else can you explain two great songs dropping 53 places out of the Top 40 from one week to the next?). 

stuck-in-the-80s-20-yearsI know for me, for many great shows on community stations like WMPG, and for shows like Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” and the (unrelated) STUCK IN THE 80s podcast based in Florida, I could never forget the amazing songs I loved from my youth and discovered into adulthood and beyond.  And I was proud to share them for nearly 21 years on my weekly STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG in Portland, Maine, and will again, because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. 

I love Billy Joel, but every time I hear his overrated “Big Shot,” I can’t help but cringe (The guy’s got a gajillion songs!  Play another one!).  The song jumped from No. 51 to No. 23 on the Hot 100 and stopped at No. 14 three weeks later, and yet it’s been deemed “worthy” for radio eternity by the powers that be.  Play something different, dammit!  Give me 1980’s “Sometimes A Fantasy” every day of the week and twice on Sunday (and look for it in an upcoming blog post, dammit!). 

I don’t know, after listening to commercial stations for nearly 40 years, from the big conglomerate ones to the locally-owned ones with diminutive, covfefe head GMs who think 80s Hard Rock songs should be played back-to-back with the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, maybe it’s those programmers and radio heads who are the ones that are clones. 

As I am, unlike these sad folks, not a drone or a clone, I think the best response I can give to that is this simple but appropriate quote from Alice’s mostly-forgotten kick-ass gem from 1980:

“I just want wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / Be myself / Be myself…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q3ly1d-WGw

alice cooper 1980

song of the day – “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” | UTOPIA | 1983.

To paraphrase from a movie I recently watched (yet again), the incredibly funny 1984 film, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, “I’m a singles chart nerd, and I’m pretty proud of it.” 

at40 80s

In the years leading up to adulthood, and for a few years after, I was a faithful listener of Casey Kasem’s AMERICAN TOP 40 program, and while I am a self-proclaimed singles chart nerd, I concede that, if there’s a song out there you love, and have loved for years, what position they reached on the singles chart (if they even reached it at all) doesn’t matter.  I think if Casey Kasem were here with us today, he might agree.  Still, all these years later, there are some songs out there whose peak chart positions surprise me.  One of those songs is “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” by Utopia.

feet don't fail me now

For years, Pennsylvania native Todd Rundgren had been going back and forth, releasing solo albums and albums with his band, Utopia.  As for his solo career, Todd is best known for his BILLBOARD Hot 100 hits, “I Saw The Light” (No. 16) and “Hello It’s Me” (No. 5, both from 1972), his original 1978 version of “Can We Still Be Friends” (No. 29; covered by Robert Palmer in 1979, and by many others since), and 1983’s fun “Bang The Drum All Day” (No. 63).

Todd Rundgren’s band, Utopia, started out as a Prog-Rock band in 1973, and had several incarnations over the years, releasing nine studio albums between 1974 and 1985.  Their biggest album, late 1979’s ADVENTURES IN UTOPIA, was their biggest, blending Rock, Disco and Prog-Rock, and gave the band their only Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, “Set Me Free,” which spent a week at its peak position of No. 27 in April 1980.

NERDY SIDE NOTE: A song Todd Rundgren wrote for Utopia’s 1977 album, OOPS!  WRONG PLANET – the last song on the album – called “Love Is The Answer,” was a single released from the album, but it was not a hit.  It did, however, end up being a Top 10 hit for Adult Contemporary favorites England Dan & John Ford Coley in May 1979, and it was among the 100 biggest U.S. hits of that year.utopia 1982 LP

From Utopia’s second self-titled album (and their second album released in 1982), there were two singles released from the album: “Hammer In My Heart” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.”  With the album recorded just a year after MTV was born, both songs featured videos on a VHS collection called THE UTOPIA SAMPLER, which received a Grammy nomination in 1983 for Best Short Form Video.  Speaking of MTV, footage for the “Hammer In My Heart” video was recorded live at MTV’s official first birthday party, hosted by MTV VJ (and current Maine resident and weather enthusiast), Nina Blackwood.  That song reached No. 31 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.

feet videoThe cheeky video for the other single released from the UTOPIA album, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” featured the band members dressed up as different types of bugs who can’t move their feet.  The video kinda reminded me of videos The Cars would end up producing in the 80s, like 1984’s MTV Video Of The Year winner, “You Might Think” (which at one point features singer Ric Ocasek as a fly).  In an odd coincidence, Todd Rundgren took Ric Ocasek’s place as lead singer of The New Cars in 2005 (featuring original Cars members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes) for one album and a tour, which I unfortunately missed.

“Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” has always reminded me of a cross between the U.K. Pop band, Bucks Fizz (who had three No. 1 songs in the U.K. back in the early 80s) and XTC, which, in yet another coincidence, Todd Rundgren produced the brilliant XTC album, SKYLARKING, in 1986, the same year Utopia broke up.

Skylarking

On the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” debuted at No. 90 in early January 1983, but sadly, it was the legs, not the feet that failed “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” and it peaked at No. 82 a couple weeks later, staying there for three weeks.  It was the last time Utopia would see the Hot 100.

I was a bit late learning about “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” (it wasn’t until after I started STUCK IN THE 80s, my little 21-year 80s radio program on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), but every time I’ve heard it since, it’s never failed me.  I suppose maybe 20 years from now, if I hear this song and of course, want to dance to it, I might say, “Feet, don’t fail me now.” 

But, for the moment, I’ll proudly dance to this quirky and fun gem at home, because unlike the meaning of the word “utopia” (which means “no place” or an imagined place), here’s a good as place as any to dance, not to mention it’s a place where I don’t have to worry about taking anyone out on the dance floor on account of my mad dancing skillz (those who have seen me dance are laughing, because they know it’s true)…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytAi9yr7t1E

utopia

song of the day – “Crazy” | ICEHOUSE | 1987.

Around early November 1987, when Australia’s Icehouse was opening for Boston’s The Cars at the former Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine, I wasn’t very familiar with their work, but I sure was digging their then-new single, “Crazy.”

icehouse-1987-press

we-can-get-togetherIcehouse, the six man New Wave / Rock band formed in Sydney in 1977 (starting with the band name Flowers), was led by singer / songwriter / lead guitarist and then some, Iva Davies.  Their self-titled debut album, released in October 1980, was a huge success in Australia and New Zealand, going multi-platinum, and even reached No. 82 on the BILLBOARD album chart.  The second single from the album, “We Can Get Together,” was released in October 1980, and in August 1981, was the band’s first entry on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, spending a couple of weeks at No. 62. 

no-promisesIn their native Australia, Icehouse had 11 Top 40 hits before 1987, while in the same time frame here in the U.S., they had just two chart entries on the Hot 100, “We Can Get Together” and “No Promises” (from the 1985 album, MEASURE FOR MEASURE).  It reached No. 79 in August 1986, though it did reach the Top 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance and Rock charts, and was my introduction (like many others here in the U.S.) to a band I would soon grow to love.

MAN OF COLOURS, the sixth album for Icehouse, was released in late September 1987, and though they had four Top 5 Australian albums to their credit, Icehouse hadn’t had a huge album since their debut.  That all changed with MAN OF COLOURS.  The album spent 11 weeks at No. 1 on the Australian album chart, and was certified 7x multi-platinum in Australia, with sales of over 700,000 copies.

man-of-colours

Released a couple months in advance of the album was the song “Crazy.”  While it was an automatic smash Down Under, it took awhile for it to build an audience here in America.  But, it did build an audience, and debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 this week in October 1987.  Like its two Hot 100 predecessors, “Crazy” started a slow climb up the start, but by mid-November 1987, it had surpassed the chart peaks of both of them.  “Crazy” reached the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in early December 1987, was a favorite on MTV, spent a week at its peak position of No. 14 in late January 1988, and a total of 21 weeks on the Hot 100. 

crazy

Around the globe, “Crazy” reached No. 4 in Australia, No. 10 in New Zealand, and the Top 40 in the U.K. and Canada.  It also reached No. 10 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, but mostly, “Crazy” finally brought the band long-deserved success here in America.  Their next single, “Electric Blue,” co-written by Iva Davies and John Oates, became their only No. 1 single in Australia, and was a Top 10 hit on the Hot 100 and in other parts of the world.

When I saw Icehouse open for The Cars (on the 1987 DOOR TO DOOR tour, just months before they broke up), I didn’t know most of the songs, but Icehouse put on a solid show, and it wouldn’t take long for me to delve into some of their other gems, like “Icehouse” (from 1980’s ICEHOUSE), “Great Southern Land,” “Uniform” and “Hey Little Girl” (from 1982’s PRIMITIVE MAN), “Cross The Border” (from MEASURE FOR MEASURE), “Electric Blue” and the title track from MAN OF COLOURS, and “Touch The Fire” (from the 1989 compilation, GREAT SOUTHERN LAND).

Though Icehouse never again achieved the fame and success they had with MAN OF COLOURS and songs like “Crazy” and “Electric Blue,” they are still together today, their entire studio catalog has been reissued, and they released two live albums in each of the last two years. 

iva-davies-now

Icehouse’s Iva Davies today, now 61 years young.

 

I’m forever grateful that “Crazy” was crazy enough to come into my life around this time 29 years ago.  And, if you haven’t yet acquainted yourself with the wonderful music of Icehouse, I won’t call you “crazy,” I won’t say that you’re “probably out of your mind,” I’ll just say, “what are you waiting for?” 

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

icehouse-1987-full

song of the day – “Gimme Some Slack” | THE CARS | 1980.

The legendary Boston rockers The Cars (and 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees) released six albums between 1978 and 1987, and a seventh, their 2011 comeback album, MOVE LIKE THIS.  All seven were great albums, but not all had the huge success as their 1978 self-titled debut or 1984’s HEARTBEAT CITY. 

Sandwiched inbetween 1979’s quadruple-Platinum CANDY-O and 1981’s double-Platinum SHAKE IT UP albums was the very underrated PANORAMA album from 1980.  PANORAMA did manage to sell a million copies and was certified Platinum, but many folks these days seem to forget about it, and many other folks (mostly critics) in those days weren’t to jazzed about the album. 

panorama

Unlike THE CARS and CANDY-O, PANORAMA had a more experimental and aggressive-sound than in previous albums.  In a 1980 ROLLING STONE cover story about The Cars, guitarist Elliot Easton had this to say about PANORAMA: “If anything sits a little funny about success, it’s the feeling that we’re doing something creative and expressive, but the people we’d like to see it get through to dismiss it as plastic crap.  Yet middle America acclaims us.”the cars RS 1980

In the same ROLLING STONE cover story, keyboardist Greg Hawkes had this to add: “I hardly saw a bad review of the first album, but the second one was a totally different story.  And now, with PANORAMA, we’ve had reviews saying stuff like, ‘What happened to these guys?’  It’s as if we made one good record and then totally blew it.”

In a review that year by Deborah Frost of the BOSTON PHOENIX, she was unkind to her hometown music heroes RE: their third album: “Certainly, some of their fans will think they’re really putting their necks on the line this time.  Bullshit.  If they are, it’s not because the music or ideas behind it are so brainy, but because this is a slapdash job.  This year’s model is a lemon….”

Well, I disagree with Ms. Frost and her 36-year-old review about PANORAMA.  It may not have been their biggest or best album, but it did give us some great gems like “Touch And Go” (No. 37, BILLBOARD Hot 100, October 1980) and “Don’t Tell Me No.”

One more gem from PANORAMA was written by vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ric Ocasek, and it was the third song on the album – “Gimme Some Slack.”  It was released as a single, but was not a hit anywhere, even here in America. gimme some slack

But, as I’ve prolly said here before, as much as I love being a singles chart nerd, a song doesn’t have to be a hit for you to love it.  And, sometime somewhere, “Gimme Some Slack” was played on the radio here in Central Maine, and ever since, I’ve always loved it.  It’s a straight-ahead Rock song, and I especially dig the song’s intro, where it sounds like The Cars are channeling The Rolling Stones through guitarist Elliot Easton.  Then, Ric Ocasek’s vocals come on and Greg Hawkes’ keyboards kick in, Benjamin Orr’s and David Robinson’s bass and drums never miss a beat, and it’s The Cars again…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LumsH706Dg

song of the day – “July 13th 1985” | JOHN WESLEY HARDING | 1988.

Today marks the 31st Anniversary of LIVE AID, the 1985 worldwide concert event to raise funds to help the famine in Ethiopa. 

live aid poster

The U.K. poster for LIVE AID…

I don’t have many regrets in my life, but one I have was not going to Philadelphia to see the U.S. portion of the concert event.  Yeah, it would have been amazing to be there – I was just out of high school, healthy, I could have handled standing up for hours on end in the insane heat, I could have been there with a couple of friends, but, it is what it is.  Now, if Doc Brown really does have a time machine somewhere in the form of a DeLorean hanging around, sure as sure I’d be there in a hot second (or as long as it takes to get up to 88 MPH), and I’d see both the U.K. and U.S. portions of LIVE AID, but in reality, I did get to watch it on TV and I do have the DVD, so at least I have that.

On November 5, 1988, 3 years and 3 1/2 months after LIVE AID, British Alt-Folk singer / songwriter John Wesley Harding recorded a live solo show with just him and his guitar in West London, and it ended up being his first album, titled, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT.it happened one night

From that album was a brilliant, fun little ditty about Bob Geldof and LIVE AID, titled “July 13th 1985.”  He dedicated the song to “Mr. Liberal X, who videotaped LIVE AID so he could watch the edited highlights at Christmas and didn’t have to feel guilty about not giving money.” 

“July the 13th 1985 was the day we watched LIVE AID / The Global Jukebox came alive / We fed the world that day / Yeah, we fed the world that day…”

Wes is one of those rare breeds of recording artists who, without pretty much any difficulty, can whip up these incredibly smart, sharp lyrics that make you think.  And enjoy.  And enjoy some more.  (“Well, the powerful voice of pop music, solve the problems, feed the world / So what if there weren’t any blacks involved, there was Everything but the Girl…”)

Sure, Wes was poking fun at “Saint Bob,” Paul McCartney’s microphone failing, and even “that great Cars song, ‘Drive’.”  But, as much as I really enjoyed LIVE AID, to quote “July 13th 1985” itself, the song is “fucking brilliant” and so right on it’s freakier than Joe Piscopo introducing Rick Springfield, Run-D.M.C. and Simple Minds at the Philadelphia concert.

Self-TitledThe artist formerly known as John Wesley Harding is back to using his given name, Wesley Stace.  Since 1988’s IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, Wes has released (at least) 3 EPs and 17 albums, most-recently with 2013’s SELF-TITLED.  He’s also written four novels, including 2014’s WONDERKID. 

When he isn’t making music or writing novels, Wes is also a university teacher (at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, PA), and tonight, you’ll prolly find him singing this song where he’s performing in nearby Chestnut Hill, PA. 

Wes makes his home in America these days, so one day I hope I get to see him perform and maybe he’ll even dig up this gem of a song he wrote about the concert of my generation…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmgF4ElzP9A

wes