Stereo Review In Review: October 1982

I don’t intentionally pick issues that feature the same artists over and again, but nonetheless there are several repeat appearances here from just the last few installments in this series, including Gary U.S. Bonds, Fleetwood Mac, Susannah McCorkle, and August Darnell (he’ll be back next month, too). C’est la vie.

This is one of the first SRs to come out after I went off to college. I have no specific memories of leafing through it, though I likely would have done so by the time of my first Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty heavy on reviews, so perhaps we should just dig in.

Article
A Guide to Hi-Fi Furniture, by Carl W. Spencer
An overview of the latest/greatest in consoles and cabinets of various sizes, shapes, and materials, from full-wall to modular to standalone, from solid oak to acrylic. The article starts on page 71; the pictures are definitely fun.

Our reviewers this month are a typical bunch: Chris Albertson, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Paul Kresh, Mark Peel, Peter Reilly , Steve Simels, and Joel Vance.

Best of the Month
–Sippie Wallace, Sippie (JV) “It is rare today for a major label to release good—no, make that great—old-fashioned jazz lovingly performed in high style and recorded with excellent sound.” Wallace, eighty-three at the time of this recording, began singing professionally before World War I. Bonnie Raitt, who appears on Sippie, had been hanging with Wallace for about a decade at this point.
–Original Broadway Cast, Merrily We Roll Along (PR)  “…Sondheim’s music and lyrics again demonstrate his cool detachment from his characters, his generally dark and sorrowful view of the unsatisfying messes people can make of their lives.”

Recordings of Special Merit
Pop/Rock/R&B/Country:
–Gary U.S. Bonds, On the Line (JV) “The success of the Bonds/Springsteen association is based on their common experience as entertainers with years of boondocks one-nighters behind them.”
–The Gap Band, IV (PG) “The Gap Band promises to become the best vocal-instrumental group in Souldom since the Commodores were at their peak.”
–Genesis, Three Sides Live (MP) “Most of the songs are even more convincing here than in their original versions.”
–Juice Newton, Quiet Lies (NC) “She’s presented here roughly the same way that (Emmylou) Harris is, with vaguely country songs set to vaguely L.A.-rock arrangements, with evidence of good taste in both areas.”

Jazz:
–Dave Brubeck/Paul Desmond, S/T (CA) “…no serious lover of modern jazz should be without these historic sides.”
–Ron Carter, Herbie Hancock, and Tony Williams, Third Plane (PG) “…a brilliant distillation of the music that these men, now recognized as among the main transmitters of the jazz tradition, once played as young Turks of the Sixties.”
–Al Cohn/Scott Hamilton/Buddy Tate, Tour de Force (JV) “The Tokyo crowd is enthusiastic, and understandably so. I hope this album sells as well as Toyotas do.”
–Earl Hines, Paris Session (JV) “…the greatest pianist in the history of jazz, bar none.”
–Thelonious Monk, The Thelonious Monk Memorial Album (CA) “…it is as much a parade of brilliant sidemen as it is a distillation of Monk’s own creativity during an important period in this career.”
–The New York-Montreux Connection, S/T (CA) “…offers lots of big names playing fine, even exciting jazz at the 1981 Montreux and Kool New York jazz festivals.”
–Muggsy Spanier, At Club Hangover, Volume 2 (JV) “Spanier was no genius, but he was surely special, gifted, and true to his own muse.”
–Phil Woods, Birds of a Feather (CA) “I have learned to expect fine things from the horn and imagination of Phil Woods, and…fine things are just what this album offers.”

Featured Reviews
–Rosemary Clooney, Sings the Music of Cole Porter (PR) “Rosemary Clooney, who has been demonstrating just how good a pop-jazz singer she is…now proves herself to be an elegant, easy stylist as well.”
–Randy Crawford, Windsong (PG) “For those who have been fortunate to follow her progress through the years, it should bring the warm glow of a promise fulfilled.”
–Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Wise Guy (CA) “This is urbanized island music full of sophisticated, thoroughly musical subtleties.”
–Epic’s Lost Soul, Volumes 1-3 (PG) “While this set does not satisfy the need for a comprehensive reissue of historic r-&-b recordings, it does serve to demonstrate how very much is lost each time a promising record is ignored.”
–Susannah McCorkle, The Music of Harry Warren (CA) “…McCorkle delivers the Warren material with tender loving care and respect.”

Other Disks Reviewed
–Air Supply, Now and Forever (PK) “…the music conveys a certain Outback innocence, even in its more urbane moments, that is rather appealing.”
–Blondie, The Hunter (NC) “It’s not always good, but at least it isn’t conservative.”
–Rosanne Cash, Somewhere in the Stars (NC) “There aren’t many veterans of three albums who have committed to vinyl as few clunkers as Rosanne Cash.”
–The Dukes of Hazzard (NC) “My kids—who have, thank God, just about outgrown the show—think the album is a bad joke. Much of it is.”
–Roberta Flack, I’m the One (CA) “This is Flack at her heavy-hearted best.”
–Fleetwood Mac, Mirage (SS) “I hasten to add, however, that this album’s lapses are not cases of the usual superstar indulgence. Fleetwood Mac remains of the few ensembles currently selling records in large quantities that doesn’t insult your intelligence…”
–Heart, Private Audition (JV) “The principal defect of the new album is their vocal stridency on the hard rockers; they sound like they’re having a tantrum.”
–Kansas, Vinyl Confessions (NC) “Most of this album is tuneless, inarticulate, repetitive, and boring. Apart from that…”
–Chuck Mangione, Love Notes (PK) “The sturdy, good-humored playing, full of repetition, is sometimes more numbing than entertaining.”
–Men At Work, Business As Usual (MP) “Men at Work would do well to take a vacation from the burden of ‘art’ and relax a bit.”
–The Steve Miller Band, Abracadabra (JV) “There’s no substance to it, but it is cleverly crafted pop…”
–The Alan Parsons Project, Eye in the Sky (NC) “…seems more than ever a poor man’s Pink Floyd. The style is grandiose, but the more you listen, the less you hear…”
–Queen, Hot Space (MP) “…apparently supposed to be Queen’s ‘funk’ album, but I don’t think that’s an adequate excuse for this whack over the head.”
–Kenny Rogers, Love Will Turn You Around (NC) “Since Rogers already had the middle of the performing road covered…I don’t see what’s to be gained by his taking up with middle-of-the-road material.”
–Patrice Rushen, Straight from the Heart (PG) “…makes it clear that Patrice Rushen’s real range is much greater than she has yet displayed.”
–Richard Simmons, Reach (PR) “I know that I’d have to become as huge as Orson Welles before I would even vaguely consider listening to Simmons’s hysteria-flecked whimsey again.”
–Donna Summer, S/T (Irv Cohn) “Three of the songs rank just behind her classics—a small percentage, perhaps, compared with her hit-packed albums of the past, but nothing to sneeze at.”
–Survivor, Eye of the Tiger (JV) “There’s nothing wrong with Survivor except that you’ve heard all their stuff before…”
–Thompson Twins, In the Name of Love (SS) “Nowhere on this album is there a detectable trace of emotion, sweat, or any human quality whatsoever.”
–X, Under the Big Black Sun (SS) “This band enjoys being miserable far too much for their own good, which makes them spiritually closer to the Eagles than to the Jefferson Airplane, and at least in my house that’s not a compliment.”

Songs Casey Never Played, 10/20/84

The 10/20/84 countdown is plenty familiar to me, as it’s one I’d assembled for an iPod playlist in the mid-aughts. Instead of waxing eloquent about that show or one of its songs, though, we’ll look at some tunes that were lurking below. A quick count reveals that exactly half of the lower 60 tracks on the week’s Hot 100 didn’t get as high as #40 (you got me if that’s a typical number or not for the 80s); here’s a little bit about six of them.

#92. Ralph McDonald with Bill Withers, “In the Name of Love”
McDonald has co-writing credit for “Where Is the Love?” and “Just the Two of Us.” This song has more than a little of the latter’s vibe–Bill Withers’ voice will do that for you–but I sorta get why it couldn’t fight past a #58 peak.

#79. Frankie Goes to Hollywood, “Two Tribes”
This video, featuring a battle royale between Reagan and Chernenko pseudo-lookalikes, could only have been created in 1984. Frankie say he’s disappointed “Two Tribes” would make it only to #43 in the states (it went #1 all over Europe, and was the #2 song for 1984 in the UK and Belgium). Maybe it paved the way for the decent success that “Relax” had when it was re-released a few months later, though.

True story: My wife was in Moscow on March 10, 1985, the day Konstantin Chernenko died. She spent her first year after college studying in Hamburg, and she and a couple of friends had flown to the Soviet Union on a tour over spring break. Letters sent home to her parents reported that the group’s trip to the Kremlin got moved up a day (it would be closed to the public when originally scheduled due to funeral preparations), and included an eyewitness account of standing along Gorky Street while dignitary-filled vehicles sped into Red Square on March 13, the day of the funeral.

#76. Roger Hodgson, “Had a Dream (Sleeping with the Enemy)”
Hodgson and Supertramp had gone Splitsville following …Famous Last Words…, and neither was the same afterwards. The group did manage a Top 40 hit with “Cannonball” in the late spring of 1985, but Hodgson could only muster a climb to #48 with this semi-sequel to “The Logical Song,” from In the Eye of the Storm.

#69. Scandal featuring Patty Smyth, “Hands Tied”
Smyth and company had tough luck following up “The Warrior.” Both the second and third singles from Warrior–“Hands Tied” and “Beat of a Heart”–flamed out at #41. Neither is as good as “Goodbye to You” or “Love’s Got a Line on You,” mind you, but that’s still a mighty fine quartet of songs that missed on making it to Casey-land.

#60. The Everly Brothers, “On the Wings of a Nightingale”
I was dimly aware of this attempted comeback at the time, though I’m doubting I heard it on the radio. Written by Paul McCartney, “On the Wings of a Nightingale” is a thorough delight. Listening now, it’s deeply disappointing it didn’t climb higher than #50.

#48. Maria Vidal, “Body Rock”
Vidal occupies a mildly interesting niche in 80s rock history, at least according to Wikipedia. She’d been a member of Desmond Child and Rouge, and somewhere along the way had acquired the nickname Gina, ostensibly based on a resemblance to Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida. When Child got to hanging with the members of Bon Jovi later on to bang out lyrics for some new tunes, he remembered what he’d called Maria and included that name as one of the primary characters in a huge hit.

As for this track, it’s the title song to a bad, bad movie. This is as high as it got, perhaps better than it deserved.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/10/87: The Other Ones, “Holiday”

There is a very large yet finite number of ways that English words can be combined to form song titles (though one could make a strong argument that the combinations songwriters select aren’t always sensical). Thus, over time one might expect there to be multiple hits having the same title but different lyrics. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but back in the early 80s, the most frequently occurring title for songs reaching the Top 40 since 1955 was “Call Me”–I’d guess “Hold On” or something else has overtaken it by now.

I got to thinking about repeat titles after looking over the first few songs played on the 10/10/87 show, as two of the debut tunes have titles making at least their second trip to the Top 40 (and aren’t remakes, of course). After a little research on the Ultimate Music Database, I could count five such rock-era song titles on this show (no promises I didn’t overlook something). Here’s a quick rundown, including info about the titles’ previous tours of duty:

“Here I Go Again.” Whitesnake, with a little help from the late Tawny Kitaen, is sitting at #1. But the title appeared first on a #37 hit for Smokey Robinson and the Miracles in October 1969. (Plenty of Smokey-related action on this show: “When Smokey Sings” is at #20, and the man himself has “One Heartbeat” at #14.)

“Carrie.” Europe is way up there as well, at its peak of #3. Back in the spring of 1980, Cliff Richard had a haunting song of the same name reach #34.

“Victim of Love.” The other three duplicate titles on this show didn’t get anywhere near the rarified air of the Top 10. Bryan Adams is the victim this time, stuck at #32; almost eight years earlier, Elton John had managed to climb only one spot higher than that.

“Holiday.” The Australian-German sextet known as the Other Ones embarks on their one and only trip to the forty, starting at #36; they’d peak at #29 the following week. No slight to Smokey, but this title has the most star power behind its previous incarnations: both the Bee Gees (November 1967) and Madonna (January/February 1984) reached #16 on their own “Holiday.”

“Notorious.” Loverboy’s at #39 and was destined to advance only one position. Duran Duran had been on less than a year earlier with the biggest–by far–of the earlier hits, having gotten to #2 in January.

I’m not overly inclined to do much research to see if five recycled titles is high or low; logic dictates that the number of such titles should increase over time. Just as a sanity check, though, I checked out the chart from one year later. The 10/8/88 chart has–I believe–six such titles (“I’ll Always Love You,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Fallen Angel,” “True Love,” “Chains of Love,” and “Desire”)–and a seventh, “It Takes Two,” is at #41 and would join them the following week. Unlike what happened a year earlier, three of those ’88 titles date back to the ’50s.

The Aussies in the Other Ones were two brothers and a sister (the female was a twin of the younger male); they all had made their way to Berlin by 1984. Earlier in 1987, they’d hit the U.S. charts with the #53 “We Are What We Are.” (I heard it a few times back then; listening to it again now, it’s better than I remembered.) “Holiday” made a much more favorable–and lasting–impression, even if it also disappeared pretty quickly. In 1992 I ripped it from a CD in Greg’s collection to a mixtape.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/9/82: Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Southern Cross”

I’m often aware of the date when it rolls around each October, but this year it was more front and center in my mind than usual, likely because it was on Thursday.

She and I had met back in May over dinner, seated at the same table with our parents, another family, and a college administrator, the three high school seniors recipients of a generous scholarship. Come fall, we had chemistry together and were both in the Tuesday afternoon lab, assigned adjacent stations. We began hanging out some at lunch and dinner and otherwise, and on a Thursday evening about a month after classes started, acknowledged our mutual interest in each other. It was the first serious dating experience for both of us.

The other night I was rummaging through my bin of 80s correspondence for letters from my college roommate and came across a thank-you note she had written me just a few days before we started dating. (The previous Saturday I had driven her to a nearby cross-country meet where my sister and some of her HS friends were running.) I flipped the note over and noticed that the paper on the back was a little thinner in the upper left corner—I must have placed a square of adhesive there and stuck it to the wall of my dorm room. When I opened it, on the face opposite her handwriting and under a small circle of clear contact paper, there was a four-leaf clover. I’m certain that hadn’t come with the note, but I can’t remember for the life of me now how it came to be placed there. I’m guessing I’d come across it that autumn and considered it a portent.

That wasn’t the only change in my life at the time. The weekend immediately following was the first that I didn’t make a formal accounting of the songs on AT40 in six years. I still have notes that extend into early March of 1983, but none of them were ever converted into a chart.

Debuting at #36 on the show that kicked off this new era (and sailing toward a #18 peak) was “Southern Cross,” the second single from CS&N’s Daylight Again. My recollection is that the summer’s “Wasted on the Way” was a song she particularly liked; I had a more favorable reaction to this follow-up.

We lasted as a couple for fifteen months. We were compatible in many respects, and I could recount to you several ways in which she’s had a lasting, positive impact on me. In the end, though, my immaturity doomed us. It’s one thing to look back and acknowledge you had a lot of growing to do; it’s another entirely to understand that someone else had to pay that cost as well.

That note is the only item remaining from the letters we exchanged over breaks while dating–I’d tossed them all sometime before I left home for grad school. I imagine the note had been separate from the rest.

Obviously, I didn’t fail all the time, and failing certainly wasn’t the easiest thing to do. However, at ages 18 and 19, it was all too easy.

Modern Rock Tracks, 10/5/91

My fall of 1991 was a mix of work and play. By October, my advisor had assured me the results I had in hand were sufficiently novel and substantial to comprise a dissertation; still, I was investigating additional cases and beginning to accumulate other bits of new knowledge. Academic job postings for the 1992-93 year had begun showing up in the Director of Graduate Studies’ office, so efforts at constructing teaching and research statements for applications were underway, too. I was also playing a ton of bridge, having made trips to tournaments in St. Louis and Ft. Wayne since the school year had started.

And there was music to listen to at Greg’s and my apartment. Much of it was hitting the Modern Rock Tracks chart of the day, so it’s natural to take our usual gander at bits and pieces of that. (About a third of the songs written up below didn’t register with me at the time.)

30. Gary Clail On-U Sound System, “Human Nature”
Starting off this month with a sermon, almost literally: this club hit is channeling parts of a Billy Graham speech (according to Wikipedia, anyway). Current mood: Clail’s thesis isn’t incorrect, at least across too-wide swaths of the population.

26. The Blue Aeroplanes, “Yr Own World”
I don’t recall having seen a group list a dancer as one of its official members before, but thirty years on, Vojtek Dmochowski is still with the band. Vocalist Gerard Langley’s sing-speak is a cross between the Godfathers’ “Birth, School, Work, Death” and the Nails’ “88 Lines about 44 Women.”

24. Mary’s Danish, “Julie’s Blanket”
Circa came out a couple of years after MD’s debut There Goes the Wondertruck… and produced this gem, undoubtedly the only song in recorded history with the parenthetic subtitle pigsheadsnakeface. After one more album in 1992, the band chose to pack it in.

It’s the month for interesting (?) covers. Circa includes a take on “Foxey Lady.”

22. The Golden Palominos, “Alive and Living Now”
Drunk with Passion mostly features collaborations between head Palomino Anton Fier and ex-Information Society member Amanda Kramer. It also includes songs co-written with Bob Mould and Michael Stipe; “Alive and Living Now” is sung by the latter.

19. Big Audio Dynamite II, “The Globe”
Mick decides to sample a song from his old band, and makes it work. Sure seems like I heard this a lot more than “Rush” back in the day.

15. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Shadowtime”
If there’s fault to find with “Peek-a-Boo” and “Kiss Them for Me,” it’s that each has a whiff of novelty to them. Maybe that’s enough to push the utterly delightful, elliptic “Shadowtime” into the conversation about Siouxsie’s best song?

13. Voice of the Beehive, “Monsters and Angels”
Honey Lingers, the Beehive’s second album, produced their first song to make the pop charts here in the U.S.; “Monsters and Angels” would reach #74 in November. (The album also contains an overhaul of “I Think I Love You,” with melody and chorus you expect, but musical backing that could have only been created in 1991 Britain.)

Edward Hopper fans may or may not enjoy this video.

12. Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Give It Away”
RHCP’s ascension had begun with Mother’s Milk and their cover of “Higher Ground,” but Blood Sugar Sex Magik is the album put them on almost everyone’s radar. Wouldn’t object if “Give It Away” were about a minute shorter, though.

11. Nirvana, “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
Welcome to the grunge era. I’ll admit that I found “SLTS” revolutionary; to me, it’s the closest thing I’d know to hearing “Satisfaction” in the mid-60s.

8. Lloyd Cole, “She’s a Girl and I’m a Man”
One of two songs in this Top 10 on a mix tape I made in early 1992 (#5 is the other). I’ve not liked its title for some time, but a fair reading of the lyrics leads one to conclude Cole isn’t necessarily on the side of the “man.”

7. Squeeze, “Satisfied”
Play was the fourth post-reunion album from Difford, Tilbrook et. al., the first after Jools Holland’s second departure, and the final with Gilson Lavis on drums. “Satisfied” would be their last song to garner chart action of any sort outside of the UK.

5. Northside, “Take Five”
One huge advantage Katie had over Greg after she moved to Maryland was access to mighty fine alternative radio. WHFS, 99.1, was the absolute bomb compared to anything we had in the hinterlands of Urbana-Champaign. “Take Five” is one of the songs she passed on to Greg (and hence me) that fall/winter. Yes, it’s goofy, but I way dig it.

4. Billy Bragg, “Sexuality”
Can’t say much for Bragg’s voice, but he does have a way with a tune. Kirsty MacColl does her usual bang-up job on backup vocals, as well as hamming it up behind Billy’s back.

2. The Smithereens, “Top of the Pops”
Greg brought Blow Up back to the apartment pretty much immediately after its release. Overall I wasn’t as impressed as with previous efforts, particularly “Too Much Passion.” I worry they were a wee bit too passionate about reaching the top of the pops.

1. Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians, “So You Think You’re in Love”
Cult favorite enjoying his last relatively decent commercial success, Perspex Island. These days he’s hanging out in Nashville with Australia native Emma Swift, who released an album of Dylan covers last year.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 10/6/79: Jennifer Warnes, “I Know a Heartache When I See One”

About two-and-a-half years ago, I did a post on trivia associated with the songs and artists on an April 1974 show. It was fun enough, so I’m going to take another whack at that sort of thing, this time on this weekend’s featured 10/6/79 countdown. I’ll repeat some categories I used then but introduce a few new ones, as well.

Song with the longest AT40 run: M, “Pop Muzik,” 20 weeks

Song with the shortest AT40 run: Mary MacGregor, “Good Friend,” 2 weeks

Acts in their final week ever on AT40:
Chic, Maxine Nightengale, Maureen McGovern

One-hit wonders:
Ian Gomm, France Joli, Moon Martin, Patrick Hernandez, Sniff ‘n the Tears, Nick Lowe, M

Two-hit wonders:
MacGregor^, Nightengale^, McGovern^, Bonnie Pointer
(^ = second appearance)

Other acts making their final AT40 appearance:
Bob Dylan (ignoring his turn in U.S.A. for Africa), K.C. and the Sunshine Band (though not for K.C. himself), Michael Johnson, Wings (looks to me it was just McCartney after this), Lobo, Gerry Rafferty

Acts with more than five years since their previous AT40 appearance:
McGovern, Herb Alpert, Robert John (Dionne Warwick was at #3 with the Sprinners on the 10/5/74 chart)

Act with more than five years until his next AT40 appearance:
Robert Palmer

Acts who wrote another song on the show besides their own:
Gomm (co-wrote “Cruel to Be Kind” with Lowe), Martin (wrote “Bad Case of Lovin’ You”)
[Note: Ashford & Simpson were at #41 and would be on the 10/13/79 show–they wrote “The Boss.”]

Acts with a #40-peaking song in their future:
Stephanie Mills (a duet with Teddy Pendergrass), Diana Ross, Pointer, Donna Summer

Acts with a #1 duet in their future:
Jennifer Warnes, Kenny Rogers, Ross, Summer, Michael Jackson (McCartney, Michael McDonald, and Lionel Richie are on the show with their groups; Barbra Streisand had just fallen off)

Warnes, McCartney, and (I guess) Jackson all had two duets make it to the top in the 80s, but only Warnes took home Grammy hardware–both times, even–for her collaborations. I wasn’t a huge fan of either duet, but found other songs of hers more to my taste. In grad school I picked up Famous Blue Raincoat, her collection of Leonard Cohen songs, not long after it came out in late 1986. And I certainly liked her two 70s AC/country/pop solo hits, particularly “I Know a Heartache When I See One,” which is sitting at #33 this week, heading toward its destiny of topping out at #19 a month later. It’s great to sing along with; maybe I should put it on my karaoke to-do list. Wikipedia informs me that we’re hearing Andrew Gold on backup vocals–I should have sussed that out a long time ago.



One-Hit Wonderama

So, it’s once again National One-Hit Wonder Day. I know it’s a hotly-discussed matter as to what constitutes an act being a one-hit wonder; for the purposes of today’s post, I’m taking the slightly liberal position that it means an act had a single Top 40 hit in Billboard.* I’m noting the occasion by lifting up a song from each of the seven years I was actively paying attention to American Top 40 in late September. To qualify for selection, the song:
–had to be on the Hot 100 during the week containing 9/25;
–hasn’t been previously featured in a PastBlast post here on the blog.

Let’s get the celebration started. I’ll note chart position during the week of National One-Hit Wonder Day, as well as where and when the song peaked.

1976: John Valenti, “Anything You Want” (#63; peaked at #37 on 11/6)
WSAI in Cincinnati promoted this song a decent amount in the late summer, but had dropped it from their playlist well before it appeared on AT40. Seems fitting to pick Valenti today, since it sure feels he’s doing his best to sound like Stevie Wonder.

1977: Paul Nicholas, “Heaven on the 7th Floor” (#24; peaked at #6 for three weeks beginning 11/26)
Only song in this list for which I bought the 45 in real time. A shame of sorts it didn’t top out one position lower. I still like it, but somehow I don’t think it was his appearance in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that relegated him to OHW status.

1978: John Paul Young, “Love Is in the Air” (#9, peaked at #7 for two weeks starting 10/14)
Young comes the closest to not being in this post, having hit #42 in early 1976 with “Yesterday’s Hero.” That song, as well as “Love Is in the Air,” were written by former Easybeats George Young and Harry Vanda.

1979: Lauren Wood, “Please Don’t Leave” (#70, peaked at #24 for two weeks starting 11/24)
Some smooth West Coast groovin’ here, complete with Michael McDonald crooning alongside. Additional success wasn’t for lack of trying: members of Toto and Little Feat, as well as Patrick Simmons, contributed to her album.

1980: Amy Holland, “How Do I Survive” (#28, peaked at #22 for two weeks starting 10/11)
Continuing on a bit of a theme: McDonald not only sings backup again, he also produced Holland’s debut album and has been her husband since 1983.

1981: Balance, “Breaking Away” (#22, its peak for two weeks starting 9/26)
This wasn’t singer Peppy Castro’s only Top 40 appearance–he’d been in Blues Magoos in 1967 when they scored with “(We Ain’t Got) Nothin’ Yet.” By the early 80s, he’d traded psychedelia in for something, well, peppier.

1982: Jennifer Holliday, “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” (#94, peaked at #22 for three weeks starting 8/28)
Our third #22 OHW in a row. I was making an effort to pick tunes that hadn’t already fallen off their high point on the chart, but surprisingly, all five songs on the 9/25/82 chart that fit that bill have already had their moment to shine in this space (the acts are Tané Cain, Sylvia, Toni Basil, Rush, and Moving Pictures). Holliday’s star turn in the Broadway hit Dreamgirls therefore gets the nod.

Here’s to singular success (by one definition, anyway).

*At least as of the end of 2002; I’m using Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 as my source.

Stereo Review In Review: September 1986

SR’s last connection to the 1960s, at least on the popular side, fades away. Peter Reilly is on the masthead of reviewers, but there aren’t any contributions from him; after an almost twenty-year run, this is the final issue in which his name appears. Reilly came on board with the January 1967 issue, and the first review of his you’d have encountered was a rave of Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. (As it happens, Rex Reed also joined SR with that issue, though he lasted but a few years. I tweeted about Reed’s jaw-dropping Jan 67 take on Revolver last night.)

Article
The Basic Repertoire on Compact Disc, Part 1
The CD era was mature enough at this point to begin curating the best of what was out there, though this is strictly a classical affair. Going alphabetically by composer, Part 1 takes the reader from Bach through Mendelssohn. The second half appears in the October issue.

Our reviewers this month are Chris Albertson, Phyl Garland, Alanna Nash, Mark Peel, and Steve Simels, with a future regular contributing a little.

Best of the Month
–Steve Earle, Guitar Town (SS) “His songs deal, in part, with traditional country themes—faithless lovers, the continuity of family life, poverty and hard times—but from a remarkably sophisticated and modern perspective, and he can be mordantly funny in a way that would never have occurred to, say, Ernest Tubb.”
–Tonio K., Romeo Unchained (SS) “…the kind of album that will sound good on MTV and make you think anyway.” Simels also references what had become an inside joke: he crowns each of K.’s releases as ‘the greatest album ever recorded.’ That habit continued through January 1999, SR’s final issue, where Simels gets to proclaim the same about Rodent Weekend ’76-’96 (Approximately).

Other Disks Reviewed (* = featured review)
–Anita Baker, Rapture (PG) “…possesses not only a remarkably lustrous voice but also the kind of taste and intelligence that mark her as one of the finest vocal interpreters to emerge in quite some time.”
–*Tony Bennett, The Art of Excellence (Roy Hemming) “…shows that Bennett…is still musically and expressively at the top of his form…”
–*Chuck Berry, Rock ‘n’ Roll Rarities (SS) “…brings together previously unreleased alternate takes and stereo remixes of some of the most familiar tunes in rock history and allows us to hear them as if they were spanking new.”
–The Blow Monkeys, Animal Magic (SS) “Here’s yet another act purveying the effete, post-disco British r-&-b that is all the rage these days, a music inhabiting a space somewhere between bad Culture Club and bad Spandau Ballet (the latter admittedly a redundancy).”
–George Clinton, R&B Skeletons in the Closet (MP) “…his manifesto against the evils of crossover—commercial tendencies that dilute, homogenize, and otherwise bleach funk of its essential nastiness.”
–Ornette Coleman and Pat Metheny, Song X (CA) “…the two principals exhibit a mutual rapport that simply begs for further collaboration.”
–The Forester Sisters, Perfume, Ribbons and Pearls (AN) “…neither as progressive as the Judds nor as traditional as the Whites. They are also not nearly as interesting nor as overtly talented…”
–*Peter Gabriel, So (MP) “But it’s not for lack of effort that the album comes up short. Rather, it’s the dimming of Gabriel’s white-hot vision.”
–Howard Jones, Action Replay (MP) “I keep waiting for Jones to come up with a worthy successor to Human’s Lib…”
–Journey, Raised on Radio (SS) “I remain convinced that Journey is the most inexplicable band in America. It’s not that they’re bad…it’s more as if they’re utterly and irredeemably lacking in personality, brains, body odor, or any other recognizably human characteristic.”
–Nicolette Larson, Rose of My Heart (AN) “…the only real complaint I have about her is that she obviously has a severely limited emotional range…”
–Susannah McCorkle, How Do You Keep the Music Playing? (CA) “Simply put, McCorkle is the finest interpreter of sophisticated songs we have today.”
–Bobby McFerrin, Spontaneous Inventions (CA) “McFerrin is often at his best when he’s teamed up with an instrumentalist…a very successful and creative album.”
–Pet Shop Boys, Please (MP) “Like Wham!, the Pets are the kind of group that drives frustrated audiophiles to mutter, ‘I could do that.’”
–Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, Like a Rock (SS) ‘…longer on good intentions than inspiration. A lot longer.”
–Jane Siberry, The Speckless Sky (MP) “The arrangements…work at being free-wheeling and innovative, but while there’s lots going on, none of it is much fun or very interesting.”
–The Style Council, Home and Abroad (MP) ‘…succumbs to just about every pitfall that can ruin a concert recording.”
–Randy Travis, Storms of Life (AN) “…proves that he is a serious and worthwhile suitor for the same audience that reveres (George) Jones, Merle Haggard, and George Strait.”
–Van Halen, 5150 (MP) “…Hagar is clearly intent on proving he’s a worthy successor to the King of Raunch-and-Roll. But where Roth could be legitimately funny about his rampaging promiscuity…the best Hagar can manage is a dull, passé crudeness.”
–Wax, Magnetic Heaven (SS) “Everything is cheerful, well produced, and well crafted, but neither Gold nor Gouldman is a particularly interesting singer, and more to the point, their melodic gifts seem to have deserted them.”

Forgotten Albums: Kennedy Rose, hai ku

In the early 1980s, an all-female quartet called Calamity Jane scored four minor hits on the country charts, including covers of Patsy Cline and Beatles songs. When CJ split, two of its members kept on keeping on in Nashville, putting their efforts into songwriting, invariably with one or two other collaborators. It paid off for Mary Ann Kennedy and Pam Rose: between 1983 and 1987, six of their songs went Top 10 country (including two that made #1), performed by the likes of Janie Fricke, Lee Greenwood, Crystal Gayle, and Restless Heart–yes, they co-wrote “I’ll Still Be Loving You.”

At the end of the decade, Kennedy and Rose signed to PANGÆA Records, a label formed by Sting and distributed through I.R.S. Records (which I just learned was co-founded by Stewart Copeland’s brother Miles). They recorded ten songs they’d co-written (mostly with Pat Bunch) between 1984 and 1988, and along with two short instrumental interludes, released the set as hai ku.

Being on a subsidiary of a minor label may have made it doubly hard to get traction; hai ku never charted. The performances defy easy classification, too–while Kennedy Rose obviously have their roots in country music, there’s a folk/pop sheen that makes one wonder how it would be best promoted.

I think Kennedy Rose came to my attention via some combination of a blurb in Rolling Stone magazine and the video for first single “Love Like This” on VH-1. When this occurred exactly is lost to me now, but I became quickly interested in tracking the CD down. It took a while–Record Service in Champaign didn’t seem to carry it. The album has a 1989 date on it, but it sticks in my mind that I purchased it the following year, finally discovering it in a record store inside the Chicago Loop. hai ku got plenty of play in my apartment, but clearly not much elsewhere. Finding its tracks on YouTube is possible these days though many are barely viewed. I’m here today to see if that can be rectified a little.

It’s a shame that the catchy “Love Like This” never caught on. Carlene Carter’s version was the lead single from 1995’s Little Acts of Treason, but even she couldn’t break through with it, reaching only #70 country.

The overarching theme of the album is that of the euphoria one feels being in love with another. The loping “After Your Arms” certainly mines that vein well.

I really like the way “Love Is the Healer” builds.

“Born to Give My Love” was later covered by Martina McBride and the Forester Sisters. It’s a gorgeous, gentle song. I apologize, though, for making you suffer through clips from a Hallmark Christmas movie to hear it.

One of my favorites on the disk is the driving “Nightline,” which cuts against the other tracks in that our narrator is lusting for someone she shouldn’t but can’t help continue pursuing.

Kennedy Rose released a second album in 1994, which I also picked up. Alas, Walk the Line suffered a similar commercial fate. Highlights included “Safe in the Arms of Love,” later a Top 10 country hit by the aforementioned McBride.

If you poke around a little on YouTube, you can find clips of Kennedy Rose’s appearance in support of hai ku on Austin City Limits. As on the album, they share singing duties, harmonizing beautifully. Mary Ann Kennedy shows her versatility in playing percussion and mandolin, while Pam Rose ably handles guitar work. The videos are worth seeking out, even if that appearance didn’t help them launch. I’m glad for the songwriting success Kennedy and Rose experienced–just wish that somehow hai ku had been a bigger thing.

Songs Casey Never Played, 9/13/80

Somehow in doing more than twenty of these SCNP posts, I’ve yet to include one from 1980. Let’s rectify that right here and right now, mostly featuring acts trying to followup on Top 40 hits from earlier in the year, with some personal faves tossed in.

96. Lipps Inc., “Rock It”
Minneapolis studio group tries to capitalize on the biggest dance hit of the year, but are unable to navigate the path from Funky Town back to AT40. They’d rocked it all the way to #64 with this jam, but are now about to fall off the chart, never to be seen again.

86. Ali Thomson, “Live Every Minute”
The younger brother of Supertramp’s bassist falls out of the 40 this week with the delightful “Take a Little Rhythm,” while debuting with his next single. “Live Every Minute” sounds a whole lot like brother Dougie’s band; I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the boys were playing on it, particularly Rick Davies on keyboards. It missed the show by a whisker, reaching #42.

79. Rossington Collins Band, “Don’t Misunderstand Me”
The group formed out of surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Lead singer Dale Krantz married Gary Rossington within a couple of years of this song’s charting. Coming down off a #55 high; I’ve always liked it a bunch.

65. The Kings, “Switchin’ to Glide/This Beat Goes On”
This is in the fourth of a twenty-three week ride that somehow ended only at #43. It sure seems I heard at least one band playing this at a state conference dance during my senior year (likely Beta Club, in December 1981).

61. Journey, “Good Morning Girl/Stay Awhile”
Our second double-sided single. Hot take: it’s better than “Open Arms” and “Faithfully.” Liked it enough to have it make my personal top 50 for a few weeks even without it getting to the 40; it’s another one that couldn’t make it past #55.

59. Ray, Goodman & Brown, “My Prayer”
“Special Lady” had been a #5 hit back in the spring for the trio formerly known as the Moments. This was the lead single from Ray, Goodman & Brown II, a faithful cover of the Platters’ #1 song from 1956. It was a couple of weeks away from topping out at #47.

Bonus content #1: A look at what WKRQ in Cincinnati was playing then. The back of this sheet promotes a contest to send a lucky listener and guest to see Elton do Honolulu in mid-November (including seven days’ accommodations and a grand in mad money).

Bonus content #2: My 10 faves from this week, the only one to feature the Stones at the top. It’s plenty soft-rockish, but collectively, IMO this is one of my better Top 10s of the year. If I had a do-over, though, I might swap “Give Me the Night” at #11 with either Eddie Rabbitt or Genesis.