Over the last couple of years a table in our basement has regularly turned into Jigsaw Puzzle Central. We tend to tackle 1000-piecers; the most recent effort–a collage of seashells that shows some promise of challenge–began a couple of evenings ago. If we aren’t listening to an AT40 rebroadcast while we work on puzzles, chances are strong I’ll be browsing the CD shelves for background music. On Friday, I plucked off two disks that I hadn’t listened to before, and found a few interesting tunes that were new to me. Let’s hit some highlights.
Eighteen months ago I wrote about several slabs of vinyl that a Lexington record store donated to my college radio station (it’s where WTLX purchased its 45s). One of those was the EP Party of Two, from the Rubinoos. Until the middle of last week, I’d completely forgotten that somewhere along the way I had acquired the Wounded Bird reissue of it, complete with three bonus tracks and three demos. While I was thrilled to realize I had a copy of “If I Had You Back,” I found other fun tracks as well. I think my new favorite song is “The Girl.”
Easy to hear the influence of Rundgren, who produced. A mighty swell bonus track is “Stop Before We Start,” a tune about nipping an affair in the bud–amazing this almost never saw the light of day.
I highly recommend this disk if you come across a copy somewhere.
After we were done with the Rubinoos, I slipped a compilation from EMI/Capitol Special Markets into the player called Lost Hits of the ’70s. I’d purchased it well over a decade ago because it includes Cheryl Ladd’s “Think It Over” and it’s the one CD I could find out there that has it (part of my quest to collect all the Top 40 songs that hit between June 1976 and May 1986). All told, twelve of the collection’s twenty songs hit the Top 40, and I was familiar with a couple of the eight that hadn’t. Among the remainder, three stood out on first listen.
McGuinness Flint was named after two of its members, bassist for Manfred Mann Tom McGuinness and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers drummer Hughie Flint. “When I’m Dead and Gone” was a big hit in the UK and made it as high as #47 here in February 1971.
Another group made up of musicians formerly of other bands is American Flyer. Past affiliations included the Blues Magoos, Velvet Underground, and Blood, Sweat & Tears. They hit #80 in November 1976 with “Let Me Down Easy.” If the vocalist sounds familiar, you heard Craig Fuller sing “Amie” with Pure Prairie League a year or two before.
This has a nice, smooth sound, but I confess that I’ve become less enamored in recent years of the use of “woman” in song lyrics to address one’s mate (Cliff Richard’s “Dreamin'” is a prime offender in this regard). I get that not using an actual name might be a way to have the song speak to a more general audience, but neither my wife nor I can imagine me addressing her that way. (Yes, “The Girl” has related issues.)
Lastly we have twins Cherie and Marie Currie with a Russ Ballard composition, “Since You’ve Been Gone.” Cherie had been the vocalist for the Runaways; after they split she got together with Sis to record a few tunes. This one reached #95 for three weeks in October and November of 1979. It feels like maybe I’ve heard it a time or two before? I’m digging on it pretty hard right now, particularly the unexpected guitar chord downward progression in the chorus.
(Their album Messin’ with the Boys includes a straightforward but inferior cover of “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record).”)
I don’t know if there are future installations of Music Found While Puzzling in the wings–wouldn’t shock me, though.