R.I.P. Buddy

He came into our lives in August, he left us in August.

Buddy was a gentle soul, a life changer. In the very early days of the blog, I recounted how we met him, but in brief: in 2013, one of our friends who worked with the local Humane Society brought some animals to a back-to-school function at our church. Twelve-year-old Ben, who’d grown up petrified of dogs, immediately bonded with this 60 lb. collie mix, and just over a week later, Buddy began his journey with us.

He was of unknown age when he moved in—probably between five and eight. Buddy wasn’t a cuddler or a lap dog; while some of that no doubt was nature, I always had a sense that in his earlier life he’d been disciplined not to get up on things. (I can’t complain at all that he didn’t want to climb into bed with us.) He needed a little time to get used to the new circumstance of his life—and vice versa—and a little training to learn not to bark at other dogs on walks. It wasn’t long before everyone adjusted, though, and he became an integral part of the family.

A couple years in, Buddy began losing fur and had trouble keeping steady. It took quite a while for the vet to determine that he had an atypical presentation of Addison’s disease (I guess his adrenal glands had atrophied, but the standard blood work couldn’t determine it). It was simple to fix—just a small, daily dose of prednisone—but until that determination, Martha and I had become more afraid as the weeks passed that we might lose him.

After that, life with Buddy went smoothly for a few years. He got in the habit of taking three walks each day—Martha would go on a long one with him most mornings, then there’d be one right before dinner, and another afterward. Martha particularly enjoyed the morning and evening walks, as she got to know neighbors (and the neighborhood) better; a dog makes a good starting point for conversation. As he aged, however, the walks first dropped down to twice a day, and eventually only the evening one remained.

The pandemic meant all three of us got to spend much more time at home with our dog, but that coincided with the beginnings of a slow but steady decline in Buddy’s mobility. The last walk in the neighborhood came this past April. Over the last year it’s been clear that dementia was setting in as well.

Here are a few favorite memories we have of Buddy:
–Trips to the dog park at Masterson Station Park in Lexington. It was great to give Buddy opportunities to run freely. He wasn’t much of a fetcher, but when other owners would throw something, he’d chase along with the dog going after it, barking all the way. He also tended to try to police matters when other pooches got into it with one another;
–Playing ‘sock’ in the back yard or basement. We did get Buddy to learn to go after a sock filled with a rubber ball here at the house. He was generally not very graceful—often when he would excitedly go after it, his front legs would splay out in odd directions. He regularly dropped the sock about halfway back, yet still expected the treat upon return;
–His energy when we returned home and let him out of the crate in the basement. Buddy could usually hear when we were back and would be standing in the crate by the time one of us got downstairs. He’d then bound up the stairs to the kitchen and drink deeply from his water bowl.
–Slinking into our walk-in closet during thunderstorms. Like so many dogs, Buddy hated thunder. Somehow he decided that closet was a safe place.
–Howling at sirens. I know the noise bothered him, but his mournful “A-roooooooo” became a part of the sonic landscape;
–Running home at the end of walks. We’d frequently let him off the leash near the top of our cul-de-sac, and he’d half-lope/half-dash toward our driveway. When Ben went along with us, they’d race. When our neighbor Mary was out, Buddy might peel off and head over to her instead, wiggling his butt furiously, ears down in a submissive manner and waiting for a head rub.

Over the last eighteen months or so, we’ve been missing how Buddy was; how he has been lately has been a challenge for everyone, Buddy included. Things finally came to a head around 3am Thursday morning. After dealing with the latest mess, Martha, Ben and I finally talked freely about stuff we’d been hinting at for the last 2-3 months. We worried that we were being selfish for considering letting Buddy go, yet we could also see that he wasn’t enjoying much about his life.

This morning, after a meal of boiled chicken breast, we took him to the vet one last time. On his most recent trips there, he’s been quite agitated, panting the entire way, pooping on the blanket in the car en route, pacing nervously once we got there. We had reason to be concerned that he’d be panic-stricken in his final moments.

Instead, he was surprisingly calm. No panting, no obvious display of nerves on the trip. (He did still poop in the car a little, I guess for old times’ sake.) We walked him into their euthanasia room, and he pretty easily laid still on his blanket. I guess he was ready to go; maybe he’d been ready well before we were.

Even toward the end, it may have been hard to tell from a distance about his issues. His coat was still in fine shape overall, and there were passing moments—even yesterday—when the old Buddy spark of life showed in his eyes. I took the picture at the top just this past Monday. The right-ear-up-left-ear-slightly floppy is (yes, was) a standard-issue Buddy pose.

This coming Tuesday marks the eight-year anniversary of Buddy entering and transforming Ben’s life. I don’t know—maybe it’ll be easier to observe that, celebrate it, knowing that he’s not suffering any more. I guess we’ll see.

Thank you, Buddy, for everything.

Forgotten Compilations: Just Say Anything

By the time Sire Records released the fifth volume in their Just Say… sampler series in July 1991, records, cassettes, and CDs had, as deemed necessary, been graced with some variant of the “Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics” warning label for almost six years. U.S. record companies chose to include the labels in late 1985 after the Parents Music Resource Center began raising a ruckus (which led to a Senate hearing on what the PMRC hailed as smutty and/or violent song lyrics). Needless to say, musicians weren’t happy about the PMRC’s efforts at the time, and nerves were still raw in the summer of 1991. Sire was by this time the home of the edgier acts in the Time Warner family, generally modern/college rock groups but also rappers. The liner notes for Just Say Anything have the included acts’ angry takes on censorship, both real and perceived.

Greg had purchased this CD shortly after we moved into our new apartment, and we listened to it a few times that fall. Quite a few highlights, so let’s get on it.

The disk kicks off with a duet by John Wesley Harding and the Dream Syndicate’s Steve Wynn, written especially for this compilation. “Warning Parental Advisory” imagines a world where it’s the mediocrities of the music biz that receive the dreaded black-and-white warning–you know, Richard Marx, Phil Collins, Heart (well, “All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You” is pretty bad), L.A. Guns, Poison, etc., etc.

Next up is “Body Count,” from Ice-T’s O.G. Original Gangster, thus well earning the album’s own Advisory label.

After that, though, it’s mostly a parade of songs that wouldn’t have been completely out of place on last week’s Modern Rock Tracks recap (in fact, two of them were on that chart):

The JudyBats contributed “Don’t Drop the Baby,” a phrase which earned some good-natured fun poked in its direction from Greg and me.

Shoegaze legend Ride contributes the mesmerizing “Today.” Another band added to the get-to-know list.

One of the two actual reasons I wanted to put this post out is JSA‘s inclusion of the Throwing Muses’ “Not Too Soon.” Tonya Donelly really shines, pointing toward her upcoming departure from the Muses and the formation of Belly.

One of the classic late 70s British New Wave songs is the Only Ones’ “Another Girl, Another Planet.” This cover by the Mighty Lemon Drops is pretty straightforward, but I may just like it better than the original.

Not sure how I let Richard X. Heyman’s “Falling Away” escape my notice 30 years ago. A stone cold power pop gem, it could well be the best song on the CD; I put in my order for Hey Man last night.

The two songs this disk shared with the 8/3/91 Modern Rock Tracks chart are “Crazy,” by Seal, and the Farm’s “Groovy Train.” The latter was #17 on both the chart and the disk–I skipped over it last week, knowing I could catch up with it here. Peaked at the dreaded #41 spot on the pop chart in mid-November. Super infectious.

After a few spins in August and September, Just Say Anything got filed away, supplanted by newer discoveries. I did eventually pick up my own copy before I left Champaign-Urbana. While very much of its time, the high points make it worth the occasional listen still today.

Modern Rock Tracks, 8/3/91

Greg and Katie arrived in Champaign-Urbana in the fall of 1987 from Atlanta (he’d gone to Georgia Tech, she Emory). They’d been high school sweethearts in North Carolina. Greg was a year ahead of Katie in school, so he’d gotten a Masters from Tech while waiting for her to graduate. He came to Illinois for electrical engineering, while she was there for physics. Somewhere along the way, though, Katie realized she wasn’t on the right path. Not long after I met them in late 1989, she started taking math classes. When that turned out not to be wholly satisfactory either, she began looking for another school, and wound up deciding on the applied math program at the University of Maryland, beginning fall 1991. Greg still had a couple of years left on his Ph.D., and they made the very hard decision to live apart while he finished up. He and I had bonded over both the bridge table and shared musical interests, I’d been living by myself for the past year…it made decent sense to become roommates.

And so not long after my return from the bridge excursion to Las Vegas, we each moved about a quarter-mile (to the east for Greg, to the west for me) to my fifth and final home in IL. After a couple of weeks, Katie took off for College Park, and there he and I were, playing (and buying) lots and lots of music; I learned a lot that year. My old roomie John continued to drive down from Chicago to fulfill the duties of his teaching assistantship, crashing on the couch on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, just as he had in my apartment the previous year.

Rooming with a good friend has potential to ruin said friendship, but Greg and I got along just fine. I’m sure the situation was much tougher on him than I realized, but I had a great time over those last twelve months of being a grad student.

Some of the songs on this week’s Modern Rock Tracks chart were quite familiar at the time, others not at all. It can’t hurt to take a look, though…

27. O.M.D., “Pandora’s Box (It’s a Long, Long Way)”
Sugar Tax was the first O.M.D release without Paul Humphreys; Greg spun it a few times in the apartment that fall (Katie was a huge fan of theirs). This song was inspired by American actress Louise Brooks, who starred in the late 20s German silent film Pandora’s Box.

26. Ric Ocasek, “Rockaway”
Fun lead track from Ric’s third solo disk, Fireball Zone, co-produced by Nile Rodgers.

23. My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult, “Sex on Wheelz”
Cannot say I was much into the industrial scene, and this one’s not encouraging me to give it a longer look. From the LP Sexplosion! (Only partially-related aside: does anyone else think Errol Brown is really singing “It’s sextasy” toward the end of “You Sexy Thing”?)

22. Milltown Brothers, “Which Way Should I Jump?”
Lots and lots of British acts here–it’s where so much of the interesting stuff was happening at the time. Probably have noted this before, but maybe the best part of this series for me is uncovering great songs that eluded my attention thirty years ago. Love the snarl in the vocals and the exuberance of the guitar and drumming on this one; I’ll have to seek out more of Slinky.

20. James, “Sit Down”
The original version of this very catchy thing, released two years earlier, ran for over seven-and-a-half minutes. The lads re-recorded it after experiencing some success with their 1990 album Mother Gold (and included the new take on a re-issue of MG).

19. Richard Thompson, “I Feel So Good”
It felt like Record Service was playing Rumour and Sigh every time I was in the store during the summer of ’91. I didn’t know (but am hardly surprised) that “I Feel So Good” was a promoted cut. It’s a standout.

18. Ned’s Atomic Dustbin, “Happy”
Greg and I jokingly called this British bunch Ned’s Atomic Bedpan, really much more playing with language than commenting on the music. I heard (and likely enjoyed) “Grey Cell Green” more back in the day, but “Happy” isn’t bad.

13. R.E.M., “Shiny Happy People”
Athens folks meeting in the crowd and taking it into town here, with Kate Pierson joining in on one of her two contributions to Out of Time. R.E.M.’s fourth and final Top 10 pop hit.

11. The Candyskins, “Submarine Song”
This driving number is solid enough, yet somehow it doesn’t leave all that much of an impression afterward.

10. Seal, “Crazy”
The relatively rare song to be high on the Modern Rock and Hot 100 charts simultaneously. “Crazy” had already topped out here, but was #18 pop and aiming toward a #7 peak. I’ll take this over “Kiss from a Rose” 10 times out of 10.

8. Erasure, “Chorus”
Andy Bell and Vince Clarke were having trouble duplicating the commercial success they’d enjoyed with The Innocents; this perfectly serviceable dance track, the title song of their new album, stalled out at #83 on the Hot 100.

7. Chapterhouse, “Pearl”
I’ve got to go online and add to my shoegaze collection. I don’t recall hearing “Pearl” thirty years ago–I have to think I would have been all over it if I had. While about half-way through it sounds as though that Chapterhouse is ripping off the song at #1 below, this blog post from four years ago claims that the riff was a standard offering on Roland synthesizers (the bands were working with the same producer, too).

5. Crowded House, “Chocolate Cake”
Neil Finn’s brother (and former Split Enz mate) Tim joined the band for Woodface, their third album. The boys from New Zealand were definitely not suffering fools (or at least Tammy Faye Bakker Messner–of course, they should have taken aim at her former husband instead) here.

4. Kirsty MacColl, “Walking Down Madison”
Probably not what I expected to hear from Kirsty after digging Kite so much for the previous year, but it’s utterly brilliant. Certainly the closest she came to having a hit stateside.

2. Big Audio Dynamite II, “Rush”
“The only important thing these days is rhythm…and melody.” Right?

1. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Kiss Them for Me”
They’d been making noise on the UK charts since 1978 and had enjoyed a little success on the Dance chart over here, but like many folks in the U.S., I didn’t give Siouxsie and company much mind until “Peek-a-Boo” (which, I’ve mentioned before, was #1 on the inaugural MRT chart in September 1988). This one actually cracked the Top 40, peaking at #23 in October. I’m a big fan, having included it on a mix tape almost three years after this.

A sea change begins with our next installment, in October.

Stereo Review in Review: July 1979

While there’s no doubt I leafed through this issue at the time, there probably wasn’t much that stood out. I was still deep in my AT40 phase, and among all the albums examined in the Best of the Month/Recording of Special Merit/Featured Review categories, only one–from George Benson–produced a single that Casey spun (and at that, I didn’t realize how good his cover of “Love Ballad” was). That said, had I been more savvy and worldly-wise at age 15, I would have appreciated much more what was on offer.

Requiem for the Seventies, by Noel Coppage
Coppage surveys the musical landscape of the previous twenty years and notes parallels between the state of things in the late 50s and late 70s (and it’s not a pretty sight in his view). Music from the latter half of the 60s was too successful in disseminating its ideas of equality: “Art itself may argue in favor of egalitarianism, but the making of it is not an egalitarian activity. Neither is the intellectual way of analyzing it.” That said, Coppage anticipates that “the artsy minority will crawl out of the ashes and start to act up again” in the coming decade.

Our reviewers this month are Chris Albertson, Edward Buxbaum, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Paul Kresh, Peter Reilly, Steve Simels, and Joel Vance.

Best of the Month
–Flash and the Pan, S/T (SS) “…imagine Sixties soul influences filtered through a synthesizer sound that verges on Eurodisco, with some tacky New Wave organ misterioso and Phil Spectorish dynamics, the whole thing mated to frankly melodramatic lyrics declaimed (in the verses) more often than sung…”
The reviewers at SR certainly had their favorites. Coppage loved Gordon Lightfoot, and I’ve already picked two issues (the Junes of 1977 and 1982) when NC tagged Gord’s most recent effort with BotM status. This issue marks the second time this year we’ve seen the next two artists in this space.
–Art Garfunkel, Fate for Breakfast (PR) “Garfunkel doesn’t patronize his material; he merely pokes some gentle, affectionate fun at our sentimental weaknesses, at the same time paying super-professional homage to the pop-music genre itself.”
–The Roches, S/T (NC) “…suggests that the Roches are genuinely bent and are promulgating, among other things, non-specific satire, various attitude fresheners, and a use of the popular song that’s cerebral without being ‘intellectual.’”

Recordings of Special Merit
–Celi Bee, Fly Me on the Wings of Love (EB) “Disco your way through side one of this album, then sit down and listen to side two. It’s worth it.”
–Bill Evans, Crosscurrents (CA) “Evans’ influence stretches far beyond his instrument and the jazz idiom; what he plays is inevitably pretty and full of subtle sophistication, music that is at once accessible and complex.”
–Gichy Dan, Beachwood #9 (JV) “(August) Darnell is a terrific talent…but he just might be too good for disposable pop music…a brilliant exercise in phonographic theater…”
–The Raes, Dancing Up a Storm (EB) “…a happy disco album, strong on both musical and atmospheric values, and it belongs in your party library.”
–Gino Soccio, Outline (EB) “The album’s super hits—‘Dancer’ and ‘Dance to Dance’—show how well Soccio understands (Eurodisco) and demonstrate his mastery of the techniques needed to create top-drawer disco.”
–Gary Stewart, Gary (NC) “…a king of honky-tonk Angst connects it all together, and Stewart quietly proves he’s the perfect singer for such a program.”
–Dwight Twilley, S/T (NC) “…I think he has the little extra something that pulls a rocker up above the herd.”

Featured Reviews
–George Benson, Livin’ Inside Your Love (PG) “So he has chosen to make use of both his instruments by following a respected tradition of jazz-pop crossover. What is most important is that he has retained an impeccable level of musicianship even on his most commercial tracks.”
–Randy Crawford, Raw Silk (PG) “…the songs bear a special mark of excellence, with meaningful lyrics and melodic lines that can be bent and played with, and Crawford bends them and plays with them very skillfully.”
–Marilyn Scott, Dreams of Tomorrow (PR) “By her phrasing, her teasing elongation of a lyric, and her seductive intonation…Marilyn Scott is a refreshing new development in a form (vocal jazz—WRH) that has a deadly tendency to take itself much too seriously.”
–Patti Smith Group, Wave (SS) “Yes, Wave is dumb at times, but I’d rather listen to Patti and her band overreach and fall on their faces than to most mainstream rock acts deliberately pitching under my head and hitting me in the face.”
–Six old musical scores re-issued on Columbia Special Products (PK) Includes Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army, Cole Porter’s Mexican Hayride, and Hugh Martin’s, Look Ma, I’m Dancin’.

Other Disks Reviewed
–Bob Dylan, At Budokan (SS) “I’m willing to believe that Dylan staged this debacle solely to annoy his critics…”
–England Dan and John Ford Coley, Dr. Heckle and Mr. Jive (NC) “Technically, of course, there’s not much to complain about; every hair is in place and every system works. The thing is, music’s supposed to be a little more than that.”
–Gloria Gaynor, Love Tracks (EB) “(‘I Will Survive’) is excellent and deserves its success on lots of levels. I wish I could say the same for the rest of this album.”
–GQ, Disco Nights (EB) “GQ is undeniably good, but they face stiff competition from a number of other talented groups with similar styles and material.”
–Herbie Hancock, Feets Don’t Fail Me Now (CA) “I don’t begrudge him commercial success, but we are hearing less of Hancock and more of his gadgets these days, and he is simply too talented to hide behind all that technical equipment.”
–Ironhorse, S/T (JV) “I know (Randy) Bachman has to pay his rent, but then again, is he still going to be doing this sort of thing when he’s forty-five?”
–Marian McPartland, From This Moment On (PR)  “What keeps me a bit distanced from McPartland’s recordings (and I have the same trouble with other fine jazz artists) is her total self-involvement with her piano and her musical ideas—often, I feel, at the expense of the song and/or the audience.”
–Lou Reed, The Bells (SS) “…another completely unfathomable installment of Lou Reed’s Master Plan.”
–The Rockets, S/T (SS) “Listen, guys, Mitch Ryder’s still around and he really needs a new back-up band, and…well, I can dream, can’t I?”
–Supertramp, Breakfast in America (JV) “Dear Mr. American Label President,…Me mum says I should write to you and enclose this sixty-four track demonstration tape which me and my mates have made…I have studied all the hits of the last ten years and written all me songs like them…Me mum says I should write a fair number of songs about alienation and the place of the anti-hero in a neurotic society because this will make the people in Los Angeles weep…”
–Tycoon, S/T (JV) “Tycoon’s impersonation of Three Dog Night is close—close, but no cigar.”
–Ron Wood, Gimme Some Neck (SS) “As a front man…he basically sounds like the Faces and the Stones reduced to formula: boozy, brash, and forgettable.”

Flash and the Pan was George Young (Angus and Malcolm’s older brother) and Harry Vanda, formerly of Australia’s Easybeats. “Hey St. Peter” debuted on the Hot 100 forty-two years ago this week, along with “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” “Cruel to Be Kind,” and “Rise.” It would peak at #76.

August Darnell had been part of the brain trust behind Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah band, and I hear a little of their “Cherchez La Femme” here. It wouldn’t be long before he transformed into Kid Creole.

Later in 1979, Crawford appeared on one Top 40 single, fronting for the Crusaders on their #36 hit “Street Life.”

McPartland was the host of NPR’s Piano Jazz series for decades, well into her 90s.

Let Me Hear You Through The Heat

This past weekend I spent my first night away from home since November 2019. Friday morning, I pointed the car first north and then west, toward the Land of Lincoln. It took much longer than expected to get there (first an accident and then construction led to more than an hour of sitting still on the interstate), but eventually I strolled back into Champaign-Urbana, home away from home during my mid-20s.

I’d made arrangements for a couple of meet-ups, first with Bruce Reznick, my advisor. Next year will be thirty years since I completed my doctorate, but Bruce is yet to retire (he’s about a decade older than I). Due to some long-planned renovations in Altgeld Hall, the math building, he’s having to move offices this summer, so I met him on campus. We walked around, got carry-out of some fine Asian cuisine for dinner, and sat at a nearby picnic table to eat and talk.

After checking out of the hotel Saturday morning, I met up with my grad school roommate John, who drove down from Chicago with a friend to hang out for a few hours. We did the Urbana Farmers Market, had lunch at an old haunt, revisited various campus sights (though due to COVID restrictions, we couldn’t enter any buildings other than the bookstore), went to a goat farm/creamery just outside of town, and hit up our favorite frozen custard stand (vanilla with banana and cold fudge–pretty tasty).

I remarked both to Bruce and John how much I enjoy being back in Champaign-Urbana. Obviously, so much has changed in the almost thirty years I’ve been gone, but yet, so much hasn’t–the quad on campus, the area around the park where I took my walk Saturday morning, downtown Urbana. What I came to realize in talking with them was that it’s really being back in Champaign-Urbana in the summer that’s especially enjoyable. Sure, it’s usually a little hotter than one might like (it was sunny and around 90° on Saturday), and not as much goes on culturally as during the school year, but honestly there’s much to recommend about a university town when its 33,000 undergraduates aren’t around. My official duties over the summer were lighter then than on average, so it was easier to be spontaneous (within budget, of course).

On the way back to KY on Saturday night, I kept the car radio off and meditated more on how many of my best feelings about and memories of the grad school years are concentrated in the summers. It wasn’t hard to begin assembling some thoughts about each of those six years, as well as some music that still takes me back there.

1987: I took a couple of classes in the first half of the summer. Math grad students were required to demonstrate reading proficiency in two foreign languages (the options were French, German, and Russian). The two French classes I took my senior year of college placed me in the second half of French for Reading, which went well enough. I also took a course in Probability Theory, in part to get me back on track for dropping a course in the spring.

A couple of years ago I wrote about an early July foray to Chicago with John. He reminded me this weekend that on our way back to Urbana from that trip on I-57, we witnessed any number of cities’ firework displays (it was July 4 weekend, after all). Since it was my Summer of Suzy V, he recalled the dubbed cassette containing her first two albums was playing on my ’86 Camry’s tape deck as we watched the parade of pyrotechnics heading south.

1988: In the spring I’d taken the first Russian for Reading course. Since I didn’t have any summer teaching duties and wouldn’t be dealing with prelim exams until January, I took Professor Hill, the Russian instructor, up on an offer: if I could translate two page-long mathematical passages sufficiently well in a timed setting (dictionary allowed), he would certify I didn’t need to take the second course. I spent a few weeks practicing–I picked a few books off the shelf in the math library, photocopied a page or three from each, and then, with trusty Russian-to-English dictionary in hand, powered through them. Imagine my shock when I got the two passages from Comrade Hill (as my officemates and I had semi-affectionately taken to calling him) and discovered that one of them was a page I’d already worked on in my practice sessions! It has to be the most similar thing I’ll ever experience to winning the lottery. The greatest stroke of luck was in choosing the book; I imagine that its spine had some degree of “memory” from having been opened wide previously (by Professor Hill?), making it more likely I’d get the ‘right’ page. I didn’t let on to him about my fortune (nor did I tell anyone in the math program)–I just accepted the passing mark. Preparation meeting opportunity, indeed.

This was a memorably hot summer, the hottest of my years in C-U, but that didn’t stop John and me from getting out to the golf course frequently. It was the year I recorded my personal best 18-hole score (45 on the front, 40 on the back, and yes, I still have the scorecard).

Union, the debut disk from Toni Childs, was one of many albums getting frequent play at that moment.

1989: In many ways, the lost summer of these years, treading water as I prepared to transition to reading papers with Bruce. Two years ago, I covered much of what went down that summer: playing math camp counselor, getting back into bridge, trips east and west. (There was plenty of golf, too.) When I was in the apartment, I was giving Blind Man’s Zoo more than the occasional spin.

1990: I’ve revisited this summer plenty enough, too: witnessing baseball history in Boston before tending to some bridge business, making the first bits on progress on dissertation research. John got married and settled back into Chicago life; in August I moved into a one-bedroom apartment and was hanging out at Sunday afternoon “barbecues” with relatively new friends.

Kirsty MacColl’s Kite was easily the album I was listening to most then.

1991: Thirty years ago this week I was in Vegas for the first time, with Mark L, Milind, and Chris, as we tried again–unsuccessfully–to win the Flight C (non-Life Master) Grand National Teams at the summer North American Bridge Championships. We stayed in a little hotel on the Strip called Westward Ho, just behind the Circus Circus and across from the Riviera. While I had some minor success at low stakes blackjack tables, I was pleased not to be bitten by the gambling bug. Had the biggest airplane ride scare of my life on the return, somewhere in Iowa: the pilot pulled up suddenly and rapidly out of descent when we were pretty close to touchdown, to circle around and try again. Clearly, I lived to tell.

More about that summer next week, but it was another Season of MacColl, as Electric Landlady had been released in late June. This is not the T-Rex/Violent Femmes song; Kirsty wrote it with Johnny Marr, and has something else entirely in mind.

1992: I didn’t defend my dissertation until late June (on my father’s birthday), but defend I did. A LOT of time that summer was spent in the car, back and forth between IL and KY as I began planning to move back for my new job, and to Canada for another bridge trip. I was listening to pop radio while on the road a little more than usual then, and invariably cranked it when Sophie B. came on.

From time to time, I think about the possibility of spending a few weeks in Champaign-Urbana, most likely during a summer break. (Nostalgia, as you know, is clearly a thing in my life.) One of the larger obstacles to doing so would be figuring out the logistics of living arrangements–could I feasibly find a UofI faculty member who’s going to be out of town for an extended period willing to ‘rent’ to a late-period mathematician and his wife? What about our house?

Maybe it’s a dream that won’t come, perhaps shouldn’t come, to fruition. After all, deeper reflection makes me aware that maybe 90% of what made C-U summers so memorable and enjoyable, so treasured now, were my friends.

Songs Casey Never Played, 7/21/79

Before we take a look at some of the songs on this Hot 100 that topped out below #40, here are three nuggets from what was going on in the upper two-fifths of the chart.

–What was to become the #1 song of the year, “My Sharona,” is debuting on this week’s show, at #34. The expansion of AT40 to four hours the previous October was still giving the staff time to spare, so they played the (superior) LP version with the longer guitar solo. I’m wondering now how often that happened during its run;
–“One Way or Another” bounced back into the Top 40 after dipping to #41 the previous week, all the way up at #29. Had their been a reporting or calculation error? My experience over the past three years with songs re-appearing (“Ariel,” “Way Down,” and “As”) had all involved a two-chart hiatus from the 40, so the single week out broke a pattern of sorts;
–Maxine Nightengale and the Bellamy Brothers, both in this show, each had two Top 40 hits (the Bellamys are in their last week on). It’s quite the coincidence that their other hits also rode the charts simultaneously, back in the spring of 1976. Both times, the two acts debuted in consecutive weeks (the Bellamys came on first in 3/76, while Maxine beat them to the punch this time).

And now, as they used to say, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

91. Waylon Jennings, “Amanda”
Waylon’s Greatest Hits was the one cassette all my high school buds and I had for our cars’ tape decks in the early 80s. It had come to market in April 1979, and the then-five-year-old, gentle “Amanda” had been updated a bit and released as a single. This was its last week on the chart, having peaked at #54 the week before.

89. Helen Reddy, “Make Love to Me”
Mom always had the radio in the kitchen tuned to WLW-AM when my sister and I showed up for breakfast. I’m virtually certain that would have been when I occasionally heard this result of Reddy going disco. It’s also about to fall off, having reached #60.

81. Lazy Racer, “Keep on Running Away”
There’s almost nothing on the internet about this band; according to this blog post from seven years ago, they were a five-man, one-woman studio British outfit assembled by producer Glyn Johns. They put out two albums; this is the lead track from the first, the only thing that ever charted over here. It’s not bad at all, though I think I can understand why it didn’t climb any higher than this.

65. Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, “You Angel You”
Having covered Springsteen to great success, Mann and company elected to turn their attention to Dylan for Angel Station. I didn’t hear this one back then, but I’m pretty sure I would have dug it if I had–I know I’ll spin it at least a couple of times today. It’s heading down from a #58 high.

58. Peaches and Herb, “We’ve Got Love”
Third single from 2 Hot, on its way up to #44. It’s no “Shake Your Groove Thing,” but it should have climbed a few spots higher than it did.

54. The Who, “Long Live Rock”
The release of the ‘rockumentary’ The Kids Are Alright spawned renewed interest in “Long Live Rock,” which was played toward the end of the film. A promo copy of this single was hanging around the WTLX studios when we got back on the air in the spring of 1983; perhaps I gave it a spin a time or two over the years. This was its peak position. (I noticed that songs 53-41 on this chart all had or eventually did hit the Top 40. No idea if that’s unusual or not, but it feels like it might be.)

This is my blog’s 4th birthday. I don’t know if I’m surprised or not at having kept at it this long. It’s turned out to be a great way to reconnect with old friends and make a number of new ones. I truly appreciate the time any and all of you are taking when you choose to visit here; I hope I can continue to make it worth your while.

In the past I’ve embedded the video that appeared in the original Song of the Day post on each July 20, but this year, I’ll just link to the first time it appeared. Thanks again for your support.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/19/80: Change, “A Lover’s Holiday”

Because of you-know-what, the number 40 occupies an outsized portion of my mental landscape. I’ve noted before the thrill of anticipation in those first years of listening to Casey, not knowing how the show would commence–would it be a song I hadn’t heard before, something on its way down managing to hang on for one more week, or the same tune that had led off the previous week? I perhaps paid slightly greater attention to the subsequent fortunes of debuts in the opening slot, and of course noticed those occasions when a song dropped off after a single week of glory.

When I learned that this week’s 80s offering from Premiere was to be 7/19/80, I thought I remembered that it is the show when “A Lover’s Holiday,” from the Italian/American studio group Change, came on at #40 and then disappeared the following week. Change had three other songs hit the Hot 100 over the next couple of years, but never again made the show. This got me wondering: of the acts across the classic Casey AT40 era (7/70-8/88) with a single Top 40 hit, how many had their song peak at #40? And how many of those lasted on the show for only one week?

To investigate, I used two sources: my own charts and the website Ultimate Music Database. I was breezing through pages–both paper and virtual–pretty quickly, so I’m hoping there are no errors of omission or commission. (In the process, I noticed a couple of things that could be jumping-off points for future posts: a) there were more songs than I expected whose first and last weeks on the show were spent at #40, and b) several artists seemed to have a real knack for hitting #40 on their way up the chart.) The answers to the questions above? I count nine, with eight of them one-week wonders; as we’ll see below, I’m going to grant partial credit to three more, though.

These are the nine, in chronological order:

1. Ashton, Gardner, and Dyke, “Resurrection Shuffle” (8/7/71)
Somehow it’s taken me almost fifty years to get to know this burner. Just like Ben Folds Five almost a quarter-century later, these Brits were a keyboard-bass-drums trio.

2. Ten Years After, “I’d Love to Change the World” (11/20 and 11/27/71)
Another song from a UK blues-rock group, it’s the only one that lasted two weeks at #40. I did hear this one a fair amount growing up, and have always dug it.

3. Gunhill Road, “Back When My Hair Was Short” (6/2/73)
A favorite from the moment I discovered it on the K-Tel album Fantastic. Most likely song here to become an earworm.

4. Red Sovine, “Teddy Bear” (8/28/76)
One of these pieces is not like the others…

5. New England, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya” (6/16/79)
Guess where these guys were from? Their debut LP was co-produced by Paul Stanley of Kiss; they lasted two more albums before hitting Splitsville.

6. The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star” (12/15/79)
I gotta believe this is the best-known song in this list, and probably the one I like most, too.

7. Change, “A Lover’s Holiday” (7/19/80)
A pretty sweet jam–maybe it would have been a much bigger pop hit had it come out 12-15 months earlier? As it was, it was part of a medley that wound up as the #1 dance track of 1980. He’s not heard here, but Luther Vandross contributed vocals to several cuts on the album it came from, The Glow of Love.

8. Rainbow, “Stone Cold” (6/19/82)
Ritchie Blackmore’s band in between iterations of Deep Purple. Lots of blokes shuffled through Rainbow’s lineup over the years; Ronnie James Dio, Cozy Powell, and Tony Carey were already gone by the time Straight Between the Eyes was released. Roger Glover was back together with Blackmore at this point, though, maybe making a DP reunion all the more inevitable.

9. The Communards, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” (3/7/87)
Jimmy Somerville, late of Bronski Beat, teamed up with pianist Richard Coles and had a monster hit in the UK with this cover of Thelma Houston’s #1 song from a decade earlier. (Another possible task for inquiring minds is researching if any other covers of chart-toppers only made it to #40.)

As for the honorable mentions…I found three acts that conceivably could have qualified above, but, following the suggestion of The CD Project, were rejected because they weren’t listed as a separate act in my copy of Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles 1955-2002. Nonetheless, I want to acknowledge their consideration.

–Henhouse Five Plus Too, “In the Mood” (2/5/77)
We all know this bunch of cluckers was really just Ray Stevens all dressed up in feathers.
–Sonny Charles, “Put It in a Magazine” (1/22 and 1/29/83)
Charles is grouped in my Whitburn with the Checkmates, Ltd. Some singles credit just the band, others promote ‘Checkmates, Ltd. featuring Sonny Charles’, and the label on “Black Pearl,” their #13 hit from 1969, says they’re ‘Sonny Charles and the Checkmates, Ltd.’ He was strictly solo in the 80s, however.
–Joyce Kennedy (duet with Jeffrey Osborne), “The Last Time I Made Love” (10/6 and 10/13/84)
Kennedy apparently doesn’t merit her own entry in Whitburn (this song is listed under Osborne’s), though the band for which she sang, Mother’s Finest, had a couple of singles chart in the mid-70s. I know that editorial decisions must be made, but I will note that L.T.D. has its songs listed separately from those of Osborne…

Life Has A Funny Way Of Helping You Out

Saturday, July 13, 1996, was not overly hot in north-central Kentucky—the high temp was in the lower 80s—but it was somewhat cloudy and plenty humid. My recollection is that the morning sped by and before I knew it, it was time to tux up and drive the two miles south on U.S. 25 to First Christian Church here in Georgetown. I was to be one of two centers of attention, beginning at 2:30.

Eighteen months earlier there was no indication whatsoever I could be in such a position. But then Martha Kay Lutz entered my life, and nothing would ever be the same. We went ice skating on our second date, and I think it might have been then, holding hands in the midst of the chaos around us as we made our way carefully but not tentatively around the rink, that I thought this could really be right.

We didn’t have a huge wedding party—three attendants each, plus two ushers. The best man, groomsmen, and I whiled away the end of my bachelorhood in the church library playing a few hands of bridge. Right before we walked into the sanctuary, Greg offered me some advice: just look at her and smile.

The ceremony was pretty straightforward and not all that long. Each of us had a cousin sing (Martha’s sang “The Lord’s Prayer,” mine Stölzel’s/Bach’s “Bist du bei mir”). Maybe the most memorable thing for attendees was how long it took most of them to leave—we hadn’t planned it this way, but we wound up greeting and talking with guests in the vestibule as they exited. I don’t regret that at all—it was one way to make sure we saw everyone—but it did put us well behind schedule. There were still pictures to take, so we were rather late to the reception.

Our honeymoon started in the Poconos—part of our wedding gift from Martha’s parents was a week’s worth at any place in their timeshare network. From there, it was on to Niagara Falls (my folks had gone there as well for their honeymoon) and Toronto. Upon our return we got Martha and her things moved in to my—now our—house. And we’ve lived happily ever after.

Yesterday Martha and I spent some time looking through photos of the various events related to the event, from showers to reception. We were fortunate to have so many family and friends celebrate with us. It was sad, though, noting who isn’t here anymore. As folks my age or thereabouts know, twenty-five years goes so fast, yet with so many changes. I’m very lucky to have had Martha by my side for all the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of the last twenty-five years, and for all those yet to come.

I guess it wouldn’t be a post here if I didn’t do something with music. For the occasion, I’m taking a look at the Hot 100 from our wedding day; that’s an okay idea, dontcha think?

Billboard had implemented a huge change in methodology for compiling its pop chart in late 1991, incorporating Nielsen’s SoundScan and Broadcast Data Systems technology for tracking cassingle sales and airplay, respectively. For chart geeks of the 70s and 80s such as I, it was a shock to the system. Among other major changes, many fewer songs made it to #1, and long-standing records of endurance at the top were shattered.

By 7/13/96, I suppose folks had adjusted to the new chart reality, though. Here’s a decent sampling of what was happening then.

#99. Brooks and Dunn, “My Maria”
#98. Weird Al Yankovic, “Amish Paradise”

One’s a remake of a 70s Top 10 hit, the other’s a parody of a #1 smash from the previous fall. Neither made the Top 40 (peaking at #79 and #53, respectively), and both are in their final week on the chart.

#95. Los Del Mar, “Macarena”
#67. Los Del Rio, “Macarena”
#5. Los Del Rio, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)”

The song you could not escape over the last half of the year. In three weeks, the Bayside Boys Mix would climb to the top and stay there for 14 weeks. Yes, at one point I could do some semblance of the Macarena; no, no one did it at our reception—we had a string quartet, not a DJ.

#93. Lionel Richie, “Don’t Wanna Lose You”
#63. Sting, You Still Touch Me
#49. Whitney Houston and Cece Winans, “Count on Me”
#44. Michael Jackson, “They Don’t Care About Us”
#19. George Michael, “Fastlove”

Several big names of the 80s weren’t finding the going as great by 1996. These are the last Hot 100 appearances for both Richie and Michael (while George was alive, anyway). Sting still had “Desert Rose” to come, and while Houston and Jackson also had some gas in the tank, their #1-making days were at this point behind them.

#91. Garbage, “Only Happy When It Rains”
#79. Spacehog, “In the Meantime”
#65. Beck, “Where It’s At”
#31. Dishwalla, “Counting Blue Cars”

By now, I was mostly listening to the alternative radio station in Lexington, hearing these songs lots that spring and/or summer and liking all of them pretty well, particularly those first two.

As the 90s progressed, many big radio hits weren’t getting released as a single, which could lead to great puzzlement when scanning the Hot 100 (Billboard relented and began including radio-only songs toward the end of 1998). This week, notable non-singles from the top half of the Airplay Chart include “Killing Me Softly” by the Fugees, “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hands” from the Primitive Radio Gods, “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis, and No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs.”

#69. Bush, “Machinehead”
There was a thing on Twitter several weeks ago that went something like, “You’re on a first date. You ask what the person’s favorite (fill in the blank) is. You get up and leave upon hearing the answer. What was it?” Someone I follow filled the blank with “90s alternative band.” My immediate reaction was Bush; based on the reactions to that tweet, I wasn’t alone in feeling that way.

#55. The BoDeans, “Closer to Free”
I’d been hearing about these guys from Wisconsin since shortly after I moved to Champaign for grad school. Their career was pretty much on the wane until the makers of Party of Five used this song as the show’s theme. After the series won a Golden Globe, “Closer to Free” got released as a single and became the BoDeans’ only hit record. It had gotten to #16.

#43. Natalie Merchant, “Wonder”
#32. Natalie Merchant, “Jealousy”

Merchant scored three Top 40 hits off her debut solo LP Tigerlily, two more than she had with 10K Maniacs. “Wonder,” my favorite of the three, is slowly falling from a #20 peak, in its 32nd week on the chart.

#42. Donna Lewis, “I Love You Always Forever”
#16. Jann Arden, “Insensitive”

I wasn’t ignoring Top 40/CHR radio completely during this period. Both of these big hits were perfectly fine. Lewis, from Wales, would reach #2, while Arden, a Canadian, had already peaked at #12. Neither would hit the U.S. Top 40 again.

#40. Smashing Pumpkins, “Tonight, Tonight”
I think this is the best song on the chart and is one of my favorites for the whole year. The video, an homage to Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune, is breathtaking.

#38. Everything But the Girl, “Missing”
#36. Hootie and the Blowfish, “Old Man and Me (When I Get to Heaven)”

Everything But the Girl had been around for the better part of a decade when they broke through with the #2 smash “Missing.” They could have asked Darius Rucker and his bandmates at that moment about how fleeting fame could be.

(More 90s chart fun: “Missing” spent 55 weeks on the Hot 100, astounding those of us who remember when Paul Davis first broke the 40-week barrier in the spring of 1978 with “I Go Crazy.” There are 10 songs on this chart that spent at least 40 consecutive weeks on it.)

#27. The Gin Blossoms, “Follow You Down/’Til I Hear It from You”
I’d really enjoyed New Miserable Experience, so I was glad these guys from Arizona scored a big hit. But I’m probably happier for Marshall Crenshaw and the royalties I hope he’s still getting for co-writing “’Til I Hear It from You.”

#15. Adam Clayton/Larry Mullen Jr., “Theme from ‘Mission Impossible’”
U2’s rhythm section breaks away from the Pop recording sessions to update Lalo Schifrin’s iconic piece.

#13. Jewel, “Who Will Save Your Soul”
The internet is telling me that Portugal. The Man. is the biggest rock act evah from Alaska, but I’m a little surprised it isn’t Jewel Kilcher. It was impossible to avoid the big hits from Pieces of You for quite a while. This is a good one.

#11. Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”
What’s a word I could use to describe the fact that one of the most memorable phrases from a 90s song did not occur to me on the day of my own nuptials?

Nope, no irony here.

#7. Mariah Carey, “Always Be My Baby”
#6. Celine Dion, “Because You Loved Me”
#2. Toni Braxton, “You’re Makin’ Me High”

Braxton’s peak didn’t last as long as that of Carey or Dion, but all three were riding very high 25 years ago. I don’t mind “Always Be My Baby” at all, and I definitely remember seeing the video for “You’re Makin’ Me High” at the time, with Toni and three other women sitting outside an elevator, using oversized playing cards to rate the men who appeared when its doors opened.

#4. Tracy Chapman, “Give Me One Reason”
There were only ten songs that topped the Hot 100 during 1996, and six of them, whose runs at the top spanned 3/23 through 11/2, are in this week’s top seven. Chapman’s song is the only one among this week’s stratosphere that wouldn’t reach #1. It was her second and final Top 10 hit, coming a bit out of nowhere eight years after “Fast Car.”

#3. Bone-Thugs-n-Harmony, “Tha Crossroads”
#1. 2Pac featuring KC and JoJo, “How Do U Want It”

Two West Coast hip-hop icons here at the top. “Tha Crossroads” memorializes Easy-E, who’d died of complications from AIDS the previous year. Tupac ascended to #1 this week, two months to the day before he passed on after being shot in Vegas.

When Martha and I got married, we were pretty close to the same age that my parents were when they tied the knot. They made it to their 50th; I look forward to getting there myself with Martha.

Taken two days ago.

Happy 25th anniversary, my dear.

Forgotten Albums: Lush, Lovelife

In the spring of 1996, I was teaching four different courses: college algebra, calculus for business, calculus 1, and differential equations. To be honest I can’t think of any particularly memorable moments in the classroom that semester. Looking over the rosters, I notice that my future colleague in physics (then the son of a current colleague) was a student in DE, a young woman who in four years would become the aunt of one of my son’s better friends growing up was taking business calculus, and there was the oddity of having three students in calculus 1 (out of about twenty-five) whose last name started with Z.

(Why I know this today: I’ve spent some good part of the last couple of weeks going through stacks upon stacks of paper in my office, performing an approximately once-every-decade serious culling. A couple of days ago I came across class lists and printouts of grades assigned from my first decade on the job, the vast majority of which is now about to head to the shredder.)

I was wrapping up my fourth year at Georgetown, so the students who’d started there when I had were about to graduate. My application for tenure and promotion would be submitted after three more semesters, so much of the case I’d be presenting was already in the books. While my inability to recall high points from those early months of 1996 may not speak well of making the most of all of my pre-tenure years, I will point out that in this instance I had at least somewhat of an excuse: I was dealing with wedding plans.

Martha and I knew fairly early in our courtship that marriage was quite possibly in the cards. We’d begun dating in February of 1995, and by Christmas we were actively discussing a summer 1996 wedding. January was a scramble: making our intentions known to parents and searching for an engagement ring, which I presented to her one day shy of the anniversary of our first date. We already had a target wedding day in mind, and so next came securing the church, a venue for the reception, formal wear, attendants, a baker, a photographer, and so on, and so on. It was quite fortunate that, with only five months’ lead time, we got it all to come together on the date we wanted. While I was reasonably involved, credit where it’s due: Martha, with her excellent organizing and planning skills, took the lead on the substantial majority of everything.

It’s a good thing, too, as about a month after the school year ended, six weeks before the wedding, I came down with chicken pox. I’d managed to avoid them while growing up, but apparently I couldn’t hide forever. I’m virtually certain I picked them up from a preschooler at church. Fortunately, my case turned out to be rather mild—I think things were pretty close back to normal after about ten days. (In an odd coincidence, my sister also got chicken pox within a week or so of when I did, from her two-year old who was in day care. Her case wound up being considerably more severe than mine.) I was ready and able to help with any last details, some of which was making plans with out-of-town friends for the days leading up to the wedding.

One of the newer CDs in my collection that spring—perhaps I listened to it during my convalescence—was Lovelife, the third full-length release from Lush. I’d been a fan of theirs since early 1992, when they were part of the British shoegaze scene. Lovelife, as well as their 1994 album, Split, marked a departure from their earlier sound, definitely more conventional pop/rock. (Lush has a song called “Lovelife,” but it’s not this album’s title track–it actually appears on Split.) Co-leaders Miki Berenyi (guitars/vocals) and Emma Anderson (guitars/ethereal harmonies) divided songwriting duties evenly among Lovelife’s twelve tunes. While I don’t like every song on the album, it’s a very solid collection overall. Let’s take a listen to half of it.

Lead track “Ladykillers” was the second of three singles released in the UK and got plenty of alternative play here in the states in the late spring. It bears more than a passing resemblance to “Hypocrite” from Split, but it’s still a great, muscular tune.

Reading up on Lovelife, I’m seeing the term ‘Britpop’ applied to its sound. Maybe so, but one element that’s always struck me is what I consider a 60s vibe on many of its songs, particularly the inclusion of horns, strings, and flute. “I’ve Been Here Before” is the first of three tracks here that to my ears hearken somewhat to thirty years earlier.

“Single Girl” was the first single released; all three made it to either #21 or #22 on the British charts. Seems appropriate for a wedding-themed vid to show up here, no?

Jarvis Cocker of Pulp was recruited to sing along with Berenyi on “Ciao!” This track, in which the two parties battle over who’s better off now that their relationship is over, also served as the title of Lush’s 2001 compilation release.

Generally speaking, Berenyi wrote the rockers, Anderson the prettier tunes. “Runaway,” one of my two or three faves on the album, is in the former camp.

Lush came to an abrupt end later in 1996, when drummer Chris Aclund committed suicide in October, just 30 years old. I’m sorry for the pain he couldn’t bear, and selfishly sorry for the music this wonderful band didn’t get to make as a result. “Olympia,” Lovelife‘s closer and another gorgeous piece, ends with the unfortunately appropriate “And now, time to switch off.” (As a YouTube commenter notes: ‘last line, last song, last album.’)

I couldn’t know then what lay ahead for Lush; I was simply spending my final weeks as a single guy enjoying their new album.

More music from 1996 on Tuesday.

The Good Stuff, Part 2

It looks like the previous time I’d listened to this tape was January 2017. Over the weekend I dug out an email from then I sent James that included a brief commentary on the playlist, kinda like what I’m doing here. It’s amusing/alarming to see how much I’m repeating myself 4.5 years later: the ‘fella’ tag on “Another Tricky Day,” my lack of appreciation for “Tempted,” thinking R.E.M. was the Ventures, etc. I did not check out what I said about Side B before writing this post; that’ll happen after it goes to press.

As for the second half, there are lots of big names, even if it’s not always a greatest hit from them.

The Dukes of Stratosphear, “Vanishing Girl”
In the mid 80s, the guys from XTC decided to record an EP and a full album under a pseudonym, paying homage to 60s psychedelia. This shimmering, gorgeous thing, written by the Red Curtain (Colin Moulding) and sung by Sir John Johns (Andy Partridge), is the lead track off the LP, Psonic Psunspot.

Genesis, “Turn It on Again”
James and I were both fans of early 80s Genesis, playing Abacab and their self-titled album in our dorm room from time to time. Neither one of us had Duke then, but I have always loved this song.

David Byrne, “Big Blue Plymouth (Eyes Wide Open)”
Both of us were digging into Byrne’s early 80s extra-curricular activities by the end of the decade–I’ll still listen to both The Catherine Wheel and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.

The Police, “Canary in a Coalmine”
In which Sting decides to rag on a friend with a touch of hypochondria.

The Grateful Dead, “Hell in a Bucket”
Heard “Hell in a Bucket” on AOR radio quite a bit when In the Dark first came out, but I hadn’t seen the video, with that studded collar-wearing duck (among other things), until putting this together.

Now I’m wanting some Cherry Garcia ice cream.

Fleetwood Mac, “Tusk”
One of only two songs on The Good Stuff to make the Top 40–the other was “White Rabbit.” Both peaked at #8.

Madness, “One Step Beyond”
We grooved on “One Step Beyond” multiple times watching MTV in the Transy student center lounge throughout 1984. Kinda feels like this might have been included for nostalgia purposes?

The Violent Femmes, “Prove My Love”
During our senior year, Roger and Chris, a pair of sophomores who lived across the hall from us, were known to play the Femmes’ debut album loud enough for us to hear it. Clearly this eventually rubbed off on James.

The Rolling Stones, “Gimme Shelter”
A couple of blogger friends have recently revealed their (current) favorite Stones song. Without thinking about it much, I’m inclined to say that “Gimme Shelter” gets that honor from me. James and I weren’t always simpatico when it came to music, but he sure nailed it here.

A few years ago I came across a video featuring Merry Clayton about how she came to find herself in the studio the night this song was recorded.

Robbie Robertson, “Showdown at Big Sky”
I count close to a dozen songs on this tape that were already or eventually wound up in my collection on album or CD. Hard for me to know now which, if any, direction the influence between the two of us was flowing in any given case, Forced to guess, I’d say Robbie Robertson was an album we both picked up on our own; I was mighty fond of “Somewhere Down the Lazy River” after seeing its video.

Led Zeppelin, “Hot Dog”
I just never got around to listening to Zeppelin albums in high school or college, and that carried over across the years. (The same holds true for the Stones and the Dead, to be honest. It occurs to me now that my approach to music buying in the 80s and 90s was similar to what I would later tend to do in drafting fantasy baseball and football teams, looking for the up-and-comer rather than picking the tried-and-true veteran.)

Be that as it may, in this case it means that when I first heard “Hot Dog” on the tape, I was more inclined to think of it as a Honeydrippers outtake rather than an actual Led Zep tune.

The Beatles, “You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)”
The tape ends with two B-sides from well-known singles released on opposite ends of the 70s. “Hot Dog” was the flip of “Fool in the Rain,” and this second foray into Beatle-land was what came along for the ride when one purchased “Let It Be” on 45. No desire to be ungrateful, but honestly I don’t need to hear this one all that often.

And that’s a wrap. I really appreciate it, man.