Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Alarm

Today in Music History:

1989, Izzy Stradlin from Guns N' Roses was arrested for making a public disturbance on a US air flight. Stradlin had urinated on the floor, verbally abused a stewardess and smoked in the non-smoking section of the aircraft.
The AlarmI first became aware of The Alarm in 1984 when I won a contest and received an autographed copy of their album Declaration. First time I had ever heard of them. When I played the album for the first time I was immediately hooked. This during a time when friends were pleading with me to jump aboard the U2 bandwagon, which I refused to do because I just didn't think they were that great. At the same time I was trying to get my buddies to listen to The Alarm and was constantly extolling their virtues. This many years later I have come to appreciate U2, but still think they are overhyped. I mention this because from the time that The Alarm formed in Rhyl, Wales in 1981, they were dogged throughout their career as a poor mans U2. This comparison I never saw and never understood. It just wasn't a fair comparison.

The Alarm were part of an early-'80s wave of bands (the Call, Big Country, and the Waterboys among them) who dealt in soaring anthems inspired by the righteous idealism of punk. Clearly influenced by the impassioned political fervor of the Clash, the Alarm also worked in a mostly acoustic, folk-punk vein that provided a counterpoint to U2's hard-driving guitar sound. Their stage look was unquestionably a product of the '80s, with enormous spiked-up hair accompanying a cowboy/old-time cavalry wardrobe. The British music press habitually savaged their records as derivative and pretentious, and while they did command a zealous following, they never broke beyond a collegiate audience. Unfair I say. So a cut from The Alarm's second album, Strength, is the feature of today. If one goes back and listens to the first two Alarm albums, I think you'll hear a good band that is underappreciated and maybe they deserve a second look.

Spirit of '76' by The Alarm

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Funny Toon

Friday, August 26, 2005

Forgot About This One

Today in Music History:

1972, Looking Glass started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Brandy You're A Fine Girl', it didn't chart in the UK.
I was thinking that it was about time to feature something that rocks pretty hard since my last few posts dealt mostly with pop and pop fluff. Then it hit me that there was one more summer song that I meant to throw out there and I had forgot about it. So I must do a bit of a rewind and feature this massive summer hit. Not really, there are probably very few folks who have heard this one.

I showcased this artist back in July. Said artist being Fred Schneider. This song is a perfect summer party tune as in the song itself it sounds like there's a party going on. Even the lyrics state that "The party goes on forever". A fun song from a fun album.

Summer in Hell by Fred Schneider

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Funny Toon

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Spirit of the West

Today in Music History:

1970, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground performed together for the last time at the New York Club 'Max's Kansas City'.
Spirit of the WestDon't know a lot about this band. I know they're Canadian. They come from Vancouver and they play Celtic music mixed with strong rock & roll. Does that sound like an odd mix? Well it works. I also know that armed only with a love of music and a fear of real work the original members recorded their first album 20 years ago. Today the group which had wisely changed its name to Spirit of the West continues to make records and earn far too little money.

And the biggest thing I know about this band is that in today's featured song, we have in the history of recorded music, the best use of a tuba and an accordion you have ever heard. When one thinks tuba you hardly think of rock, and in all fairness this song is more pop than rock (although they do rock). But in this case and in this song the tuba kicks ass. This song should be on anyone's top 100 songs of all time list for the tuba alone. If that isn't enough, then we have a lyric about an erection on a horse. Tubas, accordions, guitars and erections on a horse? Life is good.

And if Venice is Sinking by Spirit of the West

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Funny Toon

Friday, August 19, 2005

Return to the Sea

Today in Music History:

In 1967, The Beatles scored their 14th US No.1 single with 'All You Need Is Love'. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, Marianne Faithfull and Walker Brother Gary Leeds all sang backing vocals on the track.
Great Big SeaGreat Big Sea (GBS) a band I featured back in March, is a Celtic, rock, and pop band from the Canadian province of Newfoundland. When I was listening to Matrix radio yesterday the dj played some Great Big Sea which prompted me to get the GBS CD's out and I've been listening ever since. Their hard-driving approach has not only made them popular in Canada, where they've been nominated for four Juno awards, it has also brought them a growing recognition throughout North America and Europe. British music magazine, called them, "a high spirited and richly expressive acoustic quartet who reinvent traditional Newfoundland music, lending it a powerful and resonant contemporary charge."

Since the four original members started the band in March of 1993 as a post-university employment project, they have toured relentlessly, enjoying the challenge of bringing their music first to Canada, and then to the rest of the world. From day one, it is the band's energetic concerts which have proven the base of their popularity.

"Great Big Sea is not a band you just go and see, or a cd you just listen to. Great Big Sea is something you have to do." Some of the music they play is hundreds of years old. But Damn they're good. This post will have to tide you folks over till Monday so, I think two tracks are in order.

The first track is a traditional newfie song about a once well known St. Johns bootlegger. Jakey's cover for his bootlegging activities was apparently the sale of religious pictures and icons.

Jakeys Gin by Great Big Sea

This second tune is a traditional sea shanty, about a sailor's unrepentant love for his lifestyle.

Jolly Roving Tar by Great Big Sea

Both of these songs are loads of fun and are great sing-a-longs that make you want to hoist your mug of ale and join in on the rousing chorus.


Buy this CD
Both songs are on this album.

Funny Toon

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Pure Prairie League

Today in Music History:

In 1977, Elvis Presley was found dead lying on the floor in his bathroom by his girlfriend Ginger Alden, he had been seated on the toilet reading 'The Scientific Search For Jesus'. He died of heart failure at the age of 42.
Pure Prairie LeaguePure Prairie League was a successful country-rock band during the 1970s and early '80s,formed in Columbus, OH, in 1969. They enjoyed hits with different configurations of the group that included "Amie" and "Let Me Love You Tonight." They took their name from a women's temperance group in the 1939 Errol Flynn movie Dodge City.

After earning a record contract with RCA Victor through constant touring in the Ohio area, the group went into the studio and recorded its self-titled debut album, which was released in March 1972 with a cover depicting a Western character named Luke, an illustration drawn by famed naturalist painter Norman Rockwell that had first appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1927. Luke would turn up on all the band's subsequent album covers, giving them a distinctive visual conception. Sort of a country version of Iron Maiden's Eddie. Their second album Bustin' Out came out in September 1972. Though later considered a landmark in country-rock, it initially suffered disappointing sales upon release in September 1972, and RCA dropped the group. In late 1974, Pure Prairie League's touring began to pay off as radio stations started playing "Amie," a song from Bustin' Out, leading RCA to issue the song as a single, reissue the album, and re-sign the band. Bustin' Out entered the charts in February 1975, nearly two and a half years after its release, and rose into the Top 40, eventually going gold. "Amie" charted in March 1975 and became a Top 40 hit. By this time Craig Fuller who had been the original vocalist for "Amie" had long since left the band. Through the years PPL has undergone a slew of personnel changes, including the addition of Vince Gill in 1978 who stuck around for three albums. PPl kept chuggin' on until 1987 when the group dissoolved. In 1998 Craig Fuller and Michael Reilly launched a new edition of the band and they are currently on tour in the states. Todays selection comes from the Bustin' Out album.

Early Morning Riser by Pure Prairie League

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Funny Toon

Monday, August 15, 2005

Summer Songs-Last one

Today in Music History:

In 1969, The Woodstock Festival was held on Max Yasgur's 600 acre farm in Bethel outside New York. Attended by over 400,000 people, the free event featured, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Cocker, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Santana, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Band, Canned Heat, Joan Baez, Santana, Melanie, Ten Years After, Sly and the Family Stone, Johnny Winter, Jerrerson Airplane, Ravi Shanker, Country Joe and the Fish, Blood Sweat and Tears, Arlo Guthrie, and Joe Cocker. During the three days there were three deaths, two births and four miscarriages. Joni Mitchell was booked to appear but had to pull out due to being booked for a TV show, wrote the song 'Woodstock.'
Well then quite a day in history. I know I've passed up a billion summeresque songs. My perogative eh? I wanted to get past all that beach boys stuff. Actually one of my fave summer song is Rockaway Beach by the Ramones. Maybe next year. My maybe last installment will be the Bay City Rollers.The RollersI've talked about them in past posts. I ain't gonna go all into detail again. Get over it, we all love that pop music. If you don't then we have to question your sanity. Mabye not the best installment but the least unexpected. For Fucks sake I love these guys.

Summerlove Sensation
by the Bay City Rollers

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Funny Toon

Yes I missed 2 billion summer songs but I have a fondness for these and many, many others. Thinking hard on this I guess my favorite is Summer by War. Hey how bout this? You tell me what you think is a great hard to find summer song, and if I gots it, I'll feature it in your name. Leave your suggestions in the comments.


OR What is your favorite summerish song? I dare you to answer.!!!!!!!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Summer Songs-Idol

Today in Music History:

In 1962, Neil Sedaka started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Breaking Up Is Hard To Do', his first US No.1 as an artist, not as songwriter. It reached No.7 on the UK chart.
Billy IdolIt seems to me summer is slowly winding down, the same as my summer songs series. I've got a few left and then I'll go back to the normal unthemed posts. If any of you come here on a regular basis, you might be thinking, oh shit not another Billy Idol post. This will be my last one I promise. I'll even make it a twofer. I've never posted two on the same day, but these are both most excellent summer songs and it would be a disservice to not include them in my summer listening program. For background junk you can go to my previous posts here or here. It's just that Idol's new CD seems to be stuck in my player. When I put something new in by some of these new artists that have been cropping up, or new releases from established groups , I end up shelving them and putting the new Idol back in. So far, Devil's Playground has been my favorite release of 2005. It's been out since March and I can't get enough of it. Blah blah blah, I know. Music maestro!

Summer Running by Billy Idol

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This next song is just plain classic from his first solo album. Actually this is the remix from the Vital Idol CD. Great summer tune.

Hot in the City by Billy Idol

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Funny Toon

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Summer-Seals and Crofts

Today in Music History:

In 1959, Four members of The Platters were arrested after a gig in Cincinnati after being found with four 19 year old women, (3 of them white), in various stages of undress. The scandal resulted in radio stations across the US removing Patters records from their playlists.
Seals and CroftsJim Seals and Dash Crofts were one of the 1970s' most successful soft-rock acts, yet finding any of their stuff on CD would be tremendously hard to do since the powers to be have deemed that only three of their albums are worthy for CD. One of them being a greatest hits album issued way back in the 70's. What a shame and what the hell is up with that? Today's song is like the epitome of summer. When one listens to this song you can almost feel the summer breeze blowing through your hair. Summer Breeze was released in 1972 and still holds the test of time. Maybe it was the controversy of their 1974 album Unborn Child, in which the tile song is an anti-abortion song written from the fetus' point-of-view, that caused disfavor with the record company. It was a total critical and commercial flop. Warner dropped them shortly after their 1980 LP The Longest Road, but by this time, both Seals and Crofts were more interested in devoting themselves fully to the Baha'i religion they had converted to back in 1969. The two have reunited occasionally at Baha'i gatherings, and for a short 1991-1992 tour; Crofts has lived in several different countries, while Seals moved to a Costa Rican coffee farm in 1980. Whatever man, release the whole catalog. One of my favorite albums was Get Closer, and you're only gonna find that suckker on vinyl or 8 track in some thrift store somewhere. Damn you Warner. I for one would like to see their catalog reissued, flops and all.

Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts

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Funny Toon

Monday, August 08, 2005

Summer Songs-Bananarama

Today in Music History:

In 1970, Janis Joplin bought a headstone for the grave of her greatest influence Bessie Smith at the Mont Lawn Cemetery in Philadelphia. Smith died in 1937 after being refused admission to a whites only hospital.
bananaramaCute girls, sugary sweet pop songs with an almost innocent feel. Even though all of us guys knew what they were selling. I didn't care care. Even so they did manage to put out a good crop good/bad girl songs. The most successful British girl-group in pop history,(better than those slutty spice girls) Bananarama formed in London in late 1981. Drawing equal inspiration for their name from the children's television program The Banana Splits and the Roxy Music song "Pyjamarama,". I was a big fan of Keren, Siobhan and Sarah. In those days I think I wanted to hose at least 2 of them, when I was lonely and well lonely. They used to sing at friends parties and nightclubs in London at the beginning. Shockingly only accompanied by backing tapes because they couldn't play a lick on any instrument. Amazingly they came to the attention of ex-Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, who produced Bananarama's first single, a cover of Swahili Black Blood's "Aie A Mwana."

What followed was 26 UK chart toppers and a brief but recognizable presence in the states. Their first US hit happened to be about summer, a cruel summer. But when you hear them sing about it, this summer doesn't sound that cruel. How could it be when you're on top of the world. This is not my fave Bananarama song. My fave would have to be 1984's rape-themed release "Robert DeNiro's Waiting" But that's just me. Me is also a closet Bananarama fan and watching some of the heat waves this summer it has indeed been a

Cruel Summer by Bananarama

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Funny Toon

Friday, August 05, 2005

Summer Songs-Chad and Jeremy

Today in Music History:

In 1975, Kim Fowley formed the first ever all female heavy rock band, The Runaways. Joan Jett was one of the members.
Chad and JeremyOur second summer selection is by Chad and Jeremy. It is surely a summer song, wait a second that's also the name of it, Summer Song. British folkish duo Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde charted 11 US singles from 1964 to 1966. They had much more success in America than their counterparts Peter and Gordon. On the other hand Peter and Gordon had great success in the UK and Chad and Jeremy charted only once in their native land. Their biggest hit happens to be todays song and it just makes you want to sit under a shade tree and sip some lemonade. Chad and Jeremy's vocals and harmonies were simply stunning. Maybe that's too strong a word, but they were beautifully sung. These guys broke up around 1968, but it just wouldn't be summer without hearing this song at least once. Have a good weekend all.

Summer Song by Chad and Jeremy

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Funny Toon

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Summer Series

Today in Music History:

In 1990, during a New Kids On The Block concert in Montreal. Canada, three armed robbers stole souvenir sales proceeds valued at $260.000
summer
With summer in full bloom, maybe a few posts with some essential summer songs is in order. Before you know it the leaves will start changing color and BAM, Summer's over. Lotsa folks have been experiencing some mega heatwaves,so let's cool down with a cold brewski and some cool summer tunes.

First in this series will be the quintessential summer song by War, simply titled Summer. War was one of the most popular funk groups of the '70s. Just hearing any War song makes you think of summer. Low Rider, Spill the Wine, and The Cisco Kid are just a few examples of songs with that summer feel. Maybe it's the melding of soul, Latin, jazz, blues, reggae, and rock into an effortless funky groove that does the trick. Their music almost always had a sunny, laid-back vibe mirroring their Southern California roots. War kept the groove loose, and they were given over to extended jamming. Summer came out in 1976 and it turned out to be War's final Top Ten pop hit. Everytime I hear this song it just makes me want to chill. Smooth grooves.

Summer by War

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Funny Toon

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Adrian Belew

Today in Music History:

In 1973, The Mamas and the Papas filed a lawsuit against their record label Dunhill for a million dollars in unpaid royalties.
Adrian BelewAdrian Belew has played with some of rock's biggest names over the years (Frank Zappa, David Bowie, the Talking Heads, King Crimson, etc.). He is also one of the most underrated and overlooked guitarists of recent times. Belew has a distinctly recognizable style/sound which tends to be quirky and off-the-wall at times. He's always found a way to make his signature style fit into a wide variety of musical genres: hard rock, funk, new wave, experimental, Beatlesque pop, and more.

Belew was discovered by Frank Zappa in 1977, where he was playing in Nashville with a band called Sweetheart. Zappa invited Belew to audition for an open spot for an upcoming tour which he landed easily. It was during Zappa's lengthy 1978 U.S. tour that David Bowie came to see a performance, which resulted in Belew being invited to join Bowie's touring band when the Zappa tour wrapped up. Once more, Belew accepted, touring the world alongside Bowie and appearing on his 1978 live recording, Stage, and 1979 studio effort, Lodger. Just as Belew's Bowie gig was about to wind down, he received an offer he couldn't refuse from another artist, Brian Eno, who introduced the guitarist to the Talking Heads, who were in the middle of recording their classic 1980 release Remain in Light. Belew was invited to lay down guitar for the songs, which led to his participation on the album's supporting tour. Belew just kept falling into somegreat gigs because of his versatile guitar work. Ity was around this time that Belew also began work on his first solo album, issued in 1982 as Lone Rhino.

It wasn't long before Belew was offered his next gig, this time with a newly reconstructed King Crimson. Belew handled lead vocal duties in addition to guitar. Belew continues to work on solo material in addition to working with King Crimson. His first couple solo albums are a quirky mix of different styles of music. Today's track comes from his first solo album Lone Rhino, and is an adventure in sonic guitar virtuosity. My first encounter with this song came back in the day when MTV used to play music videos during it's fledgling years. Having a party? Slip on Big Electric Cat and crank up the volume and watch your guests reactions.

Big Electric Cat by Adrian Belew

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Funny Toon