Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Triumph - "Fight The Good Fight"

First heard this one in my car in a Hardee's parking lot in Crookston in the mid-eighies. I was immediately blown away by the anthemic power and glory of it, especially the crunching chorus. It still amazes me, but this past week when I would listen to it all I would think of was: Why was I in Crookston? Must have one of those trips between Grand Forks and my parents' cabin a couple of hours southeast where I avoided the interstates and took the back highways. Why a stop in Crookston (only thirty minutes from Grand Forks) and why Hardee's? I can't say. I did a lot of mysterious, baffling things in my youth but eating lunch in my car with Q98 blasting on the radio was one of them that worked out for the good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Badlands - "Winter's Call"

Badlands' Wikipedia page reads like a combination of Behind The Music and This Is Spinal Tap. To wit:

- Their unreleased third album finally found light of day … in a 1998 release, in Japan.

- The guitarist and vocalist traded barbs in separate issues of Kerrang! magazine, and at one show the vocalist interrupted the show to pull out the Kerrang! issue with the guitarist's shots and shouted: "There's two sides to every story!" While he did this, the guitarist mouthed: "It's all true."

- Also, a reference to Desmond Child (of course); "working on one of his muscle cars"; and the fact that the band was made up of various former members of Ozzy Osbourne's band, Dio-era Black Sabbath, and a future member of Kiss. (And some of these were the same person.)

A Badlands fanboy (there was one?) obviously pirated part of this page, with such gushing sentiments as:

With melodic sensibilities and solid chops, each member of the band proved a cornerstone creatively, while presenting energetic live shows with flawless musicality.

Despite all the tensions in the band, they proved ever a 'Musician's Favourite' (*Tuesday Tuneage Editor's note: Brit spelling of "Musician"? Hmmmm.*) group, prompting all with musical talent to attend as many of their shows as possible, due to their 'jam it out' live shows, never offering the same show twice.

The truly impressive thing about Badlands' Wikipedia page is that if you look at the "years active", there are NO GAPS. Hardly any band formed ten years ago or more contains no such gaps in its Wikipedia page, because rock bands always reunite, and always to score nostalgia bucks. See, NO GAPS = NO REUNIONS. Good for you, Badlands, way to stick to your principles. (Then again, there's the very real probability that nobody is clamoring for a Badlands reunion, aside from the British fan who gushed about them on Wikipedia.)

After hearing Badlands, I can tell why on listens to Z-Rock I gravitated towards the like of Sabbath-heads/proto-stoner-rockers Trouble. I would have written about them instead, but their Wikipedia page just isn't funny.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Shooting Star - "Hang On For Your Life"

I recently went on a late seventies/early eighties AOR detour, caused by viewing the video of April Wine's "Enough Is Enough", which entirely took place on a semi and featured: 1) Myles Goodwyn singing into a CB radio handset as the rest of the band was crammed into the cab, and 2) Canadian girls dressed oh-so-early-eighties. Soon enough, I was ears-deep into 707, Axe, Duke Jupiter, Billy Thorpe etc. etc. etc. Maybe this is some sort of decades-later overreaction to not having an AOR station in Grand Forks throughout most of high school and college. KKDQ-FM was AOR until 1981, when it became Top 40 XL93. Q98 out of Fargo was just out of range and my sister made fun of me for listening to its static when it came in on cloudy days. My response was that the static was better than all of Grand Forks radio. (I make a lot of Q98 references here during Tuesday Tuneage, my folks have a cabin an hour east of Fargo, so I got the station out there during summers and through most of the commutes to and from there.)

With nobody to toss me a rope, this recent downward spiral through decades-old AOR continued. And so I ended up at Shooting Star, a Kansas City group that had some success thirty years ago or so. "Hang On For Your Life" is faster than the norm, meaning that punk had allowed the speed limit to be raised in AOR Land. Then again, maybe they were going back to Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times" for speed clues. There are working-class nods in the lyrics: "Working hard to make a living", "union scale", and mention of some sort of muscle car. (Also something about needing a strong drink, this song probably wasn't big with the MADD crowd, but hey at least they advised seat belt use, pretty forward thinking in 1981!)

The tune is chock-full of obvious Zep and BadCo influences and is close to being typical faceless early eighties AOR, but there is a certain appeal as you blast in on headphones: 1) Its speed, 2) The vocalist's kinda-raspy voice, 3) The production. Typically with a band like this and a chance at a hit with a hook-filled song, you would expect some studio gloss. Thankfully none of that nonsense shows up here. Maybe being on the Virgin label helped, maybe producer Dennis McKay knew the right touch with which to handle the sound. Whatever the theory, the bare-bones sound completes the charm. Not to mention that Hang On For Your Life is one of my fave album covers, maybe even the favorite of any album I don't actually own. Any child of the seventies who had the Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle would absolutely be drawn in by it.

Special Bonus Addendum: A Google image search of Shooting Star indicates some sort of "get haircuts in order to look relevant" transformation for the band. (Remember Metallica before and after Load?) Check out Shooting Star's "before" look and "after" look. Alas, I didn't find what years these photos are from and apparently the haircuts also shed a band member, perhaps going to the Kansas Music Hall of Fame on a fact-finding mission is in order to clear this matter up.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Scandal Featuring Patty Smyth - "The Warrior"

When it was announced last summer that the Twins' radio broadcasts would be moving to 96.3 FM K-Twin for the upcoming season, I checked out the station to see what kind of music it played. Then I found myself loving it. I'm not being ironic here, turns out I'm a big fan of the "Hot AC" radio format! In fact, I fear burning myself out on it and then I'll be back on Local Current and SiriusXM Underground Garage, where I won't hear "Hey Jealousy" by the Gin Blossoms, "What Do All The People Know" by the Monroes, "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant, or "Locked Out Of Heaven" by Bruno Mars.

Recently while driving a rental car, I heard "The Warrior" by Scandal on K-Twin and found myself cranking up the volume. When I got home, I had to fire up the song again on YouTube. The video is dumb and features weirdo dancing/performance art. But when Patty Smyth does the "shoot the pistols" gesture at the end? Always gets me. More importantly, this tune was a big hit during that magical radio summer of 1984. I was one of those guys up north smug in my knowing the difference between Patty Smyth and Patti Smith. These days, I don't think about it much and have reduced it to this shorthand:

Patti Smith was married to Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5, meaning he was a protopunk. Patty Smyth is married to John McEnroe, who in the seventies was a punk.

I've never heard Patti Smith on K-Twin. Maybe she should hire Nick Gilder and Mike Chapman?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Tuesday Tuneage
Husker Du - "New Day Rising"

In which Saint Paul's own Huskers play fast fast fast and Bob Mould repeats three words over and over:

New day rising
New day rising
New day rising

It's the most audacious album opener since Mott the Hoople's debut, when they started off with a cover of "You Really Got Me" (done as an instrumental.)

"New Day Rising" is a fun one to make up your own words to. For instance, I generally have every other Friday off, so on the Thursday night I find myself singing:

Three-day weekend
Three-day weekend

There's all kinds of variatons of four or five syllable phrases that you can use:

Taco Tuesday
Surly Bender
Heggies Pizza
TV Girlfriend
Obama Mandate
Golden Chokers
Summit Saga
Scotch And Soda
Grain Belt Premium
Huskers Vinyl

Just remember: You're not insanely talking to yourself if you are instead singing!