Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Cheech & Chong Featuring Alice Bowie - "Earache My Eye" (b/w) "Turn That Thing Down"

My buds and I used to recite the skit part of this tune constantly on walks to school in third grade, when as a single it went to number nine of the charts. Recently my mind was blown when I found out that the B-SIDE OF THE SINGLE CONTINUES THE SONG AND THE STORY! The riffage gets even better, more relentless, Then the tune turns into a mashup between guitarist/co-writer Gay Delorme's incredible, heady Hendrix/Funkadelic noise attack and samples of the father from the A-side harassing the kid to turn the song down and get ready for school.

Like I wrote last year, I have "Rock Box" as my Number One Metal Song Of All Time, and now I wondering if Run-DMC's hip-hop metal would even be possible if it weren't for these two sides of genius. Not to mention that the song lyrics and skit include cross-dressing, the coming apocalypse, capitalist excess, corporal punishment - they all get jammed into a comedy song that crosses metal and good yuks years before Spinal Tap. The next time The Golf Channel is going to show Tin Cup (in standard def on their HD channel), they should instead just fire up the "Earache My Eye" opus on a loop for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Steely Dan - “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number”

I doubt I will ever be one of those huge fans of Steely Dan. I may sometimes call them the familiar “The Dan”, because that is what some of us men my age do. But after all these decades of hearing them on the radio and having others rave about them and wanting to enact some sort of you’re either for-the-Dan vs. against-the-Dan barricade, I’ve only bought one album by them and it feels like the right amount of Dan to own. I still think - even after classic rock radio has tried and tried and tried to kill them with overplay - their seventies first run of hits are absolutely brilliant. “Do It Again”? “Reeling In The Years”? Wondrous stuff.

That one album I have by Steely Dan is Pretzel Logic and I scored it for a buck off of eBay years ago. I bought it mostly because: 1) I wanted to check out a Dan album without copping out with an anthology, 2) My research indicated that on the Not Jazzbo Fusion and Still Accessible calculations it might be my best bet, and 3) “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” is on it. I still remember where I was when I first heard this tune, in my Mom’s car in 1974, she was driving me home on a Saturday morning after a sleepover and had the Top 40 AM radio station on. And yes after all these years I still find it haunting, catchy, a mystery never solved.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
Billy Squier - "Lonely Is The Night"

Not many charting rockers had a weirder, yet at-times brilliant, run of genre-hopping songs than Billy Squier did in the first half of the eighties. He started off his chart success with a novelty song embraced by hard rockers, "The Stroke" (which is pretty much a remake of his embraced-by-hip-hoppers "The Big Beat" from his debut album.) Then he cleaned up this same song, inserted lyrics that actually made sense, and presto: "My Kinda Lover." (We shouldn't overlook that middle word. Is the lover his type of lover or is she "sorta, kinda" his lover? Maybe an on-the-sly romance?)

"Everybody Wants You" had the #2 revving-motorcycle sound of 1982 (after Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue") plus A-plus finger snapping - almost always an indicator of pop greatness. And the song never ever quits, three minutes and forty-seven seconds of riffing exuberance. "Emotions in Motion" was slinky suburban funk, topping Queen at their own suburban-funk game at the time, and it opened with whistling - almost always an indicator of pop greatness. "She's A Runner" was uniquely a non-ballady power ballad.

And then around the time that he was outed (falsely, as we learned) with his appearance in the "Rock Me Tonite" video, he turned in one of the finest singles of the summer of 1984: "All Night Long". Which is a remarkable feat, as THE SUMMER OF 1984 WAS THE GREATEST SUMMER OF SONGS IN MY LIFETIME.

"Lonely Is The Night" wasn't a single and hence didn't chart like the above songs, but it was an AOR smash in '81. More importantly, it stands as one of the best fake Zeps of the early eighties. It handles the heavy, crashing, thunderous side (complete with the well-timed pauses that Zeppelin mastered) of Led Zepdom as well as Zebra would handle the lighter, folksy side. (Next week's tune? Perhaps…) Like I said, "Lonely Is The Night" wasn't a single, but that's no excuse why it was left off of the first-half awesome Squier anthology 16 Strokes. It's almost like the recording industry wanted to go out of business.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Tuesday Tuneage
The Firm - "Satisfaction Guaranteed"

When Jimmy Page and Paul Rodgers teamed up to form The Firm in the mid-eighties, hard rock fans were giddy. Nothing like a SUPERGROUP!! to get fans of aging rockers abuzz. And one involving Jimmy Page that actually released music, unlike next buzz thing XYZ band from a few years earlier. (I mean, XYZ was actually a subject of pencilled scribblings on my sophomore year English class desk. Me and some other guy/gal had a correspondence about XYZ for a week or so there. Alas, I never did find out who this supergroup superfan was though and the correspondence dried up - I'm guessing I was too much of a goody two-shoes to write on the desk much anyway. Things were truly rough before Twitter, kiddies.) Then we actually heard The Firm's first single, "Radioactive." Decidedly non-bluesy, without Page crunchy chords or flash, and Rodgers voice going through some sort of sound effect while singing "I'm radioactive", it was a weird letdown. "Satisfaction Guaranteed" was more in line with what was expected: atmospheric, a superb Rodgers vocal, and Page heroics. I never bought the album and all else I remember is that they had an iffy version of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." And like fellow class of '85 supergroupers Phantom, Rocker & Slick, they faded after putting out that elusive/rumored second album.

So for whatever reason, the last couple of weeks at random times I would suddenly start singing parts of "Radioactive" to myself while walking around my apartment. This led me to YouTube, figuring: Mid-eighties? Superstar rockers cashing in? They must have made videos! And yes, The Firm made videos. And they're glorious. "Radioactive" has Page and Rodgers wearing baggy pants and shirts, likely anticipating the "Pirate Look" of the early nineties. (Take that, Jerry Seinfeld!) In "Satisfaction Guaranteed", they're dressed like CIA agents posing as south Florida tourists, playing an Oly-serving dive bar. And they drive the ladies nuts! They bring the rain! Page's guitar work brings the sun! Speaking of Page, he's the guy to watch in these videos. He's letting us in on the joke, breaking down the fourth wall. He bows to the camera at the start of "Radioactive", then proceeds to mug his way through various shots. In "Satisfaction Guaranteed", he gives a oh-yeah-big-deal-maybe? nod at the end of a kinda-dramatic beat. That video also features him with his trademark Zep violin bow, but then joker that he is, he trades it in for a beer bottle to play slide with. Didn't catch the brand of said beer, but it damn sure wasn't Olympia.