Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Star Trekkin'...

I was never a fan of the old TV series, Star Trek, but plenty of my peers loved the show.  Consequently, I remember very well when a parody song about Star Trek came into being.  The year was 1987.  The band was called The Firm.  They were Brits with a keen sense of humor.


And they hired art students called The Film Garage to make a clever video...

This song became quite successful.  It was released by Bark Records and the first pressing was just 500 units, which were sent to British radio stations.  The song took off and eventually sold over a million copies, although apparently the band's success was a flash in the pan.

Someone posted a meme on Facebook yesterday, which made me think of this song.  I will admit the first time I heard it was in the early 90s, when I worked at my college's radio station.  I used to have the radio show after a couple of geeks who played new wave songs from the 80s as well as silly stuff like this.  Later, the song was used at the summer camp where I used to work.  A guest counselor taught the kids a dance to go with the song, which they all seemed to love.

I can't believe this is thirty years old...  How quickly time passes when you get to be middle aged!


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Something Better To Do...

For my thoughts on Glen Campbell's death, click here...

Here's another song I just remembered today.  It's an old Olivia Newton-John song from 1975 called "Something Better To Do".  It's so sweet and bouncy, I may have to cover it.  I think of it as obscure, but apparently it was a hit back in the day.  I read that John Farrar had 40s era movies in mind when he wrote it, which explains the rather "Andrews Sisters" harmonies on the chorus.


I miss the 70s...

I may be back to add my own version for those who care.



It took about an hour to do this...  frustrating!



Thursday, August 3, 2017

Anne Murray's life story: All of Me...

She's had over forty years of experience in the music business, two kids, a divorce, and multiple album sales.  She's also an institution in her native Canada.  I am referring to singer Anne Murray, who originally intended to be a physical education teacher and ended up as a huge star.

As a kid, I used to listen to her music.  I would describe it as pleasant, comforting, and tasteful.  I can't listen to her 1978 hit, "You Needed Me" and not be reminded of moving back to the United States from three years in England, where my dad was serving in the Air Force.  Anne Murray was one artist who never offended and she was one of the few popular singers my dad and I could listen to together.

Although I have pretty broad tastes in music and only have one Anne Murray album in my personal collection, I love a good life story.  I just finished reading Murray's All of Me, which was published in 2009.  Given her decision to retire from the music business in 2008, it makes sense that she'd turn to books.  This one was written with help from ghost writer Michael Posner, who did an admirable job making the book sound as if it came straight from Ms. Murray's computer.

Born in Springhill, Nova Scotia on June 20, 1945, Murray was the third of six children and the only daughter of her surgeon father and nurse and housewife mother.  Murray and I happen to share a birthday, which makes me feel kind of special...  of course, we also share that birthday with Lionel Richie, John Taylor (of Duran Duran), Nicole Kidman, and John Goodman, among others.  Although Murray's father was a Presbyterian, her mother was a devout Catholic and Murray and her brothers were raised Catholic.  Murray went to a Catholic college for a short spell, then transferred to the University of New Brunswick which the intention of teaching P.E.

Murray was also an enthusiastic singer growing up, as is one of her brothers.  She lasted one year teaching P.E. before she was a bonafide professional musician.  Her first big hit was "Snowbird", which made her a star in 1970.


Anne Murray sings her best known hit.  Those pants are something else.

All of Me is surprisingly interesting, as Murray explains what it was like for her as a woman in the music biz during the 70s, 80s, and 90s.  She includes plenty of anecdotes about other people she knew and performed with, funny stories about life on the road, and some interesting trivia.  I especially got a kick out of her story about taking part in a bizarre TV special that pitted musicians from the East against musicians from the West.  Murray found herself competing with and against the likes of Joan Jett, the Jacksons, Sha Na Na, Boston and ELO!  I was only six years old in 1978, when this show aired, but I can promise you I would have loved it.

Murray apparently also got confused for being a lesbian more than a couple of times.  One time, a groupie ended up in her bed, thinking Murray was into chicks.  She makes it clear that she's a straight arrow, having married her ex husband Bill Langstroth in 1975.  The two were together until 1998, when they divorced after 23 years of marriage and two kids.

One thing I noticed about this book is that Anne Murray comes across as a very down to earth person.  She doesn't seem to have lost her humanity when she became famous.  She stays classy and civil and doesn't cheapen herself with tawdry comments about others.  As a fellow musician, I also enjoyed reading about the musical side of her business.  I even learned a few things I didn't know before.


Anne Murray sings "You Needed Me", another huge hit.

Anyway... although this book is now about eight years old, I really enjoyed reading it.  I would recommend it to Murray's fans, but I would also recommend it to people who enjoy life stories... especially those who were around during Murray's heyday.  I hope she's enjoying her life now, as an avid golfer and proud mother of two grown kids.  And... on a different note... it was nice to read a book that wasn't very depressing.  So bravo to Anne for that!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Remote Control...

Last night, I had a sudden flashback to a funny game show that used to air on MTV.  The late Ken Ober hosted with help from comedian Colin Quinn.  I didn't watch Remote Control religiously, but every once in awhile, I'd catch it.  It ran from 1987-1990.


Here's a full episode from 1989.

I remember this show was based on the premise that Ken Ober always wanted to be a game show host.  He made up his mother's basement and contestants would sit in La-Z-Boy recliners, strapped in with seatbelts.  When one would get eliminated, they'd be thrown off the set in their chairs, which was why the seatbelts were handy.  They were asked trivia questions about pop culture, music, and TV shows.  Since I love that shit, I was pretty good at the game myself.  Alas, I was a bit young to try to get on the show.

After the first round, there was a snack break.  But given that this was a wacky show, the snacks were delivered in rather unconventional ways.  Like, for instance, contestants would put bowls on their heads to catch whatever snacks that dropped over them.  Or they'd get it delivered in some other weird way.  

There was a lightning round, then came the final round for the player with the most points.  I want to say the contestants were on Craftmatic adjustable beds for that.


Craftmatic adjustable beds were always a commercial mainstay on independent TV stations in the 80s.


Here's an ad for a Craftmatic bed from the 80s.

As the show got more popular, comedians started making appearances.  Denis Leary and Adam Sandler were both on Remote Control as guest stars.

Unfortunately, Ken Ober died suddenly in 2009.  He was only 52 years old at the time.  Apparently, he'd had flu symptoms prior to his death.  I'm still not sure exactly why he passed away.  I see that he died three days before my dearly departed Flea did in 2009.

I'm surprised Remote Control only lasted five seasons over three years.  It was a funny show.  But it probably wouldn't work today because the stuff that made it funny in the late 80s is now terribly passé.  Once again, I'm glad I grew up when I did.  That was a fun era.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bourgeois Tagg...

Here's another blast from the past.  This one is from 1988 and I had totally forgotten about it until I saw it on Facebook's "On This Day" feature.  I was 16 in 1988 and now I'm 45.  This song has held up pretty well after so many years.  I think it's still good 29 years later.


Good stuff.

This song has a great melody and surprisingly thoughtful lyrics.  Brent Bourgeois formed the band Bourgeois Tagg with Larry Tagg, a former songwriter turned high school English and drama teacher.  Brent Bourgeois later became a contemporary Christian singer and, according to Wikipedia, now teachers pop songwriting at University of the Pacific.  He's also a music composer for Facebook.


Another song by this band...


This is another one of their hits, but I don't recognize it.


This one features Larry Tagg singing lead.

The only song I remember is "I Don't Mind At All", which doesn't sound nearly as dated as these other songs do.  It looks like these guys enjoyed careers in songwriting, though, even if they weren't exactly household names in their heyday.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rockwell...

This morning, while reading an article on Cracked, I was reminded of Rockwell.  If you were around in the 1980s, you might remember him.  He is famous for his songs about personal problems...  specifically, being paranoid that someone is watching him and getting obscene phone calls.


"Somebody's Watching Me"... listen closely and you'll hear Michael Jackson singing the chorus.

Rockwell's real name is Kennedy William Gordy.  He is the son of Motown's Berry Gordy and Margaret Norton.  Michael's brother, Jermaine, was married to Hazel Gordy, Berry Gordy's daughter and Rockwell's half sister.  Jermaine also sings on "Somebody's Watching Me".  Apparently, the Jacksons were childhood chums of Gordy's.  

Kennedy Gordy, aka Rockwell, is also the half brother to Diana Ross's daughter, Rhonda Ross Kendrick-- her biological father is Berry Gordy, although Diana was married to her ex husband, Robert Ellis Silberstein at the time of her birth.  


"Obscene Phone Caller"... it's basically a continuation of "Somebody's Watching Me"...

I can kind of see why Rockwell never really went much further with his recording career.  


This song vaguely recalls "Maniac" by Michael Sembello.  It sounds like something Jermaine Jackson would sing.


This is a new one to me.  I guess his personal problems continued beyond the phone and being watched...  This time, it's a woman, though.

I guess when Rockwell ran out of stalkers, he ran out of music career.  What a pity.  I must admit his songs crack me up.  I know he didn't want to be accused of nepotism, but I think had it not been for Michael's help, his first single never would have gone anywhere.  

Well, I guess I have devoted enough time to Rockwell on this holiday.  Time to crack open a beer.


Saturday, June 3, 2017

A little Dutch porn...

Okay, not really.  But I have to admit that I was a bit taken aback when I saw this video by the 70s era Dutch pop group, Luv.


At first, it looked like these women were not wearing anything under their skimpy tops.

Upon closer examination, I see they're wearing nude body suits.  Listening to them, I hear them totally channeling ABBA, which was also big during that time period.

I tried another video, again with them looking all sexified...  And then I was suddenly reminded of a song I haven't heard in years!


Yes, I remember this was a hit.  No, I hadn't thought of it in years!

I had to share this with a few friends and my friend Joann found another video of Luv singing "You're the Greatest Lover".  


This band seems to be a mix of ABBA and Silver Convention, which was a girl group from Germany that was popular at about the same time.

It's funny, because when I was a kid in the 80s, I used to think girl bands were rare.  Now I know they weren't, but it does seem like a lot of them consisted of sexy women singing and dancing to vapid music.  This kind of stuff doesn't have a lot of staying power, even if it can be faddish or fun...  especially when the women get older and less fetching.


I can see why this was popular in Europe, though.  The music is festive and catchy and the girls are pretty.

The 70s was chock full of chicks like this, doing their thing...  I kind of miss it.  I guess it takes talent and beauty to pull off this particular act, but really, it's just entertaining for a different reason... perhaps because they seem to shock the audiences!