Wednesday, April 27, 2005

History Lesson: Name a Famous DJ

April 27, 1990: Axl Rose marries Erin Everly, daughter of Everly Brother Don. Rose, who was already bidding to become one of the kings of rock and roll excess, added to his resume for the gig when the marriage imploded after 27 days.

April 27, 1976: David Bowie is detained aboard a train on the Russian-Polish border while customs official confiscate Nazi memorabilia. Feeling compelled to explain himself, Bowie says that in his opinion, Britain could benefit from having fascist leadership, and that he wouldn't mind having the job himself one day. Which explains why his next couple of albums sounded like collaborations with the guy from Sprockets.

April 27, 1959: "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" by the Virtues reaches Number 5 on the Hot 100. I mention this only because during my first semester in the dorms at college, my equally iconoclastic roommate and I used to respond to the loud stereos of our neighbors by cranking our own stereo, but with the most unusual or obnoxious music we could find. "Guitar Boogie Shuffle" was a frequent choice.

Birthdays Today: Sheena Easton is 46. Like Olivia Newton-John in the '70s, Easton started off singing innocent little songs, like "Morning Train," only to transform into a hottie all at once, which happened with 1984's "Strut." Casey Kasem is 73--and if you've heard him lately, he sounds like it. It says something about the current state of American radio, I think, that if you say to somebody, "Name a famous disc jockey," the two people they are most likely to come up with, Kasem and Dick Clark, are both on the other side of 70.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1992: "Bohemian Rhapsody"/Queen.
It rose only to Number 9 on its original chart run in 1976 (and lost to "Afternoon Delight" for the Best Vocal Arrangement Grammy), but its inclusion in the movie Wayne's World, the seemingly endless anthologizing of Queen's music (just how many greatest hits albums do they have, anyhow?), and the relatively recent death of Freddie Mercury combined to make it an anthem for a second generation.

1989: "Like a Prayer"/Madonna. The controversial video became an even more controversial Pepsi commercial that only played once--and both Pepsi and Madonna smiled all the way to the bank.

1981: "Kiss on My List"/Hall and Oates. Having been bounced off the management staff of my college radio station a couple of months earlier (because I was a complete asshole), I made it my mission to rebel against the station's current management, especially against the music director, whose taste was atrocious. One of my favorite things to do was to play "Kiss on My List" even though we were ostensibly running an AOR format. Clearly, I wasn't very good at rebellion.

1963: "I Will Follow Him"/Little Peggy March. If you remember this at all, it's probably because Saturday Night Live used it in a memorable parody of the movie Chinatown featuring John Belushi and Madeline Kahn.

1953: "The Doggie in the Window"/Patti Page. Another one of those songs that's not just floating around in your head, it's imprinted in your DNA: "How much is that doggie in the window?"

Editor's Note: The history feature has been absent from this blog for the last several weeks, mostly because its best resource, the website of Arrow 92 in Los Angeles, went dark when the station flipped formats. Arrow 92 was the longtime home of Los Angeles legend Uncle Joe Benson, who did mornings on the station for years before switching to afternoons with the arrival of Jonathan Brandmeier a couple of years ago. What I didn't know about Benson until I explored his personal website is that he was a few years ahead of me at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. His long tenure in Los Angeles probably makes him the most successful jock Platteville's broadcasting program ever produced--and I'm simply astounded that I'd never heard of him before.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Flip Cartridge Plays the Hits

My pal Willie (who has his own fine blog, Baseball Is My Life) sends along a link from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, in which several Milwaukee-area experts weigh in with their favorite one-hit wonders of all time, by decade. It's an impressive list of experts, including chart god Joel Whitburn and WKLH/Milwaukee jock Steve Palec, whose Rock and Roll Roots show on Sunday mornings is the thinking man's oldies show. They didn't ask me, but if they had, I could have said plenty. I'm a bit more doctrinaire than the experts in the Journal Sentinel article, because I don't consider you a one-hit wonder if you put more than one single on the charts, even if the second one was a complete stiff. That said, here we go.

One of the classic one-hit wonders from this or any decade is Joan Weber, whose song "Let Me Go, Lover" collected dust in record stores until it was featured on the CBS-TV anthology series Studio One late in 1954. Talk about your shooting stars--Weber didn't stick around long enough to collect the money. In the late 1960s, when her record company tried to send her a big royalty check for her performance, the envelope came back "addressee unknown." Two other great one-hit wonders of the 1950s were doo-woppers from 1958: the Elegants, whose "Little Star" hit Number One in the summer, and the Monotones, whose "Book of Love" is probably embedded in your DNA somewhere.

1960s: You're sitting there, minding your own business with the radio on, when suddenly a demented voice roars: "I AM THE GOD OF HELL FIRE . . . AND I BRING YOU . . . FIRE." "Fire" by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968) might feature the most attention-grabbing opening in all of rock and roll. The second most attention-grabbing opening in all of rock and roll might belong to another great one-hit wonder, Desmond Dekker and the Aces, whose "Israelites" sounded like nothing else on the radio in 1969. In the category of records you may not have heard, I'd put "Tracy's Theme" by Spencer Ross, a delicate little instrumental from 1960, and "Dear Mrs. Applebee" by Flip Cartridge (1966), which I have never actually heard myself, but I adore the name "Flip Cartridge."

1970s: Start with "Funky Nassau" by Beginning of the End, a band from the Bahamas that failed to follow up its single hit in the summer of 1971 because, as a record company insider put it, "They just didn't trust Americans." In 1972, Chi Coltrane from Racine, Wisconsin, channeled Janis Joplin from one direction in time and Kiki Dee from the other with "Thunder and Lightning." The best song ever about the radio and record industry was Pete Wingfield's "Eighteen With a Bullet," which actually reached Number 18 with a bullet on the Billboard chart one happy week in the fall of 1975. And any short list of the greatest one-hit wonders of all time must include the Sanford-Townsend Band's magnificent "Smoke From a Distant Fire" from the late summer of 1977. I loved this record so much that I wrote a letter to my then-girlfriend, who was spending the summer in Europe, telling her about it.

1980s: During my college radio days, we played a lot of records by bands nobody had ever heard of before, or would hear of again. (Just like alternative radio now, only we didn't have a name for it back then.) One of the better ones was "Stay in Time" by Off Broadway, which crept into the lower third of the Hot 100 in 1980. Legitimate Top 40 hits, all from the Killer Hook department, include "Sausalito Summernight" by Diesel (1981), "If the Love Fits, Wear It" by Leslie Pearl (1982), and "Tragedy" by John Hunter (1985). The single greatest one-hit wonder of the 1980s, however, might have been the Blow Monkeys, who produced a superb fake R&B record--I say "fake" and not "blue-eyed soul," because these boys were English and incredibly, terminally white--with "Digging Your Scene" in 1986.

1990s: I'm not too good on the '90s, because I was doing adult contemporary in the early part of the decade and everything is blurry--not through any fault of mine, but because AC in the early 90s was desperately boring. (By the end of the decade, I was doing classic rock.) But I can pick at least one great one hit wonder: New Radicals, and "You Get What You Give" (1998). The highest tribute I can pay anything new is that if it had come out in the 1970s or 1980s, it would have been Number One--and this would have been.

As always, feel free to add your own.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Elevator Going Down

Piped-in music isn't what it used to be. Very few stores will trust anything so random as a local radio station to provide a background for customers anymore. Many stores have their own music services, delivered by satellite, and no doubt carefully researched to facilitate the separation of people from their money. Some companies will actually sell you CDs of the music they play in their stores.

My local convenience store plays oldies mostly from the 60s to the early 80s. Nevertheless, I was a bit surprised to hear James Brown's "Sex Machine" as I dropped in for my morning constitutional today. To hear JB stripped down and hitting on the one while I was filling the big mug was a bit like slipping into an alternate universe where decaffeinated light-FM hip hop and the steroidal boot of rap are both curiosities, and true funk is the chosen music of millions.

(Digression: The Mrs. and I have some old friends whose daughter, now 19, we have watched grow up. One morning when the girl was three or four, her father heard her singing something while everyone was getting dressed in the morning. As he listened closely, he determined that she was singing "Sex Machine." He also determined it was probably time to cut back on the James Brown records for a while.)

Then again, maybe my little suburb is an under-the-radar funk zone. One fine Sunday morning, I made a quick run to our neighborhood grocery store. While I was maneuvering my cart past the suburban dads loaded with beer and chips and various grandmothers with cat food and paper plates, I noticed that the store's music, at a barely audible level, was playing "Saturday Night" by Earth, Wind and Fire--another pretty decent funk record. So there I was, in the cereal aisle, getting my schwerve on. But the store topped itself in the next few minutes by playing Honey Cone's great 1971 hit "One Monkey Don't Stop No Show (Part 1)." Somebody must have dialed up the wrong channel by mistake.

The rise of specially programmed in-store music channels (often containing commercials) has accompanied the near-demise of elevator music--those light-and-lovely instrumental versions of pop and rock hits made to be ignored, or more precisely, made to seep into your brain at a subconscious level to relax you, make you feel more alert, or go Communist. As a radio format, elevator music (known officially as "beautiful music") is largely dead, too--because its target audience is largely dead.

I worked at an elevator music radio station for a while, back in the late 80s, when I still felt as though I had a career in radio, and hadn't crossed the line into taking radio jobs until I could find something else. It wasn't quite as tomblike a place as you might expect--I got hired precisely because I was a jock with a personality, and that was what the station wanted. And some of the other personalities were indeed colorful. One was a fairly vocal Christian with shoulder-length hair, who was quickly nicknamed "Junior Jesus," and once lent a CD to a colleague with the provision that the colleague not tape it because that would be a violation of copyright. He also hosted the Sunday morning religious-music show, and the bluehairs in his audience used to send him money even though he didn't ask for it--thus fulfilling the dream of low-paid radio guys everywhere. Another was the only person I have ever met whom I would have forgiven for abandoning his family--an incredibly high-maintenance wife and anywhere from two to five incorrigible children (we were never sure quite how many), whose considerable talents were overwhelmed by the chaos in his personal life.

The most indelible characters at this station, however, were in the sales department. I once shared an office with a new rep who had spent the previous several years living in Central America. One fine winter's day, a dusting of snow fell, and she asked me, "Should I use the four-wheel drive on the way home?" "That won't be necessary," I told her. "When it's time, you'll know it." She once asked me if I'd ever written any spots advertising artificial limbs--and preceded to call the Radio Advertising Bureau seeking sample copy for artificial limbs, only to be surprised when they laughed out loud at the idea just as I had. My favorite story, however, is about the time she got kicked out of the office of a store owner who haughtily told her, "I don't need to advertise. I already have more business than I can handle." "Good," she shot back. "Let's go out front and take your sign down."

One member of the sales force once landed a major client who had been reluctant to buy our station, and when asked how she'd done it, admitted that she slept with him. Yet another was an artist capable of knocking off beautiful abstracts in a few minutes using only a ballpoint pen on the back of a message slip. Admiring a drawing he'd given another colleague, I asked him, "Would you draw something for me sometime?" "Of course," he said. Then I asked, "Can you do the one of the dogs playing poker?"

The biggest problem the station had was one it shared with other elevator-music stations during those dying days of the format: 23-year-old media buyers at ad agencies. Our audience was the wealthiest in our market, but we couldn't shake down much beyond token agency buys, and we were convinced that it was because the buyers simply couldn't understand the format's appeal. The Mrs., who was a media buyer in her late 20s at this same time, denies that this could have been true, but we weren't making it up. Elevator music PDs across the country, in markets of all sizes, were saying the same thing.

We countered the stereotype of our listeners as Ben Gay-scented and waiting for death with the following true story: We once ran a contest in which the prize was two tickets to a show, dinner beforehand, and a limo ride to and from your house. The winners were a couple in their 50s who couldn't have been more typical. We found out the next week that they'd had sex in the limo on the way home.

Well. I seem to have digressed from where I began, which is one of the risks inherent in this gasbaggery. When I started, I intended only to list some of my all-time favorite elevator-music remakes. They include Waylon Jennings' "Luckenbach, Texas," "Synchronicity II" by the Police, and--I swear it's true--"Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss. None of those were on the station I worked for, however. Our library was pretty pedestrian, really. There were no Kiss or Police remakes, although I seem to recall a version of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face" and a remake of Tiffany's cover of "I Think We're Alone Now," which had recently been a hit. The instrumentals weren't all bad. You'd get the occasional classic jazz tune, Brubeck's "Take Five" or Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's "Desafinado." However, there's no denying it was mostly the Swelling Strings Orchestra doing "Red Roses for a Blue Lady." No wonder you'd get sleepy on the night shift.

Please contribute your favorite piped-in music moments by clicking "Comments."

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

In the Country of Country, Part II

My post about country radio this past weekend made me want to pick up The Billboard Book of Top 40 Country, Joel Whitburn's valuable chronicle of the country charts from 1944. The first place I looked was at the list of Number One songs, and found a few notable ones that topped the country chart in Aprils gone by.

1994: "Piece of My Heart"/Faith Hill. This song was mentioned in the comment to my country radio post, and I agree with the guy who said it's pretty ridiculous for Faith Hill, who never appears to actually sweat, to attempt a Janis Joplin tune.

1992: "She Is His Only Need"/Wynonna Judd. A positively gorgeous love song, and probably the best thing she ever recorded, although "Girls With Guitars" is pretty good, too.

1984: "Don't Make It Easy for Me"/Earl Thomas Conley. His voice wasn't much, but his band was great--instrumentally, few country performers of the era seemed to be striving harder for interesting sounds. It paid off, too, with 17 Number Ones in 21 releases between 1982 and 1989.

1983: "We've Got Tonight"/Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton. During 1983, I was the music director at a country station, KDTH in Dubuque, Iowa. We played the hell out of this, even though it twangs not a whit.

1981: "Old Flame"/Alabama. The county fair in my hometown booked Alabama in the winter of 1981 for the fair that July. Nobody knew that by then, they'd have two more number-ones and be the biggest thing in country music. Pretty good deal at $5 a ticket.

1978: "Ready for the Times to Get Better"/Crystal Gayle. One of those non-twangy, shoulda-been-a-crossover records of hers.

1977: "Lucille"/Kenny Rogers. There are not words enough to express how much a lot of us HATED this record when it crossed to pop. And none that explain precisely how it happened, either.

1972: "My Hang-Up Is You"/Freddie Hart. This is what I meant when I said there are country records I got by osmosis thanks to the radio stations my parents were listening to. Freddie Hart had a way with a song, though. His 1971 hit, "Easy Lovin'," is one of the unknown gems of the decade, and "My Hang-Up Is You" is pretty close to a rewrite. Well, if it ain't broke . . .

1970: "Tennessee Bird Walk"/Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan. Perhaps you had to be there.

1968: "Fist City"/Loretta Lynn. Tammy Wynette might want to stand by her man, but Loretta would put him in the hospital if he pushed her to it. Listening to her singles from the mid 60s to the mid 70s--"Don't Come Home a-Drinkin' with Lovin' on Your Mind," "One's on the Way," and the mega-controversial "The Pill"--is like listening to the female half of Nixon's Silent Majority waking up to a new day.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

In the Country of Country

So I was driving around this morning with another one of my car tapes playing when tunes from Crystal Gayle and Don Williams came up back-to-back, and I was transported back to my days as a country radio DJ.

I was no latecomer to the format. My parents listened to country radio extensively when I was growing up, so I knew quite a few of the format's core records long before I ever played one on the radio. And it was a short leap to country from the kind of radio I loved. Starting in the mid 70s, Chicago AM giant WMAQ brought Top 40 formatics and style (and even, for a brief time, legendary Chicago jock Fred Winston) to country radio, and for a while, if you listened to country in the Midwest, you listened to WMAQ. So I didn't mind all that much when my first commercial radio gig turned out to be at a country station. I figured I could handle it.

My favorite records were the ones that were the likeliest to cross to the pop charts--from people like Gayle and Williams. Crystal Gayle had a fair amount of crossover success, with "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue," "Talking in Your Sleep," "When I Dream," and "Half the Way," but she should have crossed over even more--her 1983 hit, "Our Love is on the Faultline," for example, would have been a smash if it had come out a few years earlier. Williams, meanwhile, was less likely to cross over to pop--but there was something about his big, warm voice that made his records hard to resist, like "I Believe in You" (which did cross over to pop) or "You're My Best Friend."

The records I hated most were the ones that fit the hillbilly stereotype--I know that Ricky Scaggs is authentically Appalachian, but it was hard for me to imagine anyone with more than a sixth-grade education wanting to hear something like "Heartbroke" more than once. And I also detested the records in which rural love-men sang sweaty ballads about getting laid. T.G. Sheppard did a lot of this stuff. "War is Hell on the Homefront Too," about his adventures servicing a woman whose husband has gone off to war, may have been the single most offensive country record of all time, albeit a fairly large hit. (We were told not to play it on Veterans Day.) Gene Watson, too, who once recorded a song called "Nothing Sure Looked Good on You." There were female versions of this, too--Billie Jo Spears' "Blanket on the Ground," for example, in which a long-married couple go a-boinking in the back yard. Not sexy, just embarrassing.

I got out of country radio in the mid 80s and didn't return until about 10 years later, when I did a few fill-in shifts at a country station operated by the same group that ran the classic rocker I worked for. The same percentages I had observed in the 80s still seemed to apply--about half the records at least nodded in the direction of art, and the other half were churned-out product. Even the genre's major stars--George Strait comes to mind--seemed to be phoning it in about half the time.

One thing that made country radio different from other formats was the personal interest listeners took in you as a jock. When I did fill-ins on the country station, listeners were always calling in to find out who I was and where I came from and when the person I was subbing for would be back. You learn pretty quickly under those circumstances that if you think a particular record is lame, you'd better not say so. And in the end, your opinion doesn't matter because taste is accountable to no one. Take it from me--a guy who's written nice things about "Afternoon Delight" and the Partridge Family.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

My Favorite Year

I think '71 is probably my favorite musical year of the 1970s. It was still the golden era of AM Top 40 and I was already hooked on it. And if you look back at the top 10 from this week in 1971, it's easy to understand how it could have happened.

10. "One Toke Over the Line"/Brewer and Shipley.
Bought it on a 45, I did--pink Kama Sutra label, the same day I bought "Sweet Mary" by Wadsworth Mansion and "Domino" by Van Morrison, as I recall. (Three singles at once was about as much as I could afford at 95 cents apiece.) Needless to say, I had no idea what a toke was.

9. "Proud Mary"/Ike and Tina Turner. I knew this version before I knew CCR's, and it's still the Tina Turner record to have if you're only having one.

8. "Another Day"/Paul McCartney. When you have just turned 11, as I had in the spring of 1971, McCartney's heroine, who "wraps a towel around her as she's heading for the bedroom chair," will pass for a fantasy girl.

7. "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted"/Partridge Family. Bought the 45. Has a picture sleeve. Still own it. It's David Cassidy's least-favorite Partridge record because of the spoken bit: "Now, where is love? And who is left? I gotta know!" Good call, Dave.

6. "Me and Bobby McGee"/Janis Joplin. The last 1:45 of this--the cranked-up instrumental over which Janis simply wails, is about as life-affirming as rock can be. So gorgeous it chokes me up sometimes.

5. "For All We Know"/Carpenters.
A harmless little record, with a nice little oboe thing in the intro and some lush wah-wah from Karen. The prequel to "We've Only Just Begun."

4. "She's a Lady"/Tom Jones. You've heard of cock rock? This is cock MOR. For a while in the early 90s, The Mrs. and I were wedding-reception DJs. The single most unfortunate request I ever got from a bride and groom was for this. I even asked the guy, "Are you sure you want this at your wedding?" He was--and the fact that I had to ask ensured that he would miss the point.

3. "Joy to the World"/Three Dog Night. You really want the 45 mix of this, which stomps the hell out of the album version--the one you hear most often on oldies stations these days. Imagine if you will a bus with maybe 60 grade-schoolers on board, all singing this song at the top of their lungs, every afternoon on the way home. Now guess who the ringleader of the singalong was.

2. "What's Going On"/Marvin Gaye. Again, get the 45, which is a different mix (and seems to be one or two more RPMs faster). But also listen to the whole What's Going On album, too.

1. "Just My Imagination"/Temptations.
This was my favorite song of all time for a long time, and is still right up there. What's not to love? There's that gorgeous guitar figure at the beginning, the Temps' wordless entrance a few seconds later, and that beautiful break in the middle:
Every night on my knees I pray
Dear Lord, hear my plea
Don't ever let another take her love from me
Or I will surely die
Her love is heavenly
When her arms enfold me
I hear a tender rhapsody
But in reality
She doesn't even know me
And I could do Number 11 through 20, too: Cat Stevens, George Harrison, the Grass Roots, Santana--as I've said before, there were giants in the earth in those days.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Top 5: One on One

Twenty-two years ago this weekend, The Mrs. and I became Mr. and Mrs. And here are five songs on the radio that week--perhaps even as we were driving away from the church.

"Mr. Roboto"/Styx. If you were in high school in the late 70s, you, or somebody you knew, owned The Grand Illusion and/or Pieces of Eight. You can't go wrong with either of these albums, if you dig Midwestern teenage prog-rock. (As many did.) Cornerstone was OK and Paradise Theater had its moments, but then came 1983's Kilroy Was Here. At the time, I proclaimed it one of the worst albums I'd ever heard--and of all the Styx singles you can name, "Mr. Roboto" has worn the least well of all.

"One on One"/Hall and Oates. I heard this again not long ago for the first time in a while, and it occurs to me that this is far and away the best makeout record H&O ever made. "Take your time, baby, we've got all night."

"Swingin'"/John Anderson. One of the most bizarre crossover hits of all time, this record made the top five at WLS in Chicago--and they weren't even playing it. (They were playing "Mr. Roboto" every half-hour, though, and Anderson's country honk would have sounded just too weird anywhere near it.) At my station, "Swingin'" blew out the phones to a degree unseen since the Oak Ridge Boys' "Elvira" a couple of years before. Maybe the record was just too damn weird not to be a hit.

"Come on Eileen"/Dexy's Midnight Runners.
And speaking of too damn weird not to be a hit, there's this. It was a sort of anthem for my radio station's softball team during the summer of '83. (You know you're a radio oldtimer if you can remember when stations had enough staffers to field an entire softball team.) We sang it to encourage our pitcher: "Come on Elaine . . . ."

"Billie Jean"/Michael Jackson. The same spring The Mrs. and I got hitched was the spring of Motown 25, the landmark TV special on which Michael Jackson moonwalked his way to immortality while singing this, the Number One song on the Hot 100 22 years ago today. No matter what becomes of him at his current trial, "Billie Jean" remains extremely important, as the one that kicked open the doors at MTV for black artists. It probably would have happened eventually, but Jackson made it happen at this particular moment with a record that's deceptively simple and almost terminally funky.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Top 5: Hard Drivin' Days

The first thing I did in 1976 when I got my first car was to put a tape player in it--an 8-track player, actually, with an FM converter. (And to complete the 70s cool car trifecta, I also carpeted much of the interior with white whorehouse shag.) The next thing I did was to start making car tapes, which I still do. I've assembled thouands of hours' worth over the years--very few with track lists. I'd rather drop in the tape and be surprised. While traveling last week, I put one in titled "Miscellaneous This & That 3" and had about as much fun in 90 minutes as you can have when you're by yourself. A few highlights--most of which you may never have heard:

"Lady of the Lake"/Starcastle. This band answers the following question: What would it be like if Yes had been from central Illinois? Here and there, pretty good--as on this 10-minute epic from their 1975 debut album. They never had a hit single, but toured with various bigfoot acts of the 1970s, and played a homecoming concert at my college sometime around 1980.

"Hard Drivin' Days"/Head East. Since we are in the realm of Illinois bands largely unknown elsewhere, let's stay there. The 1975 album Flat as a Pancake, originally recorded and released independently, made Head East headliners in the Midwest. This tune is from the 1979 album A Different Kind of Crazy, the group's first after the departure of lead vocalist John Schlitt. It's yer basic rock-star-on-the-road tale, as easy to sing along with as the more famous "Never Been Any Reason" and "Love Me Tonight."

(According to Starcastle's website, they opened for Head East at the Dane County Coliseum here in Madison, Wisconsin, on February 3, 1980. Damn, I miss those days.)

"Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)"/Pat Travers Band. Politically incorrect now, what with it being about a guy who wants to punch out an unfaithful woman, but a great example of what hard rock concerts sounded like in the late 1970s, with lead guitarist Pat Thrall in full chainsaw mode.

"Trapped Again"/Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. The great lost Springsteen record--if it had come along two years later, after Bruce had made the quantum leap to broad superstardom, it might actually have made the charts. Springsteen co-wrote it and sings on it, but the Jukes are the real stars, with guitar licks so sharp you can shave with 'em, and horns that really rock.

(According to Starcastle's website, they were third on a bill with Boston and Southside Johnny in Uniondale, New York, on February 10, 1977, and spent February and March opening for Boston. Damn, I miss those days, too.)

"It's Not a Wonder"/Little River Band. The great lost Little River Band record, from 1979's First Under the Wire, it was overshadowed by "Lonesome Loser" and "Cool Change" on the same album. There's a pretty good live version on Backstage Pass, too.

Not a bad ride, really. And I didn't even mention Tommy Tutone's "Angel Say No" or "The Wish" by Eddie Money.

(According to Starcastle's website, they appeared on a bill with Eddie Money, Ted Nugent, Mahogany Rush, and Journey in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 23, 1978. Damn.)