Monday, November 06, 2006

Siberian Lockdown and Other Punishments

November 6, 1993: The box set Citizen Steely Dan is released. It features all seven of the Dan's studio albums plus a few rarities, including the non-album single "Here at the Western World," an alternate version of "FM," a live version of "Bodhissatva," and a demo version of "Everyone's Gone to the Movies." On the same date in 1971, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker are hired as staff songwriters at ABC-Dunhill Records in Los Angeles. They get the gig because independent producer Gary Katz demands ABC hire them before he will accept the contract the label has offered him. Katz later produces the albums that end up on the box set 22 years later.

November 6, 1973: Phil Kaufman, manager of singer Gram Parsons, is fined $300 for stealing Parsons' body from Los Angeles International Airport. After Parsons' death in September due to complications from a night's overindulgence in alcohol and heroin, his family had wanted him buried in Louisiana. However, Parsons and Kaufman had made a pact that whoever died first would cremate the other at Joshua Tree National Monument in California, and Kaufman resolved to live up to it. If the tale of the hijacking of Parsons' body hasn't been made into a movie yet, it should be.

Birthdays Today:

Glenn Frey is 58. When I was writing about the fall of 1982 last week, I could have mentioned Frey's debut solo single, "The One You Love," which was on the charts back then. I didn't--because it's pretty inconsequential, as is most of Frey's solo material, except for 1991's "Part of Me, Part of You," which was the most Eagle-ish thing he ever did, but which went largely unheard.

Ray Conniff would be 90, had he not died in 2002. Conniff's achievement was to, as he described it, "put voices alongside instruments so you couldn't tell them apart." Although there's a tendency to think of all elevator music as sounding alike, Conniff's sound was distinctive: Nobody ever did more with "ba-ba-ba" and "doot-doo-doo." Between 1956 and about 1976, the Ray Conniff Singers became one of the largest-selling album acts of all time. They scored only a few hit singles, most notably "Somewhere My Love," which made the Top Ten in the late summer of 1966. You know that record, even if you think you can't remember it. Of course you do. Click the link and hear for yourself.

Adolphe Sax, the Belgian inventor of the saxophone, would be 192, had he not died in 1894. The saxophone is probably the only instrument in history apart from the electric guitar to be criticized for immorality--according to The Devil's Horn by Michael Segell, the sax was banned in Japan, saxophonists have been sent to Siberian lockdown by Communist officials, and a pope even indicted it.

Number One Songs on This Date:
1993: "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"/Meat Loaf.
From Bat Out of Hell II, on which Mr. Loaf returned to the charts doing the same overproduced sludge he'd done in the 70s. Because yet another new generation of listeners has grown up since 1993, he released Bat Out of Hell III last week, on Halloween. (Volume 3 is problematic for a number of reasons, ably catalogued here.)

1990: "Ice Ice Baby"/Vanilla Ice. Every generation has music in its past that it will have to answer for. This is Generation X's.

1988: "Kokomo"/Beach Boys.
A cross-generational hit, sounding fresh to kids who couldn't remember the Beach Boys, and familiar to their parents, who could. Right song, right time.

1979: "Pop Muzik"/M.
The future was writ large on this record. The soulless, mechanical music presaged the early 80s, and the mostly rapped lyric presaged the late 80s--but this record also came with a video.

1958: "It's All in the Game"/Tommy Edwards.
One of the most gloriously romantic records of the 1950s, this was actually an old song even back then, written in 1911 by Charles Dawes as "Melody in A Major." (Dawes would become Vice President of the United States under Calvin Coolidge.) Lyrics were added in 1951, and the song was recorded by Louis Armstrong and Nat King Cole before Edwards did it. Since Edwards, it's been done by the likes of the Four Tops, Van Morrison, and Elton John.

Plug: Nothing new will appear here for a couple of days. However, tomorrow night I'll be liveblogging the midterm election returns at Best of the Blogs all evening starting at around 6PM Central, so come on over for news, analysis, and snark.


At 5:45 PM, Blogger wzjn said...

Wow - M and Pop Music. Couldn't escape that tune when I was hanging out in the 'new wave' clubs. Primitive song and primitive video. But, that was part of its charm I suppose.

Great set of blogs by the way DJ! I look forward to each installment.

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Phil said...

Gram Parsons movie? Surely you haven't forgotten "Grand Theft Parsons", although you could be forgiven if you had!


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