Posts Tagged ‘Pat Benatar’

The Day

October 16, 2015

In the east, a thin sliver of light – maybe bright, maybe muted through clouds – slides its way above the horizon. As it does, the music begins.

The tune is “Dawn” from a 1973 self-titled album by a group calling itself Glory. It was Glory’s first album, but that’s only a technicality: Since 1968, when two Cleveland groups more or less merged to form what All Music Guide calls an “acid rock combo,” the musicians in Glory had been calling themselves The Damnation Of Adam Blessing and had released three albums on the United Artists label. A dispute with the label brought about the name change.

The first album, a 1969 self-titled work, spent two weeks in the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 181. In 1970, a single titled “Back To The River” – from the album The Second Damnation – bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 102.

Glory, a good if unspectacular album, was the last word from the group; it and the first two Adam Blessing albums, as well as an anthology, are available on CD.

The music continues as the hands of the clocks turn just a little. It’s not quite raining as we listen to “In A Misty Morning” by the late Gene Clark from his 1973 album, Roadmaster.

At the time, the album was actually released only in the Netherlands, according to Wikipedia, which notes that Clark’s label, A&M, was displeased with the slow pace of his work and created the album by combining eight of Clark’s new tracks with three tracks from other sessions (two tracks from sessions with the Byrds in 1970-71 and one track from sessions with the Flying Burrito Brothers). Whatever the source, Roadmaster is a decent listen.

Clark’s catalog is not easily listed, given his solo work and his work with Doug Dillard, with the Byrds and finally with McGuinn, Clark & Hillman. I’ve seen his 1974 album No Other mentioned as the best of his career, and it’s the only solo album to reach the Billboard 200, peaking at 144 in 1974.

Most of his work, including Roadmaster, seems to be available on CD; I didn’t take the time to do an album by album check.

By late morning, the mist is gone, and as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, it’s time for a break. Our refreshment is “Red Wine At Noon” by Joy Of Cooking, found on the group’s 1971 self-titled debut.

The Berkeley-based group has been mentioned and featured here frequently enough that I’m not sure there’s a lot left to say. I’ll just note that I wish that the group’s unreleased fourth album, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance, would somehow find a release. And I’ll add that not long ago, I got hold of a two-CD collection titled “back to your heart” that offers seventeen unreleased studio tracks – some of them polished, some less so – as well as a 1972 concert in Berkeley. If you like what I call “living room music,” it’s sweet stuff.

All three of Joy Of Cooking’s original albums spent some time in the Billboard 200: Joy Of Cooking (1971) went to No. 100, Closer To The Ground (1971) peaked at No. 136, and Castles (1972) got to No. 174. The group’s only charting single in Billboard was “Brownsville,” which went to No. 66 in 1971. All the original albums are available on CD, as is “back to your heart” and a collection titled American Originals, which includes a few tracks from the unreleased Same Old Song And Dance.

The day moves on, and some times of day and some times of year merge nicely for time spent outdoors. That’s evidently what the Stone Poneys thought in 1967 when they released “Autumn Afternoon” on Evergreen Vol. 2.

The Stone Poneys were, of course, Linda Ronstadt, Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards, with Ronstadt handling almost all of the lead vocals on Evergreen Vol. 2, the group’s second album. If the stories at Wikipedia are accurate (and I think they are, given the notes), the group’s label, Capitol, saw Ronstadt as the marketable talent and Kimmel and Edwards as expendable. And the guys were pushed firmly to the side.

Evergreen Vol. 2 went to No. 100 in Billboard upon its release in 1967. The first album, re-released with the title The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt, went to No. 172 in 1975.

The Stone Poneys’ first two albums are available on a two-fer CD; also available on CD is Linda Ronstadt, Stone Poneys and Friends, Vol. III, a 1968 release that was, from what I read, more Ronstadt and very little Poneys.

After the sun goes down (and we could easily – and might someday – devote an entire slice of this kind of whimsy to “sundown” alone), and the shadows come from the streetlights and perhaps a full moon, it’s time to get a little slinky. Pat Benatar did it well on “Evening” from her 1991 exploration of jump blues and torch songs, True Love.

Benatar, of course, was a 1980s icon with eleven Top 40 hits from 1979 to 1984; six of her albums made the Top Fifteen during that time as well. True Love did not. It peaked at No. 37. Given my tastes, it’s not surprising that I like it better than the rest of Benatar’s catalog. Like all of her catalog, it’s easily available.

Just past 11:59 p.m., the clock turns over, a new day starts, and we hear “Midnight Wind” by John Stewart from his 1979 album Bombs Away Dream Babies. The album was fortified by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – both contributed backing vocals, and Buckingham added guitar and co-produced – and was the greatest success of Stewart’s long career, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200.

None of Stewart’s six earlier charting albums had gone higher than No. 126; his 1980 follow-up, Dream Babies Go Hollywood, went to No. 85, and Stewart’s moment was gone.

But the moment was a great one, with a sound evocative of its time: “Midnight Wind” went to No. 28 in the Hot 100; its predecessor, “Gold,” had reached No. 5. A third single from Bombs Away Dream Babies, “Lost Her In The Sun,” went to No. 34.

The album is seemingly out of print; copies are available on CD but at higher prices than I’m willing to pay. The same seems to hold true for most of Stewart’s catalog.

Saturday Single No. 334

March 23, 2013

It’s going to be a very nice Saturday here under the oaks, with dinner guests coming this evening, and the Texas Gal and I with what seems like plenty of time to prepare.

Our guests will be jb – proprietor of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ – and his Mrs., heading this direction for the evening after some daytime business has drawn them from Madison, Wisconsin, to a point near the Minnesota border. We’ll have some dinner and get caught up on news – it’s been a while since we’ve seen each other in person – and no doubt spent some time talking about jb’s new gig handling the weekday afternoon drive time shift for Madison’s Magic 98.

And we’ll talk – and drink – beer. I’ve chosen a selection of brews from a couple of breweries in the small town of Cold Spring, about fifteen miles southwest of here and a few bottles of a robust pale ale from the Summit Brewery in St. Paul. Jb says he’s got a good selection in hand as they head this way, so we should be set for the beer portion of our evening. When the four of us first got together in the summer of 2009 – connected, of course, by our finding each other in Blogworld – we tabbed the meeting the Minnesota-Wisconsin Blogging and Beer Summit I. And for a while, we kept up with that title, changing the Roman numeral appropriately.

I’m not sure what this evening’s Roman numeral would be. We – at least I – have lost track, and tonight is just a chance to get together with friends we haven’t seen for a little while. And that’s a very good thing.

Along with this evening’s fun (and the preparations), I’m going to head out in a few minutes to visit my mom. She’s spent the week at a nearby facility that provides physical therapy and other rehabilitation for those who’ve had strokes. She’s probably got a couple more weeks there while the therapists help her regain strength in her left arm and left leg, which seem to be the only things affected by the stroke she had ten days ago. The therapists think that after that, she’ll be able to move back to her apartment in the assisted living center. It seems that she was lucky, as were we all.

And that seems like a good place to pause this morning. So here, from her 1991 album True Love – an exploration of blues and early pre-rock R&B – is Pat Benatar’s “I Feel Lucky.” And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1984

May 10, 2011

Originally posted September 19, 2007

Well, it’s beginning to feel a lot like 1984 here in Minnesota.

Oh, not George Orwell’s 1984, although I could chatter politics for some time and I do have my societal concerns. No, the 1984 I have in mind is Les Steckel’s 1984.

“Les Who?” I hear many of you mutter out there in the cyberworld. ”What record did he release? Did it make the Top 40?”

I’ve mentioned at times my passion for spectator sports. I follow most of the major sports fairly closely, with the exception of professional basketball. I watch a little of that, but not nearly with the regularity or interest with which I follow baseball, football and hockey. Of them all, my favorite sport and team – as measured by the emotional impact of the team’s performance – is professional football and the Minnesota Vikings. And as we sit just past the middle of September, with the autumnal equinox four days away, the NFL season is two games old, and it feels like 1984.

That was the year that Les Steckel took over for the retired Bud Grant as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings and promptly led the Vikings to a 3-13 record. It wasn’t the worst season in the team’s history; in 1962, the team’s second season, was a hair worse at 2-11-1. And the uninspiring performance of the team in its first two games this season and the seeming disconnect from reality of the coaching staff (insisting on starting a second-year quarterback who is clearly not capable, right now, of playing that key position well enough to win) leaves me feeling like it’s 1984 all over again. I may be wrong, and I’d like to be wrong. But I think it’s going to be a long season here in the land of longboats and horns.

Luckily for me, in 1984, I was unable to see the vast majority of the Vikings’ games, as I was in graduate school in Missouri. That means that I watched the St. Louis Cardinals (still a few years from their flight to the Arizona desert), who were 9-7, and the Kansas City Chiefs, who were 8-8. The only Vikings game I saw all season was their 27-24 victory over Tampa Bay in early November when I was visiting some friends in northwestern Iowa.

Other than the Vikings’ performance, 1984 was a pretty good year. Grad school was fun and challenging, and I had a good nucleus of friends with whom to spend the free time I had. Nothing particularly stands out about the year, which is good, in retrospect. It was a quiet time. One thing I do recall is my stunned admiration in January when Apple announced the introduction of the Macintosh with a legendary commercial during the Super Bowl.

And here’s a Baker’s Dozen from a quiet year:

“Valotte” by Julian Lennon, Atlantic single 89609

“Countdown to Love” by Greg Phillinganes from the Streets of Fire soundtrack

“Crow Jane” by Sonny Terry from Whoopin’

“Seven Spanish Angels” by Ray Charles and Willie Nelson, Columbia single 04715

“Jungle Sweep” by Jimmie Spheeris from Spheeris

“Daddy Said” by Nanci Griffith from Once In A Very Blue Moon

“We Belong” by Pat Benatar, Chrysalis single 42826

“On the Wings of a Nightingale” by the Everly Brothers, Mercury single 880213

“Bobby Jean” by Bruce Springsteen from Born in the U.S.A.

“Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young” by Fire Inc. from the Streets of Fire soundtrack

“Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan from Real Live

“The Boys of Summer” by Don Henley, Geffen single 29141

“If This Is It” by Huey Lewis & the News, Chrysalis single 4283

A few notes on some of the songs:

The Julian Lennon single isn’t much of a record to me, even though it reached No. 9 on the charts; I preferred his “Much Too Late For Goodbye,” which went to No. 5 early in 1985. As far as Julian himself goes, I tend to agree with the Rolling Stone Album Guide, which notes that the younger Lennon should be “commended for daring even to whisper after the echo of his formidable father.”

At the time Streets of Fire came out, I was writing occasional movie reviews for the Columbia Missourian, and I gave the film a pretty good review, based partly on the film itself and partly on the music. I looked at the movie a few years ago, and it has not aged well; it seems silly now. But the music is still pretty good, if maybe not to everyone’s taste. The Greg Phillinganes track, “Countdown to Love,” is a sprightly doo-woppy piece, while “Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young” was one of two bombastic Jim Steinman productions used in the movie, kind of a Great Wall of Sound production that featured, among others, Roy Bittan of the E Street Band on piano. Overblown, yes, but fun.

“Jungle Sweep” is from the album that Jimmie Spheeris completed work on hours before he was killed by a drunk driver on July 4, 1984. It was released by Sony in 2000 but was pulled back by the company shortly after that.

The Everly Brothers’ track was the single from their album EB ’84, a pretty good reunion album. The single was written and produced by Paul McCartney.

A Baker’s Dozen From 1980

April 26, 2011

Originally posted July 18, 2007

When the year 1980 comes along as I’m thinking about music, my train of thought is an express, heading to only one destination.

It was a Monday, December 8 was. It was the second Monday of the month, which meant that I spent the bulk of the evening at Monticello City Hall, listening to the city council debate whatever issues were on its agenda. It sounds deadly dull, but I actually enjoyed covering city government; the ebb and flow of politics and policies over a nearly six-year period gave me insight as to how a city grows.

I don’t recall any of the topics on the agenda, but the meeting was over fairly early. I’d guess it was around 9:30 when the gavel fell and I walked out of the building into the chilly night, headed for my car and my home about two miles out of town. The woman who was then my wife was there, probably involved in some craft project, and there was a football game on television, Miami and New England.

And so I was seated in my easy chair, probably dipping into a bowl of popcorn, when Howard Cosell interrupted the game.

“This, we have to say it, is just a football game, no matter who wins or loses,” Cosell said. “An unspeakable tragedy confirmed to us by ABC News in New York City: John Lennon, outside of his apartment building on the West Side of New York City, the most famous perhaps of all the Beatles, shot five times in the back, rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, dead … on … arrival.”

I stared at the screen, football forgotten. I recall trying to wrap my head around the weight Cosell’s words carried, not quite grasping it, the news too stunning and too fresh for comprehension or sorrow. Not long after the game ended, the result unnoticed, we retired for the night, and I lay there, still shocked. “Do you think it will be on Nightline?” she asked me.

“I can’t imagine they’d cover anything else.”

“Then go watch it. He was yours.”

I went to the living room. In a short marriage in which both of us so often got so many things so wrong about each other, that was one that she got right about me, and I am still grateful. I watched as Ted Koppel and his reporters and guests sorted through what was known and what was supposed. Then they began the first of thousands of assessments of what John Lennon and the Beatles had meant to us.

That’s a topic worthy of several volumes – what John Lennon and the Beatles had meant to us – and not all of the answers can be put into words. The next day was a busy one at work, as Tuesdays always were, but I managed to get home for thirty minutes for lunch. One of the Twin Cities classic rock stations, KQRS, was playing the Beatles’ catalog alphabetically, and as I ate my sandwich, I heard “In My Life.”

As I listened, I finally understood how those folks a few years older than I had felt during the summer of 1977 when they got the news that Elvis had died. Bent over my dining room table, I wept for John; for Yoko, Sean and Julian; for John’s three bandmates; and I wept for all of us who loved the man through his music.

Here’s a random Baker’s Dozen from 1980:

“Sequel” by Harry Chapin, Boardwalk single 5700

“Middle Man” by Boz Scaggs from Middle Man

“Boulevard” by Jackson Browne from Hold Out

“Gaucho” by Steely Dan from Gaucho

“Crush On You” by Bruce Springsteen from The River

“Saving Grace” by Bob Dylan from Saved

“Wildwood Boys” by Jim Keach from The Long Riders soundtrack

“The Last To Know” by Dan Fogelberg from Phoenix

“Every Night” by Richie Havens from Connections

“High Walls” by Levon Helm from The Legend Of Jesse James

“Woman” by John Lennon, Geffen single 49644

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, Chrysalis single 2464

“Cocaine” by Eric Clapton, RSO single 1039

A few notes on some of the songs:

For many people, there is no middle ground when it comes to Harry Chapin: They either love him and his works, or detest him. “Taxi,” especially, seems to draw either scorn or rapture. If it were better known, I’d imagine the same response would apply to “Sequel,” in which, backed by almost the same music as eight years earlier, Harry returns to San Francisco and has “eight hours to kill before the show.” We know where he goes, and of course, he takes a taxi, and he tells us (almost) all about it. Overblown? Yes. Beloved? Yes, that, too. Chapin was a storyteller, and one of the ancillary regrets I have about his death in 1981 is that we never got to hear the end of the tale, which I can only assume he would have called “Finale.”

Jackson Browne’s Hold Out has aged better than I thought it would. Coming after his first four studio albums and the live triumph of Running On Empty, it seemed slight and lightweight – especially in its lyrics; the music was pretty well done – when it came out in 1980. Now, twenty-seven years later, most of the album fares better. But “Boulevard,” which seemed to be the slightest song on the record in 1980, still sounds trite.

Springsteen’s “Crush On You” is one of the most direct and powerful songs from The River, an album stacked with direct and powerful tunes that are balanced by a few of the loveliest ballads the Boss has ever done. I’m not sure being so direct with the object of one’s passion would work in real life, but Bruce and the boys are strong enough here to make the listener think it might.

“Saving Grace” comes from Saved, the second of Bob Dylan’s three so-called Christian albums. It was also the least successful musically, if not commercially, of the three. It’s an album that I would guess that few Dylan fans listen to very often; the Bard of Hibbing is one of my favorite performers and I don’t think I’ve played the record more than twice, maybe. But even mediocre Dylan can hold some interest in performance, and the lyrics have one of two turns of phrase that show that he put some work into it.

I chuckled when songs from both the soundtrack to The Long Riders – a film that told the story of Jesse James – and the LP The Legend of Jesse James popped up during the random play. It was evidently a good year for the original James Gang, 1980 was. Of the two albums, I prefer The Long Riders. Even though the vocal on “Wildwood Boys” is by Jim Keach, the song, and the soundtrack, belong to Ry Cooder, who wrote much of the original material and arranged the rest, some of it traditional, some of it written for the film. The LP The Legend of Jesse James, which I can only call a country-rock opera, is a not-awful attempt to tell the same story through song that Walter Hill told on the screen. The main roles are sung by Levon Helm, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Charlie Daniels; other prominent names on the record include Albert Lee and Jesse Ed Davis on guitar and Bernie Leadon on banjo. Written and produced by Paul Kennerly, the record sounds good in concept but unhappily doesn’t seem to pull together to be as compelling as one would like it to be.

Chart Digging: August 23, 1980

August 23, 2010

Back in 1980, it was a Saturday when August 23 rolled around. I might have been somewhere around town that morning, shooting photos of one event or another for the next week’s edition of the Monticello paper. But – camera in hand or not – I know I was thinking about and planning the next week’s edition, as the start of school was rapidly approaching.

One of the most surprising things I learned during the first couple of years I spent at the Monticello paper was how tightly tied a small town’s identity and calendar are to the local schools. And the local newspaper is tied right there with the rest of the town, running through an annual cycle that didn’t vary much during the nearly six years I spent at Monticello. (Nor was that cycle much diffrent at any of the other weekly newspapers for which I wrote elsewhere in Minnesota or in Kansas over the years.)

The cycle would begin in early August with photo stories about preparations: Custodians polishing gym floors, teachers unpacking boxes and decorating bulletin boards, administrators conferring with teachers new to the district, cooks stockpiling ingredients for lunches, and althletes on the fall sports teams practicing on the fields and courts. By the time we got to the fourth week of August – which was just around the weekend, no matter what I was doing on Saturday, August 23, 1980 – we were set for school, all of us.

No matter what time of year it is, one of the things a reporter spends a lot of time doing is moving from place to place. On at least three of the five weekdays, I’d spend a fair amount of my day driving from interview to interview, from photo appointment to photo appointment, back to the office and back out again. And as I drove, the radio was always on. In 1980, I was generally listening to a Twin Cities station called KS95, which wasn’t quite Top 40, but its playlist came close, so I knew most of the records in the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 for that August 23:

“Magic” by Olivia Newton-John
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross
“Take Your Time (Do It Right)” by the S.O.S. Band
“Emotional Rescue” by the Rolling Stones
“Upside Down” by Diana Ross
“It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me” by Billy Joel
“Fame” by Irene Cara
“All Out Of Love” by Air Supply
“Let My Love Open The Door” by Pete Townshend
“More Love” by Kim Carnes

I said I knew most of the records; I didn’t say I liked them. It’s telling that none of those ten songs is among the nearly 47,000 mp3s on my external drive. Not one.

But I think that’s an anomaly. As I look further down the Hot 100 for that August Saturday, I see titles of records I did enjoy then and still enjoy today. Not as many as there would be from other years and other eras, but still quite a few.

One of those was sitting at No. 37, having peaked at No. 8, where it spent two weeks as July turned into August. The record was “Tired Of Toein’ The Line” by Rocky Burnette, a performer who had a pretty good genealogy: He was the son of Johnny Burnette, who was the leader of the Rock & Roll Trio in the mid-1950s and then had four Top 40 hits on his own in the early 1960s; the highest charting was “You’re Sixteen,” which went to No. 8 in late December 1960. In addition, Rocky’s uncle Dorsey had played in the Trio and had one Top 40 hit, “(There Was A) Tall Oak Tree,” which went to No. 23 in March 1960.

Earlier in 1980, Pat Benatar had scored her first two Top 40 records: “Heartbreaker,” which went to No. 23 in March, and “We Live For Love,” which got to No. 27 in June. I’m guessing that “You Better Run” was her next single, and it wasn’t quite as successful: It was at No. 46 on August 23 and would rise during the next week to No. 42, where it peaked, failing to reach the Top 40. The record was one of few such failures for Benatar during that time: From August 1980 to through 1986, she had thirteen more records hit the Top 40, with four of them in the Top Ten.

The Rossington-Collins Band was born out of the October 1977 airplane crash that killed three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd – leader Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines – as well as the band’s assistant road manager and two pilots. After the crash, Allen Collins and Gary Rossington formed their new band, which went on to record two albums, Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere in 1980 and This Is The Way in 1982. “Don’t Misunderstand Me,” from the first album, was at No. 59 on August 23, 1980; it would spend the next two weeks at its peak position of No. 55. (Two tracks from the second album would reach the Mainstream Rock chart – “Gotta Get It Straight” would go to No. 50 and “Welcome Me Home” would reach No. 9 – but neither record would make the Hot 100.)

A partnership that I do not at all recall was the one that paired Jon Anderson of Yes with Vangelis, co-founder of Aphrodite’s Child and electronica musician (who was a year away from finding major fame with the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire). The two, billed as Jon & Vangelis, released four albums, including a 1980 release titled Short Stories. “I Hear You Now” from that first album was at No. 73 on August 23, 1980, and peaked at No. 58 in mid-September.

A little bit further down that August 23, 1980, chart, at No. 80, we find what looks to be Peter Gabriel’s second foray into the Hot 100 as a solo artist. “Solsbury Hill” had gone to No. 68 in 1977, and now, “Games Without Frontiers,” a release from Gabriel’s third self-titled album – this being the one with the melting face – was making its way up the chart. The record would peak at No. 48 the last two weeks of September.

I know nothing about the group called Touch beyond what All-Music Guide can tell me, which is that the group evolved from the “pomp trio American Tears, who recorded three records for Columbia in the ’70s.” The new group recorded one album, Touch I, from which two singles hit the Hot 100: The second single, “Don’t You Know What Love Is,” went to No. 69 in February of 1981. The first single – the one that concerns us here – was “When The Spirit Moves You” and it was sitting at No. 100 on August 23, 1980, having peaked a week earlier at No. 65.

 That’s six, and that’s enough for today. Look for the next installment of the Ultimate Jukebox on Wednesday.