Posts Tagged ‘Toto’

Back In December ’82

July 6, 2022

Originally posted December 30, 2008

I spent much of my time during the last week of 1982 riding on buses, and it was one of more fun weeks of my life. I was accompanying – and covering for the Monticello newspaper – the Monticello High School marching band as it toured Southern California and prepared to march in Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day, 1983.

During that week, we did a lot of the standard Southern California things: Universal Studios, a Hollywood bus tour, the Farmers’ Market, Sea World in San Diego and Disneyland. The band marched during the daily parade during our day at Walt Disney’s brainchild, and the band also performed during a men’s basketball game between the University of Southern California and Georgetown University. (That Georgetown team was led by Patrick Ewing, who would lead the Hoyas to the NCAA championship during the following season, 1983-84.)

And the band marched the long Tournament of Roses parade on New Year’s Day, bringing to its small-town high school in Minnesota one of the most sparkling accolades a marching band can ever earn. That meant, of course, that I got to see the parade from a front-row seat set aside for photographers. I had to work – getting as many shots as I could – during the forty-five or so seconds it took the Monticello band to march past my position. Other than that, I could sit back and enjoy the parade.

(About six of the men on the trip – me, my editor and four high school faculty members – ended the trip’s activities by taking in Rose Bowl game between Michigan and UCLA. As was its habit in those days, Michigan lost the game. But the highlight of the afternoon for me was seeing the Wolverine band march across the field in its big block M, playing the best college fight song in the land, “The Victors.”)

All of those activities meant a lot of time on the bus, heading from our hotel in Newport Beach to those various points. And where teens go, of course, goes music, and in those days before iPods allowed each person his or her own personal playlist, that meant a radio. So as we meandered along Hollywood Boulevard, as we found our way to Disneyland, as we headed south along the freeway to San Diego, and everywhere we went, the bus I was on had a radio playing the current hits of the day.

That’s why hearing almost any tune that was on the radio during the last week of 1982 triggers memories: The kids stepping into footprints left in cement by movie stars at Mann’s Chinese Theatre. The view from the stage at the Hollywood Bowl. Dolphins posing for a picture at Sea World. Fireworks over the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland. And, too, the gasps of shock from a cluster of Midwestern boys when they realized that the cute Hollywood Boulevard gal they’d been waving to from the bus wasn’t really a gal at all.

Here are five tunes that can trigger some of those memories and one that’s just too good to pass up.

A Six-Pack From The Charts (Billboard Hot 100, December 25, 1982)
“The Girl Is Mine” by Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney (No. 3)
“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye (No. 8)
“Africa” by Toto (No. 14)
“Rock the Casbah” by the Clash (No. 15)
“Love In Store” by Fleetwood Mac (No. 27)
“Forever” by Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul (No. 81)

I know I heard the first four of these as I rode that bus around Southern California during that last week of 1982. And I think we heard the Fleetwood Mac single, maybe on our longest ride of that week, from Newport Beach to San Diego. I’m certain, however, that we didn’t hear “Forever” by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul.

“The Girl Is Mine” was in its eighth week in the Hot 100, and it would peak at No. 2 on the chart from January 8, 1983. (That was the next chart issued, as Billboard decided not to issue a chart on January 1, 1983.) The record did hit No. 1 on the R&B and Adult Contemporary charts, though. As for me, I thought the record was pleasant; it was sweet and melodic, and Jackson’s and McCartney’s voices blended well. But it was also lightweight enough that I doubt that it would end up ranked among the best bits of work in the career of either man.

“Sexual Healing” was Marvin Gaye’s last hit, pulled from Midnight Love, the last album Gaye recorded before his death in 1984. The record went to No. 3, and on the R&B chart it held the No. 1 spot for ten weeks. The record’s success, says Jason Elias of All-Music Guide, was understandable: “It was the perfect time . . .  Al Green had gone to church, Prince was too weird, and Teddy Pendergrass was still recovering from his near-fatal crash. Music had been missing this kind of mix of sex, humor, and romance.”

My sense of Toto at the time – and for years to come, as it happens – was that the band didn’t get much respect. Made up of studio pros, Toto ended up with ten Top 40 hits from 1978 through 1988, and if some of them were carefully crafted to climb the charts, well, so they were. And so they did. I confess to not having any Toto in my collection during the early 1980s, but then, I wasn’t buying stuff by other new bands, either. But I liked “Africa” right from the start, and I still do. The single spent sixteen weeks in the Top 40, one of them at No. 1.  And I have a sense that Toto sounds a lot better these days than a lot of things that were coming out of the speakers in 1982.

I didn’t get the Clash at the time or for a long time after. Among the excess records I got during the early 1990s from my friend Fran at Bridging Inc. were near-mint copies of London Calling, Sandinista! and Combat Rock. I sold ’em all, not yet plugged into the group’s aesthetic (and not yet committed to creating a rock archive in my living room). I still don’t listen often to the group’s work, but I now understand the historical and musical trends that brought the Clash its attitude and sound. All of that means that I quite like “Rock the Casbah” and a few of the group’s other efforts. “Casbah” was the group’s second hit – after “Train In Vain (Stand By Me)” went to No. 23 in 1980 – and peaked at No. 8 during a fifteen-week stay in the Top 40.

“Love In Store” came from Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage album, its studio follow-up to the idiosyncratic Tusk. (A live album was released and went to No. 14 on the album chart between the two studio efforts). Had Tusk scared off the less-committed listeners who’d bought the group’s mid-1970s chart-topping albums as if they’d held the secrets to perpetual bliss? Not at all. Mirage went to No. 1 as well and stayed there for five weeks. “Love In Store” peaked at No. 22, the third single from Mirage (after “Hold Me” and “Gypsy”) to hit the Top 40.

The Little Steven who fronted the Disciples of Soul was, of course, Steve Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. All-Music Guide notes that while Springsteen was working on Born in the U.S.A., Van Zandt gathered in a group of like-minded musicians and put together Men Without Women, which Mark Deming of AMG calls “the finest album the Asbury Jukes never made.” Deming continues: “Like the Jukes [sic] best work, Men Without Women blends the muscle and swagger of Jersey shore rock & roll with the horn-fueled heart and soul of classic R&B, and here Van Zandt was willing to push himself further in both directions at once.” As a single, “Forever” got to No. 63 and stayed there for two weeks during an eight-week stay in the Hot 100.

Four of these are album tracks and thus may differ from the singles that were getting airplay. “Africa” as presented here is shorter than the album track, and I think it’s the single mix, but as I no longer recall where I got it, I cannot say for certain. Nor do I recall where I got the Marvin Gaye track, but based on running time, I’m guessing without certainty that it’s the track from the album Midnight Love and not the single edit.

My thanks to the proprietor of Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas for his own post about riding a bus during school days that accompanied some tunes from late 1982. His memories triggered my own, and I’m grateful for that.

A Baker’s Dozen from 1978, Vol. 3

August 10, 2011

Originally posted September 17, 2008

Wandering around the movie channels at the high end of the cable offerings last night, I watched the last forty minutes or so of National Lampoon’s Animal House as I munched on a late-night snack.

I’ve seen it before, of course, generally in bits and pieces like last night. In fact, I think the only time I saw the movie all in one serving was when it came out in 1978, most likely on a date in St. Cloud before my lady of the time had moved to Monticello. If my memory serves, she wasn’t amused; I was.

To a degree, I still am. Yes, it’s sophomoric and very often in bad taste. Portions of it are still very funny, though, or at least diverting enough to hold my attention while I nibble on a bowl of tortilla chips late at night. And seeing it is a random thing: I don’t check the cable channel to see when it’s going to be aired. But if I run into it while climbing the ladder of stations, I’ll watch it for a few minutes.

A couple of things cross my mind pretty much every time I see a snippet of Animal House these days:

First, the relatively large number of cast members who went became prominent in other films or other endeavors: Tom Hulce (who woumd up playing Mozart in Amadeus), Stephen Furst, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon, Robert Cray (as an uncredited member of Otis Day’s band) and musician Stephen Bishop (as the earnest folksinger whose guitar is broken against the wall). There are others as well, I’m sure, but those are the folks who come to mind this morning.

Then there’s John Belushi. His brilliant, over-the-top performance as John “Bluto” Blutarsky is always tinted by the awareness of his self-destruction less than four years later. And then I mentally shrug as I change the channel or the credits roll.

Here’s some of the music that was around during the year the Tri-Delts amused at least some of us:

A Baker’s Dozen from 1978, Vol. 3
“Thornaby Woods/The Hare In The Corn” by Magenta from Canterbury Moon

“I Can’t Do One More Two Step” by LeRoux from Louisiana’s LeRoux

“Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight” by Emmylou Harris from Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town

“Human Highway” by Neil Young from Comes A Time

“You Don’t Need to Move A Mountain” by Tracy Nelson from Homemade Songs

“Waiting For The Day” by Gerry Rafferty from City To City

“Feels So Good” by Chuck Mangione, A&M single 2001

“Is Your Love In Vain” by Bob Dylan from Street Legal

“Cheyenne” by Kingfish from Trident

“Loretta” by Townes Van Zandt from Flyin’ Shoes

“Ouch!” by the Rutles from The Rutles

“Hold The Line” by Toto, Columbia single 10830

“Little Glass of Wine” by Jesse Winchester from A Touch On The Rainy Side

A few notes:

Canterbury Moon was a British folk-rock group very much in the vein of Steeleye Span but much more obscure. With vocal harmonies centered on three female voices, the group’s sound is unique.

LeRoux combined R&B, funk, jazz, rock, and Cajun music into a tasty stew that sold a few records back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Still active, the group had a couple of pretty well-known songs: “New Orleans Ladies,” from Louisiana’s LeRoux, and “Nobody Said It Was Easy (Lookin’ For The Lights),” a single that went to No. 18 in 1982.

I’ve offered three Baker’s Dozens from 1978, and each time, a track from Neil Young’s Comes A Time has popped up. That’s just fine with me: It’s one of my favorite albums.

A while back, the album version of “Feels So Good” popped up during a random selection. Now, here’s Chuck Mangione’s single, which went to No. 4 in early 1978.

Dylan’s “Is Your Love In Vain” kind of plods along, almost as if it’s way too much work to get too involved. A lot of the Street Legal album was like that, loaded down with horns and background singers and never really taking off. And that’s too bad, as some of the songs on the album – “ Is Your Love In Vain” among them – were as good as anything Dylan had written in years. Cryptic, yes, and I think especially of “Señor (Tales of Yankee Power),” but good.

Kingfish was a San Francisco band that originally featured Grateful Dead member Bob Weir. By the time the band recorded Trident, Weir had left, and the band’s sound had become more mainstream, although there are still echoes of the rootsy, countryish folk rock sound that the group’s earlier albums presented.