Big Audio Dynamite are better than The Clash. Yes, you read that correctly. Take a moment to catch your breath, because I know that sentence is a battle cry. I could put the word “better” in quotes, because art is subjective, right? I could say I LIKE Big Audio Dynamite more than The Clash without saying B.A.D. is BETTER, right? I could say it’s my opinion. But I won’t say that (and not only because this is written). I simply think Big Audio Dynamite is the superior, more original and groundbreaking group.
This is a controversial stand, especially among people my age, and people a bit older than me who really love The Clash. (Or even just like the three or four songs they know.) I realize The Clash is more “important” in the way that bands are “important,” in the grand scheme of things. Sure, life would suck without bands, but without stuff like water, we’d be REALLY screwed. So, yeah. I realize the relative importance of The Clash to music lovers, old guard hipsters and the current artisan generation that demands hand-pulled mozzarella. But I also realize they were kind of boring, churning out well-meaning rockers that were above average for the first years of their career, but only turning truly interesting once they started to broaden their musical horizons. It’s ironic (or predictable and fitting?) that the infighting and tension between the members of the band would cause their break up, but also produce their most truly enjoyable music.
“Sandinista” is unimpeachable, but some of it is preachy, self-righteous, corny, and the whole affair is half a side too long. “Combat Rock,” however, is their unfairly slagged-off masterpiece. I LOVE “Combat Rock,” truly LOVE it, not only because it’s a collection of fantastic ideas and songs, but because it’s the blueprint for Big Audio Dynamite. A blueprint which was largely influential without many people seeming to notice. In the same way that post punk is far more interesting and nuanced than punk, Combat Rock goes places the early Clash canon didn’t: weird samples of TV commercials, copious funky beats bearing the influence of nascent hip-hop and the flavor of recording in New York, kooky reggae (with the weird samples over it), and more weird samples.
Okay, maybe The Clash were smoking buckets of weed, but the musical experimentation on “Combat Rock” comes through loudly and clearly (or perhaps hazily through a ganja haze?), as they pushed their music into unexplored territories. Which led directly to B.A.D. in ’85, and their amazing blend of rap and rock, which came before Aerosmith and Run-DMC hooked up, before the Red Hot Chili Peppers put socks on their wangs, before Public Enemy (who were one of the first hip-hop BANDS I can recall) and before all white kids wanted to be black. B.A.D. were ahead of the curve in a way that The Clash were not, as The Clash were a part of the punk curve.
B.A.D. is superior because they are they pure essence of what music is about: SOUNDS, NONSENSE, FEELING and FUN. I may like your band, but don’t tell me how to vote, or try to prove you’re more political than I am and you know the way to the truth. You don’t. You are a drunk or high musician, (probably both), with a shaky, tentative, ill-informed grasp of current foreign policy that’s as oblivious as mine typically is. The difference is, you want to change the world with your music and you’re frustrated because that’s never happened, EVER. And I don’t mean that in a bitter, negative way. I mean that in a helpful, realistic way. If a Republican president getting shot in the 80′s couldn’t somehow convince his NRA loving base that we need gun control, or a worldwide concert for African famine couldn’t make a dent in curbing poverty, did The Clash really think “(White Man) In Hammersmith Palais” would convince blacks and whites in the UK to get along after years and years of institutionalized racism? Maybe they didn’t think that, but it doesn’t matter anyway, ’cause it certainly wouldn’t have.
Now would be a great time to point out that NO ONE EVER AGREES WITH ME, YET I AM RIGHT. This incendiary opinion always makes me feel like a woman in a 70′s horror film who can’t convince the town/police/her husband that someone or something is after her. They only believe her after some major damage has been done and lives have been taken. But let’s not go down that road. Instead:
HOW I KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE:
1. I still listen to B.A.D. Their music sounds very fresh and relevant to this day. Their album “Megatop Phoenix” has tracks that could be played at an EDM festival alongside the current dance music knob-twisters. Sometimes a Clash song will come onto my ipod and it will get the old skiparoo, but I listen all the way through the B.A.D. ones and thoroughly enjoy them.
—Well, there’s no “2.” 1. is it, really. I understand it’s not a great collection of evidence and wouldn’t hold up in music court. But I FEEL a track like “Kool-Aid/In My Dreams” from “The Globe” more than I ever feel Clash’s “City Rockers.” I should clarify that I don’t think any of those early Clash songs are terrible, they are clearly a landmark band in rock history, but they don’t MOVE me. And that’s what music should do. And that’s what Big Audio Dynamite does. Every damn time, in an unpredictable, non-two chord way, an unpredictability that somehow PREDICTED the last twenty-eight years of music! The Clash did not pull this off. They predicted the present, i.e., the present situation in England during their brief, explosive time. Their music sounds a quaint, noisy past, while B.A.D. still sounds like an innovative future.
(TRICKED YOU. I only get high once or twice a year, and I wrote this opinion while being totally sober. So maybe THAT’S the problem with it)
March 20, 2013
Mixtapes mean one thing to me. One person so personified mixtapes that he was doing them before any of us knew that it was a thing. His name is “Irish”. Ok, it’s not really Irish, but he is Irish, was born on St. Patrick’s Day and takes a punch like a son of a bitch, so he’s always been known as “Irish”
Irish made mix tapes. He made tapes off the radio, most notably WXRT Chicago, when the rest of us were stuck on the Killer Bee, B96. He’d give you a mixtape just because it was Tuesday. His tapes had songs you never hear of, from bands you’ve still never heard of. They weren’t always great, but they always came from a desire to share his love for his music. The man was prolific.
Best of friends, we both had a deep and abiding love for one band above all, The Monkees. I was an Elvis guy, he was a Beatles guy, but we both agreed that The Monkees were the greatest. Oh, let me timestamp this for you, we were born in 1975, long after all these acts were fresh. My first concert was the Monkees 20th reunion show. I watched their reruns without any real grasp that it was a 15-20 year old show. My first album was the Arista Records Monkees Greatest Hits. There’s a Super 8 video of me crooning Last Train to Clarksville circa 1983.
Now, for the longest time, Monkees music was only available on greatest hits packages or tracking down the then 20 year old vinyl albums. Or, maybe I never tried. I’m not a historian, just telling a story. Sure, we knew all the songs that played in the reruns, but there had to be more. Then, in the mid 1990’s, Rhino Records stepped up and released every Monkee album on CD.
This was a watershed moment. For the first time in my life, I could listen to the whole breadth of the Monkees catalog and experience them as if they were new.
The first thing I learned, was that no one had a wider swing of quality than Davey Jones. At the same time, he took the lead on some of their most incredible songs, “Cuddly Toy”, “Valleri” and “Star Collector” he had to play good soldier and give us pabulum like “The Day We Fall in Love” and almost everything off of their final album, “Changes”. I always knew Mickey was the real lead. That was confirmed by listening to “Jericho” and “Zor and Zam”. He was the funniest and most likeable and seemed to command the group vocally.
Peter was the weird one. That says a lot when one of the band mates never took off his Green Wool Cap. I always loved “Auntie Grizelda” and “Shades of Gray”. That much I knew. I knew I liked Peter, so much so his was the t-shirt I bought at the 20th Anniversary show. But beyond that, I knew very little of him. (An aside… In 2003, while watching a Monkees Episode, I noticed for the first time Peter always wore his belt buckle off to the left. I had no idea why, I just decided to start doing it myself and still do today. I had the sincere pleasure of meeting him in 2010 and asked him about it. He told me it was to avoid “buckle rash” on the back of his guitars. He then showed me he still wears it that way, as do I, even though I’ve never strummed a guitar. I just like the idea that if I ever do, I will not give that guitar a rash.)
What really took both Irish and me by surprise was the strength and completely out of nowhere awesomeness of Mike Nesmith. Remember, this was all pre-internet, pre-nostalgia, pre-hipsters. This was two Monkees fans who always dug Mike’s green hat, but through circumstances beyond our control, had never really heard the breadth of his catalog. We were knocked out. In the years since, TV movies have been made and books written and we’ve learned the behind the scenes machinations of the show, how the band struggled to use their own songs and play their own instruments. Irish and I didn’t know that yet. We were discovering this for the first time, almost 30 years after they recorded these tracks, we were amazed at Mike’s music.
Country and Rock with a little bluegrass, it was refreshing and different. I’m no music critic, not by damn sight. This was amazing. It would start with phone calls.
“Hey, did you get the Headquarters release?”
“Yeah. Holy shit, how great is ‘You Just May Be the One’?”
“What about Instant Replay? ‘St. Matthew?’”
“I know! Where has that song been?!”
And so it went. I found myself skipping all the other tracks and only listening to Mike tracks. I smelled a mixtape. Doing the math, every Mike song would fill about 80 minutes of a 90 minute Maxell. I would finally be able to gift a mixtape to the master himself.
This was to be named… “Chronologically Mike”
• Papa Gene’s Blues – The Monkees
• Sweet Young Thing – “”
• The Kind of Girl I Could Love – More of the Monkees
• Salesman – Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd
• The Door into Summer – “”
• Love is only Sleeping – “”
• What Am I doing Hangin’ Round? – “”
• Don’t Call on Me – “”
• Salesman (Alternate Mix) – “”
• The Door Into Summer (Alternate) – “”
• Love is only Sleeping (Alt. Mix) – “”
• You Told Me – Headquarters
• You Just May Be the One – “”
• Sunny Girlfriend – “”
• The Girl I Knew Somewhere (Original Mike Vocals) – “”
• Nine Times Blue – “”
• Tapioca Tundra – The Birds, the Bees & The Monkees
• Writing Wrongs – “”
• Magnolia Simms – “”
• Circle Sky – Head
• Circle Sky (Alt.) – “”
• Good Clean Fun – “”
• Never Tell a Woman Yes – The Monkees Present
• Listen to the Band – “”
• Oklahoma Backroom Dancer – “”
• Calico Girlfriend Samba – “”
• Listen to the Band (Alt) – “”
• I Won’t Be the Same Without Her – Instant Replay
• Don’t Wait for Me – “”
• While I Cry – “”
• Carlisle Wheeling (Alt) – “”
• St. Matthew – “”
This was going to be the greatest listen of all time. And yes, it was on a tape because in 1996 CD burning was light years away. Okay, maybe 3 years, but that was a LONG time to wait.
What to do with that remaining 10 minutes though? I could not present to Irish, King of the Mixtapes, an unfinished masterpiece. That would be a slap in the face to him, which as we previously covered, he could take like a champ, but nonetheless, it would be unacceptable. What could fill those 10 minutes of space…?
• Your Auntie Grizelda – More of the Monkees
• Peter Percival Patterson’s Pet Pig Porky – Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Limited.
• Shades of Gray – Headquarters
• Lady’s Baby – The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees
• Long Title: Do I Have to Do This All Over Again – Head
Thus was born the finished product… “Chronologically Mike/Almost Peter”
I named it “Almost” because I ran out of time on track 37. Which in context, makes the song work. It’s in the middle of a chorus where Peter is asking, over and over, “Do I have to do this all over again, didn’t I do it right the first time?”, when he gets cut off mid question. It’s perfection.
Quickly making two copies, I couldn’t wait to get this into Irish’s hands. I called him, he was ecstatic.
To this day, all one of us has to say is Chronologically Mike and the other finishes it with Almost Peter. This tape has been lost at least twice, resurfacing to find new life each time.
I know it’s also not comprehensive. With file sharing and You Tube, you can probably triple the length of this tape with outtakes and unreleased tracks. There’s something quaint about this tape though, something that always makes me smile. I don’t even own a cassette player today, but in a box, in my closet, “Chronologically Mike/Almost Peter” is sitting there, waiting. Irish, if you lost yours and need a copy, just let me know.
February 22, 2013
I know these essays are supposed to be about specific mixtapes from our past, but getting into the minutia of how to make them and what they mean is a topic covered in great detail (and better than I could do it) in books like Nick Hornby’s “High Fidelity” and Rob Sheffield’s “Love is a mixtape.” Did I make a lot of mixtapes? Hell yes. Were some of them for love? Absolutely. But the vast majority of the tapes I made/received were for/from strangers.
As a broke and semi-broken punk rock kid in Western Massachusetts in the early 80s, before the internet, before there were “punk rock” sections at record stores, or punk clothing stores at the mall, I was seriously on my own. There was only one way I could figure out to get/hear the music I was craving: A long pilgrimage to Boston, and a stop at a REAL record store. I couldn’t afford any records, but what I could afford were the local and national punk ‘zines at the front counter – some of them as cheap as twenty-five cents, none more than a buck.
After reading every word of all the band and ‘scene’ stories from exotic-sounding places like Akron, Ohio, while squinting at the blurry and poorly printed photos, I would then turn to the back pages. Every ‘zine’ always had free (or very cheap) ads from punks like me, scattered all over the country asking for the same thing “send me a tape of your favorite local bands and I’ll send one back.” This was how we found each other. This was our internet.
The 90 minute cassette was the standard coin of the realm. Anyone who sent a 60, or even worse, a 30 minute tape obviously wasn’t putting their hearts into it. Any real punk had waaaaay more than 90 minutes of music to share. Editing it down and figuring out what songs to not put on the tape was the real challenge. A little artistic flair, a sticker, or a disturbing photo cut out of a magazine and glued to the insert, these were signs that someone had put some real time into it, but the only real requirement was that the inside label had to contain specific, ordered track listings – song name / band /town they were from etc. My heart would start racing as soon as the cassette box fell into my hand.
Some songs included were:
Minor Threat, Minor Threat:
Minor Threat, Filler:
Often the songs on the cassettes were recorded from cassettes, which were recorded from other cassettes… each analog generation losing a bit of fidelity and sound quality. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting turned on to something new, and then hopefully returning the favor. Of course buying cassettes and paying for postage etc. cost money that none of us had – but there were ways around that too. Any enterprising punk worth is Doc Martens had systems for re-using stamps and mailers over and over again. One classic procedure was: Always write the addresses in pencil (so that they could be easily erased and the padded envelope reused) and then, most importantly: after affixing the stamps, put a clear coat of Elmer’s glue over them and the surrounding envelope… why? Because then you could wipe the postage cancellation off with a damp sponge and voila! An eternal free mailer.
I exchanged tapes for years with people I never met. I had shoeboxes full of Maxells and TDKs that represented what someone thought was the best punk to be found in their town or city. Most of these were bands I never saw a single picture of and never heard about again. Aside from the one or two songs on the cassette, they remain mysteries to me. They were part of my life’s soundtrack while, to the rest of the world they were just soap bubbles in the timeline of musical history, popping before anyone noticed them. I played the tapes out of thrift store boomboxes that I had wired together, MacGyver-style, to make them louder. I stared at the ceiling while I listened. I tried to imagine being in a band good and cool enough to put out an EP. I dreamed about a life worth living.
Any story that an American of a certain age writes about the formerly almighty cassette tape is bound to be tinged with nostalgia. My apologies. Most of those old mixtapes are gone now – not surviving the ruthless life editing that comes with cross-country moves and other drastic changes. The few that I still have are so degraded by time that they barely play at all. At this point they’re just totems of the past – my past. My teenage niece and nephew have never used a cassette player, or been inside a record store for that matter, but they have also been spared the economic ravages of the “Columbia House Record and Tape Club,” so I think things balance out. I’m not a Luddite. I have at least three ipods kicking around my home, all of them filled with music new and old. I enjoy them immensely.
But here’s the thing…
Just because we, as an advanced digital society, seem to be finished with the cassette tape, the cassette tape isn’t finished with us. I’m not talking about the small “cassette only” record labels that are popping up in the ironically bearded hipster enclaves of our larger cities, I’m talking about something bigger, more primal and much more important.
A recent radio story – that I listened to on my ipod – profiled an incredible blog/project called: Awesome Tapes from Africa. It turns out that, throughout most of that continent, the cassette is still king, and for all the same reasons it was once the center of our musical universe here: portable, copy-able, durable and shareable. This is some of the most amazing music I have heard in years. Granted, it is brought to me digitally through the internet, but it originating on the humble, yet seemingly eternal cassette tape.
January 23, 2013
The best Mixed Tape I ever got was from my best male friend in college. His name was Mark. Mark was more like a brother than a friend. Actually, I called his mom and dad, “Mom and Dad.” We met in Philosophy class my senior year at the University of Arizona.
Because I was a fuck-up, I needed to pass this Philosophy class with an “A” in order to graduate. I took the class with my first “mini me,” named Bill. Let me first explain, through out my life I have often surrounded myself with younger versions of myself, dopplegangers or people who could pass as my little brother. Two is always better than one, right?
(If you live in Los Angeles, come this weekend to my play A MIXED TAPE at the Playhouse West Theatre in North Hollywood on Sunday, January 27th at 8pm. The doppleganger effect is being played by Jonathan Lipnicki.)
So, in order to pass the class with an “A,” I would strategically brown-nose the teacher. What I mean is that at certain times, like every 2nd or 3rd class, I would ask a very insightful question so as to appear to be sucking up in order to get a higher grade. None of us liked the class, but we had to get through it. Then one day, our classmate Mark heard me say to Bill, “Watch this, I’m going to brownnose now.” That’s when Mark finally understood why I asked any questions at all — I was doing it on purpose. Brown-nosing for a self serving reason not because I was a kiss ass, but because I was just another fuck-up who needed an edge.
To this day, that was the exact moment we became friends. We started hanging out, and he actually convinced me to do comedy for the first time at Laffs in Tucson, Az. Mark encouraged me to go out to Hollywood and be an actor/comic/writer and so, a year later, I packed up my 1979 Corolla. A car that the cast and crew of YOUNG RIDERS TV SHOW all chipped in to buy me. With a thousand dollars in my pocket and a mixed tape Mark made for me, I was off to make my way to Hollywood. Mark shook my hand and offered these departing words, “Don’t start playing it until you get on the other side of Phoenix.”
That tape not only kept me company on the long drive out to Los Angeles, but helped me through the tough, struggling moments ever since. Sadly, the original tape burned up in fire but no worries, most of the songs are burned into my brain. Because you can never truly forget a dopplerganger’s help to make his friend’s dreams come true.
I believe these were the songs:
‘Shooting Star’ by Bad Company
‘Born to be Wild’ by SteppenWolf
‘Come Sail Away’ by Styx
‘Lunatic Fringe’ by Red Rider
‘Running with the Devil’ by Van Halen
‘On Broadway’ by George Benson
‘Piano Man’ by Billy Joel
‘California Dreamin’ by the Mamma’s and the Papa’s
‘Hotel California’ by the Eagles
‘Boys of Summer’ by Don Henley
I can’t remember the rest of the songs. But I do remember the last noise on the tape. It was a sample from one of the best sets I had done at that point in my comedy career. To give you an image, I’m a short guy but at that time, I was a very heavy, girthy short guy. The audio was of the joke I did using my JAMES DEAN impression where I did a take-off of ‘A Rebel Without a Cause’ but referring to myself as ‘A Rebel Without A Waist Line.’ I finished the bit by bellowing, “Your tearing me apart…” just like in the movie. On the tape, I heard the audience erupt in laughter and applause, knowing I crushed the bit. Then the MC announcing, “Keep it going for Eric Edwards, ladies and gentleman.” The first time I heard it, somewhere around the Arizona/California border, tears welled up in my eyes and any doubts about moving to Hollywood, were erased.
This kind gesture from my brother Mark, I won’t ever forget. If not for that friend who, for one short time, showed me what an real brother acts like, I may have never gotten on stage or come to L.A. If he hadn’t given me that mixed tape for my road trip, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the idea and made hundreds of my own mixed tape for girls who didn’t deserve them. And feeling rejected too many times, I may never have gotten so frustrated that I would try eharmony. If all those things didn’t happen, I may never had met my wife who then would give birth to my now, beautiful son.
So, Mark, thank you for that MIXED TAPE. Thank you, my brother.
October 26, 2012
To quote a 1975 smash hit by the O’Jays (not named for the football star turned acquitted double murderer, but rather for Cleveland radio D.J. Eddie O’Jay ), “I Love Music”. I also love – as you can probably tell – music trivia. Throw in my fondness for puzzles and mysteries, and you have a mix tape that I wish I had made back when people actually made mix tapes.
This is going to require a little audience participation. I don’t want to make you feel inferior for not knowing obscure song facts – just the opposite. I’m trying to share the thrill I used to get when I’d discover musical connections I was previously unaware of.
For instance, if you always knew that 10CC sang both the ethereally ironic ballad “I’m Not In Love” and the bouncy 70’s pop classic “The Things We Do For Love”, I tip my hat to you. But I bet a lot of Your Big Sister’s younger siblings found that out just now. (I envy you having that feeling for the first time…)
My personal favorite instance of this phenomenon was finding out that The Tymes – who had a big hit with the 1963 doo-wop classic “So Much in Love” – also had a major disco hit in 1974, with the Spinners-soundalike tune “You Little Trustmaker”. I loved both of those songs individually for years without knowing they were sung by the same band!
…I can tell you’re not quite as overwhelmed by that particular discovery as I was, but bear with me – I bet there are a few connections that will genuinely surprise you.
Ready to be put to the test? NO FAIR GOOGLING!! You’re on the honor system! Remember, Your Big Sister is watching…
SIDE A, PART 1 – “Wait, THAT’S who sings that song?”
(By the way, these aren’t obscure “mystery singer” novelty songs, they’re major hits that you’ve probably heard, and you will recognize the names of the performers. But I bet only the most avid music trivia hound will be able to identify all of them without cheating. These are just audio links, since Youtube videos would give away the artist’s name.)
If you know who the lead singer of this trippy, psychedelic romp is because of “The Big Lebowski”, that doesn’t count! For the rest of you, I’ll even tell you the name of the band, because it won’t help – The New Edition. The voice sounds kind of familiar, right? But you can’t quite put your finger on it… Give up? Highlight below:
It’s Kenny Rogers! Yup. The New Edition also played country-flavored songs, but didn’t have any hits with them the way Rogers later would as a solo act. Now that you know, go listen to it again. Weird, huh?
2) “Let Me Take You Dancing” (LONG intro, might want to FF to 1:06)
I love this one. A fairly big 1979 dance hit. But this artist was definitely not known for singing disco. I know what you’re asking – guy or girl? Black or white? Keep listening. Then when your curiosity gets the best of you, highlight below:
It’s Bryan Adams. Yes, THAT Bryan Adams. Now to be fair, it wasn’t originally a disco song – it was remixed and sped-up without Adams’ permission, and he disavows it to this day. But that’s him!
3) “You and Me”
Remember this sweet easy-listening ballad that was all over the radio in the late 70’s? You don’t? Then check it out, and try to guess which major act sang it before highlighting the answer below:
It’s the original shock-rocker himself, Alice Cooper, better known for blood-spitting and staged executions. Some of his rabid fans were puzzled, but hey, it was a solid #9 hit. He even sang it on The Muppet Show.
Classic early-80’s keyboard-based pop. Sounds a little like the J. Geils Band, doesn’t it? But it’s not – it’s a group that was much better known for a very different, more “ethnic” sound. If that hint wasn’t enough and you want the answer, highlight below:
It’s Santana, of latino-tinged “Oye Como Va” and “Black Magic Woman” fame. I have friends who are huge Santana fans and knew this song but didn’t know they sang it. Which is exactly why it made my list.
I have more songs that are hard to believe they’re by who they’re by – check out “Changes” by Black Sabbath, “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan and “If I Were A Carpenter” by big band/teeny-bopper idol Bobby Darin. For the trifecta, listen to the Caribbean-influenced “Lime in the Coconut”, the punk-ish screamer “Jump into the Fire” (heard at a key point in Goodfellas) and the Willie Nelson-esque “Everybody’s Talkin’ at Me”. Then realize that all three were written and sung by Harry Nilsson, best known for crooning “Without You”. That song, incidentally, was not written by Nilsson, but by the British Beatle-protégé band Badfinger, who had numerous hits of their own – which brings me to…
SIDE A, PART 2 – “Wait, THAT’S who wrote that song?”
First hit for young Linda, and not the original version of this song which was written by…
Michael Nesmith of the Monkees! He really didn’t get enough recognition for being a musician and songwriter in his own right.
Again, not the first version of that song, but certainly the most popular. This reggae classic was written by none other than…
Neil Diamond, who recorded a non-reggae version himself almost 20 years earlier. Speaking of the Monkees, Mr. Diamond also wrote three of their hits – I’m A Believer, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You, and (Look Out) Here Comes Tomorrow.
No, he’s NOT saying what you think!! It’s “revved up like a deuce”, as in a Deuce Coupe, the car… Anyway, this non-dirty, 1976 #1 hit was written and originally recorded by…
Bruce Springsteen. It appeared on his 1973 debut album “Greetings from Asbury Park N.J.”, but his version didn’t chart.
I admit it, I was genuinely surprised when I discovered that this peppy 70’s pop ditty was written by…
The godfather of grunge himself, Neil Young. His recording of it is, surprisingly, not that different from Larson’s! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GhQr0kndwBE
This was originally written for a different singer, but was given to The Bangles by…
The artist at one point known as Prince. I think you can really hear his style in the verses, but not so much the catchy pop chorus.
I have more of these too – for instance, did you know that the theme songs for “Different Strokes” AND “The Facts of Life” were written by Alan Thicke? Or that legendary songwriters Burt Bacharach and Hal David penned the 80’s pop-synth hit “Always Something There To Remind Me”? You didn’t? And you don’t care? Well, just for that, I’ll refer you to a song that Bruno Mars wrote for Cee-Lo Green – “F**k You”. (I don’t mean that of course, it was just so perfect…)
SIDE B, PART 1 – “Bread or America?”
If you’re not familiar with the undisputed duel kings of wonderfully sappy 70’s soft rock, you can skip this part of the list. But if you think you can differentiate their styles, right down to the similar-sounding vocals – then you’re in the right Mix Tape.
I admit it, I’ve mistaken America and Bread for each other more than once. Time to see if you can do better! (Of course, once again, we have purely audio links. Check your results against the answers below – beware of possible red herrings!!)
4) Daisy Jane
5) Dirty Work
7) I Need You
8) Our House
You made your guesses? You SURE you got them all right? Highlight the answers below…
5) RED HERRING!! This one’s by Steely Dan
8) RED HERRING!! This one’s by Crosby, Stills, Nash & (the godfather of grunge, Neil) Young
SIDE B, PART 2
Okay, no mystery or puzzle for the last few songs, just some awesome trivia.
You’ve probably never heard of session singer Tony Burrows, but I absolutely guarantee you’ve heard his voice. He is the only person in history to have five songs, with five different groups of which he was the acknowledged lead singer, hit the British Top Ten (and were major hits in America). But wait, there’s more – four of them (all but Beach Baby, which came out in 1974) were all in the British Top Ten at the same time, in February of 1970!
10) Edison Lighthouse – Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes (Oddly enough, that’s NOT Tony singing lead in the video, the guy is lip-synching to Tony’s vocal.)
11) White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’ (Again, it’s someone else lip-synching in the video!)
12) Brotherhood of Man – United We Stand (This, finally, IS Tony Burrows – in fact, on that show he appeared twice more with two of the other groups!)
13) The Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ting (Here, Tony is channeling Wolfman Jack)
14) First Class – Beach Baby (Once again, that’s not Tony Burrows in the video! That happened to him a lot…)
I realize this isn’t a “traditional” mixtape – it wasn’t made specifically for one person, for a special reason. But I did make it for all of you, for the best reason of all – sharing my love of music. I think Your Big Sister will understand.
Thanks for participating, and I hope you learned a little something. If you did, go tell someone else. If not – if you already knew every single bit of trivia I spewed forth – then I am in awe of your breadth of music knowledge, and eagerly await your music trivia mixtape!
Peace, love and music to all.