Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Not The Australian National Anthem...But It Should Be.

Down Under by Men At Work

Yeah, I know, its not the Australian National anthem but nearly everyone that hears it instantly thinks of Australia so.....mission accomplished. The song was released in Australia in October of 1981 where it went to #1 by the end of the year. In the US the song was released in November of 1982 and reached #1 by the next January. Overall the song reached #1 in 7 countries and within the top 10 in 7 other countries.

The songs popularity could have something to do with its catchiness.....but I assume its the silliness of the video that helped. There's something about living in Australia that just makes for general silliness. Could be the toilets flushing the other way or something.

We get to learn about several Australian slang phrases. "A fried out kombie" is a beat up VW combo van. "A head full of zombie" is, of course, a head full of pot. And where men "Chunder" is about vomiting after drinking too much. I won't explain vegemite because its gross. Try it at your own peril. You may just end up Chundering.

But I want to take a moment to highlight lead singer and co-songwriter (along with Ron Strykert) Colin Hay's vocals. Most memorable singers have a distinct voice that captures your ear and says, "that's _______" fill in the blank. Colin has two distinct voices. Notice how his voice sounds during the verses of the song. Low and measured. But during the chorus (and more pronounced near the end of the song) his voice has a more falsetto style with a characteristic growl or "flutter" (hard to describe but you'll hear what I mean).

Over the years, I've seen the band 3 times (minus half of the members) and I've seen Colin solo 3 times and his voice is still just as great as it is here on record. He plays this song every time (even with drunks yelling out for it from the start of the show). But its his story telling between the songs that make Colin worth seeing. He is hilarious and quite the story teller. Plus its obvious he loves all the songs he's recorded over the years.

But for now, please enjoy his biggest hit.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ahhhh...The Dreams Of Young Men

(She's) Sexy & 17 by Stray Cats (yep, there's no "the" in their name)

I was 15 years old when this song came out and my girlfriend was.......16. But close enough for a guy like me. Still, lets get to the real heart of the matter. Brian Setzer is a guitar GOD! This is full on classic rockabilly cool and Brian is laying it down. When he was a kid (about 5 minutes before the band was signed!) he idolized old 50's guitar masters like Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran. And it shows in his playing. Really take the time to listen to his guitar throughout this song....its like another vocal line. Its always singing something in the background. Very skillful. Plus the solo blisters the speakers.

And of course who could forget his "little Marie"?.......oh my.

On a personal note: I've actually met Brian twice. Once back in an airport in the 80's when he was with the whole band (well, all three of them) and again about 15 years later in a restaurant near my house in Santa Monica. Both times he was really nice and let me blather on about how amazing he is as a guitar player (even let me buy him a beer that second time). Its nice when you meet your idols and they are cool.

Please Enjoy

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Bass Line You Can Chew On

Blood And Roses by The Smithereens

Released in 1986, the first single from their debut album contains an unstoppable bass line. As proof of how powerful and important it is to the song, I've seen this song done live twice, the first time a solo acoustic performance and the second, a full band version. The acoustic performance, while intimate and revealing, lacked the punch of the bass and drums. It was amazing to hear the song as it was written by lead singer/song writer Pat DiNizio and to hear the story behind the song. But with the full band, the song comes to life. The bass starts the song off and signals to the crowd what's coming. And when the guitar solo ends, its the bass that brings the song back to its heart.

Listen to the song and try not to keep you foot from tapping along to the drums while your head nods along to the bass.

Please enjoy.

Friday, November 4, 2016

All He Wanted Was A Pepsi

Institutionalised by Suicidal Tendencies

Released in 1983, this hardcore punk song was almost immediately embraced by all the people I knew in LA. The song didn't chart at all on the US charts but it reached #23 on the KROQ charts for that year (and that says it all in my book).

The song tells the story of our hero, Mike, and his quest to just get through life and "figure things out" all while just hoping to get a Pepsi. BTW that part about getting a Pepsi has long been the most memorable part of this song...but I personally like the last line of the song where Mike says he'll probably get hit by a car anyway....turns out Mike is still with us and continues to lead this band as they play all over the world.

This Venice California based band was the first hardcore punk bands to be featured on MTV and that gave a lot of us "weirdos" a great feeling to know that music we liked could be available to others. Musical Diversity was the name of the game in the 80's and that's still its greatest legacy.

The video was not anything to write home about but that's not the point of punk rock...its about the music and the message. So just enjoy the song and marvel at the silliness.

Please Enjoy. And will someone please get Mike a Pepsi.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

This Was Before Caller ID

Obscene Phone Caller by Rockwell

Released in 1984, this follow up single to the hit Somebody's Watching Me, made it into the top 40 on the US charts. It was a great song, but what's up with his accent?? He sounds like he's English but he's the son of the owner of the Motown record label and was born in Detroit. I guess when that's your Dad and your best friend is Michael Jackson, you try to set yourself apart by changing your name (his real name was Kennedy Gordy) and you try to sound like you're English. Nice try, anyway.

The video is spec-tac-ular!! I do like that the mailman from the Somebody's Watching Me video makes a cameo. But you've gotta love Rockwell's outfits.....very 80's with the trash-bag shirt and the eyeliner and the headband.....he's deserves an award for his fashion alone.

Please enjoy