If You Don’t Read This Post, The Terrorists Win

February 5, 2013

dropI’m not going to gild the lily here, partly because I’m a straight shooter, but mostly because I am neither a metallurgist nor a botanist.

For the past year or so, we’ve been receiving an increasing amount of traffic here with each month attracting more hits than ever before. It seemed as though the good times would never end.

However, something has happened in the last week. Traffic here has plummeted to less than half of what it had been over the last six months.

In the corporate world, this situation would be conveyed by a sixty-three minute conference call with the center of attention being a slide with a line moving steadily at a forty-five degree angle in a northeasterly direction. Then, boom, the line drops straight south.

It’s quite odd.

The easy thing to do would be to blame al-Qaeda, but I’m not here to name names or point fingers.

Instead, we choose to earn your traffic. And, if you’ve got nothing else, sex sells.

Here are four sex songs…

Berlin – Sex (I’m A…)
from Pleasure Victim (1982)

Berlin was a band that I knew in early ’83 by reputation only as the L.A. band had caused a stir with the lyrics for their song Sex (I’m A…) and a lot of stations across the country wouldn’t play it.

I heard the song later that summer. My buddy Beej returned from a couple weeks in Arizona with albums by bands that he’d discovered on a Phoenix alternative radio station and Pleasure Victim was one of them. I dug it, but I was a little underwhelmed considering the hoopla.

Years later, I’d interview lead singer Terri Nunn who was an absolute sweetheart.

Soul Asylum – Sexual Healing
from No Alternative (1993)

Not long after Soul Asylum released their breakthrough Grave Dancers Union in late 1992, the Minneapolis band came through town. A good dozen or so of us from the record store where I was working attended the show.

To the surprise of those of us that had worked a shift together earlier that day, the opening act Mighty Mighty Bosstones’ set featured a guest appearance by a shoplifter we had busted who rushed the stage, sang a few lines with the lead singer, and exited with a poorly received stage dive.

A year later, Soul Asylum appeared on the benefit compilation No Alternative with their run-through of the Marvin Gaye classic Sexual Healing.

Eurythmics – Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)
from 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) (1984)

Eurythmics were coming off Touch and several hits from that album – Here Comes The Rain Again, Who’s That Girl?, and Right By Your Side – when they were commissioned to provide the soundtrack for the remake of 1984.

Apparently, the selection of the duo was at odds with the film’s director, and much of the music was unused in the finished product. Meanwhile, American radio wouldn’t touch the single Sexcrime and, though it was a minor hit, I never heard the song on any station at the time.

Bow Wow Wow – Sex
from Girl Bites Dog (1993)

I have close to a hundred tracks by Bow Wow Wow, the result of the band’s catalog (and several compilations) being reissued at some point in the ’90s and the promotional copies which I was provided.

Now, despite having so much Bow Wow Wow at my fingertips, I can conjure up maybe half a dozen of their songs in my head.

As charming as I find the band and as adorable as Annabella Lwin might have been, there is a repetitiveness to Bow Wow Wow’s music that leaves much of their oeuvre indistinguishable to me.

(of course, it is the repetitiveness of those chanted choruses that made songs I Want Candy and Do You Wanna Hold Me? staples of ’80s New Wave compilations)

I couldn’t recall if I’d ever heard Sex or not when I queued it up. It’s certainly Bow Wow Wow.

It has the twangy surf guitar.

It has the manic, tribal drumming.

And it has Annabella yelping.

But the song is practically an instrumental and she could be yelping about sex…or sushi…or Scatman Crothers.

It is fun, though and kind of reminds me of Talking Heads’ I Zimbra.

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March 5, 1983

March 5, 2011

If I were able to teleport back to 1983 and show my iPod to that year’s version of me, it would undoubtedly blow my mind.

Obviously being visited by a being claiming to be myself from thirty years in the future would be mind blowing, but a device smaller than a cassette case containing 40,000 songs would have been the most amazing thing that I’d ever seen.

At the time, I’d been buying albums – in cassette form – for a year or so and I doubt that I had more than two dozen of them. It couldn’t have been more than three hundred songs.

Yeah, if someone had shown me a device the size of a cassette that would hold 150 times the number of songs I owned, my flabber would have been gasted.

Anyhow, it’s as good a time as any to peruse the Hot 100 chart from Billboard magazine for this week in 1983 and, as inspired by several other blogs, sift through the debut songs.

Seven songs debuted on that chart twenty-eight years ago and none of them even managed to make the Top 40 – though several came close – and I believe a couple of them are unavailable…

The System – You Are In My System
from Sweat
(debuted #90, peaked #64, 8 weeks on chart)

I don’t think I’d ever heard The System’s You Are In My System, but I did know Robert Palmer’s cover of the song from a few months later as I heard it sporadically on the radio that summer.

The System’s original sounds no different to me aside from lacking the suaveness of Robert Palmer

Single Bullet Theory – Keep It Tight
from Single Bullet Theory
(debuted #84, peaked #78, 4 weeks on chart)

Nor had I heard Single Bullet Theory’s lone hit, but I did know their name from seeing it on leader cards while browsing through record stores.

The Wikipedia page for the Virginia band tells the too common tale of a promising band getting snuffed out by a label’s indifference and/or ineptness.

Keep It Tight made me smile from its opening. It’s less than three minutes of New Wave-tinged power pop, complete with saxophone, that’s more fun than killin’ drifters and makes me curious about the rest of the band’s one album.

Robert Hazard – Escalator Of Life
from Robert Hazard
(debuted #83, peaked #58, 9 weeks on chart)

I’d come across things on Robert Hazard through the years and knew that he had written Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and seemed to have a cult following for his own music. And, from what I’d read, there seemed to be great affection for Hazard’s one hit Escalator Of Life.

The song was likely a bit too New Wave for the stations in our part of the Midwest to air in 1983. We wouldn’t get MTV for another year, so I didn’t hear the song or see the video at the time.

I can understand Escalator Of Life‘s appeal. It’s chilly, droning synth-pop with robotic vocals that’s an ode to excess (or maybe not). The song, like it’s accompanying video, is totally of its time.

Mac McAnally – Minimum Love
from Nothin’ But The Truth
(debuted #81, peaked #41, 12 weeks on chart)

I could have sworn that I saw Mac McAnally perform this song three or four times on Solid Gold in a span of a couple months in 1983. I wasn’t hearing the song on radio, but there was this McAnally fellow taking three or four minutes of screen time from the Soild Gold Dancers.

Minimum Love is pleasant enough adult pop, I suppose, and his voice reminds me of James Taylor. But the song didn’t do much for me then and I really haven’t warmed to it over the years.

Berlin – Sex (I’m A…)
from Pleasure Victim
(debuted #79, peaked #62, 7 weeks on chart)

Berlin was a band that I knew in early ’83 by reputation only as the L.A. band had caused a stir with the lyrics for their song Sex (I’m A…) and a lot of stations across the country wouldn’t play it.

I heard the song later that summer. My buddy Beej returned from a couple weeks in Arizona with albums by bands that he’d discovered on a Phoenix alternative radio station and Pleasure Victim was one of them. I dug it, but I was a little underwhelmed considering the hoopla.

Years later, I’d interview lead singer Terri Nunn who was an absolute sweetheart.

John Anderson – Swingin’
from Wild & Blue
(debuted #75, peaked #43, 14 weeks on chart)

Our small hometown had a country radio station which would usually be playing in our kitchen during breakfast, so I heard Swingin’ often that spring, but it also got played on the Top 40 stations I preferred right alongside Journey, Duran Duran, and Michael Jackson.

The song was hardly my cup of joe and I mostly remember how my friends Beej and Kirk The Pyro thought it be hysterical and would often sing the chorus, imitating Anderson’s gruff drawl.

The Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
from Forever Now
(debuted #73, peaked #44, 10 weeks on chart)

Love My Way, produced by Todd Rundgren, was probably the first song by Psychedelic Furs that I ever heard, but it wasn’t on radio. Instead, I knew the song from its use in the movie Valley Girl . That autumn, 97X took to the airwaves and I heard more from the Furs including their signature song Pretty In Pink.

The following spring, my buddy Beej became a fan of the band from seeing their videos on Night Flight, the USA Network show which aired music videos over night on weekends. MTV wouldn’t be available to us until the summer, so Night Flight was the only chance to see the new medium for music.

During the summer of ’84, we wore out Psychedelic Furs’ new album, Mirror Moves, but it was the dreamy Love My Way that was my first exposure to one of the more iconic bands of the ’80s.