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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Mohawks And Middle Linebackers

February 12, 2011

One of the cable stations is running some week-long airing of the movies in the Rocky series.

I remember seeing the first movie in the theater in ’76 when the film was captivating the country and I’ve never seen an audience more electrified . It’s a stellar movie.

Numbers II and III were decent popcorn flicks, but by the time I got dragged to number IV, things had reached a cringe-inducing point.

That aside, I had to watch the opening montage to Rocky III when I happened across it if for no other reason then to hear Survivor’s mighty Eye Of The Tiger. The movie and that song arrived during the summer of ’82 – the summer before my friends and I entered high school – and both were inescapable during those three months.

But watching as Mr. T laid waste to one opponent after another as Clubber Lang, I realized that it might have been the first time I had ever seen someone with a mohawk.

It was 1982 and the big bang of punk rock had come and gone without us even noticing in rural Indiana.

(hell, we didn’t even have cable in ’82)

That was the summer that Bow Wow Wow had a hit with I Want Candy and, if we’d had cable and MTV, I might have seen the video and the band’s mohawked and fetching lead singer Annabella Lwin.

As it was, I might have seen a photo of Annabella in a music mag or, on a rare trip to an actual record store, on an album cover.

So, perhaps the first person that I ever saw with a mohawk was Annabella and not Mr. T.

In real life, the first time I ever recall seeing someone in public with a mohawk would have been autumn of ’82. Our freshman football schedule included a road game with a school whose name we didn’t know – Triton Central.

It was a formidable sounding name and, as we were unfamiliar with the school, the game stood out on our schedule from amongst the usual opponents. As the game drew closer on the calender, there was considerable chatter.

Someone on our team had a girlfriend who had a cousin from the next county who knew a girl who had moved to their school who had been a cheerleader at her previous school – Triton Central.

(or some such equally credible relay of information)

Rumors swirled in the weeks before the game of our opponent having a linebacker who was so frighteningly good that – much like Forrest Whittaker’s character Charles Jefferson in Fast Times At Ridgemont High – you’d have believed he lived somewhere more glamourous and “just flew in for games.”

The kid’s name was spoken of in hushed tones.

It was said that he had a mohawk.

I don’t remember the kid’s name and I only vaguely remember the game.

He was – as rumored – a middle linebacker and, as I recall, he wasn’t bad but hardly the next Jack Lambert. I do know that I had to block him on one play.

It was a task which – as a wide receiver – I approached with same enthusiasm which most wide receivers have for assignments that don’t involve the ball being thrown to them.

(actually, I put forth effort on blocking plays, I just wasn’t a good blocker)

I don’t remember the play where I blocked this superhuman being as any more eventful than most, but I do remember that the kid did, indeed, have a mohawk.

And I wondered to myself if he was really from a small town like the ones dotting our part of the Midwest or if “he just flew in for games.”

Here are four songs by the mohawked Annabella Lwin and Bow Wow Wow…

Bow Wow Wow – Go Wild in the Country
from See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy

Impresario Malcolm McLaren had poached the members of the Ants from Adam and, needing a singer for the new outfit, added fourteen-year old Annabella Lwin, who had been discovered singing along to the radio in a laundromat.

Within a year, the group known as Bow Wow Wow, had its first UK hit with the manic Go Wild In The Country.

Bow Wow Wow – I Want Candy
from I Want Candy

In the States, Bow Wow Wow would be best known for their cover of The Strangeloves’ hit from the ’60s, I Want Candy. The song had all of the elements that would be associated with the band – chanted vocals, a bit of surf rock, and tribal drumming – in a sugar-coated pop song.

Surprisingly, I Want Candy would become an iconic song of the early ’80s yet never reach the Top 40. I know that I never heard the song on radio at the time and, as I recall, my friends and I were familiar with the song from a friend who had the cassette I Want Candy, a compilation of previously released UK material.

Bow Wow Wow – Louis Quatorze
from I Want Candy

Like I Want Candy, Louis Quatorze had originally appeared on the 1982 EP The Last Of The Mohicans, a four-song release that had stirred up controversy with its cover reproduction of Édouard Manet’s painting The Luncheon on the Grass.

Needless to say, we were all quite smitten with Annabella who, though roughly our age, was unlike any of the girls we knew from school.

Bow Wow Wow – Do You Wanna Hold Me?
from When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going

Though remembered for I Want Candy, Bow Wow Wow actually had a second minor hit when the infectious Do You Wanna Hold Me? scraped into the lower portions of Billboard‘s Hot 100 in 1983.


A Random Walk Through Wednesday

August 4, 2010

Several months ago, one of the cable stations burned an weekend showing episodes of The Twilight Zone. I, not wanting to appear ungrateful, burned an entire weekend watching episodes of The Twilight Zone.

This continued a tradition dating back to college when – fall semester, sophomore year – I had to skip all classes that interfered with me watching Rod Serling’s visionary show on WGN (it aired weekedays, noon ’til one o’clock).

One of the classes that I often missed due to this unfortunate scheduling conflict was a class on the occult and strange phenomena.

(The Twilight Zone was better done and far more thought-provoking, so I felt it was a no-brainer)

One of the episodes, The Midnight Sun, was set in a New York City apartment as the earth – due to a change in orbit – is headed for the sun and a fiery end. At the episode’s conclusion, it is revealed to have been a fever dream of a young woman and that the earth is actually drifting away from the sun and to a frigid demise.

So, as this summer swelters on, that episode has popped into my head.

It’s made me think.

If I am in some fever-fueled state of delerium and the earth is heading toward an icy rendezvous with Pluto…Paloma, please get me a sweater…and soup…yes, soup would be nice…with a grilled cheese sandwich…

I am relatively certain that I am not in some bizarre, Twilight Zone-esque netherworld.

I am completely certain that it is hot. Too hot to do much more than think about skipping classes, lying on the couch, and reveling in the genius of Rod Serling.

Here are four songs that shuffled up on the iPod…

The Thorns – Blue
from The Thorns

The Thorns was a trio comprised of Matthew Sweet, Pete Droge, and Shawn Mullins (with Jim Keltner on drums) and their lone album from 2003 immediately made me think of Crosby, Stills & Nash – it’s the harmonies and chiming guitar.

It also is much in the same vein as The Jayhawks – a band that Paloma and I devoted much attention to – who they cover faithfully on Blue.

Warrior Soul – Love Destruction
from Salutations From The Ghetto Nation

I honestly know nothing about Warrior Soul and I think I snagged Salutations From The Ghetto Nation as a promo in the early ’90s, dug it, and filed it away for future listens. Like a lot of music from that time, I never truly got around to devoting more time to it.

And I keep intending to do so as Love Destruction pops up on the iPod rather often and it always demands my attention. It’s a brooding slab of thunderous rock with serious punk attitude.

Bow Wow Wow – Fools Rush In
from Girl Bites Dog – Your Compact Disc Pet

I think that Bow Wow Wow released two..maybe three actual albums during their career and, somehow, I have a good half dozen or more. I’m a fan, but, you truly need no more than five or six essential tracks by the creation of the late Malcolm McLaren.

Fools Rush In is a pleasant if inconsequential cover of a song that had already been performed by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Brooke Benton to Etta James and Doris Day.

Journey – Still They Ride
from Greatest Hits Live

Of course I loved Journey in the ’80s. I was in high school and allegiance to the band was hardly an uncommon thing.

But, during the summer of ’82 when Still They Ride was the latest hit from the monstrously successful Escape, I didn’t care for the song much. It plodded.

Now, the song falls into a well-populated group of songs that I have far more affection for thirty years later. There’s no arguing that Steve Perry was perfectly suited for the band and the style of music. The dude has pipes and, on this live version, he belts it to the back row.