As Close To Live As You Could Get From The Middle Of Nowhere Without A Car

October 12, 2011

By the autumn of 1984, my friends and I all had our driver’s licenses.

Not that much could be done with them sans a mode of transport.

A fair number of the kids in our high school had cars. Our small town was rural enough that it was a necessity for some of the kids living on farms in the hinterlands.

(thus making the pick-up to car ratio close to 50/50 in our high school parking lot)

There were also those who had inherited vehicles from older siblings and, as there was a bit of wealth in the area, there were the kids whose coming-of-driving-age arrived with a complimentary car.

I belonged to none of those categories.

The lack of transportation plagued me and my friends’ efforts to attend concerts. The nearest cities having arenas of 20,000 seats – the ones most likely to get dates for the most high-profile tours – were sixty and eighty miles plus down one interstate or another.

(close enough to shimmer like an oasis on the horizon)

The first challenge was to get everyone to commit and have the funds.

To even get tickets meant getting to one of the cities to acquire them in person. If such a thing could not be arranged, it was a Saturday morning on the phone, trying to get through to Ticketmaster as thousands of other people attempted to do the same in the pre-internet ’80s.

(after someone having convinced a parent to part with a credit card)

It was quite an operation.

Most of the shows I attended in high school were someone coming up with tickets at the last minute and, usually, our buddy Beej loaning himself his older brother’s car to provide transport.

More often than not, it would be settling for a concert replay. There were stations from Cincinnati and Indianapolis at the time that would sometimes air the songs that had been played at the show with “live” crowd noise mixed in.

It wasn’t quite the same, but as these replays would air immediately after the show ended, the consolation was knowing that you weren’t sitting in post-concert traffic.

I’d often listen to the concert replays whether it was an act that I might have wanted to go see or not. There was something compelling about the rudimentary recreations.

Here are four songs that I might have heard on one of those replays in autumn of 1984…

Billy Squier – All Night Long
from Signs Of Life (1984)

For a few years, Billy Squier was a rock god amongst my classmates in junior high and high school. Don’t Say No and Emotions In Motion must have resided in everyone’s collections and songs like The Stroke, In The Dark, and Everybody Wants You were staples on the rock radio stations.

And then, Squier released Signs Of Life. The first single, Rock Me Tonite, was a fixture on the radio that summer, but the song was also accompanied by an infamous video clip.

I remember the video being ridiculed, but it seems as though its role as scapegoat for Squier’s subsequent career decline has grown throughout the years. Personally, the songs just didn’t reach the heights of pure rock goodness of Don’t Say No and Emotions In Motion, though I always dug the frenetic All Night Long.

Ratt – Wanted Man
from Out Of The Cellar (1984)

Unlike Billy Squier, Ratt’s career was rocketing into the stratosphere in 1984 thanks to Round And Round, which seemed to be blaring from every car stereo wherever high school kids congregated thar summer.

It didn’t get played as much, but I quite liked the more mid-tempo Wanted Man. It has a swagger and I always picture a spaghetti Western in my head when I hear the song.

Sammy Hagar – I’ll Fall In Love Again
from Standing Hampton (1981)

In the autumn of 1984, Sammy Hagar was simply The Red Rocker, ex-member of Montrose, and a fixture on the rock radio stations in our area with songs like There’s Only One Way To Rock, Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy, Rock Is In My Blood and I Can’t Drive 55 (from his then-current album VOA).

A year later, he was the most polarizing lead singer in the history of mankind, having replaced David Lee Roth in Van Halen.

I liked Sammy fine as a solo act and, though Van Halen’s second chapter wasn’t going to make anyone forget the DLR era, I thought there was some cool stuff from the band with Hagar as lead singer.

Though I’ll Fall In Love Again didn’t make the Top 40, the Top 40 station that was my listening choice at the time played the song incessantly during the summer of ’82. The song never fails to take me back to that summer.

Triumph – Magic Power
from Allied Forces (1981)

Triumph never quite became a major act in the US, but I heard their songs often on radio in the early ’80s. And it wasn’t uncommon to see kids in our high school halls wearing Triumph concert shirts.

The trio seemed to pass through the area every six months or so and, in ’84, undoubtedly did so touring to support their Thunder Seven set.

I was mostly ambivilant about the band, but I did kind of dig Magic Power from several years earlier.

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Terror On The Beach Amidst The Randomness

June 2, 2011

Random lines from Joesph Heller’s Catch-22 keep popping into my head. It makes sense that I have kinship with Yossaran, the protagonist of Heller’s masterpiece, as work has been a serious mash-up of Catch-22 with a twist of Lord Of The Flies.

I used to keep a dog-eared copy of Catch-22 by my bed. It was the go-to when I just wanted to grab something and be entertained.

(surprisingly, the inexplicable logic of those in charge at the heart of the novel is more whimsical to read than experience first-hand)

Sitting down to write, odd things have bobbed to the surface, leading to unfinished posts involving Fish (the ex-lead singer of Marillion), waffles, Skynet, sorcerers, and Socialists.

(but not necessarily all in the same post and, aside from – obviously – waffles, nothing about which I have an impassioned opinion)

And tonight, sitting down to possibly write, Terror On The Beach, certainly dislodged by the zaniness of the workday, was showing in my head.

It seems few people remember this early ’70s made-for-television movie starring Dennis Weaver – just a dozen or so comments on IMDB – and involving dune-buggy driving early ’70s hippies causing mayhem and swiping sandwiches.

The flick is one that seems to surface from my subconscious every eight to ten years. I seem to recall seeing it as a prime-time movie on one of the networks. I might have even caught its premiere, though I would have been only six at the time.

I feel more certain that I haven’t seen it since the late ’70s or early ’80s when it aired late one night.

I remember little of the movie other than a couple creepy scenes involving mannequins, but all of the online reviews mention Susan Dey, as the daughter in the beleaguered family, and her bikini.

It must have been the sight of Laurie Partridge in a bikini that imprinted the flick into my memory banks to be brought forth every so often when my cerebral wiring short circuits.

It’s June now which used to be the start of summer, the most glorious time of the year. Summer meant more time hanging with friends and listening to the radio. And, during those summers in the first half of the ’80s, it would often have been Indianpolis’ Q95 or 96 Rock out of Cincinnati (technically, Hamilton).

Here are four somewhat random songs I might have heard on those stations at the time…

Greg Kihn Band – Sheila
from Rockihnroll

Several friends were devoted fans of the Greg Kihn Band, snapping up each pun-titled album as soon as they were released. The radio stations in our world loved the band, too, even beyond the hits like The Breakup Song (They Don’t Write ‘Em) and Jeopardy.

And what wasn’t there to love? The band’s power pop style might not have always been the flavor dujour, but it never sounded less than brilliant blaring from the stereo on a warm summer day. Sheila could have been a hit at almost any time over the past fifty years and has more than a hint of Buddy Holly to it.

Billy Idol – White Wedding
from Billy Idol

It took me a bit to warm to peroxide punk Billy Idol and, during the summer of ’83, I was non-plussed by White Wedding. I think that had more to do with a friend who adopted Idol as his own and smothered us with his incessant playing of the mini-album.

But, I grew to enjoy a lot of Idol’s music and White Wedding is lean and kinetic.

Scandal – Love’s Got A Line On You
from Scandal (EP)

Sure, everyone could hum The Warrior (and picture its Kabuki-themed video) in 1984, but Scandal was well known to us a summer earlier when Goodbye To You and Love’s Got A Line On You were radio staples.

Goodbye To You was not to be trifled with, a straight-ahead kiss-off with some New Wave sass, but Love’s Got A Line On You was a mid-tempo groove, revealing a more vulnerable side of things.

(neither reinvented fire, but both were ridiculously catchy.

Triumph – Magic Power
from Allied Forces

Triumph never quite became a major act in the US, but I heard their songs often on radio in the early ’80s. And it wasn’t uncommon to see kids in our high school halls wearing Triumph concert shirts.

I was mostly ambivilant about the band, but I did kind of dig Magic Power.