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.


The Not Contractually Obligated Top Ten Of 2011

December 31, 2011

Now that I’ve wasted so much time here establishing a few traditions, I’d be remiss to honor not them…

Almost every artist in the history of mankind has at least one title in their catalog that is a compilation, a stopgap collection meant to maintain interest between releases (often to boost holiday sales) or to fulfill a contractual obligation.

This is the former, a chance to make use, one more time, of a lot of wasted time over the past twelve months.

Three years ago, I reflected on the annual, childhood tradition of spending New Year’s Day with a half dozen blank cassettes as Q102 played back the Top 102 songs of the previous year.

So, as 2011 begins its fade into a speck in the rear-view mirror, here are the most popular songs that appeared here during the past year…

10. Asia – Ride Easy
from The Very Best Of Asia: Heat Of The Moment (1982-1990) (2000)
Harpsichord Everywhere

“I like that song,” I told her. “It has harpsichord in it.”

9. Bow Wow Wow – Do You Wanna Hold Me?
from When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going (1983)
Mohawks And Middle Linebackers

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

8. Single Bullet Theory – Keep It Tight
from Single Bullet Theory (1982)
March 5, 1983

“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.”

7. Guadalcanal Diary – Watusi Rodeo
from Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man (1984)
Odd Stuff In The Trunk

“Instead, there was several handfuls of straw, a crumpled carton that had contained wine coolers, and one tube sock.”

6. Player – Baby Come Back
from Super Hits Of The 70s: Have A Nice Day Volume 21 (1993)
Cat D’État

“I have legitimate concerns that, when nightfall arrives and Paloma is absent, things could get ugly.”

5. Squeeze – 853-5397
from Babylon and On (1987)
Caller Identity Crisis

“I sometimes wonder what his outgoing message might have been had his time with the “cowslaw” number coincided with the celebrated period during which he was the self-declared ‘Man Who Loves All Women'”

4. Mitch Ryder – When You Were Mine
from Never Kick a Sleeping Dog (1983)
July 16, 1983

“There would never be a time in which more music would be a wholly new experience for me.”

3. The Hollies – Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress
from Big Hits Of The ’70s (1998)
You Go Canoeing To Aintry With Burt, You Take Your Chances

“After a grueling day under the flourescent lights of an office, a commute from hell, and the rawness of a dark winter’s day in early January, does anything goose the spirits like a river trip to Aintry, hillbillies, and Ned Beatty getting sodomized?”

2. Was (Not Was) – Spy In The House Of Love
from What Up, Dog? (1988)
Was (Not Was)…Was

“‘Did anyone ever tell you that you look just like Don Was?'”

1. J. Geils Band – Angel In Blue
from Freeze Frame (1981)
Shuffling Slowly Toward Sound Fidelity

“It was a battered, oblong box – one corner of the grill covering the 45-sized speaker had separated from the unit and the cord was a scoliotic snake.”


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.