Thursday, April 19, 2018

Promo posters as seen on "WKRP in Cincinnati" #34


Albums: Pretenders - Pretenders (Sire, 1980), Little Feat - Down on the Farm (Warner Bros., 1979)
Episode:  Season 2, Episode 24, "Most Improved Station"
Original air date: Monday, March 31, 1980

Monday, April 16, 2018

MFD Not-So-Random Five #4


In which I select five songs from 1976-1985 based on an arbitrary theme. (Not to be confused with this blog's Random Five feature, a different exercise in arbitrariness). Today's theme: Songs that have the word "radio" in their title.


  1. "Radio Free Europe" by R.E.M. (1983, I.R.S.)
    The first R.E.M. song I ever heard and still one of my favorites.

  2. "Radio Silence" by Thomas Dolby (1982, EMI)
    There are actually two versions of this tune: the one I had on my LP and the "guitar version" that my buddy Scott had on his LP. (I actually prefer the guitar version, mainly because of the spoken lyric about 3 minutes in: "Trytothinkofnothing. Trytothinkofnothing. Trytothinkofnothing...") Anyway, I'm listening to what I consider to be the original version because it was on my copy of the LP. It's actually a duet with Lene Lovich who adds a lot to the thing. Man-oh-man can Dolby write. I've listened to this song since 1982 and I'm still not tired of it. And that goes for the Golden Age of Wireless album.

  3. "The Spirit of Radio" by Rush (1980, Mercury)
    I'm not much for Rush because of Geddy Lee's voice, but even he can't distract from what the other two guys are doing here. A pastiche of about four different grooves are here, including a section in 7 and a reggae-lite-ish vibe. And, God help me, I dig the thing. But don't take my word for it:


    When (free, illegal) Napster was big in the very early 2000's, me and a colleague at work (we were public school band directors at the time, although neither of us are in that line anymore) would download old favorites and listen to them at work. He downloaded this tune and when the intro guitar-lick started playing, he grabbed a nearby trumpet and started playing the guitar part by ear with incredible technique and accuracy. I'm still amazed at that impromptu feat almost 20 years later. 

  4. "On Your Radio" by Joe Jackson (1979, A&M)
    Sez Jackson himself (Musician, February 1983):
    “On Your Radio" is not a revenge song – it’s a triumph song. It’s supposed to be inspiring, saying, “Hey! You there in the back of the class with the big ears! You can do whatever you want if you just try hard enough.” It’s not vindictive; it’s much more a song about hope.
    Listen here, Joey. You can hear it that way if you want, but I'm gonna stick with an interpretation that's slightly more petty. Because I was the guy in the back of the class with big ears who now wants to give double rods to half my graduating class. (See also: Ben Folds Five - One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces)

  5. "Song on the Radio" by Al Stewart (1979, Arista)
    Sez Stewart himself:
    There’s no justification for it, but the record company asked for a mid-tempo ballad with a saxophone on it, and I was kind of making fun of Arista Records. They wanted a song that could be played on the radio, and very tongue-in-cheek I wrote a song called ‘Song on the Radio.’ I thought they’d be smart enough to see I was actually joking, but of course they didn’t, and they put it out as a single and it made the Top 30, and the joke was on me...
    I love everything about it, from the slap-in-the-face start to the sax work to Stewart's distinctive voice to the Alan Parsons production to the understated chorus. I wish I was talented enough to write a song this good as a joke to stick it to the record company. Almost a decade later, Nick Heyward (a former Arista artist, ironically) recorded some music that sounds a lot like this tune. A lot. 


Friday, April 13, 2018

What videos were in rotation on MTV 35 years ago?



Here's your answer, according to Billboard magazine. I've highlighted a few of my preferred videos (not necessarily songs) on the list below.

Billboard, April 23, 1983, p. 30




Here's a selected sampling:

Nick Lowe - "Ragin' Eyes" from the album The Abominable Showman (yes, that's Paul Carrack on keyboard)




Heaven 17 - "Let Me Go" from the US album Heaven 17 and the UK album The Luxury Gap



The English Beat - "I Confess" from the album Special Beat Service



And one that's new to me:

Goanna - "Solid Rock" from the album Spirit of Place

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Friday, April 6, 2018

40 Years Ago - Albums of April '78


Let's take a look at what was topping the various album charts on April 8, 1978.


Billboard
Cash Box
Record World
1
Saturday Night Fever
Soundtrack
Saturday Night Fever
Soundtrack
Saturday Night Fever
Soundtrack
2
Slowhand
Eric Clapton
Even Now
Barry Manilow
Even Now
Barry Manilow
3
Even Now
Barry Manilow
Slowhand
Eric Clapton
Running on Empty
Jackson Browne
4
The Stranger
Billy Joel
The Stranger
Billy Joel
Slowhand
Eric Clapton
5
Aja
Steely Dan
Running on Empty
Jackson Browne
Point of Know Return
Kansas
6
Weekend in L.A.
George Benson
Weekend in L.A.
George Benson
The Stranger
Billy Joel
7
Point of Know Return
Kansas
Aja
Steely Dan
Aja
Steely Dan
8
Running on Empty
Jackson Browne
Point of Know Return
Kansas
News of the World
Queen
9
Earth
Jefferson Starship
Earth
Jefferson Starship
Rumours
Fleetwood Mac
10
The Grand Illusion
Styx
News of the World
Queen
Weekend in L.A.
George Benson



Exclusive MFD meta-analysis of the above charts:
  1. Saturday Night Fever (30 pts)
  2. Even Now (26 pts)
  3. Slowhand (24 pts)
  4. The Stranger (17 pts)
  5. Running on Empty (17 pts)
  6. Aja (14 pts)
  7. Point of Know Return (13 pts)
  8. Weekend in L.A. (11 pts)
  9. Earth (4 pts)
  10. News of the World (4 pts)