defrog: (45 frog)
It’s fair to say the majority of my 45 collection is fairly mainstream – which is to say, the artists and songs are mostly ones yr likely to have heard of, and still hear on oldies stations from time to time.

A few are pretty obscure, and I’ve posted some of them already. I’m not really sure which qualifies as the most obscure 45 in the collection. But surely this 80s metal song about samurais is a top contender.

Grand Prix were a British metal band from 1978 to 1984, and this was the title track to their third and final album. Two of them went on to join Uriah Heep while vocalist Robin McAuley later teamed up with Michael Schenker.

I’m not even 100% sure why I even had this. I think I inherited it from a friend who was enamored with the whole samurai mythos. And listening to it now, I’m not entirely sure why I thought it was worth inheriting. I guess it does have that kind of earnest epicness that a lot of UK/European 80s hair-metal bands displayed – proggy arrangements, fist-raising anthemic choruses in four-part harmony, cheesy synths, serious riffage, and pretentious lyrics about Honor and Glory and Warriors and Kings and etc. It’s kind of like a Manowar-Europe non-aggression pact for Japanese culture buffs and Styx fans. Or people who love their metal kitschy.

Anyway, there it is.

PRODUCTION NOTE: It took me forever to find this one on YouTube, because (1) I couldn’t remember the name of the band, and (2) without that information, when you Google “samurai” and “song” you inevitably get that Michael Cretu song, which is even more “80s” than the Grand Prix song.

The sword is yr soul,

This is dF 
defrog: (45 frog)
Time to get back on track with this series.

If you’ve followed this long enough, you know I have a lot of one-hit wonders in the 45 library.

Gary Wright is not one of them. He was a two-hit wonder. But then I’ve only got one of those two hits on 45, so close enough.

This is the one I have.

This is the one I don’t have (not on 45, anyway – I did have it via a K-Tel comp, I think, so it doesn’t count towards this series).

Wright was, of course, formerly with Spooky Tooth, which I didn’t know at the time. And it probably wouldn’t have mattered if I did because Spooky Tooth weren’t all that big in the US when they were active, and I didn’t know who they were in the mid-70s when these two songs came out.

Anyway, I still kind of like both songs, but “Love Is Alive” is the stronger of the two, thanks to that hard-hitting bass line and the delay effects on the guitar. (I like me some echo.) And it does kind of rock. Listening to it now, it gets by more on nostalgia, perhaps  but I still like it.

It’s all clear to me now,

This is dF 
defrog: (Default)
Now that I’ve posted the Kiss 45s, the next logical question is:

“How about the Ace Frehley solo song? Bet you had that one too.”

Yes I did.

As history has recorded, everyone in Kiss released a solo album at the same time in 1978. I’m not sure of the exact reasons for this – supposedly their 1976 contract with Casablanca included four solo albums, which would count as half an album each towards their five-album deal, so I guess it was about maximum exposure.

To be honest, I’ve never listened to any of them, so I can’t really tell you how they measure up to each other and to Kiss’ back catalogue. I don’t think I really made the association between this song and Kiss until a little later. (I said I liked Kiss at the time – I didn't say I’d memorized all the names of the band members.)

It’s pretty well understood that Frehley’s solo album was the most successful in terms of chart singles and sales (though that depends on whether yr asking Gene Simmons or someone other than Gene Simmons). They’ve all been certified platinum, and by some accounts have sold at least as many copies as Love Gun. In any case, Frehley was the only one to have a hit single – which, interestingly, was a cover version of a song recorded by glam-rock also-rans Hello, and written by Russ Ballard.

Which makes it the third time Ballard has been represented in this series.

Here’s the original.

Obviously Frehley didn’t take too many liberties with the formula.

Here I am in this city with a fistful of dollars,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
If you’ve been following this series, by now you’ve noticed the pattern and the general timeframe involved, and naturally yr starting to wonder:

“Where’s the Kiss records? Surely you have some?”

Fair question. And yes, though actually I wasn’t all that big on Kiss at the time. They were arguably the most popular rock band in my junior high school, with the exception of Lynyrd Skynyrd. (And I’ll admit, it was only much later that I appreciated the irony of my male 8th Grade classmates beating up kids for being [allegedly] queer whilst their favorite band was four guys in make-up, leather, high heels and fishnet stockings.)

Anyway, I liked what songs I heard, and I enjoyed their TV special and that Phantom Of The Park thing, but I wasn’t trying to paint my face like them or anything.

And given the nature of many of the other songs in this series, I guess it says a lot that the one Kiss 45 I bought was the disco cash-in.

That said, I didn’t really think of it as a disco song. Probably because of all the guitars.

In my defense, I did end up spending more time listening to the more hard-rockin’ B-side.

I think the B-side holds up better, overall.

FUN FACT #1: Looking these songs, I learned for the first time that Peter Criss didn’t play drums on these songs. They used a session guy – Anton Fig, a.k.a. the drummer in David Letterman’s band.

FUN FACT #2: I did have one other Kiss song I listened to a lot.

This is probably my favorite Kiss song. But I had it on a Ronco comp, not on 45, so it doesn’t count for this series.

The first step of the cure,

This is dF
defrog: (Default)
Looking back on this list, it seems that a lot of the songs I liked as a kid (circa early-mid 70s) were ballads – not as in soppy love songs with an electric guitar solo, but as in songs that told stories.

But only one of them was made into a film.

Well, sort of. The film’s story has almost nothing to do with the song, which is of course about a jealous husband who becomes a victim of crooked Southern justice.

Which apparently is why Cher turned it down (or rather, Sonny Bono turned it down for her over concerns it might annoy her Southern fan base). In fact, according to legend, none of the singers it was shopped to had much interest, nor did the music label people who didn’t know how to pigeonhole it into a format. Even the guy who wrote it – Bobby Russell (a.k.a. Mr Vicki Lawrence at the time) – didn’t think it was all that great a song anyway. So Vicki went and recorded the damn thing herself.

Back story!

Anyway, listening to it now, I think it holds up pretty well. But then I like a good story about crooked Southern justice.

FUN FACT: Because Top 40 DJs in the 70s rarely bothered to tell you who performed the songs you just heard, it wasn’t until I got a copy of the 45 that I realized the singer was the same woman who played Mama on the Carol Burnett Show.

Supper's waiting at home and I gotta get to it,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
It’s still Father’s Day in the West, so this will also count as my post for that.

I’ve mentioned elsewhere that my dad was a session musician in Nashville in the 1950s/60s, and also played with The Bluenotes (sort of the de facto house band for Colonial Records in North Carolina). His biggest claim to fame is working with Roy Orbison, but according to AllMusic – and I only just learned about this today – his credits also include Grandpa Jones. And apparently Ann Margret recorded one of his songs.

So, wow.

Anyway, he recorded and released this solo 45 in 1961. It’s the B-side of another song of his, “Lover’s Holiday”. Apparently Billboard was impressed.

So naturally the 45 was in our house. I listened to this a lot when I was a kid, but I’m not sure I still have it anymore. It may be in storage somewhere in the US.

Anyway, point being, I hadn’t heard this in something like 35 years, and had in fact completely forgotten about it. Then I decided to Google up something of his for Father’s Day and this popped up. As soon as it started playing, I recognized it and remembered each part of it – the boingy distorted riff, the mournful backup singers, the fadeout.

It’s been a sort of strange year for me in regards to my dad. We didn’t have the greatest of relationships, and just when we were on the point of reconciling that in 1984, he died suddenly of a heart attack.

So it goes.

But I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about that, and … well, let’s just say I’ve come to terms with it all, and it’s cool. I just wish I’d put more effort into archiving his music when I still had it all in the house.

Anyway, I dig this record. I think it stands up with some of the better (if obscure) rockabilly records of the era.

But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

All in the family,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
Yes, well, okay.

Unlike “Sad Eyes”, I pretty much got what the song was about, although I found it odd that the narrator and his “old lady” had been together all that time and didn’t even know each other that well.

Then again, I found the term “old lady” odd too. I knew what it meant. I just thought it was strange to call yr girlfriend/lover/wife that.

Hippies, eh?

Anyway, apart from the lyrics (which were written at the last minute, according to Holmes), the song does have a kind of timelessness to it – at least if you go by how many times it’s been used ironically in film soundtracks.

Like a worn out recording,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
As you may or may not know, Stan Freberg is gone now.

The name probably means little to some of you – Freberg was known mainly for writing funny ads for radio and TV in the 50s and 60s, and for a few novelty records, the most famous of which is probably “St George And The Dragonet”, which managed to parody both medieval folk tales and Jack Webb at the same time.

I had that one on a comedy album comp, but I had this one on 45: a Harry Belafonte parody featuring a sensitive beatnik bongo player.

Anyway, I have a lot of respect for Freberg, including his ad work. If we have to have ads, they might as well be entertaining – and irreverent.

Soft sell,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
When you admit that you used to listen to Firefall, you might as well own up to that Robert John 45 in yr collection.

I can’t really explain this one, either – not least since I couldn’t understand half the lyrics to it. Or at least I didn’t pay that much attention to them.

So imagine my surprise when I looked up the lyrics to discover it’s about a guy dumping his mistress because his wife is coming back home.

Which was how we did it in the 1970s, children.

Turn the other way,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
Since I’ve already admitted to having a 45 with Michael McDonald on it, I might as well bring up that Firefall record.

You know the one.


Well, how many hit songs have a flute solo that doesn’t involve Ian Anderson?

I don’t have much else to say about it. It’s sort of up there with Little River Band – catchy tune, but pretty lightweight. It’s hard to believe they were a pretty big deal (well, in Colorado, anyway).

I also remember this was the first record that introduced me to the concept of overdubs. Sort of. I remember asking my mom, “How did they manage to put together a band where the singers have the same voice?”

“Electronics,” she replied.

And so much for Firefall.

It’s not the clothes you wear,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
I’ve been neglecting this series, I know – not because I’m out of 45s (we still have quite a ways to go in that regard), but because it was a pretty busy Q4 for me.

Also, we’ve got to that point where I have to bring up Michael McDonald.

The Doobie Brothers were, of course, bothering the charts and radio playlists when I was in my 45 phase. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but the Doobies had a pretty wide range of styles – the hard rock of “China Grove”, the countrified “Black Water”, the Motown homage “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)", the Latino-influenced “Long Train Running”. Etc.

Then somehow Michael McDonald somehow emerged as the lead songwriter and they essentially invented Adult Contemporary. So it goes.

Anyway, I had this on 45.

And listening to it now, I wonder why. For one thing, I could barely understand a word McDonald was singing. I suppose some part of my brain identified with the topic – guy carries torch for girl who barely remembers him, and he’s too punch-drunk with love to notice this until after he’s made a complete fool of himself.

It’s a decent song, but compared to the earlier DB catalogue, it’s kind of boring.

If it helps, I also had this one, though I didn’t get a copy of it until I got out of the Army.

Keep on looking to the east,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
As I’ve mentioned before, I bought most of my 45s between the ages of ten and 17, at a time when most of my musical knowledge was informed by whatever was on Top 40 radio at the time.

Consequently, there’s more than a few 45s that I listen to now and wonder just what I was thinking at the time.

Which brings us to Little River Band.

They were from Melbourne, Australia, but they slotted in pretty well with the mellow soft-rock sound that was dominating the charts in the late 70s – Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Atlanta Rhythm Section, etc. In fact, it seems the late 70s was a good time for Australian acts like Olivia Newton-John and Air Supply to make it big in America, so why not LRB?

Anyway, I had this on 45.

Listening to it now, I’m not sure what I saw in it at the time. It’s catchy, I suppose. But you can definitely file it under “songs I haven’t listened to since high school”.

Don't be thinking that I don’t want you,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
Speaking of one-hit wonders, here’s another one: “Hot Summer Nights” by Night.

There’s not much to add to that, apart from some interesting trivia here – namely, that it’s basically Chris Thompson of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, backing singer Stevie Mann and some session musicians (including Nicky Hopkins and future Pretender Robbie McIntosh).

Also, it’s a cover of a song by Walter Egan, who was also a one-hit wonder, though his hit wasn’t this song, but “Magnet And Steel”.

Which I also had on 45.

It’s supposedly about Stevie Nicks, you know.

Obviously the latter still gets played on oldies stations, while Night is pretty much forgotten by everyone except people like me who bought the 45. But listening to it now, I have to say “Hot Summer Night” is pretty catchy, even though the lyrics and even the title are pretty generic, which is probably why hardly anyone remembers it.

Let that be a lesson to you, kids – you need a title people will remember. Because we don’t need another song called “Hold On”, “I Want You” or “Angel”.

My secrets to reveal,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
If you’ve followed the “dEFROG On 45” series from the beginning, you know there are a lot of one-hit wonders in my collection. There’s also a lot of disco.

Here’s one of both.

This one comes with an amusing anecdote: When this came out, I was reasonably convinced that Amii Stewart was Rod Stewart’s sister.

Why? Because they had the same last name. Obviously.

It was only later I saw a picture of her, and realized I might have gotten that one wrong.

Told you it was amusing.

FUN FACT: This is actually a cover of an Eddie Floyd song.

It’s hard to compare the two. They’re different enough versions (classic Stax/Volt sound vs Gary-Glitter inspired disco) that they kind of stand on their own.

The way you love me is frightening,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
I’ve been neglecting this series. Well, you get what you pay for.

Maybe it’s because I realized that sooner or later, I was going to have to post about Billy Joel.

On the other hand, is there really any shame in that?

Arguably not – after all, Joel was pretty ubiquitous on the radio during my 45-buying days. Like The Eagles, Steve Miller Band, Elton John and ABBA, it was hard not to buy one of his singles sooner or later. And while he might not have been the coolest singer/songwriter in the world to listen to, only a total curmudgeon would claim Joel had no idea how to write a catchy song.

I liked most of them at the time, but I only bought two on 45. One was “Big Shot”. The other was “It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me”.

These days, I like the latter more than the former. For one thing, I like the production on it. And I do like the point Joel is trying to get across – rock is what you make of it, and don’t let anyone tell you what does and doesn’t qualify as “real” rock’n’roll.

As for “Big Shot” … well, let's just say that after awhile I spent more time listening to the B-side, which was an instrumental called “Root Beer Rag”.

Because it’s jaunty. And because I imagined it would be the perfect soundtrack to a comedy car chase. You know, like on The Dukes Of Hazzard or something.

Well, c’mon, I was 13.

Aimed at yr average teen,

This is dF
defrog: (45 frog)
When yr a kid in the 70s buying 45s, yr inevitably going to wind up with songs from the reliable hit machines of the era. I’ve covered quite a few already – ABBA, The Eagles, ELO, Steve Miller, Barry Manilow, etc.

There’s a fairly obvious gap there. So it’s probably time to bring up Sir Elton John.

Of course he wasn’t “Sir” in those days. But he was definitely cranking out the hit singles. Elton was pretty ubiquitous on the American airwaves, and my sister and I were in awe of the fact that he used swear words in his songs. (“It’s four o’clock in the morning, dammit.”)

Well, c’mon, we lived in Tennessee and we were barely out of elementary school.

Anyway, even though I liked Elton John, I only ever bought one of his 45s.

And given the nature of other songs in this series, of course it’s the one with Kiki Dee on it.

I had no idea who Kiki Dee was, of course. Great name, though. And I do still like this song – it’s a well-crafted (if slightly overproduced) slice of pop candy.

Nobody knows it,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
As you may have guessed, there are some novelty records in my 45 collection. 

But only one of them is a slice of Tennessee history.

In the late 70s, Governor Ray Blanton was caught signing pardons for convicts – some of them multiple murderers – who had bribed state officials, including two from his office. Blanton was never charged with anything directly related to the pardons-for-cash scandal, but he was eventually convicted in 1981 for unrelated mail fraud, conspiracy, and extortion for selling liquor licenses, and served 22 months in the federal pen.

The pardons scandal remains the biggest political corruption scandal in state history. And at some point, when all this was making the news, Brian Blue Christie and the Gitch Your Own Band cut a record called “Pardon Me Ray” – set to the tune of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” done in a mod-country style. It was a major hit on Nashville radio.

And of course I bought a copy. Thus began my interest in political humor (possibly).

BONUS TRACK: Ray Blanton is rated one of the ten most corrupt politicians in US History by RealClearPolitics. (Note: by “corrupt” they mean “use of power for financial profit”, which is why Dick Nixon isn’t on it, but Spiro Agnew is.)

I wanna get my money’s worth for what I’m buying,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
As I’ve mentioned before, a decent chunk of my 45 collection is courtesy of mom and dad. 

This one is from dad’s side of the record cabinet: a rockabilly take on Tarzan.

Complete with Tarzan yell.

It’s an obscure enough record that I’ve been waiting for years for someone to post it on YouTube so I could share it with you all.

FUN FACT: For years, when I heard Beatty sing the line, “Hurry with the tweezers, there’s a briar stuck in his feet” in the second verse, I thought he was saying “there’s a bra stuck in his feet”.

Which of course I found both hilarious and appealing.

Swimming with the hippos,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
As I’ve mentioned before, my 45 collection is the result of a variety of sources. Some of them I bought. Some of them belonged to Mom and Dad. Some belonged to someone else’s Mom and Dad.

For example, one time I was at Mr Cat Taylor’s house, and for some reason we started digging through his dad’s record collection to see if he had anything useful or interesting.

And we found this.

Which is notable because that is the same Morton Downey Jr who was Rush Limbaugh before Rush Limbaugh was Rush Limbaugh.

Well, at least he would have been if Rush Limbaugh had been more like Jerry Springer.

To illustrate, here’s a clip of him and Ron Paul shouting.

I don’t have the facts to back this up, but I tend to think that Morton Downey Jr invented conservative talk shows and Fox News mainly by proving there was a mainstream audience for loud, rude conservative jerks to yell at liberals. 

That said, he also proved that it was possible to go too far and spook advertisers and affiliates into dropping you. He also proved that you don’t really have to believe what yr saying in order to pull this off – something I’ve suspected Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck of doing for awhile now.

Anyway, it’s fair to say that in the 80s, a lot of people (including myself) hated Downey – not because we disagreed with his opinions so much as the fact that his goal was to piss people off and get them to shout at each other. I thought he represented a new low in both television and public discourse at the time.

Little did I know he’d only scratched the surface.

How low can you go,

This is dF

defrog: (45 frog)
Long-time followers of this series know to expect one-hit wonders from time to time. 

Here’s one for you.

This wasn’t MacGregor’s only chart hit, but it’s the only one to reach No. 1.

You may well ask why, at the age of 11, I bought a copy of a ballad about a woman sleeping with two guys at the same time.

Yes. Well. If I ever figure that out, I’ll let you know.

Feeling like a fool,

This is dF


defrog: (Default)

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