As those of you who regularly visit Kurt’s place are already aware, he decided to hang up his cleats this week. Aside from being an overall crappy thing, this left his weekly multi-blogger chart-centric snarkfest without a home. This was unacceptable, so from here on out, expect to read the rechristened Chartburn in this space every Friday. Some changes are around the corner â€” we’ll be goofing on more than just the rock charts soon â€” but the overall spirit (specifically, “I can’t fucking believe that was a hit”) will remain the same. Enjoy!
The Moody Blues, “The Voice” (1981)
Kurt: I NEVER got these guys. Is there anything they’ve recorded that wasn’t instantly snooze-inducing?
Scott: I loved this song when I was a kid and it still brings back pleasant memories. It’s more poppy than the prog rock they created in the ’70s. This one holds up considerably well. Much better than “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.”
Jefito: The list of things that have held up better than “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” includes Teddy Ruxpin, the Golden Girls spinoff series Golden Palace, and Mannequin Two: On the Move. I’m not saying “The Voice” is or isn’t a good song â€” I actually haven’t listened to it, I only included it here because I thought it was funny that the Moody Blues had a “mainstream rock” hit â€” but that particular comparison might not have been the most persuasive.
Scott: Don’t forget that Golden Palace introduced the world to Don Cheadle:but yeah, it blew. I’m not saying this, or anything else the Moody Blues have ever done is gold (except the end of “Nights in White Satin” where the dude talks gobbleygook over the strings. The strings on that part of the song are brilliantly spooky and sad at the same time), but I still like this song.
John: Major, MAJOR geek alert: I loved this song soooo much as a kid, I’d listen to it over and over (I had taped it off the radio – HOME TAPING IS KILLING THE INDUSTRY!) and make up my own sci-fi TV show like Space: 1999 or The Starlost where this was the theme song. ‘Cuz it sounded like it should be one.
I can’t believe I just admitted that.
Mike: Love the 30 seconds of pretense at the front of the clip. Never heard it before; it’s a bland inoffensive little rock song. It sort of reminds me of Dire Straits with the synths and “Sultans” drumbeat.
Joe: I have an insane love for all things Moody Blues â€” yet I don’t own a single album of theirs. Maybe it’s because they take me back to a blander time when lil’ Joe was oblivious to the concepts of “life,” “mortgage payments” and “50 hour work week” and could dance in his underwear to Uncle Will’s Moody Blues records when he had the house to himself. This song and “Your Wildest Dreams” always bring a smile to my face.
Kurt: Must throw acid in eyes…
Will: I gotta tell ya: I’ve always had a soft spot for the later Moody Blues material. The “Nights in White Satin”-era stuff is what gets all the glory, but I love singles like this one, “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere,” and even “Say It With Love.” It’s definitely adult contemporary pop, but it’s catchy, well-produced stuff, and I dig it.
Jefito: Will, you’ll be excited to know that “Say It With Love” will be the subject of a Cassingle Vault post one of these days. All I need to do is work up the intestinal fortitude necessary to put myself through a Moody Blues single from 1991:
David: Put me in the group with the Moody Blues sympathizers. My older sister had this record, and while “Gemini Dream” was the first single out of the gate, this was the song that always fascinated me (I blame the synth washes in the chorus). And while they may have suckered me later with “Your Wildest Dreams,” they didn’t fool me the second time with “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere.” Hell, “Somewhere” even had the exact same, “improvised” bass fill that “Your Wildest Dreams” had. Listen, if you dare.
Your Wildest Dreams (at the 3:32 mark)
I Know You’re Out There Somewhere (at the 1:54 mark)
Can you believe that Tony Visconti produced both of those songs? AND Adam Ant’s Vive Le Rock? Couldn’t he have just done gay porn like everyone else with a money problem?
Py Korry: Awwww yeah, Moody Blues! I loved this album, and love the Moody Blues. Their early albums are the best (duh!), but this was a pretty strong effort by the group â€” who added Patrick Moraz on keyboard. Alas, Patrick’s contribution seemed to dominate the group’s output after that, and most of their stuff really sucked. But the entire Long Distance Voyager album is really wonderful â€” even the odd stuff Ray Thomas does on the last three songs.
Gary: Good comeback for the band. They hadn’t done an album since 1978 and prog wasn’t exactly big in 1981 anymore. This is a good pop tune with a great hook that got them back on the radio. I would have sworn that Jeff Lynne produced this album, because of lot of it sounds just like early ’80s ELO, especially “Gemini Dream,” which also happens to be one of their best songs.
Glenn Frey, “You Belong to the City” (1985)
Kurt: Amazing that in the old days, a band could crank out solo artists and have them all be successful, no matter how awful the song. Enter exhibit A into evidence.
Scott: Glenn, Glenn, Glenn. What happened to you, man? This song is so MOR, it sucks worse than Eagles MOR. And that sax:every second he’s onscreen in Jerry Maguire is better than this song!
Jefito: I’m troubled, Scott, by your intimation that there was a time when Glenn Frey did not suck. (And Kurt, “You Belong to the City” can’t be exhibit A when you’re talking about the guy who recorded “Sexy Girl.”)
David: No, Jeff, there was never a point where Glenn Frey, on his own, did not suck. “Smuggler’s Blues,” are you fucking kidding me? “Better in the USA” (which he later sold to Pepsi)? “The Heat Is On”? Dog shit, dog shit, dog shit. Someone mentioned “The One You Love,” and I had to laugh when Taylor Dayne stole that vocal melody a few years later for “Tell It To My Heart.” Hate Henley all you want (Lord knows, he made it easy to do so). But his ’80s output at least had some integrity. Frey, on the other hand, was a sellout from day one. Didn’t they call him Teflon Don, for all the coke he snorted?
Scott: There are two times I can think of when Frey didn’t suck. 1.”The One You Love” â€” Despite the trashcan snare drum (which I think he stole from Henley while he was out cavorting and snorting with Stevie Nicks), it is a really heartbreaking love song that is one of his most underrated hits:if he ever had hits:and 2.”Part of You, Part of Me” â€” which I love for personal reasons.
John: All I can say is I remember hearing this song about once every 10 minutes in 1985. That’s not a happy memory.
Joe: Smoooooth jazz without any jazz, of course. Not bad â€” I’d rather listen to this than the Stones or the Doobie Brothers â€” but I could go without hearing it ever again and not miss a thing.
Mike: Instantly recognized it. Didn’t know it was Glenn Frey, but it’s hardly surprising. I sort of like “Smuggler’s Blues,” which I think is contemporaneous with this. It’s entertainingly cheesy. This, on the other hand, is indefensible sax-inflected pablum of the first order. All who are associated with it should be flogged.
Kurt: It’s scary to think that my favorite Eagles tune was sung by Timmy Schmidt and not Henley, Frey or even Walsh. (“I Can’t Tell You Why,” for those of you keeping score.)
Scott: Kurt, my favorite Eagle song was sung by Randy Meisner (“Try and Love Again”). Boy, are they a frustrating band. They made some truly memorable music, but I can’t stand Henley. CAN’T STAND HIM. (Sadly, I like some of his solo material, too). Kicking out Don Felder was low.
Speaking of Eagles solo material, does anyone remember Felder’s solo “hit,” “Bad Girls” (I believe that was its name)?
Gary: I agree, kicking Felder out was shitty. There was no real reason except for greed. Felder has a new tell-all book coming out and rumors are that the Eagles’ new album and tour are on hold because of it and some other litigation. One of the greatest, but most screwed up bands ever.
As far as “Bad Girls” goes, great song and really strong album from him. And don’t forget “Never Surrender” from Fast Times At Ridgemont High and the two songs he did on the Heavy Metal soundtrack. Much better than Frey’s solo output.
Will: I got fried on Frey long before the ’80s were over.
Kurt: As a person, Henley annoys to no end, but musically, I love most of his work.
The only Felder I can remember is the song from Heavy Metal.
Jeff V.: I love the sax riff in “City” â€” so dark, so meaningful, so indicative of the drug trade. Do we have Clemons to blame for the irrational, nearly masturbatory sudden reliance on sax riffs in quasi-rock songs of the mid-’80s?
Py Korry: Glenn Frey:the 80s:the air is ripe with the stench of sellout:the music is forgettable : He appears on Miami Vice:Will Ferrell and Ben Stiller make fun of him on SNL:And I got nothing else. Out!
Gary: I’m not sure which movie/TV song he did was worse. This one, “Smuggler’s Blues” or “The Heat Is On.” Frey wrote this and “Smuggler’s” with longtime collaborator Jack Tempchin (who also co-wrote “Peaceful Easy Feeling”) so I’ll go with the Harold Faltermeyer written “The Heat Is On.” All three, though, are perfect bathroom or bar break songs though. I did really like this song when it came out, but endless replays over the years have completly burned me out on it.
Scott: Has there ever been a Felder Greatest Hits? Probably an EP: I thought he played on “Dirty Laundry,” or was that Walsh?
David: Walsh played on “Dirty Laundry.”
An old friend of mine and staunch Eagles fan loved telling the story about the band towards the end of the run, and during a show, Glenn walked back to the drum kit, pointed at Don and said, “Only three more songs ’til I kick your ass!”
Scott: But Glenn and Don are so close!
David: God, we haven’t even talked about the biggest offender in Frey’s catalog, which made Jefito’s “In defense of instrumentals” piece: “Sexy Girl.” Wow, was that a bad song.
The Doobie Brothers, “The Doctor” (1989)
Kurt: Only in the ’80s could a washed-up act be successful, especially when they looked like the Doobs. Somewhere Fred Berry is rolling in his grave.
Joe: I could not agree more. Wretched stuff.
Scott: Horrible. Just a bad, frickin’ horrible song. Make it stop.
John: This was like their big ’80s comeback. I even remember MTV getting on board with this one. What were we thinking? Doobies minus McDonald equals PAIN!
Mike: Never heard this one, and since Jefito provided us with a YouTube link to a Kids Inc. version (thanks, real nice of you), I feel I should abstain from comment.
Jefito: I’ve been waiting for someone to notice that Kids Incorporated video. A gold star for you, Mike!
Kurt: For once, knowing a crappy song in advance paid off since I had no need to click the link. Now I feel this overwhelming compulsion to put myself through that pain and click it.
Jason: After watching it, Mike called me and said “Why weren’t YOU in Kids Incorporated?” I think I’m insulted.
Will: I associate this song with Queen’s The Miracle, since both albums came out in the same wave from Capitol:and while “The Miracle” ain’t the best thing Queen’s ever done, it sure as hell beats this piece of crap.
Kurt: God, for putting Queen and the Doobs in the same thought, I have a right mind to drive down the bay and slap your face, Will.
David: I have made my feelings for Michael McDonald well known to this group, which resulted in at least one censure request. Mickey McD isn’t on this record, and I have to say that:that Kids Incorporated video is the single greatest video on YouTube. Ever. I’m cured. I now love the Doobie Brothers. “Oh black water, keep on rollin’:”
Py Korry: The Doobies were still recording in 1989? I have never heard of this song, but I am surprised to see that it charted. Then again:1989 the Doobies were so far off my radar screen that they could have been playing a free concert in the Quad at San Francisco State University (where I went to school in 1989) and I still wouldn’t have shown up.
Gary: An okay song and album, but nothing special. But how about this combo: The Doobies and Kansas are touring together this summer. Weird pairing.
The Lemonheads, “Into Your Arms” (1993)
Gary: Uh, who?
Kurt: Remember when Evan Dando was the next big thing? Nothing more than 1993’s version of Jared Leto.
Scott: I always liked this song. Man, talk about a waste of talent. This guy could really write pop gems.
Mike: Evan Dando is one of those ’90s musicians who irritated the high hell out of me because he never really seemed like he was trying very hard. He couldn’t really sing, he couldn’t really play. He threw the vibe of being in music solely for the chicks and to avoid real work (understandable, but annoying just the same). Predictably, I HATE this song. The lyrics are indefensibly stupid. They are almost early Beatles-esque in their content and simplicity, and were doubtless written for the same purpose (to score with none too bright female concertgoers). Evan Dando, you are no Lennon or McCartney. Get a job.
John: I think it’s sad that the two biggest Lemonheads songs were covers, “Mrs. Robinson” and this one, written by Australian Robyn St. Clare of The Hummingbirds. It’s A Shame About Ray is one of the greatest power pop albums ever:this, not so much. There’s a story, probably apocryphal, that Dando covered this because St. Clare was broke and needed cash. Bet she didn’t spend it on crack!
Mike: Well crap. All my Dando hatred was misplaced. Nah, it’s not misplaced, his original material was stupid too.
Joe: Love The Lemonheads. Love this album. Love this song. I can see why Dando got a bum rap: his lyrics are awful, but â€” and I think this does make a difference â€” they’re intentionally awful. Lyrics like “If I was a booger would you blow your nose?” from “Being Around” aren’t going to help anyone’s case, but dude can write a perfect 3-minute jangle pop tune â€” I don’t care what it’s about.
Will: He’s a boozer and a user, but, damn, that Evan Dando can write a pop hook. I’ve never heard the original. Still, I can’t imagine it’s any better than the Lemonheads’ version.
David: I remember when People magazine put Evan Dando in their issue of the 50 Most Beautiful People. He looked ridiculous. Then this song came out. It made me question his judgment from then on. Pity, too, because I loved It’s a Shame about Ray.
Py Korry: While this isn’t my favorite from Evan Dando and the gang, my head was bobbing because I haven’t heard this song since the ’90s. I’m also really surprised to see that there are two tribute albums where a bunch ‘o bands I’ve never heard of cover Lemonheads tunes. Don’t believe me? Check this out.