HomePosts Tagged "Blue Mercedes"

Blue Mercedes Tag

hooksnyou.jpgYears ago, on an episode of The Simpsons, Marge decided to return to her first love: art. Embracing her creativity, she took a painting class, where she worked under the tutelage of the legendary Professor Lombardo. At some point during the course of the episode, Marge dares to offer Lombardo a compliment, saying that she wishes every teacher could be like him, and he offers the following sharp reply: “Marge, please, I don’t take praise very well!

I feel his pain. Whenever I receive praise for my writing I always say “thanks,” of course, but I usually shrug at the same time, as if to say, “If you say so.” Sure, sometimes I feel that something I’ve written has turned out well, but as often as not, I can’t really tell. I usually just write stuff because it’s stuff that I want to write about, and it’s just an added bonus if other people like it, too. Based on this, you will be unsurprised to learn that I’m generally pretty bad about promoting my work too, but I’m making an exception in this case because — wait for it — I’ve written a book.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. More accurately, I’ve compiled a book, one filled with the interviews that I’ve conducted for this column over the course of the past few years. It’s entitled All You Need Is a Hook… The Best of Hooks ‘N’ You, and you can order it through Lulu.com.

hooksnyou.jpgThe content stretches all the way back to the first interview I did for the column, which consisted of a mere three questions that I asked of Moe Berg about The Wonderful World of the Pursuit of Happiness, and goes all the way up to my oral history of Vermillion by the Three O’Clock. In between, you can see the evolution of Hooks ‘N’ You as I figured out exactly what I wanted to do with the column, and you can enjoy interviews with, among others, Phil Keaggy, the Trashcan Sinatras, Don Dixon, Richard Barone, Kyle Vincent, Nick Heyward, Blue Mercedes and Splitsville.

The price is, to my way of thinking, pretty reasonable: $14.99 for 180 pages of what I am assured are insightful conversations about some of my favorite unheralded and underrated albums by the artists responsible for bringing them to life. For those wondering, yes, it is available for download at a lesser price (a mere $6.49), but I really hesitated offering it in that format because, hell, it’s not like the columns aren’t online! But as someone who regularly buys books released by the folks over at the Onion A.V. Club, I’m the first to admit that it’s always nicer to hold an actual book in your hand.

By the way, I wasn’t kidding when I made that comment about how I’m assured that the conversations are insightful. I figured that if I was going to go the distance and put out a book, the least I could do was go the whole nine yards and get myself some blurbs to put on the back. Little did I know I’d receive comments that would make my ego swell to such a degree that I can barely get my head out the door …

hooksnyou.jpgIt’s vacation time already? Awesome! Time to kick back, relax, and…oh, wait, I forgot: this is only a part-time writing gig, and I still have to keep doing my full-time writing gig. Oh, well, at least this means I get a bit of a break from going completely insane on Monday afternoons as I try to finish up my column on time (and inevitably fail miserably at it).

Our commander in chief, Mr. Giles, has told me on several occasions that I shouldn’t feel bad about skipping a week here and there with “Hooks ‘N’ You,” since he knows how much I have to do for Bullz-Eye. Thing is, I enjoy writing this column for the same reason all of us here at Popdose offer our contributions to the site: not because we have to, but because we want to. It’s one big ol’ labor of love, folks. Plus, really, where else on the ‘net could I have the flexibility to write a column that spotlights albums ranging from George Burns to Kylie Minogue?

What it’s also given me, however, is the opportunity to have conversations with several of the artists whose records have provided me with a lot of great spins over the years. I realize that the beauty of having a regular column on a website is that people can just click on the appropriate tag and pull up every single one of your previous works, but when I looked back myself, I realized that A) I’ve talked to a lot of great artists since kicking off this column in January ’08, and B) even *I* got bored clicking through a year’s worth of columns. So for your easy access, here’s a quick list of the folks who were kind enough to talk with me either by phone or E-mail for “Hooks ‘N’ You” in 2008:

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How many of you remember your first music purchase? I have a terrible memory, so I’m not sure if it really was my first purchase ever, but I absolutely remember buying my first CD with my own money. I was eight, the year was 1984, and the unfortunate CD was Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers. (I don’t know what CDs cost back then, but I must have done a lot of chores to be able to afford one at that age.) I say “unfortunate” not because the album was bad — I still enjoy it even today — but because it just becomes the laughingstock of the first-purchase conversation. I could absolutely tell people that it was Def Leppard, Billy Joel, David Bowie — hell, even Ride the Lightning if I wanted to be cool — but I know that at some point I’d tell someone the wrong thing and get called on it and then not only will people laugh at my purchase but they’ll think I’m an asshole for lying about it too. It’s really a no-win situation, so I just stick with the truth. Besides, people are just as horrified when I cradle my self-titled Frank Stallone record like it’s my child, so at that point “Karma Chameleon” is like 100 times better.

I’m an absolute junkie for the “My first record was …” story, so I’d love to hear what yours is after you take a listen to the 19 below as we continue this week with the letter “B.”

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Have you ever found yourself sucked into an episode of “Behind the Music” or “Bands Reunited” and, even though you didn’t necessarily like the artist in question (or maybe didn’t even know who they were), you still found yourself enthralled just because the story itself was interesting? If so, then believe me when I tell you that, whether you’re familiar with the dance-pop duo known as Blue Mercedes or not, you owe it to yourself to read this week’s column.

I have to be honest: by the time I became familiar with Blue Mercedes, their brief flirtation with the American charts had come, gone, and made precious little impact on me. Despite my ignorance, however, the duo of David Titlow and Duncan Millar proudly sat atop Billboard Dance Charts from February 20 through March 12 of 1988 with their hit single, “I Want To Be Your Property.” The song also found its way to #66 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well, which wasn’t half bad for a first crossover attempt. Too bad it was the pair’s first and last placing…which might explain why, some two years later, I came upon the band’s lone studio album, Rich and Famous, in a cut-out bin in a Camelot Music in Danville, VA.

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Listening to the album now, I’ll be the first to admit that it hasn’t all aged well…but, really, the same could be said of rather a few albums from the ’80s. It’s all about approaching the material from the mindset of the time in which it was recorded and released, and when one does that, several instant classics emerge.

It’s obvious why the aforementioned “I Want To Be Your Property” was both the opening track and the album’s first single, with its infectious chorus and the instantly memorable line, “I want to live like Cyd Charisse.” (More on that later.) Titlow’s voice sounds like an amalgam of Martin Fry of ABC, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, and…I dunno, maybe 10% Rick Astley? Nah, I’m probably mistaken about that one. In fact, it’s probably only the influence of Pete Waterman on the music – it was produced by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow for PWL – that even makes such a ludicrous comparison come to mind.

“Your Secret Is Safe With Me” is another strong number, sounding vaguely like Sade’s “The Sweetest Taboo” as it progresses along with its jazz-pop groove, asking the rather odd (at least in this musical context) but definitely unforgettable question, “Would you like a knuckle sandwich?” The single best song on the album, however, is “Crunchy Love Affaire“…and, yes, the spelling of “affaire” is correct. As I told both Titlow and Millar themselves, it sounds like the best single Spandau Ballet never released, with a sweeping string arrangement that’s downright gorgeous, and even if you don’t buy into the metaphor within the title, which suggests that the love affair in question comes “with a soft inside,” there’s one simple line in the song which is delivered with melancholy that no less a mope than Morrissey himself would be proud to have written it:

Forever to be
Inevitably
Alone

Whoa.