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Michael McDonald Tag

Soul Serenade - HeatwaveRod Temperton died recently. Although he never had a hit record under his own name, his fame as a songwriter, producer, and member of the band Heatwave insured that he will never be forgotten.

Although Temperton made his name in American R&B, he was born in Lincolnshire in England. His father didn’t read him bedtime stories. Instead he stuck a transistor radio in his crib. As a result, Pemberton’s interest in music began at a early age. Temperton played drums in his early bands, but after high school he went to work in a frozen food factory and played music on a part-time basis.

New albums from a classic band or artist can sometimes be a dodgy proposition. But when I saw the news last year that The Doobie Brothers had a new album on tap, their first release of new material in 10 years, I was intrigued. The Doobies had an ace up their sleeve – they had coaxed (and as you can see from the conversation below, one could argue that it was the songs) legendary producer and longtime Doobie associate/friend Ted Templeman (Van Halen, Aerosmith, Little Feat) out of his semi-retired state to produce what would become World Gone Crazy. Since the album’s release in late 2010, the Doobies have been turning heads, notching a top 40 debut on the Billboard Top 200 charts and even generating radio airplay which came initially via the first single “Nobody,” a song that was rescued and re-recorded at the suggestion of Templeman from their original self-titled 1971 debut release (and it holds special significance as being the first song and also the first album they ever recorded with Templeman).

2011 finds the band very busy with the success of World Gone Crazy – they recently made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry and have continued to make new strides internationally with recent concert dates in Australia and New Zealand and a flurry of activities confirmed for the rest of the year. In talking with Doobie Brothers principal member Tom Johnston (vocals/guitars), the band’s goals were simple – they wanted to make a good album. And they’ve certainly done that and a lot more, proving to the non-believers and naysayers that there’s plenty of gas left in the tank. With an incredible career that now stretches past the 40 year mark, The Doobie Brothers show no sign of slowing down and if you’ve heard the new album, you know there’s a lot to celebrate about that.  If you haven’t heard World Gone Crazy, do yourself a favor and pick it up – if you’ve ever been a Doobie Brothers fan either casually or hardcore, World Gone Crazy is mandatory listening.

Matt Wardlaw: Congrats on the new record! As you move past your 40th anniversary as a band, I’ve been reading plenty of great reviews, including one that called the album one of your best since What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits. That’s a huge compliment and I would certainly say that this is one of the best records you’ve done since reuniting.

Tom Johnston: It’s the best record we’ve done since reuniting as far as I’m concerned and that includes all four of them. I think this is head and shoulders above anything we’ve done, including Cycles. Cycles was okay but it didn’t come close to the musicianship and the quality of the tunes and the arrangements. Yeah, this one really is a good body of work and we’re all really happy with it.

It’s a Christmas edition of Bottom Feeders where we feature nothing even remotely about Christmas! But part 32 treats us way better than 31 as we continue looking at the letter M and songs that hit the Billboard rock chart that failed to cross into the Hot 100.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Mary’s Danish
“Don’t Crash the Car Tonight” 1989, Modern Rock #7 (download)

Mary’s Danish was a bit of an eclectic group playing a mix of rock, funk and country. They were front by a female duo of Gretchen Seager and Julie Ritter with guitarist Louis Gutierrez coming over from The Three O’Clock which he had left before Vermillion came out. “Don’t Crash the Car Tonight” was from their debut album – There Goes the Wondertruck.

The more interesting thing is that the name Julie Ritter rings a bell. I know she’s released a couple solo records, but it’s not from that and I thought for a minute that she might be a Popdose staff favorite but a quick search yielded no articles on her. So, now I’m curious why I think I recognize her so much.

Dave Mason
“Something in the Heart” 1987, #24 (download)

Since Dave Mason was in Traffic it really wasn’t very hard to piece together that Steve Winwood was on this track, but isn’t it amazing that one note from the Win-Synth just gives that away without any doubt in your mind? Not only that, but the layered vocals kind of make Mason sound like Billy Joel here.  So “Something In the Heart” could very well pass for a Billy Joel & Steve Winwood tune.

Nick Mason & Rick Fenn
“Lie For A Lie” 1985, #21 (download)

Nick Mason is the drummer for Pink Floyd and Rick Fenn was the guitarist for 10CC. These guys actually worked together on this (billed as Mason + Fenn on the album) and scored two movies together. “Lie for a Lie” is one of only two songs on Profiles that contain vocals – and of course you are hearing David Gilmour on this track.

Max Q
“Way of the World” 1989, Modern Rock #6 (download)

Don’t recognize the name Max Q? Listen to the track then. If you’re an ‘80s fan you won’t be able to forget the recognizable voice of Michael Hutchence. Yeah, this was Hutchence’s one-off side project from INXS in 1989 and while the self-titled album doesn’t match up with the best INXS discs, it is quite good and if nothing else a neat piece of his musical history that a lot of people haven’t heard. The band never played live and the album didn’t sell so it’s never been re-released, even after his death. This is definitely worth a couple bucks if you can locate it.

Some artists are world-renowned for their hit songs, others may never have had a hit at all, but they’ve recorded music that has lasted and has accrued considerable fan following. Popdose is pleased to present a feature we hope will shed light on those often overlooked recordings, but don’t forget: these aren’t their greatest hits – they’re Popdose’s Greatest Bits.

“They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast.” Don Henley claims that “Hotel California” was written as a direct tribute to the band Steely Dan because, to paraphrase, “they could write about anything – they had no limits.” This is true. If you’re going to name your jazz-rock band after a dildo, you better be ready to bring out the subversion. The term, “steely dan” comes from William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, and one can only assume Henley knew this going into his most famous outing with the Eagles.

In reality, it’s not all that important. There were so many asides, inside jokes and double entendre in the songs of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker that, if AM radio actually knew what was being slipped under their noses, they might not have played it. Case in point, “The Cuervo Gold, the fine Colombian, make tonight a wonderful thing.” The song’s title, “Hey Nineteen”, puts the cant on the camera. What exactly was Rikki’s number? Who was the old man and why shouldn’t you have crossed him back in Oregon? Not important. What is important is the impeccable craft that went into every Steely Dan release. Each album was considered audiophile quality long before they charged the consumer three times as much for audiophile quality. Every part played was exacting. Every sound was intended.

And with all that fussiness, they still had huge charting hits in the 1970s and up to 1980’s Gaucho. But that’s not why we’re here…

I am 16.

It’s July, and I’m in Florida, where, to quote my uncle Larry, the air is so fucking wet that you won’t notice if you towel off after stepping out of the shower. I’m visiting my grandparents, but really, I wander off alone whenever I can; I spend hours wandering the streets of their town.

I read William Diehl’s Hooligans, a pulpy murder mystery whose protagonist is haunted by an impossible love. I watch the sun setting on the beach, but I don’t focus on the sun; instead, my eyes are on the lightning streaking over the horizon. I hope for rain. I want to stand in it. No; I want it to wash me away.

I want to be gone, in the way that only being 16 and heartbroken can make you want to be gone. I’m not crying, but I feel like I should be. Like it might break some emotional dam somewhere, and clear out this misery in one huge, fluid rush.

And I listen, again and again and again, to a song that was fucking co-written by Diane Warren.

Jimmy Webb - Just Across the RiverI have a lot to say about this album, so strap yourselves in. First off, I should tell you that Jimmy Webb has no bigger fan than me. He is far and away my favorite songwriter, and has been since I first heard “MacArthur Park” in 1968. He is undoubtedly one of the most important songwriters of the last 50 years. I own pretty much everything he’s ever put his name on be it vinyl, cassettes, CDs, or his 1998 book Tunesmith. Everyone has their personal Jimmy Webb. He’s mine.

Based on all of the above, I must admit to a little bit of disappointment when I received my copy of Webb’s new album Just Across the River (E1 Music). Don’t get me wrong, anything new from Webb is welcome in my home, it’s just that there’s not all that much that is new on this album, at least in terms of the songs. Do we really need new versions of “By the Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” or “Galveston,” which, while great songs, are among the most covered songs in musical history? Then there’s “P.F. Sloan,” another great song, but one that has been recorded by Webb himself a number of times already. After all, it’s been five years since Webb’s last album of new material, Twilight of the Renegades, and I’ve been waiting patiently for something new.

Had director Garry Marshall consulted me during the postproduction editing stage of Pretty Woman, the film would have ended with Julia Roberts’ lovable hooker Vivian being driven away from the Beverly Wilshire to the strains of Roxette’s “It Must Have Been Love”. We would also have seen the wonderfully empty Richard Gere’s emotionally distant corporate raider Edward standing on a Wilshire balcony, mourning the loss of the only woman he ever truly loved, or at least the only one he ever paid three grand to fuck for a week.

Fade to black. Cut. Print. Roll credits.

Oh, no, you say, not so fast, Cecil B. DeSmitty. You want the fairy tale, just like Vivian tells Edward before that particular montage. Lots of people wanted the fairy tale. Garry Marshall certainly wanted the fairy tale, and instead of a relatively reasonable ending to a film with a decidedly unreasonable premise, we got Sir Edward riding in to “save” Princess Vivian from turning her life around on her own terms, whisking her away to be his well-cared-for trophy wife forever and ever, amen.


Welcome back to another edition of the wimpiest series on Popdose, Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold! Last time we met, we covered a wonderful, wordless song — well, mostly wordless, unless you count Mang’s 1982 version or my highly superior recording with kick-ass lyrics. This week’s song might as well be wordless because, frankly, the actual lyrics don’t matter. What is important, however, is the tone of the lyrics, which — combined with the music — will go to prove that the handsome man in the miner’s hat is not only the Patron Saint of Popdose, but the Patron Saint of Mellow Gold altogether; his influence spreads over all the best Mellow Gold artists like a bad case of gonorrhea, and inspires them not only to be their Mellow Goldiest, but to pay the Mellow Gold forward. And what better day to do it than today, February 12 — which, as my buddy Matt Wardlaw pointed out in his excellent Ticket Stub series, is Michael McDonald’s birthday! Happy birthday, Michael! My birthday present to you is that I promise not to call you at midnight in celebration like I did last year. And the year before. You’ll just have to console yourself with Matt’s greeting cards.

Okay, on to the wimpy music!

Greg Guidry — Goin’ Down (download)

nullI know, I know: Who? Well, I’ll tell you, but first I’ll answer the question that many New Yorkers might have right now: no, Greg is not related to Ron Guidry, legendary pitcher for the New York Yankees. (And believe it or not, I knew who Ron was without even having to look it up!) He is, however, related to just about every other Guidry: his debut album featured his siblings Sandy, Cathie, Randy, Tito and Marlon.

Guidry (shown here making a call to a phone sex hotline) grew up in St. Louis, playing in various high school and college bands. At 23, he signed a songwriter deal with CBS, like many Mellow Gold artists at the time. In 1982, Guidry released his solo debut Over the Line, and in March of ’82 “Goin’ Down” reached #17. A second single, a duet with his sister Sandy entitled “Into My Love,”didn’t get any higher than #92 — most likely because it’s a song called  “Into My Love” sung WITH HIS SISTER.

Okay Popdose citizens, it’s time for a quiz: Tomorrow is a very important day that demands your attention and appreciation. Do you know why that is?

If you answered that it is the beginning of Valentine’s Day Weekend, you are technically correct, but that’s not the answer that I’m looking for in today’s lesson. For more on that topic, I’ll direct you to my good pal and occasional political enemy D.W. Dunphy and his feelings on love. Hold me.

The correct answer: Friday is the birthday of blue eyed soul brother #1, Michael McDonald! McDonald is practically the patron saint of Popdose, and the most discussed artist in ‘Dose history. Our team of statisticians combed through the entire site and discovered an astounding 884 mentions of McDonald.

Can I get an amen?


Holy crap! Is it February already? It seems like only yesterday your three favorite idiots from The Popdose Podcast were blathering on about…what did we talk about last month, anyway? No matter. It’s a new month, and time for a brand new topic — and this one’s pretty great, if we do say so ourselves.

Loyal listeners of Ye Olde Popdose Podcast know that, when possible, we like to focus our discussions on a specific holiday: Thanksgiving, Christmas, etcetera etcetera. But here’s something particularly awesome about February — we have a holiday that lasts a whole month! Yes, it’s Black History Month, and what better way to celebrate it than with a trio of pasty white dudes? Please, join us for The Popdose Podcast, Episode 6: Awesome Black People! And before you start shaking your head, wondering if you can possibly listen to our usual irreverent banter with a clear conscience, we’re proud to announce our very first guest on the podcast — none other than Popdose’s own Mike Heyliger, an Awesome Black Person in his own right, who challenged us to come up with as many offensive questions for him as possible. Were we successful? Did he hang up on us? Am I writing this from jail? There’s only one way to find out. So click away, or do so on iTunes (link below), and speaking of iTunes, don’t forget to leave us a review. You’ll be our favoritest Valentine.

The Popdose Podcast, Episode 6: Awesome Black People! (1:07:00, 76.7 MB), featuring Jeff Giles, Jason Hare, and Dave Lifton, with Gordon’s friend from Sesame Street, Mike Heyliger.
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Show Notes

0:00 Intro: Jason reminds everyone he’s in Acoustic ’80s, and then we’re off on this month’s topic, which is (in case you forgot already) Awesome Black People.

Thirty-one years ago this week, the Doobie Brothers released the single that perfectly meshed their original boogie-rock style with the keyboard-heavy R&B that Michael McDonald brought to the table. It would go on to reach Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 and win Grammy Awards for both Record and Song of the Year.

I don’t need to get into details as I did on my previous blog several years ago.  You can read that post if you’d like.  But again, “What A Fool Believes” is the greatest song ever written.

I have always wondered, in fact, why there haven’t been more blog posts dedicated to this magnificent song, in all its glory.  Seems like it’s just me and Stereogum.  Either way, here are seven different versions of “What A Fool Believes,” in the order that I dig ’em.  This post is dedicated to my wife, who now hates this song more than anything else in the entire world.


When it comes time for your three favorite schmucks to gather ’round their computers and record themselves talking for a couple of hours, usually they’ve already spent at least a week discussing possible topics that will truly engage and amuse their listeners.

Not this time.

See, because of the holidays, we’ve gotten a little off our regular monthly schedule, so in order to knock us back on track, we present you with this very special (read: unrehearsed) Bonus Episode of The Popdose Podcast, in which the three of us get together and just talk about whatever we want. Don’t worry, you’ll still get your fill of mother jokes (if you didn’t get your fill of Dave’s mother last week…ZING!) and comments about Mellowmas, Michael McDonald, and, of course, Wing. Just think of this episode as the aural version of us going commando, and then proceed to erase that image from your mind so you can get through lunch.

So please, have a click, won’t you? You can do so here or on iTunes (link below), and speaking of iTunes, don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you’ve heard!

The Popdose Podcast, Episode 5: The Bonus Episode (1:08:46, 78.7 MB), featuring Jeff Giles, Jason Hare, and Dave Lifton.
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You can also subscribe to the podcast’s RSS feed.

Show Notes

0:00 Intro: Jason & Jeff applaud themselves for another harrowing season of Mellowmas, discussing Lindsay Lohan, the “best” Mellowmas track, Jason interviewing New Yorkers about Bob Dylan, and the awesomeness that is the Popdose mic cube. We also discuss the volume of snail mail Jeff gets on a daily basis, yet he can’t seem to snag a screener of Crazy Heart.