Top 4 things I learned after tripping over The Righteous Brothers

Posted: April 14, 2017 in music, Record reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

The Very Best of The Righteous Brothers: Unchained Melody
The Righteous Brothers
1990

For all of you who read my title and are now trying to drag me out of the seat I paid for: Hear me, my people!

I’m not disputing the angelic status of Bobby Hatfield and Bill Medley. They sang with the power of 10 Grinches, plus 2. I’d rather listen to the two of them than to The Three Tenors, The Three Tenors and a Soprano, The Three Sopranos, Three Mo’ Tenors, or the four second basemen the Red Sox had in 1978. (Nothing got through that infield.)

But after hand-to-hand combat with the dozen songs on this disc, I came to some unexpected conclusions.

1) This is an outstanding example of a record where everything is either timeless or timed to expire.

Unchained Melody offers three icons of the 1960s: the title track, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’,” and “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration.” There’s also one pretty good song, “Little Latin Lupe Lu,” the only time The Righteous Brothers ever got any cardio.

The remaining eight songs are wedges of frozen tundra. Four out of 12 is a fantastic success rate for a baseball player, but Unchained Melody is the equivalent of hitting three grand slams and a single while grounding into eight triple plays.

2) The message of “Just Once in My Life” –

Once in my life, let me get what I want
Girl, don’t let me down!
Just once in my life, let me hold on to one good thing I found!

– was echoed 20 years later by The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want,” with a postmodern twist:

So for once in my life
Let me get what I want
Lord knows, it would be the first time

3) Medley and Hatfield were like so emo. If they were starting out today, they’d wash that Brylcream right out of their hair and let it fall in uneven bangs across their field of vision. These sad boys are always being pushed out the emergency exit. Even on “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration,” they’re trying too hard – no woman could be all of that for one man. She’d feel trapped. Look in her eyes, kid, she’s packing her bags.

4) Excuse me for taking forever to figure this out. When The Walker Brothers recorded “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” they were imitating The Righteous Brothers. “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” even has that fake Phil Spector production – something Bill Medley pulled off when he gave “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” that fake Phil Spector production.

The Righteous Brothers vs. The Walker Brothers: An analysis

The Righteous Brothers:
– Two guys who weren’t brothers
– Weren’t named Righteous
– Formed in California

The Walker Brothers:
– Three guys who weren’t brothers
– Weren’t named Walker, but they all changed their names to Walker
– Formed in California, pretended to be English

DJs today have a concept called “deep cuts,” which means playing songs that don’t get played much. No DJ is going to look to this disc for deep cuts, not even “Ebb Tide,” which in 1965 was a super explosive smash-hit explosion but today smells like everything the sea leaves behind.

Sadly, the good songs on Unchained Melody are also term-limited. Per order of the National Popular Music Safety Board, “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’ ” and its equals can only be played at weddings.

Rock on Brother Medley, and rest in peace Brother Hatfield.

Random Pick of the Day
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)
This is the band that gave us Q-Tip. I can’t believe that I’ve been fighting all my life for a good nickname and this gentleman renames himself after something you stick in your ear and everybody thinks it’s totally cool! I should’ve called myself Magic Wand years ago.

We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service is the Tribe’s first record since 1998. The title is a tribute to their bandmate Phife Dawg, who died earlier in 2016.

When We Got It is good, which it is about half the time, it cuts you with a scalpel, then turns around and hands you a suture. This is jazz- and hard-rock inflected rap that takes turns having fun and having a meltdown over how fucked up this country is. “Space Program” is angry, “Dis Generation” is about cultural milestones, most of which I don’t understand, and “The Killing Season,” once it gets going, is just plain killing.

Random Pan of the Day
United Airlines

United. Meet United.
They’re the modern fascist family
With their
Cops and goon squads
They’re rewriting hospitality.

Someday, when I’m training for a fight
I’ll book me a United Airlines flight

When you’re
with United
You’ll have a yabba dabba doo time
A dabba doo time
You’ll have a – Hey! Don’t break my guitar! Don’t Tase me, bro!
Wiiiiilllllllllllllllma!

 

Comments
  1. Mr. Seaside says:

    Bill and Bobby were and are sooooo VERY Righteous, Brother. They so perfectly capture the lovesick longings of a lonely young teen. Just because their songs don’t speak to you now…and why should they?…is no reason to try to tear at their wall of sound emotion? You’re sounding old…what happened? Did a sand flea crawl up your swim trunks and bite you on the ass during a Seaside ebb-tide? Walker Brothers are to Righteous Brothers as Bee Gees are to Beatles. Righteous are in a league of their own…Walkers can’t even find a park that will allow them to play. P.S.–that said, I will still love you tomorrow.

    • Run-DMSteve says:

      I completely agree with you…for 3-1/2 songs. It’s not that the rest of their catalog doesn’t speak to me, it’s that the rest of their catalog is cow pies! But I’m glad you left a clever P.S. that connects the Righteous Ones with one of their illustrious writers.

  2. Sherry says:

    Joni does a great unchained melody montage.

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