Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan King’

We have a thing in our house called the Andre Norton Effect. The Andre Norton Effect states that you can read and enjoy an Andre Norton novel as an adult only if you read and enjoyed the same novel as a kid. Nostalgia always forgives. The Andre Norton Effect explains a range of mysterious activities; for example, why I still like Billy Idol’s “White Wedding,” a song that by any objective standard is a speed bump in the forward path of musical progress.

So if in this series I have trampled upon someone’s favorite band from their youth, I’d like to apologize. If, for example – and I’m speaking at random here and not from intimate knowledge of anyone I know but rather I am proposing a fictional composite – you loved folk music as an idealistic college student a certain number of years ago and you worked hard after school serving espresso coffee to beatniks at the Sugar Shack and you spent your meager paycheck on, say, an album by We Five, then you perhaps took offense at certain observations I made about the lads. And if I had had your experience, I might never have said what I said. But I lack your experience, which is why I basically said that they suck. Sor-ree.

Out already
Two disqualifications this evening:

V6
This Japanese boy band debuted in 1995 singing covers of popular “eurobeat” songs. (Eurobeat means disco updated for the new millenium.) Each V6 member is assigned a color for life, and apparently they are in V6 for life – the oldest boy is now 43. I’m disqualifying them because the whole concept is terrifyingly stupid.

Temperance 7
The Temperance Seven
The New Temperance Seven
The Temperance Eight
This is all the same group, formed in Britain in 1957. They split in the ’60s; when they reformed in the ’80s they called themselves The New Temperance Seven and then expanded to The Temperance Eight. They played jazz and engaged in low comedy.

The Temperance Industrial Complex interest me only because I read that they had a hit in 1961 with “You, You’re Driving Me Crazy.” The producer was George Martin and that was his first trip to the number-one spot. It’s kind of New Orleans-y. Their singer, Whispering Paul McDowell, has listened to too much Rudy Vallee. “Whispering” is a great nickname…but not for a singer.

OK. Let’s go 6!

Apollonia 6
Prince had a trio of female singers named Vanity 6 who became Apollonia 6 when Vanity was replaced by Apollonia. I never dated anyone named Apollonia or Vanity. I never even went to a party where they had Apollonias and Vanitys. Apollonia 6 released one album, Sex Shooter (1984), featuring the title cut, “Sex Shooter” (“I’m a sex shooter/shootin’ love in your direction/I’m a sex shooter/come and play with my affections”). Their songs are Prince’s leftovers. Watch their videos with the sound off.

The 6ths
This is a side project of indie-god Stephin Merritt, who writes emo kinds of songs and then gets other indie-gods to sing them. Merritt released albums in 1995 (Wasp’s Nest) and 2000 (Hyacinths & Thistles). I’m not sure whom to compare The 6ths to, except maybe the Paisley Underground bands I mentioned the other day when I listened to The Three O’Clock. Wasp’s Nest has grown on me over the years.

Six By Seven
Allmusic.com describes them as “drone pop.” I don’t usually understand Allmusic’s descriptions, but this one I totally get. The five Brits in Six By Seven are the musical equivalent of an airliner waiting for its turn to take off. You never leave the runway but the engines stay revved. They occasionally do better on songs such as “Candlelight” (The Things We Make, 1998), but even there it never completely takes flight.

Sixpence None the Richer
Normally, I avoid Christian rock like the 10 plagues. So it’s only because of this project that I found myself voluntarily listening to Sixpence None the Richer. Sixpence broke into the mainstream with “Kiss Me” (1999), which was featured on Dawson’s Creek, which I guess was some kind of Young Adult cultural launching pad. It’s OK. The chiming guitars sound like LA in 1983 or like someone has thrown a blanket over R.E.M.

Sixpence gained more attention with covers of two British bands: “There She Goes” by The La’s and “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House. These pleasant interpretations don’t stray far from the originals. Sixpence None the Richer is sort of like Coldplay; just turn down the intensity and turn up the God. If I ever do a project on bands with money in their names (Cash Money Millionaires, 50 Cent, Pennywise, The Dimes, Nickelback, Ke$ha, Buck Owens) I’ll give them a second listen.

7 Seconds
They started playing their brand of unlistenable punk in the first wave of California punk bands in the late 1970s and here they are in 2013 still playing their brand of unlistenable punk. Founder Kevin Seconds is still with the band. Major points to Kevin for doing what he loves to do for 34 years, even if what he loves to do is unlistenable.

7 Seconds of Love
Another comedy act, like Four Bitchin’ Babes, but with rock rather than folk. Quizno’s uses their music in their commercials. I know I’m falling down on the job here, but their music is not on Rhapsody and I didn’t feel like trolling YouTube. I’ll wait until a Quizno ad turns up in a show I’m watching.

L7
More LA punk, this time from a gang of women who have no problem with throwing a used tampon from the stage. Their album that found the greatest acceptance was Bricks Are Heavy (1992), which spawned the alt-rock Top 10 hit “Pretend We’re Dead.” Bricks Are Heavy came along right after Nirvana and was produced by Nirvana producer Butch Vig. Yes, L7 benefited from the grunge groundswell, but they’re just as good as Alice in Chains or Temple of the Dog. “Everglade” and “Shitlist” were ’90s anthems. “Pretend We’re Dead” is not only infectious, it even has fun with words (“What’s up with what’s going down?”).

Unfortunately, the singers, Suzi Gardner and Donita Sparks, sound like they’re shagged out following a prolonged sqauwk. Actually, they sound like a very tired Joan Jett. If only Jett or Pat Benatar had sung this set….As it is, the album is locked in its era and not aging well, but “Pretend We’re Dead” will always sound good and “Everglade” is still a great driving song.

Crazy 8’s
I came close to disqualifying them, as they were never with a major label and are almost unknown outside of the Pacific Northwest. But their music is available on Rhapsody, and Special D and I saw them in Seattle in 1988 when they sang “Let’s get naked!” and we could see how hopeful they were that people actually would get naked. (They were disappointed for probably the one millionth time.) So I’m leaving them in.

If you like The English Beat, General Public, and The Specials, try Crazy 8’s, especially “Scratch & Claw.” Their best songs are collected on Still Crazy After All These Beers (2000). Whether you get naked or dress in business casual is your business.

8Ball
The only thing I can say about this Southern rapper is that his birth name is Premro Smith, and why did he think he needed a new name when he was already Premro? Try being born as Steve and see what that’s like! I can only dream of a name like Premro.

Nine Inch Nails

10cc
They started out in life as Hotlegs, a group of guys from Manchester with an impressive history involving The Yardbirds, The Hollies, Herman’s Hermits, Jeff Beck, and Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders. They scored a hit in 1970 with “Neanderthal Man,” which is one fun song, and became 10cc after signing with Jonathan King and being renamed by him.

(Apparently, when Jonathan King went into action, his partner could expect approximately 10ccs at the finish. Loyal Reader Bill Seabrook claims this name came to King in a dream. What an odd coincidence – I have the same kind of dream!)

10cc wrote literate lyrics for pop music that makes me ill. “Donna” is a 1972 doo-wop satire that I can’t stand. “Rubber Bullets” was another hit in 1973 and another swipe at the ’50s. It sounds way too much like ELO.

They were a smash in the UK, but they didn’t break into the US charts until 1975’s “I’m Not in Love,” which I heard every night at the restaurant where I worked as a dishwasher and back-up cook. I can’t hear it today without smelling something I’ve left too long on the grill. I’m going to stop here, even though they still have two more super explosive smash hit explosions that I would prefer to forget: “The Things We Do for Love” (1977) and “Dreadlock Holiday” (1978).

10 Years
10 Years is a ’90s alternative band that made the mistake of not forming until 2002. “Wasteland” (Autumn Effect) would’ve sounded spectacular in 1995 instead of derivative in 2005. “Beautiful” (Division) was another hit for them, this one in 2008. I would’ve enjoyed it more in 1998 before I heard a hundred other similar songs. If you’re into slow-moving, immensely heavy guitars, you might dig these guys, or you might want to stick with Tool.

Ten Years After
My feeling about Ten Years After is that they never had the material to match Alvin Lee’s guitar skills. Eric Clapton has had this problem for about 40 years. “I’d Love to Change the World” (1971) is a trippy souvenir of its time with a dynamite guitar line. “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl” (1969) would be difficult to play today, now that we’ve learned that grown men should not be initiating sexual relationships with females who are still using Hello Kitty notebooks. “Love Like a Man” (1969) is a blues-rock hybrid that would’ve fit right in on a Led Zep or even a Steppenwolf album. In fact,  “Oo You” on McCartney (1970) sounds a lot like it, only it’s better.

Ten Years After is best known for “I’m Going Home.” It was one of the highlights of Woodstock, though at 11 minutes there’s a lot of filler to wade through. The fireworks don’t start until the 8-minute mark. The album version, which is half that length, still rocks today. At times it sounds as if Lee is trying to update Bill Haley’s “Rock Around the Clock”!

Stonedhenge is the perfect name for an album released in 1969.

Tomorrow night: 12 through 80!

The biggest change in music in the 1990s came from the Internet. This is not a secret. We flocked online when the first graphical user interface browser was introduced in 1993, and by 1999 you could listen to your favorite radio station by visiting their website. In fact, you didn’t need a real radio station at all. I found this out in 1999 when I went to work at Visio and met a graphic designer named David. Following the tradition of all people younger than me whom I trick into becoming my friends, he gave me a tip about music: Spinner.com. My life changed.

Spinner was an Internet radio station. Its only physical presence in my life (if this counts as physical) was the gorgeous red Deco-styled boom box that appeared on my computer screen once I downloaded their software. (There were no corporate firewalls in 1999. Or if there were, there wasn’t one at Visio Corp.) Spinner gave me, as I remember it, approximately three dozen channels divided by genre. Classic Rock, New Wave, indie, soul, neo-soul, baroque, romantic, West Coast jazz, big band, bebop, etc. While I worked I gobbled music like free donuts in the break room.

Whichever channel I was listening to, Spinner told me in a sort of CNN crawl on the boom box the song and the artist. This was particularly important to me because by 1999 mainstream radio djs had stopped giving this information so as to increase the time for commercials. The crawl also told me what the next song and artist on that channel would be and what was playing on some of my other channels.

There was no charge for Spinner, and there were few commercials.

Spinner introduced me to music I never knew existed. Country blues, for instance. This was blues from the 1920s through the ’40s made by poor whites from the South. I learned about trance, a form of electronica that Special D will not allow in the house. Trance, house, and acid jazz are genres you’d hear at a rave. Or so I am told. I’ve only been to one rave and that was in 1981, and we didn’t have the word “rave” yet. Or glowsticks. Or electricity. I suppose raves have changed a bit since then.

I became reacquainted with surf music, which was going through a renaissance, and met The Baronics. I learned much more jazz, immersed myself in Mozart, Telemann, and various other frilly-laced troublemakers, heard plenty of ’80s alternative and ’90s alternative (’80s wins) (assuming anyone can define “alternative”), and surprised myself with the Oldies channel. There were many songs from the ’60s that I didn’t know, and I was there! Chief among them was The Walker Brothers’ “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” which had completely escaped me. That song’s pretty good, I thought. My experience just shows you how oceanic is our culture. No matter how hip you are, you can never hope to swim in it all.

Spinner had its quirks. Playlists were limited. Erasure was in heavy rotation on the New Wave channel; they’re Tears for Fears on nitrous oxide. Peter & Gordon and Chad & Jeremy were fixtures among the Oldies, though I still can’t tell any of them apart. Spinner loved new albums, so I heard a lot of freshly minted music. Certain novelty numbers turned up frequently; one was Jonathan King’s “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” from 1965. (Though Spinner never spun it, “Everyone’s Gone to the Moon” can’t compare to King’s cover of the Stones’ “Satisfaction” as done in the style of The Kinks from their Muswell Hillbillies album.)

But these barely qualify as flaws. I was in love.

Naturally, this situation couldn’t last. Spinner was assimilated into Napster and Napster into Netscape. They turned the cool boom box into a gray rectangle! Suddenly, the music was available to subscribers only, except for a free 90-minute block each day. I can’t blame Netscape for trying to make money from this venture. Eventually they locked out cheapskates like me, but by then (about 2004) I had discovered Rhapsody. Rhapsody has its problems but overall it’s worked for me for eight years. It’s an old friend now. An interesting, enlightening, cranky old friend.

Special D urged me to launch this blog, but David is the one who gave me the key to the highway. I have no idea what happened to him, but he probably went on to invent Pandora or Spotify. I should’ve stayed in touch – he could’ve given me a job!

Random ’90s Pick of the Day
Hole, Live Through This (1994)
If there’s a grunge formula, Hole follows it closely, but that doesn’t take away from this record’s cumulative power. There’s more anguish in Live Through This and in Courtney Love’s deceased husband, Kurt Cobain’s, Nevermind, than in all the rest of grunge. Nevermind (1991) was epic, but Live Through This is what I listen to. The line “I get what I want/and I never want it again” (“Violet”) is the flipside of U2’s “I gave you everything you ever wanted/it wasn’t what you wanted” (“So Cruel,” Achtung Baby, 1991).

Random ’90s Pan of the Day
Soundgarden, Superunknown (1994)
I can’t remember the last time I played this. I went looking for the CD last night and couldn’t find it. Oh well.

Tomorrow on ’90s Week: The road goes ever on? Not according to Rand-McNally!