Saturday, March 7, 2009

1981 - Year of the Album, Part II

And now the conclusion of my look back at the nether year 1981, which was one of my favorites ever for Rock 'N' Roll longplayer releases.  Here are some more of the great albums that came out that year, plus a few that weren't so great (again, in no particular order)...

Z.Z. TOP—El Loco  I already liked Z.Z. Top a lot, but El Loco forever cemented me as a fan of that Little Ol’ Band From Tejas right from the get-go with the irresistible “Tube Snake Boogie”.  True, their next album, Eliminator, was Z.Z.’s career apex in terms of global success—thanks in large part to those classic videos with the babes and the '32 Ford—but I’ve always preferred Loco, which is somewhat forgotten now, for some reason.  I have fond memories of wearing out the 8-track tape I had of it in my car during the summer of ’81, grooving to the likes of “Don’t Tease Me”, “Party On The Patio”, “Ten Foot Pole” and the underrated classic “Pearl Necklace”.  Pure as the driven slush, indeed…

MOODY BLUES—Long Distance Voyager  Most everyone had given this band up for dead (me included) when they came back from out of nowhere with Long Distance Voyager.  Original keyboardist Mike Pinder was long gone and was replaced by synthesizer maven Patrick Moraz, who was omnipresent on the first big hit from LDV, “Gemini Dream”.  “The Voice”, “Talking Out Of Turn” and “Veteran Cosmic Rocker” sounded a bit more like the classic Moodies stuff, but all in all, I much prefer their original seven albums over anything that came after.

FOREIGNER—4  Like Styx and Speedwagon before them, Foreigner broke out in a major way in ’81 with a record that featured one of my all-time favorite album covers.  “Night Life”, “Urgent”, “Juke Box Hero”, "Break It Up" and “Waiting For A Girl Like You” dominated the radio over the second half of the year as Foreigner (or as they pronounce it in Arkansas, 'Furner') was at the height of their popularity.

JOURNEY—Escape  Journey was already on the rise in the late ‘70s/ early ‘80s, and even the departure of longtime keyboardist Gregg Rolie—following 1980’s Departure, ironically—didn’t slow them down one bit.  Rolie was replaced by former Baby Jonathan Cain (come to think of it, aren’t most of us former babies?) and he stepped right in and Journey did just like one of their new songs advocated:  “Keep On Running”.  Although Escape was chuck-full of big hits (“Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Stone In Love”, “Who’s Crying Now?” and “Open Arms”, etc.), the “B-stuff” from it didn’t suck either, like “Keep On Running”, “Lay It Down” and the title track.  Scarily enough, Journey had yet to peak, either…

LOVERBOY—Get Lucky  Loverboy deftly avoided the sophomore jinx and built on the momentum generated from their first album from the year before on Get Lucky with biggies like “Working For The Weekend”, “Lucky Ones” and “Take Me To The Top”.  Under-the-radar songs like “Jump” (not the icky Van Halen song) and “It’s Your Life” were just as good as the front-line stuff, too.

DEF LEPPARD—High ‘n’ Dry  No sophomore jinx here either, and Def Lep actually improved exponentially upon their 1980 debut release On Through The Night as they began working with producer Mutt Lange, who embellished their sound with more elaborate arrangements and vocal layers.  “Let It Go” was a great leadoff track, and “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak/Switch 625” was the centerpiece of the record.  As the lyric to one of their future songs went, “the best was yet to come” for these guys.  And some of the worst, too…

THE POLICE—Ghost In The Machine  Easily my favorite Police platter, this was another one I pretty much wore out in the ol’ automobile tape deck in ’81.  Loved “Demolition Man”, “Spirits In The Material World” and “Invisible Sun” and the horns on “One World (Not Three)” and “Rehumanize Yourself” were a nice added touch.  Great concert tour the following year, too.

THE CARS—Shake It Up  The Cars responded to the inconsistent Panorama from ’80 with a record that is quintessential ‘80s in Shake It Up.  There wasn’t a bad track on this one, and it was a fun album from start-to-finish.  “Since You’re Gone”, the title track and “Cruiser” were standouts on side one, and the trippy “A Dream Away” was a great lead-off to side two (remember when albums had sides, kids?).  The late Ben Orr’s “Think It Over” should’ve been a hit single, too, IMHO.

THE GO-GO’S—Beauty And The Beat  Oh, what a breath of fresh air this was in the fall of ’81!  As good as the music was that year, I was tired of seeing nerdy guys in skinny neckties (no offense, Ric Ocasek!), thus an all-chick band in mini-skirts was just the ticket, especially an all-chick band in mini-skirts that could write and perform their own music.  The hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat” were dandy, but even better were tracks like “This Town”, “Lust To Love”, “Can’t Stop The World” and the witty “Skidmarks On My Heart”.  I lusted after Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin mightily during this time.  Still do, sometimes...

ROLLING STONES—Tattoo You  Mick and Keef and the boys rebounded rather nicely from the almost stillborn Emotional Rescue from the year before with the album that contained their classic “Start Me Up” as well as “Hang Fire” and the underrated “Waiting On A Friend”.  Love the sax solo by Bobby Keys on the latter song.  This would be the last time (pun partially intended) that the Stones would release new studio albums in successive years.

ROD STEWART—Tonight I’m Yours  Rod the Mod was coming off a bad 1980 album too (the one with the faggy-looking polka-dotted cover—I forget the title) and fared much better with this one, which yielded the big hit “Young Turks”.  The title track was fun romp, as was “Tora! Tora! Tora! (Out With The Boys)”, and I really liked Rod’s touching tribute to late cancer victim/advocate Terry Fox on “Never Give Up On A Dream”.

JOHN ENTWISTLE—Too Late The Hero  The Ox’s much-anticipated fifth solo album was a commercial flop, but it was certainly far superior to The Who's 1981 release (see below).  Guitarist Joe Walsh guest-starred on Hero and stood out on tracks like “I’m Comin’ Back” and “Love Is A Heart Attack” (an eerie omen for Enwistle himself, as it turned out), and Big Johnnie Twinkle’s bass rumbled throughout, especially on the album’s best track, “Talk Dirty”.

GENESIS—Abacab  Probably my favorite Genesis record, I remember when it came out how my friend Tom and I tried to divine the meaning of “Abacab”, trying things like matching musical notes up to the individual letters and such.  Sometimes things don’t mean anything!  Anyway, beyond the title track, I really liked “Like It Or Not” and I remember “Man On The Corner” being one of the first videos I ever saw on this new thing called MTV.

This is not to say that everything that came out in 1981 was like the popular TV show of the day "Solid Gold"—there were a few clunkers from some of my favorite groups as well…

KISS—Music From The Elder  Ah yes, the final installment of what I like to call the “Lost Weekend Years” for Kiss, in which they tried to impress all the critics with how smart they were by making a concept album whose story the band members themselves didn’t even understand.  Guitarist Ace Frehley was so disgusted with the record that he soon left the band, and when it came out, most of us die-hard fans were like “What the fuck is this?” upon hearing Paul Stanley singing lines like "a child in a sun dress," etc.  The critics naturally liked Elder, of course, and like most Kiss fans, even I have a soft spot in my heart for it, and there are a couple pretty cool tracks that sound great on my iPod—namely “The Oath”, “Escape From the Island” and "I"—but overall, the album was just plain weird.  Not-so-long ago, the Kiss tribute band Kiss attempted to resurrect “I” in concert.  Funny how Gene Simmons can’t remember how the song goes, even though he co-wrote the bloody thing!

THE WHO—Face Dances  Expectations were higher than your average Grateful Dead fan for The Who’s first studio album since the death of drummer Keith Moon, to the point where Circus magazine dubbed Face Dances as “The Fiery Return of The Who,” in one article.  Uhhh, put the hoses away, fellas, you coulda blown this fire out with your own breath.  By this time, Pete Townshend was hoarding his best songs for his solo albums, so the material was pretty bland here, especially as watered-down by erstwhile Eagles producer Bill Szymcyzk (where the hell was Glyn Johns?!?).  Kenney Jones’ rather pedestrian drumming style (which Roger Daltrey often criticized) didn’t exactly help, and only John Entwistle’s tracks—the anything-but-quiet “Quiet One” and “You”—truly rocked out here.  Of Townshend’s tunes, “You Better You Bet” hasn’t aged well with me at all, "Cache Cache", "Don't Let Go The Coat" and "Did You Steal My Money?" were pure caca and only "Daily Records" and “Another Tricky Day” were really worth writing home about.  Easily one of the most disappointing Rock albums of all-time.

TED NUGENT—Intensities In 10 Cities  Given the outstanding quality of Nugent’s 1978 live opus, Double Live Gonzo!, I was very excited when it was announced that Ted was making yet another live record in ’81.  I incorrectly assumed Intensities would be Nugent’s Kiss Alive II, so to speak, and feature live versions of his post-Gonzo! stuff off Weekend Warriors, State Of Shock and Scream Dream, and what a colossal flop this thing turned out to be!  Alas, the Rev. Theodosius Atrocious let his Alpha-male ego get the best of him and he put out a bunch of lame new songs, many with macho-man titles like “The Flying Lip-Lock” and “My Love Is Like A Tire Iron”, along with an absurd cover of Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1,000 Dances”.  About the only acceptable tracks were “Heads Will Roll” and the instrumental “TNT Overture”.  True, Intensities was merely contractual-obligation stuff that Nugent owed Epic Records, but he could’ve made a better effort than this steaming pile of yak excrement, and his career never has fully recovered from it.  He'd have been much better served to just release the 1979 "King Biscuit Flower Hour" show from Hammersmith Odeon that eventually came out on CD about ten years ago.

MOLLY HATCHET—Take No Prisoners  Molly Hatchet came roaring out of the chute with two excellent albums in 1978 and 1979, and they appeared to be the heir-apparent to Lynyrd Skynyrd as the big-cheese Southern Rock band until late lead singer Danny Joe Brown jumped ship in 1980.  Their first release without him, Beatin’ The Odds, wasn’t all that terrible, but new singer Jimmy Farrar didn't quite experience the same smooth transition enjoyed by Brian Johnson when he replaced the late Bon Scott in AC/DC the same year.  Farrar had a decent voice, but sounded so radically different than Brown, and the vibe just wasn’t the same.  Take No Prisoners was a step further backwards for Hatchet, and it was just a really bland record except for one really good track, “Bloody Reunion”, which sounded every bit as good with DJB singing it in concert upon his return.  MH’s next album, 1983’s vastly overlooked No Guts…No Glory (with Danny Joe back in the fold) was a major improvement.

ABBA—The Visitors  The bored looks on the faces of ABBA on the album cover of The Visitors should’ve been a red flag to record buyers that they were just playing out the string by this time.  There were no more new worlds left to conquer for Sweden's greatest export since Volvo, and it showed in the dull material here, plus the vocals were beginning to sound awfully robotic in places.  A creative rest might’ve suited Björn and Benny a little better…

BLACK SABBATH—The Mob Rules  The surprising success of post-Ozzy Black Sabbath on 1980’s classic Heaven And Hell, plus the excellent title track here promised great things, but sadly, the rest of Mob Rules was fairly forgettable.  From this point onward, Ozzy would have the last laugh as his career soared and Sabbath began its lead singer carousel period—Ian Gillan, David Donato, Glenn Hughes, Tony Martin, Ronnie James Dio (again), Rob Halford, Tony Martin (again), ad nauseam...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

1981 - Year of the Album, Part I

Back during my junior and senior years in high school, there was a plethora of good new music to be had on vinyl, and the year 1981 was a particularly stellar one in Rock.  More than any other year, 1981 seemed to have more major comebacks, breakout releases by bands on the rise, albums that were consistently great from start-to-finish, and numerous releases that wound up being my favorite albums by my all-time favorite bands.  It was certainly a very formative year for my musical collection, and with that in mind, here’s a look back at some dandy record albums from that magical year (in no particular order):

R.E.O. SPEEDWAGON—HI inFIdelity  A carryover from late ‘80, Speedwagon dominated the radio with this monster for most of 1981.  R.E.O.'s classic power ballad "Keep On Lovin’ You" undoubtedly brought more than a few bodies closer together over the winter of ’80-’81, and the album also yielded a boatload of hits, including "Tough Guys", "Take It On The Run", "Don’t Let Him Go" and "In Your Letter".  "Out of Season" was a great track too, and "Shakin’ It Loose" wound up being pretty good audience-participation number in concert.  R.E.O. went on to have more success in the ‘80s, but Hi inFI was clearly the pinnacle of their career.

STYX—Paradise Theater Styx rebounded nicely from their mediocre 1979 release, Cornerstone, and 1981 saw them duplicate the breakout success of their friendly Illinois rivals Speedwagon with their outstanding Paradise Theater album and its accompanying triumphant concert tour, one of the best Rock shows I ever attended.  Even though they were already squabbling internally, the members of Styx still managed to string together some standout songs like "Rockin’ The Paradise", "Too Much Time On My Hands", "Snow Blind" and "The Best Of Times".  If only Styx had quit while they were ahead…

OZZY OSBOURNE—Blizzard of Ozz  Another carryover from ’80, no one expected a thing out of Ozzy (least of all, Ozzy himself) after being booted from Black Sabbath, so what a pleasant surprise this killer record was with its Heavy Metal classics like "Crazy Train", "Suicide Solution" and "I Don’t Know".  If the late Randy Rhoads hadn’t come into the Osbournes’ lives, Ozzy and Sharon might well be on skid row today.  RR was the Stevie Ray Vaughan of Heavy Metal, and one can only wonder what he might’ve gone on to do—one of the biggest (and most senseless) tragedies in Rock history.

JEFFERSON STARSHIP—Modern Times  Starship continued to ride the momentum from their successful rebound on 1979’s Freedom At Point Zero with another solid effort here and reunited with an old friend in the process.  Erstwhile singer Grace Slick returned from some much-needed time on the wagon to duet with Mickey Thomas on the hit "Stranger" and she can also be heard backing the underrated "Save Your Love" as well as on the penultimate "Fuck You" song, "Stairway To Cleveland".  While the album did have a couple horrors like "Mary" ("I don’t want to marry Mary"—P.U.!) and "Alien", it did yield the radio-friendly hit "Find Your Way Back".

VAN HALEN—Fair Warning  Clearly, Van Halen’s self-titled debut album from 1978 was their finest, but Fair Warning has always been my favorite.  Cousin Eddie was just shredding licks all over this record from the get-go on opening track "Mean Streets" and he never let up throughout.  This album was loaded with underrated classics like "Sinner’s Swing!", "Hear About It Later", "Dirty Movies" and "So This Is Love", and this was the period during which VH was white-hot in concert (as "Unchained" easily attests) before David Lee Roth’s burgeoning ego blew everything to hell.  My only problem was the album was way too short, barely clocking in at 30 minutes, but you could say that about nearly every VH album during the DLR era.

RUSH—Moving Pictures  Finally, Geddy Lee learned how to sing after shrieking like a banshee all those years.  And finally, a consistent long-player from the boys from the Great White North.  "Tom Sawyer" was about all you heard on FM Rock radio in the spring of ’81, and the rest of the album weren’t too shabby either, with cuts like "Red Barchetta", "Limelight" and the underrated "Vital Signs".  The 10-minute-plus "The Camera Eye" is pretty cool too, with its various tempo changes and moods.  From what I understand, Rush dusted that one off and played it on tour last summer.  MP was the first in a very consistent string of albums during what was my favorite Rush era, up to and including 1987’s Hold Your Fire.

APRIL WINE—Nature Of The Beast  Another album from a group of Canucks who finally hit their stride in 1981, Beast turned out to be one of my favorite records of the year.  April Wine’s prior two albums yielded decent-sized radio hits with "Roller", "I Like To Rock" and "Say Hello", but NOTB blew away all of their previous efforts with rockers like "Future Tense", "Big City Girls", "Caught In The Crossfire", "One More Time" and my personal fave, the short-but-sweet attitude piece "Wanna Rock".  "Just Between You And Me" and "All Over Town" were big hits on the radio too, and AW seemed to be well on their way to becoming the next Foreigner or Loverboy, but it appears they shot their wad on Beast because none of their subsequent output even came close to equaling it.

BLUE ÖYSTER CULT—Fire Of Unknown Origin  This was the last really good studio record BOC ever made, in my opinion.  "Burnin’ For You" was the big radio hit, but Fire yielded some classic BOC thinking-man’s fare like "Veteran Of The Psychic Wars", the title track and the irrepressible "Joan Crawford".

THE TUBES—Completion Backward Principle  After years of being a campy (and borderline porn) stage act, Fee Waybill and the boys tried to get everyone to take them seriously as musicians, and whaddya know—it worked!  Great stuff here like "Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman", "Sushi Girl" and the big radio hit "Talk To Ya Later".  Even better was the underrated power ballad "Don’t Want To Wait Anymore", which is one of my all-time favorites of that genre.

GIRLSCHOOL—Hit And Run  I was introduced to this all-chick band from England during the summer of ’82 and was totally blown away by this wicked slab of Heavy Metal that easily rivals anything Judas Priest or Iron Maiden ever did.  They played hard, fast and lean throughout this album on tracks like "Kick It Down", "C’Mon, Let’s Go", "Future Flash", "Yeah Right!" and their killer remake of "Race With The Devil".  Not bad for a bunch of girls, eh?

AC/DC—For Those About To Rock…We Salute You  No way in hell were Angus and the boys going to top Back In Black, so anything they put out would’ve been a comedown, anyway.  Still, this one had its moments, like "Let’s Get It Up", the underrated "Put The Finger On You" and of course, the cannon-fodder laden title track.

NAZARETH—‘Snaz  Before double-live albums totally went out of style like rotary-dial phones, platform shoes and Pong games, Nazareth snuck this one out, and it featured wicked live versions of classics like "Expect No Mercy" and "Hair Of The Dog", as well as a cool cover of the Yardbirds classic "Shapes of Things" (aka, "Come Tomorrow") for an encore.  They also tacked on a nice studio cover of Tim Rose's "Morning Dew".  I categorize Nazareth as a good-but-not-great band, and ’Snaz was a nice document of their career to that point.

J. GEILS BAND—Freeze-Frame  Any group that has a Magic Dick in it can’t be all bad!  After years of toiling in obscurity and having only a cult following, the critically-acclaimed J. Geils Band finally hit pay dirt with this album, which was aided and abetted by heavy rotation on the then-fledgling MTV thing.  "Centerfold" was all over the radio, as was the title track, and "Flamethrower" even made the R&B charts as I recall.  My favorite track is the intrepid closer, "Piss On The Wall".  Unfortunately, success went to singer Peter Wolf’s big fat head, though, and he left the band for a solo career in 1983, and they were never the same.

SAMMY HAGAR—Standing Hampton  This was quite possibly Sammy’s finest hour as a solo act before joining Van Halen, with the radio-friendly hit "I’ll Fall In Love Again" and his trademark "There's Only One Way To Rock".  The album title, btw, is a British euphemism for hard-on, as "Hampton" refers to one’s manhood.  ‘Tis better to be Standing Hampton than Little Hampton…

DIRE STRAITS—Making Movies  As much as I like Straits, nothing from their first two albums really blew me away, apart from "Sultans Of Swing", and it wasn’t until album number three came along that I really found something to chew on.  "Tunnel Of Love" and "Romeo & Juliet" have grown on me a lot over the years, and "Solid Rock" should’ve been a bigger radio hit than it was.  The closing track, "Les Boys", was a fun little piece of pastiche by Mark Knopfler too.

PAT BENATAR—Precious Time  Pat’s third album was every bit as good as her first two with cuts like "Promises In The Dark", "Fire And Ice" and the title track, not to mention a nice cover of Paul Revere & The Raiders’ "Just Like Me".  However, she went to the cover well once too often with her unnecessary remake of The Beatles’ "Helter Skelter"—somehow a sexy babe singer in a leotard and tights singing a song about death and mayhem just doesn’t quite register!  Then again, Motley Crue and U2 wasted their time covering this one too, even though there’s no need to improve on the original.

BILLY SQUIER—Don’t Say No  Young master Squier had it clicking on all cylinders here and scored no less than four pretty good-sized radio hits with "The Stroke", "My Kinda Lover", "Lonely Is The Night" and "In The Dark".  My personal favorite is the frenetic "Whaddya Want From Me?" and "Too Daze Gone" didn't suck either.  Billy’s next album, Emotions In Motion was even more successful in terms of sales, but I think DSN was the better of the two.  Then it all went downhill a couple years later when Squier more or less outed himself in the disastrous "Rock Me Tonite" video.  Too bad—this guy had the chops on guitar and wasn’t too shabby a songwriter either.

More to follow in Part II, coming soon...

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Me and you and a blog named Boo

PAUL HARVEY, 1918-2009
Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey turned his last page over the weekend.  True, he was a conservative, but at least he was a fair one, and I enjoyed his work, esp. "The Rest Of The Story", which I usually only got to hear on road trips since AM reception at my workplace is non-existent because of our MR magnet, plus his show was dropped in K.C. years ago anyway.  I always loved his oddball delivery style, and I’ll even admit to imitating Harvey (poorly) in a couple junior high "radio shows" in speech class.  I even had the honor of running the board for "Paul Harvey News And Comment" on a rare weekday shift I worked at KKJO in St. Joseph back in the day.  He was one of the last throwbacks to a better vanished time in radio, and it’s pretty amazing that he was able to continue working and doing what he enjoyed right up until almost the end of his life.  A legend, indeed…good day!

"I am an average citizen…I have a microphone."Rush Limbaugh

Oh really, Rush?  Well, I’m an average citizen and I have a microphone too, but I sure’s hell don’t get paid $38 million a year to use it, you pompous prick!

As for radio personalities I dearly wish we could throw back, the Big Fat Idiot has now been deemed the de facto leader of the Republican Party.  Does anyone besides me find it just a tad disconcerting that even Republican politicians find themselves apologizing for criticizing Limbaugh because the BFI now holds so much sway?  Makes me almost feel pity for the GOP.  As for Limbaugh, why doesn’t he get off his fat posterior and run for President himself, if he’s such an all-knowing, all-seeing political badass?  Why, because he’s got it too good as it is, that’s why.  It seems I’ve been low-balling Limbaugh on his salary in my previous posts at a mere $10 million a year.  $38 million a year?!?  Just to talk on the fucking radio?!?  Nobody’s that good at any profession to rate that kind of salary!  Is it any wonder this gasbag opposes increased taxes for the wealthy?  I sure don’t see him volunteering to take a pay cut anytime soon in this economic climate.

I’m getting to the point where I almost can’t bear to watch all the talking heads on the TV news outlets yapping about the economy anymore.  One "expert" says the stimulus package will work, while another shoots it down in flames, and no one can seem to agree on anything that will get us out of this mess.  And Ben Stein and Donald Trump as financial experts?  Puh-leeze!  What’s worse, neither this Federal Reserve guy Bernanke nor Treasury Secretary Geithner seem to have a freakin’ clue what to do, either.  Oh, and another thing:  Fuck AIG!

Sorry if that paragraph wasn’t well-thought-out and didn't live up to my usual standardsit was pure stream-of-consciousness and I just had to vent…

Gee, kids, let’s all move to West Virginia because apparently all their major crises have been solved, being’s how one of their state representatives has time to introduce a bill to ban Barbie.  You heard that right, folks, Barbie, as in the plastic doll beloved by gazillions of little girls the world over.  They must not have any more economic strife in the Appalachians if all they’re concerned about is how Barbie’s image impacts the prepubescent girls of that region, hence the attempted ban.  Here’s the story if you want to waste your valuable time with it.

What I wouldn’t give to be able to repeatedly smack politicians like this clown over the head with a rubber hose...

Here’s a rare nugget I unearthed the other night on YouTube that I wasn’t even aware existed.  It features the overhauled Black Oak Arkansas lineup—known as just plain Black Oak at that point—performing "Race With The Devil" on "Midnight Special" in early 1978.  Killer song, but sadly, Black Oak’s time had already come and gone, and being mired in the heart of the Disco era didn’t help their cause at all.  Only singer Jim "Dandy" Mangrum and guitarist Jimmy Henderson (far left in the video) remained from the original BOA lineup, as they tried to shed their Southern-fried boogie-band image and prove to the critics what great musicians they were by playing more mainstream hard Rock.  Didn’t work, and it was really strange to see Dandy without his trademark washboard and wearing a shirt, no less!  Black Oak made one more album after Race With The Devil before hanging it up a year later.

Also while YouTubing the other night, I came upon this hidden gem from my man John Hiatt that I had never heard before called "Since His Penis Came Between Us", which he performed on PBS many moons ago, but has never actually recorded (to my knowledge, anyway).  Nothing pornographic here or anything, just a damn funny song…

"Thank God I’m A Country Boy”JOHN DENVER (1975)  “My days are all filled with an easy Country charm...”  I somehow managed to mangle this line up as something like "an easy cut of chaw," as in tobacco.  I'm pretty certain JD holds the all-time record for the repeated use of the word "fiddle" in one song here.

While I'm on the subject of Oldies music, what used to be our main Oldies station in KC, 94.9 FM, is gradually moprhing into a Classic Rock station.  They still play a fair amount of ‘60s and ‘70s stuff like Dusty Springfield, Chicago, The Beatles and Elton John, but anymore, 94.9 sounds more like Classic Rock with the likes of Don Henley, Bob Seger and John Mellencamp dominating their playlist.  Hell, they even play Boston now!  That’s all fine, but now K.C. is totally devoid of a true old-school Oldies radio station, which I think kinda sucks.  Even when 9.49 was a true Oldies format, they played a tad too much Four Seasons, Beach Boys and Motown for my liking, while ignoring classics from Little Richard, Fats Domino and Buddy Holly, et al.  Methinks there might be room on the AM dial for a good '50s/'60s Rock 'N' Roll heritage station.

In a related topic, if radio stations are in such dire financial shape, then why on earth do they air meaningless baseball exhibition games on weekday afternoons when no one’s listening anyway?  About as pointless as selling snow blowers on Maui...

Okay, I realize the National Hockey League is still trying to regain its status on the sporting ladder in the wake of the 2004-05 labor stoppage and all, but you’d think they rate slightly better TV coverage on Versus than they get.  Versus only airs NHL games on Mondays and Tuesdays during the regular season, which makes very little sense, as the NHL doesn’t gain much by going up against "Monday Night Football" in the fall and ESPN’s "Big Monday" college bassit-ball in the winter and spring.  Not to mention that Mondays are typically light nights, schedule-wise, for the NHL, thus the only choice they had this past Monday was the Colorado/New York Islanders game, featuring two teams already hopelessly out of the playoff race.  Last night’s Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay broadcast wasn’t a much better match-up, even though they could’ve aired Boston/Philadelphia, a game loaded with playoff implications.  It’s not like Vs. has a lot of riveting programming the rest of the week that would be pre-empted, so if nothing else, how about pirating the CBC’s "Hockey Night In Canada" on Saturday nights instead?