Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Return of the Great Lost Singles!

I thot I was done w/ these, but apparently they Rn't done w/ me yet. Bsides, some quick research shows me there R quite a few items I've missed that have bn shamefully overlooked. (Further research shows me that sevral items I had onna list 2 B used in this post have already bn written-up at my old site, so I won't bore U with them here.) Summa this stuff may also have bn touched-on in reviews of the albums they Nded up on, but I'll try not 2 B 2 redundant. Now, on w/ the show!
* Renaissance: "Northern Lights" (1978) -- Probly 1 of the sweetest, folkiest things they ever did, under 4 mins, w/ great hooky choruses & lotsa group vocal harmonies. Made the Top 10 in Britain at the height of punk -- bet the Brits were shocked! Sire issued it as a single in America where it sank w/o a trace -- probly 2 square & sweet 2 ever get played here.
* The Turtles: "We'll Meet Again" (1969?) -- The B-side of some later Turtles single, this mournful '40s-era # (Vera Lynn's original runs at the Nd of the paranoid '60s atomic-war flick DR. STRANGELOVE) is here trans4med by Flo & Eddie & the boys in2 a bouncy, joyous farewell. They've sure got no regrets, & U'll B singing along w/ it after the 1st chorus. Shoulda bn a HUGE hit. (& their version of Judee Sill's "Lady-O" is a freakin 4got10 classic 2....)
* Yes: "Wonderous Stories" (1977) -- 1 of the best trax off GOING FOR THE ONE, & a radio-friendly 3 mins 2 boot, like every Yes single Btween "Roundabout" & "Owner of a Lonely Heart," it sank w/o a trace. (Xamples: The brutal 4-min edit of the original 10-min "America"; "Into the Lens (I Am a Camera)"; they even released part of "Gates of Delirium" as a single....) An accessible bit of Yes's softer, more lyrical side w/ nice keybs & gtr & Xcellent vocal harmonies, I thot this was enuf like "Your Move" 2 actually get some airplay. & I was wrong. Did better in England, I've read.... (& from earlier in their career, "Looking Around" & "Sweet Dreams" were both Great Lost Singles. Even "Time and a Word"....)
* Pretenders: "Kid" (1979), *"Message of Love" (1981), *"Talk of the Town" (1981) -- Always loved these guys. "Kid" was the track that pulled me in2 their 1st album (WAY more compelling than "Brass in Pocket"), w/ Chrissie Hynde's heartbroken vocals & James Honeyman-Scott's great retro-'60s guitar. "Message of Love" had the driving gtr & Hynde's strong vocals, & the lyrics were no slouch either -- mayB the high point Xcept 4 the opening gtr riff was that soaring-thru-the-clouds Nding w/ Chrissie repeating "Talk to me Darlin...." "Talk of the Town" was a gorgeous bittersweet lovesong, brutally cut short on PRETENDERS II.
* Carolyne Mas: "Stillsane," *"Sadie Says" (both 1980) -- Marketed as sorta a female Bruce Springsteen, Mas had some talent, & these 2 punchy trax led-off her 1st album, copies of which I haven't Cn in YRS....
* Shoes: "Too Late"/"Now and Then" (1980) -- Gorgeous breathy lovesongs w/ strong gtr from their album PRESENT TENSE (which has at least 3 other classics on it: "In My Arms Again," "Every Girl," "Tomorrow Night"). Elektra couldn't give copies of the album away, the single got zero airplay, & when MTV FINALLY started playing videos of these guys a yr later, by then their albums had probly bn melted-down 2 make Cars records....
* The Records: "Teenarama," *"Starry Eyes" (both 1979) -- 1nce had the picture-sleeves these singles came in, but foolishly traded them away when I bot their 1st album. "Teenarama" is hilarious & catchy but ... the subject would B considered a bit risky these days: Hanging around w/ an underage girl 4 a week, 2 Xperience "all that melodrama," the rotten sugar-filled diet ("You're so skinny, you're so sweet"), etc. Right. Tell that 2 yr probation officer, boys. Speaking of legalities, "Starry Eyes" is another sweet, catchy # about mgmt/career legal woes, & the boys make it sound more fun than I'll bet it was 2 Xperience. Very nice gtr work here. Will Birch & John Wicks were pretty great songwriters.
* Public Image Ltd.: "Rise" (1986?) -- Well, I liked it. After "God Save the Queen," the best thing Johnny Rotten/Lydon ever did, I think, but I'm sure no Xpert. Here surrounded by studio pros, Lydon's anger Cms 2 kinda make sense.
* Spider: "Shady Lady" (1980), "New Romance (It's a Mystery)" (#39/80) -- Peter Coleman's punchy production helps add Xcitement, keyboardist/main songwriter Holly Knight knew her hooks even then, & Amanda Blue's vocal whoops were kinda cool. "New Romance" got some airplay 4 a few wks. The marvelous "Shady Lady" was the B-side of a stiffed single that was 2 boring & normal 2 get much airplay. I liked these guys & thot they hadda future. But no. Holly Knight grew up 2 B a "song doctor."
* New England: "Don't Ever Wanna Lose 'Ya," *"Hello Hello Hello" (both 1979) -- LOTSA keyboards, lotsa gtr, singer/songwriter/gtrist John Fannon's kinda thin voice, & Paul Stanley's punchy production -- another band I thot hadda shot. "Don't Ever Wanna Lose 'Ya" is pure melodrama, nearly 5 mins worth. "Hello" is a cool album-opener that lays-out their tricks. They released 3 albums but had no hits....
* Justin Hayward & John Lodge: "When You Wake Up" (1975) -- The B-side of their overrated & 4gettable "Blue Guitar" single, this # closed their BLUE JAYS album & Dserved 2: a gorgeous, chiming anthem the whole world could sing along w/ & sway back&4th in time 2....
* Jethro Tull: "The Whistler" (1977) -- 1st heard this in 1 of my fave pizza hangouts in the summer of '77; great gtr, snappy choruses, great hooks. Why wasn't this a hit? It was sure WAY better than "Bungle in the Jungle"....
* Stories: "Love is in Motion" (1974) -- Probly the sweetest song on their Xcellent ABOUT US album, got LOTSA airplay on Boise, Idaho's KFXD-AM 580, but somehow couldn't break thru like their previous hit "Brother Louie" did. Why not? Could it have bn Ian Lloyd's voice? I think it's pretty cool, the harmonies R gorgeous, & Michael Brown's keyboards R perfect. But....
* Pete Townshend: "Slit Skirts" (1982) -- A Pete Classic. Wasn't a hit Bcos avg radio audiences back then didn't care about some guy's mid-life crisis? 2 bad. Note: The video version features killer gtr that isn't in the version on his CHINESE EYES album....
+ Kansas: "Reason to Be" (1980) -- Kansas meets Styx, sorta, & U can still stand 2 listen 2 it. Buried at the Nd of their album MONOLITH, this got almost no airplay, & yet it's almost a perfect, simple miniature, sorta low-key & modest. Course, I liked them a lotta the time.... This isn't even on their best-of's.... (I'm also a sucker 4 "Back Door," another low-key # buried at the Nd of Kansas's AUDIO VISIONS album....)
* ELO: "Twilight" & *"The Way Life's Meant to Be" (both 1980), +"Confusion" (1979) -- "Twilight" is the ear-opener that led-off TIME -- I thot it was the best ELO single in 2 yrs, & it peaked at #40. "The Way Life's Meant to Be" is an almost-perfect Jeff Lynne ballad, which failed 2 make NE known chart. "Confusion" is ELO's more-usual messing-about from this period, but I've always hadda soft spot 4 it.
* The Move: "Tonite" (1972) -- Speaking of which.... I think this is some of Roy Wood's best work, w/ great fun vocals & a hilarious chorus ("I'll be over tonite/If you say you might...."). Made the Top 20 in England....
* Alan Parsons Project: "The Gold Bug" (1980) -- The B-side of "Time," this is worth it just 4 the sax, which is likely played by 4mer King Crimson & Camel member Mel Collins. There's also some nice keyboards. The only version of this I've got is on THE INSTRUMENTAL WORKS, which oddly does not include musician's credits....
* Kenny Loggins: "Conviction of the Heart" (1991) -- I was a sucker 4 a few of his singles ("Don't Fight It," "Welcome to Heartlight," "I'm Alright"), but this is amazing. It's hard not 2 agree w/ the sentiments Xpressed, & tho the steadily-building arrangement & the choir might Cm a little obvious, this packs a real punch. But then I love my musical drama....
* Steve Winwood: "Still in the Game" (1983) -- Gorgeous song about taking chances, w/ help on the choruses from Steve's then-wife -- her vocal support really makes this song work, I think. She's not credited on the album.
* Gordon Lightfoot: "Summer Side of Life," "Ten Degrees and Getting Colder" (both 1971) -- Have I mentioned that I love this guy? Could also add "Seven Islands Suite," "Beautiful," "The Circle is Small," "High and Dry," "Canadian Railroad Trilogy" & a few others. "Summer Side of Life" Cms 2 B about the importance of love getting U thru tough times. "Ten Degrees" is a sentimental folksong that is almost perfect in its brevity & has 2 lines that Always Get Me: "I don't remember when/I had a better friend."
Until I find some more....

4 comments:

rastronomicals said...

With you on the "Message Of Love" over "Brass in Pocket" thing. "Message of Love" is magical, while "Brass In Pocket" merely gives you a wrong idea of what the band was about . . . .

I used to have the double A side promo copy of "Reason To Be." It was the second single from Monolith, after "People of the South Wind," which I actually remember hearing on Casey Kasem's countdown.

Anyway, I think the reason "Reason To Be" got ignored in Top 40 is that it was superficially similar to "Dust in the Wind." Or maybe the similarities weren't so superficial . . . .

Really, the band's only chance at the upper reaches of the Top 40 would have been with a lyrical acoustic ballad. So you see their logic. 'Course, once they'd gotten there with "Dust in the Wind," could you accuse them of trying to go to the well once too often with "Reason to Be?"

Anyway, it's still a good song, and Monolith is still a great album, though even the band has never quite realized it.

R Smith said...

I actually did buy Reason To Be as a single when it came out and find it to be one of my favorite Kansas numbers. Can't say why it didn't chart higher than it did, I think it hold its own over Dust In The Wind (which I still like but classic rock radio overkilled it). Also got New England's Hello Hello Hello as a 45 as well. I tend to find the lesser knowns but it amazes me how you managed to be on the same wavelength as me.

As I gotten older, I have been listening to more Gordon Lightfoot (who turned 71 this week) and did get Summer Side Of Life on CD. Haven't gotten around listening to some of it since I was distracted by a Semi going backwards and plowing into me but things are better since then.

tad said...

Crabby! I've bn following yr blog so I read about yr accident. Glad U R OK & still around 2 rant & rave & point-out the Overlooked. I woulda missed U.
1 piece of advice: Do NOT come 2 Washington, where people drive like Idiots 25/8/366. They can't handle the rain -- & it rains 8 mo's outta the yr. They can't handle the snow, Ghod knows. They can't handle the SUNSHINE -- they all go in2 shock when they C it! "What's that big yellow thing up in the sky??" & why is everybody in such a freakin HURRY?! ...I'm starting 2 sound like U....
Have also bn Njoying yr recap of the decade's best & worst albums, tho I was disappointed that U're retiring the weekly Top 10. & NEbody who can remember all the CD's/albums he bot in the last decade & even give them all a letter-grade is even more of a list-fanatic than me! -- TAD.

bearockr said...

I'm a huge fan of Steve Winwood .. his song 'Roll with it' is quite my favorite , and when he performs along with Eric Clapton , Its just impossible to take your eyes away!