Archive for humour

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

Posted in 1980s, films, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2017 by 80smetalman

Forget Toy Story, forget his controversial 1977 hit, “Short People,” my favourite Randy Newman song has always been “I Love LA,” which is the opening track on his album “Trouble in Paradise.” Released in 1983, this album didn’t come to my attention til the following year, courtesy of MTV, which is why I’m posting it here.

Alert, “Trouble in Paradise” is not an album for hardcore metalheads. Randy has always been a piano player and a very good one to say the least. His chops can be heard all throughout the album. However, there is one guitar solo on it. It appears on the track, “The Blues,” and is played by Steve Lukather of Toto fame. An additional bonus to this song is that he duets with Paul Simon on it and both do a fine job.

Many of Randy Newman’s songs have an air of humour about them. With this album, “Same Girl” and “My Life is Good” are good, funny tracks and I have always been tickled by some of the lyrics in “Miami.” “Miami, Blue day, best dope in the world and it’s free.” However, he has a serious side. To my knowledge, the track “Christmas in Capetown” was the first song to talk about the Apartheid in South Africa. He deserves full kudos for that. “Real Emotional Girl” is more of a serious ballad as well.

Many guest artists appear on “Trouble in Paradise” including the two who appear on the track, “The Blues.” Of all the tracks, I do love the backing  vocals from Jennifer Warnes, Wendy Waldman and Linda Ronstadt on “I’m Different.” For me, while Randy is his normal self on the song, it’s the backing vocals from these three ladies who really make this song shine for me. Definitely the second best track on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. I Love LA
  2. Christmas in Capetown
  3. The Blues
  4. Same Girl
  5. Mikey’s
  6. My Life is Good
  7. Miami
  8. Real Emotional Girl
  9. Take Me Back
  10. There’s a Party at My House
  11. I’m Different
  12. Song for the Dead

Randy Newman

Randy Newman- vocals, piano

Steve Lukather- guitar

Jennifer Warnes- vocals

Don Henley- vocals

Larry Williams- horns

Steve Madalo- horns

Jon Smith- horns

Ralph Grierson- piano

Neil Larson- piano

David Paich- keyboards

Michael Boddicker- keyboards

Nathan East- bass

Jeff Porcaro- drums

Larry Castro- percussion

Paulinho Da Costa- percussion

Christine McVie- backing vocals

Wendy Waldman- backing vocals

Lindsey Buckingham- backing vocals

Bob Seger- backing vocals

Linda Rondstadt- backing vocals

Rickie Lee Jones- backing vocals

Paul Simon- vocals on “The Blues”

Waddy Watchell- guitar

I won’t say that “Trouble in Paradise” is a great album to mellow out to but it does have its moments there. While Randy Newman is not as zany as Weird Al Yankovic, there is a good deal of humour if you listen for it. It’s a good album just to sit back and enjoy.

Next post; The Cars- Heartbeat City

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Weird Al Yankovic- In 3D

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

Michael Jackson did two things in 1984 which rose him up a few points in my estimation, both of which were linked to his top selling song, “Beat It.” First, when accepting a Grammy for the song, he had the decency to include Eddie Van Halen in his list of thank yous. After all, it was Eddie’s guitar solo on the song the reason why metalheads, bought the single. The other act was to allow Weird Al Yankovic to record a parody of “Beat It” called “Eat It.” That would be Weird Al’s best known single and even charted in the UK and it helped his 1984 album, “In 3D” become his biggest album. In fact, he was allowed to use many of the same dancers Michael Jackson used in the “Beat It” video for “Eat It.”

Weird Al Yankovic has always been known for his parodies of other great songs and there are plenty of those on “In 3D.” His second single from the album, “I Lost on Jeopardy” is a parody of the Greg Kihn Band’s 1983 hit, “Jeopardy” as well as making fun of the TV game show of the same name. I do wonder how many people went on game shows and looked stupid on national television. Greg Kihn makes an appearance in the video for this song. “King of Suede” parodies the classic from The Police, “King of Pain” and is about a clothing store owner. “Rocky XIII” is a funny parody of Survivor’s hit from the film “Rocky III” “Eye of the Tiger” about how Rocky Balboa gives up boxing to be delicatessen owner. I love the lyrics: “It’s the rye or the kaiser, it’s the thrill of one bite.” A lesser known track but one of my favourite is “The Brady Bunch,” a parody of the Men Without Hats’s only hit, “Safety Dance.” It is believed that from the lyrics, Weird Al didn’t care too much for the 1970s American sit com his song is named after.

It’s not just famous songs that come under the comic roast of Weird Al. He parodies other subjects as well. The second track, “Midnight Star” takes the rip out of grocery store tabloids. However, some of the headlines he mentions for his tabloid, “Midnight Star” aren’t too far fetched in the real ones. I do remember headlines like, “They’re Keeping Hitler’s Brain Inside a Jar,” “Aliens From Outer Space are Sleeping in My Car” and “The Ghost of Elvis is Living in My Den.” Another of my favourites is “That Boy Could Dance” which is about a nerdy geeky loser who is a great dancer, so all his shortcomings are overlooked. Trust me, the song is much funnier that my attempt to explain it here. Then there is the Bob Marley influenced reggae track, “Buy Me a Condo” which is about a Jamaican boy who wants to come to America and live a middle class existence. Even my least favourite track on the album, Mr Popeil is funny. Probably because I remember all the Popeil adverts for things like the Ginsu Knife and the Pocket Fisherman.

In 1981, there were two singles called “Stars on 45” and “Stars on 45 II.” The former took Beatles’ songs and made a medley out of it. The latter did the same with Beach Boys songs. So what Weird Al did was to take classic rock songs and make a medley out of those but instead, set to polka music. Some great rock classics like “Smoke on the Water” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” get the polka treatment.

When I bought this album and saw the track listing, I thought the closer, “Nature Trail to Hell,” might be a parody of the AC/DC classic, “Highway to Hell.” Instead, it lambastes blood and gore horror films. “Nature Trail to Hell” to quote the song, is about “A homicidal maniac who finds a cub scout troop and hacks up two or three in every scene.” This was particularly relevant at the time because “Friday the 13th Part 4” was in the cinema then. You know, the one advertised as the film where Jason meets his grisly end. Well done by Al, it makes a fantastic closer.

Track Listing:

  1. Eat It
  2. Midnight Star
  3. The Brady Bunch
  4. Buy Me a Condo
  5. I Lost on Jeopardy
  6. Polkas on 45
  7. Mr Popeil
  8. King of Suede
  9. That Boy Could Dance
  10. Rocky XIII
  11. Nature Trail to Hell

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- vocals, synthesizer, accordion, piano

Jim West- guitar

Steve Jay- bass, banjo, talking drums

John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion

Rick Derringer- guitar, mandolin

Weird Al Yankovic hit the big time 1984 with this album, “In 3D.” I dare anyone to listen to this album and not laugh their heads off at least one song. For me, it’s nearly all of them. Anyone who doesn’t find any part of this album funny, then they have no sense of humour.

Next post: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to All!

Posted in Heavy Metal, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on December 25, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Bob_Rivers_-_I_Am_Santa_Claus_cover

Twas the day before Christmas and I finally got my computer back. It turns out that they finished it a week ago but forgot to inform me of it. Anyway, while I was able to keep up with many of your posts using my stepson’s laptop, I couldn’t post on it. I didn’t think it would be right. Anyway, I’m back in business and 80smetalman will resume as normal. In the meant time, I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanuka or just Happy Holidays in general. If you want something different to listen to at Christmas, may I suggest the album pictured above.

Next post will definitely be: Vandenberg- Heading for a Storm.

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1983

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by 80smetalman

It’s that time of the year, at least as far as the trip through 1983 is concerned, where I look back on those who had one song that got my attention and nothing more. In short, it’s time to look at the great rock one hit wonders of 1983.

rufftrade

Now you would think that with a name like Rough Trade, this would be a power chord happy heavy metal band. Unfortunately, there is too much piano in their hit “High School Confidential” to make that even possible. However, the song is memorable enough that it has never escaped my memory after all these years.  Maybe it was because when I heard it in ’83, I was amused by the lyrics: “She makes me want to cream my jeans.” Wow, the things that amused my young mind then. Thinking about it though, the song might sound really cool if metalized.

Doctor Demento

Doctor Demento

Here’s a classic example of how attitudes have changed in the past thirty-three years. Today, if anyone put out a song about a clown who is a peadophile, that person or persons would be hung, drawn and quartered. Things were a bit different in 1983 where a song called “Kinko the Clown” got loads of airplay on the Doctor Demento show. Even then, it was too tasteless for mainstream radio. Back then it got lots of laughs from people who heard it, me included. Today, I see the not funny side about it.

3stooges

No the Three Stooges didn’t put out any songs in 1983. If they did, I would have bought it because I was a big fan of theirs since I was 12, coitenly, nyuk nyuk! Like most fans of this classic comedy group, my favourite Stooge was Curly. So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard the song, “Curly Shuffle” by the Jump in the Saddle Band. The song is definitely of the swing jazz genre but it is played so well that it rocks! Throwing the phrases and sounds made by Curly into the song take it up even higher. Once again, proof that humour belongs in music. So don’t be a victim of coicumstance!

Martin Briley

Martin Briley

Naturally, I save the best for last. “Salt in My Tears” by Martin Briley is simply a great rocker, nuff said! Thirty three years on, I still head bang along to it. A great rocking hook and though the guitar solo is mind blowing, it is sufficient here. From a personal historical aspect, this song came out just before I got out of the marines and it immediately had me thinking of an ex girlfriend while I was in and how I wanted to sing the song to her. While I don’t think about her anymore, those lyrics continue to amuse me.

Well those are my choices for the great rock one hit wonders of 1983 and hopefully they’ll bring back some memories for you.

Next post: Triumphs and Tragedies

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Thomas Dolby- The Golden Age of the Wireless

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2016 by 80smetalman

Thomas_Dolby_-_The_Golden_Age_Of_Wireless_(US)

In many musical circles, Thomas Dolby is considered a one hit wonder, only known for his classic song, “She Blinded Me With Science.” Me personally, I’ve always liked that song, always having loved humour in music and there is plenty of it to be found in “She Blinded Me With Science.” What I loved best is the background voices that hilariously repeat the title or just say, “Science!” Furthermore, the keyboards in it are played very well. However, for those of us who take our music slightly more seriously, Thomas Dolby is not a one hit wonder. As I reflect back to 1983, I think that he represented the crossroads between progressive rock and the synth pop that made up much of the 1980s. I also know that I wasn’t the only metalhead who liked Thomas Dolby, so for any of my metal brethren out there, don’t be afraid to step forward and admit it. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.

The trademark keyboards that I mentioned on the hit single can be found throughout the entire album. Some of the tracks are quite trippy bordering on space rock. “Weightless” and “Windpower” are two of these. I could easily listen to both of those songs along with Hawkwind or a Paul Kantner solo album and they wouldn’t be out of place. Dolby’s vocals add to the trippy feeling. He doesn’t try to make any of these songs sound commercial, barring “She Blinded Me With Science” but it’s the humour that makes that song for me. “Commercial Breakup” goes more in a traditional progressive rock direction while at the same time having a reggae feel to it, nicely done. What Dolby does on “The Golden Age of the Wireless” is employ the modern technology of the time into his music but he does so without compromising any of his musical integrity.

Track Listing:

  1. She Blinded Me With Science
  2. Radio Waves
  3. Airwaves
  4. Flying North
  5. Weightless
  6. Europa and the Pirate Twins
  7. Windpower
  8. Commercial Breakup
  9. One of Our Submarines
  10. Cloudburst at Shingle Street

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby

Thomas Dolby- vocals, synthesizers, wave computer, piano, kalimba, monk voice

Kevin Armstrong- guitar, backing vocals

Dave Birch- guitar, monk voice

Bosco- percussion

Mark Heyward Chaplin- bass

Justin Hildreth- drums

Simon House, Tim Kerr- violin

Simon Lloyd- leadline brass, flute

Daniel Miller- synthesizer

Andy Partridge- harmonica, percussion

Dr Magnus Pike- voiceover

Matthew Seligman- moog bass

Further backing vocals provided by: James Allen, Les Chappel, Judy Evans, Lesley Fairbairn, Mutt Lange, Lene Lovich, Miriam Stockley, Brian Woolley, Akiko Yano

I should have included “One of Our Submarines” in with the songs that stand out for me since it does. My conclusion here is what I have always thought all these years. Thomas Dolby was not a one hit wonder but a very underrated musician. Although many of them might not admit it, I think many of the synth pop bands that came after him would site him as an influence. For me, he was more than synth pop or a one hit wonder.

Next post: Nantucket- No Direction Home

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Todd Rundgren- The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Toddruntgrenbang

The first time I heard the song “Bang On the Drum All Day” by Todd Rundgren on the radio, I thought, “This is great! Todd is back.” I have been a big Todd Rundgren fan since 1978 when a friend enlightened me to the “Something/Anything” album. Adding to the euphoria brought on by listening to that album, he then released the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album in said year. If I wasn’t a Rundgren convert before, I certainly was after hearing both of those great albums. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that I would be obtaining his newest offering in 1983.

toddsa

trhomh

In a fairy tale world, I would be telling you how great “The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect” is. Unfortunately, it’s not. It lacks the versatility that I have always liked Todd for. On the two previously mentioned albums, there is lots of progressive rock, hard rock, ballads and even a little heavy metal. “Metal?” you ask. Just listen to the track “Out of Control” off the “Hermit of Mink Hollow” album and you’ll see what I mean. Another thing great about Todd’s previous albums is that he brings a bit of humour to some of the songs on both. However, on this album, the only evidence of that is on the track “Emperor of the Highway,” which is the second best track behind “Bang On the Drum All Day.”

The funny thing is that the first four tracks all start off with a very catchy introduction but each of those tracks quickly turn bland after and one loses interest. They are all very keyboard dominated and pretty much sound the same. “Tin Soldier” picks things up a little and it’s the third best track. Then comes to the two best tracks and they redeem the album from the previous blandness. Sadly though, the last two tracks are a big let down following the big single. Maybe Todd should have made “Bang On the Drum All Day” the closer, it would have worked in my humble opinion.

In defense of Todd, now, unlike the Motorhead album, reading a little of the background history to this album was a good thing as far as Mr Rundgren is concerned. It turns out that “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” was a contractual obligation album. Therefore, he didn’t put the time and effort into it as he did with his better albums. This would be his last album with Bearsville Records. So, with this new evidence taken into consideration, I can let him slide for this album not measuring up to the previous ones.

Track Listing:

  1. Hideaway
  2. Influenza
  3. Don’t Hurt Yourself
  4. There Goes Your Baybay
  5. Tin Soldier
  6. Emperor of the Highway
  7. Bang on the Drum All Day
  8. Drive
  9. Chant

thumbnail

Todd Rundgren- All instruments, vocals and production

All in all, “The Ever Tortured Artist Effect” isn’t horrible. It’s just not nearly as great as his best albums. Then again, when you record an album simply because you have to, it probably won’t be as good and you won’t put your best effort into it. Let it be known that my feelings for the posted album in no way detract from my assertion that Todd Rundgren should be in the Rock Hall of Fame.

On a separate note, when I learned about Lemmy’s passing last week, I thought that the metal hating UK newspaper, The Sun, would say little if anything at all about it. To my surprise, there was two pages dedicated to the great man and his contribution to music over the past forty years. Before we get to excited, one of the contributors did write about Lemmy’s limited vocal capability. He misses the point, Lemmy’s voice was perfect for the songs he sang. Let’s hear Olly Muirs try to sing “Ace of Spades.” Then again, the skeptic in me thinks that the main reason the paper ran so much about Lemmy is because he is seen as a British icon.

thesun

Next post: Bryan Adams- Cuts Like A Knife

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London.

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Weird Al Yankovic

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2015 by 80smetalman

220px-Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_Weird_Al_Yankovic

Madness had finally broken through to America and Frank Zappa put out a fantastic album but if there was any more proof needed to forward the belief that 1983 was a good year for humour in music, it would be the debut album of Weird Al Yankovic. In fact, since this year, many people would forever compare Weird Al with Frank on account of their love of humour. So much so, that twenty years after this album, Weird Al would have a track on an album that if you didn’t know any better, you would think it was Zappa himself. As for me though, it would only be the humour and the fact that both are true musical geniuses being the only things they have in common. They have totally different styles.

Hearing the tracks “Ricky” and “Stop Dragging My Car Around” on the radio in the spring of this year would convert me to Weird Al forever and I don’t care if people think I’m sad for it, (some do.) Those songs had me rolling on the floor in laughter and when I heard it, so did the self titled debut album. Nobody, now or then, does parody better than he does. What’s even more impressive is how he is able to adjust to the musical style of the song he’s parodying even if he sometimes does it with an accordion. That’s another amazing thing about him, no one else has been able to employ an accordion in rock songs the way he does.

On the debut album, the parodies come thick and fast. Not only do many of them take the piss out of classic songs, they are also parody other things. Take the two already mentioned. “Ricky” is obviously a parody of one hit wonder Toni Basil’s “Mickey” but it also parodies the old “I Love Lucy” show. Same with “Stop Dragging My Car Around.” Yes, it’s a humourous version of the classic Tom Petty/Stevie Nicks duet “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” but it also rips on the the culture of towing cars away. Other great ones are “Another One Rides the Bus,” which is a parody of a Queen classic and if you have ever ridden on a crowded bus, then you would appreciate the sentiments on this song. Others great parodies are “My Bologna” which pokes fun at The Knack’s “My Sharona and “I Love Rocky Road,” a dig at the famous Joan Jett and the Blackhearts song. However, not all of Weird Al’s songs parody other songs. Some are just simple digs about other things. “Buckingham Blues” makes fun of the Royal Family. “I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead” is a dig at the hippy culture. Then there’s “Gotta Boogie,” let me just say this song has nothing to do with dancing. In any case, unless you have no sense of humour at all, and there are people out there who do, you can’t stop laughing out loud at the songs from this album. Weird Al proves to the world just how weird he is.

Track Listing:

  1. Ricky
  2. Gotta Boogie
  3. I Love Rocky Road
  4. Buckingham Blues
  5. Happy Birthday
  6. Stop Dragging My Car Around
  7. My Bolgna
  8. The Check’s in the Mail
  9. Another One Rides the Bus
  10. I’ll Be Mellow When I’m Dead
  11. Such a Groovy Guy
  12. Mr Frump in the Iron Lung
Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- accordion, vocals

Rick Derringer- guitar

Steve Jay- bass

John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion

Rich Bennett- ukulele, banjo, guitar

William K Anderson- saxophone, harmonica

Joel Miller- bongos

Mike Kieffer- percussion

Dorothy Ramsen- harp

Tress MacNeille- voice of Lucy Ricardo on “Ricky”

Dawn Smythey, Zaidee  Cole, Joan Manners- backing vocals

Weird Al Yankovic, along with Frank Zappa of course, proved to the world in 1983 that humour and music could go together. The debut album from Weird Al continues to have me in stitches each time listen to it.

Next post: DNA- Party Tested

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London