Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Song #304: "Rush Hour"--Jane Wiedlin (1988)

We've had The Go-Go's on the countdown (again, just a couple of days ago), Belinda Carlisle, and now Jane Wiedlin.

As they approach the final concert of what the group says its their "farewell tour" next week in Los Angeles, we look today at the biggest solo hit for the group's rhythm guitarist and backup singer.

Wiedlin first released a solo project in 1985, just a year after The Go-Go's released their third and final album in their original run. Three years later came the project, "Fur", and from that comes today's song.

It got a spot in the film, "License To Drive" that year as well. The song definitely links to the historic sound of The Go-Go's, but gives Wiedlin the spotlight that, at the time, she definitely deserved.

What do Jane and I have in common?  We're both wedding officiants.  :)

Oh, and Jane's not done. Certainly we'll get more from The Go-Go's, but, spoiler alert, she'll be back with idols from her childhood, too, later in the countdown. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Song #305: "Charm The Snake"--Christopher Cross (1985)

When you think of Christopher Cross, your mind normally goes to "Sailing", "Arthur's Theme", or maybe you're cool enough to give him props for the more upbeat "Ride Like The Wind", which, in 1980, was actually his first hit.

But by 1985, Cross, and some other successful artists of the early part of the decade, were struggling as "The MTV Effect", for lack of a better term, had taken hold. It was Madonna, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, Huey Lewis now. And due to early ballad success, Cross' name became something he had to overcome rather than utilize.

Which is a shame, because my favorite Christopher Cross song came out in the aforementioned year from his "Every Turn Of The World" LP. But it only reached #68 on the Billboard Top 100, and he would only see the Adult Contemporary Top 40 once more the following year with the song "Loving Strangers" from the movie soundtrack to "Nothing In Common".

Some of you probably have never heard this song, and a few of you may have the recesses of your musical mind jarred today. Take four minutes, and enjoy a hidden gem in "Charm The Snake".

Monday, August 22, 2016

Song #306: "Cool Jerk"--The Go-Go's (1982)

Toda we feature yet another cover song here on the Top 500 countdown, though this time not one from the 19th Century like yesterday's.

From their second album, "Vacation", comes The Go-Go's version of a 1960's tune originally recorded by The Capitols fifty years ago. Their version had much success, peaking at #7 on Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the R&B charts.

A decade and a half later, here comes a new version that pays nice homage to the original. Nearly a decade later, the group re-recorded the song and released it as a single.

But it's the original remake from 1982 that we dig, and thus place below, for our song for the day!

By the way, this is the second of five appearances on the countdown by The Go-Go's.  :)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Song #307: "Little Brown Jug"--Glenn Miller (1939)

The great Glenn Miller took a song that, at the time, was 70 years old, and completely made it into his own, while, at the same time, creating one of the signature sounds from what is commonly known as "The Big Band Era" from the early 1930's through the late 1940's.

"Big Band" was hand in hand with the "Swing" era, which owes much to many musical formats. But it's crazy to think our song today saw its origins a mere four years after the end of The Civil War.

"Little Brown Jug", not surprisingly, was a drinking song, and was a part of the American folk music scene for years. Then Miller took it and made history with it as the world descended into war.

Eight years after his disappearance and presumed death during World War II, Universal Pictures released the terrific film, "The Glenn Miller Story", starring Jimmy Stewart as Miller and June Allyson as his wife. If you're never seen it, do it. It is an absolute classic.

Side story: I was so keyed up for Robbie's high school graduation in June, 2010, I never slept the night before. Before the sun rose on his commencement day from Hermitage, "The Glenn Miller Story" came on TV and I finally took the time to watch it. Needless to say, the first tears I cried on that momentous day was from watching the film. Call it a dress rehearsal for later in the day.  :)

I'm sure that, back in 1987, I was the only 20 year-old riding around Richmond, Virginia with a Best of Glenn Miller cassette blaring out of my 1979 Chevette. For me, he's the first figure I think of when thinking of the "Big Band" sound.

Here comes a song that sounds pretty darn good for age 147!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Song #308: "It Doesn't Matter Anymore"--Linda Ronstadt (1974)

It spent nearly a year on the charts, Linda Ronstadt's great album, "Heart Like A Wheel", from 1974, containing hits like "When Will I Be Loved" and "You're No Good", both of which became Ronstadt staples.

But also on the album is this song, written by Paul Anka and originally performed by Buddy Holly. His version released just after New Year's 1959, and less than a month before Holly perished on "The Day The Music Died", February 3, 1959 in the plane crash that took his life, and also that of Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Bopper, whose real name was J.P. Richardson, was on the plane because he had the flu, and someone gave up their seat so Richardson wouldn't have to stay back and take the tour bus.

The man was Waylon Jennings.

Back to Ronstadt. This song created its own success, with fans finding her remake on the B-side of "When Will I Be Loved", like my brother and I did, ending up on several charts by the Fall of 1975.

We have lots of Linda to come in our Top 500 countdown, and she had a knack of recording "cover" songs, as they are known, and truly making them her own. "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" is one of several.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Song #309: "Stay The Night"--Benjamin Orr (1986)

This is the lone hit single for the former member of The Cars. Some people think only Cars lead singer Ric Ocasek enjoyed solo success, but that's not quite the case.

Orr certainly had the chops to do so, as he sang lead on some of the group's bigger hits, from "Just What I Needed" to "Drive". His only solo album, "Lace", released thirty years ago, and today's song did relatively well, much in part to some good video airplay on MTV.

It also did well thanks to smart music directors like my friend the late Mike Rancourt, who seized on this song when it arrived at our station in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We were all over this song, I believe long before any of our competitors.

We lost Orr way too soon due to pancreatic cancer back in 2000 at just age 53. Enjoy his contribution to our Top 500, "Stay The Night".

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Song #310: "Destroyer"--The Kinks (1981)

For me, Ray Davies and The Kinks hit a home run with the release of their album "Give The People What They Want" in 1981.

With today's song, they built upon the music of one big hit, and the storyline of another. Can you guess them?

Side one of this album had an earlier Kinks entry in our Top 500, "Around The Dial", while side two begins with this gem.

From the Fall of '81, 35 years ago, Destroyer.....