Thursday, March 31, 2016

Song #450: "In Your Room"--The Bangles (1988)

Fifty songs into the countdown, our fifty-first entry is the first of five for The Bangles, a group that immediately made young American males in the 1980's, like me, stop dead in their tracks when they came on MTV.

There was no escaping the voice of Susanna Hoffs, then add her eyes, and the rest of the group, and they were made for my favorite decade. From late 1988, a song that pays a tad of homage of the sound of "Mony, Mony".

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Song #451: "Long Long Way To Go"--Phil Collins (1985)

The first of many cuts from Phil's landmark 1985 "No Jacket Required" release, which is one of my all-time favorite projects. I bought the cassette about a month before moving to college at the end of the Summer of 1985 and listened to it for HOURS, especially in the dark, early days of my freshman year in September, 500 miles from home, everything I knew, and now in the midst of a suddenly long-distance relationship.

I listened on my Walkman in the dorm, while cleaning the academic building (Vannah Hall), you name it.

This song is perfect for those days where you'd frankly rather turn over, grab the covers, and just forget about it. Lord knows I've had plenty of them.

(On a happy note, we are ten percent through the Rob Witham 500! Thanks for the warm responses so far and get ready for more excellent (in my humble opinion) music as the countdown continues. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Song #452: "Talk To Ya Later"--The Tubes (1981)

They'd been in existence nine years when The Tubes released "The Completion Backward Principle", complete with "instructions" on how to listen to the record at its start. And, finally, some mainstream success for the band with this LP.

From it, a song you'd hear all over XL102, but not Q94, in the fall of 1981, around the same time you heard yesterday's song as well. 1981 was an underrated year for just lots of good music. :)

"If you can possibly manage the time, please play both sides at one meeting."  :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Song #453: "Twilight"--Electric Light Orchestra (1981)

This is the first of many, many entries in our countdown from Jeff Lynne and the gang. I have been a huge ELO fan since the mid-seventies, when we bought our first of several 45 records from them, that being "Evil Woman".

From the underrated, and frankly forgotten, 1981 "Time" LP release comes a great song, which had a prologue with it on the LP, not the single, and I've posted that version instead. Sadly, the song barely scratched American Top 40, peaking at #38, but 35 years later, I remember it fondly, from early in my ninth grade year.  :)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Song #454: "I'm The Only One"--The Go-Go's (1984)

It wasn't a single, didn't even get the B side, but was the lead-off track on side two of "Talk Show", the third and final album of the 1980's run of The Go-Go's, whose strange combination of sixties music and eighties wardrobe (when there was one), carved a special niche for them in the early MTV generation (you know, those of us who, to this day, don't understand why Music Television isn't showing videos 24/7).

I only got to see MTV when I visited my brother in North Carolina (no cable/satellite in Beaverdam), so when I had access to it, I, as they say today, "binge-watched" it.

I'm so glad Rachel and I got to see this group in 2006 at Innsbrook After Hours even though I had no voice and couldn't sing along. They sang many of what Rachel called "our girl songs", a CD filled with songs by women we would jam along to every morning going to Greenwood Elementary School. :)

So, here!  Enjoy a "girl song"!  :)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Song #455: "I Go To Extremes"--Billy Joel (1989)

It's the story of Joel's apology to his then-wife, model Christie Brinkley. From the 1989 "Storm Front" CD, the "most current" song he will have on our musical journey.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Song #456: "Prisoner of Love"--Pat Benatar (1980)

From her "Crimes of Passion" LP, it's the pseudo-title track. This 1980 album was chock full of songs that could have made the list, from "Out-A-Touch" and "Never Wanna Leave You" to "Hell Is For Children". Perhaps her best known song, "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", also appears on this album.

But I chose this song from the many worthy candidates, and, believe me, there's plenty of Pat to come as we roll on through the countdown.

(And here you thought I'd have a Moody Blues song today due to their concert tonight...hee hee...)

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Song #457: "A Taste of Honey"--Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass (1965)

A version of a song more popular than The Beatles?  Yes, that happened, as Herb and his gang covered this song in 1965, and when released as a single, it charted very well.

My first exposure to it was when WRVA would use it, and many other instrumentals, to time up to news at the top of the hour in the 1970's.

Love me some Herb Alpert, so we'll see him again, and maybe again, as the countdown continues. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Song #458: "Knowing Me, Knowing You"--Abba (1977)

The first of many contributions to our countdown from the Swedish group that had three of the top twenty best-selling albums of the 1970's. They were a worldwide phenomenon. And we had tons of their 45 RPM singles from Atlantic Records.  :)

My current copy of their "Gold" best of CD is all scratched up and needing to be replaced. Fortunately, YouTube doesn't get scratched. This song peaked on the charts at #12, and foretold the story of the two couples in the group whose relationships would eventually end.  :(

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Song #459: "Rock Me Jerry Lewis"--Mike Elliot and Bud LaTour (1986)

This novelty song represents a much deeper story, and a good opportunity for a long overdue appreciation post concerning my radio career.

My first professional radio jobs were at an AM/FM combo in the wonderful town of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, tucked away smack dab in the middle of the Berkshire mountains of Western Massachusetts, an hour east of Albany, New York. I began on weekends on WUHN-AM, a Big Band/Adult Standards station, and a few months later snared my first airshift on the FM, WUPE, an Adult Contemporary format. It was Sunday mornings from 2AM to 8:30AM. Yes, the dead graveyard shift. I got three hours of music, then played over three hours of public affairs programming.

In the end, the best part of that shift (after the brilliant quiz show "Ask The Professor", Google that sometime...) was meeting my relief. The full-time overnight DJ, the brilliant Mike Rancourt, known on-air as "Mr. Mike" took Sunday mornings. That's how we met. Quickly, we bonded.

He started having me call his weeknight show at 12:45AM as "Rob Lowe" to present "The Road Report". Yes, I actually phoned in from my college dorm and gave a traffic report for Pittsfield in the dead of night. His show was filled with those bits, including novelty tunes at the bottom of every hour, which is where I was introduced to today's song, produced by two Phoenix DJ's in honor of the legendary comedian and philanthropist for whom I've always had great admiration.

"Mr. Mike" taught me two very important things that have served me well, when I have remembered to apply them, in my radio career:

1) Have fun.
2) Don't take yourself too seriously.

Our working relationship lasted just less than a year before I moved back to Virginia. We lost him way, way too soon several years ago. I'm sure grateful for all the times we hung together, along with the other important member of a crazy trio, Brett Provo, who continues in New England radio to this day in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

From the "Overnight Pajama Pizza Party" to the time we recorded the three of us "colliding" into an oncoming train, we had some crazy times. I'm sorry that what few young adults trying to forge a radio career of their own don't have opportunities like that one I was blessed to have in Pittsfield.

Miss you, Mr. Mike!  :)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Song #460: "It Keeps You Runnin'"--The Doobie Brothers (1976)

A group that had more success during its heyday in the 1970's than some remember, mostly known now as staples of classic rock radio formats with songs like China Grove.

The third single from "Takin' It To The Streets", we jammed to this song in the waning days of the Bicentennial Year. Hard to believe it barely cracked the Top 40, though.  :)

It's a Monday. Keep runnin'!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Song #461: "Ballroom Dancing"--Paul McCartney (1982) (And The Top 500 So Far!)

Something I have mad respect for when it comes to Sir Paul is that he never stays in his comfort zone. From his 1982 "Tug of War" release comes a song that was never released as a single, and sure as heck doesn't sound like a "typical" McCartney tune.

And extra points for weaving Davy Crockett in the lyrics of verse two to match "back pocket" in the first. Thanks to XL102 and 3WV in Charlottesville for exposing AOR radio fans like me to this gem.

Below the video, the Rob Witham 500 so far as we are 40 songs down, 460 to go!  :)

#461: Ballroom Dancing--Paul McCartney (1982)
#462: The Hard Way--The Knack (1980)
#463: Can't Buy Me Love--The Beatles (1964)
#464: If You Leave--OMD (1986)
#465: Love's Theme--The Love Unlimited Orchestra (1973)
#466: Up On The Roof--James Taylor (1979)
#467: Beat Of A Heart--Scandal (1984)
#468: I've Seen All Good People--Yes (1971)
#469: Nightlife--Foreigner (1981)
#470: Magnet and Steel--Walter Egan (1978)
#471: 99--Toto (1980)
#472: Dirty Laundry--Don Henley (1982)
#473: Laughter In The Rain--Neil Sedaka (1975)
#474: Travelin' Man--Dolly Parton (1973)
#475: The Old Songs--Barry Manilow (1981)
#476: Don't Cross The River--America (1972)
#477: Press Your Luck Theme--(1983)
#478: Harry Truman--Chicago (1975)
#479: Why Me?--Styx (1979)
#480: Beautiful Girls--Van Halen (1979)
#481: We Live For Love--Pat Benatar (1980)
#482: Kentucky Woman--Neil Diamond (1967)
#483: Leave A Light On--Belinda Carlisle (1989)
#484: Listen To What The Man Said--Paul McCartney & Wings (1975)
#485: Be Good, Johnny--Men At Work (1982)
#486: Paradox--Kansas (1977)
#487: Streetcorner Symphony--Rob Thomas (2006)
#488: The NBC Sports Theme (1979-1981)
#489: Lucinda--The Knack (1979)
#490: Space Age Love Song--A Flock of Seagulls (1982)
#491: Turn It On Again--Genesis (1980)
#492: Flamethrower--J. Geils Band (1981)
#493: Feelin' Satisfied--Boston (1978)
#494: Canary In A Coalmine--The Police (1980)
#495: Love Has No Pride--Linda Ronstadt (1973)
#496: Another Tricky Day--The Who (1981)
#497: I'm Gonna Love You, Too--Blondie (1978)
#498: Whenever I Call You Friend--Kenny Loggins w/Stevie Nicks (1978)
#499: Midnight Flyer--The Eagles (1974)
#500: What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)--Information Society (1988)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Song #462: "The Hard Way"--The Knack (1980)

In their second appearance on the countdown, the shooting star that flamed out within months known as The Knack brings us one from their ill-fated follow-up to "Get The Knack" called "But The Little Girls Understand".  Only a few songs from this album were worth the cost of the LP, but this is one of them. Hard driving, typical Knack sound circa early 1980.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Song #463: "Can't Buy Me Love"--The Beatles (1964)

Recorded in early 1964, and released as a single in March of that year, the first of many contributions from "The Fab Five" in our countdown. We dare you to avoid singing along!  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Song #464: "If You Leave"--OMD (1986)

Many of you may hear this song and remember the end of "Pretty In Pink". When I hear it, I think of evenings, late nights, and early mornings playing the song on WUPE Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, back in the day when it was on 95.9 FM, we were known as "FM 96 WUPE", but everyone in the Berkshires still called us by their former moniker, "Whoopee Radio".

Quintessential Eighties Song.  :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Song #465: "Love's Theme"--The Love Unlimited Orchestra (1973)

Some of you may start the song and go 'hey, that's the ABC Golf Theme!', but before the song preceeded Jim McKay on television, it was a staple of AM radio when I was (gulp!) back in the first game, topping the singles chart at the start of 1974.

I can't even begin to think how many DJ's used this song to back-time to news at the top of the hour across America. :) :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Song #466: "Up On The Roof"--James Taylor (1979)

A song fifteen plus years old, recorded by James Taylor, gave him his final solo Top 40 hit in the United States. A song done many times, but I think done best by Sweet Baby James.

Get to your happy place, and enjoy!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Song #467: "Beat Of A Heart"--Scandal (1984)

A minor hit that didn't quite crack the Top 40 in the States, still an excellent song from Scandal, and the heart of that group, lead singer Patty Smyth. It won't be the only time that they appear in our countdown.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Song #468: "I've Seen All Good People"--Yes (1971)

Originally listed as a song in two parts, from "The Yes Album" from 1971, the first breakthrough single for a group who would later release one of the signature LP's of my high school years, from which we'll get several songs later in our countdown.

An ode to John Lennon, too, near the end of part one, originally known as "Your Move".

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Song #469: "Nightlife"--Foreigner (1981)

Well, when I'm looking for Nightlife, it's usually found in games starting anywhere from 4:30 to 7:30pm, then coming home to Tweet, to Facebook, to update websites, maybe do a podcast. I know 1am television listings much better than I do 9am, but it's the nature of the beast.

Foreigner has a totally different take on the subject in this, the first song on Side A of their wildly-successful "4" album, released during the Summer of 1981. While most know this album better for "Waiting For A Girl Like You" or "Urgent", I also remember it for this hard-charged first song that your stereo needle found. A riff you could not skip.

Enjoy!  And get some sleep.  :)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Song #470: "Magnet And Steel"--Walter Egan (1978)

I'm sure we'll have many "one-hit wonders" on this odyssey, and here is one of them, a song released as I was getting close to the end of the fifth grade in May, 1978.  :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Song #471: "99"--Toto (1980)

No, it was not a love song to Barbara Feldon, or her character "Agent 99" from the wonderful series "Get Smart", but, rather, a salute to the George Lucas movie "THX 1138".

Either way, great song, and one of several we'll enjoy from this underrated group from the late 1970s and 1980s. :)

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Song #472: "Dirty Laundry"--Don Henley (1982)

You could argue that Don Henley had the most successful decade post-Eagles breakup after "The Long Run". I certainly think so, and we'll see Don, alone, several times, in the Rob Witham 500, starting with a look inside something I know fairly well, the media.

I'm sitting courtside right now at the Siegel Center, four state basketball championship games down, one remaining. And my overriding thought all the time when I cover high school sports, and frankly college, too, is to remember they're human. Especially high schoolers. They're kids. Watch how you criticize, be careful how you report. Remember the heart of the reason why I do this: it's for the kids. It's not to be followed, not to be known, not to be popular.

As opposed to the story of this song, filled with bubble-headed bleach blondes and 5PM deadlines. Harsh reality, great song.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Song #473: "Laughter In The Rain"--Neil Sedaka (1975)

Sedaka is back!

The ending of the 1975 smash hit for the Captain & Tennille written by Neil Sedaka, "Love Will Keep Us Together". From that same year, reaching #1 on February 1st, Sedaka got major airplay with this comeback hit. Just a classy song about love. Add a good sax bridge solo, and you're good for our countdown.  :)

Monday, March 07, 2016

Song #474: "Travelin' Man"--Dolly Parton (1973)

We've referenced how many of our 1970's entries were thanks to the many hours listening to WRVA, but we also logged many, many hours with the classic country sounds of WXGI!

From Johnny G to Pop the Storekeeper, we heard all the greats, and this is one that stuck with me from the spring of 1973, prior to entering first grade. Enjoy the tale of the Travelin' Man!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Song #475: "The Old Songs"--Barry Manilow (1981)

Yes. Barry Manilow.

And it won't be his only appearance on the Rob Witham 500. Face it, he could be cheesy, but in his heyday, he was uber popular. Some of his music (much of it?) was formula, very formula. And then there are several songs where, alone in your car, or in the radio station studio, you're singing along at the top of your voice, unashamedly.

So here you go. Sing loud.  :)


Saturday, March 05, 2016

Song #476: "Don't Cross The River"--America (1972)

Released as a single to kick off 1973, here's some old school America that you never hear on the radio (they could occasionally rest "Sister Golden Hair" you know....).

When I was little, I thought the lyrics were, "...if you want chicken, ride my train."  :)

I'm still a sucker for chicken, just baked now, not fried.

Friday, March 04, 2016

Song #477: "The Press Your Luck Theme" (circa 1983)

The concept of this game show was originally used in the latter part of the 1970's on ABC's "Second Chance" with host Jim Peck, but enjoyed a better second run as "Press Your Luck" on CBS as "devils" became "whammies".

Add a rotating stage and the ever-present "no whammies, big bucks....STOP!" mantra, and it was must-watch TV at 10:30am in high school, when you weren't in school, of course. (Hello, Christmas Vacation!!)

Enjoy the first of several game show themes that are part of the Rob Witham 500!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Song #478: "Harry Truman"--Chicago (1975)

Simply put, the only song on the entire countdown fully named after a U.S. President.  :)

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Song #479: "Why Me"--Styx (1979) (AND...The Countdown So Far....)

We welcome Styx to the countdown for the first of several appearances with a song just perfect for those days, and we all have had them, when you simply want to ask, "Why Me??"

From their "Cornerstone" album which also brought us "Babe".

In case you've missed any of the Rob Witham 500 since it began on February 10th, here it is:

500) What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)--Information Society
499) Midnight Flyer--The Eagles
498) Whenever I Call You Friend--Kenny Loggins with Stevie Nicks
497) I'm Gonna Love You, Too--Blondie
496) Another Tricky Day--The Who
495) Love Has No Pride--Linda Ronstadt
494) Canary In A Coalmine--The Police
493) Feelin' Satisfied--Boston
492) Flamethrower--J. Geils Band
491) Turn It On Again--Genesis
490) Space Age Love Song--A Flock of Seagulls
489) Lucinda--The Knack
488) The NBC Sports Theme--NBC Sports
487) Streetcorner Symphony--Rob Thomas
486) Paradox--Kansas
485) Be Good, Johnny--Men At Work
484) Listen To What The Man Said--Paul McCartney & Wings
483) Leave A Light On--Belinda Carlisle
482) Kentucky Woman--Neil Diamond
481) We Live For Love--Pat Benatar
480) Beautiful Girls--Van Halen

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Song #480: "Beautiful Girls"--Van Halen (1979)

My first foray into the harder edge of rock 'n roll came courtesy of Van Halen (so did my first concert experience, but that's a totally different story....).

From their second LP, the last song on side two if memory serves me correctly. I played this album many a time at my brother's first "pad" in Lakeside. :)