Home > In the middle of the road > In the middle of the road: Part 2

In the middle of the road: Part 2

October 19th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

More music for long drives and such things.

Ace – How Long.mp3
I love the way this song begins. A bassline, then a discreet percussive beat, enter the guitar and launch straight into the chorus with its West Coast rock harmonies. Like Rupert Holmes in “Him”, the good woman at home has been cheating, and like Holmes, our man isn’t “as dumb as [he] seems”. He figured it out even without give-away cigarettes on the window sill. Except… “How Long” is actually about their former bassplayer who played with other bands, apparently. Maybe the callous-fingered cheat left his Marlboros on the wrong amplifier.

England Dan & John Ford Coley – I’d Really Like To See You Tonight.mp3
One of the definitive AOR driving tracks, thanks to its great chorus. It’s quite a sad song about a guy trying to hook up with an ex (or object of unrequited love, perhaps) whom he really misses. He just wants to meet her as a friend, and then proceeds to suggest a whole lot of romantic things to do. Sounds a bit pathetic, but it isn’t. England Dan (Seals) is the bother of Jim Seals in the next act.

Seals & Croft – Summer Breeze.mp3
Jim Seals and Dash Croft started their career as members of the Champs, a group that also included Glenn Campbell, and had a hit in 1958 with “Tequila” (yes, that “Tequila” song). By the time they recorded under their surnames Jim and Dash had dropped the faux-Latin novelty hits in favour of evocative country-rock. Fantastic as their original version of “Summer Breeze” is, the cover by the Isley Brothers a year later, with Ernie Isley’s superb guitar solo, is even better. Lyrics about metereological phenomena don’t get much better than this: “Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.”

Rickie Lee Jones – Chuck E’s In Love.mp3
I think Rickie Lee Jones had one of the sexiest voices in pop, in a cute way. Rickie Lee Jones’ vocal performance, especially the way she toys with the vowels, is hugely appealing. I fall in love with her whenever I hear the “Look in the poolhall, is he there?” part. The lyrics of this song are quite wonderful, with that lovely denouement.

King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight.mp3
When singing along to this, can one do so without copying the singer’s accent? Uvraborday is executing rhythmic movements outdoors at night, apparently. Even the shortlived British outfit Toploader replicated the accent on their inferior cover version a few years ago. Unlike the cover, King Harvest’s 1973 version exudes joy and visions of a hippie party where nurborday’s wearing clothes.

Bob Seger – Night Moves.mp3
Poor man’s Springsteen, they called him. And, hey, he’s singing about riding in a “60 Chevy. Seger has always been a bit underestimated. The man had some great tunes, especially his mid-tempo tracks and the occasional ballad. I can do without his rocking out stuff . “Night Moves” is a fine summer sex song, which really gets good when he goes all emotional with sexual nostalgia, then goes quietly reflective with just some soft acoustic guitar strumming, before the whole thing picks up to the great extended climax with the female backing singers urging the Night Moves and Bob riffing about memories and thunder and such things (yup, another metereological theme). Glorious.

Linda Ronstadt – You’re No Good.mp3
A couple of years ago, Linda Ronstadt performed at the Aladdin Hotel in Las Vegas when she praised Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. A shitstorm broke loose, with members of the audience exercising their right to free expression by booing the singer, throwing stuff at her and vandalising promotional material. Aladdin Hotel’s management then threw Ronstadt out of the hotel. Which isn’t very nice. She possibly sang “You’re No Good” at that concert (how’s that for a link?). It’s a very interesting song. Originally recorded by soul singer Betty Everett, it is heavily R&B-influenced (especially the backing vocals) yet still in the country-rock genre with guitars that sound like George Harrison’s on the White Album and Abbey Road, and strings which, during the long outro, borrow from Philly soul-disco. And it all comes together (geddit?) admirably.

Christopher Cross – Sailing.mp3
I suspect that having had a hit with the theme for the Dudley Moore rom-com Arthur killed Cross” career. As fine a song as it was (it’s the one about the moon and New York City), it was hardly fashionable. Indeed, “Sailing” and the equally good “Ride Like The Wind” were not exactly hip either even when they came out. They were big hits, but they were not hip. I’m not sure whether the Taste Police would approve of “Sailing” even now. Well, it does have a great chorus, and the piano interlude at 2:44 is rather lovely. And, yes, the song actually is about sailing.

Boz Scaggs – Lowdown.mp3
A song to groove to. Try sitting still when “Lowdown” comes on, and try not to sing along when Scaggs goes “Low low low low loooow down” and then play the old air guitar with the solo that follows. A strange hybrid of a song that did well on pop, adult contemporary and black radio. The story goes that Scaggs declined to have “Lowdown” included on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack: a triumph for artistic integrity, a Decca moment for Boz’s bank balance.

Peter Frampton – Baby, I Love Your Way.mp3
In 1976/77, Frampton was one of the biggest stars in the world. A couple of years later, our curly-haired pal was as unfashionable as John Travolta. Unlike the cardinal in the “Church” of Scientology, Frampton never became cool again. Frampton Comes Alive (in its time the best-selling live album of all time) is better than collective memory suggests. Recorded in San Francisco, it captures a great atmosphere. It is strange that rational people will claim to hate this song when they secretly love it. A scene in Hi Fidelity captures that attitude nicely: John Cusack’s character “” doubtlessly a high-ranking member of the Taste Police, a colonel probably “” professes to despise the song, until he hears a girl he likes sing it. He then loves it. Just cut out the middlewoman, dude.

Little River Band – The Night Owls.mp3
Earlier I uploaded an incorrectly filenamed track under this title. The tune is in fact Pablo Cruise’s “Whatcha Gonna Do” (1977). I’ve uploaded the correct file now. So, to avoid confusion, if you DLed Little River Band – The Night Owls.mp3, change the file name to the Pablo Cruise song. The real “Night Owls” is filenamed Little River Band – The Night Owls (halfhearteddude.blogspot.com).mp3 Sorry about the confusion…
Pablo Cruise – Whatcha Gonna Do.mp3 (rename incorrectly slugged file)

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  1. Faltskogian
    October 19th, 2007 at 16:12 | #1

    Thanks for putting up Ace’s “How Long” :) Great blog! Keep up the good work.

  2. Anonymous
    October 19th, 2007 at 18:17 | #2

    most excellent! thanks for all the work… er, that’s not Little River Band on the Zsh page – it’s PABLO CRUISE’s Whatcha Gonna Do…when I reconstitute my dead HDD, I’ll send you some AM-worthy wonders. Until then, here’s to you./tearing one speaker off//poking hole in other tweeter///lovin’ AM radio on Windows Vista////worthy of each other, eh

  3. Beth
    October 19th, 2007 at 19:17 | #3

    Yes, I’ll second the thanks for ‘How Long’, also ‘I’d really love to see you tonight’, which I’ve been itching to hear again all afternoon…hope I still feel the same way about it when I’ve listened…

  4. Any major dude with half a heart
    October 19th, 2007 at 19:19 | #4

    Ooops! Thanks for flagging the snafu, anonymous. I’ve now uploaded the real “Night Owls” and put up a correction that will probably confuse everybody (except the Germans)…

  5. bill
    October 20th, 2007 at 19:54 | #5

    Amen on Ace and Boz Scaggs — two of the grooviest whitebread songs of the 1970s, and I don’t say that with a sneer. Great choices. And I’m with you on Rickie Lee Jones — great vocal effects, great lyrics, great song. This is a terrific blog; thanks for sharing this stuff!

  6. soulbrotha
    October 30th, 2007 at 05:31 | #6

    This blog is great. And your commentaries are spot on and often a hoot! BTW, did you know that Lipps, Inc. (yes, that Lipps, Inc. of Funkytown fame) did a cover of Ace’s How Long?Check it out:http://www.divshare.com/download/2562998-581

  7. Any major dude with half a heart
    October 30th, 2007 at 09:04 | #7

    Thanks, Soulbrotha, downloading the Lipps Inc. version as we speak.

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