Home > In the middle of the road > In the middle of the road: Part 3

In the middle of the road: Part 3

October 26th, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

And more music from the middle of the road, the yacht club, the West Coast, the adult-orientated radio. More music to play while driving with the warm win in your hair.

Blue Öyster Cult – (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.mp3
Ah, that guitar riff. And the great drums in the outro! I imagine that this song would be one of the few in this series to unanimously pass the Taste Police test (perhaps because the Pixies ripped off the riff?). You can bet that this track will feature in many Halloween collections next week, which will be a spectacular piece of point-missing, akin to those clowns who play James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” at weddings because the title says “You’re beautiful” and the bride is, you know, beautiful. “The Reaper” is about love transcending death. And, FFS, it is not about suicide.

Asia – In The Heat Of The Moment.mp3
A fine example of Cocaine Rock, presaging the advent of Big Hair Rock. “Heat Of The Moment” came out in 1982. It was like punk never happened as a supergroup of hoary ’70s rockers from groups punk was supposed to kill “” Yes, ELP, King Crimson “” set the scene for the success and/or survival of all those acts that would proceed to populate crappy soundtrack albums.

Alessi – All For A Reason.mp3
One of the great telephone songs. I never know whether to laugh or cry when the girl hangs up on this guy pleading at her with such sincerity, and he goes “hello?…hello?” Which person who has experienced the pain of lost love cannot empathise with our hero, even if he comes across like a bit of a stalker? Still, it is sweetly pathetic that he still blabbers on about his love when “Ann” clearly is not only uninterested in his shtick, but is also very rude about it (possibly due to the time of night the drunk fool is calling her). For goodness’ sake, Ann, dude just hit you with a line like “can’t you see I’m just a man in love and it’s driving me insane”, and you put the phone down on him? What luxury, and how harsh! The song itself is a lovely slice of ’70s AOR, and far superior to the twin brothers’ big hit, “Oh Lori”. I tend to sequence “All For A Reason” with that other great telephone song by England Dan & John Ford Coley.

Eddie Rabbitt – Suspicions.mp3
A smooth country-rock classic to be filed alongside Rupert Holmes’ “Him”. I can’t say I know much of Eddie Rabbitt’s music (other than “I Love A Rainy Night”), but this song is great. It has a flute in it, so it has to be. Tim McGraw covered “Suspicions” on his latest album, doing a fine job. Poor Eddie had a tough time of it when his career began declining. First his little son died, and in 1998 Ed followed, of lung cancer, at the age of 56.

Jim Messina – Love Is Here.mp3
In a classic episode of The Simpsons, Lisa makes friends with a girl who eclipses all of her prodigious talents. Friendship turns to rivalry as Lisa feels as though she is living in Alison’s shadow. In one sequence, Lisa imagines herself on stage at a concert of the second bananas in famous duos,. including Garfunkel, Oates and Jim Messina. Stupendously funny though the gag is, it’s a little unfair on poor Messina. His 1979 Oasis album is far superior to anything Kenny Loggins has done. “Love Is Here” is a joyous ode to, well, finding love, scored by a bouncy sound Boz Scaggs would kill for, and a fantastic duel between guitar and saxophone.

Bobby Caldwell – What You Won’t Do For Love.mp3
When “What You Won’t Do For Love” first appeared in 1978, promotion for the song would show Caldwell only in silhouette to obscure the man’s race “” it was as though if it became known that the cat was white, black radio would not play this soul-rock number. Whatever the case, this is one catchy toe-tapper with a great keyboard-, sax- and basslines, judicious use of Stax style strings, and a brilliant delivery. The song has been frequently covered and sampled, sometimes to good effect (Natalie Cole & Peabo Bryson), sometimes competently (Go West), sometimes uselessly (Boyz II Men), and sometimes weirdly (sampled in 2 Pac’s “Do For Love”).

Toto – Georgy Porgy.mp3
And another funky kinda song which combines the best of soul and AOR. The female backing vocals are Cheryl Lynn’s (she of “Got To Be Real”, possibly the greatest disco song ever). Everything works in this song; it’s as tight as spray-on jeans. Bobby Kimball sounds like Boz Scaggs (on whose albums Paich, Hungate and Pocarco played), allowing Lynn to steal the show. Which she does, and then some. And the ending to the song is just fantastic.

Carly Simon – You’re So Vain.mp3
Put-downs have rarely come as good as this. The double-edged insult of being told: “you’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you” is like a slap in the face followed by a backhander. Carly Simon has never let on who the song addresses. As a consequence, fingers of suspicion have pointed at anyone Carly had had affairs with before its release in 1972: Warren Beatty, Cat Stevens, Kris Kristofferson and Mick Jagger (who does backing vocals on the track). Personally, I picture Beatty sauntering on to the yacht. Of course, the song needn’t be about anyone in particular…

The Eagles – I Can’t Tell You Why.mp3
Here’s a group due some rehabilitation. The legacy of the bloated and overplayed “Hotel California” has soiled the Eagles’ whole career. “I Can’t Tell You Why”, from their final studio album before hell froze over, is a tender song about a relationship hanging by the thinnest thread of love. Don Felder’s guitar solo that plays out the song is utterly lovely.

Nazareth – Love Hurts.mp3
This song makes me laugh. To begin with, it is entirely unrepresentative of Nazareth’s hard rock sound. The man’s hammy vocals sound like he had lost a bet to sing this. The Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris version is, of course, infinitely better. But that isn’t the point: the Nazareth version is a whole lotta overwrought fun. It was also brilliantly placed in one of my favourite movies, Dazed And Confused.

Journey – Wheel In The Sky.mp3
More CocRock! Released in 1978, “Wheel In The Sky” helped shape the template for all that rubbish radio rock of the ’80s, of which Journey and Steve Perry would become frequent perpetrators themselves. Oh, but what a great song this is.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 27th, 2007 at 13:19 | #1

    First off, love your site.Just posting about how the Toto tune, Georgy Porgy. Havent heard this song in ages, then you post it. Last week though, I was in a small club, listening to this young band, when the lead singer introduced this song. They did a wicked version of it. The ironic part is this young vocalist was insistent that it was done originally by Luther Vandross.

  2. Casey
    October 27th, 2007 at 22:23 | #2

    Your blog is terrific and I especially enjoy your comments following a song you’ve selected. Good reading.Props!

  3. Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop
    November 14th, 2007 at 03:37 | #3

    Looking at these MOR lists reminds me of going to a female’s house or room for the first time, seeing her record collection, and then thinking, “Nope, this can’t possibly work.” Too much of a challenge.

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