Boneyard Media

Archive for the ‘Shocking Blue’ Category

Song ID: Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Monday, May 6th, 2013


None of the official “best of” comps for the Dutch group Shocking Blue do justice to their facility with the three minute pop song. You have to go digging through all of their album cuts and B-sides and construct your own playlist. “Acka Raga” is a post-pyschedelic sitar instrumental, a cover of a track from the Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet’s 1967 Indo-Jazz Fusion LP. In 1999, a techno group called Mint Royale covered the song and retitled it, but hilariously claimed writer credits, giving Harriott-Mayer liner note honors for the “sample.” They even had the song placed in the Alias TV show and the Vanilla Sky film soundtrack. How did the licensing for this go down, I wonder?

Shocking Blue – “Acka Raga” (1968)

Joe Harriott-John Mayer Double Quartet – “Acka Raga” (1967)

Mint Royale – “From Rusholme with Love” (1999)

Neil Young, Shocking Blue & the Big 3

Friday, July 6th, 2012


One of my favorite “borrowed tunes” is Shocking Blue’s “Venus” (1969), which was lifted from the Big 3’s 1963 version of “Oh Susannah,” which they called “The Banjo Song.” I like how Neil Young’s new version of “Oh Susannah” is directly inspired by “The Banjo Song.” I like the fact that many people who listen to it will think that Neil’s lifting from Shocking Blue. I also like how Neil once had a group called the Shocking Pinks and he will now be accused of lifting from Shocking Blue, who were actually lifting from the Big 3. I also like how I lifted my “Borrowed Tunes” heading from a Neil Young song he lifted from the Rolling Stones.

The Big 3 – “The Banjo Song” (1963)

Shocking Blue – “Venus” (1969)

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – “Oh Susannah” (2012)

Song ID: Stars on 45 – “Medley” (1981)

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007


Thoughts of the early ’80s and the Beatles have led me to this inescapable checkpoint: the Stars on 45 medley that absolutely owned the US airwaves (a Billboard #1 hit) during the summer of ’81 and which most of us had completely forgotten by the end of the year. It was the slick product of a gang of Dutch session players doing dead-on impersonations against a disco/handclap backdrop. Other aspects of this single were clear as mud, especially the song choices: “Beat the Clock” (Sparks), a “Stars on 45” disco theme inspired by “Stayin’ Alive” (Bee Gees), “Venus” (Shocking Blue), “Sugar Sugar” (The Archies), “No Reply” (Beatles, along with the next 8), “I’ll Be Back,” “Drive My Car,” “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “We Can Work it Out,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “Nowhere Man,” “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl,” and closing with a reprise of the “Stars on 45” disco theme.

It’s a favorite game of mine, the attempt to ascertain what psychological aspects of society demand that certain songs become hits, but this one’s not so tough – it was a well-timed beneficiary of US Beatle nostalgia just a handful of months after Lennon’s murder in December ’80 (it entered the Billboard charts early the following April). I think it’s the only way a song with a blatant opening disco chant in a very acutely disco-hungover era could have gotten any significant airplay. (The actual disco sound, of course, never really went away, but flaunting the passé word “disco” certainly did.) But in retrospect, this song ultimately had less to do with Beatlemania and more to do with Medleymania, which kicked in in a big way because of it. More tomorrow.

In the American chart listings, by the way, every song in the Stars on 45 medley was listed as part of the title, making this the wordiest chart entry in Billboard history. But the short snippet of Sparks’ “Beat the Clock” at the beginning was never included among the titles. I wonder what the story is there.

Stars on 45 – “Stars on 45” (1981)