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Archive for August, 2015

Super Moon Racing, 8/29/15

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

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Full moon mayhem at the Central Texas Speedway tonight in Kyle, Texas. Yellow flags and car parts flying all night long. No. 80, with the Confederate flag on his hood, lost control on the last lap of the street stocks race. It looked like something on Bewitched, as though someone wiggled a nose and made him crash. When they towed the car back all you could see was charred and tangled machinery where his flag used to be.

San Antonio Plastichrome postcard

Friday, August 28th, 2015

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I bought this uncommonly gorgeous postcard at San Antonio’s Buckhorn Saloon and Museum in 2002 or so. It’s Houston Street in the late fifties – the same neighborhood where I bought it. Postcard scores like this are the only reason I ever go to gift shops. I’ve visited the same shop a few times since and have found nothing as remotely attractive, but that’s how it goes. It’s credited to Plastichrome © Colourpicture (Boston) and A.W. Distributors (Irving, Texas).

Song IDs: Willie Mays – “My Sad Heart”/ “If You Love Me” (1962)

Thursday, August 27th, 2015

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In the realm of musical recordings made by athletes, which includes such sobering entries as Terry Bradshaw’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” Ron Cey’s “Third Base Bag,” and Shaquille O’Neal’s “I Know I Got Skillz,” this one’s as good as it gets. Willie Mays’s “My Sad Heart”/”If You Love Me” came out the same year his San Francisco Giants lost a hard-fought seven-game World Series to the New York Yankees, and it reveals a musical version of the Say Hey Kid as appealing as the famous baseball version.

We can tell from both sides of the record that Mays had good taste, demonstrating familiarity with Sonny Till and the Orioles (side A), Bobby Blue Bland (side B), and Little Willie John (side B). Writer credits for both went to Deadric Malone, the pseudonym for Don Robey, who owned the Duke-Peacock label empire. Before this, Mays had appeared on a 1954 cut credited to “Willie Mays of the New York Giants with the Treniers” called “Say Hey (the Willie Mays Song),” one of the other great baseball singles. Did any suspicion-prone baseball people notice in ’62 that the previous time the Giants had won a pennant Mays also recorded a single? (1954 was the year the New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians and Willie made his celebrated catch.) He should have been pumping out a record every year since then.

I’m hoping someone will step forward with footage of Willie Mays’ 1962 appearance on Tennessee Ernie Ford’s TV show to promote “My Sad Heart,” which never ended up charting.

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Willie Mays – “My Sad Heart” (1962) : Maybe this song’s lack of chart success, come to think of it, had to do with its having no title hook.

Willie Mays – “If You Love Me” (1962)

Willie Mays of the New York Giants with the Treniers – “Say Hey (The Willie Mays Song” (1954)

Song ID: The Beach Boys – “Breakaway” (1969)

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

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This 1969 single written by the unlikely team of Brian Wilson and father Murry (as “Reggie Dunbar”) perhaps should have been a higher charting follow up to “Do It Again” for the Beach Boys (although it did sit rather uncomfortably as part of the 1974 Endless Summer lineup). Why didn’t “Breakaway” do better than its numerologically eye-catching #69 peak position? My theory: the “Breakaway” catchphrase had already been getting tons of airplay with Steve Karmen’s jingle for the 1969 Pontiac.

Beach Boys – “Breakaway” (1969)

Beach Boys – “Celebrate the News” (1969): This was the broody B-side, a Dennis Wilson track that gives the single the yin yang tension familiar to many a Beach Boys observer.

And here’s this:

The Steve Karmen Big Band featuring Jimmy Radcliffe (1968) – “Breakaway Parts I and II”: Side A is Jimmy Radcliffe talking and singing over a troubled, minor key arrangement of Karmen’s theme, while Side B is the major-key instrumental version more familiar from TV and radio ads.

Song IDs: The Motors – “Dancing the Night Away”/ “Whiskey and Wine” (1977)

Saturday, August 22nd, 2015

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Two-sided UK guitar group perfection courtesy of “Shall We Dance” Bram Tchaikovsky’s former band The Motors, who also endorsed his dance-floor-as-nirvana notion. Side A clocks in at 3:13, but the album version, which is twice as long, is also a keeper, featuring an extended intro based on the yearning middle section.  Those lower register guitar octaves in the verses sound like vintage Cheap Trick, who would later cover this song badly. Side B (“Whiskey and Wine”) is another killer, featuring a zigzag hook that should have blared from late 70s car stereos on Saturday nights but never did.

The Motors – “Dancing the Night Away” (single version) (1977)

The Motors – “Whiskey and Wine” (1977)

The Motors – “Dancing the Night Away” (album version) (1977)

Song ID: Bram Tchaikovsky – “Shall We Dance” (1980)

Friday, August 21st, 2015

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Bram Tchaikovsky (aka Peter Bramall – formerly of the Motors), got in my head during the summer of my first transistor radio – 1979. His “Girl of My Dreams” crept into the US Top 40 around then, but I remember it airing on Salt Lake City’s KCPX-AM like a Top 5. Three years after that, he re-infiltrated my skull when his “Shall We Dance” aired with some regularity on Super 107-FM (although he’d reportedly called it quits with the biz by then). To me, the song has everything appealing about early ’80s music: the stuttering guitar, the minimalist bursts of fluorescent keyboard, and the promise of bliss via the dance floor (where pre-driver’s license teens like me could maybe find girlfriends).

Bram Tchaikovsky – “Shall We Dance” (1980)

Nick Drake Pink Moon 1999 VW Cabriolet

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

pinkmoon-car

Celebrate Nick Drake’s eternal relationship with the Volkswagen brand with this collector’s model. Hold it up against the starry sky and admire its stark beauty.

Song ID: The Marina Swingers – “Casual” (1982)

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

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Maybe you’ve been doing web searches for “going all the way to Casualfornia in my Volkswagen bus” the way I did off and on for many years, and now you’ve found yourself here. Maybe you, too, had an old VHS tape with fuzzy dubs from Night Flight or New Wave Theater circa 1982, including a clip from this mystery band featuring a front man in flippers, running shorts, a Mike Nesmith cap, and sunscreen on his lips and you had no clue who it was, and no sleuthing had seen you through. I finally had to follow a hunch and ordered this Sunken Treasures CD by the Marina Swingers, and lo, therein lay knowledge and peace.

Excerpts from the liner notes’ “cranky band history text” by keyboardist Esteban Elka:

“We weren’t sure if we wanted to be an artsy-intellectual new-wave act, a bloodthirsty dance-band, a multi-media comedy round-up, a surf/swing/big-band/punk ensemble or just an experiment in soul-splitting personality exploration (therapy that doesn’t work). So we did all of the above, often at the same time….

“We got to open for some zesty acts… Not one of them put in a good word for us with their management.

“…We don’t expect you to just listen to this CD. We think you’ll wish you had been there. We want you to be sorry that you weren’t. Where were you when we needed you?

“Come to think of it, where are we now?… One of us had a stroke, one of has leukemia, one of us had a brain tumor, two of us used drugs way too hard, one of us is wearing a crooked toupee, but two us are bald. One of us still gigs, most of us still record and we all walk, talk, pass wind and lie, except maybe the dead guy.

“Someday, you will be dead too.

“Special thanks to: A lot of you tried but it’s results that count. We didn’t make it, so the bulk of you shouldn’t expect a major pat on the fanny…”

For more information about the Marina Swingers, order Sunken Treasures on CD Baby, like I did.

The Marina Swingers – Casual (live at the Sweetwater in Redondo Beach, CA) (1982)

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