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4FUN HITS – Who Are You by The Who

4Fun_Hits-crop

Going through the charts for 1998 I’m having a tough time finding a song for Reelin’ in the Years. I do not think any of the songs are all that great.

I’m considering posting one as my most respected for that year but it never was a fav. More like something you’d hear while shopping in the dollar store. Nothing wrong with that… just sayin’.

So I’m going to have to dig deeper, look thru through my collection and see what I was listening to that year. Something tells me I was drifting toward jazz and sacred music. But there must be a pop tune that stirred my soul in ’98.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do a parallel series called 4FUN HITS to fill in the gaps for some of the great songs overlooked in Reelin’ in the Years.

“Who Are You” was released in 1978. My girlfriend back then Jill (not her real name) had given me that album for my 16th birthday. The dear soul bought a special red vinyl edition that was just soooo cool. As I’ve said before, Jill was the ultimate teenage girlfriend. Sometimes I’ve regretted that we broke up but life is about movin’ on.

The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin' In the Years

The Very Best of Steely Dan: Reelin’ In the Years (just in case you didn’t get where I got the title of Reelin’ in the Years from) – Wikipedia

Anyhow, I’d just purchased my first stereo amp. A Yamaha with 60 watts of power. Back then that was respectable. The real serious audiophiles had 100 watts but 60 was good for me (and my bankbook)!

Our family had a pair of Genesis loudspeakers, bought off a friend who was indeed an audiophile. Add my Technics turntable and I was ready to rock.

And rock I did. When my parents were away I had small house parties where I’d blast those 60 watts and Genesis speakers to their extreme capacity without distorting. I’d been warned by our audiophile friend that loudness didn’t kill speakers. Distortion did.

I remember dancing with my pals, pretending we were performing this song, and generally having a gay ol’ time.

The Who were quite progressive for a rock band. Their use of analog synthesizers was advanced back in the day. I think they are one of the great classic bands. And Roger Daltry is probably my all-time favorite straight out rock and roll singer.

For me, he’s better than Robert Plant or Burton Cummings, who have similar styles when they roar.

Oh tell me who are you, you, you, ah you?

The Who were the very first band I saw live at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. I didn’t do a lot of rock concerts as a kid. But those I did go to are burned in memory.

In the 70s the audience held up cigarette lighters instead of cellphones. It was pretty magical. I can still see the calm bassist John Entwistle looking like a wise old Druid up there on stage. Even then, I could tell that music had a mystical component.

I came home and found myself hoarse the next day. I was a quiet kid but The Who got me screaming! 🙂

Image top right: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:4Fun_Hits.jpg

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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What Went Wrong?

Barefoot Justine

SimonGarfunkelI’ve had this problem, one that started early into adulthood. The problem is that there is music I love that I cannot bear. Be it in the background at a supermarket, on the radio, with friends, on my own, this music always brings me to tears. Not tears due to the content, it’s something else, something that is so deep in me I never could quite pinpoint it. It’s not a feeling I have about anything else, no matter how much I love, have loved, or how terribly important it has been in my life. It’s Simon and Garfunkel. I have not even owned any of their albums on CD, as the music they made began stirring me to tears way back in the days of vinyl. Why?

I missed the sixties, they were before my time, but I did not miss the aftermath, the music was still in the…

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1986

Rolling Stone 1986 – Fair Use / Fair Dealing rationale.

It’s 1986 and I’m 24 years old. Looking over the charts I didn’t want to do what I did for ’85—post a song or two that meant something to me then but not so much now.

Music should engage.

So I’m cheating a bit this year. My selection is from a compilation album released in ’86 but the material is from two albums released in ’73 and ’74.

Frank Zappa believed in freedom of expression and it shows in his work.

After Overnight Sensation (1973), the album “I’m the Slime” appears on, Zappa’s lyrics become increasingly vulgar and sexual.

At the time of Overnight Sensation, the lyrics are pretty obvious but still suggestive and metaphorical. This song is more about social commentary than sexual adventures. A jab at the media and everything that drives it. At least, through Zappa’s lens.

I’m pretty sure the entire Overnight Sensation is on YouTube. And probably Spotify, if you get that in your country. The musicianship and arrangements are second to none.

For me, this record best shows off Zappa’s genius. Zappa was like the Howard Stern of rock. A pretty loose comparison. Maybe some would think I’m insulting the one or the other!

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1979

It’s 1979, I’m seventeen years old, and once again everything is changing.

1965 Plymouth Satellite

1965 Plymouth Satellite – Wikipedia

Pop music does that. A friend in India (where I studied a decade later) once sagely commented that the attraction of pop is its ephemeral nature.

Well, yes and no. There are some timeless classics. But he was right. Change change change. If you don’t adapt to the times, you’re out in the pop world.

In Canada, punk and the New Wave are far less marginalized in ’79. New Wave especially hits the mainstream.

I owned this vinyl record and remember grooving to this song with my friends. It was so… new!

Actually, it is a brilliant synthesis of old 50s and 60s sci-fi and spy movie themes. But we were only dimly aware of that. When something moves you, you don’t stop to think about it. That comes later.

Planet Claire
The B-52’s

She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
A-faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head

Some say she’s from Mars
Or one of the seven stars that shine after three-thirty in the morning
Well, she isn’t!

She came from Planet Claire
She came from Planet Claire

She came from Planet Claire

Tachyon visualization. Since that object moves...

Tachyon visualization. Since that object moves faster then speed of light we can not see it approaching. Only after a tachyon has passed nearby, we could see two images of the tachyon, appearing and departing in opposite directions. The black line is the shock wave of Cherenkov radiation. It is shown only in one moment at time. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1978

Kevin Dooley – Magic Bus – The Who, from 1968 via Flickr

It’s 1978 and I’m sweet sixteen. Can’t believe I’ve made it this far. Looking back over my past few entries I feel a sense of sadness. The golden days of innocence are over. Time to grow up, get a summer job and do – yuck – homework.

On the plus side, I got my drivers license and had access to wheels.

I installed a Radio Shack stereo in the car. It was an old Volvo wagon so I put a friend’s homemade stereo speakers in the back and power-boosted the whole thing.

Like a lot of teens, I was exploring retro music. The Doors. The Who. Bowie. Traffic. Genesis. Supertramp. Stuff like that. But I was still keeping up with current material.

I remember sitting in a restaurant having coffee with my sweetheart and maybe another friend after school. All new to me. I was the go-straight-home type until I met Jill (not her real name). She introduced me to the joys of hangin’ out.

And guess what comes over the restaurant speakers?

You got it. Today’s tune for 1978:

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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Reelin’ in the Years – 1976

Image – Amazon.com

1976 was a funny year in pop. I’m 14 years old and sensing that the fluff is starting to overtake the substance.

I was probably lamenting by this time that nobody comes close to the Beatles. I went thru a phase like that, where I felt EVERYTHING was second-rate compared to the Beatles. I don’t feel that way anymore.

So I just went thru the charts and listened to several good songs that grabbed me back then. Because they’re all just “pretty good” and no single tune stood out for this year, I decided to choose this one:

The vocals sound a bit 70s macho by today’s standards. That’s not why I chose this song. It’s the synthesizer work that really mystified me as a kid. Well, young teen.

When this song was big I was up at Georgian Bay, sleeping out in a small cabin by the water all by myself. I had a candle, a book (Dune) and a radio.

Image – paxlaur.com

“Moonlight Feels Right” came on the radio when moonlight was actually streaking across the water of the bay.

That synth sound (in the chorus) mystified me with the panoply of stars and the moon set against rocks and pines. Moonlight without light pollution is something to experience. Hard to explain in words. But it all worked back then.

So for that golden, nay moonlight memory. This is the tune!

Reelin’ in ALL the Years


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Reelin’ in the Years – 1975

Bowie and Cher, 1975 via Wikipedia

It’s 1975 and I’m a whopping 13 years old. A young teen and everything is changing. New school. New emotions. New interests. Looking over the charts for this year I’m torn between David Bowie’s “Fame” and Van McCoy’s “The Hustle.”

I admire Bowie. To me, he’s like the Sibelius of pop music. If you don’t know who Sibelius is, shame on you! (I’m just as much into classical as I am into pop).

Bowie has hits but also innovative, fringe stuff. Most millennials probably don’t realize just how influential he was.

Since his saddening death, I think his image is suffering from oversaturation. But I know he’s great. I’ll have to get one of his songs on this list, somewhere.

Today I’m choosing Van McCoy’s “Do the Hustle” for my fav song of 1975.

Suddenly we had a new thing on the block. Actually, around the world. And I’m not talking Daft Punk. No, I’m talking about…

Disco!

Bowie did disco songs too but his, I think, synthesized the original form with other jangly bits. A lot of Bowie’s work is like that. He takes all these different elements, throws them into the blender of his musical soul, and a real smoothie comes out.

“The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony is the real deal. The airy flute (or whatever that is) and 70s strings bring out the best of the USA. This is happy, optimistic, and dancin’ Americana as no other nation can do it. I almost feel like an American listening to this song!

You can also hear elements of smooth jazz, likewise taking shape with John Klemmer’s Touch. Smooth jazz would become even more commercially successful with George Benson and Chuck Mangione, a few years later.

People either mocked or loved disco in the 70s. Disco has aged well. Looking back, it’s obviously a precursor to EDM. Several EDM hits are just remixes of Donna Summer and other stars like her.

Long Live Old Skool!

Reelin’ in ALL the Years