THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: They Don’t Know

From my long-threatened book The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1). An infinite number of songs can each be THE greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!

TRACEY ULLMAN: They Don’t Know

Written by Kirsty MacColl

Produced by Peter Collins

Single, MCA Records, 1983

I moved from Brockport to Buffalo in August of 1982. The two years spent in Brockport after graduation had been…well, they certainly had been. Maybe I’ll write about all of that some day. I kept on listening to the radio, AM and FM. At the beginning of ’83, a new job required my own set of wheels, so my Dad arranged for me to get the 1969 Chevy Impala that had previously belonged to my grandfather. My first car. My first opportunity to drive with the radio on. Like Jonathan Richman: I got the AM radio on!

In the Impala, I was sometimes able to pick up a great AM hit station out of Toronto. More often, the Impala’s AM dial was locked on 14 Rock, a former Christian station that had recently converted to a pop format. It was my last gasp of trying to listen to AM Top 40, and it had its moments. 

In late ’83, Tracey Ullman‘s “They Don’t Know” was one of the finer moments. I was not familiar with Kirsty MacColl‘s original British single, nor could I even figure out initially who was responsible for this splendid, irresistible confection emanating from my car’s speakers; note to DJs then and now: if you play it, SAY IT! Jeez, how can radio do its job of selling records if we don’t know the names of the records playing?

In that flashpoint of mystery, when the singer was still an anonymous discovery that would not reveal her secret identity, “They Don’t Know” filled my Impala as no other song could. It was the sound of the ’60s girl groups, of course, but its tacit nostalgia didn’t overwhelm its sense of immediacy, its importance as an AM Top 40 hit RIGHT NOW, or at least the “right now” of that very moment in 1983. Hearing it at home, when I could close my eyes and let the song play in my waking dreams (an approach best avoided when one is driving), it felt like 1965 again. And this time, I was old enough to appreciate it. It was 1983. Anything could happen in 1983. 

Right?

I eventually ID’d the singer and the song. Tracey Ullman became far better known as an actress and comic performer, but she made her mark in music, too. She’s considered a one-hit wonder in America, but her British hit cover of Irma Thomas‘s “Breakaway” shoulda been a smash on these shores as well. Wish I coulda heard that on the radio, too.

I did hear “They Don’t Know.” I didn’t hear it often enough to suit me, but I heard it, and it mattered. Its cute MTV video, with the comic emphasis and the cameo by Paul McCartney, didn’t necessarily enhance the song, but it didn’t detract from it, either. As Ullman’s career progressed and her profile grew grander and more widespread, I wished her well from my humble sidelines, rooting for her as if she’d been an old friend. As I guess she had been, in a way. She was a voice on the radio. What better friend could one ask for?

(And if Tracey Ullman’s “They Don’t Know” really was my final big AM Top 40 song, then I went out in style. Radio up. Windows down. Let’s hit the road and drive.)

By Carl Cafarelli

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Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin’ pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl.

The Beatles and The Green Hornet for MEESTER TACO

Meester Taco was a taco joint in Brockport, New York in the late ’70s.  As a senior at the State University College at Brockport in the Spring of 1980, I wrote two Meester Taco commercials for the college radio station, WBSU-FM. I booked a studio date for production, but technical issues at the studio forced us to postpone–yeah, just like Westcott Radio today. It was already too late in the semester to re-schedule production, so these commercials were never produced.  But I still have the scripts.  The “Jane” in the Beatles spot would be my pal Jane Gach, who was a DJ at WBSU.  So, let’s hear from our sponsor:

MEESTER TACO 60 second spot

JANE:  We interrupt this program for a special bulletin.  I’m speaking to you from Meester Taco, where The Beatles–John, Paul, George and the other one–have been seen together.  John, you and the others have turned down countless multi-million dollar offers for a reunion. Why have you decided to get back together?

JOHN:  Actually, it wasn’t a PLANNED thing at all. We just bumped into each other on line for beef burritos at Meester Taco.

PAUL:  I was waiting for a soft-shell taco with hot sauce.

JOHN:  Well, taco or burrito, it’s the same existential concept.

JANE:  Paul, what is it you like about Meester Taco?

PAUL:  Oh, the spices definitely. In fact, I’d like to take some of these spices with me to Japan….

JANE:  I see.  And what do you say, George?

GEORGE:  Hare Krishna. Spare change, mister?

JANE:  Ringo?

RINGO:  I want another Apple Gomez.

JANE:  Well guys, I’m really glad that you could just forget your past differences and re-unite.

JOHN:  Yes, the devotion of our fans has, heh, “Please Pleased us,” and we just want to make everyone happy and–HEY! That’s me beef burrito you’ve got, Paulie!

PAUL:  ‘Tis not!

JOHN:  ‘Tis! Take THAT, McCartney!

[Fight sounds, continuing under narration]

JANE:  Well, I guess this just proves that Meester Taco can bring anyone together.  Right, guys?

JOHN:  Right. All you need is love.

PAUL:  Yeah.

GEORGE:  Yeah.

RINGO:  Yeah.

[Fight resumes]

JANE:  Meester Taco, on the corner of Routes 19 and 31 in Brockport–bringing people together.

MEESTER TACO 30 second spot

MUSIC:  “The Green Hornet Theme” by Al Hirt

NARRATOR: Meester Taco presents the adventures of The Green Hornet! You remember last time, the villanous Doctor Smirk had trapped The Green Hornet in a situation which could mean certain death for our hero! Let’s listen….

SMIRK: Aha, Green Hornet! I have you trapped in a situation which could mean certain death for you! What do you say to that?

NARRATOR:  Our hero bravely replies–

HORNET:  Oh God, somebody help me!

NARRATOR:  We pause now for this word from our sponsor.

MR. TACO:  This is Crazy Meester Taco on the corner of Routes 19 and 31 in Brockport, where we’ve got the best deals on tacos, burritos, tostadas and Apple Gomezes in the area. Meester Taco will NOT be undersold!

ORNET:  Wait a minute! I’m in deadly danger, and you interrupt for a commercial?!

NARRATOR:  Suddenly–

DEPUTY:  Okay, Green Hornet, you’re coming with us.

HORNET:   Who are you?

DEPUTY:  We’re from Bellevue and we’ve got a room waiting for you. Your show’s been off the air for fifteen years.

HORNET:  Where’s Kato?

DEPUTY:  Kato’s been dead for ten years. Now come along.

NARRATOR:  And what of the evil Doctor Smirk?

SMIRK:  Hey man, I’m in the middle of a beef burrito!

NARRATOR:  Meester Taco, at the corner of Routes 19 and 31 in Brockport.  For the great American meal that’s really Mexican.

Great. Now I’m hungry.

Cruisin’ Music

I listen to music while I’m driving. The car is my favorite place to listen to music; it’s also frequently almost my only place to listen to music, but it’s not merely my favorite by default. As a former pop journalist, I should try to propagate an image of sophistication and deliberation, retiring to my study, brandy in hand, intent on contemplating the splendor of a virgin vinyl Pet Sounds played through a 5.1 surround stereo system that cost more than I made in twenty years of freelancing for Goldmine. And…no. To be fair, there are decent meals that cost more than I made freelancing for Goldmine, but that’s irrelevant. Pop music was meant to be listened to on cheap speakers, loud and distorted, as you’re movin’ down the highway at 500 miles an hour. 

(This example is intended as hyperbole. Always obey posted speed limits, even when The Ramones are on.)

And I won’t apologize for it. The unique experience of listening to rockin’ pop music in the car is magic, nearly an out-of-body rapture. It was true when I was a little kid, hearing The BeatlesThe Dave Clark Five, and The Bobby Fuller Four blastin’ outta WNDR-AM in my brother’s fragile Alfa Romeo. It was true much later, when my Dad gave me his ’69 Impala, and early ’80s AM Top 40 on Buffalo’s 14 Rock gave me Tracey UllmanToni BasilPrince, and Paul McCartney. It was true when the FM radio in my otherwise-crappy ’78 Bobcat allowed me to achieve my dream of hearing The Ramones on a car radio–thank you, WBNY-FM! It was true when cassette decks granted me the opportunity to customize my motorized listening, and when car CD players let me immediately immerse myself in an album I’d just purchased, right then and there on the drive home from the record store. Radio. Mix Tapes. Mini-discs (plugged in via a car kit). CDs. Satellite radio. My intrepid iPod. The wide world of pop music lives in my car. 

None of this is intended to downplay the impact and enjoyment I have felt in other listening environments. I would not have become the giddy, contented pop fan I am without all of the joyful hours spent listening to radio in my room, from Smokey Robinson & the Miracles and Badfinger through The Sex PistolsThe Go-Go’s, and…well, everyone. I can never forget the sheer thrill of the first time I heard “Porpoise Song” by The Monkees, courtesy of a girl in high school who let me borrow her copy of the Head LP. I retain the sense of transcendent inspiration from a neighbor playing Otis Redding‘s Live In Europe, or friends hooking me on stuff by David BowieThe O’JaysFingerprintz, and Anny Celsi, or hearing a Nada Surf CD playing in a record store and saying to the clerk GIMME!, or boppin’ around my dorm room or apartment or suburban house, exulting in the sweet sounds of Fools FaceChuck BerryGladys Knight & the PipsThe KinksThe FlashcubesThe Isley BrothersP. P. ArnoldThe Barracudas, a crunchy James Brown 45, a Bay City Rollers eight-track, a Gretchen’s Wheel mp3, all playing back on whatever home stereo equipment was/is available at the time. I wouldn’t surrender a second of any of that.

Still: music in the car. Irreplaceable. Windows down (or air conditioner up) in the summer, snow tires barreling forward in the winter, the music turned up LOUD. It’s a solitary experience, a communion; it’s not quite the same when there’s a passenger. When The Monkees released the digital single “She Makes Me Laugh,” the first tease from the 2016 album Good Times!, I was disappointed with it…until I listened to it in the car. Then I got it, and I loved it. Pop music is made for the car. Driving in nearly any weather, give me my tunes, and I’ll get there. The wind, the rain, the sun, and the snow are no match for the power of my music. Sunglasses on. Car stereo on. Let’s go.

Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to ROCK ‘N’ ROLL…!

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Nick Frater, Sting & The Harmonica Pocket

Nick Frater

Earworms (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/earworms

Nick Frater’s beautiful Lp, Earworms, made every year-end-best list that I saw last year. And deservedly so. Although I hadn’t heard it at the time my list was published, it did get a mention for its cool cover art. For the vinyl edition, I knew I had to refuse a free review copy, and plunk down my own pocket money.

Frater has written a batch of tunes that manages to evoke early McCartney and Fleetwood Mac, and sounds as if it was recorded in a living room, albeit an acoustically-perfect living room. It’s All Rumours kicks things off, sounding like a possible Band On The Run outtake. What’s With Your Heavy Heart? has a similar feel. A lot of the pop of the early 1970’s had a strange ability to sound both buoyant and melancholy at the same time. Frater nails this aspect with perfection.

My fave of the set is the closer, How To Survive Somebody. It’s a sweet ballad that nicely showcases Frater’s soft vocals, which always sound warm and comfortable. Much like a favorite sweater on a chilly morning, Earworms is a record that I keep coming back to. I have no doubt that it will stay with me and survive the years.

Sting

The Bridge (A&M)

https://www.amazon.com/Bridge-Sting

Sting has made a couple of really nice pop albums in recent years, namely, 2016’s 57th & 9th, 2018’s 44/876 (Yes, I liked it!), and now, with The Bridge. Sting appears to have mellowed with age, and presenting complicated constructs has given way to a more-focused approach on likable melodies.

The opener, Rushing Water, stands among his best flagship singles. With a stripped-back verse leading to a soaring chorus, it has a similar pacing to Fortress Around Your Heart. It’s a song that you want to hear again, as soon as it ends. 

Other notables include the somber Harmony Road, an ode to a life in a neighborhood that is both loved for its history and loathed for its decay, and The Bridge, which unfolds with thoughts about the passage of a lifetime. There’s something oddly calming about knowing that Sting is having similar thoughts to the rest of us, as we age.

Harmonica Pocket

Sing Your Song (THP)

https://harmonicapocket.bandcamp.com/album/sing-your-song

Late last year, The Harmonica Pocket’s track, One Two I Love You, caught our ears, here at Pop-a-looza HQ. Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of listening to their entire full-length, Sing Your Song.

Brimming with happiness, it’s one the whole family can enjoy. Lead vocalist Keeth Monta Apgar has a warm, tuneful voice, that sounds both fresh and familiar. When he suggests that you sing your song, you feel like you just might be able to do it.

Other standouts include the cheery Apples On The Sun and a cover of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me, which is given a campfire treatment, with acoustic guitar and just a touch of percussion. Very well done, we’re looking forward to hearing more!

Revealing My Age (One Concert Ticket Stub At A Time)

One of the many datamining exercises on Facebook poses the challenge of dating yourself without naming a year, but just by naming a (presumably old) performer you saw in concert. Now, this sort of datamining won’t work on me anyway. When one of my security questions asks me to name my first concert, I routinely answer [name redacted], a teen girl who threw herself against teen me because my Jerry Lewis impression apparently made me irresistible. 

For dramatic purposes, the role of [name redacted] is played by Stella Stevens

(Those circumstances worked exactly once.)

Where was I? Oh right, old concerts. It seems to me the question’s premise is inherently flawed. I’m in my 60s, and I saw my first concerts when I was a teenager. My Me Decade-era shows include then-contemporary acts the Ramones and the RunawaysElvis Costello and the AttractionsKISS and Uriah Heepthe Charlie Daniels Band999the RecordsJoe JacksonDavid JohansenArtful Dodgerthe Flashcubesthe Fastthe Battered Wives, and classic (but still current) stars the Kinks and Bob Dylan

Of these, only the Runaways tie me specifically to the ’70s, as all of the others remained active into the Reagan Administration and beyond. 

I also saw Herman’s Hermits at a bar in 1978, minus Herm himself Peter Noone, but still the Hermits (and a mighty fine show). I saw the Animals, with all five original members, in the early ’80s. I saw the Everly BrothersBo DiddleyGene PitneyRay Charlesthe Searchers, and more on the oldies circuit in the ’80s and ’90s. I had missed opportunities to see James BrownDizzy GillespieDel Shannon, and Rick Nelson. Listing any of those acts in response to our original question might suggest I was attending rock ‘n’ roll shows in the ’60s, when I was a mere lad and a beardless youth. Fakeout!

On this blog, my Virtual Ticket Stub Gallery includes a 1976 Beatles concert, but that’s not technically, y’know, real. I have seen A Beatle, attended a press conference for another Beatle, and I also saw the Pete Best Band, but no, unlike my friend Pete Kennedy and my brother-in-law Tony Dees, no actual Fab Four on my concert resumé. Though I guess I could make the claim anyway. I’ve seen all four Monkees, too, but in increments of three Monkees at a time.

So the premise is indeed fatally flawed. My daughter saw Cheap Trick. And she was not around in the ’70s or ’80s. I’d remember if she were. Mommy’s all right, Daddy’s all right, we just seem a litle weird. And old. But still rockin’ and rollin’.

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Nick Frater / Earworms

Nick Frater

Earworms (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/earworms

Over the past several years, Nick Frater has assembled a gaggle of albums, EPs and singles that have collected gushing reviews from all those who have had the pleasure of experiencing these endeavors. Based in Croydon, England, the multi-diversified musician has always professed a penchant for seventies pop rock, but here on his latest album, Earworms, his love for the sounds of the decade is ramped up in full force. Although such influences are boldly expressed, Nick’s sharp-edged songwriting, combined with his industrious arranging and production techniques sit at the head of the class, preventing the material from coming off as mere mimicry.

 One of the first things that attracts listeners to a song is the singing. And Nick’s butter-melting vocals, which are squarely schooled in Beatlism, extending to the mannerisms of The Raspberries, Electric Light Orchestra, 10cc, Gerry Rafferty and Elvis Costello, certainly do give the songs on Earworms instant appeal. You couldn’t ask for a better frontman than Nick, who delivers these perfectly-tuned compositions with clarity and strength.

 A great choice as the opening number, It’s All Rumours, is a power pop marvel from the get-go. Ignited by slapping drums and stabbing riffs bleeding with distortion, the song is further engraved with twisty breaks and a fluttery falsetto. Jaunty piano chords jumpstart Lucky Strike, which transforms into a catchy vaudeville groove, while the rolling rhythms and punchy hooks of What’s With Your Heavy Heart? also features bluesy licks straight from the George Harrison playbook. 

A dreamy piano-driven ballad iced with a lightly-battered jazz flavor, Star-Crossed would have fit nicely on a Walter Egan album, where the absolutely infectious Buggin’ Out, beams brightly with twinkling guitars, spunky melodies and merry doo-wop harmonies.

In typical seventies fashion, Earworms concludes to a grand and majestic climax. Patterned after a glitzy Queen inspired presentation, How To Survive Somebody swells and soars to a chorus of melodramatic vocals, sweeping keyboards and thundering chords.

In a parallel dimension, the songs on Earworm would be parked neck to neck on the AM dial with chart-toppers  by Elton John, Paul McCartney and WingsThe Bay City Rollers, The Eagles and the Captain and Tennille. But good music is good music no matter what era it reflects, so there is no reason why Earworms  can’t be enjoyed now, and reward Nick Frater with the widespread success – both artistically and commercially – he so clearly commands. 

Give Me A Head With Hair, Long Quarantine Hair

As quarantine restrictions ease, I am still not in the merest hurry to get a haircut. My hair is now longer than it’s been since the mid ’80s, when I was managing a record store. Actually, it may even be longer than it was back then. If not, it’s close. It’s bushy and cascading, curly, voluminous. I’m still just about bald on top, mind you, but I have an increasingly lengthy mane nonetheless.

My reluctance to have someone go all Delilah on li’l ol’ Samson me has less to do with COVID concerns and much more to do with my…well, I guess with my satisfaction with my current shaggy ‘do. It feels good to have hair, the follically-challenged part of my North 40 notwithstanding. In times like these, any little trifle that can make us feel better is welcome, no matter how superficial that feeling may be.

As a boy in the 1960s, my hair was short. Every boy’s hair was short. Longer hair was for girls, unless you were either The Beatles or The Mighty Thor; the former was a pretty exclusive club, and the latter wasn’t from around here. As The Rolling StonesThe Monkees, and the male contingent within The Jefferson Airplane further modeled and popularized the idea of lengthier locks for the older boys (and The Monkees probably did more for that cause than anyone else, just via the mainstreaming familiarity of starring on a weekly TV show), those of us still in elementary school retained our exposed ears and close-to-the-head styling, and I doubt many (maybe any) of my peers objected. I never had a buzz-cut, but regular trips to the barber were routine, expected. Normal. The thought of having longer hair never even occurred to me.

(That said, I hated going to the barber. Sitting still was not what I did best, but my regular barber got the job done. I remember visiting a different guy exactly once, and he kept getting annoyed with me, and he kept forcefully jerking my head into position. Bastard. A session with any barber, including my regular guy, left my neck and shoulders itchy, as stray bits of short ‘n’ sharp debris nestled under my collar and under my shirt. On the bright side, my regular barber had comic books for me to read while I awaited my turn to be shorn. And afterward, I liked to run my hand against the grain of the hair just above the nape of my neck, the bristly light resistance providing a unique and fulfilling closure to the process of a haircut.)

Things changed in the ’70s. I was still as four-cornered as they come, but even a square such as I wasn’t immune to a shift in prevailing fashion, as longer hair become more and more common for guys. My barber became a hair stylist, a transformation no less remarkable than Clark Kent entering a nearby phonebooth and emerging as Superman. Dad was still not gonna allow me to start looking like a hippie or a rock star, but the accepted look of male grooming evolved anyway. By eighth grade, I decided that I would have long hair and a beard when I grew up. By high school, while still beardless and not much shaggier than Paul McCartney circa ten years prior, I was using a blow dryer regularly. 
Punk rock hit as I transitioned from high school to college. The Ramones had long hair, but the prevailing image for most of the young punks was the short and spiky hairdo. Over time, this replaced my ’70s notion of stylin’ like Haight-Ashbury. I never quite got to looking like Sid Vicious, and settled instead for a power-pop hybrid that aped the pre-1967 Beatles. It always comes back to The Beatles, man.

The jobs I had from 1978 to 1984 did not favor tresses hanging much over my ears. The record store job was different. My hair grew to the point that customers remarked that I looked like Neil Diamond. That ended in 1986 when I got a job in retail sales, which is still what I do today. That gig required shorter locks. The length of my hair has varied in the ensuing decades (as the hair on top gradually vanished), while rarely getting too long before a supervisor reminds me of my need to visit a barber. Stylist.


Until now. New York state has allowed salons to reopen within appropriate guidelines, but I’ve come to dig having my hair longer. My bosses have mentioned a preference for me to return to a somewhat less hirsute style. Still, there’s been no hassle, and my stated intent to remain the walking, talking embodiment of a song by The Cowsills is understood and accepted, at least for now. It’s getting wild, but it’s clean, and it’s mine. I don’t even mind the miles of gray streaked throughout. I run my hands through it, and the feeling is as validating now as it was when I rubbed the back of my head when I was six or seven. Give me a head with hair. Long, beautiful hair. Shining, streaming, gleaming, waxen, flaxen. Here baby, there Mama, everywhere Daddy Daddy. HAIR!

TIP THE BLOGGER: CC’s Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Hey! If you buy from Amazon, consider making your purchases through links at Pop-A-Looza. A portion of your purchase there will go to support Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do). Thinking Amazon? Think Pop-A-Looza.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/ You can read about our history here.

The many fine This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio compilation albums are still available, each full of that rockin’ pop sound you crave. A portion of all sales benefit our perpetually cash-strapped community radio project:

Volume 1: download
Volume 2: CD or download
Volume 3: download
Volume 4: CD or download
Waterloo Sunset–Benefit For This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio:  CD or download
Carl’s writin’ a book! The Greatest Record Ever Made! (Volume 1)will contain 165 essays about 165 tracks, each one of ’em THE greatest record ever made. An infinite number of records can each be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Updated initial information can be seen here: THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE! (Volume 1).

Bill Lloyd /Working The Long Game

Bill Lloyd

Working The Long Game (SpyderPop Records/Big Stir Records 2021) 

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/working-the-long-game

As one half of Foster & Lloyd, Bill Lloyd experienced a run of success on the country charts in the late eighties. Based in Nashville, Tennessee,  the acclaimed singer, songwriter and mercurial instrumentalist has further enjoyed a gratifying solo career as a pop rock artist.

Originally distributed by the SpyderPop label in the fall of 2018, Working The Long Game marked Bill’s ninth solo excursion. Earlier this year, SpyderPop joined forces with Big Stir Records, resulting in a partnership focusing on reissuing select albums, with Working The Long Game rolling in as the third release in the series.

 If there is any album worthy of a reprise, it is definitely Working The Long Game. Musically and lyrically, every song radiates spirit and substance. Bill’s lucid and lilting vocals, paired with in-the-pocket performances, equals dose after dose of melodious brilliance.

 A number of notable friends were also recruited to lend their craft to the sessions. Among these familiar figures are Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Freedy Johnston, Scott Sax of Wanderlust, Buddy Mondlock, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Graham Gouldman, whose credits involve authoring hit singles for The Hollies and The Yardbirds, as well as playing in his own renowned bands, such as The Mindbenders, Hot Legs and 10cc

Guitars that simultaneously chime and crunch man the punchy Satellite, and the title track of the album shuffles to a merry vaudeville- inspired beat, which sounds kind of like a collaboration between The Kinks and Paul McCartney. A pinch of swagger and crackling power chords  stand as the engaging elements behind Yesterday, where the jagged riffage and rustling rhythms of Interrupted produces a bit of a funky tenor.

 Sealed to the seams with bracing hooks and a perky chorus, the slightly-country seasoned Make That Face, and the haunting glare of What Time Won’t Heal are additionally accented by sharp and spacious arrangements. Another attention-grabber on the album is the incredibly catchy Go-To-Girl, which romps to a youthfully exuberant bounce that crosses the sunny harmonies of The Beach Boys with the bright polish of The Smithereens

If you missed Working The Long Game the first time around, now is your chance to score a copy and sink your ears into a groovy guitar pop extravaganza. Nothing but the best is expected from Bill Lloyd, and here’s an album that delivers the goods on all counts.

By Beverly Paterson

THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE: Hey Jude

An infinite number of rockin’ pop records can be the greatest record ever made, as long as they take turns. Today, this is THE GREATEST RECORD EVER MADE!

For years and years, “Hey Jude” was regarded by many as The Beatles‘ crowning achievement among singles, the fabbest of the fab, the toppermost of the poppermost. No, wait–neither fab nor poppermost, for “Hey Jude” was far more mature and accomplished than that earlier yeah-yeah-yeah hold my hand stuff. It had depth! It had meaning! It had purpose! It had a big room full of people swayin’ and singin’ Na-na-na-NA-na-na-na!, as if they’d lost their way and forgotten the precise words to “The Batman Theme!”

And I loved it. Wholeheartedly.

“Hey Jude” was released in the summer of 1968, a double-barreled 45 with the raucous “Revolution” as its flip. The Beatles promoted it via a video clip aired by British TV host David Frost and subsequently in the U.S. on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. I missed all of this, and I don’t remember hearing it on the radio or anywhere until the early ’70s. That’s when I finally heard “Hey Jude,” as I was visiting my brother Rob in Albany, and listening intently to an oldies radio countdown of the all-time greatest songs. “Hey Jude” came in second, falling just short of the unstoppable juggernaut that was “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe. Or maybe it was the other around, but no matter. I adored both songs immediately.

There was never a time where I didn’t like The Beatles, at least no such time after Beatlemania hit the States in ’64, when I was mere lad of four. But the early ’70s was a huge period of discovery and rediscovery for me in terms of your John, Paul, George, and Ringo. I listened to the Beatles records I knew, sought out the Beatles records I didn’t know, saw the Beatles films I hadn’t seen, and re-watched the one I knew–A Hard Day’s Night–whenever it turned up on TV. The Beatley Badfinger was my favorite current group on the radio, and the Beatley Raspberries later became my favorite current group on the radio; in the period between Badfinger and The Raspberries, Paul McCartney & Wings was likely my favorite current group on the radio. But my all-time favorite group? There was never, ever any question about who that was. There still isn’t.

Granted, the onslaught of punk in the late ’70s prompted me to re-examine my ongoing allegiance to The Beatles. My newfound devotion to The Ramones rivaled my Beatlemania, but certainly didn’t replace it. I did grow tired of the solo careers of the former Beatles by that time, and even started writing a song urging them to never get back to where they once belonged (‘Cause you got a good reason/For staying apart just as long as you can/You got a good reason/All things must pass, you can’t do that again). I developed a distinct preference for The Beatles’ pre-1967 recordings, before they got too serious with the Sgt. Pepper and the “All You Need Is Love” and the goo goo ga joob. On the other hand: RevolverRubber SoulBeatles VI and Beatles ’65 and Meet The Beatles and the American mix of “Thank You, Girl” on The Beatles’ Second Album? Yeah, yeah, a thousand times yeah! 

In my 1980s Beatles milieu, “Hey Jude” was not here, nor there, nor everywhere. I still liked it, but it was no longer in my Top 100, not even close. Hell, when a rummage-sale dive at a church basement in Buffalo netted me an Atlantic 45 of Wilson Pickett testifyin’ his own take on “Hey Jude,” the Wicked, Wicked Pickett’s rendition instantly became the version in my mind. That remained the case for decades thereafter. And seeing Paul (now Sir Paul) haul the song out again and again for seemingly every TV appearance honoring The Beatles’ legacy eventually caused “Hey Jude” to grate on me. Na-na-na-NA-na-na-na. No. No-no-NO-no-no-no.

There was an exception to this recently. I don’t remember what show it was, what specific honor or accolade or day-in-the-life matter was at hand. But there was Paul McCartney, on my little 32″ TV screen, once again recommending that we take a sad song and make it better. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it. But after years of indifference, even disdain for this song…

…Well, all of a sudden “Hey Jude” clicked with me, for the first time in years. I may have even joined in with the na-na-nas, as I sat on my couch and remembered how large this song once loomed in my legend.

It would be difficult to name one track as the definitive Beatles track. I usually regard “Rain” as The Greatest Record Ever Made, but that doesn’t make it the definitive Beatles track. “Yesterday” is underrated in spite of its ubiquity, but it’s three Beatles shy of even being a Beatles record, let alone the definitive example. One could argue on behalf of the moptopped frenzy of “She Loves You” or “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” the mind-expansion of “A Day In The Life” or “Strawberry Fields Forever” or “I Am The Walrus,” the pathos of “Eleanor Rigby,” the elegance of “Penny Lane,” the sheer beauty of “We Can Work It Out,” the Utopian promise of “All You Need Is Love.”

But if it’s gotta be just one, it’s “Hey Jude.” “Hey Jude” is the definitive Beatles track. It captures one moment among many, just another snippet of time when The Beatles ruled the world. It captures it perfectly, the movement we need right there on our shoulders. It’s The Beatles still playing as a band, the fractures in that foundation still bonded together in a way only four specific people would ever truly understand. It’s The Beatles with nothing to prove, already reigning o’er their domain by divine right, the four kings of EMI sitting stately on the floor. It’s The Beatles proving it anyway, because they’re the goddamn Beatles.

So let it out and let it in, hey Jude, begin. You were made to go out and get her. Tonight, I will see Paul McCartney in concert for the first time. He’ll play some songs I know and love, representing a body of work I cherish above all others. He’ll sing “Yesterday.” He’ll command us to “Let It Be.” He’ll channel James Bond with “Live And Let Die,” a license to thrill. And a splendid time will be guaranteed for all.

And he will sing “Hey Jude.” Where once I dreaded that notion, I now embrace it and anticipate it as a highlight. And I will sing along, full voice, with over 30,000 of my fabbest friends. Na-na-na-NA-na-na-na. For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool by making his world a little colder. Better, better, better, AH!

The Weeklings / In Their Own Write

The Weeklings

In Their Own Write (JEM Records 2021)

http://www.jemrecordings.com/


Live albums are the next best thing to being there, especially when brought to you by a group as great as The Weeklings. Recorded on the stages of the Strand Theater in Lakewood, New Jersey and Daryl’s House in Pawling, New York, In Their Own Write truly does capture the widely adored combo in all their energetic and exciting splendor.

 Because The Weeklings are so adept at composing and playing heritage genres, you would swear on a stack of vinyl that their songs were platinum-plated hit singles from the golden age of pop rock. 
Bobbing with jingling guitars and cheery choruses, Little Tease, Don’t Know, Don’t Care and Little Elvis mimic the mop-topped Liverpool Class of 1963, where Morning, Noon And Night projects a stirring folk rock feel, accompanied by the tremor of a bluesy harmonica. 

Wrapped in rotating rhythms, surrounded by power chords  and drum drills snapping like rubber bands, In The Moment bears a potent Who presence, the chugging roll of 1,000 Miles Away rests firmly on Chuck Berry turf, and the melodic shimmer of Leave Me With My Pride would have been right at home on a Raspberries album.

No Weeklings’ gig is complete without greeting The Beatles. That said, In Their Own Write contains a pair of John Lennon and Paul McCartney covers, but rather than recycling the songs note for note, The Weeklings offer treatments that are far different from the original versions. Both The Word and Baby You’re A Rich Man are shaped of  a stately stance,  marked by weighty arrangements, a measured intensity and harmonica interludes, resulting in very unique and imaginative takes.

The Weeklings flex their stadium rock muscles to maximum momentum on the pulsing Running Away, which climaxes to a whirring jam, as well as the ultra-catchy 3, that bucks and bounces with stabbing hooks, elevated harmonies and a powerful and gritty lead vocal reminiscent of John Waite during his Babys days.

Intended to be experienced to at ear-splitting volume, In Their Own Right will have listeners clapping their hands, stomping their feet and singing along with these nifty tunes. The Weeklings have passed the audition. Here’s to a standing ovation and an encore!