Beginning today, at least for awhile, Bloggerhythms will be posting links to music related news stories on the sidebar. Currently, most of them are related to America's and the World's unfortunate state of affairs. However, if you have any music news you think this blog's readers would be interested in please contact me.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Various Artists - Baseball's Greatest Hits (1989)

Major League Baseball has been put on hold, so for those of you who need a fix it's time to salute the sport that used to be America's pastime with some music.

The appeal of Baseball's Greatest Hits (1989) lies almost exclusively with hardcore baseball fans and those who like to bask in its history. It's an interesting and informative artifact but not something a listener would routinely pop in his CD player (if you still have one) on a regular basis because it's a collection of novelty songs that are mostly really, really old.

The album has twenty-two tracks that are predominantly songs but it also includes a handful of spoken word radio broadcasts and comedy bits. Among the latter are museum pieces such as Abbott & Costello's famous "Whose On First" (1945), "Lou Gehrig's Farewell Speech" (1939), and "Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round The World" (1951).

Also featured is actor and vaudeville star DeWolf Hopper who recorded "Casey At The Bat" in 1909. Hopper recited the poem live around 10,000 times and he left us with the ancient and way over the top version you'll hear below. The remastered sound on it is truly astounding.

Among the obvious musical choices are Terry Cashman's "Willie, Mickey & The Duke" and "A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request" by the late Steve Goodman, a hysterical tale about the Chicago Cubs who hadn't won a World Series since 1908 when he recorded this song in 1981. The folk singer's funny classic has lost some of its luster now that the Windy City's National League team won its first championship in 2016 after 108 years.

Other selections include "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" by Doc and Merle Watson, the Gamble and Huff penned "(Love Is Like) A Baseball Game" by The Intruders from 1968, and "Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball?" a 1949 novelty tune from Count Basie and His Orchestra.

Lots of fun for those who love baseball and nostalgia.

Steve Goodman - A Dying Cub Fan's Last Request & Other Great Baseball Songs
The Baseball Project - Volume 2: High and Inside (2011)

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Almost Hits: Fountains Of Wayne - Stacy's Mom (2003)

Here is some sad news. Rocker Adam Schlesinger passed away today at 52, another disturbing victim of Coronavirus.

Schlesinger was not a household name but he had a very nice career. Among his credits was an Oscar nomination for composing "That Thing You Do," the title track from the 1997 Tom Hanks movie. He was also the leader of Fountains of Wayne (FOW), the New Jersey power-pop outfit named after a lawn ornament store (I am not kidding). He also wrote music for television and theater.

"Stacy's Mom," FOW's biggest hit, is a twenty-first century, musical version of the 1967 movie, The Graduate. It was written by Schlesinger and lead singer Chris Collingwood. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, in 2003 Schlesinger told MTV his inspiration for the song. "One of my best friends, when we were maybe 11 or 12, came to me and announced that he thought my grandmother was hot," he recalled. "And I said, 'Hey, you're stepping over the line,' but at that point in life, I wouldn’t put it past anyone."

"Stacy's Mom," an obvious tribute to The Cars, became a sensation despite reaching only #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. It became the quartet's biggest hit in America, largely propelled by the funny and slightly perverted video that accompanied it.

The tune fared marginally better in Britain and Australia but it hit the top 10 in Ireland. It was included on their most popular album, Welcome Interstate Managers.

"Stacy's Mom" was nominated for a Grammy for best pop vocal performance and was a certified gold record which means it sold over 500,000 copies.

As a bonus, below the official video starring model Rachel Hunter, is one of my wife's favorite FOW songs, a live version of "Hackensack," also from Welcome Interstate Managers.

Almost Hits is an occasional exploration into songs that failed to reach the top #20 on the American Billboard Hot 100. Many have become classics despite what their chart position would indicate.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Buried Treasure: Flavor - Sally Had A Party (1968)

Hey oldies fans! Did you ever wonder what a record would sound like if you took Spencer Davis Group's "Gimme Some Lovin'" and included a couple of bars stolen from Fantastic Johnny C's "Boogaloo Down Broadway?" If that combination sounds plausible to you then you've probably heard "Sally Had A Party" by Flavor, a one-hit wonder who hailed from the Washington D.C. area.

Information on how well the single performed is spotty. It did well on a top 50 survey from radio station KLMS in Lincoln, Nebraska where it placed at # 10 for the week of July 20, 1968. It was also in regular rotation on my local top 40 station, WFIL, Famous 56, in Philadelphia that summer so "Sally Had a Party" was much bigger in certain markets than it was nationally. According to Joel Whitburn's Record Research it debuted on the Hot 100 on August 3, 1968, climbing no higher than #95 in a five-week run.

As the song's title suggests "Sally" is the perfect 60s party record but it will probably sound dated to modern, young, music fans because the arrangement, production, and vocals are obviously of their time.

I still have the copy I purchased way back when and if I owned a jukebox it would become the permanent home to this fine piece of garage pop. The flip side is a rather lame version of The Miracles' "Shop Around" but the A-side couldn't be cooler.

Since Flavor was signed to Columbia, one of the major labels at the time, somebody must have believed the group was headed for the big time but, as we all know, stardom doesn't always happen.

There is very little information available on Flavor but it is known that the trio's guitar player, Demetri Callas, later became a member of The Four Seasons touring band.

SPECIAL NOTE: Thanks goes out to J. A. Bartlett of The Hits Just Keep On Comin' for his research assistance with this post.

The ongoing Buried Treasure series unearths recordings that deserve a better fate and are no longer, or never were, part of the public's collective consciousness. Be sure to check in on a regular basis or you'll never know what long lost gems this blog's archaeologists will excavate from the dustbin of musical history.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Rob Martinez - Maybe Miss America (2020)

Maybe Miss America is the third album by power pop devotee Rob Martinez. It's a solid effort that is great for cruising in your convertible with the top down and the volume turned up high on a sunny, summer afternoon.

The CD was produced by Adam Marsland who has worked with other pop oriented rockers including former Beach Boy David Marks. Marsland gave the eleven song set a loud wall of sound without losing sight of the melody or the pop atmosphere these songs were meant to have.

Maybe Miss America is definitely a throwback record. It's a hybrid of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys, meaning it's psychedelic pop-rock that keeps the listener tuned in from start to finish. "Summer of Love," one of the album's highlights, has both of these ingredients.

The rocker composed or co-wrote all of the songs on the disc and everyone of them, especially "Sacrifice," "Free," and the title track will make you smile at least a little.

Martinez's vocals are often multi-tracked and his buoyant harmonies are supported by Marsland and singer Marisol Ricacho.

Discover more music from Martinez at Karma Frog Records.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Dana Carvey - John Lennon Talks To Paul McCartney From Heaven

Instead of writing a full post today I'm featuring a music related, Netflix comedy bit that is too good to pass up.

Dana Carvey has always been one of my favorite Saturday Night Live comedians. I never tire of the Church Lady or his portrayal of Garth in the popular Wayne's World movie and skits.

Here Carvey impersonates both Paul McCartney and John Lennon. While watching this hysterical bit it helps to remember that Lennon knew nothing about the technology we use today. He left us in December 1980, before the CD became the first major product of the digital age just a couple of years later.

You'll laugh hard as Sir Paul clues his late songwriting partner in on our current celebrities, the Internet, the devices its invention has spawned, and how the last two affected our lives.