Tag Archives: Big Audio Dynamite

It’s Fred Schneider’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

The B-52’s 1980 single “Private Idaho” made Pitchfork’s list of the “500 Greatest Songs from Punk to Present,” present being 2006. In his capsule review, Nitsuh Abebe wrote “Those who dismiss the B-52’s as silly or kitschy should live in fear of the frenzied last half-minute, which sounds like it’s out to track those people down, lock them up in cages, and make them go-go dance until they cry for mercy.”

Every Friday, Tunes du Jour tries to make you dance to welcome in the weekend. This week’s dance playlist kicks off with The B-52’s’ “Private Idaho,” featuring the vocals of Fred Schneider, who turns 65 today. (By the way, the B-52’s first performed in Idaho in 2011.)


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It’s Siouxsie Sioux’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

During the 1980s, Siouxsie and the Banshees, led by Susan “Siouxsie” Ballion, had 15 top 40 singles in the UK, where they formed. In the US, they had 15 fewer hits.

That changed in 1991, thanks to a song about a popular Hollywood actress of the 1950s who died in a car accident in 1967.

Vera Palmer, under her screen name Jayne Mansfield, won the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year in 1957, beating out Natalie Wood. That was the year she appeared in the film Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, based on the Broadway show in which she also starred. She also starred in the hit film The Girl Can’t Help It, which featured appearances from Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters, Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent.

Her career took a turn after these hits, perhaps due to a public backlash against her over-exposure, perhaps due to a decline in popularity of the “blonde bombshell” look, and/or perhaps due to her frequent pregnancies keeping her from accepting roles she was offered.

She did continue to work, however – in films, on television, on stage, and on records. Following a nightclub performance in Biloxi, Mississippi on June 28, 1967, Mansfield was en route to New Orleans where she was scheduled to be part of a radio show the following day. Her car collided with a tractor-trailer, and Mansfield, as well as her boyfriend and the car’s driver, were killed instantly.

The car accident is referenced in the fourth verse of Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Kiss Them for Me,” named after Mansfield’s 1957 film in which she co-starred with Cary Grant.

“Kiss Them for Me” peaked at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100, nine positions higher than its UK peak. It also went to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock chart and hit #8 on the Billboard Dance chart.

Today the woman born Susan Ballion turns 59 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with her ode to the late Jayne Mansfield.


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It’s Black Friday And I Need To Dance!

What do people want more than anything else? Love, perhaps. When songwriter/Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. asked “What do people want most?,” his writing partner Janie Bradford answered “Money. That’s what I want.”

A song was born, a classic that became the first hit for Gordy’s Motown Records, with singer Barrett Strong taking “Money (That’s What I Want)” to #23 in 1960.

Ringo + Lizards
Twenty years after Strong hit with it, UK band The Flying Lizards took a cover of “Money” to #50 on the US pop chart. Their version also made the dance chart. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.


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It’s Sting’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“Turn on my VCR, same one I’ve had for years”

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I still have my beta player. It’s not a Betamax, which is a Sony brand, but rather a Sanyo. I haven’t used it since I moved to LA in 2003, because it isn’t working. I don’t want to get rid of it, though, as I have a lot of great stuff on beta tapes. Stuff that is irreplaceable.

beta tapesThere are plenty more where these came from!

Some of the recordings I have on beta tapes can be found on YouTube – The Making of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” for example. Others, such as Purple Rain and The Flamingo Kid, are available on a host of formats that have hit the market since beta. I’m sure I could find Madonna’s pre-fame feature A Certain Sacrifice on-line if I bothered to look for it.

I used to always keep a recordable beta tape in the machine. You never know if while channel surfing you’ll come across Chaka Khan being interviewed on a Spanish talk show on UHF. (UHF pre-dates cable TV. It pre-dates beta tapes. Look it up.) I have several dozen tapes filled with television performances from artists I was obsessed with during my beta machine’s lifetime. Not that it’s dead. I refuse to believe it is. Perhaps I’m still in the denial stage of Dr. Kübler-Ross seven stages of grieving, but I believe the beta machine can easily be fixed. It probably needs a new band. Getting the machine fixed is on my To Do list. I can’t wait to dig in to those old tapes. I look forward to watching the one I labelled “Highlights from The Late Show With Joan Rivers.” It contains her interview with the late great disco queen Sylvester in which he accidentally outed his boyfriend. It also contains several appearances by The Bangles, as I was obsessed with both the Bangles and Joan Rivers. Sometimes I miss the 80s, but then I remember Duran Duran.

Might any of my LA readers be able to recommend a beta machine repair person?

The lyric that opens this post is from The Police’s song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” I have some of the band’s TV appearances on those beta tapes.

Today is the 64th birthday of that band’s usual lead singer, Sting. Our weekly dance party kicks off with the song with the longest title of any in the trio’s recorded repertoire.


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The Supreme Court Ruled And I Need To Dance!

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– Justice Anthony Kennedy

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. We kick off today’s party with birthday boy Mick Jones of The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite, who turns 60.


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It’s Pete Shelley’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

In 1981, Pete Shelley reached #14 on the US Dance chart with “Homosapien,” a keyboard-centric single that sounded much different than his work as the lead singer of punk band The Buzzcocks.

“Homosapien” did not get much airplay in Shelley’s native England, as the BBC took exception to the lyric “Homo superior in my interior.” Shelley said the song was not intended as a “gay song;” rather, it’s about homosapiens falling in love with other homosapiens. That may be so, but the opening line is “I’m the shy boy, you’re the coy boy / And you know we’re homosapien, too,” so there is more than a little homo in this sapien.

Shelley lives as the homosapien of his song, eschewing labels because “there doesn’t seem to be a word for ‘having relationships with people,’” regardless of gender, which is where Shelley sees himself.

It’s Friday and I need to dance! It’s also Pete Shelley’s birthday (he’s 60), so we’ll kick off our dance party with “Homosapien.”

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50 Songs Named After Real People

Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.

I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”

Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.

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“I Have Heard The Future Of Rock And Roll, And It Is The Clash.”

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“I have heard the future of rock and roll, and it is The Clash.” I said that to my friend Laura. The year was 1986. The Clash had already broken up. Sometimes I’m fashionably late to the party.

The Clash released their self-titled debut album in 1977. At that time I was very much a Top 40/Disco kid, listening to KC & the Sunshine Band, The Bee Gees, Eagles, Leo Sayer, ABBA, Stevie Wonder, Barry Manilow and Fleetwood Mac, etc. I’d read about punk rockers in Rolling Stone and Billboard, with their spitting and complaining. No thank you!

I heard a few Clash songs in the few years that followed – their two US top 40 singles “Train in Vain” and “Rock the Casbah,” plus “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” I liked all of those, but assumed they were the exception. They didn’t sound like the way I read punk described.

In 1986 I was working at CBS Records. One of the perks was employees could order five records or tapes each month from the CBS Records catalogue. I got the entire Springsteen back catalogue and some Dylan releases. Eventually I got around to ordering The Clash’s catalogue. I read about them so often and the records were free, so why not?

Wow! London Calling was the most impressive and the one that led to my rave review to Laura. It was not at all what I expected. It was very melodic and very accessible, with a diverse range of styles. The other albums all had their moments, enough such moments that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums.

Let me amend that – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of their albums except Cut the Crap, released after Mick Jones left the band.

While I’m often way ahead of the general population on songs and artists that eventually gather wide acclaim, sometime I’m slow. The Clash was one of those times. And, in retrospect, I suppose I was a tad hyperbolic when I declared Men At Work to be the new Beatles.

Today Mick Jones of The Clash (and later Big Audio Dynamite) turns 59. Here are ten gems.

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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + B-52s 003p

Today is the anniversary of The B-52s’ first live performance. Today is Valentine’s Day. Today is Friday. It’s only appropriate that we kick off today’s playlist with “Love Shack.”

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It’s Sinéad O’Connor’s Birthday And I Can’t Think Of A Headline

The latter half of the eighties was a great time for alternative rock music and its fans. During the years after the new wave boom but before Nirvana penetrated the mainstream, bringing a host of new rock acts with them, we would hear fresh, interesting acts on WLIR/WDRE and see them on MTV’s 120 Minutes.

In early 1988 120 Minutes aired a video from a new Irish singer named Sinéad O’Connor. The song was “Mandinka.” It grabbed me immediately. I bought her LP The Lion and the Cobra. It was (and is) great. I became obsessed. Not in a creepy stalker kind of way. I felt the need to own every note this woman released. I bought the albums, the remixes, the non-LP singles (e.g. “My Special Child”), the singles with non-LP b-sides (the UK CD single of “Success Has Made a Failure of Our Home” with its cover of “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” the UK CD single of “This Is a Rebel Song” with its cover of “Redemption Song”), every movie soundtrack album she appeared on (Married to the Mob, In the Name of the Father) and every compilation she appeared on (Red Hot + Blue, Help, A Very Special Christmas 2). I loved her passion, her songs, her intelligence, her tenderness, her individuality and her look. She stood out from the pack.

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Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Sinéad O’Connor with a playlist inspired by her and the music of the 120 Minutes era.

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