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Throwback Thursday – 1976 (Part II)

In October of 1975, the band Queen played for their manager, John Reid, a song they recently finished recording that they wanted to release as their next single. Reid told them the track would not get any airplay. He played it for another artist he managed, Elton John, who reportedly said “Are you mad? You’ll never get that on the radio!”

Queen stayed firm, not relenting when their record company begged them to at least edit the song down from its nearly six-minute duration.

To promote the song, the band was invited to play on England’s hugely successful Top of the Pops television program. They were unable to appear due to tour commitments, so they did something that wasn’t very common in 1975 – they filmed a videoclip. Top of the Pops aired the clip. As the song rose up the charts, the video was shown repeatedly. Soon other artists in the UK made videos for their records, which is why when MTV launched in the United States in 1981, many of the clips they aired were of UK acts.

The single, “Bohemian Rhapsody,” went to #1 in England in December of that year, where it stayed for nine weeks. It got knocked from the top spot by a song whose title consisted of a phrase used in “Bohemian Rhapsody” – ABBA’s “Mamma Mia.” “Bohemian Rhapsody” hit #1 again there in December of 1991, a few weeks after the death of the band’s lead singer and the song’s composer, Freddie Mercury.

Winston & queen

In the United States, the song didn’t go to #1, but it did hit the top ten in 1976 and 1992.

For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, Tunes du Jour revisits 1976 (part I can be found here), kicking off with the Queen classic “Bohemian Rhapsody.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

“If disco had stuck around, we don’t how much less terrorism we might have in the world now.”
– Gloria Gaynor

Recently, Bono, the singer with U2, made headlines when he suggested that to fight ISIS we send comedians to entertain them, which is his stupidest idea since foisting U2’s most recent album on unsuspecting people by automatically including it in their iTunes libraries. Talk about a sneak attack!

To her credit, Gloria Gaynor didn’t go as far as suggesting we deploy KC & the Sunshine Band to the Middle East. She merely wondered aloud if more disco equals less terrorism.

She may be onto something. Case in point – I listen to a lot of disco, and I’ve never killed anyone.

Do you need more evidence? I’ve gone to many a classic disco night, and I’ve yet to witness a single beheading.

People have claimed that playing heavy metal albums backwards reveals satanic messages. You know what happens when you play a Village People album backwards? It sounds exactly the same!

To do my part in fighting terrorism, I present to you some of my favorite disco tunes of all time, with “all time” meaning the years 1975 thru 1979. To show how serious I am in this fight against evil, today’s playlist includes twenty-five songs instead of the usual twenty. You’re welcome.


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It’s Jay-Z’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Back in July of this year, Morrissey, who used to make news for his music, posted on fan site True to You that a Transportation Security Administration official at the San Francisco International Airport touched his junk (i.e. his genitals, not his recently-published novel, List of the Lost). This week, Morrissey continued the one-sided conversation, saying about the TSA “It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.” ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, frequently makes the news for bombings, shooting people, beheading people, and throwing people off of buildings to their death, among other things. All horrible things, to be sure, but not as horrible as having someone touch your testicles. Morrissey for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

This week Thom Yorke of Radiohead compared YouTube to Nazis, as YouTube makes its money from the work of artists, “like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.” He asked “What’s the difference?” Hmmm…I’m stumped. What is the difference between the political party that put Jews, homosexuals, Africans, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps and murdered eleven million of them and the Internet site that gave people the opportunity to watch and share “Gangnam Style?” You’re right, Thom. There is no difference. YouTube are monsters! Thom Yorke for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

Though Morrissey and Yorke cannot run for president of the United States of America, they remind me of someone who can and is running for president, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” He’s right! One consisted of being kidnapped from one’s home, separated from one’s family, shackled, treated as someone else’s property, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, and being abused, while the other provides Americans with health insurance. I bet you don’t know which one is which! They’re practically the same thing! Ben Carson for president! Oh, wait – he’s a fucking moron. Darn!

Until one of these geniuses becomes president, or until YouTube puts me in a camp, a TSA agent throws me off a building or Blue Shield forces me to pick their cotton, I’m going to keep on dancing. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu,” which features Jay-Z, who turns 46 today.


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It Really Shoulda…

Sam + Ringo
It’s that time of year when music geeks such as I think about the I.R.S. I.R.S. as in It Really Shoulda, as in it really should been a top ten hit.

Eight years ago, a colleague from my Sony Music days, Rich Appel, created the I.R.S. countdown. Music fans submitted a list of songs that didn’t make the top ten on Billboard magazine’s Hot 100 but should have, in their opinion. Rich compiled the tallies to create the overall I.R.S. top 104. He’s been compiling this survey each year since.

As for why a song should have been a top ten hit, that’s left entirely up to the list-maker. On my list, I included records that are perfect or near-perfect melodically, lyrically and/or production-wise. I included songs that have withstood the test of time and are still part of the public consciousness years later. I included records that everybody thinks were top ten hits. I included tracks that would have been top ten hits except they didn’t conform to Billboard’s rules for chart placement at their time of release (e.g. they weren’t available on commercial 7-inch singles or viral video play didn’t count in metric measurements). I included singles by artists who hit the top ten with lesser songs. I focused on tracks that have pop appeal, leaving out fantastic recordings from some of my favorite acts, such as The Replacements and The Smiths – they were called “alternative” because they weren’t pop.

My list for 2015 is below, followed by a Spotify playlist of those songs. Rich asks people submitting lists to put them in order, with #1 being the record one feels should have, more than any other, been a top ten hit. Ask me to do so tomorrow and my list will likely be in a different order.

For today, here is my I.R.S. 104. After the artist name I listed how high the song charted during its initial release. If the single hit the Hot 100 at a later date, I included that information as well.

You can hear the official I.R.S. 104 tally for 2015 on Rich Appel’s radio show, That Thing, this coming weekend on RewoundRadio.com. Friday at 6PM Eastern he’ll go from #104 to around #53 and Sunday starting at 6PM Eastern he’ll pick up from where he left off and go to #1.

1. Wonderful World – Sam Cooke (#12, 1960)
2. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (#19, 1967)
3. River Deep, Mountain High – Ike and Tina Turner (#88, 1966)
4. I Only Want to Be with You – Dusty Springfield (#12, 1964)
5. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#14, 1969)
6. Cupid – Sam Cooke (#17, 1961)
7. Holiday – Madonna (#16, 1984)
8. Isn’t She Lovely – Stevie Wonder (did not chart, 1977)
9. 1999 – Prince (#44, 1982; #12, 1983; #40, 1999)
10. Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen (#23, 1975)
11. It Takes Two – Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston (#14, 1967)
12. Little Egypt (Ying Yang) – The Coasters (#23, 1961)
13. I Want to Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (#60, 1969; #38, 1970)
14. Into the Groove – Madonna (did not chart, 1985)
15. We Will Rock You – Queen (did not chart, 1978; #52, 1992)
16. S.O.S. – Abba (#15, 1975)
17. You’ve Got a Friend – Carole King (did not chart, 1971)
18. Hold On! I’m Comin’ – Sam & Dave (#21, 1966)
19. Try a Little Tenderness – Otis Redding (#25, 1967)
20. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (#11, 1964)
21. It’s a Shame – Spinners (#14, 1970)
22. It’s Gonna Work Out Fine – Ike & Tina Turner (#14, 1961)
23. Under My Thumb – the Rolling Stones (did not chart, 1966)
24. Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) – Four Seasons (#13, 1966)
25. Me and Julio down by the School Yard – Paul Simon (#22, 1972)
26. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) – John & Yoko & the Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir (did not chart, 1971)
27. I’m Every Woman – Chaka Khan (#21, 1978)
28. Viva Las Vegas – Elvis Presley (#29, 1964)
29. Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid (#13, 1984)
30. Super Freak – Rick James (#16, 1981)
31. Mighty Love – Spinners (#20, 1974)
32. Stan – Eminem featuring Dido (#51, 2000)
33. So Far Away – Carole King (#14, 1971)
34. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) – Darlene Love (did not chart, 1963)
35. Because the Night – Patti Smith Group (#13, 1978)
36. Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell (#67, 1970)
37. Candy Girl – New Edition (#46, 1983)
38. Brass in Pocket (I’m Special) – Pretenders (#14, 1980)
39. Everybody Hurts – R.E.M. (#29, 1993)
40. It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock (#36, 1988)
41. Heartbreak Hotel – the Jacksons (#22, 1981)
42. Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton (#20, 1976)
43. Valerie – Mark Ronson featuring Amy Winehouse (did not chart, 2007)
44. Rock and Roll All Nite (live) – Kiss (#12, 1976)
45. You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) – Sylvester (#36, 1979)
46. L-O-V-E (Love) – Al Green (#13, 1975)
47. It’s Raining Men – the Weather Girls (#46, 1983)
48. I’m a Slave 4 U – Britney Spears (#27, 2001)
49. You Shook Me All Night Long – AC/DC (#35, 1980)
50. Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes (#12, 1976)
51. Walk on the Wild Side – Lou Reed (#16, 1973)
52. Bring It on Home to Me – Sam Cooke (#13, 1962)
53. Pride (In the Name of Love) – U2 (#33, 1984)
54. Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now – McFadden & Whitehead (#13, 1979)
55. Move Your Feet – Junior Senior (did not chart, 2003)
56. Heroes – David Bowie (did not chart, 1977)
57. Werewolves of London – Warren Zevon (#21, 1978)
58. One Way or Another – Blondie (#24, 1979)
59. You Get What You Give – New Radicals (#36, 1999)
60. Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel – Tavares (#15, 1976)
61. Ain’t Nobody – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (#22, 1983)
62. You Can Call Me Al – Paul Simon (#44, 1986, #23, 1987)
63. I Can’t Make You Love Me – Bonnie Raitt (#18, 1992)
64. Young Americans – David Bowie (#28, 1975)
65. A Change Is Gonna Come – Sam Cooke (#31, 1965)
66. Respect Yourself – the Staple Singers (#12, 1971)
67. Moondance – Van Morrison (did not chart, 1970; #92, 1977)
68. Where’s the Love – Hanson (did not chart, 1997)
69. Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing – Stevie Wonder (#16, 1974)
70. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (#62, 1982)
71. Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (#31, 1982)
72. Beautiful Stranger – Madonna (#19, 1999)
73. Shame, Shame, Shame – Shirley (& Company) (#12, 1975)
74. The Way I Am – Eminem (#58, 2000)
75. Jungle Love – The Time (#20, 1985)
76. Gypsy – Fleetwood Mac (#12, 1982)
77. Smile – Lily Allen (#49, 2007)
78. Tear the Roof off the Sucker (Give up the Funk) – Parliament (#15, 1976)
79. Same Love – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Mary Lambert (#11, 2013)
80. Solid – Ashford & Simpson (#12, 1985)
81. Rapper’s Delight – The Sugarhill Gang (#36, 1980)
82. The Cup of Life – Ricky Martin (#60, 1998; #45, 1999)
83. Me, Myself and I – De La Soul (#34, 1989)
84. Bad Luck – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes (#15, 1975)
85. Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads (did not chart, 1981)
86. Fuck You – Lily Allen (#68, 2009)
87. Such Great Heights – The Postal Service (did not chart, 2003)
88. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (movie version) – Lauryn Hill (did not chart, 1998)
89. Dedication to My Ex (Miss That) – Lloyd featuring Andre 3000 (#79, 2011)
90. Jump To It – Aretha Franklin (#24, 1982)
91. Mamma Mia – Abba (#32, 1976)
92. Space Oddity – David Bowie (did not chart, 1969; #15, 1973)
93. P Control – O{+> (Prince) (did not chart, 1995)
94. Got Your Money – Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis (#33, 1999)
95. LDN – Lily Allen (did not chart, 2007)
96. It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – Buddy Holly (#13, 1959)
97. Does Your Mother Know – Abba (#19, 1979)
98. Up in a Puff of Smoke – Polly Brown (#16, 1975)
99. Blue Limousine – Apollonia 6 (did not chart, 1984)
100. All the Young Dudes – Mott the Hoople (#37, 1972)
101. Fight the Power – Public Enemy (did not chart, 1989)
102. Pass That Dutch – Missy Elliott (#27, 2003)
103. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne (#21, 2003)
104. You Know I’m No Good – Amy Winehouse (#78, 2007; #77, 2008)


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

I love jury duty. It breaks up my usual routine and gives me the opportunity to meet people I probably would not meet otherwise. I’ve served on juries four times. I’m very good at it.

Three of those times were for criminal cases. One was for grand jury. In grand jury, one goes to the courthouse every day for a month and hears a little evidence from plenty of lawsuits filed, in an effort to determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. We decided there was enough evidence for every single case we heard, and what doosies we were treated to! I don’t remember the details, but I recall it being a parade of nuts. Every day, one wacky witness after another, all in different cases, performed for us. A few of them were sober. To get paid to witness it was a treat.

The first criminal case I served on had to do with drug dealing and possession. The defendant was Latino. As we started our deliberations, we took a vote amongst the jurors to see which way everyone was leaning regarding the defendant’s innocence. Nine of us thought he was guilty. Three people, coincidentally the only three white heterosexual males, voted not guilty. I love that about New York! After a couple of days of deliberation we convinced those three that the defendant was guilty, even if he is Latino. We told the judge our verdict, which was relayed to the defendant’s attorney. The defendant didn’t hear it. He had already skipped town.

My next case was a drunk driving arrest. I was an alternate juror, so I sat through the trail, but initially didn’t deliberate with the other jurors. I was needed in case the regular jurors couldn’t come to a unanimous decision and one of them couldn’t come back the next day to continue the deliberations. That is what happened. I was surprised. The defendant, who wasn’t Latino, was obviously guilty. It turns out there was one holdout, but her reasoning was very different from that of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Twelve Angry Men. Per this one angry woman, the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure to a t. She said in her job as a teacher, if she did not follow proper procedure to a t, she would be disciplined. Though she agreed the defendant was driving drunk, she felt we needed to send the police department a message about following procedures to a t. My fellow jurors told me things were heated during the previous day’s deliberations, but somehow I was able to calmly explain to the one angry woman that it is not the police department who are on trial here. She changed her vote to guilty.

The last jury I served on was for a case involving a double homicide. That was a rough one; I’m too sensitive for such ordeals. The trial lasted a month, during which time we were shown many photographs of the deceased. At least my fellow jurors were a great bunch of people. Despite the intensity of the case, everyone was professional and respectful during our deliberations, which lasted for several days.

I bring up jury duty because of Wonder Woman. While serving on the drug trial, I rode the courthouse elevator with TV’s Wonder Woman, Lynda Carter, whose husband was on trial in the same building for a banking scandal. Unlike the defendant in my trial, Mr. Carter, who is actually Mr. Altman, was acquitted.

In February 1980, Lynda Carter, pro-choice and LGBT rights advocate and spokesperson for irritable bowel syndrome, guest-starred on The Muppet Show, where she sang “The Rubberband Man,” a song written by Thom Bell and Linda Creed about Bell’s son, whose schoolmates mocked him for being chubby, calling him “the fat man.” “The Fat Man” was Bell’s original title for the song, about a large man who knew how to get a party going with his dance moves. It was meant to uplift young Bell, to show that his weight wasn’t something that needed to drag him down. He had talents and abilities that people admired. I don’t think that was clearly conveyed in Carter’s performance.

Three years prior to Carter’s performance of “The Rubberband Man” on The Muppet Show, Tina Turner performed it on The Brady Bunch Hour, a TV variety series featuring the original cast of the sitcom The Brady Bunch except for Eve Plumb (figures, right?) serving us hilarious comedy sketches and memorable musical moments such as this one. Turner performs the song in front of a swimming pool in which four women do a non-strenuous water ballet. Every so often, the tape of audience applause fires up for no discernible reason, other than the producers’ realization of “Holy shit! That’s Tina Turner!“

The best version of “The Rubberband Man” is the original recording, the last top forty hit for Spinners that featured Philippé Wynne on lead vocals. Wynne joined the group in 1972 and left in 1977, the year after “The Rubberband Man” peaked at #2 on the pop chart. He died from a heart attack in 1984. Today Tunes du Jour celebrates Wynne’s birthday by kicking off our weekly dance playlist with Spinners’ “The Rubberband Man.”


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It’s My Birthday And I Need To Dance!

doggies + New Edition
Every April, to coincide with Tax Day, my former Sony colleague Rich Appel creates the IRS countdown. In this case, IRS stands for It Really Shoulda, as in It Really Shoulda been a top ten hit. People vote for songs that they feel should have but didn’t make the top ten of Billboard’s Hot 100. Rich collates all of the entries and comes out with the Top 100 IRS songs.

Today is my birthday. Usually on birthdays, Tunes du Jour creates a playlist around the music of the birthday boy or girl. As Friday is dance day in these parts, I decided I would take inspiration from Rich’s IRS countdown and present to you a playlist of songs that I love to dance to that didn’t crack the pop top ten. Here are fifty such IRS tracks. (Actually, fifty-one, not because that’s how old I am but because the Diana Ross entry is two songs.) It’s my birthday and I need to dance!

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Happy June Pointer’s Birthday!

As an adult my mother took night classes to earn her college degree. One of the electives she took was a course on music appreciation. During the semester my mother had to attend three concerts and write papers on each. She came to me with a deal. “If I buy you a ticket to the Pointer Sisters concert, will you write my paper for me?” Getting to see one of my favorite groups in concert without spending a dime? Deal!

Not only did my mother treat me to a great show, she taught me valuable life lessons about effective delegation of tasks and quid pro quo.

I saw the best-known incarnation of the group – as a trio consisting of sisters Ruth, June and Anita. Bonnie Pointer left the fold years earlier to pursue a solo career. As a threesome the women scored over a dozen top 40 singles on the US pop chart.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of the late June Pointer, who sang lead on the trio’s hits “He’s So Shy,” “Dare Me,” “Happiness” and “Jump,” which became “Jump (For My Love)” to avoid confusion with the Van Halen hit “Jump.” People were always confusing The Pointer Sisters with Van Halen.

One more thing – my mother got an “A” on her paper.

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