beta

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

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

beta
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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Ringo + Limahl

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

Ringo + Limahl
Young Chris Hamill was not popular at school. Expelled for disrupting class, the teen boy transferred to a new school, where the kids pointed out his effeminacy. Always the last one picked in sports, Hamill’s confidence level dropped. Discovering he was gay didn’t help. Unhappy at school, he became a loner, escaping into his music.

After leaving school Hamill pursued acting. He landed a few roles, but music was where his passion truly lied. Hamill reinvented himself. He rearranged the letters of his last name and became Limahl, the cutieface pop singer. He was recruited by a band named Art Nouveau. With Limahl on board, the group changed their name to KajaGooGoo.

While working as a waiter at London’s Embassy Club, Limahl met Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran. He gave Rhodes the group’s demo tape. Rhodes took it to his record label, EMI, who signed them.

In January 1983, EMI released the group’s Rhodes-produced debut single, “Too Shy.” It went to #1 in the UK and reached #5 in the US. At this time, Limahl kept his sexual orientation secret. “I wasn’t embarrassed about being gay, but my role as Limahl, my pop star role, had to be more enigmatic. I didn’t want to start talking about gay sex and gays in 1983 when most of our following was teenage girls.”

While “Too Shy” was on the US charts, the band completed a successful tour playing to 40,000 people in Finland. The following day, Limahl was fired from the group by its other members. About Limahl, KajaGooGoo guitarist Steve Askew said “His lifestyle is so different from ours. We’re very normal people whereas Limahl likes the bright lights.” Limahl, shocked by his dismissal, felt he was let go for being too cute and turning the group into a pop band solely for teens.

Following his sacking from KajaGooGoo, Limahl had a solo hit in 1985 with the theme from the film The NeverEnding Story. That song will kick off the dance playlist for today, Limahl’s 56th birthday.

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Winston + Chic 2014-09-19 13.37

It’s Nile Rodgers’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Chic 2014-09-19 13.37

Nile Rodgers, with his friend Bernard Edwards, formed the band Chic in the mid-1970s. The pair wrote and produced the group’s music. In 1978, they had their first top ten pop single, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” which went to #1 on the Disco/Dance chart and remained on top for eight weeks.

Later in 1978, Chic released “Le Freak,” which was #1 on the pop chart for six weeks and became the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Records’ history.

Two more top ten singles followed in 1979 – “I Want Your Love” and the #1 smash “Good Times.” Rodgers and Edwards also wrote and produced Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album, which spawned that quartet’s only top ten pop hits – “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the classic title track.

By late 1979 a disco backlash hit hard in the US. Any act the public perceived as a disco act had trouble getting hit records. “Good Times” was to be Chic’s last top 40 single. Even in clubs the group faltered. “Good Times,” coupled with “My Feet Keep Dancing” and “My Forbidden Lover,” hit #3 on the Disco/Dance chart. Chic wouldn’t make the top ten on that chart again until 1992.

By 1980, Chic the band were considered over, just two years after they arrived. Luckily, Chic were more than a disco band, and one person who knew that was Suzanne de Passe. De Passe was the president of Motown Productions. She hired Rodgers and Edwards to work with Diana Ross, who hadn’t had a top ten single since “Love Hangover” in 1976. The resulting album, diana, sold over ten million copies and remains the singer’s biggest-selling album to date. (I should note that it wasn’t the Chic mix of the album that got released. We’ll save that story for another time.) It spawned the top ten smashes “Upside Down” (#1 for four weeks) and the classic “I’m Coming Out,” both Rodgers/Edwards compositions.

In 1982, Nile Rodgers met David Bowie at New York club The Continental. Bowie hired Rodgers to work with him on a new album. The result? Let’s Dance, co-produced by Bowie and Rodgers. The title track became Bowie’s first top ten single since 1976’s “Golden Years” and his second (and last) #1, with 1975’s “Fame” the first. “China Girl” and “Modern Love” were also hit singles.

1983 kept Rodgers busy, working with Paul Simon, INXS, Daryl Hall and John Oates and Southside Johnny. One night he went to New York’s Roxy to catch a performance by Jenny Burton. He was intrigued by Burton’s opening act, an up-and-coming singer who went by her first name, Madonna. By the summer of ‘84, Madonna had three pop hits – “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” – under her belt. When it came time to record her sophomore album, she called on Nile Rodgers.

Madonna named her second album Like a Virgin. Its title track, produced by Nile Rodgers, became Madonna’s first #1 single, staying on top for six weeks. Other hits pulled from the album were “Material Girl,” “Angel” and “Dress You Up,” all produced by Rodgers. The album has sold 21 million copies worldwide.

I won’t go into detail about every artist Nile worked with, but here’s a partial list: Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Prince, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, Johnny Mathis, Kim Carnes, Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, Laurie Anderson, Al Jarreau, Ric Ocasek, The B-52s, David Lee Roth, Michael Bolton, Adam Lambert and Daft Punk.

Today Nile Rodgers turns 62. As it’s Friday, and I need to dance dance dance yowsah yowsah yowsah, today’s playlist consists entirely of songs Rodgers worked on. Good times!

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My Top 74 Songs Of 2013 – You Know You Want It!

In 2013 I found religion. I praised Yeezus. I listened to the words of Lorde. I hailed the resurrection of The Replacements. I danced apocalyptic. This year’s music fed my spirituality, though my year-end list also has sacrilege and unbelievers.

Much like I did with God, before 2013 I dismissed Robin Thicke. I never thought I’d ever see his name on my year-end song lists, let alone at #1, but “Blurred Lines” is my choice for record of the year. The song is about wannabe players hitting on a woman with awkward come-ons, though some chose to think the song celebrate sexual assaults. They coined a term for it – rapey, after Snow White’s least popular dwarf.

I never thought I’d see Daft Punk or Nile Rodgers again in Glenn’s Ten, but this year they returned on the same record. Their “Get Lucky,” which, like “Blurred Lines,” also features Pharrell Williams, is my #2 song of 2013. Daft Punk, who are French and therefore crepey, was last in Glenn’s Ten in 2001 with “Digital Love.” Nile Rodgers was in the great disco band Chic, whose hit-making days preceded the creation of Glenn’s Ten. After Chic he worked with a lot of great artists and Duran Duran. The last time he was in Glenn’s Ten was in 1990 as the co-producer of The B-52s’ “Deadbeat Club.” The Daft Punk/Nile Rodgers/Pharrell Williams combo also turn up at #8 with “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Daft Punk are also at #67 with “Doin’ It Right” and Pharrell is also at #24, assisting Azealia Banks on “ATM Jam.”

Kendrick Lamar is all over my year-end list, placing more songs on it than any other act. Besides several tracks from his terrific debut album, good kid, m.A.A.d city (#3 – “Swimming Pools (Drank),” #10 – “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe,” #39 – “Backseat Freestyle” and #44 – “Poetic Justice”), he guested on singles from Miguel (#51 – “How Many Drinks”), ScHoolboy Q (#72 – “Collard Greens”) and A$AP Rocky (#7 – “Fuckin’ Problems”). On the subject of the latter, the way A$AP talks about women is his fuckin’ problem. It’s the first time I ever purchased the so-called “clean” version of a song. The explicit version is very misogynous, though I would stop short of calling it rapey, mostly because that word is stupid (no offense to the dwarf).

While “Get Lucky” evoked the 70s disco sound, that era’s laid back Cali rock vibe was heard in Haim’s “The Wire” (#4), whose introduction sounded a lot like Eagles’ “Heartache Tonight.”

The recipient of the kiss-off that is Icona Pop’s “I Love It” (#5) is from the 70s, but she’s a 90s bitch. She’s loud. She’s angry. She’s possibly psychotic. I don’t care. I love it.

Mariah Carey has released around 75 singles during her career. I’ve enjoyed approximately none of them. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my satellite radio display to see the song I was enjoying was credited to Mariah, all the more unexpected because it was a guy singing. I prefer to think of “#Beautiful” (#36) as a Miguel track.

Like Mariah, the last time Shabba Ranks was in Glenn’s Ten was never, but he was there this year, not as an artist, but as a song title/inspiration for an A$AP Rocky/A$AP Ferg’s collaboration (#43 – “Shabba”).

Kanye West is too humble and reserved to say it, but his Yeezus is the year’s best album. It produced three Glenn’s Ten hits (#27 – “Black Skinhead,” #66 – “Blood on the Leaves” and #69 – “Bound 2”). My other favorite albums of the year are Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Janelle Monae’s The Electric Lady (#16 – “Dance Apocalyptic,” #30 – “Q.U.E.E.N.” and #35 – “Primetime”), Vampire Weekend’s Modern Vampires of the City (#13 – “Diane Young” and #68 – “Unbelievers”), Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic (#21 – “San Francisco” and #42 – “No Destruction) and Beyoncé’s self-titled album, which she snuck out two weeks ago, too recent for any of its tracks to make this year’s list.

Check out the tunes and let me know if you make any discoveries.

1) “Blurred Lines” – Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell
2) “Get Lucky” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
3) “Swimming Pools (Drank)” – Kendrick Lamar
4) “The Wire” – Haim
5) “I Love It” – Icona Pop featuring Charli XCX
6) “Hold On, We’re Going Home” – Drake
7) “Fuckin’ Problems” – A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, 2Chainz and Kendrick Lamar
8) “Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk featuring Pharrell Williams
9) “Put the Gun Down” – ZZ Ward
10) “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe” – Kendrick Lamar
11) “Wicked Games” – The Weeknd
12) “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz
13) “Diane Young” – Vampire Weekend
14) “Royals” – Lorde
15) “Man” – Neko Case
16) “Dance Apocalyptic” – Janelle Monae
17) “Just Give Me a Reason” – P!nk featuring Nate Ruess
18) “Default” – Django Django
19) “Lightning Bolt” – Jake Bugg
20) “High School Lover” – Cayucas
21) “San Francisco” – Foxygen
22) “Lysandre” – Christopher Owens
23) “Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand
24) “ATM Jam” – Azealia Banks featuring Pharrell
25) “Hard Out Here” – Lily Allen
26) “Do You…” – Miguel
27) “Black Skinhead” – Kanye West
28) “Stare at the Sun” – Eleanor Friedberger
29) “Sacrilege” – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30) “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae featuring Erykah Badu
31) “Mama Told Me” – Big Boi featuring Kelly Rowland
32) “White Walls” – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring ScHoolboy Q and Hollis
33) “Y.A.L.A.” – M.I.A.
34) “I’m Not Sayin’” – The Replacements
35) “Primetime” – Janelle Monae featuring Miguel
36) “#Beautiful” – Mariah Carey featuring Miguel
37) “Stompa” – Serena Ryder
38) “Bubble Butt” – Major Lazer featuring Bruno Mars, Tyga & Mystic
39) “Backseat Freestyle” – Kendrick Lamar
40) “Applause” – Lady Gaga
41) “Reflektor” – Arcade Fire
42) “No Destruction” – Foxygen
43) “Shabba” – A$AP Ferg featuring A$AP Rocky
44) “Poetic Justice” – Kendrick Lamar featuring Drake
45) “Sunset” – the xx
46) “Wenu Wenu” – Omar Souleyman
47) “Change” – Churchill
48) “Hang Loose” – Alabama Shakes
49) “Dark and Stormy” – Hot Chip
50) “Can’t Hold Us” – Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton
51) “How Many Drinks” – Miguel featuring Kendrick Lamar
52) “The Ceiling” – The Wild Feathers
53) “Love is Blindness” – Jack White
54) “Dream Baby Dream” – Bruce Springsteen
55) “I Won’t Be Long” – Beck
56) “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” – Ylvis
57) “Super Rich Kids” – Frank Ocean with Earl Sweatshirt
58) “Here We Go” – Christopher Owens
59) “Afterlife” – Arcade Fire
60) “Song for Zula” – Phosphorescent
61) “FUCKMYLIFE666” – Against Me!
62) “Do I Wanna Know?” – Arctic Monkeys
63) “Blowin’ Smoke” – Kacey Musgraves
64) “Don’t Swallow the Cap” – the National
65) “Perfume” – Britney Spears
66) “Blood on the Leaves” – Kanye West
67) “Doin’ It Right” – Daft Punk featuring Panda Bear
68) “Unbelievers” – Vampire Weekend
69) “Bound 2” – Kanye West
70) “Lies” – Chvrches
71) “Work Bitch” – Britney Spears
72) “Collard Greens” – ScHoolboy Q featuring Kendrick Lamar
73) “Ain’t That the Way” – Divine Fits
74) “You’re Not the One” – Sky Ferreira