Throwback Thursday: 1992

It’s Throwback Thursday, and on today’s playlist we go back to 1992. Compiling this list made me notice (or remember) what a kickass year for music 1992 was. The success of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” a top ten pop hit around the world months after it was sent to alternative radio, came as a complete surprise to the band’s record label and management, and seemed to kick open the doors for weirdos and freaks (I use those terms affectionately) to find their place in the sun and on the charts.

The left field entries weren’t solely from the guitar rock field. Shakespear’s Sister’s “Stay” was a song (or two songs) that stood out from the pack and was not something one would have expected from a former member of Bananarama and someone who co-wrote and sang backup on Eric Clapton’s hit “Lay Down Sally.” And Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” endures all these years later.

To me this era was a golden age for hip hop. Arrested Development, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, Kris Kross, Das EFX, Sir Mix-A-Lot and House of Pain hit creative peaks, while rap duo P.M. Dawn hit number three with “I’d Die Without You,” an unexpected ballad with nary a hint of the hip or hop.

Nineteen ninety-two was the year we met Mary J. Blige and Billy Ray Cyrus. It was the year many more people got to know Red Hot Chili Peppers, k.d. lang and En Vogue. And while new names were dotting the Hot 100, there was still room for more hits from Michael Jackson, Madonna, Prince, Whitney Houston and U2.

Here are thirty musical highlights from 1992, a year that most definitely was not wiggida wiggida wiggida wack.

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Winston + Nirvana

Throwback Thursday – 1992

Prior to Nirvana, alternative music was consigned to specialty sections of record stores, and major labels considered it to be, at the very most, a tax write-off. After the band’s second album, 1991’s Nevermind, nothing was ever quite the same, for better and for worse. Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk, and indie rock, unintentionally bringing them into the American mainstream like no other band to date.

It’s the Song that Broke Punk, the incantation about self-despising entertainment that turned a dead-end Aberdeen kid into a supernova, the very last rock song everyone could rally around.

Winston + Nirvana
The song that changed everything, “Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” was released as a single in September 1991. It reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in January of the following year, and kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist focusing on 1992.

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Ringo + Chuck

Chuck Berry’s Ding-A-Ling

Rock-and-Roll Hall-of-Famer and one of the original architects of the music form, Chuck Berry, has given the world several undeniable classics. “Johnny B. Goode,” which peaked at #8 on the Billboard pop charts in 1958, was ranked as the seventh greatest song of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, who also placed it at #1 on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Songs. “Johnny B. Goode” is also included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s list of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, a list which also includes Berry’s first hit single, “Maybellene” (#5, 1955), a song about which Rolling Stone said “Rock and roll starts here,” and “Rock and Roll Music” (#8, 1957, and later a top ten hit for The Beach Boys). “Roll Over Beethoven” (#29, 1956) was #97 on the Rolling Stone Greatest Songs of All Time list and is included in the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Like “Rock and Roll Music,” it was later remade by The Beatles. “Sweet Little Sixteen,” whose music formed The Beach Boys’ “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” peaked at #2, “School Day” peaked at #3, “No Particular Place to Go” peaked at #10, and “Back in the U.S.A.” peaked at #37. During his entire career, the legendary Chuck Berry had only one #1 single, and it was a song about his dick.

Ringo + Chuck
In 1972, after eight years without a top 40 hit, Chuck Berry unleashed “My Ding-a-Ling,” a song which sounded an awful lot like Berry’s 1966 recording “My Tambourine.” Compare the first line of each song.

“My Tambourine”:
“When I was a little bitty boy my grandmother bought me a cute little toy.”

“My Ding-a-Ling”:
“When I was a little bitty boy my grandmother bought me a cute little toy.”

Do you see the similarities? Grandma Berry was a giver, showering little Chuck with things with which he could play.

Little Chuck loved his ding-a-ling. He played with it at school and held it while swimming a creek and climbing a wall.

Though the lyrics pretend to be about a toy, many radio stations knew it was about Berry’s dick. They tried to give him the shaft by refusing to play the song, but they couldn’t keep Chuck’s ding-a-ling down. Up it went, getting bigger and bigger, constantly growing, a rock solid hit shooting up the charts, climaxing on October 21, 1972, when it knocked Michael Jackson’s “Ben” from #1.

Just as Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” is about more than a big butt – it’s about black pride – so is “My Ding-a-Ling” about more than Chuck Berry’s dick. On the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions, from which this live recording is taken, Berry introduces it as “a beautiful song about togetherness.”

He performs the number as a sing-along, instructing the women in the audience to sing “my” and the men to sing “ding-a-ling” whenever the chorus rolls around. While complimenting the audience on their participation, he points out one guy singing “my” and says “That’s alright, brother. Yessir. You got a right, baby. Ain’t nobody gonna bother you.” Equality and togetherness – that’s what the song is about. By the way, the album version of the song goes on for nearly twelve minutes. That’s a long ding-a-ling. I can get together with that.

There is some controversy as to who wrote this ditty. Dave Bartholomew claims he wrote it. He recorded “My Ding-a-Ling” in 1952. Chuck Berry credits himself as the song’s sole writer; however, in the introduction to the song, he says it’s a song he learned back in the fifth grade.

To date, “My Ding-a-Ling” stands as not only Chuck Berry’s sole #1 single, but it’s also the only #1 single about Chuck Berry’s penis.

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the 88th birthday of Chuck Berry and his penis. Here is “My Ding-a-Ling” and 19 other Berry recordings that should have been as big as his ding-a-ling.

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Ringo + White Lines 2014-07-25 14.13

Ten Facts About Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)” | It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Ringo + White Lines 2014-07-25 14.13Ten Facts about Grandmaster & Melle Mel’s “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It)”
1. Yes, the word “don’t” is repeated in the parenthetical.
2. Melle Mel was the most prominent rapper in Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Grandmaster Flash was the DJ, not a rapper.
3. Though credited to Grandmaster & Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash does not appear on “White Lines,” nor did he appear on the classic “The Message” (“it’s like a jungle sometimes / It makes me wonder how I keep from going under”). Forced out of the group that bore his name, Flash sued Melle Mel and their label, Sugarhill Records, over the use of his name to sell records, the result of which was the odd artist credit on the “White Lines” single.
4. Flash heard “White lines,” about the dangers of cocaine addiction, while on his way to buy crack.
5. Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel reunited in 1987 at a charity concert hosted by Paul Simon.
6. The bassline was lifted from Liquid Liquid’s “Cavern.”
7. The record credits Melle Mel and Sylvia Robinson as the song’s writers. Robinson was the head of Sugarhill Records. Previously, she had a hit in 1973 with “Pillow Talk,” a song she wrote for Al Green, who declined to record it, and as one-half of Mickey & Sylvia, she took the classic ”Love is Strange” to #11 in 1957.
8. The lyrics include a reference to car manufacturer John DeLorean (“A businessman is caught with 24 kilos”). In 1982 the FBI arrested DeLorean for purchasing 24 kilos of coke. The song compares his fate (“He’s out on bail and out of jail”) with that of an inner city youth (“A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time. He got out three years from now just to commit more crime.”).
9. An unofficial music video for the song was directed by an NYU student named Spike Lee. It starred Laurence Fishburne, the actor who at that time was playing Cowboy Curtis on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.
10. The record hit the top ten on the US dance chart in 1983. It kicks off Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party.

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Glenn's Ten 005

This Date In Glenn’s Ten

In 1980 an Ohio-born performer living in Australia wrote and recorded a song that went on to sell over six million copies. It went to #1 in a dozen or so countries, including Australia, Canada, Germany, France, and the UK, where it reigned on top for three weeks. It has been covered dozens of times in different languages, and that’s not including the many versions of the tune that have been uploaded to YouTube.

The performer is Joe Dolce and the song is “Shaddap You Face,” which was #1 in Glenn’s Ten (the only chart that matters) on this day in 1981.

Glenn's Ten 005Thirty-three years of Glenn’s Ten lists are in these books

My point in telling you this is this – no idea is too stupid. If there is a song you wish to write, a book you wish to publish, an invention you wish to create, go for it! You could be the next Joe Dolce! And if someone tells you your idea sucks, say to them “Ah, shaddup you face.”

Today’s playlist consists of songs that were #1 in Glenn’s Ten on May 8 going back to 1981. The only one missing is 1993’s entry, “Riding on a Rocket” by Shonen Knife, as that is not available on Spotify.

All the girls are on me cause I’m down with Mike D

Today Tunes du Jour celebrates the birthday of Beastie Boy Mike D. Originally a hardcore punk band, the Beastie Boys evolved into one of the most influential and longest-running hip hop groups.

Our playlist begins with “The New Style,” which hit the r&b chart a month prior to the Beasties hitting the pop chart with their breakout hit, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!!!).” Both tracks appear on their debut album Licensed To Ill, which the Village Voice favorably reviewed under the headline “Three Jerks Make a Masterpiece.” The album came out in 1986, the year after the group opened for Madonna on The Virgin Tour, and was practically glued to my turntable. I didn’t think they’d be able to top such a perfect record.

Through the years they continued to surprise and innovate. Enjoy this playlist consisting of a handful of Beastie Boys tracks along with other hip hop favorites.