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’72.

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Exhibit No. 7,665,893 that proves the Seventies were awesome:

The weekly airplay chart from Seattle’s KNHC 89.5 for the week ending May 5, 1972, with one of the all-time great train wrecks at Nos. 1 and 2.

(Not to spoil it, but just in case the link doesn’t work or something: That’s “Nights in White Satin” at No. 2 and “Hot Rod Lincoln” at Number One. Like a lottery ticket, they get full credit for getting it in the right order.)

Lots of other great ’72 stuff on that chart, too, including two solo Beatles and Badfinger in the Top Ten, plus Todd Rundgren, Aretha, Dennis Coffey and more.

The Past Daily website put up its own excellent slice of May ’72 not too long ago, featuring an untelescoped 74-minute dose of The Real Don Steele on L.A.’s KHJ.

Some of the songs on the KHJ clip are on the KNHC chart; some aren’t (“Tumbling Dice” and “I Need You” come to mind). Either way, most are great.

1972 was a lousy year for Phillies fans, Clifford Irving, Michelangelo’s Pieta, and fans of the American democratic process … but the best year of Seventies hit radio? Yeah, quite possibly.

 

 

“Nothing good happens in films about airplanes.”

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If you’re spending the summer in a full-body cast in a faraway state, these are the jams you need.

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The (Oh, Lord, can it truly be?) eighth Kurt Blumenau “solo album,” released on Bandcamp precisely four years to the day after the first.

The biggest influences this time around are probably Captain Beefheart and Jandek, if that gives you any sense of what kind of toe-tappin’ good time awaits.

There’s a song called “I Wiped My Hands on a Pigeon” … and an 18-minute guitar solo … and a song that sounds like you’re being dragged underwater in a cold sea behind a slow-moving trawler … and a song that starts with  a weird murky voice-mail I once got that sounds like the people didn’t know they were being recorded.

(I think there is at least one more “conventional” release in my pipeline, but it turned out not to be this one. You won’t want to miss that one either, I’m sure, when it comes along.)

Anyway: Go check it out. You certainly don’t have to buy it. Just by clicking the link and visiting the site, you’ll give me the happy illusion that somebody’s interested.

If you don’t even want to do that, here’s a taste you can enjoy without having to go anywhere at all:

Strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words.

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“You got real fancy instincts
But your mouth is so large
I think I see a hundred people in it.”

-Jandek, “They Told Me I Was A Fool”

Let us now praise famous men.

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Us pop-music bloggers live on anniversaries, so here’s one that oughta be a national holiday:

This week in 1975 was the 21st and final week in which Grand Funk Railroad had a U.S. Top Ten single.

The anal-retentives in the crowd will remind us that “Grand Funk Railroad” never actually had a Top Ten single. All four of the band’s Top Ten hits (and a couple of its lesser ones) happened after it split with original manager Terry Knight and dropped the “Railroad” from the end of its name.

True enough, this. But the name Grand Funk Railroad is so majestic, so redolent of glory, it begs to be used in full. Like John Maynard Keynes, or Ford Madox Ford, or Drungo LaRue Hazewood.

If I work the Time and Date Calculator correctly, the timespan between GF(R)’s first week in the Top Ten (Sept. 8, 1973) and its last (June 14, 1975) was 92 weeks.

So, during its purple stretch, the band had one of America’s 10 most popular songs almost one out of every four weeks — and there were a couple other weeks when it wasn’t far outside the Top Ten. Not a bad run at all.

The band’s final Top Ten entry, in my opinion, has always been its best.

“Bad Time” is worlds away from GF(R)’s early days as ear-bleeding, knuckle-dragging, festival-entrancing sludge-rockers.

The song doesn’t really sound much like the band’s other hits, either. It’s pure polished pop, a full pack of high-school bubblegum — complete with chiming rhythm guitars; a tight, hummable eight-bar guitar solo; a snare drum that pops like a locker door shutting; at least three expertly layered keyboards (I hear piano, Hammond, and clavinet); and even a string arrangement (a string arrangement!)

“Bad Time” found GF(R) working with super-pop producer Jimmy Ienner (Stamford High ’63) and arranger Tony Camillo (he did “Midnight Train to Georgia”), and it’s possible that, in their esteemed presence, the four sweathogs from Flint, Michigan, just stood in a corner and played what they were told.

No matter. All these years later, it’s what’s on the wax that matters.

And what we have here is a perfect piece of power pop; a timeless evocation of the complications of love; and one of the pound-for-pound finest singles of the Seventies.

The rest of America started getting sick of it this week 42 years ago, but it’s a song that (at least in my house) has never, ever overstayed its welcome.

OK, another Sgt. Pepper’s-related comment.

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I owe this one to Jim Bartlett, having followed a link in a long-ago post of his to Jeff Roteman’s all-encompassing KQV Pittsburgh tribute site.

Apparently, in February 1974, KQV commemorated the 10th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America by holding an event called “Pepperland ’74.

Through on-air contests, KQV handed out 1,400 masks of the Beatles’ faces as they appeared during the Sgt. Pepper’s era.

The masks functioned as entry tickets to one of the city’s most storied performance venues, the Syria Mosque. Once inside, participants got to hear Beatles music, win Beatles prizes, listen to a live band, and eat fish and chips washed down with — yup — Dr Pepper.

Of course, Sgt. Pepper’s wasn’t a decade old in 1974, so I’m not sure why the masks and the event theme were so strongly linked to it. Maybe “She Loves You ’74” just didn’t have the same ring. I guess the Cult of Sgt. Pepper was already ingrained in ’74, and the album was already accepted as the group’s high-water mark.

(Subsequent edit: I’ve since decided that Sgt. Pepper became the touchstone it did because (a) people liked to think of the Beatles as an integrated unit; and (b) Sgt. Pepper’s was the last time they all dressed up the same. They never established a single unified visual identity after that.)

While the event was probably about as much fun as you can have on a February night in Pittsburgh, the eyeless Beatles masks are distinctly unsettling. If you’ve ever wanted to imagine John Lennon as a pale, druggy zombie come to suck your brains out, you can see the pix here.

My only comment on the matter.

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It was thirty years ago today … that Fabio Salas gave a lecture in Santiago, Chile, on the 20th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s.

No, seriously. Such an event did in fact occur.

Wonder what he said about “Within You Without You”?

If they should bar wars …

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Yes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I did know. I know everything I want to know, and much more than I need to know, about this absurdly prolonged geek fantasia that won’t go away.

(I used to like the “Star Wars” franchise just fine. It was the first half of the Eighties. I was six to 10 years old at the time. The franchise ended just as it was going weak. Then it came back. It may not end again in my lifetime.)

I am reminded of a wisecrack featured long ago: “Little-known facts about Pet Sounds: There are no longer any little-known facts about Pet Sounds.” Along those same lines, there are no available facts about “Star Wars” that fans don’t know, and no facts about it that non-fans want to know.

Somehow, at this precise moment, the notion of a TV station in the Pennsylvania coal country trying to entice me with a list of little-known “Star Wars” trivia seems like the biggest, wrongest dead end in the world.

It could not have been more poorly aimed if an imperial trooper had hit the Post button.