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45s@45: Vol 6–Bon Jovi to Bow Wow Wow

In 1970s, 1980s, 45 r.p.m., 45s@45, pop, Rich's House of Vinyl, singles, sports on October 9, 2010 at 12:50 am

Here’s the back story: when I turned 45 in June of this year, I vowed that over the course of this year I’d listen to every 45 r.p.m. single (a- and b-sides)  in my collection. In the process, I planned on digitizing them.

I got a little distracted from that project, but I’m ready to present Vol 6 in my 45s@45 series. If you’re interested, you can read about the previous five volumes in my Dichotomy of the Dog Livejournal (http://marimbadog.livejournal.com). In fact, I’d say I need to post this entry–I’ve contractually obligated myself to keep the entire contents of the following playlist on my MP3 player until I post this and I need to get “You Light Up My Life” off the player immediately.

1. “Runaway”(live)-Bon Jovi (1989, b-side of “Lay Your Hands On Me”).

2. “Livin’ In Sin”/”Love Is War”-Bon Jovi  (1989, reached #9 on Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart). I like a handful of Bon Jovi’s singles, but I think my appreciation of Jon and the boys is tempered by the fact that I was deeply into my college-era fandom of bands like R.E.M., the Replacements, Talking Heads, Hoodoo Gurus and others at the time of Bon Jovi’s rise to hair metal glory. I was just never going to take them all that seriously, as evidenced in the karaoke version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” that Greg and I did one day in a recording booth on campus.  I have to admit that the guys have occasionally had their way with a rockin’ pop tune, and that their best songs have aged rather well, but “Livin’ In Sin” is just the kind of Bon Jovi ballad that I’ve never cared much about then or now.

3. “You Light Up My Life”/”He’s a Rebel”–Debbie Boone (1977, #1). Here you have it, folks. The biggest song of the 1970s, at least in terms of chart performance. Mom and Dad had seen You Light Up My Life and I got the

 idea in my head that Mom would enjoy receiving the original movie soundtrack album for Christmas, which doesn’t even have Debbie’s version of the song on it. Anyway, the legend goes that not even Debbie Boone liked this song, though she tried to ease the pain of recording it by thinking of her relationship with God as she sang the lyrics. I say, if God helped Debbie Boone get through the recording of “You Light Up My Life,” then more power to her.

4. “Harlem Nocturne”/”I Hear a Rhapsody-Earl Bostic (circa 1956). This, on the other hand, is one of my favorite singles in my collection.  Earl Bostic was a jazz/R&B sax player that you just don’t hear much about today. “Harlem Nocturne” has a film noirish feel to it, while “I Hear a Rhapsody” is a more upbeat tune. Both are excellent.

5. “Nadia’s Theme (The Young and the Restless”)/”Perry Botkin B-side”-Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. (1976, #8).  Boy, this song has a history. It was originally used in the movie Bless the Beasts and the Children  and then became the theme to The Young and the Restless. It reached the height of its fame as the music used by Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci in the 1976 summer Olympics.  Since playing this single, I’ve had an imaginary punk rock instrumental version of “Nadia’s Theme” rolling through my head. In my version, a cool surf guitar replaces the string section.

And the B-side is not actually named “Perry Botkin B-Side.”

6. “Ting-a-Ling Double Play”/”Ting-a-Ling Double Play”-Larry Bowa & Dave Cash (1975). This is a goofy novelty song recorded by Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Larry Bowa and 2nd baseman Dave Cash, who were known for their double plays. I have a copy of this single, signed by both Bowa and Cash that a student in a writing class I once taught gave me. She never came back to class after giving me the single. And sadly, “Ting-a-Ling Double Play,” never charted, not even in Philadelphia, but it’s a worthy edition to the Sports Stars Who Sing Hall of Fame.

7. “Dancing In The Street”/”Dancing In The Street” (instrumental)-David Bowie & Mick Jagger (1985, #7).  Here’s a classic piece of ’80s camp courtesy of Bowie & Jagger, who cooked this up especially for the Live Aid concert. Apparently there were thoughts of a transoceanic duet, with Jagger in Philadelphia singing with Bowie in London, but cooler heads with an eye for logistics prevailed and this record/video was made instead. I’m pretty certain I’m not the only person who has watched the “Dancing In The Street” carefully, looking for clues as to what was going on with Jagger and Bowie that day. They seem kind of annoyed with each other.

8. “Absolute Beginners”/”Absolute Beginners” (instrumental)-David Bowie (1986, did not chart). The theme from a movie I’ve yet to see, this is a passable mid-’80s Bowie tune. However, this was the beginning of one of Bowie’s lesser periods.

9. “Day-In Day-Out”/”Julie”-David Bowie (1987, #21). Bowie’s Never Let Me Down album was a bit of a letdown actually. Even the hugely theatrical Glass Spider tour that Bowie mounted couldn’t save the album from widely being considered being one of Bowie’s least inspired. And while the tour itself could be due for some revisionist history, the album seems destined for obscurity. Having said that, “Day-In Day-Out” is a catchy little tune and “Julie” is a wonderful non-LP B-side.

10. “”Never Let Me Down”/”’87 and Cry”-David Bowie (1987, #27). I’d have to compare this to the album, but I think this single version of the title track to Bowie’s Never Let Me Down is a completely different mix, not as good as the album version.  I seem to remember “Never Let Me Down” having more of a John Lennon vibe on the LP. The late-’80s sax that winds its way through this version kills the song for me though.

11. “I Want Candy”/”Elimination Dancing”-Bow Wow Wow (1982, did not chart!). I find it hard to believe that Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” did not hit the Top 40 but Joel Whitburn, leading expert on charts, doesn’t lie.

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