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Sunday Singles! #1

In 1975, 1980s, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, 1987, 1990s, 45 r.p.m., 45s@45, record collecting, records, singles, Sunday Singles! on January 30, 2011 at 2:57 am

Thanks to everyone who has tuned into this website to check out what I have to say about the Daily Record, a randomly chosen LP or CD chosen each day from my music collection. My analytics team tells me this blog has just had its best week yet!

In the ever-evolving way that this blog is emerging, I had decided that I’d take the weekends off from choosing a Daily Record. I’m sticking by that but I think what I’m going to do instead is to post an entry each weekend called “Sunday Singles!” These entries will be a continuation of a series of entries posted in my Dichotomy of the Dog blog last summer, in which I listen to a selection of 45s from my collection and comment on them, in alphabetical order by artist. This project was originally called 45s on 45 but since I’m clearly not going to be done listening by my 46th birthday, I’m going to change the name.

Anyway, here’s my first Sunday Singles entry, with the introduction from my original blog entry last June included:

Sunday Singles! #1 (Formerly 45s@45)

The day I turned 45 last week, I listened to Elvis Costello’s song “45” several times. It is a very clever and rockin’ song that plays on various meanings of the number 45: the year World War II ended, the number of revolutions per minute that a seven-inch vinyl single makes around a turntable, the songwriter’s 45th birthday, etc.

Listening to this song got me to thinking that I ought to listen to some 45s during this, my 45th year. Then my friend Steve and my nephew Mike both left 45-rpm single-related birthday messages on my Facebook page and I knew what I had to do.

So, basically, I’m going to try to listen to a 45 (a- and b-sides) everyday while I’m 45. Once a week, I’ll tell you about them. Here are my first seven:

1. “The Look of Love (Part One)”/”Theme from Mantrap”-ABC (1982, peaked at #18/Top 40).
2. “Poison Arrow”/”Tears Are Not Enough”-ABC (1983, peaked at #25/Top 40).
3. “Be Near Me”/”A to Z”-ABC (1985, peaked at #9/Top 40).
These singles represent the first three out of five Top 40 hits that British “new romantic” band ABC had in the United States. The first, “The Look of Love (Part One)” features a delightfully self-pitying spoken word bit toward the end. The b-side of that single has the intriguing title, “Theme from Mantrap.” It doesn’t sound promising at first until the lyrics kick in and you realize that “Theme from Mantrap” is actually a noirish, piano ballad version of the second hit, “Poison Arrow.” I guess having a poison arrow helps you to trap a man, or something like that.

“Be Near Me” is my favorite of these three ABC hits, though I like their biggest hit, 1987’s “When Smokey Sings” (which I don’t have on a single but it hit #5 on the Top 40) quite a bit as well.

4. “Opposites Attact”/”One or the Other”-Paula Abdul (1990, peaked at #1/Top 40). “Opposites Attract,” the huge hit here is actually a duet with the Wild Pair, although in the video I believe it was a duet with MC Skat Cat or something like that.

The week I graduated college in 1988, I had this idea that I was going to start collecting all the singles that made the Top 40. Nifty idea, aside from the fact that:
a) the era of the late 1980s-early 1990s is arguably the worst time for Top 40 hits ever; and
b) the recording industry began to phase out seven-inch vinyl singles around 1990 in favor of the dreaded “cassingle.”

So, essentially I amassed a bunch of junk by the likes of New Kids on the Block, Milli Vanilli, Sweet Sensation and others before my project ground to a halt.

This means, of course, that once upon a time I owned all the smash hits from Paula Abdul’s debut album on single. The only one I still have is “Opposites Attract,” which I think I kept because I like the overly busy production of the b-side, “One or the Other.”

5. “Action News Theme [“As Heard on WFIL TV, Phila. Pa”]. this is a one-sided single that contains a 1960s or ’70s variation on the same theme song that you can still hear on Action News. Without the inane lyrics about moving closer to your world my friend so you’ll see all the gory wretchedness of human splayed out before you in convenient 30-second bits. That’s not exactly how the lyrics go.

6. “This Time”/”Fits Ya Good”-Bryan Adams (1983, peaked at #24/Top 40). I am not a fan of Bryan Adams and neither is Donna but, back in the day, she liked “This Time’, so she bought the single. Oddly enough, if I had to pick a favorite Bryan Adams song, I’d pick “This Time.” Donna and I are simpatico like that.

7. “General Hospi-Tale”/”General Hospi-Tale (instrumental)”-The Afternoon Delights (1981, peaked at #33/Top 40). This song ruled the lower reaches of the Top 40 for five weeks in the early autumn of 1981. I certainly remember it, whether I want to or not, but it occurs to me that maybe “General Hospi-tale” has fallen through the early ’80s nostalgia cracks to the point where some of you young’uns may not have heard it.

8. “Take On Me”/”Love Is Reason”-a-ha (1985, peaked at #1/Top 40). While it would be easy to attribute the overwhelming success of “Take On Me” to the innovative video that accompanied it, the fact is that “Take On Me” is one of the best, most sparkly pop songs of the ’80s. “Love Is Reason” isn’t nearly as good.

9. “Rain in the Summertime”/”Rose Beyond the Wall”-The Alarm (1987, did not chart). I never paid any attention to The Alarm, other than “Rain in the Summertime,” which I absolutely love. If I remember this correctly, I think some serious Alarm fans might have screamed “Sellout!” when this single was released, but I liked the song then and I like it now. Sadly, “Rain in the Summertime” did not crack the Top 40. The B-side, “Rose Beyond the Wall,” is sincere and earnest and kind of boring.

10. “Feelings”/”This World Today Is a Mess”-Morris Albert (1975, #6). This song was pretty damn ubiquitous in 1975, which is why it is surprising to me that it peaked at #6. I would have thought it had gone higher. In any event, I’m going to do something odd here: I’m going to defend “Feelings.” For what it is, I think “Feelings” is a decent tune and I like it better than the more uptempo B-side.

Here are two bits of trivia about “Feelings”: A) Morris Albert is from Brazil; and B) One of the lyrics in the Was (Not Was) song, “The Party Broke Up” (from their utterly brilliant Born to Laugh at Tornadoes album) is: “The singer just kept singing ‘Feelings’.” Marshall Crenshaw sings the word “Feelings” in that line. It’s the only word he sings in the entire song.

11. “Our House Is Not a Home (If It’s Never Been Loved In)”/”Wave Bye Bye to the Man”-Lynn Anderson (1969, peaked at #18 on the Billboard Top 40 Country Chart). A pre-“Rose Garden” single by Anderson, this was on the Chart Records label. Both the a- and b-sides are great country tunes. I don’t know where I picked this record up, but it was probably because of the unique label, which I will scan and include here when I get the chance. As much as I like the songs, both sides are essentially unplayable, scratched up almost beyond recognition. I like to think this is because this record got lots of action in some honky tonk jukebox, but who knows?

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