Word. Checking in on a wild and crazy Saturday night. Deb's out at a 40th birthday bash for a friend of ours, while I'm home with the kids baking brownies. Actually, they're asleep, but I really did bake brownies. Now why on earth would I be cranking up the oven when it's 90 degrees out? We're bringing a dessert item to the annual Webnoize summer bash being held tomorrow at the Shrewsbury abode of Dr. Doobs, and since Deb was going out tonight, it fell upon me to come up with said dessert item. Fortunately, I am able to read and follow instructions, so the box of Duncan Hines fudge chunk brownies was not a major challenge. Haven't tried them yet, but they sure smell good.
Earlier in the day, we went up to visit my mom, who moved back to New Hampshire from Toronto a few weekends ago while we were on our way to New Jersey for our vacation. She's got a pretty sweet condo in Hampton, not far from I-95. Unfortunately, we timed our visit poorly because I forgot how traffic backs up at the Hampton tolls on a Saturday morning; we were crawling for about four miles before we got to our exit. Whatever the case, the kids were excited to see their grandmother and we hung for a few hours. When we left, there was still a crapload of traffic at the tolls going north, but fortunately it was smooth sailing in the other direction.
The kids are alright:
- I went to the Bloc Party/Secret Machines/Mew concert last night at the Bank of America Pavilion, a tent-covered venue on the water in South Boston. The ticket was courtesy of my good buddy OJ, who scored a free pair. Again with the good timing, I arrived at the pavilion with a serious thunderstorm literally following me down the street. We got inside and I managed to buy a couple of slices of pizza and a beer before the torrential downpour, thunder and lightning began. It ended after half an hour and the Copenhagen-based Mew, who sounded like a combination of Coldplay and Rush, only 10 times wussier than Coldplay. They played for about a half hour and only played four or five songs; some seemed to run into others and it was all very similar sounding to me. It didn't take OJ and I long to start mock chanting "Mewwwwwwww!!!!" every couple of minutes or so; in fact, it continued throughout the night. I don't know, we thought it was funny. Secret Machines were markedly better, although they too seemed to embrace the jam. The singer had a voice reminiscent of Bauhaus' Peter Murphy, which is certainly not a bad thing. But Bloc Party ruled the night, and we had the good fortune of moving up into the sixth row or so for their set. I already had their excellent first album Silent Alarm, which came out a few years ago, but this was the first time I'd seen them live. They're only playing a few U.S. dates because their second album isn't out yet, so most of the stuff they played last night was familiar. The band was pretty tight and singer Kele Okereke is a confident frontman who had the crowd eating out of his hands. The new songs sounded pretty good and the 75-minute set was lean, mean and well-received.
- So I was flipping channels tonight and found that VH1 Classic was reairing MTV's first hour in honor of the latter's 25th anniversary, which is Tuesday. Turns out VH1 Classic will actually recreate the entire first day starting Tuesday at midnight, but this was a preview. How telling is it that frickin' MTV won't even air this stuff (and yes, I know that VH1 Classic is run by MTV)? MTV totally sucks ass these days, but I dug watching the first hour because I didn't live in a town that got MTV until 1985. Actually, when the channel launched in August 1981, I was still living in Toronto (we moved to the U.S. a few months later). But I was no stranger to watching videos because there was a cool show on CityTV called The New Music that featured them; one of the hosts was a guy named J.D. Roberts who these days makes his living as John Roberts, the chief national correspondent at CNN and former White House correspondent for CBS. I watched that show all the time, so when MTV launched, I knew it would be cool. At any rate, here's a rundown of the videos that aired in that fateful first hour hosted by Mark Goodman. Everybody knows the first one, but I was interested to see what the rest were:
>>Video Killed the Radio Star by The Buggles: Fairly cheesy video first released in 1979. The band was made up of Geoff Downes and Trevor Horn, who both joined Yes after Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman left in 1980. They were on the Yes album Drama, which I actually owned at one time. Downes went on to be one of the original members of the godawful Asia (which is actually touring again with all four charter members) while Horn became a prominent producer in the 1980s.
>>You Better Run by Pat Benatar: The hard rockin' pop pixie made a ton of videos for her early albums, mostly performance stuff like this one.
>>She Won't Dance by Rod Stewart: Another performer who had a lot of videos on in the early days of MTV simply because he made a lot of them and they need stuff to fill the airtime, because back they literally just showed videos 24 hours a day (what a concept). A fairly generic rocker from Stewart, which must have come between his disco phase and his pop piffle phase, but well before his schlocky standards singing phase.
>>You Better You Bet by The Who: This was the big hit from the 1981 Face Dances album, which I owned. It didn't rock like Who classics of old, and indeed sounded a lot like Pete Townshend's solo stuff that came later in the '80s. A decent pop song, but a far cry from Live at Leeds and Quadrophenia.
>>Little Susie's on the Up by PhD: When I saw this, I was wondering who the hell they were, but sure enough, I remembering hearing the song on the radio back in the day.
>>We Don't Talk Anymore by Cliff Richard: Richard has a zillion hits in England but is pretty much unknown stateside, but this song was a hit in Toronto circa 1980. The video is classic early '80s, all crappy video effects and such.
>>Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders: Classic song by the classic lineup of this band. This video is one of the few that moves away from performance to tell a story. Chrissie Hynde is a waitress in a diner and when the rest of the band comes in, she tries to get their attention.
>>Time Heals by Todd Rundgren: Wasn't familiar with this song, but it sounds like Rundgren and Utopia back in those days. Catchy pop with good guitar.
>>Take It On the Run by REO Speedwagon: One of the big hits from REO's ridiculously immense Hi Infidelity album of '81, performed live by Kevin Cronin and the band. Nothing says 1981 like REO Speedwagon. Not sure if that's a good thing.
>>Rockin' the Paradise by Styx: One of the harder rocking songs off 1980's Paradise Theater album, which was one of the first records I ever bought. Dennis DeYoung is rocking the red nut-huggers and cheesy 'stache while Tommy Shaw and James Young are respendent in their jumpsuits. This was three years before the awesome awesomeness of Mr. Roboto.
>>When Things Go Wrong by Robin Lane and the Chartbusters: I had never seen the video, but I had heard the song before. Robin Lane was from the Boston area and was supposed to be the Next Big female singer back in the early '80s, but it never happened. Too bad, because she was pretty talented.
>>History Never Repeats by Split Enz: I wasn't familar with this song, but knew the band from its huge hit I Got You in 1980, which hit number one in Canada, but was a minor hit here. Singer Neil Finn went on to form the much more successful Crowded House a few years later.
>>Hold On Loosely by.38 Special: This was another big AOR rock hit in the early '80s. Very catchy pop chorus combined with lots of guitar (hell, the band had three guitarists), but the video provided clear evidence that some bands were better heard and not seen.
So that was the first hour. Apparently, the second hour wasn't bad, including April Wine's Just Between You and Me (a personal cheese favorite, as Briggy will attest) and Iron Maiden's eponymous classic. Awright, enough already!