Round The Dial: Valentine's Day Edition
Wednesday 11 February @ 11:04:55
by Tom Hallett
Hey, hey, music fans—welcome to another installment of Round The Dial, your one-stop, no-bullshit, right-between-yer-eyes rock ’n' roll depot. Well, most weeks, anyway. This week just happens to include Valentine's Day—that most mushy (and commercially viable) little homage to love and romance that invariable sneaks up on you (guys) every February—though, so we'll chill the wine, dim the lights, and give a nod to the tender side of rock ’n' roll.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “There are more love songs than anything else. If songs could make you do something, we’d all love one another.”
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Customer”
I've mentioned in previous years' Valentine's Day columns that, historically, love songs have been mighty prevalent on the charts right in time for Cupid's little celebration; as far back as the ‘50s, radio has provided a solid soundtrack. And that's no wonder, considering how many advertisers capitalize on the holiday—I mean, don't we hear enough Zales and Shane & Company jewelry ads throughout the rest of the year? The commercial tie-ins have, of course, gotten worse over the years. Regardless of the corporate sponsor, when Wolfman Jack growled out a rumbling, sexy dedication for a rock ’n’ roll ballad, nobody doubted his sincerity. Most of today's compressed, robotic DJs couldn't muster half as much soul, even if they had it.
Certainly, the quality of the love songs comin' over the airwaves was a step up from what today's airwaves have to offer. On Valentine's Day, 1961, for instance, The Shirelles' Carole King-penned smash "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?" was riding high on the Top 40. In '64, The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" was No. 1 for seven weeks, starting on February 1st. In 1965, The Supremes' "Come See About Me" and The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" were both in heavy rotation on Valentine's Day. Nineteen-sixty-nine saw Tommy James & The Shondell's "Crimson And Clover" hitting No. 1 for two weeks. And if you're thinking that things probably started to take a terrible turn for the worse once the ‘60s were over, you're damn straight they did.
Nineteen-seventy-one's Valentine's Day's musical treats included Tony Orlando & Dawn's incredibly shallow "Knock Three Times" ("...on the ceilin' if you want me/twice on the pipe/If the answer is no...") and The Osmonds' "One Bad Apple" (as in, "...don't spoil the whole bunch, baby, no!"). Horrific? Yes. But not nearly so terrifying as 99 percent of the years to follow. In 1973, Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" was in constant rotation around VD. Nineteen-seventy-four spawned the insipid, soul-sucking "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, '75 saw Barry Manilow's "Mandy" settle over the American popular conscience like a bad wind from the city dump, and once disco kicked in, well, I don't have to spell that one out for ya.
The '80s were like the '70s with worse hair-dos and Spandex, as far as chart hits on Valentine's Day went, and by the '90s, the music biz finally dispensed with any attempt at all to disguise the sales factor behind the holiday. The music (if one can call it that) reverted to the lush, over-produced pap of the '40s and early '50s that rock ’n’ roll (and rock ’n’ roll ballads) had once conquered. Now, Carson Daly and TRL and MTV and XM radio and computer downloads have sprung up to try and fill the shoes of Wolfman Jack, The Moondog Matinee, WLS radio, and good old fashioned mix tapes. It's enough to make any serious music fan throw their hands up in defeat, ain't it?
Well, never fear, loyal rock ’n’ rollers—though radio and the Top 40 (outside of oldies stations, and most of them have cut the '50s out of their play lists like the decade never existed) may no longer fulfill your Valentine's Day musical needs, there are a plethora of hot-blooded, sexy, romance-filled tunes waiting for you and your object of desire right here in town!
That's right, a quick trip to your local mom-and-pop record shop can net you all the material you'll need to whip up the most memorable Valentine's Day mix he/she could ever ask for—all courtesy of Twin Cities singers, musicians and songwriters. And while personal taste and budget will definitely be factors, I think I can provide you with a good start. From there it'll be up to you and the record store clerk. So without further ado, here's ...
Round The Dial's Valentine's Day Local Music Mix Suggestions:
1) King Of France - Salad Days
2) The Jayhawks - Rainy Day Music
3) Kruddler - They're There
4) Betty Drake - Grape Or Red
5) Bryan Barnett - Two & Out
6) Danny Viper - Salem Green
7) Gini Dodds & The Dahlias - Good Medicine
8) Dan Israel & The Cultivators - Love Ain't A Cliche'
9) Paul Westerberg - Stereo/Mono
10) Jessy Greene - Blue Sky
If you can't sit down with a 12-pack of cold ones and craft at least THREE romantic mixes from the batch above, let alone one, you'd better call for professional help! And remember, this is only a short list of fairly recent material. Ask your friendly record shop clerk for advice on great local music—the Electric Fetus, Root Cellar, Let It Be and Cheapo's St. Paul location are all great spots to begin your Valentine's Day mix hunt.
But you best hurry—a rushed job is usually easily detected, and you'll probably get too loaded makin' the blasted thing to write out the songs and make the cover for your mix until tomorrow. Speakin' of which, I think I'll take my own advice and get started. As soon as I get back from the liquor store, of course ... until next time—make yer own damn news.
If you have local music news/gigs/CD’s for review, or you’d just like to discuss who actually did put the bomp in bomp bomp bomp, send replies to: TMygunn777@aol.com.