Steel Pulse

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My friend calls a couple of hours ago, and asks if I want to go see Steel Pulse with him a couple of other friends (it’s her birthday, and four tickets cost just a few dollars more than three).  So tonight I’m off to Anaheim’s House of Blues to check out this very long-running reggae band.  I’m sort of woefully undereducated about reggae, so this is a chance to do something fun with friends and get exposed to some new music.

What little I’ve heard from Steel Pulse has been good.  There’s a reason these guys have been around since 1975, garnering a lot of critical and commercial success.  (Commercial success in the U.S. is relative for a reggae band, which is a shame.)  Reggae is some of the most potent music out there.  Steel Pulse has developed a following by remaining politically, socially, and artistically relevant.  I get the feeling I’ll have a good time tonight.

The Hooters

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No, not those hooters.  This isn’t some kind of nature blog.

We could sing “Boys Will Be Boys” if you want

No, not those hooters, either! (My god, are those poor women wearing pantyhose!?!)

I mean the Philadelphia-based pop-rock band, The Hooters.  You might remember them.  They had a couple of hits in the mid-80s, and then pretty much dropped off the radar.  Which was too bad, because after that pretty darn successful first album (which led to gigs like opening the Philadelphia stage at Live Aid), they continued to put out good music on three more discs.  (They broke up for a while, then got back together this century, but I haven’t been too keen on anything they’ve done since.)

Thing is, The Hooters really have been unfairly forgotten.  The two lead singers and songwriters for the band, Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, co-wrote “Time After Time” with Cyndi Lauper.  They played both Live Aid and the 1986 Conspiracy of Hope concert in New York.  In the 90s, they appeared in Roger Waters’ revival of The Wall in Germany.  Eric Bazilian wrote Joan Osborne’s hit “One of Us” (and produced and arranged her album Relish).  They were popular in Europe for a lot longer than in the U.S. (which tells me that Europeans are much smarter than Americans).  They were, in short, a hit.

Maybe it was the name, which was a nickname for the melodica (we’ve had one in the house for as long as I can remember, in spite of the fact that no one in the family ever played it).  There are a lot of songs I really love by them, but my favorite is also probably the biggest hit they had.  It’s at least the only one that ever still gets played anywhere.

If possible, I stop whatever I’m doing whenever this comes on somewhere and sing at the top of my lungs.  It’s just such a fun song.  Fun to sing, fun to dance to.  The video’s fun, too.  It makes me nostalgic for drive-ins, although nothing that cool ever happened at my local drive-in.  (The coolest thing I can say about the drive-in I grew up with is that my mom worked at the concession stand for a while when my dad was out of work.  I remember him carrying me when we went to visit her once.)

Look up The Hooters on itunes, or whatever perfectly legal download site you purchase music from.  Or better, root around in the used bins at your local music store.  I’ll bet they have a copy of Satellite or Zig Zag floating around there.  Give them a listen.  You might be surprised at how good they still sound.

 

Bob Welch

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Bob Welch, who played guitar for Fleetwood Mac from 1971 to 1974, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest yesterday.  It’s so tragic when someone dies by suicide, not least of which is that maybe something could have been done to prevent it.  Welch hadn’t gotten much commercial airplay since the 80s, but he was a good guitarist and singer.  He wrote and recorded “Ebony Eyes” for his solo debut, French Kiss in 1977, and it was an instant classic.  It’s one of those songs that you can’t quite place in any one musical era; it’s not quite timeless, more like forever contemporary.  It sounds new every time you hear it.  That’s quite an accomplishment.

There has long been a weird connection between playing guitar for Fleetwood Mac and personal/emotional/financial ruin, i.e., they all seem to go crazy.  (Lindsey Buckingham seems to have escaped this by already being a little insane when he joined.)  I thought that Welch had managed to escape the curse, but alas, it was not to be.  My heart goes out to everyone who loved him.