Posts Tagged ‘Hurt So Bad’

 

Thirty-eight years ago tomorrow, as I write, the No. 1 song on the Billboard pop charts was “Coming Up” – but not the catchy tune by one-man-band Paul McCartney from his madcap McCartney II endeavor, but the slightly less catchy live version by Paul McCartney & Wings (Mach III), taken from a December 1979 concert in Glasgow on what turned out to be the final Wings flight. 

Columbia Records, his label home, apparently didn’t think the American public would appreciate his sped-up vocals, so – although the live version is clearly the B-side on the 45, where it’s paired with the eccentric “Lunchbox/Odd Sox” – they promoted the Wings rendition as the A.

And lest fans who bought McCartney II be upset that the song they heard on the radio wasn’t on the LP, Columbia included a special one-sided single of the live version. It even came with a helpful “play other side” instruction on the flip side.

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Let me back up, albeit for a moment: I was 14 on this day, soon to be 15; and having a good time – it was summer, after all. No school. That meant late nights and late mornings, hanging with friends, and – yep, you guessed it – listening to plenty of music. In my neck of the woods, that meant tuning in WIFI-92, WMMR, WYSP and WIOQ.

In the wider world, Ronald Reagan was gearing up to accept the Republican presidential nomination in Detroit in a mere 11 days. President Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, was in the midst of stamping out an insurgency within his Democratic Party, as he was being challenged by Ted Kennedy, and wouldn’t secure his second shot at the Oval Office until the following month, at the Democratic National Convention in New York.

The reason for the tepid enthusiasm for Carter: the economy. Unemployment was rising – it crested at 7.8 percent this month, its highest mark since he took office in 1977, and inflation was at obscene levels – 13-plus percent for the month, and 13-plus for the year. There was also the matter of the ongoing Iranian hostage crisis.

The big movies of the day included Fame, The Empire Strikes Back, Urban Cowboy, Bronco Billy, The Blues Brothers, Airplane!, and, released on this very day in 1980, The Blue Lagoon. I don’t remember seeing any of them in the theaters, though I did eventually see all of them on PRISM, the local premium cable channel that also carried the home games of the Philadelphia Flyers.

As far as TV – it was summer, and summer meant reruns.

And when it comes to music – well, that’s what today’s Top 5: July 5, 1980 (via Billboard, which I occasionally bought), is about. Here are a few selected highlights…

1) Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet – “Against the Wind.” Dropping out of the Top 5 to No. 6 is this classic Seger song, which I rate not just with his best, but with the best of all time. It’s the title track to one of my “essential” albums.

2) Olivia Newton-John – “Magic.” In its seventh week, the Xanadu single inches up two spots to No. 14. Here she is lip-syncing to the song on The Midnight Special

3) Carole King – “One Fine Day.” “One Fine Day” is a song with a rich history – written by King and Gerry Goffin, it was first a hit for the Chiffons in 1963, when it reached No. 5 on the pop charts. Seventeen years later, King recorded it for her Pearls: Songs of Goffin & King album, and released it as a single. It reaches No. 16 this week (on its way to No. 12).

4) The Blues Brothers – “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Saturday Night Live’s John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd turned a love for the blues into a side project with legs. They released a hit album in 1978, and a hit movie and hit soundtrack in 1980. This week, the lead single from that soundtrack bounces (like a rubber biscuit) up seven spots to No. 22.

5) Pete Townshend – “Let My Love Open the Door.” Townshend had an unlikely Top 10 hit with this uptempo ditty, the lead single from his classic Empty Glass LP. This week, it’s No. 35 (on its way to No. 9).

And two bonuses…

6) Irene Cara – “Fame.” Cara sounds so much like Donna Summer on this, the joyous title track to the hit movie, that it almost seems unfair to say so. That said, I love the song and performance. 

7) Linda Ronstadt – “Hurt So Bad.” Falling from No. 26 to 80 in its 13th week on the charts is Linda’s spine-tingling rendition of the Little Anthony & the Imperials hit from 1965. (It hails from her 1980 Mad Love album, of course.) 

As I said in a recent post, the first Linda Ronstadt album I added to my collection was Mad Love, which I picked up within a few weeks of its February 1980 release. What led me to buy it – no clue. The likely reason, however: radio. “How Do I Make You,” the Billy Steinberg-penned lead single, features a drum-roll intro, upbeat melody and brash vocals. What wasn’t to like?

I was 14, and deep into the discovery of all things pop and rock ’n’ roll. Buying an album, however, was a Big Deal, a major expense; five bucks a week, i.e. my allowance, only went so far. Nowadays, YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music make music discovery an OnDemand activity. Back then? There wasn’t even MTV. Aside from friends, old-fashioned radio was the lone source for hearing new (and new-to-you) songs and artists. It took patience and discipline. You saved, and you often weighed one potential purchase against the other.

For research purposes, plus enjoyment, I flipped between WIFI-92, which featured a Top 40 format, and WMMR and WYSP, both rock-oriented; all three rested near one another on the FM dial (92.5, 93.3 and 94.1, respectively), so it took a simple twist of the wrist to change stations. On occasion, I tuned up the dial to 102.1FM, WIOQ, but the softer singer-songwriter sounds I heard there were, to my young ears, wimpy. (The irony, of course, is that within a few years I’d become much more of a singer-songwriter guy.)

Oh – there was The Midnight Special on NBC, too. It followed The Tonight Show most Fridays. I sometimes caught The Kenny Everett Video Show, a syndicated offering from the U.K., and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, as well, but odd time slots often kept me from them. Saturday Night Live, of course, spotlighted one act per week, but if you didn’t like the act – well, there was always “Weekend Update.”

Back to the point: Mad Love was billed as Linda’s entry into New Wave. She cut her hair and spiced-up her sound, especially on “How Do I Make You” and three compositions each from Elvis Costello and Mark Goldenberg of the Cretones. She also covered tunes by the Hollies, Little Anthony & the Imperials and Neil Young – yep, a New Wave album with non-New Wave material. Similar, in a sense, to Back to the Egg, the Paul McCartney & Wings LP from the previous spring that also sported some New Wave stylings.

The old guard was embracing (some might say “co-opting”) the new yet, for me, it mattered not. I liked “How Do I Make You” enough to buy the LP; and thought Mad Love as a whole was great. Thirty-five years later, I think it’s good. A strong outing. Not five-star caliber, but one that’s well worth picking up. It’s home to some of Linda’s finest songs and vocals.

So, without further adieu, today’s second Top 5, A Mad Love Milieu.

1) “Mad Love” –

2) “I Can’t Let Go” –

3) “Hurt So Bad” –

4) “Look Out for My Love” –

5) “Cost of Love” –

And this, the best of the Costello covers –

6) “Girls Talk” –