Monday, July 30, 2007

Oldies But Baddies

That's what we used to call the radio stations playing so-called "Oldies But Goodies" when I was a kid. Of course, much of the contemporary music consisted of Newies But Baddies, and some of them we weren't even under any illusions about at the time. Along our travels, my honey and I have picked up a few of those Rhino "Have a Nice Day" compilations, which usually include a half-dozen songs by bands I have NEVER heard of, yet whose songs I still remember with painful vividness. (Toby Beau? Rockets? Jigsaw? Who were these people?)

For some reason I was torturing myself yesterday with Volume 15. I was looking up the song "Eighteen with a Bullet," which we had thought was a pretty cool tune circa 1975-1976, probably for that bitchin' rhyme, "Got my finger on the trigger/I'm gonna pull it." In retrospect, I have to say that's pretty tough talk for a guy with a falsetto and a fifties doo-wop chorus behind him.

I also listened to "Convoy," which, despite having a linear narrative and an accumulation of detail, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. It sounds great on this compilation, however, just by virtue of not being a mushy squash of sentiment, the besetting sin of Top 40 radio in my early adolescence. Heck, the Bay City Rollers sound fairly aggressive in this it's no wonder I was so desperate for the Sex Pistols to invent themselves.

For the record, the highlight of Vol. 15 may be the epitome, the very quintessence, of the Icky 70s (as another friend and I used to call the genre). It was another song that looked completely unfamiliar: "Rocky," by Austin Roberts? Never heard of it. But it's the song with the chorus "Rocky I've never been in love before/Don't know if I can do it/Yadda yadda yadda/Take my hand, I might get through it," so I rolled my eyes and went, oh yeah, THAT song. The tune sounds very like the Mystery Science Theater theme, which is amusing in and of itself, and begins...

"Alone until my eighteenth year, we met four springs ago (Sha la la)
She was shy and had a fear, of things she did not know (Sha la la)
She worked at Gizmonic Institute, just another face in red jump suit..."

Okay, I'll stop that! But come one, the rhymes in those first few lines are just terrible.
Anyway, it's the third line that earns it a place in the Hall of Fame:

"But we got it on together in such a super way."

I can't even type that without giggling. We got it on together in such a super way. I don't know if it's possible for someone to express themselves in a more bland and banal way. What's even worse is that this is another of those schmaltzy songs in which she's going to die and leave the utterly uninteresting narrator a grieving single father...all of which is also, sadly, rendered completely without actual emotion.

Oddly, the chorus concludes with "God knows, if the world should end, your love is safe with me."

How did the world ending get into this? Dullest apocalypse ever!

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