The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 4

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

Tony Orlando & Dawn -Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree – 1973

In the history of ubiquitous music, none are more annoying than Tony Orlando and Dawn’s peppy, 1920s-retro brain worm of a song. In May of 1973, the record sold 3 million copies in three weeks, and the song received three million airplays in 1973. Lounge singers immediately added it to their repertoires, and washed-up crooners like Jim Nabors, Connie Francis, and Bobby Goldsboro recorded their own versions. By the following summer, CBS gave Tony Orlando and Dawn their own TV variety show, replacing The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

My Ding a Ling – Chuck Berry – 1972

My Ding-a-Ling” is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh who later that year went on to form the Average White Band, played on the single along with Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator on bass.

I remember sitting in my friend RJ McMeans’s living room listening to records when somebody put this song on. Chuck Berry is a legendary guitarist and rock ‘n roller and he’s a brilliant artist. But when I heard this song, I was like… what the hell is this? Oh, it’s supposed to be funny. But it’s not. It’s juvenile.

We get it, Chuck. You’re singing a song about your dick.

No.

Half Breed – Cher – 1973

Half-Breed” is a 1973 song recorded by American singer-actress Cher with instrumental backing by L.A. sessions musicians from the Wrecking Crew. Recorded on May 21, 1973, at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles. Lyrically, the song describes the life of a biracial girl from a white father and indigenous mother and it contains themes of racism and double standards. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Cher’s second solo number 1 hit in the US. The single was certified Gold in the US for the sales of over 1 million copies.

CHER HALF BREED MP3 | ukuzaderax

Cher… you’ve made the list again. We get it. You’re hot, but you’re Armenian, not Native American. Just because your then-husband Sonny Bono used to refer to you as Pocahontas on your TV show, this all seems inappropriate. But as always… we love you and your outfits.

Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan – 1972

“Alone Again (Naturally)” is an introspective ballad, starting with the singer contemplating suicide after being left at the altar after his bride deserted him, and then telling about the death of his parents. O’Sullivan has said that the song is not autobiographical, as he did not know his father (who died when O’Sullivan was 11) very well, and that his father had mistreated his mother. Also, his mother was still alive when the song was written. O’Sullivan later commented “Neil Diamond covered “Alone Again (Naturally)” and said he couldn’t believe a 21-year-old wrote it, but for me, it was just one song I had written”. Neil Sedaka was similarly effusive in his praise for the song, stating as he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song because its complexity was more typical of a man much older than 21. The song is included on O’Sullivan’s The Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

I remember hearing this song non-stop everywhere I went in 1972-1973. It was a sad song that eventually got on everyone’s nerves. But, I will say this. It’s a very sad, and melancholy song about depression and loss. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life and I always had a place in my heart for this song. Something about the sound of his voice brings forth the story in a compelling way. It belongs on this list not because it’s weird or annoying, but because it’s a very unique work by this artist.

Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul – 1977

Soul is the “actor” from the hit TV show, “Starsky and Hutch” This is when anybody that was on TV thought they could sing and capitalized on their stardom thinking they could sell records. This clown can’t sing and he allegedly hit women. ‘Nuff said.

Da Do Ron Ron – Shaun Cassidy – 1977

Ahh… I loved his half-brother David in the early 70s. I watched the Partridge Family every Friday night after the Brady Bunch. David was hot and had amazing hair and was a heartthrob for years.

The song is the first collaboration in songwriting by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. The song was composed over two days in Spector’s office in New York. The title “Da Doo Ron Ron” was initially just nonsense syllables used as dummy lines to separate each stanza and chorus until proper lyrics could be written, but Spector liked it so much that he kept it. Phil Spector did not want lyrics that were too cerebral that would interfere with a simple boy-meets-girl storyline.  The rhymes of the opening lines, “I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still … Somebody told me that his name was Bill” was inspired by Bill Walsh, a friend of Spector who happened to visit Spector while the three were writing the song.

If you’ve ever wondered what in the hell “da doo ron ron” means, stop worrying: it means nothing. The phrase was apparently just a filler phrase that songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich put in the lyrics until they could come up with something better, and Phil Spector told them it was perfect as it was. Really, dude?

This clown comes along and decides he wants to be a star, and we have this mess. It’s awful. Somebody realizes David Cassidy has a cute little brother. Let’s make money off of him. He comes running out onto the stage in this clip in what looks like silky pajamas. He has zero stage presence and keeps flipping his hair. Just awful!

I remember my sister met some guy named Chuck who so wanted to be this guy. He even wore a white silk jacket with no shirt. A ridiculous fool that my sister hated. I remember that idiot came sniffing around my house looking for my sister and talking to me. He seemed like a jerk as he gyrated his hips in his dumb jacket thinking he looked like Shaun Cassidy. Please go play in the rip-tide, Chuck.

Oh, one final thing. Listen to how the English guy announces the name of the song at the beginning of the video.

Shdadoo Ran Run?

Let Her In – John Travolta – 1976

This is the 1976 debut single by John Travolta, the first release from his second album. It spent five months on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 10. It also reached number 16 on the Adult Contemporary chart. On the Cash Box chart, the song peaked at number five. In Canada, “Let Her In” reached number seven.

“Let Her In” was released at the end of the first year of the four-year run of Welcome Back, Kotter, in which Travolta starred.

This song was his first and only top-ten hit as a solo artist in the United States, and the biggest hit of his in any country not to be tied to the movie Grease. It was included in his 1978 double-album compilation, Travolta Fever.

Vinnie Barbarino, one of the sweat hogs on Welcome Back, Kotter makes good. John solidified his stardom with that show, Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Travolta was a huge star for a minute back then. He later dissolved into a bunch of forgettable roles, but his career was later resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in 1994.

God… this song is terrible.

 

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Tales of Rock -10 Most Notorious Hell-Raiser Rock Bands

Rock ‘n’ roll, as a rule, is not built for the faint of heart. You can be a sensitive soul with a message to get across in your emotionally wrought lyrics, sure, but if you’re looking to live that life, you’ve got to be prepared for a little rough and tumble.

The travel, the expectations, the screaming fans – it can become pretty grueling. And in such circumstances, it’s no surprise that some – most – rockers decide to kick back and party.

There’s indulging in a little carefree leisure time, though – and then there are the extremes to which some of rock’s most legendary hell-raisers take things. The music industry is filled with tales of excess and wild behavior, some of them funny, some of them impressive, some of them downright sinister.

The age of the degenerate, uncontrollable, pure id rockstar seems to be fading away – which may be for the best, given some of the legacies left behind – but with a century of hard-hitting, fast-living cowboys behind us, there’ll always be the stories to revel in, to be wowed by, and often appalled by.

10. Happy Mondays

Few bands have caused so much chaos with such good nature as the Happy Mondays. As part of the Madchester scene of the ‘80s and ‘90s, hedonism was naturally on the cards, and the band embraced the chemicals as much as any raver. And then, they took things that little bit further.

The Mondays’ drug habit was such that they would burn through their record label’s money at an astonishing pace, a lifestyle which has led to several members of the band declaring bankruptcy post-heyday. The uber-mellow ecstasy scene of the band’s early period led to some great psychedelic throwback records.

Things got sinister when the hard stuff set in during the early ‘90s. In an attempt to wean the band off heroin, the 1992 album Yes Please was recorded in Barbados, where Shaun Ryder successfully kicked his habit by transitioning onto crack. The sheer excess of this excursion led to the ruination of Factory Records.

Hearteningly, the majority of the Mondays seem to have come out the other side, and while one might argue that the modern mannerisms of Ryder and Bez show remnants of former drug use, the fact that they’re still in one piece, and still intermittently performing, is impressive indeed.

9. Guns N’ Roses

In a heartwarming postscript to the band’s ‘80s heyday, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash now seems like one of the soundest musicians in rock. Always good for a quip and still clearly in love with what he does, he has, it seems, escaped a grubby scene unscathed.

Things seemed like they could go the other way for a long while. In the 1980s, as well as a brief stint as the biggest band in the world, few acts could have been consuming more booze and gear than Axl and the boys.

Slash took things the furthest when he briefly died in the early ‘90s after overdosing on speedballs. Resuscitated after eight minutes, it was the wake-up call he needed – a scant 15 years later, he got himself clean. Bassist Duff McKagan, meanwhile, managed to drink enough that his pancreas was swollen to the size of a football by age 30.

Most worrying, though, was the behavior of frontman Axl Rose. While less famous for his substance abuse, the man was a ticking time bomb for much of his career, challenging the entirety of Nirvana to a fight, ruining gigs with his timekeeping and temper, and hiring and firing band members at will.

8. Led Zeppelin

The band that wrote the rule book for rule-breaking rock bands, Led Zeppelin had seen it all and done it all before most notable bands had picked up a guitar or a needle. Some of their exploits are classic tales of wild rockers; others are downright sinister and indecent. One thing’s for sure, though: few if any have cleared the bar that Zeppelin set over 50 years ago.

There are particularly famous anecdotes (the mud shark incident, which doesn’t bear repeating, for one), but the band was just excess personified full stop. The hotel room trashing, hard-partying, the fast-living group was given its template by the success of Zeppelin, who only got more successful the faster they lived.

They all had their own vices – John Bonham, booze and fast cars; Robert Plant, ladies and eventually heroin; Jimmy Page, black magick and questionable romantic pursuits (to say the least). They flaunted their chaotic lives while putting out eight good to great albums in 10 years, which isn’t bad going.

They’ll forever be one of the most influential bands ever, but it’s debatable which part of their legacy is more important: the sound, or the decadence.

7. The Beach Boys

The clean-cut California surf enthusiasts may not strike you as the hardest partying outfit, but between the precise harmonies and musical innovation was a shockingly dark side, particularly in its most talented and most charismatic members, Brian and Dennis Wilson.

Brian, the epitome of tortured genius, raised hell primarily in his own mind. With the weight of the group on his shoulders and feeling in direct competition with the Beatles, he pushed himself into increasingly ambitious works through unconventional means, turning his mansion into a recording studio and filling it with sand.

His drug usage made him a hermit for a while, but that streak of self-destruction was more explosive in younger brother Dennis, who embraced the fast living sixties more than most. A major star before his 20s, there was no way he wasn’t going to embrace the lifestyle afforded to him by his group’s success.

So free-spirited was Dennis that he allowed the Manson family, pre-murders, to crash with him for a long while, an association he regretted to his premature death. It doesn’t get much more literally hell-raising than that.

6. Butthole Surfers

The legendary Texas band thrived on pure chaos. Their records are brash and irreverent, at times impenetrable, others brilliant. Their live shows were known and loved for their visceral, unpredictable nature (which later became pretty predictable, with audiences showing up specifically to become embroiled in the chaos).

The band built their own mythology, telling anyone who would listen of their daily routine – LSD-laced cornflakes, whisky, and gin being the regular diet for a six-month-long European tour – but they were no idle talkers. For those caught up in their drift, they were a frightening proposition, with concerts turning into orgies, brawls, or both.

The band’s music has been influential for heavy hitters like Kurt Cobain, but few since have been able to capture the sheer weirdness of the Surfers, who have burned enough bridges to sabotage a dozen careers, but always seem to come bouncing back,

Now well into middle age, the band’s core members have barely changed at all, still more than willing to catch a ban from various prestige festivals through sheer belligerence. Somehow, though, they always seem to bounce back.

5. Aerosmith

You don’t get a nickname like “The Toxic Twins” without putting in some serious mileage. From the late ‘70s to the tail end of the ‘80s, Aerosmith’s Joe Perry and Stephen Tyler were unstoppably indulgent. Given their status in the scene at the time, they’ve partied to extremes few could afford to top.

Perry, for example, hired a roadie whose sole responsibility was to sort him out with a bump of powder during a performance. Aerosmith had no time for admin – they had the money to ensure that they were fully topped up at all times; they had only to enjoy the spoils of war.

Burnout was inevitable, of course, and the rampant self-destruction led to infighting and a downturn in quality. Gigs were ended prematurely by Tyler, too blasted to notice they’d only just started playing. In due course, the band decided they had too good a thing going to let substances get in the way – they entered rehab and came out an entirely different proposition.

Aerosmith is now the power ballad band, rather than a group of raucous rockers. And while their bank balance and their health have taken a step in the right direction, the danger and the riffs are long gone.

4. The Sex Pistols

It’s no secret that the Sex Pistols, far from the new voice of gritty British discontent, were essentially a manufactured act. While they may have been the image-centric brainchild of Malcolm McClaren, though, they used their status as the country’s most dangerous group to live faster and harder than any other boyband you’d care to mention.

The Pistols were pure combat and codified much of what we now associate with punk: the antagonism, the spitting. Their gigs could turn into brawls, especially when they took the act to the USA, where crowds could be riled into launching glasses at the group, who lapped up the hatred like milk.

Chief among the miscreants was bassist Sid Vicious, hired for his look and attitude rather than his musical skills. While he didn’t contribute much musically, the band’s mythology resolved majorly around him. He attacked journalists, leaped with both feet into the heroin scene, and overdosed not long after (allegedly) murdering his girlfriend – a charming character all around.

They took on the monarchy and won (sort of), and brought unpalatable music and lifestyles to the mainstream. They may have been performatively outrageous (see: the Bill Grundy show), but few acts have made as much of a scene with so little time.

3. Robert Johnson
Wikipedia

Among the most mysterious figures in the history of rock, the famous Robert Johnson story purports that he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for his legendary guitar prowess. One of the masters of the Delta Blues, Johnson’s relatively small back catalog means it is his wild and mysterious life that is now better remembered than the music itself.

Johnson spent much of his brief time wandering the earth (or, more specifically, America), peddling his blues and enjoying the fringe benefits afforded to a musician of his caliber. He would form relationships in every town, staying with various women who knew nothing of one another’s existence.

Johnson’s (possibly apocryphal) demise only serves to add to his legend: it is said that the notorious womanizer was poisoned – by a jilted lover, a jealous husband, or a rival, no one can be sure. Historians suggest he may have died of boring old syphilis – which, given his lifestyle, seems believable.

Whether or not he bartered with Satan, Johnson was one of 20th-century music’s first great wildmen, in a time when you could simply split town once you’d pushed your luck too far.

2. Mötley Crüe

Quite bad Mötley Crüe’s film The Dirt shows the group being out-extremed by Ozzy Osbourne, who cheerfully laps up urine and snorts a line of ants to wow the Californian rockers. While that anecdote sees Ozzy come out on top, though, there can be few acts for whom partying took such precedence as the Crüe,

The lifestyle suited the quartet, who embraced every faucet of rock stardom from the off. More groupies, more drugs, more booze. The band’s increased status directly correlated with the scale of their partying. They behaved like monsters for a good decade and got away with it because they were so popular.

Perhaps the most metal moment of their careers came when Nikki Sixx wrote the song “Kickstart My Heart” based on an overdose which led to his heart genuinely being restarted with adrenaline, allowing the Crüe bassist to join Slash in the “has been dead for a bit” club.

In one of the easiest gigs in journalism, author Neil Strauss got a book published simply by writing down all the grotty stuff Mötley Crüe got up to in the ‘80s, and it remains a classic of the genre – basically the Bible for bands whose ambition is to live the rock star cliche.

1. GG Allin & The Murder Junkies

You know you’ve sealed your credentials as a hell-raiser when you’re far, far more famous for being an undeniably disgusting human being than you are a musician. You know you’re not in for a gentle night of cheery tunes when you go see a band called “The Murder Junkies”, but audiences had never seen anything like GG Allin.

Allin would appear on stage, undress, and swiftly soil himself – and that was for starters. Fights with audience members were routine, and if a Murder Junkies gig ended without the frontman filthy, bloodied, and in the bad books of the venue owner, then you’d caught him on an off night.

The music was secondary to the performance, but in his lyrics Allin was ever incendiary, cheerfully throwing in racism and misogyny, ostensibly to provoke controversy and debate, rather than out of any real hatred. Naturally, you’ll find few backers for his discography these days.

Allin died predictably young, and he went out as he would have wanted – with his unpreserved, bloated corpse taking pride of place at a funeral-cum-party, during which his friends got loaded and posed with the carcass. There’ll never be another GG Allin, and that’s probably for the best.

 

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Tales of Rock -10 Greatest Rock Documentaries You Need To See

Few areas of life lend themselves better to the documentary format than music. The life of a rock star is undeniably fascinating: alien to the likes of you and I, a little scary at times, but undeniably desirable. They do and say outrageous things, they perform before baying crowds, they often end up doing something out of order – what’s not to love?

There are rock docs, though, and there are rock docs. These days everything merits a camera presence – an album launch, a tune on a film soundtrack, a tour which needs that little extra oomph to get it over the line. Candid footage is commonplace these days.

Some docs, though, will stand the test of time and have cemented themselves as classics not just of the subgenre, but of non-fiction film full stop. A good rock doc can capture a time and a place, shifts in society as well as the inner thoughts of some of the culture’s greatest icons. They’re a window not just into the stars themselves, but the worlds they inhabit and sometimes affect.

And if they’ve got a whole bunch of smashing tunes, well, that’s just an added bonus.

10. Amy

Altitude Film Distribution

 

The tragic tale of Amy Winehouse is hardly a new one in the music business – star after promising star has succumbed to the temptations of substances and the pressures of fame. Few have done so as publicly as Winehouse, however, whose 2011 death felt at the same time heartbreaking and somewhat inevitable.

Asif Kapadia’s documentary is a sensitively made look into the life of a star who looked like she could be one of Britain’s best in many years (and perhaps, even in such a short time, still was). It takes a simple biographical approach, but crucially builds a deeper image of Winehouse than the troubled and self-destructive hellraiser of her public profile. She was all those things, of course, but there was far more to her than that, as the tremendously affecting interviews with her family and close friends go to show.

For Winehouse novices, the film provides a great life and career retrospective that ably demonstrates why she’s so beloved; for those already enamored with the late singer, there’s great early and rare footage of a woman who wasn’t around for long but left an indelible mark on modern music.

9. One More Time With Feeling

This isn’t a watch for a cheery night in. The death of Nick Cave’s son in 2015 came after the majority of his 2016 album Skeleton Tree had been written, but he was yet to step into the studio with his band The Bad Seeds.

Naturally, the loss cast a shadow on the entire production. Rather than subject himself to press junkets and interviews, Cave and Andrew Dominick collaborated on the masterful One More Time With Feeling, through which the singer could explore and explain his grief, as well as give fans a sneak preview of the upcoming record. Skeleton Tree’s sparse, haunting songs made their debut in the gorgeously shot black and white film, and they capture their singer’s feelings of distress, emptiness, and ultimately hope, better than words ever could. Cave doesn’t spill his guts to the camera, but the performances, weary yet driven and brilliant, tell us all we need to know.

It’s one for the fans primarily, but the lush camerawork, beautiful music, and terrible but universal story can appeal to a far wider audience. It’s an exercise in grief, but a wonderful and strangely uplifting film, too.

8. Amazing Grace

AP/AP

Blessed with one of the greatest voices music ever produced, Aretha Franklin’s legacy was guaranteed long before she was immortalized in this 2018 film (shot in 1972, but held up by legal proceedings until shortly after her death). Sydney Pollack’s Amazing Grace is a masterfully made concert film and a gift for a younger generation who can appreciate the power of Franklin’s awe-inspiring talents the way an audience should.

Backed up by a community choir, Amazing Grace is a testament to the healing powers of song and faith. You don’t need to sit Franklin down and interview her to get to the heart of the woman. You simply need to watch her perform and listen to her sing. At this time especially, her voice is astonishing and appears effortless. Her early life was far from easy, and she has spoken previously of the release music gave her; Amazing Grace is her opportunity to give that back to the world.

There will be others who can sing with the same technical proficiency or range or control as Franklin, but it’s hard to imagine there will be many if any who can access so naturally the purity of emotion that Pollack unobtrusively captures in Amazing Grace.

7. The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson

HBO

An underrated figure in UK rock, Wilko Johnson was the guitarist for pioneering pub rock act Dr Feelgood. With his distinctly aggressive playing style and imposing physical presence (he played Ilyn Payne in the first few seasons of Game Of Thrones), he was hugely influential, a trailblazer.

When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, this was unsurprisingly an eye-opener for the taciturn axeman, and he allowed Julian Temple, key documenter of UK punk, to chart his final days. Johnson faces his mortality with trademark humor and an admirable calm, reflecting on his life and his achievements, and concluding it time well spent. He embarks on a goodbye tour, rocking venues like old times, bringing together friends and collaborators to say farewell to fans and well-wishers the only way he knows how.

Then, the twist – the cancer which seemed so final suddenly goes into remission, and Wilko is given another chance – more time than he knows what to do with. The film celebrates life in all its forms, but it’s clear that Johnson will go on rocking and creating until the real final curtain.

6. The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2

New Line Cinema

The first film in the Decline series was a relatively serious look at the often-po-faced world of hardcore punk. For the follow-up, director Penelope Spheeris cast an eye on the hair metal scene of 1980s LA, where things were a little wilder.

The documentary is a riotous look at acts famous and otherwise, from the heavyweights of the rock and metal scene to upstart bands hoping to make it as big as their idols (spoiler: none of them do). Highlights include Ozzy Osbourne making a colossal mess in his kitchen as he concentrates more on his anecdote than pouring juice into a glass, and Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P, who floats around his pool drunk off his head while his disapproving mother watches on. They put on a brave face, the folks of the scene, but many are stricken with sadness (others still are outright creeps).

While there’s the suggestion that elements of the film are a put-on, Spheeris captures an accurate portrait of one of music’s most indulgent and tacky scenes. Everyone involved is keen to show just how rock ‘n’ roll they are, and to one end up making prize fools of themselves in the process.

5. Beware Of Mr. Baker

SnagFilms

Cream drummer Ginger Baker died in 2019, and while his passing is a great blow to the world of rock and jazz, after watching this captivating documentary, you’ll be amazed a man so gnarly was even capable of death.

Director Jay Bulger traces Baker’s musical journey from South London to South Africa, where he now lives on an imposing compound. Baker’s career is a remarkable one, having pioneered a jazz/rock fusion style with Cream, traveled to Africa to drum with Fela Kuti, and kicked and taken up heroin enough times to kill most ordinary men. Ordinary Baker most definitely is not, though: he is a fascinating but utterly cantankerous individual, ultimately clashing with and physically assaulting Bulger after a line of questioning is not to his liking.

The man lived hard and fast and achieved an incredible amount, and it’s great that his life story was aired in such an engaging piece of work. Formally inventive and ever engaging, this is proof if proof be needed that the devil has the best tunes.

4. 20 Feet From Stardom

RADiUS-TWC

A celebration of some of the music business’ unsung heroes, 20 Feet From Stardom is all about putting a name to the voices you’ve heard so many times, as Morgan Neville’s Oscar-winning doc digs into the world of backing singers.

Featuring the likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and other incredible performers whose names you may not know but whose vocals you’ve certainly danced to, 20 Feet From Stardom is a melancholic look at a business that can be so rewarding, and so frustrating, all at the same time. There are incredible anecdotes from those on the periphery of the world’s biggest rockstars, and superb performances, like Clayton’s isolated vocal track from the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”. Many of those interviewed are jobbing musicians who accept their status, but it can’t help but feel cruel that their contributions so often go uncelebrated.

With talking heads from bonafide A-listers like Bruce Springsteen, this is a star-studded production, but more than anything else it’ll give you an appreciation of the sheer physical graft that goes into the singing business. You may just be harmonizing on a chorus, but it’ll take it out of you.

3. Gimme Shelter

20th Century Fox

An era-defining documentary, this still-harrowing film captures The Rolling Stones at their world-conquering finest as they tour their incredible run of records between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It also pinpoints the moment the hippy dream died and something altogether more sinister settled into American counterculture.

Gimme Shelter serves as a concert film for a band who, at the time, may have been the world’s greatest. This ultimately pales into insignificance, however. The documentary is most famous for its recordings of the Stones’ 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway, during which 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was fatally stabbed to death by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who the UK rockers had hired as their tour security. Co-directors Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin adopt a hands-off approach to their film making, simply observing the chaos that unfolds as a peaceful scene turns ugly.

The ‘60s ended literally and metaphorically around the time of Altamont, but if there are lessons to be learned, it’s a stroke of luck that there was a camera there to record the destruction.

2. Don’t Look Back

Leacock-Pennebaker, Inc.

D. A. Pennebaker’s 1967 masterpiece invented the rock doc and the myth of Bob Dylan in one fell swoop. Following the Nobel prize-winning songwriter on his 1965 UK tour, the documentary was one of the first opportunities an audience had to watch a rock star simply exist in his natural environment.

As a subject, Dylan couldn’t have been much better. He is riding the crest of a wave, writing and playing some of the best music of his career, and coming to the tumultuous end of his relationship with Joan Baez. He is captivating but unprecious with his public image: indeed there are moments in which he acts like a real jerk, one-upping Donovan with a bravura performance just because he can, and needlessly abusing a poor jobbing journalist. The opening scenes serve as a music video for the track Subterranean Homesick Blues, another of the film’s groundbreaking moments.

Dylan has been documented and hagiographed half to death by now, but Pennebaker’s passive camera catches him in the flesh, and at a pivotal point of an incredible career. Taking aside all it influenced, it remains a superb piece of work.

1. Dig!

Interloper Films

A friendly rivalry turns into an all-out indie war in Ondi Timoner’s wild documentary. The director shot over 10,000 hours of footage as two upstart bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, came up together before dramatically falling apart.

The narrative comes down to jealousy, as the Massacre, arguably the better band, stew over their former friends’ sudden burst of success. Petty swipes turn to open hostilities as one band rises and the other turns in on itself. The subjects are fascinating, most notably Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe, whose musical talent is outstripped by his self-destructive street. He has the aura of a cult leader but the temperament of a stroppy child, and slowly alienates those around him and blows chance after chance at the big time.

Musicians from either camp have refuted the realism of the finished product, but that hardly matters when the documentary is this outrageously entertaining. Dig! may not hit as heavy as some other acclaimed rock docs, but few films can match the uproarious fun – and killer tunes – of this bonkers film.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – New details emerge in Bruce Springsteen DWI arrest

Following news of Bruce Springsteen’s November arrest for suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a source close to the musician is sharing more information about the incident.

“When this is all resolved, I think, people are gonna have some serious doubts about the seriousness of this, especially when the actual details of this are revealed, including the blood alcohol level,” the source told CNN.
Springsteen was arrested at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey, on November 14 and charged with DWI, reckless driving and consuming alcohol in a closed area, according to a spokesperson for the National Park Service.
That night, the source close to the singer said, Springsteen took a shot of alcohol with fans in the park after taking a photo with them. The source added that Springsteen is known to take photographs with fans. “That’s typical Bruce,” the source said.
“I don’t know why they stopped him,” the source said of the authorities. “I mean technically you’re not allowed to drink in a state park, and I don’t know, maybe, if a policeman sees somebody drinking and doesn’t give them a ticket, they lose their job,” the individual added. “Any kind of alcohol-related driving thing is serious,” the source added.
One officer said they observed Springsteen “consume a shot of Patron tequila and then get on his motorcycle and start the engine,” according to a probable cause statement obtained by CNN.
Springsteen told the officer he had consumed two shots of tequila in the previous 20 minutes, according to the probable cause statement.
“SPRINGSTEEN smelt strongly of alcohol coming off his person and had glassy eyes,” the officer said in the statement, adding he “was visibly swaying back and forth while I observed his eyes.”
Springsteen, according to the officer, took 45 steps during the “walk and turn” test “instead of the instructed 18.”
Prior to the screening, the officer said he approached Springsteen and informed him alcohol was prohibited in the park and asked whether Springsteen was leaving, to which “he confirmed he was going to drive out of the park,” the statement said.
CNN has reached out to representatives for Springsteen and the National Park Service for further comment.
A spokesperson for Jeep told CNN on Wednesday the company would pause running its ad including Springsteen, which first debuted during the Super Bowl, in light of the charges.
“It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the details of a matter we have only read about and we cannot substantiate,” a statement from the company read. “But it’s also right that we pause our Big Game commercial until the actual facts can be established.”
“I just hope Jeep ends up looking bad in the end,” the source close to the music icon said.
CNN has reached out to Jeep for additional comment.
Springsteen is expected to have his first hearing on DWI charges “towards the end of February,” a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey told CNN.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 3

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

White Plains – My Baby Loves Lovin’ – 1970

White Plains is such an appropriate name for this band. They’re white and they’re plain, which also applies to the music. Just look at the title of their big US hit, My Baby Loves Lovin’. Total genius. And it’s as creative as the title suggests a.k.a it’s one of the most generic, cookie-cutter love songs the 70s have crapped out.

My baby loves love
My baby loves lovin’
She’s got what it takes
And she knows how to use it

My baby loves love
My baby loves lovin’
She’s got what it takes
And she knows how to use it

That was the chorus, BTW.”My girl loves the act of loving.” How riveting. The instrumentation is just as cookie-cutter, utilizing the safest, non-threatening sounds from the decade. People who complain about today’s music sounding the same should go back and listen to garbage like this and realize that the pop charts have always pushed mediocrity.

The New Seekers – Look What They’ve Done To My Song – 1970

The 70s didn’t just have boring stuff, it also had a LOT of weird stuff, too. The kind of weird stuff that made you question what the hell people were thinking at the time until you think about the copious amount of drugs they consumed. Exhibit A: Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma, a cover to a Melanie Safka’s What Have They Done To My Song, Ma. It starts off as a typical acoustic guitar ballad before being accompanied by a cheap accordion. It’s always going to sound like a joke, even when it’s supposed to be serious. Every time I hear this song, I hear nothing but background music for a French film. And that’s one of several musical elements that are in the song that don’t mesh with one another. I don’t even know what they did to this song, ma.

Bobby Sherman – Julie, Do Ya Love Me – 1970

Wow. Here’s a song that could’ve only existed in the 70s, Bobby Sherman’s Julie, Do Ya Love Me. Just listen to that messy instrumentation and try to picture it being made outside of the 70s. With that, being dated isn’t the reason why this song is on the list. No, it’s on the list because of the writing and content. Mr. Sherman here is feeling down because he had to leave his girl, whose name is Julie. What should sound romantic ends up being lame and schmaltzy. This dude was apparently a heartthrob back in the days. If there’s anything that pop music history has taught us, it’s that women would throw themselves at any pretty boy, no matter the quality of their music. Just a Tiger Beat cover boy.

Brotherhood of Man – United We Stand – 1970

You ever looked at a song title/artist name and expected one thing, but got something completely different? Well, that’s the feeling I had when I came across a song called United We Stand by The Brotherhood Of Man. I was expecting a protest song from a multi-racial group, but instead, we got a schmaltzy, pseudo-gospel declaration of love from a bunch of white folks. Look, there’s nothing wrong with the message. I can get behind it because the world does need more love. But I find this to be some cornball, sanitized trash. This is Sunday school music with all references to God and Jesus removed. Look, I appreciate the message and the fact that it resonates with some people, but I’m gonna have to pass on this one.

Check out the host of this music show. Where did they get this husk? Did they roll him out of mothballs to be on the show? Also, is this the ugliest band ever? Who chose that wardrobe? Awful!

Eddie Holmes – Hey There Lonely Girl – 1969 (I know, it’s not the 70s but it was played in the 70s non-stop)

I’ve said in the past that R&B was one of the best parts of 70s music (which I still stand by), BUT that doesn’t mean all of it was good. Just look at Hey There Lonely Girl by Eddie Holman. The instrumentation is alright, but then there’s Eddie Holman’s voice. Dear Lord Beerus, this dude’s voice. He has one of those ear-piercing falsettos that sounds like a chain-smoking Mickey Mouse. Every high note he hits is so shrill that I can’t listen to the song on headphones. (My ears are bleeding!) In the writing, the dude has his eyes on a girl whose boyfriend broke her heart and he offers to be her new boyfriend. Yeah, that’s not generating Treat You Better vibes at all. If I ever hear this song on an R&B station, I’m pressing skip immediately.

The Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding! – 1970

Gimme Dat Ding by The Pipkins. What the flying hell did I just listen to? Was this a rejected song from an old 30s cartoon? This is what people at the time bumped in the whip? Two dudes going back and forth, one of them sounding like Popeye the Sailor Man while the other one keeps saying Gimme Dat Ding over and over on top of a honky-tonk piano. What is the ding, anyway? Is that another way of saying “pass the blunt?” Is it a brand of beer? “What you want?” “Gimme dat ding, please.” Is it sex? Considering that both performers are men, that’s kinda progressive for the 70s. Who knows? All I know is that I don’t want to hear it again. Gimme Dat Ding, another novelty hit that left me puzzled. Why in the world was this ever recorded? They must have known that there were bands called the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin were in existence at the time. Why a vaudeville number?

Ronnie Dyson – (If You Let Me Make Love To You, Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? – 1970

Never has there been a song that raised so many questions before I started listening to it. The full title to Ronnie Dyson’s big hit is (If You Let Me Make Love To You, Then) Why Can’t I Touch You? Wouldn’t making love to someone involve physical contact? Are they having Amish sex where they bang with sheets between them? Are they having phone sex? Ghost sex? Are they screwing using telepathy or telekinesis? Do they use one of those devices from Demolition Man? What does it all mean?

Tiny Tim – Tiptoe Through The Tulips – 1968

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiny_Tim_(musician)

Tiptoe Through the Tulips“, also known as “Tip Toe Through the Tulips with Me”, is a popular song published in 1929. The song was written by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music) and made popular by guitarist Nick Lucas. On February 5, 1968, singer Tiny Tim made the song a novelty hit by singing it on the debut episode of the popular American television show Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

Tim sings the song in the style of a woman singing the song in 1929! But he looks so weird and creepy doing it. It’s amazing the man had the career he did. It’s just so bizarre I had to add it to my list!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1