There is a Y-tube channel which has kindly uploaded a mountain of clips from the 70s & 80s off of a Dutch music TV programme called “Toppop” . Of course there is the good, the bad & the Bay City Rollers. There are Europop acts that you have never heard of & there are others that you wish you had never heard . But, every once in a while, among the fool’s gold , the vacuous glitz & bluster there is an absolute nugget. So let’s get on it.
Now those were strange days indeed. The night I saw Roxy Music his position as “sound manipulator” involved attacking a synthesizer with plastic cutlery…golden. Immediately after leaving Roxy Music, long before he became rock’s premier intellectual, young Brian Eno thought he could be a pop star. The music papers loved him &. it seemed, he liked all the attention. A hook-up with pub-rockers the Winkies for a tour to promote his first LP lasted just 5 gigs before a collapsed lung hospitalised the new frontman. Two weeks of the rock & roll life & Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno needed a long lie down.
If it was just down to the quality of the tunes then Eno would have been chartbound. “Seven Deadly Finns” is not on either of the first 2 solo LPs. “Here Come The Warm Jets” & “Taking Tiger Mountain” include jagged, futuristic pop songs like this which easily rank alongside the more cerebral glam rock 45s which were hits. A world where “Baby’s On Fire” & “Burning Airlines” were smasheroonies would be a better, more interesting place. There are tracks on the 2 subsequent solo LPs which could have sold a zillion too. Take a listen & decide which they are. A man with a brain the size of a planet, given an unlimited budget & a free run at the new video art…you know that just might have worked. Anyway, here is a clip of Eno in his medieval glam finery peddling his new single. It was not to become a regular thing.
” Shall I compare it to an atom bomb? a wrecker’s ball? a hydroelectric plant? Language wasn’t designed for the job.” (Robert Christgau on “Fun House”). The Stooges made art from chaos, as an impressionable teenager I heard the first LP, I read about Iggy in “Rolling Stone” & I was a little afraid. How great is that ? Scary music ! In the first half of the 70s rock became more subdued. Those LPs by the Stooges, the MC5 & the Flamin’ Groovies sounded pretty good compared to the soporific strains of Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles. The longer the decade went on the more Iggy & his gang improved..
There was a long gap & Iggy, now David Bowie’s best buddy & a/the “Godfather of Punk”, released 2 LPs in 1977. “The Idiot” & “Lust For Life” were his shot at showing he could do this music thing. After the contemplation of “The Idiot” he accelerated for the follow up. Surely everyone knows this title track from the first seconds of the Sales brothers stomping intro…a rock classic & no mistake. It was not a hit record. The sight of Iggy rolling around a TV studio, smeared with what I hope is ketchup, ripping up the potted plants, is really funny & the song will never sound less than great. TV could never capture his intensity in a lip-synched performance but he gives them the wild man routine & takes the piss. I love it. There is a contemporaneous live clip of Iggy performing in Manchester. He looks out at his audience & exclaims “I love this music !”. Watching, you believe him & share in his love…that’s proper Iggy !
Well…a Powerpop classic. From 1977’s “Greg Kihn Again” on the Beserkeley label, “For You” does for Bruce Springsteen what everybody was doing to Dylan songs in the 60s. I first encountered Kihn on the “Beserkeley Chartbusters Vol 1” LP which was Jonathon Richman’s first go-round too. I liked what I heard & though I bought too many Beserkeley records, “Again” is a cracker. It’s clean & clear with the opening Buddy Holly cover informing you that the heart of the record is in the right place. “Real Big Man”, “Madison Avenue”…a quality record. The Earthquake & Rubinoos LPs are at the back of the stack but Greg Kihn gets a regular airing. In the US he was the label’s biggest success. He got his Top 10 hit with “Jeopardy” but I could not hear the freshness & enthusiasm of the first 2 records. The lamest naming sequence ever, a series of terrible puns, did not help but “Again” is all the Greg Kihn you really need. It’s great to find this quality clip of an old favourite by a good band. Less than 300 views….you are ‘kihn joking me (Oh no !).