Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Sunday Comments ( 10 - 12 - 14 )

re: ASIA:
Still feeling a little bit tired this morning ... but that may be because on Thursday Night I drove from Broadview, IL, to Schaumburg, IL, to Asia!!!  

That's right ... we caught the Asia concert at The Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL, and I am VERY happy to report that ALL of their chops are most definitely still intact.  

(I missed these guys the last time they were here ... and then, shortly thereafter, one of the members took sick and they ended up cancelling the balance of the tour. I thought I may have missed my last chance to ever catch Asia live in concert ... so news of this return visit was a welcome surprise from my perspective!)  

The theater was probably about two-thirds full Thursday Night ... but every person there was a devoted Asia fan who showed the band nothing but love during what ended up being a two and a half hour concert. And they sounded GREAT!    

I was hooked the first time I heard them in 1982 ... and this was before I even knew of their Super-Group status. (These guys knew their way around the studio and the stage ... original members paid their dues with groups like Yes, King Crimson, Uriah Heep and Emerson, Lake And Palmer ... and it showed with their very polished first album.) 

"Heat Of The Moment" (#4, 1982) grabbed me immediately (and they saved this one for their show closer Thursday Night.) Although they were most certainly an album rock band, other Top 40 Hits followed ... "Only Time Will Tell" (#16, 1982); "Don't Cry" (#9, 1983) and "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" (#34, 1983) ... but their album cuts were played regularly as well and, as such, tracks like "Go", "Days Like These", "Wildest Dreams", "Soul Survivor" and several others became familiar to us all. I have to say that they played all of these to near perfection Thursday night ... and the crowd rose to the occasion, several times rewarding the band with well-deserved standing ovations. (This was DEFINITELY their crowd.)   

I have to admit that I had no idea the band had recorded as many albums as they have ... their debut LP was a tough act to follow and, quite honestly, I lost interest after the next couple of releases, especially when radio airplay stopped in favor of only programming their "classic rock" tracks ... but these guys still sound great and have a NEW album release as well ... they featured a couple of songs from "Gravitas", released earlier this year, that sound just as good as their vintage stuff.   

Three original members are still on board ... lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton (who sounded spot-on on nearly every vocal), drummer Carl Palmer (who played an incredible ten minute drum solo) and Geoff Downes, a wizard on keyboards. Newcomer Sam Coulson plays a wicked lead guitar and he fit right in ... it felt like he'd been playing with them for ages.   

Personal highlight for me ... the incredible stripped down version of "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes", always one of my favorites by them anyway. Wetton gave a heart-wrenching performance, accompanied only by a piano ... and every note rang our clear and true ... VERY moving ... the band then "strapped on" and gave it a killer, high-energy finish ... but it was that emotional vocal that reeled me in. Top notch. (kk)

I think I've got it! I just need to work out all the final details with Ron Onesti ... but how cool would it be to see Asia ... perform "Aja" ... IN Asia?!?!?
If we all work together, I think we could pull this off! (Of course the band would first have to LEARN the "Aja" album ... since it was done by Steely Dan ... but they could follow this up with a second set of all of their own hits!)
Sound interesting? Then just send in your entrance fee of $10,000 ... we'll limit the pool to just 100 potential winners ... hey, those are pretty good odds, right? 1 out of 100?!?! This will cover the cost of paying the band, giving them a little something extra for learning someone else's work, cover airfare for them, their equipment and their entourage, put a little something in my and Ron's pocket, and cover the cost of flying the winners to Asia for an all-expenses paid trip to see THE ULTIMATE CONCERT!!! (Heck, I'll even spring for some authentic Chinese food ... IN CHINA!!!)  
Sounds like a winner to me!  

Speaking of recent concerts at The Arcada, we are still getting comments about our Ambrosia review from a couple of weeks ago ...  

I agree that the music that was presented at Saturday Night's "Triple Play" at The Arcada was performed from best to worst. That's not to say that I didn't like Ambrosia - I did - it's just that I felt that Orleans put on a more enthusiastic show - while Firefall flat out blew the crowd away. When you have three bands performing on the same stage, one of them is going to be the best - and one of them is going to be the worst. It all boils down to simple mathematics! That being said, I have to say that I enjoyed the entire evening of music - and commend the Arcada for once again bringing us the music of our lives. Note for note, this was one hell of a line up!

Give 'em hell Kent ... don't let em give you any shit!!! Lol

Hey Kent,
I just would like to say one thing in reference to your review of Ambrosia at the Arcada. I have ALWAYS thought that a group's excessive volume masks poor musicianship. I wasn't at the concert you heard, but can empathize with what you are saying. I'm sure the band is still is very capable of reproducing its former great sound in concert, but when it's too loud, it takes away from the enjoyment, as you saw in the result, with many fans leaving early. Chuck Mangione said something I will never forget, and I repeat it often. Several years ago when his band played here, he took a moment to assure the crowd, "We try to never ASSAULT the audience with volume." I'm hoping more groups will think about that.
-John LaPuzza
I don't know that they were masking poor musicianship ... when they were "on", they were damn good ... I just think they overcompensated for it by trying to "rock us" instead of simply entertain us. Like I said, sometimes less is more. With this many original members still on board, I have no doubt that they remember how they created this beautiful music in the first place. I just feel like perhaps they've lost their way, giving us volume over substance. The talent is still there ... it was just buried in the mix! (kk) 

I trust your Forgotten Hits reviews to be honest and fair and didn't find anything in your Ambrosia review to be overtly negative or malicious. We can't go to every show that comes through town - and I have come to rely on your analysis as being an accurate representation of what the show sounded like to a fan's ears. After seeing the responses you got from a couple of the band members, I re-read your Ambrosia review three times and don't feel that you ever came down too hard on them. If anything, I think they over-reacted - and, had they kept an open mind, they probably could have learned a thing or two that might make their next batch of shows even better. Maybe if they took your opinion in the spirit it was given - as constructive criticism of a band you genuinely seem to like - they could insure a better response in the future - without people getting up and leaving mid-concert. I can't imagine ANY band being happy with that type of audience response!
I also found it especially interesting that they criticized you for getting the lead singer's name wrong only to find out that it is, in fact, wrong on both of their websites! Can somebody please explain to me how picking up that wrong information that would be YOUR fault?
Honestly, these guys would have looked a lot less foolish saying nothing at all than saying what they did.
Yes, and here it is, nearly two weeks later and they haven't corrected it on either site yet ... so how mad and offended could they have been that I got it wrong ... especially since it was THEIR site that I gathered the information from ... and they've yet to fix it themselves?!?!  (kk)   

I'm in your corner BIG time when it comes to stage announcements. "And here is someone I have wanted to perform with for years. He comes from a different place than the rest of us, spent his time on the beaches while we were in the mountains, and yet we all were doing the same music covers we love. Say HI to (drum roll, cymbal crash, tom-tom and snare solo)!" I always want to give credit to each person on stage, so do as much research and questioning as I can before I put it in print, but sometimes I'm wrong and sometimes I cannot find out who I was watching / listening to. Updated pictures and names on websites DO help.
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
And this has been an on-going problem of late. ALL of these artists have websites or Facebook pages these days ... it's their connection to their fans ... yet very few of them give the details of who we're seeing (or, in the case of Ambrosia, simply aren't kept up to date. Jeez, if it's such a sore spot for you, DO something about it and fix your frickin' web page!!!)
I find this to be especially true when you're seeing a name headliner (for us recently, some one like Johnny Rivers or Felix Cavaliere) who don't even MENTION their "support team" on their web pages. I can only tell you that I've done more googling than ever trying to seek out this information. Many times I've even written to the artists themselves (when this information is available) and STILL don't get an answer. It's almost like they don't want us to know. (You're supposed to be focusing on ME, buddy ... don't worry about who played that great guitar solo that you loved!) I just don't get it. Give credit where credit is due. Or stop going out of your way to drown out the introductions by showcasing each member with their "ego moment"!!! (kk)  

Hi Kent,
First let me say that I was not fortunate enough to attend the Arcada's Ambrosia concert Saturday night. But I WAS fortunate to see them perform earlier in the day at noon, thanks to tickets I won from station K Hits 104.3. I traveled downtown to their studio, which is state of the art! Ambrosia was giving a mini-concert there for a few privileged fans. I'd say there were about 25 of us. I always liked Ambrosia's songs, but really didn't know what to expect. Promptly at noon, the band came out and performed the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour, followed by their four big hits. Immediately I was impressed with their new lead singer, Ken Stacey. What a voice! It's hard to replace the iconic David Pack, but I felt he did an excellent job. The band nailed their hits, especially How Much I Feel, sung by Joe Puerta, the original bass player of the group, this time. Wow. He had the crowd in tears. The band also did a very emotional version of their classic hit, Biggest Part of Me, sung by Ken. The sound system was great, and the band was 100 percent into performing, even for such a small crowd. The half-hour concert was filmed and you should check it out on K Hit's website to see how wonderful this band can sound. Also, the original drummer, Burleigh, was terrific and lots of fun. His wife joined the group on the keyboards and really added to the group's sound. Of course, no one can beat Christopher North on the Hammond organ. All in all, it was fantastic and we hated to see it end! I think the band felt the same way. Afterwards the band stuck around for pictures with every person there. What a great group of guys and gal. I felt they sang their songs better than I remember in the 70s and I told them that! They joked and said that's because now we all are 70!
Again, I can't compare concerts as I wasn't at the Arcada, but just wanted to let you know and give credit to Ambrosia for a great afternoon concert!
Click here: Watch Ambrosia Perform LIVE At Our Blue Cross Blue Shield Performance Stage! « 104.3 K-Hits Chicago   
I have absolutely no doubt that in a properly mixed and controlled environment the band sounded great ... it was a "controlled" atmosphere and I wish I could have seen it. (The link you provided was no longer in service when I tried to watch the show ... I'm running it here just in case they reactivate it or redirect visitors to an archive site.)
If you read the review, you'll see that I never questioned their musicianship or vocal ability. I knew going in that it wasn't going to sound like David Pack ... it simply couldn't ... he's no longer with the group.
Here's the best example I can think of ...
A few months back we saw The Alan Parsons Project (also at The Arcada Theatre) and I remember commenting in that review how AMAZING the group sounded live, especially when one considers that not one single song performed that night was sung by the original singer(s) on the records ... and that includes the songs sung by Alan himself! (Ironically, Parsons produced some of Ambrosia's early works) But they also presented their show in a VERY clean and faithful manner, taking great pride in their presentation.
I just felt like Ambrosia tried to distance themselves somewhat from the sound that made them famous by trying to be "the real rock band" of the night ... and, in the process, "overdid" a good portion of their set. (Like I said, nothing worse than coming home from a concert and finding your ears still ringing two hours later ... just not a whole lot of enjoyment in that!)
I'd love to see the K-Hits show ... so if you happen to find out where else we might find it, please drop me a line so we can let our readers know.
Meanwhile, Frannie found a very cool video from a couple of years ago of David Pack performing "Biggest Part Of Me" with none other than Chicago's very own Jim Peterik on guitar and background vocals! (With all the fuss lately regarding Peterik's biography and The Ides Of March's 50th Anniversary, I thought this might make for a fun one to share.) kk

>>>Have you ever thought about a Forgotten Hits get together for your loyal readers?  We could all come to Chicago and go to one of the many cool concerts at your favorite venue.  (Phil - WRCO)  
Actually yeah, we have ... many times!  I don't know if we'd round up enough people to fill The Arcada Theatre but I've even thought it through a bit further ... get about half a dozen of the acts on the list who regularly support Forgotten Hits to supply the entertainment ... rent the theater for the night ... offer discount tickets to Forgotten Hits subscribers and give it a go!  (We could sell the remaining seats to the public who I'm sure would LOVE to see a rock and roll / oldies extravaganza such as this.  And The Arcada could still make a few bucks on the concessions!)
Who knows ... might be worth talking about.  Let's see what kind of response we get!  (Plus it'd be a GREAT chance to finally meet some of our long-time readers!)  kk

My response will probably read like everyone else's.  I am all in for it!  Then comes the reality of timing and last minute happen-stance.  But put me down for a positive vote on the idea.  Maybe we could work out some way it would be NECCESSARY for me to attend to promote one or both jobs,
Shelley J Sweet-Tufano
The response is ALWAYS positive ... it's the logistics of putting the whole thing together that make this so difficult to pull off.  However, if a few of the artists on the list were TRULY interested ... and willing to either donate their time or (at best) agree to only cover their expenses ... who knows ... we just may be able to pull this off.  Got some feelers out there right now.  This will probably take awhile to organize ... but wouldn't it be cool if we could some how make this happen ... and turn it into next year's First Annual Forgotten Hits Spring Fling?!?!?  (Meanwhile I've always got my Asia / Aja / in Asia idea to fall back on!)  kk  

This week's listing from 1969 was exceptional - hard to imagine a time when that much good music was on the radio, all at the same time!  Every song you posted brought back a great memory from 1969 - yet as good as these songs were - and as good as they still sound today - you rarely if ever get to hear ANY of them on the radio anymore.  Your on-going point about today's radio narrow-casting couldn't be any clearer after looking at a list of ignored songs like this! 

Hya Kent, 
Another interesting item on the WSGN chart was Stevie Wonder (Eivets Rednow) at # 40 with "Alfie".  OOOOh! And another great tune on the KLWW chart that doesn't get much credit and rarely any airplay ... "You Got Me Anyway" by Sutherland Bros. (and Quiver) .    
Yep!  That one charted here in Chicago, too, reaching #32 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey ... but not one you expect to see ... or hear!  We've featured the Sutherland Brothers and Quiver track a number of times over the years in Forgotten Hits ... LOVE that tune ... including once recently as part of our Saturday Surveys feature.  (kk)

Just a few comments on your surveys for this past Saturday. On WTRU's survey in song position #25 by the Hardy Boys, that is a group to be honest with you I have never heard of.  The last I heard of them they were solving murder mysteries instead of making records. 
CUPID, #21 by Johnny Nash, never made our local survey here in OKC. Indirectly it did a year earlier as being the flip of HOLD ME TIGHT. #28 by the Cowsills never made our survey, though I always liked the Springfields' version earlier in 1962. 
You are probably right about WROK's #2 Jacemen being a local hit.  Through the years here in OKC, at least once, possibly twice, a local group would be managed by one of the local DJ's on air and, needless to say, they would play said record on air. #20 by the Strawberry Alarm Clock is good to see on any survey to prove that that group had other songs besides INCENSE AND PEPPERMINTS. #7 by Tiny Tim is one I did not know he recorded. I probably could have lived a little longer without knowing that. 
On KLMS's survey, it said that SEA CRUISE by Sha Na Na was available only on LP. Well, apparently later on it was released as a single because I have a copy.  I thought I did and went and checked and sure enough I did. In their 'New this week section,' they list ROCKIN' PNEUMONIA by a group known as Boogie Woogie Flu. They must have meant Johnny Rivers. 
On WLS's survey in song position #33, I did not know that Nick Noble had a vocal version of SLEEP WALK. Probably a lot of people don't know that a vocal version was done of that tune. A singer by the name of Betsy Brye, I believe,had a vocal version in 1959 on same label Santo and Johnny recorded for. The two songs listed by the Jaynettes and Glencoves were ones I was not familiar with. Listened to them however, on you tube. 
Larry Neal   
We featured several vocal versions of "Sleep Walk" a while back in Forgotten Hits ... nope, not one I would ever have associated by its lyrics!  (Such a GREAT instrumental track ... our readers voted it their all-time favorite instrumental a few years back in one of our famous FH Polls ... Click here: Forgotten Hits - Top 40 Instrumentals, 1955 - 1979).  The Nick Noble vocal version peaked at #33 here in Chicago on The WLS Silver Dollar Survey in its only week on the chart.  (It spent four weeks on the Top Tunes Of Greater Chicagoland chart ... but never climbed higher than #36.)  We also featured the Betsy Brye version some time back.

I always liked The Strawberry Alarm Clock's follow-up hit to "Incense and Peppermints", "Tomorrow", which we like to feature as one half of our "One You Know ... One You Didn't Even Know You Forgot" series. 
According to Joel Whitburn's book, The Hardy Boys were a studio group spun off of the animated television series, ala The Archies ... only with nowhere near the success.  Their only Billboard Chart Hit, "Love And Let Love", bubbled under at #101.  (By the way, one of the artists on that record, Reed Kailing, later went on to join The Grass Roots!  Of course THEY started out as a "fake" studio band, too ... but that a whole 'nother story!!!)  kk   

Interesting that the October 5, 1973, survey is the exact day (October 5, 2014) that I am going to see Ringo's All Star Band featuring #30 Ringo and #10 Todd.
Clark Besch  

Any excuse to feature Wonderful Summer by Robin Ward is fine with me ... but are you aware that the chart you ran had special significance sine that was NOVEMBER 22, 1963?  Save that and bring that one back in two months :) 
Nope, I totally missed that!  Good catch! (That just means it was named incorrectly way back when.)  But yes, the chart released the date of the Kennedy assassination WOULD make for interesting fodder down the road!  (kk)   

re:  FIRST 45's:   
I'd received several as gifts, but the first I bought was "Shapes of Things" by the Yardbirds, featuring Jeff Beck. Each Christmas, in mid 60s, I received the newest Beatles' LP ... BEATLES '65, RUBBER SOUL. After that my biggest expansion into record collecting occurred in the Fall of '67 when I joined the Columbia Record Club; the come-on was GREAT; 13 LPS for a penny, then purchase 12 for $3.99 per album (to the best of my recollection). I was beside myself ... some of my favorite 60s records came from that CRC selection. Thank you for the memories!!!! 
Frank Carmack   
Yeah, I think we ALL belonged to the Columbia Record Club at one time or another ... then it was on to videos!  (In this was back in the day when a hit movie for your vcr cost $89!!!)  The big joke at the time was that some folks couldn't get credit cards, mortages or loans because they hadn't fulfilled their Columbia Record Club obligation!  (lol)  Thanks, Frank!  (kk)

VVN is reporting that Reeling In The Years will release a 12-Disc DVD Set spotlighting highlights from the long-running Merv Griffin Show on November 4th.
Along with Mike Douglas (who also had a number of hot rock acts on his daytime program) was a staple of daytime tv back in the '60's and '70's ... and we've been pushing for these releases for YEARS!
Although the box offers a stellar line-up of guests, I think from a musical perspective it's all pretty "mainstream".  (Can it be that Douglas was the edgier program?!?!  I certainly don't remember it that way!)
In any event, here is the information on this hot, new release ... along with a complete track listing of ever disk:

Here's more on that brand new Merv Griffin box set from Bob Merlis ... 

12-DVD Box Set, Featuring Over 200 Iconic Guests, Available November 4, 2014
New York, NY (September 29, 2014) – In the pantheon of great American talk-show hosts stands the charming and intelligent Merv Griffin, who became one of the most beloved TV personalities of his time, thanks to his long-running, 10-time Emmy-winning daily talk show. Now, in an unprecedented retrospective covering 24 years of star-studded entertainment and provocative in-depth interviews, MPI Home Video and Reelin’ in the Years Productions will release THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW – 1962-1986 on November 4, 2014. The 12-disc collection, containing 44 classic episodes and more than 7 hours of bonus material, has been newly transferred from recently discovered master tapes, making for a spectacular viewing and listening experience.
To view the trailer visit:
THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW – 1962-1986 features more than 200 guests from the worlds of entertainment, politics, music, sports, literature and art, most of which have not been seen for decades. Over its 42 hours, viewers will be entertained by the likes of Mel Brooks, Lucille Ball, the Everly Brothers, Willie Mays and Aretha Franklin; enlightened by Salvador Dali, Dr. Timothy Leary and Maya Angelou; and inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, President Ronald Reagan, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Among the film and TV legends interviewed by Griffin in this collection are John Wayne, Bette Davis, Gene Wilder, Laurence Olivier, Ingrid Bergman, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Warren Beatty, the cast of The Golden Girls, Dennis Hopper, Jayne Mansfield, George Clooney, Jane Fonda and the final interview with Orson Welles who died just a few hours after the show.
The array of comedy greats alone is astounding. Here are the young Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Bill Maher and Jay Leno, as well as Richard Pryor and Jerry Lewis together (!), Joan Rivers, Steve Martin, Moms Mabley, Bill Cosby, Henny Youngman, Jack Benny, Redd Foxx, Carol Burnett, Andy Kaufman and Woody Allen. In a new interview filmed for this box set, Jay Leno reminisced about the show: “When you go back and look at all the comics that started with Merv, it’s pretty amazing because most of them did do Merv before they did The Tonight Show. Merv broke as many comics as almost any other show.”
In juxtapositions that only Griffin would dare attempt, a comedy routine in 1965 by Phyllis Diller is followed by a conversation with the Japanese officer who helped plan and lead the Pearl Harbor attack; the next week the ground-breaking young comic genius Richard Pryor leads to a chat with contentious and brilliant record producer Phil Spector.
Among the collection’s 50 great musical moments is a 1972 tribute to Stax Records hosted by Soul legend Isaac Hayes, 17-year-old Stevie Wonder singing “I Was Made to Love Her,” Merle Haggard performing at San Quentin prison in 1971 and 19-year-old Whitney Houston in her national TV debut in 1983.
The extensive bonus material includes seven hours of interviews with such wide-ranging figures as Norman Rockwell, Barbara Walters, Adam West and Burt Ward of Batman, James Michener, Alec Baldwin, Muhammad Ali and many more. Other extras include the aforementioned interview with Jay Leno, vintage promo trailers, and a 52-page booklet with exhaustive notes, rare photos, memorabilia and a foreword by Dick Cavett.
THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW – 1962-1986 is a cultural treasure trove, providing insight into almost a quarter century of American thought, style and attitudes as seen through the prism of one of the premier talk shows in American television history. 
About Reelin’ in the Years ProductionsReelin’ in the Years Productions is regarded as having one of the most prestigious libraries of footage of musical artists, entertainers and history makers and has produced more than 70 DVD titles including the Grammy-nominated American Folk Blues Festival series, the multi-platinum-selling Definitive Motown series, the British Invasion series and the award-winning 36-title Jazz Icons series. RITY producers David Peck and Tom Gulotta spent more than two years meticulously cataloging and combing through 2,500 hours of the Merv Griffin Show archives to hand-select the best episodes and moments that underscore the historic significance of the program. The Merv Griffin Show — 1962-1986 is the first in an anticipated series of releases from this archive through MPI. 
Street date: November 4, 2014                               SRP: $129.98
Running time: 42 hours (12 discs)                          Not rated