Thursday, April 17, 2008

Guilty Pleasures Part Thirteen - Actual Guilt Edition

Since I started this feature, a few alert readers have pointed out that in some cases, I've picked songs that most reasonable observers enjoy without feeling any guilt. As the redoubtable Strolling Amok pointed out, Queen (one of last week's contestants) was a very good band.

I take the point. So let's break out some b-list stuff and see what happens.

This time we're back in the 1970s, that weird and wonderful time. Schlock was everywhere, especially on Top 40 radio. It was a time when people like Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods (of "Billy Don't Be a Hero" fame) and the Starland Vocal Band (of "Afternoon Delight" fame) could get on the radio. We could go on for days regaling the horrible stuff, because it was legion, especially in 1974, the nerve center of bad novelty songs. But that's another post.

But I have to admit it - I like some stuff that doesn't have the best pedigree. Stuff like this:

First, from 1975, what I consider the quintessential Guilty Pleasure band, the Sweet, with "Fox On the Run," which also explains where Michael McKean got his hair style for his Spinal Tap performances.

Next, a old family favorite, the ever-cheerful former Spirit and Jo Jo Gunne frontman Jay Ferguson offering a lusty reminisce about the nights in the cool sand out on "Thunder Island."

Third, a band that wasn't necessarily well-loved during its heyday but whose reputation has improved over the years, making this probably the least guilty selection. It's the missing Celtic link between Van Morrison and Bono, Phil Lynott, at the helm of Thin Lizzy, discussing his laundry issues in "Dancing In the Moonlight."

Finally, long-time hitmakers who are probably less well-regarded now than they were back in the day, Daryl Hall and John Oates, with "She's Gone."

The window is open!


Gino said...

the only think guilty here is afternoon delight. and i never liked that one anyway.

sweet is a classic band. at least now they are regarded as so. might not have been the case 30yrs ago.

i vote: sweet.

Anonymous said...

I regard Thunder Island as my all time favorite one hit wonder song, and I would regard Ferguson as a one hit wonder if we are talking solo artist. Memory may betray me, but I suspect that I played Thunder Island, The Year of the Cat, Baker Street and Patti Smith's version of Because the Night every day on my high school radio show. In college I suppose I decided my taste was too sophisticated for Mr. Ferguson, but I heard Thunder Island on the radio three years ago (having not heard it for over 10 years) and had to admit to myself that I like that song, dammit, and it is now on my iPod.

A. Truck Driver

Night Writer said...

What, no "Seasons in the Sun"?

The four you mentioned were all pretty good songs; when you first mentioned Jay Ferguson in your post I immediately thought of "Thunder Island."

My guilty pleasure from that era still continues, and I've passed it on to my kids (Don't look, Ethel!): Ray Stevens. We were just reciting lines from "the Streak" and "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" the other day, in fact.

May favorite song of that year, however, was Golden Earring's "Radar Love", the first song I heard after getting my driver's license and driving home by myself. Sweet.

I also really liked "Rock On" by David Essex. Ten years or so ago I was paying for some clothes at a mall store when that came on the store's sound system. I paused, had a moment, then explained to the Sweet Young Thing working the cash register. "Ahhh, from 1974." She just looked at me blankly. "I wasn't even born then," she said.

Mark Heuring said...

Well NW, I may like schlock, but my preference is for tasteful schlock. I know that seems oxymoronic, but I tend to take the Potter Stewart approach – I know it when I see it.

Ray Stevens is definitely the go-to guy when it comes to novelty songs, although that was also the era when Jim Stafford was in his heyday. I believe they are both confined to Branson these days, which is probably a good place for them, down the road from that fiddle playin' Japanese dude.

Funny story about the Sweet Young Thing, although I have some sympathy for her. I don't recall having to listen to stuff from before I was born when I was a young worker. She got an earful of David Essex (good song, btw) but I didn't have to endure Rosemary Clooney (imagine trying to make change while "Mambo Italiano" blares in your ear) or Hugo Winterhalter or somesuch. There's probably a post in that, too.

Gino said...

NW: wanna feel even older.
that song came out in 73.