PONG

I had board games when I was a kid like Monopoly, Break the Ice, Sorry, Trouble (with new and improved the Pop -O- Matic Bubble!) and Pay Day. Board games were a part of life when friends came over or at family events. We would either have fun or a fight over the games.

In 1977 that I got my first video game. That would be Pong. I loved it and spent hours playing the version of paddling the ball against the wall when a friend was not around to play. This was a new concept entirely to plug this console into our Curtis Mathes television and start playing table tennis on the tv screen.

This didn’t stop the board games but it did mark a change that was coming. In the next couple of years, I would go to the “Pizza Hangout” and play Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Defender after school with friends. By the 80s video games were everywhere…and this simple black and white digital ping-pong game helped push it along.

Pong was invented by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney that worked at Atari. Pong was commercially first released in 1972. It was a black and white screen with paddles and the objective was pretty clear… You would have to go to an arcade to play it.

Atari released Home Pong in a limited release in 1975 that you could get through Sears. It sold around 150,000 units that Christmas season.

Because of the success, other companies came out with consoles. Magnavox rereleased their Odyssey, also Coleco, and soon Nintendo.

For more on Pong

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/4007/Atari-PONG/

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The Monkees – Pleasant Valley Sunday

This song was written by Goffin and King about suburbia, The Monkees started to play their own instruments on the Headquarters. Pleasant Valley Sunday was released off the album and peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100, #11 in the UK and #1 in Canada in 1967.

The Monkees were hot in 1967. They outsold The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Their show was on the air from 1966 to 1968. The opening guitar lick of this song was based off The Beatles “I Want To Tell You.”

I grew up with reruns of their show. They influenced at least a couple of generations of musicians. This song is a very good pop song.

From Songfacts

Guitarist Mike Nesmith and drummer Micky Dolenz handled the vocals on this track (Dolenz also sang on “I’m A Believer”). Peter Tork of The Monkees explained to Bruce Pollack in 1982: “A notion of mine that I was real pleased with took over at one point, and that was having two guys sing in unison rather than one guy doubling his own voice. So you’ve got Mike, who was really a hard-nosed character, and Micky, who’s a real baby face, and these two voices blended and lent each other qualities. It’s not two separate voices singing together, it’s really a melding of the two voices. Listening to that record later on was a joy.”

Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork both cited this as their favorite Monkees song in a 1997 interview with Mojo.

 

“Pleasant Valley Sunday”

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
They serenade the weekend squire
Who just came out to mow his lawn
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to careSee Mrs. Gray, she’s proud today
Because her roses are in bloom
And Mr. Green, he’s so serene
He’s got a TV in every room
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understandCreature comfort goals, they only numb my soul
And make it hard for me to see
(Ah ah ah) ah thoughts all seem to stray to places far away
I need a change of sceneryTa ta ta ta, ta ta ta ta
Ta ta ta ta, ta ta ta taAnother pleasant valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Another pleasant valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)
Another pleasant valley Sunday (a pleasant valley Sunday)

Jimmie Nicol – The Fill-In Beatle

You would think this would be a dream come true…but having sudden fame thrown on you without acclimating could be a bad thing.

In June of 1964, Ringo Starr collapsed with tonsillitis with a tour coming up. Ringo had to go to the hospital. The Beatles wanted to cancel the tour rather than go out without their drummer. Brian Epstein and George Martin did not want the momentum they help create to stop and disappoint all of the fans.

George Harrison said it would not be the Beatles without Ringo. As Brian and George Martin tried to reason with them all, George Harrison said that they would have to find two replacements because he would not go without Ringo.

Epstein and Martin pleaded with them and told them about all the fans they would disappoint. It would only be until Ringo was well again.

Someone actually brought up Pete Best’s name. John Lennon said no because that would be bad for him because he would think he was back in the band. George Martin looked up drummers and finally found Jimmie Nicol. He was the drummer for an unknown group called The Shubdubs and also did some studio work. Martin thought he was a good fit so they rang him up.

Jimmie came over to Abbeyroad for the rehearsal. He had played Beatle songs before so he knew the arrangements. The Beatles were welcoming to Jimmie knowing he was in a tough spot. A little over 20 hours later he as playing his first concert with them in Copenhagen. Denmark. He was given the Beatle haircut and he even wore Ringo’s suit. He as reportedly paid 2500 a show…which was a huge amount in 1964.

Sudden fame can be a hard thing to handle. Jimmie said that before he played with the Beatles no girls were interested in him but while he was with them that girls were everywhere. Supposedly Jimmie and John spent a night in a brothel.

Jimmie played eight shows altogether with The Beatles and thirteen days altogether with them… before arriving in Melbourne. Austrailia where Ringo was well enough to play again. During his time with The Beatles, he did help inspire a song 3 years later. Every time John and Paul asked him how he was doing he would always answer “Getting Better.” Paul thought of this in 1967 while walking his dog and ended up with John writing “Getting Better” for Sgt Pepper.

After it was over he declared bankruptcy in 1965 but he eventually joined a band that had some success called The Spotnicks and they did two world tours. He eventually moved to Mexico and then got out of music. Here are a couple of his quotes.

“The day before I was a Beatle, not one girl would look me over. The day after … they were dying just to get a touch of me. Strange and scary all at once. It’s hard to describe the feeling but I can tell you it can go to your head. I see why so many famous people kill themselves.” 

The last quote is telling of his character.

“After the money ran low, I thought of cashing-in in some way or other. But the timing wasn’t right. And I didn’t want to step on The Beatles’ toes. They had been damn good for me and to me.”

The Beatles with Jimmie

 

Two sites where I got info

https://www.beatlesbible.com/people/jimmie-nicol/2/

https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/entertainment/meet-jimmy-nicol-the-forgotten-beatle-standin-drummer-for-ringo/news-story/0f79dd8eda8adc579d3c35c6bfb32f1f

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I had to add this quote…

 “I thought I could drink and lay women with the best of them until I caught up with these guys.”

Jeff Healey – Angel Eyes

In 1989 Jeff Healey came out with this song that peaked at #5 in the Billboard 100, #86 in the UK, and #16 in Canada. The song was written by John Hiatt and Fred Koller.

Jeff Healey was a Canadian that started to play guitar when he was 3. He was blind and played the guitar on his lap. He could bend the notes to a limit where normal guitar players could not. His solos were just as interesting as the song themselves.

From Songfacts

“Angel Eyes” was written by the songwriters John Hiatt and Fred Koller, and produced by Greg Ladanyi. It stands as Jeff Healey’s only Billboard Top-40 hit; however, considering what a unique character he was, it seems most unfair to dismiss him as a one-hit wonder. Amongst many other things, he was much bigger on the Canada Singles chart; he picked up Juno Awards, got an Independent Music Award for Best Blues Album, and played alongside such talent as Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, BB King, ZZ Top, and Eric Clapton.

Angel Eyes

Girl, you’re looking fine tonight
And every guy has got you in his sight
What you’re doing with a clown like me
Is surely one of life’s little mysteries

So tonight I’ll ask the stars above
“How did I ever win your love?”
What did I do?
What did I say
To turn your angel eyes my way?

Well, I’m the guy who never learned to dance
Never even got one second glance
Across a crowded room was close enough
I could look but I could never touch

So tonight I’ll ask, the stars above
“How did I ever win your love?”
What did I do?
What did I say
To turn your angel eyes my way?

Don’t anyone wake me
If it’s just a dream
‘Cause she’s the best thing
Ever happened to me

All you fellows
You can look all you like
But this girl you see
She’s leavin’ here with me tonight

There’s just one more thing that I need to know
If this is love why does it scare me so?
It must be somethin’ only you can see
‘Cause girl I feel it when you look at me

So tonight I’ll ask the stars above
“How did I ever win your love?”
What did I do?
What did I say,
To turn your angel eyes my way? 
Hey, hey, hey, yeah, awww

 

The Who albums ranked 6-1

Here are my choices for the top six Who albums. The one upshot of doing lists… is listening to all of these great albums again.

 

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6. Live at Leeds – 1970 –  There are live albums and then there is this… This album along with At Fillmore East rise above other live albums. Bands would release them when they were in between studio albums. On Live at Leeds, I have never heard a rock band so tight. This is the Who clicking on all cylinders.

Moon, Entwistle, Townshend, and Daltry are all in their prime on this.

Tracklist
Young Man Blues
Substitute
Summertime Blues
Shakin’ All Over
My Generation
Magic Bus

 

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5. My Generation – 1965 – The title song is still an anthem of the sixties generation. This may be the hardest power pop album released, The Kids Are Alright, A Legal Matter, and Out In The Street.

They experimented in the studio and found new sounds and used feedback as an instrument. You start hearing the power chords on this album and the great hooks that Pete came up with on guitar…Roger still hasn’t grown into his later voice and the band is raw but electric.

The Ox is just a musical explosion. What a great debut album this was in 1965.

Tracklist

Out In The Street
I Don’t Mind
The Good’s Gone
La-La-La-Lies
Much Too Much
My Generation
The Kids Are Alright
Please, Please, Please
It’s Not True
I’m A Man
A Legal Matter
The Ox

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4. Who Sell Out – 1967 –  The Who’s take on Pirate radio of the sixties complete with commercials. The standout hit was I Can See For Miles but this album is a collection of good songs strung together with fake commercials.

I like to listen to this album in sequence. Pete was maturing into the Pete we would know soon. The Who didn’t repeat themselves and kept reaching and experimenting.

Strong tracks are Armenia City In The Sky, Tatto, Our Love Was, Relax. and Rael and of course the masterpiece I Can See For Miles.

Tracklist

Armenia City In The Sky
Heinz Baked Beans
Mary Anne With The Shaky Hands
Odorono
Tattoo
Our Love Was
I Can See For Miles
Can’t Reach You
Medac
Relax
Silas Stingy
Sunrise
Rael (1 And 2)

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3. Tommy – 1969 – This Rock Opera left a huge dent in pop culture and left its imprint on rock history. I like the album but the production leaves a lot to be desired. This album made the Who rock gods. There are some great songs on this album like Pinball Wizard, We’re Not Going To Take It, I’m Free, and The Acid Queen.

I personally like Sally Simpson and Christmas. Pete Townshend and Kit Lambert worked together on this album and Kit helped Pete shape it into a concept album. I wished Kit would have let someone else engineer and mix it. I’m mostly a studio album guy but I think this album works better live than the record. Listening to the live version of this album around that time for me beats the album.

There is no denying that it is a landmark album in Rock.

Tracklist
Overture
It’s A Boy
1921 3:14
Amazing Journey
Sparks 3:45
Eyesight To The Blind (The Hawker)
Christmas
Cousin Kevin
The Acid Queen
Underture
Do You Think It’s Alright?
Fiddle About
Pinball Wizard
There’s A Doctor
Go To The Mirror!
Tommy Can You Hear Me?
Smash The Mirror
Sensation
Miracle Cure
Sally Simpson
I’m Free
Welcome
Tommy’s Holiday Camp
We’re Not Gonna Take

 

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2. Quadrophenia – 1973 –  This kick-started the Mod revival of the 70s. The concept album is about a teenager mod (Jimmy) coming of age in the 60s…It is also about the band itself and it’s four different personalities and also their fans. It is much more cohesive than Tommy and Pete’s use of synthesizers on this is incredible.

The high spot for me is hearing Entwistle and Moon play “The Real Me.”

Some of the many great songs are Love, Reign O’er Me, The Real Me, The Punk and The Godfather, Drowned, 5:15.

Tracklist
I Am The Sea
The Real Me
Quadrophenia
Cut My Hair
The Punk And The Godfather
I’m One
The Dirty Jobs
Helpless Dancer
Is It In My Head
I’ve Had Enough
5:15
Sea And Sand
Drowned
Bell Boy
Doctor Jimmy
The Rock
Love, Reign O’er Me

 

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1. Who’s Next -1971 – There was really no suspense to this album being number one. This arguably could be the best rock album of the 70s. Instead of Kit Lambert The Who hired Glyn Johns to help produce and it showed. The sound quality difference between this and Tommy is day and night. This album has a sonic quality like no other.

The album came out of a failed attempt at a rock concept album by Pete called Lifehouse that apparently no one but Pete understood. Classic radio stations use this album as their foundation. An incredible album with no weak songs.

These songs live work so well. Won’t Get Fooled Again maybe has the best line in Rock… “Meet the new boss, Same as the Old boss”

Tracklist
Baba O’Riley
Bargain
Love Ain’t For Keeping
My Wife
Song Is Over
Getting In Tune
Going Mobile
Behind Blue Eyes
Won’t Get Fooled Again

 

For the top five  I never shifted until the last minute and I moved Tommy from 4th to 3rd and The Who Sell Out from 3rd to 4th. The importance and culture impact of Tommy won out.

Hope you enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nick Lowe – I Knew The Bride

Great pop song by Nick Lowe. This version was released in 1985 and peaked at #77 in the Billboard 100. Huey Lewis served as producer on this song. Dave Edmunds had covered it in 1977.

This is an interview with Nick in 1985 talking about his new album The Rose of England and getting help from Elvis Costello and Huey Lewis.

The British new wave singer-songwriter-producer got crucial help on the album from two old friends: Huey Lewis and Elvis Costello.

“Huey Lewis is the only person I ever knew as a normal person and then watched him become a megastar before my very eyes,” Lowe says.

“His first band, the Clover, played on Elvis’ first album, which I produced, and Huey played some bits on my first album. So this year I was telling Huey that Columbia didn’t like my new album, because they didn’t think it was commercial enough.

“Huey said, ‘No problem, let’s do “I Knew the Bride.” ‘But that’s a bit of a chestnut,’ I told him. ‘I wrote it nine years ago for Dave Edmunds.’ And he said, ‘Your fans may know that, but let’s face it, their numbers are not exactly legion. Let’s recut it with a more modern sound.’ So we cut it in three days with his band, the News, and all of a sudden Columbia decided the album was exactly what they were looking for.”

When Lowe started recording, longtime friend Costello came down to the studio as always. “Elvis got real excited that we were recording almost totally live,” Lowe recounts. “We just set up the microphones, and away we went. He phoned me up a few days later and said, ‘I’ve got this song you might like to try, Nick.’

“I sort of dreaded listening to it. Although Elvis is a great songwriter, his songs usually have tons of chords and vocal twists and very personal lyrics, none of which really fit my style. But he played me the song, ‘Indoor Fireworks,’ and it was pretty straightforward; I suppose it’s about the breakup of his marriage. I was very pleased to record it; my own marriage had also just ended, but there had been no fireworks; it was all quite amicable and boring.”

 

I Knew the Bride

I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
Well, the bride was a picture in the gown that her mama wore
When she was married herself nearly twenty-seven years before
They had to change the style a little but it looked just fine
Stayed up all night, but they got it finished just in time
Now on the arm of her daddy, she’s walkin’ down the aisle
I see her catch my eye and give me a secret smile
Maybe it’s too old fashioned, but we once were close friends
Oh but the way that she looks today, she never could have then
Well, I can see her now in her tight blue jeans
Stuffin’ all her money in the record machine
Spinnin’ like a top, you should of seen her go
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
Well, the proud daddy only want to give his little girl the best
So he put down a grand on a cozy little lover’s nest
You could have called the reception an unqualified success
At a flash hotel for a hundred and fifty guests
Well, take a look at the bridegroom smilin’ pleased as pie
Shakin’ hands all around with a glassy look in his eye
He got a real good job and his shirt and tie is nice
But I remember a time when she never would have looked at him twice
Well, I can see her now drinkin’ with the boys
Breakin’ their hearts like they were toys
She used to do the pony, she used to do the stroll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
Well, I can see her now with her walk man on
Struttin’ up and down to her favorite song
I still remember when she used to want to make a lot of noise
Hoppin’ and boppin’ with the street corner boys
She used to wanna party, she used to wanna go
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to do the pony
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll
I knew the bride when she used to want to party
I knew the bride when she used to rock and roll

The Who albums ranked 13 -7

After the Beatles, The Who are my favorite band. I was lucky enough to see them twice but not lucky enough to see them as nature intended…with Keith Moon. I’m going to attempt to rank 13 of their albums. I will not go by chart success or how many sold.

I usually would not include live albums but Live At Leeds is no ordinary live album. I’m also including Odds and Sods, an album of outtakes and rarities because of so few studio albums and it was released while they were still going strong.

This is 13 through 7… next will be 6 through 1

 

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13. Endless Wire – 2006 – This album was released in 2006. Obviously, I’m not as close to this album as The Who’s other albums..but I’ve listened to it more recently than the other albums.  It’s a good album but the best way I can describe it is it’s not as defined as other albums and the mini-opera Wire and Glass can get tedious. There are some good songs such as Black Widow’s Eyes (the only song featuring Zac Starkey), A Man in a Purple Dress and the different but good  God Speaks of Marty Robbins… I will say that time has affected Rogers voice more than Petes. Petes voice sounds really good on this album. Roger does fine but age has treated Pete’s voice well.

Tracklist

1 Fragments
2 A Man In A Purple Dress
3 Mike Post Theme
4 In The Ether
5 Black Widow’s Eyes
6 Two Thousand Years
7 God Speaks Of Marty Robbins
8 It’s Not Enough
9 You Stand By Me
Wire & Glass (A Mini-Opera)
10 Sound Round
11 Pick Up The Peace
12 Unholy Trinity
13 Trilby’s Piano
14 Endless Wire
15 Fragments Of Fragments
16 We Got A Hit
17 They Made My Dream Come True
18 Mirror Door
19 Tea & Theatre
20 We Got A Hit (Extended Version)
21 Endless Wire (Extended Version)

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12. It’s Hard – 1982 – One thing I will say about this album. It has aged better than I thought it would.  I was never a big fan of this album. I liked some songs like Eminence Front, Athena and some of the tracks like Cry if you Want. This was the last studio Who album until 2006 Endless Wire. The band was not happy at this time and the end was coming…at least until they reunited at the end of the 80s for a reunion tour.

Tracklist

Athena
It’s Your Turn
Cook’s County
It’s Hard
Dangerous
Eminence Front
I’ve Known No War
One Life’s Enough
One At A Time
Why Did I Fall For That
A Man Is A Man
Cry If You Want

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11. Face Dances – 1981 – This album has been slammed by critics and fans alike. I bought the album when it was released.  Face Dances was The first album without their engine, Keith Moon. Kenney Jones was a great drummer for the Small Faces and Faces but there is only one drummer for the Who and that was Keith. There are some good songs. “You Better You Bet”  (what I call “Who Are You’s” weak sister) Don’t Let Go the Coat, Another Tricky Day, and The Quiet One.

The album is tame compared with other Who albums but the melodies are strong.

Tracklist
You Better You Bet
Don’t Let Go The Coat
Cache Cache
The Quiet One
Did You Steal My Money
How Can You Do It Alone
Daily Records
You
Another Tricky Day

 

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10. Odds and Sods – 1974 –  This album was released in 1974 of outtakes and rarities that The Who had in the Vaults. The highlights are Long Live Rock, Naked Eye, Pure and Easy, and Postcard by John Entwistle. This album full of outtakes were as good as other bands A-songs.

Tracklist

Postcard
Now I’m A Farmer
Put The Money Down
Little Billy
Too Much Of Anything
Glow Girl
Pure And Easy
Faith In Something Bigger
I’m The Face
Naked Eye
Long Live Rock

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9. Who Are You – 1978 –  Keith Moon was not well during this album. Still, I’ll take a 70 percent Keith Moon over a 100 percent anyone else for the Who. It contained the Who classic title track, Sister Disco, 905, and Music Must Change. Pete continued what he started with the Who By Numbers album by writing from the perspective of an aging rocker. This album sold faster than any other Who album. Within the month of its release, Keith Moon was gone for good.

Tracklist

New Song
Had Enough
905
Sister Disco
Music Must Change
Trick Of The Light
Guitar And Pen
Love Is Coming Down
Who Are You

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8. Who by Numbers – 1975 – Pete wrote songs so personal that Roger didn’t feel right about singing some of the songs. Pete was wondering at this point if The Who were still relevant anymore. He felt old by rock standards and wondered if the band should just pack it in.

This album had to grow on me but now I do appreciate the personal songs that Pete wrote.

The best-known song is Squeeze Box but the album is full of good songs. Slip Kid, However Much I Booze, Dreaming from the Waist and Blue Red Grey. With Punk music starting to happen Pete wrote in “They Are All In Love”

Hey, goodbye all you punks
Stay young and stay high
Hand me my checkbook
And I’ll crawl out to die

If Pete had only known the future…they were only in their twenties at that time…that is just the beginning now.

Tracklist 

Slip Kid
However Much I Booze
Squeeze Box
Dreaming From The Waist
Imagine A Man
Success Story
They Are All In Love
Blue Red And Grey
How Many Friends
In A Hand Or A Face

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7. A Quick One – 1966 – The mini-opera starts here. A Quick One, While He’s Away is a classic song made of fragments weaved with each other to make a whole. Everyone writes at least one song for this album. John Entwistle with his signature tune Boris the Spider, Keith Moon turns out the crazy and strange “Cobwebs and Strange,” and a bit of power pop with I Need You. They also covered Heatwave with the familiar Who flair.

A forgotten great power pop song on this album is So Sad About Us. The overall sound of this album is incredible.

Tracklist

Run Run Run
Boris The Spider
I Need You
Whiskey Man
Heatwave
Cobwebs And Strange
Don’t Look Away
See My Way
So Sad About Us
A Quick One, While He’s Away

 

Maybe it’s no coincidence that the last three albums in the ranking are in order of release. Face Dances and It’s Hard both have a classic Who song in You Better You Bet and Eminence Front respectively. They both have some strong songs surrounding them…I just thought that Face Dances had more than It’s Hard.

Endless Wire is missing not only Keith but by 2006 also John. It’s hard to compete against your past when you are missing your entire rhythm section. It’s a different Who album and not as exciting…but anything written by Pete is worth listening to.

Next Up will be 6 Through Number 1