Multifarious Serendipity

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(Pictured: Blue Oyster Cult onstage, 1978.)

A few years ago I made a CD for the car called “Multifarious Serendipity.” It’s a mix of college radio faves, minor hits from the AM Top 40 era, and miscellaneous tunes from here and there. I play it on shuffle so I never know what’s coming. The other night, the gods of shuffle were busy creating themes for me.

Chicago: 
“L.A. Goodbye”/Ides of March
“Soul Drippin’/Mauds
“Lake Shore Drive”/Aliotta Haynes and Jeremiah
This is some grade-A good stuff right here. “L. A. Goodbye” peaked in the 70s on the Hot 100, IIRC, but went to #5 on WLS in the spring of 1971. The Mauds came out of the same Chicago scene that produced the Ides, the Shadows of Knight, the New Colony Six, and other bands. The crazy-good “Soul Drippin'” was recorded in 1968. Musicians on it include James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, Walter Parazaider, and Robert Lamm. According to Wikipedia (so who the hell knows), their experience making “Soul Drippin'” inspired them to form a band of their own. “Lake Shore Drive” is a miracle, a perfect diamond fallible human beings could not have created. It must have come from some higher intelligence than ours.

The Longer You Do It the Better It Feels:
“Suspicious Minds”/Elvis Presley
“Hot Love”/T. Rex
“Let It Shine”/Santana
Each of these has a long, repetitive section that lasts until the fadeout but could easily go on for another 20 minutes and I’d keep listening. I bought “Hot Love” on a 45 in 1971 and it’s still around here somewhere. “Let It Shine” was a minor Hot-100 hit in 1976, and it’s pretty damn cool. It starts with some purely 70s wakka-wakka guitar before the conga player starts getting it on, then an electronic bassline comes thumping in. The drummer gets to working on the groove, a synth sizzles in with the instrumental hook, and you’re like hot damn this is fantastic.

And Elvis is, of course, Elvis.

A Really Terrible Segue:
“Charity Ball”/Fanny
“My Hang-Up Is You”/Freddie Hart
“Charity Ball” is a banger we’ve loved around here since always. It went to #3 on WLS as it was squeaking only to #40 on the Hot 100, and I would wonder if oldies and classic hits stations in Chicago play it (and “L. A. Goodbye,” and “Soul Drippin’,” and other monster local hits) today, if I were still a naive young radio boy. Freddie Hart came up at this blog just last Friday, and whatever I said then still applies.

Soundalikes:
“In Thee”/Blue Oyster Cult
“Killer Cut”/Charlie
When Blue Oyster Cult’s Mirrors album arrived at the college radio station in the summer of 1979, it wasn’t what we were expecting, not after Agents of Fortune, Spectres, and the live album Some Enchanted Evening, and the hits “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and “Godzilla.” Anybody who thought BOC sounded little like the Byrds on “Don’t Fear the Reaper” had that opinion confirmed by “In Thee,” which is actually pretty great. Charlie, meanwhile, was one of those bands that opened for everybody during their heyday, including the Doobie Brothers, Styx, Foreigner, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive. They made seven albums in seven years from their first one in 1976. “Killer Cut,” in which the band gives advice on how to make a hit record, peaked at #60. (Vintage video here. Drummer Steve Gadd is not the Steve Gadd of session fame; it’s another guy with the same name, which must be both inconvenient for him and not.)

Anthems:
“Love and Loneliness”/The Motors
“Trapped Again”/Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes
“Lady of the Lake”/Starcastle
All of these are college favorites. “Love and Loneliness” is a Great Big Statement, portentous lyrics in a gigantic, inflated production that makes “Born to Run” sound understated. “Trapped Again” somehow avoided charting anywhere, according to the database at ARSA, despite the presence of Bruce Springsteen and the fact that it kicks ass all day. “Lady of the Lake” I’ve mentioned here many times, ridiculous Illinois prog-rock that somehow ends up awesome just the same.

Multifarious Serendipity is a great companion on a long trip, and I have lots more miles in my future over the next couple of months, so maybe there will be another post like this at some point. Or maybe not. It’s a gamble.

2 responses

  1. Never heard “In Thee” before and it ain’t half bad. Commercial BOC for the win!

    Also loving “Let It Shine.” Where has this jam been all my life?

    Chicago’s Wiki page says the band formed in February ’67, which seems likely to have been before the Mauds session.
    I notice that the Mauds’ entry also gives them unsourced credit for inspiring the Blues Brothers, and gives their singer equally unsourced credit for creating Barry Manilow’s hairstyle (!), which makes me tend to question it a little bit.

  2. I bought Fanny’s ‘Charity Ball’ album at a local department store, which came in handy after I got it home and heard the godawful version of the title track on it. Back it went, in exchange for Don McLean’s ‘American Pie’ album (remember when you could do that at department stores?) I’m not sure whether the single was an entirely different take, or if they just cut an entirely new vocal track for it, but the 45 sounded much more assertive and polished.

    You could have knocked me over with a stylus brush when “Charity Ball” popped up during my airshift about two months ago. Didn’t see that one coming!

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