Showing posts with label saturday night fever. Show all posts
Showing posts with label saturday night fever. Show all posts

Saturday, June 2, 2018


(What better way to get all the hits?)

At the start of 1977 I had a two-month-old baby and had lost my girlish figure. Granted, I'd lost that the moment I learned I was pregnant, at which time I indulged myself gluttonously. Someone remarked that she was sure I was having twins. Whatever, bitch.

A new president was inaugurated in January, unfortunately. Forty-odd years of listening to this sanctimonious guy proselytize, as if he wasn't an utter and complete failure. I blame him for ushering in an era of bad music. He had an innate knack for bringing everyone down. 

And speaking of bad music, it's not so much that disco was bad as that it quickly became monotonous, with its "four on the floor" beat, which didn't leave much room for variation. The Bee Gees, however, seemed to take to it effortlessly. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The year began with this song that was featured incessantly on the Midnight Special:

My baby and I spent many two a.m.'s in the living room rocking chair watching old Maverick reruns. He couldn't really follow the plot, but he gave two little thumbs up to James Garner. This episode featured some no-name actor who was never heard from again:

Rich people in 1977 owned something called an "Apple Computer", although they couldn't really do anything with it except show it off to their envious friends, because there wasn't yet anything called the "internet". Plus it was ugly as hell. At some point in the future these Thurston Howells were able to utilize their pricey trinket to play Pong.

In winter fashion, we bulked up on cowl-neck sweaters. All the better, in my opinion, to conceal the baby fat. These were best paired with tan polyester wide-legged pants.

In February, some band called "The Eagles" had a hit song. These guys apparently didn't get the Disco Memo that was circulated to all artists with record contracts.

These guys were around, with their Conair-styled hair:

Prime-time TV was devoted to Little House on the Prairie and Happy Days (when Richie still had a big brother named Chuck, who later entered the witness-protection program) and my personal favorite, Barney Miller.

There was apparently a lot of killing going on in '77. We had the Son of Sam and Gary Gilmore, who was big news because he chose to be shot as his form of execution (I preferred the Tommy Lee Jones portrayal to the actual real-life event). 

CB radios were things that people bought and then didn't know what to do with. Rod Carew of my Minnesota Twins was named MVP. 

Elvis died. 

There was a song by a female vocalist that I liked a lot. She would later go on to sing Baby and Johnny's theme song.

Speaking of babies, a Baby Gibb brother would foreshadow the tsunami that was to come, by having a disco hit with this:

Sure, disco was bad, but put in perspective, nothing could be worse than these two hits:

We washed out our ears with this:

Late in the year, I got a night out (with my mom). She wanted to see the year's hot new movie. If you've never watched an R-rated movie with your mom, it's an awesome experience. As you slump down in your seat during the sex scenes and huddle on the floor amidst yesterday's spilled popcorn kernels, you wrack your brain trying to decide how to comment on the movie on your way out of the theater. "John Travolta's silk shirt was pretty." "Wow! Those...disco lights!"

Nevertheless, aside from Patrick Swayze, this was the awesomest dance routine performed in any movie, anytime:

And thus, this little band of brothers from Australia embarked on a whole new career and will forever be known as THE phenomenon of 1977:

Thanks, Bee Gees, for the leisure suits and gold chains.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Thank You, Bee Gees

I went with my mom to see Saturday Night Fever.  That wasn't awkward at all.

Of course, we had no idea what the movie was about.  All we'd seen were the promos with John Travolta dancing.

The Bee Gees are indelibly connected to Saturday Night Fever, and thus, to disco music.  That's not entirely fair.

If you weren't around, listening to the radio, in the mid-to-late nineteen sixties, you would think that the Bee Gees sprang onto the stage in 1977 (dressed all in white, of course), the minute that John Travolta strolled out onto the floor and started.....DAAN-CIN....YEA!

But no.  They began their career in their native Australia, in the early nineteen sixties, but didn't really catch fire until around 1967.

It's always been said that, for duos (or in this case, trios), you can't match the sound of family harmony.  The Everly Brothers are one famous example.  That family sound can only be matched by you singing with yourself, and of course, you can only accomplish that in the studio.  It's difficult to take the You & You duet out on the road. 

Thus, the Bee Gees created a beautiful sound.

Here are some of their earlier (pre-SNF) hits:

 How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

To Love Somebody

Massachusetts (one of my favorites)

 Words (good grief ~ when I saw this, I thought it was Andy!)

I've Gotta Get a Message to You

I'm not sure if this next song was done as a joke on country music or not, but even if it was, I still like it!

Don't Forget to Remember Me

 Lonely Days

The sea change began around 1975.  Yes, before Saturday Night Fever.  The Bee Gees' sound began to evolve.

Take a look:

Jive Talkin'

I've always found the word "jive" amusing.  I can't help but think of this:

 Nights on Broadway

Again, sorry, but I am now reminded of this:

And here we go!  A little night fever!

 You Should Be Dancin'

I think this next song is beautiful:

How Deep Is Your Love

Sorry, this was the best video I could find of:

More Than a Woman

 Too Much Heaven (I like this)

Oh, look.  Who's that walking down the sidewalk?

For better or worse, the Bee Gees will always be remembered most of all for this next song.  And you know, it's been parodied, and it's been pilloried, but it's a catchy song!  I'm not a big falsetto fan, but it worked.

Think about the singles that will be pulled out of a time capsule in the year 2077; the songs that exemplified the past 100 years of popular music and popular culture (of course, no one would actually have a turntable, so they'd just look at the discs quizzically and scratch their heads.  And then someone would say, "Oh, I know!  I heard that people used to throw these things to each other, and to their dogs!  It was some kind of sport, I guess!  Or am I thinking of something else?")

This single would be there; no question:

Stayin' Alive

It's the end of an era, really.  I know that cliche has been used a million times, but if you look back at the career in pop music that the Bee Gees had, from the mid-1960's through, well, the 1990's, that's thirty years of  hits, and thirty years of being embedded in our consciousness.

That's a hell of a thing.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Bad Hits of the Seventies

Ahhh, the nineteen seventies. A time of Richard Nixon and Jimmy "The Peanut" Carter.

The time of Ford Pintos that exploded, and, on the somewhat safer side, Chevy Vegas. Not "Vegas", as in "Las Vegas". No, I mean "Chevy Vega". Yes, I had one. I didn't even remember what it looked like, until I found this picture. All I remembered was the orange.

Orange was a HUGE color in the seventies. Orange shag carpets, orange fiberglass draperies. Oh, we had it all. Orange, and GREEN. Those two colors just screamed alchemy.

I think the reason for the orange and green color combo was that the sixties were so BEIGE. Sure, you think of the sixties, and you think "flower power", and paisley mini-skirts and ties (for the really "hip" corporate executive), and Peter Max's psychedelic posters. But in the decorating world, one was not allowed to stray beyond beige.

So, of course, the seventies did a 180, and went with the most outlandish color palette imaginable. And we thought it was chic!

"Did you get a dress for the Christmas party?"

"Oh, yes! It's divine!"

"What color is it?"

"It's a really saturated orange, with touches of green."

"Far out!"

And then, for the guys, not to be outdone, we had the leisure suits. When one wanted to straddle the divide between suits and sleepwear. That crisp polyester.

In order to complete the leisure suit look, a guy, even a "guy's guy" had to venture into Woolworth's and find himself a gold chain. Nothing too ostentatious. No charms or lockets attached, or anything "girly". The girly part was accomplished by his heavily-sprayed and blow-dried coiffe.

Visible chest hair, of course, was mandatory. In fact, guys would get out on that disco floor and compare chest hair coverage. Even those who were bare-chested would glue some faux hair on their torsos, just so they wouldn't be ridiculed by the other boogaloo-ers.

Note Tony Orlando and Dawn.

I'm not going to quibble about the fact that Tony just grabbed some random audience members out of the pack and called them "Dawn". Where's Telma Hopkins? I bet she's pissed.

And I don't know exactly what this is, but it's either the worst Christian high school prom ever, or all the guys in attendance are stoned. It's really hard to judge.

But here's Tony (and "Dawn") in his leisure suit, singing "Tie A Yellow Ribbon". And frankly, this song is so monotonous that I'd like to tie a yellow ribbon around his neck, and squeeze hard.

And what better sums up what the seventies were than this song by something called the "Unlimited Orchestra"?

I was trying to figure out where Barry White came in, and then I realized that he's conducting this thing.

Don't tell me that doesn't remind you of this:

Remember this from the seventies? Those organ/muted guitar riffs that start the song?

Sure, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking Swiffer Wet Jet. Well, that's what happens to obscure semi-hit songs. They become the soundtrack for cleaning product commercials in the next century. I'm guessing Player, or whoever wrote that song for Player, isn't crying too many tears.

You know, the Native Americans suffered many atrocities. If you know anything about American history, you are well aware of this.

I don't presume to speak for the Native Americans, but I'm thinking that in the lore of their oral history, they reserve a special place for Paul Revere & The Raiders.

From the Swatch-watch wearing "Paul Revere", to Mark Lindsay's hair, there are so many things wrong with this video. But on the plus side, the drummer seems to be heavily featured, so he's down with that.

I will mention that Freddy Weller is ashamedly part of this group. But he did go on to bigger and better things, thankfully.

I don't know about you, but I really miss the three-cornered hats and the revolutionary war tab-coats. But I suppose progress can't be denied.

I'm sort of a fan of falsetto singing. From Roy Orbison, when he went into his high register, to even the Eagles sometimes.

However, much like I hate Lou Christie, I hate this performance by Leo Sayer. And what, by the way, ever happened to Leo Sayer?

And, I know it's stating the obvious, but I'm thinking all those sexy backup dancers probably didn't even ring a bell with Leo. But at least he felt like dancing. That's the main thing.

In conclusion, there are so many avenues to explore in this world we call "the seventies". It's an alien world. But as much as we try to pretend it never happened, the evidence is here ("YouTube") for all of us to see.

I really, truly, blocked most of it out. I think that's a human defense mechanism.

But I say, embrace it! It can't be denied.

And, musical historian that I am, it is incumbent on me to remind everyone of a time that we would much sooner forget.

Oh, that we could.