Popcorn – Gershon Kingsley (Hot Butter) – 1972

May 29, 2014

Pop Corn Hot Butter coverOkay, so I didn’t hear this on the radio… I heard someone humming it.  I asked them, “Do you know the name of the tune you’re humming?”  Their answer astounded me… “That is,” they said, “one of my favourite all-time tunes.”  And, what were they humming…?

pop corn 1Popcorn, a 1972 instrumental by Gershon Kingsley’s band, Hot Butter!

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  • Gershon Kingsley was born in Bochum, Germany way back in 1922.
  • Gershon went on to become a pioneer of electronic music through his discovery of the Moog synthesizer.
  • pop corn 3And, believe it or not, at 91 years old, he’s still producing music today – mainly Broadway musicals and film and television scores.
  • Oh, and commercials.  He’s won two Clio Awards for his work in advertising.
  • In the pop world, Gershon is remembered for his album, Music To Moog By which consisted mainly of Beatles, Beethoven, and Simon and Garfunkel covers, AND the famous, Popcorn.

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  • Popcorn was written by Gershon Kingsley in 1969, and first appeared on his album Music to Moog By.
  • In 1972, it was re-recorded and released by Gershon’s band, Hot Butter.
  • Hot Butter’s version was a huge hit, making it to #1 in nine countries—in France and Switzerland, it was the year’s top hit.
  • The origin of the name is, believe it or not, a point a great discussion amongst Hot Butter fans.  The track originally had no title.  Someone suggested “Popcorn”, with ‘Pop’ standing for pop music and ‘corn’ for kitsch.
  • Gershon tells a slightly different story saying, in 1969 he was listening to a popcorn machine and thought he could make a tune out of it. He spent the next day playing his Moog synthesiser looking for a catchy riff.  87 days later, it was recorded and on his Music To Moog By album
  • Popcorn has been covered by many artists including: Jean Michel Jarre, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Muse, James Last, Crazy Frog, Blue Man Group, and The Muppets.

popcorn – hot butter – 1972 – video

popcorn – crazy frog – video

popcorn – techno remix – 2013 – video

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Making Plans For Nigel – XTC – 1979

May 22, 2014

 XTC Making Plans for Nigel - 1979 - Single coverVirtually unknown outside of the UK (or at least the Commonwealth), XTC epitomise the UK new wave sound of the 70s and 80s.  Making Plans for Nigel, their 1979 release, is perhaps their most commercial song.

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  • Together for over 30 years, XTC only performed for six years before retiring from live performance and becoming a studio-based project band.
  • XTC, a UK new wave band, formed in 1976.
  • The guys had only two songs that came close to being hits: Making Plans for Nigel (1979) and Senses Working Overtime (1982).
  • While not commercially successful the band epitomises many of the new age bands of the late 70s and early 80s.

making plans for nigel fax

  • Making Plans for Nigel was from XTC’s 1979 album Drums and Wires.
  • Written by prolific songwriter and the band’s bass guitarist, Chris Moulding, Making Plans for Nigel was released in September 1979.  It peaked at #17 on the UK charts and #12 in Canada.
  • Speaking of the song, Chris says:

Partly biographical, this one. My dad prompted me to write it. He wanted a university future for me and was very overpowering in trying to persuade me to get my hair cut and stay on at school. It got to the point where he almost tried to drag me down the barber’s shop by my hair. I know the song tells of a slightly different situation, but it all boils down to the same thing – parental domination.

making plans for nigel – xtc – 1979 – video


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Wuthering Heights – Kate Bush – 1978

May 15, 2014

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights - 1978Because she was born in my family’s hometown of Welling, in Kent (England), I’ve always felt a warmth towards Kate Bush.  After all, Welling doesn’t have too many famous sons or daughters.  Although, Boy George was born just down the road!  Kate had a massive hit in 1978 with her debut single, Wuthering Heights.

kate bush fax

  • Born Catherine Bush, in Welling, Kent (my father’s home town!), Kate was just 19 when she hit #1 on the UK Singles Chart with her debut single Wuthering Heights.  Amazingly, that made her the first woman to have a UK #1 one with a self-written song
  • Kate has released ten albums; three have hit #1.  She’s had 25 UK Top 40 hit singles.  She is also the only female artist to have Top 5 albums in the UK chaKate bush 1rts in five successive decades
  • Nominated for three Grammy Awards, she has yet to claim but was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to music.

wuthering heights fax

  • Wuthering Heights was written by Kate Bush when she was just 18 years old.
  • Wuthering Heights is based on the book of the same name.  It was Kate’s debut single released in January 1978.
  • It sat at the top of the UK singles chart for four weeks and remains Kate’s biggest-selling single.
  • Wuthering Heights is a perennial favourite with fans. It came 32nd in Q magazine’s Top 100 Singles of All Time and is #19 on Rate Your Music’s Top Singles of All Time.
  • The release date for the single was initially scheduled to be 4 November 1977. Kate was not happy with the cover art, however.  It took time to replace it and the launch was postponed until early 1978.  It turned out to be fortuitous – if it had come out when planed it would have been competing with Wings’ song, Mull on Kintyre which went on to become the biggest-selling single in UK history
  • Wuthering Heights lyrics.

wuthering heights – kate bush – 1978 – video

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Rich Girl – Hall and Oates – 1977

May 8, 2014

Hall and Oates Rich Girl Single CoverIn the midst of the New Wave era sat Hall and Oates, the most successful rock duo of all time with a staggering 34 singles reaching the US Top 40.  Their first #1 was Rich Girl in 1977.

hall and oates fax

  • Daryl Hall & John Oates hail from Philadelphia in the US of A.
  • Daryl provides the lead vocals while John plays electric guitar and provides the BVs.
  • During the latter part of the 70s and into the 80s Hall and Oates had six #1 US singles.  As well as Rich Girl, there was: Kiss on My List, Private Eyes, I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do), Maneater, and Out of Touch – you remember them all now, don’t you?
  • Hall and Oates 1Hall and Oates had, in all, 34 hits on the US charts, seven platinum albums, and six gold albums. They are the most successful duo of the rock era.
  • In 2003, Hall and Oates were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • Billboard magazine list Hall and Oates at #15 in their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.
  • In April 2014, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April of 2014.
  • Daryl and John still perform and, if you’ve never seen any episodes of Live From Daryl’s House then you are really missing out on something special!

rich girl fax

  • Rich Girl, written by Daryl Hall, was Hall and Oates first #1 single.
  • Rich Girl was recorded in 1976 and featured on the album, Bigger Than Both of Us.  It reached #1 on March 26, 1977.
  • Rich Girl, about a spoiled girl who can rely on her parents’ money to do whatever she wants, was rumoured to be about newspaper heiress Patty Hearst. The song is actually about an ex-boyfriend of Daryl Hall’s girlfriend, Sara Allen. Daryl explained,

You can’t write, ‘You’re a rich boy’ in a song, so I changed it to a girl.

rich girl – hall and oates – 1977 – video

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Joy to the World – Three Dog Night – 1971

May 4, 2014

Three Dog Night - Joy to the World - 1971The best known of Three Dog Night’s three #1 hits is sometimes better known by its first line, “Jeremiah was a bullfrog.”  Released in 1971, Joy to the World sold five million copies.

three dog night fax

  • Three Dog Night is an American band primarily featuring the talents of three vocalists: Danny Hutton, Cory Wells and Chuck Negron.  The three first came together in 1967 to create some recordings with Brian Wilson.  In those days they went under the name of Redwood.
  • In 1968, the vocalists looked around for some musicians of their own and Three Dog Night was formed.
  • The name Three Dog Night was suggested by the girlfriend of vocalist Danny Hutton.  She had read a magazine article about indigenous Australians.  It explained that on cold nights they would sleep in a hole in the ground while embracing a dingo (a native species of wild dog). On colder nights they would sleep with two dogs and if the night were freezing, it was a “three dog night.”
  • Between 1969 and 1975, Three Dog Night scored 21 Billboard Top 40 hits, including three #1’s.
  • The band introduced the world to many artists and songwriters by recording the works of people such as: Paul Williams, Hoyt Axton, Laura Nyro, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman, and Leo Sayer.
  • The band is still together and recording.  They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2000.

joy to the world fax

  • Joy to the World is one of the best-selling singles in history.
  • Joy to the World was written by Hoyt Axton who also wrote Heartbreak Hotel, Elvis’ first #1 hit.
  • The song is lifted from Three Dog Night’s third album, Naturally.  Naturally was released in November 1970.  An edited version of the song was released as a single in February 1971.
  • Joy to the World has been covered by a number of artists including: The Supremes and Four Tops (a duet version recorded in 1971 but not released until 2009).  And, Little Richard on his 1971 album, The King of Rock and Roll.
  • Joy to the World features in the movie The Big Chill. It is sung by a child character at the beginning with the Three Dog Night playing over the end credits.
  • Joy to the World lyrics.

joy to the world – three dog night – 1971

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