Posts Tagged ‘Toto’

The guilty pleasure song is the secret shag of the music lover: always there, always dependable but you sure don’t want your friends to know who you are spending quality time with.  I run some risk with this list as there are perhaps people who don’t consider these songs guilty pleasures at all, but rather simply damn fine music.  Whatever. We will know who these folks are by the Journey coasters on their coffee table and their faded, but still wearable, Looking Glass bandana.

Next week:  Top Five Rock and Roll Artists Who Met a Far Too Early Demise

1. Don’t Stop Believin’-Journey

“Don’t Stop Believin'” was a bona fide hit off the chart topping 1981 album “Escape”.  Escape to or from what is unkown, but Dave Marsh of Rolling Stone called it one of the worst number one albums of all time.  Regardless, I confess to actually quite liking this song:  it is catchy, tells a rags to riches story and the psuedo rock riffage is the bomb.  Not to mention Steve Perry’s ‘do.

2. Hold the Line-Toto

What is about staccato piano intro’s followed by overly compressed guitar riffage? Is it part of a secret cheese formula?  This tune has both in spades.  I will say one thing however, the band members’ wide ranging and top drawer studio experience (Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs and Sonny and Cher among others) shows through here with some of the smoothest fromage one could hope for.  This song was top 5 in 1978 and 1979 and was eclipsed only, in my opinion, by “Africa” and only then because the writers managed to work the words “Serengeti” and “Kilimanjaro” into one verse of one lyric for the only time in music history.  I have mentioned this fact before, but it such an achievement that I had to mention it again.

3. Hot Girls in Love-Loverboy

A little bit of Vancouver flavour here.  I actually kind of liked this band back in the day.  Local boys made good and Mike Reno drove a Ferrari, if I recall, before they were a dime a dozen.  No staccato piano, just a little synth and organ to round out the power chords.  Produced by the late Bruce Fairbairn,who had gold plated producing credits that went on forever, this is a slick (and very likeable tune).

4. Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)-Looking Glass

Formed at Rutgers University in New Jersey, Looking Glass was a more or less one hit wonder (a tune subsequent to this gem charted, but not so well).  This is cool little song, and probably wouldn’t even be a guilty pleasure at all but for the lyrics. I remember listening to it on my transistor when I was about 15.  I might have even bought the 45.  Another Top Five list, another day.

5. Make it With You-Bread

Charting at number one in 1970, this song was by far Bread’s biggest hit, although there were numerous others.  Epitomising that oxymoron called “soft rock”, I am not sure exactly why this song has stuck with me the way it has; perhaps it is the ever hopeful lyric.  Who really knows.  Passing  the true test of a guilty pleasure, I might smile and even light up a bit when I hear it, but I sure won’t put it on when you come over.

I live in the oldest part of Vancouver, in a neighbourhood that one could gently describe as “interesting”.  To put a finer point on it,  my wonderful loft space is kitty corner from a women’s shelter and a half block west of a men’s detox. I am also a block from Nesters Market (“Where the locals shop!”) a full service grocery store at Woodwards, that also happens to play great music.

Woodwards was a family owned Vancouver retailer that had been around since the turn of the century. It fell on hard times in the late 1980’s, eventually going bankrupt. The once flagship Woodwards’ store was on a site  that had at one time been at the city’s centre but eventually became an extension of skid road-as my parents called it- when other retailers and businesses moved south to the mall and the office towers that came with it.   After years of studies and discussions, and a lot of politics,  the site was redeveloped with a mix of market and social housing,  Simon Fraser University’s “School for the Contemporary Arts”, and an assortment of shops and services, including Nesters.  The Nesters brand  has something of a history itself, originating at Whistler, BC, but I digress.

I think of Nesters as “my” grocery store.  I am in there frequently,  often daily, in part because it is on my walking route home and in part because I find daily shopping suits cooking for one.  It is rare that I am in the store and don’t notice the music that is being played. This is not muzak, nor is it is some kind of bland, please everyone pap.  It is good music. Remarkably good music actually. Mike the store manager and I had a brief chat this week.  He tells me it is a satellite feed.  Someone is doing some fine channel choosing.

Here are the Top Five Songs Recently Heard in My Grocery Store.  What music has your grocery store been playing?

1. Love Shack-B52’s

This song is infectious and it is virtually impossible not to sway, tap your toes, sing along with etc. So there I was in the cereal aisle…   You get the picture.  It is not a wonder that they are named the “World’s Greatest Party Band”.   By the way, on my bucket list is to go stay at the the cabins run by Kate Pierson (the red head) near Woodstock, NY.

2. Instant Karma-John Lennon

Whenever I hear a John Lennon song it is very difficult for me not to reflect, at least momentarily, on what might have been.  Written and recorded in a single day, this was another Lennon recording produced by Phil Spector.  If anyone can shed any light on why Yoko is knitting blindfolded, I would be happy to hear from you.

3. Africa-Toto

What redeems this borderline cheese masterpiece is that it is the only song ever to use the words “Kilimanjaro” and “Serengeti” in the same verse.  EVER.

4. While You See a Chance-Steve Winwood

This was on Steve’s enormously popular 1980 album, “Arc of a Diver”.  A veteran of many influential and successful groups (Traffic, Blind Faith, The Spencer Davis Group), this album cemented his status as as solo act.  Steve played every instrument on every track.  I was in university, toiling at torts, when this was released.  It was a favourite of my friend Pat and got played to death at marathon Risk sessions, the lyrics offering some vague hope for the future.  Hearing it at Nesters on Friday immediately brought back those memories.  I love how music does that.

5. Sympathy for the Devil-The Rolling Stones

Who wouldn’t shop daily if this was being played while you were in the cashier’s line up?  This is the well aged Stones showing why, still, no band does the big show better.