Today’s Top 5: Maria McKee in 1989

I came across this CDR tucked in a box in our basement – a copy of another CDR that I received while a member of a Maria McKee email discussion group sometime in the…late ‘90s, I believe. It came with cover art created by whoever initiated the “CD tree”; you can see his (or her) original on this 45worlds.com page. I don’t believe it was ever a store-sold bootleg, just a fan-generated creation. He (or she), or a friend, snuck a tape recorder into this specific show, which is from the Bayou Theater in Washington, D.C., in 1989.

As I said, though, this particular CDR is my copy of the original, and dates to the early 2000s. In those pre-iPod days, I frequently made CDRs for the car and, for a time, also created the covers for them. Sometimes, just as whoever created the original artwork for the set, I snagged a picture off the ‘net and added the track list, such as with the Juliana comp I blogged about a while back. Other times, though, I used Paint Shop Pro to tinker with the image and/or create collages – it was a fun thing to do. And, too, as in this case, I powered up Poser, a 3D-image creation program that I played around with at the time, and tried to develop something totally unique.

Of note, my image includes a picture lifted from a Kiss the Stone bootleg titled Breathe, which preserved a 1994 concert from somewhere in Europe, that I used on my old website for a time. I scanned the cover, loaded it into Paint Shop Pro and splashed color here, there and everywhere, and then cut out a picture scanned from one of Maria’s CD singles. You can see the original Breathe cover here.

All of which leads to this: I also encoded the versions of “Shelter,” “Breathe” and “Into the Mystic” from the performance onto my computer’s 20-gig hard drive as “high” bit-rate MP3s: 192kbps. Maria’s rendition of all three were spellbinding.

My hope had been to feature five tracks from the show itself, but since only two are (apparently) on YouTube, I’ve expanded the theme to include all of 1989.

1) “Into the Mystic” – From the Bayou Theater in Washington, D.C.

2) “Over Me” – Another from the Bayou.

3) “Am I the Only One” –

4) “To Miss Someone” –

5) “Breathe” –

And two bonuses in one:

6) Maria with Van Dyke Parks and Stevie Ray Vaughan on Night Music performing “Troubled Waters” and “Sailin’ Shoes.”

Today’s Top 5: May 13, 1967

Fifty years ago today, the Summer of Love was in the offing for 16-year-old Wendy D. of Allegheny County, Pa., the home of Pittsburgh, three smaller cities and a bevy of boroughs and townships – but also a summer of love troubles, as often happens in teen romances. I’m sure she was vaguely aware of the former when she wrote the entry, but as for the latter? She wasn’t clairvoyant. (If she was, my hunch is she wouldn’t have continued to see Tom, who was but one of several suitors. Let’s just say things don’t work out so well between them and leave it at that…for now.)

The movie they saw, A Man for All Seasons, was released on December 12, 1966. In today’s world, of course, all but the biggest of blockbusters have left the theaters within five months and are prepping for their blu-ray/DVD release and/or PPV debut. Back then? Things stuck around. Movies routinely started small, at select theaters, and slowly widened in scope, hopscotching the country and media markets. (Mass distribution, where a movie opens on hundreds – if not thousands – of screens at a time, didn’t become commonplace until 1974 and The Trial of Billy Jack.)

The top TV shows for the 1966-’67 season were (in order) BonanzaThe Red Skelton Hour, Andy Griffith Show, Lucy Show and Jackie Gleason Show. The Lawrence Welk Show, which was in a four-way tie for No. 10, was a few spots higher than The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour.

On the music front: According to the Weekly Top 40, the Supremes’ “The Happening” was the No. 1 single on the charts.

I featured that song in the April 22nd, 1967 Top 5, of course. And, between that entry and the one for April 2nd, I’ve spotlighted the top five songs on this week’s Top 40 chart fairly recently. As a result, I’ll be digging deep into the chart for today’s countdown.

And, with that caveat out of the way, here’s today’s Top 5, May 13, 1967 (via Weekly Top 40).

1) The Happenings – “I Got Rhythm.” The No. 9 song this week is this…kitschy delight? It was one of four Top 40 singles the group scored from 1966 through ’68. This one, like their 1966 hit “See You in September,” topped out at No. 3.

2) The Mamas & the Papas – “Creeque Alley.” Jumping from No. 44 to No. 22 is this self-mythologizing song, which tells of the formation of the group.

3) Jefferson Airplane – “Somebody to Love.” Holding steady at No. 31 in its seventh week on the charts is this Summer of Love anthem from the Airplane, which would eventually fly into the Top 10. Here they are performing it at the Monterey Pop Festival on June 17th.

4) The Who – “Happy Jack.” One of the week’s Power Plays is this now-classic song, which jumped from No. 51 to No. 41.

5) The Marvelettes – “When You’re Young and in Love.” Another of the week’s Power Plays is this lovely Van McCoy-penned song, which would eventually reach No. 23. An interesting piece of trivia: It’s the group’s only single to chart in the U.K. Another piece of trivia: It was Wendy D.’s theme song… nah, I’m making that last bit up. But it should’ve been!

And two bonuses, both pulled from the “New This Week” section:

6) Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” The first of the many classic Marvin & Tammi duets. Here, they perform the Ashford & Simpson-penned song on The Tonight Show:

7) The Grass Roots – “Let’s Live for Today.” Debuting at No. 87 is this ‘60s classic, which would eventually make it to No. 8. Who knew that it began life as an Italian pop song written by an ex-pat Brit beat group? Not me. Wikipedia gives the rundown of its complicated history.

Graham Parker at the Sellersville Theater, 5/12/2017

Last night at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pa., Graham Parker delivered an exemplary set that featured many of his best songs, including “Stick to Me,” “Heat Treatment,” “Discovering Japan” and “White Honey.” His sardonic sense of humor was on full display, too – his intros were often as funny, if not funnier, than routines delivered by stand-up comedians.

Accompanying him: Brinsley Schwarz – as in the guitarist, not the band. The longtime Parker sideman, who plays in the Rumour, handled electric guitar most of the night, and shined on his one excursion into the spotlight with “You Miss Again,” a song from his 2016 solo album Unexpected. Parker, for his part, played acoustic guitar.

Back to Parker’s intros: One of the funnier bits centered on the Sellersville Theater. He praised it, as it’s a great place with wonderful acoustics, and mentioned that he was impressed with many of the acts they book. “But what’s with all the cover bands?” he gibed. “The Almost Queens?!” (An actual “tribute” band, from what I just discovered.) He added, dry as can be, that he once saw an Oasis cover band and found it more enjoyable than the real thing: the faux Liam and Noel weren’t butting heads.

Ah, the things we rock fans find amusing.

I’d love to share a video of that or any intro, as well as several of the night’s songs, but taking pictures and “any recording of any kind” were strictly prohibited. Even if not, although we had excellent seats, two rather large shadows (i.e., the people in front of me) would have made it nearly impossible – as evidenced by the few pictures I snapped during the show’s last songs.

Anyway, I could and probably should delve deeper into the night’s specific highs – such as “Don’t Let It Break You Down,” when he integrated snippets of other songs, including the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” into it – but, honestly, there’s no point. For me, it was a good/great show. But Diane and our friend Luanne, who are both longer (and much more rabid) fans than I, were absolutely enthralled. They both raved about it – and about meeting Graham afterwards – on the ride home.

I hasten to add, about this last picture: My de-facto casual weekend garb since the 2016 election includes my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bill & Opus” hoodie that I picked up…last spring, I believe, after seeing an advertisement for it on Facebook. When out and about on chilly days and nights, it and my faux-leather jacket keep me warm – and, too, sends a subtle political message. But I also was not expecting to pose for pictures with Juliana, Courtney and Graham in succession…especially since I’ve only posed with one other artist, Rumer, in all my years of concert-going.

The set:

  1. Watch the Moon Come Down
  2. Between You and Me
  3. Stop Cryin’ About the Rain
  4. Fool’s Gold
  5. Devil’s Sidewalk
  6. Lunatic Fringe
  7. Socks ’n’ Sandals
  8. Disney’s America
  9. You Miss Again (Brinsley Schwarz)
  10. Heat Treatment
  11. Stick to Me
  12. Discovering Japan
  13. Long Emotional Ride
  14. Pub Crawl
  15. The New York Shuffle
  16. White Honey
  17. **You Can’t Be Too Strong
  18. **Don’t Let It Break You Down
  19. **Hold Back the Night

(** = encore)