Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Alisha - Nightwalkin' (1987)


Random thoughts.

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Me in 1987: "Wow, my folks will listen to anything from 1957, so long as it brings back memories of their glory days."

Me in 2017: "Wow, I'll listen to anything from 1987, so long as it brings back memories of my glory days."

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In the song "Glory Days," why does Bruce Springsteen use the word "speedball" instead of "fastball?" Has anyone ever actually heard anyone say "speedball?" I haven't and I grew up in a "baseball family," where we had Major League season tickets and my brother was a high school all-star and played college ball. When I worked at a local newspaper company I sat near the sports reporters and NO ONE ever said "speedball." Is it a Jersey thing? Someone enlighten me.

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It was a long slide downhill from the brilliantly outré "New York City Serenade" and "Kitty's Back" to the simplicity of the speedball song, don't you think? But then, a man's gotta put food on the table. And girls in the bedroom -- judging from the Boss' recent autobiography.

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Wait a minute, if "Glory Days" is so bad, then why did the title become part of the cultural lexicon and why did I reflexively quote it at the start of this post? Er, strike that last comment from the record.


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It's funny how a little thing like the word "speedball" will get on my nerves so bad it ruins my appreciation of an entire song. I can't listen to "Glory Days" without fixating on that word and how it got past Springsteen's "squad" (another stupid, annoying word) because it sounds so pretentious and inauthentic. Wonder if Jon Landau gave him that word?

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My take on how Landau lobbied to get the word "speedball" in a Springsteen song (for best results, imagine this guy's voice in your head when you read these words): "Hello, Bruce? Pip, pip old chap. Back at my prestigious Ivy League alma mater I had a professor who used that word in a way that was, shall we say, ironic. Why not try it out on your plebeian audience? Hahaha!! Miami Steve?! Fetch me my caviar! Chop chop old boy! You know I can't help Bruce write about the working class without my caviar!"


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Speaking of little things that tick me off, this album, Nightwalkin', begins with someone going "Psssst!" Fewer things bother me more than when people make stupid noises like that to get people's attention in public. I've noticed mostly miscreants and self-styled "gangstas" do this. I also despise when people can't give you a clear-cut "yes" or "no" and instead grunt out sounds like "uh-huh" or "nuh-huh." Gee, sorry it was too much fucking effort for you to say that fucking word "yes" or "no." No wonder civilization is degenerating by the minute.

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Imagine if everyone did this. We'd have a society of animal-like humans totally unable to communicate clearly and instead making odd pig-like noises at each other. Come to think of it, if people continue to mostly communicate on their smart phones instead of speak, this is what society will become.

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I refuse to own a smart phone. I made this decision a long time ago after I heard a woman I know say she wanted her husband get one because otherwise how else would she be able to keep tabs on him all the time? Think about that. Is that what you want? Imagine that awful wife from "Everybody Loves Raymond" stomping around demanding to know your whereabouts 24/7 for eternity. Who would sign up for this? Probably the same sack-less wonders who filled stadiums while the Boss bellowed about "speedballs," that's who.

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Parents also do this to their kids. What kind of high school kids voluntarily submit to the smart-phone-helicopter-parent treatment? During large portions of high school, my folks had no idea where I was and had no way to reach me. If they had, they'd have been "checking in" constantly -- as would the parents of my various girlfriends. This would have been disastrous to our (ahem) growth into adults. I'm kidding there, but I'm also not kidding. In order to grow up, you need to explore, make mistakes, and learn how to deal with problems you yourself create. Having mommy and daddy standing by (to paraphrase an old Gershwin tune), is a way to keep kids frozen in immaturity. Which is why we're seeing things like "safe spaces" on college campuses today.


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Full disclosure about those stadium shows: I was one of the many who saw Springsteen on his "Born in the U.S.A." tour, so I'm kind of making fun of myself here. I saw him in DC in 1984. So sue me. But somewhere on this blog I wrote about how I got tickets to see him again in '85, but sold them so I could see Jonathan Richman, who was playing on the same night. You need to know when to move on in life.

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You might think Nightwalkin' is for dance music aficionados, but Blues Magoos collectors also need to have this album because Peppy Castro co-wrote the title track. I kid you not -- check the credits. Here's the lowdown on that. After the Blues Magoos split into two camps in the late '60s, Castro reconfigured them into group that performed more Latin-oriented music, which reflected his ethnic roots. This led him into dance pop, where he wrote the Top 30 hit "Breaking Away" for his band Balance in 1981. It's only a short hop from "Breaking Away" to the title track of this album.

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Wonder if Alisha knew the guy writing songs for her was also behind on of the weirdest songs ever to grace a major label album, "Scarecrow's Love Affair?"

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"Scarecrow's Love Affair" is from the 1968 album Basic Blues Magoos, which is one of my favorite records ever. I spent endless days in my '80s-era college dorm room with friends spinning a ratty old copy of it the turntable. Since that album is from the 1960s and Alisha's Nightwalkin' is from the '80s, you'd think the Blues Magoos record would be rarer. But you'd be wrong. As I mentioned in my last post about Alisha, Nightwalkin' goes for a LOT of money on the used market now. Last I saw, it was selling for around $100 at Discogs.com.

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Which, of course, is why I'm posting it here, since this is a blog dedicated to rare music. For more details about Alisha, refer to my aforementioned previous post about her, where I wrote about her third and final album, Bounce Back, from 1990, which is something of a freestyle classic.

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This album isn't as good as Bounce Back or her self-titled first album from 1985. It also wasn't as successful. The singles pulled from those albums at least scraped the Top 50 or Top 60, but this album's only chart hit was "Into My Secret," which got to #97.

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Maybe it only got to #97 because it opens with someone going "Psssst!" and the rest of the world agrees with me and HATES to have to hear that. Even if it is from 1987 and brings back the glory days. The end.

Related posts:
Alisha - Bounce Back (1990)
Chris Cuevas - Somehow, Someway (1991)
Debbie Gibson - Rarities (1990-1999)
Hi-Five - Hi-Five (1990) 
Homework - Homework (1990) 
Ms. Adventures - Ms. Adventures (1990)
The Party - In the Meantime, In Between Time (1991)
The Superiors - Perfect Timing (1990)
Rick Wes - North, South, East, Wes (1990)
Rick Wes - Possession (1991)

Track list:
1. Into My Secret
2. Love You Up
3. Girls Don't Lie
4. Play With Boys
5. Let Your Heart Make Up Your Mind
6. Nightwalkin'
7. I Don't Know What Comes Over Me
8. Do You Dream About Me
9. Save A Little Love
10. Into The Night

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