Essential Summertime Listening

Whilst we round the bases on the 40th anniversary of the release of Beauty and the Beat (July 8, 1981), please enjoy a song I’ve always associated with summer. As you guys may or may not know, “Our Lips Are Sealed” was cowritten with Terry Hall from Fun Boy Three, and they have a version as well. Regarding the video itself, Wikipedia says …

The official music video for the song features sequences of the band members in carefree tableaux (riding around LA in a 1960 Buick convertible, stopping at a lingerie shop, and splashing around in a fountain) interspersed with footage of the band playing a club booking.

Jane Wiedlin says the band was initially unenthusiastic when Miles Copeland, president of their label, I.R.S. Records, told them they would be doing the video. “We were totally bratty”, she recalls. The video was financed with unused funds from a The Police’s video budget.

The concept was simple. The band would drive around the streets in a convertible car and be followed by a camera. Belinda Carlisle would sing, and the other members would do cute things, The ride would be intercalated with some scenes of the band performing the song at a club.

They wanted an older-style convertible, and found a red 1960 Buick LeSabre at Rent-a-Wreck.

After riding around some streets in Beverly Hills, at some point, they stop at the famous Trashy Lingerie store located at La Cienega Blvd. The girls get into the shop, excepting Wiedlin, who remains in the car doing the solo part of the song (Belinda can be seen in the driver’s seat trying to hide).

The day of shooting was very hot -says Wiedlin- so it was the band’s idea to end the video by jumping into the Electric Fountain on the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Santa Monica Blvd. “I thought, at any minute the cops are gonna come. This is gonna be so cool.”

Wiedlin looks back on the video experience fondly. “I have horrible ’80s poodle hair in [it]”, she recalled in a 2011 history of MTV. “But there’s a simplicity and innocence to the video that appeals to me.” In one sequence, Belinda Carlisle can be seen trying to hide; she later admitted this was deliberate, as she thought the whole idea of a music video was ridiculous and unlikely to catch on.

Here’s the Fun Boy Three version, which I don’t associate with anything.

Laurel Canyon

I’ve only seen the first of these, as recommended to us by Fat Elvis once upon a time. It’s great. A friend recently hipped me to Echo in the Canyon, and I noticed that there’s ANOTHER one out too.

I’m nostalgic for California, now that it’s burning up and falling into the ocean. I loved my time there. I may watch all of these. Maybe someone will tell us that Laurel Canyon gave birth to punk.

The Babies

The Babies were a side project for Cassie Ramone (Vivian Girls) and Kevin Morby (Woods). They lasted about two years, and sometimes they had the magic sauce. I like them much better than Morby’s solo stuff, and better than their ”real” bands.

How do you tell someone their side band rules and we need more of it?

Live Totem Pole EP

So I was listening to the latest episode of the My Favorite Album podcast yesterday. David Cross was the guest, and instead of choosing his actual favorite album (Quadrophenia), he chose something obscure that he listened to a lot, lamenting that it had been out of print for years and wasn’t even available to stream.

Nothing piques my lizard brain’s interest like scarcity, so when podcast host Jeremy Dylan mentioned that someone had been nice enough to upload it to YouTube, I dove into that dumpster with glee. And found it.

Live Totem Pole is an odd EP. It’s live, for one thing. But the really odd part is that five of the seven songs are covers, including those by Blue Öyster Cult, Public Enemy, Butthole Surfers, Superchunk, and Wire. BUT HOLY SHIT, IT WORKS. And the way it was recorded makes you feel like you’re in the room.

I downloaded the audio from the YouTube videos and packed it up like an album. Right click the cover up top if you’re so inclined …

I listened to fIREHOSE in college, especially fROMOHIO and Flyin’ the Flannel. Anybody unfamiliar with these guys should check out their fascinating origin story on Wiki-wiki-wikipedia.