Friday, December 19, 2008

Let The Good Guys Win

A year ago I wrote about Canadian Christmas songs:

I have spent many years looking for Murray McClaughlin's Let The Good Guys Win. Featuring the Payola$ Bob Rock and Tom Cochrane, it is among my favourite Christmas songs (along with the Pogues' Fairytale of New York and Otis Redding's Merry Christmas Baby). Marvellously sung, with the three stars sharing the vocals, this Celtic influenced guitar and mandolin piece is magical, if not actually a Christmas song...

It was a hard to find single, but you could see the video everywhere at the time. Here's the video for that great Canadian song, Let The Good Guys Win:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Singles Scene #12

Delivery: The good thing about writing about finding records is people know I'm looking. When somebody is getting rid of records, they think of me (my wife would say this is the bad thing about writing about finding records...). So it was a few months ago that my buddy Ron showed up with a stack from a friend of his, who was cleaning out a closet and found...45's. (Philistines didn't have their own record player).

The stack started with a little book, the kind that you use to get to hold 78's, except it's full of 45's: Frankie Laine with the Ray Conniff orchestra; The McGuire Sisters; Eydie Gorme: interesting all, but of no use for our purposes. These are all older, unfamiliar records and there's nothing Canadian.

After the book-thingy I dive into the little stack of records, hoping for some gold. There are 36 records in the pile (yes, I counted), and when I started this exercise I would have considered 1 CanCon out of 36 a small ratio but now it seems about right. There's a big differential here, 50's to 80's: Elvis to Wet Willy. Kung Fu Fighting and My Ding-A-Ling. The Platters, Janis Joplin, Village People and Robert Palmer. It's a wonderful cornucopia of good, and not so good, hits from AM radio from when AM radio mattered.

For all that there's one Canadian single, and not a favourite at that. In 1984 Some British singers, cajoled together by not yet Sir Bob Geldof sang a song about an African famine: Do They Know it's Christmas. It was a worldwide #1 hit, causing the American musical hierarchy to jump into the fray with the un-ironic We Are the World. The Canadian cultural elite of musical inclination took some time out from complaining about how much government revenue they receive (yes, some things never change) to say "hey, a bandwagon! Lets jump on." So Bryan Adams, Canada's biggest star of the day, wrote a song and David Foster, Canada's premier producer/arranger/behind the scenes guy produced it and they come up with Tears Are Not Enough.

Somewhere I already have this, although I can't find it. But I remember it, and I remember the cover: this is a different cover. This cover has signatures of everybody involved: Salome Bey, Eugene Levy, Lorraine Segato, Anne Murray, Mike Reno and &tc. From a condition standpoint, it's in good shape, and even if it wasn't, at the price who can complain. But it makes sense that the condition is good. This is one of those records everybody bought but nobody really listened to. The one I hold in my hand looks like a fine example of that.

Listening to all three Africa famine songs now it's clear that Tears are Not Enough falls in the middle of the two, Do They Know It's Christmas being a pretty good example of these kind of group pieces. The American We Are The World being a truly awful example of any kind of music - all 7 minutes and fifteen seconds of it. But none the less, it needs to be said: All of these song are loaded with real talent, and none of them are really very good.

Funny though, when I listen to this song now, I can't help but enjoy it. Bryan Adams, Jim Vallance and David Foster wrote a decent ditty and pulled together a lot of talent. The problem, really, is too much talent, not enough air time for each. But it was the fashion of the time, and it was a done well. I enjoyed remembering the time, remembering the song, remembering the hair.

But it must be said, I doubt I'll listen to it again any time soon.