Jim’s House of Stuff

Every once in a while, I dig through old files here at the blog looking for semi-worthwhile odds and ends that were, for some reason, never published, then I patch them together to make a post. Today is the kind of day on which it happens.

About clients who want to record their own radio ads:

Wherever I was in charge of commercial production, I encouraged clients voicing their own ads to use their names in their ads. For example: “Hi, this is Ted from Ted’s House of Stuff.” This had a dual purpose: it massaged the client’s ego by making them even more the star of their ad, and it took the curse off of an obviously non-professional delivery.

And I used to make the clients work, too—if they fluffed a line or gave me a poor read, I’d make ’em do it again, always kindly and in the spirit of “let’s make this sound good for your money,” but never giving them a choice in the matter. Not every client took this well, but most did—and why everybody producing radio spots doesn’t do it, I don’t know. One local business up here has been running a nearly indecipherable ad for months (not on my stations) with a girl slurring words in an accent that’s one part suburban teenager and one part lifelong Wisconsinite. If it’s the first take, my question is “why?” If it’s the best of multiple takes, my question is still “why”?

About a strange, early moment in the history of the Electric Light Orchestra:

Their 1971 debut album, No Answer, got its American title when a record-label executive was unable to reach the band by telephone to find out what they wanted to call it. His note about the call—“no answer”—was somehow misconstrued as the title the band wanted. The album was released in the UK as The Electric Light Orchestra, and although it’s listed at Amazon.com as No Answer, I don’t believe you’ll find the words “no answer” on it anywhere.

About Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right”:

It’s the one record to play if you want to know what the summer of 1976 sounded like. It’s hazy sunshine and humid nighttime, it’s down the road with the windows open on the hunt for adventure, it’s the promise of romance for a couple of hours, or a lifetime. (The girl with the “class of seven-four gold ring” would be in her 50s now, and I’ll bet she’s still hot.) And it’s got a xylophone marimba solo.

A forgotten 45 from the spring of 1970:

As for “Viva Tirado,” it’s a cool Latin groove that barely scraped into the Billboard Top 40 despite going to the top in LA and scoring big in San Francisco and Detroit. Here’s a TV performance, with vintage headache-inducing TV effects:

There’s a thin line between eclectic and random . . . and now you know what it is.

7 responses

  1. I believe that’s a marimba solo on “Moonlight Feels Right.” In fact, I’d put big money on it. And kudos for the “production guidelines for clients who voice their own ads” information. I can think of more than a few ads voiced by the client that could use your assistance……

    1. Yeah, I questioned briefly before I hit “publish” whether it was a marimba or a xylophone, but then I remembered that I was a sax man and I let it ride.

  2. I use “Moonlight Feels Right” when I want to demonstrate what a smug vocal is. And a smug laugh.

  3. Starbuck brought back the marimba for their follow-up “Everybody be Dancin’,” which is another great “lost” 70s single.

    It’s a dance song done before Disco became such a big deal.

  4. Yes, the summer of ’76 exactly.

  5. Untamable love for “Moonlight Feels Right”. I remember buying the 45 at Kmart for no more than 95 cents before tax. I believe it was also my introduction to the Private Stock label.

    Try This at Home: a few years ago, I spun “Moonlight” on my show right after Radiohead’s “Reckoner”, as the coda of the latter reminds me of the intro to the former. (There’s truly a 70s pop undercurrent in their work: the first time I heard “Fake Plastic Trees”, I thought of “Everything I Own”.)

  6. I hadn’t really heard of El Chicano until very late 1973 and their hit “Tell Her She’s Lovely.” Still one of my favorites to this day.

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