The Sunday Six

Celebrating music with six random songs at a time

Welcome to a new weekly celebration of music in different flavors from different eras, six tunes at a time. Today, The Sunday Six recurring feature is hitting another mini milestone with its 25th installment. And it’s the Fourth of July holiday here in the U.S., so to those who celebrate it, happy Fourth and please be safe!

Teenage Fanclub/The Sun Won’t Shine on Me

Kicking us off today is a band with the somewhat strange name Teenage Fanclub. If you follow the great PowerPop blog, you may have seen this Scottish power pop band was just featured there. In this context, Aphoristic Album Reviews, another music blog I highly recommend, noted that not only are Teenage Fanclub still around (after more than 30 years), but they recently came out with a new album. It’s titled Endless Arcade. Founded in Bellshill near Glasgow in 1989, the band’s initial formation largely included members of The Boy Hairdressers, another local group that had just dissolved. Following a well received more edgy rock-focused debut album, A Catholic Education from June 1990, Teenage Fanclub adopted their signature power pop-oriented sound inspired by groups like Big Star, Badfinger and the Byrds. The third album Bandwagonesque brought them more attention and significant success in the U.S. where the single Star Sign hit no. 4 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Not surprisingly, Teenage Fanclub’s line-up has changed over the decades and currently features co-founding members Norman Blake (vocals, guitar) and Raymond McGinley (vocals, guitar), together with Euros Childs (keyboards, vocals), Dave McGowan (keyboards, guitar, bass, vocals) and Francis Macdonald (drums, vocals). Frankly, I had never heard of the band until the above fellow bloggers brought them to my attention. Here’s The Sun Won’t Shine On Me, written by Blake, which appears on Teenage Fanclub’s new album released on April 30. While the lyrics are blue, I love the tune’s jangly guitar sound!

Steely Dan/Rikki Don’t Lose That Number

On to the great Steely Dan and one of my favorite songs from their early phase as a standing band. Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, off their third studio album Pretzel Logic from February 1974, also became Steely Dan’s biggest hit single, surging to no. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It did even better in Canada where it peaked at no. 3. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were huge jazz fans. When writing Rikki Don’t Lose That Number, evidently, they were inspired by The Horace Silver Quartet and the intro to Song for My Father, which I covered in a previous Sunday Six installment. Pretzel Logic was the final Steely Dan album featuring the full quintet line-up of Becker, Fagen, Denny Dias, Jim Hodder and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. It was the first to include significant contributions from L.A. session musicians, a concept Becker and Fagen fully embraced on subsequent albums after they had turned Steely Dan into a studio project that became an increasingly sophisticated and complex.

The Youngbloods/Get Together

I’ve always loved this next tune by The Youngbloods, and it’s been on my “list” for a Sunday Six for some time. Get Together appeared on their eponymous debut album from December 1966. Written by Chet Powers, who was also known as Dino Valenti and a member of psychedelic rock outfit Quicksilver Messenger Service, the song first appeared on a 1963 record by bluegrass band The Folkswingers. It was also included as Let’s Get Together on Kingston Trio’s live album Back in Town released in June 1964, as well as on Jefferson Airplane’s debut album Jefferson Airplane Takes Off from August 1966. But it was the rendition by The Youngbloods, which became most successful, giving them their only top 40 hit in the U.S. mainstream charts. Their cover reached a peak there in 1969 when it was reissued as a single and hit no. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s a pity The Youngbloods did not achieve widespread popularity. After their fifth studio album High on a Ridge Top from November 1972, they called it quits.

Dire Straits/Skateaway

This next pick was also inspired by fellow blogger Aphoristic Album Reviews, who recently did a post on the 10 best songs by Dire Straits. I’ve always liked the British rock band and the great melodic guitar-playing by Mark Knopfler, especially on their 1978 eponymous debut album and Making Movies, their third studio release from October 1980. It’s widely considered as one of Dire Straits’ best records. Knopfler’s songwriting had matured, especially in comparison to sophomore release Communiqué from June 1979, which largely sounded like the eponymous debut. Personally, this never bothered me much, since I dig that first album. Here’s the great Skateway. Let’s go, roller girl! And…don’t worry/D.J. play the movies all night long

Chicago/Saturday in the Park

Given today is the Fourth of July, I thought it made sense to feature a tune that references the holiday. I decided to go with Saturday in the Park by Chicago. Written by Robert Lamm, the track appeared on the band’s fourth studio album Chicago V that came out in July 1972. Why calling it five when it was their fourth, you may wonder? Because the band, which was founded as Chicago Transit Authority in 1967, was in their fifth year at the time. Wikipedia notes two different background stories about the song. According to then-fellow band member Walter Parazaider, Lamm was inspired after he had seen steel drum players, singers, dancers and jugglers in New York’s Central Park on July 4, 1971. Lamm recalled it differently, telling Billboard in 2017 the song “was written as I was looking at footage from a film I shot in Central Park, over a couple of years, back in the early ‘70s.” Regardless of which recollection is accurate, there’s no doubt the tune was inspired by Central Park and that it became Chicago’s biggest U.S. mainstream hit at the time, peaking at no. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1972. It would take another five years before they had an even bigger hit with their single If You Leave Me Now released in July 1976 and topping the Hot 100 in October that year. Chicago are still around and are currently touring. Original members Lamm (keyboards, vocals), Lee Loughnane (trumpet, vocals) and James Pankow (trombone) are part of the present nine-piece line-up. The tour schedule is here. I’ve seen Chicago once more than 20 years ago and recall it as a solid show.

Magic Castles/Sunburst

Let’s wrap up this installment of The Sunday Six with some more recently released music. Again, I’d like to acknowledge a fellow blogger, Angie from The Diversity of Classic Rock, where I first read about psychedelic rock band Magic Castles. For background, here’s an excerpt from their Apple Music profile: The band formed in Minneapolis in 2006, growing out of singer/guitarist Jason Edmonds’ home-recording project as he tapped singer/guitarist Jeremiah Doering, bassist Paul Fuglestad, drummer Brendan McInerney, and Kait Sergenian. Magic Castles played their first show at a friend’s birthday party later that year, began recording their first record the following summer, and by June 2008 offered their self-released debut, The Lore of Mysticore. By then, the group had added keyboardist/singer Noah Skogerboe to further flesh out their sound, and Matt Van Genderen had replaced McInerney on the drums. This new incarnation pulled double duty in 2009, offering sophomore album Dreams of Dreams plus a limited-edition cassette, Sounds of the Forest. Fast-forward some 12 years to April 30, 2021 and Sun Reign, the band’s sixth studio album and their first since 2015. Here’s the seductive opener Sunburst. Written by Edmonds, the band’s only constant member, the tune has a cool ’60s garage rock vibe, featuring a great jangly guitar sound reminiscent of the Byrds. I’m definitely planning to take a closer look at the group.

Sources: Wikipedia; Billboard; Apple Music; Chicago website; YouTube

19 thoughts on “The Sunday Six”

  1. Glad to see Teenage Fan Club getting some attention this week – Badfinger20 also wrote about them the other day. It took me a while to come across them but some way I did in the early 2000’s -with their Songs From Northern Britain album. These guys should be bigger- is it the band name? I don’t know – I do know it’s not their music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Hans. I really have to credit Badfinger20 and Aphoristical Album Reviews, who brought this band on my radar screen. I had not heard of them before. I also have no doubt their weird name didn’t work in their favor. As somebody else commented, it does sound like some cheesy boy band!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the kind words and plug Christian I appreciate it! Too many great ones to pick from. I love the Teenage Fan Club song…that one I didn’t know.

    Skateaway doesn’t get played enough….
    Love the song Get Together.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That is me also… You bloggers have exposed me to a lot of bands…like Reverend Peyton etc
        I love it also

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the shoutout – Making Movies is a very good album, and I like the big Springsteen-esque cinematic sound although the closer ‘Les Boys’ is terrible. I hadn’t actually heard that new Teenage Fanclub song but listening now and it sounds good. I just have a Greatest Hits from them, but lots of good songs and I should explore further.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I know three songs on this list and out of them, I love “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” & “Saturday in the Park” and like “Skateaway”. A common thread in these three songs is piano with the first two being piano songs and the third one features great piano by Roy Bittan. I’m a fan of piano in rock music.

    When it comes to Chicago, I recently discovered some 70s hit songs of theirs I like and am considering listening to more of them. While I love “Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away”, I’m not a fan of their other 80s ballads which sound generic to me. When it comes to their 70s output, how much piano was used? I’m under the impression that they used electric piano more than acoustic piano. Is there an album of theirs featuring a lot of piano?

    I had a listen to the other three songs and I confess that the first and last songs didn’t do much for me. I don’t think I’ve heard the Youngbloods “Let’s Get Together”, but it does sound familiar. Let’s Get Together is a nice song with a good message and I like its electric piano. It was good to read your thoughts on these songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I guess three out six isn’t too shabby, given how subjective music is at the end of the day. 🙂

      It also appears we both like piano in rock. In my case, I would put it mnore broadly and also include organ, especially the Hammond B3 – really can’t get enough of a roaring B3! 🙂

      As for Chicago and piano, I certainly can’t claim I know their catalog in and out – in fact, I really don’t. I mostly associate their late ’60s and much of their ’70s output with horns and the occasional great dose of rock like in “25 or 6 to 4” or their excellent cover of “I’m a Man” – love Terry Kath!

      When it comes to piano and keyboards, it’s mostly their ’80s ballads that come to my mind. I’m okay with listening to one at a time. Their ballads started to become a problem when they put out one after the other, and they all started to sound the same.

      I always enjoy hearing from readers and hope to see you back. A little while ago, I published my latest Sunday Six installment.

      Like

      1. Actually, it’s four out of six as I like “Let’s Get Together” too.

        Glad to hear you also like piano in rock. Organ is an interesting instrument. I love it when rock songs feature both piano and organ.

        Sorry for assuming you know Chicago’s music that well. I like “25 or 6 to 4” and haven’t heard “I’m a Man” before (both the Spencer Davis Group original & the Chicago cover). I’ll check it out.

        Yes, I’ll probably comment more. Thanks for informing me about the latest Sunday Six.

        Liked by 1 person

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