Monday, December 17, 2012

"Freeze-Frame" by J. Geils Band (1981)

View the Premise & Ground Rules for Revisiting Vinyl

Filed between: Crystal Gayle and Genesis

Obtained via: an impulsive drive out of town on a sunny day

"She never had dreams so they never came true."

Key Tracks:Centerfold and Angel in Blue

Obvious Filler & Swings-and-Misses:I really want to like River Blindness, but it's just too uneven and too long to let me.

My Overall Rating of the Tracks Separately:Recommended Listening (3/4 stars)

"Freeze-Frame" is a good LP; it has a lot of merit.  However, I'm only going to talk about one song on the record, and I'll bet you already know which song it is.

Centerfold may be the most perfect pop song ever written.  It has about three different hooks that individually could have made the song a hit.  But it doesn't stop there.  There are certain, specific things that appear over and over in those songs that endure in EVERYBODY'S consciousness.  They have to do with an element of easy audience participation.  Any one of these elements can work, but Centerfold piles in as many as it can.  Please see the list below for reference (note that all of these things can be found in Centerfold):

  • Somebody yelling something like "let's go!" or "come on!" or something ending with an exclamation point!
  • Hand claps (or a percussive approximation of hand claps)
  • A yell
  • Whistling
  • Some variation of repeated nonsense syllables, usually "la la" or "na na"
  • Counting
  • A catchy chorus that's easy to remember

That last one is important.  Natalie Merchant said that her goal when writing Kind and Generous was to have a chorus that people could sing along with the first time they heard the song - a chorus which ended up being a variation of "la la."  See?  I told you.

So, is it an album?  Yes.  It's decidedly new wave in its sound and it's all written, produced and musically directed by the same individual (NOT J. Geils).

Up next, we listen to some other massive pop hits, but in a totally different genre.  It's "Talking Book" by Stevie Wonder.

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