Saturday Night Retro

Saturday November 20TH 2010
Volume 3 / Number 11 / Edition 108

31 years ago in November of 1979 66 Americans were taken hostage in Tehran Iran when the U.S. Embassy was invaded and seized by student radicals. This would begin an International crisis that would continue on for 444 days until January 20TH 1981 when President Ronald Reagan took the oath of office. President Jimmy Carter found opposition within his own Democratic Party, as Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he would seek the nomination for President in 1980.

I was 12½-years-old at the time and living with my Dad, Mom, and 4½-year-old brother on Red Wing Lane in Lanham Maryland. I was a 7TH grader at Robert H. Goddard Junior High School in Greenbelt Maryland – home of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Robert H. Goddard invented the liquid-fueled rocket back during the 1910s and 1920s. Many of my classmates were offspring of NASA employees. That would explain why many of them appeared to be ‘spaced-out’ most of the time.

In FM Stereo one of the hottest pop-country-crossover acts of the late-1970s was Dr. Hook And The Medicine Show out of New Jersey – although they certainly had a distinct ‘Southern Rock’ feel and style to them. As the Disco beat raged on in 1979 country music was quietly entering the pop music scene as an alternative to the club beat. One of Dr. Hook’s greatest hits was this cool track that kind of took on a subtle Disco beat to blend in with its pop chart neighbours. It even crossed the Atlantic Ocean to become a # 1 pop smash on the U.K. chart exactly 31 years ago this weekend. It tells the simple story of what happens “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman”.

The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party

Disco Ball

Last week at the ‘Disco Party’ I featured Tavares with their Bicentennial (Summer Of 1976) hit from up above – “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel”. It’s 1 of about 20 TOP 40 hits since the rock era began (in the 1950s) that start with that very special word “Heaven”. You may also remember “Heaven” from Bryan Adams (and also DJ Sammy, Los Lonely Boys, and Warrant) – or how about Belinda Carlisle‘s # 1 smash from 1987 – “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”. There’s also Donna Summer‘s TOP 5 Disco smash “Heaven Knows”.

But this week I’ve got a Pointer Sister who branched out on her own during the late-1970s. She’s Bonnie Pointer, and she scored an incredible feat late in 1979. You see Disco allegedly died on a hot July night in 1979 at a Chicago White Sox baseball game. But a few leftover Disco songs on the charts never got the memo – including this one. Here’s Bonnie Pointer with “Heaven Must Have Sent You” – a TOP 15 Disco smash from the Autumn Of 1979 – several months after Disco allegedly died at Comiskey Park.

The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party

During the Spring of 1979 I was in the 6TH grade at Magnolia Elementary School right in the middle of my Lanham Maryland neighbourhood.

Magnolia Elementary School, Lanham Maryland

Magnolia Elementary School, Lanham Maryland

The school day began at precisely 9:08 AM, and it ended at precisely 3:08 PM. Magnolia was my school for Kindergarten (1972-1973) and 3RD through 6TH grades (1975-1979). Those last 4 years at Magnolia were perhaps the happiest four years of all of my school years. It would just get miserable for me after that in Junior High and Senior High School (although I do remember occasional pockets of fun and good times during those advanced school years).

In 1979 I was a trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent Boy Scout:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

It’s hard to believe that I’m 30 years removed from that part of my life. Some songs remind me of the bad times, but whenever I hear this song play it reminds me of some of those good times that I lived back then during my active preteen years.

Here’s Amii Stewart with her ‘pay all of the bills’ # 1 Platinum Disco SMASH !

The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party

For the 14 of you who wish to know all about my Carnival Imagination cruise be sure to hit up the big green blog tomorrow (Saturday) morning. I’ll have it all for you ‘Grab Bag O’ Thoughts’ style. You won’t regret it pal !

OK it’s been over 100 hours since our last blogging session together, so let’s get back on schedule here:

Disco Ball

I’m a big fan of Elton John‘s music through the decades. I’ve got favourites of his from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Fast songs. Slow songs. Rockers. Ballads. Some of the greatest songs of my entire lifetime came from Sir Elton.

During the Disco era of the late-1970s Elton kinda sorta took a breather from the action. After all his style of music was not exactly dance floor ready – or was it ? 

He actually gave it one shot at the very end of the era during the late Summer of 1979 (although it was actually recorded two Summers earlier). That one shot turned out to be one of the last remaining Top 10 Disco hits during its dying days. For a Disco song from Elton John this one was surprisingly a bit on the mellow side.

Here’s one of my favourite Elton John songs of all-time. Here’s “Mama Can’t Buy You Love” – a Top 10 Disco Smash !

The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party

Nowadays you can catch him numerous times per week on tru TV‘s hit series “The Smoking Gun Presents: World’s Dumbest“. He’s 47-year-old Leif Garrett, and over 30 years ago he was one of the hottest television, movie, and music stars on the face of this Earth. He was a Rock, Pop, and Disco superstar with no less than 10 Billboard HOT 100 hits from 1977 to 1982. This was the biggest of them all – “I Was Made For Dancin'” – a TOP 10 Disco SMASH from 1979 !

‘The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party’ is a joint MASSIVESMASH.COM / The Major’s Life Blog production.

The Major’s Friday Night Disco Party

While growing up as a kid of the 1970s and 1980s we had an ENORMOUS stereo system downstairs in our family room. I think that my Dad bought it while he was stationed in the Philippines during the mid-1960s. I think that it may have actually been custom-made. I do know this. It was HEAVY – several hundred pounds. If the insides of it had been gutted out and made hollow an adult version of me would have been able to lay down inside of it rather comfortably, and you could have stacked another 9 of me on top of me inside of it.

I don’t know how it got there (because of its MASSIVE size and weight), but it was there in our 1969-1972 apartment in Greenbelt Maryland, our 1972-1975 house in Bowie Maryland, our 1975-1980 house in Lanham Maryland, and our 1980-1996 house in McLean Virginia. It did NOT make the move to Jacksonville Florida when my family moved out of the Washington D.C. area.

The ENORMOUS stereo system had a really bad AM / FM radio with no antenna and no reception, but it had a rather decent record player. Down below it all were compartments that were chock-full (a couple hundred) of vinyl records from two distinct time-periods. Half of the albums were from the mid-to-late-1960s, and they were bought by my Dad overseas and stateside. The other half were albums from the late-1970s to early-1980s that I bought via the mail from the old Columbia Record Club.

Since Disco was King back then a large majority of these albums bought by me were from the genre. It was mainstream back when it was the hottest thing going in the entire free nation. Nowadays it’s looked upon in mostly negative ways, but it’s just so very easy to criticize something that’s past its prime, or run its course, or faded out into oblivion. You can’t deny that it’s a vital part of Americana.

The Village People – currently LIVE on tour here in South Florida – released a half a dozen albums during a short period of time from 1977 to 1980, and they were one of the hottest Disco groups around. I think that I had all of their biggest albums of the time. One of them – “Go West” – included this 1979 Disco smash:

The music video was shot aboard the USS Reasoner (FF-1063) which was owned and operated by the U.S. Navy from 1971 to 1993. It is now a Turkish ship.

Saturday Night Retro

In 1979 I was an 11-year-old that became a 12-year-old in June. I graduated from Magnolia Elementary School in Lanham Maryland (right in my own neighbourhood):

Magnolia Elementary School, Lanham Maryland

Magnolia Elementary School, Lanham Maryland

That was my school for Kindergarten from 1972 to 1973, and then again for 3RD, 4TH, 5TH, and 6TH grades from 1975 to 1979. The street that I lived on (Red Wing Lane) was located directly in front of the school by a couple hundred yards, but that was not the proper way to walk to and from school because you had to climb the fence and walk in other people’s yards to do so. The proper way to walk to and from school was up / down the hill and over to the left-side main entrance.

Incidentally the more things change the more things stay the same. That school looks exactly the way it used to look 30 to 35 years ago – right up to the facade of the building, the spray paint residue on the left-hand side, the breezeway out front, and the lightposts. A lot has changed since the mid-1970s. The outside of that school is not one of those changes.

If you walk through the front entrance, take an immediate right at the first hallway, and take that hallway down all the way to the very end you should come across a big painted map of the U.S.A. directly on the surface of the wall (if it’s still there). My class painted that as a special project way back then. I specifically painted Hawaii. It was a masterpiece !

It’s amazing the things that I remember from back in the day.

And now for your ultimate ‘Saturday Night Retro’ review I present to you this # 1 gold pop smash that everyone was singing and dancing to in their living rooms and in their cars just before 1979 morphed into 1980. This my friends is English musician Robin Scott – better known at the time as simply ‘M’. Here’s the official music video for “Pop Muzik” – one of the first videos ever made for television – more than two years before MTV even went on-the-air. This video was sleek, stylish, solid, and state-of-the-art for its time. Check it out:

Until next Saturday night my friends – keep on makin’ history !

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