Certain Songs #881: Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – “The Streets of New York”

Album: Wanted: Dead or Alive
Year: 1990

I’m like, 98.3% sure that I first came across this one on MTV, maybe on Yo! MTV Raps, which I wasn’t a regular watcher of, but would definitely check out occasionally, or watch for awhile if I landed on it during my incessant channel surfing.

In any event, I remember being instantly struck by the laid-back keyboard driven groove of Kool G Rap’s & DJ Polo’s “The Streets of New York.”


Certain Songs #880: The Knack – “My Sharona”

Album: Get The Knack
Year: 1979

Most people don’t remember this, but there was a time when the success of The Knack — a power-pop band from the Midwest — was seen by some people as a harbinger of all that was truly bad in the music world.

It was, of course, backlash against them having too much success too fast, without any of the dues-paying that people felt were necessary; others railed against the obsession with sex in the lyrics, and of course, others didn’t like their copping from the Beatles iconography on the cover and back sleeve.


Certain Songs #879: Kiss – “Detroit Rock City”

Album: Destroyer
Year: 1976

For those millions of teenagers who wondered what Kiss would do in the wake of the massive mega success of their alive, the answer came pretty swiftly — Destroyer was released a scant six months later while Alive! was still riding high on the charts.

I must be feeling charitable in my dotage, but I will give it up right here right now for one aspect of Kiss during their glory years: their willingness to flood the market with product. Or as fans would put it: their willingness to release more music!


Certain Songs #878: Kiss – “Rock and Roll All Nite (Live)”

Album: Alive!
Year: 1975

I’m not really a Kiss fan.

I wasn’t one of those guys who joined the Kiss Army or flocked to their concerts or bought the comic book that was made with their blood or even watched that TV show they did. And while Love Gun was the only Kiss album I ever bought (and it was totally overshadowed by my purchase of Foghat Live on the same day), it would have never even occurred to me paint the cover of that album all over a wall of my bedroom the way that one of my friends did.


Certain Songs #877: The Kinks – “Killing Time”

Album: Think Visual
Year: 1986

Think Visual was the first Kinks album in nearly a decade to show up with no fanfare. With only the Davies brothers left from the original quartet — Mick Avory left after Word of Mouth — they’d transformed into a legacy act.

While it took two decades for that to happen, it was still a fate that The Who had avoided by breaking up (remember, it was 1986) and The Rolling Stones had avoided by sheer force of will, though Dirty Work was slagged pretty hard (and somewhat unfairly), so it was really for the die-hards. I kinda doubt that Think Visual was anybody’s first Kinks album.

And given that the autumn of 1986 was a pretty major transitory period for me, I bought it because it was the Kinks, but it didn’t get nearly a much of an airing as The Smiths and R.E.M. and Elvis Costello and Robyn Hitchcock records that were dominating the hearts and minds of my peers at the time.