Tuesday, September 30, 2014

KSLQ (St. Louis): Top 40, 1972-1982

A good place to soak in the early '70s vibe of St. Louis station KSLQ (the "Super Q"), an FM Top 40 station that ran its records at a slightly faster RPM rate than the competition, is at the website of Jonnie King, a longtime station jock. Listen to some of his airchecks while you're there. King spent all of 1973 to 1982 at the Top 40 station, except for one year (1975) at KADI (also St. Louis).

Owned by Bartell Broadcasting, KSLQ lasted from 1972 to 1982. Disc jockey JoJo Kincaid, in a 2005 issue of the St. Louis Journalism Review, remembers that the station's General Manager would keep mannequins of a father and mother alongside a teenage boy and girl outside of the control booth door to remind the DJs of their target audience. Much to the GM's chagrin, the mannequins would mysteriously contort themselves into a number of shocking poses. Here are the song snippets that appear on one of King's 1974 airchecks:

"If" (Bread), "Sunshine on My Shoulders" (John Denver), "Pillow Talk" (Sylvia), "Hooked on a Feeling" (Blue Swede), "Vehicle" (Ides of March), "The Entertainer" (Marvin Hamlisch), "The Show Must Go On" (Three Dog Night), "Signed Sealed Delivered" (Stevie "Wonderburger"), "Seasons in the Sun" (Terry Jacks), "Mercy Mercy Me" (Marvin Gaye), "Heart of Gold" (Neil Young), "Come and Get Your Love" (Redbone), "Still in Love with You" (Al Green), "My Girl" (Temptations). Also included: A reference to the "current boom in nostalgia."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Three Budweiser Jingle Singles

One of the most recognizable American TV commercial tunes in its day was Steve Karmen's "You've Said It All," written for Budweiser. It debuted on TV in 1970 and featured an ad in which a Dionne Warwick lookalike sang solo, later to be joined by a growing chorus of cheerfully average people. The chord change to a flatted seventh in the bridge (at :43 in this clip), along with the singers' emphatic delivery, gives the beer ad an almost poignant, Jesus Christ Superstar aura.

A 45 record of this song credited to the Steve Karmen Orchestra sold well enough in the summer of '71 to register in Billboard magazine as a "breakout hit" in Chicago even though it never cracked the Hot 100. Oddly enough, "Budweiser" is mentioned nowhere on the label of Karmen's disc. Would that have helped or hurt its chances as a stand alone track, I wonder?

In 1972, the Nashville songwriting team of Jerry Foster and Bill Rice served up a song called "When You Say Love" to country/rockabilly veteran Bob Luman. They appropriated the Budweiser hook outright, giving it new words and a new bridge, and it bubbled right up to #6 on the country chart. Later that year it became Sonny and Cher's final Top 40 hit (#32). I'd always assumed "When You Say Love" was a knowing spin off of Karmen's jingle and that all parties had been in on it. No - it was an old-fashioned rip off, credited only to Foster and Rice, prompting the dumbfounded Karmen to (successfully) sue. (Karmen reports on this in his 2005 book Who Killed the Jingle? His name now appears on writer credits for reissues of this song, but it's often misspelled as "Carmen," for some reason.)

As for the adoption of the same Budweiser jingle by the Wisconsin marching band (and the legal aspects), that's a story you'll need to get elsewhere.   

Steve Karmen Orchestra - “You’ve Said It All (Tuba Version)” (Billboard Regional Hit: Chicago, entered 7/31/71). Written and produced by Steve Karmen. 45: "You've Said It All (Tuba Version)"/"You've Said It All (Four Feeling Version)" (Audio Fidelity 1971). LP: (No album appearance).

Don't miss the seventies noir version on the B-side!

Bob Luman - "When You Say Love" (Billboard country #6, 2/19/72). Written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice (and Steve Karmen). Produced by Glenn Sutton. 45: "When You Say Love"/"Have a Little Faith" (Epic 1972). LP: When You Say Love (Epic 1972).

Sonny and Cher - “When You Say Love” (Billboard #32, entered 7/8/72). Written by Jerry Foster and Bill Rice (and Steve Karmen). Produced by Snuff Garrett. 45: "When You Say Love"/"Crystal Clear/Muddy Waters" (Kapp 1972). LP: Greatest Hits (MCA 1974).