[Media Monday] The Difficult Listening Moment in Two Words

MacArthur Park.

I didn’t need to say anything else, didn’t I? MacArthur Park is that unlistenable 1968 hit whose only strength lay in the instrumental piece. How often does Jimmy Webb need to remind us that someone left his bloody cake out in the rain, then strech the metaphor until it loses all focus and meaning? But, ah! it’s that 90-second instrumental near the end that rescues it. That 90-second piece often impinges on younger ears as cliche beyond belief. But that is only because this original recording has appeared so often in advertisements, theme songs, and the like in the decades since, that it in fact has become cliche. Stuff like that only happens to really good music (unfortunately). And that 90-second part is so different from the rest of the 7-minute tune that it doesn’t seem to belong. And it’s the orchestration, not the words or the vocalist, that won the Grammy in 1969. For your edification as well as for a bit of nostalgia, here is the 90-second passage in question:

But of course, this is the difficult listening moment, and I’m afraid that wasn’t difficult enough to listen to.  And no, I won’t subject you to Richard Harris’s singing, or even Donna Summer. What I will do is to play for you the Cockney version by The Burtons. The whole thing reeks of Morgan Fisher.

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Crappy Album Covers #208 — Television II

I remember seeing the title “The Man From UNCLE” in my TV Guide when I was quite young. Never saw the show, but I at least understood that it had this famous guy Robert Vaughan in the show. The acronym apparently stands for the “United Network Command for Law Enforcement”. Sheesh. 

It’s a James Bond knockoff because Ian Fleming took part in its creation. The series ran from 1964 to 1968, and selected props used in the show may now be found in the Ronald Regan Presidential Library, or so claims Wikipedia. A casual search around the Ronald Regan Library website turned up empty-handed.

This is actually the soundtrack for the Grammy-winning music by Stanley Wilson to the series M-Squad. This was a series about police officers fighting crime in the Chicago area. It ran from 1957 to 1960, and starred Lee Marvin.The entire series has been since released on DVD as recently as 2008.If anyone remembers the short series “Police Squad” which ran for a short time in 1982, M-Squad was the show they were actually targetting in their satire. The celebrated reason for ABC cancelling Police Squad was “because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it.” Later that year, TV Guide took that quote as “the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series.”

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