Monday, July 25, 2011

45 RPM Memories “Happy Birthday”

The electricity is back on at our house, so I’m free to blog away.


I hope all of the people who came here as part of Chicago’s One City One Blog program are enjoying the site and will become regular visitors. This is a feature I do on a semi-regular basis called 45 RPM Memories, where I take a vintage record from one on my 45 cases, scan the cover, and then offer a few observations.


Released in 1981, “Happy Birthday” was the title track of the UK band Altered Images’ debut album. Vocalist Clare Grogan kicks things off by singing the title repeatedly over some bouncy keyboards before the song swings into a classic new wave arrangement. Her appealingly playful voice would work better on later hits like “Don’t Talk To Me About Love,” but this is a fun tune that probably still gets played at a lot of birthday parties. WXRT radio personality Terri Hemmert often used it while announcing celebrity birthdays when she had the early morning shift at the progressive rock station. (She’s now the mid-morning deejay.)


While “Happy Birthday” has an irresistible melody, the cryptic lyrics talk about celebrating in a hot bath while people lurk in a dark cupboard with birthday cake. This might be an offbeat way to describe a surprise party, but it still sounds creepy. Usually, my wife Pam and I go to Olive Garden. Then we come home and open my presents while playing this song on my iPad or the boombox.


So, today is my birthday, and I want to thank all of the people who posted best wishes on my Facebook wall. Quite a collection of talented, fun, and supportive friends, if I say so myself. And most of all, I’d like to thank my wife Pam for making every July 25th so special.

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