A semi-regular feature about some of my favorite singles from the past.
It’s a safe bet that there was only one song in the history of rock with the name “Ambivalence & Spark Plugs,” and it was recorded by the Chicago quintet Immune System in 1979. I’m pretty sure I bought this record after hearing it on WXRT, and I have a vague memory of a disk jockey referring to vocalist Ro Goldberg as cute.
Goldberg wrote this energetic swipe at trendy types with guitarist George Siede, and her conversational approach to singing is reminiscent to Deborah Harry. She refers to someone as “a passing bug,” and sums up her own appearance with the line, “I’m pretty, but I’m in a rut.” Other band members chime in on a chorus of “Ooh yeah yeah ooh yeah yeah,” showing that punk rockers could be silly as well as confrontational.
The fast and catchy “Ambivalence & Spark Plugs” brings back memories of when it felt cool to go into a trendy record store and buy the latest 45 by a cutting edge Chicago band like Immune System, Bohemia, B.B. Spin, or Gary Jones. I can’t claim to have been one of the trendsetters slam dancing at O’Banions or Exit; usually the only time I went to those clubs was with the publishers of Metro Calendar, to pick up ad money. Luckily, several bands in the area still uphold the tradition, even to the point of releasing their material on vinyl.