Sunday 4 February 2024

i never did believe in miracles but i’ve a feeling it’s time to try (11. 321)

Swapping out the working-title of Yesterday’s Gone, Fleetwood Mac—during a turbulent time in the band’s career with non-stop touring for their last album, drug use and relationship breakups for many of the members as well as changes for personnel—released on this day in 1978 their eleventh studio album on this day in 1978, an instant worldwide success of a soulful and confessional nature and features some of the group’s most enduring tracks. Teased as singles “Don’t Stop,” “Dreams,” “You Make Loving Fun” and “Go Your Own Way,” all dominated the charts for weeks at a time and taken as an anthology of the members’ anguish and optimism is considered one of the greatest records of all time.

Sunday 21 January 2024

2001 odyssey (11. 283)

Released in November of the previous year with the premier of the film, and was until the debut of Thriller by Michael Jackson in 1982 the best-selling album in history, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever began a twenty-four week run on the top of the US charts—with comparable success in international markets on this day in 1978. A nineteen-year-old Tony Manero (portrayed by John Travolta, see previously) escapes disillusionment by in his working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood by escaping to the a local disco (above) on the weekends, where he rules the dance-floor and longs for a better life in Manhattan, just across the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge. Showcasing the musical talents of the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, Kool & the Gang, The Trammps amd KC and the Sunshine Band, the Brothers Gibb’s group and many of the other artists were not involved with the project until post-production, after the deal fell through with the recording label for Boz Scaggs (denied because the song “Lowdown” had recently appeared in another disco film Looking for Mister Goodbar, which is hard to describe as a dance drama but Saturday Night Fever has a complicated plot with a lot happening as well) and much of the choreography had to be redone after the movie’s producer commissioned the Bee Gees as understudies, with the lead tracks written and recorded over the course of a single weekend at a French chรขteau.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Mika’s Grace Kelly plus Space Songs, an educational LP

two years ago: more links to enjoy, planning a rendezvous with Oumuamua, the DeLorean (1981), a new album from Neil Young,  more Wikihow illustrations plus a podcast miniseries on the comic Cathy

three years ago: Bernie Sanders at the inauguration plus Biden undoes Trump’s executive orders

four years ago: a field guide to wildflowers at speed

five years ago: more links worth the revisit

Saturday 6 January 2024

you can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel (11. 247)

Topping out at number two on Billboard around the same time, the Village People’s only single from their 1978 studio album Cruisin’ reached number one on the UK charts on this day in 1979. Rhythmically complex and with lyrics full of double-entendre, the singer-songwriter Victor Willis has affirmed that the song is to be understood on many levels and not just a celebratory anthem but also praising the diversity that the organisation fostered, the boarding house function originally founded in the 1880s to provide affordable rooms for people from rural areas coming into the cities to look for work had by the time the song was composed had seen a demographic shift to the unhomed urban population and displaced youth cohabitating with the older, more typical tenants, with a not insignificant proportion who were gay. Initially, the YMCA was going to sue the band for besmirching their name but later settled and came to embrace the enduring number for singing the praises of the institution. Inscribed by the US Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry as culturally important and “proof that disco never truly died,” the number and routine is a popular cheer for sporting events and over the eventual objection of The Village People, featured in Donald Trump’s campaign rallies—see also. Once defeated, YMCA was adopted by supporters of his challenger Joe Biden and was blasted on loudspeakers as Trump boarded Air Force One for the last time to leave Washington ahead of the inauguration of his successor.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus FDR’s Four Freedoms (1941)

two years ago: a figure skater assaulted (1994), Soylent Green (1973) plus the Night of the Big Wind (1839)

three years ago: your daily demon: Amy, photographer Ute Mahler, more links to enjoy, the South Sea Bubble, an airline safety campaign, the Bad Drawing Club plus the US Capitol stormed

four years ago: US threatens Iran, First Nations’ custom emoji plus artists’ final works

five years ago: more links to visit

Sunday 10 December 2023

conte du pourquoi (11. 178)

Generally in the International System of Units, as Futility Closet informs, the abbreviation of metrics are only afforded an uppercase character when the unit of measure is a personal namesake—see also—like the newton, ampere, joule, siemens, volt, hertz and kelvin, but the litre, particularly for jurisdictions with the inheritance of the Imperial System and one still singularly holding-fast, the litre was especially fraught for researchers for its potential to be confused with the digit 1. To avoid this confusion, most scientific and labelling authorities adopted a scripted โ„“ as a volumetric symbol, but conventions still held in the US, Canada and Australia. Originally as an April Fools’ Day hoax, Kenneth Woolner of the University of Waterloo created the fictional heir to a sixteenth century wine bottle manufacture concern who purposed an industry standard (famously conventional), Claude ร‰mile Jean-Baptise Litre, to promote the use of an upper-case L. I do hope that Litre had a full, fake biography.  The account was re-printed as fact by an IUPAC journal in 1978 as factual, and though subsequently retracted, the exception is now allowed.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

that ain’t nothing—just make me your leading man (11. 121)

Our gratitude to Pasa Bon! for the introduction to the musical stylings of King Solomon through the timely and resonant number Political Rag from his 1978 album Energy Crisis (see also). On the touring circuit as an opening act with the likes of B B King, Etta James and Sammy Davis Junior, originally the artist was not much known outside of local venues in Los Angeles and Las Vegas but later gained recognition for his solo career in funk and experimental music. 

 synchronoptica

one year ago:  assorted links worth revisiting  

two years ago: the Free City of Gdaล„sk

three years ago: more links to enjoy, the Cluttlers Murder (1959) plus Doc “Joe” Baker

four years ago: animated book covers,  more faรงadism plus the ethnography of dialing-codes

five years ago: Little Orphan Annie (1885) plus the musical stylings of Fugiya and Miyagi


Sunday 12 November 2023

connections (11. 114)

With an interdisciplinary and humorous approach to the history of science and innovation, the educational television series that first aired on BBC with presenter and writer James Burke in 1978 and distributed in the US by PBS (see also) the following year, will be rebooted as a streaming documentary series after several years of syndication and tribute episodes with the same host exploring, as the original show’s subtitle suggests, an “Alternate View of Change,” tracing the interconnectedness of inventions and events that inform modernity and the course of seemingly unrelated accidents are revealed as the drivers of history. In addition to possible corollaries to his chain-of-events, the series also poses the question of when literacy falters in the face of techno-shock and when the accelerated rate of change becomes overwhelming. While waiting for the next instalment, one can explore the original ten episodes below.

 synchronoptica

one year ago: the famous photograph of the Loch Ness monster (1934), the Gemini XII mission (1966), the birth of hypertext and the web browser (1989) plus the premier of Absolutely Fabulous (1992)

two years ago: a pioneering trapeze artist, Monsters, Inc, substitute mall Santas, harnessing the powers of silk plus a foggy walk in the woods

three years ago: a concert for a reunited Berlin (1989) plus imagining the Trump Presidential Library

four years ago: an ideal time to go to Mars, Possibly in Michigan (1983), casting to Hell plus a psychedelic ad for movie refreshments

five years ago: a 1929 Ralph Steiner short on water, women’s suffrage in Austria (1918) plus RIP Douglas Rain

 

Friday 14 July 2023

more songs about buildings and food (10. 880)

Their second studio album and the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno, released on this day in 1978, overseeing the shift in focus to the rhythm section and music one can dance to and was a critical and commercial success for Talking Heads (previously). The below track was the band’s first top thirty hit in the US and UK and is a cover of the Al Green hymnal.

synchronoptica

one year ago:Dr Spock’s guide for expectant mothers (1946) plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: a commanding view of Sweden’s second largest lake plus “MOMS” tax

three years ago: an introduction to satanist and film maker Kenneth Anger

four years ago: half-staff, Chekov’s gum plus more on endonyms and exonyms

five years ago: one party system (1933), the Alien and Sedition Act (1798), an AI names bespoke nail polish colours plus engaging the rumour mill

Saturday 13 May 2023

be acceptable in thy sight here tonight (10. 739)

Beginning a five-week run at the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1978, Boney M’s (previously) cover of The Melodians’s song “Rivers of Babylon” with B-side “Brown Girl in the Ring,” composed originally by the Jamaican reggae group, it is taken from Psalms 19 and 137 (one of a handful of best-sellers taken directly from the Bible, along with Pete Seeger’s and the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” and U2’s 40 (“How long must I Sing this Song?”—Expectans expectavi Dominum) as an allegory of oppression against members of the Rastafarian faith, though the Kingston government banned it from the airwaves as potentially subversive anyway. From their third studio album Nightflight to Venus, both—the latter based on a traditional Caribbean nursery rhyme—propelled the eurodisco group to fame worldwide. The below performance is from 1979’s Sopot Festival:

Friday 7 April 2023

outlandos d’amour (10. 659)

Released on this day in 1978 as the lead single from their debut album, the song written chiefly by the band’s bassist and principal singer Sting from the perspective of an individual falling in love with a sex-worker, inspired to explore a new take on the modern fable whist lodging in accommodations for a tour stop in Paris. An old poster for the stage adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac hung in the foyer, the object of the title character‘s affection.

Sunday 8 January 2023

if only they could talk (10. 397)

Based on the title novel by Glasgow veterinary surgeon Alf Wight (writing under the pseudonym James Herriot), Bill Sellars’ comedic drama series All Creatures Great and Small premiered on the BBC on this day in 1978. Running for a total of seven seasons and then rebooted in 2020, the show is set in 1930 Yorkshire uplands, it portrays the triumphs and challenges of a rural veterinary practise of Siegfried Farnon and the pseudonymous author.

 

Friday 11 November 2022

and i’ll never have that recipe again (10. 292)

Written by Jimmy Webb and first recorded by Irish actor and singer Richard Harris (Arthur in Camelot) a decade before, the disco arrangement by Donna Summer (encouraged by producer Giorgio Moroder) of MacArthur Park climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1978, holding the top spot for three weeks. Originally pitched to the sunshine pop group The Association (“Cherish,” “Along Comes Mary”), they rejected Webb’s composition due to its stream-of-consciousness lyrics and ambitious, over-the-top arrangement.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

ba-dee-ya (10. 152)

Co-written by Alta Sherral “Allee” Willis (whose credits include “Boogie Wonderland,” the Pet Shop Boys’ “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” scoring for Beverly Hills Cop and The Color Purple and the Friendstheme song) and the band’s lead vocalist Maurice White (“You Deserve the Best of My Love,” “That’s What Friends Are For”), Earth, Wind & Fire’s September was an international hit, inscribed on the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry in 2018, four decades after its release. There’s no consensus regarding the significance of the date—other than it was recorded in September and the twenty-first was most resonant, and reportedly Willis didn’t care for the nonsense lyrics and down to the last minute had insisted that they were only place-holders and urged White to cut the gibberish, eventually relenting and admittedly learning a lesson about composition.

Sunday 14 August 2022

brackets, in kilohertz, closed brackets (10. 058)

In winter of 1978 in response to a newly brokered international broadcasting frequency allocation scheme, much of the BBC’s presence on the radio dial shifted and to pass this information to the listening public, the Broadcasting Corporation commissioned the a capella vocal ensemble The King’s Singers to harmonise a series of psalm settings to list the changed stations. It was released as a single by EMI Records as the transition was coming into effect called “Some Enchanted Wavelength.” After this pause for station identification, the public became endeared to the group for the 1984 televised documentary series on minstrel traditions in Western Europe called The Madrigal History Tour in deference to the Beatles’ album. Listen to more announcements in anticipation of the 23 November changes, please click here.

Thursday 11 August 2022

come on down to fifty-four (10. 051)

Released on this day in 1978, the eponymous second studio album from the band, C’est Chic (Trรฉs Chic in Europe), not only includes their signature funk, disco number “Le Freak,” other tracks “Chic Cheer,” “Savoir Faire” and “I Want Your Love” also did exceedingly well in the charts, prompting not only climbing to and holding number one international but also the album’s inclusion on the US Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically and artistically significant.” The song commemorates the New Year’s Eve party at Studio 54 that the bandmates did not get to attend, despite having been invited by Grace Jones—she neglected apparently to inform the doormen and bouncers, and originally had the refrain “F— you!” instead of “Freak out!,” which was the response of club staff when refusing bassist Bernard Edwards and guitarist Nile Rodgers entrance.

Friday 10 June 2022

meditate in my direction

Reaching number one on UK and US singles charts on this day in 1978, the John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John duet from Grease (released as the second single, “Hopelessly Devoted to You” was the lead, from the original movie soundtrack) was written specifically for Sandy Olsson and was not in the stage version and not universally admired among the production team as not fitting with the rest of the score. The number from the Warren Casey lyric was to be “All Choked Up,” an Elvis pastiche with Sandy being a bit more forward with T-Bird leader Danny Zuko.

Thursday 2 June 2022

capricorn one

The 1978 conspiracy thriller by Peter Hyams starring Karen Black, Elliott Gould, James Brolin, Sam Waterston, OJ Simpson, Hal Holbrook and Telly Savalas, considered the most successful independent production of that year, premiered in cinemas on this day and tells the story of an aborted crewed mission to Mars whose members are kidnapped from the launchpad—the life-support systems deemed unfit for purpose—and transported to a film studio, under duress with their families under threat—to complete their journey of exploration in front of the cameras. Fearing another blow to public interest and confidence in the space programme and attendant loss of billions in contracts, NASA administrators force the astronauts to act out their Martian adventure. Unfortunately this plot strengthened and perpetuated the theory that the Moon landing was faked and directed by Stanley Kubrick with The Shining being a veiled confession for his involvement in the deception.

Wednesday 18 May 2022

yea i didn’t falter—just kept on going, man! i knew nirvana was straight around the corner. i turned the corner and ran smack into betty crocker! she was running across the sky yelling you never outgrow your need for milk:

The low-budget 1978 sci-fi movie Laserblast starring Roddy McDowall (previously), Kim Milford (original cast member of Hair, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and both Jesus and Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar), Cheryl Lynn “Rainbeaux” Smith and introducing Eddie Deezen received the MST3K treatment on this day in 1996 as the season finale of its seventh and last on the Comedy Central cable channel, before being untethered (the Umbilicus of the Satellite of Love cut) the mad scientist lair Deep 13 and drifting into interstellar space—foreshadowing its imminent move to the Sci-Fi network. A teenage loner discovers a powerful piece of alien technology that slowly corrupts him and compels him to seek revenge (a popular genre at the time) against those who’ve wronged him.

enmod

Signed on this day in 1977 in Geneva—the Environmental Modification Convention—formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques—entering into force in October the following year, the international treaty—party to some eighty nations and binding for all UN members after ratification, it originally bans weather warfare to induce damage or famine. Expanded later to include instances of destructive geoengineering and modification to the atmosphere, the subject of herbicides, like Agent Orange, is contentiously unaddressed as how the framework of this convention might now be interpreted and applied to those territories most vulnerable to the effects of global warming and sea rise.

Friday 11 March 2022

you had a temper like my jealousy, too hot, too greedy

The debut single from Kate Bush “Wuthering Heights”—arranged aged nineteen and inspired by the Emily Brontรซ novel (see previously here and here) began a four week run on the top of UK charts on this day in 1978. The record company had wanted instead to lead with the single “James and the Cold Gun” from the album, but at the artist’s insistence, her signature, phenomenal composition won out. Much more—including the music video plus cos-play—at the links above.

Wednesday 16 February 2022

xmodem

Emerging from the disruption and necessary respite, downtime afforded by the Great Blizzard of 1978 that blanketed much of the US Midwest, computer hobbyists Ward Christensen and Randy Suess of Chicago created the programme and platform to host the world’s first Computerised Bulletin Board System (see also) on this day of the same year, inventing much of the accepted protocol and terminology for messages, threads and forums.