David Foster Is Playing With Fire…And Chicago’s Horn Section!

Because David Foster + Chicago Horn Section = AWESOMENESS!

The Hit Man Hits The Wallet!

Ah, the famous “I got your money!” look.

A few years ago, I gifted my mom with every David Foster CD I could find. From the glory of the Hit Man concert DVD/CD combos (there are two different concerts), to River of Love, and even The Symphony Sessions (an album I wasn’t sure she’d like, but was something I really loved hearing on I Heart Radio), my mom and I would bond over listening to Foster’s piano-playing prowess (so much alliteration!!!!), and the ability to make any song an epic listening experience!

One of the other albums I found during all the searches was actually Foster’s debut album, titled, simply (because only he can!), David Foster. For someone who spent his career up until that point writing songs and producing hits for other artists, Foster had only put out one album of his own work, The Best of Me, in 1983. This album, released in 1986, was a collaboration of Foster and the friends and people he had worked with previously. That was, my friends, a whole lotta people.

Friends and Associations

David Foster’s list of hits and production contributions is numerous and far-reaching. In the 1980s, he was (at least partially) responsible for giving Chicago the big comeback they needed following the disco disaster of 1979. So when Foster was ready to release his self-titled albm, he called on a few friends. Of which he has many.

Three of those friends just happen to be a trio (part of a larger band) hailing from the Windy City, who happen to be quite handy with brass instruments, backup vocals, and two of the three are responsible for the Street Player dance (begins at 3:00)…

Uploaded by saskatchawan

Oh that dance.

The trio Foster called upon to provide their horns are none other than James Pankow, Lee Loughnane, and Walter Parazaider, the horn section that gives Chicago that “rock with horns” thing they’re known for!

The song this triple threat provided their magic for was “Playing with Fire,” an amazing instrumental piece that also features drummer Tris Imboden (pre-Chicago), who is half of this awesome duel…

Uploaded by bratalishus

This song is one of several in a great instrumental lineup that this album offers. I should note that I covered tapDANCE (yes, that is how it is listed on the album) in a previous Retroist article. I’ll have to cover the rest of this album at another time, but for now, please enjoy the music, by clicking play!

Uploaded by David Foster – Topic

Can “Clean Slate” Run With the Big Dogs?

I’m not sure if Clean Slate could run with anything, to be perfectly honest.

Busy Weekend

My weekend involved grocery shopping and running to Toys R Us to buy something not for me…

The gift is worthy, photos got likes, and well…I can’t fit my butt and hips into this chair.

No, I didn’t try to sit on it.

Revisiting

One of the other things I did over the weekend was tape transfers. I am always pleasantly surprised when I revisit my video collection and actually watch the trailers.  I remember the days of fast forwarding through the beginning of all my videos, being impatient and just wanting the movie to start. These days, I’m a tad more patient with commercials and movie trailers.

Being nostalgic, and a nostalgia writer, has given me the patience and wanting to slow it down and actually watch the things I fast forwarded through in my uninformed youth. In doing so, I’m finding out about movies I didn’t even know existed, spotting commercials I had forgotten about for years, and I even spotted this “special feature” that showed up long before there were DVDs and actual special features.

Strange enough, I only knew Space Ghost as a talk show host before I knew he was actually a 1960s Hanna-Barbera cartoon.

I don’t ramble on and on because there is no point, but all of these fun discoveries (and, in this case, re-discovery) lead me to one of my finds worthy of Retroist.

Running With the Big Dogs…

Chances are, you have seen at least some aspect of the sportswear company called Big Dogs. It was the Dad Wear of choice in the 1990s, long before there was such as term as “dad wear” and “Dad Bod.”  They sell everything from t-shirts to sweatshirts, loungewear to boxer shorts, and even accessories for people and, well…their dogs.

The shirts often had “humorous” sayings that were the kind of things dads wore around their 1990s kids because the felt like they were being cool. I’ve equated Big Dogs to being the “No Fear” of the 1990s psuedo cool adult set. Remember those shirts? I had two of them. But I also remember Big Dogs.

Surprisingly, I don’t remember any kind of advertising for the company, just that I saw men wearing the shirts, as they seemed to advertise themselves.

The other night (in the midst of the tape transfers and “adulting”), I was working on a tape transfer of my 1994 VHS print of Clean Slate. You may remember it as that other romantic comedy Dana Carvey starred in, after Opportunity Knocks proved Carvey wasn’t the first name that came to mind when you heard “romantic comedy.” I loved Opportunity Knocks, and I know I loved Clean Slate back when, but I’m not really sure how I would feel about it now.

Anyway, when I was watching the previews before the movie, there was this one commercial that used the feature film as a tie-in, if only to give people who ordered from the catalog a discount. To me, it is notable as the only advertising I’ve ever seen for Big Dogs, and I obviously had forgotten about it.

Sandy…From Santa Barbara

The commercial features a group of sad-sack type office people, who are groaning about needing an “outside consultant.” These people are complaining to Mr. Magilicuddy. This “outside consultant” is named Sandy…which is only appropriate because she comes from Santa Barbara.

Why is that relevant?!

Sandy beaches.

Oh dear.

Santa Barbara, Sandy explains, is also home to Big Dog. She launches into the catchphrase of Big Dog, to which the office people give the same exact look I’m making while watching this commercial.

And then she uses Big Dogs catchphrases as insults towards the group (especially “Clark”) before we see clips of cool, successful people wearing Big Dogs clothes.

They’re all not “Clark.” We then find out that there are Big Dog stores throughout the United States, as well as a catalog.

But wait, there’s more!

First-time catalog shoppers can get a 10% discount just by mentioning the movie Clean Slate. And while I’m sure the customer service representative who takes your order knows about the promo, chances are they probably didn’t see the movie. Because no one really did.

Except for me, and the people who are reading this. Because Retroist readers and contributors always seem to be ahead of the curve, even with box office bombs.

We’re the smart bunch, and way cooler than this office crowd.

We’re given a toll free number…

And Sandy throws more insults disguised as Big Dog-isms, before we’re reminded of the discount offer and phone number again.

But don’t take my well-written words for it – click play and get sucked in by corporate madness and big dogs!

Uploaded by Allison Venezio

And my takeaway from all this? Be cool. Wear Big Dogs. Be like Sandy.10% discount on your first order. Clean Slate. Don’t forget to mention Clean Slate. Don’t be like “Clark.”

Lead follow, or get out of the freakin’ way…”Clark.”

Be Like Allison…

Can you run with Allison? Don’t stay on the porch…unless the porch is Allison’s Written Words. You can also follow her blog on Facebook, and she’s on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.

Be like her.

These Itty Bittys Have Got the Touch!

These Itty Bittys are also “more than meets the eye.”

You’ve got your cheesy jokes, I’ve got mine.

Random Visit

I was at the mall recently, which isn’t much of a stretch, being female and all. My mall visits wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop in Hallmark. I usually try to avoid the store unless I am buying a gift, because I’m always bound to find something I don’t need, but really need to have.

For the uninitiated among us, that’s an impulse buy. The only difference between myself and most women is that other women usually splurge on shoes, clothes, and purses. My impulse buys are usually of the fun variety. And if that isn’t geek enough, nothing is.

Anyways, shopping…

I’ve been collecting in dribs and drabs from Hallmark’s Itty Bitty collection, ever since I bought my mom a Mickey Mouse Itty Bitty as part of her birthday gift in 2014. Since then, I’ve collected a few myself.

Someone will construct fan fiction around this photo.

What had started (at least, as far as I can recall) as Disney characters soon became characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC Comics, The Muppets, Rainbow Brite, Star Wars, and various other licensed properties and classic films, soon gave way to these “robots in disguise,” disguised here as mini plushies…

“Itty Bitty” Robots In Disguise

That’s right, the Autobots and Decepticons continue to fight in their newest form, and, well…they’re cute.

“Cute” and “Transformers.” Not really something you’d normally see in the same sentence, right? Well, for this purpose, you’re seeing it!

These adorable additions to the Itty Bitty line are, in fact, smiling Transformers characters – Hallmark is offering up a few of the most important characters…

That’s right – Bumblebee, Megatron, Optimus Prime, and Soundwave. All plush, all tiny, and (almost all) smiling. It is mind-blowing yet not surprising for these little toys, since (with a few minor exceptions) they all smile.

When I was shopping on the particular day I came across these, I had spotted Ant-Man in one of the various bins holding the Itty Bittys. I only meant for him to be an impulse buy.

And Optimus Prime was smiling up at me, and he melted my heart.

To steal a line from Star Wars (and reconfigure it slightly), he was the robot I wanted.

To steal another movie line (this time from Jerry Maguire), he had me at hello.

It was an impulse buy that more than met the eye, the wallet, and the happiness factor.

Those are the best kinds of impulse buys. :-)

Be sure to take a look at the rest of Hallmark’s Itty Bitty collection, which now includes pretty much anything you can think of, and a few fun surprises and treats thrown in.

Including Clark Kent.

Old Days…Good Times Some Didn’t Have!

I’ve written alot of Chicago song-related pieces in my nostalgic days.

I may have a problem. And if that problem is that I appreciate great music, then so be it!

I actually got the idea to write this while I was sick last week, which doesn’t seem like much of an excuse when I’m always penning Chicago articles, but I figured a preface wasn’t such a bad idea.

Anyways…

A Chicago State of Mind…

This particular “dealing with a sinus infection” day involved watching something totally different from my usual sick day viewing (which is usually Mystery Science Theater 3000). And yet, this is not so different at all. I decided I REALLY wanted to watch my Chicago In Chicago Blu-Ray for the second time. Yes, only the second time since I bought it. I blame watching that Chicago documentary again.

Because nothing quite says “taking care of sinus pain” quite like blaring trumpets, don’t you think?

Old Days, Young Voices

While watching it, I spotted a detail that I must have shuffled aside amid clashing thoughts and randomness the first time I watched. Maybe it is because I listen to the studio albums and the original singers are on those albums, so it can be forgiven.

During the portion of the concert where the guys perform “Old Days,” I realized that the vocals are not that of Jason Scheff, who coverd the Peter Cetera vocals for 31 years, but instead are the vocals of this guy.

“That guy” is Keith Howland, the lead guitarist and vocalist for Chicago since joining the group in 1995. He arrived to audition without an invitation, got a chance meeting with (now former) lead bassist and vocalist Jason Scheff, and was offered the job on the same day of his last-minute audition. He’s still with the group today, though in the first few years, he was not a lead vocalist. That chance came when he sang “Jolly Old Saint Nicholas” for the group’s second Christmas album in 2003.

One thing I was not aware of (and obviously I paid attention to this at the concert) was that he can cover Peter Cetera vocals like a boss. That’s right – Jason Scheff may have had similar vocals to Cetera, but Howland has an impressive sound as well, kind of a rock sound that adds a sense of “newness.” One of those songs he sings in concert is “Old Days,” and he adds a strong, younger voice to it. Keith Howland, I found out, took turns singing this song with Jason Scheff until Scheff left the group, which means they “job shared” the Cetera vocals. Imagine that decision: “Oh, you can sing it tonight, and I’ll sing it tomorrow!”

Sidebar #1: Color me weird, but I have wondered what conversations about stuff like that sound like. Do they think it is as mundane to figure out who will be covering a song, as it is to make day-to-day work decisions like us regular people do everyday?

Do I think too much, and ask too many questions? Perhaps.

Back on track…

This is the video from the concert Blu-Ray, Chicago in Chicago. I think you’ll find it as impressive as I do.

Uploaded by Music on TV1

Keith, do you even know who Howdy Doody is, bro?

Good Times I Remember…

The song was penned in 1975 by trombonist James Pankow (the one who doesn’t mince words on the Chicago documentary), and first appeared on the group’s 1975 album Chicago VIII. You’re obviously familiar with the original version…

Uploaded by exclusivevids 1000

Sidebar #2: The 1970s were a magical time, weren’t they?

Pankow describes the song as a “nostalgic piece about his childhood,” as said on the original Chicago website:

“It touches on key phrases that, although they date me, are pretty right-on in terms of images of my childhood. ‘The Howdy Doody Show’ on television and collecting baseball cards and comic books.”

I also love how Pankow touches on visuals of the time, describing drive-in movies and a time that is gone away. Considering that he wasn’t even thirty years old in 1975 (he would have been twenty-seven, going on twenty-eight in 1975), James Pankow was obviously an old soul for nostalgia.

Does that sound like someone else you know?

Good Times Someone Else Didn’t Have…

Peter Cetera was the song’s original vocalist, and while he sings it with the same passion he sings everything else with, it turns out he wasn’t fond of singing “Old Days” live. The reason, you ask? He hated Howdy Doody. To that, I say “…and? When someone writes a song, but you’re the lead vocalist and the song’s composer asks YOU to sing it, you sing the song!”

And besides, when it is your job, you do the parts you don’t like. You’re getting paid, after all!

I wonder how Cetera would feel knowing that two much younger guys took over a song they probably don’t have a frame of reference for, yet sing like nostalgic old souls.

I had a really hard time finding a clip of Jason Scheff singing the song that wasn’t a well-mastered live version, but You Tube people are the best kind, especially when they post their concert videos:

Uploaded by Lockbxca

I don’t know about you, but regardless of who sings it, or that I don’t relate to the references made in the song, I feel nostalgic no matter what.

Effective songwriting? You bet!

This is hardly Allison’s first Chicago-themed article. She has so many more!

Chicago Did Disco?!

Chicago Proclaims Someone Else is “Bigger Than Elvis”

Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago?

Hard to Say I’m Sorry (That You May Never Have Heard this Chicago Song Before!)

Christmas With Horns