Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Autograph - Sign In Please (RCA, 1984)

Finally, I'm able to explain the "Russian Confusion" that plagues these L.A. sleazesters like German troops trapped in a Moscow blizzard. In 1985, Soviet art-rockers Avtograph participated in the Live Aid music festival. Despite not being able to make the trip in person, their performance was simulcast from a stage in the USSR. Avtograph's ELP-meets-King Crimson exhibition appreciably assisted in the feeding of hungry children, but audiences on two continents didn't exactly join hands in the soup kitchen. Roughly five minutes into the set, the BBC mistakenly switched to footage of berry pickers in Bulgaria being interviewed for a documentary. Avtograph's profile was soon exiled to Siberia, but the tainted juice from the spoiled fruit would squeeze the memories of music fans many years after the Cold War.

Turning to the Stars 'N' Stripes signature, Steve Plunkett (lead vocals/guitar), Steve Lynch (lead guitars), Randy Rand (bass/vocals), Keni Richards (drums) and Steven Isham (keyboards/vocals) chose their band name after hearing Def Leppard's "Photograph." The runner-up pick? Krackatoa. When a demo tape caught the attention of David Lee Roth, Autograph were selected to open 48 dates on Van Halen's 1984 tour. Two months later, the band inked a deal with RCA in the dressing room after a show at Madison Square Garden. Flying back to L.A. to work on the debut album proved to be an easy task, since Autograph had been playing most of the songs from it on tour. The last track written for Sign In Please? If you've seen the opening credits for "Hot Tub Time Machine," you should be able to name that tune within five notes.

Reaching #28 on Billboard, "Turn Up The Radio" was an enduring anthem for rockers of several stripes. Whether you were a Def Lep pyromaniac, a Van Halen jumper or a Night Ranger motorist, the chances you skipped out on work/school in order to crank the knob up to 11 and beyond were greater than seeing the Celtics and/or Lakers in the NBA Finals. Steve Lynch's eight-fingered soloing won him an award in a popular guitar mag. Bet some mean mimicking was done on brooms and brushes! Songs like these benefit from the hugeness of glossy production and upfront synths. I've heard the demo version on the Missing Pieces collection, and the in-your-face attitude on all fronts was sorely lacking. My brother Brian, not normally a huge fan of this style, would undoubtedly rank "Turn Up The Radio" on his list of the 250 greatest songs in the history of music. Like Ratt's "Round And Round" and Twisted Sister's "I Wanna Rock," it makes an instant impression and causes repeated abuse of volume buttons.

The video for "Send Her To Me" features a bevy of teased-out babes coming out of a wooden box and joining the band on stage. Weird fact: Steve Plunkett is the writer and performer of the theme to the 7th Heaven TV show. In lieu of galloping groupies, I would like an order of Jessica Biel. Have you ever seen her do a cartwheel or the splits? It'll change your life! Song titles don't come any clumsier than "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Isn't Me." Here's a lyrical moment that's equally awkward: "You know it makes him feel so bad/To know her kids want to call me Dad." For the mom in a mini-skirt, I'd suggest choosing the chap who gives the children more cheddar at Chuck E. Cheese's. Until today, I had no idea that Steve Lynch was related to George Lynch (Dokken) in a brotherly way. Perhaps they could hang out with Merrill Lynch on "Friday" and attempt to sell the hooks from the song to 38 Special. In "Thrill Of Love," the ageless recipe is "Human equation: A + B." But what if you're part of a 27-person orgy? Do the letters become lowercase?

Maria Sharapova is a Russian who talks like an American. Nikita Koloff is an American who talks like a Russian. Beware of Bulgarian berries.

-Gunther 8544

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