Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Kings - "This Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide" (1980)

Paul McCartney was the pioneer of segue songs -- you get two, two, two songs in one. Once he left the Beatles, he went segue song crazy, even to this day. The one that started it all, of course, was "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey."

Next to McCartney, the most famous one in my book is by this Canadian band called The Kings, who blew out the charts in the new wave heyday of 1980 with "This Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide." Teaming up with super producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, Kiss), The Kings created one of the pluckier party songs of the time and it still sounds great cranked up in the car.

When I was in graduate school, one of my roommates was always quoting one of the lines from the "Switching to Glide" part of the songs, which I think was his favorite: "Nothing matters but the weekend/From a Tuesday point of view."

The Kings represented everything that was going right with the New Wave style of music -- it was heavily indebted to early 60's rock and roll with basic instrumentation. The song starts with an overdriven rhythm guitar playing your standard major 5th/6th boogie riff, joined by the cheesy Farfisa sounding organ, then the drums, and then lead singer David Diamond's greasy come-on to the girls to party:

Hey Judy, get Trudy,
You said to call you up if I was feeling moody,
Hey little Donna, still wanna?
You said to ring you up if I was in Toronto.
I have lots of friends that I can ding at anytime.
Can mobilize some laughs with just some call.
Like a bunch of lunatics, we'll act till way past dawn,
Sure, we'll be rockin' till our strength is gone,
Yeah, this beat goes on!

After boogying for a minute or so with the girls, there's a big synth swoop down, sort of like the song's bookmark, and it's into the march beat intro of "Switching To Glide." Ramming down on power chords between lines, Diamond sings those famous lines (with those guitar chords notes in the bars):

Nothing matters but the weekend [bam, bam]
From a Tuesday point of view [bam, bam]
Like a kettle in the kitchen [bam, bam],
I feel the steam begin to brew [snare snap]
Switching to glide!

You can distinctly hear the the 8th note chords playing in military precision during the "Switching To Glide" chorus, the organ bashing the chords, and a new synth echoing the "glide."

One of my favorite little production tricks is the second verse, when following the line "Energy can be directed," where he says "I'm turning it up, I'm turning it down" and he literally goes up the scale and then down, along with the rest of the band. It's a very striking and funny part of this truly great song.

The Kings followed with other albums that never quite caught on here at all, although they had some later success in their native Canada.

One piece of advice: some new wave music CD compilations only have one half of the song, either "This Beat Goes On" or "Switching To Glide." Do not accept substitutions or cut-in-half songs! Get it only if it's the whole thing!

Below is an exhilarating video as described by band member "Mister Zero" in an e-mail to me: "The video was cut to the studio version of the song from over 40 sources, all live in concert except the 'American Bandstand' footage which I obtained legally from Dick Clark's company."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You hit on a good one here! One of the best songs made in the last quarter of the 20th century! The guys are still at it, but you'll likely have to Ontario to see them. Well worth the trip I took last year, all the way from West Coast. Hopefully this summer will spawn the DVD that Zero's been working on for the past several years. That one should be really FUN. Kent, Portland, Oregon