Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye

There are two different clips of this song on YouTube, and now both of them are on the Pop Culture Institute as well...

Probably the most famous of Tammi Terrell's duets with Marvin Gaye, Ain't No Mountain High Enough was written by an equally famous duo - Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson - in 1966, and was recorded by Terrell and Gaye in 1967. It was an even bigger hit for Diana Ross in 1970, as she was separating from The Supremes; personally I prefer the less bombastic arrangement being used here.
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Remembering... Tammi Terrell

Tammi Terrell was both prettier than Diana Ross and had a better voice than Diana Ross; so what did Diana Ross have that made her a major star, while Terrell laboured in relative obscurity until her tragically early death?

PhotobucketThe short answer, of course, is 'Berry Gordy's dick inside her', but given that the long answer is 'Berry Gordy's dick way up inside her' doesn't even begin to address either the unfairness that is the music industry or the epic unfairness that was Motown Records, let alone the most unfair thing of all - namely life.

Had Terrell not succumbed to a brain tumour on this day in 1970 - at the age of only 24 - she might be performing still as her chief rival continues to innovate her own brand of crazy. The point is, we will never know; still, it's pondering those unknowables that keeps things interesting around the Pop Culture Institute.

In the meantime, Terrell's music lives on; her duets with another tragic Motown star named Marvin Gaye set the standard for the Motown sound. Following the death of his lovely young singing partner - and at the height of his career - Gaye took a hiatus; when he finally re-emerged from his grief he'd produced his 1971 album What's Going On, which was a major hit, and thought to be inspired by her death.

Tammi's story is told in the memoir My Sister Tommie, written by Terrell's sister Ludie Montgomery (with Vickie Wright).

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Pop History Moment: The Taking of Aldo Moro

On this day in 1978, terrorists with Italy's extreme left Red Brigades carried out a daring daylight kidnapping of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro, killing his retinue of five bodyguards in the process.

PhotobucketThe kidnapping occurred in Rome, in the Via Fani; as Moro was being driven to Parliament his car was overtaken by a white Fiat and a man on a motorcycle. The Fiat then braked hard, causing Moro's driver to crash into it. Before his men could begin firing they were all killed, and Moro was taken hostage. The Red Brigades immediately took responsibility for the crime, stating that their aim was to 'hit at the heart of the state'.

Since all known members of the Red Brigade were then in jail for other crimes, this group was sometimes called the Second Red Brigade; their leader at the time was Mario Moretti.

In the days following Moro's abduction the country descended into a virtual police state, especially in the vicinities of Rome and Naples, where it was thought Moro was being held; at the same time the country erupted in a general strike. In the tense days that followed Pope Paul VI even offered himself as a hostage in exchange for Moro's release.

One concession to compassion offered him by his captors is that Moro was allowed to send letters to his family and colleagues while in captivity; these were not published in their entirety until the 1990s, when it was discovered that more than a few of them were critical of Giulio Andreotti, a Christian Democrat who was then Prime Minister whose alleged ties to the Mafia made him a chief suspect in the Moro Affair.

Moro was seen as one of the country's most patient diplomats, and at the time he was taken he was on his way to vote on what was known as the Compromesso storico (the 'historic compromise') which would have seen the Communists - who had won big in that country's June 1976 general election - sharing power in Italy for the first time; Moro, as the former leader of (and still one of the leading lights in) the Christian Democrats, had brokered this bill. His abduction put an end to it.

For 55 days the country waited on tenterhooks, until May 9th - when the rest of the story will be told...
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"All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You" by Heart

Birthday wishes go out today to Nancy Wilson - whom dupes to the patriarchy like me might refer to as Mrs. Cameron Crowe, even despite their recent divorce - but whom rock fans will best know as the blonde half of the trailblazing rock duo Heart.

Heart's output contains much quality material, from gentle ballads to hard rock, but far and away the worst of them is this little ditty which, while it was their biggest hit, was also their last; it turns out, rock fans did not respect them in the morning. Released in March 1990 from their album Brigade, All I Wanna Do Is Make Love To You was written by Robert 'Mutt' Lange - whom dupes to the matriarchy like me (turns out I'm easily duped - who knew?) will know as Mr. Shania Twain, even despite their somewhat less recent divorce - and it features such an egregious display of male fantasy female behaviour that I just couldn't resist holding it up for ridicule here.

Keeping in mind the song was released in 1990, the woman in the video a) picks up a hitch-hiker on a dark, deserted road, b) takes him to a motel, and c) fucks his brains out. Nowhere in the video is there a condom (let alone pepper spray). We're expected to believe that because the guy's hot he's okay ('cause Ted Bundy was such an uggo); the lyrics are similarly icky, but I won't repeat them here because a) you can listen to them for yourself, and b) I'm trying to keep my dinner down*.

In the end, though, it's alright because she simply needed a sperm donor; the man she loves can't give her a baby, and she really wants one, so she's forced to conduct this brazen spunk mugging to get one**. This sort of thing happens all the time, apparently. Yeah, maybe in porno.

*From yesterday!
**Because then as now there are no sperm banks...
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POPnews - March 16th

[From its commanding position on the western bank of the Hudson River adjacent to Highland Falls 80 km (50 miles) north of New York City, West Point has been witness to the sweep of American history from the treason of Benedict Arnold in July 1780 (during which he attempted to turn the fort over to the British, an event known to history as the Betrayal at West Point) to the first graduate Joseph Gardner Swift in 1794 right through to the current day, although it's a little-known fact that most of its pupils have been trained as engineers. The entire site was made a national landmark in 1960.]

1190 - At least 150 Jews were massacred at York (on the day of the Jewish feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol, which is the shabbat before Passover) when an angry mob led by Richard de Malbis which had been laying siege to a building on the site of Clifford's Tower - a prominent part of York Castle where they'd earlier sought and been granted refuge - breached their ersatz Masada*; it was more likely his massive debt with agents of the banker Aaron of Lincoln**, though, that inspired de Malbis to encourage the frenzy in the first place, rather than any religious conviction***. Many of those trapped inside, including Yom Tov of Joigny, committed suicide rather than submit to the worst ravages of the mob; it turns out they didn't honour the promise they made to not harm the survivors after all... 

*Eventually setting it ablaze with all the compassion and integrity we've come to associate with his co-religionists ever since the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE made them as uppity as all get out!
**Who had - under the aegis of his bank - made possible the building of the Abbey of St. Albans, Lincoln Minster, Peterborough Cathedral, and no fewer than nine Cistercian abbeys, and who was, at the time of his death in 1186, the second wealthiest man in England, after only the King, Henry II, who was nevertheless heavily in his debt.
***Religious self-righteousness being the most convenient cover for a multitude of sins, including greed.

1322 - At the Battle of Boroughbridge during the First War of Scottish Independence Edward II's troops led by Sir Andrew Harclay defeated forces loyal to the King's cousin, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster; also killed in the fracas was Humphrey de Bohun, 4th Earl of Hereford. The rest of the rebellious nobles were captured, charged with treason, and executed - three of them (the Lords Clifford, Mowbray, and Deynville) by being hung in chains from York Castle. 

1521 - Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines during his circumnavigation of the world. 

1621 - Samoset, of the Mohegan nation, visited the settlers of Plymouth Colony, greeting them in their own language with the words 'Welcome, Englishmen! My name is Samoset' - which gave them quite a shock let me tell you. 

1660 - England's aptly-named Long Parliament - originally called in November 1640 - finally disbanded itself after having executed Charles I, survived Oliver Cromwell, and made way for the triumphant return of Charles II. 

1689 - The 23rd Regiment of Foot or Royal Welch Fusiliers was founded to oppose the impending Catholicization of England under James II, finally earning the honorific 'royal' during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713. Having seen much action during the American Revolution, the Boer War, and World War I, in February 2006 they were amalgamated with the Royal Regiment of Wales to form a new large regiment called the Royal Welsh. 

1792 - King Gustav III of Sweden was fatally shot by Jacob Johan Anckarström (aided by Claes Horn and Adolf Ribbing) during a masked ball at the Royal Opera House in Stockholm, finally succumbing to his injuries on March 29th. 

1802 - The United States Military Academy at West Point was established. 

1815 - Prince Willem of the House of Orange-Nassau proclaimed himself King Willem I of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, making him Holland's first constitutional monarch. 

1861 - Edward Clark became Governor of Texas, replacing Sam Houston, who was evicted from office for refusing to take an oath of loyalty to the Confederacy. 

1939 - Egypt's Princess Fawzia married Iran's Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi; they were divorced 'for her safety' in November 1948 following the birth of their only offspring, Princess Shahnaz Pahlavi.   In March 1949 Her Majesty married Ismail Hussain Shirin Bey and thus forfeited her Iranian titles; her ex-husband, meanwhile, would marry Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari and Farah Diba in turn.

1952 - In Cilaos - a town on the tiny French holding of Réunion in the Indian Ocean - 1,870mm (73 inches) of rain fell in one day, setting a new world record. 

1953 - Yugoslavia's Marshal Josip Broz Tito arrived for a five-day State Visit to the United Kingdom, during which time he was entertained by Her Majesty The Queen. 

1968 - Between 350 and 500 Vietnamese villagers - men, women, and children - were killed by American troops during the My Lai massacre. 

1976 - Britain's Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, resigned, taking the Nation quite by surprise; unbeknownst to most people, Wilson was then in the first stages of Alzheimer's disease. 

1978 - The supertanker Amoco Cadiz split in two after running aground on Portsall Rocks, three miles off the coast of Brittany, resulting in what is now the 5th-largest oil spill in history - but which was then the largest. In all 1.6 million barrels (219,797 tons) were lost, of which less than 20% was recovered... 

1985 - American Associated Press journalist Terry Anderson was taken hostage in Beirut; after six years and nine months in captivity he would be released in December 1991. 

1988 - On the orders of Saddam Hussein the Kurdish town of Halabjah in Iraq was bombed with a mix of poison gas and nerve agents during the Halabja poison gas attack, killing thousands of people in the process.  On the plus side, the attacks used up the weapons of mass destruction Hussein had bought from the very same Western powers who years later invaded Iraq in search of those very same weapons! 

1995 - Mississippi formally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery, 130 years after such a measure had been approved by Congress.
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