Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor & The Explosions: You Got It (Release It)

Well, I’ll probably catch some flack over my decision for the artist to be featured on this the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands. Since there are no songs I know of that deal with the subject of Pearl Harbor, I decided to go with a band that’s named in honor of the home of the Pacific Fleet – Pearl Harbor and the Explosions.

Generally categorized as a new wave band, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions released their debut LP in 1979 and their single “Driving” was a local hit in their hometown of San Francisco – this caught the attention of the A&R department of Warner Brothers Records who signed the band and re-released the LP and single.

Even a cover version by Jane Aire and the Belvederes was released before Warners could get the single out. Neither version charted within the Hot 100. It was a typical new wave record and this was responsible for the band’s small, but not mainstream, following.

The second single, “You Got It (Release It),” probably should have been the LP’s first single, as it was extremely commercial sounding. This 1980 release had everything Top 40 radio could want: a catchy hook, great harmonies and instrumentation, tight production, and a length of only two minutes and 29 seconds.

Warners, however, wanted capitalize on the regional value of “Driving”; however, mainstream radio was not ready for it. Top 40 programmers turned off by “Driving” probably never gave “You Got It” a listen – and truth be known, since “Driving hadn’t attracted national attention, it probably was not a priority for Warner Brothers’ promotions team either. Pity.

If they would have released “You Got It” first, it probably would have been a top 10 single, thus leading the way for exposure for their less than mainstream singles such as “Driving” and “Shut up and Dance.” The latter being a better choice than “Driving” for a follow-up.

Pearl Harbor, whose name is listed as Pearl E. Gates (real? – I doubt it), later experienced some minor chart action with a remake of Wanda Jackson’s “Fujiyama Mama.” I was trying to find the studio recording of that one, but alas, it is not on YouTube. A live version with the Clash is available, but her vocals are down in the mix more than I like. Besides, this is a better representation of what could have been a hit record.

None of their songs made it into the Hot 100 – this one should have though. Therefore, I cannot classify it as a one-hit wonder – so today’s theme resurrects the “Anything Goes Wednesday” category.

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