Friday, May 25, 2012

If You See Kay

Emerging as one of the most remarkably symbolic voices of the early 1980's language deconstruction movement, April Wine released its tenth album, the whimsically titled Power Play, which included the devastating single "If You See Kay" in July 1982. Harmonic and occasionally vague in its conception, the subliminal message of the primal and consistently textural post-crush operatic love ballad unleashed a veritable tsunami of theretofore confined oral expression. An entire generation reveled in this crystallizing moment.

"Dudes just totally spelled f-u-c-k on the radio!"

To further embolden the undeniable premise, the groundbreaking video burst onto the scene with a crescendo of subliminal visual references that rounded out at the 3:20 mark when flash cards dared to  replace the title words "you" and "see" with the letters U and C, thereby fearlessly glancing off the actual spelling of one of the "dirty seven" on television screens from coast to coast, and prophetically previewing today's abbreviated text speak. To call the orgiastic climax a simple "debut" denies its galvanizing impression.


While never conceding detail to realization, "If You See Kay" endures with quiet exaltation. As the effort nears it's 30th anniversary, its tangential message still evokes staggering echoes of not only its historical benchmark, but of its heroic (albeit circular) delineation of perceived and imagined boundaries.

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Anonymous said...

"If You See Kay" was a standard of the National Lampoon High School Yearbook parody...


B.E. Earl said...

The early 80's were a wonderful time for raunchy/awful rock and roll. See "I.L.B.T.'s" by Joe Walsh from 1983. He may have used an acronym for the title, but he proudly sang "I Like Big Tits" all through the song. And it still got a lot of radio play, if I remember correctly.

Erin O'Brien said...

Aerosmith's "My Big Ten Inch" comes to mind.

What kills me about "If You See Kay" is the image of these morons rolling around farting and laughing over their big accomplishment of spelling f-u-c-k right out there in the open.

The video is so bad, it should have gotten an award. The chick, the diving, the punk band members and--perhaps my favorite part--the Scrabble tiles screaming pay attention to the letters folks! all combine into one beautiful thing.

twinklysparkles said...

I have never heard this song (that I remember) and I'm pretty sorry I did. I didn't make it to the end.

But an interesting post, nonetheless!

One of the most embarrassing attempts at innuendo that comes to mind is "My Ding a Ling." Cringe-worthy. Yet I remember being in high school and thinking it funny. Not everything about getting older is bad.

Mike Lawless said...

The Church of Dude:

Kirk said...

What's ironic about that song is how musically safe it is. It's not punk, and it's not heavy metal. It's very middle-of-the-road, so middle-of-the-road, in fact, that, compared to it, Journey sounds like The Ramones. This was at the time that the Religious Right (yeah, they were around even back then, kiddies) were claiming that playing records backwards revealed satanic messages, Tipper Gore was lpbbying congress to apply a rating system to records, and Ozzy Osbourne achieved a kind of infamy for biting a head off a bat. So the fact that these musical moderates slipped by right under the radar is indeed impressive.

Kirk said...

That last sentence of mine didn't come out right. What I meant to say is, this song slipped under the rader BECAUSE it was so musically moderate. Impressive, assuming the band was aware of it's own moderation. For all I know, maybe they were disappointed over the lack of controversey. I certainly don't remember any controversey. I barely remember the song.

Erin O'Brien said...

Kirk, I don't remember any either. In fact, I don't remember why I remember this song to begin with.


philbilly said...

Oddly enough Ding-A-Ling was Chuck Berry's only Billboard #1 hit. I saw him every chance I could in the 60's and 70's, and when he played it, the crowd roared. Sort of a musical Red Foxx.

Then he returned the Rock & Roll he invented and we all went apeshit. He would, at last song, begin to play his guitar down into to an open case laying onstage, and if we went apeshit enough, and we did, he would haul it back up and go another 10 minutes of riff after riff. Bad Ass.

Anonymous said...

Here's the irony with censorship: These arrested-adolescent douchebags can still get radio play today, while songs recorded before Janet Jackson's desperate nip-slip scream for attention, and which were played for decades without interference, and which had important content be it social or political or heretical, are edited.

Erin O'Brien said...

Serious question, MR--can you give us any examples of the censored songs that fueled that rant?

alphadog said...

I'll give you an example of one Erin O'Brien.
Some of you oldsters may remember "Sweet Cream Ladies" by the BoxTops released in '68. I heard it one time on good old WIXY 1260 before it was unofficially banned (or maybe officially). That was some social commentary that I understood even at the tender age of thirteen.

Partial WV-titlyear. Getting my ear tickled by... well, you get the idea.

Anonymous said...


"Money" by Pink Floyd, "Some Girls" by the Stones "Dynamo Humm" by Zappa, "Stay Free" by the Clash...etc etc etc...did they think by editing the songs after Janet Jackson's nip slip we would FORGET what the lyrics were?