Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Steel Curtain Call for the Super Bowl's First Dynasty

ACCORDING TO CHINESE ASTROLOGY, the Year of the Ram started on Jan. 28, 1979 and ended on Feb. 15, 1980.

According to the Pittsburgh Steelers, it ended some three weeks earlier, with 12:15 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XIV, at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
Vince Ferragamo and Mean Joe Greene
(Sports Illustrated photo)

It ended, 40 years ago, with one of the most indelible plays in Super Bowl history.

The upstart Los Angeles Rams made it to pro-football's biggest stage despite winning just nine games during the regular season, the fewest ever to that date for a team appearing in the National Football League season finale.* The defending champion Steelers were making their fourth Super Bowl appearance in just six seasons, having won matches IX, X and XIII.

Led by its already legendary quarterback, Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh had gone 12-4 during the 1979 season, then beat the Miami Dolphins and Houston Oilers in the playoffs. They had the NFL's highest-scoring offense while their Steel Curtain defense had allowed the seventh fewest points.

Los Angeles QB Vince Ferragamo wasn't even his team's starter until the 12th game of the season, after a broken finger sidelined incumbent Pat Haden. Though he'd steered L.A. to an aggregate 6-1 record, the big game was just his eighth NFL start. Plus, the Rams had outscored their opponents by just 14 points during the regular season, beating the Tampa Buccaneers 9-0 for the conference championship.

Experts were predicting the biggest slaughter since Abraham spared Isaac.

The official game program
L.A.'s game-opening drive stalled on its own 26-yard-line after three plays for a net total of five yards. Then the Steelers went to work, Bradshaw deploying running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier to gain 55 yards, setting up a Matt Bahr field goal. Steelers 3, Rams 0.

Five minutes and nine plays later, L.A. answered back. Running back Wendell Tyler's 39-yard dance through Pittsburgh's defense put the Rams in the red zone. Moments later, Cullen Bryant bulled in from the one.  Rams 7, Steelers 3.

Early in the second quarter, Harris plowed into the end zone, putting Pitt back on top, 10-7. Then strange things started to happen, things that make odds-makers and bookies nervous.

Rams placekicker Frank Corral tied the game five minutes after Franco's plunge. Then, after the teams traded three-and-outs, L.A. defensive back Dave Elemendorf's interception of a Bradshaw pass led to another Corral F.G.

At halftime, the score stood: Los Angeles Rams 13, Pittsburgh Steelers 10.

With Pittsburgh's ground game struggling in the third, Bradshaw connected with Lynn Swann for a 47-yard TD, the Hall of Fame-bound wide receiver beating double coverage to haul in the heave.

Wendell Tyler on the run.
(Sports Illustrated photo)
The champs were back on top, 17-13, but the Rams refused to lay down.

Ferragamo quickly connected with Billy Waddy on a 50-yard passing play that put L.A. on the Pittsburgh 24. Running back Lawrence McCutcheon then tossed a half-back option TD pass to receiver Ron Smith.

Though Corral missed the extra point, it was Rams 19, Steelers 17 midway through the third and things were about to get even worse for Pittsburgh.

Swann, leaping high for a catch, had his legs cut out from under by a Rams defender. The acrobatic receiver landed hard on his right shoulder, his helmeted head slamming to the Rose Bowl turf. He left the game with concussion.

Bradshaw was intercepted twice more before the quarter's end, the second time when Rams cornerback Rod Perry caught a pass meant for the Steeler's remaining Hall-bound wideout, John Stallworth.

The third quarter wrapped with L.A. clinging to that slender two-point lead, but the Rams could do little with the possession gained by Perry's piracy. Their punt gave Pittsburgh possession on its own 25-yard-line with 12:59 left on the clock. Then, the Steelers galvanized.

A Harris run gained two yards. An incomplete pass left them there. It was third and eight on the Pittsburgh 27 when Bradshaw took the snap, dropped back about 10 yards, then uncorked one of the greatest throws in pro football history.

Perry leaps in vain as Stallworth gathers in the pass.
(Sports Illustrated photo)
His high tight spiral sailed 46 yards down field. Just clearing cornerback Rod Perry's outstretched hand, the ball was caught by Stallworth in full stride at the Rams' 36. With Perry lying prone on field, the Steelers receiver raced untouched to the end zone. Steelers 24, Rams 19.

The champs never looked back, scoring once more after a Ferragamo interception to seal the win, 31-19.

Despite three interceptions, Bradshaw was named the game's most valuable player, largely on the strength of 60 Prevent, Slot Hook and Go, a play they'd repeatedly tried and failed to execute in practice that week.

It would be Bradshaw's last Super Bowl. An elbow injury would force him to retire after the 1983 season.

The victory over the Rams also marked the end of the Pittsburgh Steeler dynasty, the first of the NFL's Super Bowl era. They'd not return to the big game until 1996.

* For a now-standard 16-game NFL season.

-- Follow me on Twitter @paperboyarchive

Monday, December 23, 2019

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" Wonder and Woe

"I DON'T LIKE MONDAYS" was one fucked up piece of pop music. A bouncy 1979 ditty inspired by the true story of a teen-aged girl who opened fire on a San Diego school yard killing two people and wounding nine just 'cause, its off-kilter sentiments have not aged well.

But a shot at redemption for its co-author, Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats, came just five years later in the form of perhaps the most impactful holiday song since Irving Berlin's wrote White Christmas back in 1942.

The sleeve for the Columbia Records single
As with Geldof's prior hit, Do They Know It's Christmas was inspired by a tragic situation with deadly consequences: famine in war-torn Ethiopia. Geldof's response to that disaster was epic, misguided, wonderful and misunderstood.

Recorded by some of the biggest stars of the era in U.K. and Irish pop under the moniker Band Aid and carried to the world by MTV at the peak of its influence, Do They Know It's Christmas reverberates to this day.

In their three-minute and fifty-second tune, Geldof and co-author Midge Ure of Ultravox shamed the Euro-American world for living in relative safety, security and plenty while those on the horn of Africa were starving to death, then urged people to open their hearts and their wallets to help.

Among those belting out their trenchant message were Sting, Bono, Phil Collins, Culture Club's Boy George, George Michael, Bananarama, Paul Young, Jody Watley, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet. In artfully pieced together solos, duets, trios and quartets they sang:

... But say a prayer, pray for the other ones. At Christmastime it's hard, but when you're having fun... There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of dread and fear.. Where the only water flowing, is the bitter sting of tears... And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom... Well tonight thank God it's them instead of you!

Then, pivoting to the thesis question:

And there won't be snow in Africa this Christmastime... The greatest gift they'll get this year is life... Where nothing ever grows... No rain nor rivers flow... Do they know it's Christmastime at all?

The obvious answer was yes, yes they knew it was Christmastime. Christianity had come to Ethiopia 1,600 years earlier, making it one of the oldest Christian nations on earth. Africa as a whole,  was and is heavily -- even if not predominantly -- Christian. That didn't stop critics from calling the sentiment Eurocentric and condescending.

Whether it felt like Christmas time was the issue. Yuletide greetings and neatly wrapped gifts all seem rather beside the point when there's nothing to eat at all, which lead to the point carried home by the ensemble chorus:

Feed the world! Let them know it's Christmas time again... Feed the world! Let them know it's Christmas time again... Feed the World! Let them know it's Christmas time again...

But that's where the real problems began. 

Do They Know It's Christmas was released on Dec. 3, 1984. Almost immediately it zoomed to the top of the U.K. charts where it perched on Christmas Day and selling more than three million copies there before the year was out. It sold another 2.5 million in the U.S. and 12 million worldwide. It also made money, perhaps as much as $28 million, intended for Ethiopian famine relief.

It spawned We Are the Worldan American counterpart single recorded in 1885 by Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Ritchie and other big stars who wrapped it in an L.P.'s worth of material under the banner USA for Africa. Then there was the trans-Atlantic benefit concert, Live Aid. Surely all of this frenetic activity would contribute to something positive. 

45 RPM foreign aid
And that's been a subject of some dispute.

While all this was going on, Ethiopia was ruled by a Soviet-backed dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam.  The famine, which killed an estimated 1.2 million people, happened on his watch and -- according to Human Rights Watch -- as a result of his policies, while the government he led fended off an insurgency.

Much of the money raised through all these efforts went not for food, but for weapons, according to a 1986 Spin Magazine expose. Over the ensuing four decades, Geldof has vehemently disputed this was the case.

While the cloud over his efforts and those of Ure and the performing artists has never truly dissipated, the song has endured, being remade in 1989, 2004 and yet again in 2014, the last time in service of raising money to combat an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Still, there was no time like that first time, 35 years ago this month.

-- Follow me on Twitter @paperboyarchive

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Jets, the Pats and Death from the Sky at Halftime

FOR 60 YEARS, the New York Jets and New England Patriots have regarded one another with a wariness befitting Cold War superpowers, using whatever treacherous means necessary to gain competitive advantage. Executives have been pirated, head coaches coaxed away, star players persuaded to defect.

December 9, 1979, at
Shea Stadium in NYC
Largely led by Bill Belichick, New England has dominated on the field of play, rolling up a 67-54-1 all-time record with six Super Bowl championships to the Jets' measly one. Two times Belichick was named head coach of the Jets, only to be demoted in 1997 after the Bill Parcells ploy backfired and only to resign in evident disgust when tabbed again in 2000, all without ever actually coaching a game for them.

There's been the evil of Spygate, the embarrassment of The Butt Fumble.

Twice the Patriots/Jets convergence has had near fatal consequences and once, 40 years ago this weekend, it was actually, literally, deadly.

In 1969, just days after designing the offensive scheme for the Jets' Super Bowl III victory, Clive Rush was hired by the Patriots as their head coach. On Feb. 12, he was given the honor of introducing the team's new general manager, George Sauer Sr. (father of the champion Jets receiver George Jr.).

Rush stepped up to the podium, gripped the microphone and began screaming as electricity from a short circuit coursed through his body, according to the Boston Globe. Were it not for a Patriots board member ripping out the wires running to a wall socket, Rush's coaching career -- and indeed his life -- might have ended right there.

Then, on Sept. 23, 2001, early in Belichick's second season as the Pats' head honcho, Jets linebacker Mo Lewis slammed into New England quarterback Drew Bledsoe as he sought to escape New York's pass rush. Bledsoe suffered a torn blood vessel in his chest. Only a team doctor's prompt decision to rush him to the Mass General emergency room kept the quarterback from dying.

While the quick thinking saved his life, it couldn't save his job as backup QB Tom Brady stepped in to the starting role and hasn't relinquished it to this day.

But in between the Rush Electrocution and the Bledsoe Bleed there was a third incident, during halftime of a game at New York's Shea Stadium, that took the life of not a player or coach but of a Patriots fan. It was an accident so improbable, so tragically bizarre, that even the urban legend detectives at felt compelled to confirm it really did happen.

It happened on Dec. 9, 1979. I was there with my pal, Eddie, my dad and more than 45,000 other people.

Game day souvenir

It was the last home game of the season at the gusty multipurpose stadium near the shore of Flushing Bay, perhaps two miles southeast of LaGuardia Airport. The 6-8 Jets had gone into the locker room with a 17-12 lead over the 8-6 Pats.

Mid-game entertainment would be provided by the Electronic Eagles of The Radio Control Association of New York, an organization of gas-powered remote-controlled model plane enthusiasts. Only these weren't ordinary planes or even the hobby drones now popular across the U.S. They were flying contraptions, one of which was configured to look like a lawnmower.

As the innocent, if ill-conceived stunt flying exhibition got underway, my pal and I had headed off to the souvenir stand in search of swag, leaving my dad holding a pair of high-powered Bushnell binoculars I'd received as a bar-mitzvah gift a year earlier. Our seats were in the upper deck on what would be Shea's first-base side during baseball season.

Dad, now nearly 87, picks it up from there:

"The lawnmower plane was flying clockwise around the playing field at about the height of the top of the grandstand, with an occasional swoop downward and over the seating area. I was standing, following the show with the binoculars. 

After a swoop or two at the seating area across the field the plane swooped in and failed to swoop out again, as was expected. Instead, it crashed into several spectators, who went down. The crowd started to chant "Sue! Sue! Sue! It stopped when the injured party (or parties) didn't get up, when the crowd realized that the injury was more serious than originally thought. 

I don't think anyone anticipated a fatality."

The lawnmower plane crashed into field level seats behind the Patriots' bench, along what would be the third-base side of the stadium, and into a crowd of New England fans who'd made the trip to Queens for the game.

Game day program
Kevin Rourke, 25, of Lynn, Massachusetts sustained a concussion, according to a New York Times report. Another fan, John Bowen, 20, of Nashua, New Hampshire, died from his injuries four days later at a hospital in New York City.

The Queens County District Attorney's Office ruled the incident an accident and declined to bring charges against the pilot of the wayward craft, Brooklyn auto body repairman Philip Cushman.  Bowen's father later filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the Jets, the Electronic Eagles and Cushman.

But from there the trail goes cold. I could find no official record of the case or how it ended.

In the third quarter, New England rallied for a brief 19-17 lead before the Jets added 10 more points. A late Patriots touchdown brought them to within one but New York held on to win, 27-26.

Just grown men playing a game.

-- Follow me on Twitter @paperboyarchive

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Padres and Tigers and Cubs, Oh My!!!

IT WAS THE MEAL NO ONE ORDERED, a freakish mix up in fate's kitchen that swapped the expected meat and potatoes for a Big Mac and Domino's Pizza.

It was Major League Baseball's 1984 post-season, which appeared destined to feature two storied franchises, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs, in a rematch of the immediately post-World War II 1945 World Series.

But destiny had other plans, turning a bull into a goat and momentarily making a guy best known for his bubble gum blowing prowess into a hero.

The Cubs had been absent from the Fall Classic for four decades, biding their time playing day games only at their antique ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison. The boys from Michigan and Trumbull hadn't fared much better, appearing only in the 1968 series where they upset the favored St. Louis Cardinals and ace Bob Gibson.

Their aggregate 78 prior seasons had yielded a grand total of two first-place finishes, one pennant and one championship, all by the Tigers.

But this was 1984. War was peace, ignorance was strength, slavery was freedom and the Cubs were contenders. Actually that last part wasn't Orwellian doublespeak, but literal truth. They were, in fact, National League East champs.

Led by budding superstar second-baseman Ryne Sandberg and pitcher Rick Sutcliffe, who reeled off a 16-1 record after being acquired in mid-June, the Cubs were for real, winning their division by 6.5 games over the second-place New York Mets.

Sandberg, 24, won the NL Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. The Cubs won 96 games, their most since '45.

From Sport Magazine's April '81 baseball preview
Impressive as Chicago was, the Tigers were better. Detroit broke from the gate with a 35-5 record -- the best 40-game start in baseball history -- and led the American League East from wire to wire,  one of just five big league clubs to ever do such a thing. They finished 104-58.

Their top player was former Cubs reliever Willie Hernandez, who had compiled a 1-9 record and 4.42 ERA hurling for the northsiders in 1980. Sport Magazine's '81 baseball preview warned "it was time to get the married Cubs off the field" when he came on to pitch. The article threw Sutcliffe under the bus too.

Four seasons later, nobody was making fun of Rick or Willie anymore. Sutcliffe won the NL Cy Young award based on his virtually unbeatable two-thirds of a season. Hernandez, with nine wins and 32 saves -- more than in his previous seven seasons combined -- copped the AL's Cy Young and its MVP award too.

Detroit was also bolstered by local hero Kirk Gibson, who'd starred in football and baseball for Michigan State. Drafted in both sports, he chose the Tigers over football's St. Louis Cardinals.

But the Tigers/Cubs betrothal wasn't assured. There was the formality of league championship play, pitting Detroit against the Kansas City Royals and Chicago against the San Diego Padres making their first ever post-season appearance.

Willie Hernandez and Kirk Gibson
The Royals, who won just 84 games in '84, provided no obstacle. A mere speed bump on the Tigers' expressway, they were outscored by an aggregate 14-4, and swept 3 games to none.

The Padres proved to be more problematic.

After years of languishing as also-rans, they'd hired former A's skipper Dick Williams, acquired a handful of veterans cast off by winning teams -- ex-Yankees Graig Nettles and Goose Gossage, plus former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey -- and developed a nucleus of young, talented pitchers plus one superlative hitter, '84 NL batting champ Tony Gwynn.

Chicago countered with Garvey's ex-Dodgers teammate Ron Cey, spark plug Bob Dernier and veteran Gary Matthews, whose acquisition near the end of spring training pushed left fielder Leon "Bull" Durham to first base and Bill Buckner out of town.

The Cubs won the first two games of the still best-of-five NL Championship series at Wrigley, sending the Padres back to San Diego on the brink of elimination.

There, Chicago took a 1-0 lead in game 3. After that it was all Padres. The friars scored seven unanswered runs for their first ever post-season victory, extending the series.

A back-and-forth affair, game 4 was knotted at 5 in the bottom of the 9th when Garvey stunned the visitors with a walk-off two-run homer off future Hall of Fame reliever Lee Smith, tying the series at two games a piece.

An answered prayer: playing for a pennant
Chicago's date with Detroit and destiny suddenly seemed less assured.

The next day in San Diego. Bull Durham and Cubs catcher Jody Davis homered early, staking Chicago and Sutcliffe to a 3-0 lead. The Padres tallied twice in the 6th to pull within a run, 3-2.

Then San Diego's Carmelo Martinez opened the bottom of the 7th with a walk. A sacrifice moved him to second, bring lefty-hitting Tim Flannery to the plate with one out.

Chicago was eight outs away from the World Series. What happened next is etched in Cubs lore between Leo Durocher's black cat of 1969 and the unlucky fan who reached for a foul ball at the 2003 NLCS and opened the gates of hell.

Flannery hammered a ground ball toward the Bull that shot under his glove, through his legs and into right field. Martinez scored, tying the game. Then second-baseman Alan Wiggins singled. Gwynn followed with a bad-hop hit past Sandburg scoring Flannery and Wiggins. A Garvey rap plated Gwynn.

When the dust settled San Diego held a 6-3 lead. Six Cubs outs later, the Padres were NL pennant winners headed for a showdown with Motown.

The visual contrast between the clubs couldn't have been greater. Detroit, with its olde English "D" logo, classic uniforms and pre-war rust-belt city ballpark vs. San Diego, with their contemporary brown and white uniforms trimmed with orange and yellow. Hailing from sunny southern California, they didn't even exist the last time the Tigers won a pennant.

The Padres and Tigers had two things in common. Each had a Hall-bound manager -- the Padres' Williams and the Tigers' Sparky Anderson -- and each had a tie to fast food. Detroit's owner was Tom Monaghan, founder of Domino's Pizza. San Diego's owner for a decade was Ray Kroc, the man who made McDonald's famous.

Kroc died in January of '84 and in tribute, the team added his initials RAK to the left sleeves of their jerseys.

The official program had a fold-out cover
evoking that other fall classic, Election Day.
In game 1, Tigers ace Jack Morris surrendered two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but muffled the Big Mac attack the rest of the way as Detroit clawed back a 3-2 victory.

Game 2, however, belonged to the Padres, who won 5-3, and one man in particular, utility player Kurt Bevacqua, who in 80 regular season at bats hit just .200 with one homer and nine RBIs.

Playing for six teams over 14 seasons, his greatest claim to fame had been winning the 1975 Topps/ Bazooka bubble gum blowing contest, his feat immortalized on cardboard.

Now, the journeyman turned superman, slamming a decisive three-run homer in the bottom of the 5th, one of two he'd hit while leading San Diego with a .412 average in the series. Tied at 1 game apiece, the series shifted to Detroit

It wouldn't return to San Diego for 14 years. The Tigers pounced on Padres starters in each of the three games at the ballpark formerly known as Navin Field and Briggs Stadium, never trailing in any one of them.

Gibson slugged a pair of homers in game 5, Detroit catcher Lance Parrish added one too. San Diego had briefly tied the game, 3-3, in the fourth But Detroit gradually pulled away for an 8-4 win, making official what had been apparent since April, they were the best team in baseball, at least in 1984.

The Tigers' future Hall of Fame shortstop, Alan Trammell, was the series MVP. He'd led all hitters with a .450 average, drilled two home runs and had six RBI.

But, for all their heroics, neither the Padres, Tigers or Cubs returned to the post-season in 1985. Kansas City's Royals did, advancing from an afterthought to World Champions, downing the cross-state St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

Follow me on Twitter @paperboyarchive

Saturday, October 26, 2019

It Was a Styx Concert. You Got a Problem With That?

"DON'T LOOK NOW, but here come the '80's!"

Reaganomics, big hair, tight jeans and MTV. We'd been warned. By Styx. Driving home their point in a minute and a half, the arena rockers and power ballad pioneers committed a half-dozen rock and roll cliches on side 2, track 1 of their ninth studio album, Cornerstone.

Prog-rock synthesizer intro? Check! Portentous power chords? Check! Segue into Steve Miller-like rhythmic guitar beat?  Check! Check! Shouts of "Yeah! Yeah!"? Double check! And then... notice of the imminent arrival of a new decade.

80s artifact -- Styx' Cornerstone
Songs that date-drop invariably don't age well. They can't. Think of the line "Now you find yourself in '82," from Asia's Heat of the Moment, or the atypically upbeat Joe Jackson telling us, "It's not so easy. It's '84 now" in Happy Ending.

Date-stamping a song is the ultimate guarantee that the song in years hence will sound... well, dated. And so it is that Styx' song Borrowed Time is rooted in 1979.

By the time Cornerstone was released 40 years ago this month, Chicago-based Styx had already embarked on a tour they'd dubbed The Grand Decathalon. On Oct. 25, the quintet of Dennis DeYoung, Tommy Shaw,  James Young and brothers John and Chuck Panozzo arrived at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, Long Island for a two-night stand.

They'd have an opening act called The Good Rats and in the audience on their second night me and my best bud. I was 14, about seven miles from home and seeing my first ever rock concert.

Rock concerts. The very idea seemed dangerous. Would there be sex? Drugs? Violence? Woodstock? Altamont? These reference points were still reasonably current, all within the past 10 years. Of course, this was a Styx concert and at least two sets of suburban parents saw it as safe enough to let their kids go alone.

Alas, they were right. These were Styx, not Stones, although I recall DeYoung wearing a Chicago Cubs jersey.

40 years ago this week, at the Nassau Coliseum
Cornerstone was still so new, so untested that it's possible none of its nine songs even made the set list if the previous night's version --which drew heavily from the band's past two albums -- is any indication. That one included Styx' first hit, Lady, but not their biggest one, Cornerstone's Babe.

Ah, Babe, the schmaltzy, syrupy granddaddy of power ballads, written by DeYoung for his wife Suzanne, recorded as a demo and -- according to legend -- included on the album at the insistence of his bandmates. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 on Dec. 8, 1979 and perched there for two of its 19 weeks on the charts.

And they didn't even play it.

They did work in other crowd pleasers, including Never Say Never, a pop song with a French chorus, ne dites jamais jamais, and the future Eric Cartman tour-de-force, Come Sail Away.

We rocked. We rolled. We waited for a ride home from our parents. Cornerstone soared to number 2 on Billboard's Hot 100 album chart, charted two more singles -- Borrowed Time and  Why Me? -- and ultimately went triple platinum. It even got nominated for a Grammy!

But about Babe...

Babe would almost come to define the band, and not for the better, even as it was typical radio fodder in an era that saw Air Supply score five top five singles in the next year and a half and spawn imitators like SneakerBabe wasn't even the only power ballad on Cornerstone.

Five out of Chicago, but bound for where?
But, Styx's prior album, Pieces of Eight, featured a pair of genuine arena rockers, Blue Collar Man and Renegade. Styx wasn't likely to inspire anyone to don a leather jacket, grow their hair long and jump on a Harley, but they were approaching respectability. Borrowed Time was made in that vein.

Babe, the band's only chart-topper ever, overwhelmed all of that, blowing whatever hard rock cred they had and becoming a point of introduction to a different kind of band, one that became increasingly, fatally, theatrical and thematic.

To be sure, Cornerstone's intricate packaging indicated the band harbored deeper, as yet unrealized ambitions, The album cover, suggesting the discovery of a buried artifact, wrapped around another album cover appearing to be that same artifact. Oh so meta.

It was silvery. It was spacey. It showed five beings emanating from North America and headed for the sky. Where were they going? In subsequent albums we'd find out for better and then worse: back to Chicago, for Paradise Theater and then to the future!.

-- Follow me on Twitter @paperboyarchive