From the Vault...


Jonathan Brandmeier
"Almost Live"

© Brandmeier Productions In Year of Release: 1984

track listing
  • You Won't See Me On MTV
  • Red Snow In Idaho
  • Hey Der Milwaukee Polka
  • Nice Head Mr. T
  • The Moo-Moo Song
  • We're All Crazy In Chicago
  • Party Animals
  • I Fought The Law
  • Hey Bartender
  • Shout
  • Just Havin' Fun

  • WSVNRadio Archives
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M
    N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

    Jonathan Brandmeier related sites:
    Jonathan Brandmeier Website
    Previous Review: #592
    Rodney Crowell--Super Hits
    Next Review: #594
    Duran Duran--Big Thing
    Jonathan Brandmeier
    "Almost Live"

    Jonathan Brandmeier may not ring a bell to alot of people, but if you are from Chicago, then Jonathan Brandmeier is no stranger. Jonathan Brandmeier, or to those who know him as Johnny B., was a very popular Chicago radio personality back in the 1980s and early 1990s. His morning radio show, heard on WLUP FM. featured the crazy satire of jokes and music. Especially music, where Johnny and his band, The Leisure Suits would play around Chicago, performing well-known cover tunes, as well as their own originals.

    Brandmeier's first album, Almost Live, is only available on vinyl. (Nowadays, you'll probably find it in a local Chicago record store's used vinyl section.) Almost Live features studio and live recordings by Johnny & The Leisure Suits.

    The opening tune is probably the best song on the album, You Won't See Me On MTV. Obviously written about how the band Johnny & The Leisure Suits will not appear on MTV with their videos, this song is very funny. Especially towards the end when the band sings about other videos by well-known popular singers:

  • Elvis Presley, you won't see him on MTV,
  • Chuck Berry, you won't see him on MTV, and
  • Stevie Wonder, won't see himself on MTV.

    Red Snow In Idaho is a somewhat sad tale about how bunny rabbits were killed in Mudd Lake, Idaho. It's not a memorable tune, where Johnny sings "Hey bunny, bunny, come out of your hole, and I'll crush your skull."

    And then there's the rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee in Hey Der Milwaukee Polka, where Johnny sings how "stupid" people from Milwaukee are. For those of you who are from Milwaukee, obviously it's not nice to hear someone singing:
    "Hey der, polka boy, Go home and suck a beer,
    Hey der, bratwurst head, Go drive your old John Deere,
    Yah hey, keep your women away, The smell will make us cry,
    Hey der, ho der, ya hey hey, Stay in Milwaukee and die"

    But then again, I'm sure there's some popular Milwaukee DJ who is singing how bad Chicago is. (Especially how bad the Chicago Bears are, since the Green Bay Packers entered the Super Bowl two years in a row, winning one, despite losing the other.)

    Nice Head Mr. T is a song about (obviously) the TV/movie actor Mr. T. This song is another least favorite, as the song talks about how tough Mr. T is. (Don't we think we already knew that already back then?)

    Then there's the funny tune called The Moo-Moo Song, in which a man illegally entered the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago to make love to a cow (yes, you heard right, a cow!) Believe it, this was a true story! Gee, where was Uncle Lar' (Lujack) and Li'l Tommy (Edwards) and their Animal Stories when that story broke the airwaves?

    One song that was not on the album (and it should have been) was We're All Crazy In Chicago, which became one of Johnny B.'s theme songs. I consider this song to be a Bonus Track, if this album ever made it to the CD laser beam.

    That concluded what was called the "Studio Side." The remaining songs were live performances (called the "Live Side"), taken from various live performances from Johnny's (as he called it) World Tour.

    Party Animals is a somewhat rock/punk song about partying and drinking. I Fought The Law is a cover of the Bobby Fuller Four song, yet it has different lyrics regarding Brandmeier's injunction with a Phoenix radio station contract that was still in effect when he was hired to start in Chicago.

    A cover of The Blues' Brothers Hey Bartender features great harmonica work by WLUP newsman Buzz Kilman. Just like in The Blues Brothers, Buzz plays the harp as mean as Elwood Blues did.

    Just Havin' Fun is another one of Johnny B.'s theme songs, in which all Johnny wants to do is just have fun with his job and his music.

    Lastly, the album concludes with their version of The Isley Brothers' Shout, which features the famous Animal House reciting of John Belushi's "Nothing is over until we decide it's over" speech. Johnny makes a reference to the band Otis Day & The Knights, who sang this song in the Animal House movie.

    Johnny & The Lesiure Suits is a great sounding band. Their music is just your basic rock and roll. Their harmonies and (in most songs) their musical style is compared to Huey Lewis & The News. Brandmeier became a common name in Chicago, and he did get some syndicated work. Back in the 1980s he sat in for a week for Arsenio Hall's show, with tremendous success.

    Note: The next paragraph references Chicago radio personalities, as of September, 1998:

    Even so, Almost Live is a superb album. For those in Chicago, this album was enjoyed by millions who enjoyed Johnny's radio show. Brandmeier is now on WCKG in Chicago, from 11am - 2pm. The most famous morning man in Chicago radio these days is Mancow Muller, who just recently switched radio stations from WRCX (Rock 103.5 FM) to WKQX (101.1 FM).

    UPDATE, 2013: Jonathan Brandmeier is currently employed at WGN Radio

    Another album, released on CD in 1989, was entitled Jonathan Brandmeier. It also features live performances of Johnny and his band. A review of that album will come at a later date on this website. But Almost Live is definitely better of the two.

    © All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Brandmeier Productions Inc. and is used for reference purposes only.

  • Previous Review: #592
    Rodney Crowell--Super Hits
    Next Review: #594
    Duran Duran--Big Thing