When you set the time machine to 1976, it’s a pleasant buzz to come face to…face with Raquel Welch.
What…rather, who could sum up that time quite like her?
Her feathered hair. Her overly-tanned (golden?) skin. Her bellbottom jeans.
There’s something fizzy about the experience.
A starlet now faded. A human sequin.
I previously wrote about Welch’s 1967 film Fathom.
Aside from base titillation, it’s a pretty lame affair.
But here on Saturday Night Live she gets to show a bit more of her talent.
Not much more. A bit more.
For instance, Raquel sings on this episode.
The monologue-substitute with John Belushi as Joe Cocker is pretty fantastic.
It’s a comedy piece.
Later, Welch actually does share the rarefied air which Marilyn Monroe breathed when she sang “Happy Birthday” for JFK.
I’m speaking of Raquel’s rendition of the Gershwin tune “It Ain’t Necessarily So”. Few microphone techniques can be said to carry such sexual import as Welch’s on this number.
And the subject matter…for God’s sake!
It ain’t Sportin’ Life from Porgy and Bess.
It’s Raquel singing, “The things that you’re liable/to hear in the Bible”…[what a rhyme!]…”It ain’t necessarily so.”
So. You get the picture.
Welch is steamy as a Manhattan manhole cover in winter.
One particularly great sequence involves Welch as Jane Russell on the set of The Outlaw (1943). Dan Aykroyd plays Howard Hughes. It is pretty priceless!
Aykroyd is also great in the sequence about applying the metric system to the English alphabet (the Decabet).
What’s bad about this great blast from the past?
I really don’t want to hate on this lady, but it’s a combination of snoozerville and overly-precious musicianship masquerading as talent.
Snow has that horribly indiscreet application of wide vibrato which always irks the bejesus out of me.
And the songs…for christsake! “Two-Fisted Love”?!? Are you fuckin’ kidding me? How does an MOR artist do a song like “Two-Fisted Love” with a straight face.
And so Phoebe Snow is godawful here. It bears mentioning because (for some [un]mysterious reason) she was back on the show for a second time [here] in season one.
But let’s dish some more. John Sebastian also sucks on this episode. Trying to cash in on his Welcome Back, Kotter theme song.
Likewise, somebody in charge of sound for this episode adds to the lameness of Sebastian’s performance. Or, from another perspective, the only good thing about John Sebastian’s performance here is his microphone feeding back during his aborted intro.
Ok, there. I’ve let them both have it. Snow and Sebastian.
What else is good about this episode?
Let’s end on a high note.
Lorne Michaels’ solicitation of The Beatles (for a whopping $3000) is goddamned brilliant.
Ok. So there you have it. Oh…and Belushi as the high-strung meteorologist during Weekend Update is damned good as well.