Curse the song “Electric Funeral.” Tricia McCrone sure is.
That is the name of a tune by Black Sabbath, a deep cut off the band’s 1970 album “Paranoid.” Pantera has covered “Electric Funeral,” and Beavis and Butt-Head have performed air guitar to the song, to great comedic effect.
The number that describes a society of post-nuclear war mutants living in a vast garden of fallout is relatively obscure even for fans of heavy metal. A lot of ground to cover in 3 minutes, yes, but Tony Iommi’s circuitous guitar work gives the song that distinctive Sabbath flavor.
For typical fans of contemporary music, “Electric Funeral” is a largely unknown piece of work.
“Electric Funeral” is the song that was thrown into McCrone’s path Saturday afternoon as she fell short of the $10,000 grand prize for “Name That Tune Live.” (The show plays daily at 3 p.m., dark Tuesdays, with an additional 7:30 p.m. show Fridays. Tickets are $49.95; call 888-777-7644 or go to the I.P. Web site for info.)
We hit the new stage show at Human Nature Theater at Imperial Palace on Saturday joined by McCrone’s mom, Marilyn, who was a fan of the original TV version of the tuneful game show. Upon arrival, we were issued name tags and asked to supply our names and pronunciations of such, as 50 audience members are invited onstage in waves of 10 to compete in the show.
Looking over the audience, it seemed apparent the odds would be pretty strong that at least one of us would be called onstage. Tricia’s name was called, much to the delight of show co-hosts Chris Phillips and Marley Taylor of Zowie Bowie. We had told them we’d hit the show as soon as possible after they recorded their appearance for this week’s episode of “Kats With the Dish,” and when Tricia’s name was called, I felt she would prove a formidable competitor, as she knows many songs and is apt to hum many of them throughout the day.
Not surprisingly, Dish did advance from the round of 10, guessing two songs correctly ahead of the field. I also was called up, in the next set of 10, and moved on to the semifinals, as contestants buzz in as soon as they recognize a song well enough to accurately recite its title (my Beatles geekdom paid off, as I guessed “All You Need Is Love” just by the song’s horn intro).
For the semis, the 10 surviving contestants are matched head-to-head and challenge each other to “Name That Tune,” in a matter of seconds, beginning with 10. We both advanced after that round, too, and were joined by three other survivors and positioned behind a set of tall marking boards. The show’s DJ, James “Jimmy Z” Zito, then rolled through 10 samples of Billy Joel songs in a minute. We were to jot down the titles on the fly and given 10 seconds to clean up our work. This is not easy, even when the songs are familiar. Dish hit eight, I hit six (funny how “For the Longest Time” can escape you as you succumb to the pressure of a live game show), and no one had more than five matches.
That meant I finished second, and Dish got a shot at the grand prize. In the revival of the original TV version of the show’s “Golden Medley,” the finalist is required to guess 15 song titles in a minute. You are allowed a single audience “lifeline” when snagged, which Dish burned on David Bowie’s “Golden Years.” She was still alive when DJ Jimmy Z uncorked “Electric Funeral,” which had the entire audience stumped.
That ended the run, but Dish was still awarded two tickets to Donny & Marie, which she gave to a fellow contestant celebrating her birthday. If it’s “Puppy Love,” she will be able to name that tune in 10 seconds, easy.