Sunday, December 10, 2017

And Just Like That, Fashion Changed

Lucky Star by Madonna

Released in September of 1983, this fourth single off her debut album reached #4 on the US charts and was a great pop song with a great dance beat but it was the video that changed everything in fashion. Madonna appears in the video wearing a fishnet shirt and multiple bracelets, crucifix necklaces and leggings under a skirt. Her hair was bleached and tussled and nearly every girl at my school looked like this before the end of the month.

When the song was released, I was just over a month away from turning 15 years old so puberty was controlling my entire world and this moment in 80's pop culture was an extremely defining event. Suddenly half the girls at my school looked like rock stars and were no longer "icky". It was eye opening....and a bit confusing. But a big thank you to Madonna for this.

The video is so simple as a way to sell the artist. Madonna is featured against a white backdrop with two backup dancers. That's it. Nothing here but the song and her contribution to the fashion world she was about to command. Over-Accessorizing an outfit became the new style....and lets be honest, it was 80's cool.

Just a bit of fun trivia: one of the backup dancers is Madonna's brother, Christoper (he was paid $200 to be in the video).

Please enjoy.......

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Scottish Rock Stars Have Glass Jaws

In A Big Country by Big Country

Released in May of 1983, this third single from their debut album reached #17 on the US charts with plenty of help from the extensive airplay of this video on MTV.......but why?

The band performance shots are fine enough but what's up with the bad story line? The band is hunting for some treasure (there it is with the band logo on it) but some girl steals it and sets fire to a barn.....which attracts the bands attention (isn't she trying to keep them from finding the treasure she stole from them?). So she runs out of the burning barn and knocks out the lead singer with a single punch and takes out the other three guys like they're bowling pins. When they wake up, she's dropped a map that leads them to.......apparently, nothing. We see them attempting to scuba dive but they're not looking for treasure, just swimming around. Then the mysterious girl lights another fire (some one call the arson squad) and when the lead singer she punched out repels to her rescue, she runs up and hugs him. This girl has a very passive/aggressive relationship with the band. While all that's going on another band member finds the treasure hidden among the seaweed.

I'm very confused but the song is great and MTV was still very new so we would watch anything. Speaking of the video now. It's crap-tasticly bad. And what's with the band writing a song with their own name in it?

Please enjoy.....

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Second Version Of This Song Is The Best Version

Take On Me by A-Ha

Released in 1984........and again in 1985, this song reached #1 in ten countries but not as originally recorded. In fact....I'm going to post the original version of this song so you can hear why it wasn't a hit when it was first released.

Now, after that version escaped (because, seriously, it couldn't have been intentionally released), the record company, specifically their American label, Warner Bros., wanted the song re-recorded with a new producer. Who ever insisted on that is the smartest person in the music industry. The new producer was able to see how powerful the synth lick was and featured it as the center of the song. The rest is 80's pop history.....

Well, you also have to include the instantly recognizable music video. Nearly the entire video is presented in a cartoon form by use of a technique called Rotoscoping, each frame of the video is redrawn by hand. It took sixteen weeks to produce the video. As a bit of fun trivia, the girl in the video was the lead singer's real life girlfriend at the time (I have no idea if she's still his girlfriend or not, for all I know she's married to him right now). Also, it would be criminal of me to not mention the singer, Morten Harket, and his incredible vocal range. He sings this song over two and a half octaves. Trust me, that's not an easy task but he appears to have more than enough talent. (BTW, he still sings this song and hits every note like he's not even trying, he's truly skilled)

The record company released the video to MTV and to dance clubs a month before the single was available for sale so when it was finally released, the song shot up the charts immediately. Again, who ever thought up that plan was a genius. And we thank them for that.

Please enjoy....

Monday, November 27, 2017

A Christmas Song With Tons Of Stars...What Could Go Wrong?

Do They Know Its Christmas? by Band Aid

Released on December 3rd, 1984 after it was recorded only 8 days earlier, this charity single was the biggest selling single in the UK (with over 3 millions copies sold) until Elton John's reworking of Candle In The Wind to honor Princess Diana following her death surpassed it in 1997. In fact, the song reached #1 in nearly every country it was released in: France, Japan and the US being the exceptions (in the US it reached #13 but sold over 2.5 million copies.....I have two copies in my house, mine and my wife's).

The song came about after Bob Geldof, lead singer of the Boomtown Rats, saw a documentary about the famine in Ethiopia and felt he had to do something. Geldof contacted fellow musician Midge Ure, lead singer of Ultravox, and they agreed a charity single would raise awareness. Geldof handled wrangling stars for the single while Ure worked on setting up the recording studio and writing a suitable song. The team approached much in-demand producer Trevor Horn, (he had recently produced three #1 singles for Frankie Goes To Hollywood) he was unsure he could participate but he was willing to donate the use of his studio for 24 hours.

With the studio secured and with Geldof promoting the single on every form of media he could get on, the song was becoming the hurdle that loomed the highest. Ure spent some time coming up with a "Christmassy tune" but Geldof mocked it as sounding like a cheesy british tv show. Geldof dusted off a tune he had written for his band and re-wrote the lyrics. Just like that, the only thing left to do was to record the whole thing.

For several days before the actual recording, Ure spent time in his home studio laying down keyboards and programing drum tracks. The day before the recording, John Taylor of Duran Duran came in and recorded bass tracks and Paul Weller recorded a lead guitar part that was later left off the single.

At 8am on the morning of November 25th 1984, members of the newly formed Band Aid began to arrive. The first thing to do was to record the group vocals at the end of the single.

After several takes, the plan was to move on to the solo parts. One of the singers that Geldof wanted for a solo was Boy George.....and he wasn't there. Several calls were placed and eventually it was discovered that he was in New York and had only just gone to sleep (apparently forgetting he had promised to be at the recording). Eventually he was convinced to get on the Concord and fly directly to London, arriving at 6 pm and being the last one to record his part.

One musician went above and beyond that day, Phil Collins. Arriving that morning with a full drum kit, he intended to lay down live drums over the programed drums and was forced to wait until all the solo parts were recorded (considering how late Boy George was that day, Phil was quite the trooper). Collins recorded the drums in one take that Ure considered perfect but Collins wanted to get it "perfect" and tried one more take.

With that, the only thing left to do was to mix and master the single and the video and get them sent out to the world......and wouldn't you believe it, but they did it.

The original hope was that the single would raise £70,000 but it ended up raising over £8 million for Ethiopian Famine Relief in just twelve months. In 1980's money....that's a lot.

Please enjoy.......and tonight thank God its them, instead of you (that still seems like an insensitive line)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Bad Ass Song...But What A Bunch Of Dorks

Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor

Released May 29th 1982 (the day after the movie Rocky III came out, from which it is the theme song), this was a made-to-order song from the star, writer and director of the movie, Sylvester Stallone after he was denied permission to use Another One Bites The Dust by Queen. The song was written by the guitarist and keyboard player and is the demo version of the song, so they must have felt that they got it right on the first try. It reached #1 on the US and UK charts and in seven other countries so the demo didn't need any improvement. It has sold nearly 10 million copies worldwide so its very popular.

The video is........interesting. Showing the band gathering on the sleazy streets of New York, the entire band seems to own leather jackets...except the keyboard player (his light blue shirt is not the tough image the rest of the band was hoping to project). And could any other group of guys look less comfortable walking down the street? But fear not, they've reached their rehearsal the back of a crowded warehouse (like seriously crowded with way too much stuff). As the song continues, they move on to a stage performance and for some reason every band member has to have a "wet hair" moment....its just weird.

Please enjoy this great song.....the video?....not so much.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Kurt Cobain Must Have Loved This Song

Eighties by Killing Joke

Released in April of 1984, this punk single about the decade we all love, reached #60 in the UK but didn't chart in the US. Describing some of the excesses of the decade (and only based on 4 years of it) it really captures some of what was wrong and great about the decade.

But the video is the magic here. It is filled with images that capture the politics and some of the over-the-top-ness of the 80's. There's British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, American President Ronald Reagan, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (don't go to the parade!!), Russian leader Brezhnev, Pope John Paul II but there's also rockets, female body builders, and punk fans of the band (hey, their fans deserve some love, so why not?). There also footage of dogs getting married.....yep, that's an 80's moment.

I'm sure at this point you're wondering why I mentioned the lead singer of the 1990's band Nirvana in the title (if not, you are now). When Nirvana released their single Come As You Are in 1991, the members of Killing Joke noticed that the Nirvana guitar riff was very similar to their song. For years there was rumors of a legal challenge in a court....somewhere...over the similarities. In the end, no lawsuit was ever filed and in 2003, former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl played drums on Killing Jokes self-titled album (it was the second album they released that was self-titled.....figure that one out). The joke's on everyone, anyway because in 1982 (2 years before this song was released) The Damned released a song called Life Goes On that contains the exact same guitar riff as this song and the Nirvana song. The members of Killing Joke say they don't know anything about this.

Please enjoy.....

Sunday, November 5, 2017

A Great Song For A Crappy Movie

A View To A Kill by Duran Duran

The band had spent 5 years becoming huge stars and touring the world. Then they took a break and formed two different bands (see previous posts). Now it was the spring of 1985 and they were back to work on their first contribution to a movie soundtrack. As a life long James Bond fan and a Duran Duran fan, for me, this was the perfect marriage of a band at a very hot point in their career and a movie franchise that was looking to really embrace the decadent, 1980's, flashy, music video world.

The movie is about a KGB trained agent (gone rouge) who is planning to flood the Silicone Valley so he can control the microchip industry. Yes, its VERY 1980's and yes, it's as bad as it sounds. But every James Bond film is about sitting in a dark theater and escaping into Bond's world for a few hours so we'll only hold our nose at this stinker when the movie is over.
The band was picked to do the song after bassist John Taylor approached the producer at a party and drunkenly asked him when they were going to get a good band to do the theme song. The producer (and several, really great, previous musicians) should have been really offended by that comment but the song that Duran Duran created is still the only James Bond theme to reach #1 on the US charts (it reached #2 in the UK).

The music video is classic Duran Duran. The band is milling about on the Eiffel Tower in Paris as James Bond is attacked by one of the henchwomen from the film. But as we can see, the band members are also there as spies and its hard to keep track of which side they're on. It's all a bit cheeky (as the British would say) but I'll be honest, if I had the chance, I'd play a spy in a Bond film, so they're forgiven for being silly.

Please Enjoy.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It's Not A Duran Duran Song...But It Could Have Been

Election Day by Arcadia

So in 1985, members of Duran Duran had taken a break from touring and recording and managed to create two separate bands, The Power Station (covered in a previous blog) and this band, Arcadia. While The Power Station was a more rock influenced endeavor, Arcadia was much more of an Art Rock project. Moody and arty, glamorous and hypnotic. This was 180 degrees from the hard hitting sound of The Power Station. Arcadia's musical style was much more in line with the sound often associated with Duran Duran, so much so that the album is often referred to as the best Duran Duran album they never made. The band consisted of Duran Duran lead singer, Simon Le Bon, keyboardist, Nick Rhodes and drummer Roger Taylor.

This was the first single from the bands only album, So Red The Rose. It reached #6 on the US charts and featured a spoken word passage from model/actress/singer Grace Jones (she played a character in the movie Duran Duran wrote a theme song for.....more on that in the next blog).

The video was inspired by imagery from a 1946 french film, La Belle et la Bete (English translation: Beauty and the Beast.....impress your friends and small children with that knowledge). Its filled with beautiful people and lavish lifestyles and people dressed as animals....ok, well, there's is inspired by a french film, so what do you expect?

Please Enjoy.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

You've Got The Teeth Of The Hydra Upon You

Get It On by The Power Station

Released in April of 1985, this second single from a super group consisting of two members of Duran Duran, one member of 70's funk band Chic and singer Robert Palmer reached #9 on the US charts and was the bands biggest hit.

During the winter of 1984 Duran Duran were on a scheduled break after completing their Seven And The Ragged Tiger album and tour, the break ended up seeing the creation of two bands, Arcadia (I'll cover them next) and The Power Station. Originally created on a whim, The Power Station (named after the studio the album was recorded in) was supposed to just be a backing band to different singers on each song on the album. Singers mentioned during that phase of the project included Mick Jagger, Billy Idol and Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs. Robert Palmer was brought in to sing on one of the songs and when he learned that the band had recorded Get It On from 1970's glam rock band T-Rex, he asked if he could have a go at singing the song. By the time they finished recording Robert's version of the song, the plan was changed to just keep the four current members and not bring in other singers.

The original song was recorded in 1971 and is very much the same basic song with The Power Station adding just a bit more crunch to their version. The original version made it to #10 on the US charts so it was always a hit.

The video is one of those memorable videos with lots of classic, iconic images. the dancing girl, Palmer shaking his paper to emphasize a "yeah", the drummer playing so hard his drums literally dance, a models hairdryer bursting into flames while the hyper-solo is playing. It's full of great images.

Please enjoy.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

I Laughed When I Saw This

Too Young To Fall in Love by Motley Crue

Released in April of 1984, this single off their debut album, Shout At The Devil, only made it to #90 on the US charts. Its not a bad song.....maybe the video is what killed its chances. Lets take a look at this masterpiece of bad acting.

A young girl is poor and alone on the streets of some Asian town. She is begging and is not receiving any help from the locals. Except for a mysterious man. The little boy that watches him knows something isn't right about this situation. He runs to tell the band what he's seen. They're just standing around singing and you do. Mean while, the girl is getting some food but now its time for her to go as the mysterious man pushes her away. She's taken to what is, obviously, a brothel and the man that owns it comes out to welcome her. She goes in reluctantly.

Looks like the band stopped off to play a bit of the song they've been singing (rescue missions always require a performance break). Now we see the girl being cleaned up and the band is finally back on the job. They walk through the kitchen where the girl was eating and one of the band members stops to look at the food she was it a clue? Nope, just keep moving.

The band enters the brothel and is ready to confront the owner but his ninjas and sword wielding henchmen are ready to attack. The fight that occurs actually made me laugh out loud, its so comical and staged. One punch and down goes a bad guy. A kick and there goes another. Don't even think of swinging those nunchucks at me...and POW! Its like a fight worse than the old Batman tv series. With obvious misses and fake sound effects.

But lets not get distracted by the badness, there's a young girl to rescue. The brothel owner doesn't look scared. He turns his face toward the band showing them the two black lines on his cheek. But what's  this? The young girl they've come to rescue is there as well and she's all clean and dressed up nicely. And on her cheek? Two black lines just like the brothel owner. Well, how's that for gratitude?

Nothing left for the band to do but to walk away in disgust.....except for at the very end when the mysterious man tries to attack the last band member walking through the kitchen. He dispatches the mysterious man just as comically as the rest of the henchmen. But what's the punchline for this joke? He takes a bite of the food and it's awful, so he spits it out.......

....and scene!

Now, I'm making fun of this terrible video but it should be noted that I do like this song and Motley Crue but this is just bad. I'm sure even they are embarrassed by this.

Go watch it and try to not laugh.....who am I kidding? Laugh out loud. Its hilarious.

Edit*** I've had to replace the original version of this video with another version that is backwards! I'm guessing the band requested it be taken down....'cause its awful.***

Sunday, September 24, 2017

That Back Up Singer May Have A Career

You Can Call Me Al by Paul Simon

A 60's icon gets a 70's comedian to help him make an 80's song fun.

Released in September of 1986, this was the lead single from his Grammy winning album, Graceland. This song reached the top 5 in seven different countries....but not in the US where it only reached #23. Paul probably didn't get too upset, the album went on to sell nearly 15 million copies and is listed on most "Top Albums of all time" lists.

The song was inspired by an actual moment where Paul and his wife went to a party and someone kept referring to him as Al and his wife as Betty (her name was Peggy). Inspiration comes where ever it comes.

The music video was produced after the original live performance video proved to be not very exciting. Paul was hosting Saturday Night Live and it was suggested that doing something silly would be better. Paul asked his friend (and SNL alum) Chevy Chase to help him out and he came through for him. The idea of Paul Simon singing back up vocals to Chevy Chase on his own song is immediately silly and when you add in the usual silliness that someone like Chevy can come up with in subtle humor (dropping a glass of water and a tin whistle through what is obviously NOT a side table being just a small example), well the video is a classic.

Sometimes the silliest idea is the best idea.

Please Enjoy......

Thursday, September 21, 2017

If You Don't Look Like Duran Duran, Be Funny

You Might Think by The Cars

Released in March of 1984, this fun little number reached #7 on the US charts and has MTV to thank for it. The song is what you would expect from The Cars: peppy, upbeat and lots of fun. But once the video was shown on MTV, the song took off up the charts.

Being one of the first videos to feature computer graphics and used as a way to make the band seem fun and silly (they weren't selling a drama, it was rock music). This video made lead singer, Ric Ocasek, into a submarine, King Kong, a dental drill and a bug and all the while, annoying the girl of his dreams. Plenty of classic images from this video: Ric hanging on a hanger, Ric's trademark sunglasses on the submarine periscope, The rest of the band floating on a bar of soap, Ric driving a car out from under her covers and running her down (a good use of the lyrics he's singing at the time), and Ric pulling his face off as the rest of the video pours out of his head.

The video won the very first Video Of The Year on the MTV Video awards in 1984. And rightly so.

Please enjoy.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

This Music Video Thing...It Won't Catch On

Our Lips Are Sealed by The Go-Go's

Released in June of 1981, the perfect song of summer, it was a huge hit for this all girl group. Reaching #20 on the US charts with their first single solidified them as one of the forerunners of the New Wave scene and darlings of the new MTV generation. But not if you asked them...

Lead singer, Belinda Carlisle, didn't think videos would be popular and the rest of the band thought the whole idea a waste of time and money. The president of the record company, Miles Copeland, (brother of Police drummer, Stewart Copeland) disagreed and insisted, even going so far as to pay for this video with unused money from the Police's video budget.

So the girls rented a convertible from Rent-A-Wreck, drove around the Hollywood area and generally goofed around, stopping at Trashy Lingerie in Hollywood (it still exists on La Cienega) and danced in the Electric Fountain at Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvd. In between shots of them driving up and down random streets, the girls perform the song in a place called Club Central (which later changed its name to the Viper Room).

The song, by the way, was written after Jane Wiedlin had a brief affair with the member of another band that the Go-Go's were touring with (he had a girlfriend). They wrote the song together because their "lips were sealed"......although, if they wrote the song together, they did the exact opposite of keeping it quiet.

Please enjoy...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Learn Three Chords And Be A Rock Star

I Wanna Be Sedated by Ramones (there's no "the" in their name)

Recorded in 1978 and released in the US in 1980 (1979 in the UK) this song is one of the hallmarks of the punk rock scene, its like a Beatles song for the punk rock world, if you don't know it, you're not punk. In fact, the band is often considered to be the Beatles of punk rock, literally being the reason 99% of all punk bands came into existence.

Joey, Johnny, Mark and Dee Dee Ramone (none of them were related and none of the have the last name me, its a punk thing) paved the way for all of punk rock by playing simple three chord songs that were easy to bash around the club (or bedroom) to. This song is no exception, its literally three guitar chords for the entire song. (if you want to be fancy, you can step up a half a note but its basically the same three chords). But for a young kid looking to start a band and play a song that the crowd can identify immediately, this one is easy to learn, play and get the crowd on your side. Plus its not easy to screw up the lyrics.

The video was made in 1988 to help promote their greatest hits album and was about as simple as the song itself. The band sang along (and moved slowly) to the song that was slowed down so that when the video was played at regular speed, everyone around them would look like they were going crazy fast. The background (and occasionally foreground) crowd is full of all kinds of characters: Nuns, nurses, ballerinas, cowboys, acrobats, monsters and a doctor. Also making an appearance are two members of the band The Breakfast Club and somewhere in there is a young Courtney Love (my money is on the bride in the wedding dress).

Please enjoy.....

Monday, September 11, 2017


U Got The Look by Prince

Released in July of 1987, this song reached #2 on the US charts. Recorded during what became the double album Sign Of The Times, this was originally part of a much more ambitious 3 album project. Just before disbanding his backing band, The Revolution, Prince began work on an album that featured all members of the band while he was also began a solo album using a female alter-ego named Camille. This song was originally part of the Camille album. To produce Camille's vocals, Prince had his own voice sped up. With The Revolution disbanded, Prince took all the material he had, along with some new songs and presented a triple album to his record company. They immediately asked that he cut the album down to a double album. This song survived the original recordings and the requested cuts. Its long been considered the best part of the original concept.

The video is presented as a dream Prince has while waiting back stage before a show. Scottish singer Sheena Easton provided uncredited co-lead vocals and makes an appearance in the video as the object of Prince's attention. Sheena is unfazed by the entire band surrounding her throughout the video and even changes her outfit three times during the song (still not sure why). The video shows you what you could expect to see during a live Prince performance during those years, with lots of dancers and plenty of visuals to keep you entertained throughout. Of note among the band members is percussionist, Shelia E, who plays percussion on a track that features no live drums but a programmed drum track (notice that there is no drummer behind the drums on stage).

Please enjoy....because its Crucial!

Monday, September 4, 2017

Half The Cast Was Fired.....

...but it still became the highest grossing film of 1985.

Back To The Future

Released in July of 1985, this time travel adventure was the start of a film franchise but when principle photography began, few would have imagined the film would even be completed. The producers had been unable to find a studio to make the film until a trade between Columbia Pictures and Universal Pictures was negotiated. The original lead actor couldn't take the part because he was busy filming a tv show so Eric Stoltz was hired.

It didn't take long for producers to see that Eric, a highly regarded dramatic actor, was not suited to the light comedy of the film so they fired him and went back to the original actor they wanted for the film...

..Michael J. Fox.

Below is a comparison of the two actors working on the same scene.

Now, the problem with switching actors, one of which is nearly 6' tall and one that is 5' 5" tall, means that Marty's girlfriend is now much taller than him and the bully is now much, much taller than him. As a result, nearly the entire cast had to be let go so that the difference between Eric and Michael's height wouldn't be noticed. Christopher Lloyd, who played Doc Brown, had to hunch over in all his scenes with Michael.

The film introduced us to the coolest time-travel machine ever.

Most time-travel machines had been a box, a buggy, a chair!.....but here was a stainless steel car. And it was nuclear powered. Finally an 80's movie that had a nuclear element that wasn't the destruction of all humanity. Plus you needed to get the car up to 88 miles per hour to make it work. Any time I get close to 88 MPH in a car, I'm always tempted to say "Flux capacitor....fluxing". Still cool all these years later.

The film was so popular that it sparked two sequels which continued the story of Marty trying to get his world put back to normal. But do we really think any of this is normal? Its been reported that when President Reagan screened the film at the White House, he had the projectionist roll the film back and replay the part where a joke was made about Reagan, an actor, being President in the future, he apparently laughed loudly at the scene.

Please go and watch this film but don't call me chicken.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Another Song About Nuclear War

I Melt With You by Modern English

Released in May of 1982, this song reached #78 on the US charts......but if you lived in Los Angeles and listened to KROQ, it was on the radio every fifteen minutes from the day it was released until the end of the 80's. It still gets played anytime they do an 80's weekend.

Lead singer and songwriter, Robbie Grey, says the song is about a couple having sex while nuclear bombs fall....ok. I guess if you're going to go, you may as well have fun. Hopefully this song is playing and you can experience deja vu, kismet and irony at the same time.

The song was featured in the movie Valley Girl and was the song playing during the montage when Julie and Randy are starting to fall in love. It also played over the end credits of the film so when ever I hear the song, I think of the movie. (BTW, if you haven't seen Valley Girl, what's wrong with you? Go it.)

The video is a simple, straight forward performance piece with a couple dancing around while the band plays. It was the early days of MTV. Showing the band was about as much as you could ask for at the time.

Please enjoy....

Thursday, August 31, 2017

¿Debo permanecer o debo ir?

*Translation (I hope):

Should I Stay Or Should I Go? by The Clash

Released in June of 1982, the first single from their album, Combat Rock, was a barn burner. I always maintain that this could have easily been a song written by fellow Londoners, The Rolling Stones. When you listen to it, imagine Mick, Keith and the lads singing this in 1966. It sounds like pure, classic London rock. It reached #45 in the US and reached #17 in the UK (but during a 1991 re-release in the UK, it reached #1....the Levi's commercial it was in at the time helped....a bit).

The song was rumored to be about the imminent departure of guitarist (and singer for this song) Mick Jones. He left The Clash to form another classic 80's band. To this day he claims it was just a good song that came about naturally. The rumors still persist.

During recording, guitarist Joe Strummer decided to sing the back ground vocals in spanish (as you do). Not being fluent in spanish, he had the sound engineer (whose parents were of Ecuadorian decent) call his mother in New York and translate the lyrics for the band. During the actual recording of the background vocals, several people hid inside the studio and jumped out from behind equipment and scared Joe Strummer and he yelled out "SPLIT" which is heard on the song. Apparently horsing around is how classic punk rock music is made.

The video is of the bands performance in Shea stadium in New York and includes images of the band driving around the city and generally goofing off. The punk rock life is fun.

Please Enjoy....

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Protest Song You Can Dance To

Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant

Released in 1982 (1983 in the US), this song, about a street in South London that was the first street to have electric lights, made it to #2 on the US charts with the help of heavy rotation on MTV. The street is in an area known as Brixton and in 1981 had a very large Caribbean immigrant population.

The song references riots between locals and police after policy was changed to allow police to stop and frisk anyone on the streets without a reason. The heavily African-Caribbean population viewed this policy as racial discrimination and on the evening of April 10th, 1981, tensions boiled over and violence erupted. It took two days for order to be restored to the streets. Over 300 were injured, but thankfully, no deaths. Lots of cars got destroyed but what else would you expect protestors to find and take their anger out on? (BTW, I always condemn violence in any manner. We're evolved creatures, we can discuss issues without EVER resorting to destruction or violence).

Eddy Grant immediately wrote and recorded this song to voice his anger about how awful this situation had become. It also reached #2 on the UK charts, verifying that people in that country also agreed with its message.

The video has several classic images. The motorcycle riders. Eddy collapsing on the beach. Eddy stepping away from the chair he's watching television from and falling into a carpet of water.

Please enjoy and lets all listen to the concerns of our fellow humans.....they might listen to your concerns, in return.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

How To Become Famous...In Seven Short Years

Photograph by Def Leppard

For a band that formed in 1977 and was getting ready to release its third album, Pyromania (the follow up to the moderately successful High And Dry), in early 1983 MTV seemed like a good way to sell a few albums and build an already strong fan base. Recorded over the previous year, the new album was a step toward a more radio-friendly sound but that's not to say that the new sound lost any kind of hard rock edge. Long cited by many bands as the fore-runners and leaders of the modern British metal movement, they almost immediately struck gold with this release.

This first single off the album reached #12 on the US charts and was widely played on MTV. The first image we see of the band is lead singer Joe Elliott in a Union Jack flag t-shirt, so there's no mistake where this band is from. The band bangs away on the song, showing anyone watching what to expect if they go to a live Def Leppard show and isn't that half of what the band is trying to accomplish?

I'm still amazed listening back to this song nearly 35 years after it was recorded at how layered and full it sounds. The band and their producer, "Mutt" Lange, don't waste any part of the stereo mix with the guitars and the drums sound like you're sitting right on the drum riser. They almost make you feel like you're on stage with them during a performance.

The other images from the video follow a Marilyn Monroe look-a-like as she is stalked by a photographer who ends up dead by the end of the video but only after he is shown killing her (?).....not sure how that fits with the song but the images look cool and isn't that the other half of what the band is trying to accomplish?

Please enjoy....

Monday, August 14, 2017

When Prince Prophesized Doom...And Dancing

1999 by Prince

Originally released in September of 1982, this career-changing track didn't do much on the charts at first....until it was re-released in July of 1983 when it became one of his most recognizable songs. It reached #12 on the US charts and was one of the first videos by an African-American artist to receive heavy airplay on MTV.

The song talks about impending doom in the form of a nuclear attack but Prince and his friends aren't concerned. Instead their gonna party like its the end of the world and they don't care. Nothing could be better in the face of a cataclysm of fire than partying like doom isn't coming at all.

The video features one of the first looks at his band, The Revolution, and it was interesting to see how each member had their own unique stage identity, a feature that would continue in every live band Prince took out on tour from this moment forward.

The best part of being able to put up this post is that Price was always protective of how his music was available on the internet and for many years none of his videos were on youtube. Its only been since his passing in 2016 that his family has put these songs up for everyone to enjoy. I encourage you spend an hour or so and watch this great artist performing some of his great songs.

For now, please enjoy one of the first images we saw of this legend. And R.I.P.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Jet Pilots Wailed.......

Rock The Casbah by The Clash

Released in June of 1982, this song reached #8 on the US charts, the bands only Top Ten single in the US. One day during recording of the album, Combat Rock, the drummer found himself alone in the studio so he started toying with an idea he had on the piano. By the time the other members had arrived, he had added drums and bass to the song and was coming up with lyrics.  The band's regular songwriting duo of Strummer and Jones were impressed with the music but not the lyrics and immediately set about to write some proper words to go with this great tune. Borrowing from the centuries long tension in the Middle East and a more recent event of Western music being banned from certain Islamic countries, the lyrics focus on a king trying to enforce a ban that seems to fail at every turn.

The hidden gem in this song is the watch alarm in the middle of the song that plays the song Dixie during one of the verses. Listen for it, it was added in carefully by the band.

The video was filmed in Texas while the band was on tour and follows the adventures of an Arab Sheik and a Hasidic Jew befriending each other (totally flying in the face of how the tension between these two groups is usually portrayed) as they head to see The Clash in concert. The band performs the song in front of an oil derrick and features guitarist, Mick Jones, hiding his face behind a veiled hat because he was in a bad mood on the day of the filming....not that his singer, Joe Strummer, cares much since he pulls Mick's hat off as the song is about to end.

Please enjoy....

Sunday, August 6, 2017

It's George Lucas's Fault For All The Movie Sequels

Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Released in May of 1980, this follow up and continuation of the hit 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope was a much darker look at the Galaxy Far, Far Away. Coming off the huge success of A New Hope, George Lucas handed the directorial and writing duties to others so that he could focus on the producing duties. Lucas's former USC film school professor Irvin Kershner was brought in to direct and immediately added a richness to the film. Take a few moments during the movie to notice that the background is full of activity and characters. The extra characters in a lot of cases ended up getting action figures even without getting a line of dialogue in the movie.

Seriously, the three figures above were on screen for less that two minutes and only one said anything and that was just a growl sound.

The basic plot of the film is simple: The evil Galactic Empire finally gets back at the Rebels three years after the defeat of the Death Star. With the Rebels fleeing their current base, Luke Skywalker heads off to train with Yoda, the last living Jedi while Han, Leia, Chewbacca and C-3PO race to escape the Imperial fleet.

In the end, Luke comes to help save his friends from Darth Vader and has to confront Vader in a lightsaber duel.

And then hears one of the most famous lines in movie history.....which is usually misquoted.

Every one always quotes it as "Luke...I Am your Father". The correct line is "....No...I Am your Father".

"Empire" is still considered to be the best of all the Star Wars films with a great plot, great dialogue and a full frame of action going on in each scene, there's literally very few scenes that don't have things going on in the foreground, the background and all around the main characters. Its like this is a real world and these people really exist and that idea would carry forward in all the other Star Wars films and tv shows that have followed.

Ok now, I'm going to show you the trailer for The Empire Strikes Back and keep in mind that it was first released in the fall of 1979 and it looks like a product of that era. The film is obviously much better than the trailer. In any event......please enjoy. And may the Force be with you.

Monday, July 31, 2017

If You Do, Don't Try Driving.

Sunglasses At Night by Corey Hart

Released in January of 1984, this song features a hypnotic synth hook and a simple, catchy chorus. Its no wonder it reached #7 on the US charts. It was Corey's first single and that made him an instant star and he admits that was a bit intimidating. But fear not Corey, fan adulation is a good thing. He only had one more top Ten hit in the US. Its back in his native country of Canada that he continues to make top 40 hit albums. Who can complain if they love ya at home?

The video for the song was based on an authoritarian society where anyone NOT wearing their sunglasses at night was arrested....ironic considering the lyrics of the song. It was the continual showing of the video on MTV that helped to make this song so popular and lets be honest.....when ever you see someone wearing sunglasses at night, this song immediately comes to mind. I know I sing it a bit when ever I see someone.

Please enjoy.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

And When She's Walkin'........

Uptown Girl by Billy Joel

Released in September of 1983, Billy Joel had spent the mid to late 1970's establishing himself as the Piano Man and an accomplished songwriter whose ballads and rockers were instant hits. But it was now the 1980's and while his rock status was undeniable, he was feeling like he wanted to honor the music that inspired him as a kid in the 50's and 60's. This song captures the feel of 50's vocal bands with tight harmonies and do-whop background singers. Just listen to how he says "ti-yi-yime" and "my-yi-ind". He's channeling Frankie Valli.

Written from the perspective of a blue-collar working guy that is trying to woo an "uptown" rich girl, its both catchy and memorable all while being a simple toe-tapper. And that's how hits are made. As a result, it made it to #3 on the US charts.

The video stars Billy as a mechanic at a service station and he and the other mechanics are quite good at singing but only marginally good at choreography. Then a limo pulls up and out pops a supermodel, played by Christie Brinkley. She seems smitten but then I guess since they eventually ended up married, she was. They eventually divorced after 9 years together. The nice thing is that they both say they remain good friends. I guess she'll always be his Uptown Girl and he'll always be her singing mechanic.

Please enjoy.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Wedding Of The (previous) Century

The Wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana

On Wednesday the 29th of July, 1981 Charles, the future King of England married the 20 year old former kindergarten teacher, Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul's Cathedral in central London. More than half a million people lined the streets between Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's to witness the procession and over three quarters of a billion watched on world wide television, including myself. It was 3:30 in the morning where I lived and if I hadn't been out of school for the summer, I probably would have missed the big event.

The bride arrived in a glass coach and the crowd roared when they caught the first glimpse of her dress. The hand enbroidered dress was covered with 10,000 pearls and sported a 25 foot train....

...imagine sitting inside a glass coach, wheeling through London with that dress in your lap.

The ceremony was relatively error-free.....if you discount the fact that an obviously nervous Diana accidentally changed the order of Charles's names (he has 4! and technically no last name) calling him Phillip Charles Arthur George. But in the end it was the fairy-tale wedding that the world wanted.

The Prince and Princess of Wales would go on to have two sons, William born in 1982 and Henry (nicknamed Harry) born in 1984. 

Sadly, the marriage would be doomed. With both of the couple having affairs and eventually separating in 1992 and divorcing in 1996. Diana would die in an automobile accident in Paris in 1997 and her funeral would also be one of the most watched events on worldwide television, estimated to have a viewership of two billion people.

Watch the video below, its a bit longer than usual but covers the whole day. I will say this much, the British sure know how to do Pomp and Circumstance better than anyone.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Owwww...Badass...But Owwwwww

Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol

Released in 1984 as the second single off his hit album, Rebel Yell. This ballad with an edge made it to #4 on the US charts. Notable for its dark lyrics, it borrows its title from a 1960 french horror film of the same name. The plot of the film is confusing and weird so don't bother.

For the video, Billy tricks us with the soft melody while showing us images sinister and dark. His sneer at the start of the video barely leaves his face while he sings about a sad relationship. Sure, he looks pissed but then Billy never looked like a softy to me. Only Billy could stand in a ring of fire, surrounded by hooded monks while singing about his lost love. Punks suffer heartbreak just like everybody else....just with more fire hoses and smacked butt cheeks.

Of note is the fact that the video was shot over nearly three days straight with Billy barely sleeping during the filming. The breakneck pace for the filming was attributed to the fact that immediately after the filming was completed, Billy flew off to Arizona to perform a concert. When he arrived in Arizona it was discovered that his contact lenses had fused to his eyeballs. Billy was rushed to the hospital and the lenses removed. He had to wear bandages on his eyes for three days and his scraped corneas healed, eventually. Testimony to the fact that you should never leave your contacts in for more than 24 hours.

Please enjoy. And pass the eye drops.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Why Should I Care?

Nothing Bad Ever Happens by Oingo Boingo

If you grew up in Los Angeles in the 1980's (like I did) you were exposed to the greatest radio station ever.....KROQ. They called themselves World Famous and they were.....only to the kids in LA. But what would eventually make KROQ World Famous was the fact that they played some of the best music long before anyone else did. This is just one of those great songs that we heard every day for, what felt like, years (if you tune into the station right now, you'll probably hear this song....just wait an hour or so).

The album, Good For Your Soul, was released in mid summer 1983 and only had one single released off of it....and this wasn't it. This song was such a hit on KROQ that the band ended up making a music video for it and everything. Being a band of weirdos, they made this video.....No one ever understands what is going on inside lead singer/main songwriter Danny Elfman's head, but it is filled with awesome songs and really weird images. Try to figure out what he's thinking in this video. There's a thief stealing all his stuff while he watches tv.....there are faces coming out of the wall.....Danny is a waiter serving his band members heads up as dinner in a restaurant.....Like I said, He makes great music. After the band broke up, Danny would go on to make a lot more great music as a composer for movie and TV soundtracks.

But for now, be glad he didn't become a film director. Enjoy.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Not Really A Love Song....Not Even A Little.

Every Breath You Take by The Police.

Released in May of 1983, this has been often misidentified as a love song, people even going so far as to make it the main dance song at their wedding! But underneath its haunting melody and simple arrangement is a dark song. A relationship has ended and he can't get over her, even going so far as to watch her every move. But as we move to the bridge, we see that he is lost in his obsession. Unable to sleep, he only dreams of her and that makes him a sad character. The single note piano line during the bridge really points out the guys heart breaking as he realizes she isn't coming back. Perhaps the people dancing to this at their wedding aren't listening? Or they're demented.

The video was a huge hit on MTV, becoming one of the first videos to receive "heavy airplay". As a result, the song went to #1 in several countries, including the US and UK, even topping a list in 2015 of the Favorite 80's songs in England. Sting even won a Grammy as songwriter for the song in 1984, beating out Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson (who was nominated for Beat It and Billie Jean that year!)

Please enjoy.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Anybody Want A Peanut?

The Princess Bride

Released in September of 1987, this film adaptation of a 1973 book written as an abridged version of a much older tale (obviously, the entire thing is original but it added to the humor and the fantasy of the whole project).

The film begins with a young boy (Fred Savage) staying home from school because he's not feeling well and his Grandfather (Peter Falk) coming to read him a book to make him feel better. The Grandfather narrates throughout the film with occasional asides from the Grandson. The basic plot is this:

Umm..... Ok, I'll start nearer to the boy Westley is presumed dead and his true love, Buttercup, has finally agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck. But the Prince has other plans. He hires three assassins......

....Inigo Montoya, Vissini and Fezzik to kill Buttercup and frame the neighboring country for it so he can go to war with them. But they are followed by a man in black who beats all three assassins and rescues Buttercup. Along the way we get introduced to Count Rugen (he's on the right next to Humperdinck).....

....and Miracle Max and his wife, Valerie....

....but really, I'd be doing you all a disservice if I gave away the entire plot. But I will point out that this film has some of the best movie quotes ever.

"You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you" "you seem a decent fellow, I hate to die"

"You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means"

"Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"

"Its possible, pig, I might be bluffing"

"Truly you have a dizzying intellect" "wait until I get going. Now, where was I?"

"I am not left handed"

"You've been mostly dead all day"

And of course....."Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die"

Please enjoy the trailer of this classic film and if you haven't seen it.....don't tell me that.....go see it now. Or the citizens of Florin will boo you.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Think This Guitar Solo Caused The Apocalypse

You Got Lucky by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Released in October of 1982, this song about a guy trying to convince himself that the girl that just left him won't find anyone better, reached #20 on the US charts. But it was the video that made this song memorable.

Based on a post apocalyptic world, the band came up with the idea for the video themselves (one of the few early bands that embraced music videos), and MTV rewarded them by playing the hell out of the video. Groundbreaking at the time in that the music doesn't start for nearly a minute into the clip, the band is only listening to the song being played on a boombox while they investigate the contents of a mysterious tent in the desert (also groundbreaking since most videos were some form of performance pieces).

Lucky for them one of the band members discovers the guitar right before the solo but this brings up an interesting note about the song.....its based around a keyboard and drum loop which was unusual for a guitar based band. Still, they got lucky he knew how to play that solo and they got lucky the fans loved the song.

Please Enjoy....

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Albums Of 1987.....Part 2

Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses

Released in July of 1987, the bands major label debut was the closest thing to a perfect time capsule of the Sunset Strip in the late 1980's. The band formed only two years earlier as pieces of two different bands (LA Guns and Hollywood Rose) came together. From the first gigs played by the band it was apparent that there was little anything could be done to stop super stardom. Record labels were courting the band within months of their first show and the album was one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

Lead singer Axl Rose was one of those dynamic front men that commands the attention of the whole room. Combine that with the fiery playing of lead guitarist Slash and you had a duel attack on the crowd that usually was hard to ignore. When you add in the debauched lifestyle and attitude (and isn't that what rock n' roll is all about?) and more than a little songwriting talent and you ended up with the product delivered as promised.

The album reached the #1 spot on the US album charts and sold over 18 million copies (that buys a lot of Jack Daniels). Lets take a look at the songs that made up this amazing debut.

1. Welcome To The Jungle - Sounding like a decent into the depths, this semi-autobiographical song sets the tone for the whole album. As a teenager, a young Axl exited a bus in New York City and was yelled at by a homeless man, "you know where you are? You're in the jungle baby, you're gonna die". When he later moved to Hollywood, he felt that statement applied just as well to the Sunset Strip area.

2. Its So Easy - Describing the sad state the band found themselves in during the early days when they had to live off the groupies and hangers-on that surrounded them. Kinda sad, really.

3. Nightrain - Written as a tribute to cheap alcohol, which the band used to fuel its creativity and generally survive on.

4. Out Ta Get Me - A general complaint about authority figures, the police in particular, keeping poor Axl down......but lets face it, Axl probably wasn't a choir boy when it came to his dealings with the law.

5. Mr. Brownstone - We've had abuse of their fans (mostly the female kind), alcohol abuse and defiance of the law.....guess we need a song about drugs. This is about heroin. Interestingly, the song doesn't celebrate drug use but instead points out the negatives of heroin use.

6. Paradise City - Another song about Hollywood and longing for the more idyllic lands of their upbringing.

7. My Michelle - Written for a friend that said she wanted to be immortalized in song. The first version of the song was some sappy love song. Axl rewrote the song to more accurately reflect her actual life....she apparently loves the song.

8. Think About You - Its an attempt at a love song. But not as good as the song that comes after this one.

9. Sweet Child O' Mine - What originally started as a guitar picking exercise, would become the bands only #1 hit. Happy accidents are the lifeblood of rock musicians. While Slash insisted it wasn't a song, the rest of the band encouraged him to continue while they all added their instruments to the song and Axl quickly scribbled down a few lyrics about his girlfriend at the time. Fame and stardom was never more unintentionally stumbled upon. Its always fun to think about how the song would have changed if GPS had existed back in 1987. Listen to the lyrics after the guitar solo and you'll understand.

10. You're Crazy - All things considered.....I'm sure he wasn't a joy to live with either.

11. Anything Goes - I spent a little bit of time on the Sunset Strip, this probably worked with a few of the groupies....not that its ok, but still.

12. Rocket Queen - The tale of two women. Written about another female friend of the band who is also proud of being the subject of this song.....but its the girl heard having sex during the guitar solo whose tale needs telling. That's actually the drummer's girlfriend having sex in the studio with Axl (she also wanted to be immortalized on the record).

Lets take a look at the first video from the band, Welcome To The Jungle....please enjoy.