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.