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....