Saturday, November 17, 2018

That DJ Is Clever

Celebration by Kool & The Gang

Released in 1980 (is that vague enough for you?) this song reached #1 and sold over 2 million copies but if you've ever been to a party or a wedding since it was released, you've heard this song....placing it among a small handful of songs everyone on the planet has heard...….over and over and over.

So lets listen to it one more time......and just remember....its a celebration!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It Could Save Your Life...Or End It.

Another One Bites The Dust by Queen

Released in 1980, this #1 song on the US charts has sold over 4 million copies but it could be used to save your life......or not.

The song was written by bassist, John Deacon, around a very simple but powerful bassline. In fact, it is so powerful that the British Heart Foundation has recommended that anyone performing CPR should sing this song as the bassline is nearly the perfect rhythm for restarting a human heart. 

But imagine if you just had a heart attack and, essentially, you're dead and you suddenly regain consciousness only to discover someone hovering over you saying "..dun..dun..dun..another one bites the dust...dun..dun..dun..another one bites the dust...and another one gone and another one gone...another one bites the dust....hey...gonna get you too..another one bites the dust!" You might scream and wonder if you've been attacked by a serial killer that likes to push on his victims chests.

Enjoy the song...but please sing this one to yourself when saving a life.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Who Ya Gonna Call?....Huey's Lawyers

Ghostbusters by Ray Parker Jr.

Released in May of 1984, this theme song to the hugely popular film was about as simple a pop song as you could possibly imagine and ended up in court and made Huey Lewis a lot of money. Until it cost him a lot of money.

Ray Parker Jr. was approached to do the theme for the comedy film, Ghostbusters, after Lindsey Buckingham turned down the chance......and, apparently, after Huey Lewis was also approached. Ray only had about 3 days to write and record the song and he felt incredibly silly singing the word "Ghostbusters" so he got his girlfriend and her sisters to sing it for him. Listen closely....he doesn't say the word.

The song (and the film) was a huge hit and reached #1 in the US charts and stayed there for 3 weeks. It was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars that year but lost to Stevie Wonder's I Just Called To Say I Love You (why? I have no idea).

Right after the song was released, Huey Lewis sued Ray and Columbia Pictures because this song bears a striking resemblance to Huey's song I Want A New Drug and they settled for an undisclosed amount of money. The settlement was confidential.....until Huey mentioned it in a VH1, Behind The Music documentary and Ray sued Huey....and won. Easy come, easy go.

The video features clips from the film along with a ghost Ray haunting a young woman who lives in a creepy house that looks like its under a bridge and is just a bunch of neon windows inside. The word Ghostbuster is, again, not sung by Ray but by miscellaneous stars from the time of the films release, including: Chevy Chase, John Candy, Peter Falk and Terry Garr, among others.

To this day, anyone from the 80's, when asked, "Who ya gonna call?" will immediately say "GHOSTBUSTERS!!" Just don't tell anyone that Ray payed you and you'll be ok.

Please Enjoy....


Thursday, August 16, 2018

Long Live The Queen

I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by Aretha Franklin and George Michael

She had been recording for over 25 years and she was the undisputed Queen of Soul but in the mid to late 70's her star had faded slightly as the musical landscape had shifted to rock. But the musicians of the 80's had grown up listening to this legend and were happy to see her star beginning to shine again. In 1985 she had released her first platinum album, Who's Zooming Who and she was back in the charts. 

And so her fans came calling....including a guy that had just had his first solo hit and wanted to prepare the world for his first solo album. George Michael called upon his musical hero to duet with him on this single that he never released it on any of his albums....he let her release it and it went to the #1 spot on the charts in 8 countries, including the UK and the US. It also won the Grammy for best R&B Performance.

The video shows how much George idolizes Aretha. It also shows how impressive she is as a singer. She blows the doors off the building when she lets loose. George makes every attempt to match her skills but not many could come close to the Queen's level. Still, its a special moment for someone that was obviously a fan, as George was.

Please enjoy...

Sunday, June 3, 2018

That Bono Is A Trouble Maker.

Where The Streets Have No Name by U2

Released in late August 1987, this was the third single from their monster breakthrough album, The Joshua Tree. It reached #13 on the US charts and is one of their signature live songs.

The song is based around a repeating, delayed guitar part that guitarist, The Edge, called the best guitar part he'd ever written. The song itself proved to be very difficult to record, so much so, that at one point the record producer arranged to "accidentally" erase the recordings so the band would have to start over. The studio engineer intervened and the band pressed on with the recordings. The band felt that they'd recorded a decent enough version of the song to include on the album but if you've ever seen U2 live, this is only about 20% of what this song can be.

The video was filmed in downtown Los Angeles in an area that isn't really the best venue for live music....on top of a liquor store on the corner of 7th and main St. The morning of the video shoot, several local DJ's had promoted the event and had made wild predictions about the size of the crowds, even reaching the ridiculous number of 30,000 people. As the time to begin filming approached, only about 1,000 people had arrived but even that number was enough to fill up all the sidewalks across the street from the liquor store. The police, fearful that huge crowds were only moments away from arriving, decided to shut down the filming......the band and the video crew started playing and filming anyway.

Unlike what is depicted in the video, the band was able to play eight songs (including 4 full versions of Where The Streets Have No Name) because the police allowed the filming to continue for fear that the crowd would turn into a mob if they didn't get to see something being filmed. Eventually, Bono encouraged the crowd to cross the street and block off traffic and that caused the police to cut the power.....except.....the band had anticipated that happening and had set up an emergency generator on the roof so they could continue playing. Bono had hoped to be arrested and pulled off the roof in handcuffs in a classic Rockstar moment but when an officer arrived on the roof, the band just walked back away from the edge and the filming ended.

One of my favorite parts of the video is the guitar that Edge uses.....

…....I have a copy of the same guitar in the exact same color. Mine will never sound as good as his and I'm still miles away from writing the best guitar part in my life. I'm not jealous....he's got real talent.

Please enjoy.....

Thursday, May 17, 2018

And This Is Why I Don't Go Hiking

The eruption of Mount St. Helens. May 18th, 1980

Located in Southern Washington state, Mount St. Helens is part of the Cascade Volcanic arc, a ring of mountains across the Pacific Northwest that contains nearly 20 active volcanos. Having been silent for almost 130 years, it was not considered to be much of a threat to the surrounding area. But all that changed in the early spring of 1980.

A series of earthquakes and steam venting had brought attention to the mountain and with it, fears that an eruption was eminent. Throughout the month of April, the north side of the mountain began to bulge and infrared photography indicated that lava was beginning to build in the throat of the volcano and that an eruption was possible. At one point, a blue flame of burning gases was seen in a crater near the summit!!

The State ordered evacuations and while most people complied, there were a few that insisted on staying, including Harry Truman (no, not the former President), owner of the Mount St. Helens lodge which stood on the shore of Spirit Lake at the base of the North side of the mountain. Also remaining in the area were several photographers and geologists.

On the morning of May 18th the unthinkable happened. At 8:32 AM an earthquake occurred just below the surface of the North face of the mountain causing the entire face to slide. The resulting landslide was the largest in recorded history. Traveling at 125 miles per hour, it temporarily displaced the water in Spirit lake and caused a 600 foot tall wave of water to crash into the north shore of the lake.

While that was happening, the magma inside the volcano was exposed to much lower pressure and a series of explosions occurred as super-heated gases, ash, pumice and rock were directed up and out of the landslide, following it down the face of the mountain. Commonly referred to as pyroclastic flows, they reached nearly 670 miles per hour and destroyed everything in their path. The sure-heated flow caused the water in Spirit lake to instantly flash into steam and cause a secondary explosion that was heard as far away as northern California.

Trees in the path were flattened. Here's a picture of what had been a rather majestic forest only a few days before...

Approximately 57 people were killed, including Harry Truman and the others that stayed on the mountain to record what happened. To this day, the mountain continues to vent steam and ash. It still has a large lava dome inside its crater and could erupt again.

Here's a picture of the mountain the day before the eruption...

And here's a picture from the same location after the eruption....

That's nearly 1,300 feet shorter in less than 2 minutes with a 2,100 feet deep crater left behind.
And here's a video of the actual eruption put together from still photos of it as it occurred...

Don't mess with Mother Nature.....she's bigger and tougher than you and she'll blow off the entire side of a mountain to prove it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

She Should Have Called It #3

True Blue by Madonna

Released in September of 1986, this song had a lucky number. The #3. It was the third single from her third album. It reached #3 in the US and stayed there 3 weeks. Sadly that's four #3's. Would have been really cool if there was only three #3s but what are ya gonna do?

The song was written as a love song to her then husband, Sean Penn. By the time the video was filmed, they were in the middle of a divorce, so maybe not so True Blue? Its composed as a retro throw-back song in the doo-wop style. While the lyrics are a love song to Sean, the music is a love song to the girl groups of the 50's and 60's that Madonna grew up loving and imitating.

The video even looks like a 50's doo-wop tribute. She's in a 50's diner, singing in a 50's convertible with her 50's style backup singers. Of the three back up singers (there's that lucky number again) one is her choreographer/best friend and was in 4 other videos for Madonna. Another is an actress who has been on Entourage (I never saw it) and was once Pee Wee Herman's girlfriend (like that's not super weird). She's in the dark blue shirt and was also in 4 other Madonna videos and was originally hired to do Madonna's hair and makeup on Madonna's very first video, Everybody. The third girl....No idea who she is.

Madonna changed her look for this video (surprise!!) and she had recently started working out and getting much more fit. I'm guessing her impending divorce had something to do with that. In any event, She always looked great to me, but this is an especially good look (I'm just sayin').

Please enjoy...


Sunday, April 22, 2018

I'm Sorry, This Counts As The 1980's

Regatta de Blanc by The Police

Released in October of 1979 (one of many reasons it should count as an 80's album) this was the band's second album and after the initial success of their first album, the band was anxious to build on the quality musical catalogue they were already building. Recorded over 4 weeks and at a cut-rate budget of @$10,000 (that's a small amount, even for 1979), the band was able to maintain creative control over the album and express their talents without any record label interference.

The band is in a whole other world from their first album, continuing the punk-rock aggression while expanding on the reggae rhythms and taking the song writing and lyrics to a whole new level. Consider that this is essentially a band with 4 lead singers: (1) the vocals of Sting, (2) his Bass, (3) Andy Summers guitar and (4) the drums of Stewart Copeland. All 4 elements are vying for the attention of the listener. And in most cases, they all win. I'm still amazed that I can listen to this album and hear new sounds coming from one of the "singers" in this band.

The album reached #1 in England but only reached #25 in the US. Its been listed among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time by Rolling Stone magazine (I agree with them). Also the band brought home the Grammy award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for the song Regatta de Blanc.

There were 4 singles released from this album, with Message In A Bottle being the first and among all 3 members of the band, its considered to be the best Police song they ever recorded (I also agree with them).

The video is typical for the time with some live shots of the band and the guys singing along to the song backstage. It only takes a few moments to see that drummer, Stewart Copeland is quite the ham and quite possibly the most annoying person in the band. His antics are meant to bother Sting while Andy just waits for everyone to stop being it any wonder they eventually broke up? But no matter what, the song is amazing as well as the rest of the album (go get a copy, if you don't already own one) and please.....enjoy it now.

Friday, April 20, 2018

If This Doesn't Make You Dance...You May Be Dead

One Step Beyond by Madness

Released in late 1979.............why are you still reading??....GO, LISTEN NOW!!!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Can You See Me In The Crowd?

Depeche Mode
101 -  Concert For The Masses
Live At The Rose Bowl

June 18th, 1988....this was the most anticipated concerts of the year. I was actually at this concert. Here's my ticket....

The band was coming through town to support, what was, at that time, their biggest album, Music For The Masses. The band always a had special place in its heart for Los Angeles as the local radio station, KROQ, was an early and committed supporter. In fact, they had announced the concert live on the air one morning in mid spring from the stadium with Richard Blade, the morning radio host on KROQ at the time.

Here's a picture of a few of the band members on the morning of the announcement in the empty stadium with the section I ended up sitting in in the background.....

To fill the stadium, the band would have to sell over 56,000 tickets......they ended up selling over 60,000!!! Let me give you an idea of how the stadium looked on the morning of the concert before they let the crowd in.....

That's lead singer, Dave Gahan, with his young son.

The concert was amazing. The opening bands were Wire (I don't remember them), Thomas Dolby (who was and is, Always, great) and Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark (great set that day). It had been hot during the day and the Rose Bowl had zero shade so we were all out in the sun the whole time. As the sun set and Depeche Mode's set got closer to starting, the crowd started to entertain themselves. At one point there was a brief trash-throwing melee which looked fun from up where I was above all of it. Then the crowd got into a fun shouting match, where one side would yell, "tastes great!" and the other side would yell, "less filling!" (its a Miller Lite commercial from the era and we were bored waiting).

Here's what the crowd looked like from just above my seat....

Now, Depeche Mode's performance was not what any of them consider to be their best (they've all said as much in interviews over the years) but you couldn't have found one person in the crowd that would agree with that assessment. The energy in the stadium was beyond electric and it was helped along when it started to briefly rain (it sure helped wash the hot air out of the stadium). The rain occasionally has been reported to have occurred during Blasphemous Rumours. I remember it starting during Sacred and continuing through the next 2 songs, Something To Do and Blasphemous Rumours. During Something To Do, the storm announced itself with a bolt of lightening that lit up most of the sky just to the south of the stadium. If you listen closely to the live album of the show, you can hear the crowd let out a huge cheer when the lightning strikes. Imagine what would happen today if 60,000 people were outside in a lightning storm.....they would cancel the show and send everyone home immediately. It would have been pandemonium. Thankfully, we lived in a less safety conscious time and the show was not stopped.

The best moment of the show was at the end of the main set during the song Never Let Me Down Again when Dave Gahan got the entire crowd waving their arms back and forth above their heads. It was an amazing, spontaneous moment and its now a permanent part of each live Depeche Mode show. The neat part is that the band was filming (and recording) the show that night for inclusion in a documentary film called 101 and so most of the show exists on video. I say "most" because the film makers didn't intend to film the whole show so there are a few songs missing from the film. But if you watch the video below, and you have really sharp eyes (like much better than me and I KNOW where I was sitting), you can see me in the crowd during the part when Dave is leading the crowd in waving their arms.

Please enjoy this amazing moment........

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Metal....The Way It Was Meant To Be

Foolin' by Def Leppard

Released in September of 1983, this was the 3rd single off their Pyromania album and it reached #28 on the US charts. The song was helped along in the charts by it strong, simple performance video (with a few artsy shots added in).

The song is the perfect example of early 80's metal. It had a great hard rockin' chorus and extra cool, vibe-y verses. Its sad to think that this was eventually replaced by bands like Poison and Winger (what were we thinking?). But lets enjoy this song now and try to find reasons to like those other songs later (maybe not).

The video was filmed on a day off from their US tour while they were in New Jersey and features a blind girl playing the harp. She was Billy Idol's girlfriend at the time......why she's blind.....I'm not sure.....not all early 80's videos are supposed to make sense. It was the music we wanted to hear and seeing the bands gave us an idea of who we were listening to. Also keep an eye out for the flag of the United Kingdom being worn as a pair of shorts and the many times that lead singer, Joe Elliot, nearly gets blown up by some sort of explosion....including very close to his hands!!!

Some of my favorite images from this video are; rhythm guitarist, Steve Clark, tossing his acoustic guitar aside so he can rock out on his electric guitar; Joe sticking the microphone stand right into the camera; and Joe coming right at the camera to sing the lyrics to us right after having his wrists nearly blown off.

Please enjoy.....and I make no apologies for Winger.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Banjo Beat Michael Jackson

Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners

Released in June of 1982, this overly catchy song reached #1 on the US charts (and in 7 other countries) but it was what it prevented that makes it historic. For 7 weeks, Michael Jackson held the #1 spot on the US charts with the song Billie Jean. Then for 1 week, this song held the top spot and then Michael Jackson returned to the top spot for 3 weeks with Beat It. This song prevented the King Of Pop from having back-to-back #1 singles. The only time that had previously happened was when The Beatles had back-to-back #1 singles in 1964 (its happened a few times since the 80's but mostly from multi-artist rap songs). The song has been ranked the best one hit wonder from the 80's (quite a distinction and quite a field to be on top of).

The video was filmed in a south London neighborhood and features the younger sister of a member of the band Bananarama as "Eileen". My whole life I've wondered about the fashion in this video. London.......really? My wife refers to this as the "dirty hillbilly" look. You have to give "Eileen" credit here for pulling off the overalls look with no shirt on underneath (is she even wearing underwear? 15 year old self would ask....often). The part that amazes me today to see people in the background ignoring the band and going about their lives (playing soccer, shopping, working). Do they not realize they're witnessing history??

Please enjoy.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Ohhh, Might As Well........

Jump by Van Halen

Released in December of 1983 as the first single off the band's sixth album, 1984. It reached #1 on the US charts and sold over 1 million copies.

The song was based around a keyboard riff from guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Lead singer, David Lee Roth, rejected the keyboard riff at first as not being the right direction for the band but Eddie had built a studio at his own home and completed the song anyway. Roth listened to the completed song while riding around in the back of an old car and came up with lyrics which he added to the song and this huge hit was born. The home studio led to conflict between Roth and Eddie and eventually to Roth leaving the band....only to return....and leave.....and return again (currently the band is ....together? Who knows?)

The video was directed by Roth and set the standard for "live" performance videos. Previously, bands would either film an actual live performance or would use multiple cameras to film a single performance. Roth filmed the band playing the song all the way through several times and then filmed a few insert shots of solos and the band goofing around and a new video style was born. The easiest way to tell how many times the band played along to the song is to count the different stage outfits Roth wears throughout the video. Because of Roth, spandex became the fashion for hard rock and metal bands......we have him to blame.

Please enjoy.


Sunday, March 18, 2018

All Of Us Do The Air Drums....All Of Us

In The Air Tonight by Phil Collins

Released in January of 1981, this was Phil's debut single. It reached the top 5 in most countries it was released in but not in the US, where it only reached #19. The video was played endlessly on MTV and was helpful in making this the signature song for Phil's solo career.

The song was written while Phil was going through a divorce and he said the lyrics came out from the very beginning almost exactly as they are on the final record. In the years since the song was released there's been an urban legend that has popped up about the song that suggests that Phil witnessed someone drowning and that he saw someone that was close enough to save them but they made no attempt. Of course, this isn't true. Phil has admitted that the song was just him being able to release some anger over his divorce and that the song really has zero meaning.

The drum sound for the song was recorded by running the audio through the microphone that the producer uses to talk to the band in the studio. Its clipped reverb sound became Phil's signature style. The song starts out with a drum machine but Phil's live drums come in at the 3 minute and 15 second mark and powers the remainder of the song. I can't think of a time that I've heard the song that hasn't ended up with anyone hearing it air drumming along to Phil's drum break.

The video has several strange images (it was the early days of music video, most artists were still trying to figure out the whole thing). Phil's sitting alone in a room. His own reflection appears and his head shatters.......umm, ok. He walks down a narrow corridor and a locked door suddenly flies open. But its the extreme close up on Phil's face (even Phil says he's not the most handsome guy) lit with a harsh overhead light that seems to make this video unnerving and sinister. Phil's anger in the lyrics seems to push on the edge of the screen. 

Please enjoy and just don't accuse Phil of drowning anyone......

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Title Of The Song Isn't In The Lyrics

Young Turks by Rod Stewart

Released in October of 1981, this song reached #5 on the US charts and was the first music video shown on MTV to feature breakdancing.

The song is about a young couple that runs away so they can be together and the trials that they go through. In the video, Patty is played by Elizabeth Daily....

...that's her on the right from the movie Valley Girl. She was also in Pee Wee's Big Adventure and she has recently been the voice of Tommy Pickles on the tv show, Rugrats. She even had a recording career herself but lets get back to Rod's song.

The video was filmed in downtown Los Angeles and they must have hired every out of work dancer in town for the video. Several times the dancers interact with the couple and either try to draw them away or push them forward into the story.

The song was the first single from Rod's Tonight I'm Yours album and it took his music in a new wave direction with keyboards and a drum machine. But the song was Rod's introduction to a new fan base and a string of hits would soon follow.

For now, please enjoy....

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

This Doesn't Seem Very Friendly

Jessie's Girl by Rick Springfield

Released in February of 1981, this was Rick's only #1 hit and it took 19 weeks to reach the #1 spot and was in the #1 spot the week that MTV premiered.

Rick was a TV soap star, appearing on General Hospital as Dr. Noah Drake (I never saw the show, I hear he was dreamy) and this was from his 4th album. His timing was perfect. What could work better than a TV ready guy on an all music television channel? Well, if you watch the video, you'll wonder how any of this happened.

The video starts with "Jessie" engaging in some graffiti and he's there with his girl. And now he's littering...he's a catch. But we get to see Rick and his band rocking out on the song (hey, go easy on the star-filters). And now Rick is walking up to Jessie and his girl.....and they just walk on by like he doesn't even exist. Seems like they're not as good of friends as it seems. Here's Rick smashing lots of bathroom mirrors (that's a lot of bad luck: 4 x 7 = 28 years). And now we get to see what a guitar solo looks like when its done by someone that isn't a lead guitar player (trust me, those aren't the notes for that solo). And then, finally, we get to see Jessie and his girl (along with the dog from Rick's album cover) sitting in the audience watching Rick perform this song.

Rick's not a very good friend but then neither is Jessie or his girl. I predict this relationship has zero chance of success.

Please enjoy.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Who Hasn't Heard This Song?

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

Released in June of 1981, this song is probably one of the most recognizable songs from the 1980's. It reached #9 on the US charts and sold over 1 million copies when it was first released. Pretty impressive but consider its sold over 7 million digital downloads, making it the most downloaded song from the 1980's.

The video was a live performance from the band's Escape tour filmed in Houston, Texas. The advantage of the live performance is the opportunity to hear lead singer Steve Perry's vocal range. He sounds better live than on the record!

Please enjoy.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Well, That's Quite A Debut Video

One by Metallica

Released in January of 1989, this was the third single from their fourth album....but it was their first video. And what a way to start. The song is about a soldier that has been injured during a battle and now has no arms, no legs, and has lost his hearing and sight. With no way to communicate with the outside world, he is trapped forever inside is body. He is One. At over 7 and a half minutes, that's quite a song. And should be reason enough to avoid all wars.

After the band was finished recording the song, someone pointed out to them the similarity between the theme of the song and that of the book and film Johnny, Get Your Gun (the book was written in 1939, the film was made in 1971). In the book and film, the main character has been severely injured during a World War I battle and has no arms, no legs and has lost his hearing and sight (see the similarities?) but while in a hospital, he discovers that he can communicate with the outside world by using the Morse code, spelling out SOS to his doctors and later asking them to kill him. It's a bit dark, I'd wait until a happier time before a viewing.

The video was filmed in Long Beach (coincidentally on the day before the very first Metallica concert I ever attended) and features the band jamming along to the song intercut with scenes from the film Johnny, Get Your Gun. In the years since the video was filmed, the band has purchased the rights to the film so they wouldn't have to pay for the rights to include the images in the video (a smart idea). The live performance of the song usually includes plenty of pyro and explosions and is among the most played live songs by the band typically being one of the last songs of the performance each night.

Please enjoy.