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....