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80s music

Saturday video break: Snakedance

Here’s the terrific Texas trio of Marcia Ball, Angela Strehli, and Lou Ann Barton:

There’s live footage of one televised concert they did off this album, but none I could find featuring this song. Here’s a live version of Marcia Ball singing it solo, which is good because Marcia Ball is never not good, but it’s not the same as what I’ve got. Now here are the Rainmakers:

My God. That video is so 80s I probably attended a keg party with it back in college. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about this band, but watching that video makes me love them.

Saturday video break: Shame On The Moon

Here’s Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band with a deep cut:

Gotta say, in thirty years of listening to AOR and classic rock radio, I don’t think I’d heard that song before. I know, the playlists are shallow, but still. Now here’s Rodney Crowell:

I’ve mentioned the Fluxblog 80s mixes before. Turns out the Crowell song is on the 1981 mix, and the Seger version, which I presume is a cover, is from 1982. I didn’t know Seger did covers, but that song is right in his wheelhouse, so there you have it.

Saturday video break: Secret

We’re all about the 80s here, and very few things say “the 80s” like Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.

It’s the hair, the synthesizers, the usage of black and white footage to tell a story about…well, I don’t know exactly, but that’s not the point. The point is, this is what the 80s was all about. Move it forward two decades and here we have Mieke Pauley:

Not 80s at all, but someday when it’s time to create a radio station that caters to the tastes of people who were the same age in the Aughts as I was in the 80s, this song might make the playlist. Assuming there are still such things as radio stations by then.

Friday random ten: Fluxblog 1981

Fluxblog 80’s set #2:

1. Stand And Deliver – Adam and the Ants
2. Rise Above – Black Flag
3. What A Day That Was – David Byrne
4. (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing – Heaven 17
5. Computer Love – Kraftwerk
6. Fire On The Bayou – The Neville Brothers
7. Harden My Heart – Quarterflash
8. Arc Of A Diver – Steve Winwood
9. Silent Scream – TSOL
10. Out Come The Freaks – Was (Not Was)

There are I believe 120 songs per yearly “album” in this collection. I’m just picking every 12th song (more or less) for these lists. I know I’ve heard “Harden My Heart” and “Arc Of A Diver” on regular FM rock radio back in the day – not in 1981, but later in the 80s and 90s, when good old album-oriented rock was still something you could find on the dial. More recently, “What A Day That Was” and “(We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing” have been played on the Sirius FirstWave 80s alternative station. I’m sure the others have been played somewhere, but not within my hearing. Which of these songs have you heard on the radio, if you’re old enough to be the kind of person that ever listened to the radio?

Saturday video break: No Questions Asked

A song I recently acquired, from the Flesh Eaters:

I got that from the 1980 collection of the Fluxblog 1980s Survey Mixes, which you absolutely need to get if you like 80s music in all its ugly beauty. It’s a lot of music, and Fluxblog also has annual mixes beginning in 2002. I haven’t gotten those yet – hell, I haven’t loaded the 80s stuff into my iTunes yet. But it’s there and you should check it out.

Moving on, here’s Fleetwood Mac with a different No Questions Asked:

Good song, but not one that comes to mind when one thinks of Fleetwood Mac music.

Saturday video break: Girls Just Want To Have Fun

In a world where music videos had plot lines, there was Cyndi Lauper’s 80s classic:

Lauper went on to do several remakes and remixes of this song, which stands up pretty well 30 years later.

While this is absolutely Lauper’s song, it was written by Robert Hazard five years before Lauper recorded it. She changed the lyrics to make it a song of female empowerment. Here’s a stripped-down version of it by Greg Laswell:

Some songs work better when slowed down, but I don’t think this is one of them. It is different, though. And if you want something different, there’s always Big Daddy:

More songs should be mashed up with “Duke of Earl” if you ask me.

Saturday video break: Eye Of The Tiger

It’s Survivor. Feel the awesomeness.

You can’t top that – you can’t even come close to equaling it. There’s a reason Dave Bickler, the lead singer, went on to do those Real Men of Genius ads. The best you can do is something completely different. That means Big Daddy.

I only wish Big Daddy made more official videos. But just the music is pretty good, too.

Friday random ten – Dance Party!

I mentioned Scalzi’s 80s dance party playlist a couple of Fridays ago, and also mentioned that it had some oversights on it. Well, no party lasts forever, so you have to cut it off somewhere. Be that as it may, what songs would I have included that Scalzi didn’t? Here are ten additions from my collection:

1. What I Like About You – The Romantics
2. Modern Love – David Bowie
3. Sussudio – Phil Collins
4. Walking On Sunshine – Katrina and The Waves
5. Walk This Way – Run/DMC
6. Dancing In The Dark – Bruce Springsteen
7. Would I Lie To You? – Eurythmics
8. Heart And Soul – T’Pau
9. 99 Red Balloons – Nena
10. One Night In Bangkok – Murray Head

What songs would be must-haves on your 80s dance music playlist?

Saturday video break: Tainted Love

Song #15 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Tainted Love”, originally by Gloria Jones and covered by Soft Cell. Here’s the original:

I’ve covered this before, if you will. It’s still pretty mind-blowing to hear this as a Motown song, even if you can totally see the straight line from this version to the one we all know by Soft Cell:

And boy howdy, there’s nothing like a video with a strong 80s sensibility to go with that 80s remake of the sound, is there? I have no idea what that was supposed to be about, but then it wouldn’t be an 80s video if it weren’t for that. And for those of you thinking that this song used to be longer than two and a half minutes, you’re right, it did.

That little Motown coda at the end, with the electronic heartbeat underpinning it, really ties it all together nicely, doesn’t it? That’s what I’m talking about.

Saturday video break: Der Kommissar

Song #20 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Der MKmmissar”, originally by Falco and covered by After the Fire. Here’s the original:

I guess I have to add this to the “originals I’d not heard before” list, since I didn’t know the original was in German. Unlike many other unknown-to-me originals, this one is the same basic song as the better-known cover, so other than the language it wasn’t a surprise. And 80s videos, man, gotta love ’em. Here’s After the Fire:

This is the first time in this series where I knew the cover but didn’t know the name of the covering band. All these years I heard that song on the radio, I can’t ever recall a DJ mentioning their name. How does that happen? Anyway, this video is even 80s-ier than I remember. Such a beautiful synergy between medium and art form, isn’t it?

Saturday video break: Every Time You Go Away

Song #46 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Every Time You Go Away”, by Hall and Oates and covered by Paul Young. Here’s the original:

Okay, that’s not actually Hall and Oates, but how could I resist Daryl Hall backed by Billy Joel, Bonnie Raitt, and the most amazing flowing-locks-and-sideburn combination since, I don’t know, Nic Cage in “Raising Arizona”. Seriously, who knew Daryl Hall had hair like that? Anyway, here’s the Paul Young cover:

Another fine example of 80s hair, as well as 80s imagery – Ballerinas! Men who might be gangsters! Gratuitous fog! – all rendered in both black and white and color. Pretty good song, too.

Saturday video break: I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On

Song #53 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “I Didn’t Mean To Turn You On”, originally by Cherelle and covered by Robert Palmer. Here’s the original:

Yet another “song I didn’t know was a cover” song. Very 80s, but in a different way than the better-known cover is very 80s. Speaking of which:

That’s an extended remix of the song, but it was the only one I found that had the unique Palmer visual style, and that’s what really matters for his videos. There’s never been anyone quite like him since, has there?

By the way, I only just realized that I did the last two videos out of order. Well, the timing for “Mustang Sally” worked out better that way, so no big deal.

Saturday video break: Bang A Gong (Get It On)

Song #69 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Get it On (Bang a Gong)”, originally by T.Rex and covered by Power Station. Here’s the original:

That’s a song you’re probably quite familiar with if you’ve been anywhere near a classic rock station in the last 25 years or so. I have no idea what he’s singing outside of the refrain, but what the heck. It’s catchy as all get out and I always enjoy hearing it. Here’s the Power Station version:

Power Station was the love child of Robert Palmer and Duran Duran, which should tell you everything you need to know about this. This tune and their other hit, “Some Like It Hot”, were all over the radio back in the day. There was an extended remix of one or the other that got some airplay, too. Unlike the original, which is probably playing on some classic rock station now, I can’t say I’ve heard Power Station over the air since the 80s. Even when I was primarily listening to the 80s format station The Point before they were overtaken by suckage, I can’t ever recall hearing them. I’m not sure if that says more about how poorly the all-80s format at The Point was executed or the ephemeral nature of most pop music. Either way, I kind of miss hearing Power Station.

Saturday video break: Always On My Mind

Song #76 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Always On My Mind”, originally by Brenda Lee and covered by the Pet Shop Boys. Here’s the original:

I didn’t realize this was the original. I like this version, but it’s not the one I think of when I think of this song. I’ll get to that in a minute. Here’s the Pet Shop Boys:

That one I’d heard before, and if you hadn’t ever heard it you’d know as soon as the vocals kicked in who it was. The Pet Shop Boys, along with Depeche Mode and Madonna and a whole hot of other 80s pop acts, are a group I couldn’t stand back in the day but like now. I just didn’t care for the sound and the style back then. Nostalgia and advancing age work wonders, don’t they?

Now I don’t know about you, but to me this song will always be sung by Willie Nelson:

He didn’t write that song, and he recorded his version ten years after Lee released hers, but is there any doubt that Willie owns this one? There are some artists and some songs where you just know they lived every word they’re singing. That’s what we have here. God bless you, Willie.

Saturday video break: Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody

Song #83 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Just A Gigolo/I Ain’t Got Nobody”, originally by Louis Prima and covered by David Lee Roth. Here’s Prima:

Two things to note. One, the song Just A Gigolo was recorded many times before Prima’s version in 1956, with versions dating back to at least 1931. Prima was the first to combine it with I Ain’t Got Nobody, so it’s the medley for which he is the original artist. Two, the woman in the video is Keely Smith, who was Prima’s (fourth) wife and the straight man for their Vegas act. You can see how well they worked together. You can also see why this number appealed to Diamond Dave:

Do I really need to say how much I love the 80s again? Sing it with me now: “Hum-a-lay bib-a-lay zib-a-lay bib-a-lay hum-a-lay bib-a-lay zib-a-lay BOP!” All the “cameos” in this video jus took it even more over the top than it already was. “Wretched excess” just had no meaning here, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday random ten: The past is never what you remember it to be

What hath the iPod wrought this week?

1. The Best Is Yet To Come – Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
2. Better Be Good To Me – Tina Turner
3. Hammer To Fall – Queen
4. Bridge Of Sighs – Robin Trower
5. Born In Time – Bob Dylan
6. Downtown – The B-52’s
7. Yours Is No Disgrace – Yes
8. White Rabbit – Austin Lounge Lizards with Karen Abrahams
9. Blind Man – Aerosmith
10. Farewell To The Fairground – White Lies

A few years back one of the radio stations here in town converted to an “all 80s” format; they were more or less on the leading edge for that. For awhile, it was awesome – the station started out playing 10,000 songs in a row, commercial- and DJ-free. I’d be listening in my car and song after song I’d be saying “Wow, I haven’t heard that in awhile”, as they had a pretty extensive playlist at first. Well, that sort of thing never lasts forever, and before you knew it they were playing the same damn thing over and over again, and I moved on to other things. But what I still remember from those early days is that somehow they never played a Tina Turner song, at least never while I was listening. How can you call yourself an 80s station and never spin a tune from “Private Dancer”, I wondered? They never played any Michael Jackson, either, which I must admit I appreciated, but that brings up the same type of question. No doubt it was a matter of what type of 80s-nostalgic audience they wanted, but still. How can you call yourself an 80s station and never play “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”, or “Private Dancer”, or “Better Be Good To Me”? I mean, seriously.

Another bit of 80s music nostalgia came in an unlikely place, this Baseball Prospectus article by Steve Goldman, in which he riffs on 1987; you have to scroll down to get to it. He lists and mostly laments the Billboard Top 10 songs from that year, which one must agree contained an impressive amount of dross. I was rather stunned to realize that I’d never heard of two of the songs and their artists – “Shake You Down”, by Gregory Abbott, and “C’est La Vie”, by Robbie Nevil. I was never a Top 40 station listener, but I don’t remember hearing either of them on that 80s station back when I was listening to it.

If you want a great example of how music changed from the 80s to the 90s, browse through the first few entries in Popdose’s Ass End Of The 90s series. They had two long such features previously on 80s music, and the vast majority of the tunes and the artists were at least passingly familiar to me. This one is largely alien to me. Some of that is undoubtedly me getting older, even if I was only 24 at the start of the decade, but a good bit of it was the extreme fragmentation of radio that began around that time and continues today. It’s not just me, is it?

Finally, I gave props awhile back to an excellent cover of “White Rabbit”, and I want to do the same here. I don’t know how Karen Abrahams came to sit in with the Austin Lounge Lizards for this number, which isn’t on any of their CDs but which is available via iTunes and Amazon, but it’s awesome. In fact, according to Abrahams, this version was listed in Esquire Magazine’s Top Ultimate Cover Songs for Download. I’m not sure if this is the list she has in mind, but whatever the case, I agree. Go get yourself a copy.

Saturday video break: All Through The Night

Song #87 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “All Through The Night”, by Jules Shear, and covered by Cyndi Lauper. If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking “Huh, I didn’t realize this was a cover for Cyndi Lauper”. So I’ll start with that one, since it’s likely what we’re all familiar with:

God, I love the 80s. This was probably my favorite Lauper song. I should try to catch up on her post-“Time After Time” stuff. Here’s the Jules Shear original:

Nice. Not what I was expecting, but nice. Had you ever heard that version before? Am I the only one who didn’t realize Cyndi Lauper had covered it? Let me know what you think.

Saturday video break: Bizarre Love Triangle

Song #88 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “Bizarre Love Triangle”, originally by New Order and covered by Frente. Here’s the original:

That’s kind of an unsatisfying version of the song – there’s something off about the audio, the singer’s level is too low, and it cut off at the end. Here’s a better version, presumably ripped from the production single. I included the first one because it showed the band from the time of recording. Anyway, here’s the Frente cover:

Different in many wyas, not the least of which being the fact that it’s half as long as the original. You get a lot of these stripped-down acoustic indie covers on Coverville, and I often find them kind of dreary, but this one maintained a peppy tempo, which helped a lot. I liked it, anyway. What do you think?

Saturday video break: You Are in My System

Song #90 on the Popdose Top 100 Covers list is “You Are In My System, originally by The System and covered by Robert Palmer. Here’s the original:

It’s an 80s music video boiled down to its essential elements. I love the computer keyboard embedded into the synth keyboard. How come no one makes those any more? Anyway, here’s Robert Palmer’s cover:

More vintage computers! Eight bit graphics and that eerie green glow…ah, those were the days. I wonder how my children will some day mock our current technology. Not that much distance between the two versions, and you either like this sort of thing or you don’t. Hope you’re in the former group.

Friday random ten: The 80s

The 80s. If you don’t already understand what things like parachute pants and Members Only jackets were about, there’s nothing I can say that will help you understand them.

1. Hungry Heart – Bruce Springsteen (1980)
2. Who Can It Be Now? – Men At Work (1981)
3. I Want Candy – Bow Wow Wow (1982)
4. Foolin’ – Def Leppard (1983)
5. Relax – Frankie Goes To Hollywood (1984)
6. Small Town – John Mellencamp (1985)
7. Superman – REM (1986)
8. Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty – Omar and The Howlers (1987)
9. Handle With Care – Traveling Wilburys (1988)
10. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals (1989)

Apparently, the bulk of my Christmas music was recorded in 1987. The things you learn while trolling through your iTunes library. I don’t think you can capture the essence of the 80s in a single video, but if you could this one comes close:

There’s a longer edit of this here, but it didn’t have any video with it. Like I said, if you have to ask, you can’t really understand it. It just is.

Entire song list report: Started with “Wild West End”, by Dire Straits. Finished with “Wonderwall”, by Oasis, song #6130. That’s 82 songs this week, and 187 to go before we wrap around.

Saturday video break: You’re so fine you blow my mind

We were at a fundraiser for Olivia’s school last Saturday. They had a DJ playing music to appeal to a bunch of mostly 40ish married people, along with videos on a big screen. Which is to say, 80s music in all its bizarre glory. I was reminded that I’d never actually seen this particular video before:

After it was over, I turned to Tiffany and said “Someday we will be called upon to explain the 80s to our children.” That’s going to be fun. And of course, I can’t hear that song without thinking of the Weird Al version, for which embedding has sadly been disabled. Have I mentioned lately that I love the 80s? It can’t be said enough.

Friday random ten: That’s just crazy

So I was sitting with my laptop trying to be inspired for this week’s Friday list, and it occurred to me that the girls had been driving us a little crazy all weekend. And thus was I inspired.

1. Crazy Little Thing Called Love – Queen
2. Let’s Go Crazy – Storybox
3. Crazy – Patsy Cline
4. A Crazy Little Tune – Nevada Newman
5. Crazy For You – Madonna
6. Crazy Island – John Mellencamp
7. Crazy Game – Indigo Girls
8. She Drives Me Crazy – Fine Young Cannibals
9. Still Crazy After All These Years – Paul Simon
10. Crazy Man Michael – Ceili’s Muse

What’s driving you crazy these days?

Entire song list report: Started with “Love Shack”, by the B-52s. Ended with “Mamma Mia”, from the “Mamma Mia” soundtrack. It’s sung by Meryl Streep, but nowadays I hear it in Olivia or Audrey’s voice, because “Mamma Mia” – the movie, as well as the soundtrack – is their favoritest thing ever. Anyway, it’s song #3218, so that’s 105 tunes this week. The last L song was “Lying Still”, by Electric Youth. The first M song was “M-O-N-E-Y”, by Lyle Lovett, or if you prefer, “Ma and Pa”, by Fishbone.

Ripping vinyl report: Deep Purple’s “Machine Head”. I discovered both the band and the album back in college while listening to San Antonio’s one-time metal-oriented KXZL. That station morphed into classic-rock pioneer KZEP around the time of my senior year, and the songs off of this album were a fit for each incarnation. There’s probably a master’s thesis in there somewhere, but I’ll leave it to someone with more free time on his or her hands. I’ve also got a copy of “Perfect Strangers”, which got play on KXZL but not KZEP, since 80s music didn’t become classic until some time in the late 90s, but that will have to wait till next week.

Saturday video break: Never trust a cartoon that comes to life

Because we’re all about the 80s here, I give you the literal video version of A-ha’s “Take On Me”:

The gold standard for the Literal Videos is still Total Eclipse of the Heart, but this one’s pretty good, too. And finding it led me to this version of the song by Reel Big Fish:

That manages to simultaneously be the only pop culture reference to the movie “BASEketball” I’ve ever seen, a pretty good modern interpretation of the 80s music video, and a snappy version of the song. Oh, and an excuse for a video twofer. Enjoy!

Saturday video break: Is there such a thing as being “too 80s”?

I’m pretty sure the answer to that question is No, but if it is possible to be “too 80s”, I think this might qualify:

It’s hard to say just what exactly is the most awesome part of this video. Is it the hair? The unbelievably dorky dancing? Abe Lincoln? I can’t pick just one, but Honest Abe is tough to top. They just don’t make ’em like that any more.

Saturday video break: Motoring

You know what this feature really needs? A big steaming dose of cheesy 80s goodness. And it just doesn’t get any cheesy-80s-goodness-ier than this:

What can I say? The 80s, man. You had to be there. Via Awesomely Bad Lyrics, which may be my new favorite blog.