Thursday, June 30, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 18- What Do All The People Know

What do all the people know about the Monroes? Not much. These San Diego New Wavers fell off the map just as quickly as their 1982 hit put them on it.

For what it's worth, they did make it to Merv.

The Monroes- What Do All The People Know (Live 1982, Merv Griffin Show)

What Do All The People Know- The Monroes (1982, Alfa Records

80's Days of Summer: Day 17- Just Got Lucky

The British-American group JoBoxers 'Just Got Lucky' with this one-hit wonder from the summer of 1983 which made it onto both the U.S. and U.K. charts.

The band was never heard from again.

JoBoxers- Just Got Lucky ( 1983, RCA/Sanctuary Records)

JoBoxers- Just Got Lucky

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 16- Oblivious

By all means 1983 was a watershed year for New Wave. Hardly a day passed without the release of a drop-dead, instant classic. Today's 12-string, flamenco inspired opus provides a perfect example and comes to us via Glasgow's Roddy Frame and Aztec Camera. 'Oblivious' was the band's highest charting hit, reaching #18 after it's release in April of 1983.

The band would go on to have a few other minor hits before their break up in 1995. Today, Roddy Frame continues to produce and perform as a solo artist.

Aztec Camera- Oblivious (Live, 1983)

Aztec Camera- Oblivious (1983, Sire Records)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 15- Forever Young

Today's blast from the past comes to us from German synthpop trio Alphaville. The title track off their 1984 LP of the same name, 'Forever Young' (or as my wife Laura would say for-evaaah) has the distinction of being the very last song played on Long Island's iconic New Wave station WLIR before the infamous format change in 2004.

Irony notwithstanding, the song itself has enjoyed some measure of longevity. There were two different versions originally released, a slow ballad and a dance remix, the latter reaching #65 on the U.S charts in 1984 and also becoming a WLIR 'Screamer' in December of that same year. Over the years, it has maintained it's youthful charm through several updated remixes and featured appearances in commercials and films. Most notably in the 2003 Saturn Ion commercial 'Now Leaving High School', 2004's 'Napoleon Dynamite' and most recently in 2010, revamped and retitled as Jay-Z's 'Young Forever'.

Since I'm a sucker for sentimental songs of my youth as well as for embedding videos in my posts, I bring you 'Forever Young' in several iterations and adaptations.

FYI, The slow version is my fave.

Alphaville- Forever Young: Slow Version (1984, WEA Records)

Alphaville- Forever Young: Fast Version (1984, WEA Records)

Saturn Ion Commercial (2003)

Jay-Z/Mr. Hudson- Young Forever (2010, Roc Nation)

Forever Young- Alphaville

Monday, June 27, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 14- What I Like About You

So, I'm in the Motor City takin' care of business, yet another of the seemingly endless perks associated with a career in pharmaceutical marketing. What better way to celebrate this road trip then with the ultimate 80's power-pop party anthem 'What I Like About You' by Detroit's own Romantics.

Formed on Valentine's Day 1977, the quartet channeled the British Invasion sound of the 60's with charged 3 minute bursts just like this one. A little more polished than the the Ramones, the Romantics enjoyed a string of radio-friendly hits throughout the early 80's including 'Talking In Your Sleep' and 'One In A Million'.

This particular song, sung by spiky-haired drummer Jimmy Marinos originally peaked at #48 on the Billboard charts in 1980 but gained even more notoriety after being featured as the theme in Budweiser's consumer advertising campaign towards the end of the decade. The song also enjoyed the #16 position on WLIR's top 200 songs of the 80's.

The band, featuring two original members, guitarists Wally Palmar and Mike Skill are still performing to this day.

The Romantics- What I Like About You (1980, Nemperor Records)

What I Like About You- The Romantics

Saturday, June 25, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 13- Love Is A Stranger

Prior to their breakout hit 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', which propelled the Eurythmics to international stardom, they released 'Love Is A Stranger' Featuring a clean, minimalist arrangement with their trademark synth sound. The song did not chart until it was re-released after the success of 'Sweet Dreams'.

It also marks the first time since Bowie that androgyny hit the Top 40.

Eurythmics - Love Is A Stranger (1982, RCA Records)

Eurythmics-Love Is A Stranger

80's Days of Summer: Day 12- Make A Circuit With Me

Today it's all about Rockabilly. This sub-genre of New Wave enjoyed a large resurgence in the late 70's and early 80's, and one of the bands leading the twangy revolution was the London trio, the Polecats. After a series of singles including covers of David Bowie's 'John, I'm Only Dancing' and T-Rex's 'Jeepster', they had their own bona fide hit, 1983's 'Make A Circuit With Me'.

While the sound of the tune was retro, the lyrics were as modern as Commodore 64.
Who needs love when you can have microprocessors? Can you say facebook?

The Polecats-Make A Circuit With Me (1983, Mercury Records)

The Polecats-Make A Circuit With Me

Friday, June 24, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 11- Do You Wanna Hold Me?

One of Malcolm McLaren's more successful experiments during the early days of New Wave was Bow Wow Wow. Formed in 1980 by the agent provocateur, it featured the enticing Burmese/English chanteuse, 14-year old Annabella Lwin on lead vocals. Cashing in on the Lolita factor, McLaren featured the underage Lwin fully nude on the cover of their 1981 LP 'See Jungle! See Jungle!, etc.' (See above). Most people had no idea it just another of McLaren's cheeky send-ups of refined culture/culture as commerce, or something like that. The composition of the cover photo was a reproduction of 19th century painter Edward Manet's 'The Luncheon on the Grass'. (See below).

Beyond the sexpot appeal of Lwin and quasi-exploitation of Native Americans, McLaren (and the band) produced a string of killer singles. My favorite being the February '83 release 'Do You Wanna Hold Me?' The song peaked at #47 on the U.K. charts.

30 years later, the band (in different incarnations) continues to perform, albeit sporadically.

Bow Wow Wow- Do You Wanna Hold Me? (1983, RCA Records)

Bow Wow Wow- Do You Wanna Hold Me?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 10- Our Lips Are Sealed

Since I've fallen a little behind with the 80's Days of Summer, today I'm throwing out a two-fer. A staple 80's New Wave hit and an example of power pop at it's best.

Co-written by Jane Weiden and Terry Hall, 'Our Lips Are Sealed' was a huge hit for both Weiden's Go-Go's in 1982 (reaching #47 on the Billboard singles chart) and a year later for Hall's Fun Boy Three (peaking at #7 on the U.K. singles chart).

The video for the Go-Go's version of the song helped propel the fledgling MTV into supernova. The video was played every hour on the hour when it was first released.

Little known fact: David Byrne who produced the Fun Boy Three's 1983 LP 'Waiting' is also credited with lead guitar on the track.

Although both versions are equally unique and amazing, I have to go with the Go-Go's on this one. The bass line is just too infectious.

The Go-Go's- Our Lips Are Sealed (1981, IRS Records)

Fun Boy Three- Our Lips Are Sealed (1983, Chrysalis Records)

The Go-Go's-Our Lips Are Sealed

Fun Boy Three-Our Lips Are Sealed

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 9- Synchronicity II

I always liked the Police, but disliked Sting. I find him to be arrogant and elitist, his music maybe not so much. And this brings us to today's song. Of the entire Police catalog, I think this is the most interesting and best written Sting composition. It also marked a departure in the sound of the band, almost an attempt at Prog rock.

The third single off of 1983's Synchronicity LP, 'Synchronicity II' is straight up Jungian theory set to music. Based on the Swiss psychiatrist's theory of synchronicity, in which two or more unrelated events occur simultaneously in a meaningful way.

Sting brings the notion to fruition by pairing the bleak, banality and anguish of a man's life with that of the Loch Ness Monster ominously coming ashore somewhere far away.

For a guy who repeats variations of 'day-oh' in his most of his songs, this is some pretty deep stuff. He paints a pretty good picture with words in the space of three minutes, jumping back and forth between the two events to draw the parallels.

Meanwhile, Stuart Copeland's machine gun drumming pairs up brilliantly to Andy Summer's apocalyptic, buzz-saw guitar work. The result is an amazing piece of pop music. The accompanying 'Thunderdome'-styled video was shot by auteurs Godley & Creame.

The song simultaneously reached #1 in both the U.S. and U.K. Talk about synchronicity.

The Police-Synchronicity II (1983, A&M Records)

The Police- Synchronicity II

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 8- Eyes Without A Face

Sticking with the summer of 1984, today's New Wave classic comes to us from punk-pop bad boy Billy Idol. 'Eyes Without A Face' was the second single from his multi-platinum 'Rebel Yell' album, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts.

After splitting from Generation X in 1981, Idol achieved breakthrough success with the release of Rebel Yell. His crossover pop-punk was mainstream accessible–mohawks for the masses.

Singing backup on the track is French chanteuse Perri Lister. Lister was an 'it' girl back in the early 80's, appearing is several films as well as popping up in the occasional music vid. Her backup credits also include work with Visage.

Billy Idol- Eyes Without A Face (1984, Chrysalis Records)

Billy Idol- Eyes Without A Face

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 7- My Ever Changing Moods

Today I present the top down Blaupunkt-blasting hit from the summer of '84, The Style Council's 'My Ever Changing Moods'. An armageddon protest song with a beat you could dance to, it was sooo 80's. It also happened to reach #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Just a year out from the breakup of the legendary Jam, Paul Weller pulled a musical about-face and along with keyboardist extraordinaire Mick Talbot and percussion phenom Steve White generated some of the slickest, cafe-cool tunes of the 80's. Repleat with capri's and docksiders, Weller emulated Neo-Mod chic.

In the years since, he's proven himself an adroit musical chameleon, effortlessly changing styles resulting in a rich and eclectic catalog.

The Style Council- My Ever Changing Moods (1984, Polydor/Geffen)

The Style Council-My Ever Changing Moods

Monday, June 13, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 6- The Perfect Kiss

New Order's 'The Perfect Kiss' dominated my summer in 1985, most of which was spent pumping gas at the local Gulf station. I can still remember the smell of diesel and the sound of 'Low Life'.

As good as the song was, the live in-studio video shot by Jonathan Demme was even better.

Hats off the the E-mu Emulator.

New Order- The Perfect Kiss; FAC123 (Factory/Quest Records, 1985)

The Perfect Kiss- New Order

Sunday, June 12, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 5-Breaking Glass

A few of my all-time favorite songs just happen to be Nick Lowe creations. The reason: his straightforward songwriting approach. Catchy melodies married to simple lyrics resulting in pristine, three-minute pop gems.

Today's jewel was his highest charting hit, reaching #7 on the U.K. charts. From his 1978 debut, Jesus of Cool.

Piano as breaking glass. Brilliant.

Nick Lowe- I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass (Top of The Pops, 1978)

I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass- Nick Lowe

Saturday, June 11, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 4-Rock Lobster

Summer weekends are reserved for the beach and there is no better beach tune than the B-52's frenetic opus, Rock Lobster. Featured on their 1979 debut LP, the 6+ minute song garnered tons of airplay to help catapult the Athens, Ga quintet to success, eventually reaching No.1 on the charts.

The B-52's- Rock Lobster (Live)

Friday, June 10, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 3- Pyjamarama

This 1973 single by London's proto-New Wave Glamsters, Roxy Music featured not one but two Brians; Bryan Ferry on vocals and Brian Eno on synth.

The song reached #11 on the UK charts with a Greatest Hits re-release in 1977.

Shout out to the white tux on Mr. Ferry. Très chic.

Roxy Music- Pjamarama (Live, 1974)

Roxy Music- Pjamarama

Thursday, June 9, 2011

80's Days of Summer: Day 2-Melt With You

Oft considered the 'Stairway to Heaven' of the New Wave era, this synthpop classic from the Essex, UK quartet Modern English remains the quintessential, post-punk dance track. Although branded a 'one-hit wonder' the band did have a string of smaller hits including 'Hands across the Sea' and 'Ink and Paper'.

The song was WLIR's 'Screamer of the Week' on August 4th, 1982. It was also prominently featured in the 80's teen flick 'Valley Girl' (starring Nicolas Cage).

Valley Girl- Full Theatrical Trailer (1982)

I Melt With You- Modern English (1982, 4AD Records)

80's Days of Summer: Day 1- Summer Love

So, the novel idea here is to combine two of my favorite things: 80's New Wave and Summer. Let's see if I can actually deliver 80 straight posts. With some luck, by the end of the summer you'll have built yourself a bitchin' playlist.

Day 1: Blue-eyed funk from Scotland' apb. A slight departure from the signature slap-bass sound featured on their earlier releases, This guitar heavy hit was WLIR's 'Screamer of the Week' on July 2, 1985. Shades of Eddie Van Halen courtesy of the multi-talented Ian Slater.

Summer Love- apb (Red River, 1985)

Summer Love-apb