A Dynamic Duo: My Favorite Songs By Daryl Hall And John Oates

Daryl Hall and John Oates

As much as I have been an outspoken critic about The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and their inductees, the year 2017 brought a few deserving acts that were inducted , including Daryl Hall and John Oates. I have been a fan of their music for years, especially in the 1980s when they dominated the radio, MTV, and other video programs. I remember seeing their album covers all over the record stores during the time. The duo had around 30 Top 40 Hits in the U.S. from 1976-1990.  After finishing reading the recent memoirs of John Oates, I decided to focus on some of my favorite songs by Hall and Oates. In no particular order, here are a few of my suggestions to check out of their vast collection.

 

  1. “So Close” (1990). This song was from their “Change of Seasons” Album. It was the lead single released, hit #11 on the U.S. Pop Charts, and also hit on several other charts, including the AC Charts.  One of the co-writers of the song was Jon Bon Jovi.  I like the opening line of “They met on the dance floor in the old high school gym,” which brings back a bygone era where gym dances were the place where memories were made. I also love the chorus line that says “We believe in tomorrow/Maybe more than today.” Even though the song did well on the charts, it seems to be a forgotten mention when discussing the duo’s work.
  1. “Getaway Car” (2003). The duo’s “Do It For Love” is one of my favorite albums that they recorded, especially the post 1980s. There are many great songs on the album, but one of my favorites is “Getaway Car,” which wasn’t written by either Hall or Oates. The song was written by Billy Mann and Gary Haase, and has been recorded by country acts.  The song hit #21 on the AC Charts for Hall and Oates. The song is a great tale of a guy and girl being frustrated with their lives and wants to start anew, which is shown in the line “Let’s disappear and start all over again.” I can picture the couple driving out of the city limits into the county with the radio playing this song. The tempo of the song is great for the telling on the song. This is one of my favorite all time songs that the duo recorded.

  1. “Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid” (1984). This song is another one that hit the charts but seems to be not played as often on 1980s Radio shows.  This song was off the mega album “Big Bam Boom,” and hit #18 on the U.S. Charts. The slow build at the beginning of the song ends up with a big, loud ending.  I used to use the chorus of the song for using song lyrics as poetry when I taught as an English Teacher, with the lines like “Some lies are better off believed,” and “Some hearts are better left unbroken.”  Even though the album gave hits like “Out of Touch” and “Method of Modern Love,” this song, written by Hall, should not be overlooked.
  1. “Method Of Modern Love” (1984). This song makes my list, off of “Big Bam Boom,” because of the memories I have hearing the song when it first came out. I remember the video of the song, along with the video for “Out of Touch.”  The song peaked at #5 on the charts, and stayed on the charts for 19 weeks. Today’s music fans may not know that during the 1970s and 1980s, songs did not just debut at number one, and then disappear like in today’s downloadable music times. Many songs worked their way up to make the Top 40 and slowly moved up to the Top 10. I remember standing on the corner of our school parking lot in junior high singing this song along with the cassette tape my buddy would bring in and play on his boom box radio.  We would mimic the videos of the songs that we saw on our local music channel (Channel 23 in Ohio was our popular one, with host Billy Soule, because we didn’t have MTV), and this song was one I always sang along with during recess. The song also shows Hall’s soulful voice in the time when music was more about image.
  1. “It’s A Laugh” (1973). This song came off of the album “Along the Red Ledge” and was a Top 20 single for the duo. The album had guest musicians such as Todd Rundgren, George Harrison, Rick Nielsen, and Robert Fripp.  I love the introduction of the song with the saxophone solo, along with the lyrics about a man looking back at a failed relationship.  This was a great song from 1970s.
  1. “One On One” (1983). As I said in the introduction of this blog, posters of Hall and Oates Albums were all over music store during the 1980s, including the “H2O” Album, which is where this song can be found. I can’t listen to this song without picturing the cover of the album in my mind.  This song hit #7 on the Pop Charts, along with #4 on the AC Charts. The song is a great life reference by using basketball themes. The soul, smooth voice of Hall helps the song not be outdated, and could been a hit in the 1960s-1990s.  I also love the basic line of “It seems I don’t get time out anymore,” which is what many of us want in our busy lives, and is not just an athletic reference.  This is a great song combining love, life, and sports.
  1. “Did It In A Minute” (1982). This single was off the album “Private Eyes,” which was the album the MTV Generation of fans started jumping on the Hall and Oates train, even though the band was recording for years. The song hit #9 on the charts, and was the next to last single released from the album.  I love the line “And if two can become one/who is the one two becomes.”  This has the Pop feel of the duo, as opposed to their Soul records. The song fit along the others that were being released at the time, with a focus of the keyboard up front and center of the songs.  This is one of my favorite early 1980s songs by the duo.

Hall and Oates are still touring today as a duo, and releasing songs as solo acts. There are many great songs that the duo has recorded that I love, like “Rich Girl,” “Say It Isn’t So,” “Out of Touch, ” and Hall’s solo “Dreamtime,” but I wanted to focus on some of the songs that are rarer or not played as much on 1980s flashback radio channels. The duo finally getting into the Hall of Fame is something that should have happened years ago, but deserving nonetheless.  This duo has had successful and memorable songs that have lasted many decades.

Air Flight-My Favorite Air Supply Songs

One of the greatest Adult Contemporary Duos in music was Air Supply. This act from Australia was a major act on the Pop Charts, along with Lite Rock Music in the 1980s. Members Graham Russell (guitar) and Russell Hitchcock (lead vocals) met in 1975 while performing Jesus Christ Superstar, and broke big in America in 1980, being a major act for Arista Records (which was the home of Barry Manilow in the 1970s until 1985). Air Supply is sometimes the butt of many jokes for their mellow sound, but their music is used in many movies, commercials, and TV shows to this day, which proves their longevity.  When I try and write short stories, I put on their “Greatest Hits” Album and for some reason, the words just flow onto the computer screen. So here are my favorite Air Supply songs and the albums they are on.

 

  1. “All Out Of Love” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song was written by Graham Russell and Clive Davis, and was named one of VH1’s Greatest Love Songs. The album was the first to hit the U.S. Charts, and the single reached #2. Not only is it a great song, but the vocals by Hitchcock at the end are so high, along with the holding of the final note. Donny Osmond even recorded the song for his 2002 covers album.
  1. “Every Woman in the World” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song hit #5 on the U.S. Charts and was #2 on the AC Charts. This was the third single from their “Lost in Love” album, which also had three Top 5 singles. This song has a catchy guitar riff at the beginning and is a duet between the two singers. This is a great Pop Song.
  1. “Even The Nights Are Better” (Now and Forever- 1982). This was a #1 Hit on the AC Charts for the duo, although it reached #5 on the U.S. Charts, it exited the Top 40 charts the week after it peaked, dropping to #42 (Taylor Swift later did the same thing on the charts). This was surprising to me because this song was played all the time at the roller skating rink and school dances where I lived when the song was released.  This is just a happy song that I love.
  1. “Two Less Lonely People in the World” (Now and Forever- 1983). This song was on the last album to hit platinum in the U.S. and reached #38 on the charts, along with #4 on the AC Charts. This song’s lyrics deal with a guy who is down on his luck and meets someone feeling just like himself.  This song would still be a great wedding song today without being dated.
  1. “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” (Greatest Hits-1983). This song was a huge hit when it came out, hitting #2 on the U.S. Charts. The song was written by Jim Steinman, who wrote the song for Meatloaf, but Meatloaf’s label wouldn’t pay him for the songs, so he passed it to Bonnie Tyler, which ended up passed to Air Supply (although Tyler recorded a version of it). The song was the last U.S. Top 10 hit for the duo, and was actually kept out of the #1 spot by Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which was also written by Steinman. The song features Rick Derringer on guitar as well. I love the song for the powerful lyrics, especially the last verse, talking about “I can make the runner stumble, I can make the final block” and “I can make all the stadiums rock.” This is my favorite Air Supply song.
  1. “Just As I Am” (Air Supply- 1985). This is probably my second favorite song that the act released. It was also one of their last hits in the U.S. reaching #19 on the charts. Just like the time period, the song has big, loud sounding drums and is about a guy who seems to mess up all the time but his girl still loves him. The song was co-written by Dick Wagner of the Alice Cooper Band fame and also played on “Destroyer” by Kiss.  Even though the music scene was starting to shift to harder rock, the song is still a great Pop Song.
  1. “Lost In Love” (Lost in Love- 1980). This song was originally recording years earlier on their “Life Support” Album, but was re-released in 1980, which hit #3 in the U.S, along with #1 on the AC Charts. This was one of the first songs I heard from the band, and while seeing a live show on television of them (“Live in Hawaii’), this was the song that made me get back into the band.

Even though Air Supply gets ignored when the 1980s are mentioned, they were a big part on the music charts and were underrated. The band still performs today and is putting out music. They had many other great songs, like “Here I Am,” and “I Can Wait Forever,” among others. They seemed to got lost during the MTV Generation with their videos, but they were still all over the radio charts.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to help the numbers on the page! Just click the “Follow” button and you’ll get each new blog straight to your email. Or tell your friends to visit this page!

Back In Time: Forgotten One Hit Wonders From The 1980s

 

oran-juice-jones

the-system

dream-academy

 

 

 

 

 

Several people remember music from the 1980s as one with many One Hit Wonders. I’m sure the decade had no more or less than some of the other decades, but it seems the 80s had their share of several good ones that are forgotten. Many people think acts like The Escape Club or Men Without Hats were One Hitters, but they weren’t (at least not in the U.S.) I want to bring attention to a few acts that may be forgotten now but are still good songs, even if they did not make it past the one charted single. Here are some of my favorites:

  1. The Dream Academy. This act released the hit “Life in a Northern Town,” which hit #7 on the U.S. Charts. This was a neat song with the pop ballad feel combined with a African type chant in the chorus. The single was also produced by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. There have been a few other covers of the song since its released, from Rick Springfield to a few country acts.
  1. The System. This duo had a hit in 1987 that went to #4 on the Pop Charts and #1 on the R&B Charts in the U.S with “Don’t Disturb This Groove.” The duo had a few hits on the R&B charts before and after, but this was their only Pop Hit. The duo of David Frank and Mic Murphy went on to work with Phil Collins and Chaka Khan.  Frank worked on song “Genie in a Bottle” years later. This song was always a favorite of mine ever it came out and I love the lyrics in the song, which was different than the other R&B hits of the time with a poetic feel to the words.
  1. Moving Pictures. “What About Me” hit #29 in 1982, and #46 in 1989. I remember having the 45 single and loving the song when it was played on Kasey Casem’s “American Top 40” every week. The song was rumored to be about an autistic child being ignored at a counter waiting on lunch. The song was huge in Australia, and although the band had a single on the 1984 “Footloose” soundtrack, the band didn’t get another U.S. hit, even though the song appeared twice on the charts. The lyrics of the song talks about the total underdog who is getting ignored by the world and is looking for his break in life.
  1. The Breakfast Club. This act from New York had many band member changes, including Madonna and former American Idol’s Randy Jackson. The band started in the 1970s, and did hit the dance charts with a remake of the 1967 Soul Survivor’s “Expressway to Your Heart” hit in 1988, but didn’t really have the success after “Right On Track.”  The music video, like many from the decade, seemed to lessen how great the song really is. This has always been one of my favorite songs from the era. This is a great dance song, and one of my all time favorite songs from the decade.
  1. Oran “Juice” Jones. The Juice’s song “The Rain” was a staple in the 1980s and 1990s at my local roller skating rink. It was played all the time. The song hit #9 on the Pop and #1 R&B Charts in the U.S. The song got a remake in 2016’s movie “Suicide Squad.”  The song was just great, especially the humorous ending.
  1. Waterfront. This Welsh band broke big in 1989 with their hit “Cry” (#10 Pop, #1 AC Charts).  I have the CD and there are some other good songs on the album, but this was their only U.S. Hit and frustrates me that my local radio station does not play it much when they have their 80s weekend shows.  The band made a country version of the song in 2011. This was a great Pop/R&B song that gets overlooked.
  1. The Jump N Saddle Band. Most people forget about this band’s hit “The Curly Shuffle,” a novelty hit about the Three Stooges in 1984 (#15 Pop). The song was a regional hit in the band’s native Chicago and was later added to their album when the band signed a national deal. This song is not only for the Stooges fans, but it also was a throw-back to the 1950s and 1960s when novelty hits were always on the charts. The big band style was different from the synth-pop singles of the decade. Years later former Stray Cats member Brian Setzer hit the charts with the big band style throwback songs. One could argue that  The Jump N Saddle Band set the start to the style being brought back to a commercial success in on the U.S. Charts.
  1. Climie Fisher. This London duo hit with “Love Changes Everything” in 1988 (#23 Pop). The duo had a hit outside the U.S. with “Rise to the Occasion.” Rob Fisher worked with Rick Astley after this single before Fisher’s death in 1999, and Simon Climie went on to work with Eric Clapton, JJ Cale, Taylor Hicks, and  Michael McDonald. Climie also had a hit with “I Knew You Were Waiting For Me” in 1986, which was a hit for George Michael and Aretha Franklin.  “Love Changes” has a nice catchy hook to it, although the video discredits the song.
  1. Jimmy Harnen. In 1989, Jimmy Harnen, along with the band Synch, hit the charts with “Where Are You Now,” a song that was successful, hitting #10 on the Pop and #3 on the AC Charts, even though the band was disbanded by the time the single broke the charts.  The song was first released in 1986 and only hit #77 before the band broke up. It wasn’t until DJ Kid Kelly and his staff kept playing it due to fan requests that it broke again in 1989. Harnen is now a record executive with Big Machine, which is the label for stars Taylor Swift and Florida Georgia Line.  “Where Are You Now” was such a favorite of mine, that it took me years to find a copy of it in any form, from CD to just the 45. I found the 45 years ago when I was in college. This was a great ballad.

There were several other acts I could’ve listed that have been forgotten who had hits in the 1980s, including Johnny Lee, Joey Scarbury (who I mentioned in my blog page “Favorite Themes of the 1980s), Sylvia, Sly Fox, Timex Social Club, and Pseudo Echo.  Maybe you’ll check out more of some of the forgotten acts from the 1980s, and maybe this post brought back some memories.

 

Don’t forget to follow this page, where you will get notification of new posts to your email. I do not see the addresses, but it will help support the numbers of the blog

 

 

Book Review: Bach’s Life on Skid Row is an Enjoyable Ride

bach-book-cover

 

One of the biggest bands in the late 1980s was Skid Row, who was known all over MTV for their songs “18 and Life,” “Youth Gone Wild,” and “I Remember You.”  Singer Sebastian Bach was one of the most recognized faces in the hard rock magazines and on MTV. His recently released book “18 and Life on Skid Row” takes the reader through the wild ride the band had during stardom, along with his career after the band on Broadway and TV.

The lengthy book (424 pages) starts with Bach describing his early years growing up in the Bahamas, California, and Canada. His early childhood was one of a child loving to sing in a church choir until he discovered the band KISS in 1978 at age ten, which made him want to be a rock singer. The book goes through the time his father took him to see KISS on the Dynasty Tour and meets Jon Bon Jovi years later at a wedding which helped him find his way to the guys that started Skid Row, which he states that “Whereas the focus on my previous bands was more about the look than the sound, Skid Row was first and foremost about the sound. The Songs.”

The book takes the reader through the wild tours with Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, and being on the Moscow Music Festival. Since Bach was known for his partying, the band got in trouble with several bands who were trying to become sober.

Bach also talks about his friendship with Guns n Roses Singer Axl Rose, along with some wild times he shared with Rose, his relationship with a famous 1980s actress, and his friendship with original Kiss Member Ace Frehley.

Like any band from the 1980s, Skid Row also dealt with some business issues, like having to pay Gary Moore money for the name Skid Row, Bach not getting songwriting credit for some of the biggest hits, and finding out that even though their second album “Slave to the Grind” was the #1 album its first week on the charts, the band was in a short fall.

“If we blew up too many bombs, drank too much booze backstage, all the fun stuff would be paid for after we paid the management and accountants. We would pay to play if we didn’t watch the budget.”

Bach also states his side of why the band broke ties with him, saying that “Nobody really understands why we broke up,” and when approached about a reunion, he writes, “ People ask all the time why we don’t have a reunion?..the real reason we are not together, in my mind,  is publishing royalties.”  The story about the band breaking up with Bach over being the opening act for the KISS Reunion Tour is also covered in the book through Bach’s perspective. His thoughts on Skid Row’s “Subhuman Race” album (a favorite among fans years later) and why during that tour he realized the music world was changing are in the book.

skid-row
Bach with Skid Row.

Bach also takes the reader through his solo career in music, his reality shows for VH1, his appearances on the “Gilmore Girls” show, and his time on Broadway in Jekyll and Hyde, Rocky Horror, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Overall the book is a great read for fans that like this era of music, however some things are just glossed over (but then again the book is long enough, some things had to be left out). One thing that is not covered in the book is how Bach feels about the lineup of Skid Row after he left the band, and there are only a few mentions of his former band mates Snake Sabo and Rachel Bolan after his time with the band was over. He also doesn’t give much in depth information about his solo touring, except mentioning a few of the albums (not much about the band members or road tales). There is not much bashing in the book, which is a relief to other books in the genre, and Bach even talks about how his partying affected his attitude looking back now. The inside cover of the book has a pull out mini poster of Bach, which to some may sound cheesy, but since he grew up in the era where albums were popular and  buyers wanted things like that in the album, it is well suited for the book.

I saw Bach in 1997 on his solo tour in Boardman Ohio, and enjoyed his work, along with the band Skid Row after his departure. This book was enjoyable and worth the money to read about one of the most underrated singers of the time.

“18 and Life on Skid Row” is available from Dey ST. , which is part of Harper Collins books.

 

Don’t forget to click the “Follow” icon if you want the latest blog sent to your email when it comes out!

Singing with the Tube: Favorite Themes of the 1980s

There are many elements that make a great and memorable television show. Some of the elements include great writers, quality actors (not necessarily big names), and a great theme song. Although the third one is not as used as in the past, there was a time when the theme song was as popular as the show itself. Some of the show producers released the theme songs as singles or even full albums to cash on the popularity. Lovers of television shows will remember the themes to Batman, The Munsters, Beverly Hillbillies, The Brady Bunch, and even The Partridge Family as much, or even more, than the show itself. In the 1980s, the theme songs were popular enough that some did well on The Billboard Top 40 Charts.  I would like look at some of my favorite TV Themes of the 1980s (in no particular order). So sing or hum along!!

  1. “As Long as We Got Each Other” (Growing Pains). I was not a huge fan of the show itself, but I had the 45 single of this song sung by BJ Thomas and Dusty Springfield. The song started out in Season 1 as Thomas singing solo, then Seasons 2 and 3 turned into a duet with Jennifer Warnes before Season 4’s duet with Dusty Springfield. Seasons 5 and 6 went back to the Warnes duet, but the single was released in 1988 and hit #7 on the U.S. AC Charts. Thomas has one of the most unique voices in music. The song was first released on 1985’s “Throwing Rocks” album. This song is more memorable than the TV Show.
  1. “Good Ol’ Boys (Theme to the Dukes of Hazard).” Growing up in the 1980s, it was hard not to know this show or the song by Waylon Jennings. The show was based on the James Mitchell 1975 movie “Moonrunners,” which Jennings was the narrator (which helped him become the narrator for the television adaptation of the movie). The second verse of the single is a cheeky reference to the opening of the show, where the camera shows Jennings and his guitar but not his face.  The single was released in 1980 and hit #1 on the Country Charts, along with #21 on the Hot 100, which made this song Waylon’s most successful single of his career. On a personal note, I played drums to the record in my 1st Grade Talent Show, which was my first public performance.
  1. “Believe it or Not” (The Greatest American Hero). One of the most famous, if not THE most famous television theme writers, Mike Post worked on this song, sung by Joey Scarbury. Scarbury worked with Loretta Lynn before hitting the charts with this smash single from the show about a teacher who receives a super suit from aliens (Like Superman’s suit, not a business suit). Scarbury and Post went on to work on the theme for Hardcastle and McCormick, and Scarbury wrote other songs, including the #1 hit for the Oak Ridge Boys “No Matter How High I Get” in 1989.  This song, which I had on 45 and had great positive lyrics, stalled at #2 behind the song “Endless Love” in 1981. Even though some television songs are about the show’s themes or characters, this song is still relevant today (I still listen to it). The lyrics are about an unknown person finally being on top of the world. It can relate to any struggle or challenge in someone’s life. I loved the show growing up- how could you not love the show with William Katt, Robert Culp, and Connie Sellecca?
  1. “Theme to Miami Vice.” This was the only television theme song to hit #1 in the 1980s. The show and the music was one of the biggest events in the decade. Everyone stayed at home to watch this show, which even crossed into the fashion world (and as I mentioned in my July post about women of the 1980’s, Sheena Easton was even on the show). Everyone loved hearing this song on the radio, cruising down the road in their cars pretending to be Sonny Crockett. Jan Hammer, who was a member of the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the 1970s hit big with this song. The 1985 Soundtrack of the TV Show, along with Glenn Frey’s “You Belong to the City” single, was the most successful TV Soundtrack of all time, staying #1 for 11 weeks, until 2006 when Disney’s “High School Musical” beat the record.
  1. “Theme to Magnum P.I.” Another Mike Post song that hit the charts (He also hit with “Hill Street Blues” in 1981 that hit #10 on the charts). This theme about a private investigator in Hawaii hit #25 in 1982, with Larry Carlton on guitar, who played with artists like Billy Joel, Christopher Cross, Michael Jackson, and The Partridge Family. Not only was the show a hit, but everyone knows this theme song. Post also wrote themes for The A-Team, Law and Order, LA Law, and The Rockford Files.
  1. “WKRP in Cincinnati.” This is one of my favorite TV shows, along with one of my favorite theme songs. The show ran from 1978-1982 with a spin off show from 1991-1993. The original show was so appealing to me because it was about a radio station in Ohio. Growing up, I always loved listening to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” program and this show made me want to be a radio deejay when I was a kid. I would even voice my own introductions to the songs on my record player to practice. The theme was sung by Steve Carlisle, and was rumored to be about the character Andy on the show. An interesting note about this song is that Gary Garcia and Jerry Buckner helped add the extra verses for the single. They were known in the 1980s for their “Pac Man Fever” song and album (Another guilty pleasure that I had to upgrade to CD). Even though the show started in the 1970s, the theme song hit the U.S. Charts in 1981, reaching #29.
  1. “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. You may not recognize the title at first, but when you ask about the theme song from the show Cheers, you’d know it.  The song was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo for the show that ran from 1982-1993 about a bar in Boston. Portnoy wrote with Air Supply and Dolly Parton before this song, and went on the work on themes for Punky Brewster and Mr. Belvedere.  Four different versions of the songs were sent before it was approved.  Most people know the part that was shown on the show opening, but listening to the full song, with its comedic side to it, makes the song even better. The song was named the “Greatest TV Theme of All Time” in 2011 in Rolling Stone, and in 2013 in TV Guide. That alone should say how this song had stood time, even though it never charted.

 

These are just a few of the great TV Themes of the 1980s. Feel free to contribute to your favorite of the decade!

 

Don’t forget to follow this page, where you will get notification of new posts to your email. I do not see the addresses, but it will help support the numbers of the blog.

Real Girl Power- The Underrated Women of 1980’s Music.

 

susanna hoffsolivia newton johnsheena eastondebbie gibsonbelindathe jets

 

When naming female music artists from the 1980s, most will name Madonna, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston, or Cyndi Lauper. Hard Rock fans will mention Lita Ford, Pat Benatar, or Joan Jett. There are some artists who had just as many hits, and were just as talented. My list of underrated female artists is just that; talented females who had several hits on the U.S. Charts but seem to be forgotten, either by music radio or by critics in general. In no particular order, here are some of the underrated (and sometimes forgotten) talents from the era.

  1. Sheena Easton. It’s hard to believe that she is not given more credit as a top artist in the 1980s- she was everywhere in the decade. She was the first artist to have a top 5 hit on 5 different charts (Pop, Country, Dance, R&B, and Adult Contemporary).  She was an actress on Miami Vice (THE show of the decade), had a James Bond hit, “For Your Eyes Only” (#4 Hit) worked with Prince on the songs “Sugar Walls” (which made Tipper Gore’s Filthy 15 list) and “U Got the Look.” She also had a #1 hit with “Morning Train (9 to 5)” Not only did she have the looks to attract the male audience, she had a great voice, from ballads to Pop songs. Her vocal range on the song “You Could Have Been with Me” is one example. Easton did it all in the era, and according to her official website she still tours.
  1. Belinda Carlisle. She had hits with her all girl band The Go Gos (who sold over 7 million albums in a short time) and went solo in 1986 with songs like “Mad about You“ (#3 Hit), “Heaven On Earth” (#1) , and “I Get Weak” (#2). She also had a hit with “Circle in the Sand” (#7). The song “Mad about You” also had a guitar solo from Duran Duran’s Andy Taylor.  Carlisle proved she could hit gold as a band member or solo act, which is rare for any artist male or female.
  1. Debbie Gibson. When she first came onto the scene in 1987, I admit I was not a huge fan of hers; however, I did like her ballad “Foolish Beat.” Throughout the years I have gained more respect for her as an artist than when I first encountered her music. Between 1987-1988, she had 4 Top 5 hits on the charts, and was one of the youngest females to write, produce, and perform on a number one single. Since then she has been in movies for the Syfy Network and has performed on Broadway. In the era where the artists were controlled by the management and record companies, which seems more the case today than back then, Gibson had control over her music and what was put out with her name on it.
  1. The Jets. This family act from Minneapolis is one of the most underrated acts of the 1980s. With hits like 1986’s “Crush On You” (#3), “You Got It All” (#3), 1987’s “Cross My Broken Heart” (#7) and “I Do You” (#20), and 1988’s “Rocket 2 U” (#6) and “Make It Real” (#4), the Jets were all over the airways. “You Got It All” was written by Rupert Holmes of “Escape (The Pina Colada Song” fame. Vocalist Elizabeth Wolfgramm sang lead on my two favorite songs of theirs, “Make It Real” and “Got It All.”  Her soulful voice added to the great Pop ballads that the band released, which were staples at my school dances. She left the band in 1990, but they fused Dance, Pop, Latin, and R&B into their songs.  The band was underrated for its time for mixing many genres.
  1. Olivia Newton John. How can Sandy from Grease be on my list? Because most people forget how great of a singer she was in the 1980s. Her 1970s songs like “I Honestly Love You,” “A Little More Love,”and the songs from the movie Grease were well known, but some think of her as a One Hit Wonder in the 1980s with “Physical” in 1981, when in fact she had hits like 1980’s “I Can’t Help It” with Andy Gibb (#12 Pop, and #8 AC Charts),  1982’s “Make A Move on Me” (#5) and “Heart Attack” (#3), and 1980’s “Magic” (#1). She also had two soundtrack hits with 1980’s “Xanadu” (#8) and 1981’s “Twist of Fate” (#5), from the movie “Two of a Kind,” which she was cast with Grease co-star John Travolta. Even though the movie was a failure, the soundtrack had hits with John and with Journey. She also starred in Xanadu, which is considered a horrible movie, but has gained a cult following (the film actually broke even at the Box Office).  Much like Sheena Easton, Olivia Netwon John was able to record and act in the era, and had one of the purest voices.
  1. Susanna Hoffs. After the success of The Go Gos, another all girl group came onto the scene in 1986, although they formed in 1980. It took a Prince Song in 1986 called “Manic Monday” (#2) for the world to embrace The Bangles, made up of Susanna Hoffs, Vicki and Debbie Peterson. Like The Go Gos, they played their own instruments, which was rare for the time. The other hits by the band included 1986’s “If She Knew What She Wants” (#29), 1986’s “Walk Like An Egyptian” (#1) and “Walking Down Your Street” (#11), 1987’s remake of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Hazy Shade of Winter” (#2), 1988’s “In Your Room”( #5), and their 1989 #1 Hit “Eternal Flame.” Hoff’s also tried her luck in acting in the 1987 film “The Allnighter,” a disaster at the Box Office even with the success of Hoffs as a sex symbol. The band was even voted into the Vocal Hall of Fame in 2000. I was never a fan of “Egyptian,” preferring the more rocker songs like “In Your Room,” and “Walking Down Your Street,” however Hoffs had a unique voice and was a very good front woman for the band, which she doesn’t get as much credit for.

Hoffs went solo and had a hit with “My Side of the Bed” (#30) and still tours solo and with The Bangles. She also works with Matthew Sweet releasing cover albums. I have recently started listening to her solo stuff and they are really good, including 2012’s “Someday.”  I also watched the Vh1 “Behind the Music” documentary recently which shows a unique insight to the band that I found entertaining.  I recently saw a concert of the Bangles online and they, along with Hoffs, still have the great musicianship that many bands have lost throughout the years. Definitely check out Hoff’s solo work.

Don’t forget to subscribe to this page by clicking the Follow button. It’s free and by subscribing, you will get this sent to your email when a new post comes out. I do not see your address, but it will help increase the page’s numbers.

 

The Rare Mighty Oaks: Songs You May Not Know

american made album pic

 

The year was 1980, and for Christmas I received my first drum set, along with my first album that was all mine, not one I had to share with my older brother. The album was The Oak Ridge Boys Greatest Hits and as soon as my parents put the record on, without even hearing the songs, I was playing along with the songs as if I heard them before. From that day on I was a fan of the Oaks, even though my love for Country Music (especially today’s acts) has declined majorly.

I was a member of the Oaks Fan Club back then as well, which was a several page paper magazine with photos of the band which was free in the mail. I studied their records, especially the different vocal parts, although I could never sound as good as they were-at least I had the drumming to fall back on while playing in area bands.

I had the opportunity to see them live once in 1999 in Canfield, Ohio at the Canfield Fair. There were a few times when I got tickets to see them when nearby Salem, Ohio tried to restart Ponderosa Park, but the park kept cancelling the shows. I am waiting in anticipation to see them this August in Chester West Virginia, which will be my 50th concert.

Even though the band traces back to the 1940s, the band became the most popular in 1977 when the lineup of Duane Allen, William Golden, Joe Bonsall, and Richard Sterban crossed from the Gospel genre to Country (and even had a few hits on the Pop Charts with “Elvira” and “Bobby Sue.”).  Bonsall has some great books out as well, which I have the Kindle Editons , especially  2015’s “On The Road With The Oak Ridge Boys,” and “From My Perspective” from 2010.

I want to list a few of some of the band’s rarer songs that people may not be familiar with, or should check out. I am also focusing on the era of Golden, Bonsall, Allen, and Sterban, not the Steve Sanders years (that may be a future post because Sanders was a great singer as well).  In no particular order, here are some rarer Oak songs you should check out.

 

  1. “Hold On Til Sunday” (1980) This song was the b-side of “Trying to Love Two Women,” which went to #1. I had the 45 single and, no offense to those that love the song “Women,” I listened more to “Sunday” than the A- side.  The song has a pop feel to it, but I loved how smooth Duane Allen’s voice is in the song, who is one of the most underrated musicians in music history. When I found the song on youtube, I was transferred to my youth and how much I loved the song. I miss B sides on songs, especially songs that didn’t make the albums.
  1. “Live In Love” (1981). While talking about B-sides on songs, this ballad was the B-side to the Pop Hit “Bobbie Sue.”  This song could have been played on AC Charts on any channel during the 1980s.  I like most how the pace of the song switches after the second chorus and at the end. Once again, I spent hours playing this song on my record playing trying to be as smooth as Allen’s voice.
  1. “Down The Hall” (1983). There are some gems on the hit album “American Made,” such as “Heart on the Line (Operator, Operator)” with Joe Bonsall’s voice, but one of my favorites is this one. “Down The Hall” was one of the songs back in the day I would record from album to cassette tape and pass around to my friends to introduce them to some of the bands other songs. The song was written by Mike Reid, who wrote songs like Ronnie Milsap’s “Stranger in My House” and had a solo career in the 1990s. The song talks about a man who have not been to the big sites of the world, but he “hasn’t missed a thing at all” because he’s in love. Great written song. If you can find it, check it out.
oaks albums1
The three Oak Ridge Boys Albums of my collection. The covers are a bit worn out, but I still kept them.
  1. “Baby When Your Heart Breaks Down” (1999). When I saw the band at the Canfield Fair, they were promoting this song off of their Voices Album. Although the rest of the album was not that great, this song was wonderful, and I was shocked how great it sounded live. The song was written by Kix Brooks before he joined Brooks and Dunn, but I like this version better, which all the vocals adding to the song. This song is great because it is a fairly recent song, which shows how the band still has their harmonies years after their heyday.
  1. “Dancing the Night Away” (1979). The Oaks have been known to do several remade songs and make it their own, such as ‘Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight” (1979) and “Dream On” (1979), which were both on the same album. This song is one of my favorite off of the album “The Oak Ridge Boys Have Arrived,” and was a concert favorite for years, although I’m not sure why it is no longer used. The song was originally recorded by The Amazing Rhythm Aces, and Tanya Tucker at one time. Leo Sayer also had a great version of it, but I think the Oak’s version has a rocking beat to it, as opposed to the mellower versions. I couldn’t imagine anyone but Bonsall singing this one in the group.
  1. “Any Old Time You Choose” (1983). This was off of the “American Made” album and is a great ballad sung by Allen again. Written by J.L. Wallace, Ken Bell, and Terry Skinner, who also wrote Air Supply’s “Even The Nights Are Better, “the song has a slow start that builds with a big orchestration that reminds the listener of Air Supply. The blends of the famous Oaks harmonies compliment the arrangements. It also has a nice guitar solo that would have fit in the AC or Pop Charts of the 1980s.
Oaks CDs 1
My Oaks CD Collection.
  1. “I Would Crawl All The Way (To The River)” (1981). The Oaks have never shied away from the Gospel roots, although some fans criticized them at first for leaving the Gospel scene, but even on major labels like MCA records, the band still threw on a Gospel song or two on their albums. As a whole, I think the “Fancy Free” album is one, if not the best album they recorded track for track, and one of my favorites is the last song on the album, which is “River.” Not only is the song have a southern gospel feel to it, but it also isn’t a preaching song that may turn audiences off. This is one of my favorite Gospel songs the Oaks ever recorded.
  1. “When Love Calls You” (1981). I could list the whole “Fancy Free” Album to listen to, with even the rare tracks, the whole album just flows (as mentioned in a previous blog I wrote https://lancewrites.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/not-skipping-around-albums-that-must-be-heard/). This song isn’t just a sad Country ballad, but when listening to the lyrics, the listener will find that it’s a song of hope of the future in spite of a bad past. This is one of the themes I love about Barry Manilow’s music as well. With the orchestration again bringing more power to the song makes it almost a soft rock song. This was one of my favorite songs from my youth.

Everyone knows the famous songs by the Oaks but hopefully these may help you dive deeper into their catalog, especially if you are like me and are frustrated with the lack of good music being released. Feel free to comment, email me your Oak Ridge Boys stories and favorites.

And don’t forget to click on the Follow button on the page!! It’s free!

 

Most Overplayed Songs of the 1980s.

I recently wrote a blog about the Most Overplayed Songs of the 1970s. As promised, I am back to give you my list of the Most Overplayed Songs of the 1980s. The 1980s had many weird songs, and One Hit Wonders, especially since the emergence of music video programs and MTV.  Just like my other list, there is a regional aspect to this list; these songs may be overplayed on the radio stations in my area, and may not be in other areas. However, I think these songs are overplayed everywhere and could use a rest for a while. So here is my list of the Most Overplayed Songs of the 1980s (in no particular order).

  1. Kokomo- The Beach Boys (1988). This #1 hit was written by Mike Love, Terry Melcher, John Phillips (of The Mamas and The Papas), and Scott McKenzie (who had a #4 hit with “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear a Flower in Your Hair) in 1967).  This song was featured in Tom Cruise’s “Cocktail” movie, which is one of my favorite movies of all time. I am a huge Beach Boys fan, and they are my favorite band of all time, but this song is worn out.  The song is about a fictional place, although there are places that are named Kokomo, and was written without Brian Wilson. This song has been used in many commercials throughout the years that have added to my annoyance of the song. If you are looking for something from the 1980s by the band, I suggest 1985’s “Getcha Back,” which hit #26 Nationally and #2 on the AC Charts.  I’d love to hear that song on the 80s channels and give Kokomo a rest at the beach.
cyndi lauper
This Cyndi Lauper hit may be fun, but I’m all fun-ned out hearing it.
  1. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun- Cyndi Lauper (1983) . This song has become a female anthem, which helped make it to #2 on the charts, but the song was originally written in 1979 with a male point of view to it. This song became the “I Will Survive” for the 1980s video era, and put Lauper on the map, with her wild multi-colored hair, and helped start the Rock and Wrestling Connection with her association with the WWF. Her image distracted the fact that she really could sing and songs like “True Colors” and “Time After Time” are a better reflection of this, but those songs seemed to be lost in the shuffle when it comes to radio playlist.

 

 

 

  1. Celebration-Kool and The Gang (1980). This song has been played at every wedding reception or party since it was released in 1980 and many think it was a #1 hit for weeks, when in fact, it was only #1 for 2 weeks in the U.S. (It was knocked out by Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”).  This song started a more pop feel for the band, after having hits on the soul charts like “Get Down On It” and “Ladies Night.” The band had other hits besides this one. Robert “Kool” Bell and his brother, Ronald Bell, were both from Youngstown Ohio, which is a short distance from where I live.  Although the song will not be stopped playing at weddings, radio needs to play other 80s hits like “Misled” (which hit #10) and “Tonight” (#13 which also has a great groove and a rocking guitar solo) in their playlist, and save this song for the special occasions.
journey
Considering there were other charted songs on the same album, this Journey song makes me want to “Escape” from hearing it.
  1. Don’t Stop Believin’-Journey (1981). This song has been listed on many people’s list in the past and there is a reason why. This song so extremely overplayed by everyone from radio, downloads, political rallies, and sporting events. The song is featured on Broadway as well now. The song hit #9 on the U.S. Charts and is not a bad song, but just played all the time. The album “Escape” had many other released singles that were hits that never get played like “And They Ride,” which hit #19 on the charts. Granted “Ride” is a ballad, but “Don’t Stop” is not a rocking song either.  This song is one of the most downloaded songs in history, which shows that some people are not tired of it, but I am definitely tired of this song. I’d rather hear “Stone in Love” by the band.

 

 

 

poison tour book
Here’s a photo of a tour book I purchased in college from a friend who went to the Open Up tour. As much as I like the early band’s music, this flower song has wilted.
  1. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn- Poison (1988). Nothing says the late 1980s than the power ballad by rockers that showed their softer side. Big Hair, leather pants, jacket wearing rockers stripped down to acoustic guitars was the inspiration to the 1990s “Unplugged” craze. I like Poison, and have seen them in concert during their summer jam tours where several 1980-1990s acts have joined them. I especially like Poison’s first album “Look What The Cat Dragged In” from 1987, and the second album, “Open Up And Say Ahh” from 1988 , which was listed in a previous blog that I wrote (“Not Skipping Around-Albums That Must Be Heard” from Feb 18, 2015 available in my history, or just search the title in the search area).  Even though this song was on that second album (and was a #1 hit for 3 weeks) the song has become old. Bret Michaels has included this song on many of his solo albums, including country duet versions of the song. I suggest 1987’s “I Won’t Forget You” by the band, which hit # 13 on the charts for something different but still a ballad.
scorpions
I think The Scorpions is one of the most overrated bands period. Seeing them live years ago did not deter me from my opinion, and of hearing their overplayed song.
  1. Rock You Like A Hurricane-The Scorpions (1984). This song here will show an admitted bias in my selection. I never liked this band, and when I saw them on tour with Alice Cooper in 1996, I liked them even less. Even if I did not like the band, this song is overplayed in my area, from local sporting events (even high schools) to the radio. This song only hit #25 on the U.S. Charts. I view this band much like Great White, where very few people can actually pick them as their “favorite band” yet for some reason, some musicians worship the band for their musicality (and I find both of those bands annoying and boring). The Scorpions to me had cool album covers but had irritating vocals and music. People are quick to judge bands like Kiss who give out fake “Farewell Tours” but failed to discuss that this band announced their farewell tour and last album in 2010 and are still at it.  If I was to choose a song from the band, it would be “No One But You” from 1982, which did not chart in the U.S. (No I’d not suggest “Wind Of Change” which Alice Cooper even joked about hoping they’d not play that song when I saw him open for them in 1996).
tom petty
Hearing this Tom Petty song makes me Mad as a Hatter.
  1. Free Falling-Tom Petty (1989). Petty is another artist which I do not like very much, especially with his political rants. However, it does not deter from the fact that I always disliked this boring song that hit #7 in the U.S. This was on Petty’s first solo album away from his band The Heartbreakers and came off of the #18 hit “Jammin Me” with the band. I really liked “Jammin,” which was a good rocking song. Petty then went into a mellow feel with this song, which was co-written by ELO’s Jeff Lynne.  There were better songs on the album “Full Moon Fever” that I liked, even though I’m not a Petty fan. This song did not fit in the 1980s feel of music, but maybe that was the appeal of the song.
van halen
My biased opinion towards David Lee Roth’s Van Halen still does not change the fact that even die hard VH fans are sick of this one.
  1. Jump-Van Halen (1984). This song was #1 for 5 weeks in 1984, and was released in December 1983. The song was one of the top songs of the year, and featured guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s start to use synthesizers on VH’s albums. It was the only Van Halen single to hit #1, even though the Sammy Hagar led band later had more album success, after singer David Lee Roth left the band after this album. There is a rumor that Eddie took the synthesizer idea from Hall and Oates’ “Kiss On My List,” but it was not confirmed one way or the other. David Lee Roth’s vocals have always irked me-yes he was a great front man, but as a SINGER- Hagar was so much better- Hagar had a better range. However back to the song-this song is too much keyboard for me especially for a rock band that gave us songs like “Running with the Devil” and “Feel Your Love Tonight.”  This song is played on every 80s and Classic Rock radio formats, and is featured on numerous radio and TV commercials that it has lost its appeal. I’d rather listen to “I’ll Wait” off the same album if I want to hear some early 80s VH, which is almost never (I prefer the Hagar years especially since that was the first concert I ever saw). It shocks me when many Van Halen fans argue which singer was better, but fail to remember that the Dave era had some stinker songs (many cover songs) along with strange lyrics, which is the case as well with this song.
def leppard
I need extra sugar to get me through this Def Leppard hit that needs to cool off.
  1. Pour Some Sugar on Me- Def Leppard (1988).  Def Leppard’s  “Hysteria” is now one of the biggest rock albums  in history, yet most fans do not know that the album originally was failing on the charts, which was supposed to be a Hard Rock version of “Thriller,” where every track would be a single. This song was the last song to be added to the album and eventually made it to #2 in the U.S., being denied by the great Richard Marx at the #1 spot in 1988.  This song was rumored to gain traction when it started getting played at strip clubs in Florida and then started breaking nationally in the U.S. This song is played at sporting events and every place in between, which make the song way overplayed and the song, to me, was boring even when it came out. I love the “Hysteria” album, and had numerous copies of the cassette when it came out due to overplaying it, but I always skipped “Sugar,” along with their biggest hit, “Love Bites.”  I know artists would love to have the success of this song, but when it comes to radio play, I’d rather hear a “Don’t Shoot Shotgun,” or “Love and Affection” on rotation ( I know I’d never hear “Gods of War” on rotation, which has one of the best grooves on the album).  This song definitely needs to be retired for at least 200 years.

What do you think of my 1980s List? Subscribe to my page as well!!

The Best Christian Albums -My Picks.

It wasn’t really until the 1990s when Christian Music was hitting the Mainstream Charts and selling millions of copies. Yes there were a few charted albums or songs in the 1980’s or before, but in my opinion, Christian Music was starting to be accepted by the music community in the 1990s. “Accepted” may not be the best of terms, because even during this time, several people in the Christian community denounced artists for “selling out” or were “on their way to Hell” because they were on the Pop Charts, which seems unheard of now, because churches cover Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, and Mercy Me in their Praise Music on any Sunday Morning and they are on Billboard Charts.
The reason I mention this is because I decided to rank the Top Christian Albums, and most of mine choices came from the 1990s. In ranking these choices, I based it on a few qualifications: 1. The artist must be on a Christian Label (for example, someone may be a Christian, like Alice Cooper , The Oak Ridge Boys, or the last few W.A.S.P. CDs, but they are not on a Christian Label, ), 2. The choice is the full album throughout, not just having a few good songs (I like “Love, Liberty, Disco” by The Newsboys song, but not a fan of the whole album), 3. I am not using Greatest Hits, Live, or Movie Soundtracks, just full studio recordings 4. My personal preference, which may be based on music, or songwriting, or where I was personally when the album was released (not necessarily a major qualification, but hey, it’s my blog!!) Even though they are numbered, it does not mean that is the order. Any could be interchangeable.
Now, here are my picks for Best Christian Albums:

 

guardian
My Copy of Guardian’s best CD

6. Guardian- “ Swing, Swang, Swung” ( 1994). This record was coming off one of the band’s popular albums, “Miracle Mile,” and had rotation on MTV at one time. The band toured with Styper and was known for their Metal and Hard Rock, until this album, which was a stripped down, acoustic album. Even though the album lost many die- hard fans, I enjoy this one the best of their CDs (I did not care for “Miracle Mile” or the later “Bottle Rocket.”) In the era where Unplugged Albums were starting to break in the mid to late 1990s, this is the Christian version of Unplugged. My favorites on the album are “See You in Heaven,” “Like The Sun,” which reminds me of The Beatles “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Come On Everyone.”

 

 

speechless

 

5. Steven Curtis Chapman “Speechless” (1999). It is hard to have a Christian list without probably the top selling Artists in the genre. Chapman, Amy Grant, and Michael W. Smith dominated the Christian market in the late 1980s-1990s, and all three are still recording. There are many choices in Chapman’s catalog, but I think Speechless is the most solid throughout the whole album (His “Heaven in the Real World” is my second favorite, but there are a few weak songs on it). “Speechless” was probably his best album, with 7 of the 13 tracks went to #1 on the Christian Charts, and won a Grammy. I got to see Chapman in concert in Akron, Ohio, on my Birthday for this tour in 1999, and it is one of my favorite concert memories ever. My favorites include “Fingerprints of God,” “The Invitation,” “Whatever” and “Dive.” I would choose this CD as the starting point in introducing someone to Chapman’s music, even more so than his “Great Adventure” album.

 

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Me meeting Rebecca St. James in 2004

4. Rebecca St. James- “Transform” (2000). Even though many fans of St. James like her earlier albums “God” or “Pray,” this is her most solid work (Although her Self-Titled CD is just as solid as “Transform.”) This album has her signature song “Wait For Me,” which turned her into a spokeswoman and author for the female Christian voice. I enjoy the songs “Stand,” “Don’t Worry,” and the catchy “One,” which is similar to a Britney Spears type beat. This has the Pop and Ballad mix that flows through the album. I remember listening to this CD many times when I worked in Christian TV. Rebecca St. James became one of my top favorite Christian Artists, from her music, her books, her acting, and her concerts, which I saw her twice in 2004.

 

go west young man

 

 

 

3. Michael W. Smith -“Go West Young Man” (1990). Even Non-Christian Music fans, and those that never stepped into a church, was jamming to this album, which feature the pop hit “Place In This World,” which made Smith into a Pop singer, due to it hitting #6 on the Pop Charts. Another song, “For You,” was popular, but did not chart on the Pop Charts. Even though there was backlash from the Christian Community in regards to his popularity, Smith’s album brought more people to his shows and to following his work (His “I Will Be Here For You”, co-written by Diane Warren on his next album, gave him another Pop Hit). Personally, I remember playing this album all the time, and even was allowed to play it in my High School Journalism class, where my writing partner and I for the Entertainment Section of our school paper would praise the album constantly. Songs like “Love Crusade,” “Emily,” and “How Long Will Be Too Long” are some of my favorites on the album. It was this album, and Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion,” brought more masses to have a respect for Christian Pop Music.

 

 

 

stryper
My copy of Stryper’s CD

 

 

2. Styper -“To Hell with the Devil” (1986). One of the first Christian Bands to ever to have their music video to have steady MTV rotation (at one time MTV showed music folks), Stryper was inescapable in the 1980s. With the Pop hit “Honestly” reaching on the Pop Charts, this album was popular and was seen in the record stores next to bands like Van Halen, Bon Jovi, and Poison. The band is still releasing great albums, and many choose earlier works like “Soldiers Under Command,” or “The Yellow and Black Attack,” over this album, but this is still my favorite. I was not a major fan of the band when they were popular, but I picked up ‘In God We Trust” (their next release after this one) in college when the band was split up, and went back into their works. Like Cinderella said “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Til It’s Gone,” I became more of a fan of the band when I was tired of the music coming out in the Grunge era. I think this album flows the best of their work, with “Calling On You,” “Holding On,” and “Free.” This album was released in 1986, and became the top selling Christian Hard Rock/Metal album of all time until 2001, when P.O.D. beat it. That should say something about this album.

 

 

 

be the one

1.Al Denson -“Be The One” ( 1990). This choice was not a tough one for me. There has not been a Christian Album that has made a bigger impact on my life than this one. A friend of mine took me to see the band Petra on their “Beyond Belief” tour in 1991 at the Akron Civic Theater. We were both blown away by the opening act (more than the headliners, who I was not impressed with at all), which was a guy and his keyboard. His name was Al Denson, and he had great songs, and kept the audience cheering the whole set. When the show was over, my friend ran to the merchandise table and had to buy this album. This album was also played a ton with my writing partner in high school journalism class, just like Michael W. Smith. Denson’s Title Song “Be The One” was sung at my first youth convention that I went to, played all through that weekend, was the song played when I became a Christian, and was the song I used to sing when auditioning for my first ever high school musical (my senior year, and I got the part). I still own the cassette tape of this album (and his others). Denson, years later, would be in my life when I worked in Christian Television when we played his TV Show. I have seen him in concert twice, in 1991, and again in 1998 when he played after a Pittsburgh Pirates game at Three Rivers Stadium, and own his books. The whole album flows with great Pop and Ballads, with songs like “Nothing Can Separate Us,” “Tested By Fire,” and “Never Out Of His Love.” It still amazes me that many people did not know of him in my circle of friends in the church at the time, and his still not as well known, even though he has 19 Top Ten and 11 #1 Hits in the Christian Charts, and was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2009. His 1995 “Take Me To The Cross” is another solid album, but “Be The One” is still my favorite.

 

Regardless of your religious views, there is still some great Christian Music out there today. Artists like David Crowder, Chris Rice, Natalie Grant, and others are putting out music, along with established acts like The Oak Ridge Boys are putting out Gospel Records. Even though some may think my picks are dated, there are acts out there that are quality musicians. Maybe you will check out some of my picks. Feel free to contact me and give me your choices.

The Write Songs

Music and writing are two of my favorite things. When they are combined, it’s even better. I have made my top 10 Best Songs about Writing. Keep in mind; the songs are about writing, not songs that are named after writers or book titles.  Maybe some on here you may have not heard before or forgot about. Here we go:

 

10. “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself A Letter” (various artists). This song is the oldest on the list, dating back to 1935, but it was made famous by Frank Sinatra and has been covered by Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, and Barry Manilow. What better than writing yourself your own love letter and having it come from your crush, because they are not going to write to you? This song can appeal to a young teenager’s love to an older love. Because of the age of the song, it shows it belongs on the list. Check out Manilow’s version as well-it’s great.

tay swift
Taylor Swift

 

9.“Dear John”-Taylor Swift (2010). Say what you want about Swift being Country/not Country or Teen Music, but this song showed me her great songwriting. The song is rumored to be about John Mayer from her “Speak Now” CD. My favorite line is “Wondering which version of you I might get on the phone tonight/Well I stopped picking up and this song is to let you know why.” A great “I’m over you after breaking my heart song.”

8. “Blue Letter” –Fleetwood Mac (1975). This song has personal history for me because when I was a drummer in one cover band, my guitar player would always play this song at practice. I have no idea why we didn’t play it in our setlist. This was off the first album that Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks came on (yes they weren’t original members of the band). I like the rhythm and tone of the song. It’s a basic rocking song about being dumped. The song was produced by Keith Olsen, who worked with Heart, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, and on my favorite album, Rick Springfield’s “Working Class Dog.”

 

7. “In Your Letter”- REO Speedwagon (1981). I was a late REO fan. I liked the hits that they have, but several years ago I listened to the whole “Hi Infidelity” CD and liked the other songs. This song was a single, but I didn’t remember it. Written by Gary Richrath, this reminds me of a girl writing a breakup letter  but the guy edits it for content. “You Could’ve Said it Better.” You may dump me for another guy, but at least I can write a better send off.

 

6. “If You Could Read My Mind” –Gordon Lightfoot (1970). This song was rumored to be written after a divorce, but there is so much substance in this timeless song. There is a gothic feel with ghosts and wishing wells, to comparisons to a drug store book novel. I used to show the lyrics to students when I was teaching English during poetry sessions. Just reading the words are powerful, but with the music, it’s even better. The song has been covered by Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Johnny Mathis, Glen Campbell, among others. Surprisingly, the song only hit #5 on the U.S. Charts, while it hit #1 on the Easy Listening Charts.

 

5.”Please Mr. Postman”- The Marvelettes (1961). This song was the debut of the girl group The Marvelettes and was Motown’s first #1 single. It is rumored to be written about a girl waiting for a letter from her man who is away at war, but there is no mention of war in the song. Nevertheless, back in the Pre-Internet days people had to write hand written letters and hope they were not lost in the mail. The song reminds me of the days when you would wait for the post man to come and deliver mail to you. The Beatles had another famous version of it a year later. A little trivia note: the drummer on the Motown version was Marvin Gaye.

 

4. “Western Union”-The Five Americans (1966). This is the only hit for this band, but it was a great one. The birth of the song came when guitar player came up with a sound on his guitar that made him think of a telegraph key. It’s a medium tempo song about a girl that’s leaving her man via telegram. It has such a catchy hook and is one of the under looked songs when you think of great songs from the 1960s. And the chorus is pretty easy to remember, although pretty high at times to sing.

 

3. “The Letter”-The Box Tops (1967). The title of this song says it all on why it’s making this list. A guy has to find any means of transportation to get back home because his girlfriend wrote him a letter. This song is one of the shortest songs in length to hit #1 on the U.S. Charts. Many other artists recorded this, including Joe Cocker, The Ventures, and several disco versions, but the original is still the best version.

 

2. “I Write The Songs”-Barry Manilow (1975). Next to “Mandy,” this might be Manilow’s most famous song, but it was written by The Beach Boys’ Bruce Johnston and was recorded by Captain and Tennille, and even David Cassidy, before Manilow released it, which became a  #1 hit. The song describes how music is created and written and it’s effect on those that listen. He almost always closes his concerts with the song.

 

the beatles
The Beatles

1.“Paperback Writer”- The Beatles (1966). This song is the first song I think of when I see lists about writers or authors. The background harmonies were rumored to be inspired by The Beach Boys, and the song was rumored to be created when Paul McCartney saw Ringo Starr reading a book, but the story has changed several times throughout the years. Nonetheless, the song about a writer who finishes his novel and needs someone to give him a break , which any writer can relate to. In today’s society it may be hard to grasp the concept of having to write a paperback novel and try to get it read, but it is still a timeless song, as most of the Fab Four’s songs.