Childhood Classic : Barry Manilow 1989- Simple Title But Memorable Songs

Barry Manilow was released on May 2, 1989

Every once in a while, I will be reviewing a release from my childhood or musical past that made an influence on me. Some of these will be well known, and others may have been passed by under the radar. Most will not be in the hard rock/metal genre. You can see reviews in that genre written by me in the Retro Review section on the webpage Sleazeroxx.com, or on my online portfolio at llumleyportfolio.wordpress.com

 

My first exposure to Barry Manilow was during my sophomore year in high school. I took a theater arts class and one day we were listening to the song “Memory” from Cats. The title looked familiar to me, so I went home and dug around my parents 45s (remember them??), where they had two of Manilow’s records ; 1981’s “The Old Songs”/ “Don’t Fall In Love With Me” and “Heart of Steel”/Memory” from 1982. A few years later , I stumbled upon Manilow’s PBS special from England, which ended up being “The Greatest Hits And Then Some” release. I was mesmerized by the show, and had to listen to more of his music. I played those 45s over and over again to the point where I needed some newer material. I saw an ad on television in 1997 that Manilow was coming to Starlake Amphitheater in Burgettstown , P.A. I had to get tickets to see him. My mother took me to the local National Record Mart, so I could get tickets the day they came out. If it weren’t for her, I would not have been able to see him. She gave me her credit card to use, and when the guy printed out the tickets, he mentioned that it was cash only (although there was nothing stating that before the sale date or at the store itself in the ticket policies). Luckily, she had cash on her, and I was shocked at the price of the tickets; I saw my first concert in 1991 with lawn seats at the same amphitheater for 18 dollars. Each ticket was $40 for Manilow, plus service charge, which was a lot back then (but they ended up being like 10th row-and now some of his seats go for over $100) .

After the show, I had to get some more Manilow releases (I had the cassettes of the 1978 Greatest Hits and the 1989 Volume 1 which I got from the BMG music club.) . I went to Best Buy, and the only CDs they carried were the Greatest Hits from 1989 (Volumes I, II and III), along with his self titled 1989 album. I chose the self titled one as my first Manilow CD.

Some fans have dubbed Barry Manilow as the “purple album”, because he released several other albums with his name on it; his debut in 1973, Barry Manilow II (1974), 1980’s Barry, and 1985’s Manilow. Whatever fans want to call it, it was an unique album for many reasons besides the title; all but one song had outside writers on it (Manilow usually wrote or co-wrote most of his songs, and allowed few outside writers at this time), it had a polished production, and it was his last all original music until 2001, where besides some live releases, he released covers and themed albums from Broadway, the Big Band era, and the 1970s (The Summer of ’78 album is highly underrated) . It was also one of the longer run times from previous records , almost an hour long.

The opener “Please Don’t Be Scared,” is a wonderful ballad to start off the record. Manilow still sticks to the formula of loss, love, and hope in his songs. This first track , with the lyrics “Someday someone will make you glad you survived” brings the hope theme into play , while struggling to see the bigger picture in life.

“Keep Each Other Warm,” is a cover of the British group Bucks Fizz, and became a hit on the AC charts for Barry at #7. The soulful/ R&B song would have been placed perfectly along the radio songs by groups like Surface and Breathe. Unfortunately it was never played in my area stations in Youngstown, Ohio (where the local station was, although I live in Columbiana, Ohio, twenty minutes or so away). Manilow’s take on this song has more power to it instrumentally, where the original sounds like an ABBA cover band.

Songs like “Once and For All, ” and “The One That Got Away” continue the polished 1980s feel , where “The One That Got Away” has a simple chorus lyrically , which Manilow pulls off, even though it is some of the weaker songs on the release. Even though they are weaker than the others, a weak Manilow song can still be better than some artists’ best work.

“When the Good Times Come Again,” and “Some Good Things Never Last” are two great songs in a row. “…Good Times..” has the format, much like his hit “Somewhere Down The Road,” with the theme of hoping better things will come in the relationship after taking a break, where “Some Good Things Never Last” was featured on his follow up release, Live On Broadway. The opening line of “It’s 3 in the morning/You’re nowhere in sight” is a line that’s been thrown in my head numerous times for no reason whatsoever, especially being awake at 3 A.M. It’s a wonder to me, looking back now, why “Some Good Things Never Last” was not released as a single. It should have been on the pop or AC charts.

The last three songs are the songs I remember most about the release. “My Moonlight Memories Of You’ is a catchy song that displays Manilow’s love for Broadway songs. The song starts off one way , and then goes in another style, one that you could see Fred Astaire dancing and singing in an old time musical, or in a vaudeville show. The “I Can’t Smile Without You” feel of the song challenges the listener NOT to sing along, and with the end , where he is singing the melody while it fades out, one can picture the main star walking down the street while the camera pans overhead to the city while the credits roll.

“Anyone Can Do The Heartbreak” was a hit for Anne Murray in 1987. Both versions are just as good, and it’s hard to choose one over the other.

The final is a road song, “A Little Traveling Music, Please.” I first heard this song on the PBS special, or the VHS release of the show, I can’t remember exactly, but I thought it was a great , soft song about being on the road , and away from the special person. Many road songs in music, like “Faithfully “or “Turn The Page,” have power to it musically (hence the name power ballad), where this song is a refreshingly mellow and clam, with drummer Vinnie Colaiuta playing brushes on the track. This song is the perfect placement as the ender of the album. I played this song many times after playing in local bands as a drummer on the way home to calm my ears after playing rock and blues all night long. It takes a while for the song to get going, with an instrumental intro, but when the song gets going, its great.

Barry Manilow has wonderful memories for me. One, it was exposure to Manilow’s latest work, and not just the popular hits that I knew the time. It also had a long run time, so I got my money’s worth, along with some songs becoming my favorite rarer songs from his catalog (“Memories of You,” and “Traveling Music” are two of them).

The songs still hold up after 30 years, and doesn’t sound too dated, even though it is one of his more polished production wise albums (along with 1985’s Manilow) . Manilow fans all have their favorite albums (they are as passionate as Kiss, The Beatles, and The Oak Ridge Boys’ fans as which are their favorites), this is one of my favorites where I don’t have to skip songs ( I am not counting his cover albums). Even though some are a little weaker than others, it can play all the way through. This is a CD that gave me more of a love of Manilow’s music (especially when I was in college at the time, where his music was a friend to me). It is still a go-to CD to play when I want to hear some rarer Manilow songs.

You can read my other post on Barry’s rarer songs here in the archives, by typing in “Barry Manilow” in the search engine.

 

Track Listing: 1. Please Don’t Be Scared 2. Keep Each Other Warm 3.Once And For All 4. The One That Got Away 5.When The Good Times Come Again 6. Some Good Things Never Last 7. In Another World 8. You Begin Again 9.My Moonlight Memories Of You   10. Anyone Can Do The Heartbreak 11. A Little Traveling Music, Please

Advertisements

Marking Out on Richard: Ranking Some of My Favorites

Richard Marx has been on top of the music in charts in many ways; he’s been a performer, songwriter, producer, and has sung backing vocals for many acts. He has worked with music acts like N Sync, Keith Urban, Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Chicago, and many others. He has been one of my favorite singer/songwriters, especially in the 1980-2000s. Here are a few of my favorite Richard Marx songs (in no particular order).

“Satisfied” (1989). This song was released on his second album, Repeat Offender, and hit #1 on the U.S. Charts. It was the first single off of the album, and on a video discussion about the song (which he called “vlogs,” which stood for video blogs), Marx says it “reeks of ‘80s.” Marx actually stopped playing the song live for a while, but brought it back to his shows after a while when fans started demanding the song. The video featured boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, who was from Youngstown, Ohio, which is not far from me.

My Own Best Enemy 2004

“The Other Side” (2004). One of my favorite albums that Marx released is 2004’s My Own Best Enemy, which featured this song. The album is darker from his first several albums, but the songwriting is just as great. The song was written by Marx, and even though the album barely made the Top 200 Albums Chart, it did produce a single from the album. I like everything about this song, from the intro to the lyrics, which states “I really wanna know was it worth the ride/ and will you be waiting on the other side.” The song is about moving on, but struggling to do it.

“Angelina” (1989). This is one, if not my favorite, song Marx ever wrote. The song hit #4 on the U.S. Charts and #2 on the AC Charts. The song has a big sound to it for a mid tempo song about a girl. The name came from a girl who was an airline worker on a plane Marx was on, and he loved the name. Marx tells a story on his vlog that he was listening to Def Leppard’s Hysteria album at the time and tried to capture that feel to his work. He says that later on Phil Collen of Def Leppard said that the band loved this song so much that they tried to copy the sound for their next album. I love the lines “ Tried to be what you wanted/I gave you all I had/Girl, you left me with nothing/nothing but a photograph.”

“Endless Summer Nights” (1987). This song hit #2 on the U.S. Charts and was kept out of the Number One spot by Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” As often as this song was played, I was shocked it didn’t hit the top of the charts. This song was from his debut album, and was the third single from it. The song was an early written song for Marx, written when he was 21, before he got a record deal. Marx says that every record company turned down the song, which was a two song demo with “Summer” and “Should’ve Known Better” on it. The song isn’t actually about summer, but a guy looking back at a summer romance during the winter, but it became a standard during the summertime throughout the years. The saxophone solo intro by Dave Baruff is one of the memorable intros from the 1980s. This is probably my second favorite song by Marx in all of his collection.

“Lonely Heart” (1987). This song is rarer known off the debut album, but was originally going to be the fifth single from the album, but it was decided that Marx would just wait for the Repeat Offender album to release another song, which was already done. In his vlog, Marx stated that the song was written with Peter Cetera in mind, but Cetera passed on it. It was written by Marx, and Fee Waybill of The Tubes. Marx calls the song “dated,” but it is one of my favorites from the great first album.

1997 Flesh and Bone album

 

“Until I Find You Again” (1997). This song was one of Marx’s strongest ballads, and hit #3 on the AC Charts. The song was from the out of print Flesh and Bone album, which was not one of my favorite albums, however, the song shows Marx’s great songwriting ability, with lines like “Will time be a fair weathered friend,” and “Should I call out to angels/or drink myself sober again?” This song, for me, moved Marx’s career into more ballads and the adult contemporary genre, getting away from the pop and rock music from his early songs.

 

“Someone Special” (2004). This song was featured on My Own Best Enemy album, but was originally released in 2000 off of the Days in Avalon release. Although I was not a huge fan of the Days album, I remember liking the song, and it fits well on the Enemy album. This is a positive song, which is full of hope, about someone believing in themselves when others do not see it. The song is perfect for junior high or high school students that are not a part of the in-crowd, with dating and being in the popular group, although I’m not sure Marx geared it for that. This song was kind of passed over, and I’m surprised it was not played often when it came out on either record. I love the line “Guess the joke hasn’t hit me yet/cause I’m still waiting on my Juilet/She must be held up somewhere”, and with the chorus stating “I still believe there’s someone special/waiting out there for me.”

 

There are so many great song that Richard Marx has written or sang on, from “Everybody,” which was a hit for Keith Urban (which I think Marx’s version is better), to “Don’t Mean Nothing” and “Hazard.” With all of his accomplishments, it’s a wonder why Marx is not in the Songwriters Hall of Fame yet. He is still putting out music and writing for other acts, as well as hosting a podcast. If you haven’t listened to Richard Marx past the second album, you should go and check out his other work; he has some stuff that is just as great as when he was on top of the charts.

 

 

Book Review: This Book Rocks: A Drummer’s Insight Into The Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion

Cover Design by Domini Dargoone. Cover Illustration @John Douglas

The first time I heard of drummer Bobby Rock was in 1990, when he was a part of the band Nelson. I became a huge fan of the Nelson brothers, and even had one of their shirts which I proudly wore to school, along with my Warrant shirt. I would play along to their debut album “After the Rain” on my drum set everyday when it was released for months. It wasn’t until years later that I found out Bobby Rock was the drummer for the ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent in his band The Vinnie Vincent Invasion, which also involved members of what would become the band Slaughter; another favorite band of mine.

Bobby Rock went on to be a drummer for other bands, currently with Lita Ford, along with creating drum videos and books. His latest book , “The Boy Is Gonna Rock: A Drummer’s Journey From Houston To Hollywood In Search Of Hair Metal-Heaven” ( Zen Man Publishing, 2018), details his career as a drummer in several rock bands, including his time with The Invasion. The behind the scenes story of what happened inside of the Vincent band is the main theme of the memoir.

Lita Ford contributes to the book in the Forward, telling how she was in a bind for a drummer, calling Gunnar Nelson asking for help. Nelson informs her that Rock is the guy she needs on short notice. Rock is still playing with Ford years after the phone call.

The book is filled with great photographs, and stories, from Bobby’s first love of Hard Rock Music (when he bought his first Alice Cooper album), to learning drumming techniques throughout high school, and his time at Berkley School of Music. His goal of becoming a jazz drummer took a side turn when he called Dana Strum after hearing about an audition for Vinnie Vincent’s new band, who just parted ways with Kiss in the mid 1980s.

Rock’s book is an honest account of the dealings with Vincent, who has always had a stigma attached to him for being hard to work with on stage and in the studio. He takes the reader through the many frustrating attempts to record the debut Vinnie Vincent Invasion (more popularly known as VVI) album, and the tour that followed. He details his opinions on the band members, including first singer Robert Fleischman, who left the band right before the first tour, which the band ended up with singer Mark Slaughter.

If you are hoping for a bashing book that trashes the members, this is not the book. Rock tells the story from what he saw, what he felt, and is not a typical “I hate this guy” rock recollection. The text is not all rainbows either, which makes this one of the best rock biographies I have read in years, and is definitely in my Top 10 of all time in the genre already.

My Nelson band shirt ,featuring Rock, which is now a pillow.

Rock’s writing is just as skillful as his drumming. With many writings on his resume, Rock has taken this project seriously, and is a entertaining writer. Every musician, or aspiring musician, should read this book, with its commentary about the business of music, which was a major aspect that affected VVI ‘s break up. The book covers lawsuits, management and crew members’ darker sides, to the relationship Rock had with his on stage companions Strum, Slaughter, and Vincent. Slaughter fans would also enjoy the book, with Rock’s tales of just how behind the scenes Dana Strum was in The Invasion’s recordings and management side. The collection is recent as well, with Rock giving his opinion of the re-emergence of Vincent during the 2018 KISS Expo in Atlanta, after decades of being out of everyone’s radar. Rock tells his experiences with joining the Nelson Brothers (and dispels some rumors about how he joined, along with if he was to be the drummer in Slaughter), Lita Ford, along with some tales of the artists he almost ended up drumming for.

It’s hard to write a book that appeals to everyone, but Rock has succeeded. The stories are entertaining and honest, the pictures are wonderful and plenty, along with giving stories that fans of KISS, Nelson, Alice Cooper, Slaughter, and other Hard Rock acts of the 1980s-1990s will love, while describing the learning experiences of the inside workings of the music business. Many independent books are filled with grammar errors or wrong dates, but Rock ‘s book is void of these, with his detail to the writing process. There is some adult language in the book, but it does not deter from how great this book is, or come off as overtly offensive. The only complaint of the book, for me, was that since the book is mainly about his time in Vinnie Vincent’s Invasion, he only briefly mentions at the end about his time with Nelson (since I was a big fan of the band, I can plea that if Bobby has enough stories, to write a book just on his time with them).

“The Boy Is Gonna Rock” is not just a music book, but an American Dream tale from a guy who became the drummer of one of the most interesting (although short) times in an unique band. KISS fans must have this book to their collection, along with anyone who loves the 1980s Metal scene. This book definitely Rocks!

 

 

This review copy was sent courtesy of Bobby Rock, Tim Young, and Zen Man                Publishing.

 

“The Boy Is Gonna Rock: A Drummer’s Journey From Houston To Hollywood In Search Of Hair Metal Heaven” (Zen Man Publishing, 2018 ISBN-10: 0966859936 ISBN-13: 978-0966859935) can be found at http://www.bobbyrockstore.com

 

For information about the author, visit: http://www.bobbyrock.com

 

Spread The News: Some of My Favorite Songs by Huey Lewis and The News

One of the most successful (and one of my all time favorite) bands from the 1980 and 1990s was Huey Lewis and The News. This act had 18 U.S. Top 40 hits, 12 Top 10 hits, and 3 Number Ones. They also had two #1 albums. The band fused Pop Rock, Blues, Soul, and R&B into their music and are still putting out some great music and touring every year. I have seen them twice live and they were awesome. Their albums “Fore” and “Sports” were a major part of my childhood; in fact, we wore out several copies of “Sports” on cassette one summer alone during high school band camp and other events. Even though most people know the major hits like “The Power Of Love,” “If This Is It,” and “Stuck With You,” there are so many other songs by the band that many people forget or have yet to dive into. Here are some of my favorite Huey Lewis and The News songs (in no particular order).

“Is It Me” (1982). This ballad is one of my favorite songs off of the “Picture This” album. I have mentioned in past blogs how “Picture This” is one album that people need to know because there is not a bad song on the whole album. When people mention this album, they think of the songs “Workin’ For A Livin’,” “Do You Believe In Love,” or “I Hope You Love Me Like You Say You Do,” but “Is It Me” is just as good as any of the ballads the band has made period. The song is similar in lyrics to “If This Is It” where the singer is telling the other person if he is the problem, let him know and he’ll leave. This song may have been on the AC or Pop Charts if it was released later when the band was on a streak, and was overlooked in my opinion on the album.

“He Don’t Know” (1991). Another album that is overlooked in the band’s work is “Hard At Play” (which I mentioned in the Underrated Albums blog). I listened to this album almost every day for a whole summer when it came out. I remember videotaping the band’s performance on “The Tonight Show” promoting the song as well and watching it over and over. The album produced two Top 40 singles, but this song did not chart when it was released. I like the Bluesy guitar work throughout the song, along with the opening where Huey is just talking before he starts singing. I also really love the ending guitar work, which shows the musicianship of Chris Hayes. One of the songwriters on the song, Jon Tiven, has had songs recorded by Rick Derringer, B.B. King, and Buddy Guy among others.

 

“Walking On A Thin Line” (1983). This song was off of the #1 album “Sports” and hit the charts in the U.S. at #18. It was the final single released off of the album, but yet for some reason is not remembered by many critics or causal fans, despite the chart position. The song discusses Vietnam Veterans, but some may not know that just by listening to the song. I like how the song has an edge to it, as opposed to the previous released Pop songs by the band. I remember the song was the start of Side Two on the album, and I used to love the opening even when it was played at band parties during my junior high years. This is one song that needs another listening to if you have forgotten about this song.

“When I Write The Book” (2001). This song was a Nick Lowe cover for the band’s “Plan B” Album. Not that Lowe’s version is bad, I just love the take Huey and The News take on the song made it more soulful with the organ and horns being more in front of the song. The song shows how Huey could have been a great singer in the 1960s right beside acts like Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke. “Plan B” has a few great spots on the album, and to me, some songs I have to skip over. However, this cover is one of the best parts on the album.

 

“Til The Day After” (1996). There are very few Greatest Hits and Live albums I will actually purchase. I am not sure why I ended up getting Huey’s “Time Flies..The Best Of” album at first, but I love this song off of the compilation. The Greatest Hits CD has four new tracks, and they are good, but this song should have been given a second chance (one song “So Little Kindness” was added to the “Plan B” album because Lewis wanted it to have a second chance). The acappella intro shows the vocal skills of the band, much like “Bad is Bad” from “Sports” but kicks into a mid tempo song with horns blaring. I always could picture this song being an opener (or encore) at their concerts, where the band starts off in the dark and then the house lights turn on when the music kicks in. The chorus of “I‘m gonna stay to the day after/After the sun turns off its light/The stars don’t shine at night/When God comes for my soul/I’ll politely say no/I’m gonna stay til the day after the world stops turning around” is just pure poetry. This song could be played at weddings it’s so great.

“Old Antone’s” (1988). The “Small World” album was a mix of good songs and some odd choices in my opinion. I loved the singles “Perfect World” and owned the 45 of “Give Me The Keys (And I’ll Drive You Crazy).” I was not a fan of the title song from the album, and it is the least listened to album I have of the band. The album did reach the Top 20 Albums Chart, but was not a major seller compared to the band’s other albums previously released. I do love “Old Antones,” which was written by Lewis and member Johnny Colla. The song has a Cajun/Zydeco feel to the song, and the lyrics are so well written that the listener can actually picture themselves sitting in the club watching the characters in the song. This is a great up tempo dance-able song, and shows the band’s growth from just their basic Pop Songs. The band experimented with the sound during this song, and I think it is one of the few bright spots of the album.

“I Know What I Like” (1987). When the “Fore” album came out, I listened to it so much that I got tired of it that I put it away for several years. A few years ago I took it back out and the CD never left my car player for a few months. I was amazed at how great the album held up years later. One of my favorites on this album was “I Know What I Like,” written by Lewis and Hayes. The backing vocals, along with a few others on the album, were done by members of the San Francisco 49ers football team. The song was a Top 10 hit for the band, but is overlooked by the hits “Stuck With You” and “Hip To Be Square” from the album. The song described me when I was younger (and parts are still true), like “I like staying up all night/watching old movies ‘til the morning light.” This song was almost like the band wrote this about me (I know they didn’t though!!) This song was missed by some when the “Fore” Album is looked at.

Huey Lewis and The News were such a major influence on my life, from my drum playing, to just admiring their different blends of music as a fan. There are many other great songs by the band, including their covers album of early Rock N Roll “Four Chords and Several Years Ago” from 1994, where I wore out the VHS copies I had (both bought from the store and taped from the PBS Special). When I started playing drums for local bands in Ohio, I always said that even though my favorite bands were The Beach Boys and Kiss, if I could ever model my dream band to play in, I’d model it like Huey Lewis and The News, where I could play Pop, Blues, Soul, and R&B. It surprises me that the band gets some bad press among the so-called critics, because they are without a doubt one of the greatest American Rock Bands of all time (Is anyone from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame reading this????)

Feel free to subscribe to this blog by clicking on the “Follow Button” or just tell people about this blog and visit my other posts!!

British Acts that Weren’t One Hitters

One of my pet peeves when talking about music from the 1980s is when people assume acts were One Hit Wonders because their most popular song is constantly played on radio stations or on compilation CDs (along with the term “Hair Metal,” which really drives me nuts, because the band’s hair had nothing to do with their musical talents).  Some people may not know but the radio format plays the same songs almost every hour, even during “Time Warp” Weekends (where radio stations play all songs from the 1980s), so it’s easy for newer listeners to assume that some of these music acts only had one hit, for instance when people  think of the band Mr. Mister, they think of “Broken Wings,” but forget about “Kyrie” or “Is It Love,” which both hit the U.S. Charts, or the Australian band Icehouse, who recorded the song “Electric Blue,” but forget about my favorite of the band, “Crazy,” which hit #14 in 1987. Or even the Canadian band Men Without Hats, who we know from “The Safety Dance” hitting #11 on the U.S. Charts, but do you remember their other 1987 hit “Pop Goes The World” that charted at #20?

We can blame it on ignorance (not everyone studied music like I did, trying to know who wrote the songs or its chart position due to my childhood listening to Casey Kasem’s “American Top 40” every Saturday Morning), or due to the format of radio today, but I thought I’d look (an hopefully inform) at a few British acts that are usually viewed as One Hit Wonders, but really weren’t.

 

  1. Cutting Crew. This act’s big hit “I Just Died In Your Arms” was recently used in “The Lego Batman Movie”.  The group broke in the U.S. with the 1986 album “Broadcast,” which had this famous song. However, the band hit the U.S. Charts with the #9 “I’ve Been In Love Before,” which is my favorite of the band. The song was actually the third single in the U.S., but was a huge hit for them.  The band also was in the Top 40 with a second single from the album, “One For The Mockingbird”, but it wasn’t until they took another chance with “Been In Love” after it only hit #31 in the UK as the follow up song for “I Just Died In Your Arms.”  The band still records and tours with lead singer Nick Van Eede and different lineup changes through the years. I still prefer the second single, “I’ve Been In Love Before” over the first breakout single that most people remember of the band.
  1. The Escape Club. This band hit #1 on the U.S Charts with the single “Wild, Wild West,” but many may not know that they had another in 1991, “I’ll Be There,” which charted at #9.  The band formed in 1983, and as of 2012, is still performing with singer Trevor Steel, and guitar player John Holliday. Steel was also an A&R person for Universal Records in Australia after the band’s spotlight died down. As with Cutting Crew, I prefer the second single, “I’ll Be There,” which is a better song than the first single that broke the band. “I’ll Be There” is a darker song about a death of a friend, but still has positive lyrics to the song. The song has an eerie type melody, almost a goth- feel to it, but was still main stream enough to hit the Top 10. Whenever the band comes up in my music conversations, many people have never heard this second song, which is a shame, because it is really well written.
  1. Johnny Hates Jazz. This act hit #2 in the U.S. with the song “Shattered Dreams” in 1988, but was first released in 1987 (back in this era, it took usually time for the released song to gain airplay and move up the charts, unlike today).  The act also recorded “I Don’t Want to Be A Hero”(#31) in 1988. My favorite song of the band did not chart on the Top 100 Singles, but charted at #5 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary Charts, along with #12 in the U.K., called “Turn Back The Clock.” I remember seeing this video all the time on my local video channels (we didn’t have MTV at first-it was a pay channel- but watched shows like “Friday Night Videos,” and the video show on WAKR Channel 23 in Canton, Ohio with Billy Soule as the host).  To this day, it is one of my favorite videos, which shows the band looking back at their childhood and the things that they did, like hang out in a tree house. The single had backing vocals by Kim Wilde, who hit #1 in the U.S. with a cover of the Supremes’ “Keep Me Hanging On” in 1987.  This song is a lost gem in my eyes of singles of the decade that many do not remember.
  1. The Outfield. This British band had 5 Top 40 singles from 1986-1990, but yet the band is still considered One Hit Wonders due to the smash #6 hit “Your Love,” from their “Play Deep” Album.  I still crank up the song whenever I hear it playing to this day. I love their 1990 album “Diamond Days,” which I happened to get the CD at a bargain bin for a great price. I loved all the songs on the CD, including the 1990 hit “For You,” which charted at #21 in the U.S. This band is underrated when it comes to 1980s band Nu-Wave Acts. They had Nu-Wave and Pop mixed together with some straight ahead Rock feel to it. Bass player and singer Tony Lewis has a great voice, and I remember seeing the cover of their 1986 Album “Play Deep” all over the record stores at the time.
  1. O.M.D.   This is another band that had several hits from 1985 -1988, including the #4 song “If You Leave” from the 1986 movie “Pretty in Pink.” The band also hit in 1985 with “So In Love,” and “Forever” in 1986, but my favorite song by the band was called “Dreaming,” that charted at #16 in 1987 in the U.S.  The song has the band’s Synth-Pop beat like their other songs, but “Dreaming” just had some great lyrics in my opinion, especially the opening stanza. The band may have had a long name (Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark), but the band’s hits are still played today, even though “Dreaming” seems to be lost in that list.
  1.  Breathe.  I remember hearing this London band’s single “Hands To Heaven” when it first came out and thought it was very soulful, as opposed to some of the other songs that were hitting the charts during 1987. The song charted as high as #2 in the U.S. in 1988. I also remember seeing their album “All That Jazz” all over the record stores at the time.  Even though the second single in the U.S. did not chart as high on the Pop Charts, “How Can I Fall” hit #1 on the U.S. AC Charts, and #3 on the Pop Charts.  Unlike some of the other acts on this list, where I liked the second single better than the first, I liked both of these singles equally. A third single from the album, “Don’t Tell Me Lies,” hit #10 on the Pop and # 5 on the AC Charts, but isn’t as played as the other two singles (in the UK, “Lies” was the first single released from the album) The band continued to record until 1992, but their three singles was the only hits they had in the U.S. The band’s work should be rediscovered for fans that like Air Supply and Rick Astley, who linked soul and jazz to their Pop sound.  I really liked these songs, and still shocked why I never owned the cassette or CD in my collection.

When people think of the 1980s British acts, artists like Duran Duran, Elton John, Rick Astley, and George Michael come to mind. However this list above is often misjudged as One Hit Wonders, when in reality, they had great success. I encourage you to check out these acts’ other songs-you may find some more gems to add to your playlist that you don’t hear on local radio.

 

 

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.

 

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!!