Saturday, January 23, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for January 22, 2016 (on a Saturday)

Otis watches Snowmageddon 2016 (photo by @Dangrdafne)

[Snowmageddon 2016] -- Well, this weekend's snow storm is the perfect excuse to revisit the snowtunes I posted in the wake of February 2014's snow storms. Back then, in Bucks County, PA, we got around 13" of snow from Wednesday into Thursday. As I write this today, Saturday afternoon, we have about a foot of snow and more is expected. And, if I'm not mistaken, a state of emergency has been declared (so stay off the roads!). I hope all my fellow 80s-philes are well: Get cozied up, stay warm, and emerge on the other end of this weekend safe and sound.

So, what wintry songs do I have for your snow day enjoyment? You can read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for January 15, 2016

A 1980s photo of David Bowie (1947 - 2016)

[Farewell Thin White Duke] -- David Bowie, who started performing music in 1962 and released his final album on 1/8/2016, died on Sunday, 1/10/2016 at the age of 69. I learned of his passing via a news alert early on Monday morning. In what must be the most impressive act of keeping a story under wraps, no one knew just how sick Bowie was until after his death. As this week has progressed, many people with greater verbal facility or better familiarity with Bowie's career have waxed poetic in their tributes. As I have neither, but have been a fan, I would like to mark this giant of an artist's passing. So I'll offer up a trio of selections from Bowie's 80s catalog. Read and hear more after the break!

Friday, January 08, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for January 8, 2016

DC Comics Super Powers Calendar: January 1988 (via

[This Week in 1988] -- Looks like I'm starting 2016 rather similarly to 2015: I missed posting a Flashback last week! So sorry. What with holiday stuff, traveling, and a brand new job, I'm starting the year with a jam-packed schedule. But I'm posting 80s material for you now, so cheer up. Remember last January, when I told you that 2015's day/date combinations matched up with those of 1981 and 1987? Well, the leap year of 2016 is a dead ringer for that of 1988. So, I'll be dipping into the chart history of the 80s for more than a few posts this year. Like today. I'm re-visiting the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 9. Before we get to the top tunes, it is interesting to note that two of the three artists ruling the chart at the outset of 1988 are no longer with us. (And if we expanded beyond the top three into the top ten, we would find two more artists who are no longer with us: Michael Jackson and Michael Hutchence).

Do you remember what topped the Billboard Hot 100 a mere 28 years ago this week? When you're ready to be reminded, you can read and hear more after the break!  

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Emotions Revealed - A "Lost" Steve Roach Album from the 80s

If you want to chill a little on the last day of 2015, you could do so with this "lost" recording by Steve Roach.

From the website:
A delayed transmission from the early 80s. Discovered serendipitously in 2015, these lost tracks created just prior to the Structures from Silence era represent two then-emerging sides of Steve’s artistic muse. “Emotion Revealed” is a mesmerizing, yearning sequencer exploration connected to the German school of electronic music. “Firelight” was his first long-form atmospheric composition of emotional introspection — stillness, silence, and solitude. Two essential touchstones of Steve’s sonic origin. 

Stream it here, or go to and download it (for whatever price you'd like to pay).


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Whose Holiday Is This Anyway? [Redux]

Holiday candle (Free photobank

Prophet or Madman: Whose Holiday Is This Anyway? [Redux]: We're knee-deep in the holiday season now -- Hanukkah has passed, the Winter Solstice is upon us, and Christmas is right down the stretch of this week -- so now seems like the right time to re-post a little something I wrote in 2004. This time around I have included links to "4000 Years of Christmas" and a video performance of Dar Williams' "The Christians and the Pagans." I have also changed "Chrismahanukwanzakah" to "Chrismahanukwanzakyule" as it better expresses my pluralist leanings. I hope you enjoy this holiday rewind...

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for December 18, 2015

[Stay Awake (Redux)] -- In 2000, after we eloped, Mrs. Brainwise and I flew to Walt Disney World for our honeymoon. Shortly thereafter, we made the plan to return to the House of Mouse every five years to celebrate our anniversary. We nearly didn't make it here in 2015 due to my recent bout of unemployment, but Mrs. Brainwise had always wanted to see how Disney World decorated for Christmas, so we're back and our every-five-years plan remains intact. This week marks my fourth visit to Walt Disney World with my wife (and my sixth time here overall when I add in previous family trips). Seems like a good time to revisit Hall Willner's Stay Awake: Various Interpretations of Music from Vintage Disney Films (1988). Willner is an American music producer with several tribute albums and live events listed among his many credits, Stay Awake being his fourth tribute album. I was in college when it was first released, and I loved it because it made a somewhat adult soundtrack out of songs originally created for kids. More than 20 years later, I still love it for the milestone in my life that it represents. When I first blogged about this album in 2013, I wrote that our Disneyland guide had never heard of Stay Awake. It is possible that many of my fellow 80s-philes are likewise still unaware of this album. So, I figure this CD makes for a great Flashback. I've chosen three tunes from the 20+ songs represented on the album. You know the drill: Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for December 11, 2015

[30th Anniversary of Sun City] -- 30 years ago this week saw the release of "the most political of all of the charity rock albums of the 1980s" (per AllMusic). Sun City (1985) was a protest album driven by Steven Van Zandt (perhaps best known for his affiliation with  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Artists United Against Apartheid. The name pretty much tells you what the group was all about. They recorded two versions of the song, "Sun City," and other material for this album. The personnel assembled by Van Zandt reads like a who's who of popular and critically acclaimed artists of the mid-80s. For example:

  • Little Steven (Van Zandt) – vocals, guitar, drum programming
  • Kool DJ Herc, Peter Wolf, Pat Benatar, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Nona Hendryx, Kashif, Peter Garrett, Malopoets, Gil Scott-Heron, Afrika Bambaataa, Rubén Blades, Bono, George Clinton, Peter Gabriel, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bonnie Raitt, Run DMC, Bruce Springsteen, John Oates, Michael Monroe, Darlene Love, The Fat Boys, and others – vocals
  • Zak Starkey, Tony Williams, Ringo Starr – drums
  • Sonny Okosuns – talking drums
  • Keith LeBlanc, Benjamin Newman – drum programming
  • Pete Townshend, Stanley Jordan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood – guitars
  • L. Shankar – double violin
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone
  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Herbie Hancock, Richard Scher, Robby Kilgore, Zoe Yanakis – keyboards
  • Doug Wimbish – bass; Ron Carter – acoustic bass
  • Jam Master Jay, DJ Cheese – scratches
Sun City didn't achieve great commercial success, but it did peak at #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did, however, receive critical acclaim in abundance, reaching #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (yes, that's really the name) for albums for that year. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for November 27, 2015

[Black Friday -- Redux] -- As I often do during a holiday, I'm re-using a previous Flashback post (with a few corrections/updates). This one was originally posted in November 2012, but the tunes are just as fresh, and the topic just as relevant, today. Here we go!

It's the day after Thanksgiving, colloquially known as Black Friday here in the States. It's a special, special day when all those prices that have been steadily jacked up over the past few months are lowered (just a bit). Some folks could not even wait for this morning, and began shopping last night or at least camped out (2012 link | 2015 link) in the hope of nabbing huge deals. As the 80s are often considered the decade of materialism during which "shop till you drop" became a mantra, I thought I could find a few tunes to reflect the inanity of Black Friday. Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for November 20, 2015

[Presto] -- This week in 1987, Canadian power trio, Rush, released their 13th studio album, Presto. could muster only 2.5 out of 5 stars for this record, but my own appreciation has, well, appreciated over time. Maybe that's because Presto heralded a return to a more guitar driven sound after nearly a decade of synth-dominated discs. Lyrically, this record can seem simplistic at times, or that it is trying too hard in others. At least, I think that's the impression I had after it first came out. However, in retrospect, I feel that lyricist/percussionist Neal Peart captured the confusion and frustration of the close of the 80s. And he did so without losing his own sense of optimism, something missing from many prog rock records of that time. Presto  peaked  at #16 on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling over 500,000 copies (Gold) in the US and over 100,000 copies (Platinum) in Canada. For this week's Flashback post, you can read and hear more about a few singles after the break. 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for November 6, 2015

[Eye of the Glass Tiger] -- For some reason, all this week, several songs by Canadian rockers, Glass Tiger, have been been on constant replay in my head. So, I take that as an excuse to feature them in a Flashback post. Between 1983 and 1991, Glass Tiger released three studio albums: The Thin Red Line (1986), Diamond Sun (1988), and Simple Mission (1991). Each one sold at least 500,000 copies (Platinum) in Canada, but only their debut grabbed much attention outside stateside ... or elsewhere. After 1991, their record label released about half a dozen compilation albums, all of which were pretty much attempts to milk more cash out of the band's lightning-in-a-bottle debut. Depending on what site you visit, Glass Tiger disbanded in either 1991 or 1993, though they did reunite in 2003 and have performed together a few more times since then. For this week, I've chosen two tracks from their debut album, and one from their sophomore release. If you're ready to find out which tracks made the cut, just read and hear more after the break.