Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for April 29, 2016

[Guilty Pleasures - Redux] -- This Flashback was originally posted on 4/12/2013 at 06:54 PM. We all have guilty pleasures, songs we like even though we feel a little embarrassed about it. I'll bet you just thought of two or three of your own guilty pleasures, right? Now, I count more songs post-1990 among my guilty pleasures than within the 80s. This probably seems obvious: It is easy to estimate that more songs were released in the last 20+ years than between 1980 and 1989, and more songs means more candidates for guilty pleasures. So, yeah, there's that. But mostly, if I like a song from the 80s, I'm not embarrassed about it.

Well, mostly.

If you want to know some songs that rank on my list of guilty pleasures, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for April 15, 2016

[33 Years of Murmur] -- If you're one of the two people who regularly visit this corner of the interwebz, then you must have noticed: I've been remiss in my blogging duties of late. I won't make excuses, and I won't promise a return to the regularity I previously maintained (a year ago?). but I will offer an explanation. My new day job plus the rapidly approaching end date for current students of the School of Sacred Ministries have combined to consume large swaths of my time. After them, I also have to carve out time to do tech work at my theater. What little time is left, I spend catching up on reading or sitting with my wife to follow our shows. And, trust me, I am very far behind in my reading.

Still, I could not let this week's momentous anniversary go by unremarked.

33 years ago this week -- on April 12, 1983 -- R.E.M. released their debut album, Murmur, on I.R.S. Records. Looking back on that last sentence, I am struck by how much those four boys from Athens, GA, must have liked abbreviations that use punctuation. I did not know about the album until three years letter when, in the first semester of my freshman year at Penn State, I discovered R.E.M. and their first four studio albums. Yeah, I'm one of the reasons R.E.M. is considered a vanguard of "college radio." The band was a huge part of my college experience as well as my first several post-college years. And it all starts with this record.

Given vocalist Michael Stipe's vague elocutions, "Murmur" is probably the best name for this particular record (and a great descriptor for the majority of R.E.M.'s recordings). The folks at Diffuser have said it better than I can with their musings on Murmur's anniversary. So I'll just get right to a few songs now. Did I pick one of your favorites? Well, I didn't pick any singles. If that's a deal breaker, you can just listen to the full album and come back next week to see what I have to offer. Otherwise, read and hear my Murmur selections after the break.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for March 25, 2016

[Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm] -- I'm not certain how many music fans would consider Joni Mitchell an 80s artist. I'm not even sure I do. Still, about a quarter of her singles were released in that decade. And her 13th studio album, Chalk Mark in a Rain Storm, was released this week in 1988. Chalk Mark has the usual Mitchell hallmarks -- a lament about commercialism, (anti-)war messages, and a lovesong. Some of the MIDI-esque strains and 80s percussion may make the record sound dated, but only to the most jaded of ears. Why is that? Because on each song, words and music are woven together with Mitchell's distinctive, lyrical voice. Speaking of voices, this record is interesting for its roster of guest artists, particularly guest vocalists. Mitchell duets with Peter Gabriel, Willie Nelson, and Billy Idol among others. Not many hits on this record, but the album did well nonetheless, peaking at #23 in Canada, #45 on the US Billboard 200, and #26 in the UK.

I'll bet you're wondering about those duets I mentioned, right? Well, read and hear more about them after the break. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for March 18, 2016

[A Saturday Night in Boston with Zappa] -- In 1988, Frank Zappa decided to tour with a band that he hired and paid for by himself. It was a short-lived affair as the whole thing broke down. But the band did remain intact for several European shows and a handful of East Coast shows. According to Zappa:
"The 1988 road band self-destructed before US audiences in the south, mid-west and west could hear it perform. It was, however, heard and appreciated by east coast and European audiences during its brief existence (from February to June 1988)."
- Frank Zappa, in the liner notes of The Best Band You Never Heard in Your Life (Source:
As luck would have it, an enterprising YouTuber has the audio from one of the Boston shows. So, I figured it would make for a great, albeit long, Flashback. So, here is the audio from Frank Zappa's Orpheum Theatre gig in Boston, Ma. All 2 1/2 hours of it!

Well, that's all till next time. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for February 26, 2016

[The World Won't Listen - Redux*] -- This week in 1987 (2/23/1987), The Smiths' record company, Rough Trade Records, released the compilation album The World Won't Listen. It is a collection of singles and their B-sides -- as well as a few unreleased gems -- spanning the years 1985 to 1987. The record's title could be a reference to Morrisey and the band's frustration that they weren't getting enough radio play or record sales. In true Smiths fashion, this record had to take a backseat when, just three months later, Rough Trade released the expanded and US-intended collection titled Louder Than Bombs. Still, this is a good compilation with such standouts as "Bigmouth Strikes Again," "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," and "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side."

Listen to the full album after the break.    

Friday, February 12, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for February 12, 2016

[February 1988] -- Even with my new day job, which I started in December, I started 2016 strong with three straight weeks of 80s music blogging.

And then I lapsed for two weeks.

But I'm here this week with a brand new post. And although the Billboard Hot 100 provided no inspiration (I mean, come on, Tiffany at #1?), there were several strong albums released in February 1988. So, I felt I could highlight three. In no particular order, we have ... Robert Plant, that guy who used to front a little band called Led Zeppelin, releasing his fourth solo studio album, Now and Zen. It was a top 10 record in both the US and the UK, and it included two tracks featuring Jimmy Page on guitar. Australian rock band The Church released their fifth (and most commercially successful) studio album, Starfish. And The Primitives released their debut album, Lovely. OK, that last one was actually released in March of 1988, but its first single did hit the charts in February of 1988. 

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).