Friday, July 03, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for July 3, 2015

80s Boombox via Zazzle

[Red, White, and Bruised ... er, Blue! Redux] -- The Fourth of July lands on a Saturday this year, so many wage earners in the U.S. are given a three-day weekend to celebrate a unique event: when 13 scrappy, English colonies engaged in an act of civil disobedience. Well, it was actually an act of treason. And it was committed by writing a sternly worded letter to King George III, who wouldn't receive his copy until August 30, 1776. Now, I don't know what the Founding Fathers would make of this week's playlist. But there will be plenty of serious fare discussing the events of 1776 on the web, radio, and television. So on the Flashback, we're gong to cut loose and have some fun. If you're ready to celebrate with me in 80s rock style, then read and hear more after the break. We'll enjoy a few tracks that somehow have a little red, white, or blue associated with them.

Please note, I'm re-using a post/playlist is a slightly modified version of the one that originally appeared on July 4, 2014. But, hey, these songs are over 20 years old anyway, so there shouldn't be any problem with me recycling a year-old blog post, right? If you agree, you can read and hear more after the break.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 26, 2014

[Love Conquers] -- When I was in college in the mid-to-late 80s, I took a training program to become a resident assistant (RA). Counselor Education 302. One of the exercises in that course left a strong impression upon me as it was meant to help potential RAs empathize with students who were struggling with their sexual orientation. We also watched Torch Song Trilogy and attended a performance of The Normal Heart, but it was that aforementioned thought experiment that most moved me and changed the way I saw hetero- and homosexual relationships. Now, it may seem difficult to remember this, but even as recently as the 1980s, the majority of LGBT people kept their affections a private, hidden matter (with, of course, a few very public exceptions). I remember wondering if gay people would ever be fully welcomed into society. (A society, by the way, they had entertained, taught, and served while all-too-often keeping their true selves in the shadows).

Flash forward to today -- June 26, 2015 -- and the Supreme Court of the USA has legalized same-sex marriage across the US.

This doesn't mean that LGBTs still don't have some hurdles to conquer. No, there are still places where a person can lose their job if they are outed. And not everyone was happy with today's news. I, for one, applaud the Supreme Court decision. And I've decided to honor this historic occasion with a suitable selection of 80s tunes. What is on our playlist this week? Read and hear more after the break!  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 19, 2015

[This Week in June 1982] -- During this week in 1982: President Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met regarding the violence in Lebanon, the Argentine government was at war with Britain, George Allen became the coach of the Chicago franchise of the new U.S. Football League, and the Satellite News Channel debuted as competition for CNN.

Oh, and these songs topped the US Billboard Hot 100... 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 12, 2015

[Clutching at the 80s] -- I was a bit disappointed with this week's chart activity in 1981 and 1987 (remember, the calendar dates from those two years line up with those of 2015). Kim Carnes did keep her hold on the #1 spot with "Betty Davis Eyes" on 6/13/81. But beyond that, the charts were mired in forgettable pop fluff (with "Stars on 45" and Sukiyaki's "A Taste Of Honey" joining Kim Carnes in the top three in 1981, and Atlantic Starr -- really?! -- taking the top spot in 1987). So, I turned to album releases to see if there was something a bit more interesting this week.

And there was.

On today's date* in 1987, 80s prog rockers and cult darlings, Marillion, released their fourth studio album, Clutching at Straws. Marillion got their start in Aylesbury, England, in 1979, and took their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, The Silmarillion. A favorite among the D&D playing teens in the early 80s, Marillion reached the peak of their success with Clutching at Straw's predecessor, the concept album Misplaced Childhood (1985). While not as commercially successful as Childhood, Straws did reach #2 on the UK Albums Chart and it received many positive reviews. In fact, considers this album to be their "most unheralded masterpiece." It was certainly a transitional record -- it was the last record with singer-songwriter, Fish, and it heralded guitarist Steve Rothery's ascension to being the band's new musical instigator later recordings.

Like Childhood, Straws is a concept album. However, rather than delving into the vagaries of youth, this record looks the downward spiral of a young adult. In these songs, we see Torch, who is 29 years old and out-of-work. His life is a mess and he seeks solace mainly in alcohol. It is not a happy story, as Torch ends up a raging drunk beyond all hope of redemption.

CD Booklet for UK release of Clutching at Straws
The three singles released from Clutching at Straws were "Incommunicado," "Sugar Mice," and "Warm Wet Circles." However, since we're dealing with a concept album, I thought it might be best to provide a full playlist rather than just pick my usual three selections. Enjoy!

Flashback Video(s)"I'm a citizen of Legoland travellin' incommunicado  |  And I don't give a damn for the Fleet Street aficionados." (lyrics from the first single, Incommunicado)

Well, that's all till next week. 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!

* Wikipedia has 6/12/87 as the release date for Clutching at Straws., however, has the release date as 6/19/87. Other sources list it simply as June 1987. So, by blogger's imperative, I'm going with 6/12/87!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 5, 2015

[ Bad Animals] -- This week in 1987, Heart released their ninth studio album, Bad Animals, which was their second with Capital Records. The move to Capital coincided with -- or perhaps spurred -- Heart's resurgence. Their more polished sound had resulted in many new followers and an increase in album sales. This album is also significant in that only three of the ten tracks include a writing credit for either of the band's founders, Nancy or Ann Wilson. You know what else is notable? The fact that three of this album's four singles were top 40 hits (on the US Billboard Hot 100). And that fourth one was a respectable #49. Read and hear more after the break to find out which tunes from Bad Animals are spotlighted here.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for May 29, 2015

U2, Kim Wilde, and Chris De Burgh: In the Top Three this Week in 1987

[This Week in 1987] -- It is now a week after Memorial Day weekend, and we are getting ready for another summer. Schools are letting out (at least those schools that no longer have to make up snow days). At this time in 1987, I was on the cusp of my very first summer as a college guy. That is, I had wrapped up my freshman year and moved my gear back home from the Penn State campus. I'm sure it felt a little strange to be back in what had been considered "home" for 18 years, particularly as I had come to regard State College in general, and University Park in specific, as "home." Music, of course, helped with the transition. So, what was hot on the radio 28 years ago this week? If you want to know, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for May 22, 2015

[As Falls Wichata] -- I'm changing things up ever so slightly for this week's Flashback. And it's going to start out a bit sad. But at least I warned you ahead of time and you can bear with me, right? Right! So, here we go.

Today, May 22, 2015, would have been my father's 69th birthday. I say "would have" because I lost him two years ago this very month. He passed away due to complications with his second bone marrow transplant, which had been done in 2010. Some of you may recall reading updates about Dad's final journey, which started around the middle of March 2013 and ran through to his death on May 4. I'm not saying you need to go back and read those posts. Really, you don't. I've done it for you. It's what I do now as Winter winds into Spring.

However, although he is physically gone now, Dad was very much alive in the 1980s, and ever ready to help me with my musical appreciation. I'm sure he was at least slightly worried that I would be hopelessly lost to new wave, heavy metal, or synthpop. He wanted me to be grounded in the classics (er, classic rock) and jazz. And genres that incorporated elements of jazz (jazz fusion, world music, etc.). Read and hear more about my father's influence after the break.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I Hate(d) My Lawn

So, I'm listening to DruidCast as I mow my lawn, but I can't help thinking, "I hate my yard." Next thing I know, the two-doors-down neighbor drops by to talk. Before leaving, this neighbor tells me, "Your yard is beautiful." I was so focused on my yard's flaws (burnt out patches of grass; vole damage, my makeshift walkway extension, etc.). But my neighbor didn't know about my laundry list of complaints; just saw the whole of the yard, and thought it was beautiful.

That gave me something to think about whilst I went about the rest of my errands.

From this vantage point, my yard doesn't look so bad, right?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for May 15, 2015 (Farewell to a King)

B.B. King performing in New York in the late 1980s
Photo Credit: "BBKingNY" by Ronzoni - Own work.
Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

[Farewell to a King] -- I'm taking another break from following the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1981 and 1987 this week. The reason this time: To honor the passing of a legend: B.B. King – born Riley B. King on September 16, 1925 – died on May 14, 2015, at the age of 89. He started his recording career in 1949 (with his famous guitar, Lucille). And, at the time of his death, he had a discography that consisted of 43 studio albums, 16 live albums, and 138 singles. He is also credited on countless other releases by other artists. He was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. You can visit The Guardian for BB King: chairman of the blues – a life in pictures. And you can check out a few of his 80s highlights after the break.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for May 8, 2015

[Kick Some Flash!] -- Another weekend, and time for another Friday 80s Flashback. But on this weekend, I'm attending the Philadelphia Comic Con (also known as Wizard World Philadelphia). Now, what might be an appropriate way to celebrate both? I know! How about using some great music from Queen, who did the soundtrack for the 1980 movie, Flash Gordon, based on Alex Raymond's comic strips! The campy 1980 film was a hit in its native UK, and even performed well in Italy, but fared poorly as an export overseas. Poor Sam Jones, the title character, was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor. However, the film received fairly positive critical reviews, and it has developed a cult following. A sequel was discussed, but didn't happen. But after 35 years, a sequel could be in the works