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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for October 30, 2015

[Halloween] -- I missed flashing back last week, but I couldn't pass up a chance to post a very special holiday edition of the Friday 80s Flashback this week. It's Halloween! I've previously run new Halloweenish Flashbacks in 2010 and 2011, while 2012 and 2013 featured re-runs of prior years' material. And, some reason, October 2014 has four Flashback posts, but none of them are Halloweeny. That means I need to get back in the game this year, and with trick-or-treaters prepping for this weekend, you need a soundtrack. If you'd like to know some of my latest suggestions, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for October 23, 2015

[Oranges & Lemons Reissue] -- XTC's 11th studio album, Oranges & Lemons, was originally released in February of 1989. This month, it's getting reissued as a CD+Blu-ray deluxe edition with plenty of extras. One of those extras is that prog rock legend, Steven Wilson, has remixed the album for stereo and 5.1 surround sound from the original analog tapes!

The original release was available as a either a double LP or a 16-track CD. Of the three singles ("The Mayor of Simpleton", "King for a Day", and "The Loving"), only the first two charted well. "The Mayor of Simpleton," which hit the charts in January 1989, performed extremely well. It peaked at #46 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, it hit #72 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock Tracks charts, making it XTC's best-charting single in the States. The album was also a commercial success, scoring the #1 position on the US college / alternative album chart and #44 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart. In the UK, it peaked at #28 on the UK album chart.

Oh, and though they weren't released as singles, "Hold Me My Daddy" and "Merely a Man" (with lyrics that include "We're all Jesus, Buddha and the Wizard of Oz") hold a special place in my heart.

The availability of the reissue seems to range from last Friday, October 16, to today, October 23. Some stores still list it as a pre-order item. And it is currently out of stock on Amazon. Anyway, while you're waiting for your deluxe reissue, you can stream the original version of the full album on YouTube here: Or, if you just want to check out the singles from Oranges & Lemons, then read and hear more after the break.

Friday, October 09, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for October 9, 2015

[A Little Moyet] -- Alison Moyet is an English pop singer whose bluesy contralto voice has graced recordings and stage performances since 1978. She got her start in the music industry when Vince Clarke, formerly of Depeche Mode, selected her as the voice of the second phase of his electronic music career. For more about Moyet's collaboration with Clarke in Yazoo, refer to my 3/11/2011 post, The Clarke Factor. After Yazoo disbanded in 1983, Moyet moved on to a solo career. Her discography includes eight studio albums (including two in the 80s), three compilations, and two live albums. She has 30 singles to her credit, many of which were highly successful in the UK and across Europe. Although she has had little to no chart success in the US, she does maintain a huge fan base. I could be wrong about that; I freely admit some bias due to being a huge fan myself. So, what Moyet recordings have I selected for you this week? Read and hear more after the break! 

Friday, October 02, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for October 2, 2015

[Let It Be - 31 Years Young] -- On this date in 1984, The Replacements released their third studio album, Let It Be. The album cover features the band sitting on the roof of Bob and Tommy Stinson's mother's house. The record itself was produced by Steve Fjelstad, Peter Jesperson, and Paul Westerberg (The Replacements' lead singer and songwriter) for Twin/Tone Records. But it wasn't like there was an actual producer lurking over the boys, making them sweat each note. The album title, Let It Be, was ripped from the Beatles' record, of course. But it was just their way of saying nothing is sacred; The Beatles "were just a damn fine rock & roll band" (Paul Westerberg, quoted by Rolling Stone). Sacred or not, Let It Be is ranked among the greatest rock albums of the 80s, and Rolling Stone even includes it on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. No doubt, this is more by accident than by some design on the Mats' part. So, I'm picking three tracks to feature pretty much the same way. Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for September 25, 2015

[30+ Years of Private Eyes] -- September 1981. Simon & Garfunkel performed a free reunion concert in New York City's Central Park. Iron Maiden fired vocalist Paul Di'Anno and hired Bruce Dickinson to replace him. The Rolling Stones opened a US tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. And the record industry released nearly 50 new albums. Now, some of those new records were EPs, compilations, and live recordings. However, I'm sure that list of releases is incomplete, so I maintain that we saw a boatload of new material to kick-off Fall 1981. As I looked over the collection of albums released 34 years ago this month, I find many that I have loved (and still enjoy). Only a few, however, stand out as having survived the passage of the last three decades, at least as far as I'm concerned. These are records whose songs jump immediately to the turntable in my brain, and play unabashedly at full volume. But, only one of those records was presumably released this very week in 1981: Private Eyes by Daryl Hall & John Oates. Maybe that record is still part of my music-appreciating DNA simply because the TV show Psych used it for a commercial several years ago. Or, it could be that the songs are still that darn good. More likely, I'm a sucker for nostalgia and blue-eyed soul. So, what tracks have I selected to highlight this week? I'll give you a hint: You won't find "Mano A Mano" when you read and hear more after the break.  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for September 11, 2015

This is a reworking of a post that originally appeared on September 9, 2011.

[I Love NY, on September 11 and Always -- Redux] -- On September 11, 1981, the top song in the U.S. was "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from August 9 to October 10). In baseball, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Cleveland Indians at Tiger Stadium. Movie goers were about to lift Arthur to the role of top-grossing movie for that weekend. Confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor ended. On the world stage, the U.S. accused the USSR of using poison gas in Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan. The Soviets began amphibious landing exercises on the Polish coast as part of naval training in Baltic Sea even while pressure for democracy was mounting within Poland. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed Referendum results supported his crackdown efforts against opposition forces, and the Ayatollah Khomeini's personal representative was assassinated in Tabriz, Iran. And a private plane crashed into the Swing Auditorium, a legendary concert venue in San Bernardino, California, damaging it beyond repair.

30+ years later, we are once again remembering the aftermath of a trio of plane crashes that occurred on the East Coast, destroying an architectural icon in downtown New York and devastating our national psyche. I have previously written about 9-11 (The Real "Never Forget," They Crashed the Planes and Changed the Rules, and Visit to United Flight 93 Memorial for example). But I have yet to do so from the lens of 80s music. So, this week, the Friday 80s Flashback celebrates New York City. Wondering what songs we have for the Big Apple? Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for September 4, 2015

Cover Image from

[Worlds Apart] -- Though I graduated over 20 years ago, Labor Day weekend makes me think of college. I am particularly mindful of bands I learned about within my first two years at Penn State. One such band was Cactus World News. Although they are best known for "The Bridge" -- their very first single (1985) which was produced by Bono (lead vocalist of U2) -- I tend to remember them for "Worlds Apart," the second single of their first full length effort, Urban Beaches (1986). Perhaps that is the more appropriate song as, with each passing year, I am vastly more worlds apart from the self of my college years. I would like to spend more time musing on this, but I'll do so offline. So, this week, I simply offer up three tunes from Cactus World News, but I do so without my customary editorializing. (I'm sure you're all suitably crushed).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for August 28, 2015

[Revenge of the 80s -- Redux] -- A few years ago, June of 2009 to be a bit more precise, I created an 80s playlist for a friend's birthday. She's about half my age, so she never got to experience the 80s. At least not directly. I titled the CD, "Revenge of the 80s." It was a 12 track extravaganza, and each song fit the scheme because it met one of the the following four requirements:
  • an 80s song by an 80s artist, 
  • an even older song covered by an 80s artist, 
  • an 80s song covered by another 80s artist, or
  • an 80s song covered by a later artist. 
Got that?

Now, I recently learned of the streaming service known as Mixcloud. After playing around with it a bit, I thought it might be a fun experiment to upload the entire Revenge of the 80s playlist to share it with other 80s fans. You can check it out after the break.