Friday, March 06, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for March 6, 2015


[This week in 1982] -- Earlier this year, I said I was going to use chart activity from 1981 and 1987 because their calendars are dead ringers for 2015. Unfortunately, chart activity is often slow to change. Top songs often hold onto their peak positions for multiple consecutive weeks. So, even though I've bounced between two years, and even take a few breaks to feature certain albums' release dates, I'm in a rut as to the top three songs at this point in both 1981 and 1987. I supposed I could just feature songs that aren't in the top three just yet, but then I might be robbing from my future posts. So, my other option is to just go with another year even though its dates won't line up exactly with 2015. A year like ... 1982. March 6 was a Saturday in 1982, and therefore a day when chart results were posted. What songs were topping the Billboard Hot 100 on that day? Read and hear more after the break! 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for February 27, 2015



[The World Won't Listen] -- 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 20, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for February 20, 2015



[Hits for the Spring Equinox 1987] -- Well, it took us over a month, but we finally see a top three from the Billboard Hot 100 that actually looks and sounds like the 80s. Of course, we're looking at February 1987, so we're much more likely to have music that has what we've come to regard as iconic 80s elements. Also, in the interest of accuracy and full disclosure, the previous week's top three (2/14/1987) was just as representative of 80s music conquering the charts, but I chose instead to feature that great album from XTC. But to see what three tracks dominated the Hot 100 this week in 1987, read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for February 13, 2015



[The Ecstasy of an English Settlement] -- I'm breaking out of the Billboard charts 1981 and 1987 this week. I want to flash back to 1982 instead. Why? Because this week in 1982 saw the release of what I regard as a seminal 80s album: XTC's double LP, English Settlement. Released on February 12, 1982, English Settlement was XTC's fifth studio LP since they settled on a name around 1976 or 77. The UK band had started as a trio consisting of  Colin Moulding (bass & vocals), Terry Chambers (drums), and Andy Partridge (guitars & vocals) back in 1972. But they weren't called XTC back then. No, they went through a slew of names -- such as The Helium Kidz and Star Park -- for several years. They even kind of chased the punk scene for about a year. But after keyboardist Barry Andrews joined the band, they made their final name change to XTC and landed a contract with Virgin Records. Initially, their brand of melodic pop was critically praised but failed to chart. Their third album, Drums and Wires (1979), had a modest top 40 hit with "Making Plans for Nigel." And it was evidence that the band's songwriting chops were sharpening. 1980's Black Sea, the group's fourth studio LP, was their most successful American album, peaking at #41; it also reached #16 on the UK charts.

As I mentioned at the outset of this post, I feel that 1982's English Settlement is a seminal record. It was certainly transitional. For one, it represented a milestone in the band's musicianship. For another, it marked the end of the band's touring years -- XTC had embarked on a major tour to support English Settlement, but during one of the early shows, singer Andy Partridge suffered a mental breakdown. In the wake of that show, Partridge continued to suffer from uncontrollable stage fright, presumably brought on due to Valium withdrawal (search for "valium" in this interview). XTC abandoned the tour altogether and became a studio-only band, which makes a certain sense given how big an influence the Beatles were for them.

You can listen to English Settlement in its entirety via this YouTube link. Or, you can check out videos of the three singles -- and a few notes about them -- after the break.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for February 6, 2015



[The Final Punchout] -- Continuing with the concept of "This week in 1981" (or 1987), we have the top three songs for the week ending February 7, 1981. Now, here in 2015, this has been an interesting week for me. You see, last week I learned a new business phrase: RIF. It stands for "reduction in force." This week, I experienced RIF personally. My position was eliminated and I am, for the first time since I graduated from college, unemployed. I punched out for last time (metaphorically speaking, of course, because I haven't used a punchcard since 1988)! How interesting, then, that this week's songs deal with happy situations. And, for added personal irony, I should point out that the #4 song this week in 1981 was Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" (hours I am not currently working). If you want to know what songs charted above "9 to 5," read and hear more after the break.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for January 30, 2015

"Family Ties" The Real Thing: Part 2 (1985)

[At this Moment in 1987] -- Because the calendar dates for 1981 and 1987 line up with those of 2015, I'm using chart activity from '81 and '87 as my Flashback guide this year. And there was an interesting triumvirate of tunes topping the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending January 31, 1987. Do you remember the number one song that week? Do you recall any of the songs in the top 10? Well, read and hear more after the break and your memory will be revived!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for January 23, 2015



[Jack Your Weekend] -- As previously mentioned here, the calendar dates for 1981 and 1987 line up with those of 2015. So, I'm using chart activity from '81 and '87 as my Flashback guide. Now, two of the top three slots on the Billboard Hot 100 for this week in 1981 remain unchanged from two weeks ago. And, frankly, the chart toppers for this week in 1987 do not interest me. So, instead of focusing on a trio of songs that hit it big this week in a prior year, I've chosen a more eclectic triumvirate for your aural pleasure: an action hero's album, a milestone in house music, and a Nebraska dream-pop outfit's debut, all from this week in 1987. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for January 16, 2015



[April Wine in January] -- As I mentioned last week, this year's Flashbacks will find me dipping into 1981 and 1987's chart activity because the calendar dates of those years match up with those of 2015. Speaking of last week's post, the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1/10/1981 maintained their positions for the week ending 1/17/1981. So, I thought I could use an album released during the past week -- albeit 34 years ago. I had a choice between The Nature of the Beast by April Wine and In Our Lifetime by Marvin Gaye. I'm thinking of saving Mr. Gaye's release for a Flashback later this year. So, April Wine it is!

 The Nature of the Beast was Canadian rockers April Wine's ninth studio album. It was released on January 12, 1981, and would eventually peak at #11 on the Canadian Albums Chart and #26 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart. The album spawned two singles, "Just Between You and Me" and "Sign of the Gypsy Queen" (a cover of Lorence Hud's 1973 hit). The former was a top 25 hit in the U.S. for the band while the latter had more moderate success, peaking at #57 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although not released as a single, "All Over Town" received airplay on AOR radio stations, so it ended up charting at #29 on the Top Tracks chart. Our Flashbacks this week will be the top 25 hit and ... the full album! Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for January 9, 2015



[This Week in 1981] -- I know I missed the last two weekends. I'm sorry, but there was holiday stuff and traveling, so I hope you'll forgive me for not posting new 80s material until now. Speaking of now, you might be wondering why a January 1981 calendar (from Marvel Comics' 20th Anniversary Calendar) is my introductory graphic this week. Oh, you're not wondering. Oh, well, I'm going to tell you anyway. You see, calendars regularly repeat day-date combinations. And it turns out that 2015 is a dead ringer for calendars from 2009, 1998, 1987, 1981, and 1970. According to the calendar image above, this weekend matches right up with The Puppet Master and his step-daughter, Alicia. Not that The Puppet Master has anything to do with this week's Flashback. He and Alicia just happen to be hanging out on this weekend's dates which do have everything to do with the Flashback. Why? I'm glad you asked that! It's because I will be dipping into the chart history of the 80s for more than a few posts this year. And I'm starting out with this very week in 1981. So we'll re-visit the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Before we get to the top tunes, it is interesting to note that, at the outset of the new year (1981), we find the old guard ruling the charts. In fact, the top 20 slots are all occupied by tried-and-true 70s artists, if not even a tad older. The other interesting fact is that our top three songs were all released prior to December 1980, and one of them was recorded back in 1979. The pre-digital music business moved at a much different pace than we are currently accustomed to.

Do you remember what topped the Billboard Hot 100 a mere 34 years ago this week? When you're ready to be reminded, you can read and hear more after the break!