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

Friday, May 01, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for May 1, 2015

[Hits from My Birthday Week in 1987] -- I have been remiss in posting Flashbacks, but I had to come back and take a look at what topped the charts during my birthday week. 28 years ago this week in 1987, Ronald Reagan was the US President, The Secret of My Succe$s was number one at the box office, actor Hugh Dempster died, U2 was on the cover of TIME magazine, and I was turning 19. I was living in the North Halls residence area at University Park, but I was probably spending more time holed up in a vacant classroom so I could study for finals. So, it is rather unlikely that I cared what was on the radio right then, but that's what flashbacks are for, right? And if you'd like to know what was ruling the airwaves that week, read and hear more after the break. 

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.