Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 1, 2011 (Fourth of July Weekend!)

[A Rockin' Fourth!] -- Today we embark on a three-day weekend in celebration of the Fourth of July. Sounds like a perfect theme for the Friday 80s Flashback, right? Now, I don't know that the Founding Fathers would look favorably upon, or even understand, 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.

Flashback #1"All night radio, keep on runnin' through your rock 'n' roll soul | All night diners keep you awake, hey, on black coffee and a hard roll."

Our first flashback of this Fourth of July comes from the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. This tune was released in 1985 and reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also peaked at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart, making it this artist's only top 10 single in the UK. Why so popular? Well, that was likely due to a little film called Rocky IV. This was the song played before Apollo Creed enters the ring in all his star-spangled glory, only to fall before the might of the robo-Russian, Ivan Drago. Let's kick off the weekend with "Living in America"!

Flashback #2"When we're together, we're the best | We think as one, there's no contest."

If the US versus USSR plot in Rocky IV was too subtle for you, then our next flashback will definitely drive that story home. On VOA (1984), named for the Voice of America radio network, Sammy Hagar pushed the accelerator to the floor and shifted into high (and campy) rhetoric, with the album's title track. "VOA" didn't perform well as a single, but it has been a crowd pleaser in concert and it inspired a wonderfully cheesy video. With nods to the cold war and the unrest in the Middle East, Sammy assumes the role of a super spy who is equal parts 007 and Chuck Norris (though the yellow jumpsuit is probably closer to Robin, the Boy Wonder).

Flashback #3"Light it up and turn the music up loud | And Rock it rock it rock it."

Our final flashback comes from a hard rock band originally known as Ranger. They had to give up that simple moniker in 1982 after a country band, The Rangers, threatened to sue for copyright infringement. Newly branded as Night Ranger, they released their first album, Dawn Patrol, in 1982. But it was their next release, Midnight Madness (1983), that sealed their 80s popularity and reputation. Midnight Madness contains some of the band's best known hits, including a not-exactly-patriotic little rocker called "(You Can Still) Rock in America" that was Night Ranger's 1984 single. It reached number 51 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number 15 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart in the U.S. What better way to cap a rocking playlist than with a live rendition of this tune?

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, 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.

I'll see you in seven!

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