[The Eyes Have It] -- Given the theme of The Eyes Have It, you might think "Eye of the Tiger" would make the playlist, but you would be wrong. Given that I was at Comic-Con last week, you might think that this week's Flashback theme was inspired by their logo, but again you would be wrong. No, earlier this month, before I even packed for Comic-Con, I heard a song and said to myself, "Dude, two more songs about eyes and you've got a Flashback theme." Now, you probably want to know what that tune was, but you'll have to wait because I'm saving it for last. So, what are you waiting for? Find out what did make the cut. Just click toread and hear more after the break.
Flashback #1: "I can read your mind, I can read your mind."
The Alan Parsons Project was a progressive rock band popular in the late 70s and the 80s. The Project was masterminded by Alan Parsons, a recording engineer who had worked on The Beatles' Abbey Road and Let It Be as well as Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, and Eric Woolfson, a lawyer by trade who moved into record producing. Parsons and Woolfson handled the songwriting and arranging duties while a revolving door of musicians made studio contributions. The many incarnations of The Alan Parsons Project released ten studio albums. I own at least six of them on either vinyl or cassette (and, in a few cases, both), and I liberated one or two of those LPs from my fathers collection.
In 1982, The Alan Parsons Project released Eye in the Sky, the highest charting album of their career and home to our first flashback: "Eye in the Sky." The band's most successful song, "Eye in the Sky" reached #3 on two different US charts and describes a rather Orwellian future in which constant surveillance is the norm and personal privacy is all but non-existent. Wait, now that I think of it, "Eye in the Sky" is about the world we currently live in! So while you enjoy this piece of prescient pop, pay no attention to the security cameras, preferred buyers programs, and internet cookies that are tracking your every movement.
Flashback #2: "I know what it is that makes us live such ordinary lives."
When Geoff Downes, John Wetton, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer came together as Asia in 1981, they were already famous individually for playing in some of the biggest prog-rock bands of the 70s. But the unique quality about this new supergroup was the fact that, despite their vast experience, none of them had ever played together in a previous band. It was truly a new experience for all of them. (Note: I don't have a specific reference for this; I just remember reading it in, of all places, a photography magazine.) Asia's1982 eponymous debut album did well enough (#1 on US Billboard Album chart) that they went back into the studio for another go at it. Alpha (1983) shed the progressive rock elements that had propelled the first album's sales and instead focused on pop-rock sounds. Alpha's sixth single, "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes," is our second flashback. It may be less sinister in concept than the first flashback, but it is still achingly sad. "The Smile Has Left Your Eyes" squeaked into the top 50 in the US and barely made it into the top 100 in the UK, but I love it. "Smile" has a certain quality of schmaltz and arrogance that appeals to me in music. And the music video is so bad that it is genius: In the video, the band is shown recording this song as part of the score for what is possibly the worst fake movie in history. The smile might have left the film's protagonist's eyes, but this memory will likely put a smile on your face.
Flashback #3: "You play with words, you play with love."
Our final flashback this week is more 80s goodness in the form of a title track. As I mentioned in this post's intro, this is the song that inspired today's theme. For reasons unknown to me, the food court at the King of Prussia (the Court) plays hits from the 70s and 80s, songs far removed from the lives of the mall's core demographic. And this tune happily blared from the speakers while I waited in line to pay for my lunch earlier this month. The title track to Hall & Oates' tenth studio album, "Private Eyes" rocketed to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #32 on the UK Singles chart in late 1981. The rock & soul formula, complete with hand claps, that had fueled their previous hit, "You Make My Dreams," is on full display here. With the music video featuring the band dressed as detectives, and lyrics about "watching you" and "seeing your every move," this song is a fitting close to a playlist that began with "Eye in the Sky," don't you think? (Note: This was the first Hall & Oates video to feature backing band members G. E. Smith, guitarist, and Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, bassist, both of whom are members of the Saturday Night Live Band).
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!