Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 25, 2011

[Phil in the Blank] -- As I mentioned in last week's flashback (Miami Sound Machine), Phil Collins took time earlier this month to call an end to his music career of 40+ years. Collins announced his retirement during an interview with FHM magazine (reported in The Daily Telegraph and later parroted by Anglophenia) adding, "I don't think anyone's going to miss me."

What? He doesn't think he's going to be missed?

Sure, Collins doesn't fit neatly into the current music scene, which has changed much since he ruled radio playlists in the 80s. Yes, he is likely responsible for shifting Genesis from their prog-rock foundation to a more polished pop rock sound. True, he hasn't had a top 20 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 since 1990 ("Do You Remember?"), and his last studio album to crack the US top 20 was Both Sides in 1993. And, yes, it's true that his most successful album in the last 20 years was a soundtrack ... for a Disney movie (Tarzan in 1999) ... with a single ("You'll Be In My Heart") that went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song ... and for which he was lampooned on the animated series, South Park.

But I have to believe there are folks out there who will miss him.

To date, Collins has sold over 150 million records. He recorded 12 studio albums released over 30 singles with Genesis. In his solo career, he released over 40 singles, nine of which reached #1 in either the US or UK. His last solo studio album, Going Back (2010), reached the top 10 in the UK and eight other countries (but only peaked at 34 in the US). He played drums on, or produced, nearly 70 albums between 1969 and 2001.
In case you forgot, Phil Collins really knew his way
around a drum kit (image source: A Brainless Thinker)
Unfortunately, those drums are a part of why Collins is calling it quits: He can no longer play them. A dislocated vertebra and nerve damage in his hands leave him unable to even grip a pair of drumsticks.

Or is he quitting? A day or so after the FHM interview I cited above, People magazine reported that Collins has no intention of retiring. (Has he been taking career advice from Brett Favre?)

Whatever the future holds for Collins, how can I possibly select three tunes and do justice to a career that has spanned decades, especially one that could be ending on such a sour note? The short answer is, "I can't." But I'm not here to sum up the entire career of Phil Collins. I'm here to share great music from the 80s. It just happens that this week I was motivated to focus on Phil Collins in light of his potential retirement. So, what three gems have I selected? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 18, 2011

[Miami Sound Machine] -- Notice how often today's artists have their releases pushed in TV shows and commercials? How about the resources available to help you track down and purchase those songs (e.g., TuneFind, Shazam, AdTunes)? Given how prevalent pop music is in television, you might think that this marriage of entertainment genres has been in place since the beginning of broadcast TV.

But if you thought that, you would be wrong.

We can actually trace this practice to the 1980s. To be more specific, we can give credit to one groundbreaking show that debuted on September 28, 1984: Miami Vice. In addition to chronicling the exploits of Detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, Miami Vice was a huge influence in shaping and defining style in the 80s. (Exactly how many pastel shirts and white jackets were sold because of this show?) In fact, Vice was as much a contributor to 80s style as MTV -- not surprising considering how many MTV artists contributed tunes to the police procedural. 

Miami Vice originally ran five seasons, spanning 111 episodes from 1984 to 1990. The music was such a popular part of the shows that three soundtracks were released on MCA Records: Miami Vice I (1985), Miami Vice II (1986), and Miami Vice III (1988). Jan Hammer's score music was finally collected in 2002 on the two-CD set, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection. Those four releases combine for a total of 74 tracks. That's a fair number of options for Flashback selections. So, what three are featured this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 11, 2011

Vince Clarke (Image Credit: Bradford Shellhammer)

[The Clarke Factor] -- Unless you enjoyed scouring album liner notes due to a serious irrational interest in who made electronic music and how they made it, the name Vince Clarke will not strike a bell for you. (See what I did there? No? Don't worry, you'll catch it later.)  But Clarke's musical DNA is featured prominently in three of the most-popular synth acts from the first half of the 80s: Depeche Mode, Yazoo (known as Yaz in the States), and Erasure. His work with these three bands yielded nearly 20 hits that landed within the top 50 on several different charts -- and that's just looking at the output from 1981 through 1989! That makes for a sizable catalog to assess. So, what selections have I chosen from this man's illustrious pop and dance music career?

Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 4, 2011

[Bonded] -- Today's Flashback is shaken, not stirred, because we're looking at title songs for James Bond films in the 80s. In that one decade, three different actors assumed the task of portraying the British super-spy. Three! That has to be foreshadowing for a Flashback, right? In the 80s, those three actors appeared in five different films. During that time, we saw the original (and aging) Bond try to recapture the magic, the second Bond age himself out of the role, and a third Bond who never got the chance to grow into the role (he lasted only two films). So, which spy-worthy themes do I have for you in this week's Flashback?

Read and hear more after the jump.