Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for January 13, 2012

[Reconsidering One Hit Wonders] -- A one-hit wonder is a musical act known primarily -- or only -- for one hit single. And the 80s seemed to be a breeding ground for one-hit wonders. While some of these performers did indeed release only one single, others had long recording careers. Even for the artists who released only one album, a lack of multiple hit singles does not necessarily mean they had no other quality songs beyond the one that happened to break into the limelight. This week, we will feature some of these lesser-known songs. With all of the 80s to choose from, and at least one hundred different one-hit wonders, what tunes have I selected for reconsideration? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Hard to get | Impossible to hold."

If you do not recognize the name Alannah Myles, I'm sure you recognize her big hit from 1989, "Black Velvet." It was Myles' first, and only, US hit, but it was not actually her first single. It merely shone brighter in the public eye. The very first single off Alannah Myles' eponymous debut is today's first flashback: "Love Is." While "Black Velvet" soared to #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Album Rock Tracks charts, "Love Is" peaked at #36 on the former and #19 on the latter. That's a shame, because it is an interesting little tune. There's no trace of the smokey, sensual appeal of "Black Velvet," but it is a very good 80s tune. There is an infectious, toe-tapping base line, a powerful guitar riff, and Alannah's growling, rocker-chick vocals. There are other gems on this album, too (like "Still Got This Thing for You"). Sadly, Alannah never again cracked the top 40. But she did nab a Grammy Award, making this Canadian rocker the first non-American to win a Grammy.

Flashback #2"It was me, baby, I was wrong | But how can I say it | You must have known it all along."

Tommy Shaw has around a dozen hits to his credit. But he shares those credits with bandmates (Styx, Damned Yankees, and Shaw Blades). As a solo artist, only the title track of his debut album -- Girls with Guns (1984) -- cracked the top 40 of the US Hot 100. Although neither critics nor the record-buying public really warmed to it, Girls with Guns was, in the words of AllMusic reviewer Mike DeGagne, an accomplished solo project. He writes: "The songs on Girls With Guns are invigorating and guitar savvy, while even the ballads are a refreshing change from the mawkish love song gushiness of Styx." Speaking of those ballads, one of them is our second flashback of the day: "Lonely School." 

Flashback #3"I'm in heaven when you smile."

In 1982, Dexy's Midnight Runners stormed up UK and US record charts with "Come on Eileen," the second single released from their second studio album, Too-Rye-Ay (1982). It reached #1 on both sides of the pond. But the barefoot and rag-bedecked Runners never matched that success again. It's a shame, too, because under the raggle-taggle gypsy look was a competent set of British pop musicians. For your consideration, I offer up the Runners' cover of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said" as our final flashback of the day. It was never released in the US, but it was a hit single in the UK.

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.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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