Friday, February 03, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for February 3, 2012

[Damaged] -- As some of you know, I moonlight as the sound designer for Montgomery Theater. Well, tonight is opening night for our production of Gina Gionfriddo's "Becky Shaw." Now, "Becky Shaw" is set in 2009, so I did not use any 80s music for the sound design, even though most of the characters probably came of age during that decade and are deeply marked by its popular culture. Instead, this week's flashback features songs in honor of the play. These songs evoke the palette of emotions employed during the show, particularly playing upon the theme of being damaged. Which tunes were up to that challenge? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Voices that whisper, dark deep despair | Burns me like fire, these things that I hear."

Our first tune this week has previously appeared on the Flashback (Friday 80s Flashback for September 10, 2010). But I am not averse to rehashing material when it suits my purposes! In fact, I will likely re-post much of the prior entry. Besides, the artist behind this tune sort of has a cameo in "Becky Shaw," and that means an appearance here just about mandatory. So, here we go! Dokken, named after lead singer Don Dokken, was formed at the end of the 70s but started releasing records, and charting hits, in 1983. "Just Don't Lie to Me" was released with their 1985 album, Under Lock and Key, and it probably represents the high point (commercially) of their career. Under Lock and Key was their 2nd highest charting album and it was certified platinum in the US (out of their 10 studio albums, only 3 went platinum). These guys really wanted to be a classic hard rock band, but their melodic vocals and slick production has forever relegated them to the strange land between hair metal and 80s rock. Speaking of wants, this song lyrically represents something each character in "Becky Shaw" claims to want, but they all seem more than comfortable with a certain level of deception in their lives.

Flashback #2"Let me see you | Stripped down to the bone."

Formed in 1980, electronic music masters Depeche Mode have 48 songs in the UK Singles Chart, a #1 album in the US, and two #1 albums in the UK to their credit. Possibly the most popular electronic band in history, they have sold over 100 million records worldwide. Their fifth studio album, Black Celebration (1986), heralded their second major musical shift as they band adopted a more ominous and textured sound. "Stripped" was the first single off this album and their fifteenth single released to date. Although none of Black Celebration's singles charted in the US, the album did certify as Gold in the States, selling over 500,000 copies. The darker sound of this album suits the soundtrack I designed for "Becky Shaw," and if the play had been set in the 80s, I just might have used "Stripped" in the design. The atmospheric sound is a good match, and the lyrics speak of being stripped -- emotionally and physically -- right down to the bone. Something the folks who inhabit the world of "Becky Shaw" know all too well.

Flashback #3"Women seem wicked when you're unwanted | Streets are uneven when you're down."
Our final flashback was originally released in 1967 by The Doors. That sets it a bit outside our domain. And that is a shame, because "People are Strange" is really almost a perfect descriptor for the characters in "Becky Shaw" given the nature of the characters and the emotional vampirism in evidence throughout the play. We are, however, fortunate, because Echo and the Bunnymen released their own cover of the song for the film, The Lost Boys, which hit theaters a mere 20 years after The Doors first had a hit with "People are Strange." Now, no one will claim that Ian McCulloch sings "People are Strange" better than Jim Morrison, but you have to admit that Ian's take is more suited to the tone and nature of The Lost Boys. Is his take better-suited to "Becky Shaw"? Well, you come tell me after you have seen the show.

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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