Friday, March 02, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for March 2, 2012

Calvin & Hobbes demonstrate the not-necessarily-official past-time of Leap Day

[Leap Year] -- Wednesday was Leap Day. We got a whole extra day just tacked right on the end of February! Of course, Leap Day is not a federal holiday or anything, and it occurred in the middle of the week, so it was just another work day. While listening to music sets in my cubicle, I realized that I was not posting Flashbacks when the last Leap Day rolled around. This is my first chance to celebrate the Leap Year in 80s style. Now, there aren't many songs specifically about Leap Year (in my copious spare time, I will start a movement to create Leap Day Carols). So, instead of trying to find songs directly, or indirectly, about Leap Year, I decided to grab a few songs about the act of leaping -- or jumping.  What tunes hopped onto this week's playlist? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"I know my heart can make you happy."

In 1983, The Pointer Sisters released the biggest album of their career. And the album was aptly named considering its success: Breakout spawned four top 10 singles, won two Grammy Awards and two American Music Awards, had a cross-over hit with the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. On top of those accolades, Breakout's second single is our first Flashback of the day. "Jump (For My Love)" was originally titled "Jump," but was modified so as to avoid confusion with the Van Halen song of the same name. It hit the charts in 1984 and peaked at #3. You'll notice the video includes footage of athletes competing in field and track events. That is because it was released prior to the Summer Games of 1984.

Flashback #2"
My love said never question your will at all | 
In the end you’ve got to go | 
Look before you leap."
By 1981, after 12 years and 10 studio albums, Yes was no more. The various bandmates had disbanded and moved on to other projects. A year after the disbanding announcement, former Yes members Chris Squire (bass) and Alan White (drums) reunited to form a new band, Cinema. However, after the addition of former Yes vocalist, Jon Anderson, Cinema changed their name to Yes. At first, guitarist and producer, Trevor Rabin, was not exactly happy with the name change as he thought he had joined a new band and he now found himself part of a reunited band, a band with a long history and fan expectations. And the long-time fans had no idea what they were in for with the new Yes lineup. This rekindled Yes embraced more of a pop rock and radio friendly sound, dropping almost all semblance of their progressive rock roots. This lineup's first album, the 13th album to carry the name Yes, was released in 1983. Named after its catalog serial number, 90125 sold six million copies, spawned a #1 hit, and brought scores of new fans to Yes. That #1 hit, "Owner of a Lonely Heart," is our second Flashback of the day. How does it fit our theme? It has a line that advises one to look before you leap!

Flashback #3"Can't you see me standing here | I got my back against the record machine."

I already mentioned "Jump" by Van Halen, so I feel I would be remiss if I did not actually include it in this Flashback. Thus, it is our final Flashback of the day. "Jump" was the first single off Van Halen's sixth studio album, 1984, and it represents a marriage of two popular genres of 80s music: synth-pop and arena-metal. As such, it is Van Halen's most recognized and popular song. To date, it is also the only Van Halen single to reach the #1 position on the US Billboard Hot 100. But this success was not without a price. The new direction only heightened the tension that already existed between guitarist Eddie Van Halen and vocalist David Lee Roth. Eddie's flirtation with keyboards had previously been a sore point for Roth, who pretty much told Eddie, "You're a guitar hero, man. No one wants to see your ass playing keyboards!" (I don't have a precise reference or the exact quote; I just remember reading about it in a magazine, most likely Circus or Rolling Stone). At any rate, the synthesizer-laden 1984 was a breaking point for the original lineup of Van Halen, and David Lee Roth left the band, later to be replaced by Sammy Hagar. To this day, there are two groups of Van Halen fans who are deeply divided along the Sammy and Dave line. If you ask me, I enjoy both incarnations of the band. But I also have to tell you that I completely wore out a cassette of 1984. Twice.

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.

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I'll see you in seven!

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