Friday, March 09, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for March 9, 2012

Wilhelm Kienzle Wall Clock via VandM

[I'm Saving Daylight for This?] -- This weekend, the United States will renew their annual campaign to save daylight hours. Just as many outdated government mandates, this effort to save daylight is futile as the average American wastes up to five years of their lifetime anyway (give or take a Facebook post or two). Still, Daylight Savings Time, or Summer Time, unites Americans in griping about a lost hour of sleep and it affords me a Flashback theme when I needed it most. Of course, in true Prophet or Madman style, once I settled on this theme I realized that U2's The Joshua Tree turns 25 today. Still, I'm sticking to time idea. So, in honor of turning the clocks ahead one hour, we have songs about time -- particularly about how fleeting it is and how easily and carelessly we waste it. If you would like to waste ... er, I mean, wisely spend ... some time remembering great 80s tunes, then you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Don't bet your future | On one roll of the dice."

Let's kick off this time-themed flashback with a song from Back to the Future (1985), the first installment of one of the great trilogies from 80s cinema. This weekend, we need to turn our clocks ahead one hour. But in Back to the Future, Marty McFly (as played by Michael J. Fox) found himself in 1955 and looking for a means to move ahead 30 years to return to his own time. Of course, before he could even consider leaving 1955, he had to set things right between his parents-to-be so his own future would be preserved. Kind of puts your lost hour of sleep in perspective, huh? Back to the Future was the highest grossing film of 1985, and it won both the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film (plus it was nominated for a host of other awards ranging from the Golden Globes to the Oscars). Huey Lewis and the News wrote and recorded two tracks for the film's soundtrack. One of those songs, the closing credits tune "Back in Time," was never released commercially as a single, but it still reached #3 on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart.  

Flashback #2"If you fall | I will catch you | I will be waiting."

In 1984, Cyndi Lauper released the second song off her debut album, She's So Unusual, and saw it shoot to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It held that position for two weeks and is still ranked among her most commercially successful singles. A classic of 80s pop music, this song has been covered by a wide variety of artists. And for our second flashback of the day, I am sharing what I believe to be the very best cover of the song. In 1988, acoustic jazz (and husband and wife) duo, Tuck & Patti released their debut album, Tears of Joy. Their album peaked at #8 on the U.S. Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart, and its success was very likely due to their sparse and moving recording of Lauper's "Time after Time." In fact, I would say that this stripped down, guitar-and-voice-only version of the song is suitably timeless.

Flashback #3"Time was slippin' away, passin' us by, now I could cry, 'cause it's gone | Gone forever my friend, and it won't come again."

Drummer Gil Moore "once described Triumph as a cross between Emerson, Lake & Palmer and The Who" (Canadian Pop Encyclopedia, 2012). I'm not sure if Moore's description was motivated more by a desire to be accurate, or a desire to eschew the heavy metal label, but the band's style was definitely in the heavier form of 70s and 80s rock. Triumph, however, represented the blues-influenced approach to loud rock n roll, rather than the glitz and parody of hair metal bands that were rising to prominence as Triumph's popularity waned in the mid to late 80s. In fact, critics referred to their seventh studio release, Thunder Seven (1994), as being indicative of a band seriously running out of gas. Thunder Seven was a concept album meant to examine the actions and abnormalities of man at the turn of the 21st century. But critics, and much of the record-buying public (it took the album 19 years to garner enough sales for Gold certification), felt the power trio was largely going through the motions. Strange, indeed, that this is one of my favorite records from the 80s. And, yes, I still own this release in the original vinyl. The first two singles, "Spellbound" and "Follow Your Heart," never fail to fire me up, but they barely dented the the Pop Singles chart, reaching #97 and #88 respectively. The third single, and our final flashback for the day, didn't chart at all. "Killing Time" muses on how time is constantly slipping away from us. This ranges from killing time by hanging out with friends doing, for the most part, nothing (constructive or otherwise), to wasting time on negative emotions like hate. The end result is the same: The time we waste is gone forever. On the album, "Killing Time" is preceded by the beautiful "Time Canon." This vocal-only piece layers the voices of both Rik Emmett and Gil Moore in a swirling operatic style round before fading away for the opening of "Killing Time." I'm glad I found a YouTube video that preserves one of my favorite album-listening experiences. 

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!

1 comment:

Derrick Mims said...

My favorite use of "Time After Time" is in Strictly Ballroom.

Great movie and great song. In fact, I generally adore Cyndi Lauper.