Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for November 30, 2012

Neon EAT sign via "Food Cravings That Wreck Your Diet"

[Food for Thought] -- In a dialog (twialog?) with Travis on Twitter earlier this week, I got both this week's Flashback theme and its first song. As you probably guessed from this post's accompanying image, this week's songs will have something to do with ... food. This is all the more appropriate when you consider that we are poised right between the Thanksgiving holiday and the beginning of December, which also hosts a holiday season or three that feature eating and drinking. So, if you need a break from your shopping, and you're already tired of Christmas carols, you can enjoy some tasty 80s tunes right here. Just read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"With the way that you left me | I can hardly contain | The hurt and the anger | And the joy of the pain."

If you checked out the link to the Twitter exchange I mentioned in the intro paragraph, you already know our first Flashback of the day is "Black Coffee in Bed" by Squeeze. Released as the first single on the band's fifth studio album, Sweets from a Stranger (1982), "Black Coffee in Bed" is the story of a man just after a breakup. The fact that he is still thinking about his ex "now she's gone," indicates that he's not quite over her. He is, however, trying to move on as revealed by the fact that he is "out with a friend with lips full of passion." Yeah, we all know how those rebounds turn out. But even if the new romance is doomed to failure, "Black Coffee in Bed" is sublime. However, the overall darker tone of Sweets from a Stranger shows Squeeze to be not exactly past their prime, but certainly falling into a fatigue. In fact, the band fell apart after a world tour to support this album (but re-united three years later). And even if "Black Coffee in Bed" isn't Squeeze's best single, that opening riff makes it one of their most recognizable.

Flashback #2"There's no mistaking; I'm clearly taken | It's the same feeling | I always seem to get around you."

Our next sweet Flashback comes from Cameo. They were founded in the 70s as the 13-piece band called the New York City Players, but they later changed their name to Cameo. The name change might have been made to avoid confusion -- or a lawsuit -- with the Ohio Players. While both bands were rooted in funk, I'm not sure how the dance-oriented Cameo could have ever been confused with the more R&B based Ohio Players, but the music industry is a funny beast when it comes to things like that. Anyway, their offering to the Flashback is the second single off their 12th studio LP, Word Up! (1986). This album solidified Cameo as 80s superstars. The single, "Candy," hit #21 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the R&B charts. It was even featured in one of the releases of the video game, Grand Theft Auto. A word of warning about the music video: Larry Blackmon, Cameo's frontman, had a trademark fashion accessory he wore in all of his performances: a bright-red codpiece. And he wears it in this video. And once you've seen it, it cannot be unseen. Maybe you should just focus on the hairstyles.

Flashback #3"Sometime, anytime, sugar me sweet | Little miss innocent sugar me, yeah yeah."

Our third flashback of the day comes from British hard rock band, Def Leppard, named after an imaginary band that lead singer Joe Elliot used when writing reviews in his English class. In the year 1984, Leppard was enjoying their significant break-through which was fueled by the singles "Photograph," "Rock of Ages" and "Foolin'" of their third studio LP, Pyromania (1983). However, disaster struck them as their drummer, Rick Allen, lost his left arm in a car crash. Allen was determined to continue as the band's drummer, and the rest of the band supported his efforts. He worked with the Simmons drum company to design and develop a custom electronic drum kit that enabled him to use his legs to do some of the drumming work. After Allen's recovery, and after over three years of recording work on the band's fourth album, Hysteria was released in August of 1987. The album did well in Def Leppard's native UK, but sales in the US did not take off until the release of the album's fourth single: "Pour Some Sugar on Me." It peaked at #2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and helped propel Hysteria to the #1 spot on The Billboard 200 as well as 12× Platinum in sales.

Bonus Flashback"We have this strange obsession | You have the means in your possession."

What is this? A bonus flashback? Yes, yes it is. And it comes from Synchronicity (1983), The Police's final studio record together. The album was named after Arthur Koestler's book, The Roots of Coincidence, which mentions Carl Jung's theory of Synchronicity. This was The Police's most successful album to date, spawning four hit singles and winning a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. But the track featured here was not a single from the album. Instead, I'm closing this week's Flashback with Synchronicity's closing track, "Tea in the Sahara," a quiet, eerie tune based on a story from Paul Bowles' novel The Sheltering Sky.

Generally, the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. But I've giving you four tunes, so that's really 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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