Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for January 18, 2013

[Things Change] -- I'm moving through some changes. No, really, I am. Of course, we are all moving through changes, aren't we? But I have a very specific change in mind: Late last week, the company I work with cut a substantial number of jobs as part of a comprehensive reorganization. Nearly a full week later, the fallout and uncertainty are ongoing. No, I don't think there will be more layoffs -- well, maybe not for a while -- but it seems that management is till tinkering with some of the details. And I seem to be one of those details because I still don't have a concrete answer as to where I end up in the new regime. But at least I still have a job. And a Flashback theme: This week, we look at songs about change. If you are ready to embrace change, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"I said rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and rip it up and start again."

Formed in 1979 by former members of the Nu-Sonics (Edwyn Collins and Alan Duncan) and The Machetes (James Kirk and Steven Daly), Orange Juice was a post-punk from suburban Glasgow (in Scottland). Their only top-40 UK hit was "Rip It Up," the title track of their second studio album which was released in 1982. On this track, their usual Bunnymen-esque melodramatic sound was buoyed by a synthesizer riff. In fact, "Rip It Up" was the very first hit to use the Roland TB-303 [].  Sure, this tune is all about a romance (or, rather, the aftermath of a romantic breakup), but it also captures that "I need a reset" mentality that goes along with the trauma of being laid off or fired. Besides, I imagine quite a few folks would think of their (former) management upon hearing a line like "I hope to God you're not as dumb as you make out." Orange Juice released four studio albums and a slew of compilations. Although they never quite reached critical mass, you might recognize one of them -- Edwyn Collins went on to a successful solo career with such hits as his 1994 single, "A Girl Like You."

Flashback #2"And the dirty old track was the telegraph road."

Our second Flashback of the day comes from Dire Straits, the band responsible for such classics as "Sultans of Swing" and "Money for Nothing." Founded by Mark Knopfler, a former journalist and teacher, Dire Straits was active from 1977 through 1995. Dire Straits has always been an unlikely contender for chart success, and Knopfler -- the band's lead guitarist, lyricist, and singer -- is probably just as much to blame for the band's obscurity as he is for their success. I mean, he doesn't look or sound like a rock star. And, as a fingerstyle guitarist, he didn't exactly inspire legions of air guitar loyalists like, say, Eddie Van Halen or Eric Clapton have acquired over the years. Still, Dire Straits' unique blend of jazz, blues, folk, and beat music within the milieu of rock and roll has attracted fans and garnered a number of hits. Our second Flashback of the day, however, is not one of their hits. Rather, this tune was one of the longer, experimental pieces included on their 1982 release, Love Over Gold. (Sidebar: One of that album's singles, "Industrial Disease," was featured in the Hi-Tech Living and Loving Flashback post of 1/28/2011). "Telegraph Road" Clocks in at over fourteen minutes while telling the tale of land development and business growth and decline over a span of decades. So it very neatly fits in with today's theme of change. Knopfler was inspired by what he saw on the actual Telegraph Road in Detroit, Michigan, in conjunction with what he read in Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun, as his tour bus went down a road that seemed to go on forever. He saw what he would call a very real display of "linear development" and he wondered how it might all might have started and what had to happen to result in what he saw that day. Here is a performance of "Telegraph Road" from the Alchemy Live Tour of 1984.

Flashback #3"I'm moving through some changes | I'll never be the same."

If any band know about change, it's the prog rockers known as Yes. Between 1969 and 2001, this band has gone through 13 different lineups! For the most part, there has been some continuity between the lineups so the "Yes sound" did not vary too much from one album to the next. That, however, was not the case in the early and mid 80s. In 1982, three members of previous Yes lineups -- Chris Squire (bass), Tony Kaye (keyboards), and Alan White (drums) -- teamed up with guitarist Trevor Rabbin (known for the band Rabbitt and his solo work) to form a new band called Cinema. However, after spending several months in the recording studio without a suitable lead singer, Squire reached out to original Yes vocalist, Jon Anderson who joined the project within the final weeks of the recording sessions. Now, with several founding members and the distinctive lead singer of Yes present, they changed their name from Cinema to Yes. Rabin protested at first -- and you cannot blame him as he thought he was helping launch a brand new band but now found himself part of a reunited group with significant history. But he came to agree it was a smart commercial move. Speaking of commercial moves, this lineup's first album, 90125 (1983), was heralded as Yes' comeback album and it sold over 6 million copies! The huge change in the band's sound, credited to Rabin's guitar and keyboard work (he had played most of the keyboards during the recording and that led to Tony Kaye's quitting the band before Anderson came on board), moved the band into the pop rock charts and brought in scores of younger fans. Although Yes would eventually return to their progressive and symphonic roots, they can still look to this 80s lineup as a very successful experiment with 90125 and Big Generator (1987) to their credit. Our final Flashback of the day, "Changes," was the fifth single released from 90125 and it peaked at #6 the US Mainstream Rock chart in 1984. Although it is about the changes between two people who are in and out of a relationship, the lyrics are still generally applicable to life changes.

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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