Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for January 25, 2013

old skool cassette by ~EDIllo

[Atypical Qualities] -- I apologize for being late with this week's Flashback. Some things came up at work, so instead of wrapping up the post on Thursday evening, I found myself reviewing a slide deck in preparation for a Friday morning presentation. Believe me, I would have much preferred working on the Flashback.


This week's flashback started with a song by Robert Hazard. I cannot remember what made me think of it, but it stayed in my head. I figured that was a good indicator that the song had to be featured on the blog. I initially had some trouble building a theme around Hazard's song, but I finally settled on songs making something of an atypical description -- like "Chariots of Fire," but not that song (at least not this week). What songs did make it this week? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"We're dancing on the escalator of life | Won't be happy 'til we have it all."

Robert Hazard, an icon of Philadelphia's club scene in the 70s and 80s, was the son of an opera singer. He wrote and recorded "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" in 1979. Later, Cyndi Lauper covered that song, making it the hit that he himself never had: Her 1983 recording reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. But Hazard did have some measure of success with our first Flashback of the day: "Escalator of Life." One of the five tracks from his EP, Robert Hazard (1982), "Escalator" was a minor  MTV hit and a significant local hit -- it helped Hazard sell 100,000 copies of the EP throughout the East Coast. The song's themes of "shopping in the human mall" and not being happy "'til we have it all" resonated in the "Greed is good" 80s. Hazard's Bowie-esque vocals and chunky, New Wave music probably helped.

Flashback #2"There you stood a distant memory  |  So good like we never parted."

Our next Flashback, "Street of Dreams," comes from English rock band Rainbow. Deep Purple guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, formed Rainbow in 1974. Because it was first seen as Blackmore's solo effort -- and because he was so controlling -- the band was also known as either Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow or Blackmore's Rainbow. A classically influenced hard rock band, Rainbow moved into the album-oriented rock genre in the early 80s. This was a gradual development that was aided by the softer vocals of the band's third vocalist, Joe Lynn Turner. On the band's seventh studio album, Bent out of Shape (1983), they tried to continue the commercial success of their previous album, particularly its ballad-like single, "Stone Cold." Musically, "Street of Dreams" is very similar to "Stone Cold." Lyrically, it is practically a sequel -- "Stone Cold" describes the aftermath of a heartless breakup, while "Street of Dreams" has the rejected lover still haunted by memories and dreams. Although the song did not chart all that well, the video for "Street of Dreams" is of interest for its male-female violent fantasies and supposedly controversial portrayal of hypnotism [Inside MTV (1988) by R. Serge Denisoff, page 284].

Flashback #3"From the highest mountain of valley low  |  We'll join together with hearts of gold."

Our final Flashback of the day was a two-time hit in the 80s: "Caravan of Love." In 1985,  Isley-Jasper-Isley recorded the original R&B hit after breaking away from 70s icons, The Isley Brothers. It hit #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart and #51 on the Billboard pop chart. But that's not the version we're looking at today. No, we're featuring the cover by The Housemartins, who released an a cappella version of the song in November 1986. Their recording peaked at #1 on the UK Singles Chart in December of 1986. The Housemartins' "Caravan of Love" was a non-album single, but it was included on their greatest hits compilation Now That's What I Call Quite Good (1988). With themes of love, world peace, and the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind, the song's appeal is easy to understand, then as well as now.

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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