Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for February 15, 2013

An 80s sci-fi image from OMNI Magazine (via Flyer Goodness)

[Sci-Fri] -- I am attending the Grand Slam Star Trek and Sci-Fi Summit in Burbank, CA, this weekend. Now, with the notable exception of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which premiered in 1987, most of the shows represented at this summit aired more recently. Still, I have it on good authority that science fiction ruled the 1980s. Sci-fi inspired tunes, therefore, seem to be a perfect choice for this week's Flashback. There are many options, from movies to TV shows to straight-up concept albums. If you would like to know what I selected, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"My heart is human  |  My blood is boiling  |  My brain IBM."

Styx were no strangers to the concept album, particularly in their heydays of the late 70s and early 80s. Our first Flashback comes from their 11th studio album, Killroy Was Here (1983). Conceived by lead singer and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung, Killroy was a rock opera set in a dystopian future that only the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) could love -- rock music is outlawed and rock stars are imprisoned. Robot servants, called Robotos, perform many jobs, including guarding the prison that houses the unjustly incarcerated singer, Killroy. Styx supported Killroy Was Here with an elaborate stage show, opening each performance with a short film that featured DeYoung as Killroy. The rest of the band played other key roles in the rock opera. The tour was a financial disaster, but the album sold well enough and spawned the top ten hit "Mr. Roboto." The tour also brought the band's creative tensions to a critical point and they parted ways in 1984. The band has since reformed and replaced DeYoung on vocals. They do not perform any songs from this album when they tour.

Flashback #2"All she did to get her kicks | Was step on all the men."

The Tubes' sixth studio album, The Completion Backwards Principle (1981), included a song that was a tongue-in-cheek homage to the 1958 film, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman. The album yielded one top ten hit ("Talk To Ya Later"), but the semi-autobiographical nature of "Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman" still humors me to this day.

Flashback #3"Savior of the Universe (Flash!)  |  He'll save everyone of us (Flash!)."

If you want to talk sci-fi music in the 80s, then Queen's soundtrack for the 1980 film, Flash Gordon. The soundtrack album was Queen's ninth studio album. Only two of the 18 tracks featured lyrics: "Flash's Theme" and "The Hero." The single version of "Flash's Theme" -- called only "Flash" -- features parts of the dialogue taken from various parts of the film (such as Ming the Merciless' ever-popular exclamation, "Gordon's alive!") rather than just dialog from the opening scene. Freddie Mercury and Brian May sing "Flash" as a duet with May playing all instruments except for the rhythm section. The single didn't chart particularly well, but the soundtrack album peaked in the top 25 for several countries. And let's face it: Any movie that features winged men attacking a spaceship is an instant classic in my book, especially if Queen's music is undergirding the scene!

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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