Friday, March 08, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for March 8, 2013

"80's Space" by Zoe Archer on

[To Boldly Flashback] -- I'm a big fan of space ships and planetary exploration -- both real and fictional. So this week's Flashback trains its long range sensors on 80s songs about space. Due to movies, TV, and the Space Shuttle, the 80s had something of a fascination with "space age," which is to say folks were fascinated with things that looked or sounded space age. Thanks to advances in synthesizers and keyboard technology, creating space age sounds was easier than ever. And 80s artists used the new tech and the appetite for spacey things to their advantage. Which stellar tunes are featured this week? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"I saw your eyes | And you made me smile | For a little while |  I was falling in love."

The eponymous 1982 debut from A Flock of Seagulls is, according to some, a concept album about alien abduction [reference: The New Rolling Stone Album Guide; 4 Rev Updated edition 2004]. Looking back, maybe their hair had some alien interaction. I was all of 14 years old when A Flock of Seagulls was released and I devoured it. I had the album on cassette and three of the four singles on 45. I still own one of those 45s -- the one for the fourth single, "Space Age Love Song." Released in the wake of the heavily popular "I Ran (So Far Away)," "Space Age Love Song" didn't chart very well (it peaked at #30 in the US and #34 in the UK), but it's still something of a fan favorite. "Space Age Love Song" apparently earned its name because lead guitarist Paul Reynolds thought it actually sounded like a space age love song. I have to say that I agree with him. After hearing the ray gun synth riffs, you'll probably agree, too.

Flashback #2"I'm sorry to interrupt your conversation, but we are experiencing violent storm conditions in the asteroid belt at this time."

Our next Flashback depicts a woman who has a very long distance phone call with someone who is stationed off the Earth, perhaps on our Moon or even some other planet. It's not exactly a toe-tapper, but it is a fun listen, particularly in a looking-back-on-how-we-conceived-space-travel kind of conceit. This overlooked pop gem is by the RAH Band which had only one member, Richard Anthony Hewson. Hewson is a multi-instrumentalist who also has producing, arranging, and composing credits. "Clouds Across The Moon" was his 1985 single and his second big hit -- it reached #6 in the UK chart (it did not chart in the US). Hewson recorded "Clouds Across The Moon" with his then wife, Liz, providing the vocals.

Flashback #3"The ship is waiting  |  All systems are go."

Our final Flashback of the day, "Major Tom (Coming Home)" by Peter Schilling, is something of a sequel to David Bowie's magnificent "Space Oddity" from 1969. Or, maybe it is less a sequel and more of a parallel tale. Whereas Bowie chronicled Major Tom's departure from Earth from successful launch to voluntarily cutting off communications and slipping away, Schilling's astronaut is caught in an accident in space. Schilling originally recorded the song in German with the title "Major Tom (Völlig losgelöst)" on his 1983 album, Fehler im System. The single was released in January 1983 and it  reached #1 in West Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The English version was released in September of the same year, with the album being renamed  Error in the System. "Major Tom (Coming Home)" reached #1 in Canada and #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in 1984. It also reached number two on the US dance chart. The English and German versions of the album are available together in a box set. Although Schilling is still touring and recording, "Major Tom" is his first and only appearance on US charts and it remains his sole international hit as well. But if you're going to be a one-hit wonder, you might as well make it an epic one, right?

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.

I do have an additional request this week. My blog ended up as a finalist for "Best Weblog About Music" in the 2013 Bloggies, so I would love your vote! Please, click HERE to visit The Bloggies and follow these steps:
  1. Select Prophet or Madman for Best Music Blog.
  2. Scroll to bottom of page.
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  5. Check your Inbox for The Bloggies Verification email. Open the email and click the  verification link. (Note: Sometimes Verification email ends up in Spam, so check there if it doesn't show up right away).
  6. Bask in the virtual warmth of my ever-loving gratitude. :) 

And, of course, I also appreciate folks on Twitter giving me +K in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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