Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for June 21, 2013

[Go Insane] -- My theater's current production is a play set in the late 80s. So, in preparation for last weekend's tech rehearsal, I researched Billboard's Adult Contemporary charts from 1984 through about 1989. While I found precious few tunes I could use in the show, I did come across a real gem of 80s music production: Go Insane (1984) by Lindsey Buckingham. Buckingham is probably best known as a guitarist, songwriter, and singer for two incarnations of Fleetwood Mac. Well, that, and his often tense and "mythologized" relationship with former girlfriend and bandmate Stevie Nicks. But he also has a solo career with six studio and three live albums to his credit. The studio releases are of the greater interest here because they demonstrate that his true instrument is the recording studio. And his studio prowess is probably best demonstrated on Go Insane, with all of its wonderful 80s pop excess. Unfortunately, the evolution of consumer music from LPs, to CDs, and finally to downloads means that the music buying public cannot appreciate some of Buckinham's quirkier moments: On the LP version, "Play in the Rain" is the last track on side A, and it features a locked groove which allows the closing bit of the song to play continually. After you flip the record, you are treated to "Play in the Rain (Continued)" as the opening track of side B.

I could not find "Play in the Rain," and I have not had time to upload it. So you won't find that transition in this week's Flashback playlist. But if you want to know which Insane tracks are featured, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Two kinds of people in this world | Winners. Losers."

Once you knew this week's theme, you probably guessed I would either start or end this week's Flashback with "Go Insane," the title track of Buckingham's 1984 album. Not only was it a hit for Buckingham (it fell just shy of the top 20 by peaking at #23 in the Billboard Hot 100 chart), but the video was in regular request rotation as well. Regarding the meaning of this song, Buckingham claimed that insanity is relative to the context a person finds themselves in. After all, "we all tend to go insane a little bit" (quoted from a 1984 interview). And that's OK, I guess. At least it was to Buckingham, who felt it could be cathartic.

Flashback #2"You and me | We got the magic | Don't you see?"

Our second Flashback of the day is "Loving Cup." In my opinion, it really should have been the second single off this album. It has a great rock guitar hook and plenty of interesting 80s keyboard and synth embellishments that aren't overpowering. Lyrically, it would appear to be about a deeply intense relationship, most likely a nod to Buckingham's times with Stevie Nicks (although Go Insane is usually said to be about Buckingham's breakup with Carol Ann Harris, and the album is dedicated to her).

Flashback #3"Pray for guidance from above | Shadow all your hopes with love."

Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys died on December 28, 1980. About two days later, Lindsey Buckingham locked himself in the recording studio. After one week, or so he has said in interviews, Buckingham emerged from his studio with the "D.W. Suite," a heartfelt tribute to the troubled Wilson and his legacy with the Beach Boys. Buckingham shows his complete mastery of both the studio and songcraft, weaving complex musical themes, trademark production techniques, and unusual vocal loops into three distinct and cinematic movements. The music is sometimes uplifting, sometimes dark. Sometimes straightforward, sometimes a whirl of confusion. If a song so rich can be simplified at all, I would break it down as a tribute to anyone who has -- at any time -- felt a little at odds with the world in which they find themselves. "D.W. Suite" is a fitting closing to Go Insane, and it closes this week's Flashback.

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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