Friday, July 05, 2013

Friday 80 Flashback for July 5, 2013

"Old Glory, Patriotic Rustic Peeling American Flag"
Some rights reserved by Beverly & Pack

[Red, White, and Blue] -- You can look elsewhere for the history of "God Bless America" or facts about the Declaration of Independence. However, I think 80s rock goes hand-in-hand with celebrating the Fourth of July. And if you're visiting my blog, I'm guessing you agree with me, right? For this year's celebration of Independence Day, we're looking at songs that are red, white, or blue. To find out what tunes made this week's star-spangled playlist, read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"I see red."

For "red," we turn to Rush's 10th studio album, Grace Under Pressure (1984). This was their first album that wasn't produced by by Terry Brown, who has since turned to producing indie acts. The band cited disappointment with the sound and experience of recording Signals, and wanted to see how they might work with someone new. Brown and the band have, however, remained good friends. After Steve Lillywhite backed out of production duties at the last minute, Rush ended up producing the album themselves with assistance from Peter Henderson. While this change resulted in a slightly more accessible sound for the band, many fans also feel this album was the beginning of pushing guitarist Alex Lifeson into the background in favor of more synths and electronics. Strangely, this more electronic sound is featured on an album where the songs are about how humans act under different kinds of pressure. Our first Flashback of the day is "Red Lenses," which was not a single, but is perfect for the Fourth of July because we all saw at least a little red in the fireworks displays, right?

Flashback #2"Ticket to ride, white line highway  |  Tell all your friends, they can go my way."

When was the last time you heard a rapper sing about not using drugs? Well, Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel did just that on their 1983 12" titled "White Lines (Don't Don't Do It)." Well, sort of: The Grandmaster had left Sugar Hill Records in 1982, so he had no participation in this track. His name was included to help boost sales. This progressive rap track with its warnings against the dangers of cocaine, addiction, and drug smuggling is still decidedly relevant today. That's funny, because it was originally written to celebrate the drug-fueled, party lifestyle. The shouts of "don't do it" were added as an anti-drug message, but only after commercial pressure was applied. I'm sure most fans focus on the sampled bassline, but I'm drawn to the use of horns! And if this tune isn't your particular cup of (iced) tea, you can check out Duran Duran's tribute version from their 1995 album, Thank You.

Flashback #3"In too deep, standing here waiting | As I'm breaking in two, electric blue."

Our final Flashback of the day is "Electric Blue," from the Australian synthpop band, Icehouse. The second single from their 1987 album, Man of Colours, it reached #1 on the Australian singles chart  and peaked at #7 on the American Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It also hit the top 100 in the UK and the top 10 in Canada. John Oates -- yes, of Hall & Oates fame -- cowrote the song with Icehouse's lead singer, Iva Davies. Apparently, Mr. Oates was a big fan of Icehouse. I don't know if I'm  overstating Oates' involvement, but "Electric Blue" is probably the Icehouse's biggest hit, and Man of Colours is their best-selling album.

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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