Friday, November 01, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for November 1, 2013

Scary Jack O' Lantern (via

[Halloween 2013] -- So, last night was Halloween. That means it's time for my annual Halloween edition of the Friday 80s Flashback. Well, I'm claiming that three years in a row counts as annual: 20102011, and 2012 (although that last one was a repeat of the 2010 entry). Anyway, Previous entries tended to showcase songs that were stealthily Halloweenish (with a few over-the-top, obvious examples). This week, I make no claim as to the Halloween pedigree of these songs. However,  each one does have something frightening or sinister about it. Wondering what treats I have for you tricksters? Read and hear more after the break!

Flashback #1"I wait by your door till you're asleep at night | And when you're alone I know when you turn out the light."

Queensrÿche's second studio album, Rage for Order, was released in 1986, but I didn't get my copy until 1987. I know this because it was my sophomore year at PSU, and I decided to play it for a young woman I had recently met. I also recall that said woman quickly requested I that I stop playing the album. Her horrified expression prompted me to ask the obvious: "What's wrong? I can guess it's not to your liking, but, really? That bad?" To which she replied, "It's too scary!" Well, even if you don't consider her reaction as sufficient reason to include "Gonna Get Close to You" in this week's mix, then maybe the combination of its lyrical content (dangerous first-person stalker rant) with its staccato rhythms and reverse echo effects will do the trick. At the very least, it is a very fine specimen of mid-80s prog-metal. 

[Update 10/31/14 -- Not an official video; previously posted video was removed from YouTube]

Flashback #2"Independent as a | Hog on ice | He's a big shot down there | At the slaughterhouse."

For his ninth album, American singer-songwriter Tom Waits enlisted the aid of such luminaries as Keith Richards (guitar), Tony Levin (bass), Chris Spedding (guitar), and William Schimmel (accordion; seriously!), among many others. But I have to say that no matter the guest artists and how great their contribution, nothing else that makes a sound can take focus away from Tom Waits' voice. That voice, which is always gravelly, is hit or miss with me. Sometimes I thrill to its genius, and other I can do naught but cringe at it. Any one of those latter instances could qualify for a playlist theme like the one we have today. To truly experience Waits' voice reach the point of sinister, I think you need look no farther than "Cemetery Polka" -- the 3rd track on Rain Dogs (1985) -- which features a creepy organ intro and some disturbing lyrical content.

Flashback #3"She could've been a killer  |  if she didn't walk the way she do."

Our final flashback of the day comes from David Bowie, the king of reinvention (and quite the cosplayer in his day). His fourteenth album, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), was released late in 1980. The album's title track was the third single, and it hit the charts on January 2, 1981. "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" reached #20 in the UK and it has been covered by half a dozen artists between the years of 1997 and 2008. Powered by Robert Fripp's intricate guitar work and some deliciously synthesized percussion, "Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)" details a woman's descent into madness. While that doesn't sound at all entertaining, Bowie's mockney (mock-cockney) accent certainly is.

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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