Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for July 25, 2014

The Teen Titans rendered in the style of The Breakfast Club by Cliff Chiang

[See You in the Funny Pages - Redux] -- I'm re-using a previous Flashback, because I am currently in the midst of heroes. Well, comic book, video game, TV and movie heroes. And several hundred people trying to dress like comic book, video game, TV, and movie heroes. If you want to feel like you're at SDCC with me, you can check out Mark Anderson's tutorial on how to draw Batman (but there is, however, no tutorial showing you how to autograph your drawing like one of the artists who actually work on the Batman comics ... sorry). You can also follow some of our adventures by checking out our little friend, Mocha ( This Flashback has something of a heroic theme. To find out what songs made the playlist this year, read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"He heard one guitar..."

Our first flashback is kind of a nod to the videogaming aspect of SDCC as well as the hero's journey (by Joseph Campbell) that is such a popular device in novels, comics, and movies. This first tune is by the British-American band Foreigner. They originally formed in 1976 and used lead singer Lou Graham's bluesy voice and Mick Jone's blues-rock guitar to achieve great AOR success in the late 70s and early 80s. Their fourth studio album, 4 (1981), yielded three top 40 singles and pushed the album to #1 (it remains the band's only #1 album in the U.S.). The very first single from the album tells the story of a young guy who is so inspired by a rock concert he couldn't even attend (he hears it from outside the theater), that he is driven to become a rock guitarist himself. It's a song that inspired countless rounds of air guitar and possibly had some small part in the idea for games like Guitar Hero. The irony of the song is that a song about shredding on the guitar has an altogether not very epic guitar solo! Here is "Juke Box Hero."

Flashback #2"Get the funk up!"

This very month, we see the 75th anniversary of Batman. And 25 years ago, the modern Batman movie franchise was just getting started with Tim Burton and Michael Keaton. And a strange thing happened on the way to getting a soundtrack for Tim Burton's BATMAN (1989). The multi-instrumentalist and ever-inscrutable Prince (prior to his unpronounceable symbol days) was asked by Warner Bros. to record the album as a contractual obligation as well as a means of leveraging the artist's potential cross-over appeal. The album took about six weeks to record, and after its release, it held the #1 spot for about the same amount of time. However, the first single had no connection to the move aside from sampled dialog. And it was, in fact, a last minute replacement for a song ("Dance with the Devil") that actually complimented the movie's storyline. Apparently, Prince decided "Dance" was just too dark for commercial release. In its place, the chaotic, hyper-sampled "Batdance" was released. Elements from multiple songs (including the theme to the Batman show of the 60s) found a home in this lurching mess. And I'm still convinced that Prince was smoking purple crayons when he developed the music video for this tune.

It's tough to find a video of this tune because Prince is fanatic about tracking down copyright infringements. So, go Google the tune yourself!

Flashback #3"Trust me when I say I know the pathway to your heart."

For our final flashback of the day, I selected a song that hearkens to another iconic DC Comics hero who is hoping to experience a resurgence even as the latest Batman franchise winds down and Marvel's AVENGERS sits as the third highest grossing movie of all time. Yes, Superman, that father of all modern comic book heroes, hasn't received all that much love of late. But in 1986, R.E.M. released their cover of  a song originally written and recorded by The Clique way back in 1969. R.E.M.'s version made the song much more famous. It was the second single off R.E.M.'s fourth studio album, Life's Rich Pageant, and it reached the top 20 of the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks. When the band hit the chorus of this song in concert, R.E.M. fans would hold their arms out just as if they were the title character himself: "Superman."

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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