Saturday, September 27, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for September 26, 2014 (On a Saturday)

The Who Face Dances (1981)

[Who Was That?] -- After four weeks with a fractured clavicle, I'm still in recovery mode, but I'm no longer typing impaired. So, I figured I would try posting a new flashback instead of mining my archives. But what to write about? What theme could I employ? Well, while I was musing on that very question on Friday morning, I saw a story that The Who were marking their 50th anniversary by releasing their first new song in eight years. Down to only two surviving members (Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend), The Who is set to embark on a 50th anniversary tour in November. The new song*, "Be Lucky," references Daft Punk and AC/DC. And it will close out the band's 50th anniversary compilation, The Who Hits 50! As some of the hits featured on the 2 CD set were released in the 80s, I figured this news was a perfect jumping off point for a Flashback post. The new song (royalties of which will be donated to Teen Cancer America, a US outgrowth of Daltrey’s successful UK charity, the Teenage Cancer Trust) is embedded below, and you can read and hear more about The Who in the 80s after the break.

Flashback #1"I love to hear you say my name | Especially when you say yes."

The Who entered the 80s with a bang. Their ninth studio album, Face Dances (1981), was critically acclaimed and a top ten charter in both the US (Billboard 200) and the UK (UK Chart Albums). Seven of its nine tracks were released as singles, and four of them went top 40. The most successful single from this album is one of The Who's most recognizable songs: "You Better You Bet." It peaked at #9 on the UK Singles Chart, #18 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the US Billboard Top Tracks. And it's our first Flashback of the day. For your listening pleasure, the video for the UK 7" edit version of the song is embedded below. (If you want to hear the full album version, you can find that here).

Flashback #2"The shares crash, hopes are dashed."

Our second Flashback of the day comes from The Who's tenth studio album, It's Hard (1982). Although somewhat successful (it peaked at #11 and #8 on UK and US album charts respectively), it was also polarizing. A very "non-Who" album with its layered synths and long song intros, It's Hard has its supporters (Rolling Stone review) and its detractors ("[It] should have never been released." ~Roger Daltrey). Still, this album has one of my favorite Who songs (or, maybe, one of my favorite non-solo Pete Townshend songs): "Eminence Front." This song reached #5 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock and #68 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Lyrically, "Eminence Front" is about drug use and hedonism -- basically abusing fame and power and wealth. But it's the music that draws me as I usually listen to the vocal as merely another instrument,  and I love the swagger of the guitar. 

Flashback #3"Shake it up baby, now."

In 1984, The Who released their second live album, Who's Last. The album was recorded during their 1982 farewell tour, and most of the material came from the December 1982 show at Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland, Ohio. At the time of the tour, lead singer Roger Daltrey was quoted as saying, "There's so many new media concepts opening up now to us that I think touring in five years time is going to be outdated anyway. It's got as big as its ever going to get. What are we going to do next time round? We can't play any bigger stadiums to any more people. We'd just be parodying ourselves."

Well, seven years later (five years after releasing their "last" album), they toured again. And, as you know from the intro to this Flashback post, another tour is in the making. Daltrey describes this upcoming tour as "the beginning of the long goodbye," but they've been saying goodbye (and hello again) for over 30 years! Anyway, for our final flashback of the day, here is the single from the Who's first farewell tour album, a live version of "Twist and Shout." The Who covered this song many times in their career. In the 70s, Roger Daltrey sang it. However, on the 1982 tour, it was none other than the late great bassist John Entwistle on lead vocals (Note: Entwistle has only been late since 2002; he has always been great)!

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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