Friday, November 21, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for November 21, 2014


[The Flock] -- Due to movies, TV, and the Space Shuttle, the 80s had something of a fascination with "space age." That simply means folks were fascinated with things that looked or sounded space age. One band that capitalized on that fascination, at least briefly, was A Flock of Seagulls. You remember A Flock of Seagulls, right? They were a UK synthpop band founded by two brothers, one of whom was a hairdresser (look at the image above and guess which guy had that gig).  Mike Score (keyboards, vocals) and Ali Score (drums) formed the original lineup with Frank Lee Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar). A Flock of Seagulls holds the record for actual number of video plays [The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Rock History: The video generation, 1981-1990] -- for their debut smash, "I Ran (So Far Away)" -- but that was likely due as much to the paltry video selection available at the time as it was to fans' demand for their futuristic look. Considering the band's penchant for a futuristic look and sound, it is ironic that they petered out in less than two years. I mean, they kept going for a bit after 1984, mostly with new or session members joining Mike Score, but they never reached the heights of their 1982 popularity (or the heights of Score's 80s hair). Read and hear more about the band after the break.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for November 14, 2014



[Time to Catch Up] -- This week in 1985, Depeche Mode released Catching Up With Depeche Mode, a compilation album for US and Canadian fans. This release gathered singles and album tracks from the previous four studio albums (Speak & SpellA Broken FrameConstruction Time Again, and Some Great Reward) in an attempt to help fans across the Atlantic "catch up" with the band's growing discography. It was the second of two such compilations in the 80s (the first being People Are People in 1984). Now, Catching Up is similar to, but slightly different from, a singles compilation that was released in the UK: The Singles 81→85. We can see that in the track listing for each release:
Track listing for Catching Up With Depeche Mode: 
01 - Dreaming Of Me
02 - New Life
03 - Just Can't Get Enough
04 - See You
05 - The Meaning Of Love
06 - Love, In Itself
07 - Master And Servant
08 - Blasphemous Rumours
09 - Somebody
10 - Shake The Disease
11 - Flexible
12 - It's Called A Heart
13 - Fly On The Windscreen  
Track listing for The Singles 81→85: 
01 - Dreaming Of Me
02 - New Life
03 - Just Can't Get Enough
04 - See You
05 - The Meaning Of Love*
06 - Leave In Silence
07 - Get The Balance Right
08 - Everything Counts
09 - Love In Itself
10 - People Are People
11 - Master And Servant
12 - Blasphemous Rumours
13 - Somebody*
14 - Shake The Disease
15 - It's Called A Heart

*CD only (not on original vinyl)

What trio of tunes have I selected to help you Catch Up as you Flash Back? Read and hear more after the break!

Friday, November 07, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for November 7, 2014

A Side - Take The Skinheads Bowling 7"


[Camping with Beethoven?] -- I recently listened to Episode 546 of WTF with Marc Maron. In this October 30 podcast, Maron interviews David Lowery who is best known as the founder of Camper Van Beethoven (1983–1990 and 1999–present) and co-founder of Cracker (1990–present). As this is an 80s Flashback post, I'll be focusing on the first of those two bands. So, yeah ... remember Camper Van Beethoven? I remember the moment I discovered them during my freshman year at PSU. Well, OK, it was more like I was introduced to them, but that's still a form of discovery on my part, right? Anyway, While I don't remember who first spun their discs for me -- it could have been my roommate at the time, Paul from down the hall, or half a dozen other folks -- but I do remember thinking, "Who is this band? Camping with Beethoven? Well, do they have more?" I immediately loved their sound, which I thought to be a fantastic blend of jangly Americana, punk, and rootsy hillbilly. When I dug into their back catalog a bit, I found their earlier stuff also featured their imitations of ethnic-type instrumentals (they must have been developed by thinking something along the lines of, "What would a Klezmer band based in India sound like?"), and it all had a hint of that punk DIY attitude fueling it.

It should come as no surprise that the band was eclectic and experimental. David Lowery, the vocalist and main songwriter for Camper, is also a mathematician and something of a tech-head. (Side note: Lowery has done pretty well for himself through investing and side work as a financial analyst, and he has also headed up a number of music-related businesses). Camper Van Beethoven released five studio LPs and four EPs during the 80s. Two of the LPs and at least one of the EPs were self-produced and released on the bands own label, Pitch-A-Tent Records. While their records never charted big sales numbers, the band did earn effusive critical acclaim, and they toured rather successfully. Check out a few of their tunes after the break!