Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 12, 2015

[Clutching at the 80s] -- I was a bit disappointed with this week's chart activity in 1981 and 1987 (remember, the calendar dates from those two years line up with those of 2015). Kim Carnes did keep her hold on the #1 spot with "Betty Davis Eyes" on 6/13/81. But beyond that, the charts were mired in forgettable pop fluff (with "Stars on 45" and Sukiyaki's "A Taste Of Honey" joining Kim Carnes in the top three in 1981, and Atlantic Starr -- really?! -- taking the top spot in 1987). So, I turned to album releases to see if there was something a bit more interesting this week.

And there was.

On today's date* in 1987, 80s prog rockers and cult darlings, Marillion, released their fourth studio album, Clutching at Straws. Marillion got their start in Aylesbury, England, in 1979, and took their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, The Silmarillion. A favorite among the D&D playing teens in the early 80s, Marillion reached the peak of their success with Clutching at Straw's predecessor, the concept album Misplaced Childhood (1985). While not as commercially successful as Childhood, Straws did reach #2 on the UK Albums Chart and it received many positive reviews. In fact, considers this album to be their "most unheralded masterpiece." It was certainly a transitional record -- it was the last record with singer-songwriter, Fish, and it heralded guitarist Steve Rothery's ascension to being the band's new musical instigator later recordings.

Like Childhood, Straws is a concept album. However, rather than delving into the vagaries of youth, this record looks the downward spiral of a young adult. In these songs, we see Torch, who is 29 years old and out-of-work. His life is a mess and he seeks solace mainly in alcohol. It is not a happy story, as Torch ends up a raging drunk beyond all hope of redemption.

CD Booklet for UK release of Clutching at Straws
The three singles released from Clutching at Straws were "Incommunicado," "Sugar Mice," and "Warm Wet Circles." However, since we're dealing with a concept album, I thought it might be best to provide a full playlist rather than just pick my usual three selections. Enjoy!

Flashback Video(s)"I'm a citizen of Legoland travellin' incommunicado  |  And I don't give a damn for the Fleet Street aficionados." (lyrics from the first single, Incommunicado)

Well, 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!

* Wikipedia has 6/12/87 as the release date for Clutching at Straws., however, has the release date as 6/19/87. Other sources list it simply as June 1987. So, by blogger's imperative, I'm going with 6/12/87!

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