Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for October 30, 2015

[Halloween] -- I missed flashing back last week, but I couldn't pass up a chance to post a very special holiday edition of the Friday 80s Flashback this week. It's Halloween! I've previously run new Halloweenish Flashbacks in 2010 and 2011, while 2012 and 2013 featured re-runs of prior years' material. And, some reason, October 2014 has four Flashback posts, but none of them are Halloweeny. That means I need to get back in the game this year, and with trick-or-treaters prepping for this weekend, you need a soundtrack. If you'd like to know some of my latest suggestions, read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"This town is coming like a ghost town."

Released in June of 1981, and spending a whopping 10 weeks in the UK's top 40 singles chart, "Ghost Town" by The Specials starts off this week's Flashback post just right. A little reggae with a creepy spin, this tune talks about urban decay, unemployment and violence. Any of those three are scarier than the latest installment of the slasher film du jour, wouldn't you agree? And, in the department of "the more things change, the more they stay the same," this was a popular tune right around the time of a series of riots in the UK (running from April 1981–July 1981). In fact, "Ghost Town" is recognized as an important piece of social commentary.

Flashback #2"I'm all dressed up with nowhere to go. Walkin' with a dead man over my shoulder."

Oingo Boingo was formed in 1972 as something of a musical theater troupe. By the early 80s, their focus was more along the lines of a rock band. Why? Who really knows. All that matters is that the genre change definitely suited them. It was the right sound for the right decade. They released their fourth album, Dead Man's Party, in 1985. The title track was featured on the soundtrack for the 1986 film, Back to School, as well as several TV episodes. The dancing skeletons in the original video kind of became a symbol of the band. And here is some food for thought: The man who led this band is the same man who later gave us the film soundtracks to Batman, Batman Returns, and Edward Scissorhands.

Flashback #3"Immortal fear | That voice so clear | Through broken walls | That scream I hear."

Gerard McMann wrote and performed "Cry Little Sister" for the 1987 soundtrack to the film, The Lost Boys. The album was in Billboard's top 20, but the song did not chart in the US. "Cry Little Sister" has been covered numerous times, but only one other artist released it during the 80s: Charlie Sexton in 1989

Flashback #4"I always feel like somebody's watching me."

No post last week + holiday this week = Bonus Flashback!

"Somebody's Watching Me" was the debut single -- and future NSA theme song -- by Rockwell. Released in January of 1984, and powered by cameo performances from Michael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson, "Somebody's Watching Me" rocketed to the top of singles charts around the world. Don't believe me? Well, check out this table from Wikipedia:

That is some serious chart mojo displayed there. Unfortunately for Mr. Rockwell, his later releases lacked any of that charting prowess. I'm fairly certain "Somebody's Watching Me" succeeded solely on the merits of Michael Jackson's voice appearing in the chorus (I'm sure Jackson's name was also mentioned each time the tune played on the radio, and that probably didn't hurt sales). The low-budget music video capitalizes on the song's paranoid tone with a haunted house motif, and that makes it perfect for Halloween.

That's all till next time, folks. 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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