Friday, July 08, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 8, 2011

[Angels in the 80s] -- The English word, angel, comes from a fusion of the Old English word engel and the Old French angele. Both of those words have their roots in the Latin angelus, which is a romanization of the ancient Greek ἄγγελος (angelos) for "messenger" (look it up on Wikipedia or a dictionary). Why am I starting a blog post with the etymology of angel? Well, I have a very good reason for doing so: This week's Flashback features songs about those otherworldly beings found in several spiritual traditions ... as well as TV, movies, and literature. If you have been following my day job adventures on Twitter and Facebook, you might think this post is something of a prayer for heavenly assistance. And though one could successfully pose an argument proving I am in need of such help, this blog entry is not an attempt to secure it. No, I simply heard one of this week's tunes as I shuffled as I shuffled to and from work -- the iPod is a boon to my morning and evening commutes. So, are you wondering what song inspired this week's Flashback (and the other two selections)? To find out, you can read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"No-one on earth could feel like this | I'm thrown and overblown with bliss."

In 1985, Eurythmics (some folks mistakenly refer to them as the Eurythmics) released their fifth studio album, Be Yourself Tonight. I'm not certain why you have to be limited to being yourself "tonight" -- what if you had plans to be someone else tonight? I suppose we have to take it up with either Annie or David (most likely David -- you have to watch out for those silent partners). Anyway, our first flashback today was this album's second single. It features a harmonica solo by Stevie Wonder and hit the top 50 (or better!) in charts around the world: #1 on the UK Singles Chart, #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, #1 on the Irish Singles Chart, #4 on the German singles chart, #7 on the Belgian Singles Chart, and so on. It's not the tune that inspired this week's theme, but it is inspiring. Here is a royal video for "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" by Eurythmics!

Flashback #2"Do you believe in heaven above? Do you believe in love? | Don't tell a lie, don't be false or untrue It all comes back to you."

I'm not certain, but I think I first heard our next Flashback artist, Real Life, on an episode of that evening showcase for pop music, Solid Gold (1980-1988). As I recall, the Australian band actually appeared on the show for a (most likely lip-synced) performance of the debut single, "Send Me an Angel," from their debut album, Heartland (1983). In early 1984, Real Life's little slice of synthpop goodness reached #29 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Since its first release, "Send Me an Angel" has been covered more than 20 times, and that doesn't include the ten different versions that Real Life released (such as "Send Me an Angel '89")! Here is (possibly) the original music video, with the original audio.

Flashback #3"Sinking to the bottom, she's reaching for the top | She's at the end of her world y'know, she's never gonna stop."

Late one night in 1984, I was watching a little MTV. I cannot recall the specific program, but it was a great show for highlighting relatively obscure (and, usually, British) rock bands. Many of the artists featured on the program were not available in the standard outlets, so the hosts would provide information on how to obtain the hard-to-find recordings. The usual method was to send a check or money order to a specified address -- a snail mail address (remember, kids, this was before and iTunes) -- and then you counted the days until the LP or cassette arrived. On that particular evening, the debut video from British rockers Bronz captured my attention. So taken, in fact, that I copied down the order details and got my own copy of their album, which I still own to this day. I loved how their video tried to show, in under four minutes, a humorous (but not necessarily recommended) scheme for landing a recording contract. That song is our third and final Flashback today, and the tune that inspired this week's angelic theme: "Send Down an Angel." The album, Taken by Storm (1983), charted well enough and Bronz toured America, playing to crowds of 30,000 in stadiums. In fact, Bronz did well enough to earn the right to record at least one more studio album, but they never did quite well enough to register with the buying public as even a one-hit wonder. But not to worry, Bronz lead singer, Max Bacon, had another chance at stardom. Too bad it was with the short-lived rock supergroup, GTR, a project of guitarists Steve Howe (of Yes and ASIA) and Steve Hackett (from Genesis). It's a shame -- that guy had pipes!

For now, step back in time and enjoy "Send Down an Angel" from Bronz's 1983 debut. See if you can spot Emma Thompson!

Three shall be the recounting of Flashbacks, and the number of Flashbacks shall be three. And so, another Friday 80s Flashback post comes to an end. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. I welcome your comments on today's, or any other, flashback post. If you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, I suggest you share the link with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

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