Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback (on a Saturday) for December 30, 2011

[Ring in the New] -- I did not do a proper "New Year's Eve" post last year (OK, I didn't do a post at all), but I'll take a few moments to do a quick post this weekend. New Year's Eve is a holiday that does not exactly inspire its own set of season songs. We do have Harry Connick Jr.'s wonderful rendition of "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?" and there are umpteen versions of "Auld Lang Syne." But there really isn't a canon of great New Year's songs. Unless, of course, you subscribe to the notion that New Year's songs, unlike songs about Easter or Christmas, are not about a particular event. They are about an attitude. They are about letting go of errors and reaching out for renewal. And so with that in mind, I offer up three songs for this, the last weekend of 2011. To find out what my selections are, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for December 23, 2011

[Winter Holidays Week 4] -- Here we are. It is the day before Christmas Eve and we have one more installment of our Winter Holidays-themed 80s flashbacks. For the last two weeks, I pilfered from my own archives. But today, we have a fresh playlist! I hope it gives you a brief respite from your own holiday preparations. If you are ready to celebrate the 80s with me, then read and hear more after the break.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for December 16, 2011

[Winter Holidays Week 3 Redux] -- As mentioned in last week's flashback post, I did four straight weeks of music about "Winter Holidays" for the 80s posts in December 2010. Well, with Christmas Eve just a week away, I am once again plucking a post from the archives. Hey, just like some of you out there, I'm behind on cards, shopping, and food prep for the holidays. So I'm taking advantage of my previous work. Besides, there may be a few new 80s-philes who weren't following my weekly posts last year. And even if you've been along for the ride since the beginning, do you remember what I offered for your sonic stockings last year at this time? (*ahem* without Googling it?) Well, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for December 9, 2011

[Winter Holidays Week 2 Redux] -- The nice thing about having a year's worth of blog posts is that I can reach back and pluck a choice one from the archives. Such is the case today. Last December, I did four straight weeks of music about "Winter Holidays." We're getting down to those winter temperatures, but no flurries have been sighted in my area. Still, I'm in a Seasons Greetings kind of mood. Do you remember what stocking stuffers I presented last year at this time? Well, read and hear more after the break.

Monday, December 05, 2011

It's an Ancient [insert pagan theme here] Holiday, Charlie Brown!

I love this image so much:

And lest I be labeled a hater, remember that I am an interfaith minister and that I have advocated for everyone getting along during the holiday season. (Please refer to The Reason for the Season posted on December 22, 2010).

Friday, December 02, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for December 2, 2011

[I Still Have Heart] -- Last year at this time, I launched a multi-week exploration of 80s "Winter Holiday" tunes. Well, I'm not quite ready to break into songs of the season. So, instead, this week I'm exploring songs about having heart. These three songs defined the time from the beginning of my senior year of high school through the conclusion of my first year at college. Wondering if your heart beat in tune with mine? To find out, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for November 25, 2011

[Food, Family, and More Food] -- Sure, today is Black Friday, but I prefer to dwell on the holiday that just passed. Thanksgiving is a time to gather with loved ones for a communal meal, reflect on ones blessings, share our largesse, and then lapse into a food coma. Now, there aren't too many Thanksgiving-specific tunes from the 80s, so I had to be a little creative for this post and focus on the theme of Food and Family (and, of course, more food). If you have recovered from your food coma and you need a break from the insanity of Black Friday, then check out this week's selections after the break.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for November 18, 2011

[Suffering in Silence] -- Last week's flashback featured songs about children suffering from abuse (see Too Many Tears, posted November 11, 2011). At the end of that flashback post, I included linkage to organizations/agencies working to help current and prevent future victims. Well, over the course of a week, one of those organizations, via the Proud PSU for RAINN campaign, has raised over $400,000.00 (see link below)! But there is going to be more bad news before this is all over. The FBI, NCAA, and more media have descended upon State College, PA, with talk of deeper investigations, more victims, and darker cover-ups. And now the stain of sexual abuse has spread to other schools: a Syracuse University basketball coach has been accused of molesting two boys over the course of 16 years.

As all of this is still fresh in the public eye, I decided to roll over last week's theme into this week, and provide the organization links again (just in case case folks missed them and are still looking for a way to contribute in a positive manner). Here are the organizations I linked last week:
A grassroots network of PSU alumni os standing for victims of sexual abuse by supporting RAINN. They have joined together to mobilize the Penn State fan base – alumni, students and fans – to ensure something like this never happens again – anywhere
Creating safe environments where children and teens are safe from sexual harm is everyone’s responsibility. Join us by taking steps to protect the children in your community from sexual abuse.

Founded in 1959 by Sara O'Meara and Yvonne Fedderson, Childhelp® is a leading national non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect.

For this week's 80s songs, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for November 11, 2011

[Too Many Tears] -- Full disclosure: As a Penn State alumnus and a longtime fan of the Nittany Lions this has been the most difficult week I have ever experienced as a Penn Stater. No, I'm not talking about how I, and other alumni, feel shattered and betrayed. Nor am I talking about being angry over the dismissal of JoePa. No, all of that pales in comparison to what Sandusky's victims (alleged or otherwise, and I hate using "alleged" but the man is charged, not convicted) are reported to have experienced. I have wept -- yes, wept, as I read the details in the Grand Jury Report (Warning: Graphic Content- pdf). And I died a little inside as it seemed increasingly clear that no one tried to help those children. Therefore, this week's flashback has songs about the plight of abused children. And I've included links to organizations that work to prevent and treat victims of sexual abuse. I know this is a heavy topic, but I hope you will continue after the break and check out the latest flashback tunes.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for November 4, 2011

"Don't Forget Me" by ~sweet-reality-xo (

[Memory] -- Technically, the Flashback is always about memory and remembrance, and about not forgetting great 80s music, but this week we focus on songs that specifically evoke the theme of memory. Given this week, memory is an appropriate theme: we have gone through a number of holidays (or holy days) that traditionally have been dedicated to remembering those who have passed beyond the veil (Samhain, All Saint's Day, El Dia de Muertos, and All Soul's Day). Also, as the days turn colder, we remember, perhaps bitter-sweetly, the warm days that are now in our past. And many are likely looking forward to the upcoming holiday season, yet also remembering the Thanksgiving, Yule, and Christmas celebrations of long ago. Now, all this week, I have had a particular and memorable song in my head. As it fits this week's theme, I hunted down two more tracks to accompany this earworm and share them with my fellow 80s-philes (all two of you). As usual, you can read and hear more after the break.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Even Brady is a Fan Now

I don't post football smack talk very often, but in light of yesterday afternoon's game, I had to share this 'shopped image. It's just too funny.

Steelers defeat Patriots, 25-17

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for October 28, 2011

[Halloween 2011] -- Ah, yeah. It's time for a very special Halloween edition of the Friday 80s Flashback. Now, because I missed posting a flashback last week, and because you've all been good little ghouls and ghosts, there might be an extra treat or two this week. And your first treat is that you can check out all the tunes featured in this week's flashback as a single video playlist! Of course, you can still check them out one at a time, the option which includes my comments and recollections. But either way, you're getting great 80s music for the Halloween weekend! So, if you are opting for your flashbacks one-at-a-time, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for October 14, 2011

[The Art and Science of Alan Parsons Recordings] -- If you read the Flashback of July 29, 2011, might recall how ... (ahem) instrumental ... Alan Parsons has been to the recording industry. Before launching the band that bears his name, Parsons was involved in some rather seminal records: he was an assistant engineer on The Beatles' Abbey Road (1969) and Let it Be (1970), and he engineered Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon (1973). While working as a producer at EMI, Parsons met Eric Woolfson, a self-styled composer and songwriter who was working as a session pianist.

From 1976 to 1987, Parsons and Woolfson released 10 studio albums, eight of which were certified Gold, and 28 singles. Their recordings were covered a wide range of topics from mystery (Tales of Mystery and Imagination) to science fiction (I, Robot and Eye in the Sky), and from the occult (Pyramid) to the impact of industrial technology (Ammonia Avenue). The Alan Parsons Project was never really a hit-making machine, but five of their singles broached the top 25 in the US Hot Adult Contemporary charts, and eight ranked in the top 50 the US Billboard Hot 100. And even if you did not care for the vocals or lyrical content of a particular song, every one of The Project's records were finely engineered for maximum audio enjoyment.

Which brings me to the reason I am featuring Alan Parsons and his colleagues in this week's Flashback.

On Monday, GeekDad posted an interview with "veteran music geek" Alan Parsons (Veteran Music Geek Alan Parsons Talks iPad Recording, ‘Irreversible’ Loss of Fidelity). This was the first time I learned of the three-DVD set that was released this year: Alan Parsons' Art and Science of Sound Recording. After reading the interview (which I highly recommend; you did see I linked it for you, right?), I immediately put the DVDs on my wish list. So, to celebrate this amazing DVD set, I chose three songs from the Project's 80s catalog. We've already featured one of the band's biggest hits in a previous flashback. And you know I tend to avoid the obvious selections when assembling a retrospective. So make the jump to see what is featured this week.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for October 7, 2011

[Washington Rocks] -- Not Washington, DC. Washington state. Last week, I was vacationing in Washington state (spending time first in Seattle and then in and around Olympic National Park). I thought it might be interesting to see what the 80s music scene was like in this state. Turns out, Washington was quite the hotbed for punk and heavy metal during that time (once you discount the brief fad of Twee Pop). Now, I had intended to post this flashback from the road, but I was not able to finish it in time. So, I'm brushing off the draft, cleaning it up, and posting it this week! If you would like to know what heavy rockin' gems I found, just read and hear more after the break. (Warning: These songs are loud, and possibly disturbing!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for September 23, 2011

R.E.M. then (circa 1982) ...

... and shortly before the end in 2011

[R.E.M.ember] -- On Wednesday, September 21, R.E.M. posted the announcement they were officially "calling it a day." In other words, as of the other day, R.E.M. is no longer operating as a band. For the remainder of that Wednesday, I mentally played R.E.M.'s catalog as I mourned their passing. An era is officially and sadly over.  Of course I had to make them the focus of this week's Flashback!  With a career that spans 31 years, R.E.M.'s catalog is massive (15 studio albums, 2 live albums, 10 compilation albums, 3 EPs, 64 singles, 12 video albums, 56 music videos, and 1 soundtrack according to Wikipedia). I'll bet you're wondering what tracks I selected for this R.E.M.embrance post. Did I hit upon one of your favorites? Well, read and hear more after the break.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for September 16, 2011

[Big Business] -- This week's Flashback is inspired by the production that opens at my theater this weekend: Big Boys by Rich Orloff is a comedic look at corporate greed in the person of Victor Burlington. He is not exactly one of the smartest guys in the room, but he certainly ranks among the most corrupt and the least ethical. Although Big Boys is set in the post-Enron world, its story is somewhat familiar to those of us who came of age in the 80s. We can certainly recall pre-internet stories about the excesses of CEOs -- remember the stock trading scandals of the early 80s? If not, refer to Michael Douglas' performance as Gordon Gekko schooling a young Charlie Sheen (before his "Winning" ways) in the 1987 flick, Wall Street, which dramatized the corporate raiding and greedy excess that typified much of the decade. So this week's flashback looks at songs about big business, big money, and big ambition. No need to worry about insider trading here, so if you want to know what made the cut, you and read and hear more after the break.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for September 9, 2011

[I Love NY, on September 11 and Always] -- On September 11, 1981, the top song in the U.S. was "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie (#1 on the Billboard Hot 100 from August 9 to October 10). In baseball, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Cleveland Indians at Tiger Stadium. Movie goers were about to lift Arthur to the role of top-grossing movie for that weekend. Confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Sandra Day O'Connor ended. On the world stage, the U.S. accused the USSR of using poison gas in Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan. The Soviets began amphibious landing exercises on the Polish coast as part of naval training in Baltic Sea even while pressure for democracy was mounting within Poland. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed Referendum results supported his crackdown efforts against opposition forces, and the Ayatollah Khomeini's personal representative was assassinated in Tabriz, Iran. And a private plane crashed into the Swing Auditorium, a legendary concert venue in San Bernardino, California, damaging it beyond repair.

30 years later, we are preparing to remember the aftermath of a trio of plane crashes that occurred on the East Coast, destroying an architectural icon in downtown New York and devastating our national psyche. I have previously written about 9-11 (The Real "Never Forget," They Crashed the Planes and Changed the Rules, and Visit to United Flight 93 Memorial for example). But I have yet to do so from the lens of 80s music. So, this week, the Friday 80s Flashback celebrates New York City. Wondering what songs we have for the Big Apple? Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for September 2, 2011 (Flashbackiversary!)

[One Year Anniversary] -- Holy Macanoly! I started posting the Friday 80s Flashback on September 3, 2010. That makes today my one year Flashbackiversary! To celebrate, let's turn back the clock -- er, calendar -- one year and revisit that very first flashback. I'm struck by the sparsity and simplicity of my initial foray into weekly pop-culture ruminations. In fact, that very first flashback has no commentary whatsoever! There isn't even a theme! The weekly theme didn't become part and parcel of the flashback until the fourth entry, on September 24, 2010 (a two-fer: Angry Edition and Uplifting Edition). Sample lyrics first appeared in the November 5, 2010, flashback (Politics Schmolotics). On December 10, 2010, we saw my first attempt at incorporating a header image with the flashback (Winter Holidays: Week 2). 

Read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for August 26, 2011

[Cruising with Donnie Iris] -- Due to an incident or two on the PA Turnpike, I was forced to use one of my alternate routes for my evening commute the other night. On one hand, even this was an unfortunate choice. Traffic was slow going, but at least it wasn't the standstill that would have greeted me at the Mid-County exchange. On the other hand, this was the most wonderful drive of the week. Although the pace was slower than I might prefer, it made for a nice pairing with the cooler evening air that graced us that night. I drove with my windows down and my stereo volume up. Way up. My iPod happened upon a tune by one of my fave 80s tunesmiths, and I immediately dialed in a full block of his work. The chunky guitar work, measured use of synths, driving percussion, and clever lyrics entertained me the entire ride home.

"I have to dedicate a full Flashback to this guy!" I said to myself. And, yes, before you ask, I did say that out loud.

Now, this artist is no stranger to the Friday 80s Flashback. He led off the Hi-Tech Living and Loving Flashback earlier this year. He might, however, be a stranger to many 80s-philes outside of the Three Rivers Area of Pittsburgh, PA. Today's flashback artist was born in Elmwood City, PA, in 1943 and he grew up to become a Pittsburgh rock icon as well as a nerd rock success story. As I mentioned in the January 28, 2011 flashback, he had three things going for him: "the nerd appeal of a Buddy Holly or Elvis Costello, a great sense of humor, and one of the most melodic screams in rock & roll." By now, if you've picked up the hints I've been dropping, you know I'm talking about the one and only Donnie Iris. Oh, what's that? You though he was merely a one-hit wonder? Not so. He has multiple hits (two of them coming from one-hit wonder bands that he was part of in the 70s). Wondering what I've chosen from Donnie Iris' career for this week's flashback? Read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback (for August 12, 2011) on Saturday!

[Summer] -- I heard a back-to-school radio ad the other day. You know what my first thought was? No, it wasn't that I needed school supplies, or that I dread the return of school buses on my morning commute. No, it was that the school season is just around the corner and I've yet to post a summer-themed flashback! So I'm going to remedy that error right now. Back in the 80s, summer was always a great time for music. And there are far too many great summer classics to fit in one flashback, but I'll do my best to share some of my favorites. What hot tunes made the cut this week? Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for August 5, 2011

[Under-Appreciated Movie Theme Songs] -- For every brilliant film/soundtrack combo, there are dozens that are ... well, not regarded quite as highly by either the general public or the critical media. But I love 80s movies and I love their soundtracks. And I think there are some real soundtrack gems that have gone ignored. So this week's Flashback playlist focuses on those poor, under-appreciated, tunes. What movie soundtrack selections made the cut? Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 29, 2011

[The Eyes Have It] -- Given the theme of The Eyes Have It, you might think "Eye of the Tiger" would make the playlist, but you would be wrong. Given that I was at Comic-Con last week, you might think that this week's Flashback theme was inspired by their logo, but again you would be wrong. No, earlier this month, before I even packed for Comic-Con, I heard a song and said to myself, "Dude, two more songs about eyes and you've got a Flashback theme." Now, you probably want to know what that tune was, but you'll have to wait because I'm saving it for last. So, what are you waiting for? Find out what did make the cut. Just click toread and hear more after the break.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 22, 2011

"Look at what's happened to me: I'm an accidental superhero!"

[This Looks Like a Job for a Hero!] -- As I am attending the San Diego Comic-Con this week, I figured we should have a heroic them for this week's Flashback. Makes sense, right? I'm fully immersed in movies, comics, web-series, video games, and other media that deal with heroes, anti-heroes, reluctant heroes, and the occasional, honest-to-badness villain. But there's nothing nefarious in this week's playlist. Or is there? To find out, read and hear more after the break.

San Diego Comic-Con 2011!

I am attending my first Comic-Con. I've been reading comics books since ... well, for a very long time ... and I'm a big fan of sci-fi and pop-culture. But I just never got around to traveling from PA to CA for this pop-culture Mecca.

Until this week, that is.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 15, 2011

[Angels Gone Wrong] -- Last week on the Flashback, we had a selection of tunes that could be described as divinely inspired. This week, we're going to go in the opposite direction. These humid summer days seem the perfect backdrop for songs about a tinge of darkness hidden behind a facade of beauty. What tales of fallen angels grace the Flashback? Read and hear more after the break.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

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.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for July 1, 2011 (Fourth of July Weekend!)

[A Rockin' Fourth!] -- Today we embark on a three-day weekend in celebration of the Fourth of July. Sounds like a perfect theme for the Friday 80s Flashback, right? Now, I don't know that the Founding Fathers would look favorably upon, or even understand, this week's playlist. But there will be plenty of serious fare discussing the events of 1776 on the web, radio, and television. So on the Flashback, we're gong to cut loose and have some fun. If you're ready to celebrate with me in 80s rock style, then read and hear more after the break.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for June 24, 2011

[Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap (Part 3)] -- Two weeks ago, I started a journey, sharing the songs on a mixtape from my college days. The first six songs are covered in the flashback posts for June 10 and June 17. Today we will wrap up Side A of the compilation. If you haven't enjoyed this exploration as much as previous flashbacks, worry not. I'll return to the more standard themes  next week. As this series has not proven to be very popular, I do not have any plans to cover the tunes on Side B of "Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap" in future flashbacks. That could change, but only if there are sufficient requests for a return visit.

For now, if you're ready to learn what three tracks close out the first side of this mixtape, you can read and hear more after the break.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solstice Blessings!

Solstice Blessings! Here is a dual hemisphere card for celebrating either midsummer or midwinter. The image is courtesy of @Illumine_Nation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for June 17, 2011

[Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap (part 2)] -- This week, we'll continue going through the mixtape I introduced last week (you know, the one with the same name as the theme here). I don't have much time to give you background on another playlist, but I can at least provide the tunes. So, what are the next three songs from "Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap"? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for June 10, 2011

[Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap] -- Another week has blown by and I barely have time for a proper Flashback. I do, however, have time to share with you the first three tracks from a compilation tape I made in the latter half of the 80s. The name of the compilation, and our theme this week, is "Be Fast, Be Clean, Be Cheap," after the song by Age of Chance. Although that tune lent its name to this week's flashback, it will not make an appearance today. I'm going with the first three songs from side A of the cassette, and "Be Fast" is track number 6. Maybe it will make an appearance in an upcoming flashback. At any rate, I'll bet you are wondering what did make the list. For that, you can read and hear more after the jump.

Look! I still own the cassette!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for June 3, 2011

[An 80s Shade of Punk] -- I'm still dealing with an aggressive schedule at the day job, but I don't want to keep you 80s-philes waiting until Friday evening again. So I'm doing my best to crank out a quick Flashback set. You know what else is quick and aggressive? Punk music! That's right, music in the 80s wasn't all sunshine and gumdrops, not that I even know what that means. But I do know I can provide an interesting collection of punk gems for you. Are you ready to spike your hair and attach a run of safety pins to a shredded jacket? Well, then, read and hear more after the jump.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Tribute to Fallen Soldiers

The best tribute to those who have fallen in service to this country is quite possibly the poem "Letter to Saint Peter" which was written by Elma Dean in 1942 and later adapted into a song by John Gorka ("Let Them In" from his 2001 release, The Company You Keep).

This video has John Gorka's song set to a collection of moving images. Very appropriate for Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for May 27, 2011

Picture of a Poppy by Ian Britton (
We cherish too, the Poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led,
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies.

~ Moina Michael (who wore the first Memorial Day poppy)

[Remember the Heroes] -- We have arrived at the "official" kick-off for shorts season: a 3-day weekend that culminates in the observance of Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day (check the history). Now, you might recall the 80s as being rife with anti-conflict, protest songs, so you may find it hard to believe I could find some tunes appropriate for the occasion of honoring this nation's war dead. But the 80s were as patriotic or reflective as other decades. So my only real problem was in narrowing the selections down to my usual three. So, are you wondering what gems I have chosen in tribute to those who have died while serving the United States of America? Wonder no more. Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for May 20, 2011

File:Lewis Hine Power house mechanic working on steam pump.jpg
Power house mechanic working on steam pump 
by Lewis Hine, 1920. (Wikipedia)
[It's a Livin'!] -- This could be my very last Friday 80s Flashback given that Judgement Day is on the agenda for Saturday, May 21, 2011 (tomorrow!). You know it's official when there is a website and everything (, right?

Now, with the Rapture scheduled to begin tomorrow evening, you're probably expecting songs about the end of the world (and that I feel fine). I understand those expectations. However, with the last week or so I've at at my day job, I have been thinking about songs focusing a spotlight on that all-too-frustrating aspect of modern life known as work. And, believe me, Ragnarök or its equivalent is looking preferable to my current slate of projects. Plus, there is a tie-in with all this rapping about the rapture: What are the two events that can bring an end to the drudgery of working day to day? Well, one is winning the lottery, and the other is ... the end of the world, of course. 

You 80s-philes will have to judge whether this week's selections are winners. Are you ready for this job? Read and hear more after the jump.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback (for May 13, 2011) on Saturday

Toy Car Bracelet from
[Return of The Cars] -- Friday Flashback on a Saturday evening? Yeah, well, Blogger was a bit off on Thursday night, and then I was in an all-day business meeting on Friday followed by a class today. So, Saturday, May 14, is my first chance to post the Flashback for May 13. I hope all my fellow 80s-philes weren't too lost without their Friday fix. 

Let's get right down to business.

In case you haven't heard, The Cars released a new studio album this week, their first since 1987! It's getting some good press (Consequence of Sound, Salt Lake Tribune), while other reviewers are disappointed with how reminiscent it is of their earlier work. Sounds like this might be an opportune time to go back and revisit The Cars' 80s catalog. With four studio releases between 1980 and 1987, there are plenty of flashback options. So what three Cars' classics have I revved up for you this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for May 6, 2011
[Busted!] -- This week we're taking a look at Sting, Stewart Copeland, and Andy Summers in the 80s. Of course, from 1977 to 1986 they were collectively known as The Police.

In 1976 the ascent of the Sex Pistols, and all they represented for the punk movement, had all but destroyed the career prospects for bassist Sting's jazz-rock combo (Last Exit) and drummer Stewart Copeland's progressive rock band (Curved Air). After Curved Air's last performance as a unit (in December 1976), Stewart saw a Last Exit gig. He was immediately taken with Sting and arranged for an introduction. Shortly thereafter, Copeland formed the first version of The Police in 1977 with himself, Sting, and guitarist ... Henri Padovani. This trio recorded one single, "Fallout," on a very tight budget and landed a poorly-paying gig (£15 a night) as "pretend punks" that took them all of 20 minutes to blaze through a 13-song set. A brief flirtation with the project band, Strontium 90, introduced Sting and Copeland to guitarist Andy Summers. The Police continued briefly as a four-piece before officially dumping Padovani. Sting, Copeland, and Summers spent the latter part of the 70s scrounging for work, asking Copeland's brother for financial help, and releasing two albums -- Outlandos d'Amour (1978) and Reggatta de Blanc (1979) -- that set the stage for their eventual superstardom, powered by their unique combination of reggae, rock, and jazz influences.

Between 1980 and 1986, The Police released four albums and around 12 singles. What have I selected for your 80s pleasure this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for April 29, 2011

[College Rock] -- I turn 43 this week. Now, how do I work my birthday into one of my weekly 80s post? By looking at the years that, in my opinion, most defined me. I'm a believer in the saying that home is where you find out who you are. For me, that would be college ("We are! Penn State!"). And my college years coincided with the heyday of the musical genre known as College Rock, so named because this "alternative" to pop mainstream found a home on many a college radio station. Although known for many independent artists and giving the world "Alternative Rock" (right after its biggest acts went mainstream), College Radio gave rise to such (now) well-known bands as U2 and R.E.M. So, for my birthday, you 80s-philes get quite a gift with this flashback. You know, of course, I won't go the "easy" route with my selections. But can you guess what gems we'll unwrap this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for April 22, 2011

[A Very Good Earth (Fri)day] -- This week our Flashback Friday falls upon a date of intersection. Today is Earth Day, a time to reflect on our use and abuse of our home planet, as well as Good Friday, the day Christians the world over solemnly observe the murder of their religion's central figure. Also of note this week, we observed the one year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill. So, today, we have something of a combo theme: 80s songs that reflect a concern for our planet and environment, as well as 80s songs that somehow -- even if only in my mind -- reflect some aspect of Easter. That's quite a tall task, so I'll bet you're wondering what songs made the cut this week. As usual, you can read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for April 15, 2011

Today's Flashback is brought to you by Montgomery Theater's 

[Hail Mary!] -- First off, I'm kidding about the "brought to you by" message that introduces this post. The Friday 80s Flashback does not have a corporate sponsor ... at least not yet (c'mon, HP, Google, someone ... call me). But this morning, I heard Morgan Spurlock in a radio interview as he talked about his latest "docbuster" (i.e., documentary blockbuster), The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. Spurlock's new film explores corporate sponsorship and the future of branding. I find this interesting because corporate sponsorship started with the media boom, which helped grow commercial radio and television, but the practice pretty much exploded in the 80s and 90s (college bowl games and stadium naming rights coming into play). All of which led many of us in the 80s to ponder the question that Spurlock pointedly asks in his film: What if we lived in a world where everything was "brought to you by" some corporate sponsor? And, trust me, the irony of it all is not lost on him.

Anyway, back to the business at hand.

Regular visitors to Prophet or Madman know that I love my 80s music. What you might not know, however, is my love of live theater -- it is such a fantastic and powerful medium for storytelling. Now, I have been involved with a small professional theater in Souderton, PA, for the last several years. And this is opening weekend for our production of Tom Dudzick's "Hail Mary!" As with the previous Dudzick plays I have worked on ("Greetings!" and "Over the Tavern"), I am quite taken with the message in the script: Shine your light in this weary world, because that's just what the world needs. To be a little more specific, without giving up the full plot, "Hail Mary!" is also about sponsorship of sorts (see what I did there?). The play could just as easily be asking, "Who do you want to be sponsoring God?" or "Does God really need a sponsor at all?" or "Sure, that's what [insert institution's name] taught you, but how is it really working for you?" You see, your worldview is "brought to you by" someone or something. And, much like our downtown view has been hijacked by billboards and other signage touting various corporate messages, our opportunity for a peaceful world has been hijacked by the sponsors of competing worldviews. It might be time to cleanup the public space of our hearts and minds. For folks engaged, or even interested, in interfaith dialogue (another passion of mine), the core themes of this play will truly strike a chord that resonates long after the final bow.

For more information about the production, please visit Montgomery Theater's page, Hail Mary Opens This Weekend. To learn what selections this play has inspired for this week, read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for April 8, 2011

"Playing with the Rain" from

[Rain Over Me] -- I've been terribly busy this week and my good friend, Debbie, had to remind me via a Facebook post that another Flashback was expected. Due to my work load at the dayjob and pre-production tasks at the theater, I had not even thought up a theme. Fortunately, another good friend, Cameron, was at the ready with a suggestion: Rain. 

I thought that was a good idea.

We are in the midst of a fairly cold and wet Spring, colder than we've had in a good long while. And rain has been our frequent companion here in southeast PA. Heck, a good chunk of the country was slapped silly with flood conditions over the last week. After Monday teased the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys with a high of 71 degrees, Tuesday came in and bludgeoned us with precipitation. I must have driven through three or four different weather systems on my morning commute that day! And, guess what, more rain is on the docket for this weekend. 

So, I accepted Cam's challenge, and selected a few rainy day tunes. What is in this soggy playlist? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for April 1, 2011

[April Fools'] -- April 1. The 32nd of March. April Fools' (or All Fools) Day. Yes, we have come to that annual observance of mirth and (hopefully minimally destructive and non-lethal) mayhem. You know: The day of reckoning (or, day of pranks and hoaxes). Well, rather than prank you, dear 80s-philes, I shall take pity on you and merely deliver an appropriately "foolish" set of 80s tunes. With an entire decade of artists who often looked the part of fools in addition to acting the role, I have many options. However, rather than looking to the Pucks and jesters who ruled (or attempted to rule) the charts, I chose to narrow my focus to their songs, specifically songs with some form of "fool" in the title. 

What foolishly delightful selections do I have for you this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 25, 2011

[Phil in the Blank] -- As I mentioned in last week's flashback (Miami Sound Machine), Phil Collins took time earlier this month to call an end to his music career of 40+ years. Collins announced his retirement during an interview with FHM magazine (reported in The Daily Telegraph and later parroted by Anglophenia) adding, "I don't think anyone's going to miss me."

What? He doesn't think he's going to be missed?

Sure, Collins doesn't fit neatly into the current music scene, which has changed much since he ruled radio playlists in the 80s. Yes, he is likely responsible for shifting Genesis from their prog-rock foundation to a more polished pop rock sound. True, he hasn't had a top 20 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 since 1990 ("Do You Remember?"), and his last studio album to crack the US top 20 was Both Sides in 1993. And, yes, it's true that his most successful album in the last 20 years was a soundtrack ... for a Disney movie (Tarzan in 1999) ... with a single ("You'll Be In My Heart") that went on to win the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song and the Academy Award for Best Original Song ... and for which he was lampooned on the animated series, South Park.

But I have to believe there are folks out there who will miss him.

To date, Collins has sold over 150 million records. He recorded 12 studio albums released over 30 singles with Genesis. In his solo career, he released over 40 singles, nine of which reached #1 in either the US or UK. His last solo studio album, Going Back (2010), reached the top 10 in the UK and eight other countries (but only peaked at 34 in the US). He played drums on, or produced, nearly 70 albums between 1969 and 2001.
In case you forgot, Phil Collins really knew his way
around a drum kit (image source: A Brainless Thinker)
Unfortunately, those drums are a part of why Collins is calling it quits: He can no longer play them. A dislocated vertebra and nerve damage in his hands leave him unable to even grip a pair of drumsticks.

Or is he quitting? A day or so after the FHM interview I cited above, People magazine reported that Collins has no intention of retiring. (Has he been taking career advice from Brett Favre?)

Whatever the future holds for Collins, how can I possibly select three tunes and do justice to a career that has spanned decades, especially one that could be ending on such a sour note? The short answer is, "I can't." But I'm not here to sum up the entire career of Phil Collins. I'm here to share great music from the 80s. It just happens that this week I was motivated to focus on Phil Collins in light of his potential retirement. So, what three gems have I selected? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 18, 2011

[Miami Sound Machine] -- Notice how often today's artists have their releases pushed in TV shows and commercials? How about the resources available to help you track down and purchase those songs (e.g., TuneFind, Shazam, AdTunes)? Given how prevalent pop music is in television, you might think that this marriage of entertainment genres has been in place since the beginning of broadcast TV.

But if you thought that, you would be wrong.

We can actually trace this practice to the 1980s. To be more specific, we can give credit to one groundbreaking show that debuted on September 28, 1984: Miami Vice. In addition to chronicling the exploits of Detectives Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, Miami Vice was a huge influence in shaping and defining style in the 80s. (Exactly how many pastel shirts and white jackets were sold because of this show?) In fact, Vice was as much a contributor to 80s style as MTV -- not surprising considering how many MTV artists contributed tunes to the police procedural. 

Miami Vice originally ran five seasons, spanning 111 episodes from 1984 to 1990. The music was such a popular part of the shows that three soundtracks were released on MCA Records: Miami Vice I (1985), Miami Vice II (1986), and Miami Vice III (1988). Jan Hammer's score music was finally collected in 2002 on the two-CD set, Miami Vice: The Complete Collection. Those four releases combine for a total of 74 tracks. That's a fair number of options for Flashback selections. So, what three are featured this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 11, 2011

Vince Clarke (Image Credit: Bradford Shellhammer)

[The Clarke Factor] -- Unless you enjoyed scouring album liner notes due to a serious irrational interest in who made electronic music and how they made it, the name Vince Clarke will not strike a bell for you. (See what I did there? No? Don't worry, you'll catch it later.)  But Clarke's musical DNA is featured prominently in three of the most-popular synth acts from the first half of the 80s: Depeche Mode, Yazoo (known as Yaz in the States), and Erasure. His work with these three bands yielded nearly 20 hits that landed within the top 50 on several different charts -- and that's just looking at the output from 1981 through 1989! That makes for a sizable catalog to assess. So, what selections have I chosen from this man's illustrious pop and dance music career?

Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for March 4, 2011

[Bonded] -- Today's Flashback is shaken, not stirred, because we're looking at title songs for James Bond films in the 80s. In that one decade, three different actors assumed the task of portraying the British super-spy. Three! That has to be foreshadowing for a Flashback, right? In the 80s, those three actors appeared in five different films. During that time, we saw the original (and aging) Bond try to recapture the magic, the second Bond age himself out of the role, and a third Bond who never got the chance to grow into the role (he lasted only two films). So, which spy-worthy themes do I have for you in this week's Flashback?

Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for February 25, 2011

[Heirs of Avalon] -- This week's theme has nothing whatsoever to do with the court of King Arthur. No, today I am dealing with bands inspired by the look, style, and sound of the English art-rock band, Roxy Music (1971-1983; 2001-present). The theme is named in honor of their last studio album, Avalon (1982). Well, that, and I suppose you could make a case for "heir" being rather close to "hair" which was something of a trademark for these bands, but I digress.

Now, art rock is closely related to progressive rock. Both are experimental, sometimes drawing on themes from classical music, and both often incorporate avant-garde influences. And art rock is typically more keyboard than guitar-driven. However, as the 80s gave rise to New Wave music, art rock went a bit more in the synth direction and relied less on concept albums (although some bands still dabbled in large-scale story telling on occasion). Roxy Music, to my mind, lies between the extremes of progressive and art rock. So they were the perfect gateway band for their later 80s forebears.

Of course, many bands claim to have been influenced by the Rox (wait, does anyone really call them that? Oh well, I just did), but I am bound by the rule of three, so I had to whittle my options down. I had to find a trio of artists to represent the gamut from New Romantics to New Wave Rock.

Who made the cut, and what songs are featured? Read and hear more after the jump.