Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for August 31, 2012

80s Fashion Collides with 2008 in the Subway (Book of Lies published in 2008)

[Lies] -- In the wake of the recently completed Republican National Convention, and in full knowledge that the Democratic National Convention starts next week, the 2012 Presidential Campaign is in full swing. Not that we haven't already been inundated with campaign rhetoric for more than a year already, but now we're in the home stretch. And regardless of your party affiliation, or lack thereof, the one thing we can all agree upon is this old chestnut: "How can you tell when a politician is lying? You can see their lips move." But I'm not lying when I tell you this week's Flashback features songs about lying and liars. I can't promise you'll find out why politicians have to lie, but I will promise that you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for August 24, 2012

[A Few More August Birthdays] -- Last week, the Flashback celebrated Madonna's 54th birthday. Well, this week we have a few more 80s artists celebrating birthdays! And it works out perfectly for: three artists, three tunes. At first, I knew only of one birthday boy, and the whole Flashback was going to be dedicated to him. But later on Thursday, I learned of another artist's birthday occurring on the same day this week. It seemed hardly fair to divvy up three songs between two artists, so I embarked on a search to find another 80s artist born during this week. And I was successful, but it might seem like a bit of a cheat as she had only one release in the 80s. Still, it's legit. So if you want to know who blew out some candles this week, and what songs are featured for them here, just read and hear more after the break.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for August 17, 2012

Madonna in the 80s image from Blingee

[Happy Birthday Madge] -- I'm sure dedicated 80s-philes know that the Material Mom turned 54 yesterday (Aug 16). So, what is she doing to celebrate? She's in the midst of her MDNA World Tour, which is doing rather well, and she is doing her best to keep out of controversy. Not bad for an artist who supposedly peaked in 1986 and is regularly accused of being "washed up" (latest accusation comes from the rather irrelevant Elton John). So, in honor of Madonna's birthday, I figured the Flashback should focus on her 80s career. Since releasing her debut album in 1983, Madonna has gone on to become the top-selling female recording artist of all time (per Guinness World Records) and she boasts an enormous catalog:

  • 12 studio albums (four of which were released in the 80s)
  • 6 compilation albums (one in the 80s)
  • 3 soundtrack albums (one in the 80s)
  • 3 live albums 
  • 11 EPs (six in the 80s)
  • 3 remix albums (one in the 80s) 
  • 21 box sets 
  • 78 singles (26 in the 80s)

Now, I've never been a big fan of Madonna, so to assist me in bringing you an appropriate selection of tunes for this Flashback, I asked the biggest Madge fan I personally know: DangrDafne. She had strict rules to select three tunes released between 1983 and 1989. She gave me five. If you want to hear which songs made the cut this week, you can read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback (on a Saturday) for August 10, 2012

The Core Furs: John Ashton, Richard Butler, and Tim Butler (via Hear The Sounds)

[Furs Phreaq] -- One of my favorite bands from the 80s was The Psychedelic Furs. I was so much a fan that a college colleague called me a "Furs Phreaq" (hence today's theme). The Furs were formed in 1977 by singer Richard Butler and his bass-playing brother, Tim. The band would release seven studio albums and 21 singles between 1979 and 1991 before taking a hiatus. That hiatus would last for 10 years (during with the Butler brothers founded the alt-rock band, Love Spit Love), but the Furs would return. And they may not be releasing new material, but they are performing around the world (and dropping the occasional "hits" compilation). During their first go-around, the Furs ran the gamut from art-rock, to new wave, to pop rock. But while they shifted due to personnel changes or new influences, their sound was always unmistakably their own. That was likely due in large part to Richard Burton's vocals. But I'm sure that maintaining the core trio of Richard Butler, John Ashton (guitar), and Tim Butler (bass) for the whole of the band's 80s career helped as well.

As regular 80s-philes know, the rule of three dictates that I can only pick three tunes from the Psychedelic Furs' long career. And I'm sure you all know their mega-hit, "Pretty in Pink" (originally from their 1981 album, Talk, Talk, Talk, but later re-recorded for the Pretty in Pink movie soundtrack released in 1986). So, what has this Furs Phreaq selected for you? Read and hear more after the break.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for August 3, 2012

Fist bump from the 1989 movie Robot Jox (which is not featured in today's Flashback)

[Robots!] -- In the 80s, we were all about the robots, right? We had robot toys. We had robots in our cartoons and comic books. We had robots in our books and movies. We might have even had robots in our breakfast cereals! 

Of course, the concept of a robot wasn't created in the 80s, we simply enjoyed a world in which technology seemed to have the potential to finally begin keeping pace with our entertainment and imaginations. And even though we may have felt that a robot was a perfectly natural application of microchips and computers, the term didn't even exist until the mid 1920s. A Czech playwright named Karel Capek (1890-1938) is credited with coining the word, and he did it in his 1921 play R.U.R. (which translates as Rossum's Universal Robots). In this play, the word robot comes from the Czech word for forced labor, robota. Having the notion of forced labor as part of robots' heritage makes sense because the largest practical application of robotics is still industrial (automating manufacturing tasks or performing tasks too dangerous for humans), while some of the more gripping stories about the future of robotics -- particularly sentient robots -- deal with the consideration of their place and role in society (i.e., are they people or appliances?). 

We still don't have robot butlers or protocol droids interacting with humans on a daily basis, but we children of the 80s thought, or hoped, they would be coming soon. At least, I know I felt that way. 

How we thought about robots in the 80s:
Yul Brenner's cowboy robot in Westworld (1973)
V.I.N.cent from Disney's The Black Hole (1979)
Band of Gundams (via Glordit)

The not necessarily sad, but definitely less impressive, 
reality of robots at the time:
ComRo (1981)
Auto body welders circa 1980s

So, what do robots have to do with the Flashback? Well, this week I'm taking a look at music from three different 80s movies featuring that holy grail of robotics: the sentient artificial humanoid. This is something of a sequel to my 6/29/2012 Flashback post on 80s movies about computers that gained sentience. Now, there are many fictional robots and androids that have appeared in film and television, particularly in the 80s. So what three films -- what three robots -- have I chosen to highlight? And what wonderful 80s tunes have I plucked from those films to present for your enjoyment? Read and hear more after the break.