Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for October 19, 2012

Puddle Reflection by ~Mustardplz

[Pacific Rain] -- You may recall that I was recently in the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, my trip was to points in and around Washington's Olympic National Park bookended by stops in Seattle. Now, I know you will find this hard to believe, but it rained there. No, really. It RAINED. Sure, this is characteristic weather for that area, but the region had been facing a rather uncharacteristic dry spell until we arrived. And, coincidentally enough, the book I've been reading -- Grave Peril (The Dresden Files #3) by Jim Butcher -- has had quite a bit of rain in the narrative. Oh, and today, we're getting quite the deluge:
Radar Map from at 10:00am EDT
So, I figure precipitation is a timely theme for the Flashback this week. Yes, I know there was a similarly themed Flashback last year (Rain Over Me on April 8, 2011), but there are plenty of other songs about rain, even within a single decade like our beloved 80s. So, what soaked songs made the cut this week? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"I love to hear the thunder | Watch the lightning | When it lights up the sky | You know it makes me feel good."

Our first Flashback was 12 years in the making. Singer-songwriter Eddie Rabbitt recorded song ideas on cassette tapes (I'll wait for the younger readers to go look up what those are. Done? OK, let us move on.) In 1980, Rabbitt came across a song fragment he had recorded in the late 60s. As he listened to the recording, he recalled the feeling of sitting in his apartment and "staring out the window at one o'clock in the morning, watching the rain come down" (according to The Billboard Book of Number One Hits). Rabbitt completed the song, fleshing out the half-written the lyrics with descriptions of fondness for thunderstorms and the peace they can bring. The song was the second single released from Rabbitt's sixth studio album, Horizon (1980), and it captured the #1 spot on several charts -- the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Singles, and Adult Contemporary Singles -- in 1981. It was very instrumental in furthering Rabbitt's appeal as a crossover artist, branching him out from country to pop and rock. I'm sure the folks in Northwestern Washington were in agreement with this song's title and chorus:  "I Love a Rainy Night"!

Flashback #2"I know, I never meant to cause you no pain | And I realize I let you down | But I know in my heart of hearts | I know I'm never gonna hold you again."

Our next Flashback was released on a 1989 album, but it didn't significantly chart until 1990 when it peaked at #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It also cracked the top 10 in Canada and the UK. For his fourth full-length studio album, But Seriously... (1989), Phil Collins employed a more organic approach, utilizing live instruments rather than drum machines and slick keyboards. And in keeping with the album title, the topical content was serious, addressing social, economic, and political themes. Well, for most of the songs, that is. Today's second Flashback tune does delve into Collins' usual theme of relationships. But there is a mature, almost estranged, approach to this tune. And its bluesy/gospel composition was such that Collins reached out to guitarist Eric Clapton. Clapton plays throughout the song and also appears in the music video, which features about 2:30 minutes of "acting" to introduce the song. See if you can catch the in-joke that Clapton tosses out at around the 0:16 mark in this video for "I Wish It Would Rain Down."

Flashback #3"I want to walk in the open wind | I want to talk like lovers do | I want to dive into your ocean | Is it raining with you?"

One of my favorite stops on my recent trip was the EMP Museum in Seattle, WA. It is a non-profit venture "dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture." It is grounded in rock and roll, but also features exhibits about science fiction, fashion, etc. While we were there, the main exhibits were:

  • The Rolling Stones
  • Icons of Science Fiction
  • Can't Look Away: The Lure of Horror Film
  • Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses
  • Jimi Hendrix: An Evolution of Sound
Also featured at EMP is the Sound Lab.  In one of the sound-proof rooms, I got to learn a bit more about mixing sound, and even got a stab at remixing our final Flashback of the day! Released as the third UK (but first US) single from the Eurythmics' third studio album, Touch (1983), our final Flashback of the day was a solid Top Ten hit. It peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #8 in the UK Singles Chart, making it the band's second Top Ten appearance in the US and their fifth consecutive Top Ten in their home country. Although it was another song of unrequited love set to a melancholy, synthesized groove by Dave Stewart, its overall quality was given a boost by the composition skills of Michael Kamen. Kamen's string arrangements for the song were performed by members of the British Philharmonic Orchestra -- these orchestral tracks were blended over top of the original synthesized backing track. The mixing had to be done this way because the orchestra musicians had to record their pieces in other parts of the studio. However, I feel this was a lucky accident that Kamen was able to capitalize on due to his production experience. And it is likely one of the reasons that Touch appears on on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Annie Lennox' vocals probably are to be credited as well). Anyway, the main lyric is also the song's title, and it is sung almost as if equating rain with depression or another downward spiral. Please, enjoy our final Flashback of the day, "Here Comes the Rain Again."

Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, 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!

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