Friday, September 27, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for September 27, 2013

[An Under-Appreciated AOR Gem] -- I'm going to wax a little more nostalgic before I get to the music this week. Please bear with me.

When I was in high school, finding new music was much harder than it is today. Let me elaborate: discovering and then purchasing new music was much more difficult. OK, maybe that's too broad a generalization. I'm going to guess that folks in larger metropolitan areas had easier access to new and different kinds of music because, generally speaking, they had more radio options. I, however, lived just west of ... well, let's just say the closest "metropolitan" area to my little hamlet was several hours away. We had but two radio stations -- one AM, and one FM. Oh, on particularly clear days you could maybe sniff out one or two other stations. And if you had cable TV, you could connect the cable to your stereo and access some city stations. However, no matter what radio options existed, when you tuned in, you were still subject to the whim of (usually) real human disc jockeys and -- to one extent or another -- their dedication to the record charts. Oh, there were a few renegades who played whatever the heck they wanted, but they tended to have very short tenures because their corporate overlords frowned upon such diversity. Outside of radio, we had music magazines and -- later in my high school career -- MTV. Now, when you found out about something new and potentially interesting, you still had to get it in your hot little hands. For those of us that had limited access to decent record stores (yes, vinyl records and cassette tapes), there was mail order. I'm not talking about mail order record clubs (at least not exclusively). I'm talking about ads in the back of magazines (or as part of an interview) that directed you to send away for a particular artist's release. In the early days of MTV, particularly the late night music shows, a featured band would provide a P.O. Box you could contact and order the record that had been played. Such an order could take up to eight weeks to reach you -- talk about delayed gratification!

Back in that halcyon era of music, my good friend Joseph and I would regularly share our discoveries with each other. For example, I found Bronz on MTV's Headbangers Ball while he found Tokyo Blade (in a Metal Blade Records catalog, if I recall correctly). I don't remember which one of us found this week's featured Flashback artist, Arc Angel, but it might have been him. I base that on the fact that I have a TDK cassette of their debut, but no LP. Regardless, I'm glad I remember them. Arc Angel was essentially Jeff Cannata and Michael Soldan along with a host of studio musicians. The concept was developed after Cannata and Soldan's previous band, Jasper Wrath, folded in 1976. They continued writing songs together and, in the early 80s, pitched a demo to CBS who signed the duo to a deal. Arc Angel's self-titled debut album was released in 1983. Although the album was a hit in Europe, and the band had a music video showcased on MTV, success in the US was not forthcoming. My guess is that it was buried in the wave of other releases ... and poor reviews from dismissive critics. If you are a fan of AOR with great guitar licks, 80s synths, and just a hint of prog that prevents a full spiral into glam, then you owe it to yourself to get swept up by Arc Angel. (And if you're looking for them on download sites like eMusic, then you'll need to search under CANNATA). For a few selections from Arc Angel's debut, read and hear more after the break. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for September 20, 2013

[Into the Fall] -- I don't know about you, but I find September to me a month of contradictions. Football has started, but baseball has yet to yield the spotlight. The days are warm, but the nights become cool. Speaking of days, as summer vacations give way to what students perceive as long, tedious school days, the days are actually becoming shorter in length. I have a nostalgic hankering for pumpkin spice (lattes), but that particular treat has been around for only 10 years. And, finally, I have this strange urge to hurry and complete even while the world around me is getting ready to slow down and sleep (Autumn Equinox this weekend).

Seems like a good time to do a Flashback featuring The Outfield.

The Outfield is a power-pop band that was founded in the early 80s, and they, too, are somewhat contradictory: They are from the UK, yet they took their name from part of the playing field for America's pastime (note: they started out as The Baseball Boys). They had huge hits in the US, but they couldn't quite win commercial success in their homeland. Two band members had the look of new romance while the other two looked a bit more glam. And, finally, they continue to perform and record (their last album was released in 2011), but they have not charted since 1990. What Outfield tunes got off the bench and onto the playlist this week? Well, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, September 13, 2013

R.I.P. Ray Dolby

The man behind this logo -- Dr. Ray Dolby, not Thomas Dolby -- passed away today. Read more about his contributions to sound and music engineering:

Ray Dolby in Home Workshop (via

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Internet Must Go?

In 2012, market researcher John Wooley was dispatched to help the big ISPs figure out how to sell their vision for a "faster," "cleaner" Internet. Six months later he produced this report -- and shared it with the world. If you're concerned about a free, open Internet, watch this leaked video, learn more and take action at

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for September 6, 2013 (on a Saturday)

[Unused 80s Montage Playlist] -- I spent much of this week's free time -- not that it's really "free" -- preparing a set of 80s music for the latest production at Montgomery Theater. It's for a scene in which one of the lead characters introduces a montage telling the story of getting together with her first boyfriend. First, she asks for some music to set the scene, but the song that plays is needed later, so she asks for something more upbeat. The second tune doesn't work for her either, so she requests a cheesy love song which is finally what she wants. Researching and assembling the options for this playlist left me with very little time to work on the Flashback. I don't even really haven't worked out a theme for this week. So how about I just share some of the tunes that won't be used in the show? OK? OK! Read and hear more after the break.