Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 26, 2014

[Love Conquers] -- When I was in college in the mid-to-late 80s, I took a training program to become a resident assistant (RA). Counselor Education 302. One of the exercises in that course left a strong impression upon me as it was meant to help potential RAs empathize with students who were struggling with their sexual orientation. We also watched Torch Song Trilogy and attended a performance of The Normal Heart, but it was that aforementioned thought experiment that most moved me and changed the way I saw hetero- and homosexual relationships. Now, it may seem difficult to remember this, but even as recently as the 1980s, the majority of LGBT people kept their affections a private, hidden matter (with, of course, a few very public exceptions). I remember wondering if gay people would ever be fully welcomed into society. (A society, by the way, they had entertained, taught, and served while all-too-often keeping their true selves in the shadows).

Flash forward to today -- June 26, 2015 -- and the Supreme Court of the USA has legalized same-sex marriage across the US.

This doesn't mean that LGBTs still don't have some hurdles to conquer. No, there are still places where a person can lose their job if they are outed. And not everyone was happy with today's news. I, for one, applaud the Supreme Court decision. And I've decided to honor this historic occasion with a suitable selection of 80s tunes. What is on our playlist this week? Read and hear more after the break!  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 19, 2015

[This Week in June 1982] -- During this week in 1982: President Reagan and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met regarding the violence in Lebanon, the Argentine government was at war with Britain, George Allen became the coach of the Chicago franchise of the new U.S. Football League, and the Satellite News Channel debuted as competition for CNN.

Oh, and these songs topped the US Billboard Hot 100... 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 12, 2015

[Clutching at the 80s] -- I was a bit disappointed with this week's chart activity in 1981 and 1987 (remember, the calendar dates from those two years line up with those of 2015). Kim Carnes did keep her hold on the #1 spot with "Betty Davis Eyes" on 6/13/81. But beyond that, the charts were mired in forgettable pop fluff (with "Stars on 45" and Sukiyaki's "A Taste Of Honey" joining Kim Carnes in the top three in 1981, and Atlantic Starr -- really?! -- taking the top spot in 1987). So, I turned to album releases to see if there was something a bit more interesting this week.

And there was.

On today's date* in 1987, 80s prog rockers and cult darlings, Marillion, released their fourth studio album, Clutching at Straws. Marillion got their start in Aylesbury, England, in 1979, and took their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's novel, The Silmarillion. A favorite among the D&D playing teens in the early 80s, Marillion reached the peak of their success with Clutching at Straw's predecessor, the concept album Misplaced Childhood (1985). While not as commercially successful as Childhood, Straws did reach #2 on the UK Albums Chart and it received many positive reviews. In fact, considers this album to be their "most unheralded masterpiece." It was certainly a transitional record -- it was the last record with singer-songwriter, Fish, and it heralded guitarist Steve Rothery's ascension to being the band's new musical instigator later recordings.

Like Childhood, Straws is a concept album. However, rather than delving into the vagaries of youth, this record looks the downward spiral of a young adult. In these songs, we see Torch, who is 29 years old and out-of-work. His life is a mess and he seeks solace mainly in alcohol. It is not a happy story, as Torch ends up a raging drunk beyond all hope of redemption.

CD Booklet for UK release of Clutching at Straws
The three singles released from Clutching at Straws were "Incommunicado," "Sugar Mice," and "Warm Wet Circles." However, since we're dealing with a concept album, I thought it might be best to provide a full playlist rather than just pick my usual three selections. Enjoy!

Flashback Video(s)"I'm a citizen of Legoland travellin' incommunicado  |  And I don't give a damn for the Fleet Street aficionados." (lyrics from the first single, Incommunicado)

Well, 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!

* Wikipedia has 6/12/87 as the release date for Clutching at Straws., however, has the release date as 6/19/87. Other sources list it simply as June 1987. So, by blogger's imperative, I'm going with 6/12/87!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for June 5, 2015

[ Bad Animals] -- This week in 1987, Heart released their ninth studio album, Bad Animals, which was their second with Capital Records. The move to Capital coincided with -- or perhaps spurred -- Heart's resurgence. Their more polished sound had resulted in many new followers and an increase in album sales. This album is also significant in that only three of the ten tracks include a writing credit for either of the band's founders, Nancy or Ann Wilson. You know what else is notable? The fact that three of this album's four singles were top 40 hits (on the US Billboard Hot 100). And that fourth one was a respectable #49. Read and hear more after the break to find out which tunes from Bad Animals are spotlighted here.