Thursday, May 26, 2005
“and if I can’t get an angel / I can still get a boy / and a boy would be the next best thing to an angel…”
Goofy lyrics? Overwrought production? Histrionic vocals? Undeniable hooks?
Yes, we’re talkin’ Jim Steinman today, kids.
Would you really be surprised if I told you the writer/producer of such irresistibly schlocky classics like Meat Loaf’s “Bat Out of Hell” album and Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” started out writing musical theater? Me neither.
Would you be surprised if I told you Jim had a hit of his own from an album called “Bad for Good”, which was originally written for Meat Loaf? “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” was a minor hit nationally, but HUGE regionally, especially in the Midwest. WGCL and CKLW played the crap out of this song. And why not? It sounds like a Meat Loaf song, only sung by a guy who can’t really sing. And a Boris Vallejo album cover? What’s not to like? But seriously…please don’t pay attention to the lyrics. You’ll hurt yourself.
Three years and a few bigger hits written for others (including Air Supply – cringe freely here) later, Steinman went back to his obvious first love…an overblown, bombastic rock musical, this one called “Streets of Fire”. The soundtrack had a huge hit with Dan Hartman’s “I Can Dream About You”, but the true cheese was Steinman’s studio creation , Fire Inc., over-emoting for more than six minutes (the average Steinman song running time) on “Tonight Is What It Means to be Young”. Diane Lane does a good job lipsynching this in the flick, but the real vocalist was named Holly Sherwood, who got the privilege of working with Steinman again in 1989 on a new project called Pandora’s Box that sold about 43 copies.
I kid the Steinman, but you know what? I own both CDs, so what does that say about me?
Yes, I am gay.
Download “Rock ‘n Roll Dreams Come Through”.
Download “Tonight Is What It Means To Be Young”.Jim Steinman’s “Rock ‘n Roll Dreams Come Through” peaked at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Fire Inc.’s “Tonight Is What It Means to be Young” peaked at #80 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Buy Bad for Good
Buy the Streets of Fire soundtrack
I can't believe I did a whole post on Jim without giving him total props for his epic production on the Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion" and "Dominion/Mother Russia" - two examples of where bombast not only works, but excels.
posted by John, 2:51 PM
Monday, May 23, 2005
Lost Down Under Week – Hunters & Collectors
Another band Melbourne from punk’s ashes, Hunters & Collectors began life in 1981 as a raucous, horn-fueled live act, feeding off audience participation and feel more than songwriting. Over the course of their first four albums, this changed radically, as lead Hunter Mark Seymour began crafting some beautiful and catchy melodies, climaxing with their fourth album, “Human Frailty”.
Now before everyone in Australia e-mails me, yes, I’m aware H&C were HUGE down there. “Throw Your Arms Around Me” was a massive, U2 sized hit for the band in 1986. However, here in the States, H&C got little more than some late-night MTV airplay and a few modern rock radio spins, which is a shame.
“Is There Anybody In There” was a “120 Minutes” staple for a few months, with the memorable image of Seymour screaming from inside a TV as it tumbled to the ground after being thrown from a building…this image ended up being used during many MTV commercials of the period. The song itself was about how, with everything going wrong in the world, TV seemed to be only concerned with trivial events. Thank God that’s all changed.
H&C’s label at the time, IRS Records, continued to push the band by using their massive hit “Throw Your Arms Around Me” as the follow up, to little success. Some MTV play again, then Lost in the ‘80s.
It wasn’t until two years later and a new U.S. label that H&C would score a Top Ten Modern Rock hit with “Back on the Breadline.” After that and several roster shuffles and record labels later, Hunters & Collectors disbanded in the early ‘90s. Trivia - Mark’s brother Nick was a founding member of Crowded House.
Download “Is There Anybody In There?”.
Download “Throw Your Arms Around Me”.Neither song charted in the U.S.
posted by John, 4:49 PM
Friday, May 20, 2005
Lost Down Under Week – Wa Wa Nee
You know what the world needed more than anything in 1987? A group of white Australians trying to recreate the funk rock that was The Time! Missing Morris Day? Don’t worry, folks! Here's Wa Wa Nee's Paul Gray!
Well…not quite. I mean, Wa Wa Nee didn’t have a mirror-toting Jerome. Maybe that was the problem.
Wa Wa Nee hit the Australian charts in 1986 with a huge single, “Stimulation” that got to number two there. The next year, they had another hit, this time in America, with “Sugar Free”. Ah, “Sugar Free…” Fire in your head, river in your bed
Two hundred dollar, see his face go red
Lost in a world where nothin' is nothin'
Burnt pretty bad, can't get another hit-ah
Oh, my love and me, oh, we're sugar free
Oh, this oughta be, burnin' up, breakin' down
Oh, my love and me, oh, we're sugar free
Oh, ever wanna be, burnin' up, breakin' down
Is it about a hooker? A proponent of Sweet ‘n’ Low? Who the fuck knows. It was catchy and goofy fun, though. Unlike the Time, however, it hasn’t aged well. “Sugar Free” scraped the lower reaches of the Top 40, so it came time to release their secret weapon, their big Australian hit “Stimulation”.
Nah, no one else here heard it either.
After Wa Wa Nee broke thru with “Sugar Free,” they went on to – come on! Say it with me. We all know this by now, people. – record one more album, then break up, forever Lost in the ‘80s.
Download “Sugar Free (Extended Mix).”
Download “Stimulation.””Sugar Free” peaked at #35 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987.
“Stimulation” failed to chart.
NOTE: I know it’s Friday, but Lost Down Under Week will
continue. We ain’t done yet.
posted by John, 12:30 PM
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Lost Down Under Week - The Models
All this week, Lost in the ‘80s takes a look at bands who were part of the early-to-mid ‘80s Australian invasion led by groups such as INXS, Midnight Oil, and although they’re from New Zealand, Split Enz (hey, close enough. I keed!).
The Models had been banging around Australia since the late ‘70s, helping spearhead that country’s new wave movement to minor success. A constantly changing band roster hampered their efforts, but they were ultimately rewarded with a good-sized rock radio hit in America with the first single from their 1985 album “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”, a tune called “Cold Fever”. MTV even picked up the video and gave it a few spins in mainstream timeslots, heavier in the “120 Minutes” rotation.
But it wasn’t until the release of the album’s title track as the second U.S. single that the Models’ buzz paid off. “Out of Mind, Out of Sight” got the deluxe heavy rotation treatment from MTV and radio followed suit somewhat, with even some Top 40 CHR stations adding the song.
Listening to it now, the first thing that hits the ear is the similarity to a huge number one hit three years later…”Wild, Wild West” by the Escape Club. Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything, but the stomping beat…the horns…let’s just say the Escape Club glossed it up right and were rewarded justly and leave it at that.
As for the Models, they did what any good Lost in the ‘80s one-hit wonder band does after suffering for years and finally scoring a hit…they recorded one more album, then broke up.
Personal memory – this song was a hit my senior year in high school, a year mostly spent with a huge group of friends at our good buddy Jeff’s basement, complete with a jukebox stocked with personally selected 45s. I had my very first advertising job that year, pasting up corrections and type. In those pre-Adobe days, I would create a weekly Top Ten Most Played Songs chart for the jukebox, using Rapidiographs and manual type. Our group of about 20 friends made the Models number one for a good month or so.
The album was finally released on CD in Australia in 1991, but is long since out of print.
Download the Models “Out of Mind, Out of Sight”.”Cold Fever” reached #29 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
“Out of Mind, Out of Sight” peaked at #22 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and at #37 on the Hot 100.
posted by John, 11:32 PM
Monday, May 16, 2005
"if they were me / and i were you..."
Happy birthday to me. I'm this many today!
It's amazing what you find when you look...just days after posting a request for Q Lazzarus and thinking it was back in Cleveland (see below), I pulled out some new CD compilations I hadn't gotten around to and lo and behold, there's Q Lazzarus "Goodbye Horses (Extended)"!
There you go, John, better late than never.
was kind enough to foward the extended mix of Heaven 17's "Let Me Go". Yay!
posted by John, 9:53 AM
Friday, May 13, 2005
"pilot of the airwaves / here is my request..."
Ah, Charlie Dore’s ode to calling the DJ request line. Every ‘80s child has been there, hanging on the phone, waiting for that busy signal to stop, finally getting it to ring, then sitting there waiting for the DJ to answer so you can make that request. Sigh. Well, Charlie had a decent sized hit with “Pilot of the Airwaves”, however, it seems to have faded into obscurity since it hit. But Charlie did okay since, writing songs for Tina Turner, Celine Dion and a little ‘80s jam for Sheena Easton called “Strut”. Who knew?
But we’re talkin’ requests…
Lost in the 80s started just three short months ago, and with the help of such fantastic sites as mp3blogs.org
and Tofu Hut,
has grown from a couple of my friends and blogging buddies visiting once a week, to more than 500 hits a day from around the world. And with this new traffic comes plenty of great e-mail from fellow ‘80s geeks. I read and truly appreciate each and every one, even if it takes me forever to respond. You guys are awesome.
Let’s dig into that mailbag a bit, yes?
One of the first e-mails I got from this site was waaaay back in March was from John G. who had two fine requests, one for Q Lazzarus and another for the extended version of Heaven 17’s “Let Me Go”.
Well, John, I have both tucked away somewhere in Cleveland…unfortunately, I’m in Cali. Until I dig them out of storage, how about the radio edit of “Let Me Go” to tide us over? Can you believe this was Heaven 17’s only Hot 100 chart entry in the States? We suck.
“letit beme” writes in with a bunch of good requests, a few I may get to eventually, but I love one in particular – Industry’s “State of the Nation”.
Industry had an EP and later a full-length release on Capitol Records. Both are long out of print, but “State of the Nation” surfaced a few years ago on a CD compilation titled “Can’t Get Enough of the ‘80s”. That CD is also now out of print, but you may be able to find it used at SecondSpin.com.
While you search, here’s “State of the Nation”, plus a nice Razormaid remix. Without getting too political, I think the lyrics are probably more relevant today than back in 1983…
And while they didn’t request anything specific, shoutouts in particular to Zombie Joey D., Joe.My.God.,
DJ Joel-Steven and Dave P. from Memory LAME radio
for their kind words and support.
One last request…mine! I’m looking for a pretty obscure one here, folks. Anyone remember “Baby Come Back” from Billy Rankin? In 1984, this former Nazareth member put out a solo album containing that single which peaked at #52 on the Hot 100, accompanied by a pretty stylish video where he watched himself on TV chasing himself on TV, then a static-y version of himself came out of the TV and chased himself into the TV and…well, it was cool. I love that song and it’s never been issued on CD. And I’ll be damned if I can find the album (“Growin’ Up Too Fast”) much less the 45. Anyone?
That is my request. You don’t have to play it, but I’ll hope you’ll do your best. ”Pilot of the Airwaves” by Charlie Dore peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1980.
“Let Me Go” by Heaven 17 peaked at #74 on the Billboard Hot 100, #4 on the Club Play Singles chart and #32 on the Mainstream Rock chart (??) in 1983.
“State of the Nation” peaked at #99 on the Billboard Hot 100.
posted by John, 10:57 AM
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
"always someone left out in the rain / it's always the same"
Turn on any local “Hits of the ‘80s, ‘90s and Today!” radio station, and within an hour, I guarantee you will hear either of Naked Eyes’ big hits, “Promises, Promises” or “Always Something There to Remind Me”. While “Always…” was a cover, there are two entire generations who are completely unfamiliar with the Dionne Warwick original version it completely eclipsed. It was that good. In fact, both singles became perfect pop classics that just about everyone knows by heart.
They were not, however, Naked Eyes’ only Top 40 hits.
Naked Eyes’ first album was successful enough to have three singles released off it, a fairly new practice back in 1983, when most albums were worked for two singles max, then off to the studio for a new one. “Always” went Top Ten and its follow-up, “Promises,” almost matched it, peaking at #11. When it was decided to keep milking the debut album, “When the Lights Go Out” was the choice for single number three, a strange but tasteful decision.
“When the Lights Go Out” was even darker than the first two singles, which, poppy synths aside, were pretty bleak lyrically. Poor Suzy lives alone at home, calling a former lover’s name each night. My life story, pretty much! “When the Lights Go Out” squeaked into the Top 40 for a few brief weeks, then was forgotten…so forgotten, that when EMI put out the first Naked Eyes Greatest Hits compilation, it was left off, even though it was only one of the bands four genuine Top 40 hits! This bizarre omission was corrected on a later re-mastered and re-titled compilation, but strangely enough, that version is out of print, while the earlier, inferior greatest hits comp remains in print.
One short year later, Naked Eyes’ second album, “Fuel for the Fire” was released, and the first single was a blazing dancefloor number, “(What) In the Name of Love,” co-produced and remixed by none other than new wave /house pioneer Arthur Baker. You may remember Arthur Baker from his work with another tiny synthpop band called New Order.
I loved “(What) In the Name of Love,” including its cutesy video featuring the somewhat faceless Rob Fisher and Pete Byrne (Naked Eyes, of course), acting as bellboys at an upscale resort and stealing old guys’ money and young dames. Actually, it may have been that very same facelessness that hurt Naked Eyes in the long run. If they had strange, angular haircuts and “hip” clothes, they may have made more of a lasting impression.
As it stands, all they left behind were some great pop songs. Sadly, keyboardist Rob Fisher died in 1999, just as he and Byrne were prepping a Naked Eyes reunion album. EMI needs to get their shit together and put both of these albums back in print. One Way Records has a nice 12” and b-sides rarities disc in print, but that’s not enough.
"When the Lights Go Out"”When the Lights Go Out” peaked at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Download "(What) In the Name of Love"
“(What) In the Name of Love” peaked at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100.
posted by John, 3:13 PM
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Mr. Smarty Pants Music Knowlege Guy
The final part of my Rock & Roll Jeopardy experience has been posted over at my other blog, Johnny Is a Man.
If you haven't been reading it, you can start here if you'd like. Part One.Part Two.Part Three.Part Four.
More music tomorrow!
posted by John, 2:56 PM