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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Best of Lost in the 80s: Year One - Naked Eyes

Originally presented on May 4, 2005.

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

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.

Damn it.

Download "When the Lights Go Out".
Download "(What) In the Name of Love".

Get Naked Eyes songs at iTunes:
Naked Eyes

”When the Lights Go Out” peaked at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“(What) In the Name of Love” peaked at #39 on the Billboard Hot 100.
posted by John, 10:31 AM