song of the day #2 – “Relax” | FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD | 1984 / 1985.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

HOORAY!  We’ve finally reached the Top 10!  Woo-hoo!  When Casey Kasem got to this point of an American Top 40 countdown, he would usually say, “We’re headed into the home stretch now!  And on we go!”

Wow, in my research for this series, no chart position so far has had nearly 90 songs reach a certain position between 1979 and 1989…until now.  Nearly 90 songs set up camp at the No. 10 position during that time, some stays as short as one week (like “Borderline” by Madonna, “Hysteria” by Def Leppard and “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper), or as many as six weeks (“Muscles” by Diana Ross). 

borderline

There were only about a baker’s dozen and a half of women who peaked at No. 10 during that time, like Kim Carnes, Pat Benatar, (real) one-hit wonder Regina (with the Madonna-inspired “Baby Love”), Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, Cher, Donna Summer, Exposé, and the aforementioned Madonna and Diana Ross (the latter of which reached No. 10 twice).

It was pretty much a boys club for the rest of the songs that reached No. 10 on the Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, including songs by David Bowie, Culture Club, Pet Shop Boys, Asia, Wham!, Steely Dan, ELO, Golden Earring, Prince, Phil Collins, Duran Duran and Stevie Wonder, and for some, one No. 10 song wasn’t enough.  The Police had two No. 10 hits, Heart had two, plus the Little River Band had three, as did Michael Jackson and Billy Joel.  And Kool & The Gang had four No. 10 hits – “Get Down On It,” “Misled,” “Stone Love” and “Victory.”

get down on it

For me, though, there was one No. 10 hit that stuck out more than any other.  And, as a singles chart nerd, it’s a big one.  It’s also what I call a “second-chance single,” and that historic single is “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

Formed in Liverpool, England in 1980, Frankie Goes To Hollywood was a five-man  New Wave / Dance-Pop band who was a thorn in the BBC’s side (the British Broadcasting Corporation, that is) in 1984, with their debut single, “Relax.”  I’ll come back to that. 

FGTH 2

Producer and ZTT Records co-founder, Trevor Horn, saw Frankie Goes To Hollywood perform on a television show called THE TUBE, when an early version of “Relax” was played.  He thought it was “more a jingle than a song,” and he wanted to “fix it up” in his own way. 

Another co-founder of ZTT, Paul Morley, had a great campaign lined up for Frankie Goes To Hollywood: “a strategic assault on pop.”  This was a brilliant marketing move.  His plan was to also tackle certain a trilogy of themes in the band’s single releases – sex, war, and religion.  “Relax” was first, followed by “Two Tribes” (about the Cold War), and “The Power Of Love” (a video which features the birth of Christ).

Trevor Horn and especially Paul Morley were really going for the shock value when it came to Frankie Goes To Hollywood.  They released a series of provocative advertisements introducing Frankie to the U.K., and one advertisement even said, “Frankie Goes To Hollywood are coming…making Duran Duran lick the shit off their shoes…”  Wow. 

relax ad

One of several provocative ads ZTT released for Frankie Goes To Hollywood and “Relax.”

When “Relax” finally reached the U.K. singles chart in November 1983, it wasn’t really a big deal.  But, when Frankie performed “Relax” on the BBC flagship television show, TOP OF THE POPS, people went nuts.  The following week, it soared to No. 6 on the U.K. singles chart. 

relax TOTP

Frankie’s performance of “Relax” on Top Of The Pops.

About a week later, BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read expressed his offense towards the cover art for “Relax” and especially these lyrics – “Relax, don’t do it / When you want to suck it, do it / Relax, don’t do it / When you want to come…”, and he announced his refusal to play the record.  Unbeknownst to him at the time, the BBC had already decided it couldn’t be played on the BBC anyway. 

relax UK

A couple of days later, the BBC officially banned the single from its airwaves, though radio heroes – like the brilliant John Peel – continued to play it throughout 1984.  Don’t people know when you ban a record, it only increases its popularity?!  And that’s what happened with “Relax.”  It reached No. 1 by late January 1984 and stayed on top for 5 weeks.  Apart from “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, it was the biggest-selling single of the year in the U.K.

Since the BBC ban also applied to TOP OF THE POPS, which, like SOLID GOLD here in the U.S., did a countdown of the country’s biggest hits during the show.  When “Relax” was No. 1, all they did was put up a picture of the band during its big No. 1 announcement.  For five weeks.  Boo.

31 inches

If “Relax” going to No. 1 didn’t piss off the BBC enough, “Relax” took its time falling down the U.K. singles chart.  And by the time the Cold War Classic “Two Tribes” had started its nine-week run at No. 1 in June 1984, “Relax” was right back behind it at No. 2.  Hot damn.

“Relax” remained on the U.K. Top 75 singles chart for 48 consecutive weeks, and returned in February 1985 for another four, giving “Relax” an entire calendar year on the U.K. singles chart.  Pretty impressive.  The BBC ban on “Relax” proved to be a huge embarrassment, and eventually the ban was lifted sometime during 1984, but the damage was done, and Frankie and ZTT prevailed. 

logo

Speaking of embarrassments, I was sometimes embarrassed about how the U.S. didn’t pick up on some huge U.K. singles, and they didn’t do much here, if they were released at all.  Back in the early 00s, on my STUCK IN THE 80s radio show, I did a show called U.K. 1, U.S. O, highlighting songs that reached No. 1 in the U.K. but did nothing here.  Featured on the show were “Ashes To Ashes” by David Bowie, “Pipes Of Peace” by Paul McCartney (relegated to a B-side here), and songs by The Jam and The Flying Pickets, among others.  I think “Two Tribes” was also on the playlist.

Well, “Relax” eventually made its way to American shores and debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 early April 1984 at No. 84.  And, similar to the initial U.K. release, it received little fanfare here, maybe because radio stations had heard all about the song’s controversy in the U.K. and thought it was too obscene to play.  Irregardless, it spent a week at No. 67 in early May 1984, and fell off the chart after just seven weeks.

relax US

My original copy of the “Relax” 12″ single, purchased in July 1984, many months before it became a big hit here in America.

Somewhere along the line, I caught wind of “Relax,” and in a rare move, bought the 12” single (sans fancy cover art) in July 1984 BEFORE it was a radio hit here in America.  And I loved it from the start, and kept wondering, “Why exactly wasn’t this a huge hit here?”

pleasuredome

In late October 1984, just nine days before the release of the band’s brilliant double-album debut, WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREDOME, “Two Tribes” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 79, on its way to a respectable No. 43 peak in mid-December 1984.  I will forever credit “Two Tribes” as the song that re-ignited interest in “Relax” here in America.

two tribes

And “Two Tribes” was still on the chart in mid-January 1985 when “Relax” made its re-entry onto the Hot 100.  In only its third week back, “Relax” debuted in the Top 40, and rose to No. 10 for a quick two weeks in March 1985.  It fell out of the Hot 100 by mid-May 1985 after a combined total of 23 weeks on the chart. 

Outside of North America between 1983 and 1985, “Relax” was one of the biggest hits of the decade.  It reached No. 1 in the aforementioned U.K., plus Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand, and the Top 10 in at least 11 other countries.

“Relax” has been featured in a ton of films and TV shows for more than 30 years, including POLICE ACADEMY, BODY DOUBLE, MIAMI VICE, GOTCHA!, ROCK STAR, ZOOLANDER and ZOOLANDER 2, THE PROPOSAL, CALIFORNICATION, and 2017’s T2 TRAINSPOTTING.

t2header

A number of covers of “Relax” have been released over the years as well, including “Weird Al” Yankovic, Richard Cheese, The Dandy Warhols, Germany’s Tech-Death Metal band Atrocity, and most recently, a brilliant cover by Blondie from their incredible 2014 album, GHOSTS OF DOWNLOAD, which includes a clever sample of the original within their cover.  I love it when artists do that.

In 1987, Frankie Goes To Hollywood ended up disbanding after just seven singles and two albums (though, somehow they manage to have 11 compilation albums), but honestly, it sure wouldn’t have been the 80s without them…

frankie says relax

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp2h5jslKY

FGTH

song of the day – “Push It” (Remix) | SALT-N-PEPA | 1988.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

The line between male and female Rap and Hip Hop singers and musicians in 2017 is much more unified than it was 30 years ago.  And current female Rappers and Hip Hopsters like Iggy Azalea, Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, M.I.A., Eve, Lauren Hill and Alicia Keys prolly wouldn’t have had the success they have now if it hadn’t been for three women out of Queens, NYC – Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton and Deidra “Spinderella” Roper, better known to the world and then some as Salt-N-Pepa.

Salt-N-Papa-SNP-Logo

Formed in 1985, Salt-N-Pepa came onto the music scene when – despite success by The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., Kurtis Blow and Blondie’s “Rapture,” to name a few – a lot of folks in the music industry weren’t entirely convinced Rap was here to stay, which is why Rappers during this time signed on to independent record labels, as opposed to the big labels.

hot cool vicious

Salt-N-Pepa recorded and released their first album, HOT, COOL & VICIOUS (on the independent Next Plateau Records label) in 1986.  The first two singles from the album were minor hits on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, while the third single, “Tramp,” made its way to No. 21 in 1987.

tramp

Then something unusual – but not uncommon in chart world – happened.  Thanks to a remix by a San Francisco DJ named Cameron Paul, the B-side of “Tramp” eventually became the A-side.

The original version of “Push It” was in fact the B-side of “Tramp,” and once “Push It” was remixed, a push was made to have its own release; a single which gave Salt-N-Pepa the “push” it needed.

remix

“Push It” debuted at No. 77 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late November 1987, the week Billy Idol’s now-forgotten “live” version of the Tommy James classic, “Mony Mony,” spent a week on top, and in turn replacing another Tommy James cover, Tiffany’s Bubblegum Pop version of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” at No. 1 (or, in other words, creamy chart nerdiness for yours truly).

push it

One day after Xmas 1987 (and the last Hot 100 chart of the year), “Push It” had reached the Top 40 at No. 40.  A good holiday for the trio, I’m sure.  In mid-February 1988, “Push It” had pushed its way to a No. 19 peak for one week, and departed from the Top 40 a month later.

NERDY FUN FACT: The Kinks’ Ray Davies got a songwriting credit for “Push It,” as Salt-N-Pepa reworked a line from “You Really Got Me”: “Boy, you really got me goin’ / You got me so / I don’t know what I’m doin’…”  (Salt-N-Pepa used three other samples for “Push It,” including The Time’s 1985 hit, “The Bird.”)

push it music


By early April 1988, “Push It” was certified Gold here in the U.S., and left the Hot 100 in mid-May 1988 after 25 weeks.  It also reached No. 18 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and No. 28 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart.

Around the globe, radio stations and fans pushed “Push It” real good, and “Push It” reached No. 1 in Belgium and the Netherlands, No. 2 in Canada, New Zealand and Sweden, No. 3 in Australia, No. 4 in Norway, No. 6 in Ireland, Spain and Switzerland, and No. 9 in Austria and Germany.  Over in the U.K., “Push It” originally peaked at No. 41 (with “Tramp”), but after Salt-N-Pepa performed “Push It” at Nelson Mandela’s 70th Birthday concert, it shot up to No. 2 in the Summer of 1988.

mandela 70th

With the success of the remixed version of “Push It,” HOT, COOL & VICIOUS added the remix as the album’s opening track, and it pushed sales of the album to Platinum status.  In doing so, it became the first album by a female Rap act (solo OR group) to reach Gold or Platinum here in America.

“Push It” was nominated for a Grammy Award, and on ROLLING STONE’s list of the 500 GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME, it ranked at No. 446.  Over the years, “Push It” has itself been covered and sampled many times, from the likes of Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Gorillaz, Pitbull, and has been featured in a mashup with The Stooges’ “No Fun,” which I now have to hear.

Salt-N-Pepa saw their biggest success in the 1990s, with songs like “Let’s Talk About Sex” and the huge Top 5 hits, “Shoop” and “Whatta Man” with En Vogue, the latter of which is their biggest hit ever in their U.S. homeland.  “Shoop” got a big boost in 2016, when it was featured in a funny scene during the kick-ass superhero film, DEADPOOL (released on my birthday in February 2016).

deadpool_2

Salt-N-Pepa are still together today, and currently appear on the bill for the popular “I LOVE THE 90s” tour, which is still going on through most of the rest of 2017 (and which made a stop in Bangor, Maine in 2016; my co-workers attended the show and would not stop singing “Shoop”).

i love the 90s

You know, there have been times over the past 30 years that I’ve considered “Push It” to be a part-time New Wave song?  It’s the keyboards that do it, which are most prominent in the beginning and especially at the end of the song.  New Wave-worthy or not, “Push It” has always been a favorite of mine, and it’s one of those rare times where this B-side baby became an A-side classic, and I’m grateful it was pushed real good to get there…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCadcBR95oU

salt-n-pepa

song of the day – “One Way Or Another” | BLONDIE | 1979.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014 (three years ago today), Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

I remember hearing about Casey’s death during a trial run at a commercial radio station out of my hometown, Bar Harbor, Maine.  I was pre-recording some voice tracks to be played on the air that Sunday afternoon, and saw it pop up on the news feed on a computer in the station’s main on-air studio.  My heart sank.  I knew Casey hadn’t been well, but I had hoped he’d live much longer than he did, though 82 was a long life, and what a life it was.

Due to a communication snafu, it never worked out with that radio station, but at the very least, I got to at pay tribute to him on the air at that station, if only for a moment.  It’s the least I could do for a man who did so much for me – through music – all those years ago.  Like John Hughes, Casey Kasem is one of the most-influential people for me with music that I DIDN’T meet.

A couple of Sundays later, I did get to pay tribute to Casey with the first of three annual 2-hour radio shows in his memory on STUCK IN THE 80s, and that featured nothing but music from 1979 through 1989 and reached the American Top 40.  My theme song for each annual show was M’s No. 1 hit from 1979, “Pop Muzik,” which, to this day, I maintain is a song that epitomized the music of a decade – NOT the decade it came from, but the next one.  And, I couldn’t think of a better name for these tribute shows than LONG DISTANCE DEDICATION.

long distance dedication 6.29.14

One of the artists played on that show (and many other shows over the course of STUCK IN THE 80s’ 20+ years) was Blondie, who just released their eleventh studio album, the excellent and Rockin’ POLLINATOR.

pollinator

By early 1979, Blondie had released three albums, with the latest one, PARALLEL LINES (which was released in September 1978), slowly climbing the BILLBOARD album chart.  Blondie’s self-titled 1976 debut album didn’t even reach the album chart here in the U.S., and their second album, PLASTIC LETTERS (released in February 1978), reached No. 72. 

The first U.S. single released from PARALLEL LINES – “I’m Gonna Love You Too” – ran parallel to the album’s September 1978 release, but the only places it became a hit was in Belgium and in The Netherlands.  Second single “Hanging On The Telephone” is a revered Punk / New Wave classic, but again, it failed to make a dent here in America, though it was a Top 5 U.K. hit.

Though it may sound like a cliché sometimes, like the saying goes, “third time’s a charm,” and in the case of singles released from PARALLEL LINES, the ol’ saying proved to be right for Blondie to finally break through in their homeland of the U.S. of A.

parallel lines

“Heart Of Glass” was released in January 1979, and by mid-February, it debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 way down at No. 84.  10 weeks later, it spent a lone week at No. 1, helped PARALLEL LINES climb to No. 6 on the BILLBOARD album chart (becoming their first Platinum album), and reached No. 1 in at least seven other countries – and in the process, united both Punk and Disco fans alike – no easy trick.  I can’t think of any other song that truly did that.

heart of glass

After the worldwide success of “Heart Of Glass,” Blondie’s record label, Chrysalis, released “Sunday Girl” in May 1979…but not here in the U.S., despite the fact “Sunday Girl” spent three weeks at No. 1 in the U.K. and four weeks at No. 1 in Ireland.  (Thanks Chrysalis, you crusty jugglers!  Just because the first two singles didn’t work out here didn’t mean “Sunday Girl” wouldn’t have charted!)

sunday girl

For the fourth single released here in the U.S. and in Canada, Chrysalis released “One Way Or Another,” a song inspired by one of Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriends who had stalked her after they broke up.  (Boy, you don’t wanna mess with Debbie, man!  I believe it when she says she’ll “get’cha, get’cha, get’cha, get’cha!”)

“One Way Or Another” (which, oddly enough, was NOT released as a single outside of the U.S. or Canada) was more Punk and Rock-friendly than Disco friendly, although I don’t know anyone in the ‘Verse who wouldn’t want to dance to this gem.  It’s infectious and instantly invites you to move.

blondie-1

Debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early June 1979 (with “Heart Of Glass” still in the Top 15), “One Way Or Another” found its way onto the Top 40 four weeks after its debut, entering the Top 40 at the end of June at No. 35.  It inched up another notch the following week, and then for some weird reason, fell out of the Top 40 down to No. 41. 

In an even weirder chart move (and one I’m sure Casey Kasem loved to talk about), the following week, “One Way Or Another” roared back into the Top 40 from No. 41 to No. 29, a feat more commonplace in the Digital Age of the Hot 100 today, but back in 1979, to make such a dramatic turnaround on the chart was quite rare.

And that would be the last of the rare, big moves for “One Way Or Another,” as two weeks later, in early August 1979, it would spend the first of two weeks at No. 24.  Two weeks after departing the Top 40, it was gone from the Hot 100 completely.  In Canada, “One Way Or Another” fared better, reaching No. 14.

Deborah Harry by Chris Stein, 1979

The 1979 poster of Debbie Harry (photo taken by Chris Stein) that has eluded me for almost 40 years now…

The legacy of “One Way Or Another” didn’t stop there, though.  It’s been covered since by the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, Alvin And The Chipmunks, the cast of GLEE, and in 2013, the popular British boy band, One Direction, who did a mashup of “One Way Or Another” with “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones – and titled “One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)” – and released a single in support of Comic Relief.  It was, like One Direction and Blondie before them, a global sensation, and reached No. 1 in at least five countries.  In the process, the original “One Way Or Another” squeaked onto the U.K. singles chart (through digital sales) at No. 98, its first appearance on that chart, and not bad for a 34-year-old song.

“One Way Or Another” has recently been in a number of commercials as of late (I think I heard it in two different commercials back-to-back, in fact), and in ROLLING STONE’s 2006 list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, “One Way Or Another” was ranked at No. 298.

chris debbie clem 2013

Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, Clem Burke, 2013.

Though I didn’t initially warm up to “One Way Or Another” as I did with “Heart Of Glass” or “Dreaming,” which would chart a couple of months after “One Way Or Another,” the song grew on me (how could it not?), and I really loved seeing Debbie and Blondie belt this out when my dear friend Shawn (formerly of Maine and NYC) and I saw them in New York back in October 2013.

blondie wkrp 1

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention part of the reason PARALLEL LINES did as well as it did.  The album was released the same month as my second all-time favorite TV show, WKRP IN CINCINATTI.  The show was instrumental in not only the success of the album, but its use of “Heart Of Glass” really helped it to become the big hit it was, and the band’s record label, Chrysalis, presented the producers of WKRP with an authentic Gold RIAA record award for PARALLEL LINES, and it hung on the wall of the station’s “bullpen” for the remainder of the series.  (While I don’t entirely forgive Chrysalis for not releasing “Sunday Girl” here, I thought it was a rare and wonderful and unusual gesture presenting a fictional radio station with a real Gold record.)

blondie wkrp 2

You know, some fans of Casey Kasem and AT40 might disagree, but in listening to some of Casey’s older 1970s AMERICAN TOP 40 countdowns on iHeart Radio (he started AT40, appropriately enough, on July 4, 1970, at the age of 38), I think Casey really started hitting his stride with AT40 in 1979 (though I may be biased, considering that’s the year I really started getting into music).  Maybe that’s what compelled me to keep tuning in week after week, year after year, and as often as I can, three years after his death, on the Interweb.

at80s2I’ve been involved with mostly community and college radio for the better part of 30 years, and in my short-lived time on a commercial station here in Central Maine back in 2008, one of my all-time proudest moments in radio is going on at 10:00 on Saturday mornings, following my radio hero, Casey Kasem, and rebroadcasts of AMERICAN TOP 40.

Though I’ve preferred Alternative, New Wave and Alt-Dance to Top 40 for a long time now, I don’t think I would have ever have had the appreciation for music I do today if it hadn’t been for Casey Kasem.

I miss you, Casey, wherever you are, and I promise to keep reaching for those stars…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m74w9x07DhU

one way or another

  

song of the day – “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” | OUTLAWS | 1981.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

There are some songs in the history of music that just keep coming back and back and back again.  If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the late songwriter and actor, Stan Jones (who died of cancer in 1963 at the age of 49) would be flattered to the moon and back and then some.

Ranger-Stan

“(Ghost) Riders” writer and originator, Stan Jones.

When Stan Jones wasn’t acting in Westerns directed by the legendary (and Portland, Maine native) John Ford, he was writing songs, and one of those songs, a 1948 composition (written at the time he worked for the National Park Service in Death Valley, California) titled “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky: A Cowboy Legend” became a legend all its own.

Stan Jones recorded his original version of “(Ghost) Riders” in late 1948, and from there, it became one of the most-covered songs in history.  Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Peggy Lee, The Ventures, Bob James and Dick Dale have covered it.  So have Tom Jones, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Duane Eddy and Peter, Paul & Mary.  Deborah Harry of Blondie recorded a trance version of it in 1998, and more recently, Judy Collins, Concrete Blonde and various Death Metal bands have covered this classic.

debbie harry riders

Pretty bleepin’ cool.

“(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” has even reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in four different versions.  In 1961, The Ramrods (an Instrumental Rock band out of Connecticut) reached No. 30, and Lawrence Welk reached No. 87 with his version.  In 1966, the Baja Marimba Band took it to No. 52.  And, in 1981, Southern Rockers the Outlaws scored the second-highest charted version in BILLBOARD Hot 100 history with their cool, rockin’ 6-minute cover.

ghost riders LP

The Outlaws, formed in Tampa, Florida in 1967,  released their sixth studio album, GHOST RIDERS, in late November 1980.  The band had some moderate success in the 70s with their 1975 hit, “There Goes Another Love Song,” reaching the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100.ghost riders 7

The single released from GHOST RIDERS was “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky.”  It made its Hot 100 debut at No. 83 on the last chart of 1980, a couple of days after Xmas.

Throughout the first weeks of 1981, the Outlaws steadily climbed the Hot 100, entering the Top 40 on Valentine’s Day 1981.  “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky” reached No. 31 in early March 1981, but fell out of the Top 40 the following week and left the Hot 100 in early April 1981 after 15 weeks on the chart.  It was the last time the band would reach the Hot 100.

Bruce Willis Performs in Las Vegas

Bruce Willis as John McClane singing “(Ghost) Riders?”  It could happen!

DREAM COVER: Someone should get Bruce Willis to cover this song, but as his famous character from the DIE HARD films, John McClane – “Yippe-ki-yay (motherfucker)!  Yippie-ki-yo (motherfucker)!”  Wouldn’t that be fun?

The Outlaws have been around for the better part of 50 years, with a long list of lineup changes that would take up another post entirely.  None of the original members are still with the band (a couple of them died in 1995, another in 2007).    They released their last studio album, IT’S ABOUT PRIDE, in 2012, and their fifth live album, LEGACY LIVE (a 2-CD set), in 2016.

legacy live

It’s hard to believe that I had nearly forgotten about this amazing cover from the Outlaws when Hope brought it to my attention years ago.  Long story longer, I fell in love with this version all over again and played it on STUCK IN THE 80s often during the show’s last several years.

And if I were a betting man, I think Stan Jones might have have been much more than flattered when he heard The Outlaws version, and I think he would have raised his fist up and started jammin’ to it, or at the very least, tipped his cowboy hat in appreciation.  Yippie-yi-yaaaay.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmpvpypXKf0

outlaws 1980

song of the day – “Slipping Away” | DAVE EDMUNDS | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

In researching for this blog post, I found a lot more songs from the 80s that peaked at No. 39 than expected, at least 30.  There were some great ones, like “Atomic” by Blondie, “I Don’t Care Anymore” by Phil Collins, “In The Mood” by Robert Plant,” “Looking For A Stranger” by Pat Benatar, “My Town” by the Michael Stanley Band, “Skin Trade” by Duran Duran, “Tomorrow People” by Ziggy Marley, “(What) In The Name Of Love” by Naked Eyes, “Second Nature” by Dan Hartman, “Who’s Making Love” by The Blues Brothers, Bon Jovi’s first hit, “Runaway,” ELO’s sadly-forgotten “Last Train To London,” the gorgeous “Wake Up (Next To You)” by Graham Parker And The Shot, and six (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s.

atomic

I also found some songs I had forgotten about, like “Don’t Let Him Know” by Prism and “New Romance (It’s A Mystery)” by Spider, and some stinkers among the bunch, including “Memory” by Barry Manilow, “Sartorial Eloquence” by Elton John (sorry Elton, with a song title like that, it was bound not to work out), and the “WTF was I thinking with this song” song by Mick Jagger, “Let’s Work.”  Downright awful.  Don’t watch the video – that’s four minutes you’re not getting back.

wake up next to you

I nearly chose “Wake Up (Next To You)” as my selection for a song that peaked at No. 39 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, but I wanted to choose instead a gem from the sensationally-talented Welsh singer / songwriter / guitarist / über-producer, Dave Edmunds.

i hear you knockingBorn in Cardiff, Wales, Dave Edmunds first got his big break with a band called Love Sculpture, and in 1968, they reached No. 5 on the U.K. singles chart with a song called “Sabre Dance.”  Two years later, he had himself a huge international solo hit called “I Hear You Knocking,” which spent six weeks at No. 1 in the U.K., reached No. 3 in Canada and New Zealand, and No. 4 in the U.S. and Australia.  Dave’s version was actually a cover of a 1955 hit by R&B singer Smiley Lewis, and then covered by the legendary Fats Domino in 1961.  It’s also been covered many times over the decades, including versions by Bruce Springsteen and Bryan Adams.

repeat when necessaryThrough the end of the 1970s, Dave Edmunds picked up another three Top 10 U.K. hits, including Silver-Certified “Girls Talk,” written by Elvis Costello and appearing on his 1979 album, REPEAT WHEN NECESSARY (on Led Zeppelin’s SWAN SONG label). 

NERDY FUN FACTS: Huey Lewis appears on that same 1979 Dave Edmunds album, playing harmonica on a song he wrote called “Bad Is Bad,” four years before it would appear on Huey’s own monster album with The News, SPORTS.  And a song called “Queen Of Hearts” was also on the album, a No. 11 U.K. hit for Dave Edmunds that would become a big global hit for New Jersey Country singer, Juice Newton, in 1981.

bad is bad

Yepper, that’s Huey Lewis’ name and song on Led Zeppelin’s label, years before Huey became a star in his own right…

In addition to being a successful singer, songwriter and musician, Dave Edmunds was also a popular producer for other artists, including producing several albums by The Stray Cats, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, his side project with Nick Lowe, Rockpile, and k.d. lang’s second album, ANGEL WITH A LARIAT.

In all the years Dave Edmunds produced his own albums and the works of other artists, when it came time to work on his own 1983 album, INFORMATION, Dave did something he had never done before – he collaborated with another producer, in this case, Jeff Lynne of the Electric Light Orchestra.

information

Jeff Lynne would go on to produce two songs on the album – the title track, and the album’s first single, “Slipping Away,” which Jeff Lynne also wrote.  “Slipping Away” entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 93 in mid-May 1983.  I confess I didn’t know much about Dave Edmunds when this song came out, but I loved the updated twangy sound. 

slipping away

With the help of airplay on the relatively new MTV, “Slipping Away” inched its way up the Hot 100, reaching its peak position of No. 39 nearly three months after debuting on the chart.  Four weeks after reaching the Top 40, “Slipping Away” slipped its way out of the Hot 100.  It’s his last Top 40 hit to date. 

on guitar

Dave Edmunds, now 73, released two albums in recent years, one in 2013 called …AGAIN (featuring recordings from the 90s and four new songs), and in 2015 (ON GUITAR…RAGS & CLASSICS).

It’s his twangy, Jeff Lynne-penned and produced No. 39 hit, though, that caught my ear, which introduced me to a music legend, and is a song that has never slipped away from me since, and won’t…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFETrcH1Dks

dave edmunds

song of the day – “Clones (We’re All)” | ALICE COOPER | 1980.

forever young blog logoFor whatever reason(s), I’ve been unintentionally lax in my FOREVER YOUNG: MY LIFE STUCK IN THE 80s blog post output so far this year.  Last year, between January 11, 2016 (my first-ever blog post), until June 1, 2016, I had written 111 blog posts.  Not bad for a first-timer.  From January 4, 2017 through today, June 1, 2017, I’ve posted less than half of that 2016 amount.  Well, that changes right now.

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June, I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  Today’s “song of the day” (June 1, 2017) will feature a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

In the 1970s, Alice Cooper was famous for his “snake-eyes” makeup and his being “The Godfather Of Shock Rock,” from Rockin’ songs like “School’s Out,” his first hit, “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and awesome ballads like “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry” and “You And Me.” 

welcome to my nightmare, 1975

Alice Cooper on the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE tour, 1975.

It was his ballads, actually, that gave Alice Cooper his biggest hits in the 70s, which isn’t really that strange, because if you think about it, just about all of the big Rock bands of the 70s, 80s and even 90s had their biggest success with a ballad (pardon me, that should prolly read “power ballad”) – a list that includes but is not limited to Styx, Journey, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Scorpions, Night Ranger, The Cars, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Kiss, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Queensrÿche, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Cinderella, Skid Row, Bad English (featuring John Waite) and Aerosmith, whose big song from the biggest film of 1998, ARMAGEDDON – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – gave the Boston band not only their first (and sole) No. 1 song, but their biggest hit in the 25 years they had been together at that point.

Well, by 1980, Alice Cooper wanted to try something new.  He ditched the makeup  and recorded the 28-minute album, FLUSH THE FASHION, with popular producer, Roy Thomas Baker, who, in the two years previous to FLUSH THE FASHION, had worked with bands like The Cars, Foreigner, Journey and Queen.

flush the fashion

FLUSH THE FASHION had a sort of New Wave influence, and since its release, it has been hailed as a “hidden gem” in the 26 studio albums Alice has released since 1969 (his 27th, PARANORMAL, is scheduled to be released in late July 2017).  At the time of the release of FLUSH THE FASHION, though, many longtime fans were bewildered at the change in Alice’s sound.

Still, FLUSH THE FASHION became Alice Cooper’s biggest album in three years, and returned him to the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for the first time in two years. alice clones

“Clones (We’re All)” was the first single released from the album, making its debut on the Hot 100 in mid-May 1980 at No. 77, just a few weeks after the release of FLUSH THE FASHION.  “Clones” had risen to No. 51 by early June, and reached No. 40 on July 5, 1980, but, sadly like Blondie’s brilliant “Atomic” (No. 39 that week), both songs lost steam and plummeted down more than half the chart the following week after just nine weeks on the Hot 100.

NERDY AT40 FACT: To my knowledge, “Clones (We’re All)” was actually never mentioned by Casey Kasem, because on that chart dated July 5, 1980, AMERICAN TOP 40 aired a special broadcast of the “AMERICAN TOP 40 Book Of Records” that week, so “Clones” was never even played on AT40 because it was gone from the Top 40 that following week.

“Clones” did have some chart success elsewhere, reaching No. 15 in Canada, No. 36 in Australia, No. 58 in Germany, and somehow all 2 minutes and 51 seconds of “Clones” was serviced to Dance clubs, and it actually reached No. 69 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

alice 1980 v2

Alice Cooper, 1980.

I’m not sure exactly how “Clones,” a song about forced conformity (“I’m all alone, so are we all / We’re all clones / All are one and one are are all…”), came onto my music radar, I just really liked it.  Strangely enough, today was the first time I ever saw the music video for “Clones,” and if videos were as popular then as they would be a year or so later, and if the 13-year-old version of myself had seen Alice’s frail-looking and somewhat menacing appearance, I am not sure if I would have changed my mind about the song.  But, honestly, whatever attracted me to this odd and yet topically-interesting song still attracts me to it 37 years later.

After “Clones” and FLUSH THE FASHION, his next few albums fizzled and most of the 80s were not good to Alice Cooper.  But, by 1989, he was on a new record label and returned with a vengeance with the album TRASH, his first Platinum album since 1975, which featured the biggest hit of his career – no, not a power ballad this time – the Hard Rockin’ “Poison.”  That song was certified as a Gold single and reached No. 7 on the Hot 100, plus it reached the Top 10 in (at least) the U.K., Australia, Austria, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.  Alice Cooper was back. 

Alice_Cooper_–_Poison

From the “Poison” music video…

In 1992, Alice appeared as himself in the highly successful and fun film adaptation of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, WAYNE’S WORLD, where he performed at a concert and got his intellectual on about Milwaukee, Wisconsin backstage with Wayne (Mike Meyers) and Garth (Dana Carvey).  In my humble opinion, they’re all worthy.

wayne's world

On top of a new album release this summer (an album which features contributions from Larry Mullen of U2 and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, among others), Alice will be co-headlining a tour in August with Deep Purple and Edgar Winter.

DeepPurple_AliceCooper_Instagram_1080x1080_Static

You know, regardless of chart positions, I’ve always found it interesting how there’s no rhyme or reason to which songs we choose to like and keep liking and loving over the years, but when when do like and love them, those songs really matter, and will forever. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, or the radio dial if you prefer, as much as I love radio, and loved being involved in it for the better part of 32 years (so far), you’ve gotta wonder how a commercial and/or conglomerate station determines what songs are deemed “worthy” of being played forever and what songs are left behind.  I suppose that’s been the case all along (I mean, how else can you explain two great songs dropping 53 places out of the Top 40 from one week to the next?). 

stuck-in-the-80s-20-yearsI know for me, for many great shows on community stations like WMPG, and for shows like Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” and the (unrelated) STUCK IN THE 80s podcast based in Florida, I could never forget the amazing songs I loved from my youth and discovered into adulthood and beyond.  And I was proud to share them for nearly 21 years on my weekly STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG in Portland, Maine, and will again, because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. 

I love Billy Joel, but every time I hear his overrated “Big Shot,” I can’t help but cringe (The guy’s got a gajillion songs!  Play another one!).  The song jumped from No. 51 to No. 23 on the Hot 100 and stopped at No. 14 three weeks later, and yet it’s been deemed “worthy” for radio eternity by the powers that be.  Play something different, dammit!  Give me 1980’s “Sometimes A Fantasy” every day of the week and twice on Sunday (and look for it in an upcoming blog post, dammit!). 

I don’t know, after listening to commercial stations for nearly 40 years, from the big conglomerate ones to the locally-owned ones with diminutive, covfefe head GMs who think 80s Hard Rock songs should be played back-to-back with the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, maybe it’s those programmers and radio heads who are the ones that are clones. 

As I am, unlike these sad folks, not a drone or a clone, I think the best response I can give to that is this simple but appropriate quote from Alice’s mostly-forgotten kick-ass gem from 1980:

“I just want wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / Be myself / Be myself…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q3ly1d-WGw

alice cooper 1980

song of the day – “Love Is A Battlefield” | PAT BENATAR | 1983 / 1984.

I have been a fan of Pat Benatar since the first time I heard “Heartbreaker” in late 1979.  I own several of her albums, and yes, 12” singles too (hey – almost everybody did remixes back in the 80s!).  But, oddly enough, as much as I have loved Pat Benatar and her music for almost 40 years, I have never seen her perform live.  I am hoping to rectify that this Summer.

pat benatar ME state pier

This week, I found out that Pat and her long-time husband and guitarist, Neil Giraldo, will be performing at Portland’s Maine State Pier for the second time in three years.  In 2015, I believe they had the distinction of being the first performers at the Maine State Pier, performing in early May 2015.  I wasn’t at that show, but from what I heard, it was incredibly cold (we were barely out of our longer-than-usual Winter that year) and I feared Pat wouldn’t be back to Maine again.

The Winter of 2014-2015 was what I classified as “The Winter That Would Never End,” in that it snowed on November 1, 2014, and snowed in six consecutive months, through April 2015.  Even for Maine, that’s pretty unusual.  I love Maine but not its Winters, and always hope they won’t last more than their calendared three months.  (This year, Mom Nature is playing her own April Fool’s Joke on us, with several inches of snow predicted the first day of April.)  I’m so glad Pat and Neil have picked to return to Portland’s Maine State Pier in late July, when – theoretically – it’ll be an awesome Summer (like 2016!).

neil + pat

Neil and Pat, having fun on the road and hopefully in my view this Summer…

By late 1983, the then-30-year-old from Brooklyn, NYC already had released four hugely successful albums, including a No. 1 album – 1981’s PRECIOUS TIME – and a No. 2 album – her biggest album to date, 1980’s CRIMES OF PASSION, which has been certified (at least) 4x Multi-Platinum.  She had also nine out of 10 singles reach the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, including one Top 10 hit, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which reached No. 9 in late December 1980.

Pat’s fifth release, a mostly-live album called LIVE FROM EARTH, was released in mid-October 1983, and contained two new studio tracks, “Lipstick Lies” and “Love Is A Battlefield,” the latter of which was written by popular songwriters Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, who have written a combined amount of huge songs that would require their own entire blog post, which I may write one day.  I can say that Holly Knight (a member of the short-lived Dance / Rock band, Device) also wrote and/or co-wrote three other Pat Benatar songs, including 1985’s “Invincible (The Theme From THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN).”

live from earth

pat-benatar-live-from-earth-8-ab

From the back of the LIVE FROM EARTH album.

“Love Is A Battlefield” was released a month in advance of LIVE FROM EARTH, and only took 12 days to reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100, debuting at No. 78.  In just four weeks, “Love Is A Battlefield” debuted in the Top 40, giving Pat her tenth Top 40 American hit.  In a chart coincidence that only a singles chart nerd like myself could love, “Love Is A Battlefield” also debuted in the Top 40 the same week as Eurythmics debuted with “Love Is A Stranger.”

Like most Pat Benatar singles, “Love Is A Battlefield” made a steady climb up the chart and spent a week at No. 5 in early December 1983.  It stayed on the Hot 100 until the second half of February 1984 and one of BILLBOARD’s biggest Hot 100 hits of 1984.  With 1985’s “We Belong,” it remains her highest-charting American hit so far, and gave Pat her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

love is a battlefield

Around the globe, there was a lot of love for “Love Is A Battlefield.”  It spent five weeks at No. 1 in Australia, four weeks at No. 1 in Holland and BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, two weeks at No. 1 in Belgium, plus Top 10 rankings in Canada, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, and the Top 20 in the U.K. and Switzerland.

battlefield bus

From the back of the bus in the “Love Is The Battlefield” video.

A special remix was used for the popular music video, which features Pat as a teenager running away from her family, Pat exploring the fast life in the big city, becoming a dancer, her father eventually showing regret for things he said that drove her away, and through all of this, she ends up discovering strength and independence, and the incredible undeniability of girl power.  Pat also showed off some pretty cool dance moves in this partially-choreographed video, which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.

I know the dancing and using a drum machine was out of Pat Benatar’s normal Rock ’n’ Roll element, and that remixes prolly weren’t her thing (although she’d end up releasing a few more; I know, because I own them), but in the end, “Love Is A Battlefield” is a song that worked, even when songwriter Mike Chapman didn’t think it would work, and even when Pat’s record company didn’t think it would work.  But all’s fair in love and war and pop hits, right?  What most folks involved with the record thought wouldn’t work is one of THE songs Pat Benatar is remembered most for to this day, and is a song I hope to hear her sing in Portland, Maine in late July.

Writing about “Love Is A Battlefield” here made me think of a time back in the mid-00s, when I was still living in Portland and had a Saturday night retro DJ gig at one of the clubs intown, where, in the small, already crowded Alt-Rock / Dance and New Wave “rec room” full of the music of New Order, Blondie, Duran Duran, Smiths, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Nine Inch Nails and the oft-requested Elvis Costello, there wasn’t much room for Pat’s Benatar’s straight up, kick-ass Rock ’n’ Roll, but I remember a couple of times I got a request for something by Pat.  And I was pleasantly surprised both times. 

love is a battlefield 12

The first time Pat Benatar was requested, for a second, I thought, “what could I possibly play for this amazing crowd of people that would blend in?”  The only song that came to mind – and what proved to be THE best choice – was the 12” dance remix of “Love Is A Battlefield.”  When Pat was requested another time, the choice that time was a no-brainer, because, not only did “Love Is A Battlefield” get a sweet reception the first time, when it comes to dance music from the 80s, whether it’s Pop, Rock, Punk, Funk, Dance, Rap, New Wave, New Romantics – to me, there IS no battlefield. 

“We are strong / No one can tell us we’re wrong / Searching our hearts for so long / Both of us knowing / Love is a battlefield…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGVZOLV9SPo

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