song of the day – “Take Me With U” | PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION featuring APOLLONIA | 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 2 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 2 this day.  4 me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks 2 the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, 4 the entire month of June, I will B 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 2 No. 1. 

As Casey used 2 say on AT40, “And on we go!”

When my radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, had its final show on my 50th birthday – and during the Maine Blizzard Of 2017 (Hope, Shawn and I had 2 literally shut WMPG-FM down afterwards; Shawn: “We’re rockin’ so hard, the station cannot handle it anymore!”; Hope: “No one can follow U Ron!”). 

shawn, hope + me

With the 2017 Maine blizzard in the window behind us, from L to R that’s Shawn, Hope and yours truly all sporting STUCK IN THE 80s T-shirts on the final STUCK broadcast on WMPG-FM, 2.12.17.

One of the songs I chose 4 the last show was “Take Me With U” by Prince & The Revolution featuring Apollonia.  As I mentioned on the last show, and will re-mention here (if I haven’t already on the bloggy thing), it’s one of my all-time favorite Prince songs that DOESN’T get nearly enough love as it should.

purple rain

Released as the last of five singles from 1984’s PURPLE RAIN and written by Prince (of course), “Take Me With U” was a duet between Prince and Apollonia Kotero, who played Prince’s girlfriend in PURPLE RAIN.  “Take Me With U” was initially 2 have appeared on the APOLLONIA 6 album (released on October 1, 1984, and featured one song from PURPLE RAIN – “Sex Shooter,” which Apollonia 6 played in the film). 

But, with Prince being rightfully particular about his songs (4 example, all of his videos that went back up after he died have all pretty much been removed from YouTube), he pulled the song off of the APOLLONIA 6 album, and included it on PURPLE RAIN. 

prince + the revolution

All of the singles from (and of course, the entire album) PURPLE RAIN were sensational, but unlike the other singles released from the soundtrack, “Take Me With U” had this really cool vibe 2 it, featuring a drum solo and finger cymbals at the beginning and the end of the song.  This Psychedelic-y style might have actually been the precursor 2 his next album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY, especially on the singles “Raspberry Beret” and “Pop Life.”

“Take Me With U” was released on January 25, 1985, exactly seven months after the release of the soundtrack 2 PURPLE RAIN, and almost exactly six months after the release of the film, and it only took a couple of weeks 4 the single 2 debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (at No. 61).

take me with u

Reaching the Top 40 of the Hot 100 in just its fourth chart week, “Take Me With U” became the fifth Top 40 single from PURPLE RAIN, and, at that point, Prince became just the seventh recording artist in history (if my math is correct) 2 have five or more Top 40 hits released from one album on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, following Michael Jackson’s THRILLER, Lionel Richie’s CAN’T SLOW DOWN, Billy Joel’s AN INNOCENT MAN, SPORTS by Huey Lewis & The News, Tina Turner’s PRIVATE DANCER, and the incomparable Cyndi Lauper, and her wonderful SHE’S SO UNUSUAL.  (The Cars would join that group a week later with “Why Can’t I Have You,” the excellent and highly-underrated fifth single from their fantastic 1984 album, HEARTBEAT CITY.)

“Take Me With U” spent a couple of weeks at No. 25 in late March 1985, and without much fanfare, faded out of the Hot 100 after 12 short weeks.  Over in the U.K., it was a double A-sided single with “Let’s Go Crazy,” and it reached No. 7.  I would like 2 think the folks in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland didn’t just listen 2 “Let’s Go Crazy” (as awesome as that song is), and flipped the record over and really enjoyed “Take Me With U” too.

let's go crazy take me with u

Everyone in The Revolution was involved with this gem, and the unity involved with this song is amazing.  And, 4 those who didn’t already own PURPLE RAIN by the end of January 1985, when “Take Me With U” was released, and were kind enough 2 buy the single anyway, and 2 those radio stations who were kind enough 2 play it, I thank U.  “Take Me With U” is that sorta-forgotten gem (though not by me) that, when U listen 2 it 4 the first time in awhile, U will remember why U loved it all those years ago, and, like me, U will love it 4evah…

“I don’t care where we go / I don’t care what we do / I don’t care pretty baby / Just take me with u…”

prince + apollonia

song of the day – “The Host Of Seraphim” | DEAD CAN DANCE | 1988.

“…I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and His train filled the Hekhal [sanctuary].  Above him stood the Seraphim; each had six wings; with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”  The seraphim cry continually to each other, “Holy, holy, holy, is YHWH of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:1–3; Hebrew Bible)

In the 80s music bible, “The Host Of Seraphim” is a 1988 treasure that belongs to the brilliant and phenomenal Ethereal / Dark Wave band and then some, Dead Can Dance. 

dcdold

Dead Can Dance was formed in Melbourne, Australia in August 1981, led by the then-couple Lisa Gerrard (vocalist) and Brendan Perry (vocals and guitar).  The following year, they moved to London and signed on with one of my all-time favorite record labels, 4AD.  (Away from DCD, Lisa Gerrard has also scored several films, and picked up an Academy Award Nomination and a Golden Globe Award for co-scoring – with Hans Zimmer – the 2000 Russell Crowe film, GLADIATOR.)

Their first album, a self-titled effort, was released in 1984, and early on were described as “as Goth as it gets,” though they dismissed that label.  I would also dismiss that label, mainly because they are in a class all by themselves. 

DCD LP

By June 1990, Dead Can Dance had already released five albums and an EP, all of which were not readily available in the U.S. until the early 90s, which is when I discovered them for the first time.

It was the Spring of 1994, I was 27 years old and had just moved to Portland, Maine in late January of that year.  I was still making friends and one of my new friends suggested that I see a film unlike any other – it was a concept film called BARAKA.

the movies sign

Back then, there was this small, independent art-house theater simply called The Movies.  It was in the heart of Portland’s famed Old Port section of town, and had been around for many years.  BARAKA was actually released in September 1992, but for some reason, The Movies didn’t get it until early 1994.

For those who have not yet seen BARAKA, some are quick to call it a documentary, but there’s no narration or voice-overs in it, and I’ve always considered it to be more of a concept film for that reason.  BARAKA, kinda like Dead Can Dance, is in a class all by itself.  BARAKA was filmed in 24 countries on six continents around the globe, photographed in then-groundbreaking 70mm film, and the tagline for the film is “A world beyond words.” 

BARAKA is literally breathtaking to watch.  The late, great film critic of the CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, Roger Ebert, put BARAKA in his “Great Movies” list, writing, “If man sends another Voyager to the distant stars and it can carry only one film on board, that film might be BARAKA.”  When the film was reworked for a Blu-Ray release in 2008, Roger Ebert described it as “the finest video disc I have ever viewed or ever imagined.”  High praise indeed.

baraka

Where there is music in the film, most of the score is by Michael Sterns, who is best-known for his work with Ambient and Space music.  He released over 20 solo albums between 1979 and 2001.  During a seven-minute span in BARAKA, there was a song that played over multiple scenes of severe poverty, from homelessness to young prostitution to hundreds of women and children sifting through acres of garbage in hopes of finding food.  You can find the link to this video at the end of the blog post.

As much as BARAKA is breathtaking with its global beauty, the scenes like the ones mentioned above are equally heartbreaking.  The filmmakers couldn’t have picked a better song for that sequence of the film.

Not long after I saw BARAKA in the theater, I stopped by a record store in the same building as the movie theater (at the time, I lived in the Old Port section of Portland, so I was in the area constantly).  The name of the record store was Bad Habits.  The owners of the store would later run the amazing Alternative Portland nightclub, Zootz (both of which sadly disappeared from Portland’s cultural landscape many years ago). 

I was in the store perusing one day, and one of the owners, George, let me take a promotional sampler by Dead Can Dance, of which I had heard a couple of their most recent songs (from 1993’s INTO THE LABYRINTH album, most likely).  Even though I wasn’t that familiar with the band, I, of course, didn’t turn down the free sampler. 

sampler

When I got back to my apartment, I played the CD and was excited to learn that the song I heard in BARAKA was by Dead Can Dance, and it was called “The Host Of Seraphim.”  I always thought the name Dead Can Dance was pretty cool, and in the years ahead, especially after I started STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio) in 1996, I learned a lot more about Dead Can Dance, and was quite impressed at their catalog, and with the fact something like that came out of the 80s. 

dcdold2

As much as I love Pop acts like Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Duran Duran, Culture Club, Huey Lewis and Michael Jackson, the 80s weren’t just about them.  Dead Can Dance is absolute and substantial proof of that.

“The Host Of Seraphim” is the opening song from THE SERPENT’S EGG, the fourth studio album by Dead Can Dance, released a week before Halloween in 1988.  Of the album’s interesting title, Brendan Perry once said, “In a lot of aerial photographs of the Earth, if you look upon it as a giant organism – a macrocosmos – you can see that the nature of the life force, water, travels in a serpentine way.”  It’s very true.

the serpent's egg

In addition to its use in BARAKA, “The Host Of Seraphim” has been used in film and television a number of times, including 2002’s RIPLEY’S GAME, 2006’s HOME OF THE BRAVE, the trailer for 2003’s TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES, 2010’s LEGENDS OF THE GUARDIANS: THE OWLS OF GA’HOOLE, the third-season finale of this year’s HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER, and in the last ten minutes of the 2007 film, THE MIST, based on the 1980 book of the same name by Maine’s own Stephen King.

toward the within

Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry, from the 1994 TOWARD THE WITHIN live DVD.

Since they are so different than anything else I have loved in music for the past (nearly) 40 years, I had hoped to see Dead Can Dance perform live.  Their last album was in 2012 (ANASTASIS; Greek for “resurrection”), their first album in 16 years.  At the very least, I do have their TOWARD THE WITHIN live DVD from 1994, and they are sensational and then some. 

Dead Can Dance Anstasis

For the ANASTASIS album, Lisa Gerrard did a 2012 interview with PITCHFORK, and her responses to the questions were as amazing as Dead Can Dance’s music.  One of the questions PITCHFORK asked was, “There seems to have always been as much emphasis on the power of space or ambience in your music, is that something that emerges naturally?” 

Lisa Gerrard replied, “I’d call that blind belief.  It’s almost like you’re standing on something that’s much more powerful than you.  It’s like a frequency that comes up through the ground, like sticking your finger into an electrical socket.  There are so many layers to who we are as human beings outside of this terrible, grey shadow of materiality.  I think the message that’s always been there in Dead Can Dance is, ‘Come on, wake up.  Wake up, visceral.  Wake up, abstract.  Wake up, practical.  Wake up, mind.  Wake up, soul.  This is who you are.  This is where you’re going.  This is the journey.  Here we are.  This is the campfire.  The campfire is music’.”

seraphim

One depiction of what a seraphim looks like.

If you hadn’t already been familiar with meaning of the word “seraphim,” it’s another word for an angelic being, with six wings, and is part of the highest of orders of the celestial hierarchy, and (like other angelic beings, I suppose) it’s associated with light, ardor [enthusiasm or passion], and purity. 

The music that Dead Can Dance has brought to my life for many years is something I would consider of an angelic nature.  And, if not angelic, well, it’s not far off.  Their music is among the best I’ve ever heard.  And “The Host Of Seraphim” is truly one of THE most extraordinary and heartbreaking pieces of music I’ll treasure forever.

In a 2013 retrospective review in AllMusic, “The Host Of Seraphim” was hailed as “so jaw-droppingly good that almost the only reaction is sheer awe.”  I couldn’t agree more.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGfl_aYu8Hc

DCD 89

song of the day – “The Way It Is” | BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE RANGE | 1986.

There are some songs out there that can’t be grouped in with ballads or Dance or straight up Rock ’n’ Roll songs because they don’t fit in any of those categories.  But, you know, just because you can’t shake your booty to them or you prolly can’t slow dance to them at a wedding reception doesn’t mean they aren’t good; it just means they don’t really fit into any particular category you’re used to.  Case in point, at least for me, is today’s “song of the day” – “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby And The Range. 

Bruce Hornsby, a native of Williamsburg, Virginia, first got his music “start” in 1974 in a band put together by his older brother, Bobby (then a student at the University of Virginia), called Bobby Hi-Test And The Octane Kids, playing covers of songs by The Band, Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers at frat parties. 

That gig didn’t last long, but Bruce’s association with music continued.  He studied music at the University of Richmond, Boston’s Berklee School Of Music, and the University of Miami, where he graduated from in 1977.  After college, he went back to Williamsburg for a short time and played piano in clubs and bars before meeting up with his younger brother, John, in Los Angeles in 1980. 

QUIRKY FUN FACT(S): You can find Bruce Hornsby at the ol’ 88’s and hamming it up for the camera in Sheena Easton’s late 1984 hit, “Strut,” a song that was co-written by Charlie Dore, one of the (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s with her own 1980 hit, “Pilot Of The Airwaves.”  Bruce Hornsby was a member of Sheena’s touring band, and he also appeared in the video for Sheena’s Prince-penned and PMRC target practice favorite, “Sugar Walls.”

Bruce Hornsby STRUT

Yes, that’s really Bruce Hornsby in the 1984 video for Sheena Easton’s “Strut.”

In between his time in L.A. and touring with Sheena Easton, he formed a five-man Rock band called Bruce Hornsby And The Range, and they were signed to RCA Records in 1985.  Their debut album, THE WAY IT IS, was released on April 1, 1986, and seven of the nine songs on the album were written by Bruce Hornsby and his younger brother, John.  Bruce wrote the songs “Every Little Kiss” and the album’s title track.

The first incarnation of the album, was, oddly enough, targeted to New Age listeners (which I’m still trying to figure out).  The album even had a different cover that prolly most people who are familiar with the album haven’t seen, with an impressionistic shot of Bruce Hornsby playing the accordion.

the way it is ORIGINAL LP

The original cover art for THE WAY IT IS album.

every little kiss

A couple of months following the release of THE WAY IT IS, the first single released from the album was “Every Little Kiss,” which took two months to debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 and stopped at No. 72 in August 1986, but which still managed to stay on the chart for a couple months.

Well, once “Every Little Kiss” started getting airplay, THE WAY IT IS album got remixed, and a new cover was commissioned, this time with a darker, sepia-toned color, with a simple shot of the band in the foreground, and a shot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background.  The change must have worked.

the way it is LP

The last week “Every Little Kiss” was on the Hot 100, the album’s title track debuted at No. 86.  By the following week, it had already surpassed the peak of “Every Little Kiss.”  “The Way It Is” reached the Top 40 in mid-October and the Top 10 a month later. 

I think what latched me onto “The Way It Is” at first was the impressive way Bruce Hornsby knew his way around a piano.  You don’t normally hear piano solos in Pop songs, let alone two of them in the same song.  Still impresses me to this day.  It didn’t sound like anything else, and it certainly didn’t sound like a Pop song, popular at the same time as songs by Bon Jovi, The Bangles, Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, Huey Lewis And The News, Duran Duran and Wang Chung. 

the way it is 7

This is a song which brings up homelessness, the welfare divide of the rich and the poor, the Civil Rights movement and racism: “Well they passed a law in ’64 / To give those who ain’t got a little more / But it only goes so far / ‘Cause the law don’t change another’s mind / When all it sees at the hiring time / Is the line on the color bar, no…”

Well, it may not have fit in at wedding receptions or night clubs, but “The Way It Is” was a big hit with record buyers and radio listeners, and it spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-December 1986, and finished at No. 8 for all of 1987.

Around the globe, “The Way It Is” reached No. 1 in Holland, No. 3 in Belgium, No. 4 in Canada, No. 8 in Ireland, and the Top 20 in the U.K., Germany, South Africa and Switzerland.

After the success of “The Way It Is,” Bruce and his band picked up the Best New Artist Grammy Award and would release two more studio albums together, going on to have hits with “Mandolin Rain” (No. 4, 1987), a re-issue of “Every Little Kiss” (No. 14, 1987),  “The Valley Road” (No. 5, 1988), “Look Out Any Window” (No. 35, 1988) and “Across The River” (No. 18, 1990). 

Jacob's_Ladder_Single

Bruce Hornsby would also have a songwriting credit (with his brother, John) on a No. 1 song by Huey Lewis And The News – “Jacob’s Ladder,” which spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-March 1987, and which Bruce and The Range would record for their second album, 1988’s SCENES FROM THE SOUTHSIDE.  Incidentally, Huey Lewis co-produced THE WAY IT IS album, and played harmonica and provided backing vocals on the album track, “Down The Road Tonight.”

In a 2015 interview with Kate Mossman of the NEW STATESMAN, a political and cultural U.K. magazine, Bruce Hornsby was asked why “The Way It Is” was so successful, which he couldn’t do.  But, he did say, “I see it as a novelty record.  There are things that set it apart.  I feel the same way about ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits.  It goes down easy and isn’t that what a lot of pop is about?  But at the same time, it’s a completely different sound than you’d heard.  Even the big piano guys like Elton and Billy Joel, they didn’t really solo like that.  A pleasing sound with solos.  Like Mark Knopfler on ‘Sultans of Swing.’  That’s how I explain it.  But that’s complete crap, too, probably.”

That same year, Elton John had said when Bruce Hornsby played piano on Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 beautiful heartbreaking gem, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” it made him “seek perfection.  It is sublime.  He is one of the best pianists – if not THE best – out there.”

bonnie n bruce

Bruce has long since left Pop music and has gone his own way, playing music from a plethora of genres, like Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Jam Band, Gospel and most recently, performing with his Rock / Folk touring band, The Noisemakers.  Interestingly enough, on their fourth studio album, REHAB REUNION (released in June 2016), Bruce Hornsby does NOT play the instrument for which is world-renowned, but instead plays the dulcimer, an instrument that the incomparable Cyndi Lauper has embraced on her albums and tours for many years.  There’s even a sweet, almost unrecognizable seven-minute folk version of his 1988 hit, “The Valley Road,” on the album.  It’s actually quite lovely.

rehabreunion

Bruce Hornsby sure has come a long way from appearing in Sheena Easton videos and picking up a No. 1 hit of his own.  And, for more than 30 years, he had some success, and has performed with some of his music heroes, like Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead, Don Henley, Ricky Scaggs and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few.  Now, Bruce is 62, married with twin adult sons, plays basketball when he’s not playing music (he’s 6’ 4”), and plays music for the absolute love of it.  You gotta respect that.  I know I do.

“That’s just the way it is / Some things will never change…”  Or, in the case of Bruce Hornsby, maybe they do…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOeKidp-iWo

bruce + the range 2

song of the day – “Flamethrower” | THE J. GEILS BAND | 1982.

Back in the 1980s, long before THE DIGITAL AGE of music (or of everything, I suppose, but music in this case), people had to rely on the radio to hear their favorite songs, or rely on their friends who had the albums or tapes, and you could borrow theirs, OR you purchased either the 45s or the full albums, depending on the artist.  If you purchased the full LP, sometimes, like with albums by ASIA or Bruce Springsteen or Thomas Dolby or Cyndi Lauper or Michael Jackson or INXS, you’d consider yourself lucky that the entire album (or most of the album) was a keeper. 

Not ranking on Millennials here, but youngstahs today have it easy, with iTunes and Spotify and Pandora and YouTube to check out entire new albums first and / or they can pick and choose any tracks off the albums that they want to purchase.  Even now with vinyl making a strong (and deserved) comeback, almost always when you purchase a full-length record album, there is a digital counterpart included for your convenience (kinda like a marriage of the old and the new).

Well, back in 1982, I only had a handful of albums to my name because (1) I was being frugal about purchasing albums for reasons stated above, and (2) I was frugal about buying albums because I just didn’t have the ca$h.  There was one album, though, that proved to be a MUST BUY – the 12th studio album by Worcester, MA Rock legends, The J. Geils Band – FREEZE-FRAME.

freeze-frame LP

Not only did the nine-track FREEZE-FRAME album have the awesome singles “Centerfold,” “Angel In Blue” and the title track, it also had gems that could have been singles themselves – “Rage In The Cage,” “Piss On The Wall” and “Flamethrower.”

Before owning the FREEZE-FRAME album, I had already purchased the “Centerfold” single (at last check, ranked at No. 63 on BILLBOARD’s 2016 list of the Greatest Hot 100 Songs Of All-Time), which had “Rage In The Cage” as the B-side.  My oldest friend, Pete, had the album, and I remember going to his house and listening to it, which inspired me to pick it up as well.  The FREEZE-FRAME album deserves its own blog post, and I’ll prolly write about the entire album on the bloggy thing here at some point.  Today, though, it’s all about that Rockin’ and Soulful “baby who’ll melt you with her touch.”

j geils 2

“Flamethrower” is the sixth song on FREEZE-FRAME (or the first song on Side Two, if you prefer), and right from song’s start (featuring a killer harmonica courtesy of the band’s longtime harmonica and saxophone specialist, Magic Dick), you quickly realize there’s NO WAY you’re gonna be able to sit still through this five-minute jam.

Back in 2015, for the first time, I (along with one of my besties, the super-talented and awesome Hopey T.), saw The J. Geils Band perform in Portland, Maine, and they were phenomenal.  There are many bands who work well together, and then there’s The J. Geils Band, whose musical interaction between band members is amazing to watch.  And on songs like “Flamethrower,” it’s amazing to listen to.

Almost exactly half-way through “Flamethrower,” each of the band’s (then) six members – Peter Wolf on vocals, guitarist and band namesake J. Geils, keyboardist and vocalist Seth Justman, bassist Danny Klein, drummer / percussionist Steven Bladd and the aforementioned Magic Dick – play together on a sensational minute-long-plus instrumental jam, even prompting Peter Wolf to exclaim, “Yeah!”  It actually kinda reminded me of one of THE best instrumental gems, er, jams in Rock history – the last four minutes of their brilliant 1973 hit, “Give It To Me.”

NERDY FUN FACT: “Flamethrower,” “Angel In Blue” and “River Blindness” (all on the FREEZE-FRAME album) featured five backup singers, including Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, and the late, great R&B / Pop legend, Luther Vandross.

centerfold UK + flamethrower

Even though “Flamethrower” was never officially released as its own single, it does have an interesting BILLBOARD chart history.  As a 12” B-side to lead single, “Centerfold,” both songs reached No. 12 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart in 1982.  As the 7” B-side of the album’s second single, “Freeze-Frame,” it was actually “Flamethrower” that led both songs to reach No. 25 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart for two weeks in April 1982.  And, over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it was the only non-single song from FREEZE-FRAME to chart there, reaching No. 30.

freeze-frame 7

Hearing this song again on my iPod this afternoon makes me want to pull out the 41-minute FREEZE-FRAME album and play it all the way through a couple of times, from the title cut through to “Piss On The Wall.” 

Seth Justman, who wrote or co-wrote every song on FREEZE-FRAME and who was the sole writer on “Flamethrower,” once told NME (New Music Express) that the song was “not just about a woman, it’s about a woman factory worker and how she lets loose at night.  It’s about a certain spirit that’s in everybody. 

“In the middle of that song the spirit in the body has taken over.  It’s not just a hot chick in hot pants.  It’s a woman who punches the clock every day at 8 and 5 and when she leaves she does something with her life, whatever she has to do to punch the clock the next day and not go crazy.  That punch clock is in everyone; there’s something inside everyone that makes you want to go on and get better and stronger.” 

I can’t tell you enough how much I wholeheartedly agree with Seth’s amazing and surprising comment.  Or maybe I just did.  Or maybe when you jam out to “Flamethrower” again, you’ll think about that punch clock or flamethrower inside of you, and figure out ways on how to get better and stronger.  I know I will…

flamethrower

“I forget the darkness / I forget the pain / When she’s movin’ through my heart / And when she’s pumpin’ through my veins / She’s the part inside me / I can never control / And she’s the only reason / I know I’ve got a soul…”

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

j geils 1

song of the day – “Iko Iko” | THE BELLE STARS | 1982 / 1989.

The decade of excess gave us an excess of songs that were given a second chance on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart, songs like “Relax” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” “Twist And Shout” by The Beatles, “Do You Love Me?” by The Contours and “At This Moment” by Billy Vera & The Beaters, to name a handful. 

For whatever reason, 1989 was an especially popular year for singles to have a second go on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, including Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” (1986), “What About Me?” by Moving Pictures (1983), “When I’m With You” by Sheriff (1983), “Where Are You Now?” by Jimmy Harnen with Synch (1986) and “Into The Night” by Benny Mardones (1980). 

Another song that achieved success in 1989 but not originally from that year was “Iko Iko” by the seven-member, all-female New Wave band out of London, The Belle Stars, who formed in London in 1980 and broke up in 1986.

belle_stars

The origin of “Iko Iko” dates back to the early 1950s, when it was titled “Jock-A-Mo,” and was a 1953 single written and recorded by New Orleans group Sugar Boy And His Cane Cutters. 

jock-a-moAccording to a 2002 interview with the late James “Sugar Boy” Crawford (who passed away in 2012), he said the story of “Iko Iko” is about a “spy boy” [a lookout for one band of Indians] encountering the “flag boy” [the flag carrier for another “tribe”].  The “spy boy” threatens to “set the flag on fire.” 

“Sugar Boy” Crawford said “Jock-A-Mo” “came from two Indian chants that I put music to.  ‘Iko Iko’ was like a victory chant that the Indians would shout. ‘Jock-A-Mo’ was a chant that was called when the Indians went into battle.  I just put them together and made a song out of them.” 

Though it was not a hit, the next incarnation of “Jock-A-Mo” in 1965 – “Iko Iko” – was.  The Dixie Cups, an all-female Pop group out of New Orleans, best known for their hit, “Chapel Of Love,” recorded their version in 1964, and the following year, it was a global smash.

iko iko 82

In 1982, The Belle Stars released their version of “Iko Iko” in their homeland of the U.K. on Stiff Records, and it was a Top 40 U.K. hit, reaching No. 35.  Their cover would appear on the only studio album they released, their self-titled effort released in January 1983, and which featured the U.K. hits, “The Clapping Song” (a version of this was an American Top 40 hit for Pia Zadora in 1983), “Indian Summer” and “Sign Of The Times,” which reached No. 3 in the U.K. and No. 75 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.

The Belle Stars’ version of “Iko Iko” went virtually unnoticed here in America until its opening appearance in the wonderful Academy Award-winning film, RAIN MAN, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, and released at the end of 1988.

rain_man

Their version of “Iko Iko” was included on the soundtrack to RAIN MAN, and it didn’t take long for it to catch the ears of folks like yours truly here in America.  It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early March 1989, and reached the Top 40 four weeks later. 

The Belle Stars’ version of “Iko Iko” would go on to spend a lone week at No. 14 in mid-May 1989, and remained on the charts for about four months.  It also reached No. 7 in Australia and No. 17 in Canada.  Since then, it has been featured in a number of other films, including THE HANGOVER in 2009.

“Iko Iko” remains as one of the most-covered songs of all-time.  Cyndi Lauper recorded a version for her second album, 1986’s TRUE COLORS.  It’s been also covered by Dr. John, Warren Zevon, Zap Mama (whose version appeared in the 2000 film, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II), and most recently, on THE TONIGHT SHOW featuring Sia, Jimmy Fallon, Natalie Portman and The Roots.

the belle stars LP

It’s the 1982 / 1989 version by The Belle Stars, though, that is the version that stays close to me to this day, and I’m forever grateful that someone involved with the film, RAIN MAN, discovered it and thought it was good enough to include in the movie, and ultimately, release it as a single, so many folks (like yours truly) could, in turn, discover it too. “IKO!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9RxSDgesKk

iko iko 89

song of the day – “Shout” | TEARS FOR FEARS | 1985.

This post is dedicated to my discontent with Ticketmaster, the memories of how easy and fun it used to be to get tickets to shows, and my love for Tears For Fears and this song.  #TearsForFears #HallAndOates #TDGarden #TicketmasterFAIL

Ticketmaster-Fail

Earlier this week, presale tickets went on sale for the highly anticipated Daryl Hall & John Oates / Tears For Fears show at Boston’s famed TD Garden for June 2017.  First, presale tickets went on sale for folks who have some sort of special membership or an American Express card.  Then there’s the general presale the day before the general public can get tickets, so if you have special presale codes from folks like Pandora or Ticketmaster themselves, you have a (small) chance to get good seats before the everyone else does.

I remember years ago, living in Portland, Maine – even just a few years before the Interweb became popular – when you could wait in line hours before the box office opens to be guaranteed a good seat at a show.  There wasn’t all of this presale bullshit or special VIP package nonsense costing one’s paycheck.  You could buy a ticket for $20 or $30 and have a great time.  For the “big” shows, most of the general admission seats are gone.  It’s all reserved seating, which in most cases, is a good thing (I left tenth-row RESERVED seats of a 2004 David Byrne show at Portland’s State Theatre because people started going crazy when he began singing Talking Heads songs, and everyone migrated to the front.  Did you really think I really wanted to leave a David Byrne show early?!  Of course not!  He was amazing to watch.  Well, after some asshat spilled beer on me, I was done.  Reserved seats are reserved for a reason, asshole.

Thank God for acts like The English Beat, who still have accessible prices for their shows, and their shows are always fun and memorable.  Club shows like that remind me of the concerts from the old days.  Mostly general admission, a great time and you’ll even have enough $$ to get a T-shirt or some swag.

I recently reconnected with my old friend Travis after way too long, and he was going to pay for our tickets to see Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears For Fears.  When the general presale tix went on sale yesterday (3.9.2017), I was ready.  But I couldn’t get tix at the level we wanted.  The special presales before mysteriously snatched all those seats up?!  Not likely. 

Unlike getting tickets to see Cyndi Lauper in Bangor, Maine in July 2017, where I could pick my own seats, the only option I had was “Best Available” for each category.  And the seats offered were terrible.  Nothing close.  And this was the presale!  When my friend Shawn in NYC and I saw Duran Duran and Chic in Brooklyn in April 2016, I was able to get 16th row seats NON-PRESALE!  Granted, I spent a little more $$ for that, but it’s New York, at least twice the size of Boston! 

best-available-ticekts

Fiction can be fun!

When HopeyT and I saw Peter Gabriel and Sting in Worcester, MA in July 2016, I bought those tickets – the most $$ I’ve ever spent on a show – five months in advance!  And they were THE WORST seats I’ve ever had for a show.  I complained to Ticketmaster and the DCU Center in Worcester, but to no avail.  Ticketmaster seemed to care at first (like today), but nothing ever came out of it, not that I expected it to.  WTF is it with Ticketmaster and Massachusetts shows?!

When the presale option for Hall & Oates / Tears For Fears show in Boston didn’t pan out, I was ready at noon today (3.10.2017) for the general public tix.  The option we wanted wasn’t an option, and I ordered tickets for us for a section we didn’t want, but didn’t want to miss out on the show either.  Had all of the information entered in on Ticketmaster’s website, hit “enter” to reserve the seats, and all that popped up was the next screen was not a confirmation of seats, but of gibberish, which looked somewhat like an error message.  The credit card and transaction did not go through.  When I went back to get similar seats, they were gone.  When I kept trying, the Ticketmaster site stopped working altogether.  I later learned that site was down.  When the site was up and running again, all they had left were balcony seats.  We were more than willing to pay extra for good seats, and they were gone. 

hall-oates-tears-for-fears-1488479150

Sometimes I wish I could relay to Ticketmaster and the powers that be who organized these shows that I’m not just a huge fan of Daryl Hall & John Oates and Tears For Fears, that I’m also someone who hosted a little 80s radio show in Portland, Maine for almost 21 years, and 80s music is not only my passion, it’s a way of life for me, and it keeps me young.  The music of Hall & Oates AND Tears For Fears proudly made ALOT of appearances on STUCK IN THE 80s over the years, and will again once the show is back.  I was so looking forward to seeing this concert.  But, I’m not going to get balcony seats when I had reserved better ones just because Ticketmaster wants me to conform to their douchebaggery, elitist ways. 

I’m not a rich man.  I don’t get to see shows all the time.  It’s been great for the last several years, where I have been able to see some folks perform that I didn’t get to for whatever reason back in the 80s.  And I don’t think people should have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars just to see two of their favorite 80s acts from the third row.  It’s not right.

If you’re still reading, thanks very much for letting me vent.  And now on to a much better subject…

Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith formed Tears For Fears in Bath, England in 1981, and released a brilliant debut album in 1983 called THE HURTING.  But, it wasn’t until two years later when they were picked up on my music radar, with “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” from their also-brilliant second album, SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR.

songs-from

“Everybody Wants To Rule The World” was enjoying its second and final week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-June 1985 when the second single from SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR, “Shout,” debuted on the chart at No. 66. 

In other parts of the globe, “Mothers Talk” was the first single released from the album (in August 1984; a U.S. remix was released in April 1986).  “Shout” was originally released in the U.K. around Thanksgiving 1984, well in advance of its U.S. release.  It was one of the biggest singles of the year, spending the first three weeks of August 1985 at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.  It also spent two weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, reached No. 6 on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart, and even peaked at No. 56 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart.

“Shout,” with its strong lead vocals by Roland Orzabal, impressive guitar solo and keyboards, and that infectious pounding drum of producer Chris Hughes, was not only one of the biggest singles in America in 1985, it was one of THE biggest global hits of the year, and of the decade.  “Shout” reached No. 1 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand and Switzerland, No. 2 in Italy and South Africa, No. 4 in the U.K., No. 5 in Ireland and Norway, No. 6 in Austria, and high singles chart rankings in France and Sweden too.  It was a massive hit just about everywhere on the planet.

shout single

Roland Orzabal once said of “Shout” years after its release: “A lot of people think that ‘Shout’ is just another song about primal scream theory, continuing the themes of the first album.  It is actually more concerned with political protest.  It came out in 1984 when a lot of people were still worried about the aftermath of The Cold War and it was basically an encouragement to protest.”

Curt Smith added to that sentiment: “It concerns protest inasmuch as it encourages people not to do things without actually questioning them.  People act without thinking because that’s just the way things go in society.  So it’s a general song, about the way the public accepts any old grief which is thrown at them.”

As I lament (and protest, I suppose) tonight about the more-than-disappointing assjackery shenanigans of Ticketmaster, I couldn’t think of a better song to choose to highlight today than this kick-ass gem that will make me shout forever…

“Shout, Shout, Let it all out / These are the things I can do without / Come on, I’m talking to you, Come on…”

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

TFF 1985

song of the day – “Romeo’s Tune” | STEVE FORBERT | 1980.

It’s kinda funny how some songs you strongly disliked in your youth eventually grew on you and you now love and appreciate as an adult.  Steve Forbert’s “Romeo’s Tune” is one of those songs.

“Romeo’s Tune” is a simple, lovely, well-written song about a girl from Steve Forbert’s hometown of Meridian, Mississippi (but dedicated to Supremes singer Florence Ballard, who passed away in 1976, a few years before the song’s release).  And, for some reason, when I was 12 going on 13, and for several years after, the song used to bug ever-living crap out of me.  Aaah, youth.

romeos-tune

Steve Forbert was just 24 going on 25 when his first big hit debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 84 on the first day of December in 1979.  Within a month, “Romeo’s Tune” hummed its way into the Top 40, and took its time in reaching its peak position of No. 11 (this week in 1980), and spending two weeks there.  It would go on to spend a total of 19 weeks on the Hot 100, pretty impressive for a song that just missed the Top 10.  “Romeo’s Tune” did, however, reach No. 10 in Canada.

While “Romeo’s Tune” was Steve Forbert’s only big Top 40 hit, he did chart on the Hot 100 with one more song, “Say Goodbye To Little Jo,” which spent a week at No. 85 in mid-April 1980.  Both songs appeared on his acclaimed second album, JACKRABBIT SLIM.

jackrabbit-slim

With five albums under his belt (released between 1978 and 1983), Steve moved to Nashville in 1985 and took a different direction with his music, moving from a Pop / Rock sound to a more Folk / Americana sound, which, of course, is a good sound to move to if you’re gonna live in a place like Nashville.  And the move to both Nashville and Americana really worked for him.

flying-at-nightSince 1988, Steve’s released 13 studio albums (including 2016’s FLYING AT NIGHT), three live albums, 14 exclusive releases on his website, SteveForbert.com, and five compilation albums.  In 2004, his tribute album to Jimmie Rodgers, ANY OLD TIME, was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album.  A couple of years later, he was inducted into the Mississippi Music Hall Of Fame. 

Steve’s songs have been recorded by a number of Country music stars, like Rosanne Cash, and fellow Mississippians Marty Stuart and Webb Wilder.  Country superstar Keith Urban also covered “Romeo’s Tune” in 2007.  That same year, Steve’s music (including “Romeo’s Tune”) was featured in MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, a film starring Keith Urban’s wife, Nicole Kidman.

steve-forbert-2004

Steve Forbert, circa 2004.

NERDY FUN FACT: Steve Forbert had a cameo appearance in Cyndi Lauper’s video for “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” – as her boyfriend (her actual boyfriend at the time, David Wolff, was also in the video).

steve-forbert-gjwhf-7

From Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” video, with video boyfriend Steve Forbert at far right having some fun himself.

Steve Forbert, in his 60s now, still actively performs today (his current tour goes through June 2017), he just played dates in New Hampshire and Massachusetts earlier this month (February 2017), and I believe made an appearance in Portland, Maine not too long ago.  And he still revels in singing that simple, lovely “Romeo’s Tune” about a girl from his hometown but dedicated to another girl, one forever Supreme. 

“Meet me in the middle of the day / Let me hear you say everything’s okay / Come on out beneath the shining sun… Meet me in the middle of the night / Let me hear you say everything’s alright / Sneak on out beneath the stars and run… Oh yeah…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3rZIXIMvXQ

steve-forbert-young