song of the day – “The One I Love” | R.E.M. | 1987.

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!”

Nearly 80 songs found a home at the No. 9 position of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, and many of them seemed to be split up into categories, like the (real) one-hit wonders – Gary Numan, Buckner & Garcia, Ollie & Jerry and Oran “Juice” Jones. 

pac-man fever

Then you had the first big Top 10 hits (or first big Top 10 solo hits) by established artists – “Let My Love Open The Door” by Pete Townshend, “Touch Of Grey” by The Grateful Dead, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckingham, “Don’t Shed A Tear” by Paul Carrack, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It” by Loverboy, “Rush Hour” by Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, “Be Near Me” by ABC and “Burning Down The House” by Talking Heads.

rush hour

A few second-chance singles reached No. 9 as well – In 1982, Steve Winwood’s original version of “Valerie” stalled at No. 70, while a remix on the CHRONICLE hits compilation in 1987 propelled the song to No. 9.  The Pointer Sisters’ No. 30 hit from 1982, “I’m So Excited,” re-entered the chart in 1984 with a new mix and a new chart peak.  Ben E. King’s iconic No. 4 hit from 1961,“Stand By Me,” re-entered the chart in 1986 thanks to the brilliant film of the same name, and charted in the Top 10 for the second time, 25 years apart.

stand by me

Plus, you also had No. 9 hits from well-known artists that have been mostly forgotten for whatever reason (though not by me), like “Walking Away” by Information Society, “Room To Move” by Animotion, “We’re Ready” by Boston, “Love Will Save The Day” by Whitney Houston, “Love Will Conquer All” by Lionel Richie, “I Know What I Like” by Huey Lewis & The News, “Love You Down” by Ready For The World and “Let’s Go!” by Wang Chung (who could forget that one?!).

let's go

And, there were the big Top 10 comeback hits (“The Doctor” by The Doobie Brothers, “Your Wildest Dreams” by The Moody Blues, “You Got It” by the late, great Roy Orbison), and folks who had more than one No. 9 hit – Sheena Easton, Dan Fogelberg, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp and The Motels, all with two No. 9 hits, while both Bruce Springsteen and Journey had three each.

you got it

In the Summer of 1987, I was two years removed from high school and DJing wedding receptions, and spinning tunes and showing music videos to crowds of up to 600 teenagers and young adults at a chem-free night club in Waterville, Maine (called Studio 2).  That’s where I met Michael, one of my future best friends, who somehow conned me into giving him my 45 of “Burning Down The House” either the night I met him or the next time I saw him.  Clever bastard.

burning down the house

There’s not a whole lot of nightclubbing to be had by youngsters here in Central Maine, even less so now.  I met Michael on a Wednesday, when Studio 2 was trying out a mid-week night, trying to duplicate their popular Saturday night dance excursions for the area youth.

Though the Wednesday experiment didn’t work, I’m forever grateful to have met Michael that night.  He came down with a crowd from Pittsfield, about 20 miles north of Waterville, and they wanted to hear Alternative music.  Well, by the Summer of 1987, my knowledge of “Alternative music” consisted of select songs by Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Clash, Talking Heads and R.E.M., and maybe The Cult and a couple others, but that was about it. 

people are people

From that moment on, Michael and I became close friends (he was just out of high school), and he started his 30-year (so far) tutelage of music I never even knew about.  And some of those bands and singers (Robyn Hitchcock especially), Michael has influenced and inflicted more music on me than anyone, and while I still love most of the Top 40 music I grew up with, I am a HUGE fan of Alt-Dance and Alt-Rock today, mostly thanks to Michael.

robyn

Thank you, Michael, for introducing me to Robyn Hitchcock and his music all those years ago.  One of the best things anyone ever did for me…

R.E.M. was one of those bands that did have a Top 40 hit in 1987, and I had no idea prior to “The One I Love” and its parent album, DOCUMENT, that they had been together since 1980 and had already released four critically-acclaimed, full-length albums and an EP, but through Michael’s amazing music collection, I was introduced to all of it.  When I went back to college in 1990 (or College 2.0 if you prefer), Michael made me a mix tape (when there was still such a thing) of R.E.M. songs up through 1990.  I still have it!

Formed in Athens, GA in 1980, R.E.M. – consisting of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry – were critical darlings in their first several years, and had some success on BILLBOARD’s album chart – their first four albums were certified Gold – but on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart, they couldn’t chart any higher than No. 78. 

But somehow, with DOCUMENT (their last album for I.R.S. Records), they broke out beyond the critical praise of music journalists and college programmers and landed into the realm of commercial radio, and garnered a shit-ton more fans, yours truly included. 

document

Part of the success of DOCUMENT is most likely attributed to Scott Litt, who worked with R.E.M. for the first time, and he produced the album.  He would also go on to produce their next five albums (the first five R.E.M. albums for Warner Bros.), and all five albums did incredibly well.

The album was universally hailed as a great achievement.  ROLLING STONE’s David Fricke called the album R.E.M.’s “finest album to date” and how DOCUMENT is “a vibrant summary of past tangents and current strengths, [it] is the sound of R.E.M. on the move, the roar of a band that prides itself on the measure of achievement and the element of surprise.  The end of rock & roll as R.E.M. knows it is a long way off.”

Pitchfork said of the album on DOCUMENT’s 25th Anniversary in 2012: “If 1985’s FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION was R.E.M.’s most self-consciously Southern record to date and 1986’s LIFES RICH PAGEANT their most overtly political, DOCUMENT maintained both their regional self-definition as well as their indirect social engagement.”

the one i love v1

The first single from DOCUMENT, “The One I Love,” was released in August 1987, a month before the album.  The song was oft-mistaken for a love song (and maybe still is, I’m not sure).  It even might have been featured as one of Casey’s “Long Distance Dedications.”  But, the song is just the opposite.  Michael Stipe has said “The One I Love” is about “using people over and over.  It’s deceptive because it could be a love song until the line, ‘A simple prop to occupy my time’.”

Well, deceptive or not, something worked.  “The One I Love” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-September 1987 at No. 84.  The following week, it had already surpassed the three previous R.E.M. singles to reach the Hot 100.  A month after its debut, it shot into the Top 40.

Two weeks after its Top 40 debut, it won the Sales award for that week.  And in early December 1987, the first Top 40 hit for R.E.M. became their first Top 10 hit, as “The One I Love” spent a week at No. 9.  In an interview that appeared in ROLLING STONE a couple of days before, Michael Stipe half-jokingly spoke of the song’s oft-misinterpretation: “I’ve always left myself pretty open to interpretation.  It’s probably better that they just think it’s a love song at this point.”

the one i love v2

Another version of the cover art for “The One I Love.”

“The One I Love” stayed on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks, spending their last week on the chart in late January 1988, the same week follow-up single, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” made its debut.  Both songs helped propel the DOCUMENT album, and it was the band’s first album to be certified Platinum, and wouldn’t be their last.

Around the globe, “The One I Love” reached No. 5 in Ireland, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 14 in Canada, No. 16 in the U.K., and No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.  Once BILLBOARD got their Modern Rock chart going September 1988, R.E.M. was the first band to have two No. 1 songs on that chart – “Orange Crush” (eight weeks at No. 1) and “Stand” (two weeks).

After R.E.M. left I.R.S. for Warner Bros., the band’s success exploded from there.  They would go on to have two No. 1 albums – 1991’s OUT OF TIME and 1994’s MONSTER, two No. 2 albums – the brilliant AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE from 1992 and 1996’s NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI, a No. 3 album, 1998’s UP, eight more Top 40 hits (led by 1991’s “Losing My Religion”), and an incredible contract with Warner Bros. that gave them quite a ride for awhile.

R.E.M. broke up in 2011 after more than 30 years of putting out amazing music.  Though I sadly never got to see the band perform, in March 2007, I was 10 feet in front of Peter Buck at a show in Cambridge, MA at T.T. The Bear’s, when he was part of Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 (I was also standing next to Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls, though I think Michael – who was a huge fan of her and her band – had to point her out to me). 

robyn + peter SWSW 07

Robyn Hitchcock and Peter Buck, hamming it up at SXSW, March 2007.

Robyn & Peter & the rest of The Venus 3 played some Venus 3 originals, covers by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and some of Robyn’s songs, both solo and with The Soft Boys.  It was an incredible show.  That’s attributed to Michael, for introducing me to Robyn Hitchcock from the start of our friendship.

mike-mills

Mike Mills, Record Store Day 2014.

I also got to meet Mike Mills when he came for a signing at Record Store Day at the Bull Moose in Scarborough, Maine in 2014.  Bull Moose’s Chris Brown was the inspiration for Record Store Day (also founded in 2007), and I believe the inspiration for getting Mike Mills to come to the store that day.  In the brief moment I met him, Mike was very cool and really down to earth, and he was kind enough to sign a GREEN 25th Anniversary CD for a WMPG auction, and for me, he signed the 4-album set Mike was promoting, R.E.M.’s UNPLUGGED: THE COMPLETE 1991 AND 2001 SESSIONS.  So, I got to see half of R.E.M., in a sorta roundabout way.

R.E.M.-Record-Store-Day

It’s funny, “The One I Love” is NOT the R.E.M. song I love the most.  I actually can’t choose a favorite.  But, if I could choose more than one, that distinction would go to “Laughing” (from 1983’s MURMUR), the 1981 Hib-Tone version of “Radio Free Europe,” “Cuyahoga” and “I Believe” (from my favorite 80s R.E.M. album, 1986’s LIFES RICH PAGEANT), “Can’t Get There From Here” (from 1985’s FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, and an old popular saying here in Maine), “Near Wild Heaven” and “Belong” (from 1991’s OUT OF TIME), “At My Most Beautiful” (from 1998’s UP), the original 1992 version and the 1999 orchestral version of “Man On The Moon,” and “Nightswimming” (from my favorite 90s R.E.M. album, 1992’s AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE). 

But, “The One I Love” will always be the R.E.M. song that I loved FIRST, and, with Michael’s help, made me love the band’s music forever…

me + michael 10.31.15

Me and Michael, 10.31.2015, right before the wedding of his daughter, Devon.  Can’t remember if he or one of his sisters was trying to make me laugh. ‘Twas a really great day of many in a wonderful friendship…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7oQEPfe-O8

r.e.m.

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song of the day – “Tarzan Boy” | BALTIMORA | 1986 / 1993.

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!”

You know, as unlucky as the stigma for being unlucky the number 13 has had as long as I’ve known it, the No. 13 position on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 is something altogether different, or, lucky.  No. 13 has been the home (or treasure trove, if you prefer) to many great classics, like “Money” by Pink Floyd, Queen’s “Somebody To Love,” “Because The Night” by the Patti Smith Group, “Different Drum” by The Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt, “Radar Love” by Golden Earring, “Takin’ It To The Streets” by The Doobie Brothers, Santana’s “Oye Como Va,” “Roundabout” by Yes, “Let’s Talk About Sex” by Salt-N-Pepa, “Walking In Memphis by Marc Cohn, “Danke Schoen” by Wayne Newton (featured prominently in the John Hughes classic, FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF), “Here Comes My Baby” by The Tremeloes (which my pal Dave Wakeling and The English Beat will be covering on their upcoming album!), “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)” by The Walker Brothers (which was featured in the brilliant but barely-seen 2012 Steve Carell film, SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD), and one of the first singles I ever owned, “Theme From CLOSE ENCOUNTERS” by John Williams. 

close encounters

I still have my 45 of this, and it looks just as beat up.  After holding onto it for 40 years, I’m not parting with it anytime soon though…

Between 1979 and 1989, there were nearly 60 singles that reached lucky No. 13, and it was a popular number for Bob Seger, who had two hits stop there, as did Kenny Rogers, Elton John and Natalie Cole.  Van Halen had three songs reach No. 13 – “Right Where Ya Started,” and two from the album, 1984: “Panama” and the highly underrated “I’ll Wait.”  Speaking of Van Halen, in 1983, future / former Van Halen lead singer, Sammy Hagar, reached No. 13 with his first Top 40 hit (and biggest solo hit), “Your Love Is Driving Me Crazy.”

Some of my 80s favorites stopped at No. 13 too, like “Shadows Of The Night” by Pat Benatar, “All Over The World” by Electric Light Orchestra (from XANADU), “Back In The High Life Again” by Steve Winwood,” “One Night Love Affair” by Bryan Adams and “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

shadows

No. 13 must have been a favorite of mine for blog posts as well, as I’ve featured seven of them – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” by Band Aid, “People Are People” by Depeche Mode, “Waiting On A Friend” by The Rolling Stones, “Where The Streets Have No Name” by U2, plus two of the three (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached No. 13 – M|A|R|R|S (“Pump Up The Volume”) and Frida (“I Know There’s Something Going On”), and one song released in 1989, but peaked at No. 13 in March 1990 – “No Myth” by Michael Penn.

Another song that reached No. 13 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in the 80s came out of Italy, by way of Northern Ireland.  In the late 70s, Jimmy McShane (of Derry, Northern Ireland) was attending a stage school in London, learning how to dance and sing, when he was hired as a stage dancer and backing singer for English singer and musician, Dee D. Jackson.  He toured around Europe with Dee D. and her band, and upon a visit to Italy, he fell in love with Italy’s underground dance scene, and the country itself, and ended up moving to Milan in 1984.

In Milan, he learned the Italian language, and in 1984, met up with Maurizio Bassi, who was a music producer and a musician.  Together, they decided to form the New Wave / Dance band, Baltimora, with Jimmy McShane as the singer and the face of the band.

61b-bassi-mcshane

Baltimora’s Maurizio Bassi, left, and Jimmy McShane.

In early September 1985, they released their debut album, LIVING IN THE BACKGROUND, along with the first single from the album, “Tarzan Boy.”  The catchy song about being free and doing whatever you want in the jungle, without the hustle and bustle of living in the city, took about a month and a half to find its way to the BILLBOARD Hot 100, but did find it in mid-October 1985, when it debuted at No. 80.

living in the background

“Tarzan Boy” steadily moved up the chart at first, but lost its chart “bullet” (for sales and airplay) in its sixth chart week, and stalled at No. 62 for three weeks.  By early December 1985, “Tarzan Boy” had regained its bullet and started moving back up the Hot 100, reaching the Top 40 in mid-January 1986.

By March 1, 1986, “Tarzan Boy” had been on the chart for 20 weeks (longer than some No. 1 songs), and spent a week at No. 13.  “Tarzan Boy” spent half a year on the survey and finished the year at No. 73.

tarzan boy

Around the globe, “Tarzan Boy” was a massive hit, reaching No. 1 in Belgium, Finland, France, the Netherlands and Spain, and the Top 10 in the U.K., Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the BILLBOARD Dance chart.

Despite the success of “Tarzan Boy,” Baltimora had a hard time duplicating that success for its other singles and second album, 1987’s SURVIVOR IN LOVE.  Following “Tarzan Boy,” the title track from their debut album, LIVING IN THE BACKGROUND, peaked at No. 87 on the Hot 100, and a few other singles reached the Top 40 singles chart in Italy, but nothing more.  Baltimora broke up after the record label (in this case, Manhattan) dropped them. 

cool mint

From the 1993 commercial for Cool Mint Listerine, which used “Tarzan Boy.”

Fast forward to 1993, and a new remix of “Tarzan Boy” was used in a Cool Mint Listerine commercial (with animation by future film giant, Pixar).  Well, it didn’t stop there.  “Tarzan Boy” was also featured that year in the film, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES III, and the combination of the two sent “Tarzan Boy” back onto the BILLBOARD Hot 100, re-entering the chart in late March 1993. 

“Tarzan Boy” climbed as high as No. 51 and spent 12 additional weeks on the Hot 100, and a total of 38 weeks combined.  With new hits by Duran Duran, R.E.M., Madonna, INXS, New Order and Boy George’s Pet Shop Boys-produced theme to THE CRYING GAME, the 80s were still sticking around in 1993.  But it was pretty cool to hear “Tarzan Boy” on the radio again.

tarzan boy 93

The cover art for the 1993 reissue of “Tarzan Boy.”

Sadly, the following year, Jimmy McShane, the face of Baltimora, was diagnosed with AIDS while in Milan in 1994.  A few months later, he returned to his hometown of Derry, Northern Ireland, the place where his family had shunned him many years before for being gay.  He died in Derry in late March 1995 at the young age of 37.  And, despite his family’s earlier stance towards Jimmy’s homosexuality, after his death, a family spokesperson said, “He faced his illness with courage and died with great dignity.”

The legacy of Jimmy and “Tarzan Boy” live on today, and the song continues to be covered by other artists and has appeared in films, like Seth MacFarlane’s 2014 film, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST.  And, “Tarzan Boy” is still heard on the radio today, as it should, because, who wouldn’t want to dance around to a fun, catchy song about being free and roaming around the jungle, removed from that city life?

“Jungle life, I’m far away from nowhere / On my own like Tarzan Boy / Hide and seek, I play along while rushing ‘cross the forest / Monkey business on a sunny afternoon…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r0n9Dv6XnY

baltimora

song of the day – “Reach” | MARTINI RANCH | 1988.

On Saturday, February 25, 2017, we lost another great actor too soon – the incredibly-talented Bill Paxton, who died from a post-surgical stroke following heart surgery.  The Fort Worth, Texas native was just 61. 

Bill Paxton was a veteran actor, with an incredible resume that spanned four decades.  Though he apparently was in the 1981 Bill Murray gem, STRIPES (as a soldier) I don’t remember Bill in that movie.  I’ll look for him next time though.  His first big movies were prolly THE TERMINATOR and STREETS OF FIRE, both from 1984. 

The first movie I remember Bill in, however, was the 1985 John Hughes film, WEIRD SCIENCE.  It’s my least favorite of John’s 80s teen films, but as the asshole brother, Chet, Bill Paxton played the role so brilliantly.  Seriously, not many people could convincingly pull off playing a giant turd.  And I mean that in the highest regard.  I loved him in that role.

weird-science

From 1985’s WEIRD SCIENCE, Bill with Anthony Michael Hall.

I loved Bill in many other roles, too, including films like TOMBSTONE, TRUE LIES, TWISTER, TITANIC, ALIENS (for which he won a Saturn Award) and APOLLO 13 (for which he won a Screen Actors Guild Award).  He also had a TV resume that spanned four decades as well, including roles on MIAMI VICE, TALES FROM THE CRYPT, FRASIER, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., and his HBO series, BIG LOVE, for which he was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards.  He was also a main character in the brand-new TV reboot of the 2001 film, TRAINING DAY.  All of the 13 episodes had been completed before his death, and just wrapped shooting in December 2016.

training-day

In 1976, Bill Paxton met Seymour Stein, co-founder of my favorite record label, Sire Records (and future Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer and Vice President of Warner Bros. Records).  They became friends, and Seymour took Bill to see acts on his roster at the time, like The Ramones and Talking Heads.  Can you imagine?  Hot damn.  Seymour was also encouraging with Bill and his acting work.  More on Bill’s connection with Sire Records in a bit.fish-heads

What many folks don’t know about Bill Paxton, is that, when he wasn’t acting, he was involved with music.  Before his big break in film and TV, Bill directed a music video in 1980 for a popular 1978 novelty song that had a lot of love on the Dr. Demento show over the years – “Fish Heads” by Barnes & Barnes.

Bill met up with the fictional twin brothers Art and Artie Barnes (actor Bill Mumy of LOST IN SPACE and singer / songwriter / musician Robert Haimer), and volunteered to direct the $2,000 video.  He also starred in the video, along with Dr. Demento himself, who had a cameo as a bum.  The video for “Fish Heads” aired on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE on December 6, 1980 (eight months before MTV), and the following week.

bill-paxton-1980

Bill Paxton in 1980.

Bill Paxton’s video filmography didn’t stop there.  He also appeared as a Nazi officer in Pat Benatar’s “Shadows Of The Night” video in 1982, and New Order’s “Touched By The Hand Of God” video in 1987.  Bill was in a couple more videos in the 80s, but they were a bit more personal.

In 1982, vocalist and guitarist Andrew Todd Rosenthal thought up the idea for a band whose sound (a sorta different twist on New Wave) ended up being a precursor for late-80s Devo.  That band was called Martini Ranch.

martini-ranch-press

The idea behind the name Martini Ranch?  According to the liner notes of 1988’s Sire compilation, JUST SAY YO: VOLUME II OF JUST SAY YES, the answer to the “philosophical query” is that Martini Ranch is “a neither dry nor dusty concoction that cheerfully assimilates all media forms in order to regurgitate a colorful, satirical audio-visual mélange of Life As We Know It.  Got that, Martini fans?  Then drink up.”

Between 1986 and 1988, Andrew, Bill and keyboardist Robert O’Hearn – as Martini Ranch – released, on Sire Records, two 12” singles and a full-length album, HOLY COW.  Speaking of Devo, from that lone Martini Ranch album, the first single – “How Can The Laboring Man Find Time For Self-Culture?” – was produced and engineered Devo’s Bob 2 – Bob Casale, Jr. (who we sadly lost in February 2014), and featured Devo drummer Alan Myers (who we also sadly lost in June 2013), and Devo vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh on keyboards.

how-can-the-laboring-man

Also making appearances on this interestingly quirky album were Cindy Wilson of The B-52’s, famed New Age artist and film composer Mark Isham, actor Bud Cort (of HAROLD AND MAUDE), and actor Judge Reinhold (of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, the BEVERLY HILLS COP trilogy and more).

holy-cow

Judge Reinhold’s appearance on HOLY COW consisted of a sole credit – as the whistler on the album’s second single (and today’s “song of the day”), “Reach.”  The song had a kind of cowboy-meets-New Wave sound (Boys Don’t Cry’s “I Wanna Be A Cowboy” comes pretty close), with a hint of Dead Or Alive.

For a song that was mostly just a fun College Radio hit, Martini Ranch picked up a pretty impressive director for the video of “Reach” – James Cameron.

reach

Long before James Cameron became an Academy Award winner and “King of the world!” with two of the top three domestic films of all-time (AVATAR, No. 2 and TITANIC, No. 3, behind 2015’s STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS), he was an up-and-coming Sci-Fi writer-director, having directed and written – by 1988 – THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS. 

Bill Paxton had appeared in both of those films (and would also appear in James Cameron’s TRUE LIES and TITANIC), and I’m betting his friend James directed the seven-and-a-half-minute cowboy-themed video for “Ranch” as a favor for Bill. 

reach-backThe number of cameos in this video is impressive, including James’ future third wife (of five), Kathryn Bigelow, who not only directed the New Order video for “Touched By The Hand Of God,” but would become (to date) the first female director (finally!) to win an Academy Award for Best Director (for 2009’s THE HURT LOCKER).

Cameos in the “Reach” video also included ALIENS and TERMINATOR star Lance Henriksen, actor Paul Reiser, the aforementioned Judge Reinhold and Bud Cort, and actor Adrian Pasdar (who I remember most for the role of Nathan Petrelli of the NBC series, HEROES).

sireboxThe video for “Reach” appears in the brilliant 2005 Rhino / Sire 3-CD/1-DVD box set, JUST SAY SIRE: THE SIRE RECORDS STORY, which features 61 classic Sire gems spanning many genres and decades, and a DVD (which includes “Reach”), featuring 20 videos like M’s “Pop Muzik,” The Ramones’ “Rock ’N’ Roll High School,” “Let’s Go To Bed” by The Cure, “Like A Prayer” by Madonna, “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode and Talking Heads’ “Once In A Lifetime.”

In the liner notes for that box set, Bill wrote about Seymour in a way anyone who knew Bill or loved his work would prolly write about Bill:

“As anyone who has ever pursued a recording, theatre, or film career knows, it can be a very discouraging road.  I think I speak for all of the artists who have been represented by and associated with Seymour over the years, in so much as when he believes in someone’s talent, he believes all the way.  He will not be swayed by pressure or popular opinion.  I believe that this positive, unflagging support is what has driven many of us to succeed when we might have lost faith.  His great talent comes from a deep, deep love of what he does – finding and nurturing talent.”

Bill Paxton was definitely a great talent, and had a deep, deep love for what he did.  And I’ll miss that.  And I’ll miss Bill.  R.I.P. Bill, and many, many thanks…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkz0Lx6VyxA

Bill Paxton

Bill Paxton from 2015…

song of the day – “Over The Hills And Far Away” (12” Mix) | GARY MOORE | 1987.

Well, just two STUCK IN THE 80s shows to go on WMPG community radio (in Portland, Maine, USA)!  Wow.  This past Sunday, 1.29.2017, my awesome and talented WMPG radio neighbor, DJ SHAXX (host of the kick-ass LEFT OF THE DIAL), and I teamed up for a second installment in celebrating the 12-inch single, extended remixes and even mash-ups on a show that we called 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux! 

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The 12” single, to my knowledge, got its start during the disco era of the 70s, but it was during the 80s where the 12” single really flourished.  One of the great things I love about the history of the 12” single during the 80s is that almost everyone in the music industry felt compelled to commission at least one 12” extended mix, whether or not they really needed to (i.e. Billy Joel, Chicago, Toto, Matthew Wilder, Nena, Bruce Springsteen). 

In the 80s, you had 12” extended mixes from all walks of music life – with artists like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, INXS, Michael Jackson, New Order and Pet Shop Boys leading the way.  The most surprising 12” dance mixes came from Rock and Roll artists.  In the 80s, Rock bands like The Cult, Def Leppard, Aerosmith, ZZ Top and AC/DC all released 12” extended and/or dance mixes of some of their songs.

One Rock artist who was talked into releasing at least a couple of remixes in the 80s was the late, great Gary Moore, from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  In the 70s, Gary was a member of the Irish Rock bands Skid Row and Thin Lizzy. 

For his sixth studio album, 1985’s RUN FOR COVER, Gary teamed up with his former Thin Lizzy bandmate, Phil Lynott, on the song, “Out In The Fields,” about the religious issues they faced in their native Ireland.  Shortly after the song’s success, Phil Lynott died at the young age of 36 in early January 1986.

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Gary was off of my music radar until his next album, WILD FRONTIER (most notably the album’s first single, “Over The Hills And Far Away”) was released in March 1987.  The album features many songs about Ireland and throughout the album, there’s a powerful Celtic presence, especially on “Over The Hills And Far Away.”  I think that (along with the incredible assist of a drum machine, believe it or not) is what attracted me to the song. and ultimately, the album.

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“Over The Hills And Far Away” is a song about a man who was sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit and longs for the day he gets out to be with the woman he loves (“Over the hills and far away / She prays he will return one day / As sure as the rivers reach the sea / Back in her arms is where he’ll be…”).

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The creative non-trad 12” extended mix of “Over The Hills And Far Away” starts off with Gary walking over to a couple of doors from his music past, or rather Gary revisiting a couple of songs from the previous album, RUN FOR COVER – the aforementioned “Out In The Fields,” and “Empty Rooms.”  He opens the door to each song via the sound of a creaky door (i.e. his guitar), and then promptly closes each door once the quick sampling of each song was done.  From there, he walks over to another creaky door, opens it (again, via his guitar) and then, replete with that powerful drum machine beat, Gary rips into that same guitar and starts wailing with everything he’s got.  At the end of the song, the door to “Over The Hills And Far Away” closes too.  This 12” mix was one of the highlights of the 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux show from the other night.

Following the release of his next Rock album, 1989’s AFTER THE WAR, Gary achieved his biggest success with 1990’s STILL GOT THE BLUES album, which featured the likes of Blues legends Albert King and Albert Collins, and The Beatles’ George Harrison.  It was certified Gold here in the U.S., Finland and Germany.  It was certified Platinum in the U.K., Australia and Switzerland, and Double-Platinum in Sweden. 

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Gary Moore would continue to release (mostly) Blues albums through 2008.  He sadly passed away of a heart attack in early February 2011 at the young age of 58.  He was beloved by many, especially folks in the Rock music field, including Ozzy Osbourne, Bob Geldof, Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen, Bryan Adams and Henry Rollins.  In Skånevik, Norway, a large statue was erected of Gary Moore, in honor of his many performances at the Skånevik Blues Festival.  

I remember Gary mostly for his massive guitar talents, especially on that amazing 1987 song that always takes me “over the hills and far away…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SgQUi9uJrc

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(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Rumors” | TIMEX SOCIAL CLUB | 1986.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

One of my best friends, Hope, got this song stuck in my head the other day and I thought, in order to get it out of my head (and into the heads of other folks!) is to highlight it as the (real) one-hit wonder of the week.  So, here you are!

The Timex Social Club was an R&B / Post-Disco band from Berkeley, California, formed in 1982 as the Timex Crew.  They stayed that way until 1986, when lineup changes prompted the band to call themselves the Timex Social Club. 

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The band released just one album, VICIOUS RUMORS, in 1986, which included R&B hits “Thinkin’ About Ya,” “Mixed Up World” and the first single, “Rumors.”  And it was “Rumors” that, for many months in 1986, made Timex Social Club a household name and a hit on the dance floor and then some.

“Rumors” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-June 1986, and made a steady climb up the chart before spending two non-consecutive weeks at No. 8 in August 1986.  It stayed on the Hot 100 for 19 weeks, was ranked as one of the 100 biggest songs of 1986 here in America, and was the only Hot 100 hit the band would have.

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On BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, “Rumors” spent two weeks at No. 1, and three weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  Around the globe, “Rumors” was a Top 10 hit in Holland, Ireland, Italy and New Zealand, and a Top 20 hit in the U.K., Belgium, Germany.  In Canada, “Rumors” spent five weeks at No. 2.

With the success from “Rumors,” Def Jam co-founder Russell Simmons hired the Timex Social Club as the opening act on Run-DMC’s RAISING HELL tour for 38 dates in 1986.  Other acts performing on that tour included Beastie Boys and LL Cool J.  The band also opened up for acts like New Edition, Kool & The Gang and Jermaine Jackson.  But, it didn’t last.

Not long after the success of “Rumors,” the Timex Social Club broke up, and the band’s producer, Jay King, went on to form Club Nouveau, a Sacramento, California Pop / Dance / R&B band.  That band’s debut album, LIFE, LOVE & PAIN, was released in December 1986, became a Platinum-selling album, and gave the band a No. 1 song in March 1987 with a funky cover of Bill Withers’ “Lean On Me.”

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That album’s first single, “Jealousy,” a No. 8 hit on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, was released in response to “Rumors” and references the split of Timex Social Club.  (“I tried to help some friends / To help themselves / To get their lives intact / They came out spreading rumors / Now I have to come out spreading facts…”) Even the font of the Club Nouveau album and singles titles and artwork are similar to that of the Timex Social Club.

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You know, when it comes to rumors, I don’t care to hear anything about Trump or the fake news nonsense that’s polluting the airwaves.  The only rumors (or rumours, depending on where you’re reading this) that I want to hear about are either by Fleetwood Mac, Graham Parker And The Rumour, “Blasphemous Rumours” by Depeche Mode, “Rumour” by Bel Canto, “Rumours Of War” by Billy Bragg, Adele’s “Rumour Has It” or “Rumors” by Timex Social Club!  Stop…spreading…those…rumors around!

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

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xmas song of the day – “We Three Kings” | BOOK OF LOVE | 1987.

Happy Holidays!  Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.

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Wasn’t sure what I was going to choose for Day 19 of the 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, but then in the car today, I heard this amazing Synthpop take on a Christmas carol that dates back to 1857 – “We Three Kings” by Book Of Love.bookoflove2

“We Three Kings” was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. 130 years before Book Of Love’s version.  If the name John Henry Hopkins, Jr. doesn’t ring a bell, don’t worry – it didn’t for me either.  At the time he wrote “We Three Kings” in 1857, Mr. Hopkins was a rector of the Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania (about 180 miles NW of Philadelphia, where Book Of Love was formed), and he wrote it for a Christmas pageant in New York City.  It wasn’t first published until 1862 or 1863.  But, since then, it has remained as one of the more popular Xmas carols.

Book Of Love’s version appears on YULESVILLE, the 1987 Warner Bros. precursor to 1988’s WINTER WARNERLAND promotional holiday double album.  YULESVILLE, like its WINTER WARNERLAND counterpart, represented many different genres across a number of different Warner labels, like Sire Records.

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YULESVILLE featured holiday offerings from artists like The Ramones, Los Lobos, Aztec Camera, The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” and Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas,” as well as a wealth of holiday ID’s from Madonna, Joey Ramone, Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, 54.40, Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac, and Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys.

You can also find Book Of Love’s cool version of “We Three Kings” on their compilation, MMXVI: THE 30th ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, released on Sire / Rhino in June 2016.

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If you love Book Of Love as much as I do, or if you are just learning about them and you love the popular Xmas carol they covered, do yourself a favor and check this out. It also doesn’t hurt that they are actually sending you Season’s Greetings by way of “We Three Kings”…

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk7KP4MX5aI

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song of the day – “People Are People” | DEPECHE MODE | 1985.

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Today (9.11.2016) marks the 15th anniversary of the horrific terror attacks against the United States.  I wasn’t even there (I was living in Portland, Maine on 9.11.2001), and still, I’ll never get those images out of my head, especially when the North Tower of the World Trade Center fell straight down to the ground one hour and 42 minutes after being hit by American Airlines Flight 11, a flight out of Boston, leaving a gaping hole in the New York skyline, and changing thousands upon thousands of lives forever…

My heart broke when I found out that Mohamed Atta, the head highjacker of Flight 11, spent his last night on Earth in South Portland, and flew out of the Portland International Jetport to Boston on 9.11.01.  My heart also broke when I learned that David Angell and his wife, Lynn, were on that flight. 

David Angell was a writer and producer for my favorite TV show, CHEERS.  He was also a co-creator and executive producer for the CHEERS spinoff, FRASIER. The first two shows of FRASIER that year were dedicated to them.  David was the only person I “knew” who died as a result of the terror attacks on New York, and when my dear friend Shawn took me to the incredibly moving 9/11 memorial in 2013, I was able to find his and Lynn’s names.

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From the 9/11 memorial, 10.4.2013. (Photo by Ron Raymond, Jr.)

Today, I write this from Seawall (part of Acadia National Park here in Maine), the most peaceful place on the planet for me.  The only sounds to be heard are passersby and the sea.  And, apart from hurricanes or bad storms, time has no meaning here.  Seawall looks the same as it did 40 years ago.  Still, I’m reminded of 9.11.01 today, as many of us are, and I’m also reminded of some songs that will forever have an association for me of that day, even though have nothing to do with 9.11 itself.cyndi-lauper-shine

Those songs include Cyndi Lauper’s 2002 song, “Water’s Edge” (from her SHINE EP) (“Oh, I wish you could wrap yourself around me / I am gripped by a loneliness…”; “I went to the water’s edge and saw my life eclipse / I went to the water’s edge and then felt myself slip / I dreamed that I was floating, just coast until I grew fins / I want to catch this tide back home and feel you again…”).

Sinéad O’Connor’s haunting 1991 cover of Elton John’s “Sacrifice” (from the TWO ROOMS tribute album) is another song that had no connection to 9.11 and yet will always remind me of that day.  Her version of the song was played on STUCK IN THE 80s on the Sunday following 9.11.01.  Although the song is actually about a breakup of a marriage, whenever I hear her stirring version, I can’t help but still get goose bumps. 

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Sinead O’Connor, from the “Sacrifice” video.

 

Another song played on that 9.11 tribute show (and the tribute show for the 1999 school shootings at Columbine, as well as 2011’s COLD WAR CLASSICS show) was the song that introduced me (and many others in America) to Depeche Mode – “People Are People” (whose video even features military footage from The Cold War).people-are-people-lp

“People Are People” was originally released on a 1984 North American compilation of the same name to help generate interest for new fans of the band who somehow (like yours truly) missed out on the band’s first three albums.  “People Are People” was to be released as part of Depeche Mode’s fourth studio album, SOME GREAT REWARD, later that year, but Sire Records wanted to get a jump start on promoting the song – and the band – to commercial and college radio.

Released in March 1984, “People Are People” was a big hit in the band’s U.K. homeland, reaching No. 4.  It also reached the Top 10 in other parts of the world, including Austria, Belgium, Holland, Ireland, Norway, Poland and Switzerland, and spent three weeks at No. 1 in Germany (where it was used as the theme song for the West Germany TV coverage of the 1984 Olympics). 

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The song attracted an audience on Modern Rock stations and college radio stations here in the U.S., but it took awhile for “People Are People” to gain momentum on commercial radio.  Eventually, though, it did.  The song finally made its debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1985, and reached the Top 40 about a month later.  It would spend two weeks at No. 13 in August 1985 and also reached the Top 15 in Canada.

Written by Depeche Mode’s principal songwriter, Martin L. Gore, he admits “People Are People” is one of his least favorite DM songs, despite its success, and the song hasn’t been performed live since 1988.  It’s been said Martin prefers to have subtle metaphors that allow people to find their own meanings in the songs he writes, and he feels that “People Are People” doesn’t fit that description.

Well, I know at least for me, the song carries a lot of weight.  Sure, it’s the song that introduced me to Depeche Mode, so it’s special in that regard, but the reason it has appeared in all of these tribute shows (including the one for 9.11.01) is because of its plea for peace, love and understanding between nations and races and then some…

“People are people so why should it be / You and I should get along so awfully… / So we’re different colours / And we’re different creeds / And different people have different needs / It’s obvious you hate me / Though I’ve done nothing wrong / I never even met you / So what could I have done / I can’t understand / What makes a man / Hate another man / Help me understand…”

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The South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial, New York City, 10.4.2013.  I’ve never seen colors like that before (generated by water, anyway) before or since… (Photo taken by Ron Raymond, Jr.)

Overall, I’d like to think things have changed for the better since 9.11.01, yet there’s still lots more work to be done.  But, as I look out at the peaceful sea on this late summer afternoon, on this day of remembrance, an old favorite adage comes to mind – “Why can’t we all just get along?!”  Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello asked that question nearly 40 years ago with “(What’s So Funny) ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding?” and Depeche Mode asked that question more than 30 years ago with “People Are People.”  It’s my hope that maybe one day those questions will be answered, and then I won’t need anyone to help me understand.  That continues to be my hope…

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The waves crashing against the natural seawall, at Seawall (part of Acadia National Park, Maine), 9.11.2016. (Photo by Ron Raymond, Jr.)

Sending my continued thoughts and prayers and peace and love for everyone affected by the 9.11.2001 terrorist attacks against the United States…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzGnX-MbYE4

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