song of the day – “Love Shack” | THE B-52’s | 1989.

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!”

Casey Kasem used to also say, “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger.”  And so does the number of songs that reached these “smaller” positions.  Between 1979 and 1989, more than 110 songs peaked at No. 3, and many artists stayed there more than once, including Bobby Brown, El DeBarge (solo and with DeBarge), Duran Duran, Genesis, The Jets, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & The News, Richard Marx, Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters, The Police (Sting also had a No. 3 solo hit), Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Styx, Wham! and Donna Summer.  Chicago reached the No. 3 positions four times between 1979 and 1989.

hungry like the wolf

1988 was a popular year for No. 3 hits, when 17 songs reached that position, including songs by Taylor Dayne, Samantha Fox, Debbie Gibson, the “comeback” hit for Hall & Oates (“Everything Your Heart Desires”), Breathe, Anita Baker, Information Society, INXS, U2 and (real) one-hit wonder Patrick Swayze (from DIRTY DANCING). 

new sensation

No. 3 hits also included the first solo by David Lee Roth (his cover of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls”), as well as the first Van Halen hit without him, “Why Can’t This Be Love.”  There were also big No. 3 hits for Simple Minds, Belinda Carlisle, The Cars, Neneh Cherry, Charlie Daniels Band, Chris de Burgh, Earth, Wind & Fire, Corey Hart, Don Henley, Chaka Khan, Love & Rockets, Men At Work, Men Without Hats, Nu Shooz, Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The S.O.S. Band, The Stray Cats, Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins, Madonna and the last Top 40 hit for the late, great Marvin Gaye (“Sexual Healing”).

sexual healing

Love was a constant theme among the No. 3 hits, and was featured in the title of 15 songs, and implied in many others.  One of the 15 hits with the “Love” connection (sorry, couldn’t be helped) was one of two No. 3 hits in a row for The B-52’s – “Love Shack.”

One of the 80s’ biggest success stories – some would say one of the biggest comebacks – belonged to Athens, GA’s New Wave / Alt-Rock / Alt-Dance legends, The B-52’s.  By 1989, The B-52’s had already released four albums and two EPs, and had reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 three times – “Rock Lobster” (No. 56, 1980), “Private Idaho” (No. 74, 1980) and “Legal Tender” (No. 81, 1983). 

rock lobster

The B-52’s started recorded their fourth album – BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES – in July 1985.  At that time, the band was comprised of vocalist Fred Schneider, vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson, vocalist and percussionist Cindy Wilson, lead guitarist Ricky Wilson (Cindy’s brother), and drummer / rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Keith Strickland.  This had been the lineup since the band’s formation in 1976.

b-52's with ricky

During the recording of BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES, it was discovered that Ricky Wilson was suffering from AIDS.  None of the rest of The B-52’s (except for Keith Strickland) had known about it.  In an interview, Kate Pierson had said that Ricky Wilson kept his illness a secret from the rest of the band because he “did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him.” 

On October 12, 1985, while still in the recording process of BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES, Ricky Wilson died of AIDS at the heartbreakingly young age of 32 years old.

Ricky Wilson, Guitarist for the B-52s

After Ricky’s death, drummer Keith Strickland learned how to play guitar in Ricky’s own style and switched from drummer to lead guitarist.  The band hired session musicians to help out as well, including the album’s producer, Tony Mansfield (who had also worked with Naked Eyes, Captain Sensible, a-ha and After The Fire).

bouncing

Devastated beyond belief at the loss of Ricky Wilson, The B-52’s released BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES on September 8, 1986, with no fanfare and no tour, though they did make a music video for my favorite song on the album, “Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland.”

girl from ipanema

Cindy Wilson went into a deep depression following her brother’s death, Keith Strickland spent some time at Woodstock, NY, while Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson remained in New York City.  They all felt at that moment The B-52’s couldn’t continue without Ricky Wilson.

But, in time, Keith Strickland began composing songs again, and after playing some of the new music he had worked on to the rest of the band, they agreed to try and start writing together again.  The result was COSMIC THING, the biggest album the band would ever have.

cosmic thing

COSMIC THING’s production was smartly split up between Don Was (of Was (Not Was) fame) and Nile Rodgers.  It worked and then some, and the album’s first single, “Channel Z,” was not well-received anywhere except College and Modern Rock radio, who embraced it right away.  “Channel Z” would spend three weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart in August 1989.

channel z

“Channel Z” was also the B-side of the album’s second single, “Love Shack,” which was released a week in advance of COSMIC THING in late June 1989.  It took a month and a half to reach BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart and become the band’s fourth single to reach the chart. 

“Love Shack” debuted on the Hot 100 in early September 1989 at No. 84.  Within three weeks, “Love Shack” had already surpassed the peak of every B-52’s single which had reached the chart.  By the end of September 1989, it was the first Top 40 hit the band had in its U.S. homeland.

love shack

In early November 1989, The B-52’s landed their first Top 10 hit, with “Love Shack.”  That was also the week I saw them perform for the first time, when they came to the University of Maine at Orono and almost literally brought the roof of the venue down with their show.  They were amazing.  I would see them again on the COSMIC THING tour in 1990 at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

“Love Shack” would go on to spend a couple of weeks at No. 3 in November 1989, and just before Xmas 1989, it was certified Gold.  Follow-up single “Roam” debuted on the last Hot 100 of 1989, when “Love Shack” was still in the Top 30.  And, in late January 1990, “Roam” debuted within the Top 40 the last week “Love Shack” spent in the Top 40.  (“Roam” would also reach No. 3 and was certified Gold as well.)

roam

A total of 27 weeks was spent on the Hot 100 for “Love Shack,” one week more than half a year.  It was that lengthy time on the chart which saw it finish on the year-end BILLBOARD charts two years in a row.  Pretty impressive.  It also reached (with “Channel Z”) No. 7 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, spent four weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart, and received two MTV Video Music Awards, for Best Group Video and Best Art Direction.

b's 1989NERDY FUN FACT: “Love Shack” was produced by Don Was, and the inspiration for the song was this cabin around Athens, GA, which had a tin roof, and where the band conceived their first hit, “Rock Lobster.”  Kate Pierson even lived in the cabin back in the 70s (it burned down in 2004).  Prolly the most famous line in the song, where Cindy Wilson exclaims, “Tin roof…rusted,” was actually an outtake that was added to the song later on.

Around the globe, lots of love was felt for “Love Shack,” and it spent eight weeks at No. 1 in Australia, four weeks at No. 1 in New Zealand, a week at No. 1 in Ireland, plus it reached No. 2 in the U.K., and the Top 20 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In a 2002 interview with ROLLING STONE (which named “Love Shack” as the Best Single of 1989), Fred Schneider spoke of the album’s success: “We thought it would be good, but we didn’t know how good.  We don’t really set out saying, ‘Oh, this is going to be commercial,’ or ‘This is going to be this or that.’  We just wanted good songs, and we thought the songs were really good.  We were pretty shocked, because we didn’t expect it to go that big.  The success of it brings problems because it’s really hard to do tours.  I’m not one to want to go tour at all, but to do eighteen months is like torture.  You just get offers that are really good and you’re going to New Zealand and Australia and all over Europe, and it’s pretty exciting.  It all went way beyond what you’d think.”

flintstones

After COSMIC THING, The B-52’s continued to record and chart for a few more years, including a fun cover of the TV theme song, “(Meet) The Flintstones” (from the 1994 FLINTSTONES movie starring John Goodman).  It snuck onto the Top 40 for one week in early June 1994.

Apart from recording (as The BC-52’s) for Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty (and a couple of popular compilations), the band took a lengthy hiatus, and in March 2008, released FUNPLEX, their first album in nearly 16 years.  It was worth the wait. 

funplex

In October 2011, they released a CD and a DVD of a live concert from earlier that year, WITH THE WILD CROWD! LIVE IN ATHENS, GA.  To borrow from a line out of FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, “It is so choice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”  Seriously, it’s that good.  One of the best live performances I’ve ever seen on the small screen, from one of the bands with two of the best live performances I’ve seen in person.

with the wild crowd

Though the band hasn’t released a solo album since 2008’s FUNPLEX, The B-52’s continue to tour and perform 50-60 shows a year (minus Keith Strickland, who is still with the band, but who stopped performing live with them in 2012).  Sadly, I missed them this Summer, when they came to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire (where I saw Billy Idol in 2014), and when they performed with the Boston Pops.  That must have been incredible!  Prolly the only Pops show where you can’t control people from dancing on their seats, in the aisles and everywhere!

b's n pops

I gotta be honest, after years of playing it at wedding receptions, “Love Shack” is not my favorite B-52’s song.  But, if you were in a jam and tried to get people out onto the dance floor, that was THE go-to song, and people loved it, and loved dancing to it.  Though it’s not my favorite from the band, I do love the song to death, and I’m so glad it finally got The B-52’s the recognition they deserved after so many years of struggling despite putting out great music, and with the terrible loss they suffered when they lost Ricky Wilson. 

Both COSMIC THING and “Love Shack” are a testament to Ricky’s memory, and I’m so proud to call The B-52’s one of my all-time favorite bands, even if it took me awhile to get there.  They are a heluva lot of fun to listen to and dance to, play on the radio and see perform live, which I hope to do again sometime soon…

“Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail / I got me a car, like, it seats about 20 / So come on and bring your jukebox money…  The Love Shack is a little old place where we can get together / Love Shack, ba-by….”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOryJvTAGs

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song of the day – “Infatuation” | ROD STEWART | 1984.

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!”

About 70 songs peaked at No. 6 between 1979 and 1989, and out of these songs I found many favorites, like “Lay Your Hands On Me” by Thompson Twins, “The Logical Song” by Supertramp, “Don’t Let It End” by Styx (a great song you almost never hear anymore), “Breakout” by Swing Out Sister, “Late In The Evening” by Paul Simon, the gorgeous “Piano In The Dark” by Brenda Russell featuring Joe Esposito, “Your Love” by The Outfield, “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters (from BEVERLY HILLS COP), “Come Dancing” by The Kinks, “Him” by Rupert Holmes (love those story songs), “Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson, “Family Man” by Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “Funkytown” by Pseudo Echo, “Word Up” by Cameo, “Obsession” by Animotion, “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions (from CADDYSHACK), “Some Like It Hot” and “Election Day” by Duran Duran spinoffs The Power Station and Arcadia, respectively, and “I Drove All Night” by the incomparable Cyndi Lauper.  I’ll come back to Cyndi in a moment.

i drove all night

The No. 6 position was also a favorite for Huey Lewis & The News, who placed four songs at No. 6, and three of those were consecutive No. 6 hits from their monster 1983 album, SPORTS – “I Want A New Drug,” “The Heart Of Rock & Roll” and “If This Is It.” 

i want a new drug

Bryan Adams, Dr. Hook, Little River Band and John Mellencamp each had two No. 6 hits, plus there were two fantastic ballads by Bruce Springsteen from BORN IN THE U.S.A. (“I’m On Fire” and “My Hometown”), and two songs by Rod Stewart – “Love Touch” and one of my all-time favorite songs by the London native, “Infatuation.”

i'm on fire

On Friday, July 14, 2017, my oldest friend, Peter, and I had the absolute privilege of seeing Cyndi Lauper and Rod Stewart perform in Bangor, Maine.  Cyndi opened up for him, and was, of course, phenomenal, as I knew she would be.  If my math is correct, it was her first time performing in Maine since her 1986-1987 TRUE COLORS tour, and was definitely long overdue and yet so worth the wait. 

Cyndi 7.14.17

Cyndi Lauper on the big hi-def screen, stunning as evah.

I was more than pleased to see the Maine crowd welcome back Cyndi, and the crowd went nuts when Maine Senator Susan Collins came out to the stage.  In 2015, Senator Collins – a longtime Maine Republican Senator – chaired a bipartisan committee to look into the serious issue of homeless youth.  Cyndi testified before Senator Collins and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, to seek legislative funding programs for homeless teens.  (For years, Cyndi’s wonderful True Colors Fund, has existed to help combat homeless LGBT youth, “creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves.”  Please go to TrueColorsFund.org for more info and find out how you can help.)

true-colors-fund

Cyndi was about to go into another song when one of her crew members came out and whispered that Senator Collins was backstage.  I think I heard Cyndi say, “Bring her out!”  And once the Senator came out to greet Cyndi, Cyndi told the audience, “This woman is a hero.  And she’s my hero.  And she’s a Republican.  She’s helped us so much with the LGBT homeless youth and all the homeless kids.”  And then Senator Collins got the hug I wanted, dammit!  It’s all good.  I may not agree with all of the political views of Senator Collins, but it was a really nice moment.  After the show, Cyndi even tweeted a selfie of Senator Collins, Rod Stewart and herself. 

cyndi rod n susan 7.14.17

What a great selfie: Maine Senator Susan Collins, Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper.

Speaking of Sir Rod Stewart, holy cats!  I don’t know why exactly I had never seen Rod perform live before, but I’m so glad I got to see him this time.  The guy is 72, and still had the moves, the looks, an incredible band, lovely ladies who could sing, dance and play instruments, and he sure knew how to work the crowd.  And he could kick the shit out of a soccer ball (er, football for everyone outside of the U.S.) (he gave away signed soccer balls by kicking them out to the crowd; one went over Pete and I, and about five people scrambled to get it, though they forgot a barrier was there.  Oopsie!).

Rod Stewart 7.14.17

What almost looks like a huge painting is actually a very elated Rod Stewart, wowing the crowd in Bangor, Maine.

The first song he sang surprised me, but it was so great to hear – “Infatuation.”  Between 1979 and 1989, Rod Stewart reached the Top 10 seven times, including his No. 1 hit, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”, which incidentally was the first 45 I ever bought with my own money back in 1979, and the last song he played in Bangor. 

The upbeat Rock / Dance hit featuring the incredible Jeff Beck on guitar (he also appears in the music video), “Infatuation” was released in advance of Rod Stewart’s 13th studio album, CAMOUFLAGE.  It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1984 way up at No. 47, and would have been the highest-debuting song of the week, but Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” had other plans, and debuted within the Top 40.

camouflage

The following week, “Infatuation” jumped into the Top 40, and from there made a slow but steady climb up the chart, reaching the Top 10 in late July 1984, and spent the next two weeks at its peak position of No. 6.  “Infatuation” departed from the Hot 100 by late September 1984 and finished the year at No. 58.

There was even a bit of infatuation for “Infatuation” across the globe, and it was a Top 20 hit in Canada, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland, and a Top 30 hit in the U.K. and Germany.  It also reached No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart and No. 19 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, his last of five songs to date to reach that chart.

infatuation

Rod continued to chart well on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 into the the first half of the 1990s, and his last Top 10 hit was also his last No. 1 single to date – “All For Love” (from the 1993 film, THE THREE MUSKETEERS), with Sting and Bryan Adams.  It was No. 1 for three weeks in early 1994.

bryan rod sting

Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting, teaming up for one of the biggest hits of 1994. And now I’ve seen all three perform live!

Over on the album charts since then, especially with his GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK series since Y2K, Rod Stewart has seen a ton of success all over the world.  In Bangor, he also played a lovely track from his most-recent album, 2015’s ANOTHER COUNTRY, called “Love Is.”  The album went Platinum in his U.K. homeland and reached No. 2 there.

another country

Though I don’t know why it took me decades to finally see Rod Stewart perform, I’m so glad I did.  I was honestly there to see Cyndi perform, but I had always a fan of Rod’s music, so I thought it’d be great to see him too.  Little did I know just how impressed I would be with his performance and then some. 

Rod and Cyndi also did a wonderful duet together – “This Old Heart Of Mine,” a 1966 song originally by The Isley Brothers that he covered in 1975, and which reached No. 83 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.  In 1989, he covered the song again with Ronald Isley, and it became a Top 10 hit, surpassing the original.  Rod’s duet with Cyndi was one – of many – highlights of the night.

Rod n Cyndi 7.14.17

Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper, singing “This Old Heart Of Mine.”

“Infatuation” isn’t regarded as one of those Rod Stewart songs most folks immediately associate with him, but I sure do, and I’m so glad he dug it out for what turned out to be an incredibly memorable show…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH_xiZZheg4

rod 84

song of the day – “Stand Back” | STEVIE NICKS | 1983.

69 years ago today, on May 26, 1948, Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  While in high school, Stevie met her future music (and romantic) partner, Lindsey Buckingham, and in mid-1967, she took over as the lead singer for Lindsey’s Psychedelic band, Fritz, a band that would open for huge acts like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin from 1968 through 1971. 

Speaking of 1967, Stevie Nicks was exactly 19 years old when The Beatles released (in the U.K.) the brilliant SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, what many folks still consider as the greatest album of all time.  Happy 50th SGT. PEPPER!

sgt pepper

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham both attended the San Jose State University in Northern California, and Stevie dropped out just a semester before graduating.  She had wanted to become an English teacher, which is indeed a noble profession (my oldest niece, Elizabeth, currently on a two-year journey working with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, will most likely be an English teacher somewhere here in the U.S. when she returns.  You can check out Elizabeth’s amazing blog here: https://elizabethlivinglifetanzania.wordpress.com.)

Elizabeth, Day 2, Tanzania 7.15.16

I love this picture.  That’s my oldest niece, Elizabeth, taken on her Day 2 in Tanzania (in Africa), 7.15.2016.

buckingham nicksWhile I’m sure Stevie Nicks would have made an excellent English teacher, the profession she ended ended up excelling at – being a Rock star – worked out pretty well, but not at first.  For a couple of years, from 1972 through 1974, she and Lindsey Buckingham worked together as Buckingham Nicks, and released an unsuccessful self-titled album in 1973, and whose cover prolly got more press than the album itself. 

In 1975, when Lindsey Buckingham met up with Mick Fleetwood, the namesake of the Rock band, Fleetwood Mac, he said that he and Stevie were “a package deal,” if he was to join the band (following the departure of Mac guitarist Bob Welch).  Well, even if it ended up not working out romantically for Stevie and Lindsey, their contributions to Fleetwood Mac changed the band forever. 

After the huge success of the albums FLEETWOOD MAC and RUMOURS, the latter of which still holds the record for the longest run at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (31 weeks) by a band, and still remains as one of the Top 10-selling albums of all-time here in America.

rumours

Following RUMOURS, Stevie started contributing to the songs of other recording artists.  In 1978, she sang backup on the Top 10 hits “Magnet And Steel” by her friend, Walter Egan (a song she inspired), and on “Whenever I Call You Friend,” the first big solo hit for Kenny Loggins.  In 1979, both Stevie and Lindsey teamed up with the late, great John Stewart and contributed their talents on three Top 40 singles for The Kingston Trio alum, including the big Top 5 hit, “Gold.” 

kenny_stevie

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, singing about calling each other a friend, 1978.

On July 27, 1981, Stevie released (on the Atlantic Records imprint, Modern Records, a label she co-founded) her debut album as a solo artist – BELLA DONNA.  The album was a huge success, reaching No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (selling over four million copies in the U.S. alone), plus, it charted four Top 40 singles (including her biggest solo hit – with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”), and she was instantly hailed by ROLLING STONE as “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”

rs351

In between BELLA DONNA and her second solo album in 1983, THE WILD HEART, Fleetwood Mac released their No. 1 album, Mirage, which generated the big singles, “Hold Me” and “Gypsy,” which I just heard on the radio this past week, and hear often.

the wild heart

THE WILD HEART was released on June 10, 1983, and while it was not as popular as BELLA DONNA, the album still reached No. 5 on the BILLBOARD Album chart, was certified Double-Platinum, and gave Stevie another three Top 40 solo hits, including one of her all-time biggest hits, “Stand Back.”

Released exactly a week before her 35th birthday in May 1983, “Stand Back” has a cool and interesting story behind it, one I didn’t realize until after Prince’s death in April 2016:

On January 29, 1983, Stevie Nicks had just gotten married, and was on her honeymoon, driving North to Santa Barbara, California, when she heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time.  Inspired, she wrote “Stand Back” that day, while humming along to “Little Red Corvette.” 

little red corvette

When Stevie went to record “Stand Back,” she called Prince and told him the story of how the song came about.  20 minutes later, Prince showed up at her studio.  She once told ROLLING STONE that Prince “walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes and then left.  He spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.”

Prince’s work on “Stand Back” remains uncredited, but Stevie has always maintained that even though she wrote the song, she says it belongs to Prince (they did end up splitting the publishing royalties 50-50).  She added, “he got up and left as if the whole thing happened in a dream.”

Well, what a dream, and what a story, and what a song.  “Stand Back” remains as one of my all-time favorite songs by Stevie Nicks.  It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early June 1983 at No. 60, while Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” was still driving itself within the highway of the Top 10. 

stand back US

“Stand Back” took just a couple of weeks to reach the Top 40, giving Stevie her fifth consecutive Top 40 hit on the Hot 100.  In mid-August 1983, “Stand Back” spent a week at No. 5 and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks, finishing its chart run at No. 100 in early October 1983.  According to BILLBOARD, it finished the year at No. 44.

Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it’s no surprise that “Stand Back” was a big hit, reaching No. 2.  Prolly more surprising was that it also reached No. 12 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  (It’s not surprising to me, though, as it features a killer funky guitar riff in the middle of the song that sounds like it could have easily been provided by Nile Rodgers, or for a Michal Jackson song). 

Around the globe, “Stand Back” reached the Top 20 in Canada and Australia, and the Top 40 in Germany and Holland.  A reissue of “Stand Back” in 2007 sent it to No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, thanks to several updated remixes.

stand back 2007

“Stand Back” was so popular in fact, that, on Fleetwood Mac tours since 1987, it has been a staple at their shows, including the band’s 2013 world tour.

24 karat gold tour

Stevie was in Boston in November 2016 for her 24 Karat Gold Tour, which included The Pretenders, and yes, “Stand Back” was thankfully on the playlist.  Would have loved to have seen that show.  In July, she’ll be performing two dates at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac as part of The Classic West, a two-day concert featuring six classic acts, including The Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire.  All of these bands return a couple weeks later at New York’s Citi Field for The Classic East.  That’d be fun.

stevie_nicks1

For 69 years, time and space have been two incredible factors in the life and continued success of Stevie Nicks.  She even titled her first hits compilation, in 1991, TIMESPACE: THE BEST OF STEVIE NICKS.  I don’t think that was an accident.  And, I think if you do stand back and look at the career of birthday girl Stevie Nicks, I’d bet my record collection that you’d agree and say she’s definitely still Rock royalty, and always will be… 

Happy Birthday, Stevie!

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

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song of the day – “Easy Lover” | PHILIP BAILEY and PHIL COLLINS | 1985.

84 philI know a LOT of friends who are NOT fans of Phil Collins.  I don’t think it’s anything personal against the guy – he took over as lead singer of Genesis in 1975 when Peter Gabriel left, and brought the band its biggest success (during the 1980s); he was the only one who performed in both London and Philadelphia at LIVE AID on July 13, 1985; Phil contributed to several popular 80s singles by artists like Howard Jones, Frida, Adam Ant and Robert Plant; and, between 1981 and 1989, with seven No. 1 songs, four other Top 10 hits and three additional Top 40 hits, he was the eighth-biggest recording act here in America during the 1980s.  He’s starred in his own movie, won an Academy Award for a song from another, is a member of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and has honorary doctorates at two universities and Boston’s famed Berklee College Of Music. 

Phil’s gotten his share of bad press, sure, and other recording artists through the years have dissed his work.  David Bowie once referred to his TONIGHT and NEVER LET ME DOWN albums as his “Phil Collins years / albums.”  Oasis singer / songwriter / guitarist Noel Gallagher oft-criticized Phil Collins.  After the quick success of their 1997 album, BE HERE NOW (which sold 660,000 copies in seven days in the U.K. alone), Noel Gallagher compared the album’s success to Phil Collins: “Just because you sell lots of records, it doesn’t mean to say you’re any good.  Look at Phil Collins.”

Well, I wouldn’t say I’m Phil’s biggest fan (if I never hear “Sussudio” ever again, that would be pretty effing swell), but I would say I am a big fan of his work, and especially of the work he did with Genesis.  Their brilliant 1981 album, ABACAB, was one of the first four LPs I bought with my own money.  And it remains as one of my favorite albums to this day.

abacab

Over the years, one curious and quite interesting factoid I’ve noticed with folks I know who DON’T LIKE Phil Collins in general but actually LOVE one of his big hit singles – the 1985 hit with Earth, Wind & Fire’s Philip Bailey – “Easy Lover.” 

Between May and December 1984, Phil Collins was not only working on his third solo studio album, NO JACKET REQUIRED…, he also produced and contributed to Eric Clapton’s album, BEHIND THE SUN, played drums on the huge global Band Aid charity single, “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, and produced CHINESE WALL, the third solo studio album for Earth, Wind & Fire vocalist, Philip Bailey. 

Phil & Phil were both 33 years old at the time, and CHINESE WALL would become Philip Bailey’s biggest solo album ever, which was certified Gold and nominated for a Grammy Award.

chinese wall

At the end of the sessions for the CHINESE WALL album, Philip Bailey approached Phil Collins about writing a song together.  The song they recorded was a song Phil Collins once referred to as a song that “doesn’t sound like any particular era.  It’s just fantastic.”  That one-time collaboration between Philip Bailey and Phil Collins ended up being the first single released from CHINESE WALL – “Easy Lover.”  I wonder if “Easy Lover” meant “Easy to love?”  Maybe.  It certainly was, and still is.

“Easy Lover” was released in the U.S. in November 1984, and the U.K. in late February 1985.  By the end of November 1984, it had already made its debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and reached the Top 40 in three weeks.  It didn’t really explode on the Hot 100 until mid-January 1985, when it zoomed into the chart’s Top 5, headed straight for No. 1.  Or so it looked…

Another popular hit zoomed into the Top 5 that week as well – “I Want To Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, which spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in early February 1985, with “Easy Lover” situated right behind it. 

easy lover 12 back

The back of the 12″ single for “Easy Lover.”

Though “Easy Lover” had enough momentum to be a No. 1 hit in the U.S. (it finished all of 1985 way up at No. 12, ahead of 16 out of 27 total No. 1 songs on the year-end chart), the song did earn a Grammy nomination, was certified Gold, and won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Overall Performance In A Video (which was, as Phil Collins mentioned at the beginning of the video, a music video about the making of a music video).

easy lover video

Phil & Phil trying out some dance moves in the video within a video for “Easy Lover.”

Around the globe, it was not hard for folks (Phil Collins fans and non-fans alike) to love “Easy Lover.”  It spent six weeks at No. 1 in Canada, four weeks at No. 1 in Holland, a week at No. 1 in Ireland, and reached No. 1 on Japan’s International Chart.  It also reached the Top 10 in Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, and BILLBOARD’s R&B and Mainstream Rock charts (a rare feat).

easy lover UK

The cover for the U.K. single of “Easy Lover.”

Over in the U.K., it became Phil Collins’ second solo No. 1 single (after 1982’s “You Can’t Hurry Love”), spending four weeks on top.  I remember back in 2006, when STUCK IN THE 80s, my little 80s radio program on WMPG community radio for almost 21 years, was celebrating its tenth year on the air, and I did a STUCK IN THE 80s foreign exchange-of-sorts. 

At the time, there was a show in Brentwood, Essex, England (about 20 miles NE of London) called STUCK IN THE 80s, with a host by the name of Richard Nott (on Phoenix FM; like WMPG, a community station).  I contacted him about switching shows for a week, and he loved the idea.  So, for one week, he hosted my show and I hosted his.  It was pretty cool. 

phoenix fm

In prepping for the one-time STUCK IN THE 80s exchange, I asked Richard what his favorite 80s song was.  I may have also said, “Give me a Top 10!  Give me a Top 20!  What’s your best album?”  And, he brought this up on his version of the show.  It was pretty funny (“blah-blah-blah-blah” he added).  His all-time favorite 80s tune is “Let’s Groove” by Earth, Wind & Fire, but “not far off” for Richard was “Easy Lover.”  He said, “I just enjoy it; it’s a great tune.”

And, whether or not you actually like Phil Collins, you’ve got to admit that “Easy Lover” IS a great tune, and that the teaming of Phil Bailey and Phil Collins was pure genius and truly magical.  “She’ll get a hold on you, believe it.”  Oh, I DO believe it – “Easy Lover” has had a hold on me for 32 years and counting…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkRKT6T0QLg

phil and phil

song of the day – “Need You Tonight” | INXS | 1987.

I was already a big fan of the Melbourne, Australia Rock band INXS long before their sixth studio album, KICK, was released in October 1987.  The album was only out a couple of weeks and change when I saw INXS perform at Colby College’s Wadsworth Gym (in Waterville, Maine) on November 7, 1987.  Leadoff single “Need You Tonight” hadn’t even reached the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 yet… but that would soon change after I saw this show; EVERYTHING for INXS would change forever after I saw them perform just this one time…

KICK full cover

The full gatefold cover for KICK…

Unlike concerts now, you could go to a college show like this, wait in line, and rush to the be in front of the stage, which is exactly what I had done.  I saw some folks I met a month before when The Hooters performed there.  On that early November night, were all in the front row waiting for a show to remember.

I’ve seen a great deal of performers in my time, and it was truly amazing to watch Michael Hutchence onstage that night.  The whole band was sensational, but Michael was so charismatic, so confident.  The Colby stop for INXS was among the last Stateside visits for INXS in 1987, and when they returned to the U.S. in late February 1988, “Need You Tonight” had already reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and the band performed three dates at Radio City Music Hall in NYC in mid-March with “Devil Inside” inside the Top 20.  By the time the KICK tour ended in November 1988, INXS had gone from playing colleges like Colby to sports arenas and then some.

Back to that Colby show, “Need You Tonight” and KICK weren’t quite hits just yet, but the momentum was there.  You could tell the band was going to explode into something huge, something they prolly hadn’t expected.  For years, apart from the Top 10 success they had with “What You Need” in 1986, INXS primarily played colleges and smaller venues.  Several of my friends have mentioned attending a concert INXS did in Portland, Maine (at the Exposition Building) with The Go-Go’s back in the early 80s.  Lucky bastards.

michael hutchence 1987

Michael Hutchence, 1987.

Between the growing popularity of INXS, the onstage charisma of Michael Hutchence, and the small venue at Colby College, a kick-ass front row view turned into chaos quick.  Everyone wanted to be near Michael and the band, and started migrating towards the front, even though there was no room to be had.  The concert had to be stopped, and one of the kind people I met at The Hooters show a month before had to be carried off the stage because she was getting crushed against the security barrier.  Michael Hutchence himself even told people to move back before anyone else gets hurt.  And, once I left the front row for a spot on the side bleachers (about halfway back in the gym), I started enjoying the show again.

The INXS show was on a Saturday night, and at the time, I was the new DJ at a local chem-free nightclub called Studio 2.  The club was open for chem-free dancing (mainly high school kids) from 8:00pm until midnight every Saturday (and some Wednesdays during the Summer).  I had been DJing there for prolly 5 months.  If I recall, it was my first night off (so I could see the concert).  After the INXS show, I went back to check on things at Studio 2 and to say HI to a girl I was interested in (it wasn’t reciprocated in the end).  I drove back to Colby to see if I could still meet the band, but I was too late.  So, I missed my one chance to meet Michael Hutchence and INXS that night…over a girl.  

I’ll never forget that INXS show, and how the band catapulted from colleges to stadiums within a year, and how I was so glad to be a witness to the early part of that.  Honestly, as much as I love KICK, it’s not my favorite album by INXS – that distinction goes to 1982’s SHABOOH SHOOBAH, the album that introduced the band to the U.S. (including yours truly), and other parts of the globe outside of Australia and New Zealand.

INXS Need You Tonight

“Need You Tonight” spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1988, a fitting start to a huge year for INXS.  “Need You Tonight” spent nearly half a year on the Hot 100, and was ranked at No. 2 for all of 1988 here in America, ranked just behind George Michael’s “Faith.”  It also charted on several of BILLBOARD’s other charts, reaching No. 7 on the Dance chart, No. 12 on the Rock chart and even No. 73 on the R&B chart.  Pretty impressive.

Around the globe, “Need You Tonight” was a massive hit and was apparently needed almost everywhere, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa.  The video for “Need You Tonight” / “Mediate” also picked up five (of nine) MTV Video Music Awards in 1988, for Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing In A Video, Viewer’s Choice and Video Of The Year.

need you tonight video

Clips from the “Need You Tonight” video.

KICK went on to sell more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, and remains the band’s biggest album overall worldwide.  The other three singles released from KICK here in America all reached the Top 10 of the Hot 100: “Devil Inside” (No. 2, April 1988), “New Sensation” (No. 3, July 1988) and the gorgeous “Never Tear Us Apart” (No. 7, November 1988).

Ten years and 15 days after the memorable performance by INXS at Colby College, Michael Hutchence sadly took his own life at the far-too-young age of 37.  This year, we’ve lost some music heroes and heavy-hitters, including David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, Country legend Merle Haggard, and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead at the end of 2015. 

The death of Michael Hutchence was the first music death that really hit me hard, especially since I thought ELEGANTLY WASTED (released in April 1997) was the band’s best album since KICK.  It would have been cool to see the direction they were going.  But, it was not to be. 

rockstar inxs

From ROCK STAR: INXS, 2005 (from left, guitarist Tim Farriss, drummer Jon Farriss, lead singer and ROCK STAR: INXS winner J.D. Fortune, keyboardist (and then some) and chief songwriter Andrew Farriss, rhythm guitarist and saxophonist Kirk Pengilly, and bassist Garry Gary Beers).

I applauded the band for wanting to move forward, even without their brother Michael.  They did a worldwide reality TV show (ROCK STAR: INXS) to find a new lead singer (Canadian J.D. Fortune got the call), released an album because of it (2005’s SWITCH), and picked up their biggest hit since 1992 (“Pretty Vegas,” No. 37 Hot 100, No. 1 Canada).  INXS released a remix album in late 2010 before calling it quits in November 2012 after 35 years.

“Need You Tonight” has been oft-mentioned as being the “sexiest song of the 80s.”  It’s a fair statement.  I don’t, however, believe that was my reasoning for choosing the song as my debut attempt at karaoke with my dear friend Michelle in Portland a week ago, but I’m glad I chose it.  I was even nerding out and wearing my INXS “Need You Tonight” 12” single T-shirt while singing the song.  It’s what I do.  And, I didn’t think my performance was all that bad.  I got some applause, my friend (and karaoke-er extraordinaire) Michelle enjoyed it, and I’ll prolly do karaoke again because of the experience. 

INXS need you tonight x2 2.28.16

That’s me nerding out in the WMPG studio under the bright lights, 2.28.2016, with my matching import “Need You Tonight” single and T-shirt.

Though Michael’s been gone 19 years this year, and it’s been six years since they parted ways, INXS has long been my favorite band.  And, even though I got to see them just the one time, it was a part of music history – and my music history – that I’ll never forget.  For Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers (and J.D. Fortune too), I thank you, and I will need you and your music to stay with me forever, but for now, I’ll take tonight…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F93ywiGMDnQ

INXS 1987

song of the day – “After The Love Has Gone” | EARTH, WIND & FIRE | 1979.

I confess that, at the start of the day, I would never have guessed this would be my song of the day.  However, 2016 is only 5 weeks old, and already it’s been an incredibly rough year to be a music fan.  Today (2/4/2016), we lost Maurice White, the legendary voice (and founder) of Earth, Wind & Fire, who died at the age of 74.maurice whiteAs I mentioned in my debut post, 1979 was the year I really started getting into music.  It was mostly Pop music, but there was a lot of great Pop and Rock music that year – and some great Soul and Dance music, too. 

Earth, Wind & Fire gave us 3 amazing singles in 1979 – “September” (which peaked at No. 8 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in February), “Boogie Wonderland,” with The Emotions (No. 6, July) and “After The Love Has Gone” (No. 2, September).

I remember “After The Love Has Gone” was one of many big Top 40 hits used on episodes of WKRP IN CINCINNATI (and prominently featured, I might add), and when the first DVD incarnation of WKRP’s first season was released by Fox back in 2007, it was brutal to watch.  Most of the original music from the episodes hadn’t been properly secured by Fox, and was replaced by, well, generic poopy crap.  No one bought the DVD for that reason (I did, but I ended up selling it right away), and it took 7 years, but in 2014, the kind folks at Shout! Factory got it right. 

Some of the original music from the WKRP episodes featured on the Fox DVD version was intact – not much, but some, and folks like Bob Marley and Earth, Wind & Fire were kind enough to allow the music to stay in those episodes, while most of the other artists bailed for whatever reason.  I always respected Bob and Earth, Wind & Fire for that.  Of course, I still think all of the artists should have allowed their music to appear on the DVD free of charge, or for a minimal fee, considering the last episode of WKRP aired 34 years ago.  Despite the amazing work Shout! Factory did with the DVD reissue in 2014, 20% of the artists STILL didn’t allow their music to be featured in the DVD collection, even though those artists’ songs appeared in the original episodes that aired all those years ago.

Earth, Wind & Fire wasn’t on my radar much after 1979, save for the 1981/1982 monster hit, “Let’s Groove,” and the 12” remix of their 1987 No. 1 Dance and Soul hit, “System Of Survival” (also a No. 9 hit in New Zealand, although a very underrated single whose 12” extended mix kicks some serious ass!!). 

But, I’ve always been a fan of Earth, Wind & Fire, I own their ESSENTIAL collection and, even though Maurice White has gone, my love for Maurice and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band he founded in Chicago way back in 1969 will continue forever…

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

earth wind and fire