(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Heart And Soul” | T’PAU | 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!”

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.

The nearly 80 songs that reached the No. 4 position on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989 had a bit of everything – Top 40 newbies which included Irene Cara (“Fame”), Asia (“Heat Of The Moment”), Samantha Fox (“Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”), the first two hits by Debbie Gibson (“Only In My Dreams,” “Shake Your Love”), Rickie Lee Jones (“Chuck E.’s In Love”), Suzi Quatro & Chris Norman (“Stumblin’ In”), Run-D.M.C. (“Walk This Way”), and Spandau Ballet (“True”).

walk this way

Songs that reached No. 4 also included the biggest U.S. chart hits for Howard Jones (“No One Is To Blame”), Electric Light Orchestra (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), Eddie Money (“Take Me Home Tonight”), OMD (“If You Leave”), Soul II Soul (“Back To Life”), Teena Marie (“Lovergirl”), The Fixx (“One Thing Leads To Another”) and Tommy Tutone (“867-5309/Jenny”).

don't bring me down

Some of my all-time favorite songs reached No. 4 as well, like “Urgent” by Foreigner, “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol, “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range, “Give Me The Night” by George Benson, Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name,” “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits, “Freeze-Frame” by The J. Geils Band and “Cruisin’” by Smokey Robinson.

urgent

Multiple artists hit No. 4 more than once, including Lionel Richie (one solo and two with the Commodores), Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac (who spent an agonizing then-record seven weeks at No. 4 with 1982’s “Hold Me”), the aforementioned Debbie Gibson, Madonna, Phil Collins (one solo and two with Genesis), Ray Parker, Jr. (one solo and one with Raydio), and Stevie Wonder.

Two memorable Elvis covers also reached No. 4 – “Don’t Be Cruel” by Cheap Trick and “Always On My Mind” by Pet Shop Boys (the highest-charting version of that song here in America).

always on my mind

Two (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989.  The first one was Taco, the German musician whose spirited version of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” reached No. 4 in September 1983, and was a huge international hit. 

taco

tpau2

The original T’Pau (from STAR TREK).

The second (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s to reach No. 4 was a British Pop / Rock band whose lead singer, Carol Decker, hailed from Liverpool, and the band’s name came from a character in the original STAR TREK from the 60s – T’Pau, the name of a Vulcan elder.  Before deciding on a name for the band, their working name was Talking America.

T’Pau formed in 1986 as a six-member band and released their debut single, “Heart And Soul,” in late April 1987, a month in advance of their debut album, BRIDGE OF SPIES.  One of the memorable things about “Heart And Soul” is that Carol Decker is in a duet with herself, courtesy of overlapping vocals.

bridge of spies

A couple of weeks after its release, “Heart And Soul” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early May 1987 at No. 91.  It landed in the Top 40 six weeks into its chart run, steadily climbing on the chart until peaking at No. 4 for a week in early August 1987, the month it was released in in their U.K. homeland.  During this time, it was also featured in a Pepe Jeans ad, though I can’t really say I even remember Pepe Jeans.  But, it seemed to help the song’s chart success.

Despite that chart success here in America, “Heart And Soul” did not fare well in the U.K. upon its release, but eventually the U.K. warmed up to the song, and it, too, reached No. 4.  Outside of the U.S. and the U.K., “Heart And Soul” reached No. 4 in Ireland, No. 5 in Canada, No. 9 in New Zealand and Switzerland, No. 10 in France and Germany, and the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden and the BILLBOARD Dance chart. 

heart and soul

Thanks to its 27 weeks on the Hot 100, “Heart And Soul” finished 1987 here in the U.S. at No. 33 for the year, above No. 1 hits by Kim Wilde, George Michael and Aretha Franklin, Huey Lewis & The News, Madonna and two No. 1 songs by Michael Jackson.

Though T’Pau never charted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 again, their biggest international success came with another single from BRIDGE OF SPIES – “China In Your Hand,” which was a massive No. 1 hit in several countries, including the U.K. and Switzerland (5 weeks at No. 1), Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands (2 weeks), plus a No. 1 rank in Norway, and Top 10 rankings in (at least) Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and Sweden.

china in your hand

T’Pau is still together today, though from the original six-member band, the only members left are “Heart And Soul” co-writers Carol Decker and rhythm guitarist / songwriter Ronnie Rogers.  In early 2015, they released their fifth studio album, PLEASURE & PAIN, which became their first-charting U.K. album in nearly 25 years.

pleasure and pain

For this album, Carol Decker expressed her frustration through an interview about her new music not being played vs. the radio stations being only interested in playing their 80s classics:  “It’s a little harder to get on the radio because all the ‘80s stations play the ‘80s stuff and they won’t play your new stuff.  They actually say they can’t, and then the younger stations play the younger artists, the hip stations.  That’s the downside, and I miss hearing radio plays for the new stuff… it is a little frustrating that I can’t get it out to the wider audience anymore.” 

This is just one of many reasons why I need to (soon) start the next incarnation of my radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, so I can highlight the new music, like I did on my longtime show with WMPG. 

Though I honestly never kept up with T’Pau (partially because of the one hit here), I always loved “Heart And Soul,” and continue to introduce it to folks when I can (I recently guest-hosted a show on WMPG with my former radio neighbor, DJ Shaxx, and he fell in love with it when we played it on the air).

tpauThank you, Carol and Ronnie, for putting some needed “Heart And Soul” into my music for 1987.  30 years later, it’s not forgotten…

“Give a little bit of heart and soul / Give a little bit of love to grow / Give a little bit of heart and soul / And don’t you make me beg for more / Give a sign, I need to know / A little bit of heart and soul…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwrYMWoqg5w

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song of the day – “Ain’t Nobody” | RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN | 1983.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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

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

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

I’ve known one Rufus in my lifetime, and that was a sweet dog (a black Lab?) who was the face at one of my early hangouts when I first moved to Portland, Maine in 1994 – Java Joe’s.  Like myself, Java Joe’s has long been removed from Maine’s largest city, though I do love to visit the Forest City when I can.

When I was first introduced to Rufus & Chaka Khan, it wasn’t because of their first (and biggest) Top 40 hit, 1974’s “Tell Me Something Good” (written by Stevie Wonder), it was because of their last  Top 40 hit – “Ain’t Nobody.”

For the longest time – and this still makes me laugh – I always thought Rufus & Chaka Khan were a married couple.  I didn’t know until much later that Rufus was actually a Funk band out of Chicago, and Chaka Khan was their lead singer. 

The band had formed in 1968, but by 1978, tensions were pretty high between the members of Rufus and their lead singer, who was becoming increasingly popular.  In 1983, they released one final album together – a (mostly) live double-album (and ultimate documentary) called STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were four new studio tracks (led by Chaka Khan) included with the live set, and two of those were released as singles.  The first single released was “Ain’t Nobody.”  At the same time, a producer for a new film, BREAKIN’ (a film based around the popular breakdance craze), had heard the song and eventually put the song in the film and on the soundtrack.

breakin

Well, talk about going out on top.  After years of declining record sales and issues between the band and Chaka Khan, “Ain’t Nobody” turned out to be a great hit, and was released shortly after STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY hit the record stores (as they used to say back in the day). 

“Ain’t Nobody” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on the first day of October 1983, way down at No. 91 (and there were three more debut songs under that!).  For the song’s first six chart weeks, this Funk gem steadily rose up the Hot 100, and in its seventh chart week, blasted onto the Top 40, moving from 43-29.  It was already Rufus & Chaka Khan’s highest-charting single since 1975’s Top 5 hit, “Sweet Thing.”

In a weird chart quirk, “Ain’t Nobody” stayed at No. 29 the following week, but starting moving back up the week after.  In December 1983, it spent three weeks at its peak position of No. 22 and departed the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-February 1984 after 19 weeks.

ain't nobody

Over on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, “Ain’t Nobody” became the band’s fifth and final No. 1 song, and though it only spent a week at No. 1 there, it was that chart’s sixth-biggest song of 1983.  On BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, it reached No. 6.

Around the globe, “Ain’t Nobody” was a somebody in the U.K., where it reached No. 8, and a No. 36 chart peak in the Netherlands.  A 1989 remix of “Ain’t Nobody” took the song to new heights around the globe, reaching No. 6 in the U.K., No. 8 in Ireland, No. 9 in Germany, and as part of the entire LIFE IS A DANCE: THE REMIX PROJECT album, it reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

life is a dance

NERDY FUN FACT: David “Hawk” Wolinski, who wrote “Ain’t Nobody,” had threatened to give the song to Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones (who really wanted the song) if the band’s label, Warner Bros., didn’t release it as the first single. 

I’ll never understand why these recording acts always had to fight with the record labels for what they believed in!  I’d like to think this kind of shite still doesn’t happen, but at the very least, it’s a whole different ball game now, and more people than evah are releasing their own music, and on their own terms, which I think is fan-fucking-tastic!

After winning a Grammy Award for “Ain’t Nobody” in 1984, Chaka Khan and Rufus went their separate ways, but the legacy of “Ain’t Nobody” lives on 33 years later.  It’s been covered an incredible amount of times, including covers by the likes of George Michael (on his 1991 “Cover To Cover” tour), Amii Stewart, Klymaxx, LL Cool J (for the funny 1996 film, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA), Peabo Bryson, KT Tunstall and Mary J. Blige. 

ll cool j

In 2015, a German music producer and DJ by the name of Felix Jaehn released a cover, featuring young British vocalist by the name of Jasmine Thompson, and the song was called “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better).”  And throughout the globe outside of North America, people did love it better than the original.  It reached No. 1 in at least eight countries, and the Top 10 in at least another 12. 

My favorite cover is actually part of a “pseudo mashup” by U.K. producer and remixer Richard X, with vocals by the English-Irish Pop group, Liberty X.  They used a sample of The Human League’s “Being Boiled” against a cover of “Ain’t Nobody,” and called it, appropriately enough, “Being Nobody.”  It was (and still is) brilliant, and was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and Ireland in 2003.

being nobody

A couple of years before that, when my STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG-FM was just five years old, I did a countdown of the BEST 100 SONGS OF THE 80s, getting feedback from listeners, station volunteers and folks in the College Music industry (it was also my first year of 10 as WMPG Music Director).  “Ain’t Nobody” came in at No. 20 and that ranking surprised me the most out of any other on the list. 

Over time, I realized that ranking shouldn’t surprise me.  It’s an incredible song, and though it came at the end of a creative union between a well-respected Funk band and one of the best R&B and Dance singers ever, ain’t nobody gonna tell me that “Ain’t Nobody” doesn’t mean anything in the history of Funk and Dance and R&B and Pop.  Because it does.

“And now we’re flyin’ through the stars / I hope this night will last forever…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M26WD4CidnM

rufus n chaka

song of the day – “Take Me With U” | PRINCE & THE REVOLUTION featuring APOLLONIA | 1985.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued 2 it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure 2 this day.  4 me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks 2 the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, 4 the entire month of June, I will B highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  On June 30, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way 2 No. 1. 

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

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

shawn, hope + me

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

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

purple rain

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

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

prince + the revolution

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

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

take me with u

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

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

let's go crazy take me with u

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

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

prince + apollonia

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

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

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

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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

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

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

welcome to my nightmare, 1975

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

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

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

flush the fashion

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

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

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

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

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

alice 1980 v2

Alice Cooper, 1980.

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

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

Alice_Cooper_–_Poison

From the “Poison” music video…

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

wayne's world

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

DeepPurple_AliceCooper_Instagram_1080x1080_Static

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

alice cooper 1980

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

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

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

dcdold

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

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

DCD LP

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

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

the movies sign

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

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

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

baraka

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

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

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

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

sampler

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

dcdold2

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

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

the serpent's egg

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

toward the within

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

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

Dead Can Dance Anstasis

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

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

seraphim

One depiction of what a seraphim looks like.

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

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

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

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

DCD 89

song of the day – “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” | UTOPIA | 1983.

To paraphrase from a movie I recently watched (yet again), the incredibly funny 1984 film, REVENGE OF THE NERDS, “I’m a singles chart nerd, and I’m pretty proud of it.” 

at40 80s

In the years leading up to adulthood, and for a few years after, I was a faithful listener of Casey Kasem’s AMERICAN TOP 40 program, and while I am a self-proclaimed singles chart nerd, I concede that, if there’s a song out there you love, and have loved for years, what position they reached on the singles chart (if they even reached it at all) doesn’t matter.  I think if Casey Kasem were here with us today, he might agree.  Still, all these years later, there are some songs out there whose peak chart positions surprise me.  One of those songs is “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” by Utopia.

feet don't fail me now

For years, Pennsylvania native Todd Rundgren had been going back and forth, releasing solo albums and albums with his band, Utopia.  As for his solo career, Todd is best known for his BILLBOARD Hot 100 hits, “I Saw The Light” (No. 16) and “Hello It’s Me” (No. 5, both from 1972), his original 1978 version of “Can We Still Be Friends” (No. 29; covered by Robert Palmer in 1979, and by many others since), and 1983’s fun “Bang The Drum All Day” (No. 63).

Todd Rundgren’s band, Utopia, started out as a Prog-Rock band in 1973, and had several incarnations over the years, releasing nine studio albums between 1974 and 1985.  Their biggest album, late 1979’s ADVENTURES IN UTOPIA, was their biggest, blending Rock, Disco and Prog-Rock, and gave the band their only Top 40 hit on the Hot 100, “Set Me Free,” which spent a week at its peak position of No. 27 in April 1980.

NERDY SIDE NOTE: A song Todd Rundgren wrote for Utopia’s 1977 album, OOPS!  WRONG PLANET – the last song on the album – called “Love Is The Answer,” was a single released from the album, but it was not a hit.  It did, however, end up being a Top 10 hit for Adult Contemporary favorites England Dan & John Ford Coley in May 1979, and it was among the 100 biggest U.S. hits of that year.utopia 1982 LP

From Utopia’s second self-titled album (and their second album released in 1982), there were two singles released from the album: “Hammer In My Heart” and “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now.”  With the album recorded just a year after MTV was born, both songs featured videos on a VHS collection called THE UTOPIA SAMPLER, which received a Grammy nomination in 1983 for Best Short Form Video.  Speaking of MTV, footage for the “Hammer In My Heart” video was recorded live at MTV’s official first birthday party, hosted by MTV VJ (and current Maine resident and weather enthusiast), Nina Blackwood.  That song reached No. 31 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.

feet videoThe cheeky video for the other single released from the UTOPIA album, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” featured the band members dressed up as different types of bugs who can’t move their feet.  The video kinda reminded me of videos The Cars would end up producing in the 80s, like 1984’s MTV Video Of The Year winner, “You Might Think” (which at one point features singer Ric Ocasek as a fly).  In an odd coincidence, Todd Rundgren took Ric Ocasek’s place as lead singer of The New Cars in 2005 (featuring original Cars members Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes) for one album and a tour, which I unfortunately missed.

“Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” has always reminded me of a cross between the U.K. Pop band, Bucks Fizz (who had three No. 1 songs in the U.K. back in the early 80s) and XTC, which, in yet another coincidence, Todd Rundgren produced the brilliant XTC album, SKYLARKING, in 1986, the same year Utopia broke up.

Skylarking

On the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” debuted at No. 90 in early January 1983, but sadly, it was the legs, not the feet that failed “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now,” and it peaked at No. 82 a couple weeks later, staying there for three weeks.  It was the last time Utopia would see the Hot 100.

I was a bit late learning about “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” (it wasn’t until after I started STUCK IN THE 80s, my little 21-year 80s radio program on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), but every time I’ve heard it since, it’s never failed me.  I suppose maybe 20 years from now, if I hear this song and of course, want to dance to it, I might say, “Feet, don’t fail me now.” 

But, for the moment, I’ll proudly dance to this quirky and fun gem at home, because unlike the meaning of the word “utopia” (which means “no place” or an imagined place), here’s a good as place as any to dance, not to mention it’s a place where I don’t have to worry about taking anyone out on the dance floor on account of my mad dancing skillz (those who have seen me dance are laughing, because they know it’s true)…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytAi9yr7t1E

utopia

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