song of the day – “Vacation” | THE GO-GO’s | 1982.

For most of this week (starting today, April 10, 2016), I am on vacation for a few days with my dear friend, former Mainer, and fellow former WUMFer, Shawn, heading to New York City, where Shawn has resided for many years.  My last trip to NYC was in early October 2013, and Shawn took me to see the moving 9/11 Memorial, on a cool boat ride (in 85-degree weather) of New York Harbor (where I saw Lady Liberty), the amazing Strand bookstore, and one of the last concerts at New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom, to see X and headliner Blondie, where Debbie Harry rocked that stage, and our crushes for Debbie came roaring back.

This time out, Shawn and I are seeing Duran Duran perform, with Chic opening, which should be pretty damn cool, considering, after all of these years, I’ve never seen either perform.  Nile Rodgers has long been associated with Duran Duran, and helped them out on their latest album, PAPER GODS.  The following night, I am getting my first tattoo, of David Bowie.  Never ever had the urge to get a tattoo until he passed away a few months ago.  Should be a great time, albeit brief.

So, with this being my first vacation since starting the blog, I thought this Go-Go’s gem from 1982 was appropriate. 

vacation lp“Vacation” is the title track to the Los Angeles band’s second album.  The Go-Go’s were still on a high from the huge success of their debut album, BEAUTY AND THE BEAT.  The single for “Vacation” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on Independence Day weekend 1982, a month after “We Got The Beat” spent its last week on the chart.

Reaching the Top 40 in just 3 weeks, “Vacation” was riding the summer wave on the Hot 100, making it to the Top 10 in 7 weeks – the same amount of time it took “We Got The Beat” to reach the upper part of the Hot 100.  “Vacation” spent 3 weeks at No. 8 in August / September 1982 and took a vacation from the Hot 100 after 14 weeks on the chart.  It would be the last time the quintet would reach the Top 10, though 1984’s “Head Over Heels” came close (No. 11).  It also reached the Top 20 on both of BILLBOARD’s Rock and Dance charts.

Around the globe, “Vacation” hit No. 10 in Canada,  No. 18 in Sweden and No. 43 in Australia.  NERDY TRIVIA NOTE: “Vacation” has the distinction here in the U.S. of being the first cassette single ever released.  At the time, cassette singles (or “cassingles”) were a novelty item, but by the late 80s, cassette singles were outselling 45s and for a few years, became the standard way to release a single.  I still have a couple of handfuls of them myself, though I don’t have this one…yet.

vacation cassette single

Since I’ll be on vacation and “have to get away,” I don’t believe I’ll be able to get to FOREVER YOUNG (although I hope I can), but rest assured, the blog and I will be back in no time.  Hey, I get to merge two of my favorite things – 80s and writing; who wouldn’t want to come back to that?

So, until next time, take care, be good, and I’ll catch you on the flip side…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fQESUBMwGg

go-go's

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song of the day – “As The End Draws Near” | MANUFACTURE feat. SARAH McLACHLAN | 1987.

solaceI first learned about Sarah McLachlan around 1991 or 1992, and I’m betting it was during my time at the University of Maine at Farmington, DJing at the mighty WUMF (replete with 13 watts of alternative power).  Sarah had released what turned out to be her second album, SOLACE, featuring such great songs like “Into The Fire,” “Drawn To The Rhythm” and “The Path Of Thorns (Terms).”

Fast forward 2 years later, and my first year in Portland, Maine.  It was 1994, when rents were more than reasonable, I was meeting new friends – lifelong friends – and Portland wasn’t anywhere close to imploding, which is what is going to happen if they keep pretending they are a bigger city than they really are and if they keep building apartments and condos upon apartments and condos, where apartments and condos shouldn’t be.  But that’s another argument for another time.

fumbling towards ecstasy1994 was the year I fell in love with Sarah McLachlan and her music.  FUMBLING TOWARDS ECSTASY had been released in late 1993, and much like myself, it was a late bloomer.  By the time Sarah made it to Portland’s recently reopened State Theater (I had somehow managed to score a couple of great seats near the stage; a time when most ticket prices were also more than reasonable), FUMBLING was finding its feet, and that show is still one of THE best concerts I’ve ever seen.

Between that concert in 1994 and when I started STUCK IN THE 80s on WMPG-FM and WMPG.org in 1996, I managed to learn that Sarah actually released her first album, TOUCH, in late 1988.  The Nova Scotia native was 20 years old.  Prior to the album’s release, a relatively new Canadian record label, Nettwerk, approached Sarah about a record contract.  She was only 17. 

In between Nettwerk’s interest in Sarah McLachlan and the release of TOUCH, I also learned the (then) 19-year-old appeared on an album by a Nettwerk band, Manufacture (out of Boston).  Their 1987 debut album was TERRORVISION, and the song was “As The End Draws Near,” co-written by Sarah McLachlan.

as the end draws near

An extended remix of “As The End Draws Near” appeared on Sarah’s 1996 compilation, RARITIES, B-SIDES AND OTHER STUFF.  It was this cool, New Wave-ish dance song that may have been a precursor to other songs she collaborated on, like Delirium’s “Silence,” which Sarah also co-wrote and which was originally released in 1997, but got so much airplay over a long period of time, it stuck around for 3 years and became a global hit.  A 2005 remix actually hit No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

“As The End Draws Near” didn’t really make any chart waves anywhere, but with Sarah’s popularity in the 90s, especially in her Canadian homeland, it helped RARITIES reach No. 10 on the Canadian album chart and it went triple-platinum there.

In 2014, Sarah released her eighth studio album, SHINE ON, and even came back to Maine for the first time in awhile, though I wasn’t able to go.  I’ve loved Sarah and her music for a long time.  She’s an incredibly gifted musician, singer and songwriter, and as much as I’d love to see her do an all-piano album and tour, I think it’s cool when she branches out and contributes on songs a bit outside of the “pop music” realm, like “Silence” and “As The End Draws Near.”  Maybe a future album, in honor of her 30 years in music, might be fumbling towards piano and dance – together.  I’d like that…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-P5Q65rCUc

sarah mclachlan

album of the week – FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT | JULEE CRUISE | 1989.

One of my many peculiarities (yes, it’s true) is that I can tell you what my favorite movie is (2004’s ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, with Jim Carrey);what my favorite TV show is (CHEERS); my favorite band (INXS); my favorite singer (the incomparable Cyndi Lauper); and, my favorite song (Simple Minds’ 1985 gem, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” from THE BREAKFAST CLUB; but, for whatever reason, I can’t tell you what my favorite album is. 

Sure, I have many albums I consider favorites, and many of those are 80s albums I’m certain I’ll feature here at some point in the blog as “album of the week,” such as Duran Duran’s RIO, Cyndi’s SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, INXS’ SHABOOH SHOOBAH, The Hooters’ NERVOUS NIGHT and Prince’s SIGN “O” THE TIMES.  But, I never got around to calling any album my favorite.  It’s weird, I know, but that’s me.  At the very least, I can share some of those favorites with you here.  My goal is to highlight an album a week, so let’s begin.

twin peaksI’ve always admired the work of Academy Award-nominated filmmaker David Lynch, although I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan.  When TWIN PEAKS debuted in April 1990, some of my friends immediately fell in love with it, couldn’t stop raving about it.  At the time, I couldn’t get into it.  I’d love to revisit the series again before the next incarnation comes out in 2017.  Maybe the second time around will do it for me.  The one connection I still have to TWIN PEAKS, and have had before the show ever started, was its theme song, “Falling.” 

“Falling” was co-written by David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti (Lynch’s go-to film composer).  The vocal version of “Falling” was by a Dream Pop singer by the name of Julee Cruise, someone I had never heard of.  I’m not entirely sure of how the music of Julee Cruise entered my life – perhaps it was a cassette owned by my French roommate during the first semester I started my second bout with college in January 1990, or maybe it was the 13 watts of alternative power of the mighty WUMF, the college radio station at the University of Maine at Farmington, whose memorable slogan was, “Because it always gets worse from here…”  I am sure of this, though – the music of Julee Cruise will never leave my life, her debut album in particular.

david lynch angelo badalamenti

Friends and frequent collaborators – Composer Angelo Badalamenti and filmmaker David Lynch.

FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT is among the first CDs I ever purchased (as some people did in the late 80s and early 90s), and it’s still with me today.  I revisit it often.  David Lynch composed all of the lyrics to the 10 songs that appear on the album, and Angelo Badalamenti composed the music.  And Julee Cruise provided her dreamy vocals against the lush, celestial musical backdrop.  It is an infectious album, still, more than a quarter century later.

floating into the nightI can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep to this beautiful album, and I mean that in the highest regard.  From the first notes of the album’s opener, “Floating,” I was hooked.  Then there was “Falling,” the gorgeous alt-pop gem that actually reached No. 1 in Australia more than a year after its original release on FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT, no doubt due to its popularity as the vocal version of the TWINS PEAKS theme.  It also reached the Top 10 in the U.K., Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

Every song on the album is incredible, but the ones that stand out for me include the playful single “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart”; “Mysteries Of Love,” which was featured in Lynch’s 1986 film, BLUE VELVET; the quiet and amazingly haunting “Into The Night” (replete with a kick-ass unexpected surprise three-quarters of the way through); and, the album’s simple and lovely closer, “The World Spins,” whose lyrics plead, “Love, don’t go away / Come back this way / Come back and stay / Forever and ever.  Please stay…”  And I did stay; I did stay madly in love with this album.

Julee Cruise would work with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti again on an Elvis Presley cover of “Summer Kisses, Winter Tears” for the soundtrack to the 1991 Wim Wenders film, UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.  After that, she did some acting, collaborated with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Delirium and Moby, and released 3 more albums between 1993 and 2011. 

It was her vocal presence on FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT, though, that keeps Julee Cruise close to my music heart (with many thanks to the lush collaboration with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti).  If you don’t already own this magical album, you should pick up a physical or digital copy, and try falling asleep to it.  I guaRONtee you’ll be floating into the night…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cixs8LCHwX4

julee cruise

The wonderful Julee Cruise…