[Human's Lib is 33!] -- Howard Jones' debut album, Human's Lib (1984), was the first compact disc I ever purchased. In fact, I purchased it before I even owned a CD player. You see, I was saving up for the player, and I just wanted to ensure that I had something on hand when I finally connected it to my stereo system. Anyway, Human's Lib was released in the UK on March 17, 1984, and entered the UK Album Charts in the #1 spot. It hit the US in June of that same year. Human's Lib spent a total of 57 weeks on the UK charts and has been certified 2× Platinum. It also went Gold in many European countries and the US. All four singles from this album reached the UK top 20, the first two of which even reached the US top 50. None of that is surprising as this album is so full of 80s pop goodness that just about every track could be considered a true gem. But ... I can choose only three to share with you this week. So which tunes made the cut this week? Read and hear more after the jump.
Friday, March 17, 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
[30 Years of The Joshua Tree] -- U2's fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, was released on March 9, 1987. As you might have gleaned from my Flashback's theme, that record is 30 years old this week! I was in my freshman year at Penn State when this record landed. Before college, I knew all the songs on The Unforgettable Fire (1984), the only U2 record I owned, and the singles off War (1983). But that was it. I had about a four year gap in my U2 knowledge. But a guy down the hall in my dormitory (Holmes Hall) was a huge fan of U2, and his record collection introduced me to the rest of this band's history. Not only that, his enthusiasm for U2 was contagious. So, when The Joshua Tree was announced (by posters and flyers as this was pre-Internet), we began a countdown and waited for its release. He bought a copy on the day the record dropped. We took it back to his room and listened to it, start to finish, twice. Right then, we knew this record was going to propel U2 to the next level of stardom. Of the six singles -- six! -- released from this record, only two failed to chart. Of the charting songs, two peaked at #1, one peaked at #13, and one squeaked into the the #44 slot, all of which on the Billboard Hot 100. And the accolades don't end there. Readers made The Joshua Tree #1 in Rolling Stone's annual Music Awards poll. Critics made it Rolling Stone's #2 album of the year. And it scored two Grammy Awards: (1) Album of the Year and (2) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. For this week's Flashback, lets look at some tracks that don't usually get radio play, but probably should. Read and hear more after the jump.
Friday, February 24, 2017
[Urban Dance Squad] -- For the end of February, we're going to revisit an album that came out in the final year of our favorite decade. Mental Floss for the Globe was the debut album by Urban Dance Squad, a rap rock band founded in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1986. They recorded their debut in the middle of 1989 and released it eight months later in March of 1990. The album climbed to #54 on the Billboard 200 album chart, driven by their popular hit, "Deeper Shade of Soul," and a tour with Living Colour. I saw the Penn State show, which took place shortly after Desert Shield became Desert Storm. Urban Dance Squad was the opener, and I was fascinated with the lead singer's use of an old WWII field phone as a microphone. The three tracks for this week show a certain genius for melding rock, rap, soul, metal, etc. You can read and hear more about them after the break.
Friday, February 17, 2017
[A Classic Case] -- I'm doing something a bit different for the Flashback this weekend. I'm featuring an album of music from the 70s ... that was re-recorded and released in the 80s ... with the backing of a symphony orchestra. I'll bet you're intrigued now, right? Well, the band in question is Jethro Tull. In 1984, the Tull lineup of Ian Anderson (flute, vocals), Martin Barre (electric guitar), Dave Pegg (bass), Peter-John Vettese (keyboards), and Dave Burgess (drums) teamed with the London Symphony Orchestra. And you can read and hear more about this project after the break.
Friday, February 10, 2017
[Spike] -- After yet another brief hiatus, brought to you by my day job and multiple side gigs, I'm back to the blogging of 80s tunes. And what a post I have for you this weekend! Most people remember Elvis Costello's 12th studio album for the top 20 single, "Veronica," which he co-wrote with Paul McCartney. That is, if they recall the album at all. But Spike (1989) features a wealth of fabulous tracks ranging from sombre to spitfire, and it's a personal favorite. Spike was released 28 years ago this week (2/6/1989 in the UK and 2/7/1989 in the US), and it reached the #5 and #32 positions on the UK album chart and the Billboard 200 respectively. From its cover art featuring Costello's own head as the stuffed and mounted head of "The Beloved Entertainer," you knew you were in for something a bit different than his past efforts. Spike was also Costello's first album for his then new label, Warner Brothers. He started writing for it in 1987. And, as WB had provided him with a huge budget, Costello decided to use the blueprints he had in mind for five different albums. Maybe that's why this record weighs in with a whopping 15 total tracks. Now, I've already linked the album's highest charting single, so which of the remaining 14 tracks will I highlight? Well, to find that out, you can read and hear more after the jump.
Friday, January 20, 2017
[Politics Schmolotics] -- After the November 2010 midterm election, I was looking for inspiration. Inspiration to help me write a Flashback post, and to help me move on from the election results. Now, I had heard arguments that all the best protest songs had been written and recorded in the 60s and 70s. That might be true, but I can assure you the 80s did not lack for politically charged passion or activist rhetoric. So, with this in mind, I assembled a politically minded set of Flashbacks tunes. Of course, your gut reaction to the word "protest" might very well be to add "against" after it. That's understandable. We're usually treated to, and entreated to engage in, protests against something. But you can also protest for something. You can use protest as a form of support for a cause. And the 80s tunes I highlighted back in 2010 still resonate for me in both regards of "protest," particularly in the wake of a rather vitriolic presidential election. Maybe even more so after a week of confirmation hearings for the most unqualified cabinet nominees ever assembled (not that qualifications guarantee success, but come on). Anyway, I'm still hopeful. Sure, I'm scared, too. Change is scary. There are people who are happy about this change, and there are people who are energized to fight what they perceive this change represents. Either way, if you want some 80s tunes that might help you through this transition, then read and hear more after the jump.
Friday, January 6, 2017
[First Flashback of the New Year] -- I've missed the last two weeks of 80s blogging. Travel and family obligations over the holiday season ganged up on me. And I'm sure there was some wasted time in there as well. But that's in the past, just like the whole of 2016 itself. We have a new year, brimming with possibility, and, perhaps, just a slight aroma of despair. So, I will do my best to move forward ... in my honoring of a past decade. Speaking of past decades, the calendar for 1989 is a dead ringer for that of 2017. That means you can expect me to mine 1989 for blogging content. Just like I did today. The Flashback for 1/6/2017 revisits the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1/7/1989. Do you remember what topped the charts 28 years ago this week? Well, read and hear more after the break to remind yourself! (But I think my accompanying image might have provided a clue or three).