[April Fools'] -- April 1. The 32nd of March. April Fools' (or All Fools) Day. Yes, we have come to that annual observance of mirth and (hopefully minimally destructive and non-lethal) mayhem. You know: The day of reckoning (or, day of pranks and hoaxes). Well, rather than prank you, dear 80s-philes, I shall take pity on you and merely deliver an appropriately "foolish" set of 80s tunes. With an entire decade of artists who often looked the part of fools in addition to acting the role, I have many options. However, rather than looking to the Pucks and jesters who ruled (or attempted to rule) the charts, I chose to narrow my focus to their songs, specifically songs with some form of "fool" in the title.
What foolishly delightful selections do I have for you this week? Read and hear more after the jump.
Flashback #1: "No April Fool behold today | When my kingdom falls, and yours will stay."
Our first flashback comes from our neighbor to the north. Canadian band Chalk Circle released their debut EP, The Great Lake, in 1986 with "April Fool" as the first single. It was a top 10 hit in Canada, but I'm not even certain it was ever released in the States. At least, it never charted here to the best of my knowledge. Chalk Circle certainly had everything they needed for success in the 80s: styled hair, clothes that would not be out of place on either Miami Vice or Saved by the Bell, plaintive vocals, sharp guitar licks, and a nomination for "Most Promising Group of the Year" at the 1986 Juno Awards. (They lost to Glass Tiger). Oh well, I guess the record buying public were the fools if they let this band lapse into obscurity. At least someone has archived Chalk Circle's video for "April Fool" so we can enjoy it today.
Flashback #2: "I thought we'd be together | When the world ran down | When the curtain fell and the lights came up | But the Gods or whatever make the world go round | Shuffled when they should have cut."
For our next flashback, we travel to Australia. Or, more accurately, just look to Australian-born singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, Rick Springfield. In 1982, Rick found himself in the midst of enjoying a resuscitated music career. Working Class Dog (1981), his first album after a five year break, had gone multi-platinum and spawned a Grammy-winning single (the #1 hit, "Jesse's Girl"). His 1982 follow-up, Success Hasn't Spoiled Me Yet, shot up to #2 on the US Billboard 200 and yielded several top 40 hits, three of which hovered near or within the top 10. Our second flashback of the day, however, was not in that lofty tier, but it did reasonably well (#21, thank you very much). After you watch the video, however, you might wonder how the tune charted that high. The overwrought acting certainly showcases the skills Springfield picked up as Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. And the prerequisite 80s video cliches are firmly in place: man in job where everything reminds him of ex-girlfriend (check), silhouette of guitar-slinging rock star (check), projected images (check), dreamtime/slow-motion sequences (check), and reunited lovers (check). But can someone explain why none of the drive-in patrons complain when the projectionist starts climbing on cars and playing his (magically amplified) guitar? I'm not following that part of the storyline. Maybe it isn't important. Maybe my questions show what kind of fool I am when I should be showing you the video for "What Kind of Fool am I?"
Flashback #3: "I should have learned this lesson long ago | That friends and lovers always come and go."
When was the last time you thought about the Portland band, Quarterflash? How about the last time you heard one of their songs? After bounding up the charts to a #8 album with their self-titled debut in 1981, and releasing two top 20 singles, Quarterflash kind of embarked on a long fade out of the spotlight. Their next two albums peaked at #34 and #150 respectively, and they disbanded in 1985. The lightning was simply out of the bottle. Still, this band is doubly appropriate for an April Fools' Flashback. First, their name comes from the Australian slang description of new immigrants as being "one quarter flash and three parts foolish" (source: ClassicRockRevisited.com). Second, their debut album's second single was the arena-stomping, sax-blazing "Find Another Fool." On this song, Rindy Ross demonstrates her vocal acumen, deftly soaring into an upper register that could rival that of Pet Benatar (from whom Ross likely borrowed the striped shirt she wears in this video).
Flashback #4: "On and on we ride the storm | The flame has died, and the fire has gone | Oh, this empty bed is a night alone | I realized that long ago."
What's this, a fourth flashback? That's right, kids. When the Friday 80s Flashback falls on April 1, we don't pull pranks on our audience, we have a bonus track! And what a bonus I've selected for you. It was the third single off Pyromania, an album that sold six million copies in 1983 and has since earned a spot in Rolling Stone's 100 Best Albums of the Eighties as well as Q Magazine's list of the 40 best albums of the 80s. This particular flashback tune reached #9 on the Mainstream Rock chart and #28 on Billboard's Hot 100. And it helped solidify British rockers Def Leppard's reputation as one of the biggest pop-metal bands of all time. If you have not guessed it yet, our fourth and final flashback for the day is "Foolin'" and director David Mallet wasn't foolin' around with the music video. He jammed plenty of our favorite 80s video cliches into this thing: faux performance footage, fantasy sequences, scenes of a bound and tormented lead singer (or was he the focus of an experiment?), death's head imagery, slow-motion, and pyrotechnics. There is even a woman (Billy Idol's girlfriend) playing a harp! Enjoy!
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!
[Note: This particular Flashback was originally posted at Prophet or Madman on 4/1/2011. I've made slight updates for 2011 links that no longer worked.