Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Dwight Twilley - Girls

Mixing rockabilly, country and British Invasion pop, Tulsa-born Dwight Twilley does not fit neatly into one music segment.  Combine this with nearly unbelievable bad luck throughout his career (including plane crashes, bribery scandals and O.J. Simpson) and his lack of real success is understandable.

In spite of these issues, Twilley had two top 40 hits -- 1975's "I'm on Fire" (as the Dwight Twilley Band) and 1984's "Girls," from Twilley's solo album called Jungle.  Coincidentally, both singles peaked at #17 on the charts.

The "Girls" video is a Porkies tribute, and there even is an R-rated version with nudity (FYI, the version here is PGish).  The video shoot was co-funded by The Playboy Channel, and featured Bunnies.  I believe that at the time Playboy was looking to create R-rated videos for its own music video show.  As an aside, I originally saw this video on the old USA Network show Nightflight, a truly great TV show that mixed videos, interviews, concert footage and indy films.

The video is great, cheesy fun, complete with male and female shower scenes, and features the coolest full uniform football player pretending to play guitar solo scene ever.  (Yes, really).



Cool trivia fact:  Tom Petty sings backup vocals on "Girls" -- he and Twilley were on the same label and became friends in the late 1970's.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

INXS - Don't Change

It is easy to downplay INXS; they sounded like a new wave bar band, and were not the most innovative or creative group of their time.  What INXS did, however, was churn out a ton of really good rock songs; they had 10 top 40 hits in the U.S. and have sold more than 30 million units worldwide, mostly in the 80's and early 90's.

"Don't Change" was the last song on 1982's Shabooh Shoobah and the second single from the album (after "The One Thing.")  It reached #80 on the U.S. charts, so it was not a big hit at the time, but is widely regarded as on of the band's best songs.  Sound-wise, "Don't Change" comes off almost as a rocked up version of Roxy Music, with big, atmospheric keyboards and a great chorus.

Of course, the band followed up Shabooh Soobah with four consecutive platinum albums, including 1987's Kick (which sold 6 million units in the U.S. alone.)  The nineties were tougher on INXS, and the original lineup ended with the tragic death of lead singer Michael Hutchence in 1997.  I suppose that the stories of virtually all rock bands are tragic in the end.  Still, it is cool to go back in time, so to speak, and see them as a young Australian band doing a simple video of a great song.




Note:  The INXS/Jimmy Barnes song "Good Times" was posted on ERV in September 2013. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cinderella - Shake Me

While Cinderella's image was hair-metal, their sound was more bluesy, hard rock.  "Shake Me" fits right in with this, and is a spiritual successor to "You Shook Me" (covered by Led Zeppelin) or "You Shook Me All Night Long" (AC/DC).  Now that I think of it, there should be more hard rock songs using the verb 'to shake' -- I propose the ultimate song could just be called "Shake" or "Shaken" or "Shaky."

Moving right along, "Shake Me" was the first song from Cinderella's first album, 1986's Night Songs.  The video does feature another fine example of a supernatural guitar -- it falls from the poster and then magically teleports the attractive young woman right on to the stage at the local Cinderella concert.  Though this is not as impressive as laser beams (or ill-tempered bass, for that matter), it still is pretty cool.  And no, apparently not all Les Pauls can magically teleport young women.

"Shake Me" did not chart, but Night Songs hit #3 on the charts in early 1987, spawned 2 other singles that did chart, and sold 3 million units.  The band went on to sell more than 20 million units in the 80's and early 90's, before the shift to grunge (and problems with lead singer Tom Keifer's vocal chords) ended the bands' run of platinum records.



Cool trivia fact:  Cinderella was discovered by Jon Bon Jovi, who saw them in 1985 at the old Empire Rock Club in Philly. He told his A&R rep about them and soon after they were signed to Mercury/Polygram.

Cinderella's "Gypsy Road" was posted on ERV in June, 2015.

Monday, December 12, 2011

MTV's 10th Anniversary Video

The Pretenders video was the 50th Video we have put up at ERV, and we thought that it would be cool to show something different.  Think of this as a musical sorbet, to cleanse the palate prior to the next bunch of tasty videos.

This video was shown during MTV's 10th Anniversary Special, a one-hour special that aired on the channel in 1991.  As a result, there might be some 90's videos on it, (heavens to Murgatroyd!!) but the clip is dominated by 80's acts.  While most of the video clips shown are not rare, a few from this site do slip in.

Can you recall ...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pretenders - Day After Day

It took Chrissie Hynde years to find the right fit in a band, but once she did, the results were impressive.  Hynde was originally from Ohio, but moved to London in the early 1970's in order to pursue a career in music.  After several failed attempts (including early versions of both The Clash and The Damned), Hynde found her band in the Pretenders.

The band was named after The Platters song "The Great Pretender," and found almost immediate success -- their first album hit #9 in the U.S. and was a #1 album in the UK in 1980.  Pretenders II followed in late 1981 and hit #10 on the U.S. charts.

"Day After Day" is a rare Pretenders song not written entirely by Hynde (guitarist James Honeyman-Scott co-wrote it).  The song was never released as a single, but the band did release a video (of course), which went into heavy rotation on my favorite video music channel.  The song is classic Pretenders, mixing pop, new wave and punk into something greater than the sum of its parts.  This is a band at the top of their game.

Unfortunately, drugs would soon destroy the first incarnation of the band.  Bassist Pete Frandon was kicked out of the Pretenders in June 1982 due to drug use, and guitarist James Honeyman-Scott died days later of cocaine intolerance.  Farndon subsequently drowned in 1983, after taking heroin in a bathtub and passing out.  Hynde soldiered on, but to my ears was never quite able to fully re-capture the magic of the first version of the band.



Note that "2000 Miles" was posted at ERV in December, 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Steve Perry - Strung Out

By 1984, the relationship between Steve Perry and the rest of the Journey had become strained, so Perry did what all 80's lead singers did under similar circumstances:  he released a solo album.  Street Talk went on to become an enormous success, selling more than 2 million units and peaking at #12 on the charts.  Four songs broke the top 40, including "Oh Sherrie," which hit #3.

"Strung Out" was the fourth single from Street Talk, and it charted (at #40), before fading into relative obscurity (until now, that is).  The video was shot after "Oh Sherrie," but plays like a slightly amusing prequel (for those who are not familiar with "Oh Sherrie," just watch them back-to-back).

While "Strung Out" is admittedly pretty basic (i.e., commercial), I have always had a soft spot for it (call it a guilty pleasure).  It is, I think, a catchy, well crafted song.

After Street Talk, Perry waived over whether to leave Journey, and actually started work on a follow up album, tentatively called Against the Wall.  Eventually, Perry returned to Journey and sang on 1987's Raised on Radio, before leaving the band (Perry actually left the industry as well, for 7 years).  Against the Wall was never finished, but a few of the songs made it on to Perry's 1994 solo album For the Love of Strange Medicine.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chilliwack - My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)

Chilliwack's history dates all the way back to 1964.  Originally called The Classics, and then The Collectors, the band became Chilliwack in 1970 (!).  The band named itself after a town near Vancouver (which in turn is named after a Salishan phrase meaning "going back up").

While the band had no less than 10 songs that charted in the U.S. between 1973 - 1983, they are best known for their 1981 album, Wanna Be a Star, and "My Girl," their biggest single, which peaked at #22 in the U.S. (and was a #1 hit in Canada).  While the song may sound like there is a story behind it, Bill Henderson (who wrote it) states that it was a total figment of his imagination.

The band released two albums after Wanna Be a Star, but was unable to generated much momentum, and broke up in 1984.

Special shout out to Steve and Karen, who posted this on their fb pages and spurred me to action.  It is great to have old friends who like 80's music.



Cool trivia fact:  The second single from Wanna Be a Star, called "I Believe" hit #33 on the U.S. charts, so technically Chilliwack is not a one hit wonder.  No, I don't recall ever hearing "I Believe" either.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Feargal Sharkey - A Good Heart and You Little Thief

Here at ERV, we like a good salacious story as much as the next rarely-read blog, especially if it involves music videos from the 1980's that are ... well, rare.  So without further ado ...

Feargal Sharkey got his start in the Northern Irish punk band, The Undertones.  Best-known for "Teenage Kicks" (a John Peel favorite), the band kicked around during the late 1970's and early 1980's before breaking up in 1983.  As an aside, Feargal Sharkey goes on my list of "best rock names ever" with Digney Fignus, Fee Waybill, and Benmont Tench (more on him later).

In 1985, Sharkey released his first solo album, called Feargal Sharkey (ok, so he wasn't the most original chap). He also transitioned from a new wave singer to a pop crooner (and I mean that in the nicest way possible).  His first single, "A Good Heart" was a #1 hit in his native UK, and charted in the US (#74).




His second single, "You Little Thief" did not do as well, but it hit #5 in the UK.



Now stay with me, because here is where it gets interesting.  Remember Lone Justice (the band just before this posting)?  The band that was helped out by Tom Petty?  Well, it turns out that Maria McKee (the lead singer of Lone Justice) and Benmont Tench (the guy with the cool name, as promised, who was Tom Petty's keyboard player) ... well, Maria and Benmont were an item for a while.  And when they broke up, Maria wrote, "A Good Heart" about it.  Perhaps in response to this, Benmont wrote "You Little Thief" about the same breakup.  So Feargal Sharkey's first two single were written by ex-lovers about each other.  Interesting, no?

Cool trivia fact:  the Feargal Sharkey (still love that name) album was produced by Dave Stweart of Eurythmics, who was seemingly everywhere in the early to mid 1980's.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lone Justice - Sweet, Sweet Baby (I'm Falling)

LA-based Lone Justice showed up on the music scene in 1985 with their self-titled debut, and were another in a long line of bands briefly viewed as The Next Big Thing.

The band came out the the early 1980's cowpunk scene (yes, there really was a country/punk scene in LA in the early 1980's).  With supporters such as Linda Ronstadt and Tom Petty (who wrote "Ways to be Wicked" for the debut album) they were able to land a recording contract with Geffen.  The Lone Justice LP received rave reviews and ... basically didn't sell very well.  For whatever reason, country rock seemed like a hard sell in the eighties, even though it did well in the 1970's and the 1990's (to this day, in fact).  Go figure.

At any rate, most of the band left after the first album, but singer Maria McKee put out a more pop oriented second album the following year (Shelter), which did not do any better.  Lone Justice officially broke up soon afterwards.

"Sweet, Sweet Baby" was the second single from the Lone Justice album, and really shows off the radio-friendly country rock sound that by all rights should have been more successful than it was.



Note that "Ways to be Wicked" was posted on ERV in November 2015.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Radiators - Like Dreamers Do

"Like Dreamers Do" is a rare, catchy and slightly eccentric pop song that unfairly received only a modicum of airplay. It is by by the Radiators, a hard-working New Orleans band that was the spiritual successor to Little Feat.

The song was from the 1987 album Law of the Fish, which was the band's third album (although the first for major label Epic).  Law of the Fish rose to #139 on the Billboard charts, and ushered in the Radiators' brief period as a modestly successful commercial act (the band released two other albums on the Epic label before being dropped in 1990).

In the aftermath of leaving Epic, the band continued to tour and play, and developed a core following of fishheads.  The Radiators wrote and performed more than 300 original songs (many never recorded for an album) and also performed over 1,000 covers.  Their shows, which included long jam sessions, often ran over three hours.  In short, the Radiators became the New Orleans party band of choice.  Cool trivia fact:  the Radiators' members did not change through the years; the original 1978 lineup remained intact until the band called in quits, in June of 2011.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Pixies - Here Comes Your Man

Although they were only around for a few years, the Pixies had a disproportionate impact on rock and roll.  Their sound was a conglomeration of alternative college rock, punk and California surf rock, put together in way that was greater than the sum of the parts.  In this way, they laid the groundwork for the grunge/alternative surge of the early 1990's.  Bands as varied as Nirvana, Radiohead, Weezer and U2 have all stated that the Pixies had a huge influence on their sound.  Kurt Cobain, in fact, stated that "Smells Like Team Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies-esque song.

The Pixies were formed in Boston in 1986.  "Here Comes Your Man" was from their 1989 Doolitle album, but the song was not released as a single.  Interestingly, this song was written by frontman Black Francis years earlier (when he was 14 or 15), but the band was reluctant to record it, as they viewed the sound as too commercial.  Critics have since come to view "Here Comes Your Man" as one of the most melodic and accessible alternative songs ever written.

Unfortunately, the Pixes were not able to hold it together past early 1993, as the tension between Francis and bassist Kim Deal (who would go on to form The Breeders with her sister), tore the band apart.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cheap Trick - She's Tight

In the aftermath of The Flirts, please consider Cheap Trick as my apology to you, the (few) readers of this blog. OK, I am just kidding (or am I?)

At any rate, Cheap Trick's "She's Tight" from 1982's One on One album highlights the diversity of eighties music and MTV, as this song came out the same year as "Jukebox" (below) and they may have even been played back to back at some point.

"She's Tight" is your basic sleazy, straight up rock song, complete with semi-ridiculous lyrics and the typical 5-neck guitar in the video.  As an aside, this song has some truly great moments, my favorite being Robin Zander singing:

"She spoke ...
I'm on my own, home all alone
So I got off the phone"

If that isn't rock and roll, then I don't know what is.

The song peaked at #65, while the album broke the top 40 and went gold.  For folks who aren't that familiar with Cheap Trick, they are really worth checking out.  Their music is an interesting combination of 60's pop and 70's rock, and they have just a ton of great songs.  Their greatest hits are a good place to start, but they have a fair amount of solid, lesser-known songs, some of which may even appear on ERV at a later date.


The Flirts - Jukebox (Don't Put Another Dime)

While there was some great music played on MTV in the early days, the station also played some ... well, not-so-great (or WTF??) music too.  High on any list of "what were they thinking" would be The Flirts.

To be fair, The Flirts weren't even really a band -- they were a creation of Bobby Orlando, a New York City based record producer.  As a result, the members changed regularly (like every album).  Think Menudo, but with pretty young women (for our younger readers, please replace "Menudo" with "Backstreet Boys" above.) Amazingly, they had a minor hit with "Jukebox," off the 1982 album 10 Cents a Dance.  The video was played around every ten minutes on MTV for a while, for no apparent reason and no, I am not bitter about that at all.

At any rate, Bobby Orlando then put out a new Flirts album ever 2 weeks or so for most of the eighties, but sadly (yes, that is sarcasm) did not hit it big again.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast

What is more Halloweeny (yes, I just made up that word) than some good old-fashioned metal?  How about some metal with horror clips and a demonic-sounding title?

Iron Maiden's 1982 album, The Number of the Beast, is on a short list of the greatest heavy metals albums ever.  Dark, loud and surprisingly melodic, it is the prototypical Iron Maiden record, and the first one with lead singer Bruce "Air Raid Siren" Dickinson.  The album also proved to be a tremendous commercial success, and has sold some 14 million units worldwide.  It reached #33 on the US charts, but hit #1 in the UK, where both "The Number of the Beast" and "Run to the Hills" broke the top 20 on the singles chart!

While religious conservatives were concerned with the "satanic message," the title song from the album was actually inspired by bass player Steve Harris' nightmare after watching Damien: Omen II.  To be fair, though, the band did play up the supernatural angle in interviews, which (of course) seemed to help sales.

Cool trivia fact:  the band originally wanted Vincent Price to read the intro (foreshadowing "Thriller") but he proved to be too expensive for their budget.  As a result, an actor named Barry Clayton was hired to do it.



Iron Maiden's underrated 1983 song, "Flight of Icarus" was posted on ERV in March, 2015.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Huey Lewis and the News - Heart and Soul

The second of my "songs that remind me of Halloween in a subtle, non-"Thriller" sort of way."  "Heart and Soul" was Huey Lewis and the News' big breakout; it reached #8 on the charts and launched their career.  It was the first single from 1983's Sports, which became a #1 album, and the second biggest album of 1984, only trailing a little album that you might have heard of called Thriller.

The video is basically Huey and the band at a cool Halloween party in San Francisco, in 1983.  I'm not really sure what the video has to do with the song, but hey, MTV liked it and put it in heavy rotation, and the rest is history.  Cool trivia fact:  the actress in the video is Signy Coleman, who would go on to become a regular on The Young and the Restless, and is also the lead in the "I Want a New Drug" video.


Now for some extra coolness -- this song is a cover.  This will relaunch the "songs that you didn't know were covers" section of the blog -- note that the second post ever (Pat Benatar's "You Better Run") also fits in that category.  Expect some more in due course.  At any rate, the original version was done by Exile (of "Kiss You All Over" fame) in 1981, and it actually charted (#102).  For those who are interested, a link to the song is below:



Note that "Workin' For A Livin'" and "Some of My Lies Are True" have also been posted to ERV.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The English Beat - Save It For Later

The first of three songs in honor of the upcoming All Hallow's Even.  However, I did not want to be lazy about the holiday and go with "Thriller" and the like; instead I have chosen songs that have a Halloween vibe (to me, at least).

The English Beat (The Beat to all non-Americans) were a 2 Tone ska/pop band founded in England in the late 1970's.  The group's sound evolved over time and by 1982's Special Beat Service, it was clear that they were venturing away from their ska roots and into something different ... more like a ska influenced new wave pop sound.

Although it was actually an old song (written before the band formed, in fact), "Save it for Later" fit in quite nicely with this post-ska aesthetic.  It is a wonderfully odd sounding song, driven by an unusual open D guitar tuning (DADAAD, if you must ask).  Lyrically, it is about a teen's transition into a twenty-something, with a dirty joke thrown it, to boot ("for later" ... fe'llator ...)

But it is the video that places the song here, in late October.  The strangle club, the skeletons, the unusual clientele -- it all reminds me of a Halloween party (a really cool one, in England circa 1982).

Sadly, The English Beat broke up soon after Special Beat Services was released, but returned (in a way) as former members became General Public and Fine Young Cannibals.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Plimsouls - A Million Miles Away

Formed in 1978 by singer/songwriter/guitarist Peter Case, the LA-based Plimsouls had developed a strong local following by the early 1980's.  Their sound was a striking blend of new wave and pop, with some punk influences thrown in, and had caught the attention of folks at KROQ (the big LA rock station).

The Plimsoul's big break came when their song "A Million Miles Away" was used in the movie Valley Girl.  In fact, the band actually performs in a scene in the movie.  Surprisingly, Valley Girl became a modest hit, and interest in the band soared.  This coincided with the recording of their second album, 1983's Everywhere at Once, which should have been great, but ... the recording sessions went quite badly, and Case broke The Plimsouls up in order to go solo.  Although Case has generated some amount of critical acclaim through the years, he never quite found his audience, leaving him (and The Plimsouls) as a one hit wonder.



Cool trivia fact:  Peter Case's previous band, The Nerves, wrote and recorded the original version of "Hanging on the Telephone" in 1976, which was covered by Blondie (and became a hit for them in 1978).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Michael Stanley Band - He Can't Love You

The Cleveland-based Michael Stanley Band is yet another group that made some great music, but never quite broke out at the national level.  They did, however, achieve no small measure of success in the Midwest during the 1970's and early 80's, due to their solid, if somewhat mainstream rock sound.

Ironically, 1980 found the band at an ebb in their career, as their label (Arista) dropped them.  With no other label showing any interest in them, the MSB recorded their own album, 1980's Heartland, without any outside interference.  Eventually, EMI heard the record, and signed the band to a four record contract.

"He Can't Love You" was the first single off Heartland and broke the top 40 (peaking at #33).  The band was no doubt helped by MTV, which played the song on their first day (the 45th video ever played on the fledgling channel).  Unfortunately, success proved elusive for the band, and they finally called it quits in 1986, after a series of farewell concerts in Ohio.



Cool trivia fact:  The Big Man, Clarence Clemons, played the sax on the studio recording (sadly, he does not appear in the video).

Note that the MSB's last top 40 single, "My Town," was posted on ERV in November 2014.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Helix - Deep Cuts the Knife

The poor man's Honeymoon Suite (or is it the other way around), Helix showed up on the music scene in the early 1980's, and had a few minor hits here and there during the decade.  This hard-working Canadian band was formed in 1974, but it took years to secure a coveted record contract.  And although their period of modest commercial success was all too brief (roughly 1983-87), the band has continued to work, more or less continuously, to this day.

"Deep Cuts the Knife" was the lead single off their 1985 album, Long Way to Heaven, and peaked at #20 on the Mainstream Rock charts, while the album did not break the Billboard top 100.  The song is a surprisingly strong rock ballad that was combined with a polished video, but somehow it did not really connect with its intended audience.  Given the popularity of hard rock during this time, it is surprising that Helix did not enjoy more success, but such are the whims of fate.



Cool trivia fact:  Helix opened the tour to support this album in Sweden, where they were the first Canadian band to extensively tour the country.

Helix's "Heavy Metal Love" was posted on ERV in January, 2016.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Daryl Hall - Dreamtime

Hard to believe that there is a video on here for a song that hit #5 on the Billboard charts, and from an artist who has written or co-written 11 (!) Billboard #1s, but there you have it.  "Dreamtime" is a very solid pop/rock song from half of Hall & Oats (Hall is the blonde guy who sang, if you have to ask).  And yes, I think it has been somewhat forgotten in the sands of time.

The song was the first single from Daryl Hall's 1986 solo album, Three Hearts in the Happy Ending Machine.  Unlike Hall & Oats, there is no poppy, blue-eyes soul to be found; if anything, the song has a slightly psychedelic new wave vibe, not unlike Prince's "Raspberry Beret," which came out the previous year.

The video, although slightly pretentious, does compliment the song quite well, with lots of swirling graphics, weird sets, and seemingly random scene fades.  Ok, maybe there is just a bit too much Daryl Hall in the video, but it is his (second) solo album, you can't really blame the guy too much for that.



Cool trivia fact; Dave Stewart (of Eurythmics) plays guitar on the song.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Martin Briley - The Salt in My Tears

Just a perfect video for ERV -- a rare video of a rare, good song.  From Briley's second solo album, 1983's One Night With a Stranger.  "The Salt in My Tears" is also Briley's only charting single (it hit #36 on Billboard in the summer of 1983), making him an official one hit wonder.

Although relatively simple, the video is fun and does seem to reflect the song reasonably well.  While Briley's solo career was somewhat brief (1981 - 1985) he found success as a studio and touring musician  and songwriter.  Briley worked with Ian Hunter, Céline Dion and Julian Lennon, and wrote songs that were recorded by Céline Dion,  Kenny Loggins, Pat Benatar, Jeff Healey, and Night Ranger among others.

Cool trivia fact:  Briley was recovering from food poisoning at the time of the shoot, explaining why he doesn't really move around much in the video.  However, I have no idea what is up with the hat -- he also wears it on the second video from the album, so maybe is was his idea of a fashion statement.

Cool trivia fact #2:  Briley also contributed a song to the soundtrack of the 1984 classic movie, Body Rock.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Beastie Boys - Shadrach

In the aftermath of License to Ill, many fans and critics thought that the Beastie Boys would turn out to be a one album wonder.  After all, the rock/rap album was the first hip hop LP to hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and it went on to sell 9 million units.  Furthermore, the band had a contentious falling out with Def Jam Records and Rick Rubin, their co-songwriter/producer.

After relocating to California, the Beasties decided to work with the Dust Brothers production team, and released Paul's Boutique in 1989.  Although critically acclaimed, the album landed with a decided thud.  Hip hop fans had never heard anything like it and had no idea what to make of it.  Sales were disappointing, the label stopped promoting it and MTV did not aggressively show the videos.

But gradually, fans saw the genius in the record.  Rarely is a record way ahead of its time, but Paul's Boutique could easily be considered such an album.  It is now widely viewed as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever and one of the strongest albums (of any genre) of the 1980's.

The album is so textured and varied that no one song can really do it justice, but "Shadrach" comes close -- partly because the video seems to capture the vibe of the album.  (Several critics have observed that Paul's Boutique sounds almost painted with samples.)  The song's title comes from a story in the Book of Daniel, but is also used in an old Sly Stone song, "Loose Booty," which is sampled (along with 8 other old funk and rock songs, most of them sampled so cleverly that they are hard to pick up at first.)

"Riddle me this, my brother, can you handle it?"


Friday, September 30, 2011

Henry Lee Summer - I Wish I Had a Girl

Indiana born Henry Lee Summer (born Henry Lee Swartz) was not an overnight success story.  Self-taught on guitar, piano and drums, he was a working musician from the late 1970's on, and released a few demo singles, and even two full albums before being signed by Epic records in 1988.  Summer then had a brief period of real success, with 5 songs that charted between 1988 - 91, including 2 top 40 hits.

"I Wish I Had a Girl" was his first hit, and rose to #20 on the Billboard charts (and #1 on the Mainstream Rock Charts).  The song was actually written and recorded in 1985, but was re-recorded for his major label debut.

As for the video ... well, it is chock full of mullety (is that a word?), acid wash late 1980's goodness.  Henry Lee seems to be harassing every young woman who walks down the street.  My favorite is the bicycle singing harassment, which cannot be an easy thing to do.



As his success waned, Summer wrote songs for a few soundtracks (Sniper and Striking Distance) before fading from view.  He was back in the news a few times between 2005 - 10 for drug-related issues, but seems to have cleaned up as of this writing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Monroes - What Do All the People Know

Another band that had a terrible time with the business end of the music business was The Monroes.  The band was founded in San Diego in the early 1980s, and signed to Alfa, a small Japanese label.  The first single off their self-titled EP was the catchy new wave/pop song, "What Do All the People Know."

In 1982, the song moved up the charts, eventually peaking at #59.  The band had a hit single, was touring and working to promote it with an album surely to follow when ... Alfa exited the U.S. market.  The loss of their label was catastrophic for the band, as it meant no support for the EP and no money for an album.  Although The Monroes soldiered on for a few years, they did not get another break, and ended up as an unfortunate one hit wonder.



Cool follow up:  This clip is from The Monroes appearance on the Merv Griffin Show in 1982.  I heard from Tony Ortiz (the lead singer of the band), who informed me that the earlier video is not The Monroes at all (go figure -- something not accurate on the internet!)  I believe that the band had problems producing a video for the song, what with the record label shutting down and all.  Anyhow, Tony asked me to put up a real clip of the band (and when Tony Monroe asks you to do something, you do it!)

So this one goes out to Tony, with my thanks for the great song.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Haircut One Hundred - Love Plus One

Haircut One Hundred.  Just the name brings me back to early 1982 MTV, when the station was new and fresh and they played a bunch of cool, slightly off-the-beaten-trail bands.

Technically a one-hit wonder (their first single, "Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)" did not chart in spite of heavy airplay on the aforementioned channel), the band nevertheless emerged as one of the biggest pop/new wave stars of 1982.  This was during the "nonthreatening English pop/new wave era" that included ABC, A Flock of Seagulls, Thomas Dolby, and Thompson Twins, among many others.

Interestingly, Haircut's first album, 1982's Pelican West did not chart in the U.S., but peaked at #2 in the U.K. (where it went platinum).  However, "Love Plus One" managed to break into the American top 40 at #37.  Ultra light and breezy, the singles (and videos) are still remarkably catchy, in a "Walking on Sunshine" kind of way.

With their new found success, the band fell apart almost immediately, as Nick Heyward (the songwriter, singer and guitarist for Haircut One Hundred) left to start a solo career.  While he did have a few minor hits in the U.K., he was basically never heard from again on this side of the Atlantic, and Haircut One Hundred slowly faded away ... until now.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Prince - Controversy

I know, I know.  Prince on a rare 80's video blog?  I mean the dude dominated the 1980's (along with Madonna and Michael Jackson).  But wait; hear me out.

While Prince did indeed become a massive star, starting with 1982's 1999, he was no overnight success.  In fact, 1999 was his fifth studio album; two of which were released in the late 1970's!!  And as would be expected from a prolific, slightly insane musician who later became an unpronounceable symbol, there is some really good stuff on his early albums that did not receive the airplay that it deserved.  Although it took me a while to warm up to Prince, I have to say that he produced one of the broadest and most interesting bodies of work of any artist of the past few decades.  In particular, his ability to fuse rock, pop, R&B and funk was unparalleled.

"Controversy," the title cut from his 1981 album is a great case in point.  This is the album that immediately preceded 1999, and it shows an artist at the top of his game.  The song itself is a catchy new wave funk song that was ahead of its time.  One interesting point:  the video is the edited single version of the song.  The album version is almost twice as long, and contains the Lord's Prayer (in full), which went over with religious conservatives about as well as you would think.  To be fair, Prince and his band also went over with religious conservatives ... well, you get the idea.

Ladies and gentlemen, for your audio and video pleasure ... His Purpleness.




Note that Prince's "Dirty Mind" was also featured on ERV, in March 2012, and "Uptown" was posted on ERV in January, 2015.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

R.E.M. - Radio Free Europe

Yesterday (September 21, 2011), R.E.M. decided to call it quits as a band.  Although the band had some great successes in the 1990's, I think of them as the prototypical 1980's college rock band.  In fact, they were hugely influential in defining the category.  With their final act now written, it seemed like a good time to put them on the blog.

Loved by critics, it took the band a while to find its audience.  Though the first four albums all went gold, none broke the top 20, and it took until 1987's Document for R.E.M. to have a platinum album.  Similarly, while their videos were shown on MTV, their sound was too alternative, and the videos too strange to go into heavy rotation for most of the 80s.

I chose their first single, "Radio Free Europe" as their representative here.  Originally recorded in 1981, the video uses the 1983 I.R.S. version of the song.  Many critics, including your humble author, prefer the original version, which is faster, less polished, and just sounds more R.E.M.-ish.  In fact, on their 1988 compilation album, Eponymous, they went back to the original version, with the comment, "Mike [Mills, bass player] and Jefferson [Holt, the band's manager] think this one crushes the other one like a grape."

While Michael Stipe's lyrics can be challenging to understand under the best of circumstances, he intentionally garbled "Radio Free Europe," going more for a cool sound that any meaning.  In a later interview, Stipe confirmed that the lyrics are "complete babbling."



Godspeed, gentlemen, and thanks for the great music.

Also note that "Fall on Me" was posted on ERV in September 2014.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

XTC - Senses Working Overtime

XTC might just be the poster child for the under-appreciated band.  In fact, one music critic went so far as to call them "the great lost pop band."  The reason in simple: they wrote a bunch of great pop songs, flirted with success several times, but never quite made it.

"Senses Working Overtime" comes from their fifth studio album, 1982's English Settlement.  Both the song and album broke into the top 10 in the UK, and it looked like a breakout album, until ... singer and guitarist Andy Partridge developed severe stagefright.  This prevented the band from performing live (to this day, in fact), and undoubtedly hurt their ability to reach an audience.  (The moral of the story is this:  do not let your wife throw out all of the perscription valium that you are dependent on right before you are supposed to go on stage.)

In spite of this, the band continued to record great music.  In addition to "Dear God" and "The Mayor of Simpleton" (posted on ERV) I would recommend "The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead" and "King for a Day."  All are available on YouTube, for folks who are so inclined.  In fact, they just might make another appearance on this blog at some future time (as Chuck Berry says ... you never can tell).


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nine Inch Nails - Head Like a Hole

Nine Inch Nails blasted onto the music scene in 1989 with Pretty Hate Machine, their debut album.  Complex, diverse and dark, the band sounded unlike anything else at the time.  While their music reflected clear industrial influences (particularly Ministry), the focus on melodic, complex sounds (and lyrics) was truly refreshing.

For those who don't know, Nine Inch Nails (NIN) is Trent Reznor; while he uses a backup band to tour, he alone is responsible for the music.  "Head Like a Hole" is a great early example of the band's sound,  with multiple melodies, a driving beat, and a dark, rocking chorus.

The video is also classic NIN, with rapid cut black and white images interspersed with the band.  Definite art house movie feel, and more than a little bit strange.  Again, seriously ahead of its time.

"Head Like a Hole" was the first NIN song to chart, but it did not break the top 100 (it peaked at #109).  The Pretty Hate Machine album did better, peaking at 75.  NIN would go on to have tremendous success in the early to mid 1990's, and their next 5 albums would break the top 10.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Neal Schon and Jan Hammer - No More Lies

What do you get when you combine the guitarist from Journey with the guy who wrote the theme to Miami Vice?  Well, the resulting music is actually not half bad.  Although not groundbreaking, "No More Lies" is a decent rock song, and a pretty rare video to boot.

Amazingly, this song is from Schon & Hammer's second album, 1982's poorly named Here to Stay.  The duo also released Untold Passion in 1981.  At the time, Neal Schon was starting to feel stifled by Journey, and Jan Hammer was a well-regarded fusion and jazz keyboardist.  As Schon got his start in Santana, the combination makes more sense that you would first think.

As for Schon and Hammer ... well, Neal Schon remained with Journey until the 1987 breakup, and then co-founded Bad English.  Jan Hammer had a huge breakout with Miami Vice and went on to have a successful career scoring TV and movie soundtracks.

Aldo Nova - Fantasy

Another wonderfully ridiculous video featuring supernatural guitars (see Breaking the Law for an earlier example).  Set in the future (or at least a 1981 version of the future), Aldo Nova portrays a mystical guitar player with bodyguards, and the geekiest guitar tech known to man.  Nova uses his guitar laser to break into a warehouse in order to  ... play guitar with his band?

In fact, Aldo Nova's 1981 self-titled debut was moderately successful.  The album quickly went gold (it has since gone on to be certified double platinum!!) and peaked at #8 on the album charts.  The single, "Fantasy," no doubt helped by the video, hit #23 on the singles chart.  However, Nova's subsequent work did not do very well, and while he has remained in the business, it is not pretty.  He has written songs for Jon Bon Jovi, Faith Hill, Clay Aiken and ... Celine Dion (man, say it ain't so Aldo).

Cool trivia fact:  Aldo Nova played George Harrison in Beatlemania.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Del Fuegos - Don't Run Wild

In 1985, the Del Fuegos looked like a good bet to be The Next Big Thing.  Their second album, Boston, Mass was released to critical acclaim, and the first single and video, "Don't Run Wild" were gathering momentum.  They even had a big rock star supporter in Tom Petty (who would go on to work with them on their next album, 1987's Stand Up).

Unfortunately, sales of Boston, Mass (the album, not the city) stalled out in early 1986.  The album peaked at #134, and while "Don't Run Wild" and the follow up, "I Still Want You" received a fair amount of radio airplay, neither single broke the top 40.

The commercial disappointment of the album was exacerbated when the band made an ill-advised, highly visible commercial for Miller Beer.  I think this really hurt their credibility, especially among core roots rock fans, who considered it selling out.  It did not help that for many folks, the commercial was their first exposure to the band.

The sad part is that the band made some really great music and they could have been much more successful with a lucky break or two.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hoodoo Gurus - Bittersweet

Although they were major stars in their native Australia, Hoodoo Gurus were seen as more of an indy or college band by American audiences.  That is not totally unfair, as their music has a college radio vibe, and is eclectic enough to be hard to categorize.

"Bittersweet" is a great, atmospheric song about a failed love affair, from the Gurus awesomely named 1985 album, Mars Needs Guitars.  The album barely broke the top 200 in the U.S., but was the second of four consecutive Gurus albums to top the U.S. college charts.  The video received some airplay on MTV, but it did not go into heavy rotation.  (To be fair to MTV, I do not think the video is as strong as the song.)


By the way, is it me, or is the intro strongly reminiscent of the intro to Robert Plant's 1983 hit "In the Mood?"

Monday, September 5, 2011

Romeo Void - Never Say Never

Romeo Void was one of the more unlikely bands to have a hit song, and they actually had two, as 1984's "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)" rose to #35 on the charts.

Their first hit, "Never Say Never," was actually released twice -- first on the 1982 Never Say Never EP and then on the Benefactor album of the same year.  It does not appear to have been released as a single, but the video was placed into heavy rotation on MTV, and was even used in some early promos for the station, if memory serves.

As for the band, Romeo Void was formed at San Francisco Art Institute in 1979.  While they had obvious punk and new wave influences, there is also an art rock feel to many of their songs.  Lead singer Deborah Iyall (Cowlitz Native American, if you were wondering about the last name) penned unusually poetic and dark lyrics that did not follow typical (simple) rock song structure.

The video reflects the artistic and dark punk vibe of the band.  Shot in black and white, it has a film noir-ish intro that is captivating, even if it is hard to tell what it has to do with the band or the song.  It is easy to see why the folks at MTV liked it, however -- it looked like nothing else on the station at the time.

Queen - Hammer to Fall

The first video for today is Queen's "Hammer to Fall," and is posted on what would have been Freddy Mercury's 65th birthday.  (Special shout out to Google Doodles and my friend Liz for pointing this out to me.)

I will point out that it was not easy finding a suitable 80's video for Queen -- most of their best work was recorded in the 1970's.  And much of their work in the 1980's was ... well, not great.

"Hammer to Fall" was the final single released from Queen's 1984 album, The Works.  The song did not chart in the U.S., and the video received limited airplay on MTV.  It some ways, the song is a throwback for Queen -- it reminds me of their earlier work, with a strong guitar riff, and of course, the wonderful overdubbed vocals.  For readers who have not explored Queen, they recorded some truly great songs.  Aside from "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You," I particularly recommend "Tie Your Mother Down," "You're My Best Friend," "Fat Bottomed Girls," and "Don't Stop Me Now."

But I digress.  The video for "Hammer to Fall" was shot on The Works tour in Brussels and features Freddy Mercury in his typical understated outfit (yes, I am kidding).



Cool trivia fact:  Queen's guitarist, Brian May, does not use a pick to play guitar -- he uses a sixpence coin.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ric Ocasek - Something to Grab For

By the early 1980's, The Cars had become one of the most successful rock bands in the world, due to Ric Ocasek's ability to write songs that seamlessly blended new wave and rock elements.  However, in spite of their success, or more likely, because of it, Ocasek began to feel stifled.  He decided to release a solo album as a way to experiment with songwriting, while maintaining The Cars as the more commercial vehicle.

His first solo album, 1982's Beatitude, was an interesting and inconsistent album that produced the minor hit "Something to Grab For."  This mostly forgotten song hit #47 on the Billboard charts in 1983, helped out by heavy airplay on MTV.

Cool trivia fact:  the woman in the video is 1983 Playmate of the Year Marianne Gravatte.



Ocasek's only top 40 solo single "Emotion in Motion" was posted on ERV in June 2015.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Devo - Girl U Want

Devo was one of the most interesting, creative and visual bands of the late 1970's and early 1980's.  The band was formed in 1973 in Ohio and gradually evolved into a something resembling a new wave art rock band.  With their matching uniforms, planter headgear, and campy attitudes, they seemed unlikely rock stars.  However, they were also great and under-appreciated songwriters.  Nowhere is this more evident than on their 1980 album, Freedom of Choice.

The big hit from the album was "Whip It," which reached #14 on the singles chart.  The strange western/new wave video of that song also received a ton of airplay on MTV.  However, many critics, including your humble author, favored "Girl U Want" -- a song that is somehow both mechanical and rocking.

"Girl U Want" was inspired by the Knack's "My Sharona," although in typical Devo style, it is about unrequited love; the lyrics contrasting with the uptempo melody.  As to the video ... I still have no idea what it means.  But it is definitely interesting.



More interesting stuff:  Devo created a mellowish alternate version of this song around 1982 that is worth checking out.  Additionally, both Robert Palmer and Soundgarden covered the song, and had (unsurprisingly) really different interpretations.  All three of the above covers are on YouTube, and I highly recommend a listen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

George Benson - Give Me the Night

And now for something completely different.

George Benson got his musical start playing ukulele at age 7, and later became an successful jazz guitarist.  By the late 1970's, he was an established star, and his music had evolved into something new -- not jazz, not quite disco, but something that fit in well with the emerging R&B movement.

In 1980, Benson had the smarts or good fortune (or both) to collaborate with Rod Temperton and Quincy Jones.  Quincy Jones went on to become one of the biggest record producers in the world.  Tempeton co-wrote the Michael Jackson songs "Off the Wall," "Rock with You" and "Thriller" (all produced by Jones), along with "Stomp" by The Brothers Johnson.

The resulting song, "Give Me the Night," became Benson's biggest hit, and rose to #4 on the charts.  It also hit #1 on the R&B charts.  The video received little airplay, partly due to the fact that it predated MTV by a good year or so, and partly because MTV was not very friendly to R&B acts in its early days.  It also may have something to do with the roller skates.  Just sayin'.

Cool trivia fact:  supposedly, Quincy Jones suggested the echo on Benson's guitar that drives the sound.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Re-Flex - The Politics of Dancing

Wonderful synth-dance song, and a great video to boot from the one hit wonder Re-Flex.  "The Politics of Dancing" was the lead single from the 1983 album of the same name and hit #24 on the charts, with some help from a ton of airplay on MTV.  Cool trivia fact:  the 12" version of this song was the first extended version of a song by a British band to top the U.S. dance charts.

The band recorded their follow up album, Humanication, in 1984 as a planned 1985 release.  The first single was "How Much Longer," which had an environmentalist message and featured Sting on backing vocals.  The song was released in Germany, but the record label did not like the political nature of the song/album and killed the project.  To this day, the album has never been released, although there are apparently bootleg copies in existence.  Re-Flex released two songs for the Superman IV soundtrack in 1987, but did not release another album (in the 1980s, at least).

Cool trivia fact #2: An early version of Re-Flex featured Phil Gould and Mark King who would go on to form ... Level 42.  Gould, by the way, also played with M ("Pop Muzik").


Whitesnake - Slow An' Easy

Make no mistake -- Whitesnake was lead singer David Coverdale's band, and he hired and fired musicians to suit his tastes.  By 1984, the then 33 year old Coverdale was becoming increasingly focused on commercial success, and when the Slide It In album peaked at #40 in the U.S., he made his move.  Coverdale fired guitarist Micky Moody and replaced him with John Sykes.  The 1987 follow up album, simply titled Whitesnake, went on to sell 8 million copies and rose to the #2 position on the Billboard chart.  Ironically, Coverdale and Sykes didn't get on either, and Sykes was fired just as that album was released.

While Slide It In was a commercial disappointment to Coverdale, it did introduce American audiences (including your humble author) to the band.  In my opinion, this is one of the best hard rock albums of the 1980's, and I am particularly partial to the blusey "Slow An' Easy."  Yes, the video is dated and the story makes little sense, but the song rocks.



Note that Whitesnake's "Love Ain't No Stranger" was posted on ERV in June 2014.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Cult - She Sells Sanctuary

New wave's answer to AC/DC, The Cult's LPs were maddeningly inconsistent, but their best work (and there tended to be one or two songs per album) was incredibly strong.  "She Sells Sanctuary" was the song that really launched them, from the 1985 album Love.  The song actually predates the album, and there are at least 8 versions/mixes of the song that have been released to date.

The sound of the song came about quite by accident, as guitarist Billy Duffy was goofing off with a violin bow in the recording studio, hitting lots of pedals, when the producer (Steve Brown) started yelling through the intercom, "Hold it, hold it, that's great!"  The band re-worked some of the riffs, and the result is below.

I have always had a soft spot for "She Sells Sanctuary," as it is a real oddity -- an atmospheric hard rock song.  The video captures some of the quirky nature of the band, with lead singer Ian Astbury channeling his inner Mick Jagger/Stevie Nicks as the band rocks out.




The Cult's video for "Rain" was posted on ERV in September, 2015.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

John Waite - Change

In 1982, John Waite released Ignition, his first solo album after he left The Babys (who did some really solid work in the mid to late 70's).  Produced by Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar's guitarist/husband, the album peaked at #68 in the US charts.  It also yielded one great video -- "Change," an early story video, and a good one at that.

Waite would go on to have huge success with his next album, 1984's No Brakes, which would include the #1 hit "Missing You" and the solid but underrated "Restless Heart."  Cool trivia fact:  In the music video for "Missing You," there is a scene where a group of people are pointing to a building (around 1:17), a clear reference to the "Change" video.

"Change" was written by star songwriter Holly Knight.  Never heard of her?  She wrote:  Aerosmith's "Rag Doll," Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield," Lou Gramm's "Just Between You and Me" (love that song), Scandal's "The Warrior," Animotion's "Obsession," and Tina Turner's "Better Be Good to Me," among others.  Impressive, yo.

Cool trivia fact #2: The song "Change" charted, but not in 1982.  In spite of a bunch of airplay on MTV, the song did not break the top 200.  However, it was included on the soundtrack of Vision Quest in 1985, re-released as a single, and peaked at #50.

Cool trivia fact #3:  Tina Gullickson is the actress featured in "Change."  Although she never became a huge star, she has had a successful career as a model/actress/singer.  She is currently a singer in the Coral Reefer Band (Jimmy Buffet's backup band).




[March 2015 update].  So it turns out that Holly Knight wrote this song for her band, Spider and it came out on their 1981 LP, Between the Lines.  For those keeping score at home, that makes "Change" a cover, and of course we tracked down the original (below). 

Eddie Money - Think I'm in Love

So the Universe told me to post this ... no, really.  I dreamed about this video last week and then the next morning heard it on the radio (thanks, Mike FM).  If that's not a sign, I don't know what is.  So without further ado ...

The Money Man, Eddie Money, had a string of hits in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Born Edward Joseph Maloney, Money was a NY cop for a while, before moving to California to try to make it in music (successfully, it turns out).  Cool trivia fact:  an older Eddie Money Song, "Can't Keep a Good Man Down," was used in the WNEW-FM TV ads for a few years in the early 80s.

"Think I'm in Love" was the first single off 1982's No Control ("Shakin' was the second single).  Personally, I think the video is tremendous and seems to perfectly fit the song.  As an aside -- isn't the intro scene reminiscent of Young Frankenstein?



Special shout out to The Universe on this one.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Producers - What's He Got

From The Producers self-titled, 1981 debut album, which is now out of print, I believe.  "What's He Got" did not get a ton of airplay on MTV, but was played a bunch on HBO's Video Jukebox.  Now mostly forgotten, Video Jukebox started as a short series of videos played to fill time between movies on HBO in the late 1970's and early 1980's.  Eventually, HBO tuned Video Jukebox into a half hour show, and it ran on the network in this format from 1981-1986.

At any rate, "What's He Got" is a rare pop gem from the Atlanta-based quartet.  And yes, that is Wayne Famous on keyboards.



Note that The Producers "She Sheila" video is also on ERV.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Producers - She Sheila

The Producers started as a Beatles cover band, but soon began performing original material and ended up as an early (if brief) MTV success story.  Their 1982 album You Make the Heat yielded this Top 50 hit, and the video went into heavy rotation on my favorite video music channel.  The band was even one of the headliners of the 82/83 MTV New Year's Eve concert.  Sadly, their label dropped them soon afterwards, although they still occasionally perform to this day.  By the way, there is another Producers video on ERV that is worth checking out, just above -- "What's He Got."



The Producers also deserve a special shout out for their supremely cool keyboard player, Wayne Famous.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Judas Priest - Breaking the Law

Wonderfully ridiculous video, but based on a true story (no, not really). I particularly like the intro, with the pigeon-feeding, guitar-carrying pilgrim/bank robbers chilling on a park bench.  The video was directed by Julien Temple, who became a mainstay on MTV in the 1980's; if he's smart he might consider leaving this one off of his CV.  The guitars here are so powerful that they can shatter glass, even without amplifiers.  (There is some metal bar bending too, but that is clearly due to the brute strength of Rob Halford.)  Spectacularly cheesey video of a great song.  From 1980's British Steel -- a classic heavy metal album. 



Priests' "Hot Rockin'" was posted on ERV in December 2014.

The Members - Working Girl

Although many sources call The Members a punk band, they sound more like a ska/rock band to me.  The band was founded in the mid-1970's, and kicked around the London music scene through the early 1980's.  Their biggest UK hit was "Sound of the Suburbs."  "Working Girl" was an upbeat, poppy song off their 1982 Uprythm, Downbeat album that received a fair bit of play on MTV in the early days.

The Tubes - Talk to You Later

From the under-rated 1981 album, The Completion Backward Principle.  Co-written by the Tubes lead singer Fee Waybill (best rock name ever?) and Toto's (!) Steve Lukather.  The Tubes would go on to have a modicum of success with "She's a Beauty" two years later before disappearing from public view.  "Talk to You Later" is a great, driving rock song and might be my favorite video ever (I especially love the closing snapshots).

 

Digney Fignus - The Girl With the Curious Hand

Boston-based Digney Fignus won MTV's basement tapes in 1985 on the strength of this song and video.  The female lead in the video is none other than former newscaster Gail Huff.  Yes, that Gail Huff -- wife of U.S. Senator Scott Brown.  Ironically, one of the main reasons why Huff was chosen for the role was due to the fact that she fit into the red dress that had already been purchased.  A clip of this video was also used as part of an MTV promo during the mid-80s.


Clocks - She Looks a lot Like You

The pride of Wichita, Clocks burst on the scene in 1982 with their self-titled debut.  Drummer Steve Swain wrote "She Looks a lot Like You" after seeing a Cosmopolitan magazine cover model who bore a resemblance to his ex-wife(!)  The video and song both did well, but the band seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle, and their label dropped them before a second album could be recorded.  Unfortunately, I do not believe that a CD was ever issued, which is a shame, because this is a one catchy gem.


Farrenheit - Fool in Love

Great song from Charlie Farren's band, Farrenheit, from the 1987 self-titled CD.  Farren is now playing with Jon Butcher (see below); they named the band Farren Butcher Incorporated (FBI).  Farren is another guy who kicked around the Boston music scene for years and often seemed on the brink of stardom.  He was the lead singer in the Joe Perry Project (when Perry left Aerosmith), and had several other songs that were played on MTV.  Sadly, he never quite broke through.


Jon Butcher Axis - Don't Say Goodnight

Great, nearly forgotten video and song from Jon Butcher.  I love the intro guitar hook.  Butcher was a mainstay on the Boston music scene in the 70's and 80's, and by all accounts is a nice guy to boot.  He is now in a band with Charlie Farren, another Boston guy who did some great music as well (see above).  From the 1984 album, Stare at the Sun.


Pat Benatar - You Better Run

The second video played on MTV -- Pat Benatar's great cover of the Rascals "You Better Run."  From the 1980 Crimes of Passion LP, this video shows Benatar at the height of her powers.  Crimes would go on to sell more than 5 million units, and remains Benatar's biggest selling album of her career.  The album peaked at #2, and had 3 big hits ... and "You Better Run" was the lowest charting of them at 42.



This entry will also serve as the launching post for the "songs that you didn't know were covers."  "You Better Run" was originally recorded by The Rascals (originally called The Young Rascals) in 1966, and it actually charted, peaking at #20.  As an aside, The Rascals were an American blue-eyed soul band active in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  They are best known for the songs "Groovin'," "Good Lovin'," and "Mustang Sally." (I wonder if they briefly considered calling it "Mustan' Sally?")  Anyhow, here is the original version:

The Buggles - Video Killed the Radio Star

The only proper way to start the blog.  This was the first video played on MTV, and started the music video revolution that I joined at an early age.  Not as rare as much of what will follow, but a worthy start.  The song was actually recorded in 1979, but the album (The Age of Plastic) wasn't released until 1980.  For trivia buffs, this song was played on MTV at midnight on August 1, 1981.