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.