Friday, October 26, 2012

Yazoo - Don't Go

Another superb Halloween video (if I say so myself ... and I do) is Yazoo's "Don't Go."  Long time readers and 1980's synth pop fans will recall that Yazoo (Yaz if you live in the U.S.) was formed by Vince Clarke after he left Depeche Mode.  Although they only released two albums, Yazoo produced some of the strongest synth pop material of the early 1980s, helped by Moyet's powerful vocals.

Yazoo's first album, 1982's Upstairs at Eric's was a smash in the UK, where it went to #2 on the charts.  (The band's follow-up, 1983's You and Me Both, peaked at #1).  However, Yaz had less mainstream success in the U.S., where they were mainly seen as a dance band.  In fact, "Don't Go" did not break the top 100 on the Billboard charts in the U.S., although it did hit #1 on the U.S. Dance charts (and #3 in the UK).  However, the video was popular on MTV back in the day.  I dig the Rocky Horror vibe of the video, and I think it works quite well with the song.

Yazoo disbanded after their 1983 album.  Vince Clarke would of course go on to form Erasure (ERV featured "A Little Respect" back in March) while Alison Moyet had a successful solo career (particularly in the UK).  Clarke and Moyet re-formed Yazoo in 2008, and they have worked together from time to time since then.

Cool trivia fact:  Yazoo never had a top 40 hit in the U.S., although "Only You" and "Situation" both broke the top 100.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ozzy Osbourne - Bark at the Moon

A strong candidate for the second-best Halloween video ever, "Bark at the Moon" came about in large part due to Ozzy's fascination with werewolves.  As many readers will know, werewolves were everywhere during the 1980's (much like vampires today), including in An American Werewolf in London (which inspired Osbourne and Michael Jackson) and the "Thriller" video.

Once Osbourne decided on the werewolf theme, the decision was made to use the same team for the album cover shoot and the video.  While he did not get John Landis (who directed both An American Werewolf and "Thriller"), the team that was put together consisted of horror movie professionals, and the results were quite solid, in my opinion.

The song is also noteworthy in that it was the first collaboration between Ozzy and Jake E. Lee, who replaced Randy Rhodes as Ozzy's guitarist.  Rhodes, of course, died in a plane crash in 1982.  Lee worked with Ozzy until 1987 and would then go on to form Badlands, who have already appeared on this blog and are one of the rare underrated 1980's hard rock bands, in your author's opinion.

The Bark at the Moon LP would peak at #19 in the U.S and would go on to triple platinum status.  "Bark at the Moon" (the single) would not do as well, and did not break the top 100, hitting #109 at its peak.  To be fair, few of Ozzy's singles did well.  However, Ozzy has remained successful and continues to perform and record to the present day.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Sherbs - We Ride Tonight

Long time readers will remember that ERV loves Halloween, and we put up a few Halloweeny videos last year before the holiday.  [As an aside, last year's videos can be found by clicking the All Hallows Even tag here or to the right.]

This year's All Hallows Even tribute starts with a classic by The Sherbs.  This is the band's second appearance at ERV; "I Have the Skill" was featured in June, 2012.  In short, The Sherbs were the re-formed version of Sherbert, a successful Australian pop band who changed their name, updated their sound, and released two albums in the early 1980s.

"We Ride Tonight" was from the second solo record, 1981's Defying Gravity.  The song hit #26 on the U.S Mainstream charts, but did not break the Billboard top 100.  The LP did not do well, and the band broke up soon afterwards.

The video has an eerie feel to it, no doubt inspired by the keyboard intro and unusual bridge.  Both of those sections of the song feature the motorcycle vs. strange people in robes scenes that make the video perfect for this time of year.  The remainder of the video features that band performing, often in close-up.  All-in-all, it seemed like a good way to start the season.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Earth, Wind & Fire - Let's Groove

Earth, Wind and Fire were perhaps the most successful funk/pop act of the 1970's, with six consecutive top five albums.  "Let's Groove" was on the last of those, 1981's Raise.  Although the single and album sold well, critics were less enthusiastic, and in retrospect, this album marked the beginning of the end for the band.

Maurice White, the main creative force behind Earth, Wind and Fire, co-wrote "Let's Groove," and he was clearly searching for an updated sound.  He used a vocoder to create the intro; this funky futuristic vibe is accentuated by the video.  In particular, I love the costumes and the video effects (the video was made using the classic Scanimate computer system, commonly used in the 1970's and early 1980's).

"Let's Groove" peaked at #3, while the Raise LP peaked at #5.  In my book, it is noteworthy that even during their descent, E, W & F were still churning out some really solid music.

While the band soldiered on, they did not have any top 40 hits after 1982, and their album releases became less frequent, as well.  However, they continue to perform (with Maurice White) to this day.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Guns N' Roses - It's So Easy

There was never anything easy about Guns N' Roses.  The band announced their presence with screaming vocals and howling guitars, and made music that was raw, rough and occasionally ugly -- but it was very, very real.  They also brought a level of excitement that rock had not seen in years.  For an all-too-brief period in the late 1980's and early 1990's, they were the Biggest Band in the World, before it all went south.

Between 1987 and 1991, the band released four albums, and sold just shy of 90 million units worldwide.  Appetite for Destruction, their debut LP, was a #1 record and sold 18 million units in the U.S. alone.  So how does a band this big show up on ERV?  Well, that's a funny story ...

Back in 1987, after the band recorded Appetite, they decided to release "It's So Easy" as their lead single.  The video was filmed at Riki Rachtman's Cathouse club, a run down bar that was popular among up and coming LA hard rock bands.  So the video is shot, a rough cut is made ... and the label freaks out.  The video is just way too rough to be played in the U.S.  In fact, an edited version was rejected by MTV, and Geffen drops the video (and never promotes the single, as far as I can tell).

Later, when "Welcome to the Jungle" is released, Geffen still has a hard time with MTV, but finally gets the station to air the video -- at 5AM on a Sunday.  Apparently, MTV almost immediate started getting requests for the video, the momentum built, and ... well, you know the rest of the story.

Years later, the original promo video for "It's So Easy" is leaked and shows up on the internet.  Overall, this makes it the perfect video for ERV -- totally rare video from a huge band.  Oh, and be warned, the video is somewhat explicit, so NSFW (or kids).

2018 Update:  GnR officially released a better quality, official video, so we have updated the link.  It includes a bit of behind the scenes footage from back in the day.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Peter Murphy - Cuts You Up

Regular readers of ERV may remember a post about Love and Rockets from July 2012, which mentioned that the band formed after a failed Bauhaus reunion (lead singer Peter Murphy did not show up).  Although Murphy did not attend the rehearsal, he remained active in the music industry, and carved out a solo career as an independent artist.

Curiously, in the aftermath of Love and Rockets big hit ("So Alive"), Peter Murphy has his biggest commercial success.  Perhaps it was karma, or possibly his record label made an extra effort to promote the single, knowing that his former bandmates had just scored a hit.  In any event, "Cuts You Up," from the 1989 album Deep became an unlikely hit -- reaching #1 on the U.S. Modern Rock charts and peaking at #55 on the Billboard Hot 100.  [As a fun aside, Deep was released on December 19, 1989, making it one of the last albums of the eighties.]

Deep would go on to peak at #44 on the album charts.  While Murphy had other small successes, and released some critically acclaimed material, "Cuts You Up" was his only charting U.S. single.

In spite of the first failed reunion, Bauhaus would reform several times, starting in 1998, and they actually released a new album in 2008.  However, they do not appear to be together as of this writing.

Total non sequitur, but I have always thought of Peter Murphy as a modern, new wave version of David Bowie.