Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Pointer Sisters - Neutron Dance

The Pointer Sisters were a fascinating group who managed to navigate the difficult pop and R&B waters during most of the 1970's and 1980's.  They had 15 top 40 hits, and had a stretch in 1984 where they had four consecutive top 10 hits (including "Neutron Dance.")

The sisters (who really were sisters) were from Oakland, California.  In the late 1960's Bonnie and June began singing (often as backup singers) and were soon joined by Anita and Ruth.  They remained a quartet until 1977 when Bonnie left the band.  While they were versatile in terms of their musical style, they were also distinctive due to their tight harmonies and strong vocals.

"Neutron Dance" was off their 1983 smash LP Break Out.  However, the song is best known for its inclusion in the movie Beverly Hills Cop.  The song was co-written by Allee Willis (who co-wrote Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" and "Boogie Wonderland") and Danny Sembello (the younger brother of Michael, who wrote "Maniac" from Flashdance.)  Interestingly, the song was originally written for the 1984 film Streets of Fire, but it did not make the cut.

"Neutron Dance" reached #6 on the charts and was the last of the four top 10 Pointer Sister singles (the first three were "Automatic" (#5), "Jump (For My Love)" (#3) and "I'm So Excited" (#9)).  The sisters had several more hits through 1987 and have remained active (with some personnel changes) through the present day.



Cool trivia fact:  In 1974 the Pointer Sisters became the first black artists to play at the Grand Ole Opry.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Honeymoon Suite - Feel It Again

"Feel It Again" was Honeymoon Suite's only top 40 U.S. hit, and it remains something of a guilty pleasure for me. The band originally formed in 1981 in Niagara Falls, Canada and chose the band's name based on the fact that a lot of couples honeymoon in Niagara Falls.

The group's big break came when "New Girl Now" helped them win a 1983 unsigned band contest held by Toronto radio station Q107.  Honeymoon Suite soon had a recording contract and released their self-titled debut album in 1984.  While they were not superstars, they had a bunch of success in Canada, with 14 charting singles, 8 of which went top 40.  The U.S. market proved tougher to crack, although they did have three other top 100 songs aside from "Feel It Again."

While I have often lumped the band together with Helix (another Canadian hard rock band), Honeymoon Suite was more polished (poppy?) and less metal than Helix.  [Helix has already appeared on ERV with their ballad "Deep Cuts the Knife," so interested readers can decide for themselves.]

The video for "Feel It Again" is awesomely cheesy, and uses some wonderfully dated special effects, which generated some airplay back in the day.  (I am particularly partial to the dog on treadmill effect at 1:06.)  The song ended up as a modest hit, reaching #34 in the U.S. (#16 in Canada) while their LP The Big Prize peaked at #61.  The band's mainstream success faded after the early 1990's, but they continue to perform and record as of this writing (though there have been some personnel changes).



Cool trivia facts:  Honeymoon Suite won the 1986 Canadian Juno Award for Group of the Year.  The group also performed the title cut for the 1987 movie Lethal Weapon.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

200!

Amazingly (to me, at least) Electric Boys "All Lips N' Hips" was the 200th video on ERV.  We have been going strong since August 2011 and have a current backlog of more than 100 videos -- which is at least another years' worth.

I would like to thank any and all readers on the site -- I enjoy doing the blog, but it is especially fun to have some regulars who email and comment (you know who you are).  For anyone else wondering how to express support for ERV, you can:  tell your friends, like us on Facebook or follow us on Blogger (or both), click on ads, comment or email us.  Or you can just lurk -- we're pretty easy around here.

As a brief interlude before we get back to the videos, I have a few station identifiers and intros to great video programs from the 1980's.  The first is a collection of MTV Identifiers:



Next, the intro theme to the wonderful USA Network show Night Flight.  I have mentioned Night Flight once or twice on ERV -- it was a collection of videos, rock movies, cult films, documentaries and art films.



Lastly, the introduction to HBO's Video Jukebox, which played videos in between movies on HBO.  I believe that this was the first place that I saw music videos, as Video Jukebox actually predates MTV.



Again, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read this, and we will have more videos up soon.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Electric Boys - All Lips N' Hips

Electric Boys were Sweden's contribution to the cool, but short lived funk metal scene.  The band was formed in 1988 in Stockholm by guitarist/vocalist Conny Bloom (Blomqvist) and bassist  Andy Christell.  Their first single, "All Lips and Hips" was released the same year, and became a hit in Sweden.  The local success of the song led to a recording contract, and in 1990, the band's debut album (Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride) was released.  [Hence, astute readers might view "All Lips and Hips" as a 1990 release, but we tend to go with the original release date at ERV.  Is this cheating?  Perhaps, but it does allow us to highlight a few videos that otherwise would not be included.]

As Allmusic points out, Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride was not funk metal the way Faith No More was, it was more funk shaded hard rock like vintage Aerosmith or early 1970's Rolling Stones.  "All Lips and Hips" cracked the Billboard charts, but only reached #76, and ended up being the only Electric Boys song to chart in the U.S.  However, the band's psychedelic gypsy-inspired videos did pick up some airplay on MTV, and it seemd as if they were well-positioned to build their audience. Then Nirvana's Nevermind happened, and the Electric Boys soon found themselves totally out of favor.

The band did release two subsequent albums in 1992 and 1994, but neither charted, and they broke up in the mid 1990's.  Electric Boys has re-formed in recent years, and even released a new album in 2011.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Jackson Browne - Somebody's Baby

While the video did not get much airplay on MTV, Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" did become a big hit for him, hitting #7 on the charts.  In fact, this well-crafted song would end up becoming the highest charting hit of Browne's career.

"Somebody's Baby" was written for the Fast Times at Ridgemont High movie soundtrack.  The Cameron Crowe movie became an instant classic and gets ERV's highest recommendation (as does the later Crowe film, Almost Famous).  As a former Rolling Stone writer, Crowe is a true music aficionado, and his use of music in Fast Times is impeccable.

In some ways, Jackson Browne was a strange choice for the soundtrack.  While he remained successful as a singer/songwriter, his laid back folk style was somewhat out of favor by the early 1980s, as new wave and heavy metal were the next big things in popular music.  However, his haunting song fit right into the movie and retains a timeless feel to the present day.



While Browne continues to record to the present day, his releases have become less frequent over time.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ready for the World - Oh Sheila

Ready for the World (RFTW) was an R&B act out of Flint, Michigan who had a string of hits in the mid-1980's.  The group formed in 1982 and soon had a major supporter in The Electrifying Mojo (a famous DJ on Detroit's WJLB).  This eventually led to a recording contract with MCA.

The band's self-titled 1985 debut album  reached #17 on the charts and went platinum.  It also yielded a #1 hit in "Oh Sheila," a pop funk song that sounded a lot like Prince lite, which was not a bad thing in 1985.  RFTW would go on to have seven top 10 hits on the R&B charts and three top 40 hits ("Oh Sheila," "Digital Display" and "Love You Down.")

The group released three more albums through 1991, with each one performing worse than its predecessor.  They broke up in 1991, and lead singer Melvin Riley went out on his own (without much success).  In 2005, RFTW re-formed and I believe that they still play together as of this writing.



Cool trivia fact:  Lead singer Melvin Riley came up with the name Sheila by ... well, he just made it up because it sounded good.  Apparently, the song was almost called "Oh Lisa."

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Lightning Seeds - Pure

Every now and then, we come across a song that fits perfectly into the blog, almost as if The Universe itself has made a request.  [As an aside, it would be pretty damn cool if The Universe did care about 1980's music in general and ERV specifically ... my idea of heaven surely has a lot of 1980's music, along with some really good pizza.]  At any rate, I heard this one today and was surprised to find out that it is a 1980's song, although just barely.

The Lightning Seeds were formed by noted producer Ian Broudie (of Echo & the Bunnymen, The Fall, and The Icicle Works fame).  He started using the name for his solo work beginning in 1989, and the project eventually evolved into a full fledged band.  By the by, Broudie's first band was Big in Japan (with Holly Johnson), who would be the inspiration for the Alphaville song of the same name (featured on ERV in January 2012).  Small world, huh?

"Pure" was released in June of 1989, making it officially an eighties song, although the Cloudcuckooland album wasn't released until early 1990.  [As I said, before I looked it up, I though of "Pure" as an early nineties song.]  And yes, Cloudcuckooland should go on the growing list of coolest album titles ever.  "Pure" ended up charting, reaching #31 on the main charts, the only top 40 hit for the band.  To be fair, they did have several Modern Rock charting hits in the early to mid 1990's and a slew of hits in the UK.

Broudie and The Lightning Seeds continue to record and perform to the present day, although  they did take an extended hiatus in the early 2000's.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Bangles - Going Down to Liverpool

"Going Down to Liverpool" is a rare video and a cover, so it fits onto ERV in two ways.  Loyal reader Krista suggested this one a while back, and it seemed like a great fit for the blog.

The Bangles were an all-female pop band from California, and the first version of the band formed in 1980.  Several name changes took the band from the Colours to the Supersonic Bangs to just the Bangs.  A legal issue forced the final name change, to the Bangles, when their independent label EP was released in 1983.

"Going Down to Liverpool" was off the band's debut LP, 1984's All Over the Place.  While the song did receive some radio play, it did not chart -- in fact, the band's first charting single was 1986's "Manic Monday," which hit #2.  Interestingly, the original version of "Going Down to Liverpool" was written by Kimberley Rew and recorded by his band, Katrina and the Waves (of "Walking on Sunshine" fame).  The song appeared several times on early recordings of theirs and caught the attention of Vicki Peterson and Michael Steele of the Bangles, who decided to put it on their record.

The video features Leonard Nimoy, whose son was a friend of Susanna Hoffs (hence his connection to the band).  Hoffs also enlisted her mom, indie film director Tamar Simon Hoffs to direct the video.  While the video did not launch the band to stardom (that would come later), it was a solid effort.  Of course, the band would have some major success in the mid to late 1980's before breaking up.



I have to say, I am a pretty big fan of the original as well:


Cool trivia fact:  Drummer Debbi Peterson sings lead on the Bangles' version, one of only two times that she sang lead for the band (the other time was on "Be With You.")

Note that The Bangles excellent cover of "If She Knew What She Wants" was posted on ERV in December 2014.

In addition, we posted Katrina and the Waves' "Do You Want Crying?" in July 2015.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Midnight Oil - The Dead Heart

In 1986, Midnight Oil embarked on the Blackfella/Whitefella Tour with the Warumpi Band and Gondwanaland (both Aboriginal rock bands).  The resulting experience of playing before some of the most remote and impoverished Aboriginal communities in Australia led to the 1987 concept album Diesel and Dust.

In retrospect, the tour and resulting LP were a logical continuation of the path that Midnight Oil had blazed since their 1978 debut album.  The band was known for their progressive political views; they were one of the first Australian political rock bands.  Led by the tall, bald Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil looked and sounded unlike other bands and built a loyal following through the 1980's.

The Diesel and Dust album is generally regarded as Midnight Oil's finest effort.  Rolling Stone ranked it as the 13th best album of the 1980's, and it routinely shows up at or near the top of many lists of the best Australian albums ever.  The album was also a huge success, reaching #21 in the U.S. (it was the band's second of four consecutive #1 albums in Australia).

While "Beds Are Burning" was the biggest U.S. hit from the LP, we went with "The Dead Heart," a haunting pop song written from the Aboriginal point of view.  It was a #4 hit in Australia  but did not break the top 40 in the U.S., peaking at  #53.

Midnight Oil disbanded in 2002, as Peter Garrett wanted to devote more time to his political career, although they have re-formed from time to time since then.  Garrett has been a Labour MP (Member of Parliament)  since 2004.



Cool trivia fact:  Midnight Oil is a U.S. one hit wonder, as only "Beds Are Burning" (#17) broke the top 40.