Sunday, April 26, 2015

Eric Carmen - Hungry Eyes

Dirty Dancing was one of the least likely movies to ever become a hit, and the goes doubly so for the soundtrack.  The movie was a low budget ($6 million) release by a new studio, and the initial cuts of the movie were viewed as disappointing by the studio.  In fact, the original plan was for the the film to be shown for one weekend, and then go straight to video.

Instead, positive reviews (led by the New York Times) and word of mouth turned Dirty Dancing into a huge hit.  It became the 11th highest grossing film of 1987, and had continued success as a video.  In addition, the soundtrack became a monster in its own right -- it spent 18 weeks as the #1 album and has gone on to sell more than 32 million units.

The album spawned three top five hits -- "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," (#1), "She's Like the Wind" (#3) and "Hungry Eyes" (#4).

So how does a huge success show up on ERV?  Well, we love good stories and cover songs, and "Hungry Eyes" is both.  As we noted on the post for Franke and the Knockouts' "Sweatheart," Franke Previte (the lead singer of said band) was recruited to help with the soundtrack, and co-wrote "(I've Had) The Time of My Life."  He also contributed "Hungry Eyes," a song which had originally been on Franke and the Knockouts Makin' the Point LP in 1984.

So while Franke's band did not become a household name (though they did have 3 top 40 hits, including "Sweatheart"), Franke became a huge success as a songwriter, almost by accident.  He remains in the industry, though it seems that in recent years he spends most of his time helping younger songwriters.

Lastly, Eric Carmen (who sang "Hungry Eyes" for the soundtrack) has enjoyed an interesting career as well.  Originally a member of The Raspberries ("Go All the Way"), Carmen transitioned to become a pop singer, and had a huge hit with "All By Myself."  He then saw a bit of a resurgence after DIrty Dancing, but seems to have left the industry in the early 1990's.

And (of course), the original:

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fiona - Talk To Me

It is easy to forget how difficult it is to become a rock star.  Even if all of the pieces are there, sometimes they just don't fit together.  Case in point: Fiona, who had the attitude, looks and voice to be a star, but never made it.

Fiona Flanagan was born in New Jersey, but moved to New York City when she was 18, and began her career as the frontwoman of several bands.  This led to a recording contract with Atlantic, and a 1985 self-titled debut album produced by Beau Hill, who had worked with Ratt and Sandy Stewart.  (Hill would later produce albums for Winger, Warrant, and Europe.)

Fiona's debut album generated some traction, but never delivered the breakout song to launch her career.  The album reached #71, while "Talk to Me" peaked at #64.  I seem to recall seeing the video on my favorite station, but I don't think that it went into heavy rotation.

A guest spot on Miami Vice ("Little Miss Dangerous") and a second album followed in 1986.  In 1987, Fiona co-starred in the Bob Dylan movie Hearts of Fire, which did so poorly in its limited U.K. release that it was sent direct to video in the U.S.  After two additional albums did not succeed, Fiona left the industry, although she did return in 2011 with Unbroken, which has received positive reviews from AOR rock aficionados.

For the blog, we went with "Talk to Me," which does a nice job of highlighting the charismatic singer and her hair.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Jack Green - One by One

Jack Green is a Scottish guitarist who played in three famous bands.  Green was in T-Rex for five months in 1973, and was later a member of The Pretty Things from 1974 - 1976.  He was also a member of Rainbow for three weeks (apparently) in 1978.

Green was able to turn his experience in the industry into a recording contract, and he then released four solo records between 1980 and 1986.  "One by One" comes off Green's second album, 1981's Reverse Logic.  I remember the song from HBO's Video Jukebox, a program that played music videos between movies on the channel.  In fact, the main version of the video below comes complete with a HBO Video Jukebox intro.

The video includes a bowling alley, women (including Vanna Bonta) , and a trampoline.  Ahh, those early 1980's videos.  Sadly, neither the song nor the album charted.

As an added bonus, we found a version of the video with what appears to be the director's commentary:

Green apparently left the industry years ago, and now teaches guitar.  He also has a small film production company.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot

Readers who aren't big time eighties or alternative music fans may not know much about Sonic Youth, but the alternative cult act is hugely important in the development of both the grunge and industrial  scenes.  The band formed in New York City in the early 1980's, and was comprised of guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, along with bassist Kim Gordon. (Sonic Youth went through four drummers in their early days, though Steve Shelley has held this role since 1985).

Musically, the band is often associated with the noise rock scene, and early releases were somewhat experimental in nature.  Not unlike earlier experimental bands (like the Velvet Underground) this resulted in critical acclaim but only modest record sales.  Over time, Sonic Youth's sound evolved and songs incorporated more traditional rock structures and sounds, though they maintained a bit of an experimental feel.  This music was loved by alternative musicians and helped lay the groundwork for the 1990's.  [As an aside, if this sounds like Sonic Youth took a similar path to Hüsker Dü, well ... they did.]

"Teenage Riot" was the song that blew the lid off Sonic Youth in the emerging college rock scene.  Although the song is still edgy, it also has a more traditional structure and sound, which found a new and larger audience for the band.  While Sonic Youth never became mainstream stars, they did become heroes in the college rock community, and provided an inspiration to countless 1990's bands -- everyone from Nirvana to Nine Inch Nails.

Sonic Youth remained together and relatively vibrant until  Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore divorced in late 2011 (after being married for 27 years).  While no official announcement has been made, it appears that this marked the end of the band.