Sunday, June 21, 2015

J. Geils Band - Come Back

ERV regulars will recall that we posted "Love Stinks" back in July 2012.  And our Facebook readers will note that we would have prefered to post "Just Can't Wait" here, but alas, no video appears to have been made for that song.  Fortunately, our second choice is still quite solid indeed.

"Come Back" is J. Geils at their danciest (not totally sure that this is a word, but let's go with it).  The song is clearly influenced by the popularity of Disco, and I suspect that means that lead singer Peter Wolf had a particularly large impact on the songwriting -- though officially virtually every song on the Love Stinks LP was co-written by Wolf and keyboardist Seth Justman.

"Come Back" ended up becoming the highest charting single off the Love Stinks album, reaching #32 (the title cut hit #38, while "Just Can't Wait" peaked at #78).  However, the video was not played as much as the insanity that is "Love Stinks," making this a bit of a rare one.

As many readers will know, the J. Geils Band story is a bit sad.  The band toiled as an overgrown bar band, gradually becoming a major act, before finally breaking out with 1982's Freeze Frame.  Success seemed to ruin the group, as Wolf left in 1983 to embark on a solo career.  The remaining member released one album (1984's You're Gettin' Even While I'm Gettin' Odd) before breaking up the following year.  However, there have been periodic reunions in recent years.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cinderella - Gypsy Road

When we posted Cinderella's "Shake Me" (back in December, 2011), we pointed out that the group was not a typical hair band.  While they looked the part, their sound was more bluesy hard rock than pop metal.  This became even more evident on their second LP, 1988's Long Cold Winter.

In spite of this, the strong songwriting (and general popularity of hard rock) led to continued success.  The album reached #10 on the charts, while 3 singles cracked the top 40.  Sadly, "Gypsy Road" was not one of them -- it peaked at #51.

The video for "Gypsy Road" was filmed in Yucatan, Mexico and features footage of the Mayan ruins at Chichén Itzá (who says you can't learn anything from 1980's videos).  Although there is no direct connection between the song and Mexico, the video does a nice job of highlighting the vibe of the song.

Cinderella released one further platinum record (1990's Heartbreak Station) before changing musical tastes relegated the group to working band status.  They remain together to the present day -- with the original lineup, as drummer Fred Coury rejoined the act in 1996.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Rolling Stones - Undercover of the Night

The 1980's were tough on the Rolling Stones.  The group had been around for twenty years by the early part of the decade, an eternity in the music industry.  In addition, the punk, new wave, and metal scenes made their music seem old fashioned to many younger listeners.

To complicate matter further, Mike Jagger and Keith Richards had a fundamental disagreement over songwriting.  Jagger wanted to move in a more current dance/pop direction, while Richards wished to stay true to the roughed up blues sound that was the Stone's signature.  (For more on this, please see our earlier post for Keith Richards solo video, "Take It So Hard.")

The result was disjointed and mostly disappointing, though there was some solid material mixed in.  Sadly, much of this material was composed by either Richards or Jagger, due to the difficulty that they had in working together.

Which brings us to "Undercover of the Night," the lead single off the Stone's 1983 Undercover album.  The song was all Mick; supposedly Keith just showed up and played some guitar lines.  Jagger has since said that the concept for the song came from the William Burroughs novel Cities of the Red Night.

The video for "Undercover of the Night" was the first full-on production that the Stones released.  Directed by Julien Temple, the story was dark and violent -- in fact, Temple has said that he didn't believe that the band would use it.  MTV would only air an edited version of the vid (and only at night), but this did not seem to hurt sales.  The single would go on to hit #9 on the charts, while the album reached #4 (breaking a string of eight consecutive LPs to hit #1).  By the by, due to the violent imagery of the video, the band cut a second version, which is below.

As of this writing, the Stones remain mostly intact (bassist Bill Wyman left the group in 1993) and continue to  sporadically tour, although they have not released a new album since 2005's A Bigger Bang.

In the interests of completeness, here is the B version video of "Undercover:" (Not nearly as good as the original clip, in our opinion).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ric Ocasek - Emotion in Motion

Back in September 2011, we posted Ric Ocasek's cool, quirky "Something to Grab For," off his first solo LP, 1982's Beatitude.  Four years later, Ocasek released his second solo album, This Side of Paradise. To my ear, this record sounds a bit tired (as in exhausted).  Of course, by this point the Cars had released five albums and the band was slowly coming undone.

Additionally, Ocasek and the Cars had transitioned from eccentric new wave songs to a more traditional pop sound.  The music wasn't bad at all, and it was lushly produced (no surprise, as Ocasek would go on to become a successful producer in the 1990's.)  However, it wasn't as sharp or interesting as their early material. (The first two Cars records are simply sensational in our opinion).

"Emotion in Motion" is the strongest cut off Ocasek's album, and it would go on to become his only top 40 hit as a solo artist (#15).  To be fair, The Cars also had 13 top 40 singles (and 3 #41s), so it's not like he didn't have a ton of success with his band.

The Cars released Door to Door in 1987 before breaking up.  Ocasek has remained in the industry and has released five albums since then, but has had little in the way of commercial success.  The Cars never did have a full reunion prior to Ben Orr's untimely death in 2000.

Note that The Cars "Since You're Gone" was posted on ERV in May 2014.