Thursday, January 28, 2016

Indigo Girls - Closer to Fine

Indigo Girls were part of the late 1980's folk revival scene that included 10,000 Maniacs, Michelle Shocked, and Tracy Chapman, among others.  While they never became superstars, the duo has maintained a strong following through the years and is still active as of this writing.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers met as students at Emery University in the mid-1980's and began performing together around the same time.  Their first independent album was released in 1987, but it was their 1989 major label eponymous debut that brought them national attention.  As the lead single off the LP, "Closer to Fine" was a major part of that breakthrough.

Interestingly, Ray and Saliers write separately; Saliers tends to favor a more traditional folk sound, while Ray's songs often incorporate more rock elements.  "Closer to Fine" was written by Saliers, and is loosely based on her experiences.  The song would go on to become the group's biggest hit, reaching #52 on the singles charts.  The album would peak at #22 and eventually go double platinum.

The video is a straightforward performance piece that highlights the strong songwriting and crisp harmonies that are the signature of the group.  It remains one of our favorite 1980's folk tunes.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Glenn Fry - Smuggler's Blues

It has been a tough few weeks in rockland; Atropos has been busy.  And while we already had posts up for Lemmy ("Ace of Spades") and Bowie ("Ashes to Ashes"), Glenn Fry was still in the bullpen at the time of his passing.  As a result, we moved him up in order to create a fitting ERV memorial to him.

Glenn Fry was born in Detroit, Michigan, and moved to California in the late 1960's to follow his dream in music.  This eventually led to work in Linda Ronstadt's backup band, and in 1971 he and fellow backup band members Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon formed the Eagles.

The Eagles were at the forefront of the California folk/country/rock sound of the 1970's, and became one of the best-selling acts of the decade.  And though there was some turnover among the band members, the group was more or less run by Fry and Henley.

After the Eagles disbanded in 1980, Fry continued recording as a solo artist, and had three top 40 LPs and 7 top 40 singles in the 1980's.  His solo popularity faded in the 1990's, but this was offset by the Eagles' resurgence, as they had several reunions starting in 1994.

"Smuggler's Blues" showcases Glenn Fry at the peak of his popularity, and the song was helped by the movie-like video.  Additionally, the song and theme fit perfectly with the TV show Miami Vice, and Fry (and his song) were showcased on the 15th episode, which was named (not coincidentally) Smuggler's Blues.  All this publicity helped "Smuggler's Blues" to reach #12, while The Allnighter album hit #22.

With its bluesy guitar sound and cool video, this remains our favorite Glenn Fry single and is, we think, a fitting tribute to him.

Rest peacefully, Glenn Fry, and thanks for the music.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stabilizers - One Simple Thing

Stabilizers were another act that appeared on MTV for the briefest of time before fading from view.  The band consisted of Dave Christenson on vocals and Rich Nevens on guitar and keyboard.  By 1985, they had generated enough buzz on the Erie, PA music scene to get signed by Columbia Records, and Tyranny (their debut LP) came out the following year.

"One Simple Thing" was the lead single from Tyranny, and it picked up a bit of airplay -- even breaking into the top 100 at #93.  However, the follow up single did not do as well, and the band was dropped by the label before releasing their second effort.

There seems to be remarkably little information on Christenson and Nevens since then, so if any reader has information to share, please leave it in the comments.

"One Simple Thing" is a classic 1980's pop song, in the Mr. Mister vein (note that Mr. Mister's Welcome to the Real World hit #1 on the album charts in early 1986).

Cool trivia fact:  "One Simple Thing" was directed by David Fincher, who got his start in videos (including Jermaine Stewart's "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off" and Loverboy's "Notorious")  before transitioning to movies (Seven, Fight Club and The Social Network, among others).

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Helix - Heavy Metal Love

I remember seeing "Heavy Metal Love" back in the day, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  The same holds true for Helix's earlier entry on ERV, "Deep Cuts the Knife," which was posted back in October, 2011.

As we mentioned on the earlier post, Helix is a hard working, hard rocking Canadian band.  The group formed in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 1974 and has been led by Brian Vollmer on vocals from day one.  At the time of this single, the remainder of the band consisted of Paul Hackman and Brent 'The Doctor' Doerner on guitars, Mike Uzelac on bass and Greg 'Fritz' Hinz on drums.

Hinz and Vollmer remain with the band to the present day.  Hackman was killed in 1992 when the band's van crashed during a tour.  Doerner left Helix in 1989, but has rejoined the act several times over the years, and  Uzelac quit in 1983.

While "Heavy Metal Love" picked up some airplay on my favorite music video channel, the song did not break into the singles chart, though it did reach #23 on the Mainstream Rock chart (based on airplay on rock radio stations).  The No Rest for the Wicked LP peaked at #186 on the album chart.