Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Hooters - Day by Day

After a long, bumpy road, Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman finally saw significant success with The Hooters 1985 Nervous Night LP.  The album peaked at #12 on the charts and went double platinum; it also featured all three of the group's top 40 singles.

In fact, the Bazilian/Hyman partnership (sounds dirty but isn't) dates back to the early 1970's when they met as students at Penn.  Their first group (Baby Grand) recorded some decent material, but did not break through.  [Baby Grand also recorded the original version of "Never Enough" which was covered by Patty Smyth in 1987 and featured on ERV in April, 2014.]

Bazilian and Hyman formed The Hooters in 1980 and played extensively in the Philadelphia music scene before breaking up in 1982.  However, the group re-formed the following year and released their first (independent) album.  Their big break came when an old friend (Rick Chertoff from Baby Grand) asked Bazilian and Hyman to work with him on Cindy Lauder's She's So Unusual album.  The success of that project led to The Hooter's signing with Columbia Records.

Many readers will be surprised that "Day by Day" was the highest charting single from Nervous Night -- it hit #18 on the charts.  The song (co-written with Chertoff) is pretty typical of the band's music from this period -- upbeat roots rock, with some new wave and folk elements, to boot.

Sadly, Nervous Night was the peak of The Hooter's success.  Though their material remained strong, the albums did not sell as well.  The band broke up in 1995, but has reunited from time to time in the intervening years.  

Note that The Hooters excellent and underrated "Karla with a K" was featured on ERV in March, 2012.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The B-52's - Private Idaho

New wave and surf rock might seem like an odd combination (ok, it is an odd combination), but somehow the B-52's hit on a sound that was pure campy fun.  Sounding simultaneously  modern and vintage, the band sported an odd look that included the high beehives that gave the band its name.  Combine that with some seriously catchy material, and it is not surprising that the group made a name for itself in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

The B-52's emerged out of the growing Athens, Georgia music scene, and would soon be joined by fellow Athenians R.E.M.  However, the group's sound was more Devo or Talking Heads than southern rock.  After forming in 1976 with little musical training, the band had progressed enough to make a demo of "Rock Lobster" in 1978.  That song would go on to become an independent hit, and would lead to recording contracts with Warner Bros. and Island Records.

"Private Idaho" was off the B-52's second LP, 1980's Wild Planet.  The single hit #74 on the charts (the group's second charting single, after "Rock Lobster"), while the album hit #18.  From there, things became more challenging -- the next few albums did not do as well, and founding guitarist Ricky Wilson (whose sister Cindy was also in the band) died of an AIDS-related illness in 1985.

As many readers will know, that wasn't the end of the story.  The B-52's 1989 comeback album, Cosmic Thing, became a huge surprise hit and led to a second period of success.  The group remains active as of this writing, though there have been some personnel changes and periods of inactivity through the years.