Hi Everybody! Here is the Return of the Return to the ’80s podcast!
We welcome Scott Ryan back to the show. This is the first of our Billy Joel album series. The gang discusses the loss of Tom Petty. Then there is some Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination talk. We have our regular segments, Play This, Not That, featuring the other Piano Man, Remember That Song, and ’80s Trivia. Then we get into our main topic – Billy Joel’s Glass Houses album.
Hey everybody! The Return to the ’80s podcast is making it’s um, Return very soon. We will be recording Episode 17. It will be the first in our Billy Joel series, as we discuss and listen to Joel’s classic 1980 album, Glass Houses.
We would love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on Billy Joel? Have you seen him in concert? What are your favorite songs from the Glass Houses album? You can email us at Returnto80s@gmail.com, or leave a comment below, or visit us on Twitter or Facebook.
Hi Everybody! Robert is back this week with a new awesome album review. I loved REO Speedwagon ever since I got their Wheels Are Turnin’ album (actually it was a cassette). Well, little did I know that four years earlier, this great band had released another classic album – Hi Infidelity. I never owned that album. But, I did know several of songs from their greatest hits album. Some of the songs from this album are new to me. So, I love this article. I know you will too.
Hi Infidelity: REO Speedwagon’s Well Deserved Hit
The year was 1981 and I was in the sixth grade. My Army sergeant father had just informed me that we were leaving Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and moving to Frankfurt, Germany. I was nervous, but not completely upset about this announcement – actually, I was a bit excited. I would be able to visit and get to know my Dutch grandparents who would only be three hours away and not an ocean away. I was sad to leave my friends, but I knew I would make new ones in Germany – all military kids are told this through the multiple relocations they we are forced to endure. Now, this does not mean I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I had recently gotten into music – radio only. I listened to it every night (sneaking under the covers) and was starting to recognize and enjoy a few artists.
One of these was a band by the name of REO Speedwagon and a song called “Keep On Loving You”. I had never heard a song that sounded quite like that- a love song that, well, rocked. I approached my father, played the “I can’t believe we are moving again” card and asked for some money to buy REO’s album. This was a moment that changed my life forever. Hi Infidelity was the first album I ever bought; I give it credit for being the beginning of my love affair with ‘80s music. When I got home and listened to it for the first time, honestly, I never looked back. Music was now an integral part of my existence. Since then I have continued to buy albums, attend concerts, and listen to some type of rock everyday- but REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity will always be held in my heart as the first.
I did not know it at the time, but I soon learned that Hi Infidelity was REO’s ninth album. I was young and had very little experience or knowledge in the area rock music, but I knew that I liked what I heard and needed more of it. REO formed in the late 1960s in Champaign, Illinois and recorded their first album with lead singer Terry Luttrell in 1971. Kevin Cronin, the present lead singer, joined the band in 1972 for the band’s second album. Cronin left after recording his second album with REO, but the album was released with Mike Murphy on vocals. Fortunately, Cronin rejoined in 1976 to become the permanent vocalist. Hi Infidelity was released in November of 1980. Until this time, some of REO’s songs received frequent airplay, but they had yet to achieve major success. Songs like “Keep Pushing“, “Roll with the Changes“, “Time for Me to Fly“, and “Back on the Road Again” made the band a popular live performance band, but the success that comes with a hit single and album still eluded them – until this album.
All told, Hi Infidelity sold ten million copies and spent fifteen weeks at the top of Billboard’s album chart. The album spawned four top twenty-five hits. This album was a major commercial success, but there was one thing that was more important than the number of copies sold or the countless times the singles were played on the radio – this album represented over a decade of hard work and dedication to the idea that a relentless work ethic will pay off – even in the rock world. This album features the most consistent members of REO Speedwagon: Kevin Cronin on vocals, Gary Richrath and guitars, Bruce Hall on the bass, Neal Doughty on keyboards, and Alan Gratzer on drums. Today, these songs on Hi Infidelity are classics that are played both on classic rock stations and by REO themselves in concert. There is no need to delay- sit back and enjoy the sweet sounds of one of the most dedicated, hard working bands in rock who helped define and change the perception of popular rock and roll in the ‘80s.
Gratzer’s drums set up this song which is a perfect opening track to an album. It is upbeat and features solos by both Richrath’s guitar and Doughty’s keyboards – a classic REO combination. This song typically opened REO shows in the ‘80s. It has a perfect blend of all the instruments, great vocals by Cronin, and a catchy chorus, “Don’t let him go / Just give him a chance to grow / Take it easy, take it slow / And don’t let him go.” This song does an excellent job in preparing the listener for what is to come.
There is no way to adequately state the sheer brilliance or importance of this song. This song captured hundreds of thousands music fans and got them hooked on REO’s music. Many music critics give this song credit as an early (some say first) rock ballad. There may be other songs that can lay claim to creating this type of ballad, but in the ‘80s, this is clearly an early, shining example. The song opens with the classic ballad piano and slowly builds through the power chords of the rhythm guitar to Richrath’s fantastic solo – oh, how many times I rocked to this solo on my air guitar (wait, I still do). This song is short, clocking in at 3:22, but it packs a powerful punch. Just consider how many great rock ballads follow this amazing song. All of the power ballads by all of those hair bands owe REO for introducing this genre to the rock world of the ‘80s. When I recently saw REO in concert, Cronin introduced this song as the one that changed everything. It clearly did change things for REO, but also changed things for many of their fans.
There is not a song on Hi Infidelity that I do not like. This song is the one that made me really appreciate Richrath’s guitar work. From the opening note through the rhythm he lays down and the solo he wails on, Richrath truly shows his expertise. This is a solid song that fits the overall feel and quality of the album. Oh, and it has two guitar solos, or maybe three!
While I like this song now, it took a while to grow on me. As a young listener I was enthralled with Hi Infidelity’s rocking guitar work- this song shows a different side of the band. It does not feature big guitar chords or soaring solos, rather the piano/keyboards take center stage. The catchy chorus is perfectly framed by Doughty’s piano work and includes both a piano and a Hammond B-3 organ solo. Lyrically, the song is one of being dumped through the dreaded letter, “You could have left him only / For an evening let him be lonely / But you hid behind your poison pen and his pride.”
It is extremely difficult for me to choose my favorite REO song, but this one is a strong contender. The opening lines are some of the most memorable ones from the early ‘80s (everybody sing), “Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you’ve been messing around.” The song is about the harm that rumors can cause and the unwillingness to believe them when they concern someone we are in love with. This song is as close to perfect as a rock song can get. I especially love Richrath’s solo, particularly the length of it. While the solo in “Keep on Loving You” is great, I feel it is a bit short and fits a mold. This one lasts longer and builds perfectly- and do not miss Bruce Hall’s bass line that accompanies it.
You know this one – the one that starts with Spanky and Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. And then the guitars kick in- yeah, that one. This is a great, simple, and catchy rock song. I think it is also the only studio song by REO that has a curse word in it – but it is funny and it does rhyme. The lyrics capture the feeling all guys have had when they are overjoyed that the girl chose them, even though the other guys could clearly pound them into the dust.
For absolutely no reason, I rediscovered this song the summer before I went to college. I was packing all of my records and cassettes away for storage as my family moved back to the United States. I was not going to be able to take my music with me until Christmas break because it would not arrive before I left for school (it was an incredibly long four months!). I wanted to make some temporary copies of my albums and listen to them one more time before we parted. This song really stood out to me; it did a great job in capturing the feelings of being let go by someone you love and not really understanding the reason why. The imagery is simple and powerful.
This is a really fun song. I have seen REO perform this song several times in concert, and even though it is not one of their big hits, it always gets the crowd rocking and involved in the show. It is impossible not to sing along with and pump your fist to the chorus.
This song features lead vocals by bass player Bruce Hall. He makes several appearances as a vocalist on a few different REO albums, the most famous being the song “Back on the Road Again” from the Nine Lives album. Hall has a solid rock voice and he carries this song along with Richrath’s guitar work. Check out this bonus live video of REO performing Hall’s classic:
I have always felt that this song could have been a single. It combines the talents of all the REO members: piano, bass, guitar and Cronin’s best vocals on the album.
Hi Infidelity is an excellent album that foreshadows what is to come in ‘80s rock. I never tire of listening to it – and when I do I am immediately transported to those days of my youth when music started to matter to me. I owe REO Speedwagon an enormous debt of gratitude. They opened my ears to rock and roll and gave me the fire of listening to music that still burns today. Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see REO live. It was my tenth time attending one of their shows and it was as good as the first. The band was full of energy and rocked the entire crowd for two hours. As expected, they performed several songs from Hi Infidelity and I loved them as if it were the first time I heard them. This album maintains a special, important place on my shelf and in my rock n’ roll heart.
Welcome back as we wrap up this week’s Countdown! If you missed the previous songs, you can still check out songs 40-31, 30-21, and 20-10. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve been liking the songs this week. Since I was so young when these songs came out, I had not heard of most of them. Luckily, I have discovered some really good music. As we hit the Top 10 songs of the week, I am very familair with most of them. But there are still a few that I didn’t know. So, the surprises continue. Now, let’s Return to the week ending January 5, 1980 and wrap up the countdown!
Before I started going over the countdowns this past year, the only thing I knew Cliff Richard from was the duet he did with Olivia Newton-John from Xanadu, “Suddenly.” Since then, I discovered that he was a pretty big star in the late ’50s/early ’60s, until the Beatles came along. Then he fell off the face of the earth until the late ’70s. He’s been on several of our countdowns, and I’ve liked every song by him so far. And this song is no different. This song was Cliff Richard’s biggest worldwide hit. Tt hit #1 in Germany for 5 weeks. It peaked at #7 here in the U.S. Since this song hit the charts in 1979, and is still here in 1980, Richard became the first person to reach the Hot 100’s top 40 in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. One more fun fact about this song – it was the 6th video that ever aired on MTV, on August 1, 1981.
This is another song that I never heard of until years after it was released. This is probably one of the best storytelling songs I ever heard. All it needs is a fiddle, and it would be a perfect Irish folk song. Rogers tells the story so well that you can see the movie in your head. And you’re pumping your fist in the air for Tommy by the end of the song.
This is one of my favorite Commodores songs. It would be the band’s last #1 hit before Lionel Richie went solo. With this song, you could see the writing on the wall that Lionel would be able to go out on his own and have an incredible career.
I had not known that Captain and Tennille went into the ’80s. I knew them from their ’70s variety show. By the late ’70s their popularity was gone. But, “Do That to Me One More Time” was a big comeback hit for them. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to capitalize on the song’s success. It would go on to be their final #1 hit.
This is a song that I didn’t know from just looking at the title. But, as soon as I started playing it, I recognized it. I have it on a Greatest Hits album by Stevie Wonder. This isn’t one of my favorite songs by his, which explains why I didn’t remember it at first. It is better than a lot of his other songs, but there are many more that I like better.
Now, let’s take a moment to see what was topping some of the other music charts this week in 1980.
The #1 Adult Contemporary song was the one we just heard at #4 on the pop charts – Stevie Wonder’s “Send One Your Love”
A week earlier, this classic was the #1 song, making it the last #1 song of the ’70s. The song was popular as soon as it was released. However, the name was just “Escape,” so it was not selling very well. The only words that everybody knew from the song was blah-blah-blah, IF YOU LIKE PINA COLADAS and getting caught in the rain, blah-blah-blah. So reluctantly, Rupert Holmes agreed to change the name of the song to “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”. Then it shot up the charts.
And we have reached the #1 song of the week, which I never heard of before. Even after listening to it, I still didn’t remember it. The first #1 hit of the ’80s was KC and the Sunshine Band’s first ballad. In the coming weeks, the group broke up and Harry Wayne Casey went solo.
That wraps up this week’s countdown. Wow, I guess the ’70s really were wrapping up. In this list alone, we heard songs which were the last #1 hits for The Commodores with Lionel Richie, The Captain and Tennille, and KC and the Sunshine Band. I hope you enjoyed this week’s countdown as much as I did. We are going to keep them coming during the year. In the meantime, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.
For today’s Album of the ’80s, we’ll Return to 1980. Journey’s Departure marked the end of an era. It was the last full time studio album appearance of founding member Gregg Rolie. For Journey novices, Gregg Rolie played keyboards, and was actually the full-time lead singer for Journey’s first few albums until Steve Perry arrived on the scene. Rolie selected his own replacement – Jonathan Cain, then of The Babys. Cain’s first album with the band was one you may have heard of – Escape. Most of us know most of the songs from Escape by heart, so we’ll focus on Departure today.
I did not get Departure when it first came out. But, it would be the first CD I ever owned. I don’t remember what I did yesterday, but I remember buying this CD at Ann & Hope. When you entered the record section, the CD’s were against the wall on the left-hand side. This was back in the day when the CD case was packaged inside a taller box. Remember those. Eventually, the industry decided to be more environmentally friendly, and did away with the boxes.
I love this album. The casual Journey listener may have only heard of one song on this album. You’ll know which one! But the rest of the album is also great. If you haven’t heard of these songs before, give them a listen.
1. Any Way You Want It
You know this song. It is one of the band’s signature songs, and they can’t do a concert without performing it. Fans of the movie Caddyshack also know this song. Rodney Dangerfield’s character blasted it on the golf course. My sister used to babysit a little toddler, and would bring her to the house. I remember when she was just learning to walk. I would throw this cd in the stereo. When “Any Way You Want It” started playing, the baby would walk around bopping her head up and down to the music really enjoying it. I wish we had a video camera back then! I wonder if I made her a lifelong Journey fan.
2. Walks Like a Lady
Are you ready for some blues? This song is different from the band’s music on later albums. Very cool song. Great keyboards, guitars and vocals
3. Someday Soon
Another awesome song. It is the last song that Gregg Rolie sang lead vocals on.
4. People and Places
Another different style song. This was always one of my favorite Journey songs.
5. Precious Time
Great rockin’ song. I love the way the guitar starts the song.
6. Where Were You
This song blew me away when I first heard it. This may be overshadowed by “Any Way You Want It”, but it rocks just as much. Here is a live version:
7. I’m Cryin’
Another bluesy sounding song. It did take me a few listens to really like it. But, I do like it alot now.
8. Line of Fire
Another rocker. They still play this live sometimes. Here is another live version:
This title track is just a quick little, 39 second, instrumental.
10. Good Morning Girl
This song goes hand-in-hand with the following song, “Stay Awhile”. These are the ballads of the album.
Back in Black was the second album/cassette that I owned. Not too shabby. I believe my parents were in a music store, and they asked somebody “What are the kids listening to these days?” So many things went right for this whole situation. First of all, my parents were smart enough to know that I was old enough to listen to my own music instead of listening to Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow.
Second, they asked the right person. Back in Black had just come out, and would go on to be the third highest selling album worldwide (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon). So that store employee knew what they were talking about. Last of all, with me being 10 years old, I’m pretty sure if the album that had just come out was Highway to Hell instead of Back in Black, I would have never gotten an AC/DC album until many years later!
Back in Black is such an incredible album. It does not have a single bad song. A lot of people say that all AC/DC songs are the same. But, if you listen to these songs, you will find that this is not the case.
AC/DC’s popularity was rising higher and higher. Especially after the success of 1979’s Highway to Hell album. Then tragedy struck. The band had begun developing their next album when lead singer, Bon Scott, died unexpectedly from alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980 at the age of 33.
The remaining members contemplated disbanding. However, Bon Scott’s parents encouraged them to continue on. So, AC/DC went on to hire Brian Johnson as their new lead singer, which was an excellent decision. They also brought in Mutt Lange to produce the next album, after he had done a great job producing Highway to Hell.
Back in Black was released on July 25, 1980, less than half a year after the death of Bon Scott. According to Angus Young the album’s all-black cover was a “sign of mourning” for Scott. Atlantic Records disagreed with the cover, but accepted if the band put a grey outline around the AC/DC logo. They were worried about how well Back in Black would be received. The worries did not last long though, as it became an immediate success. Not only did it go to number one on the UK Albums Chart, its success meant AC/DC were the first band since The Beatles to have four albums in the British Top 100 simultaneously, as Highway To Hell, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, and Let There Be Rock all re-entered the charts right after Back in Black was released.
Now, let’s get to the music:
1. “Hells Bells”
13. That’s the number of times the bell tolls at the beginning of the song. I used to love counting the tolls of the bells for some reason. Any rock band worth their salt just had to have the unlucky 13, and AC/DC delivered! This was a great way to start the album. “Back in Black” would also be justifiable as the lead single. But since the song was written to commemorate the death of Bon Scott, it was a cool song to lead off with, and Scott would have approved.
2. “Shoot to Thrill”
3. “What Do You Do for Money Honey”
4. “Given the Dog a Bone”
5. “Let Me Put My Love into You”
This song rated number 6 in the Parents Music Resource Center Filthy Fifteen list in 1985. The was the censorship commie committee founded by Tipper Gore and some other wives of politicians. The goal of the committee was to gain parental control over the access of children to music. The outcome was that “Parental Advisory” labels were placed on selected releases.
“Let Me Put My Love into You” made the list. I guess they didn’t listen too closely to the previous song! Who needs 50 Shades of Grey, ladies?!
So AC/DC made the list along with the scandalous Sheena Easton (“Sugar Walls”), Cyndi Lauper (“She Bop”), and of course Judas Priest (“Eat Me Alive”) and Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”).
At least the labels helped us realize which albums were the best ones!
6. “Back in Black”
TURN IT UP!!! How can you not get pumped by this song?! This is one of those songs that you recognize immediately upon hearing the first note. Bands are lucky if they have a signature song. AC/DC has three! “Highway to Hell”, and then two from this album alone – this song, and the next song coming up. The song “Back in Black” was AC/DC’s tribute to Bon Scott. And it ranks on many music lists. It was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs, and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The same magazine has also ranked “Back in Black” number 29 on “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.
7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
The third signature song by AC/DC. People that whine about AC/DC being too loud even like this song. When it was released, “You Shook Me All Night Long” reached up to #35 on the USA’s Hot 100 pop singles chart. It was re-released in 1986 when it was included on the Who Made Who album. The song placed at No. 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”. It was also No. 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs”.
I have one pretty cool memory of this song. Towards the end of my Navy Boot Camp, we were given a little bit more freedom. One of the rewards that we got was that at night, for a couple of hours, we could go to this greasy spoon diner on the base. The name of the diner – The Greasy Spoon! Anyway, the first time I walked in there, a jukebox was playing, and “You Shook Me All Night Long” was the song that was on. It was the first real music that I heard in almost 2 months! What a first song to hear! While most people were excited to get a burger and fries, I was excited to hear real music! So that is always the first thing that comes to my mind now whenever I hear that song.
So get yourself a nice greasy burger and some burnt fries, and click play!
8. “Have a Drink on Me”
9. “Shake a Leg”
10. “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”
This was a great choice to close the album. It is the most “mellow” song on here. It has an awesome bluesy feel to it. This would have also been a great Bon Scott song. But Brian Johnson proved to be a perfect replacement.
Welcome to the new series – Albums of the ’80s! I will try to post at least one album a week. We will go over some classic albums of the ’80s as well as some lesser known ones. We’ll have some fun remembering songs we haven’t heard in a while, and maybe we’ll hear “new” old music we missed the first time around. I hope you enjoy this. Let me know if you have any suggestions of albums you would like to know about, or if you have any favorites that you want people to hear.
I plan on jumping around to different years. But the first two albums I will cover happen to be from 1980. They are the first two that I ever owned. We will start with:
Kiss – Unmasked
Unmasked was the first album (well technically cassette) that I ever owned. I got it as a present along with a tape recorder to play it on. I still have the tape, and it is still in pretty good shape – especially considering the number of times it has been played.
So, my first album came at a transitional period for Kiss. Unmasked was the last studio album to feature the original lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss until the band reunited. Peter Criss technically was not even involved with the album. Anton Fig played drums on all the tracks, and was uncredited for it. After the album came out, Eric Carr would go on to be the permanent drummer for Kiss, until his death in 1991.
Although the album was titled Unmasked, this is not when the band did away with their makeup. The cover art was actually a comic strip. It featured a goofy photographer trying to catch the band members without their makeup on. Finally, Ace told him that if he dropped the camera they would take their masks off. They took their masks off, only to reveal that they had their makeup on underneath. Since I had this on cassette, I would read the comic with a magnifying glass!
The real unmasking of Kiss came on MTV on September 18, 1983:
Now let’s get into the music. Unmasked wasn’t one of their most popular albums. Even some of the band members did not like it! According to Paul Stanley:
“Unmasked? I would give that one star. A song like “Tomorrow” is really a great song, but I think ‘Unmasked’ is a pretty crappy album. It’s wimpy. A lot of those songs started out much ballsier, and much more rock’n’ rolly. Somehow they lost something on their way to vinyl.” p331, Kiss-Behind the Mask
Nonetheless, I loved this album, and still like most of the songs on it. Here is the playlist:
1. Is That You?
The album started out wi a bang. Or actually a Paul Stanley scream. This Paul Stanley song is probably the hardest rocking song on the album. A great way to start.
Another Paul Stanley song. This time a ballad. This song was a hit in several countries. It peaked at #47 in the U.S., but reached all the way to #5 on the Australian charts.
3. Talk to Me
I love this Ace Frehley song. The song was not released as a single in the U.S., but was released in several other countries where it reached the top-10.
4. Naked City
Hehe. He said “Naked”. As a ten year old, that was awesome! Of course, the Naked City, in this Gene Simmons song, refers to New York, and not a city where people are actually walking around naked. But it’s a pretty cool, if not depressing, song.
5. What Makes the World Go ‘Round
There were 3 songs on this album that I played over-and-over again. And this Paul Stanley tune was one of them. Warning: This song could possibly give you an earworm! Not a bad song to have stuck in your head though.
This is song #2 that I played over-and-over. This is another great Paul Stanley song. I really like the guitar solo as well.
7. Two Sides of the Coin
I like this Ace Frehley song a lot. If you liked “Talk To Me” earlier in this album, then you’ll like this one.
8. She’s So European
Back to Gene Simmons. Not a bad song. Not exactly the best song on the album, but still good.
9. Easy As It Seems
The last of the Paul Stanley songs. It’s probably my least favorite Stanley song on the album, but it’s still not bad.
10. Torpedo Girl
Ugh. This Ace Frehley song is somewhere around 3 1/2 minutes, and I think he repeats the title of the song for the last 2 1/2 minutes. The song after this was one of my favorites so I would always try skipping by this one. But since they repeat the same thing over and over and over again, I could never tell when it was almost over. Then I would skip too far, and have to rewind, and keep going back and forth. All you guys that used to listen to cassettes know what I’m talking about. Eeesh, It would have been faster to just listen to the whole song.
11. You’re All That I Want
This Gene Simmons song was one of my favorites. Great way to close out the album.