Category Archives: 1980

Return to the 80s Music: Is This Real? by Wipers

Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

Today, it’s time for some punk rock! Is This Real? is the debut album of Wipers, a punk rock band from Portland, Oregon. They were formed in 1977 by guitarist Greg Sage, along with drummer Sam Henry and bassist Dave Koupal. They are very influential band, and according to Wikipedia, they considered the first Pacific Northwest punk band. One of the bands they influenced? grrrrrr! Nirvana! This album was released in January 1980 (I can’t find a specific date). Greg Sage had created his own label called Trap Records. But, when it was time to release this album, Sage decided to release it through Park Avenue Records, hoping that it would give them slightly wider distribution. However, the company did not promote the album very well, and received very little attention. However, they did develop a cult following in the band’s hometown of Portland. Although they did not really hit it big in the ’80s, Wipers gained recognition during the early ’90s when Nirvana covered the songs “Return of the Rat” and “D-7”. Is This Real? then came to be regarded as a classic punk rock album of the ’80s. Now, let’s get into the album. As I mentioned, Is This Real? was released in January 1980 on Park Avenue Records. The personnel included: Greg Sage – lead vocals, guitar (and producer) Dave Koupal – bass Sam Henry – drums Now, let’s rock out! Again, click on the song title to get the YouTube video.


Side +

1. “Return of the Rat

This is indeed a classic punk rock tune.  The band is tight, and it has that guitar distortion that punk is known for. I can hear how it could be influential to grunge. Nirvana covered this song on the 1992 Wipers tribute record Eight Songs for Greg Sage and The Wipers. Here is Nirvana’s version.  It’s actually a Nirvana song I can get behind!

2. “Mystery

This song is a little smoother than the previous song. This has that early 2000s pop-punk sound.  I also notice that like most punk albums, the songs are pretty short. This song clocks in at less than 2 minutes.

3. “Up Front

This is a killer, hard-driving tune. It starts with just the vocals and drums for almost 30 seconds, then the guitar kicks in and doesn’t look back.

4.  “Let’s Go Let’s Go Away”

This is another classic punk rock song with the guitar distortion and powerful lyrics. 

5. “Is This Real?

The title track is great! It also has that punk rock guitar, but this song is more melodic than the hard-driving-in-your-face rocker. It is flirting with New Wave.

6. “Tragedy

The video for this is kind of disturbing. I’m not sure if it’s an official video. But, it is fitting for a punk rock or grunge song.

7. “Alien Boy

This song takes you on a ride! And not only is it a single on this album, but this song was released as an EP, with “Alien Boy” on side A, and three outtakes from the Is This Real? album sessions on side B.

Side –

1. “D-7

This is the other song on this album covered by Nirvana. And this is a little different than the other songs on the album so far. It starts off really slow. The influence on grunge can be felt here. Then the song kicks into full blown rock mode almost halfway through. Clocking in at over 4 minutes, this is by far the longest song on the album. This explains why there are 7 songs on the first side, and only 5 on the second side.

2. “Potential Suicide

OK, this so this song is song is about 12 or 13 years ahead of its time.  This is a heavy and dark tune. And I love it! It honestly feels revolutionary.

3. “Don’t Know What I Am

Very cool and angsty song. The band is really tight on this one too. 

4. “Window Shop for Love

Could Wipers have foreseen the future of online dating during a pandemic? I’ll swipe right on this song!

5. “Wait a Minute

We end on a little lighter style song. This sounds like The Rolling Stones gone New Wave.

 


Hidden Gems: I don’t even know where to begin! This whole album is a hidden gem!

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy

4 Solid album – worth buying

3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs

2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any

1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

This will be my first 5 out of 5 for the year! Every song is great. I know I bash on grunge on the podcast often. But if you are into grunge, this is a must-buy! I had never heard of Wipers until now, and that’s a shame. They are obviously a heavily influential band. This is a well-produced album and shamefully unrecognized.  This band must have been incredible live, and I can see why they would have had a loyal following.

 

So, what are your thoughts on this album? Are there any Wipers fans out here. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook.

 

Return to the 80s Music: Air Pocket by Roger Powell

Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.


Arcosanti ConcertThis should be an interesting album. I never heard of it, and I was not familiar with Roger Powell. However, Air Pocket was voted the #1 album of 1980 by a reader poll in Keyboard Magazine. The keyboard played a prominent role in 80s music. So we will see if this is a sign of things to come.

According to Wikipedia, Roger Powell played keyboards and synthesizers with the rock band Utopia, led by Todd Rundgren and featuring players Kasim Sulton and Willie Wilcox, among others, from 1974 until its disbanding in 1985, playing, writing, and singing on ten of the band’s eleven albums. For Utopia’s live shows, Powell created the Powell Probe; the first remote, hand-held polyphonic synthesizer controller, which featured a custom-made shell used to access a complex stack of sequencers and other peripherals offstage, a device also used in a modified form by Jan Hammer.

So, not only was Powell a musician, but he was an innovator. Air Pocket was Powell’s second solo album. His previous album was Cosmic Furnace in 1973.

Now let’s get into Air Pocket.

It was released on January 30, 1980 on Bearsville Records and produced by Roger Powell himself.

The personnel is:

  • John Holbrook – rhythm guitar, engineer
  • Roger Powell – vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, producer
  • Cleve Pozar – drums
  • Todd Rundgren – guitar
  • Mark Styles – keyboards

Now let’s check out this album! Keep in mind that I’m not a musician or a music critic. And this seems like a musician’s album.

1. “Lunar Plexus

The album starts off with an instrumental tune. It starts off slow and builds up a bit. Around the midway point it sounds like something that would play over the closing credits of a B sci-fi movie.

2. “Landmark

Oooh, I like this one! It starts off with a definite 1980 feel. It has that disco/funk vibe, and at the same time it’s new-wavy. And there are vocals in this. I would have liked this without the vocals, but it was a pleasant surprise.

3. “Air Pocket

The title track is an instrumental. It’s OK. Not much to say about it.

4. “Windows

I’m starting to see a pattern here. This song has lyrics. I’m liking this one a lot. Powell’s vocals remind me of Gregg Rolie from Journey. The guitars, drums, and of course keyboards are great in this. This has kind of a prog rock feel to it.

5. “Emergency Splashdown

Wow, pattern broken here. Another song with lyrics. This one rocks, and sounds different from everything else so far.

6. “Morning Chorus

This does sound like a morning song as everything is waking up and coming to life. I appreciate it. This is only 2 minutes long, which is perfect.

7. “March Of The Dragonslayers

From reading the song title, I thought this was going to be a rocker. But, it’s a cute little instrumental. It’s pleasant enough.

8. “Prophecy

This is another decent instrumental. It picks up the pace as it goes along.

9. “Sands of Arrakis

I got bored with this song, and it’s the longest one on the album.

10. “Dragons “N’ Griffins/Mr Triscuits Theme

We close out with an instrumental. This might be the best instrumental on the album, so it’s a good way to close out.


Hidden Gems: May favorites were all the songs with lyrics:”Landmark”, “Windows”, and “Emergency Splashdown”

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy

4 Solid album – worth buying

3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs

2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any

1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

For me, I’m going to have to give this a 2. This is nothing I would buy or go out of my way to listen. I do appreciate Powell’s talent though. Musicians, especially keyboardists, would most likely give this a much higher rating.

What are your thoughts on the album? Do you think Roger Powell’s keyboard playing was impressive, especially for that time?

I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook. Or you can even email me directly at returntothe80s@gmail.com.

Return to the 80s Music: Love Stinks by The J. Geils Band

Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

Today’s album is Love Stinks by The J. Geils Band. This was the band’s ninth studio album. Throughout the 70s, they were leaning towards an R&B/Bluesy sound with songs such as “Lookin’ For a New Love,” “Give it to Me,” and the hit “Must Have Got Lost“. By the late 70s/early 80s, they were hitting their peak success.

While the best was yet to come, Love Stinks hit some mainstream success.

The album was released on January 28, 1980 from EMI Records, and was produced by Seth Justman.

The band members on this album are:

Peter Wolf – lead vocals
J. Geils – guitar
Magic Dick – harmonica
Seth Justman – keyboards, backing vocals
Danny Klein – bass
Stephen Bladd – drums

Now let’s take a listen to the album.


Side one

1. “Just Can’t Wait

We kick things off with a fun rocker. This joins the long list of songs where Daddy doesn’t approve of the rebel boy who wants to “date” his daughter. 

2. “Come Back

Another great rocker! This was the first single released from the album, and peaked at #32 on the U.S. charts and peaked at #19 for two weeks in Canada. Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh praised “Come Back” as a “full-scale showcase” for the band, claiming that it came “very close to the topnotch hard rock Geils has always threatened to make and too rarely delivered.” It really is a great showcase. Each instrument does get featured. I don’t ever remember this song. That’s unfortunate as it’s about as good as any of the major hits they had. Perhaps it was too hard for pop radio, but not hard enough for rock radio.

3. “Takin’ You Down

This is a serviceable rock song. It has a good beat to it and the guitar is great. But it does get a bit repetitive, especially towards the end.  

4. “Night Time

Oooooh, I like this one! I love the way it starts with the piano and drums. And this is a lot of fun. It has that “Land of a Thousand Dances” vibe. I could dance to this. This must have been a big hit live.

This is a cover of The Strangeloves 1965 hit that reached #30. The J. Geils Band made a great choice in covering this one. It is a perfect fit.

5. “No Anchovies, Please

This is the strangest “song” of the year so far. I had only heard of this before because somebody had mentioned it to me on Twitter years ago. It is Peter Wolfe talking, telling a strange story. It feels like a noir movie if you are on acid.

Side two

6. “Love Stinks

This is the one most of us know. As popular as this title track is, it only peaked at #38 in the U.S. The song was also memorably featured in the Adam Sandler movie, The Wedding Singer

The lyrics may have been inspired by J. Geils Band lead singer Peter Wolf’s marriage to actress Faye Dunaway, which ended in a 1979 divorce.

7. “Tryin’ Not to Think About It

Oh man, this song started out so promising. The first minute was flat-out rock ‘n’ roll. Then it levelled out and they lost me as it just turned into a safe mediocre song. 

8. “Desire (Please Don’t Turn Away)

We slow things down a bit here. I can’t put my finger on it, but it feels like this song should be better than it is. This would probably sound better by a late ’80s hair band.

9. “Till the Walls Come Tumblin’ Down

We close out the album with a bluesy diddy. This feels like it is more in their wheelhouse at the time. I could see this bringing the house down in The House of Blues. Great way to end the album!


Hidden Gems: There were a few on here for me. I’m not sure if “Come Back” would be considered a hidden gem since it charted higher than the title track. But, I didn’t remember it, so I’ll include that one, “Night Time,” and “Till the Walls Come Tumblin’ Down”.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy

4 Solid album – worth buying

3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs

2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any

1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

While I wasn’t blown away by this album, it didn’t stink either. I’ll give it a solid 3. There are some great songs here, but there were some mediocre ones that preventing it from bringing it up a level. You can tell that they are leading up to something great though.

What are your thoughts on the album. Any J. Geils fans here? Has anybody seen the band live. I bet they were great.

I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook. Or you can even email me directly at returntothe80s@gmail.com.

Return to the 80s Music: Pretenders

Hey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

Pretenders group studio NEW YORK CITY, 1980996The 80s began with a lot of debut albums! Today will be The Pretender’s debut album, Pretenders.  Technically, it was released in the U.S. on December 27, 1979, but it was released in the U.K. on January 11, 1980.  In 1989, Rolling Stone ranked this the 20th best album of the 1980s. 

All I had known about this album was “Brass in Pocket” and that Alec would not Leslie have this album in St. Elmo’s Fire. That’s his.

As part of my journey to run a 5k in all 50 states, in the summer of 2018 I went to Colorado to see family and run a race. The week I was in town, Def Leppard and Journey happened to be playing at Coors Field in Denver. Of course I had to get a ticket! It was already going to be an incredible show. Then I found out The Pretenders were the opening act, and I got psyched! And they did not disappoint! Chrissie Hynde sounded the same and looked incredible with a ton of energy. So, I was looking forward to reviewing this album to see if it was as great as it was hyped up to be, or if it’s a pretender.

The album was released on Sire Records in the U.S. on December 27, 1979 and on Real Records in the U.K. on January 11, 1980.  It was produced by Chris Thomas, with the exception of “Stop Your Sobbing” which was produced by Nick Lowe.

The band members on this album are:

  • Chrissie Hynde – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, backing vocals 
  • Martin Chambers – drums, percussion, backing vocals
  • Pete Farndon – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • James Honeyman-Scott – lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Now let’s throw this on the turntable and check it out!


Side one

1.  “Precious

Great start! This is a punk rock song I was not expecting.  It was written by Chrissie Hynde (who wrote most of the songs on this album). I love the aggressiveness this which is ironic given the title. This song was released as part of a medley along with “Brass in Pocket” and “Mystery Achievement,” which landed at #28 on the U.S. Dance charts.

2. “The Phone Call” 

Another in-your-face punk rock song! I’m really digging this!

3. “Up the Neck

Another great rock song! It is at a slower tempo than the last two songs, but it still rocks. The lyrics are a little racy too:

Lust turns to anger, a kiss to a slug
Something was sticky on your shag rug, look at the tile
I remember the way he groaned and moved with an animal skill
I rubbed my face in the sweat that ran down his chest
It was all very run of the mill

4. “Tattooed Love Boys

Another great rocker! This has more of a New Wave feel to it. There is an actual music video for this song, and it is just the band playing. Very cool.

5. “Space Invader

And now for something a little different. This is an instrumental written by bassist Pete Farndon and lead guitarist James Honeyman-Scott. It was inspired by the arcade/video game Space Invaders, and you can hear sound effects from the game at the end.

6. “The Wait

This one was written by Pete Farndon once again, along with Chrissie Hynde. This is another great rock song. I had no idea that they rocked so hard! I love it!

7. “Stop Your Sobbing

This is a cover of The Kinks 1964 song, written by Ray Davies from their own debut album. The Pretenders  cover of this song led to the relationship between Ray Davies and Chrissie Hynde which led to the birth of their daughter, Natalie.

This is a good song, and I like the Pretenders’ version more than the Kinks’. This was the debut single for The Pretenders reaching number 34 in the UK. However, it didn’t perform quite as well in the US, reaching number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Side two

8. “Kid

This was the second single released from the album. This song has more of a 60s pop sound than the punk rock sound from the songs on the first side of the album. Hynde wrote the song about a fictional boy discovering that his mother is a prostitute. Chrissie said, “It’s about a prostitute whose son finds out what she does for a living and this is her having a conversation with him. Not all songs are autobiographical.” It’s sad that she actually had to add that last sentence. I can imagine her getting a lot of stupid questions asking if it was about her.

 

9. “Private Life” 

Chrissie Hynde wrote this song, and not only is it found here, but Grace Jones will be covering it in June 1980. Here is a quote from Hynde regarding this song:

Like all the other London punks, I wanted to do reggae, and I wrote “Private Life”. When I first heard Grace’s version I thought ‘Now that’s how it’s supposed to sound!’ In fact it was one of the high points of my career – what with Sly and Robbie being the masters, and Grace Jones with her scorching delivery. Someone told me it was Chris Blackwell’s idea – thanks Chris!

I can hear the reggae in this a little. This song is ok. I look forward to hearing the Grace Jones version.

10. “Brass in Pocket

This was released as the band’s third single. It was their first big success, scoring number one on the UK Singles Chart for two weeks in January 1980 (making it the first new number-one single of the 1980s), number two in Australia during May 1980 (for three weeks), and number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States.

This is about the narrator/singer about to have her first sexual encounter with a particular person, and is expressing her confidence that the experience will be successful.

The song originated as a guitar line that James Honeyman-Scott played for Chrissie Hynde. Hynde then recorded the part with a tape recorder and wrote the song’s lyrics. Musically, Hynde described the song as “trying to be a Motown song, but it didn’t quite get it.”

11. “Lovers of Today

Slowing things down a bit now. This is a nice ballad. It is kind of sad.

Nobody wants to see
Lovers of today happy
So assumed they’re going to part
Nobody wants to be with someone
So afraid they’ll be left with
A broken heart

12. “Mystery Achievement

We close out with another great song. This kind of reminds me of The Police. 


This was like a tale of two albums. The first side was more punk rock, and the second side was more towards the pop side. I liked both sides, and thought this was a great debut.

Hidden Gems: I’ll go with the first and the final songs on the album – “Precious” and “Mystery Achievement”.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy

4 Solid album – worth buying

3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs

2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any

1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I’ll give this a solid 4. There were a couple of songs that I felt prevented this from being a perfect album for me. But, I still love it and will have to get this on vinyl. I wonder if Alec still has this one. Maybe I’ll “borrow” this one from him, along with The Stranger.

Let me know what you think of this album and band! I’d love to hear from you!

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook. Or you can even email me directly at returntothe80s@gmail.com.

Return to the 80s Music: Metamatic by John Foxx

John_Foxx_-_Metamatic_-_LP_album_coverHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.


unnamedToday’s album is another new one for me. I was vaguely familiar with the name John Foxx. Today we will be covering his debut solo album, Metamatic.

The English singer was the original lead singer for the band Ultravox. Midge Ure took over after he left. 

I am going to be up-front here. I am not the biggest fan of electronic music. Of course I’ll take ’80s electronic/synth-pop music over the EDM that’s out there today. But this definitely isn’t one of my favorite genres. So keep that in mind. And I encourage you to let me know if you are into this kind of music, and give me your review of this album.

Now, let’s jump into this album.

Metamatic was released on January 18, 1980. This is also the first album by a solo artist in the ’80s. It was released on Virgin Records, and John Foxx was also the producer for his own album.

The album spent seven weeks in the UK charts, peaking at #18.  Now let’s listen to the album.

Side one

1. “Plaza

I actually don’t mind this song once the vocals start. It reminds me of Gary Numan (who himself was influenced by Ultravox when John Foxx was a member of that band) and a little bit of some Talking Heads. Maybe this won’t be as bad as I thought.

2. “He’s a Liquid

This song has a music video. And the Metamatic album cover is a screenshot from this video. This is a slower pace than “Plaza”. Not a fan of this one, I won’t be adding it to any of my playlists anytime soon. The music would be cool background music in a ’70s sci-fi movie.

3. “Underpass

This was the first single released from the album. It is my favorite so far. I like the music and the vocals. The song reached no. 31 in the UK charts, which sounds about right where it should have been.

4. “Metal Beat

This is an odd little song. It does have a metallic sound to it (“metallic” not “Metallica” – as a matter of a fact, as far from Metallica as you can get). I recommend listening to this with headphones as some parts pass from one ear to the other. I respect the experimentation and creativity here.

5. “No-One Driving

This was the second and final single released from the album. I could see why it was released. It has a more melodic tone to it. It entered the U.K. charts at #32, where it remained for one more week after that, then dropped off. There is a music video associated with this one as well.

Side two

6. “A New Kind of Man

This has a dystopian sound to it. I’m not hating it, but not too excited about it either.

7. “Blurred Girl

Not liking this one. All these songs are starting to blur together now.

8. “030

The only thing different about this is that it sounds like there are dual vocals. I’m not sure if these are overdubbed (probably) or if somebody is doing backing vocals. I’m losing too much interest to look into it to find out. I should have taken a break, but I’m powering through.

9. “Tidal Wave

This has a cool dystopian, futuristic sound. 

10. “Touch and Go

This is a bouncy, futuristic, electronic sounding ditty to close out the album. This is probably my favorite song on side 2.


Hidden Gems: Since this is all new to me, I’ll go with the singles that were released – “Underpass” and “No-One Driving”

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I will give this one a 2. This was not horrible, but it’s not something I’d go out of my way to listen to.

But like I said, I’m not an electronic person. So. please let me know what you think. I know John Foxx is influential, so please let me know if you’re a fan of his work, and what you like about this album.

Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook. Or you can even email me directly at returntothe80s@gmail.com.

Here is the extended version of the album on Spotify:

Return to the 80s Music: Just Testing by Wishbone Ash

Wishbone_Ash_-_Just_TestingHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

This album is uncharted territory for me. Not only had I never heard of the album Just Testing, but I had never even heard of the band Wishbone Ash.

So let’s break this wishbone, and make a wish that this album is good!

martinturner13Wishbone Ash are a British rock band who were big in the U.K. on the early-to-mid ’70s. They had formed in Torquay, Devon, in 1969 by Martin Turner (bass & vocals) and Steve Upton (drums and percussion) along with guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner (Not THAT Ted Turner).  Powell and Turner made Wishbone Ash known  for their extensive use of harmony twin lead guitars. They were voted “Two of the Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History” (Traffic magazine 1989), and to appear in the “Top 20 Guitarists of All Time” (Rolling Stone). In 1974, Ted Turner left the band, and was replaced by Laurie Wisefield. The band continued on with strong critical and commercial success until 1980 (ahem – which is when this album was released. Uh-oh).

I am going to have to look into their earlier music. But for now, Let’s hop into Just Testing.

Just Testing was released on January 18, 1980 on MCA Records.  It was produced by Martin Turner, John Sherry, and Wishbone Ash. It was the last of their albums to feature the original lead vocalist and bass guitarist Martin Turner until the release of Nouveau Calls in 1987).

Here is the lineup on this album:

Andy Powell – electric and acoustic guitars, back vocals
Laurie Wisefield – electric and acoustic guitars, back vocals
Martin Turner – lead vocals, bass guitar, acoustic guitar, back vocals; co-producer
Steve Upton – drums and percussion

Let’s slap this baby on the turntable and check this out!

Side one
1.   “Living Proof

This is a very good start to the album. I just played the album the first time without looking into the band, and had no idea what to expect. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that this is a rock album. This song kind of feels like late 70s Kiss or Blue Oyster Cult (minus the cowbell). I enjoy the guitar playing in this song.

2.   “Haunting Me

This is a mid-tempo song that’s just OK. It’s not bad, but I’m not blown away either. It sounds like something that would be playing on a record player, in a late teen/young adult male’s basement (with fake wood paneling walls and beanbag chairs included) as he and his buddies are smoking pot and drinking as this is playing in the background.

3. “Insomnia

Another mid-tempo song. The vocals are strange to me in this song. The song is just interesting enough to not be able to crack an insomnia joke.

4. “Helpless

Things pick back up on the last song of side one. This is kind of a hard bluesy song. I love the guitars and vocals in this song. You can hear the dual guitars in the solo, and they compliment each other well. I can see how they could have been an influential guitar duo.

Side two
5. “Pay the Price

Before Wishbone Ash had signed with anybody, they had opened for Deep Purple in early 1970. Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple’s legendary guitarist, helped the fledgling band secure a record contract with Decca/MCA Records. In this song, you can hear Blackmore’s influence. The guitar riff sounds a lot like “Smoke on the Water.” This is a good rockin’ song to start Side 2.

6. “New Rising Star

Back to the boring mid-tempo songs. This sounds like a Led Zeppelin reject.  If Zeppelin had stayed together longer, they may have stolen this one down the line. Once again, the guitar is impressive. It’s the production that’s bothering me, I think. But, Chad and his buddies in the fake wood paneling basement are in their beanbag chairs as high as fuck, so they don’t care.

7. “Master of Disguise

This is a little better than the last song. I love the guitar opening. Something still feels off. It’s yet another mid-tempo song. The guitars save it.

8. “Lifeline

OK, I’m digging this song! It had me a little worried at first as it sounded like yet another mid-tempo song. But, it builds up very well. It is mainly instrumental, and they rock it! And when there are vocals, they are very good too.


Hidden Gems: Well this whole album is new to me. So I’ll go with the first and last tracks of the album – “Living Proof” and “Lifeline”.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I will give this one 3 Lifelines. There’s some good songs and some skippable songs. The guitar playing is great throughout the whole album though. I’ll have to check out their earlier stuff.

This album is not on Spotify. It is available at Amazon:

If you are a fan of Wishbone Ash, please let me know, and let me know what some of your favorite songs are.

Return to the 80s Music: Rush – Permanent Waves

Rush_Permanent_WavesHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned previously, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

Today’s album is the first in this series by an established band Permanent Waves by Rush. The first two, The Romantics and The Buggles, released each of their debut albums to being the decade.

downloadPermanent Waves is the seventh studio album by the Canadian rock band Rush. I know that Rush has a huge following of passionate fans. I like Rush a lot, but I am mainly only familiar with their radio hits. I’m sure I would have known a lot more about them, and would have been one of those obsessive fans if I had seen them live in concert. I’ve just seen video footage, and I’m impressed. It must have been quite the experience to see them in person. Sadly, we will not be able to see them again as the drummer, Neil Peart passed away on January 7, 2020 and so the wonderful year begins!) after battling brain cancer for 3 1/2 years. Thankfully, the band left a huge catalog of great music.

Permanent Waves is known to have marked a shift in the group’s sound so that they were more radio friendly. I know their previous songs “Fly By Night” and “Closer to the Heart”. But, I suppose the rest of the albums that those songs were on were more prog rocky.

This album was released on January 14, 1980 on Anthem records, and produced by Rush and Terry Brown.

Even the most casual Rush fan probably knows the legendary lineup:

Geddy Lee – lead vocals, bass guitar,
Alex Lifeson – lead guitar
Neil Peart – drums

Now, lets throw the album on the turntable and catch a wave!

Side one
1. “The Spirit of Radio
What a great way to start! Growing up, I listened to the local rock station (94 WHJY), and they played this song often. As a side note, I listened the radio station recently, which is known as “The Home of Rock and Roll,” and I don’t think they’ve updated their playlist since 1996, so this song could still be in heavy rotation there. That wouldn’t be a bad thing in this case.
And speaking of radio station slogans, this song’s title was inspired by Toronto radio station CFNY-FM’s slogan. This song was Rush’s first top 30 single in Canada and reached number 51 on the US Hot 100.
This song rocks, and they even experimented with a little reggae towards the end.

For the words of the profits
Were written on the studio wall
Concert hall
And echoes with the sound of salesmen
Of salesmen, of salesmen

2. “Freewill
This is another song that was always in regular rotation on the radio. The song’s lyrics deal with the subject of free will; in a December 1989 interview on Rockline, Lee stated that “the song is about freedom of choice and free will, and you believing in what you decide you believe in”. Geddy Lee has stated that the final verse of “Freewill” is at the highest part of his vocal range.

3. “Jacob’s Ladder
We are already on the last song of side one! I have to admit that this song took quite a few listens for me to like it. And the more I listen to it, the more I like it. It is almost 8 minutes long, and it’s not even the longest song on the album. There aren’t too many lyrics in this song, making it “not radio friendly”. But, the music is powerful. And about halfway through, it sounds a little new-agey, then the guitar picks up and it rocks out again. Pretty cool!

Now we flip to Side 2

Side two
4. “Entre Nous
This song was released as a single in May 1980, and I had never heard it in my life until now. I can’t see that it charted anyway. Entre Nous is French for Between Us. This isn’t a bad song. It sounds like a deep track from a late-70s rock album.

5. “Different Strings
According to SongFacts, “This song’s lyrics were written solely by Geddy Lee. It’s the last Rush song in which Neil Peart does not have lyric credit.”
And the lyrics ring as true today as they did 40 years ago:

Different eyes see different things
Different hearts
Beat on different strings
But there are times
For you and me
When all such things agree

This song is pretty slow moving. This could be my least favorite song on the album.

6. “Natural Science

I: “Tide Pools”
II: “Hyperspace”
III: “Permanent Waves”

Now we close out the album with a big opus that Rush is known for. It is over nine minutes long and is composed of three distinct movements: I) Tide Pools, II) Hyperspace, and III) Permanent Waves.
This is pretty badass! Usually the words “opus” and “movements” in a song sound pretentious and boring to me. But, I think this song rocks, and it is way better than the previous song.


Hidden Gems: Definitely “Natural Science.” I already knew the first two songs, and the other ones didn’t really do it for me.

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I will give this one 3 1/2 waves. I would buy this on vinyl and listen to the entire first side, then skip to the last song on the second side.

What do you think of this album? If you are a Rush fan, please let me know, and tell me what you think of this album and any fun facts about it. Have you seen the band live, and how many times. I would love to hear stories.
Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on TwitterInstagram, and/or Facebook.

Return to the 80s Music: The Age of Plastic

rtt80s music logoHey Everybody, welcome back to Return to the 80s Music! As I mentioned in the last article, I will go through chronologically and cover as many 80s albums as I can. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!

You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

The first article was The Romantics self-titled debut album.
Now we are on to another debut album – The Age of Plastic by the English new wave duo the Buggles

The Age of Plastic was released on January 10, 1980 on Island Records

The Buggles were formed in London in 1977 by singer and bassist Trevor Horn and keyboardist Geoffrey Downes. They had gotten together with Bruce Woolley, and together recorded some demos – one of them, “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

Horn and Downes would sign with Island records. While Woolley was originally intended to be the band’s lead singer, he left the group to form his own band, the Camera Club, who also recorded versions of “Clean, Clean” and “Video Killed the Radio Star”, songs that appeared on the Camera Club’s 1979 album English Garden.

So, Horn handled vocals and also played guitar and bass; Downes was the keyboard wizard who programmed the drums and handled the synths.

We’ll get more into this later on in 1980, but Horn and Downes will go on to replace Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman on lead vocals and keyboards respectively on Yes’s album Drama.

But back to The Age of Plastic.

The Age of Plastic is a concept album about modern technology. There are only 8 songs on this album.

So let’s enter the Plastic Age

Side one

1. “Living in the Plastic Age
The first song on the album was the second single released from it.
It did not chart in the U.S., but it did well in the following countries:

Here are the chart positions
Belgium 17
France 3
Germany 29
Netherlands 2
Spain 18
UK Singles 16

According to SongFacts, Like “Video Killed The Radio Star,” the video was directed by Russell Mulcahy, one of the most visionary and experimental directors in the pre-MTV era. The video used cutting edge special effects and compositing techniques to create a warped reality that is disconcerting and unpredictable. It was much better than most of what MTV was showing, but the network ignored it. The album had been out for about 18 months when the network launched and the song never got any traction on US radio, so it wouldn’t have gotten any support. “Video Killed The Radio Star” became a mainstay because it hit right on the nose.

I feel like the U.S. missed out on this one. I like it a lot. This one sticks in my head. It was a perfect way to start the album.

2. “Video Killed the Radio Star

Best known as being the one millionth song played on MTV, which was on February 27, in the year 2000. I can’t believe they were still playing videos then!

But obviously, we all know it as the first ever video aired on MTV, which was at 12:01 AM on 1 August 1981.

Again, this song was written by Trevor Horn, Geoff Downes and Bruce Woolley in 1978.

It was actually first recorded by Bruce Woolley and the Camera Club (with Thomas Dolby on keyboards) for their album English Garden. I actually like that version a lot, and I like it more and more. It has some awesome guitar playing in it.

But, The Buggles version seems more appropriate for the subject matter. It feels like it should have a futuristic sound.

The Buggles released it as their debut single on September 7, 1979

On release, the single topped sixteen international music charts, including those in the UK, Australia, and Japan. It also peaked in the top 10 in Canada, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa, but only reached number 40 in the US.

The female singers on the record were Debi Doss and Linda Jardim (later Linda Allan). Doss had toured with The Kinks as a backup singer; Jardim had sung on a single for The Northampton Development Corporation that was released nationally by EMI, entitled “60 Miles by Road or Rail,” in an attempt to generate publicity for the growing town.

3. “Kid Dynamo
This is another one that sticks in your head. They sure know how to write earworms!
This song is about the effects of media on a futuristic kid of the 1980s.

4. “I Love You (Miss Robot)
In a article in Smash Hits magazine,Downes has said it is about “being on the road and making love to someone you don’t really like, while all the time you’re wanting to phone someone who’s a long way off.”

This is a slower paced song, but yet another one that stays with you.

Wow check out these lyrics!

You make love like a metronome
Don’t drive too fast when you take me home
Touch the seam on your silver skin
I feel so hard when you take me in

Woooow!!!!

Now time to cool off and turn the album over to side 2.

Side two

1. “Clean, Clean
This was the 3rd single released from the album. And this is another song that was first covered by Bruce Woolley and The Camera Club in 1979. And once again, the bruce Woolley version rocks more.

But, I still love The Buggles version, and the video is pretty cool.

The song charted in the UK (38) and West Germany (60)

Another freaking earworm! This should have been a bigger hit.

2. “Elstree
OK, we’ll just say that every song on here is an earworm!
This song is about a failed actor taking up a more regular position behind the scenes and looking back at his life in regret. It is a tribute to the U.K. film company Elstree Studios.

With this song, you can see how both members joined the band Yes. It’s like a combination of Yes and “Video Killed the Radio Star”.

This song has yet another great music video that was ahead of its time.

It was the fourth and final single released from the album. It’s only significant chart position was landing at #55 on the U.K. Charts.

3. “Astroboy (And the Proles on Parade)
This song sounds like a combination of “Kid Dynamo” and 70s Supertramp.

I had to look up what a Prole was, and it is a member of the working class.

The song has a slow prog-rock feel to it.

4. “Johnny on the Monorail
Picking things back up again. It’s a New Wavy/Prog-Rocky song, and smoothly coasts back into the station to wrap up the album.

Hidden Gem: “Living in the Plastic Age.” I thought it should have been a bigger hit. I also love “Clean, Clean.”

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

Just like as I gave The Romantics this, I’ll give The Age of Plastic a solid 4 out of 5. Before this, the only song I had heard of was “Video Killed the Radio Star.” I was pleasantly surprised with how good this album was. With this album, you can feel the transition from the 70s to the 80s begin. This is another album I may need to buy this on vinyl. There was not a bad song on here.

Return to the 80s Music: The Romantics

Hey Everybody, Welcome to a new series called Return to the 80s Music! This was originally going to be a podcast series. However, I am currently in school going for my Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. So between school and working a full time job, recording and editing a podcast, along with researching the subject, it is just too intensive for me to do it correctly. And you will see why.
I am going to review every 80s album I can, chronologically. We’ll hear some classics, some hidden gems that not everybody may be familiar with, and maybe some nobody has heard of, which can be a great discovery, or something that will make you say What the HELL was that?!?!

I hope this is good and you all enjoy it. I hope we make some rad discoveries, and I know there will be songs that will bring us back to some great times! In either case, it is always awesome to Return to the 80s!
You can click on the song title to check out the YouTube video of the song. I’ll also include the Spotify playlist at the bottom of each article, if the album is on Spotify.

So let’s kick things off. First up is the first album released in the 80s – The Romantics self-titled album.

The Romantics were formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1977. For three years the band was on the road, and in September 1979, the band recorded their debut self-titled album with British producer Pete Solley.
The are considered power-pop. They are reminiscient of the 60s British Invasion. They feel vintage, yet were pretty progressive for the time.

The whole album is consistent.

The Romantics
Released January 4, 1980

Wally Palmar: lead vocals and backing vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica
Mike Skill: lead guitar and backing vocals
Rich Cole: bass, lead vocals on “Till I See You Again”, and backing vocals
Jimmy Marinos: drums and percussion, lead vocals on “What I Like About You”

Label – Nemperor

Side 1
1. When I Look in Your Eyes
Good upbeat song to start the album. This has that mid-to-late 60s sound that can be heard throughout the album. It’s a great way to start.

2. Tell It to Carrie
Opening riff sounds like The Who’s “I Can’t Explain”. This song also has a 60s rock vibe.

3.  First in Line
A little heavier. It hits hard and fast! There is also a kick ass guitar solo around the  1:20 mark. This is more of a 70s punk rock feel than 60s rock.

4.  Keep in Touch
Bass heavy. At this point of the album, it’s not lost on me that the name of the band is The Romantics, and all of the songs on the album are love songs.

5. Girl Next Door

This is the longest song on the album, clocking in at 4:41. This feels like a faster paced 60s beach movie song. It’s a fun song to close out the first side of the album.

Side 2

6.  What I Like About You
Here’s the one that most of us know. When first released, “What I Like About You” was already a popular song on the Romantics’ concert playlist. In terms of record sales and radio airplay, however, the song was only a moderate success at the time of its release, reaching only number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was most successful in Australia, where it reached number two on the Australian Singles Chart  for two weeks and became the 13th most successful single for 1980. It was only towards the end of the 1980s, after the song had been licensed for use in television commercials for Budweiser beer, that “What I Like About You” grew to become one of the most popular rock anthems of all time.

What I like about you commercial

7.  She’s Got Everything

Written by Ray Davies and released by the Kinks. It first appeared as the B-side of the Kinks’ 1968 single, “Days”.

Love this one! You can tell that The Kinks were a big influence on The Romantics. And I think The Romantics improved the song. I had never heard of either version of this song before, and I enjoy both versions.

8. Till I See You Again
This is a slower pace than the rest of the songs on the album. Something like this could have been played in the gymnasium at a high school dance in the 60s.

9.  Hung on You

This is a funs song. The chorus gets stuck in your head.

10. Little White Lies
There is definitely and early Beatles influence here.

11. Gimme One More Chance

And now we close out the album. This is consistent with the rest of the songs on the album.


Hidden Gems: First in Line and She’s Got Everything
As I said, this was a very consistent album

Here is my ratings scale

5 Classic – a must buy
4 Solid album – worth buying
3 Some good or great stuff, but also skippable songs
2 Meh – may have 2 or 3 good songs. Just buy the singles you like, if any
1 Sucks. Time I can’t get back

I’ll give it a solid 4 out of 5. Not a bad song on here. But, there is a lot that sounds the same, which isn’t bad in this case. I started collecting vinyl again this year and may need to add this to my collection.

I hope you enjoyed this. Please let me know what you think. Did you own this album? Is this album new for you, and do you have any favorite songs on it? Are you a Romantics fan and have you seen them live, or do you have any cool memories about them or their songs? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to comment below, or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, and/or Facebook.

Episode 17: Glass Houses

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.


Show Notes

– Welcome back Scott Ryan, author of thirtysomething at thirty: an oral history (available at www.scottryanproductions.com), who last appeared on Episode 15.

News

– R.I.P. Tom Petty
– “Rock and Roll” Hall of Fame nominees (https://www.rockhall.com/class-2018-nominees)

Play This, Not That

Instead of: “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Play “Kiss The Bride

Or “Healing Hands

Shall We Play a Game?

Remember That Song

Last song:If You Leave” by OMD

New Song:

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began as a passionate start

If you know the artist and song, you can email us at returnto80s@gmail.com with your answer.

’80s Trivia

Last Question: What was the name of the company Michael and Elliot owned in the first season of thirtysomething?

Answer: The Michael and Elliot Company

New Question: How many Friday the 13th movies were released in the ‘80s.

If you know the answer, you can email us at returnto80s@gmail.com with your answer.

Main topic: Glass Houses

You can click on the album cover to purchase the album or listen to it on Amazon:

1. “You May Be Right

2. “Sometimes a Fantasy

3. “Don’t Ask Me Why

4. “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me

5. “All for Leyna

6. “I Don’t Want to Be Alone

7. “Sleeping with the Television On

8. “C’était Toi (You Were the One)

9. “Close to the Borderline

10. “Through the Long Night


Closing

You can contact Scott at the following places:

@30somethingpod
Facebook
www.scottryanproductions.com

@bluerosemag1
bluerosemag.com

In addition to purchasing the book from www.scottryanproductions.com
you can also click on the link below to purchase the book from Amazon:

And you can find Return to the ’80s on iTunes
Also,
returntothe80s.wordpress.com
Find Return to the ’80s on Facebook
Twitter: @returntothe80s
Email: returnto80s@gmail.com