Category Archives: Albums of the 80s

Top 40 Songs This Week – January 5, 1980: Songs 10-1


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!

10. “We Don’t Talk Anymore” by Cliff Richard


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.

9. “Ladies’ Night” by Kool & the Gang


Celebration” was the song that introduced me to Kool & the Gang. But before that, they had a hit with this song, which I discovered years later. This is a fun Disco/Funk song.

8. “Coward of the County” by Kenny Rogers

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.

7. “Still” by The Commodores


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.

6. “Babe” by Styx


Wow, two great ballads in a row! This would be the first, and only, #1 hit for Styx. Dennis DeYoung wrote this song as a birthday present for his wife Suzanne.

5. “Do That to Me One More Time” by The Captain & Tennille

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.

4. “Send One Your Love” by Stevie Wonder


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

The #1 Country Song is “Coward of the County“, which we just heard at #8 on the pop charts.

The #1 Dance tune is “The Second Time Around” by Shalamar with the lineup that includes Jody Watley.

The #1 Album this week is On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2 by Donna Summer.

And the #1 R&B hit is our #3 song on the pop charts this week:

3. “Rock With You” by Michael Jackson


Classic song from Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album.

2. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes


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.

1. “Please Don’t Go” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band

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.

Albums of the ’80s: Vital Signs

Sadly, this past weekend ’80s Nation has lost another great talent – Survivor’s Jimi Jamison. He passed away Sunday, August 31, from a heart attack, at the age of 63. He was one of the great rock voices of the ’80s.

Before Jamison joined the band, Survivor was already enjoying success with the mega-smash hit “Eye of the Tiger” behind lead singer Dave Bickler. However, Bickler developed polyps on his vocal cords, and had to leave the band to take care of that. Over recent years, Bickler could be heard singing on the hilarious “Real Men of Genius” (or “Real American Hero” pre-9/11) Bud Light commercials, such as Mr Silent Killer Gas Passer and Mr. Grocery Store Cart Wrangler.

So, Survivor was lucky enough to get Jimi Jamison to replace Dave Bickler. As good as the band was, I believe Jamison made the band even better. And his first album with Survivor – Vital Signs – is one of my all-time favorite albums. If I remember correctly, I got the Vital Signs cassette at the same time as REO Speedwagon’s Wheels Are Turnin’ cassette. As much as I love Wheels Are Turnin’, I love Vital Signs even more.

In honor of Jimi Jamison, let’s listen to one of my all-time favorite albums – Vital Signs.

1. “I Can’t Hold Back”

The song that leads off the album was also the first single that was released off of the album. This made me fall in love with Survivor all over again. I can still listen to this song over and over today.
This song was also the best part of the 2009 Kevin James film, Paul Blart: Mall Cop.

2. “High on You”

Usually, after a song has been playing on the radio and MTV for a while, I feel relieved when a new single is finally released by the artist. “High On You” was Survivor’s follow-up to “I Can’t Hold Back.” But I was still loving the first song, so I didn’t enjoy this one as much. I still like it, though. And it does bring nostalgia to me when I hear it these days.

3. “First Night”

I love how this starts off as a great ballad, and then the guitar and drums kick in, and it becomes a great rock song.

4. “The Search Is Over”

This was Survivor’s third single released from the album, and went on to become a #4 hit. This is an outstanding love song.

5. “Broken Promises”

We close out side 1 of the tape with a pretty good song.

Ok, now flip the tape over and press play.

6. “Popular Girl”

There is no video for this, but the writing and delivery of this song really helps you visualize your own video in your head.

7. “Everlasting”

Awesome ballad.

8. “It’s the Singer, Not the Song”

“I Can’t Hold Back”, this song, and the next song are my three favorites of the album. This is a great, upbeat rock song.

9. “I See You in Everyone”

And we finish the album strongly. In the ’80s, albums generally had 10 songs on them – 5 on each side. In the case of this album, quality was way better than quantity. This is another song I love. There is a lot of passion and feeling in this.

Well, that wraps up the Vital Signs album. Are there any other fans of this album out there? If you had never heard this album before, please let me know what you think.

R.I.P. Jimi Jamison

The man behind the music

Albums of the ’80s: Raised On Radio

Almost every year since their debut, Journey released an album, and were touring, seemingly non-stop. After the mega-successes of Escape and Frontiers, the band took a break. Steve Perry released his smash hit album, Street Talk in 1984. He learned a thing or two through his Street Talk experience. One of these things was, according to the book in the Time3 box set, that he had “a strong desire for greater control of the recording process.” As Journey began writing and recording for Raised on Radio, creative differences took hold, and the rhythm section – drummer Steve Smith, and bassist (and founding member) Ross Valory were fired. They were replaced by Larrie Londin on drums and Randy Jackson on bass. Yes kids, that Randy Jackson from American Idol. Although, if you watched the show, you already knew that because he mentioned it a half a million times.

The Raised On Radio album was finally released on May 26, 1986. I remember a lot of people complaining about the album. I definitely was not one of those people. As a matter of fact, this is one of my favorite Journey albums. Sure, it has a little bit of a different sound than the beloved Escape and Frontiers albums. But, it is still a great album. And after posting some songs from Raised On Radio on this site and Facebook and Twitter pages, I know that I share the love with a lot of other people.

I feel real nostalgic about this album at this time of year. I remember going on a family vacation to Pennsylvania in August of 1986. We packed up the station wagon (with the fake wood paneling, of course), and drove from Rhode Island to Philadelphia. I listened to my Raised On Radio tape on my Walkman all the way down. While in Philly, we went to Veterans Stadium to see the Phillies play against my beloved New York Mets. The Mets lost the game, but would go on to be world champions this year. The next day, we drove from Philly to Amish country in Lancaster, PA. Again, I popped in my Raised On Radio tape, and enjoyed the drive.

So, let’s take a trip back to 1986, feel nostalgic, and listen to Raised On Radio.

1. Girl Can’t Help It

This was the third single released from the album, but it was the first video from the album that I saw on MTV. Since the band had to break in the new rhythm section, and were getting ready for a world tour, they did not have time to film any conceptual videos. Instead, the videos that were released, were mainly concert videos.

2. Positive Touch

Admittedly, it took me a few listens before I enjoyed this song. It didn’t help that the next song was one of my favorites on the album, so I often skipped this one to get to the next song. It didn’t take too long for me to warm up to this song though. This is one of three songs on the album with Steve Smith playing drums.

3. Suzanne

As I just mentioned, this was one of my favorite songs on the album. I played this one over and over again. I might have played it even more if I didn’t like the next song just as much.

4. Be Good To Yourself

I love this song so much!! I can still listen to it over and over again. Not only does it rock, but it has a great message.

5. Once You Love Somebody

This was not one of my favorite songs. But, I like it more now, and appreciate the bluesy sound. At the time that they were writing and recording this, Steve Perry had just split with his longtime love, and Jonathan Cain was going through a divorce. That just gives the song more weight.

6. Happy To Give

Nice way to wrap up Side 1. I love it when they sing the lyrics:

Shadows fall, after the hurt is gone
Through it all, we love and we lose

7. Raised On Radio

What a great way to start side 2! What a great rocker!! The lyrics of this song basically consist of song titles and lyrics of older songs that the band must have listened to when they were growing up.

8. I’ll Be Alright Without You

This ballad was one of the more popular songs on the album. I loved this song, but I just didn’t like how long the instrumental portion was towards the end of the song. But, at least in the video, they do a little more singing.

9. It Could Have Been You

This was another one of my favorite songs on the album. There’s just something about the way they sing these lyrics that really gets to me:

I…can’t wait all my life, on a street of broken dreams
It could have been you my love (where are you now)
Oh I…still wonder if you remember the night
It could have been you

10. The Eyes of a Woman

This song ties with “Once You Love Somebody” as my least favorite song on the album. But, my least favorite songs on this album are better than some of my favorite songs on other albums. Longtime readers may know that when I got out of the Navy I went to college. The first college I went to had a jukebox in the cafeteria. I think this was the only Journey song on it, and it was always playing. It wasn’t me that played it. But, it just goes to show that even back then, I was not the only fan of Raised On Radio.

11. Why Can’t This Night Go on Forever

Perfect way to end the album. The band would not release another new studio album for another 10 years.

I hope you enjoyed the album. Tell me your memories of this album. Did you like it? Was it a disappointment?

Albums of the ’80s: Vision Quest Soundtrack

One of the many great things about the ’80s was all of the awesome movie soundtracks. Vision Quest had a great one. My friend Doug McCoy from the podcast McCoyCast will be covering the movie in an upcoming episode of his “Never Seen It” series. You should check out his podcasts. There are a few series. There are the “Crazy Creepy Cool Movies” episodes. Doug does a great job reviewing movies that are crazy, creepy, cool, or all of the above. They are all movies from the late-70s throught the ’80s that he saw as a kid. They are movies that are usually a little out of the mainstream. For example, the last episode was the Ringo Starr movie Caveman.
Never Seen It” is another great series. In these episodes, Doug and his wife, Heather, review movies mainly from the ’80s. The hook here is that one of them had never seen it, and the other has. The latest episode was Witness. They do an awesome job, and I love the podcasts.

As I said, Doug and Heather will be reviewing Vision Quest. They had done an episode on Days of Thunder, and I sent Doug a message letting him know that I loved the soundtrack to that movie. I was listing off the songs, and one of them was a really good song by John Waite called “Deal For Life“. I love that song, but I told him that I do like his song “Change” from Vision Quest better. Then I said, “Oh, that would be a good podcast if one of you guys haven’t seen it”. Apparently, one of them hasn’t seen it, so we’ll be getting a Vision Quest episode.

Okay, I think I’m done rambling for now. So let’s go Return to 1985, and listen to the Vision Quest soundtrack.

1. “Only the Young” by Journey

The album starts with the song that played during the opening credits of the movie. Journey is one of my all time favorite bands, so this was my favorite song from the soundtrack. There is an incredible history to this song that some of you may or may not know. “Only the Young” was originally recorded to be on the band’s Frontiers album in 1983. However, it was left off and replaced with “Back Talk” and “Troubled Child”. It all worked out. This song was released a single in 1985 for the Vision Quest soundtrack, and became a big hit.
Here is the interesting story about this song. The first person to ever hear the song (other than the band members) was sixteen-year-old Kenny Sykaluk of Rocky River, Ohio, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. His mother wrote a letter to the band telling them about her son’s terminal condition, and how big a fan he was of Journey. The band flew to his hospital bedside in Cleveland, Ohio at the request of the Make a Wish Foundation. Along with a Walkman containing the new track, the band also brought Kenny a football helmet signed by the San Francisco 49ers (Journey is based out of San Francisco) and an autographed Journey platinum record award. The experience of playing the song for Kenny left Steve Perry and Jonathan Cain deeply affected. Perry said, “As soon as I walked out of the hospital room I lost it. Nurses had to take me to a room by myself.” On the band’s episode of VH1’s Behind the Music, Cain broke down in tears recalling the event, remarking that “children should not have to live with that kind of pain”. Kenny died the next day, with the Walkman still in his hand. The song brought life into perspective for the band and left them humbled. Neal Schon said that Kenny’s death affected Journey by making them re-evaluate the issues that were causing friction inside the band itself. In honor of Kenny Sykaluk, the band used the song as their opener for the Raised on Radio Tour.

2. “Change” by John Waite

This is one of my favorite songs by John Waite. A few years ago, I went to a Journey concert, and John Waite was one of the opening acts. He played this song, and it still sounded great.

3. “Shout to the Top!” by The Style Council

This was never one of my favorite songs on the soundtrack. I like it a little more now. But, with so many other great songs on this soundtrack, I usually skipped this one.

4. “Gambler” by Madonna

At this point, Madonna had just become one of the biggest stars on the planet, coming off her Like a Virgin album. This is one of two songs she recorded for this soundtrack. We all know the other song she did, but this one is pretty good too.

5. “She’s On the Zoom” by Don Henley

This isn’t a bad song if you’re a Don Henley fan. It kind of feels like a ’50s Rock & Roll song.

6. “Hungry for Heaven” by Dio

I love Dio!! This is such a great song. I miss Ronnie James Dio. This song just flat-out rocks, and is perfect for this movie.

7. “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider

This is another rocker. I like Dio better though. The local rock station played this song to death. I think they actually still play it a lot. So I got sick of it. It is another song that does fit in well with this movie.

8. “I’ll Fall in Love Again” by Sammy Hagar

The Red Rocker rules!! I love this song too. This was also released on Sammy’s great Standing Hampton album, which came out several years before he joined Van Halen.

9. “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner

One of the most overplayed songs in rock history.

10. “Crazy For You” by Madonna

This was the movie’s love theme, and was the highest charting single from the album. There was a little controversy surrounding this song. What?!?! Controversy surrounding Madonna?!? Unheard of!! Well, Madonna was innocent in this. What happened was the soundtrack for Vision Quest was produced by Geffen Records. However, this came out in the middle of Madonna’s Like a Virgin album run. Like a Virgin was produced by Warner Bros. Records. Warner Bros. did not want “Crazy for You” to be released as a single because they felt that it would take attention away from Like a Virgin album. However, they were finally convinced to allow the single to be released. It all worked out, as both the song and her album were smashing successes.

I hope you enjoyed this soundtrack. And don’t forget to check out McCoyCast at http://mccoycast.wordpress.com/, or go to iTunes to download and/or subscribe to the podcast.

Albums of the ’80s: Pointer Sisters – Contact

When I was younger and not working yet, it was always a big deal to get an album or cassette – especially for a music lover like me. I think maybe my parents got sick of me listening to the likes of AC/DC, Def Leppard and Motley Crue, and wanted me to listen to more pop music. For Christmas in 1985, I got 2 new tapes! One was Emergency by Kool and the Gang (classic). The other was Contact by the Pointer Sisters, which turned out to be one of my favorites! Sure I still listened to my rock music. But I played this one over and over again. I had already loved the Pointer Sisters because of their more recent hits such as “Jump (For My Love)” and “I’m So Excited”. But I had never owned anything by them.

So 26 years later, I thought I’d share this album with you. Unless you are a diehard Pointer Sisters fan, or if you just happened to own this album, you may not have heard most of these songs before. And not to beat a dead horse, I also wanted to show my gratitude to the Pointers for coming on my ship during Operation Desert Shield during Christmas week in 1990. Like all musicians, actors, and comedians who go out and perform for the troops, they will forever have my respect.

Well, here is 1985’s Contact. I hope you enjoy these songs as much as I do:

Twist My Arm

What a way to start an album! Being a rock fan at the time, I don’t know how much I would have liked this album if they had started it with a ballad. This song just jumps out right at you from the get-go.

Hey You

This song is a little slower, which isn’t a bad thing. I feel like the Pointers put a lot of feeling into this song. And their harmonies are incredible.

Pound, Pound, Pound

I like this song more now then I did make then. It is a very cool and upbeat song. But, one of my favorite songs followed this. So I would fast forward this to get to the next song. And anybody around my age knows what would happen. When I did the fast-forward, I would always catch the end of this song. Or sometimes I would fast forward a little too much. Then I would have to rewind, and still catch the end of this song. Now I appreciate this song much more. It’s a pretty good rocker.

Back in My Arms

This is either my #1 or #2 favorite Pointer Sisters song of all time. I think this should have been a hit. But it wasn’t a ballad, and it wasn’t a jump around and get excited song. The music is just incredible, and once again the harmonies are second to none. This song just soars.

Burn Down the Night

A great way to end the first side of the tape! A great rockin’ song, and great harmonies.

Bodies and Souls

This was the first song on side 2. Another good rockin’ song. It is almost like a continuation of “Burn Down the Night”.
Unfortunately, there is no video to be found online anywhere for this. So on to the next song.

Contact

See “Pound, Pound, Pound”. This song preceded my favorite song on the album. So I skipped this one a lot. However, It is still an outstanding song, and really like this one a lot.

Dare Me

This is my favorite song on the album, and it is the song that most people would recognize from this album. This is a great song for working out, or running to. And it is also a great song to get psyched to before a sports competition. I still love this song.

Freedom

This is the only slow song on the album. It is the ultimate R&B song. They have great voices, and once again, great harmonies.

Albums of the ’80s: Poison – Open Up and Say… Ahh!

Glam rock band, Poison, was formed in 1983 in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania by lead singer Bret Michaels, guitarist Matt Smith, bassist Bobby Dall and drummer Rikki Rockett. In 1984, the band moved to Los Angeles. They made their rounds in the area’s famous clubs. Then Matt Smith was about to become a father. He was unsure of the band’s future, so he left the band and moved back to Pennsylvania. Poison auditioned for a replacement guitarist, eventually narrowing down the field to three candidates: Slash, who would later join Guns N’ Roses, Steve Silva from The Joe Perry Project, and New York-born guitarist C.C. DeVille, although Michaels and Dall did not initially get along with him, the band eventually agreed that DeVille’s “fire” made him the best choice.

Their debut album, Look What the Cat Dragged In (1986), put them on the map. Initially, the only single was “Cry Tough“. However, Poison became popular when they released the next three songs which would become big hits: “Talk Dirty to Me“, “I Want Action“, and the ballad “I Won’t Forget You“.

In 1988 Poison’s second album, Open Up and Say…Ahh!, was released and brought them up to the stratosphere. The album would go on to sell over 8 million copies, and spawned four hit singles. It peaked at number 2 on the charts as it had the misfortune of being out at the same time as Bon Jovi’s New Jersey, Guns N’ Roses’ debut record, Appetite for Destruction and Def Leppard’s most successful album, Hysteria.
But it held it’s own, and I think it is a very solid album.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Rock ‘n’ Roll if there wasn’t any controversy! When the album was first released, the cover art featured a demonic female figure with an obscenely long tongue. Or maybe it was Gene Simmons? I don’t know. After all, the year before (1987), they did cover “Rock and Roll All Nite” for the soundtrack to Less Than Zero. So maybe they had to return the favor by featuring Gene Simmons on their cover. Anyway, after being bombarded with complaints, the cover changed to only show the figure’s eyes.

While some of the songs from the album were overplayed (well, at least one of them anyway, which is still overplayed to this day, and you know which one I mean), There are some really good songs on this album.

So lets go back 25 years, Return to 1988, and Open Up and Say…Ahh!

Love on the Rocks

Great way to start the album. A rocker that features the band’s signature sound.

Nothin’ but a Good Time

This was the first single released off of the album. It reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #19 on the Mainstream rock charts. This is a fun party song.

Back to the Rocking Horse

Another fun, rockin’ song.

Good Love

Great combination of blues and rock. This is another fun, underrated song.

Tearin’ Down the Walls

I like this song alot too. This is a pretty good album so far!

Look But You Can’t Touch

This is one of my favorite Poison songs that was not released as a single. It probably should have been. This is my second favorite song of the album.

Fallen Angel

And this is my favorite Poison song. It reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #32 on the Mainstream rock charts. The song is about a young girl who grew up in a small town and goes to Los Angeles, just like a certain band we know.

Every Rose Has Its Thorn

This is a little deep track that you may or may not have heard of. Ugh! One of the most overplayed songs in the history of music! I loved this when it first came out. I even had this on a 45. This came out at a time when I was going to a lot of dances. This would be the designated “slow” song, so it does bring back some great memories. But, it doesn’t help that Bret Michaels can’t go 5 minutes in any part of his day without mentioning this song. I imagine that he’s brushing his teeth, and says, “If it wasn’t for Every Rose Has It’s Thorn, I wouldn’t be brushing my teeth with this solod gold toothbrush right now”!

It is the band’s only number-one hit in the U.S., reaching the top spot on Christmas Eve in 1988 for three weeks (carrying over into 1989) and it also charted at #11 on the Mainstream Rock charts.

Here is the song just in case you have somehow been able to avoid it.

And here’s a Country version if you want to hear a slightly different take on it.

Your Mama Don’t Dance

This was the fourth, and final single released from the album. It reached number 10 on the Billboard hot 100 and #39 on the Mainstream rock charts.
It was a cover of the 1972 hit song by Loggins and Messina. I was never a fan of this song. But I must be in the minority since it was a pretty big hit.

Here is the original Loggins and Messina version:

Bad to Be Good

This is a pretty good song. It sounds a little heavier than some of their other rockin’ songs. I like this a lot.

Albums of the ’80s: Huey Lewis and the News – Sports

In 1978, Huey Lewis & The American Express were formed, and based out of the Bay Area in California. In January 1980, the American Express credit card company complained about the band name. So they changed it to what we now know as Huey Lewis and the News. Later that year, they released their self-titled debut studio album. What, you never heard of it? Well, not too many people have, as the album went largely unnoticed. However, their follow-up album in 1982 – Picture This – was successful, thanks to their breakout hit “Do You Believe In Love”.

In 1983 (yes, 30 years ago!), Huey Lewis and the News released their 3rd album – Sports. This album was what I would like to call a slow burn. It started out as ranking 6th on the U.S. charts. But, as each single was released (and played endlessly on MTV) the album and the band became more and more popular. They would gain worldwide fame, and the album would be certified 7x Platinum. By June 1984, the album would be a number 1 hit. Four singles from the album reached the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100.

Huey Lewis and the News followed-up the album strongly, as they had 2 popular songs from Back to the Future – “The Power of Love”, which was a number 1 hit, and “Back in Time”.

The band’s 4th album, Fore!, was not too shabby, as it sold 3x Platinum. But, their commercial success faded after that. By the ’90s, they weren’t exactly drumming out the hits. But they are still together and still tour.

Now, let’s hop in the Delorian, and go back 30 years to 1983, and experience the classic hit album, Sports.

The Heart of Rock & Roll

This song that leads off the album was the 3rd single released, and it reached #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

This is a pretty good rocker. Most songs that have a rockin’ sax solo in the middle is aces in my book. Plus they name of several cities in the song. This way, they could cheaply get extra loud cheers whenever they mention the city they were touring in that night. And if they were in a city/town that was not mentioned in the song, I’m willing to bet that they added the name in for that night, and really got the crowd excited! Ugh! Not a bad song though, but it was one of the many songs of this album that was played over and over again on MTV and on the radio. Therefore, it didn’t take long to get sick of it.

Heart and Soul

This song was the first single released from the album, and was a #8 hit. And from the “You learn something new every day” department, I just found out that this song was released by 2 different groups prior to Huey Lewis and the News making a hit out of it. The first version was also the title track of a 1981 album by Exile. The second was released by The BusBoys for their 1982 album American Worker (couldn’t find a video for this).

This was the first time I had seen Huey Lewis and the News on MTV.

Bad Is Bad

This was the only song on the first side of the album that did not get released as a single. I didn’t know there was a video shot for this. I used to not like this song, but I like it more now. It is a cool combination of Blues and Doo-Wop.

I Want a New Drug

This was the second single released from the album, and reached up to number 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Dance Club Play chart.
There was controversy surrounding this song. When the similarities between this song and the theme song of the 1984 film Ghostbusters were heard, Huey Lewis sued Ray Parker Jr. for plagiarism, claiming that Parker had stolen the melody from “I Want a New Drug”.

They ended up settling out of court. But everything got stirred up again in 2001, when Lewis commented on the payment in an episode of VH1’s Behind the Music. So Parker sued Lewis for breaching confidentiality. Here’s a pretty cool mashup of the two songs:

Here’s the video that was shown a couple million of times on MTV:

Side 2

Walking on a Thin Line

While most of the big hits were on the first side of the album, I like the songs on the second side much more. This song is one of my favorites on the album. Great way to start Side 2.

Finally Found a Home

This song has the same tempo as “Walking on a Thin Line”, and I love it. Here is a live version:

If This Is It

This is probably my least favorite Huey Lewis song. This was the fourth single released from the album, and it was the third consecutive song to reach #6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In general, I’m not a fan of the band’s ballads. I much prefer their rockin’ songs.

You Crack Me Up

Ah, back to the rockin’ stuff. Another one of my favorites from the album.

Honky Tonk Blues

When this album came out, I was not really into Country or Blues, so I didn’t appreciate this song. But, by the time Grunge came around in the ’90s, and ran the music I loved out of town, I ended up getting heavily into Country. So, I love this song now.
This was originally done by the legendary Hank Williams. Here is some old school country with the Hank Williams version.

I think Huey Lewis and the News did a great job with the song. You be the judge yourself.

What do you think of the album? Are you like me, and prefer the lesser known songs from the album, or do you still like the hits?

Albums of the ’80s – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, released in 1989, was a fun movie. It starred Keanu Reeves as Ted “Theodore” Logan, Alex Winter as Bill S. Preston, Esquire. Bill and Ted, of San Dimas, California, are cut from the same mold as Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The dim-wits are in danger of failing their History class. Should they fail, Ted’s father will send Ted to military school in Alaska, thus ending the feldgling band Wyld Stallyns. The future is dependant on the Wyld Stallyns due to the inspiration of the band’s music and wisdom. In order to preserve society in the year 2688, leaders send Rufus (George Carlin) back in time to help Bill and Ted successfully pass their History class. Rufus leaves the boys the time machine so that they can travel back in time and learn about history in time for their final presentation the next day. Instead of a police box shaped Tardis (Holla fellow Whovians!), this time machine is in the form of a phone booth (Holla fellow people who were around before the ’90s!).
Bill and Ted go back in time and retrieve several historical figures – Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates (or should I say So-Crates), Freud, Genghis Kahn, Beethoven, Abraham Lincoln, and Joan of Arc (played by The Go-Go’s Jan Wiedlin). Bill and Ted use the historical figures in their presentation, and it was a rousing success. This helped preserve society in the future. Yay!! Oh crap!! This also opened the door for the appropriately named sequel Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.

If you want to hear more about Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure movie, check out this episode from my good friends at The Awesome 80s Podcast.

While Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure was a lot of fun, the soundtrack was also a lot of fun. They did not even need any big name bands. Let’s hop in the phone booth, travel back to 1989, and go on a music listening adventure.

“Play with Me” by Extreme

The song that leads off the album is by the best known group on the album. However, Extreme was unkown at the time. Not only was “Play with Me” on this soundtrack, it was also the first single from Extreme’s self-titled debut album. The guitar solo by Nuno Bettencourt is just incredible.

“The Boys and Girls Are Doing It” by Vital Signs

This song is a great follow-up to “Play With Me”. It is another rockin’ song. Vital Signs, not to be confused with the awesome Survivor album, was a pop/rock band from Pakistan. Even though Vital Signs did not sell a lot of albums in the U.S., they were Pakistan’s first and most commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed act in the music history of the country.

“Not So Far Away” by Glen Burtnik

Hard core Styx fans may recognize Glen Burtnick’s name as he was in the band for their Edge of the Century album. But before that, he performed this song for the Bill and Ted soundtack.

“Dancing with a Gypsy” by Tora Tora

Tora Tora is a hard rock band out of Memphis, Tennessee. The singer sounds like a cross between Robert Plant and Axl Rose.

“Father Time” by Shark Island

Shark Island, in the tradition of Van Halen, Mötley Crüe and other Los Angeles bands, became the house band at the world-famous Gazzari’s on the Sunset Strip. The band scored a record deal, and in 1989 they released their first and only official album, Law of the Order. After suffering disappointing sales, the group disbanded. Here is the first of 2 songs that Shark Island performed on this soundtrack:

“I Can’t Break Away” by Big Pig

Big Pig were a seven-piece Australian pop/rock band that existed from 1985 to 1991.

This is my favorite song on the soundtrack. This was the song that introduced the movie.

“Dangerous” by Shark Island

And here’s the 2nd Shark Island song on the album. I like this one better than “Father Time”:

“Walk Away” by Bricklin

And this would be my 2nd favorite song of this album. Bricklin was a six-piece rock band was founded by the Bricklin brothers, Brian and Scott. They only released two albums, and they did not sell very well. I really like their sound though.

“In Time” by Robbi Robb

Another song from this soundtrack that I love.

“Two Heads Are Better Than One” by Power Tool

As you may have seen from a recent Return to the ’80s trivia question, most of us know Power Tool by the real band name – Nelson. During the 80s, Matthew and Gunnar played as Strange Agents and as The Nelsons, with which they played the Los Angeles club scene. The eventually landed a record deal with Geffen Records and began approaching A&R executive John Kalodner. According to Gunnar, they met with Kalodner “every month for a year”, during which he filtered the songs they brought him until they had enough for an album. During this time, they were also introduced to Marc Tanner, who helped them polish their songwriting skills.

During this time, Nelson was also approached to contribute a song to the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Matthew and Gunnar then co-wrote a song with Dweezil Zappa called “Two Heads are Better than One”. Since the band was in process of being signed up to Geffen, Kalodner recommended them not to use their names for the song, so they were billed as Power Tool instead.

Here is Nelson as Power Tool performing the last song of the album:

Albums of the ’80s: Chicago 16

From 1969 to 1978, Chicago was one of the most successful bands in the world. Their fusion of rock and roll with a horn section gave the band a unique sound, and they had some incredible hits like —”Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, “Beginnings”, “25 or 6 to 4”, and “Colour My World”.

In 1978, legendary lead guitarist Terry Kath, who was the heart and soul of the band, died from an accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chicago almost broke up after that, but decided to carry on. In the process, they began to change their sound from rock/jazz to pop and ballads. Their first album after Kath’s death, 1978’s Hot Streets, was pretty successful. However, the band went on a dry spell after that.

Then in 1981, Chicago brought in new producer, David Foster. They also changed record labels from Columbia to Warner Brothers. Keyboardist/guitarist/singer Bill Champlin also joined the band. So the band caught a second wind as David Foster radically changed the band’s sound for the ’80s. The first album of this era was 1982’s Chicago 16.
For this album, David Foster also brought in studio musicians, including core members of Toto. The album was a big hit, especially as “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” became the band’s second #1 US single. The album went platinum, and reach #9 on the U.S. Billboard charts.

Let’s listen to this great album.

What You’re Missing

Not a bad way to start the album. The keyboards are strong, the horn section is featured, and you can’t go wrong with Peter Cetera on vocals.

Waiting for You to Decide

Peter Cetera starts with the lead vocals. We are then introduced to Bill Champlin. They sound great together.

Bad Advice

This song has a Blues/Funk sound with the horns and heavy bass, until Cetera comes in with the chorus, and the song has the classic ’80s Chicago sound. Another great combined effort of Cetera and Champlin.

Chains

This Peter Cetera song is one that can get stuck in your head.

Hard to Say I’m Sorry/Get Away

This is the song that put Chicago back on the map. It was a #1 hit for 2 weeks. It was their first top 50 hit since “No Tell Lover” in 1978. This is a great ballad. My favorite part of the song is the “Get Away” portion. The horn section just explodes. However, when this song got played on the radio, the stations would fade out the song at the end of the ballad section, and leave out the rockin’ part of the song. I can understand that happening at a dance. It would be kind of awkward slow dancing to a beautiful ballad, and then jumping right into fast paced music. But, there’s no excuse for radio! C’Mon now!! Are you guys with me?! Um, I better get off the soapbox for now before I really go off on a tangent, and talk about how annoyed I used to get when the DJ’s would talk over the music for the whole beginning of a song until the singer started singing, and then start yapping again at the end of the song after the singer finished singing, and the instruments would still be playing. So let’s get back to the music. After all, this is still one of my all-time favorite Chicago songs. First, here is the bastardized version, without the horn section, and then the real version, which is even better live:

Follow Me

The first song on side 2 was pretty good too. I love the horns and guitar in this, and Bill Champlin is great.

Sonny Think Twice

Another Bill Champlin song. I didn’t appreciate it too much in my younger days, but it has grown on me over the years.

What Can I Say

This is another song that I didn’t care for when I was younger. But, this Peter Cetera song has also grown on me. Back in the day, though, I used to skip over “Sonny Think Twice” and this song to get to the next 2 songs.

Rescue You

This was my favorite non-ballad song of the album. It’s a really good rock song with Peter Cetera on vocals.

Love Me Tomorrow

Another great Chicago ballad. It was the second song from this album released as a single and it reached #22 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. This is the last song on the album. It gave us much to look forward to from this legendary band throughout the ’80s and beyond.

Albums of the ’80s: Asia by Asia

It may be hard to believe for some of us, but this year marks the 30th anniversary of Asia’s self-titled debut album. This prog-rock supergroup was formed in 1981. The orginal lineup consists of bassist/vocalist John Wetton (formerly in Mogul Thrash, Family, King Crimson, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, U.K. and Wishbone Ash), guitarist Steve Howe (formerly, and subsequently in Yes), keyboardist Geoff Downes (of Yes and The Buggles) and drummer Carl Palmer (formerly in The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Atomic Rooster and Emerson, Lake & Palmer).

The album Asia was released in March 1982, and was very successful. It spent nine weeks at number one in the U.S. album chart and selling over 4 million copies in the U.S. alone. The album sold over 10 million worldwide.

The band has gone through several lineup changes through the years. Although their debut was the most successful of all their albums, they have remained consistently good.

With that, let’s Return to 1982, and listen to Asia’s classic debut album:

1. Heat of the Moment

“Heat of the Moment” is the first single released from the album. It got tons of airplay on MTV, and I loved this song. It would go on to become the most popular song on the album, peaking at #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and #4 on the Billboard Top Singles chart.

2. Only Time Will Tell

“Only Time Will Tell” is my favorite song on the album. While “Heat of the Moment” got me interested in this new band, “Only Time Will Tell” blew me away. I listened to the song over and over, and never got sick of it. This was the band’s second top ten hit on the U.S. Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, peaking at number 8. It also peaked at number 17 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. It reached number 54 On the U.K. Top 100 Singles chart.

3. Sole Survivor

Yet another hit song for Asia! “Sole Survivor” was the third single that reached the Top Ten on the U.S Mainstream Rock Charts. The single also peaked at #75 in Germany and #91 in the UK.

4. One Step Closer

This is a pretty good song that you may not have heard if you don’t own the album. I like the chorus.

5. Time Again

Pretty good fusion here. The guitar is awesome in this song. And there are a couple of small parts that almost sound like Jazz.

6. Wildest Dreams

Another hit song for Asia. It only peaked at #28 on the U.S. charts, which isn’t high compared to their other songs from this album. But it’s still a very good song.

7. Without You

8. Cutting It Fine

I like this song. It actually sounds like it could be a Styx song.

9. Here Comes the Feeling

Great song to close out the album. This song has the classic Asia sound.