On this episode of Return to the ’80s, Robert and Paul welcome Ty Ray, from the Beats and Eats podcast, to the show. The guys Return to 1981, and count down the year’s top songs, movies, and television shows. Also, find out what the biggest selling toys were in 1981, and reminisce on the big news stories of the year.
As this current decade comes to a close, come join us to Return to the greatest decade ever, and check out the awesome year of 1981!
Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 – January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome
Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 4-2
New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-1
LA Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-1
January 20 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed
March 6 Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS Evening News
March 30 Reagan Assassination attempt
April 18 The Longest Game – Pawtucket Red Sox tie Rochester Red Wings 2-2 in 32 innings (game resumed 23rd June)
May 11 Cats premieres in London
May 13 Assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Jun 2 Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
Jun 5 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
Jun 12 Baseball players begin a 50 day strike, their 3rd strike
July 29 Royal Wedding
Aug 1 MTV premieres at 12:01 AM
Aug 3 13,000 Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) begin their strike; US President Ronald Reagan offers an ultimatum to workers: ‘if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated’
Sep 12 “The Smurfs” animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America
Sep 25 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice
Dec 11 Muhammad Ali’s 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
Welcome to a new episode of Return to the 80s! This was a hard fought battle to get this posted. Del and I had recorded another episode a week before this one, and it did not come out at all. So we had to have a do-over, and Robert was able to join us this time. In case you are wondering who Del is…he’s the one giving you the Remember That Song every day. He also hosts an 80s radio show, which we discuss in this episode.
Speaking of this episode, we each had gone to a concert, which we discuss in this episode.
– Welcome Del Roehling from 80s at 8 on 91.1 WEDM FM, and from the legendary Return to the 80s, “Remember That Song” fame
– Stream WEDM at 8am on Saturdays and Sundays for Del’s show, 80s at 8
– Paul misses Def Leppard and Journey at Fenway Park
– Robert’s review of Rick Springfield, and Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo
– Del’s review of the band, Yacht Rock Review
– Paul’s review of Chicago and REO Speedwagon, and the great Chicago controversy
Hi Everybody! We are back this week with another Top 40 Countdown! This week, we Return to 1987. This was one of the best periods in my life. I was in my junior year of high school. I was actually doing decent in school, finally. I had met a girl who would be a great girlfriend around this time. And music, movies, and TV shows were outstanding. So, “let’s go”, and Return to the week ending February 28, 1987, and begin the countdown. As usual, you can click on the song title to watch the video, and you can click onthe album cover to listen or purchase the song on Amazon.
Yeesh, this is a timely song title right now. I had forgotten about this song. This song also mentions the album title – Whiplash Smile. I always thought it was cool when there was no title track, but a song on the album had the title in the lyrics.
This was a huge hit for Robbie Nevil, reaching all the way up to #2 on the Hot 100. I was very much into rock at this point, so I didn’t care much for it. It didn’t help that it was constantly on the airwaves.
I love Boston! They were on fire in the late ’70s with back-to-back smash albums. However, it then took 8 years to release their 3rd album, Third Stage. It was another great album. But, what I remember most was when I bought the cassette, and in the liner notes, there were all kinds of excuses of why it took so long to release this album. Even back then, I thought that was strange.
We’ll close out today with another song I had never heard of before. I’ve been missing out! This song was off of Jeff Lorber’s Private Passion album. In 1988, Karyn White would go on to release her debut album, and had a great run as a solo artist.
Well, that wraps up today’s list of songs. Any favorites so far, or any forgotten hits for you? What were you doing at this time in 1987? I’d love to hear from you! Come back tomorrow as we continue the countdown.
Welcome back to a new podcast episode! This week is another 80s crossover event from the 80s League! This month’s topic is 80s Movie Villains. Robert and Paul go through some of their favorite/most hated 80s movie villains. Paul also broke down and watched last year’s Ghostbusters movie. Come hear the exclusive review in this show. There is a new Play This, Not That, featuring Survivor. We had a Remember That Song winner, so there is a new one this week.
We would love to hear who some of your favorite 80s villains are. Please comment below, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opening Segment of this 80s Crossover Event
Check out these sites that are participating this month:
Sadly, REO Speedwagon guitarist and songwriter, Gary Richrath, died this past Sunday, September 13, 2015 at the age of 65. The cause of death has not been given yet.
Robert has written a great tribute to this guitar legend.
My First Guitar Hero Has Passed
I was personally taken aback Monday night when I read about the death of Gary Richrath, REO Speedwagon’s original guitarist. A few months ago I wrote about Hi Infidelity, the first album I ever bought with my own money. That album and Richrath’s guitar work mark the beginning of my passionate love affair with ‘80s rock. Since those days I have never been without some form of music with me – records, cassettes, CDs, MP3s, – whatever, no matter, I need it. I owe this love of the guitar and rock ‘n roll to the amazing guitar work of Gary Richrath. It is with a heavy heart that I am listening to his guitar with REO Speedwagon as I write this.
Richrath was a founding member of the band from Champaign, Illinois. He remained the band’s lead guitarist and primary songwriter with lead vocalist Kevin Cronin (actually the REO’s second vocalist) until 1987 and the release of Life As We Know It, REO’s thirteenth studio album (not counting compilations). Richrath’s distinct, driving guitar work shines on songs like “Roll With the Changes”, REO’s first top 40 hit in 1978.
Roll With the Changes
With Richrath, REO Speedwagon produced quality rock music for nearly two decades. Songs like “Time for Me to Fly”, “Back on the Road Again”, and “157 Riverside Avenue” were mainstays in the REO live performances which became their mantra. In 1981, with the release of Hi Infidelity, REO hit the big time. After years of touring and producing moderately successful rock albums, this one soared to the top of the album charts and was declared the top selling album of the year. Richrath’s precise solo could be heard on the massive hit “Keep On Loving You”, REO’s first #1 single that helped launch the power ballad genre. That same album contains Richrath’s most famous song “Take It on the Run.” In an interview, Richrath said this about his classic song, “When I wrote that, I woke up one night, half asleep, and sat down in front of the TV. There was a soap opera on it. I was just sitting there, strumming a guitar, thinking, ‘God, these guys’ relationships are worse than mine.’ I just sat there and sang vocals about the effects of gossip and relationships breaking up, which was what was on the tube and all that was similar to what was going on in my life.” This song quickly became a second huge hit from Hi Infidelity reaching #5. As great as all of Richrath’s guitar work is, give this one another listen – the length, the tempo, and emotions of this solo makes it nothing short of a masterpiece.
Take It on the Run
On the REO Speedwagon official website, lead singer Kevin Cronin wrote, “I feel so sad. Gary was both a unique guitarist and songwriter, and the embodiment of the tough guy with a heart of gold. I learned most of what I know about being in a rock band from Gary Richrath. The entire REO family mourns his death and shares in the grief of his family, friends, and fans. These words do not come close to expressing the depth of emotions I am feeling at this time.” Cronin reflects the true relationships that emerge in long lasting bands. Despite leaving REO in 1987 and being replaced by Dave Amato, the connection with the rest of the band is clear.
The follow up to Hi Infidelity, 1982’s Good Trouble, did not reach the same heights, but 1984’s Wheels are Turnin’ marked REO’s return to the top of the charts. Once again, Richrath’s guitar was as the center of more classic REO songs. “I Do’ Wanna Know”, “I Can’t Fight This Feeling”, and “Thru the Window” all featured excellent guitar work. Richrath’s last album with REO was 1987’s Life as We Know It. Predictably, Richrath’s guitar shines once again, giving each song a distinct rock edge with plenty of solid solo work.
Keep the Fire Burning
I Do’ Wanna Know
That Ain’t Love
As great as all of the recorded albums were, Richrath truly shined onstage. His work during REO’s live shows was nothing short of amazing. His tireless rhythm guitar and soaring solos always took center stage at an REO show. My very first concert was an REO show in Offenbach, Germany in 1985. This show was in support of the Wheels are Turnin’ album – and I was completely blown away. Maybe it was because it was my first concert, but I had never heard anyone play a guitar like that! I was riveted from the opening notes of “Don’t Let Him Go” to the last warbles of “Riding the Storm Out.” Richrath’s last appearance with REO Speedwagon was in 2013 in his home state of Illinois where he joined his former bandmates in a concert to benefit victims of a recent tornado.
157 Riverside Avenue (Live)
Richrath did release one solo album, 1992’s Only the Strong Survive. I purchased it right away, but quickly realized that is was not quite the same as having the entire lineup together. It was good, but something was missing. REO has carried on and continued to be a very successful touring band. I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert in May and it was excellent – they sounded great – but deep inside I missed Gary’s guitar. As excellent as Amato played, it was not the same as it was in 1985.
The rock world has lost a fantastic, and for some reason, underrated guitarist. Gary Richrath’s songs with REO Speedwagon will never fade from my memory and I will never stop playing them and telling my children how great he was. Gary, I will truly miss your music. I will always remember to keep on riding the storm out and, “If you want to go, let me go along / I’d never walk that road alone / I heard it was hard, I heard it was long / But we’ll come back alive because only the strong survive.”
Hi Everybody! Robert is back this week with a new awesome album review. I loved REO Speedwagon ever since I got their Wheels Are Turnin’ album (actually it was a cassette). Well, little did I know that four years earlier, this great band had released another classic album – Hi Infidelity. I never owned that album. But, I did know several of songs from their greatest hits album. Some of the songs from this album are new to me. So, I love this article. I know you will too.
Hi Infidelity: REO Speedwagon’s Well Deserved Hit
The year was 1981 and I was in the sixth grade. My Army sergeant father had just informed me that we were leaving Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio and moving to Frankfurt, Germany. I was nervous, but not completely upset about this announcement – actually, I was a bit excited. I would be able to visit and get to know my Dutch grandparents who would only be three hours away and not an ocean away. I was sad to leave my friends, but I knew I would make new ones in Germany – all military kids are told this through the multiple relocations they we are forced to endure. Now, this does not mean I didn’t take advantage of the situation. I had recently gotten into music – radio only. I listened to it every night (sneaking under the covers) and was starting to recognize and enjoy a few artists.
One of these was a band by the name of REO Speedwagon and a song called “Keep On Loving You”. I had never heard a song that sounded quite like that- a love song that, well, rocked. I approached my father, played the “I can’t believe we are moving again” card and asked for some money to buy REO’s album. This was a moment that changed my life forever. Hi Infidelity was the first album I ever bought; I give it credit for being the beginning of my love affair with ‘80s music. When I got home and listened to it for the first time, honestly, I never looked back. Music was now an integral part of my existence. Since then I have continued to buy albums, attend concerts, and listen to some type of rock everyday- but REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity will always be held in my heart as the first.
I did not know it at the time, but I soon learned that Hi Infidelity was REO’s ninth album. I was young and had very little experience or knowledge in the area rock music, but I knew that I liked what I heard and needed more of it. REO formed in the late 1960s in Champaign, Illinois and recorded their first album with lead singer Terry Luttrell in 1971. Kevin Cronin, the present lead singer, joined the band in 1972 for the band’s second album. Cronin left after recording his second album with REO, but the album was released with Mike Murphy on vocals. Fortunately, Cronin rejoined in 1976 to become the permanent vocalist. Hi Infidelity was released in November of 1980. Until this time, some of REO’s songs received frequent airplay, but they had yet to achieve major success. Songs like “Keep Pushing“, “Roll with the Changes“, “Time for Me to Fly“, and “Back on the Road Again” made the band a popular live performance band, but the success that comes with a hit single and album still eluded them – until this album.
All told, Hi Infidelity sold ten million copies and spent fifteen weeks at the top of Billboard’s album chart. The album spawned four top twenty-five hits. This album was a major commercial success, but there was one thing that was more important than the number of copies sold or the countless times the singles were played on the radio – this album represented over a decade of hard work and dedication to the idea that a relentless work ethic will pay off – even in the rock world. This album features the most consistent members of REO Speedwagon: Kevin Cronin on vocals, Gary Richrath and guitars, Bruce Hall on the bass, Neal Doughty on keyboards, and Alan Gratzer on drums. Today, these songs on Hi Infidelity are classics that are played both on classic rock stations and by REO themselves in concert. There is no need to delay- sit back and enjoy the sweet sounds of one of the most dedicated, hard working bands in rock who helped define and change the perception of popular rock and roll in the ‘80s.
Gratzer’s drums set up this song which is a perfect opening track to an album. It is upbeat and features solos by both Richrath’s guitar and Doughty’s keyboards – a classic REO combination. This song typically opened REO shows in the ‘80s. It has a perfect blend of all the instruments, great vocals by Cronin, and a catchy chorus, “Don’t let him go / Just give him a chance to grow / Take it easy, take it slow / And don’t let him go.” This song does an excellent job in preparing the listener for what is to come.
There is no way to adequately state the sheer brilliance or importance of this song. This song captured hundreds of thousands music fans and got them hooked on REO’s music. Many music critics give this song credit as an early (some say first) rock ballad. There may be other songs that can lay claim to creating this type of ballad, but in the ‘80s, this is clearly an early, shining example. The song opens with the classic ballad piano and slowly builds through the power chords of the rhythm guitar to Richrath’s fantastic solo – oh, how many times I rocked to this solo on my air guitar (wait, I still do). This song is short, clocking in at 3:22, but it packs a powerful punch. Just consider how many great rock ballads follow this amazing song. All of the power ballads by all of those hair bands owe REO for introducing this genre to the rock world of the ‘80s. When I recently saw REO in concert, Cronin introduced this song as the one that changed everything. It clearly did change things for REO, but also changed things for many of their fans.
There is not a song on Hi Infidelity that I do not like. This song is the one that made me really appreciate Richrath’s guitar work. From the opening note through the rhythm he lays down and the solo he wails on, Richrath truly shows his expertise. This is a solid song that fits the overall feel and quality of the album. Oh, and it has two guitar solos, or maybe three!
While I like this song now, it took a while to grow on me. As a young listener I was enthralled with Hi Infidelity’s rocking guitar work- this song shows a different side of the band. It does not feature big guitar chords or soaring solos, rather the piano/keyboards take center stage. The catchy chorus is perfectly framed by Doughty’s piano work and includes both a piano and a Hammond B-3 organ solo. Lyrically, the song is one of being dumped through the dreaded letter, “You could have left him only / For an evening let him be lonely / But you hid behind your poison pen and his pride.”
It is extremely difficult for me to choose my favorite REO song, but this one is a strong contender. The opening lines are some of the most memorable ones from the early ‘80s (everybody sing), “Heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend who heard it from another you’ve been messing around.” The song is about the harm that rumors can cause and the unwillingness to believe them when they concern someone we are in love with. This song is as close to perfect as a rock song can get. I especially love Richrath’s solo, particularly the length of it. While the solo in “Keep on Loving You” is great, I feel it is a bit short and fits a mold. This one lasts longer and builds perfectly- and do not miss Bruce Hall’s bass line that accompanies it.
You know this one – the one that starts with Spanky and Alfalfa from The Little Rascals. And then the guitars kick in- yeah, that one. This is a great, simple, and catchy rock song. I think it is also the only studio song by REO that has a curse word in it – but it is funny and it does rhyme. The lyrics capture the feeling all guys have had when they are overjoyed that the girl chose them, even though the other guys could clearly pound them into the dust.
For absolutely no reason, I rediscovered this song the summer before I went to college. I was packing all of my records and cassettes away for storage as my family moved back to the United States. I was not going to be able to take my music with me until Christmas break because it would not arrive before I left for school (it was an incredibly long four months!). I wanted to make some temporary copies of my albums and listen to them one more time before we parted. This song really stood out to me; it did a great job in capturing the feelings of being let go by someone you love and not really understanding the reason why. The imagery is simple and powerful.
This is a really fun song. I have seen REO perform this song several times in concert, and even though it is not one of their big hits, it always gets the crowd rocking and involved in the show. It is impossible not to sing along with and pump your fist to the chorus.
This song features lead vocals by bass player Bruce Hall. He makes several appearances as a vocalist on a few different REO albums, the most famous being the song “Back on the Road Again” from the Nine Lives album. Hall has a solid rock voice and he carries this song along with Richrath’s guitar work. Check out this bonus live video of REO performing Hall’s classic:
I have always felt that this song could have been a single. It combines the talents of all the REO members: piano, bass, guitar and Cronin’s best vocals on the album.
Hi Infidelity is an excellent album that foreshadows what is to come in ‘80s rock. I never tire of listening to it – and when I do I am immediately transported to those days of my youth when music started to matter to me. I owe REO Speedwagon an enormous debt of gratitude. They opened my ears to rock and roll and gave me the fire of listening to music that still burns today. Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to see REO live. It was my tenth time attending one of their shows and it was as good as the first. The band was full of energy and rocked the entire crowd for two hours. As expected, they performed several songs from Hi Infidelity and I loved them as if it were the first time I heard them. This album maintains a special, important place on my shelf and in my rock n’ roll heart.