Friday, August 03, 2012

“Do It Again”

c. 2012 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

At my workplace near Lake Erie, the music system offers a variety of channels fed through a satellite dish. Typically, our choice of tuneful sounds is carefully regulated to provide a bland mix that will avoid offending customers. But recently, someone switched the receiver to an 80’s music channel. The result has been that many songs long since surrendered to yesterday have returned to my subconscious mind. I find myself whistling melodies not heard in decades. What follows here is a short list of these classic tracks:

1. “Echo Beach” / Martha and the Muffins (1980) – A haunting wish for yonder days when life was not ruled by boredom. A Canadian tale told by an office clerk.

2. “Just Another Night” / Mick Jagger (1985) – From his solo release “She’s the Boss.” A track that combines acoustic guitar, keyboards and synthesizer trickery. Modernistic for its time. A lost reverberation from the moment in time when Mick and Keith Richards both tried solo projects.

3. “Girl U Want” / Devo (1980) – A quirky, yet catchy tune. Forgotten by comparison to their omnipresent single “Whip It.” But it was the template for many successful tunes that followed.

4. “Do It Again” / The Kinks (1984) – From the album “Word of Mouth.” Stylistically, a nod to their primal sound, with a raw chord structure and grungy guitar tones. The lyrics match, with references to past days of glory.

5. “Delirious” / Prince (1982) – From his smash recording “1999.” In days of yore, Prince was everywhere. His prowess as a funk composer, performer and producer overwhelmed popular music in that period. He was always controversial, but never ignored.

6. “If Dirt Were Dollars” / Don Henley (1989) – Gritty and satirical, in the best tradition of his solo works. A rocking bit of social commentary. More proof that he could soar beyond fame with the Eagles.

7. “Walking on Sunshine” / Katrina and the Waves (1985) – A catchy and upbeat single that proved to be irresistible, then and now. The song has been covered by various artists around the world, including Country Music icon Dolly Parton.

8. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” / Michael Jackson (1982) – From the explosive album “Thriller.” Evidence of Quincy Jones’ talent as a writer and producer. A nod to Jackson at his peak as the “King of Pop.”

9. “Tainted Love” / Soft Cell (1981) – A modernistic re-working of the song first made popular by Gloria Jones in 1965. The single received lots of airplay. Recognized as #2 of VH-1’s “100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 1980’s.”

10. “Livin’ on a Prayer” / Bon Jovi (1986) – Played over and over again. A staple song of the decade, along with “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Wanted, Dead or Alive.”

11. “King for a Day” / Thompson Twins (1985) – Breezy and cheerful, an anthem of the period that endures despite its dated sound and style.

12. “Girls on Film” / Duran Duran (1981) – A controversial video helped attract attention for this song, as MTV debuted. A peek into the world of pop stardom. The group would score numerous hits throughout the decade.

13. “Time After Time” / Cyndi Lauper (1984) – A beautiful ballad, strangely emotive for the squeaky pop queen. Haunting to hear decades later. It hearkens back to simpler times and the energy of youth.

14. “The Metro” / Berlin (1983) – A melodic blend of pop and darker New Wave elements. Urban imagery offered in a direct and minimalist fashion.

15. “I Feel for You” / Chaka Khan (1984) – Big beats and Hip Hop style made this single a favorite on the radio. Danceable and hard to forget.

16. “99 Luftballoons” / Nena (1983) – Though re-recorded as “99 Red Balloons” in English, the earlier version in German received more airplay in the era. An unlikely hit, but oh-so-catchy.

17. “Get It On (Bang a Gong)” / Power Station (1985) – Another single that received heavy airplay during the decade. The group was comprised of vocalist Robert Palmer with members of Chic and Duran Duran.

18. “Rock You Up” / The Romantics (1983) – A rollicking, good-time anthem. This group carried a basic, punchy Rock sound that transcended the decade. Still fresh even after the passage of many years.

19. “She Blinded Me with Science” / Thomas Dolby (1982) – A danceable oddity that puzzled listeners, even in yonder days. Contains the amusing lyrics: “She’s tidied up, and I can’t find anything!”

20. “Channel Z” / The B-52’s (1989) – A rhythmic ode to static on the television. Fred Schneider belts out spoken lyrics with the geeky non-appeal of actor Jonathan Harris. Yet somehow, the group continued their chart success throughout the decade.

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