Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Foreigner: Inside Information (1987)

For a storied 1980s rock band such as Foreigner, 1987's Inside Information was a decent album... But it stands out on the strength of one of the band's greatest singles, "Say You Will."

It was a cleaner, more mature, more refined sound than that which had made the band in the late 70's and early 80's, with their earlier hits such as "Hot Blooded."

But what makes this song so exemplary is the fact that is represented by one of my favorite videos of the 1980s. The black and white crisp photography, the art direction, and the shady glimpses of excess truly capture in a single video the essence of what made features like Wall Street and Bright Lights, Big City successes in their time.

Enjoy the video...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blue Peter: Don't Walk Past (1983)

Not everyone can necessarily name the band, but anyone who was in Canada in the 1980s will recognize the song.

Blue Peter's "Don't Walk Past" was one of Canada's most cutting edge entries into the techno-pop New Wave scene of the mid-80s and had every bit of 80s coolness-meets-snobbiness-meets-quasi-fashion to have passed for European. It could well have made it onto the American Psycho soundtrack.

Anyway, here is the original video for their lasting contribution to the 80s music landscape.

And here they are performing their signature song live in Toronto in May 2008.

The band is still together and still going strong. Check them out if you like at their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

Heart: Heart (1985)

Heart, a band built around frontsisters Ann (vocals) and Nancy (guitar) was one of the most groundbreaking and influential bands of the 1970s. Crazy on You, one of their many signature songs (somewhat recently sampled by Eminem) still stands as one of the great rock anthems of the era (from Dreamboat Annie, 1976).

But it took Heart several years and albums to eventually release an album simply called...Heart.

It was the smoking hot female version of Def Leppard meets Europe fused with Bon Jovi meets Platonum Blonde. In short, Heart had adapted to the 80s. And given the instrumental, lyrical and songwriting talents involved in the lineup, it was not surprising that they did a better job of molding themselves to the 80s hair-rock sound than most of their contemporaries.

They left us with an album that for its genre and era, is one of the most consistently hard-punching and listenable compilations from the opening track to the last. Many of the songs made their way up the charts: If Looks Could Kill, These Dreams, What About Love, Never... And some of the ones that stayed hidden on the B-side are still pretty decent and may have been singles for any lesser band.

Anyway, here's a taste of the Wilson sisters rocking out at their gnarliest.

Heart - "If Looks Could Kill" (Live c.2003)
Yeah, Ann put on a couple pounds, so what...

Heart - "What About Love"

Heart - "Never"

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eric Clapton: It's in the Way that You Use it: Tribute to Paul Newman

Paul Newman: 1925-2008

With the tragic news of Paul Newman's passing yesterday, I was left unsure of what exactly to say on the subject. And then it dawned on me that when a body of work such as his is left behind, nobody should be at a loss for words or material.

Since we're on the topic of 80s music, I figured the best way to honor the man in context would be with how even a classic 1960s leading man managed to exert an influence on film (and consequently its music) decades later.

The following song and video is It's in the Way that You Use it by guitar legend Eric Clapton, who was himself one of the film soundtrack forces of the 1980s (Back to the Future, Lethal Weapon). And in this case, through this video, we get to see the combined talents of one of the greatest screen presences and one of the most talented musicians of all time.

The song also appeared on Eric Clapton's album August, itself a success with a handful of very listenable and single-worthy tracks. Grab the album and check out Miss You and Hung Up on Your Love Again and you'll see why Clapton stayed supremely relevant so much longer than most of his rock contemporaries from the 1960s and 1970s.

So with Clapton's musical score, Paul Newman's Oscar-winning reprisal of his Fast Eddie role from the 1961 classic The Hustler, and what was ultimately a generational passing of the torch to then-up-and-comer Tom Cruise, and you have a fusion of genre-crossing talents that left us with a modern classic on many levels.

So, rest in peace, Mr. Newman. You contributions to film, the acting profession, salad dressings and charities will not be forgotten. We'll close with the theatrical trailer to The Color of Money, which gives a glimpse of the legend in action.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Breakfast Club: Right on Track (1987)

This self-titled album is the one and only offering (in 1987) by the New York-based synth pop band The Breakfast Club.

It is not to be confused with the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club.

The key single from the album was Right on Track, the video to which is featured below. Don't let the bizarre Pee Wee Herman-esque concept to the video fool you. These guys had some arrangements and loops that were cutting edge at the time.

But longevity-wise, I think they shot themselves in the foot a little bit with the Pee Wee's Playhouse image. There were a lot of different ways they could have gone with the visuals for this song. And the somewhat confusing band name didn't do them any favors either. There also weren't any successful bands running around at the time called Terms of Endearment or Rocky IV.

Breakfast Club - Right On Track
Uploaded by jpdc11

Oddly enough, this is a very listenable album from start to finish. It featured several other singles, most of which were worthy of release. Check out Kiss and Tell, Never Be the Same, and Rico Mambo.

And since we're on the topic, here's the theatrical trailer for a certain kick-ass 80s movie (which featured one of the most memorable soundtracks of its era).