Tuesday Tunes 71: Eighties Second Encore

Having given you sixteen of the twenty three Eighties songs that made it into my list, today sees the final selection of seven, plus a bonus track that I think should have been in there, but didn’t sell enough copies to get into the annual top forty lists which were my starting point.

The image at the top of this gives you a pretty good idea of where I’m starting this week:

After the early days of Jefferson Airplane, who featured in the second of my two posts about Woodstock, the band, under the leadership of Paul Kantner, became Jefferson Starship – which still exists to this day, despite Kantner’s death in 2016. There followed an acrimonious lawsuit, which resulted in several of the band reforming as just plain old Starship. As you can see from the video, this included Grace Slick, about whom I was less than complimentary in the Woodstock post: fortunately, her performance here is much more to my liking! This was the new band’s debut single, released on 1 August 1985, and became an instant smash hit in the US, where it was #1. It peaked at #12 here in the UK, which was apparently good enough to earn it a place in that year’s top forty best selling UK singles: I guess it sold steadily over a long period. It was also the lead track on their first album, Knee Deep In The Hoopla, which got to #7 in the US but didn’t chart here. I always liked the song, and that video is just so Eighties in its style – all that big permed hair!

This next one is another I’ve always liked, as with many of his records:

Prince was such a brilliant performer, and wrote a whole catalogue of great songs, some of which he generously gave to other artists (remember Manic Monday, from last week?) I had a CD of his greatest hits which I played a lot in the car in my commuting days around north London. This one would always get me singing along at the top of my voice, though I have to admit that ‘Little Black Ford Escort’ didn’t have quite the same ring to it, even if it was the turbo diesel nutter bastard model – that car could move! The song was released as the second single from Prince’s 1999 album in February 1983, reaching #6 in the US, but only #54 here in the UK. It was, however, re-released as a double A-sided single with 1999 in January 1985, and that reached #2 here, which was how I found it in the annual best seller list. Either way, it is still a pop classic and a great record.

After a song about a one night stand, this one is also about temptation – I don’t just throw these together, you know!

That one was a late entry into the Eighties: it was a track on Alice Cooper’s album Trash, which was released in July 1989, reaching #20 in the US but doing better here in the UK, where it peaked at #2. The song was the lead single from that album, and also outscored the US in chart placings: #7 over there, and another #2 here. It’s a great rock ballad, even if Vince did appear to have borrowed a little of GnR’s opening riff from Sweet Child Of Mine! The video is brilliant, full of menace, and it is no bad thing to feature two of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen in a music video, either.

So far, this week’s tunes have all been American, but I’m partially redressing that balance – three of the remaining five are from UK acts, including this next one:

I’ve been advised that this video isn’t available in the US. But a good blogging friend has tested out this alternative, which does work. It is an audio-only version, but that’s better than nothing, right? https://youtu.be/9uYF95jR_ME

After his early days with Tubular Bells and several other instrumental albums, by the 1980s Mike Oldfield was developing his shorter form songwriting, and included many vocal performances of his songs on later albums. Moonlight Shadow was one such: it was released on his 1983 album, Crises. This was a six track album – back in those vinyl days, the first side comprised just the title track, which came in at around 20 minutes, and then side two had five shorter songs, of which this was the first. Maggie Reilly sang on three of these, and I’ve always thought her voice was lovely – her own solo recordings bear this out, too, despite her not having had even one chart hit here in the UK, although other European countries have been kinder to her. The Crises album reached #6 in the UK, but didn’t chart in the US: after the success there of his first album, Tubular Bells, he had very little in the way of US chart placings. You guys have been missing out on some great music. This song was the lead single from the album, released in May 1983, and got to #4 here, #6 in Australia, #3 in New Zealand, and #1 in the Netherlands and Austria. Needless to say, it didn’t make the US charts.

This next tune is, I think, a masterpiece of rock music:

I’m lucky enough to still have my Dad, who will be 94 next month, but lost my Mum in 2008 and still find it hard to listen to this song without tearing up, thinking about what I should have said. Regrets are a terrible burden, and the message of this song strikes a chord with many of us. Mike + The Mechanics began as a side project for Mike Rutherford of the band Genesis, and my home town of Dover is credited with being the band’s birthplace by Wikipedia, for a reason unknown to me. This song was the title track of their second album, released in October 1988, peaking at #2 in the UK and at #13 in the US. It was written by Rutherford in collaboration with the songwriter B.A. Robertson, as both of them had recently lost their fathers, and the lead vocal is by the ever excellent Paul Carrack, whose own father passed away when he was 11. I think you can feel the emotion coming through this performance. In case you are wondering, the little boy walking on the cliff top with Mike Rutherford is his son Tom, who was 8 at the time. And despite the earlier reference to Dover, that scene was shot in Somerset: the White Cliffs aren’t covered in vegetation! The track was released in December 1988 as the second single from the album, also reaching #2 here but becoming a #1 hit in the US, Australia, Canada and Ireland.

Today’s next tune is also an introspective piece, and is another which I have loved since I bought the album it was on when it first came out:

Time After Time was a track on Cyndi Lauper’s debut album, She’s So Unusual, which was released in October 1983, reaching #4 in the US and #16 in the UK. It was the second of six tracks from the album to be released as a single, in January 1984: it was #1 in the US and Canada, and got to #3 here in the UK. The song was co-written with Rob Hyman, the keyboard player with The Hooters, and is a lovely piece about how regrets over a parting with someone you care about don’t prevent you from wanting to support them if they need you.

My penultimate song for today – and the last one of my list of twenty three – is also by a founder member of Genesis. He is the one whose subsequent solo career has produced the best catalogue of records, in my view:

A great song, and a brilliant video. Sledgehammer was released as a single in April 1986, ahead of the May release of So, the album on which it featured. Both were massive hits. The single peaked at #4 in the UK but was #1 in both the US and Canada, while the album was a #1 in the UK and Canada, as well as several other countries, and reached #2 in the US. Both have long been favourites of mine, and back in the days before streaming came along I bought all of his albums.

I said that I was adding in an extra track to complete another set of eight Eighties songs. Earlier I mentioned The Hooters, whose music I still love, and it somehow seemed right to add them in: Eighties music wouldn’t have been the same for me without them. This is probably their best known song, and the video is a brilliant piece of critique – fans of TV evangelists who rip you off should look away now:

They packed so much into that, and the over the top characterisations are brilliant. I particularly love the visual references to Grant Wood‘s painting American Gothic. That dates back to 1930, and I wonder what the couple depicted in it would think of how their country has changed: there are a couple of clues in the video as to how the band thought of this! This was a track on their July 1987 album One Way Home, which reached #27 in the US but didn’t chart here: none of their albums have, which I think is to our discredit. It was also released as a single, reaching #61 in the US but somehow getting to #22 here in the UK: I can only think that was due to the birth of MTV Europe that same year, though I do recall hearing it on the radio too. As a musical symbol of the Eighties, I think it a good place to round off my very selective look back at that decade.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my three part take on Eighties music. As I said at the outset, I had surprised myself at finding so many songs from that era that I liked: I had marked it down as a decade of heavily made up men with strange hairstyles, but underneath there was a lot of good stuff being recorded then, and not just from bands who had been around since my musical heydays of the Sixties and Seventies. I’m thinking of mining this seam a little further, moving away from the pop charts and into albums, which comprised most of my buying and listening back then, until our first born came along and provided a huge diversion! That may be where I go next, unless any new theme crops up in the next week, and if I do I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Until then, I hope you have a great week and stay safe and well. Take care 😊

29 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 71: Eighties Second Encore

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  4. The ’80s was my era for music, although not all music, Clive. Love MIke Oldfield, Mike & The Mechanics, and Cyndi Lauper songs, but my favourite out of all of them is the Peter Gabriel song. The video was one of the best at the time and won many awards. Takes me back to the early days of MTV and turning the volume up when the song came on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know from what you’ve said before that this was your era, Hugh, and I’m glad I found quite a few that you liked even if I didn’t go anywhere near disco! I can remember watching the early days of MTV with a toddler who didn’t sleep much, and there was much to enjoy on it even at strange hours 😊

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  5. Jefferson Starship, Starship, or Jefferson Airplane has many great tracks with band members changing over the years. I’ve always been a fan of Mickey Thomas since he sang Elvin Bishop’s Fooled Around and Fell in Love back in the day. Little Red Corvette is a nice song, but I like many of Prince’s other songs better. Alice Cooper had a good career. I’d give this one a B. The Mike Oldfield tune was not available to us, but I found it and gave it a listen—very nice. The Living Years is a great song with excellent lyrics. Cyndi Lauper was an unusual performer with some eclectic songs. I like this one, but I never understood the purpose of the dog in this video. Sledgehammer is the runaway winner for me today. I thought this video was one of the more brilliant ones of its era. I enjoy your fondness of The Hooters, and this was another outstanding video. A superr set of music today, Clive!

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    • Thanks, Pete, I’m glad you enjoyed so many of these. There are some long time favourites of mine amongst them. I think both Prince and Alice Cooper had many great songs – I was choosing from our list of annual top 40 hits so that may have excluded some. I’ve never understood that toy dog either – I guess it was meant to be a symbol of comfort, or suchlike. The Sledgehammer video is exceptional, and I couldn’t resist throwing The Hooters into the mix: they weren’t huge here, but I liked them! Thanks for finding an alternative for Moonlight Shadow – it’s a lovely song and Maggie Reilly has a great voice.

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  6. I must have slept throught the eighties, or never turned on my radio. This is embarrassing to admit – I only know one song in this post – Cyndi Lauper’s wonderful song.

    Here are some other embarrasing points to add:

    I don’t think I could name a single Price song; I’ve heard of the song Purple Rain, but I’m not sure I’d know it if I heard it.

    I know some of the Hooters music, after all, they are one of the greatest bands to come out of Philly. I guess I’ll have to take your word the Staellite is one of their biggest hits. I get what the video is about, but I wasn’t ahppy to see the Three Stooges included – I grew up watching that classic show. (fun fact – my wife taught one of the Hooters’ kids – said the guy was one of the nicest guys you could meet).

    and finally, the video with Sledgehammer is quite good.

    P.S. the Mike Oldfield video dd not play for me…

    I guess the 80s were my lost music decade – thanks for helping to fill in some of the gaps…

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    • Wow! That’s some admission!

      Prince has a whole back catalogue of great songs – you’ve probably mentioned his best there. Look it up, it’s epic!

      I’m not sure that Satellite is The Hooters’ biggest hit in the States, but it was here. I think it’s probably one of their best known songs – if you search for them on YouTube it’s the second one on the list. I don’t think the Three Stooges were an integral part of the satire!

      Peter Gabriel made some great albums, and his videos were always interesting. He put on a live show at the Millennium Dome in London in 2000, which was incredible.

      Pete mentioned about Moonlight Shadow, which is a pity, but said he’d found an alternative version. I’m wondering if it was this: https://youtu.be/9uYF95jR_ME

      Glad to fill in some gaps for you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Keith. These three posts have been based on the annual UK top 40 singles chart and unfortunately none of Steve Winwood’s 80s hits did well enough to get into that. But he made a string of great albums though the decade and if I follow up on the idea of featuring 80s albums he’ll definitely be there 😊

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      • Thanks Clive. That is surprising his 80s work did not fare higher in the UK They were not just popular songs, they were very good work. I look forward to your piece on him. Keith

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m guessing his move to the States had something to do with that, reducing his profile over here. He had a couple of #1 singles there, one of which didn’t even make our top 50. I’m not sure that he’ll be getting a piece on his own, but in looking back at possibilities for inclusion in an albums version of these posts his five great eighties albums call for him to be included!

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  7. A real mixed bag this week Clive with some gems. I love Moonlight Shadow including Sally Oldfield’s version. The Living Years is a real stand alone record raising so much emotion. though all their music is good.
    My ears thank you
    Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, David, I’m glad you found some in there you liked. I didn’t know Sally Oldfield had done a version of Moonlight Shadow, I’ll have to seek it out. Thanks for the tip. Have a good week 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You picked some good ones there Clive. I can remember the Sledgehammer and The Living Years videos. Nice! I would definitely interested in your choice of albums. I was more of an albums than a charts man. I’m left with a picture of you singing along to Prince in your Turbo Escort. As I was always rubbish at catching the lyrics so my thing was drumming along on the steering wheel and dashboard. Probably not the safest thing to do.

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    • Thanks, Paul, I’m glad you liked them. I may well be doing some albums – after a quick think yesterday I already have twenty possibles! I probably wasn’t all that safe in the car either – it was my favourite of all the ones I’ve had, and its acceleration was phenomenal 😊

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  9. Ooh, I know all of these! I had a Ford Escort too in the 1970s, but like you I often sang aloud to ‘Little Red Corvette’. ‘The Living Years’ is a tear-jerker for sure. I think most of us end up living with regrets, but hey, we have to move on.

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