All posts tagged: John C. Hughes

Ramble On: John C. Hughes on New Beginnings

Soooo, where’s Lost in the ‘70s/’80s/’90s been? Has that Hughes character been slacking off? Well, not quite. It may be fairly obvious from my 400+ posts about the subject, but I’m a music junkie. Hardcore, even. That’s why when a new job opportunity presented itself, I not only jumped on it, but I pretty much grabbed it in a headlock until it cried “Uncle!” I’m the new Senior Director of Online Marketing for Rhino.com. Cool, right? It’s a dream job for me – surrounded by other music freaks, I dreamed of swimming in pools of New Order and Monkees reissues, living happily ever after. I started last Tuesday with a head full of ideas and a smile on my face. Then the layoffs hit.

Lost in the ’80s: Culture Club, “Mistake No. 3”

It must have sucked to be a non-Boy George member of Culture Club.  Well, except for Jon Moss, who was actually sucking a member of Culture Club.  Okay, cheap shot.  But seriously, here you are, finally realizing your dreams of being in a hugely popular rock band and, to paraphrase Roy Hay in the group’s Behind the Music special, you’re stuck in the middle of a gay soap opera. Besides the lead singer and drummer having screaming fits in hotel hallways, you’d also have to deal with the pressure of your label demanding a third album of original material in as many years.  And to top it all off, your singer and visual focal point of the band has become a raging coke head.  Is it any wonder your third album was a comparative failure to the first two? Culture Club’s Waking up with the House on Fire was aptly named, since the band was in a shambling mess of an emergency.  After their first two multi-platinum smashes and several hit singles, expectations were extremely …

Lost in the ’90s: Redd Kross, “Show World”

Punk legends in Los Angeles before they could legally drink, Jeff and Steve McDonald spent most of the ’80s as a cult sensation, loved as much for their pop culture references (name-checking everyone from Linda Blair to the Brady Bunch to Charles Manson) as they were for their thrashy brand of bubblegum-laced power-pop.  As the ’90s dawned, the band entered a new phase, signing to Atlantic Records for their major-label debut, Third Eye.  You may recognize the title, since, despite being a killer album, it filled cutout bins nationwide almost immediately after its release, and Atlantic dumped the boys.  It was a matter of bad timing, since two short years later, a little trio from Seattle named Nirvana would take that same Knack-goes-to-a-Black-Flag-show concept and change alternative music forever. After Nevermind opened commercial radio and MTV up to what we old people called “college rock,” the time was ripe for Redd Kross to finally get its due.  With a new line-up, the McDonalds scored a new deal with Mercury Records which released Phaseshifter, Redd Kross’s …

Lost in the ’70s: Bryan Adams, “Let Me Take You Dancing”

I realize I’ve sort of hit upon a theme lately when it comes to LIT70s, but I don’t think it’s fair to limit just the Beach Boys to the Disco Hall of Shame. As we’ve seen over the past few months, there are plenty of other artists who jumped the disco bandwagon to revive a flagging career. There are also quite a few who started as disco artists, only to later change direction and deny their humble beginnings once they hit it big in their new genre. Take, for example, “Cuts Like a Knife” rocker Bryan Adams.  Or as we will all now know him, Disco Chipmunk. Yes, it’s true: our leather-clad, fist-pumping, “normal” dude next door was once shaking it on the dance floor, and he wanted you to join him. His first single at the tender age of 18, “Let Me Take You Dancing” (download) was cowritten by Adams and his longtime writing partner Jim Vallance. The original Canadian version, a snippet of which you can hear on Vallace’s website, was more in …

Lost in the ’80s: The Fixx, “Deeper and Deeper”

The most rock-radio acceptable of the new-wave acts (with the possible exception of the Cars and the Police), the Fixx were always unfairly slammed as a producer’s band, the mere playthings of Rupert Hine, who buffed their angular, jagged sound to an airwaves-friendly sheen. I never quite understood how this was considered an insult — why should the Fixx feel slighted because they found a great producer who knew what to do with them? Isn’t that the point of a producer? By 1984 the partnership had borne two gold albums, one platinum album, three Top 40 hits, and a few AOR staples. In fact the Fixx and Hine were producing material at such a quick clip that one of their better songs ended up as a cut on the Streets of Fire soundtrack (which was discussed here) as well as the B-side on Phantoms’s first single, “Are We Ourselves?” “Deeper and Deeper” was an oddity on that 1984 film’s soundtrack alongside overwrought Jim Steinman productions and Dan Hartman’s schlocky “I Can Dream About You.” A …

Lost in the ’90s: Sam Phillips

In 1988, Leslie Phillips turned her back on a successful career as a Christian Contemporary artist, changed her performing moniker to “Sam,” and recorded her first mainstream pop album, The Indescribable Wow, with producer and soon-to-be husband T Bone Burnett.  It was a bold move that paid off critically, if not commercially.  The album sold a fraction of Phillips’ Christian work, but her inventive songwriting and unique voice won her a new cult of fans. But it was her third secular album that saw Phillips come closest to breaking through to the pop charts.  1994’s Martinis & Bikinis was packed with Beatles-esque hooks, clever wordplay, and sterling production by Burnett and XTC’s Colin Moulding on key tracks.  Lead single “I Need Love” got some Modern Rock radio love, but it was the second single, “Baby I Can’t Please You” (download) (one of the Moulding tracks, a fact that becomes quite obvious upon listening), that got the most attention.  Besides a video that made regular rotation on MTV’s 120 Minutes and Alternative Nation, it was also …

Lost in the ’80s: The Unforgiven, “I Hear the Call”

It never hurt to have a visual hook to get on MTV in the ’80s.  From Bananrama and Dexys Midnight Runners’ hobo-chic, to Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran’s new romantic ruffles, a cool gimmick was sometimes all a band needed to get them over some middling material. This was certainly the case with the Unforgiven, a power-pop/alterna-country/cowpunk act from California’s Inland Empire.  Dressed up in their best Western gear, the group emerged from the ashes of a more straight-ahead Cali punk act, the Stepmothers.  A little U2, a little Alarm, and a lot of look, the Unforgiven signed to Elektra Records and immediately set out to get their visual inspiration, Clint Eastwood, to direct their first video – a move they’d soon regret. According to the bio on their website, the group had their agents at CAA send Eastwood a copy of their album in an effort to secure his directorial duties for their lead single, “I Hear The Call.” (download) Clint politely declined, but kept the album and allegedly ripped off the cover photo, …

Lost in the ’80s: Ultravox

The recent release of a cleaned up and remastered Ultravox greatest hits compilation (including a bonus DVD with all the Midge Ure-era videos) got me thinking about how much I used to love this band, despite their being so serious all the time. Despite hooks and squiggly synths galore, Ultravox seemed to be consumed with capital-A Art.  From the somewhat pretentious nature of their lyrics (“The Voice,” “Vienna,” “The Thin Wall,” etc., etc.), to the lavish and sumptuously shot videos, the group seemed to always be on a quest to make a grand statement.  The lighter side of Ultravox’s talent seemed to be saved for Ure and Billy Curry’s work with Visage, the New Romantic vehicle for Blitz Kid Steve Strange.  But thankfully, every so often Ultravox would prove they weren’t completely devoid of humor or whimsy. To be fair, they proved this pretty early during the Ure era with “All Stood Still,” (download) the fourth single from Vienna, the band’s first album to feature Midge.  Copping Devo right down to the simply Mothersbaugh-esque vocals …

Lost in the ’80s: Thompson Twins

There are certain acts and albums I absolutely adored in my younger days in the ’80s that I don’t quite care for now. One of these groups is the Thompson Twins, the New Wave trio that broke into the charts big time with the 1984 single “Hold Me Now” and its album, Into The Gap.  As a high-school sophomore, I wore out my copy of Gap, but I really loved their 1982 effort, Side Kicks, which featured “Lies” and “Love On Your Side.” But while Side Kicks still holds some appeal, I really could go the rest of my life never hearing “Hold Me Now” or “Doctor, Doctor” again.  So, when I came across the new, deluxe remastered editions of both albums that came out late last year, I didn’t exactly rush to purchase Into The Gap.  But after staring at for a few months each time I went to the record store (remember those?) I finally broke down and bought it.  And I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.  Again. “Sister …

Lost in the ’80s: Wide Boy Awake

Here’s an example of a great song that couldn’t be confined to a B-side. Wide Boy Awake was Adam & the Ants bassist Kevin Mooney’s first project after splitting from the Ants following 1980’s Kings of the Wild Frontier. While his new group only released a handful of tracks, two became club hits, one of which is still fondly remembered and played on “retro” club nights to this day. “Chicken Outlaw” (1982) was not that song.  It was, however, the first official Wide Boy Awake single and did fairly well in the UK, charting decently and getting the band on a few TV shows where they mimed the song in the usual fashion. It also got some scant airplay on new-wave radio stations and in progressive clubs in America, but it wasn’t exactly the group’s best tune. Wide Boy Awake’s best song was hidden on “Chicken Outlaw’s” flip side, just waiting to be spun: “Slang Teacher” is a funky new-wave number that couldn’t be denied, as club DJs gladly flipped the disc to spin this …

Lost in the ’90s: Kon Kan, “Liberty”

Yes, we’ve just gone and declared this week Kon Kan Week here at Popdose.  Seeing as the duo nicked their name from the Canadian Content requirement for broadcast media up north, it’s only fair you get your dose of Kontent this week.  Since the illustrious Mr. Steed featured Kon Kan’s failed follow-up to their only hit, “I Beg Your Pardon” yesterday, let’s look at the group’s last gasp in the U.S. as the ’90s dawned. “Liberty!” (download) was the first single from Kon Kan’s second album, 1990’s Syntonic, which saw the project reduced to founder Barry Harris and a rotating cast of supporting characters, seeing as vocalist Kevin Wynne split the year prior.  “Liberty!” was “I Beg Your Pardon” redux, only with an original chorus as opposed to the “I Never Promised You a Rose Garden” sample which made that song a Top 15 hit.  Usually xeroxing your biggest hit is a sure-fire way to sneak back into the Top 40, but it didn’t work this time, as “Liberty!” failed to chart. While it was …

Lost in the ’70s: The Nerves

I bought and fell in love with Blondie’s Parallel Lines album when I was around ten years old, and always wondered who the mysterious “Lee” was who was credited for writing the disc’s driving opener, “Hanging On The Telephone.”   As a youngster, I pored over the album credits, noticing that no one in the band was named Lee – where did this great song come from? It wasn’t until many years and lots of Rolling Stone and Musician magazines later that I learned the answer.  “Hanging On The Telephone” (download) was the lead-off track from Los Angeles-based power pop trio The Nerves’ only release, a self-titled  four-track EP from 1976.  Guitarist Jack Lee was the mysterious “Lee” who wrote “Hanging,” but each member of The Nerves ended up making their mark on power pop.  Lee went on to write more songs, including another Blondie track “Will Anything Happen” and “Come Back And Stay” for Paul Young in 1983. Drummer Paul Collins wrote a song called “Working Too Hard” on the EP, but went on to …

Lost in the ’80s: Peter Godwin, “Baby’s in the Mountains”

We’ve talked about Peter Godwin’s great lost art-rock combo, Metro, in a Lost in the ’70s post in the not-too-distant past, but most people who have a passing knowledge of Godwin’s work are probably most familiar with his 1982 single and MTV hit, “Images of Heaven.” While “Images of Heaven” wasn’t exactly a huge radio hit (it peaked at #105 on the Billboard “Bubbling Under” chart), the video got a few spins on MTV and many more in video bars and clubs with its more “adult” edit. “Images of Heaven” has gone on to become a new-wave favorite, popping up on a few ’80s compilations here and there, most notably as part of Rhino Records’ essential Just Can’t Get Enough series. Not as immediate as “Images,” it took me quite a while to warm to Godwin’s next single, “Baby’s in the Mountains” (download). In fact, it’s one of those songs I never really cared for when it was originally out, but I grew to appreciate it as the years went on. That pre-chorus is something …

Lost in the ’90s: Adam Ant, “Manners & Physique”

No, no, dear reader, I didn’t lose track while writing at 11pm once again and accidentally throw up a Lost in the ’80s post.  By 1990, Adam Ant was pretty much considered washed-up.  His last album, 1985’s, Vive Le Rock, sank without a ripple (despite being a fun, Tony Visconti-produced, glammy blast), and Ant was spending most of his days playing minor parts in b-movies in an attempt to cross over to Hollywood.  That’s why it was such a shock to suddenly see a new Adam Ant album on the racks as the ’90s dawned, much less one produced by Prince bassist Andre Cymone. “Antmusic meets the Minneapolis sound!” promised the promotional sticker slapped on the longboxes of Manners & Physique, and while the contents within were a little more towards the Minneapolis/crossover funk sound that Cymone and Jody Watley made popular, Adam’s vocals and lyrics provided a little bit of Antmusic flavor.  Longtime Ants guitarist Marco Pirroni was part of the mix too, albeit so buried and watered down, one has to wonder why …

Lost in the ’80s: Shakespears Sister, “Break My Heart/Run Silent”

When Siobahn Fahey left Bananarama in 1988, most people probably never expected to hear from her again.  For Fahey to return to music with a goth look fronting a Siouxsie Sioux-influenced dance/electro combo was probably the most unexpected thing of all.  But in 1988, Fahey’s solo project, Shakespear’s Sister (originally with an apostrophe, later without) released its debut album, Sacred Heart, and single, “Break My Heart.” A double A-side in the UK (teamed with “Heroine,” the first US single), “Break My Heart (Copa Mix)” (download) failed to chart.  It didn’t do much better as the second US single, but a nice remix made some minor club noise and the video was pretty to look at: I much preferred the 12-inch’s B-side, “Run Silent (Revolution Mix)” (download) that featured saving grace Marcella Detroit, who would soon become a full-fledged member of the band, making Shakespears Sister a duo.  The dance mix featured above is a driving alternative to the equally fine, if calmer album mix used in the video.

Lost in the ’70s: Amanda Lear, “Blood and Honey”

Where to begin with Ms. Lear?  How about her modeling career in ’60s France?  How about her years-long romance with surrealist Salvador Dali?  How about her relationships with Bryan Ferry and David Bowie? How about the (unconfirmed) fact that she began life as Mister Lear? While several of her contemporaries remember Amanda back when she was Alain, Lear has never publicly admitted she’s had a sex change.  That’s okay, though, because plenty of her (former?) friends are more than willing to come forward to tell their tranny tales.  In either case, Lear became a rock star accessory by the ’70s, hanging on the arms of the aforementioned Ferry and Bowie.  That’s her on the cover of Roxy Music’s For Your Pleasure and she acted as emcee for Bowie’s 1980 Floor Show TV special, aired here in the States as an episode of NBC’s The Midnight Special.  There’s a bootleg of outtakes from that special that makes the rounds (*cough*torrent*cough*), and it’s hysterical.  Here Bowie and Lear try to get through an impenetrable exchange while futzing …