All posts tagged: John C. Hughes

Lost in the ’80s: Total Coelo

As much as I adore the inherent goofiness that is new wave — the guyliner, the overwrought posing, the one-finger keyboard technique — sometimes I must admit some acts come dangerously close to goofy overload, camping it up far too much for even my appreciative sensibilities. Luckily, Total Coelo are not one of those acts (ha, fooled ya). A quintet of five marginally talented females wrapped in plastic bags and latex, Toto Coelo (rechristened “Total” Coelo in the United States to prevent any confusion with Toto — like that would happen) took their name from the Latin for “Heaven wide.” While the trashy, tongue-in-cheek material producer Barry Blue provided for the ladies was anything but heavenly, they had a Showgirls-level charm that laid the foundation for the Spice Girls. Their goofy apex had to be their only charting hit in the U.S., “I Eat Cannibals Part 1” (download), which contains the immortal lyrics: All I wanna do is make a meal of you We are what we eat, you’re my kind of meat Got a …

Lost in the ’80s: Devo, “That’s Good”

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  How can one of Devo’s most famous songs outside of “Whip It” be Lost in the ’80s?  How can a song whose video was in heavy rotation back in the day be considered a lost classic? Because I write this column and I said so, that’s why. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this classic single.  While long-time Devotees may have blanched at the abandonment of guitars and real drums, synthpop fans rejoiced as the sequencers and squiggly keys joined forces with the programmed Linn drum in this ode to stuff that’s, well, good.  Reaction to Oh No, It’s Devo (the album from which it was pulled) was nearly universally thumbs-down.  The first single, “Peek-a-boo,” flopped, despite an inventive video that MTV played into the ground (after some light censorship of animated french fries entering donuts, of course).  Devo was struggling with their label Warner Brothers over promotion, but the label did pony up for another single and a video to promote it. They even …

Lost in the ’80s: Carly Simon, “Why”

Before singer/songwriter Carly Simon attempted to fully embrace the excess of the ’80s with a misguided stab at New Wave, she released this single in 1982 from the soundtrack of the forgotten flick “Soup For One.”  While it made nary a peep on the pop charts in America, it’s still fondly remembered as a dance floor classic, as well as a U.K. Top Ten hit. “Why” (download) was written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards as Chic and came at a time when both Chic’s and Simon’s careers had cooled a bit.  A laid back (is that redundant) reggae shuffle set to an after-hours disco beat, “Why” was certainly a departure for Simon, more noted for strummy guitar-based meditations than morning music vibes.  While her normal fanbase and Top 40 radio steered clear, the Chic cachet made it a huge hit in club land, becoming a standard in many post 1 a.m. DJ sets, especially with the slightly sped up and more percussive extended version (download) (which is damn hard to track down, …

Lost in the ’70s: Raspberries, “Let’s Pretend”

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the Seventies, it was next to impossible to escape hearing  Raspberries almost daily on the radio – not that that was a bad thing.  Emerging from the Mistake on the Lake in 1972, with the smash “Go All The Way,” still one of the best power pop singles ever, the boys were hometown heroes even after their split in 1975. With lead singer Eric Carmen yet to enter his Adult Contemporary phase, Raspberries took the Beatles and Beach Boys, roughed them up a bit and dragged them in the new decade. Raspberries spent the rest of their career trying to follow up that first classic blast.  They nearly matched it with the lead single from their sophomore album, Fresh Raspberries.  “I Wanna Be With You” was another AM radio pop rocker and followed “Go All The Way” to the Top 20.  But while the group was unable to score a second hit from their debut album, they were able to squeeze another Top 40 hit from Fresh Raspberries. “Let’s …

Lost in the ’80s: The Tubes and Olivia Newton-John (?!)

All right, let me stop all you young ‘uns right there — 1980’s Xanadu is not a great movie, a lost treasure, or an overlooked masterpiece of fun. It’s a dreadful film, downright boring in parts, somewhat laughable in others, but not quite laughable enough to deserve the “campy cult classic” tag it’s earned through the years. But the soundtrack — well, it was stellar enough to keep the brand alive for nearly 30 years and even give the film new life as an intentionally campy Broadway musical in 2007. We all know the Olivia Newton-John hits and ELO classics from the album, but one number is my favorite, and it’s my pick for quite possibly the first mash-up ever. “Dancin’” (download) was the unlikely fusion of Newton-John doing her best multitracked Andrew Sisters imitation and a newly new-wave Tubes, ditching their arena art-rock pretensions for a stab at stadium-pop glory. Starting off as a big-band swing number, “Dancin’” segues into a borderline date-rape ode to having “it all my way,” with a kick-ass vocal …

Lost in the ’80s: Les Rita Mitsouko

French duo Fred Chichin and Catherine Ringer met at a theater production in the late ’70s and an instant musical bond was formed, one that took them from rock to synthpop and back again.  Recording under the name Les Rita Mitsouko, the duo found success in Europe and eventually scored an American record deal with the stateside branch of their European label, Virgin.  In late 1986, The No Comprendo was released and its first single, “Andy” (download) became a bit of an underground dance hit, with Ringer’s over-the-top vocals (she basically sounds like every crazy rock chick ever, from Nina Hagen to Bjork) and Chichin’s funky guitar fighting for supremacy. While “Andy” was burning up the dance floor, it was the video for “C’est Comme Ça” (download) that most people remember.  MTV’s 120 Minutes played the hell out of the inventive clip, and Happy Mondays completely swiped the video a year later for their “Step On” clip:

Lost in the ’90s: Marcy Playground, “Shapeshifter”

When Marcy Playground’s borderline-annoying novelty hit “Sex And Candy” was all over alternative radio in the late ’90s, spending an astounding 15 weeks at #1 on the Modern Rock Chart, I couldn’t think of a song I could possibly like less.  So imagine my shock when I not only liked a song from their second album, but that second album became one of my favorites from the ’90s. Shapeshifter was the trio’s second album, coming two years after their self-titled debut.  While there wasn’t an out of the box smash like “Sex And Candy” to be found, the first single, “It’s Saturday,” (download) (an infectious ode to catching a venereal disease) got plenty of airplay on 91X, my then-local alt-rock station in San Diego.  In fact, I had no clue this excellent power-pop song was from what I considered an awful one-hit wonder from two years prior.  Once I found out, it still didn’t prevent me from picking up Shapeshifter, a decision I didn’t regret. Shapeshifter is packed with hooks from top to bottom.  Highlights …

Lost in the ’70s: The Sweet, “Blockbuster”

Eight children, four each from different families, puréed Brady Bunch style in a $250-a-month, four-bedroom apartment in mid-’70s Elyria, Ohio. Inflation squeezed the wallets and coin purses dry, forcing both mother and stepfather to work full-time to keep Swanson’s frozen dinners, soup beans, and cornbread on the table, along with new clothes for the oldest son and daughter to pass down as they grew. Eight children, two working parents, limited income — who was going to watch the kids after school? Daycare and nannies were out of the question, as were babysitters who would charge the going rate, so four days a week my mother depended on her niece, my Aunt Jackie. Jackie was in her late teens/early 20s. She had long, straight black hair parted right down the middle, with stray flyaways here and there, like Janis Joplin. She was a child of the ’60s, absorbing as much hippie culture and flower power as she could in our small midwestern town, miles away from the communes of San Francisco and the sounds of Woodstock. …

Lost in the ’80s: Face To Face, “10-9-8”

Big things were planned for Boston’s Face To Face in 1984.  Signed to Epic, the New Wave group was pushed heavily by the label as the next big music sensation.  The band was featured as the backing group in the movie musical Streets of Fire, with lead singer Laurie Sargent providing the singing voice for Diane Lane’s character.  Meantime, the band’s self-titled debut and first single, “10-9-8” (download) began climbing the charts, complete with a video in heavy rotation on MTV: A funny thing happened on the way to multi-platinum superstardom, though – their big hit single peaked at a puny #38, despite the promotional push.  Things could have looked up as a second single, “Under the Gun,” (download) was released.  A dancier number complete with a rap, “Under the Gun” was a personal favorite and once again MTV picked up on the video: But despite a 12″ remix that charted fairly high in the clubs, “Under the Gun” failed to cross over and soon Face To Face were facing a tough time on the …

Lost in the ’90s: Alison Moyet, “Whispering Your Name”

On Tuesday, we talked about Jules Shear’s “Whispering Your Name,” a failed single from his solo debut, Watch Dog. While the single and album flopped, it stayed in the hearts of many musicians and fans.  In 1984, Cyndi Lauper had a Top Five hit with a cover of “All Through The Night,” the second song off Watch Dog.  And ten years later, Alison Moyet would finally make a hit out of “Whispering Your Name.” While Shear sang “Whispering Your Name” (download) from the point of view of a guy in love with a girl who still pines for her ex, Moyet kept the pronouns the same on her version.  As a result, Moyet’s take adds a sexual twist, as she sings to another woman.  While Moyet is happily married to husband number two, she obviously wasn’t afraid to tweak sexual mores a bit and make the cover all the more intriguing. Even more intriguing was the single version of the track (download) which was miles away from the stripped down acoustic take featured on Moyet’s …

Lost in the ’80s: Jules Shear, “Whispering Your Name”

I gave Jules a quick once-over a little over three years ago, so I think it’s high time I spotlighted another track of Shear beauty, this one from his stellar solo debut, Watch Dog. Bearing the distinctive production stamp of Todd Rundgren as well as guitar work from Elliot Easton, Watch Dog is one of the shining gems of 1983, or as it’s more commonly known around these parts, the Best Year for Music Ever! Besides featuring “All Through the Night,” later a top-five hit for Cyndi Lauper, Watch Dog is jam-packed with hooks and memorable tunes like “I Need It” and “She’s in Love Again.” It’s a damn shame it was only on CD for a fifth of a second; used copies, should you ever be able to find one, run upwards of $100 or more. The brightest moment on the album has to be its opener, the heartbreaking “Whispering Your Name” (download), the story of a man who discovers his lover still has another in her heart thanks to her sleeptalking. Here’s where …

Lost in the ’70s: The Quick

Unknown to nearly everyone save the most devoted power-pop and glam aficionados, the Quick were managed by legendary Los Angeles scenester and Runaways cofounder Kim Fowley. Fowley also coproduced the Quick’s one and only LP, Mondo Deco (1976), alongside Earl Mankey, formerly of Sparks — quite notable, since at first listen the Quick come off as slavish imitators of the Mael Brothers. While tunes like the gimmicky “Hi Lo” (download) definitely have a Sparks-like sound, complete with helium vocals from Danny Wilde, various time-signature changes, and prominent piano, the Quick was truly a glam-pop band at its core. Nowhere was that made more apparent than on the Beatles remake that kicks off Mondo Deco, “It Won’t Be Long” (download). In the Quick’s hands it becomes a theatrical stomper, as slashing guitars and call-and-response vocals take it beyond the basic four-four pop song it was intended to be. It was difficult to imagine anyone thinking the Quick would take America by storm, especially when the source material, Sparks, were barely able to get arrested here. But …

Lost in the ’80s: Dexys Midnight Runners

A quickie today, folks – I’m getting ready to move in with my betrothed, and I’m currently surrounded by boxes of stuff.  Moving is such a hassle, but I can’t forget you, faithful reader!  So, howzabout covering one of the biggest one-hit wonders of the ’80s? I’ve always wondered why Dexys Midnight Runners were unable to follow up the #1 success of “Come On Eileen.”  I mean, it’s not like Too-Rye-Ay was lacking in potential singles.  The classic album was brimming with hooks, but of course, Dexys U.S. label chose “The Celtic Soul Brothers” (download) as “Eileen’s” follow-up, a single which flopped at #45 upon its initial release in the U.K. (it would later chart much higher after being re-released in “Come On Eileen’s” wake).  While it’s a great tune, much in the same spirit as the massive hit that preceded it, it wasn’t the best choice. A better choice would have been “Eileen’s” follow-up in the U.K., a remake of Van Morrison’s “Jackie Wilson Said (I’m in Heaven When You Smile),” (download) which hit …

Lost in the ’90s: Kirsty MacColl, “Walking Down Madison”

She’s the voice you hear on the Smiths’ “Ask” and Morrissey’s “Interesting Drug.”  She’s the salty dame calling Shane McGowan a “cheap lousy faggot” on the Pogues’ “Fairtytale Of New York.”  And she’s one of the most underrated songwriters of the ’90s and one of our biggest losses. I will go to my grave never understanding why Kirsty MacColl never became a multi-platinum superstar. Everyone I’ve ever played her records to has instantly fallen in love with her voice, a smoky mixture of romance, defeat and irony, with a dollop of sugary sweet syrup on top. Her songs were incredibly catchy, the type you hear the first thirty seconds or so and you can already sing along. And her lyrics…ah, the lyrics. World-weary, tired, yet optimistic, witty and uniformly brilliant. Take, for example, “autumngirlsoup”, where Kirsty equates sex with, well, cooking: Get me on the boil and reduce me To a simmering wreck with a slow kiss To the back of my neck Carve up my heart on a very low flame Separate my feelings …

Lost in the ’80s: Paul McCartney, “So Bad”

Oh, some things just write themselves, don’t they? I kid, I kid. “So Bad” is an overlooked little gem from the Paul catalog, released in the States as the follow-up to “Say Say Say,” his megahit duet with Michael Jackson. (Sorry to put that one in your head. Let’s get back to today’s subject, shall we?) “So Bad” (download) was taken from Paul’s Pipes of Peace LP (1983), which was mostly made up of leftover tracks from his previous effort, Tug of War (1982). As a result, it shares many traits with Tug, such as producer George Martin and some studio drummer named Ringo, of all things. Oh yeah, and Linda’s on it. Surprise! Okay, sorry again. That’s two cheap shots in one post about a song I actually quite like. I must be grumpy. The video for “So Bad” is sort of melancholy in light of Linda’s passing. She did the photography for all the posed shots surrounding the band, and that little freeze-frame of Mrs. McCartney winking and smiling near the end of …

Lost in the ’70s: Cheryl Ladd, “Think It Over”

Charlie’s Angels chanteuse Cheryl Ladd was known for two spectacular things: her acting and her singing. What? What’d you think I was gonna say? Anyhoo, Ladd got her start as a singer in the early ’70s, back when she was still known as Cheryl Stoppelmoor. In fact, after her first stage-name change to Cherie Moor, she sang as one of Josie’s Pussycats (covered previously in this column) on the Josie and the Pussycats album. A few lean years followed before she was cast as Kris Munroe (Jill’s little sister, of course!) on Charlie’s Angels in 1977, replacing Farrah Fawcett, who left after the first season. The show was wildly popular, so why shouldn’t Ladd try her hand at singing again? Capitol Records bit (the same label that released Josie and the Pussycats, actually), and the creatively titled Cheryl Ladd was unleashed upon the world in 1978. Lead single “Think It Over” (download) was one of those songs I only heard on the radio during the first hour of American Top 40, aka the Most Awesome …

Lost in the ’80s: The Wild Swans

This has been a week of happy endings for me, and I’m not referring to a trip to the massage parlor (this time). Y’see, twenty-odd years ago, I bought one of those awesome Sire Records compilations Just Say Yes, which featured a veritable who’s who of new wave/alternative rock in the late ’80s.  Amongst the Depeche Mode and Erasure remixes sat a song by The Wild Swans, a combo from Liverpool that had been kicking around in various forms since the dawn of the decade.  The Wild Swans were a little New Order, a little Echo & The Bunnymen (in fact, Bunny drummer Pete de Freitas produced their debut single), and a dash of every other jangle-rock band of the moment – Sire had a habit of signing a lot of bands that sort of blended together.  Isn’t that right Ocean Blue? In fact, vocalist/keyboardist Paul Simpson doesn’t have much good to say about his experience on Sire – from a 2004 interview: “Being on a major was just one compromise after another. To be …

Lost in the ’90s: Cake Like

Record deals were being handed out like Halloween candy to anything remotely resembling “alternative” in the post-Nirvana ’90s. It’s nearly impossible to imagine a band like art/math rockers Shudder to Think being signed to a conglomerate like Sony, but heck, they put out two albums on Epic Records. Not only did Shudder to Think squeeze out two major-label discs during the alt-rock feeding frenzy, Shudder lead singer Craig Werden also produced Bruiser Queen, the second full-length album from Cake Like, an all-female trio fronted by Kerri Kenney, probably best known for her role on Reno 911! But at the time of Bruiser Queen‘s release in 1997, she was a cast member on Comedy Central’s short-lived Viva Variety. Signed to Neil Young’s Vapor label at the suggestion of Ric Ocasek, Cake Like trafficked in Pixies-ish melodies, with some Sonic Youth dissonance thrown in for good measure. Kenney’s near constant presence on MTV a few years earlier on The State gave the trio an inroad to some light rotation on Alternative Nation and 120 Minutes, with both shows …

Lost in the ’80s: Phil Seymour, “Talk to Me”

Remember when power-pop singles could actually be hit singles? Ah, them’s was the days. The Romantics, Cheap Trick, the Raspberries, the Dwight Twilley Band … Oh, about the Dwight Twilley Band — while Dwight got the marquee and the glory, bassist and drummer Phil Seymour sang along and just so happened to cowrite a good number of the band’s output, including their big single, “I’m on Fire.” So when the Twilley Band petered out, Seymour gathered enough material to snag his own label deal, this time with his name out front. His debut, Phil Seymour, is a power-pop classic that scored a decent hit when the genre could still get on Top 40 radio. “Precious to Me” is one of those tunes for which everyone gives you a blank stare when you mention it, but once they hear it, they always say, “Omigod! I remember that song! I haven’t heard it in years!” Don’t believe me? Watch below:

“Precious to Me” did fairly well, peaking at #22 on the …

Lost in the ’70s: T. Rex

Though history has been kind to Marc Bolan and T. Rex, during their early-’70s heyday American radio most definitely was not. Limited to just one solitary Top 40 single in the States, the band formerly known as Tyrannosaurus Rex was nigh unstoppable in the UK — at the height of their popularity they had racked up ten top-ten hits in just over two years. The first of those hits, the bouncy “Ride a White Swan” (download), peaked at #2 in late 1970. As “T. Rextasy” gripped England, the time was ripe to see how it would play across the pond. Securing a stateside deal on minor label Blue Thumb, “Ride a White Swan” was shopped to American radio in ‘71 and immediately tanked, only reaching the bottom quarter of the Hot 100. Not the best start for T. Rex in the U.S. Things only got better in England, as the band’s next single, “Hot Love” (download), destroyed the charts, holding down the #1 spot for six weeks and pretty much inventing glam rock in the …

Lost in the ’80s: Marilyn, “Baby U Left Me (In The Cold)”

Lest you think Paris Hilton or any of the various Kardashians invented “Famous for Being Famous,” let me point you to Peter Robinson, better known to UK tabloid readers as Marilyn. Born in Jamaica but raised in England, Marilyn made a name for himself as one of the Blitz Kids, an outrageous group of kids who worshiped Bowie, dressed to the nines in all sorts of drag, and hung out at the Blitz nightclub – other Blitz Kids included Boy George and Steven Strange from Visage.  Marilyn’s trademark was his gender-twisting take on Marilyn Monroe – once made up from the neck up, he bore an uncanny resemblance to the dead movie star, hence his nickname.  Marilyn wasn’t content to just make the scene, however.  He hobnobbed with pop stars (his one-time boyfriend was none other than future Bush frontman, now Mr. Stefani Gavin Rossdale), making a notable appearance in the video for Eurythmics’ “Who’s That Girl?” and famously crashing the Band Aid recording of “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”  Proximity to pop royalty probably …

Lost in the ’70s: Metro, “Criminal World”

Have I mentioned that the internet is a pretty cool place lately?  No?  Okay, Imma mention it now! I mean, first there’s all the porn.  Granted, some it can be pretty disgusting, but hey, it’s there and without the same of the video rental gal giving you the stink eye when you rent it.  What were we talking about again?  Oh yeah, how the interwebs is making it possible for tons of fun stuff to emerge from the vaults.  Non-porny stuff, too. Take, por ejemplo, the self-titled debut of Metro.  Released in 1977 to an indifferent shrug from music buyers, the art-rock, New Wave before New Wave set became a cult item, mostly due to the BBC banning its single, “Criminal World” (download) for “adult content” (there’s that porn again).  Of course, by 2009 standards, the offensive lines, “The girls are like baby-faced boys” and “She’ll show you where to shoot your gun” are positively tame.  But the album, crafted by the duo of Duncan Browne and Peter Godwin, slowly gained a cult following.  However, …

Lost in the ’80s: The Belle Stars, “World Domination”

This one’s been a long time coming … and it’s not even as complete as I’d like it to be.  Let me explain… When I first started Lost in the ’80s way back in the halcyon days of 2005, one of the songs I was dying to feature was today’s selection, the Belle Stars’ “World Domination,” a one-off single the girl group, then reduced to a trio, released on MCA in 1986.  You see, the girls had seen much better days – they had several hits in the U.K. around 1982 and 1983, but in the States the best they could do was the MTV favorite, “Sign Of The Times,” which barely scratched the Hot 100.  By the time 1986 came around the group, which was once a seven-piece, found itself shrunk down a trio with limited options, save for a one single record deal with MCA. Where the girl group once shared a kinship with Bananarama by fusing its pop sound with ska overtones, around this time the Belle Stars found themselves in Bananarama’s …

Lost in the ’90s: The Candyskins, “Feed It”

Sometimes I can forgive a band for anything if I love them enough.  Even being featured in a Pringles ad or an Adam Sandler film. Oxford, England’s Candyskins were never very popular chart-wise in their home country, but saw a fair amount of success on American modern rock/alternative radio with their 1990 debut album, Space I’m In, and its single, “Submarine Song.”  Three years later, the band tried to build upon this foundation with Fun? and another alternative radio hit, “Wembley.”  Unfortunately, legal woes with their label Geffen sidelined the band and stopped any momentum for another four years. When the smoke cleared, the group found themselves signed to a UK indie label and saw their third album, Sunday Morning Fever, come and go with nary a peep.  Thankfully, fans only had to wait just one short year (and yet another label) later for the band’s next album, Death Of A Minor TV Celebrity. This time around, the band struck U.S. radio play paydirt again, as the single “Feed It” (download) got quite a bit …

Lost in the ’80s: Boys Don’t Cry, “Cities On Fire”

Thought they only had one song, didn’t you? Actually, the British combo Boys Don’t Cry had two full albums and an EP besides their huge hit, “I Wanna Be A Cowboy,” but of course, that’s all they’ll ever be remembered by.  Taken from their full-length debut, the track very nearly hit the Top Ten in America and became one of the most successful independent label releases in years.  MTV adored the video, pop radio wore the song out, and dance floors were packed every time it was spun. Then came follow-up time. Since the rest of Boys Don’t Cry’s repertoire wasn’t packed with novelty tunes like “Cowboy,” the group had to rely on one of its more straight-ahead songs, the driving synth-rocker “Cities On Fire” (download) for the second single off their self-titled album.  While it was a bit cliche-ridden (both the lines “The night time’s the right time” and “Listen to the band!” are in the same song!), I have to admit “Cities On Fire” has always been a guilty pleasure of mine ever …

Lost in the ’80s: Peter Gabriel, “Out Out”

After dipping his toe into the mainstream with his fourth album, Security, and its Top 40 hit, “Shock the Monkey,” it’s only natural that Peter Gabriel would continue to experiment fusing funk with world music and new wave.  What’s unnatural is that he would wait three years to do it on an album of his own, instead spending that time contributing new tracks to wildly inappropriate movie soundtracks. For example, who would ever expect the man who used to dress up as a giant daisy and sing art-rock epics with Genesis in the ’70s to later record a song for the soundtrack to Hard to Hold, Rick Springfield’s cinematic debut?  Or equally perplexing, to offer another funk collaboration, this time co-produced by Chic’s Nile Rodgers, to the Gremlins soundtrack? But that’s just what Gabriel did.  Nestled snugly in the midst of the soundtrack for a big-budget Hollywood flick about cuddly little furry creatures who became demonic terrors when wet sits “Out Out,” (download) co-produced with Nile Rodgers.  “Out Out” is a seven-minute funk effort that …

Lost in the ’90s: Suede, “The Living Dead”

Morrissey was one of the earliest fans and champions of Britpop glumlords Suede, and it’s not too tough to figure out why. Besides owing quite a musical debt to Morrissey fave Bowie and even the Smiths themselves, Suede followed Moz’s tradition of tossing aside their most stellar compositions to inhabit B-sides and filler space on EPs. A prime example is found on the B-side of “Stay Together,” the stopgap single released between Suede’s self-titled 1993 debut album and their fantastic follow-up, 1994’s Dog Man Star (the last with cofounder and guitarist Bernard Butler, the Marr to vocalist Brett Anderson’s Morrissey). While the A-side is a widescreen epic filled with blistering guitar, a chorus of soaring backing vocals, and tons of production bells and whistles, “The Living Dead” (download) is the absolute opposite. Stripped down to Anderson’s quiet vocal and Butler’s acoustic guitar, this tale of love torn apart by heroin hit a little too close to home, given Anderson’s then well-publicized relationship with Elastica vocalist Justine Frischmann: Where’s all the money gone? I’m talking to …

Lost in the ’80s: Gary Numan

Another example of a one-hit wonder in the States while huge in the U.K., paranoid android and Bowie Low cop artist Gary Numan can lay the blame for his lack of U.S. hits solely on his American label, Atco.  After the tremendous success of the iconic New Wave single “Cars,” Atco probably thought it was the right choice to release Numan’s first huge overseas hit (with Tubeway Army) “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” as the follow-up, even though it wasn’t featured on Numan’s then-current The Pleasure Principle LP.  After all, “Are ‘Friends’” was a massive U.K. #1 single, so it only made sense to consolidate his successes to break Numan big in the States.  Problem was, American radio, still in the thrall of the likes of Journey, Boston and Styx, was just not ready for “Are ‘Friends’” (and probably still aren’t), and the single topped out at #105, a pathetic showing for a Top Ten follow-up. Meanwhile, over in the U.K., the downbeat, moody “Complex” (download) was chosen as The Pleasure Principle’s second single, a bewildering choice.  …

Lost in the ’70s: Carpenters, “Ticket To Ride”

It wasn’t the most auspicious of beginnings for Richard and Karen Carpenter.  Despite later huge success with several Top 40 hits and platinum albums, their first album, Offering, was a huge flop.  In fact, the only single to have any chart action at all from the debut disc was a slowed-down remake of the Beatles’ “Ticket To Ride,” (download) re-imagined as a ballad, putting the focus on the sad, forlorn lyrics.  Of course, that same formula of slow songs and woe-is-me lyrics would later score the brother and sister duo many hits, but the first time out, it fell mostly on deaf ears. In the Carpenters’ hands, “Ticket To Ride” becomes a break-up ballad, with Karen’s superb voice removing the fun, jangly elements of the original and replacing them with heartache.  When Karen sings, “Think I’m gonna be sad, I think it’s today,” you better believe she means it.  Just listen to the lower notes she hits at the end of the chorus.  When brother Richard and the backing vocals come in during the bridge, …