All posts tagged: John C. Hughes

Lost in the ’80s: The Lucy Show, “A Million Things”

It’s a shame The Lucy Show picked an awful sitcom to name themselves after, since the duo of Mark Bandola and Rob Vandeven had little in common with the strained comedy of an aging TV icon with a scotch-fueled voice and brassy henna rinse mugging with Sammy Davis Jr.  This Lucy Show started out more in a Cure vein, creating darkly melodic pop on their debut album – that all changed when A&M Records dumped them. Recovering with a new deal with RCA-distributed Big Time Records (Love & Rockets’ original label), The Lucy Show lightened their sound a bit on their second album, Mania.  It paid off, since the group soon found itself the toast of college radio with a new sound that could almost be dubbed “gothic power pop.”  Nowhere is this more evident than on the album’s single, “A Million Things,” (download) which got the band considerable airplay on MTV’s “120 Minutes” with video featuring Bandola’s…energetic lipsyching. Unfortunately, just as things were looking bright for the Lucy Show, Big Time Records went belly-up …

Lost in the ’90s: Dink

I’ve had it up to here listening to a small segment of people trying to put down America.  America’s the greatest land on Earth and we oughta be proud of what we have!  I’m proud of America.  I’m proud of our people, and I’m gonna prove it!  We’re American and damn proud of it!  Frankly, I’m getting a little ticked off.  Go to Hell! Ah, Bob Serpentini.  Anyone who lived in Northeast Ohio in the mid-’90s remembers his obnoxious commercials for his Chevrolet dealerships, where he would rant about his right-leaning views for a good thirty seconds (like the quote above), before launching into a hard sell for the latest Impala.  His commercials were so over the top, they became a bit of a local phenomenon, if not an ironic one. Local boys Dink took advantage of this, sampling one of Serpentini’s spots for the intro of their first single, “Green Mind,” (download) bearing the band’s trademark fusion of industrial beats, rock guitar, and hip-hop samples.  Spawned from Kent, Ohio, the same area that gave …

Lost in the ’80s: Soft Cell, “What!”

It’s a shame that U.K. synthpop duo Soft Cell became the epitome of an ’80s one-hit wonder.  While they charted with several singles overseas, “Tainted Love” was their sole American hit, despite releasing several excellent singles and albums.  One of those unfairly ignored singles was actually the follow-up to “Tainted Love,” another Northern Soul remake called “What!” (download) “What!” came a few months after “Tainted Love” and Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret‘s release, a non-LP single to mark time until Soft Cell’s next album.  While non-album single releases were a regular thing in other parts of the world, it was still a relative rarity in the U.S., which may explain why it failed to chart, since record labels tend to ignore songs that don’t promote album sales.  “What!” also had a fun, Pop Art-inspired video that despite being pretty fabulous got scant airplay – that didn’t help matters much.  And yes, New Wave trainspotters, that’s Mari Wilson making a cameo: An extended version of “What!” (download) finally appeared in album form on the Non-Stop Ecstatic Dancing remix …

Lost in the ’70s: The Skids, “Masquerade”

Richard Jobson and Stuart Adamson founded Scottish punk band the Skids in 1977 – and if that second name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you know Adamson’s more famous combo, Big Country.  But years before, Adamson honed his songcraft and guitar playing on three Skids albums, even charting with a few singles in the U.K. The Skids are probably best known for two songs:  “The Saints Are Coming,” which was remade for a charity team-up single by Green Day and U2, and “Into The Valley,” a Top Ten hit in the U.K. that featured a near-unintelligible chorus.  But my favorite Skids tune is the follow-up to “Into The Valley,” “Masquerade,” (download) a more New Wave than punk song with its marching beat and distinctive synth line in the chorus. “Masquerade” was added to a remixed and re-released version of the band’s second album, 1979’s Days In Europa, which was originally pulled due to its controversial cover art depicting what looks like a scene from the 1936 Olympics.  Some felt it had “Aryan overtones,” so while …

Lost in the ’80s: When New Wave Happens to Old Artists – Cher

There’s never been a musical trend that Cher has been afraid to jump upon.  From watered down hippie-dippy love songs to disco to adult contemporary schlock, the Dark Lady has matched only maybe Bowie in appropriating the current musical climate for her own campy needs.  And New Wave was no exception. Cher’s flirtation with New Wave started as the ’80s blossomed – she had just released a second, much less successful follow-up to Take Me Home, and the Casablanca disco sound she was currently trading in was on the wane.  Enter Black Rose, a “punk” band that featured Cher on vocals and her then-current boyfriend on guitar.  The idea was that Black Rose was a real band, not a vanity project, so Cher’s image was purposely left off the front album cover art and the press materials downplayed her presence.  The result was a universally ignored album and Black Rose soon withered and died. Flash forward two years later – Cher signed to Columbia Records for a one-album deal and was teamed with a group …

Phagz on 45: Episode Seven

After a vacation summering in beautiful Silver Lake, California (aka, barhopping),  John C. Hughes and the world’s foremost Belinda Carlisle impersonator, a.k.a. his buddy Matty (or “Bearlinda,” if you prefer), return to review some singles, No on Prop 8 style. This week your rainbeaux duo take a listen to songs by Duran Duran, Office, Missing Persons, and Vanity 6, plus thrill to Matty’s note-perfect rendition of the Closet World jingle!  Enjoy, and as always, MP3s of the songs are below so you can follow along at home. Duran Duran — “The Chauffeur (Blue Silver)” (download) Office — “Wound Up” (download) Missing Persons — “Words” (download) Vanity 6 — “If A Girl Answers (Don’t Hang Up)” (download)

Lost in the ’90s: Trash Can Sinatras, “I’ve Seen Everything”

Is there such a thing as a casual Trash Can (or Trashcan, if you prefer) Sinatras fan? I ask that since every TCS fan I’ve met has been nearly obsessive in their love for the Scottish band, which has been making critically acclaimed, hook-filled jangly pop albums since the early ’90s.  Unfortunately, sales have never quite matched that acclaim, but a small, devoted cult of fans has supported the group through the lean times, keeping candles burning during years-long gaps between albums and tours. After getting some radio and MTV notice for their 1990 debut, Cake, the group took nearly four years to follow up with I’ve Seen Everything.  While I adored Cake, I found …Everything hard going at first, giving it a few shots before giving up on it completely when the hooks didn’t jump out immediately enough for my pleasure.  My mistake.  While lead-off single “Hayfever” (download) was actually very catchy, I found it a bit of an anomaly compared to the denseness of the rest of the album.  And the video got …

Lost in the ’80s: The Sinceros, “Pet Rock”

Starting out as a trio called the Strutters, singer/songwriter Mark Kjeldsen along with rhythm section Bobby Irwin and Ron François re-branded themselves as the Sinceros, trading in New Wave and melodic power pop.  Epic Records took notice and signed the band in the late ’70s, but not before Irwin and François were tapped to play on Lene Lovich’s New Wave classic, Stateless. After this brief detour, the Sinceros released their debut, The Sound Of Sunbathing in 1979.  A single, “Take Me To Your Leader,” got a little buzz in the U.K., and the band toured heavily there and in the States with a power-pop dream line-up co-featuring 20/20 and Paul Collins’ Beat. After picking up Don Snow as a keyboardist, the band began work on their second album in 1980, but the obviously titled 2nd Debut was shelved by Epic.  Reworking the existing tracks with Elton John’s super-producer Gus Dudgeon, the redone album was finally released in 1981 as Pet Rock. It’s a lost power-pop classic and the lead single “Disappearing” (download) is one of …

Lost in the ’70s: Michael Nesmith, “Cruisin'”

Former Monkee Michael Nesmith closed out the ’70s in a better position than when the decade began.  After the Monkees disbanded, Nez knocked around a bit on RCA Records, scoring a sole Top 40 hit with “Joanne” in 1970, then a few lower charting country-rock singles as the years wound on, until he parted ways with the label.  It was probably the best move of his career, outside of auditioning for the Pre-fab Four.  Free of a major label contract, Nez founded Pacific Arts, a multi-media company specializing in commercials, filmwork, music, and most prescient, music video. One of Pacific Arts’ first projects was a music video show for the kids’ network Nickelodeon called “Pop Clips,” which was one of, if not the first all-music video program.  The big bosses at Nickelodeon liked the show and concept so much, they used it as a template to create the world’s first all-video channel, MTV.  Ah, those were the days… Nesmith began filming videos for his songs in 1977 with a clip for “Rio,” a single that …

Lost in the ’80s: Men at Work

It’s an old pop joke that winning the Grammy for Best New Artist is pretty much the kiss of death for long-term success. See the Starland Vocal Band, Milli Vanilli, and today’s featured combo, Australia’s Men at Work. While not the massive flameout some other Best New Artist winners were, Men at Work had a sadly truncated shelf life that no one really saw coming. Their first two albums were massive successes, filled with hits. You know ’em all: “Doctor Heckyll and Mister Jive,” “Be Good Johnny” … okay, I kid. “Who Can It Be Now” and “Down Under” were huge, along with “Overkill” and “It’s a Mistake.” Both albums, Business as Usual (1982) and Cargo (1983), came hot on the heels of each other; combined with the constant touring and promotional schedule for both, the band needed a much deserved break. Two years later, the group was reduced to a trio of singer Colin Hay, saxophonist Greg Ham, and guitarist Ron Strykert. By the time their third album, Two Hearts (1985), hit the streets, …

Lost in the ’90s: One Dove

Scottish trio One Dove found themselves branded with the trip-hop label after releasing their debut Morning Dove White in 1993.  It wasn’t a label undeserved, really, since the group’s expansive, five-minute plus opuses tended to obscure the catchy hooks underneath layers and layers of shuffled beats, foggy synths, and in the case of the original “Guitar Paradise Mix” of the album’s lead single, “White Love,” squealing electric guitar. Where the “Guitar Paradise Mix” meanders for more than ten minutes, the Stephen Hague radio mix of “White Love” (download) gets right to the point, pushing the melody to the front, beefing up the dancier aspects of the song and putting vocalist Dot Allison in center stage.  The tinkering resulted in a decent-sized modern rock radio hit for the band, a dance floor smash, and a video in regular rotation on MTV, no small feat for a dance act in the age of grunge: Same deal with Morning Dove White‘s second single, “Breakdown” – the original “Cellophane Boat Mix” (download) was a much more dubby affair with …

Lost in the ’80s Video Break: a-ha, “Take On Me” (Literal Version)

Here’s an oldie but a goodie, in a whole new style: the classic video for a-ha’s “Take On Me,” redone literally. What does that mean, you ask? Watch and learn, friends. Watch and learn.

Lost in the ’80s: “Revenge of the Nerds”

It may be the height of over-sharing to admit this, but Revenge of the Nerds was a movie that really spoke to me in high school.  As a computer-loving, comic book-collecting, Dungeons & Dragons-playing sophomore, I certainly related to Lewis and Gilbert and their struggle and desire to fit in.  Maybe I wasn’t as persecuted as they were, but I certainly felt a kinship for being teased for being smart and not athletic (not that I was any sort of genius, mind you).  While the movie was meant to be another Animal House-style comedic romp, the background and weight given to the lead characters led to a few actually somewhat poignant moments. But for all those thoughtful moments, Revenge of the Nerds was most certainly primarily a comedy, with plenty of classic, repeatable lines (“What the fuck are ‘robster craws?’”) and memorable scenes, such as the infamous panty raid as pretext for hiding cameras in a sorority (talk about predicting the future of the Internet early!).  Also memorable was the movie’s soundtrack, a hodgepodge of …

Lost in the ’70s: Jeff Lynne, “Doin’ That Crazy Thing”

Remember when the Hustle swept through discos everywhere?  People were taking Hustle classes, the nightly news reported on the fad, there were instructional records and books.  Hey, remember when everyone did the bump to, say, “Lady Bump?”  How about in 1977, when everyone was doing the latest dance, the “Crazy Thing,” to Jeff Lynne’s “Doin’ That Crazy Thing?” No?  Oh, sorry. Creating a new dance craze was definitely on someone’s mind when Jeff Lynne took a short break from leading the Electric Light Orchestra to release this forgotten single.  “Doin’ That Crazy Thing” (download) was released with the mugshot picture sleeve overseas, but here in the States the 12″ version can with a sleeve complete with step-by-step instructions on how to do the “Crazy Thing,” the new moves that were destined to sweep the nation.  Except, like, they didn’t.  The copy I found was sadly saddled with a generic Jet Records sleeve, damn it. “Doin’ That Crazy Thing” was a strange detour for Lynne, a downtempo, straight-ahead disco tune slipped out under his own name …

Lost in the ’80s: Kaja(googoo), “Extra Play/Islands”

Y’know, if you name your kid Herbert or Poindexter, you’re just setting that child up for a lifetime of teasing and ridicule.  And if you name your band Kajagoogoo, well, you can expect a certain amount of critical derision. That’s probably why after the success of the band’s first album, White Feathers, and Top 5 single, “Too Shy,” the group ditched both lead singer Limahl (the story goes Limahl was a Buddhist while the rest of the ‘goos were Christians) and the “googoo” suffix to release their second album, Extra Play, under the new name Kaja.  Except we here in the States are the only ones that got that title and improved moniker – everywhere else in the world Extra Play was known as Islands, the cover art was completely different, and the band remained Kaja with the googoo still intact. Another difference was the U.S. got a different first single and remix of said song.  “Turn Your Back On Me” (download) kept with Kaja’s new mission as probably New Wave’s first overtly Christian act …

Lost in the ’90s: Tuscadero

Note from John: My Phagz on 45 partner (not THAT way!) Matty has been on my jock non-stop, begging me to feature today’s artist on Lost in the ’90s since its inception.  After nearly nine months of crying, hounding, and Abby Ewing-level blackmail, I finally told the bitch to put his money where his mouth is and write the damn thing himself if he wants to see it so badly.  And the sucker fell for it!  So, here’s Matty with today’s post… Board games, candy, AWFUL boys, Nancy Drew books and girls who sing – these are a TON of my favorite things! Melissa Farris and Margaret McCartney met while waiting tables at the Zig Zag café in DC.  The two had been playing guitar for about 3 and 6 months respectively when they recruited bassist Phil Satlof and drummer Jack Hornady to form their first band, (named in homage to Fonzie’s paramour, Leather Tuscadero).  Says Melissa via e-mail, “We knew that between them they owned both a drum kit and a bass, and that …

Lost in the ’80s: Frankie Smith, “Double Dutch Bus”

What’s up, every bizzle? It’s Jizzle-ohn in the hizzouse with another Lost in the Izzle. Before you grab the flaming torches and pitchforks, let me just say that’s my li’l way of introducing you to today’s artist, hip-hop pioneer/legend Frankie Smith, co-author of the classic “Double Dutch Bus” and progenitor of “izzle”-speak. That’s right, Frankie Smith gets all the credit/blame, not Snoop Dogg, who appropriated the izzle to big success a few yizzears ago. A song about both the jump-rope technique and public transportation in Philly, “Double Dutch Bus” (download) was a nearly instantaneous smash on the R&B charts after its release. Smith wasn’t quite an overnight success, though, having spent some time in the trenches as a writer for acts like the O’Jays, Billy Paul, and other artists in the Philadelphia International Records stable. Smith got the idea for “Double Dutch Bus” after being turned down for a job as a city bus driver. He ended up in the studio at two in the morning, where he recorded a profanity-laced tirade about the bus …

Lost in the ’70s: Charo, “Stay With Me”

We all know Charo for her ubiquitous variety show and Love Boat appearances throughout the ’70s, but did you know the former María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza Rasten was also an accomplished flamenco guitarist? Of course you did. A young Charo learned guitar from Andres Segovia, considered an icon of modern classical guitar music. After she moved to the States and married Spanish bandleader Xavier Cugat, Charo began forging her “cuchie, cuchie” persona with countless stints on The Tonight Show, The Mike Douglas Show, even the infamous Brady Bunch Variety Hour. Throughout her years of campy shtick on TV, Charo never stopped recording, both classical-guitar works and more dance-oriented Latin-fusion disco with the Salsoul Orchestra. In fact, she scored three hits on the Hot Dance Club Play chart in the ’70s, starting with “Dance a Little Bit Closer,” which reached #18 in 1978. Later that year “Ole Ole” climbed to #36, while the second single from her Ole Ole album, “Stay With Me” (download), didn’t get quite so far. But “Stay With Me” …

Lost in the ’80s: Ava Cherry

Hardcore David Bowie fans are probably familiar with the name Ava Cherry, but for the benefit of everyone else, Ava was Bowie’s lover in the early to mid ’70s, as well as one of his backup singers in the Astronettes during the Diamond Dogs/Young Americans Tour.  Bowie had plans for Cherry and the other Astronettes, producing an album for the trio that was New Wave before the term existed.  It also ended up being shelved for twenty years when things with their mutual management MainMan went sour. That setback didn’t stop Cherry from pursuing a music career, though it was tough for her to break away from being “David Bowie’s lover.”  A 1980 album for RSO (Ripe!!!) caused a minor ripple on the Billboard Black Albums Chart, so when RSO bit the dust, Ava found herself with a new deal on Capitol Records.  The resulting album, Streetcar Named Desire, was a bit of a throwback, a funk/disco affair when New Wave and the music industry had finally caught up to Cherry.  It’s too bad, since …

Lost in the ’90s: Unrest

Combining shoegaze and dreampop with straight-ahead power pop, Washington D.C. indie-rock darlings Unrest were the brainchild of Mark Robinson, founder of the TeenBeat label.  After a few post-punk experimental years, Unrest tamed their sound a bit (with plenty of more unorthodox tracks here and there) and snagged a distribution deal with famed 4AD Records, which was itself distributed in the U.S. by Warner Brothers.  This is a roundabout way of basically saying their 1993 album, Perfect Teeth, was the first to get a major label push which resulted in the band getting some MTV play on “120 Minutes.” It was there that I first saw the video for “Cath Carroll.” (download) a swirling, manic pop confection that sounded like Catherine Wheel covering the Partridge Family.  The song was an ode to the NME journalist and Factory Records artist, and a Robert Mapplethorpe portrait of Carroll was used for the cover of Perfect Teeth. However, it was the second video taken from the album, “Make Out Club,” (download) that finally drove me to the record store.  …

Lost in the ’80s: Freur, “Doot-Doot”

If at first you don’t succeed … fail a second time.  Third time’s the charm! That twist on two hoary old clichés pretty much sums up the long struggle of Karl Hyde and Rick Smith, of techno band Underworld.  Sure, you know them now as the “Born Slippy”/Trainspotting soundtrack band, or perhaps the more geeky among you (hand up, me!) knew them as the New Wave-y Underworld that scored a minor MTV hit with “Underneath the Radar” in the late ’80s.  But Hyde and Smith tried for rock stardom years before… Beginning life in 1981 as a band known as nothing other than a graphic design squiggle (take that, Prince!), the group got signed to CBS Records in the U.K., who demanded a “real” name for the combo.  Dubbing themselves Freur, their first single “Doot-Doot” (download) charted in the upper 50s of the U.K. chart in 1983.  Not quite a smash, but the song got some underground exposure here in the States via the more adventurous New Wave and college radio stations. Freur tried a …

Lost in the ’90s: Chumbawamba, “Amnesia”

Anyone who’s ever worked at a record store that buys and sells used CDs can tell you what titles they see over and over again.  Jagged Little Pill, Cracked Rear View, the entire Cranberries catalog … these are discs that clog the bins coast to coast, as music buyers buy, absorb, and ultimately get sick of these huge mega-hits.  The second type of disc you see a lot is the one-hit wonder album – Vanilla Ice’s To The Extreme or today’s featured artist’s album, Chumbawamba’s Tubthumper. A loose collective of musicians who had been making music in the U.K. since the early ’80s, Chumbawamba had a number of indie releases under their belt before signing to EMI in 1997.  Tubthumper, their major label debut, was their 7th overall (or so, depending on whether you count live sets or offshoots), so calling them a one-hit wonder, while technically correct in the States, seems a little unfair.  But that one hit, “Tubthumping,” was a doozy, blasting out of radios and MTV for what seemed like an hourly …

Lost in the ’80s: The Cure, “A Man Inside My Mouth”

Let’s get all the cute little jokes about the title of today’s featured song out of the way first, shall we?  I’ll pause while you do so. G’head, get ’em all out. All done?  Good.  Moving on… I don’t have to tell any of you guys about the Cure, since you’re all much more knowlegable and have a higher taste level than 90% of the blogosphere.  And you’re all so lovely and good looking and very susceptible to shamless flattery.  The Cure’s American breakthrough probably started in earnest with 1985’s, The Head On The Door, their most accessible and cohesive album up to that point.  While “Let’s Go To Bed” and “The Walk” got a bit of MTV play, the videos for “In Between Days” and “Close To Me” got maximum spins on the channel, probably thanks to their new U.S. record label, Elektra.  Elektra tried to get more mileage out of the album with a third video for “A Night Like This,” accompanied by a new four-song EP called “Quadpus.” “Quadpus” is a strange …

Lost in the ’70s: “Laverne & Shirley Sing”

Boy, we’d buy anything in the ’70s, wouldn’t we? Laverne & Shirley, the most successful spin-off from Happy Days, was riding high in 1976, overtaking its parent show to capture the number-one slot in the Nielsen ratings. It was time to cash in. Lunch boxes, Mego “action figures” (don’t call them “dolls”!), Colorforms sets — you name it, the L&S logo was slapped on it. Then someone had a bright idea: since Laverne and Shirley were often shoehorned into painful musical numbers (remember the annual Shotz Brewery Talent Shows?), why not release an album of Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall singing their favorite ’50s and ’60s hits? Because they can’t sing, that’s why not! Logic has rarely stopped anyone from making a cash grab, so 1976 saw the release of Laverne & Shirley Sing, a charitable title at best. While Cindy Williams has a, um, passable singing voice, I think we all know how Penny Marshall handles a tune. Thankfully, her nasally whine was kept to a bare minimum on the album’s single, a remake …

Lost in the ’80s: JoBoxers

Riding a rockabilly/Motown revival during the early ’80s that also included the Polecats, Roman Holliday and the Stray Cats, Britain’s JoBoxers (with American lead singer Dig Wayne) barely scraped the Top 40 in the States with “Just Got Lucky,” another one of those hits that got bigger as the years rolled on, being featured in plenty of movies, most notably The 40-Year-Old Virgin. But while “Just Got Lucky” is what the band is best known for here, it was actually their first single in the U.K., “Boxerbeat” (download), that was the bigger hit. And hey, how about that spoken word intro ripped off fresh from Madness’ “One Step Beyond?” “Boxerbeat,” an infectious if goofy mission statement, hit #3 in the U.K., predating “Just Got Lucky’s” success. It was released here as the second single off the band’s debut, Like Gangbusters, complete with another Bowery Boys-inspired video. Unfortunately, MTV didn’t shine to “Boxerbeat” like they did with the group’s first single. In the U.K., the success of the first two singles led to a third, the …

Lost in the ’70s: Neil Diamond, “Desirée”

So, who worries about the music their kids listen to? I don’t have any kids myself, but when I was visiting my 13-year-old niece recently, she asked me to get her the new Ting Tings and Office CDs (very hip, that one). At first I didn’t even think about it, until I remembered there were a few naughty words on both and I checked with her mother. “Oh, she’s heard much worse than that. Go for it,” she told me. I was taken aback for a minute thinking, wait a minute…don’t you care that your child is being exposed to this? Thankfully, it was only a momentary flash of 40-year-old old fogey thinking, quickly dashed when I started to recall my record collection at 13. From the Village People chanting about “My Roommate” (winkwink), to Barry Manilow bragging about feeling his “blood flow” (nudgenudge) in “Weekend in New England,” not to mention the gem of my 45 collection, Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City,” my pre-teen records were just as racy, if perhaps a …

Lost in the ’80s: S’Express

“DROP THAT GHETTO BLASTER!” When NYC performance artist Karen Finley screamed those words on her obscure 1986 single “Tales of Taboo,” she probably never dreamed she’d end up on one of the biggest dance floor anthems of the ’80s. But DJ Mark Moore heard it and decided to include it in the number of samples he used to create S’Express’s huge 1988 club hit, “Theme From S’Express.” (download) In fact, let’s run down those samples, shall we? • You’ve got Finley’s declaration, as mentioned, • “I’ve got the hots for you” comes from TZ’s “I Got The Hots For You” (surprise!) • “Uno, dos, tres, quatro” is from Debbie Harry’s “Feel The Spin,” • I believe that’s Holly Johnson’s laugh from the end of “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” at the end, • and Rose Royce’s “Wishing On A Star” gets nicked from liberally. Who knows what else is hiding in there? While M|A|R|R|S ran into considerable legal difficulty due to all the uncleared samples in 1987’s “Pump Up The Volume,” I never heard of any …

Lost in the ’90s: Belinda Carlisle

Naked Eyes, ABC, Belinda Carlisle, and the Human League are currently crisscrossing the country on the Regeneration Tour, an oldies-revival trek that thankfully isn’t entirely mired in nostalgia, since all the bands involved are performing more than just rote lists of hits. I caught the Regeneration Tour at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, and I can say it’s definitely worth the time (three hours!) and money. Lost in the ’80s fans will appreciate the deep set lists that have liberal sprinklings of album cuts and even some new tracks. For example, Naked Eyes not only played “Promises, Promises,” but also “Fortune and Fame.” ABC ran through a couple songs from their latest, Traffic. The Human League made my night by tearing through stellar renditions of “Seconds,” “The Lebanon,” and more songs I’d never dreamed of hearing live. The nicest surprise of the night, however, was Belinda, who, along with some predictable Go-Go’s numbers, had a sizable sense of humor about her standing as an Adult Contemporary solo artist. For example, …

Lost in the ’80s: Modern English

We’ve talked before about songs we loved in our younger days that just don’t quite hold up to an older ear’s scrutiny. Unfortunately (or not, if you still love it), today we have another example to showcase. While Modern English’s 1982 single “I Melt With You” has become a retroactive classic, even making an appearance in a *gag* Burger King commercial, the band was hard-pressed to follow it up. The group even eventually threw up their hands and re-recorded the song years later in one of the more brazen cash grabs I can remember. Modern English tried their hand at pure power pop in 1986 with a fine song called “Ink & Paper” that owed more than a little to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run.” Before that, however, the band was still in its goth-tinged era when they recorded their third album, Ricochet Days. Lead-off single “Hands Across the Sea” (download) got a snazzy looking video that MTV glommed onto, thanks to the earlier heavy-rotation success of “I Melt With You.” I remember seeing this …

Lost in the ’70s: Joan Armatrading

Can you believe Joan Armatrading has been making music for nearly 40 years? Yeah, me neither. Did you know her first album came out all the way back in 1972? I knew of her mid-’70s output, but until recently, I had never heard of her debut album, 1972’s Whatever’s for Us. Armatrading got her start in the London repertory for the musical Hair, alongside lyricist Pam Nestor. The duo began collaborating on original pieces and the result was Whatever’s, a definitely singer-songwriter-y work, produced by early Elton John helmer Gus Dudgeon. Dudgeon’s hand, along with a few other Elton sidemen playing on the record, account for Armatrading’s debut having a very Goodbye Yellow Brick Road feel, as evidenced on “City Girl.” (download) Whatever’s didn’t make much noise on the charts, and while Nestor got her picture and a bio on the sleeve, the lack of notice and sales must have broken the partnership, because from this point forward it was simply the Joan Show. As Armatrading continued recording to varying success, her debut slipped out …