PLAY: Quarterflash – Harden My Heart
Love this moody pop rock gem, with it’s quick paced infectious rhythm and lead saxophone breaks. This was the breakout hit for the group Quarterflash when it was released on their debut album in 1981, but it’s story dates back a year earlier.. “Harden My Heart” was first recorded in basic form in 1980 as part of a 4 song demo the band was to shop around to record labels in hopes of getting a recording contract. The song would makes it’s way into a Portland radio station where it received considerable airplay and there became a regional hit. Based on this success, it certainly greased the wheels of getting signed with the big wigs at Geffen.
Our friend over at the Kickin’ It Old School blog did a fantastic interview awhile back with Quarterflash member Marv Ross where he talks more about this great track and bands career which you should really check out. You can read that write up HERE.
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PLAY: Jeffrey Osborne – On The Wings Of Love
A big hit for R&B man Jeffrey Osborne and probably the song he’s most known for.
Produced by George Duke for Osborne’s self-titled debut album (an album by the way that would feature the instrumentation of musical greats such as Larry Williams, Michael Sembello, Ernie Watts and a host of others!) “On The Wings Of Love” would be a great success as a Top 40 Billboard Hot 100 hit and an even bigger smash in the Top 10 of the Adult Contemporary chart.
What can be said about this great piece of music. It’s one of those perfect ballads, with positive and uplifting (like flying :) lyrics about the feelings of exhilaration associated with love.. and Jeffrey’s vocal, ever so grand, is spot on in his presentation. Notice how he accentuates the note of the word “love” in the chorus.. great stuff.. think how dull that line would be without that little tweak. A classic cut if I do say so myself :)
PLAY: The Clash – Rock The Casbah (Ultimix Remix)
British group The Clash had the tendency to sway from their aggressive punk rock roots over to a more commercially digestible new wave sound, which was very apparent on their biggest charting US hit “Rock The Casbah”. Once again, you gotta go pop if you want to reach the heights of mass success.
Laced with the proper ingredients to give the track a more radio friendly feel, hence an expertly groovy bass line as well as my favor element of the song.. the piano notes (A piano, now how un-punk is that!) This song along with it’s accompanying low budget music video would find it’s way into homes throughout ’82, and is still a popular tune on flashback radio stations today.
I’ve had this “Utimix Remix” in my archives for sometime. I’m unaware of the legitimacy of it nor do I know who’s responsible. But what I will say is that for what it’s worth, it’s a cool variation of this tune that I kind of dig, so odds are it would appeal to others too. Enjoy!
Smooth Groove Alert!!
PLAY: Culture Club – Mistake Number 3
I’ve found that most 80′s fans have either a love or hate association with Culture Club. Those who love (or should I say can appreciate their music) take them for just that, the merit of their music. The haters usually can’t get past the image of Boy George and instantly dismiss everything about them based on that. An unfair, and in fact ignorant assessment.
Though it’s true the outlandish and over the top drag look of George was quite a distraction, the range and caliber of his voice was fitting for these type of pop tunes, which the band performed perfectly for record.
Take for example “Mistake No. 3″, a single selection of theirs from 1984. It’s an excellent pop ballad, possessing great harmony and utilizing those great moody synths in the intro there that I love so much, and George sings so soulfully on this piece, even though I don’t know exactly what the hell he’s talking about. The usual lyric of heartache and regret.. the perfect ingredients for a pop ballad.
PLAY: Eddie Money – Shakin’
Another fixture in the table of contents of Greatest Hits for Eddie Money.
This one has been a mainstay on a lot of classic rock radio stations, at least where I live, and it was a big Mainstream Rock hit at the time of it’s release back in ’82. Future Prince protege’ Apollonia starred in the music video as the chick doing the shakin’.
I’ve always enjoyed this tune as it’s a great pop rock jam! Interestingly enough though, I’ve found it surprising that a song that uses the word “tits” in the lyrics (a word that some fems find to be a derogatory term :) was never muted out on radio. Wonder how they get away with that.
Little tid-bit of information here, as I just learned this myself.. did you know that Ralph Carter (who played Michael Evans on the 70′s show Good Times) co-wrote this song? Nope, neither did I, but apparently it is so. Guess you do learn something new everyday.
PLAY: Bobby Brown – Roni (Extended Version)
The solo career of Bobby Brown was at it’s peak in ’88/’89.. I was in Elementary school at the time and I remember kids I knew that had his Don’t Be Cruel album (on good old cassette that is!) and one that would bring it in to music class. Our music teacher back then was a very cool lady, and we as a class would listen to and talk about contemporary music all the time. One of those fragments of memories from your childhood that stick out.. I remember her playing this song, which I guess was the hit at that particular moment, and pondering (as a child does) “What is he talking about? Macaroni??”
Written and produced by the famed duo of LaFace records, The Deele’s Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Antonio “L.A.” Reid, this great track would be a hit amongst a string of hits from that said album at the tail end of the decade, propelling Bobby Brown to his heights as a solo artist, thus further distancing himself from his old group mates of New Edition.
Here we have the “extended version” that was issued on the 12″ single. Slightly different in that it feels more as a “remix”, but enjoyable all the same!
PLAY: Stevie Nicks – If Anyone Falls
I know I made mention in a previous post how I’m not too much in favor of the solo stuff from Stevie Nicks outside of a few cuts, with this track being one of them.
Released as a single off her Wild Heart album in 1983, “If Anyone Falls” was yet another success for this mystical pop rock queen. But I’ll tell you, if it wasn’t for those kick ass synthesizers here, I doubt I’d care for this track at all. They’re big and bold and smack you right in the face! Even though there is nothing incredibly inventive about their notation, as it just hold the track together.. to me, it IS the track! That’s the awesomeness of 80′s synthesizers and what I love so much about that time period.