Bruce Springsteen – Brilliant Disguise
Following the unbelievably massive success of the Born In The U.S.A album and tour of ’84, anticipation was high for the next Springsteen studio release. And like any project of epic proportion such as that, it’s virtually impossible to replicate, though many have tried.
While the follow up record titled Tunnel Of Love did extremely well ranking at the top of the charts, you couldn’t come close to the polished “brand” Bruce had created with U.S.A. It’s still a decent record thanks to it’s title track among others, including this single “Brilliant Disguise” which is a favorite of mine from his catalog. This probably due in part to it’s heavy airplay on one of the local radio stations I was subject to while growing up in the 80′s.
If you stop and breakdown these lyrics, they are in themselves “brilliant”. It accurately paints a picture of the subjects desires mixed with anxiety, confusion, and sadness.. epitomized by being two-faced in the sense that this “disguise” is merely a mask worn to hide such troubles and doubts. Deep yet masterfully melodic!
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Duran Duran – My Own Way (Night Version)
“My Own Way” was an in-between-albums single that Duran Duran released in 1981. To my ears it’s the perfect blend of pop/dance/disco/new wave.
There are two different variations of this song, with two additional mixes (one of which being the Night Version). The other would be a “remake” for the classic Rio album the following year. It’s often debated among DD fans as to which version is best.. I SAY it’s non-debatable.. each version has it’s own unique charm, and I’d even regard them as completely different songs.
However for this post I’m going to focus on the “Night Version” that was released on the original 12″ UK single. As mentioned in previous posts, Duran were master craftsmen when it came to the 12″ mixes of their songs.. they didn’t just “remix” the existing track, they actually recorded a completely different extended version in the studio. This practice was unheard of at the time, but well worth the effort according to this 80′s Man.
We are first met with a hyper-active drum beat which leads us into the sounds of what I can only describe as an arcade game gone mad! Then we are seduced by what I consider to be the heartbeat of this track, that fantastic bass work!! That’s the driving force of the Night Version right there. The synth-strings are certainly disco-esque, and they paint the soundscape of something grand. I urge you to play this track on a big-sound system if you have the means (watch you’re volume though people, I’m not responsible :)
One cool little part about this version is Simon’s ad-lib right around the 4:33 mark where he says “I think I am going to Rio” .. an optimistic hint of what was to come I suppose :)
A final thought on this topic, this singles B-Side “Like An Angel” is a great track as well. And exactly like it’s A-Side, it should have been given an ’82 remake and found inclusion on the Rio record. I always wondered what that would have been like.. pretty awesome I’d imagine!
Lost Gem Alert!!!
Simon F. – I Want You Back (Extended Mix)
This track stems from my archives of the “I looked for this one forever” category. Back in the day, I was armed with nothing to go on aside from the chanting “ah-ah-ah” from this song.. I must have heard it in passing somewhere, maybe from a stores overhead, I don’t know.. but I didn’t have any of the lyrics down, just that chant. Try standing in front of The Muze with just that! You got nothing.
Napster became the source of vindication (circa ’99) when I simply typed in the “ah-ah-ah” and wouldn’t you know it.. it was one of the first songs that popped up!
I’ve come to learn that this song was actually a cover version by Simon F. (yeah like I would have even found anything with a name like that anyway!) but I’ve always dug it’s arrangement. Steve Stevens, Billy Idol’s guitarist is what really gives this track it’s kick. One of those great under-rated pop-rock lost gems that a lot of people forget about. So hope this one becomes familiar for you!
Alisha – Do You Dream About Me
I will never understand how this track did not become a huge hit in ’87!?! Probably because radio was just too foolish to get behind it!
If you’ll relax and allow you mind to slip back in time, to a simpler time, to a time when a mannequin came to life on the screen and all us 80′s kids embraced it in our typical “essential 80′s flicks” kind of way, you’ll remember a scene featuring our stars Kim Cattrall and Andrew McCarthy, romping through a “music video” sequence where they are playing different characters while masquerading around the department store that the movie takes place in. Nothing like these far fetched premises that we can’t help but look back on and smile (even if a little embarrassingly :)
This tune (another great written by Diane Warren, and performed by freestyle/dance singer Alisha) was the perfect selection for this scene. It’s super catchy and fun, and by all accounts, a “prefect pop” construction (i.e. verse, bridge, chorus, repeat etc.) My favorite part of this track is the bridge.. “you tell me..” That’s a great melody that is!
I don’t know why this song wasn’t given the props it deserved (as did Starship’s “Nothings Gonna Stop us Now” from the Mannequin soundtrack.. also co-penned by Warren by the way). Nor did it find sufficient single status for Alisha’s then current album. So what we have here is just a really great pop cut that deserve so much more credit than it gets.
I urge you to share this post with someone you love, it’s guaranteed to make them smile :)
INXS – The One Thing (Extended Version)
Whilst reading the fantastic book the original MTV VJ’s put out VJ: The Unplugged Adventures Of MTV’s First Wave you learn a few things…
It’s written that in an effort to prove to the record companies that MTV had the ability to break bands in the industry, they really got behind Australian band INXS and their single/video for “The One Thing”, pumping it out consistently and tracking it’s rising popularity. The result, INXS had it’s first Top 40 hit in America. The power of television proved!
This would be one of my preferred INXS tunes. It’s a great balance of pop-rock, with those fantastic melody changes and then the complimentary guitar hook. It’s really just a great early track for them, and the perfect example of a well constructed hit worthy of chart status.
This is the so-called “extended version” that is really a remix that the band officially released on EP titled Dekadance in ’83. I don’t think I favor this as much as the single hit version that we are all familiar with, but because this one is a little more rare (and it is interesting!) I figure there are those of you out there that will appreciate this variation.
Madonna – Crazy For You (Immaculate Mix)
The first proper ballad that Madonna released, and what would be her second number 1 hit single.
One of two new songs included on the soundtrack to the forgettable film Vision Quest, “Crazy For You” is a defining moment for Madonna. It seems as if she owned ’85 by this time, and with a dramatic track like this, her catalog continued to enhance.
This was also the first full-fledged production for John “Jellybean” Benitez, who produced tracks for Madonna previously (and other artists as well) but his work was more of a mixer and remixer, working strictly with electronics, synthesizers, drum machines, and sequencers. To be commissioned as producer in front of real studio musicians was an intimidating task, and fortunately the end product was phenomenal to say the least.
I have a deep affection for this song for varying reasons, and depending on my state of mind it can trigger memories I’m not always prepared to sit with. This aside, it remains a favorite. And I might even go as far to say it’s my favorite Madonna cut (though that’s extremely difficult to pin down). The tone gives you this feeling that you are standing across a room listening, and there’s a hollowness to it, but also a dream like quality. It like so many others makes me think of another time.. not for when it was new, like I’m sure many of you do.. but other times in my life when happiness and sentimentality just seem to click. We all have those, and this is definitely one for me.
New Wave Weekend!!!
M. – Pop Muzik (Long Version)
Considered by many to be the very first, truly new wave single.
Before the dawn of 1980, the artist who would be known as simply M. would release the album New York, London, Paris, Munich. A hodge-podge of electronica, featuring synthesizers and drum machines, the sounds of which would embody the proceeding years. And with the single “Pop Muzik” it was almost as if it were a foreshadowing of things to come.
When I hear this song I think about what it must have been like during that era, right on the cusp of something truly amazing about to happen. Was there a sense in the air that music, and pop culture at large, was about to drastically change and change for the better?!
One from the small stack of music videos to be featured when MTV launched in ’81, the “promo film” features M. as an eccentric DJ parading around like he’s mister cool (that one shot of him beating the kick-drum while snapping his fingers to the words “everybody talk about, pop muzik” will always stand out in my mind). Essential new wave right here!