Sunday, May 20, 2007

Turn That &%$# Thing Off!!!!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlethings, I have been beaned by yet another Selba tag. This time the rules are as follows:

1. Go to http://www.popculturemadness.com/Music/Number-One-Songs-90s.html
2. Pick the year you turned 18
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year
4. Write something about how the song(s) affected you
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends

Well, I'm tempted to plead the 5th (of Jack Daniels) on this one since I'm too nice (and Selba's too nice, too) just to ignore it. However, in the interest of maintaining interest, I'll take the plunge. (Deep breath...)

Like so many of the people that appear regularly on this site, I turned 18 in 1983. That was not exactly a very promising year music-wise, at least as far as I was concerned. We'd all thought, with much rejoicing, that disco had died, but it was already reincarnating itself as "techno pop". Meanwhile, a new genre of music known as "new wave" was confronting the longhair and glam of the 70s with even more artful (read "bizarre") styles based mainly on synthesizers and guitars modified with effects to the point of obliteration. It gave rise to all sorts of new war lines among the students at my high school: the "rockers" hated the "wavos", who pretended to like the (techno-pop) "preps", who hated the "punks", who hated the "rockers".

Tellingly, there was actually a lot of blending and genre-crossing among artists famous in those days. There were established rock bands that suddenly went either new wave or techno pop. Sometimes the reverse was true, too. Anyway, there were some interesting groups, but there was also an awful lot of pure crap that was all dolled up, painted, processed, and made even bigger thanks to an all-new medium, MTV. My friends and I tried very hard to resist the trends, but it was a time of change for everyone, especially those of us that were 18.

In 1983 the charts were mainly dominated by Michael Jackson (back when he was still black), Journey, and Duran Duran. There were also an awful lot of "one-hit wonders" plus a whole wad of (mostly British) new wave acts that were sometimes difficult to tell apart, but anyway...songs? Right. Hmm...what to choose...

1. "Every Breath You Take" (The Police) - I was actually kind of a metalhead at the start of the 80s, but The Police was group that I liked. They combined reggae, new wave, and other things in a way that was artful, interesting, and enjoyable. (On the other hand, Sting's solo work just hasn't appealed to me all that much.) Most of their songs were upbeat. However, this gem from the Synchronicity album is an exception. It is quiet, but not too quiet. It is romantic, but not too romantic. At first my friends and I dismissed the song as sappy because of its rather cliche lyrics. However, it definitely grew on me. It is still one of my favorite overall songs, surviving all those eras and changes of taste. Interestingly, my wife and I still have a tradition, started when we were dating, of ending every karaoke outing by singing this song together.

2. "Gimme All Your Lovin" / "Sharp Dressed Man" (ZZ Top) - "Blues, beards, broads, and beer" are the words that best sum up Texas blues/rockers ZZ Top. They had actually been at it since the early 70s, but these two songs from the Eliminator album were what really got me interested in the band, and they are still one of my favorites. The really cool videos, which featured the members of the band as wizards using their powers (not to mention a really hot classic Ford driven by a trio of really hot sluts) to help losers get a life first attracted my attention, but I quickly fell in love with that awesome guitar sound. Interestingly, the Eliminator album was the start of ZZ Top's "techno-blues" era, in which they combined their trademark "southern fried" guitar work with synthesizers, synthdrums, and sequencers. This was to continue (and get into kind of a rut) until their Antenna album, which came out ten years later.

3. "Safety Dance" (Men Without Hats) - This was the only real hit that Men Without Hats managed, though they did put out a few albums. They seemed like a fairly typical British synth/sequencers/guitar/throaty-voiced singer new wave band, but they had a strange sort of appeal to me and some of my friends. "Safety Dance", like most of their songs, was upbeat and cheerful, even naive, but that made it pleasant to listen to. It was also very catchy. Of course, since we were also playing AD&D at the time, the video, which featured the band and a pretty girl dressed in medieval fashion, also struck a chord. My friends and I sang lines from this song a lot...and sometimes even did the "S" pose from the video.

4. "Burning Down The House" (Talking Heads) - As the year 1983 progressed I began breaking away from my hard rock cradle a bit and getting into other musical styles more and more. (The fact that I was playing in a new wave band probably helped!) Almost by accident, I wound up going to a Talking Heads concert...during their "Stop Making Sense" tour! It was my first concert that was wasn't hard rock (or classical), and I knew almost nothing about the band. I was blown away. I still think it was the most impressive concert I've ever seen. David Byrne and co. were (are?) amazing artistic geniuses.

5. "Cum On Feel The Noize" (Quiet Riot) - Maybe this song was another reason why I started shying away from hard rock. Quiet Riot rose to fame bearing the coffin of their FORMER guitarist, Randy Rhodes, who had become a sensation playing for Ozzy Osbourne before his tragic death. For some reason known only to the denizens of hell, Quiet Riot became hip among the (techno-pop??!?) "prep" crowd, and thus were often described as "the band that resurrected heavy metal". Frankly, I couldn't stomach them, and that obnoxious vocalist screeching, "Cum on feel the noi-oize..." at the beginning of the song was a signal for me to shut the radio off as quickly as possible.

I'm passing this tag on to my former schoolmates who tend to hang out here. I'm curious to hear their take on this oh-so-(unfortunately)-unforgettable year...

11 comments:

Don Snabulus said...

I was finishing my first year and starting my second year of community college back in 1983 (I am half a year or so younger than Moody). MTV changed the musical landscape radically at that time in a way that it never would again.

However, my access to MTV was limited by 1983, so the radio and the turntable playing vinyl albums were my conduits to music. My choices range more into the hard rock of the time. Two of the bands were part of radio station KGON's 'Catch a Rising Star' concert series that allowed exposure for a band and only cost us $2.92 per ticket. Here are 5 tunes that rocked my world and one honorable mention.

1. Subdivisions - Rush: This song summarized the difficulties of living in suburbia for angst-ridden teens including the artificial cliques that Moody referred to as well as being insulated from your own choices and their future impact.

2. Hellion / Electric Eye - Judas Priest: Seymour and I must have worn a groove all the way through this album one summer. It was very powerful with strong melodies. Rob Halford assaulted the senses with excellent alliteration and ballistic lyrics. It had to be listened to LOUD.

3. Synchronicity II - Police: I remember standing out in the rain for a 1981 Police concert with Seymour and Dean Wormer while the horse cops pushed the crowd around for no real reason. It was rewarded with an excellent concert and I wouldn't be surprised if all 3 of us caught a cold.

4. Fight Fire With Fire - Kansas: This was the last album of a movement where Kansas found born-again religion. The Christian members of the band will be sad to note that my attraction to the song was to the hot redhead in the video (what do you expect from an 18 year old?).

5. Who is Behind the Door? - Zebra: This song mused about how extraterrestrial visitors might view us here on Earth. The combination of gorgeous 12-string acoustic guitar sequences and synthesizers building up to a hard rock crescendo at the end was music to my 18 year old ears. I don't remember if Zebra ever made it back to Oregon again. They are still around making music in New Orleans and trying to help people rebuild there.

Honorable Mention: Icehouse - Sister: This mechanized, synthesized song from an Australian band originally known as Flowers showed how important it is to practice with a metronome. The band members played in suits with the narrow ties that were popular in the 80s. This first album of theirs was my favorite even after they became more popular and sold many more of their later albums.

Okay, I did my part.

Pa've said...

I'm with Snabulus on the Electric Eye Priest song.

I only ever purchased two records, the rest were tapes or CD's and I don't have many of those either. Naturally, both albums were Judas Priest.

Later, after I found out Halford was gay, I chucked all my Preist tapes in the trash. My brother in law found them and took them home. Later, I found them all in a box for the garage sale. He had replaced all his tapes with cd's so I dug them out and readded them to my collection. I had by then forgiven Halford, all though I still find the matter troubling.

Next on the list would be Iron Maiden, when I was introduced to it to play a song for a party, I met this girl named Jenny, who I fell in love with at once, and never saw again, damn.

Jethro Tull, a rock band with a flute, cool.

Ozzy or Black Sabbath.

Band I love to hate, Led Zeppelin.

The Moody Minstrel said...

Come on, you guys! No cheating! You were supposed to choose songs from the hit list on that web site! None of the tunes you mentioned qualify (otherwise I probably would have chosen some of those myself)! The selection was supposed to be limited to tunes that were (gasp *gag*) ACCEPTABLE!!!!

Don Snabulus said...

I wasn't cheating...but ok. Here are 5 more...

1. Love My Way - Psychedelic Furs
2. She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
3. Reap The Wild Wind - Ultravox
4. One Thing Leads To Another - the Fixx
5. Rio - Duran Duran

DewKid said...

Okay, I'll bite. My year was 1984, and I still listen to some of the same music today:

Time After Time - Cyndi Lauper

Still one of my all time favorite songs. I actually got to see her live last November on my birthday, thanks to a wonderful surprise by my wife! Yeah, Cyndi's showing her age a bit, but she's still awesome!

Jump - Van Halen

"Reach down.... between my legs.... ease the seat back..." Okay, that's Panama, but same diff. Definitely one of my favorite albums. It still pisses me off to think that Sammy Hagar thought he was Van Halen too.

Thriller - Michael Jackson

Okay, Mikey's a weird person, and probably deserves to be in prison, or mental health facility, but you can't deny the boy/man has talent! I listened to this album OVER and OVER again.

Rock You Like A Hurricane - Scorpions

I LOVE the Scorpions, and this song was probably my big introduction into the heavy metal genre. Once I got a taste, I couldn't get enough, eventually moving into harder stuff like Megadeth and Metallica. Sweet sweet Scorpions, thank you!!

We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister

Talk about rebellion, this was the song for me at that age. Nothing like turning this song way way up on the stereo, stomping around your room in defiance, and screaming "We're not going to take it!!!" Even the band was disgusting, and brought out the correct "how do you listen to this crap?" from the parents, which is precisely the enjoyment of it all!!

Anybody that knows me, knows that I'm a big DEVO fan too. I didn't see a single song listed there, though I know that "Whip It!" hit the charts at some point. Ah well, that's my list.

Pandabonium said...

I didn't think I THAT old. What language is this post written in? Maybe I can get a google translation.

-When it was hip to be hep, I was hep.

Pa've said...

My mental capacity for this sort of thing makes it a bit tasking.

Hill said...

Oh my gosh, you're just a babe. I turned 18 in 1970.
"Smoke on the Water"....

Dean Wormer said...

Dude,

I was hoping the Police would hit P-town. That would be a fun concert to go to with you.

I'm still holding out hope they add a second leg to the tour...

Don Snabulus said...

Pa've,

Hard rock is good for the ears.

DK,

Those are good picks. I like all them too. I must admit I liked Van Hagar but never considered it to be the same band as Van Halen.

PB,

I'd like to hear your 18 year old faves, the heppest slices of solidness a jack-daddy can come up with (too much on the slang?).

Hill,

Looking at the 1970 top favorites, there was an interesting mix. You can see the electric guitar driven harder rock starting to take over.

Dean,

Now that would be fun, unless our wives hijack our phone conversation >:) hee hee, inside joke.

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