Tag: 1980

Huey Lewis and the News – Huey Lewis and the News

ARTIST: Huey Lewis and the News         Huey_Lewis_&_the_News_-_Huey_Lewis_&_the_News

TITLE: Huey Lewis and the News

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #203

SINGLES: Some of My Lies Are True (Sooner or Later), Now Here’s You

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Trouble in Paradise

LINEUP: Huey Lewis, Chris Hayes, Johnny Colla, Mario Cipollina, Bill Gibson, Sean Hopper

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Unremarkable first album from the 80’s icon.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes debut albums shape a band’s career. And sometimes a band’s first album is ignored, even if it establishes their sound and style. The latter is the case with Huey Lewis and the News.

There’s nothing odd, weird, or out of place here when comparing this record to the rest of their output. They had a couple of songs that could have been hits if they broke right, and a couple of other tracks that would have sounded fine on Sports or something like that. But this was only successful in that they got more gigs on the West Coast and lived to make a second album.

The issue is consistency – they are pretty tight and their later-famous harmonies are here, too. The songs, though – it’s no wonder their next record had help from the outside.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Huey Lewis and Sean Hopper were in Clover, who went to the UK in the 70’s, and, without Lewis, backed Elvis Costello early in his career. Lewis played harmonica with Thin Lizzy live.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: C+: I’m not exiling this, but sub-par Huey Lewis & the News is sub-par.

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INXS – INXS

ARTIST: INXS                                    220px-Inxs

TITLE: INXS

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #164 (when it was released in 1984 here)

SINGLES: Just Keep Walking

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Nooooope

LINEUP: Michael Hutchence, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Young Australian band records a derivative, yet pleasant, new wave record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s nothing absolutely horrible about the INXS debut album. Michael Hutchence already had the vocal charisma that would make him famous, and the band plays synth based new wave (with saxophone highlights) competently.

There’s nothing fresh or original here, either. You’ve kind of heard songs like this before, especially if you were of the era. The songs aren’t terrible either, but definitely show that the young band didn’t quite know how to keep the good ideas away from the bad.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Their debut single, “Simple Simon”, isn’t included.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The US version is missing “Unloved One”, the closing track of the album. Meh.

GRADE: B–: I don’t know how much I’d play this, but I don’t think I’ll get rid of it, either.

Ultravox – Vienna

ARTIST: Ultravox                 Ultravox_-_Vienna

TITLE: Vienna

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #164 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: Sleepwalk (#29 UK), Passing Strangers (#57 UK), Vienna (#2 UK), All Stood Still (#8 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: New Europeans

LINEUP: Warren Cann, Chris Cross, Billy Currie, Midge Ure

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A reconstituted Ultravox goes towards electronics, and discovers the winning sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After practically disbanding when erstwhile leader John Foxx, Midge Ure joined up with three of the Ultravox quintet and formed practically a new band, since they remade their sound and style.

Going for a cool, European, electronic vibe in the manner of Gary Numan, and coupling that with the alien-sounding guitar of Ure and violin of Billy Currie, Ultravox’ Vienna struck the right mood in image, style, and sound.

Even though the sound is mostly electronic, drummer Warren Cann’s use of electronic percussion and programming (he came up with the signature percussion sounds in the title track) were unique.

The whole album came together, with the kick-off instrumental setting the mood for the entire record. This set the tone for the 80’s New Romantic movement in the UK.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Drummer Cann was the creepy vocal in “Mr. X”, and they also did a German version called “Herr X” (of course). Also, the US switched around the order in the first side, and it messed with the flow.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, B-sides and remixes abount

GRADE: A: A landmark album for the UK scene.

Ozzy Osbourne – Blizzard of Ozz

ARTIST: Ozzy Osbourne                       220px-Blizzard_of_ozz

TITLE: Blizzard of Ozz

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #7 UK

SINGLES: Crazy Train (#106 US, #9 Mainstream, #49 UK), Mr. Crowley (#46 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I Don’t Know, Suicide Solution

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, Don Airey

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut solo album from Black Sabbath front man is more energetic and lively than anything he sang with his old group since 1975.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Somehow, after several years in a creative stupor thanks to drugs and…well…drugs, Ozzy Osbourne got it together after being fired from Black Sabbath for good (well, kinda for good with all the reunions and all) and created his best known solo work with his best known song.

A lot of the credit goes to Ozzy’s band. They were spitting hot fire behind Ozzy, especially guitar hot-shot Randy Rhoads (having escaped Quiet Riot). Ozzy and the band put together several memorable hooks and riffs, and constructed some memorable songs.

Don’t kid yourself, it’s not a perfect record. There are a couple of clunkers (ballads, feh). But this put Ozzy on the map – ironically at the same time his old band was also going through a creative renaissance.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: There was a lot of drama behind the scenes with the original producer being fired, songwriting credits not being equitable, and the band name itself, which was supposed to be a band named Blizzard of Ozz.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, the 2002 reissue should be avoided because Sharon Osbourne basically had the bass and drum parts re-recorded to spite Daisley and Kerslake. The recent re-issue restores to original.

GRADE: B+: Most cuts are pretty good to great, but as for my ears, Ozzy and ballads don’t mix.

The Police – Zenyatta Mondatta

ARTIST: The Police                            Police-album-zenyattamondatta

TITLE:  Zenyatta Mondatta

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #5 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Don’t Stand So Close to Me (#10 US, #1 UK), De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (#10 US, #5 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Driven to Tears, Man in a Suitcase

LINEUP: Sting, Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Police truly breakthrough in the US with their most consistent album yet.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike the first two Police albums, it seemed that every track here was thoughtfully written and crafted, and not something used to just fill out time. This included the two instrumentals, which did show the versatility of the band, and “Shadows in the Rain”, which is more of an excursion in dub than anything else.

The deep cuts reveal a lot about the band. The reggae influence was greater, as well as the political (with “Driven to Tears and the segue into “When the World Is Running Down…” plus “Bombs Away”). Even with Sting’s impressive bass work, the star on this album is Andy Summers, whose guitar lines tend to float above the fray and add a texture and style that was missing on some previous cuts.

What I don’t like is the structure of the album. The first side is definitely strong, but at the expense of side two which I think they could have shifted an instrumental with “Bombs Away” so that side doesn’t have two instrumentals and the dub excursion.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Behind My Camel”, Andy Summers’ instrumental, won a Grammy. Sting didn’t play on it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-:  Almost an “A” album, but for sequencing issues. It’s a quibble but I’m allowed.

 

Squeeze – Argybargy

ARTIST: Squeeze           220px-argybargy

TITLE:  Argybargy

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #71 US, #32 UK

SINGLES: Another Nail in My Heart (#17 UK), If I Didn’t Love You, Pulling Mussels (From the Shell) (#44), Farfisa Beat

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Squeeze fans can sing along to the whole thing.

LINEUP: Chris Difford, Glenn Tillbrook, Jools Holland, Gilson Lavis, John Bentley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Masterful, tuneful, playful album that put Squeeze at the top of the New Wave movement in the UK and garnered them notice in the US.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Squeeze followed up their breakout album in the UK with one of the best albums of the era. Their songwriting and sound moved forward, throwing in a lot of their influences and becoming quite eclectic while maintain a signature sound.

The patented octave harmonies of Difford and Tillbrook are prevalent during many of the choruses of the songs, lending familiarity, but they change it up with allowing Difford’s growl to take the lead during some pieces of those choruses and bridges. The combo of Jools Holland’s keyboards, Tillbrook’s guitar, and newcomer John Bentley’s bass add a solid touch that is versatile enough to span several idioms.

The stars of the show are the songs. All 11 tracks are strong, even the ‘novelty’ types such as “Farfisa Beat” and Holland’s showcase “Wrong Side of the Moon”.  They’re tuneful, wry, and challenging, and each one has a distinct style while keeping the sound of Squeeze. That’s a tough trick to pull off, and Squeeze does it here.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Holland left soon after the album release to start his solo and television career.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with b-sides, demos, and a live concert.

GRADE: A+:  From tracks 1-11, even on the ‘filler’ as it were, this is a testament to great songwriting and tuneful pop arrangements and melodies.

Yello – Solid Pleasure

ARTIST: Yello                                                   220px-yello_-_solid_pleasure_cd_cover

TITLE:  Solid Pleasure

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Bostitich (#23 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, no, no

LINEUP: Dieter Meier, Boris Blank, Carlos Peron with Chico Hablas, Felix Haug and Walt Keiser

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Avant-garde electronic group from Switzerland made an album that was weird but totally listenable.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Boris Blank and Carlos Peron formed an electronic duo that utilized Peron’s tape manipulation (early sampling, really) and Blank’s synthesizers in a dance music motif, but needed a vocalist. Enter Deiter Meier, an eccentric wealthy industrialist and gambler (that’s what his bio says) that had a deep, forboding voice and was dabbling in avant-garde art.

Blank has a knack for constructing interesting soundscapes coupled with dance rhythms, and utilizing Peron’s tapes. Then Meier comes in with his voice that sometimes sounds foreboding, and other times playful.

Being more concerned with art than commerciality, sometimes their material veers off from listenability, but on this album there’s nothing that’s too out there for consumption. It’s a blueprint for their future, and future successes.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Meier was a professional poker player and part of the Swiss national golf team.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, remixes and b-sides

GRADE: B+: Suprisingly, for an arty dance record, it all holds together from beginning to end.

Prince – Dirty Mind

ARTIST: Prince                     princdirtymind-jpeg

TITLE:  Dirty Mind

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #45 US, #7 R&B, #61 UK

SINGLES: Uptown (#101, #5 R&B), Dirty Mind (#65, #5 Dance), Do It All Night

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Partyup, Head, When You Were Mind

LINEUP: Prince with a bit of help from Lisa Coleman and Doctor Fink

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Still scandalous, still wonderful. Prince becomes M-Fn PRINCE with this tribute to sex and freedom, and freedom to have sex.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The opening cut and album title says it all. This is an album about Prince and his lascivious side. As many know, this is a song that has odes to oral sex, incest, threesomes, and more. Yet, the subject matter is secondary to the music Prince put together this time.

They hooks and funk through the entire record is fantastic. The touches Prince uses, such as the subtle backing vocals in the brilliant “When You Were Mine”, the keyboard hooks in “Dirty Mind” and “Head” (courtesy of Doctor Fink, I believe), and the all out funk of “Uptown” and “Partyup” makes this a treat for all music lovers, even the prurient.

There’s a bit of a stumble on the ballad, so this isn’t perfect. But it’s as close as Prince had come thus far, and really set the table for his mid-80’s work.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Lisa Coleman’s first appearance on a Prince record is the voice of the woman in “Head”. And yes, “Uptown” is about the famed district in Minneapolis.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: While I wouldn’t play this at a junior high dance, I would recommend this for anyone wanting a perfect example of how to blend hooks and the funk.

 

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

ARTIST: Dexy’s Midnight Runners                               220px-dexys_midnight_runners_searching_for_the_young_soul_rebels

TITLE:  Searching for the Young Soul Rebels

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #6 UK

SINGLES: Geno (#1 UK), There There My Dear (#7 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not here

LINEUP: Kevin Rowland, Kevin Archer, Jim Paterson, Pete Williams, Jeff Blythe, Steve Spooner, Pete Saunders, Andy Growcott

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Neo northern-soul band releases first album on the back of a surprise hit.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dexy’s Midnight Runners were quite the thing in the UK in the early 80’s. After a one-off single hit the charts, they signed an album contract and on the back of “Geno”, this was a sensation in 1980.

The tunes are copped, copied and inspired by soul from the 60’s, both in the US and the songs that were part of the Northern Soul revival in the UK. Musically, there’s not a lot of originality except that in 1980 it was standing out from the crowd on the UK scene. Rowland’s not much of a singer, more of a yelper, but the saving grace is the hooks in the songs. Those hooks are what make the album worth keeping around.

As with any UK band from this time frame, the non-LP singles tell a deeper story (thank goodness for deluxe editions). This album is a decent soul tribute with decent playing, some OK horn charts, and those hooks.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Rowland was already a notorious SOB even in his early days. He turned down a lot of offers, cut out a percentage of the royalties from many band members due to the contract signed with EMI, and stole the album tapes from EMI in order to get a higher royalty rate. By the time they were on to album two, only one other member remained and he was soon to leave, too.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with hits “Dance Stance (#40 UK), “Keep It (Part Two)”, and “Plan B” (#58 UK).

GRADE: B: I do believe Rowland’s voice is a hinderance, as are the lack of true originality in most of the material. A couple songs are just not worth the time. That said, it’s hooky as heck.

Dead Kennedys – Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

ARTIST: Dead Kennedys      dead_kennedys_-_fresh_fruit_for_rotting_vegetables_cover

TITLE:  Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables

YEAR RELEASED: 1980

CHART ACTION: #33 UK

SINGLES: California Uber Alles, Holiday in Cambodia, Kill the Poor

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Chemical Warfare, Let’s Lynch the Landlord, Viva Las Vegas

LINEUP: Jello Biafra, East Bay Ray, Klaus Flouride, Ted

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Demented surf guitar, abrasive lyrics, relentless drumming, skilled and musical bass playing, and a IDGAF attitude. In other words, a punk rock milestone.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first four songs of this album (“Kill the Poor”, “Forward to Death”, “When You Get Drafted”, and “Let’s Lynch the Landlord”) I often cite as punk rock’s greatest opening salvo. Then you move towards other classics throughout this record and this, this may be the best record in US punk history.

At times, you need to be fully versed in the US pre-Reagan (but moving towards his election) to get some of the references Jello Biafra is on about, but you gotta know your history, man. “Holiday in Cambodia” will make you want to pick up a Pol Pot primer.

At times, it’s really creepy and uncomfortable. But that’s good art.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This was released in the UK first, then went through numerous changes to the back cover, additions to track lists (on accident, maybe?), and weird colorations. It’s nuts. But the music is the thing, right?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: At times, “Too Drunk to Fuck” and “Police Truck” were inserted into the track list on some European versions.

GRADE: A+:  Essential music for those times, this time, any time.