Tag: 1982

John Mellencamp – American Fool

ARTIST: John Cougar (Mellencamp)          220px-JC_American_Fool

TITLE: American Fool

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #37 UK

SINGLES: Hurts So Good (#2, #1 Mainstream), Jack & Diane (#1 US, #3 Mainstream, #25 UK), Thundering Hearts (#36 Mainstream), Hand to Hold on To (#19 US, #89 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No one knew the deep cuts

LINEUP: John Cougar (Mellencamp), Larry Crane, Mike Wanchic, Kenny Aronoff, George Perry with help by Mick Ronson (!)

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The breakthrough finally happens, thanks to MTV and constant touring.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: John Cougar finally, finally struck the big time after a few years of regional success thanks to “Hurts So Good”, a catchy rock-and-roll fun-time number with a great video. The Hoosier then became a household name with “Jack and Diane” – really one of the most polarizing songs of the 80’s. You either loved it, or wish it didn’t exist. (I fall into the latter camp).

The album that follows those songs isn’t horrible – it could be said “Jack and Diane” is the worst song there (well, I say it). There are a couple of other high points, but we definitely have a mostly hit+filler situation here – with the hits coming at the beginning and the second side of the LP may have been almost totally neglected on turntables and cassette decks.

There’s some progress here on the songwriting front, and he’s not afraid to be sentimental, but songs like “China Girl” (not the Bowie / Pop track) hold him back, along with…you know.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The record company almost cancelled this record and released him.   

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: One bonus track, the title track. 

GRADE: B-:  It was a huge album, but it has a lot of meh filler.

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The Call – The Call

ARTIST: The Call                       R-1096852-1191772999.jpeg

TITLE: The Call

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Just promos

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: War Weary Word

LINEUP: Michael Been, Scott Musick, Greg Freeman, Tom Ferrier, Steve Huddleston

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from topical 80’s rock band is a bit strident and prescriptive.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Featuring an anthemic sound and political and social lyrics, the Call came onto the scene as one of the early bands fighting against the political tide of the time.

The album started out great with “War Weary World”, but as the album went on, Michael Been’s vocals wore on me, as his lack of subtlety felt like someone preaching instead of pleading.

In short doses, especially “War Weary World”, this is fine, but this first effort is just a bit too much.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Been was in the late 60’s band Aorta, which was noted only for their album cover.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: C+: A few good tracks, but as a whole it seems strident.

Black Flag – Everything Went Black

ARTIST: Black Flag                                                      Black_Flag_-_Everything_Went_Black_cover

TITLE: Everything Went Black

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: All of their early singles are here in multiple versions.

LINEUP: Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukoswki, Brian Migdol, Robo, Keith Morris, Ron Reyes, Dez Cadena

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A collection of recordings made by the early incarnations of Black Flag, released as a holdover until their legal problems cleared up.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Due to the fact that they were temporarily banned from recording and releasing new material, Black Flag did something innovative and took a bunch of demos and other recordings featuring each of their previous singers, and released them to their fans, anonymously. 3293922

What you get are multiple versions of many Black Flag classics, including songs that would be made famous by other versions featuring the other vocalists. Keith Morris got an entire side, Dez Cadena got a side and a half, and Ron Reyes got half of one side. You can definitely compare and contrast how each of them treats each song.

The final side was a long compilation of all the radio ads recorded for various gigs and some other shenanigans they did in the studio. That’s an interesting listen, once.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Reyes was called Chavo Pederast and Morris was listed as Johnny Bob Goldstein.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: B-:  It’s kind of a novelty and wears you out, but hearing each vocalist is interesting.

Culture Club – Kissing to be Clever

ARTIST: Culture Club                            cultureclubkissingtobeclever

TITLE:  Kissing to Be Clever

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #14 US, #5 UK

SINGLES: White Boy (#114 UK), I’m Afraid of Me (#100 UK), Do You Really Want to Hurt Me (#2 US, #1 UK), Time (Clock of the Heart) (#2 US, #3 UK), I’ll Tumble 4 Ya (#9 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: I doubt you do

LINEUP: Boy George, Michael Craig, Roy Hay, Jon Moss with Keith Miller, Terry Bailey, Nicky Payne, Helen Terry, Colin Campsie, Phil Pickett and Denise Spooner

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Debut album from a group that took the world by storm really shows more of their weaknesses than their strengths.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The first two singles from Culture Club tried to establish them as a dance-floor friendly band, with “White Boy” kind of successful, and “I’m Afraid of Me” let down by faux Caribbean instruments and rhythm. Then, they decided their big album-ending ballad should be the next release.

When it got to the US, and entered our collective consciousness, they changed the order around, added another ballad onto the album, and all of the faux disco and 80’s dance floor sounds seemed out of place from what the public knew. And the song with “Captain Crucial” was embarrassing.

Many of the songs talk about boys (especially white boys) and the dance styles take away from Boy George’s vocal strengths (and they dilute the guitars of Roy Hay as well, who is the band’s secret weapon). The production is early 80’s, with tinny drums and synclavier horns. But then, the ballads appear and you know why this was big.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had three Top 10 hits from this album, the first time a debut had that many Top 10 hits since the Beatles.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes.The US version added “Time” (finally, it wasn’t there at first) and deleted another track (about boys)

GRADE: C:  The hits really can’t overcome the rest.

The Fixx – Shuttered Room

ARTIST: The Fixx                              the_fixx_-_shuttered_room

TITLE:  Shuddered Room

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #106 US, #54 UK

SINGLES: Some People, Stand or Fall (#76 US, #7 Mainstream, #54 UK), Red Skies (#101 US, #13 Mainstream, #57 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Cy Curnin, Rupert Greenall, Jamie West-Oram, Charlie Bennett, Adam Woods

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK arty new wave band’s debut album (after two name changes and failed singles) gets some traction in the US thanks to MTV.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Fixx’ debut showcased their kinda-arty, proggy, new wave. Cy Cyrnin’s vocal mannerisms seem stilted and a bit pretentious and the lyrics also seem a bit too arty as well.

Musically, the Fixx also show their arty side. Jamie West-Oram’s guitar flashes and slashes are overwhelmed at times by Rupert Greenall’s synths. Sometimes the tracks slog along as well. There seems to be an inertia on some cuts.

A couple of tracks got some US airplay and got MTV heavy rotation, and they can put a hook or two in their songs, but this first go-round was just arty moosh.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded two singles as Portraits and one as The Fix. This isn’t streaming anywhere, either.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: The UK and US version have two different tracks, and there’s bonus tracks on the US version streaming.

GRADE: C:  A couple hooks and hits doesn’t a good album make, but you knew that.

Prince – 1999

ARTIST: Prince                        1999_cover

TITLE:  1999

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #7 US, #28 UK

SINGLES: 1999 (#12 US, #4 R&B, #1 Dance, #4 UK), Little Red Corvette (#6 US, #11 R&B, #61 Dance, #12 UK), Delirious (#8 US, #18 R&B, #33 UK), Let’s Pretend We’re Married (#52 US, #55 R&B, #52 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Automatic, Free

LINEUP: Prince, Dez Dickerson, Lisa Coleman, Jill Jones, Vanity, Wendy Melovin – but Prince did almost ALL of the instruments except the guitar solos on Little Red Corvette.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Early 90’s R&B diva’s hits collection has some nice confections, but ultimately dissolves into the air with no substance.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Well, it’s not the ultimately perfect record – I think the sequencing could have been better – it’s as close as you can get.

His last three records had been steps in this direction, but nothing on those albums prepared you for this. From the bombast of “1999”, to the soul of “Little Red Corvette”, to the hook-laden “Delirious” (and that’s just Side 1) and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”, to the funk of “DMSR” . “Lady Cab Driver”, and “Automatic”, the ballads and experimentation that end the album, it’s just, well, a revolution.

This not only set the scene for the 80’s, but all R&B based music afterwards.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The B-side to “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” was “Irresistible Bitch”, my favorite Prince B-side, probably left off the album because of its sonic similarity to “Lady Cab Driver”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A+:  I may have wanted to move a ballad to the first half of the album, but that’s just me. If you don’t have this record, grab it, and start by listening to the lesser known cuts.

Depeche Mode – A Broken Frame

ARTIST: Depeche Mode                       220px-A_broken_frame_(Depeche_Mode_album_-_cover_art)

TITLE:  A Broken Frame

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #177 US, #8 UK

SINGLES: See You (#6 UK), The Meaning of Love (#12 UK), Leave in Silence (#18 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the electronic group finds them in trouble, with nothing compelling to say after Vince Clarke left.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Vince Clarke had left Depeche Mode to form Yazoo with Alison Moyet, leaving the group a trio. Martin Gore took over as leader, but this album found him lacking songs and vision and the group likewise suffering from sounding like leftovers.

To my ears, there’s nothing exciting, compelling, or even hooky about these songs. It burbles and beeps along, doing nothing but taking up time. If you’re a real Depeche Mode head, you’ll probably find something in here. As for me, I’m waiting until they get darker.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Alan Wilder joined them for the tour, and later became the fourth member of the group.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, live tracks, outtakes, and the original US version had an additional instrumental.

GRADE: C: This doesn’t rouse me to do anything but exile it.

A Certain Ratio – Sextet

ARTIST: A Certain Ratio                  Sextet_(A_Certain_Ratio_album)_cover.jpeg

TITLE:  Sextet

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #53 UK

SINGLES: Knife Slits Water

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubt It

LINEUP: Martin Moscorp, Jez Kerr, Donald Johnson, Simon Topping, Martha Tilson, Andy Connell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sparse, spare electro-funk, stealing more from Joy Division than anyone, and it’s just…boring and weird.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Having heard some singles by this group, I dove into this record with some good expectations. Yet, hearing an entire album of this spare post-punk dance-funk, I can say that it’s kinda boring, really.

The vocals seem to float here, there, everywhere. The bass lines rumbles, there’s drums, other instruments flit and float about. Is there a song? Or is it random noise?

When they get cohesive, it’s fine, and they will (at least on their singles). But, I’m exiling this one.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They had a couple of early cassettes and EPs and singles, collected elsewhere.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, remixes, Peel sessions, etc.

GRADE: C: Maybe I just don’t get this album, but I contend there’s not a lot here to get. EXILED

Men Without Hats – Rhythm of Youth

ARTIST: Men Without Hats             Mwh-roy

TITLE:  Rhythm of Youth

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #13 US

SINGLES: I Like (#84 US), The Safety Dance (#3 US, #1 US Dance, #21 US Mainstream, #6 UK), I Got the Message (#99 UK), Living in China

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Please…

LINEUP: Ivan Doroschuk, Allan McCarthy, Stefan Doroschuk. Colon Doroschuk, Marttin Cartier, Daniel Vermette and Anne Dussault also helped.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A definite relic of the early 80’s synth pop era, dominated by synthesizer arpeggios and Ivan Doroschuk’s baritone.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Man, nostalgia. Men Without Hats is all about that now. Then, they were just another synth-pop band with some political messaging here and there. Their first single didn’t go much of anywhere. Then, “The Safety Dance”.

That song sounded fun on the radio, and the video was a hoot on MTV, but the rest of their material wasn’t as catchy, hooky, OR fun. A lot of people bought this album, and I’m sure a lot of people weren’t too keen on anything but a cut or two.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This went Platinum in Canada, which means it sold 100,000 copies.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Well, the UK album, US cassette and US album were all different. The version streaming is an amalgam of those with full version bonus tracks and the single mix of “The Safety Dance”.

GRADE: C: Aside from the obvious, you’ll want to be judicious on what you keep, and what you exile.

The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour

ARTIST: The Fall                              220px-Hex_Enduction_Hour

TITLE:  Hex Enduction Hour

YEAR RELEASED: 1982

CHART ACTION: #71 UK, #2 UK Indie

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The Classical

LINEUP: Mark E Smith, Craig Scanlon, Mark Riley, Steve Hanley, Paul Hanley, Karl Burns, Kay Carroll

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The Fall change record labels, record in Iceland,

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mark E. Smith and the Fall toured Iceland in 1981, and recorded some tracks up there. That set the tone for this album, which is yet another collection of the early Fall, this time with two drummers and a percussionist.

Like normal, the lyrics are dense and somewhat impenetrable, especially if you don’t have the lyric sheet and are just trying to hear Smith recite his songs. Most of them are observations on like he saw in the UK, mainly from posers and pretenders. He doesn’t usually have a lot of kind things to say a lot of the time to others.

A couple of tracks are a bit overlong. The ending track was 10:18 and cut down by half from its original running time. Yet another, “Iceland” was recorded off the cuff. Most of these songs work in their own way, though.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Motown Records was interested in signing the Fall a couple of years later, and they heard this album, and decided against it. Well, it’s NOT commercial, of course.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Live cuts, singles, BBC sessions. The ususal.

GRADE: B+: A couple of overlong songs reduce the value of this album for me.