Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Repost: A Christmas Story

This is a re-post of a post originally appearing on December 17, 2011.

One of my recently acquired Christmas obsessions is the fun and enjoyable 1983 movie A Christmas Story. Based upon writer Jean Shepherd's semi-fictionalized account of a young boy, Ralphie, experiencing the Christmas holidays in 1940s Indiana with his parents, his younger brother, and his neighborhood friends. I love movies that convey a time period with great detail, and A Christmas Story clearly fits into this category. 

This movie contains one of the funniest scenes ever, where one of the young protagonist's friends gets his tongue stuck to metal pole in the cold of winter. The main story line, however, also full of funny moments, concerns Ralphie's ongoing quest to obtain a BB gun for Christmas, despite the objections ("you'll shoot your eye out, kid") of various adult figures, including his mother, his teacher, and a store Santa Claus.   

But I think the main reason I find this movie so enjoyable is that its a rather realistic, yet fun, holiday movie that doesn't take itself too seriously. It involves a rather average family doing their best to enjoy the holidays amidst
dealing with everyday life. Ultimately, this movie is about having a Merry Christmas with what you have, and with those you have around you.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in the '80s

Band Aid's "Do They Know Its Christmas" is both one of the most memorable and meaningful '80s songs, so I have to put it first. An effort to provide aid to victims of an African famine, this song featured a variety of '80s musicians in a memorable recording captured in this video.

I did a previous post on this blog about this wonderful song and effort.

This year, fellow '80s blogger Rediscover the '80s did a fascinating post about "Do They Know Its Christmas," about little known trivia regarding the song. Did you know that the iconic cover for this song was made by the same artist who did the cover for the Beatles' classic Sgt. Pepper album?

John Mellencamp did a lively rendition of the classic Christmas song, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus," which served as his contribution to the 1987 album A Very Special Christmas to benefit the special olympics. 

Billy Squire's 1981 song, "Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You," has Eighties written all over it, and is fully in the Christmas spirit. 

Wham's 1984 song "Last Christmas," has got to be one of the most classically '80s Christmas songs and videos ever made. You can just feel the frosty air, and feeling of Christmas in the mid 80s.

Here's the Waitresses, whose songs include "I Know What Boys Want," and the theme to the very '80s TV sitcom Square Pegs with the very New Wave Christmas song "Christmas Wrapping."

Here's Madonna's contribution to the A Very Special Christmas compilation, her version of the classic "Santa Baby."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Alf Learns The Holiday Spirit

As an example of how just about anything could get on television in the '80s, theres ALF... which stands for Alien Life Form.  Alf was the title character of an '80s TV sitcom, whereby the friendly alien resides with an '80s American family after his spaceship crashes.

Someone posted on Youtube some clips from a Christmas program featuring this character. I haven't actually seen the Christmas program, but it looks like Alf is learning about the holiday spirit, and getting it right.

Speaking of '80s television, and '80s Christmas festivities, fellow '80s blogger Dougsploitation has a post on '80s era TV Guide covers. Very cool, check it out.

UPDATE: And Rediscover the '80s has an excellent collection of '80s Christmas specials on video.  Check it out!!  Looks like Santa came early this year with '80s era memories as presents.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Frankie Say 'Tis The Season

Here's a 1984 Christmas feature from Frankie Goes To Hollywood, the provocative group that gave us controversial hits with "Relax" and "Two Tribes." But here, theyre in the holiday mood, with "The Power of Love."

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tis the season. . .

The holiday season is upon us again, and its around this time I always remember this 1977 Coke commercial, with the wonderful sentiment. 

This always makes me feel good, and brings back memories.

And heres a version that played in the '80s, with the same song, and featuring Disney characters.

Happy Holidays to all.

May this be a Merry Christmas season thats just beginning...

and to those who celebrated Hannukah, best wishes too!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Cyndi Lauper- She's So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper was one of the iconic musical stars of the '80s, and representative of the colorful, freewheeling, and individualistic quality of '80s culture.

Lauper was artistic from an early age, attending a special school for the arts-inclined. Her music career largely began as part of the late '70s, early '80s new wave music group Blue Angel. But most of the music listening public first became aware of her with her first big hit "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."  The video, a fun loving expression of '80s quirkiness, featured both pro-wrestler "Captain" Lou Albano, and Cyndi's real-life mom, Catrine. The 1983 album which featured the song was accurately titled She's So Unusual.

As a young noncomformist, Lauper experimented with outrageous clothing styles. She also experienced rejection, such as when she had rocks thrown at her by un-accepting peers who treated her individuality with contempt. However, when she reached her massive popularity in the '80s, this quirky individuality and wild fashion became one of her trademarks.

Sensitivity was also one of Lauper's qualities, as expressed through both the song "Time After Time," and its video. 

Lauper continued to express her quirkiness, individuality, and sensitivity in her next album, 1986's True Colors and the song of the same name.

In the years after her '80s fame, Lauper continued her creativity as a musician and performer, and continued to extoll individuality and tolerance. Recently, Lauper won rave reviews as the writer and composer of the musical Kinky Boots.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Another re-re-post, but its a cool one:

A 1988 Metlife commercial that appeared during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that year.

 Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers.

A new post is coming soon.


Hey, check out Rediscover the '80s, who went through a lot more effort to compile '80s thanksgiving videos.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

1989: Berlin Wall Falls

November of 1989 was one of the great turning points in history.

For most of the mid to late 20th century, the Cold War divided Europe and the world. By the end of the '80s, however, Communism started to crumble, and the long suppressed people of Eastern Europe started to stir with the desire of freedom. 

Berlin was a central point in the Cold War, with the Communist-built Berlin Wall separating free West Berlin from the oppressed East. But in the midst of the changes then engulfing Eastern Europe, the people of East Germany began to agitate for change, culminating around November 9, when the desires of so many in East Germany resulted in the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Crowds gathered at the wall, the beleaguered East German guards gave way, and the iron curtain fell. People began to tear down the wall in a mass act of liberation.  Here's the account of a reporter from Time of his experiences.

And here are the heroes of November 1989: the freedom seeking people of East and West Berlin.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween Repost

This is me being a bit lazy, but here's my third anniversary Halloween re-post of a great Halloweenish '80s item... Michael Jackson's Thriller  video, with its wonderful Vincent Price narration.

Happy Halloween to all my fellow '80s fans.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Safety Dance/ Pop Goes The World

This song is so '80s, and it shows all that is so wonderful about that decade. "The Safety Dance" was a song by '80s Canadian group Men Without Hats, becoming a major hit in 1983.  The song, containing the typical '80s quirkiness I love so much, also expressed the equally '80s trait of individualism. According to Wikipedia, it was a protest against bouncers stopping the dancing of more individualistic New Wave styles of dance, at a time when disco was dying. "New wave dancing . . . was different from disco dancing because it was done individually instead of with partners . . . Thus, the song is a protest and a call for freedom of expression."

Heres their follow up son, "Pop Goes The World." Its now being used in a laundry product commercial. Fun video and song!!

 Quirky individualism... and fun.. all very '80s!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Last Starfighter

The '80s were an era full of wonderful sci-fi movies. One great little movie that has developed a solid cult following is The Last Starfighter, a 1984 movie which exemplified the '80s in a number of ways. It was, along with Tron (1982), one of the first movies to feature computer animation. It was one of many space-related fantasy movies out at the time, and it featured the '80s fascination with video games.

The film's protagonist, Alex Rogan is a typical '80s teen with dreams and ambitions who lives in a trailer park with his mother and younger brother. He longs to leave for greener pastures, but in the meantime, he bides his time while engaging in that very '80s passion: video games. In particular, he becomes adept at a space oriented Starfighter video game located at the trailer park, where he gets very good at beating the bad guys in an epic space battle.

One day, he is approached by Centauri, who claims to be the inventor of the Starfighter video game. It turn out Centauri is actually a disguised alien who is scouting for starfighters to save the universe from the clutches of an evil space bad guys the Ko-Dan Empire.  The part of Centauri was played by famed actor Robert Preston, most well known for playing traveling salesman Harold Hill in The Music Man (1962).

Alex is taken to the faraway planet Rylos, reluctantly recruited into the Rylan Star League, and introduced to Grig, a friendly repitilian alien who is to be Alex's navigator.

The Ko-Dan Empire is led by the evil Emperor Xur, who leads a sneak attack on Rylos, decimating the ranks of the starfighters, and leaving only Alex and Grig to fight for the freedom of the universe.

It is now up to Alex and Grig to save the universe.


Alex is trained to be a pilot and sent off with Grig to fight the Emporer Xur in a fighter craft called a Gunstar.  Caution: Spoilers immediately ahead!

Thankfully, the Gunstar is equipped with a powerful new weapon, called the "Death Blossom."

Suffice it to say, the universe is saved and Alex returns to Earth a hero. Here he is with his girlfriend.

The movie has quite a following, and its a fun and positive little sci-fi adventure that was truly of its time. And true to its time, it encouraged you to look to the future with hope.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Kiss In the 80s

Back in the '80s, I had a close friend who was a major fan of the group Kiss, a '70s era group that was having a second life in the era of '80s glam metal. Although I was never quite into Kiss as was my friend, it was an additional interest alongside my overall love of music as a teen.

In the '70s, Kiss was popular as a glam rock band known for its hard rock and over the top showmanship. Their trademark was wearing makeup which obscured their actual identities entirely, and instead substituted comic book style characters: Star Child (Paul Stanley), the Demon (Gene Simmons), Space Ace (Ace Frehley), and Catman (Peter Criss). 

I was a pre-teen and not so much into music at the time, but it was hard to miss Kiss, as their presence was everywhere around 1977-78. I remember that Majik Market featured a line of Kiss memorabilia cups. I was still not too familiar with music from the group, since music in general really wasn't my thing, and this group of makeup-wearing showmen remained kind-of a mystery to me. 

By the early '80s, two of the original Kiss members (Criss and Frehley) were replaced with new members (at various times, Eric Carr, Vinnie Vincent, Mark St. John, and Bruce Kulick), but Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley remained (and would remain) as the groups mainstays. During the early '80s, as musical tastes changed, Kiss tried their effort at a concept album, Music from "The Elder," (1981). The song "A World Without Heroes" was from this album, and as you can see, Kiss was still in their trademark makeup.

I was still not very familiar with Kiss at this time, as I was just beginning my teen years and just starting my love affair with music, especially rock music of all sorts.

In 1983, Kiss broke its '70s era taboo, and removed their makeup. During this time, I was beginning to truly delve into music, and was interested in the news that Kiss- that Kiss, the one with the makeup, was now appearing without their makeup. Their first album in this new, makeup-less incarnation was Lick It Up (1983), an album I remember appearing in record store shelves and attracting a certain curiosity from me since I remembered the group's prior makeup and glam period.  I did not buy the album, though . . . I didn't have all that much money and there was just so much cool music out there to buy. And, after all, Kiss really had not been my thing before that.

My exposure to '80s-era Kiss music happened a little later, when their song "Heaven's On Fire" (from 1984's Animalize album) appeared on the radio. I listened with rapt attention when it was announced as a new release. . . this was Kiss, and they were back again and taking their place amidst the new surge of '80s glam metal.  

Here's another serving of '80s era Kiss, "Tears Are Falling" from 1985's Asylum album. ''

My interest in '80s-era Kiss culminated around 1987, when my Kiss obsessive friend went to see a Kiss concert in a nearby city. My parents disapproved, but I wanted to go anyway, so I snuck out and went to the concert anyway with my friend and several others. I remember they played not only their '80s era songs, but also did an intense and audience arousing rendition of their 1976 rocker "Detroit Rock City." My effort at teen rebellion concluded when I got home and had to face my parents' displeasure and punishment. 

In later years, Kiss would again don their makeup, and would essentially take up a role of rock elder statesmen of a sort. . . reminders of an era when rock ruled the airwaves and the hearts and minds of the young. But, I will always remember that distinctive era when Kiss adopted the the makeup-less role of a member of '80s glam metal elite. And I still don't regret going to that concert!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Repost: All Those Years Ago

One last summer memory. This is a re-post from a post which originally appeared March 25, 2012.

I remember the summer of 1981, and the song "All Those Years Ago," which was very frequently on the radio during that time.  The song was by former Beatle George Harrison, and although it had originally been written prior to John Lennon's passing, Harrison re-wrote the lyrics as a tribute to his friend and former colleague. 

During that year, as a rather nerdy and insular 11 year old, I was not very familiar with popular music, including that of the Beatles. I was not even very knowledgeable with the artists most associated with the early '80s, although being anywhere near a radio ensured that I was at least familiar with some of the songs then playing. "All Those Years Ago" remains in my mind as a familiar memory because my family took a road trip to Washington D.C. that summer, and Harrison's song was frequently on the radio.  

My closest association of that song, therefore, involved hearing it often as we rode down highways in a 1976 Ford Granada, a cooler of ice water in the car with us, stopping at Days Inns and Shoney's restaurants along the way, the '70s era vinyl of the Granada becoming hot in the sun as we got back in after each stop.  

And on the radio, over and over. . . the catchy, wistful song with the lyrics . . .
all those years ago...

I did not know what the song was about, but the tune and the words stayed in my memory. And so did the trip.

I remember when we got to Washington, D.C., my parents made it a point to make sure we saw all the major sights: the Capitol (we took the tour), the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument (we went to the top), and Ford's Theater (where Lincoln was shot).

 One of my fondest memories was visiting the air and space museum of the Smithsonian, which fed my strong interest in the space program, an interest which is still strong in me today. 

And it was wonderful just seeing Washington, D.C. itself, this unique city with all the monuments, all of which greatly impressed the 11 year old I was at the time. (We rode the Washington D.C. subway... woohoo!!)  

As I grow older, I can't express how much I cherish these memories of being together with my family. Just the happiness of being on a trip, in the heat of summer, with my family. . . literally all those years ago.

As I grew older, my interest in music grew very strong indeed. I'm not sure how I could have gotten through my teen years without it. This included not only music from my own teen era, the '80s, but also from other eras, especially the '60s. I grew to appreciate just how special was this group from the '60s, The Beatles. John, Paul, George and Ringo. The Fab Four. Rubber Soul. Sgt. Pepper. Abbey Road. Let it Be.

And I came to know what "All Those Years Ago" was all about. A tribute to a fallen musical great, and to an idealist who inspired so many: John Lennon.

What is often not known, is that it represented a rare reunion of the three remaining Beatles. The song was ostensibly that of George Harrison, and it featured his lyrics and his vocals. But they also featured the vocals of fellow Beatle Paul McCartney and his wife, Linda, and Paul's fellow Wings musician Denny Laine. Ringo Starr played on drums, and Al Kooper was on keyboards. A rather unique song. 

And a unique example of how songs can have so many meanings for us. There are the meanings which a song was originally crafted for, and for which so many may give it. And there are also the personal meanings which attach to a song, and which derive from personal memories, memories of things that happened all those years ago . . .

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

An '80s Summer Classic

Just as summer is about to fade away, here's a scene from a memorable 1983 summer comedy classic.

Warning: there is one somewhat "not safe for work" line in this scene. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'80s Summer Memories

As we reach mid-August, it brought to mind some memories of '80s summers.

Check out this California Cooler commercial from 1986, which featured the '60s surfer classic "Louie Louie." The culture of the '80s had a great way of appropriating nostalgia of times past, and re-creating it in the '80s in a fun filled and often zany way. This commercial, for example, invokes this imagery of some far away, perhaps past, moment in time when people got together, sang wacky songs, and hung around the beach. It could well have been the surfin' '60s, but the commercial appropriates it for the '80s and leaves you with a very-80s spirit of fun and excitement.

And here's Bananarama, with their very summery hit, "Cruel Summer." The lyrics invoke the heat of the season.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Material Girl

As usual, I'm a little late with this... but August 16 was Madonna's birthday. So how better to celebrate (belatedly) the birthday of the iconic '80s material girl, but with the iconic Marilyn Monroe inspired "Material Girl" video.

I remember this video was frequently shown on many an '80s retrospective as symbolic of '80s music and culture. 

Catchy too.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Greatest American Hero

One of my well remembered TV series from the early '80s was Greatest American Hero (1981-1983), a quirky super hero series which featured an unlikely and fumbling everyday guy as its protagonist. I think what made the series so likable was the sense that the "hero" was someone who never even sought the role, a well meaning person who had hero status thrust upon him and tried to deal with it as best as he could. Neither the hero nor the show took themselves too seriously.

William Katt starred as the unlikely hero, Ralph Hinkley, a schoolteacher assigned to a special education class. Connie Selleca stars as Pam Davidson, an attorney who handled Hinkleys divorce, but soon becomes his love interest in the show. Ralph's last name was changed to "Hanley" after an assassin whose last name was Hinkley attempted to kill President Reagan in March of 1981. 

The great Robert Culp played FBI agent Bill Maxwell, who somehow linked up with Ralph and Pam, and often provided the more hard-edged strategic mindset which the others lacked.

Together, the disparate trio repeatedly found themselves batting bad guys after an unexpected encounter gave Ralph his super powers.

During an trek in the desert, Ralph and Bill had a close encounter with space aliens. (I always thought the spaceship was cool.)

The aliens beamed down a special suit which only Ralph could use, and which was the source of his powers, which included such typical super hero abilities as flight, invisibility, strength and remote viewing.

But the mild mannered Ralph proved to be an uneasy superhero, which made him all the more likable in the role. More problematic was the fact that they lost the manual provided with the suit which showed how to properly use it. So, Ralph, with the help of Bill and Pam, had to learn how to use it by trial and error, with often funny results. Ralph's haphazard effort at flying was a frequent feature of the show..

Heres the intro, courtesy of

The theme song, written by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer and sung by Joey Scarbury, became a hit in 1981. I remember hearing it frequently on the radio back then.

 I was 11 years old that year, when the show premiered. Now, looking back, I see both the song and the TV show as reflective of that era. When the show premiered in 1981, the United States was just recovering from a rough period where hostages were held for over a year in Iran, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, and the economy was in a bad state. Although the country was not yet out of the woods, by any means, there was the uneasy glimmer of hope and optimism. I think the portrayal of Ralph's uneasy hero status, and the song about being surprised at unexpected success, seemed to echo this mood.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Repost: Live Aid 1985

Today is the anniversary of the gigantic 1985 concert, Live Aid. I'm re-posting a piece originally appearing on this blog on July 6, 2012. 

On July 13, 1985, one of the most amazing concerts ever occurred, and became one of the defining moment of those of us who grew up in the 1980s. It was called Live Aid, and it was the culmination of an effort by the musical community in the mid '80s to bring attention to the victims of a devastating African famine. While the cause was good, it also served the purpose of bringing together an incredible collection of musicians for one incredible day of music.

On of the prime inspirations of the effort was Bob Geldof, a musician with the group the Boomtown Rats. His guidance and inspiration brought together musicians in support of the cause of African famine victims first in the British effort known as Band Aid (and their song "Do They Know Its Christmas?"), which was shortly followed by USA for Africa (and their song "We Are The World.").  Many other efforts followed, culminating in the extravaganza known as Live Aid.

Live Aid occurred at two locations simultaneously: at JFK stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the United States, and in Wembly Stadium in London, in the UK. But even more impressively, it was broadcast worldwide through various media, and the era of MTV brought forth a worldwide concert that drew an enormous audience. The concert featured many remarkable performances from a great variety of musicians.

Heres the schedule of musicians who participated in Live Aid:

In London's Wembly Stadium:

7 am: Bob Geldolf opens Live Aid; Status Quo; Style Council; Boomtown Rats with Adam Ant.
8 am: Adam Ant; Ultravox; Spandau Ballet.
9 am: Elvis Costello; Nik Kershaw with Billy Conally; Sade.
10 am: Phil Collins with Julian Lennon; Sting with Howard Jones.
11 am: Bryan Ferry; Paul Young with Alison Moyet. 
12:30 pm: U2.
1 pm: Dire Straits; Queen.
2 pm: David Bowie.
3 pm: The Who; Elton John.
4 pm: Wham! ; Paul McCartney.

In Philadelphia's JFK stadium:

9 am: Joan Baez; The Hooters; The Four Tops; Billy Ocean.
10 am: Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne; Run-DMC; Rick Springfield; REO Speedwagon.
11 am: Crosby, Stills, Nash; Judas Priest.
12 pm: Bryan Adams; The Beach Boys.
1 pm: George Thorogood; Queens Performance from London.
2 pm: Music video featuring David Bowie and Mick Jagger; Simple Minds; The Pretenders.
3 pm: Santana with Pat Metheny; Ashford and Simpson with Teddy Pendergrass.
4:30 pm: Madonna; Rod Stewart. 5 pm: Tom Petty; Kenny Loggins; The Cars.
6 pm: Neil Young; Power Station. 7 pm: Thompson Twins; Eric Clapton.
8 pm: Phil Collins with Robert Plant and Jimmy Page; Duran Duran.
9 pm: Patti LaBelle; Daryll Hall and John Oats with Eddie Kendricks and David Ruffin.
10 pm: Mick Jagger; Jagger with Tina Turner; Bob Dylan.

Trivia: The Live Aid Concerts were held on July 13, 1985, in London and Philadelphia. Phil Collins was able to play both. He played London in the morning, and then took the Concorde to Philadelphia to play the evening there. 

Trivia: In London, a traffic light was set up just offstage to keep the performers within their allotted time. The traffic light would signal green when the performer had just just five minutes left to play, then yellow when two minutes were left, and red when it was time to leave. The performers kept to their time limits so well that the concert was often running as much as 15 minutes ahead of schedule. 

And here's another post with some more Live Aid  memories.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ain't That America

Here's my belated Fourth of July post.

John Cougar Mellencamp was one of my fave rock musicians back in the '80s. I always appreciated his sense of straightforwardness and honesty in his music.  His 1984 song "Pink Houses" is a wonderful tribute to America, both majestic and hopeful, yet also with a touch of melancholy.

Happy Birthday (belatedly) America, to all my readers in the U.S..

Sunday, June 30, 2013

An '80s Song With A Story

Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame" (1985)

This song has a story. When I was in high school, I was a nonconformist and a bit of a loner. I had my friends, all fellow nonconformists, and we sometimes went out together and did our own individualistic thing. But I tended to avoid school dances and events. I just didn't fit in so well, and I felt better being away from there, and either by myself doing my own thing, or being with my oddball friends enjoying ourselves in our own oddball way.

On one rare occasion, I went to this high school dance just for the heck of it, just to see if I could actually get some enjoyment out of it. I spent my brief time there wandering around, not fitting in. I remember I met a friend I knew, a semi-outsider himself, and we chatted briefly. After wandering around a little more, I just decided to leave. I got in my car, and turned on the radio, and as I was pulling out of the school parking lot, this song came on. It just melded perfectly with the way I felt, and I remember it comforted me just to have this song that someone wrote that so perfectly expressed my mood. Music can be comforting like that, especially during your teen years.

But there's also the positive side. "Things Can Only Get Better," (1985) also by Howard Jones. I remember this song as well, and its sentiments are just as central to my teen years as the one above.

A thousand skeptic hands wont keep us from the things we planned

This was a common feeling I had growing up in the '80s: that the future could be bright, and that my response to adversity was to keep looking forward.

Howard Jones, a songwriter for all seasons.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bill Cosby: America's '80s Dad

For Father's Day, how about a visit with the person who served, within television at least, as America's Dad back during the '80s, Bill Cobsy. The Cosby Show topped the ratings with Cosby playing the head of the Huxtable household. The character of Cliff Huxtable was that of a successful, affluent doctor living with his large family in a nicely furnished home. 

Cosby's amiable and fatherly personality could be seen in another of his very frequent appearances during the '80s, as pitchman for Jello Pudding. 

Cosby's appealing personality could not save the 1985 introduction of a new coke formula, dubbed "New Coke," and almost universally rejected as not "the real thing." But Cosby gives it the old college try here, and you can see his persuasive skills in full force through his facial expressions and charisma. 

Best wishes to all fathers on Father's Day!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Repost: Kink's "Come Dancing"

Here's a re-post of a previous post, which is also sort-of a follow up to my last post on the great musical year of 1983. One of the biggest happenings of 1983 was the "Second British Invasion" of bands, which I have written about frequently on this blog.  This was the era of Culture Club, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and so many others. One of the more interesting occurrences of the Second British Invasion was the re-emergence of the great '60s band, The Kinks, on American airwaves with their wonderful song "Come Dancing." This post was originally presented on November 9, 2011.


The Kinks first became well known during the first British Invasion of music groups during the 1964-1965 era, with hits such as "You Really Got Me," and "All Day and All of the Night," and "Tired of Waiting for You."  In 1970, they again hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with "Lola."  Although the Kinks continued to make music, and continued their popularity in the U.K., they largely disappeared from the U.S. charts during the '70s.

Then in 1983, after an absence of many years, the Kinks joined in the Second British Invasion of the U.S. music charts, and had a big hit with a wonderful song called "Come Dancing." "Come Dancing" was a sentimental gem of a song which tenderly recalled times past. According to Wikipedia:
 The song is a nostalgic look back at childhood memories of its writer: the Kinks' frontman Ray Davies, remembering his older sister going on dates to the local Palais dance hall where big bands would play. The lyrics tell how the Palais has been demolished and his sister now has her own daughters who are going on dates.
"Come Dancing" is a tribute to Davies' sister Rene who bought him his first guitar, with the song's lyrics affording Davies' sister a happy life denied her in reality. Living in Canada with her (reportedly abusive) husband, the 31-year-old Rene was visiting her parental home in Fortis Green at the time of Ray Davies' thirteenth birthday — 21 June 1957 — on which she surprised him with a gift of the Spanish guitar he'd tried to persuade his parents to buy him. On the evening of the same day, Rene — who had a weak heart as a result of a childhood bout of rheumatic fever — suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing at the Lyceum ballroom.
Its a sweet song, and a great song for a comeback by the Kinks onto the American airwaves.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Flashbacks to 1983

Surfing the net this past week, I came across some items about that monumental year in pop music, 1983. That year has always been a favorite of mine, and considering the happenings occurring in the music scene that year, it has claim to being one of the most eventful years in rock and pop history. It was, after all, the year of Thriller, of the Second British Invasion, and the year when MTV surged forward as a cutting edge music medium.

This article in the Toledo Free Press gives us a flashback to a memory from that era regarding one of the most popular groups of the decade The Police, and their great 1983 album, Synchronicity:

At 17, I was at the zenith of my love for record collecting, 
but I would walk past the new releases to check the torn-out 
Billboard pages tacked over the singles bin. I had been raised 
on country-western music; other than my mom’s Beatles LPs, I 
did not know much about pop. During a swim party at a friend’s 
in the spring of 1979, I heard the slashing guitars and 
hysterical pleadings of “Roxanne,” and I never again settled 
for steel guitars and Nashville slickness. I followed 
The Police through their exponentially successful rise of 
“Message in a Bottle,” “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and 
“Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” 

When “Every Breath You Take” exploded in the summer of 1983, I 
followed its chart progress like a sports fan rooting for a 
team’s pennant chase. I still remember the numbers: A debut at 
No. 36, a jump to No. 24, a leap to No. 12, a move to No. 5, 
then an eight-week run at No. 1 that, as a longtime fan 
of the band, made me feel as triumphant as if I had 
written the song myself.

No song dominates the memory like a summer song, and to                          this day, hearing the pistol-shot opening of “Every Breath                         You Take” takes me back to the summer of 1983.

The '80s blog Rediscover the '80s, had a post recently about another 1983 group and album, Huey Lewis and The News' Sports. Here's some memories from that post:

Once I was able to save up and buy my own music 
in the mid-late 80s, I remember acquiring Sports on 
cassette. I loved it. I also remember it still being one I 
listened to in the car when I first learned how to drive in 
the early 90s. It's one of those albums that I never used 
the fast forward button on (maybe rewind.)  . . .

The music blog All Music encapsulates the spirit of 1983 this way:

If any year captured the heady rush of the early '80s, it was 1983, 
the year Michael Jackson's Thriller became a phenomenon and, not 
coincidentally, the year of MTV's prime. The cable network debuted two 
years earlier but '83 was when music videos took over, popping up on 
cable channels and network TV, and along with videos came a glorious 
period of hit singles by one-hit wonders, new invaders from 
Britain, and veterans who now mastered synths and drum machines, 
the latter inexplicably led by grizzled, hairy blues-rockers ZZ Top and 
the visionary jazz-fusion keyboardist Herbie Hancock. Underneath all 
this televised glitz were some major debuts: the first albums from 
Madonna, Metallica, R.E.M., and Hüsker Dü, and the first singles from 
the Smiths and Run-D.M.C. And there were the mammoth hits -- yes, 
Thriller, but also Def Leppard's Pyromania and the Police's Synchronicity, 
all giving us more than enough reason to love 1983.

Here's one of my own fave memories from 1983: