Like Omigod! The 80’s Pop Culture Box/Part One

Today, something a little different. Following is a 7 part review of Rhino Records excellent compilation of 80’s releases, one-hit wonders and novelty songs. Rhino continues to be a leader in quality compilation releases and the 7 disc set does not disappoint. This is purely a selfish review, as I love the era of 80’s music and it is always a joy to take a trip back in time.

Disc One:

Whip It [Devo]—-Two and a half minutes of pure quirky joy. The song, has an underlying positive message, was a departure from anything we had heard at the time. The boys from Akron, Ohio continued their spiel of De-evolution for another 10 years before disbanding. They left a permanent mark with this single. The band is currently reformed and recording a new CD.

Video Killed The Radio Star [The Buggles]—-Appropriate and best known for being the first video played on MTV, the band featured Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes, both of whom became members of classic rock outfit Yes.  Downes went on to membership in the band Asia, while Hornreleased a second Buggles release before disbanding the group and becoming a ‘super-producer’ of such 80’s bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Bangles, Rick Astley and many more. A pleasant and catchy romp of classic 80’s fluff.

Empire Strikes Backl [Mecco]—-Featuring heavy synth effects, sound clips from the movie and a post-disco feel. this song was a mainstay of AM radio that refused to give up the disco soundtracks of the late 70’s. Catchy and melodic, it is wonderful display of excess.

Another One Bites The Dust [Queen]—-A different approach for this classic band, the single propelled the band to new heights and a new fanbase. Freddie Mercury displays a fantastic vocal and the bass line is one of a sampler’s dream. A classic song from a sorely missed band. We love you Freddie!

Celebration [Kool & The Gang]—-Kool & The Gang made huge marks in the late 70’s and early 80’s with a funky post-disco sound. With enough members to form a real ‘gang’, the band continued to chart with feel good singles through the mid 80’s. This remains the band’s biggest hit and a timeless classic.

The Breaks [Kurtis Blow]—-Heavy in the ‘Sugarhill‘ sound, Blow made a huge crossover hit that featured rap and funky R n’ B with a tale inside the composition. Countless rappers list Blow as influential and use samples of his work even today. The first real introduction of rap to the dance floor population of the 80’s.

Let My Love Open The Door [Pete Townsend]—-Shocking hardcore Who fans, Townsend stepped out from the band with this  solo release. A radical departure from the guitar heavy sound of The Who, Townsend proved to naysayers that not only could he rock like hell, he could carry a masterful tune and deliver a classic single.

Call Me [Blondie]—-Not straying far from their post-punk roots, Blondie took over the airwaves in the late, late 70’s and mid 80’s. With Debbie Harry displaying overt sexuality, a new wave musical delivery and a catchy melody.this song was a No. 1 hit for the band. Classic and fresh today!

Keep On Loving You [REO Speedwagon]—-After spending years digging in with their heels and paying dues, REO released Hi-Infidelity, a collection of songs that catapulted them to the top of the charts and worlwide stardom. Fans of the band, being quirky as they are, were slow to accept the band at it’s rocking best…instead placing all the slow ballads on the top of the charts. REO continues to tour in one form or another today.

Turning Japanese [The Vapors]—-Long rumored to be an ode to masturbation, The Vapors delivered a pogo styled new wave delivery that was  inescapable. Alas, The Vapors were short lived, but this song epitomizes the early new wave feel of the new decade.

Lost In Love [Air Supply]—-Flying into the U.S. from Australia, this duo charted with 4 singles from their debut release. Appearing in the late 70’s and staying obvious on the charts until 1982, the band continues to record and tour today. Featuring an irresistible AOR sound, the band delivered crystal clear vocals and understated ballad styled music. The clear tenor of Russell in unmistakable.

9 To 5 [Dolly Parton]—-The late 70’s and early 80’s were a very accepting time on the music charts. A huge crossover hit for this legendary country songstress, the song is the title track to the movie of the same name. Parton has had an illustrious recording career and huge chart success in the Country realm. This song introduced here to a new broader audience. Parton is currently penning new music for the stage production of the movie.

I Love A Rainy Night [Eddie Rabbit]—-Continuing in the crossover theme, Rabbit has had a long and storied career in the Country Music genre. Featuring a more mainstream feel, the song allowed those listening to pop radio a new experience and allowed Rabbit a new fan base.

Sailing [Christopher Cross]—-Released in 1979, this song immediately soared to number 1 on the adult and pop charts. Featuring a crystal clear vocal, a pleasant musical backdrop and soft-core lyrics, Cross scored a Grammy for this song as well as 3 others for this album.

Just The Two Of Us [Grover Washington Jr./Bill Withers]—-Bridging Jazz and the unmistakable voice of Withers proved successful for Washington as this song enjoyed huge success in late 1979 into early 1980. A beautiful and heartfelt composition, it transports you back to a different time and allows you a guilt free escape.

Cars [Gary Numan]—-A classic track from the Godfather of Electronic Music. Numan splashed everywhere with this cold, alienating masterpiece that captured all of us in late 1979. His only chart success in the US, Numan continues to record and tour to this day.

Ah! Leah! [Donnie Iris]—-Boasting membership in both Jaggerz and Wild Cherry, Iris hit big with this rock hit in the early 80’s. With a nice guitar sound, heavy bass drum and a decidedly 80’s vocal delivery, Iris was big on the charts and video channels with this gem.

Sweetheart [Frankie & The Knockouts]—-Screaming out the late 70’s pop feel, this song landed on the charts in 1980. A feel good love song that features a nice laid back AOR feel and a vocal that is easy to sing along to, this was the band’s only chart success.

Shake It Up [The Cars]—-Featuring the odd look of singer Ric Ocasek, a cross of rock/new wave musical styles and great videos, The Cars were mainstays throughout the late 70’s and 80’s. Ocasek has gone on to be a great producer for many up and coming bands, guitarist Benjamin Orr  died in early 2000. The ‘band’ toured recently with new members including Todd Rundgren on vocals.

General Hospi-Tale [The Afternoon Delights]—-Ok….so whatever right? I guess this song was one of those producer incarnations that came about during the huge Luke and Laura storyline on afternoon soap General Hospital. To me this is just embarrassing!

The Stroke [Billy Squier]—-Featuring a great guitar track and enough sexual innuendo to keep people’s attention, Squier hit huge with this single and the ensuing Album. Squier continues to record and tour today, but his appeal has waned.


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