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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Then and Now, Part 1

Like acid wash, the TV show Dallas, and Bruce Springsteen, what once was old is new again.  Many times driving "dads taxi," SiriusXM's "First Wave" or "80s on 8" is the preferred New Jersey suburban roads.  It is the reason my daughter requests me to sing Neil Tennant's beyond queer lisp from "West End Girls."  It is why her secret song with her neighborhood friend is "867-5309."  She can learn the 70s and 60s on her time.  You should be a little more mature before you get into Stones, Beatles, Dylan territory anyway.  

Not to mention the correlation between the alt synth acts of today and their 80s influences.  

Is there such a thing as original thought these days?  Original song?  

So many of my friends and peers might dismiss an artist as derivative, or cheesy, or irrelevant, because they "sound" like INSERT BAND NAME HERE.  

Are these the same folks that dismiss Led Zeppelin because they were Robert Johnson rip offs?  Or ignore the Stones cause they stole from Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters?

Of course not.  And doubtful they would go examine the source materials either.  They likes what they likes and ain't nothing else getting in there.

Too bad.  

Truth is there were plenty of great songs, acts, performances from the 1980s.  And the same can be said of 2010's.  Take a look/listen to the selections below once the 8 track or cassette you have been playing to death is over.  

You might find yourself with something unexpected.  The best case would be a new memory, or smile.

Then:  Tony Carey "A Fine, Fine Day (for a reunion)"   Huge storytelling classic from early MTV and one that holds a special place in this bloggers heart.  Can't explain the appeal...  is it the Meatloaf-esque hair?  The mobster storyline?  The Hammond organ?  All good from the 80s...

Now:  Wilco "Born Alone"  Sure, Jeff Tweedy is a revered rock star with enough critical acclaim to choke Tony Carey.  But the organ?  The rasp and scream.  The mood and melody I know, it's only rock and roll, but I like it.

Then: Nik Kershaw "Wouldn't It be Good"  Another staple of early 80s video rock.  Primitive computer effects and drving electronic drum beats played over glorious synths.  You want to hate it, you really do.  But when all alone you crank it up and belt out the chorus.  Just admit it!!!

Now:  Friendly Fires "Hawaiian Air"  Synths still very much alive these days.  And simple lyrics and melodies.  The simple notion of a simple toe tapping beat has never really left.  Nor has recognizing solid talent.

Then:  Tears for Fears "Head Over Heels"  A giant hit from an absolutely GIANT band.  Again, not a revolutionary approach displayed here.  Rather, a smart and concise idea executed to perfection.  The biggest question might be who obsess over that librarian??  We get the 80s had that androgyny thing going...  but geez.

Now:  M83 "Reunion"  If you told me this record was made in 1983 I would be apt to believe it.  But all the packaging suggests it was last year.  And the author of each song (Anthony Gonzalez) was born in 1982.  So, there you have it.  

Then:  Pet Shop Boys "Domino Dancing"  Tennant's voice is so distinctive.  Upon hearing it you are immediately reminded of sweaters with shoulder pads, skinny ties with piano keys on them, mustard colored jackets, Bill Cosby and his pudding pops.  

Now: Cut/Copy "Hearts on Fire"  Synths and effeminate male vocalist?  You betcha!!  Shine the lights of the strobe, do a line or two, and get grooving!!  Well, maybe not the line or two.  That stuff should never make a comeback.  You here that Bobby Brown!!

Then:  Wang Chung "Fire in the Twilight"  It's from The Breakfast Club Soundtrack for Christ's sake. Case closed right?  What, you need more convincing?  This band is crazy underrated and should be on everyone's mobile device.  NOW!!!

Now:  Delta Spirit "Tear It Up"  Whereas Wang Chung had a West Coast sound, but were from Europe...  these guys have that sound from the authentic zip code (no, not 90210.)  Think more valley LA with all the guitars and angst to prove it.

A nice little sampling and hopefully one to get you thinking.

What has been omitted, both then and now?

Do you have better comparisons in mind?  Is the exercise futile?  Worth pursuing?

Time will tell.  But this is much is certain.  I am already looking forward to writing the next one.  


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