August 29, 1981

August 31, 2011

At the suggestion of a friend from college, I’ve been reading and reading with the actual intent to learn and not merely for entertainment.

I’ve actually been studying, something that I rarely did in college.

Some of the concepts have been abstract, but the neurons still fire and the subject matter holds the potential for being of great use.

(as opposed to those metric tables junior high)

Thirty years ago, I was in eighth grade and mindlessly memorizing metric conversions that I would never use. Football and classmates of the female persuasion were the primary recipients of my interest and attention.

For the first time in my life, I was actually interested in music and spending increasing amounts of time with the radio on.

And five songs were making their debut on the Hot 100 in Billboard magazine…

The Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed
from Beauty And The Beat
(debuted #90, peaked #20, 30 weeks on chart)

The Go-Go’s built the perfect beast with Our Lips Are Sealed, their first hit, and the one-time punk band’s New Wave-tinged pop was both old and new (and completely irresistible) as its sunny vibe helped hold back the impending chill of autumn in 1981.

By summer of the following year, the all-female band was a pop culture juggernaut – Beauty And The Beat had sold millions of copies, We Got The Beat was playing over the opening credits of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, and the band memorably appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in their underwear.

(which Jane Wiedlin and I discussed when I had the opportunity to interview her twenty years later)

Aretha Franklin with George Benson – Love All The Hurt Away
from Love All The Hurt Away
(debuted #89, peaked #46, 10 weeks on chart)

I’m certain I didn’t know Aretha Franklin in 1981. As for George Benson, I know that I’d heard his silky-smooth, lightly funky Give Me The Night a year earlier as it was pretty inescapable.

I didn’t know their duet Love All The Hurt Away then or until now. If Paloma was listening now, I think she’d nod and say, “Quiet storm.”

Love All The Hurt Away does have a mellow vibe, but the song builds to a dramatic crescendo.

Atlanta Rhythm Section – Alien
from Quinella
(debuted #88, peaked #29, 15 weeks on chart)

As a kid in the late ’70s, I remember hearing Atlanta Rhythm Section’s Imaginary Lover and So Into You often on the soft rock stations the parents would play in the car. I was listening to music more than I ever had in 1981, I don’t really recall hearing Alien, though.

The song has a laid-back groove like Imaginary Lover and So Into You, but Alien might be even more drowsy than those earlier hits.

I’ve read that much of Atlanta Rhythm Section’s catalog was more Southern Rock – the band came together as session players in a Georgia studio used by Lynyrd Skynyrd and .38 Special – but I’ve only heard the mellow stuff.

Dan Fogelberg – Hard To Say
from The Innocent Age
(debuted #72, peaked #7, 19 weeks on chart)

A Dan Fogelberg song was on the radio one recent Saturday morning and Paloma noted that she liked his voice.

(I agreed)

I mostly know the late singer/songwriter for his early ’80s hits – songs like Same Old Lang Syne, Leader Of The Band, and Missing You – which I heard often while listening to the radio at the time.

Though Hard To Say is pleasant, it wasn’t my cup of tea for the months in late ’81 when I’d hear the song several times each day.

I had little interest in the song, but my neighbor and childhood friend Will seemed to harbor a burning hatred of Hard To Say. One snowy afternoon, having just seen the song on the Solid Gold countdown, he turned to me and said sullenly, “I think Dan Fogelberg just ruined the Solid Gold dancers for me.”

Hall & Oates – Private Eyes
from Private Eyes
(debuted #68, peaked #1, 23 weeks on chart)

Hall & Oates had resuscitated their career from a late ’70s commercial lull with 1980’s Voices. It was impossible to not hear You Make My Dreams or Kiss On My List on the radio at the time.

The duo followed that album with Private Eyes in the autumn of ’81. The title song was ridiculously catchy, had a bit of New Wave sheen and was a mammoth hit.

(and for the next half dozen years, there always seemed to be some new Hall & Oates song on the radio)

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After Five Weeks And Innumerable Hours Rifling Through Bins Of Vinyl…

August 3, 2008

It’s been five weeks since Paloma and I began buying up vinyl. At the outset, we didn’t even have a turntable, but that situation has been remedied and we have bought over 500 albums. It’s been educational.

I, now, realize that finding a copy of Eye To Eye’s debut wasn’t the rare event which I thought it was on one of our early ventures. It’s understandable now, as beyond the one song I knew – the sophisticated, breezy Nice Girls – the album isn’t particularly memorable.

There also seems to be an extraordinary amount of Dan Fogelberg in the bins. I know his hits; most of which I found to be pleasant and a couple I thought to be very good. A lot of folks whose blogs I read seem to be quite enthusiastic about his earlier work, so I probably should take advantage of their availability.

There’ve been surprises and the triumph of finding something special amidst the innumerable copies of Christopher Cross’ debut (it sold five million albums and I’m beginning to think everyone has sold them). I snagged a Dutch import of Kate Bush’s The Kick Inside on silver vinyl for less than the cost of two gallons of gas.

Paloma found an album with a photograph she had taken on the back.

We’ve managed to accumulate an interesting collection thus far and we’re making fewer finds of things that we need to purchase. We’re being a bit more selective.

Our most recent outing added about thirty more albums to the brood. The one that makes me most psyched is a copy of Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium I. The music is amazing (and water is, of course, wet), but it’s the artwork – colorful fish on a dark, soothing background – that has me momentarily mesmerized. It’s like seeing something in high-definition after having known it most of my life with a cover the size of a CD case.

This vinyl thing has gone well. Now we merely need to somehow become independently wealthy so we can sit around with the time to listen to what must be three-hundred fifty sixty hours of music.

Eye To Eye – Nice Girls
Produced by Gary Katz of Steely Dan fame, Nice Girls from the self-titled debut by the duo Eye To Eye was all over the radio where I grew up in the summer of ’82. The album boasts an impressive array of noted session players like Abe Laboriel, Jeff Porcaro, and Jim Keltner as well as guest appearances by Donald Fagen and Rick Derringer.

Perhaps Nice Girls is just too perfect because the rest of the album suffered in comparison and was a bit of a letdown.

Dan Fogelberg – Same Old Lang Syne
I probably should delve further into this late singer/songwriter’s catalog and acquaint myself with something other than his hits. I’ve always been partial to Same Old Lang Syne, though, as it was a huge hit when I first became seriously interested in music. I can still vividly recall hearing it on the radio on a clear, still, snowy night in the winter of ’82 as I rode home from a basketball game with friends.

Kate Bush – Wuthering Heights
One of the more (if not most) underappreciated British superstars here in the States. Like most of us here, Hounds Of Love and the glorious Running Up That Hill served as my introduction to her unique artistry.

Wuthering Heights was her first UK single, written and recorded when she was merely sixteen. I don’t believe I’d ever heard the original until I snagged the aforementioned copy of The Kick Inside. Personally (and what many hardcore Kate fans would consider blasphemous), I think I prefer this rerecorded version with David Gilmour on guitar.

Stevie Wonder – That Girl
JB at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ acknowledges that all roads seem to lead to 1976 for him. 1982 is my 1976. One of four new songs for his double LP compilation Original Musiquarium I, That Girl was a fixture on radio in the late winter/early spring of ’82. It was, essentially, my introduction to Stevie. Of course, I was familiar with his earlier hits, but That Girl was his current hit as I realized my interest in music.