Thursday, December 29, 2011

R.I.T.: "Diggin' In"

When I say random, I really mean it. Today's random iTunes track (R.I.T.) is "Diggin' In" by Harold Faltermeyer from the soundtrack to the 1985 film Fletch. Standing on its own, it really says a lot about the use of synthesizer in instrumental film scores. It also shares a lot of sonic similarities with Faltermeyer's biggest hit, "Axel F," from Beverly Hills Cop -- which came out the year before. (Both soundtracks were done while he was playing keys and later doing production on albums for Laura Branigan.) The film Fletch was based on a book series by Gregory McDonald that debuted in 1974 and over the last decade has been in various stages of pre-production for a new film.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

R.I.T.: "Satellite"

Today's R.I.T. is Lena Meyer's massive hit "Satellite." This song was Germany's entry into the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest and took first place that year. When released as a single (off her debut album My Cassette Player), "Satellite" went to #1 in Germany, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland as well as top 5 in Austria, Belgium and the Netherlands and #33 in the U.K. An infectious tune (listen to it at least twice.) It was so successful in Germany for her that, since 2006, the song is the 2nd most downloaded single there (just behind Lady Gaga's "Poker Face.") Germany would look to her for their 2011 Eurovision entry, "Taken By A Stranger," which would come in 10th.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

R.I.T.: "Silver"

Today's R.I.T. is "Silver" by Moist. The title track to their 1994 full-length debut album was released as its second single and went to #31 in Canada. The group would win the 1995 Juno award for Best New Group and the MuchMusic Video Award for Favorite Canadian Group. Moist released their final studio album, Mercedes 5 And Dime, in 1999.

Monday, December 26, 2011

R.I.T.: "A Woman In Love"

Today's R.I.T. is "A Woman In Love" by Ronnie Milsap. The song was the third single released from the 1989 album, Stranger Things Have Happened. The 53rd single of Milsap's career would become his final and 35th #1 on the U.S. Country chart as well as top the Canadian Country chart as well.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

R.I.T.: "That's My Impression"

Today's R.I.T. is "That's My Impression" by the Pet Shop Boys. The song surfaced as a B-side to their hit single "Love Comes Quickly" in 1986. It would later in appear in 1995 as a disco mix on their double-CD Alternative collection. The band was sure that releasing a few original songs as B-sides (often in the same key and not usable on the album) would inspire fans to pick up each of their singles -- to collect them all. They were quite often right... well, at least that's my impression.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

R.I.T.: "One Night Love Affair"

Today's R.I.T. is the single "One Night Love Affair" by Bryan Adams. The track was the 5th of six singles released from Adams' massively successful 1984 album, Restless -- which has sold over 13 million copies to date. Written by Adams and Jim Vallance, the song went to #13 in the U.S., #19 in Canada and #85 in Australia in 1985. You may also recognize it from the film Real Genius.

Friday, December 23, 2011

R.I.T.: "Burning Desire"

Today's random iTunes track is "Burning Desire" by New Monkees off their 1987 eponymous album. This song was an album track and appeared in the short-run of the New Monkees television series. Love the groove and guitar-work. I caught one episode of this show before it was off the air but found the album via a friend that was a fan. Some good songs on the album... actually, someone named Sean Roberts covered 3 songs from the New Monkees disc for his 2010 release, The Boy Inside The Man.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

R.I.T.: "The Curly Shuffle"

Today's R.I.T. is Jump 'N The Saddle's 1983 hit "The Curly Shuffle." Written by their vocalist Peter Quinn, the fun novelty song would peak at #15 on Billboard Hot 100 chart. The Chicago band released a debut album and parted ways with their record label the next year after they asked them to cover the song "Shaving Cream." (A demo version was recorded with additional unflattering lyrics directed at the record label.) In Canada, a different version of the song was released at the same time by The Knuckleheads.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

R.I.T.: "Melodie"

Today's R.I.T. is Michael Jackson's "Melodie." The song is an album track from the 1984 Jackson compilation, Farewell My Summer Love, made up of unreleased solo recordings made in 1973. It was released by Motown to capitalize the momentum of the red hot success of Jackson's Thriller. It was claimed that the songs were 'lost' and re-discovered in 1984 -- for which the instrumentation was re-recorded to update the tracks. Great songwriting here by Larson/Marcellino/Richards.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

R.I.T.: "Tiny Daggers"

Today's R.I.T. is "Tiny Daggers" by INXS off of their 1987 album, Kick. Composed by Andrew and Michael, the song closes the album and could have been a single but wasn't. The success of the previous Listen Like Thieves album had the group thinking they needed even better material for their follow-up. According to Kirk, "We wanted an album where all the songs were possible singles."

Monday, December 19, 2011

R.I.T.: "Suddenly"

Today's R.I.T. is Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard's "Suddenly" from the Xanadu soundtrack. The 1982 single went to #15 in the U.K., #20 in the U.S., #30 in New Zealand, #35 in Germany, #37 in Australia and #60 in Canada. Known as the love theme from Xanadu, the song was written and produced by longtime Newton-John associate John Farrar. Also notable is that the song was the last single by Olivia before releasing "Physical." It would also precede Richard's 1981 hit "A Little In Love."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Airrace - Back To The Start

Formed in 1982, Airrace began a journey into rock that would include mile markers like their 1984 debut album, Shaft Of Light, and being the first band to launch drummer Jason Bonham's career.  Despite strong reviews and support slots for Queen, AC/DC, Krokus, Ted Nugent and Meat Loaf, the band imploded the following year.  In 2009, a few new members joined the band for reunion shows supporting the 25th anniversary of Shaft Of Light.  With an overwhelming reaction by fans, the group has recorded their long-awaited sophomore effort, Back To The Start.

Power-chord rock anthems return as Airrace open this disc with the uplifting "Keep On Going."  "Two Of A Kind" reminds me of digging into ice cream.  The first bite zings your tongue and makes you go back for more.  But by the time you get a scoop of the chorus... it's another flavor and the initial shock catches you off guard.  By the time you finish the bowl, you enjoyed the whole experience and wondered why you were caught off guard in the first place.  This could be the separation between the fullness of Keith Murrell's vocals and the sticky-sweet chorus vocal harmonies.  "When Baby" is my sleeper.  It's a hit yet to come and I would love to be there to tell someone... "Yeah, I called that one!"  "So Long" grabs you with a marching beat yielding to a near "Eye Of The Tiger" rhythm that then blossoms into one of the album's best tracks.  Love the bluesy feel of "Better Believe It" as well.  "Just One Kiss," "Wrong Way Out," "Enough Of Your Loving," "What More Do You Want From Me" and the Foreigner-esque "Call Me Anytime" also stand out on this release. 

Someone always wins in an air race and I believe that here it will be rock listeners.  Back To The Start is where fans will be going after their first run of the album.  Addictive and infectious, it builds on itself as the listener adds the new information they missed the first time around. Murrell, guitarist Laurie Mansworth and keyboardist Toby Sadler are at the top of their game here with their new line-up and I can't wait to hear what's next.

4 out of 5

R.I.T.: "Church Of Logic, Sin, And Love"

Today's R.I.T. is The Men's 1992 single, "The Church Of Logic, Sin, & Love." Released off their self-titled debut album, the song went to #8 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was their only hit for the Santa Monica-based band before breaking up. Lyrically a bit quirky but a fun album and a personal favorite. The song definitely fit in with the musical landscape of alternative rock at the time (a notable example would be the success of King Missle's "Detatchable Penis") but without further penetration into the market. Oddly enough, despite calling themselves "The Men"... half the band were women.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

R.I.T.: "Red Red Wine"

Today's R.I.T. is Neil Diamond's "Red Red Wine." This 1968 single, off of his Just For You album, went to #68 on the U.S. and #78 on the Australian chart. Diamond wrote it during a slow time while working in his father-in-laws haberdashery shop. Although he doesn't drink and rarely forgets (although he sometimes tries), he thought it'd be interesting try to compose a country ballad. It would have stayed that way until... Jamaican rocksteady singer Tony Tribe recorded a version the following year -- going to #46 in the U.K. You thought I was going to say UB40, didn't you? Well, UB40 heard the Tony Tribe version and recorded their 1983 chart-topping version without hearing Diamond's original.

Friday, December 16, 2011

R.I.T.: "Russian Roulette"

Today's R.I.T. is "Russian Roulette" by The Lords Of The New Church off their self-titled debut album. Released as the third single off the album in 1982, it failed to chart as their previous single, "Open Your Eyes," had. Composed by bassist Tony James (of Generation X) and drummer Terry Chimes (of the Clash) in an early incarnation of the band (as they wouldn't be in it by the time they recorded), the song idea came from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now... hence the helicopter intro.  We featured the band on the show a few years back.  A great promo video was released for it but the only version online, that I could find, had horrid audio quality.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

R.I.T.: "I Want Her"

Today's random iTunes track is Keith Sweat's 1987 hit, "I Want Her," off his debut album, Make It Last Forever. Written and produced by Sweat and Teddy Riley, the song went to #5 on the U.S., #1 on the U.S. R&B and #26 on the U.K. charts. It is often cited as one of the first #1 hits of the 'new jack swing' (or swingbeat) movement of which Riley was a shining star -- having been a member of Guy and produced hits for Johnny Kemp, Bobby Brown, Jane Child and even Michael Jackson. The song was the biggest hit of Sweat's career until he released "Twisted" in 1996 (which went to #2 in the U.S.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

R.I.T.: "If She Knew What She Wants"

Today's R.I.T. is the 1986 single, "If She Knew What She Wants," by The Bangles off their Different Light album. The song was the follow-up single to "Manic Monday" and charted in the U.S. (#29), Germany (#17), Switzerland (#20), Austria (#30), Australia (#31) and the U.K. (#31.) The song is a cover of Jules Shear's 1985 song off his album, The Eternal Return, for which they rewrote the lyrics from first person to third person to make it work. Two videos were filmed and the one (not shown here) shown in the U.S. was shot by Susanna Hoffs mother Tamar.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

R.I.T.: "Billy's Got A Gun"

Today's R.I.T. is Def Leppard's 1983 hit "Billy's Got A Gun" off of Pyromania. The song was one of the 7 singles to be released off the 10-track album and went to #33 in the U.S. During their career, Def Leppard scored only one #1 single on the Billboard Hot 100 charts... "Love Bites." A live version of this song (not unlike the video posted) was the B-side to that 1988 #1 hit.

Monday, December 12, 2011

R.I.T.: "High School Nights"

Today's R.I.T. is Dave Edmunds 1985 hit single, "High School Nights," off the Porky's Revenge soundtrack. The song peaked at #95 on the U.S. charts. Dave Edmunds scored his biggest hit, "I Hear You Knocking," in 1970 (going to #4 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K.) and recorded with Nick Lowe as Rockpile in 1980. He assembled and produced the aforementioned soundtrack that included songs by George Harrison, Jeff Beck, Carl Perkins, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Willie Nelson, Clarence Clemons, himself and The Crawling King Snakes (made up of Robert Plant and Phil Collins.) It's hard to believe it but, despite what film it came from, this is a soundtrack you need in your collection.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

R.I.T.: "Stand"

Today's R.I.T. is R.E.M.'s 1988 hit, "Stand," off their Green album. The song went to #6 in the U.S. and Canada, #23 in New Zealand and #48 in the U.K. Fun video with lyrics speaking to finding your direction and change. Sonically, Michael Stipe has said they were shooting for 1960s bubblegum pop in the area of the Archies and Monkees. It was the second single off the album and theme to the Fox television series Get A Life starring Chris Elliott. The song was their biggest hit in the U.S. during the 1980s and second biggest hit over their career here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

R.I.T.: "Don't Go Jumping With Frogs"

Today's R.I.T. is Boys Don't Cry & Friends' "Don't Go Jumping With Frogs." It really was random but a nice chance to give a shout out to Nick Richards. This is one of the first new tracks recorded by the band and Nick came on T8M to explain the relaunch of the group. They've been playing several shows to raise money for local schools. I can't wait to hear the next batch of songs by them.

Friday, December 09, 2011

R.I.T.: "Be With You"

Today's R.I.T. is Erasure's "Be With You." The song is their latest single (i.e. hasn't charted yet) from their new album, Tomorrow's World. Fun video. They held a fan video contest and this was the winning submission. "Be With You" seems appropriate for this weekend as we'll be spending each day of the weekend with child visitors. Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Power Of Siblings

I received a call yesterday that kicked my brain into a different gear.  My brother was sitting with his eldest daughter, Mia, and decided to get me on the phone.  She had been making faces and pretty much antagonizing her little sister.  Matt called to say, in front of Mia, that he was sorry for some of the rivalry we had as kids as family is forever and friends can come and go.

I love my brother.  And that call got me thinking... I believe that there is a hierarchy to relationships that -- beyond faith -- peaks with family.  Family can be mother, father, sister, brother, wife, husband, son, daughter, nephew, niece, cousin and grandparents.  It's fun to call your best friend your sister or brother but those relationships can and sometimes do come to an end.  Family will always be family.  Let's put it this way, why do they say BFF (of best friend forever)?  It's because often that isn't the case and adding the other F is to make it more permanent.  There are also religions that use the words father, mother, brother and sister as a means to show another form of closeness in the congregation that normally wouldn't exist.  So I place family, best friends, friends, acquaintances and strangers in that order.

The call also solidified a thought I had the previous day.  I had been lucky to spend about 30 minutes with country act The Band Perry.  Kimberly, Reid and Neil as well as their mother are some of the most amazingly down-to-earth people I have ever met.  Among the things we talked about was the strength of being family in a group.  It's easier to pull friends and acquaintances off in the wrong direction but family will always be accountable to family.  They can fight each other but, when the time comes, it can also be them against the world.

So, I called my brother back a half hour later and told him to let Mia know that being the older child (as she and I are) isn't easy.  Her sister and brother (as well as my sister and brothers) came into this world with the best friend they will ever have greeting them.  There is a comfortable feeling to know that your longest relationships will be with family.  An only child doesn't have that and are missing that being their own size to imitate, learn from, look up to and grow with.  My brother's point in calling was to remind his daughter that, later in life, that sibling you are picking on will still be there in your life and it's good to treat them better now than regret it later.  I think I got more out of it than she did.

R.I.T.: "The Voice"

Today's R.I.T. is the classic 1981 Moody Blues single, "The Voice." No, it has nothing to do with the NBC series with Christina, Cee Lo, Adam or Blake. The song was the second single released off of their Long Distance Voyager album and went to #15 in the U.S. and #9 in Canada. The album was about transitions for the group as they were entering a new decade, their longtime keyboardist Mike Pinder had left (and replaced with former Yes member Patrick Moraz) and their last Top 20 hit was 8 years ago. The album would go to #1 in the U.S. and introduce the group to a new decade.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

R.I.T.: "Tonight It's You"

Today's R.I.T. is Cheap Trick's 1985 single, "Tonight It's You." It went to #44 on the U.S. charts and was the first single off their Standing On The Edge album. Producer Jack Douglas (who worked on John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey albums) was at the helm but did not mix the album due to legal issues with Ono.

Monday, December 05, 2011

R.I.T.: "Sick Boys"

Today's R.I.T. is Social Distortion's 1990 single, "Sick Boys," off of their self-titled third album. The song was the 4th single off the album and did not chart. The first 3 singles made it on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart. The band was formed in 1978 by frontman Mike Ness and 3 of the original members would leave to join The Adolescents. Ness' troubles with the law and increasing drug habit forced the band to go on hiatus in 1985 while he spent time rotating between jail and rehab. Much of this experience definitely fueled his creative spark for the 1988 album, Prison Bound, and future releases.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

R.I.T.: "Falling To Pieces"

What's funny about "random iTunes tracks" is that a lot of songs don't have videos so they get skipped. It's those that do that may have you scratching your head. Today's R.I.T., "Falling To Pieces" by Faith No More off the 1989 Real Thing album is not one of those. It's pretty hard to follow up an epic song like their Grammy nominated #9 U.S. hit... ummm "Epic" as it peaked at #92 in the U.S., #26 in Australia, #41 in the U.K. and #16 in New Zealand. As one of their more popular songs, the band, odd enough, grew to dislike it enough to rarely perform it live (after announcing during a 1993 performance that it was their last time playing it.)

Friday, December 02, 2011

R.I.T.: "Alone"

Today's R.I.T. is the Bee Gees 1997 single, "Alone," off their Still Waters album. The song went to #1 in Hong Kong, #2 in New Zealand, #5 in the U.K., #6 in Germany, #7 in Australia, #20 in Canada and #28 in the U.S. If you listen carefully, you'll hear the bagpipe in the song. It originally was a 12-string guitar but while experimenting on the demo... the bagpipe clicked. When recording, they almost changed the instrument but Robin Gibb was firmly against it. Robin is currently battling liver cancer. The song was their last Top 40 hit in the U.S.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

R.I.T.: "Useless"

Today's R.I.T. is Depeche Mode's 1997 hit, "Useless." The song received U.S. airplay prior to the announcement of the third single, "Home," off of the Ultra album which pushed them to release "Home" and "Useless" as a double A-side single. The song went to #28 in the U.K., #17 in Finland and #16 in Sweden and Germany. It is often looked at as a pop industrial rock track but (as my favorite song on the album) I think it leans more blues-based than pop... just listen to that guitar.