Monday, January 30, 2012

R.I.T.: "The Seventh Stranger"

Today's R.I.T. is the 1983 album track, "The Seventh Stranger," that closes Seven And The Ragged Tiger. The song was reportedly a favorite of Simon and Nick's that they wanted to see released as a single but their label, Capitol, wanted something more dance oriented. The song, as well as its preceding track "Tiger Tiger," gave the album its title. Crank it up and enjoy.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

R.I.T.: "The Sweater"

Today's R.I.T. is Canadian writer/performer Meryn Cadell's amazingly funny "The Sweater." The 1992 single was a surprise Canadian Top 40 hit and received a lot of airplay on college radio (helping it reach #24 on the U.S. Modern Rock chart.) Cadell's first independent album was released in 1988. The album, Angel Food For Thought, was re-issued in 2007.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What defines you?

Had an idea rattling in my brain for the last few hours and wanted to get it down... in 0's and 1's, I guess.  How do you define yourself.  If you were to take 3 things that define who and what you are (in order of importance), what would they be?  Feel free to take a second and write them down.  Don't worry, this page isn't going anywhere and I'm not looking.  Ok, if you took a real hard look at yourself when writing that down, you'll find something interesting.  You wrote down filters.

I'll explain.  Often, people go through life with a vision of themselves.  Be it strength, intellect, gender, race, sexual preference, nationality, political party, wealth, religion or a myriad of other divisors, we always hold something up to set our internal compass.  Let's use intellect for a moment.  You may believe you are a very smart person, absorb knowledge easily, rationalize concepts quickly and value it more than many others.  It's a great quality to have but here is the kicker.  If that was #1 on your list, it's also a filter.  If you put that above all else, you would have an equal distaste for ignorance, stupidity and idiocy.  You'd have to, as it is the top thing that defines who you are as a person.

So, if you place your birthplace (city, state or nation) above all else, you become less forgiving of other locales.  If your #1 personal definer was gender, you would support and promote it and look less favorably at the opposite sex.  If you were dirt poor, as were your parents and their parents, you would look unfavorably at the well-to-do if your made what defines you was the belief you'd always be poor.  This list can keep going.  Religion can easily easily go that route as can political ideology and sexual preference.  I won't belabor that point further.

The passion of what defines you makes that #1 on your list pretty darn important as it also becomes a filter for who and what we let in and deflect.  We could very well put "human being" at #1 on the list and not believe that we will hate or go on crusades against dogs, cats or horses... although one may go with "living being" if they were averse to eating animals and saw them as an equal.  I've had and still have friends that have a #1 on their list that clears rooms, creates enemies and leaves a bunch of unhappiness in their wake.

You really can be what you want to be.  You can define yourself.  But, finding a definition of ourselves that lets others into our own little world is important... and it is how I view tolerance.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

R.I.T.: "Long Long Way To Go"

Today's R.I.T. is Def Leppard's "Long Long Way To Go." Released in 2003 as a single off of their X album, the song went to #40 in the U.K. The song is currently their last hit to chart there. Brilliant lyrics and haunting undercurrent. I was honored when the label asked to use my album review to help promote the single... just wish it got a little airplay here in the U.S. Instead, the U.S. market pushed the song "Four Letter Word" (which would be their most recent chart hit here.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

R.I.T.: "Donald, Where's Your Troosers?"

Today's R.I.T. is Andy Stewart's "Donald, Where's Your Troosers?" No, really, that's the song and how it's spelled. It's a rendition of a traditional Scottish song by the then popular musician and television personality. The 1961 novelty #37 U.K. hit by the Scotsman resurfaced in late 1989 in the U.K. peaking at #4. Be sure to hear the whole song, though.

Monday, January 16, 2012

R.I.T.: "Dominoes"

Today's R.I.T. is "Dominoes" by Robbie Nevil. Released as the second single from his self-titled debut album in 1986, the song would go to #14 in the U.S. Nevil started his career songwriting for Earth Wind & Fire, the Pointer Sisters, El DeBarge, Al Jarreau among many others before getting his moment in the sun. After a few more albums, he'd return to songwriting for Starship, David Lee Roth, K-Ci & JoJo, Aaron Neville, Jeff Lorber, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers and something called High School Musical. I think I need to reappraise my blame for the last three.

Friday, January 13, 2012

R.I.T.: "One In A Million"

Today's R.I.T. is The Romantics' "One In A Million." Possibly my favorite track by the band, pure power-pop rock. Released as the 3rd single off their In The Heat album in 1984, the song would go to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #22 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Time for a dose of reality, though. "What I Like About You" (which still gets a lot of airplay) is their third biggest hit, landing outside the U.S. Top 40 at #49 in 1980. 1983's "Talking In Your Sleep" was their biggest hit going to #3 in the U.S. (and #1 on the U.S. Dance chart.)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

R.I.T.: "Johnny, Are You Queer?"

Today's R.I.T. is "Johnny, Are You Queer?" by the smokin' hot Josie Cotton. The song would go to #38 on the Billboard Club Play Singles chart in '82, #2 on Canadian radio and be 1 of 3 songs she'd contribute to the Valley Girl soundtrack. According to Cotton, L.A. punk act Fear performed an early version of the song with no reference to Johnny but producers/managers Bobbie and Larson Paine would re-write the lyrics for their clients... the Go-Go's. The song became a live favorite for the group but the Paine brothers would forbid them from using the song after the band parted ways with management. Cotton lobbied to record a demo of the song which became the single and the rest is pretty much history. An official video wasn't filmed as her label, Elektra, was in financial trouble... thankfully, she filmed one later.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

R.I.T.: "Stand"

Today's R.I.T. is "Stand" by Liquid Jesus. This 1990 cover of the Sly And The Family Stone classic made it's mark appearing on the Pump Up The Volume soundtrack (and being played at the end of the film.) Liquid Jesus' pop sensibilities lay in the fusion of gospel, folk, jazz, rock and blues that would fit right in with Woodstock... no, the first one. It's just too bad that this cover is so much better than other recorded works including their Pour In The Sky album. Looking to find your groove today, play this!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

R.I.T.: "Moonbeam"

Today's R.I.T. is the 1987 single, "Moonbeam," from Men Without Hats off of the Pop Goes The World album. The song was a follow-up single to the Top 20 U.S. hit "Pop Goes The World" and would go to #46 on the U.S. Dance and #23 on the Canadian charts. The Quebec act scored 7 hits in their homeland from 1893 to 1991. Fun to see a goofy video like this pop up once in awhile.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Thank you, Grandpa!

Today my grandfather was buried.  He's just walking distance from my father-in-law.  Boy, there are a lot of things I could say about him and my feelings this last week.  I'm just going to keep it minimal.  If you look at a lot of the photos of him we have, you'd see that he loved his recliner.  Well, not as much as his family.  He came from a large family (being one of 10 children) and himself helped create a large family.  The first part of that was during his 22 years of military service.

I was talking with one of my aunts that I don't see that often and she told me how happy she was that I was able to spend as much time as I did with him.  I could sense some hurt in her voice.  You see, a career military man serving during several wars would not be home often and a chunk of your connection is lost when you don't spend time together.  Compound that with seeing your parents split and it's really rough for a child.  You can't fix the past, though.  What you can do is analyze what you've gained through those connections.

My grandfather lived a lot of his pre- and post-military life in the state of Idaho.  He was a pillar of his community, serving as fire chief, postmaster general, mayor and owner of the local store.  We would see him during some holidays and have longer visits during the summer when we'd stay there.  As a child, you focus on very centric things -- me, me and me.  Food, playing, sleeping and more playing would take precedence over real thoughtful conversation.  I wasn't happy with chores (which included moving irrigation pipe) and having only one TV in the house.

But lets, look at what I gained there.  I learned what it was like to do a form of physical labor, where eggs come from (by grabbing them myself), find adventure in a town trusting enough that they didn't lock doors, appreciate a town that isn't 'go, go, go' and to embrace quiet moments with family.  I never really understood grandpa's love for Westerns and military films and obsession with the news.  But, I would adopt the latter myself.

I lost a grandfather while in high school.  I lost another one after high school (when I returned from Reno.)  But, you remember when I related loss with the quality of your connection.  I can't say that I spent 5% of the time with either of my other grandfathers and the weight of this loss is that much stronger.  Knowing that his time was coming to a close, my first project after ending Talking 80s Music was to spend some quality time with grandpa and record his life story for myself as well as the rest of the family.  The me-focused child needed to fill in the gaps and use my interview skills for something greater.  I can say that I am better equipped to deal with his passing by doing it.  I think we said an unspoken long-farewell then.

His recliner isn't empty.  It's just moved closer to the Lord.  I could miss what I didn't have with him but I won't.  I will cherish the time he spent with me and share what I can with the family.  Spend time with your family, your elders.  Harry Chapin's song "Cats In The Cradle" plays in my head this week.  We don't have to be that kid!  We don't have to be that adult!  Connect!  Don't mourn the living!  The time is now!

R.I.T.: "Love Is Like A Rock"

Today's R.I.T. is "Love Is Like A Rock" by Donnie Iris and The Cruisers (no, not Eddie.) Released in 1981, the single would go to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Billboard Top Tracks chart. It's a great example of a song that worked its way up the chart from mid-December of 1981 until late February of 1982 -- all without an official promotional video. His biggest U.S. single, "My Girl," would be the follow-up but both are often forgotten behind his 1981 U.S. hit "Ah, Leah!" In late 2010, Iris released his 11th studio album, the Christmas-themed Ah! Leluiah!

Friday, January 06, 2012

R.I.T.: "Last Summer's Evil"

Today's R.I.T. is "Last Summer's Evil" by TNT. The song is track 4 on Antony Harnell's 1984 debut album with TNT, Knights Of The New Thunder. Love the strut of the song and Tony's vocal harmonics here. Odd that it would come up randomly today as Mr. Harnell recently put the silver album award he was presented for Knights Of The New Thunder on eBay with 10% of the final sale going to Breast Cancer Action in memory of Tony's mother who passed away from the disease in 2009. You can find it at


Thursday, January 05, 2012

R.I.T.: "The Zoo"

Today's R.I.T. is "The Zoo" by the Scorpions. The song was their second single off their 1980 album Animal Magnetism and would go to #75 in the U.K. Despite limited chart success, the song has become a critic and fan favorite -- being included on most of their hits collections. The lyrical root of the song comes from their first tour of the U.S. behind their Lovedrive album the previous year (which also earned them a gold disc.) During the tour, they laughingly nicknamed one of New York City's streets "the zoo" and it seemed to fit with a song Rudolf Schenker had been working on while on tour. Vocalist Klaus Meine took that thought and added references to the city streets -- mainly 42nd Street.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

R.I.T.: "Seven Spanish Angels"

Today's R.I.T. is a longtime favorite of mine called "Seven Spanish Angels" by Willie Nelson with Ray Charles. This beautifully written song by Troy Seals (cousin of Jim Seals and Dan Seals) and Eddie Setser went to #1 on the U.S. country singles and Canadian country charts as well as #6 in New Zealand in 1984. The song is actually credited to Ray Charles with Willie Nelson as well. You see, both Charles and Nelson had ideas of doing duets albums and would include the song on both of their albums. Ray's album would introduce him to the country music community in a big way and the song would be the biggest of 8 of his hits on the country charts. Crank up the volume and listen to the story.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

R.I.T.: "Green Mind"

Today's R.I.T. is "Green Mind" by Dink. Released as a single in 1994, the song would climb its way to #35 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart the following year. The song would become a mainstay for alternative radio stations in the Midwest and two more singles from the album would surface. The Kent, Ohio band was also aided by Skinny Puppy-producer Dave "Rave" Ogilvie in creating their unique sound. Despite recording sessions that would yield a follow-up EP, Capitol Records pulled the plug on their next album. The audio sample at the start comes from a commercial by an Ohio Chevrolet dealership pitchman, Bob Serpentini, that rose to local infamy at the time for mixing political rants with car sales.

Monday, January 02, 2012

R.I.T.: "U Gotz 2 Get Down"

Today's R.I.T. is Kwame's "U Gotz 2 Get Down." The song was the 3rd single released off his debut album, Kwame The Boy Genius - Featuring A New Beginning, and went to #7 on the U.S. Hot Rap Tracks chart in 1989. By the time the new single came out the polka-dot theme (seen in the video) was in full effect. Not an easy album to find until the rise of iTunes. After a few more albums, he'd be a much-in-demand producer working for LL Cool J, Mary J Blige, Dru Hill, Christina Aguilera, Will Smith, Pussycat Dolls and many others.