Thursday, January 15, 2009

Born Again '80's

Another one for the roll call. Today's blog is Born Again '80's. It features remixes of songs from the 1980's and several of them are unofficial remixes so are by lesser known remixers. What's also great is that the remixes can be downloaded onto your I-Tunes page or wherever you like to keep your music. However, some of the songs can also be downloaded for a certain amount of time. I had to listen to how "Dirty Laundry" by Don Henley was reinvented and it's great, thank God. I just love remixes like this. The remix of "Dirty Laundry" is both fairly faithful to the original, which had a fantastic baseline already and now has a R2-D2 down the disco type mix in the background. The remix is by Mr Unclean and can be downloaded here. "Dirty Laundry" was inspired by media intrusion following the deaths of stars like John Belushi and Natalie Wood and is a song that could really apply to today's media. It's lyrics are fantastic. Here's a sample. Can we film the operation? Is the head dead yet? You know, the boys in the newsroom got a Running bet Get the widow on the set! We need dirty laundry You don't really need to find out what's going on You don't really want to know just how far its gone Just leave well enough alone Eat your dirty laundry Kick em when they're up Kick em when they're down Kick em when they're up Kick em when they're down Lisa Marie Presley did a rockier version of the song in 1995 and was featured on her album "Now What". The video also had a cameo from George Michael. Here it is. "Dirty Laundry" was one of many great songs by Don Henley. "Boys Of Summer", "New York Minute" and "Sunset Grill" are my other favourite singles by him. Don will be playing with the Eagles, once again, this year. Here's a concert performance of the gorgeous "Sunset Grill" from Don's 1984 album "Building The Perfect Beast".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

As We Were Back Then

I have a week ahead where I am not in college and just in work so I hope to do a good few blog posts this week. The posts will all be mainly music ones including reviews of some of the concerts that I went to in 2008. Strike Curious Poses will still have it's heart stuck primarily in the 1980's but as there is only one more year left in this decade and we head in the 2010's it's seems like just as this decade in music was very much influenced by the '80's the next decade will be a time of 1990's nostalgia and reinvention. I loved a lot of pop in the 1990's but very little indie or Brit Pop. The 1990's were for me about the various boy/girl/boy & girl bands and whatever Madonna, Kylie, Janet and whoever continued on from the 1980's were doing. The 1990's for me were also about the type of dance music that that decade produced. 1990's dance music was both a continuation of '80's house, pop and the early days of techno and also a sound of it's own time. As other music sites, that I love, continue to centre on mainly the music in today's charts or future charts my pop brain is happily in the past so I think that's what this site will be concentrating on from now on. There's so much music, specific songs more so than the entirety of an artist's work that I love, so there will always be something to write about. As ever I love all the comments I get on my posts so thank you readers new and old. For me 1990's dance is remembering going out on the Dublin gay scene. Most of the songs I liked I usually heard them in some pub or club a long time before they were in the charts. Some songs never charted at all but lots did as MTV used to still show music videos in those days and especially on Dublin pirate radio stations there were some great dance shows. I'm almost certain that there was a station called Phantom which just played dance songs. There is a new Dublin based radio station called Phantom but I really hate the way that it's philosophy is that the only music that matters is indie. Most club tracks were best heard in their extended remix versions. One great song was "Arms of Loren" by E'Voke. That song got to number 25 in the UK charts in August 1995. E'Voke was comprised of two female vocalists, Marlaine Gordon and Kerry Potter, as pictured above. They also starred in a BBC sitcom called "Us Girls". There are two main mixes of "Arms Of Loren". One is the Steinway mix, the other is the Nip 'N' Tuck version which is featured below. Around the 3:56 mark there is a great "Hey! What?!!" which is similar to the beginning of Madonna's "True Blue". Both vocalists in E'Voke went on to do other acting and music work. "Arms Of Loren" is a song that still sounds strong and vibrant today.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Guess What's On Now

This week 25 years ago, in January 1984, Paul McCartney was number one with Pipes Of Peace. Paul was also number one in the USA Billboard Hot 100 charts with Michael Jackson with Say, Say, Say which I liked a lot. Pipes of Peace was number one for two weeks in January in 1984. The song that was to be the second number one of that year was by Frankie Goes To Hollywood. That song was Relax and it became one of the most controversial or at least talked about songs of the 1980's. Relax had been on release since October of 1983 and charted at number 67 in November. It would be the 24th of January that Relax went to number one where it stayed for 5 weeks until Nena and her 99 Red Balloons replaced it at the top of the charts. Relax only become "controversial" when the DJ Mike Read proclaimed his distaste of the song, especially the singles record cover and it was then that the BBC decided to ban the song. However DJs like John Peel, who had always supported the band, continued to play Relax on other BBC night time radio shows. Here's the "offending" record cover. It's still pure, wonderful art to me.

I never really liked Relax when it was first released. However, I do think it has stood the test of time. It still gets you. I liked Two Tribes more and The Power Of Love is still one of my favourite songs especially the lyrics; "I'll protect you from the hooded claw, keep the vampires from your door". Frankie's debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome was something I forever associate the now no-more shop Woolworths with. I can still remember seeing the album below in it's record racks. Welcome to the Pleasuredome was a double disc album in a gatefold sleeve, which was just gorgeous. The singles are the album's most famous songs and after The Power of Love it was the title track that I most liked. Stand outs were also the cover versions of War and Born to Run. Frankie covering Springsteen, who in 1984 was the ultimate image of all American male, was just pop heaven.

 
Back then, I was only 14 and I'm sure that Frankie's Holly Johnson and Paul Rutherford were out and proud and like Boy George, they said whatever they wanted in the media. It was always Frankie Vs Wham! or Duran Duran in "Smash Hits!" then. Frankie was like a slightly darker, political (anti Thatcher) pop but they were brilliant, always. I remember wishing I fancied Holly or Paul but I know I found them a bit scary. It was Mark O'Toole I liked (fancied) the most. He's the second last in the photo below. I think when your growing up someone in a band, especially a straight guy becomes your type and back in 1984 mine had begun. Brian Nash and Peter Gill were the other two members of the band. I loved the fact that two gay men and three straight men could all be part of a great pop band and have fun with it all. I loved the fact that they both didn't give a fuck and the same time very much did. One track on the album was "Wish the Lads Were Here" and you just believed them meaning it. Frankie were both real; the everyday man and also were the unreal; great popstars, whom Irish starstruck teenagers like me, just saw on TV shows like "The Tube" or "Top Of The Pops".

  Holly Johnson was a fairly successful solo pop star for a few years after Frankie Goes To Hollywood came to an end. His website is here. It features lots about Holly, both Frankie and solo work and also highlights his art such as the painting of the sailor at the top of this article and the one below.
Frankie reunited for a while in 2004 though without Brian Nash. Brian has a website here. Paul Rutherford, like Holly, went solo for a while and released an album of which two songs were produced by ABC. According to the Holy Bible that is Wikipedia, Paul now lives in New Zealand with his long term partner. Peter Gill formed another band called Ltd Noise in 2001. Mark O'Toole now lives in Florida with his family. He's in a band called Trapped By Mormons and their website is here. What is interesting is that "Relax" was actually the first song on the first "Top Of The Pops" of 1984. The show was also was the 20th anniversary show of "Top Of The Pops". This was on the 5th of January. Just 6 days later on the 11th, Mike Read would create pop history by having a little baby on air over the song's record sleeve and lyrics and shortly after the BBC would ban a song they had used to begin "Top Of The Pops" year with. That ban ironically would make the band famous far quicker than they had ever hoped possible. Here's that performance of "Relax" from January 5th 1984 when it had that week charted at number 35. As John Peel introduces them he says "This is very 1984 though, this, Frankie Goes To Hollywood".

 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So Far Away, So Far Away

"Miles Away" will be known, for a while anyway, as the lowest charting Madonna song in the UK. The fact that it charted at #39, then dropped to #68 and then disappeared completely is sad because it is a song that should have easily have been top ten. It only took sales of 5,643 to chart within the top 30. "Give it 2 Me" had reached #7 in the UK and #10 in Ireland earlier last year. Yet, "Miles Away" didn't even chart in countries like Ireland and the main charts in America and Australia. It may have been a number one in The US Dance Airplay Charts but it's not the same as the regular charts. What went wrong with "Miles Away"? Is it just an ok song? No, of course not. It is pure classic pop. Were even the hardcore fans fed up of all the divorce news in the media? No, anything to do with her personal life has never stopped them before. I think the fact that the song didn't have an offical video was one reason but the other reason is that any physical copies of the single were not easy to find. "Miles Away" is easily a song I would have bought for it's remixes. Thousands of Madonna fans have bought all formats of the vinyl and then CD singles over the years but do all, especially the older fans, buy the downloads, I don't think so. I wonder if Madonna herself was disappointed by the song's lack of success in some countries, in others it did well such as Spain where it was number one and was #5 in Japan. I always wondered why doesn't Madonna release a song right on the beginning of her tour where she had lots of positive attention. "Miles Away" is a buzzy, floaty pop song like "Dear Jessie" or "Don't Tell Me". I think if "Miles Away" had been released in the Summer or as her second single it would have done much better. If we get a good summer this year play, "Miles Away" and see how good it sounds. I often think a good pop song should have a good remix and "Miles Away" has several. My favourite is the seven minute plus version as remixed by Morgan Page. The "So Far Away" refrain is particularly gorgeous. Here it is.