Monday 25 February 2019

Back to the 1980's

The 1980’s was a wonderful decade for me, probably the favourite decade of my life. So much changed for me both in terms of my life and also the music that carried me through those changes.

Many people look back at the decade and laugh at the fashion and styles. I do too because I turned from a long-haired rock lover to a New Romantic before heading back to the comfort zone of Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock.

I started the decade with shoulder length hair before having it all cut off in an attempt to look like Duran Duran for a couple of years. I then grew a mullet – back to shoulder length hair but styled to the point where I had to blow dry it in the morning and cover it in hairspray to keep it all under control.

After a traumatic incident at a hairdresser, I finished the decade with pretty much the hairstyle I have now.

But I loved my mullet – I genuinely did.

Musically, the 1980s was as varied as the 1970s for me, with various styles of music popping into my life, most of which stayed there and are still present today. In the early 1980’s I barely listened to rock music at all, only rediscovering it later in the decade when the charts began to devolve into short sharp shit songs by Kylie Minogue and Rick Astley.

Here are some of the songs I loved from that weird and wonderful decade.

Hall and Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)

In my early days at university I would frequent night clubs, mainly to find myself a girlfriend. There was a certain style of song that always appeared, a song that has that distinctive 1980’s vibe to it. This is a perfect example of that type of song – a perfect pop song that you could dance to and mime the words while scanning the dance floor like a benign hunter, searching for a lovely lady who was doing exactly the same thing. Sadly, in my case, I couldn’t dance and my miming was terrible so I failed miserably. Nevertheless, this particular song transports me to those Scouse nightclubs and I still love it today.

A Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)

Something new happened in the 1980’s – a genre collectively known as New Wave, which were electropop songs with a slight edge to them. I always liked songs with a little attitude so they fitted perfectly into my taste. While not heavy at all, the guitars usually added a little bit to what was a very enjoyable pop song. I Ran (So Far Away) is a perfect example of what I mean.

A-ha – I’ve Been Losing You

Certain bands arrive and immediately become sensational in terms of their following. A-ha were huge and had a huge army of female fans. I usually avoid such bands because the music is lame and formulaic but I joined the army for A-ha. I loved their music – and still do. They wrote intelligent pop songs that appealed to much more than the teeny bopper army. The songs on their albums in many cases are better than the singles they released. This particular song is my favourite by the band and is also from my favourite album by the band, called Scoundrel Days.

Rush – The Big Money

The 1980s was when I discovered Rush. I knew of them in the 1970s but it wasn't until I met a fan at university that I was exposed to their music. As a progressive band, they changed their style throughout their long career, ranging from space rock to heavy rock and even, on occasion, dipping into pop music. The 1980’s found them embracing synthesizers and moulding their music to follow the new trends that were around during that decade. This song is from Power Windows, an album very close to my heart in the late 1980s.

The Sisters of Mercy – This Corrosion

My sister introduced me to Gothic Rock, suggesting that I listen to the Sisters of Mercy. At the beginning of the 1980’s she was a huge  Duran Duran fan so I was reluctant at first, thinking she was trying to persuade me to like her music (and more importantly buy the albums so that she could tape them). She told me that if I liked rock music I would like also like this new genre. She wasn’t wrong. I heard This Corrosion (the full 11 minute version of it) and was astounded. I didn’t go as far as wearing all the Goth gear but I certainly appreciated the music, so much so that I went to a Goth club with sister in the late 1980’s. The fashion was amazing but the music was much better.

Judas Priest – Turbo Lover

Any rumours that heavy metal was dying in the 1980’s were totally false. Heavy metal evolved in this decade, with bands embracing the fashions (sometimes embarrassingly so – stand up Twisted Sister). However, the metal that I knew and loved in the 1970’s was still present and adapting to the new trends too. Judas Priest even included keyboards in the album Turbo (from which this song is taken) and adopted a more mainstream beat to their songs, while maintaining the heavy metal vibe. Rob Halford is even dad-dancing in this video.

And finally …

If I could choose a decade to go back to, it would be the 1980’s. The music from that decade is still a huge part of my life and the memories from those mad years are still vivid and make me smile.

Long live the 80’s!

Sunday 17 February 2019

Back to the 1970's

Last night I was in a restaurant when the DJ in the adjoining bar started playing old 1970’s disco hits and as I listened, I started moving my shoulders in time to the beat, to the point where Mrs PM and her dad noticed.

I am quite self-conscious and giggled nervously before trying to change the subject.  Mrs PM smiled knowingly and then told me that 1970’s Disco Music in coming back.

I’ll take her word for that because I don’t listen to the radio stations that she loves. However, it did transport me briefly back to a time when I first began to take notice of music. In 1970 I was 8 years old and my dad had started to allow me to listen to the radio on my own. Thus began my love of music and if you were to look at my collection these days you would be absolutely amazed at the songs and styles that laid the foundation for my current taste.

Back then I was a slave to charts, which were filled with a huge array of different genres  all vying to rule the musical world, from Disco to Pop, from Glam Rock to Punk, SKA to Heavy Metal, from Progressive Rock to Electropop. I embraced all styles in those early days and my collection reflects that, including great bands and artists such as Abba, Electric Light Orchestra, Donna Summer, The Stranglers, Nazareth, The Sweet – the list is endless.

I thought I would share with you a few of the songs that I loved – and still love today. Bear in mind that these songs all contributed to my love of music and whenever I hear them I think of that spotty little bespectacled blond kid struggling with the pressures of childhood, school, puberty and decisions that would shape my life to come.

Stevie Wonder – Superstition

I’m not a huge fan of Stevie Wonder yet there is something about this song that allows it to fit snugly into my musical comfort zone. The bass guitar throughout has me playing along with my own "air” version as I am trying (badly) to dance to this whenever it appears at a wedding or party. This is easily Stevie Wonder’s greatest song.

Suzi Quatro – Can the Can

I was in love with Suzi Quatro. In 1973 when I was a mere 11 years old I remember seeing her on Top of the Pops and being utterly star struck. Here was a woman who was banging out an amazing song and she was gorgeous too. She even appeared in Happy Days as the aptly named Leather Tuscadero. The show had The Fonz and Suzie Quatro together. They were happy days indeed.

Chic – Le Freak

To me, this is the perfect disco song. It has all of the elements that made the 1970’s disco scene what it was, the elements that appealed to me, from the guitar, violins, lyrics and dance moves. Yes, this is another embarrassing dad-dancing wedding song that I have used to humiliate myself on a couple of occasions.

Focus – Sylvia

My current favourite genre of music is Progressive Rock and when I look back there are numerous bands that fall into this category, some of whom were especially big in the 1970s. Bands like Rush and Emerson, Lake and Palmer broke into the charts occasionally. So did Dutch rockers Focus with this masterpiece that I clearly remember from the mid-1970’s. Progressive Rock has been with me my entire music life and this is one of the earliest examples.

The Stranglers – Tank

I was never really that much into punk rock. Some songs were not bad and really I like the way punk rock evolved through the 1980’s and 1990’s. The one exception is The Stranglers who were my favourite punk rock band of the 1970’s before they changed their style in the 1980’s. Tank is the B side of a single I bought and while it is not that famous, it is a beautiful example of the best bits of punk rock.

Moțrhead РOverkill

Okay – there had to be a bit of metal in here to finish off. In the 1970’s I discovered heavy metal and loved numerous bands, any one of which I could have selected as my choice in this genre. Nevertheless, as time has passed, I have become more and more of a fan of early Motörhead and the part they played in shaping modern metal. Overkill is a great example of their early material when the band was at its peak with Lemmy, Fast Eddie Clark and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor. I simply love this song.

And finally ...

The 1970’s might not be well liked for political and economic reasons but the music that came from that decade because of the issues shaped the future of music, certainly in my case.