Sunday, January 6, 2019

#92. "Things I Do For Money" - The Northern Pikes (1987)

The second single "Things I Do For Money" by Canadian rockers The Northern Pikes is a far cry from the more radio-friendly and upbeat vibe of "Teenland" and most of their singles in the 90s.

The song shows off the band's depth: I'm a fan of the sparse instrumentation and the moody yet melodic arrangement. The mysterious intro makes it hard to figure out where the tune is heading. In fact, the song starts with minimalist verses that build slowly, before it simmers, dazzles then crashes into a terrific crescendo before the fade to end.

The lyrics are powerful, even chilling, and a perfect match to the dark music.

Fave lyrics: "I used to be quite practical but now I find I'm tactical". 

For comparison, check out their debut single; the more peppy and poppy "Teenland".

Saturday, January 5, 2019

#93. "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" - The Proclaimers (1988)

Irresistible. Contagious. Ridiculous. And a bloody good time. 

Who hasn't belted out these lyrics after a couple in public at least once? 

Not only a popular pub number, this catchy little singsong has a petition out there lobbying to make "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers the national anthem of Scotland.

And educational. 

It's a bonus that we get to learn a new word in another language. 

As in:

“And if I haver, yeah I know I’m gonna be, I’m gonna be the man who’s havering to you.”

Haver: To talk nonsense, gibberish; to speak rubbish. For the nerds, read more here

Friday, January 4, 2019

#94. "The Promise" - When in Rome (1988)

If the one-hit wonder "The Promise" by When In Rome doesn't make you think about tetherball, then you missed out on one of the best movies of the 00s. 

Like The Wedding Singer years before, the classic indie film Napoleon Dynamite dipped into the 80s for its soundtrack. 

"The Promise" has an undeniably wondrous chorus. It exudes an appropriate level of sappiness without overdoing it compared to many of the ballads that topped the charts in the 80s ("Sara", "The Power Of Love" and anything by Air Supply and Whitney Houston come to mind).

An important new wave factoid: released in 1988, "The Promise" was one of the last gasps from the golden age of synth before the domination of rap, R & B and eventually the grunge. Incidently, the glam metal "hair" bands of the 80s followed a similar rise and fall during the decade. Guess it was time for a change.

There was another decent track in the 80s called "The Promise".

In 1985 following their ascent to global domination of the singles charts, Duran Duran took a break and split in half to pursue side projects. Bassist John Taylor and guitarist Andy Taylor went off with Robert Palmer and Tony Thompson to form the rock/funk supergroup The Powerstation (more on them later), while vocalist Simon LeBon, drummer Roger Taylor and keyboard wizard Nick 'The Controller' Rhodes created the synth-driven art rock  outfit called Arcadia. 

Arcadia's So Red The Rose album produced four singles including the #1 hit "Election Day", but for me it's the haunting "The Promise" that stands up the best. Featuring some sweet guitar work of David Gilmour (yep, Pink Floyd), and backing vocals from some Sting fellow Simon ran into during Band-Aid, "The Promise" is a slick piece of production reminiscent of vintage Roxy Music/Bryan Ferry that shows off LeBon's underrated vocal range. 

Thursday, January 3, 2019

#95. "Promises, Promises" - Naked Eyes (1983)

1983 marked the year when electronic music went mainstream, when pop music shifted from the 70s rock stadium sound towards the synthesizers. 

Although 1982 had spawned iconic tunes like "Eye of the Tiger", "I Love Rock and Roll" and "Centrefold", 1983 saw the proliferation of synth-pop. Enter Culture Club, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Human League and the Thompson Twins. 

And dozens of others.

Like a plethora of tunes that year, "Promises, Promises" by Naked Eyes checked off all the boxes. 

Melancholic lyrics. Check.

Layers of synth. Check.

Funky guitar and bass. Check.

Songs like these were a dime a dozen; a reminder we took it all for granted that the good times were going to last forever.  

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#96. "All The Things She Said" - Simple Minds (1986)

Riding on the coattails of the international smash single "Don't You Forget (About Me)" the year before, Simple Minds churned out three singles in North America from Once Upon A Time, one of my favourite albums from the mid-80s. 

Superb from cover to cover, this great road trip album features the epic "Alive and Kicking", the high tempo "Sanctify Yourself", and the big stadium sound on tracks like "Ghost Dancing" and "Oh Jungleland". All of these would make my top 500 80s playlist.

The third single "All The Things She Said" is my fave track from the album. The track has a brilliant arrangement: it opens with a slice of psychedelia before the soaring verses take over. An overblown, beautiful bridge is followed by a stirring ending. 

Fave lyrics: "Tell me 'bout the ocean moving in slow motion"

The video is among the cooler of the decade with the neat duplicating effect, owl and falcon clips and Jim Kerr dance moves reminiscent of Michael Scott from the The Office'classic 'Booze Cruise' episode.

The first song from Once Upon A Time, "Oh Jungleland" is one powerful album opener: