1980


Title: It’s No Game (Pt. 1)

Artist: David Bowie

Album: Scary Monsters

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: Even for the chameleon Bowie, a mind-fuck of an album opener. Starting with sounds of tape, a count-in with a weird electronic voice, a woman reciting the verses in Japanese with Robert Fripp frippering all in the background, and then Bowie comes in sounding totally deranged. He’s off kilter, off key and downright horrifying. At the end he tells Robert Fripp to shut up.

Riffage / Hookage: Well, Fripp rather much kicks ass, so you know there’s some good riffin’ going on, in his own art-rock proggy way.

Cowbell?: Bowie scared the cowbell away with his lunatic vocals.

Words Of Wisdom: “So where’s the moral
When people have their fingers broken?
To be insulted by these fascists
It’s so degrading
And it’s no game”

Remember, kids, he went from this to “Let’s Dance” in just two years.

Mixology Report: Wow. I am working on a mix right now for the CDP mix trade, and this is in it, and I’m scared that it will attack the other songs in the mix and beat them senseless.

Top Five Genius Results: Three & Nine – Roxy Music
Seen & Not Seen – Talking Heads
Last Gang In Town – The Clash
Oh, Jim – Lou Reed
Lonesome Cowboy Bill – Velvet Underground

For The Good Of The Order: This album, one of Bowie’s last good-as-in-good-art-good records, ends with a much more calm, peaceful, placid version of the song. Still, when I bought this in high school after seeing “Fashion” and “Ashes To Ashes” on MTV, I was a bit taken aback by how unhinged Bowie sounded on this track.

And now you can hear it as well….

(Oh, I am probably on the hot rails to hell for this…but…)

Title: Let’s Lynch The Landlord

Artist: Dead Kennedys

Album: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: Punk rock! But it’s punk rock with a swinging bass line, a cool surf guitar solo from East Bay Ray, an actual melody, and well, you can dance to it. And not just pogo. This is crucial rock and roll to be heard by everyone, youngsters and oldsters.

Riffage / Hookage: East Bay Ray’s main riff is simple yet carries the tune. And as I said, Klaus Fluoride’s bass line isn’t just “hit the root and the fifth in rhythm with the bass drum”. Jello sings, for the most part. He really does!

Cowbell?: No, but there are a lot of cymbals courtesy of original drummer “Ted”.

Words Of Wisdom: “There’s rats chewin’ up the kitchen
Roaches up to my knees
Turn the oven on, it smells like Dachau, yeah
Til the rain pours thru the ceiling “

Not a happy place to live, yeah!

Mixology Report: While I’m not saying that you bump it next to Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey (hey, if you’re mixing them, why are you reading this?) but it’s versatile enough to fit in many places, sending a statement all the while.

Top Five Genius Results: Gimme Gimme Gimme – Black Flag
World Up My Ass – Circle Jerks
I Don’t Care About You – Fear
Minor Threat – Minor Threat
Pay To C*m – Bad Brains

Wow, quite the punk rock all star team!

For The Good Of The Order: Of course, even in punk rock, things can turn acrimonious. Jello Biafara is a stalwart, refusing to sell out and refusing to release sub-standard (in his opinion) live recordings. His band mates wanted more control and wanted some live recordings out. (While they do have money in the bank, they’re not rich and still need to work for a living.) Jello lost, and a few live recordings have trickled out. But no one won, really, except the lawyers, because now the DK’s good name has been sullied thanks to the lawsuit opening up the internal gunk and there is no way that Jello would reunite with them. (Actually, that’s probably not so bad. No one really wants to see 50-somethings act like punk rockers.)

But ‘nuf that stuff….here’s the DK’s live in 1980! D. H. Peligro on drums, I believe.

Title: Romeo Delight

Artist: Van Halen

Album: Women & Children First

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: An example of Van Halen firing on all cylinders. Eddie’s riffing and soloing is excellent, Alex and Michael chug along, and Diamond Dave is what he is.

Riffage / Hookage: Oh, c’mon. You think Eddie wouldn’t bring the riff.

Cowbell?: Alex doesn’t mind cowbell, but none here as far as I can tell.

Words Of Wisdom: “Wanna see my ID? Try to clip my wings
Don’t have to show you proof o’ anything
I know the law, friend
At the ‘leventh hour I’m goin’ back outside
Ooh, give it a try. I’m your last loose end”

I think I’ve seen 2 live vids (including the one I posted) and Dave always forgets the words to this verse. Hey, Dave, there are only TWO verses, you know.

Mixology Report: I’d recommend this in your mixing over other VH songs, because this wasn’t played much on the radio, and hence no one was ever sick of it.

Top Five Genius Results: Goin’ Crazy – David Lee Roth (Hmmm…no fooling!)
Neon Knights – Black Sabbath
Blackout – Scorpions
Steal Away (The Night) – Ozzy Osbourne
Screaming For Vengeance – Judas Priest

For The Good Of The Order: One of my dating ‘requirements’ in my younger days was that if a girl preferred the Sammy Hagar version of VH (or “Van Hagar with Sammy Headache”) then I would have to take a pass. You know, I still cast a suspicious eye at people who prefer that version.

Here’s a live cut from 1982. If you wanted note-for-note reproductions of the album, then why the hell are you at a Van Halen show?

Title: Victim Of Illusion

Artist: Michael Schenker Group (MSG! MSG! MSG! Kung Pao! (Sorry…))

Album: Michael Schenker Group

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: Rockin’! Schenker was a prima-donna guitarist (burned some bridges through the Scorpions and UFO) who had a chance to be a huge guitar hero if he could have controlled his megalomania and stuck to writing tight hard-rockin’ songs like this. But you know…he didn’t.

Riffage / Hookage: Hell yeah! Schenker knew his way around a riff! It was his self-indulgent solos that got in his way. (Not on this song, but he was prone to wheedly-wheedly-wheeing all over songs.)

Cowbell?: No, just solid, practical drumming from either Simon Phillips or Cozy Powell. I am not surprised by either gents appearance here. Have drumkit, will rock!

Words Of Wisdom: “Gone is the free expression, but look into my eyes,
The silent world is laughing, the mirror never lies,
The mirror never lies! “

Mixology Report: For you rockers out there, dig it!

Top Five Genius Results:“Pack It Up (And Go) – UFO
Feel Me Touch Me (Do Anything You Want) – Fastway
Turning Circles – Judas Priest
We Will Be Strong – Thin Lizzy
Hiroshima Mon Amour – Alcatrazz! (Graham Bonnet served some time in a later MSG lineup with a horrific half bald mullet.)

For The Good Of The Order: Schenker was the original choice to join Aerosmith after Joe Perry left, but it didn’t pan out. (I think if he did join, the entire band would have died from an overdose.) He then was asked to join Ozzy’s band after Randy Rhoads died, but again, nothing. And I just read he guested with Ratt on an MTV Unplugged episode. Now wait a minute. RATT? UNPLUGGED? WITH MICHAEL SCHENKER? The mind, she just capsized..

Here’s a live clip with Cozy Powell on drums, circa 1981.

Title: The Crawl

Artist: The Fabulous Thunderbirds

Album: What’s The Word

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: A great cover of a mid-50’s blues song by Guitar Junior that the T-Birds dusted off. As usual, they’re very sincere about what they do and cover the song in a proper style. Which means, it’s a hell of a fun record!

Riffage / Hookage: There’s a great blues choogle by Jimmy Vaughan and Keith Ferguson and Vaughan has a very tasty solo. And I love Vaughan’s guitar part right before everyone goes “THE CRAWL!”

Cowbell?: No, the drums are barely there, keeping the beat in the background, which is just what this song needs.

Words Of Wisdom: Well, Jimmie got Jean
Bobbie got Tommy
I got Shirley
Everybody’s got a girl
They do the crawl
Aw, the crawl
Cats on the corner, everybody’s doin’ the crawl”

Wow, Bobbie got Tommy. Well, that’s modern thinking. Oh, it’s a girl’s name? Oh. I remember a Bobbi – who was hot in a ‘girl you don’t want to take home to Mom’ kinda way. But not a Bobbie. Still, though, it was a long shot that a 50’s bluesman would be THAT enlightened.

Mixology Report: You mix this. People dance.

For The Good Of The Order: Kim Wilson still has the T-Birds on the road, though they’ve gone through a boatload of personnel changes. Right now it’s Wilson and a hired gang of youngsters, but they’re still out there going strong.

As this vid shows!

Title: Ah! Leah!

Artist: Donnie Iris

Album:King Cool

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: Good ol’ power pop / rock from a wily veteran of the business, who had been in two one-hit wonder bands before (The Jaggerz and Wild Cherry).

Riffage / Hookage: It’s got a great opening riff, a hook or twelve, harmonies, almost everything you need…

Cowbell?: …except cowbell.

Words Of Wisdom: Baby, it’s no good. We’re just askin’ for trouble.
I can touch you, but I don’t know how to love you
It ain’t no use! We’re headed for disaster.
Our minds said, “No!” But our hearts were talkin’ faster, Leah!

Typical teenage stuff, right, or something? Or maybe not just teenage.

Mixology Report: I think this is a great mix starter.

For The Good Of The Order: Back in C’ville after college, my man Moose and I were somewhat smitten with a “touch key professional” at Target named…Leah. Unfortunately, she being just a few years younger than us, had not heard the song. (It hit #29 in 1980, but still…) So when we sang part of the verse, she just looked at us funny. She may have looked at us funny if she HAD known the song, though.

Here’s a live cut from Donnie’s prime!

Title: The Puppet

Artist: Echo & The Bunnymen

Album: Single only – later on Echo anthologies.

Year Released: 1980

What It Is: A song that illuminates that Echo was an underrated presence in the new wave movement. This also illuminates how good singles can be, especially when they don’t have to fit into the ‘theme’ of an album. We here in the States were a bit too hasty to give up on the power of 45s.

Riffage / Hookage: The opening guitar jangle sets a nice mood. The hook isn’t that melodic but it’s memorable.

Cowbell?:No, but I like the drumming. Originally, as you know, Echo was their drummer. Echo was a drum machine. But they soon settled on a real live drummer (Pete De Frietas, if you’re scoring at home.)

Words Of Wisdom: “Trampolines broken
Ceiling has come down
The ache in my back tells me
Something’s gone wrong”

Sounds like a Law & Order episode!

Mixology Report: Yes. Yes. 1,000 times yes!

For The Good Of The Order: I think they’re still at it, after Ian MacCulloch came back in 1997. It’s probably a good, safe life, with a built in fan base and those with nostalgia.

Here’s a great clip from Urgh! A Music War.

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