Posts Tagged ‘The Eighties


Fleetwood Mac “Tango in the Night”

Now, I know better than to ever put the needle on ANY album released in 1987 (unless I already know it’s one of the very few good ones), but I thought I’d take a chance and against all odds this would be the underrated Fleetwood Mac record of all time. And it is quite remarkable, but not in the way I’d hoped; it is maybe the worst thing I’ve ever heard. How can this even exist? It’s the same lineup on those two classic F.Mac records—there is a picture of them on the back cover looking like they stepped out of the movie, St. Elmo’s Fire (except for Mick Fleetwood, who seems to have grown another foot and is wearing a hat that looks like it’s about to fly off to its home planet)—interesting, because the stoner cover painting of a tropical paradise also features a UFO, no bigger than half a Valium, indeed so small that the same pic reproduced on the CD cover would reduce the UFO to microscopic size.

After suffering through an eternity of songs—each one a punishing barrage of what I guess is the 1980s production style (which reminds me why I stopped listening to ANY popular music in the 1980s)—the last song was actually halfway catchy and kind of pretty, and so against my better judgment I’m putting it on again and taking a look at the lyrics sheet; after all, these are what must be interesting and decent people who wrote some great classic songs, and maybe there is something revealed in the lyrics about what they are going through here—whether it be insanity, drug impairment, or some kind of cultish trip we need to know about. Oh, no—that was a mistake. I won’t get through a second listening. Any record that makes me get up from my chair and remove it from the turntable isn’t likely to see daylight in this lifetime. Right now I’m regretting this brutal sound memory of the most horrible decade, culturally, I’ve yet endured.


Bangles “Different Light”

It has been said (by me) that The Eighties are an entire decade that could be completely eradicated with almost no loss to the English speaking culture and we should only be so lucky. This Bangles record from 1986 doesn’t exactly make me change my mind about that, but I have been enjoying it to a surprising (to me) degree, as uneven as it is. Even more shocking is the cover and back cover, comprised of approximately 32 headshot photos of the band members, and any one of them taken by itself screams NINETEEN EIGHTIES! Taken all together, this hair parade is an awe-inspiring spectacle and expression of a collective, aesthetic insanity. But enough about the hair already!

This album has the distinction of containing one of the worst and unlistenable songs of all time, “Walk Like an Egyptian,” which happens to be written by Liam Sternberg, who wrote some pretty good songs for Rachel Sweet, so it’s hard to say how he came up with such a perfect song for selling cheap, shitty products to stupid people. I suppose the band should take equal blame, but then they are perfectly capable of performing a really good song like “September Gurls”—by Alex Chilton—nearly as compellingly as Alex Chilton. “Manic Monday” is the next worst song on this record, which is also surprising as it is written by a pretty excellent songwriter, The Artist Formerly Known as “Christopher.” The rest of the album is pretty okay to listen to, and the best songs are the ones by the members of the band. But those weren’t the hits, and what else is new?


ABC “How to be a… Zillionaire!”

This is unquestionably and without a doubt the greatest album of all time. And the date I’m listening to this is… April 1! I have started my next project, reviewing my roommate’s records, which I have alphabetized, and so starting with ABC makes a lot of sense. I’ve never heard of ABC– most likely because this is the kind of English crap we’d get in the Spindizzy store where I worked when this came out (1985) (okay, we closed in 1983– but I bet their earlier records or singles came into the store) that Keith would put on for about 25 seconds before removing and saying “Another one of THOSE bands.”

The album cover is actually MANY times worse than the music– it’s crappy even WAY beyond 80’s standards of ugliness. It looks like the kind of record they’d be giving away at the grocery store with a 72 serving container of new Peach Tang. There’s really no excuse for it. The sleeve contains unreadable lyrics– this was around when multiple “fonts” became available, so people would use ALL OF THEM.

The nice thing, though, is the band picture on the other side of the sleeve, with black and white photos of the band which oddly made me think of the Dandy Warhols. Which made me think, that’s what the Dandy Warhols are, a New Romantic revival band. “Duh,” I know– sorry, I mean it’s amazing I even know who the Dandy Warhols are, so un-hip am I–  and it’s only because of that movie “DIG”– which could also be called, “The 60’s Vs. The 80’s.” Guess who the winner is.

Amway, the most interesting thing about this record, musically, is that someone is playing something called an “Emulator II” as well as “Fairlight C.M.I.” I have no idea what any of that means (unless it means bad music) but either one of those would make a good name for a movie, or maybe a television series.

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July 2020