Have you seen the trailers for Roadies? It’s a new Showtime series created and executive produced by the great Cameron Crowe. Yeah, the Cameron Crowe who wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Say Anything. The guy who gave us Singles, Jerry Maguire (his “kwan” too) and Almost Famous. (And yeah, the one who also gave us We Bought a Zoo and Aloha.)
The 10-show series Roadies debuts June 26 on Showtime, and the trailers look promising. The cast, featuring Luke Wilson, looks intriguing. There’s definitely a heavy Almost Famous vibe going on here. We’re paying attention, Cam. …
Now that we have taken our spelling and math lessons the past two days on Lost and Found, '80s students now get rewarded with some class time for some book reading. While it might be a little dusty, there is one book worth perusing and that is the Book Of Love and their dance hit Boy.
Formed in Philadelphia, Book of Love adopted their band name from the '50s hit Book Of Love by the black doo-wop group, the Monotones. Many Book Of Love songs had themes about gender and sexual orientation. The three woman-one man synth group never claimed a Top 40 pop hit, but they did have many dance chart hits including their Top 10 debut single Boy.
With a penchant for chimes and tubular bells, the video for Boy features the stylish group laying down the grooves while the lyrics tackle gender issues that are prevalent today with lines like "I want to be where the boys are, but I'm not allowed... it's not my fault I'm not a boy." In 2001, a remix of Boy was released and reached No. 1 on the U.S. Dance Charts.
Yesterday it was all about spelling, but we are all about balance on Lost and Found so today we tackle arithmetic and it all adds up to a feature on New Musik and Living By Numbers.
Riding the synth sound of England in the early '80s, the London band New Musik released their debut and had several U.K. hits, but none was bigger than Living By Numbers, which reached No. 13 across the pond. The quirky electronic sound of Living By Numbers made it a no-brainer to be used by Casio as background music for a commercial for their new digital calculators.
Echoing the sentiments of Bob Seger's Feel Like A Number, Living By Numbers forecasts the day when "they don't want your name, just your number." The next two albums for New Musik failed to produce any hits and the band broke up in 1982. Lead singer Tony Mansfield turned to producing with immediate success when he helmed Naked Eyes' debut album Burning Bridges that featured the monster hits Always Something There To Remind Me and Promises, Promises.
It's spelling bee time again and today the Scripps Spelling Bee contest in National Harbor, Maryland begins their onstage competition that seems to capture the attention of us common spellers. The ever helpful '80s had some helpful hints back in the day to today's Spelling Bee contestants as evidenced by EBN-OZN and their fun rule song AIEOU Sometimes Y.
In 1983, the New York synth duo of Ned "EBN "Liben (pronounced e-B en, rhymes with Liben) and Robert "OZN" Rosen (pronounced Oz-En, rhymes with Rosen) made their contribution to pop music and MTV with AIEOU Sometimes Y. The song is regarded to have been historic in that it was perhaps the first U.S. single to be recorded entirely on a computer and is also one of the earliest uses of sampling. While it missed the pop charts, it was a Top 20 hit on the Billboard Dance Charts. …
How can one of the most panned action movies of the ‘80s be a box office king? Don’t ask me. Ask Marion “Cobra” Cobretti.
Cobra starred Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the screenplay that was based loosely on a novel by Paula Gosling called Fair Game. Released May 23, 1986, Cobra is the movie that Stallone wanted to make when he was slated to play the title role in Beverly Hills Cop, before it thankfully became a comedy. Humor’s not the only thing Cobra is missing.
Clever dialog, an interesting plot and a reason to exist are also MIA in Cobra, a film that clearly earns its 13 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie was nominated for SIX Razzie Awards, pretty much dominating all the main categories. Even Roger Ebert had the good sense not to bother reviewing this disaster.
And despite all that, Cobra was a box-office champ. It finished top at the box office on its opening weekend and went on to earn more than $160 million. Perhaps there’s a Rocky-sized lesson to be learned here? You don’t need to be the best to beat the best.
TOP 5 MEMORABLE LINES FROM COBRA:
5. “All right, just relax, Amigo. You wanna talk - we'll talk. I'm a sucker for great conversation.”
4. “This is where the law stops and I start - sucker!”
In our busy lives, it seems we are one step behind. Yesterday on Lost and Found we were one step ahead, but today we go one step further and go One Step Beyond with Madness.
While Madness only gains airplay on radio these days with Our House, those in-the-know remember many more great songs and videos from the nutty band from England. Before Our House, many Americans recall seeing One Step Beyond as their first Madness video. While technically a 1979 release, One Step Beyond is grandfathered into the '80s as it took MTV in 1981 to introduce the nearly instrumental ska song to America.
While we are used to seeing Suggs mug the screen as the lead singer in most Madness videos, the featured voice in One Step Beyond is Chas Smash, who was not even an official member of Madness when the video for One Step Beyond was filmed. Besides being their first video, the song was a hit all over Europe including France where it topped the charts. One Step Beyond is a remake with the original version dating back to 1967 by Jamaican reggae artist Prince Buster. Smash would officially join Madness in 1980 and remained in the band until 2014.
Covering songs that were released 30-35 years might on the surface seem a little tardy, but with so many forgotten songs, it's great to learn about "new" '80s songs in 2016. While many see '80s music as the past - for many of us, the music is still being discovered and we are One Step Ahead.
Split Enz will always be remembered for I Got You and as the springboard for Crowded House, but the New Zealand group had numerous hits Down Under including One Step Ahead from 1981 that was a Top 5 hit. In the U.S., One Step Ahead only made it to No. 104. The single was also notable in that it was one of the first singles released on a laser-etched vinyl and was also one of the songs played on MTV's first 24 hours.
It's probably safe to say downtown Clearwater has rarely if ever seen the likes of a band like The Tubes, who play the Capitol Theatre on June 3.
Sure, The Tubes enjoyed mainstream success in the early '80s thanks to MTV-friendly hits She's A Beauty and Talk To Ya Later, but those tunes are just a small part of the band's far more satirical repertoire. Frontman Fee Waybill and cast have acquired a cult following for an outrageous stage show that was originally crafted back in the mid '70s by Kenny Ortega, best known for his work with the High School Musical franchise.
What will Clearwater see June 3? Probably close to a dozen crazy costume changes - some possibly family unfriendly - by Waybill, including one into his infamous character "Quay Lude," upon which he'll launch into the signature "hit" White Punks on Dope. And let's just say if the band plays another tour favorite, Mondo Bondage, that costume can't be adequately described in a family newspaper or blog.
Stuck in the '80s caught up to Waybill on the phone from his home in Venice Beach, Calif., where he also maintains a day job managing a million square feet of commercial real estate. It's a job Waybill says allows him to make the occasional roadtrip to play gigs (and pays for his hobby of owning and riding polo ponies.) Here are some highlights from the conversation.
I've heard this is the first show The Tubes have played in Tampa Bay. Can that be true?
Waybill: "Maybe. If we ever played Tampa Bay it would have been in the '80s when we had those big tours. Is there something should I know specifically about Clearwater ahead of time?"
Ummm, it's the spritual headquarters of Scientology...
"Oh, I didn't know that! Really? Wow! Well, thanks for telling me. I'm going to have to work up some Tom Cruise jokes."
Because I'm in my late 40s, my first memory of The Tubes is from MTV - the videos for Talk to You Later and She's a Beauty.
"I was never a fan (of MTV). It was just spending a lot of money for a video that wasn't anything like we planned. They wanted to censor everything we did. The video for Talk to Ya Later wasn't even supposed to be a standalone video. It was part of a longer home video that had a bunch of other songs on it, but they didn't want to play those because they were too weird."
You've had a 35-year friendship with Richard Marx, whose played the Capitol Theatre a handful of times in recent years. I heard a rumor that you wrote a big power ballad for Richard's Repeat Offender album that got bumped off in the 11th hour because Richard penned Right Here Waiting, which became a No. 1 hit for him.
"I tell you it is true! What was it called? I can't remember. Wait. It was called Stand or Fall. Richard wrote Right Here Waiting, but he didn't think it was a hit. I wasn't a writer on it, but when he played it for me, I thought 'Oh, @$*&!' There goes Stand or Fall."
Here's an odd question a friend wanted me to ask you: "If this were the year 2000 and you were in a room with Jennifer Aniston and Meg Ryan, who would you immediately hit on?"
"You heard this too?!? Where did you hear this from?"
From Richard Marx.
"Richard!! ... We were sitting in this Italian restaurant, and Richard had just done the song for a movie Meg was in. I've always just loved Jen Aniston. Richard asked if I wanted to meet Meg Ryan, but I really wanted to meet Jen Aniston. She had a diamond ring on her finger - she was engaged to Brad Pitt. But Jen jumped up said 'Fee!' I'll never forget it. Yeah, she's a sweetheart." …
As we learned this week, '80s artists were not afraid to tackle the tough subjects of war and PTSD among its soldiers. However, '80s artists were also equally optimistic and encouraging on overcoming the brutality of war with songs of hope like You're The Voice by John Farnham.
John Farnham joined the Little River Band as its new lead singer in the early '80s after Glenn Shorrock left the band in 1982. Farnham already had an established solo career before he became the vocalist on LRB hits such as The Other Guy and We Two. Farnham left LRB in 1985 and enjoyed his greatest success in 1986 when You're The Voice became a monster hit in Australia. Besides hitting No. 1, it's accompanying album Whispering Jack was No. 1 on the Australian album charts for 25 weeks and is the best selling album of all time in that country.
While there is mostly respect for the military in America, there are those who don't always trust the motives of all our military actions and that sentiment is represented by The Skids and their post punk hit Working For The Yankee Dollar.
Working For The Yankee Dollar covers the cynical side of war as The Skids tackle Vietnam in verse one and WW II in verse two about how the young die, companies profit and the motives of war are questioned. The Skids hailed from Scotland and if their sound sounds a little "Big Countryish" it is no coincidence as Stuart Adamson, who sports a red headband in the video, was the guitar player for The Skids before quitting at the end of 1980 to form and lead Big Country.
Working For The Yankee Dollar was one of five Top 40 hits for The Skids in the U.K. reaching No. 20 on the charts . The song was originally released in late 1979, but the record company pulled its album Days Of Europa from stores when the noticed its album art was based on an '30s Olympic poster that celebrated Aryan Germans. Days of Europa was officially rereleased in 1980 with a benign new cover. …
Just a day ago, I was gushing about Fox's TV remake of Lethal Weapon. (Okay, not "gushing" but I was tolerant, which is a start.) Today, the gush turns to dry heaves with our first look at Fox's remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
First question: Why? Seriously. WHY? Cult films are cult films because they swim against the mainstream and reverse the way the artform is viewed. Does that sound like something Fox does well? Anywhere, here it is:
The remake by Fox, set for release sometime this fall, stars Tim Curry as "The Criminologist," Reeve Carney as Riff-Raff and Laverne Cox as Frank-N-Furter. (Full cast here.) Oh, and Adam Lambert takes on Meatloaf's role as Eddie. Kenny Ortega, your fingerprints are obviously all over this as well.
Hey Hollywood, how about this? Let's NOT do the time warp again. Somewhere, in a darkened midnight showing of the original 1975 movie in a grimy movie theater, a couple dozen goths are ruining their mascara.
The hallmark of a great songwriter is a person who can create a vivid story without ever having experienced it. That is why we love Billy Joel, because even though he never served in the Vietnam War, he wrote perhaps the most poignant song about the men who fought it with Goodnight Saigon.
It's in the details that Joel nails Goodnight Saigon. On the music side, the sounds of crickets and helicopter rotors set the stage for delicate piano and then a thunderous chorus. Always the wordsmith, Joel paints the scene of Vietnam with stories of fear, bonding and survival in the harsh jungle with verses like "they gave us Playboy, they gave us Bob Hope. We dug in deep and shot on sight."
Like most kids growing up in the '80s, I never knew about Australia's involvement in the Vietnam until much later in life, but our friends Down Under definitely carried their share of the load and have the scars to prove it as heard in songs like I Was Only 19 by Redgum.
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War didn't hit home for me until I read Rick Springfield's harrowing account of his Vietnam experience in his 2010 autobiography Late, Late At Night that he discussed with Steve Spears in SIT80's Podcast #216. In the podcast, even after over 40 years, Springfield had difficulty talking about his encounter in which he is positive he had to take his opposition's life.
In 1983, two years before Paul Hardcastle had a worldwide hit 19, the Australian folk group Redgum had a number one hit in their home country with I Was Only 19. Redgum's lead singer John Schumann was inspired to write the song after the stories told to him by his brother-in-law Mick Storen and a man named Frankie Hunt. The most poignant line of the song is when it is revealed that "Frankie kicked a mine the day that man kicked the moon. God help me, he was going home in June."
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension is returning as a TV series … to be directed by Kevin Smith?!? I’m not sure what part of the sentence is more weird.
“Hey, hey, hey, hey-now. Don't be mean; we don't have to be mean, cuz, remember, no matter where you go, there you are.”
Aw, shut up, Buckaroo. This news item comes straight from Gizmodo.com, which says Kevin Smith - the director of Mall Rats, Chasing Amy and the Clerks franchise - has announced on his podcast that he wants to tackle Buckaroo Banzai as a TV series.
The 1984 movie, starring Peter Weller as the scientist/rock star title character, was pretty much a flop, though it’s gained status as a cult classic. Smith says he’d like Weller and other co-stars to return, though as villains instead of heroes this time.
I’d place this project’s likelihood right up there with Top Gun 2.
In the meantime, the White House wants to know is everything ok with the alien space craft from Planet 10 or should we just go ahead and destroy Russia?
Relive the '80s music, movies and culture with Tampa Bay Times correspondent Steve Spears. A teen during the greatest decade ever, Steve is obsessed with everything from Duran Duran to Journey, John Hughes to John Cusack, and parachute pants to big hair.