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Concert review: The English Beat plays hit-filled 18-song set

Here at Stuck in the '80s, we covet concert reviews from our vast network of dedicated correspondents. Today, we get a review of the English Beat from SoCal correspondent Drew Friedman on a recent California tour stop.

The biggest fear I think most of us have when going to see a favorite band from the '80s is that they just won't hold up. I know more than once a beloved band from our era has, when revisited, been a bit of a let down. That is definitely NOT the case with the English Beat, who are touring across the southwest right now.

Led by original member Dave Wakeling, the band rocks for about an hour and a half and cuts across almost all of their hits in an 18-song set. While Wakeling may not be able to hit some of the highest of the high notes (like you remember from I Confess), he is backed by a great band and the fantastic Matt Morrish on sax. The band tours enough that they are incredibly tight, but still have the free spirit of a house band. …

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Turns out pneumonia nearly claimed two '80s legends

As we start counting our blessings this Thanksgiving, let's remember our fearless leader Steve Spears. Just as he has risen from the ashes from his bout with pneumonia, we give thanks for his returned health with a similar recovery story from Big Audio Dynamite and today's song Contact.

When Mick Jones left The Clash in 1984 to start the group Big Audio Dynamite (BAD) many lamented the departure of angry guitars to a hip hop-influenced sound. It took until their sixth album in 1991 until Big Audio Dynamite reached the U.S. Top 40 when Rush made it to No. 32 in America and No. 1 in the UK.

In 1989 BAD released the album Megatop Phoenix, which derived its name from Jones' Spearsonian battle with pneumonia and return while recording the album. The album's highest charting single Contact (No. 87 on the UK charts) samples The Who song I Can't Explain, which appears briefly before the three minute mark  A BAD trademark is using audio samples from other songs and movies and just like Contact, their biggest hit Rush featured a Who song as well with Baba O'Riley.

 

 

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Band Aid 30 years later: 3 things you didn't know about 'Do They Know It's Christmas'

On Nov. 25, 1984, Bob Geldof and Midge Ure gathered Britain's biggest pop stars to record a record that would open up wallets and send much needed relief funds to ease the famine in Ethiopia. The song - Do They Know It's Christmas - and the Live Aid concert that followed would become milestones in '80s pop culture lore.

Today, 30 years later, the song endures with a mystique that remains truly unique and unequaled in the music world. Rolling Stone magazine honors the song with an amazing piece on "The Making of Band Aid," penned by the great Lori Majewski (whose new book Mad World is a must-read!) Here are three things we learned from her article that we honestly didn't know.

1. IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A DUET:
Well, not really. But Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon thought it was. When approached to particular, Le Bon thought the song was to be a duet with him and Sting. "I thought I was going to get half the song. I was a bit pissed off, because when I walked into [Sarm Studios] they're already recording somebody else singing one of my lines!" the frontman told Rolling Stone.

2. BONO DIDN'T LIKE HIS LINE:
It's possibly the most infamous line in the song -- "Tonight thank God it's them instead of you!" But the U2 singer wasn't happy. Eventually Geldof persuaded Bono that the line was meant to relay how lucky we are that we don't have to deal with Africa's catastrophic problems.

3. RIVALS UNITED:
Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet were considered fierce rivals in Britain's music scene in the early '80s, both duking it out to be the kings of the New Romantic movement. But the night before the recording, they partied together in Germany and arrived back together for the event.

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Johnny Lydon: It's better to burn out than write a love song

"This is the story of Johnny Rotten. It's better to burn out than fade away." - Neil Young from Hey, Hey, My, My (Into the Black), It was in 1978 that "Johnny Rotten" left the Sex Pistols , returned to being Johnny Lydon and started the band Public Image Ltd. (PIL) that scored their biggest UK hit with This Is Not A Love Song.

This Is Not A Love Song was Lydon's poke at bands going commercial and ironically became PIL's highest charting single in the UK when it peaked at No. 5 in 1983. Over the years, Lydon has dismissed accusations of selling out even though he has done British reality shows and in 2008 filmed a series of English butter commercials that increased sales for Country Life Butter by 75%. 

Like most PIL videos, This Is Not A Love Song focuses on Lydon being rebellious and extreme close-ups with a few too many glimpses of his "rotten" teeth. While most forget about Young's Johnny Rotten line that precedes "it's better to burn out than fade away," the lyric has been borrowed in songs like Def Leppard's Rock of Ages, movies like Highlander and the suicide letter of Kurt Cobain. …

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The Church announces 2015 tour dates for North America

Australia's The Church has announced 2015 tour dates for North America in support of their Further/Deeper album. Alas, no Florida dates are listed.

THE CHURCH 2015 NORTH AMERICA TOUR DATES:

2/21/2015: Vancouver, BC (Rio Theater)
2/23/2015: Seattle, WA (Triple Door)
2/24/2015: Seattle, WA (Triple Door)
2/26/2015: San Francisco, CA (The Chapel/Noise Pop Festival)
2/27/2015: Los Angeles, CA (El Rey Theatre)
2/28/2015: San Diego, CA (The Casbah)
3/2/2015: Aspen, CO (Belly Up Tavern)
3/3/2015: Denver, CO (Gothic Theater)
3/5/2015: Minneapolis, MN (Cedar Cultural Center)
3/6/2015: Chicago, IL (Double Door)
3/7/2015: Cleveland, OH (The Grog Shop)
3/9/2015: Washington, DC (9:30 Club)
3/10/2015: Philadelphia, PA (World Cafe Live)
3/12/2015: Boston, MA (The Sinclair)
3/13/2015: New York, NY (Bowery Ballroom)
3/14/2015: Brooklyn, NY (Rough Trade)
3/15/2015: Raleigh, NC (Cat’s Cradle)
3/17/2015: Atlanta, GA (Terminal West)
3/18-21/2015: Austin, TX (SXSW)

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Some bands got their 15 minutes of fame. This one had Eight Seconds

For many of us, our first real kiss (posters and pillows do not count!) took place in the ‘80s, so today with celebrate our first awkward lip locking with the forgotten Canadian classic Kiss You (When It's Dangerous).

While May of 1980 holds significance for my first kiss, the Canadian band Eight Seconds remembers January of 1987 when they debuted on the U.S. charts with Kiss You (When It's Dangerous) that peaked at No. 72 on the singles chart and No. 12 on the Canadian charts. The video has a "Snow White" theme as the band tries to wake up a winter princess with true love's kiss.   

Eight Seconds suffered the fate of many ‘80s bands when record company troubles shelved their follow up album until three years later and by that time the public had moved on.

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Watch the 'modern' trailer for '80s sci-fi classic 'The Last Starfighter'

It's been 30 years since '80s fans first declared allegiance to the Star League in order to protect the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. But a "modern" trailer has been released anyway on for 1984's The Last Starfighter. And it's AMAZE-BALLS!

Wow. Where's my DVD? This is how I want to spend every Friday. And just when you think I've quoted the movie enough ...

TOP 5 QUESTION QUOTES FROM THE LAST STARFIGHTER

5. "Did Chris Columbus stay home? Nooooo. What if the Wright Brothers thought that only birds should fly? And did Galoka think that the Ulus were too ugly to save?"

4. "Me, die? And miss all the excitement?"

3. "There's no fleet? No Starfighters, no plan? One ship, you, me, and that's it? "

2. "Up to your old 'Excalibur' tricks again, eh, Centauri? Did it ever occur to you that it is against the law to recruit from worlds outside the Star League?"

1. "Oh, save the whales, but not the universe, huh?"

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Can you name Don Henley's first solo hit? Don't air the 'Dirty Laundry'

I'll be the first to admit that even as a parent, I don't understand the details of education programs like Common Core and No Child Left Behind, but if you can read this blog post, then apparently you did something right in school and have proven Don Henley wrong that Johnny Can't Read.

It's hard to believe, but Johnny Can't Read was the first solo single by Don Henley in 1982. The song with the beach party sound about the failing US education system only reached No. 42 on the charts. Henley righted the ship with his second release, Dirty Laundry that would become a Top 10 hit and ‘80s staple and catapult Henley to become the most successful solo artist of all The Eagles.

The video portrays high school students as slaves to video including a little Pac Man. The song gets extra props for being the first song to mention "Rubik's Cube" in the lyrics. As we wrap up Eagles Week we apologize to omitting Glen Frey, but your videos were few and your songs rather bland. It is also fitting that the faint last line in Johnny Can't Read is "there is a new kid in town" - an homage to Henley's Eagle past. 

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Oscar-winning director Mike Nichols dies at age 83

Mike Nichols, the legendary director who first dazzled an earlier generation with 1967's The Graduate, has passed away at age 83, Deadline.com reports. The cause of death hasn't been released. The news was announced Thursday morning.

Mr. Nichols won an Academy Award for directing Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate and was one of the few artists to ever win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony during one career.

In the '80s, he was nominated for Oscars for directing Silkwood (1983) and Working Girl (1988). During the decade, he also directed Heartburn, Biloxi Blues and Gilda Live. Beyond the '80s, he helmed Primary Colors, The Birdcage and Charlie Wilson's War, his last film as a director.

"He conspires with you to get your best," the late Richard Burton said of Mr. Nichols after working with him in Barefoot in the Park. "He’d make me throw away a line where I’d have hit it hard. I’ve seen the film with an audience and he’s right every time. I didn’t think I could learn anything about comedy - I’d done all of Shakespeare’s. But from him I learned."

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Does Joe Walsh still like 'Space Age Whiz Kids?'

As Eagles Week continues, let us ‘80s video whiz kids wish a Happy 67th birthday today to Pinball Wizard era Joe Walsh.

When original guitarist Bernie Leaden quit in 1975, Joe Walsh became the first non-original member of The Eagles. The affable Walsh had four Top 40 hits in his career including the ‘70s classic Life's Been Good and his last single to chart was Space Age Whiz Kids in 1983.

The song reached No. 52 on the singles chart but the video is classic as Walsh jumps from the pinball era to the video game era with his mocking of the stereotypical robotic kids who played games featured in the video like Donkey Kong and Pac Man. By the end of the song, the affable Walsh makes good with our generation by declaring I Like Space Age Whiz Kids.  

Walsh may not be as nuts as he appeared during the ‘70s and ‘80s, but he sure looks like he's having fun as he is on tour with The History of the Eagles and who knows if he'll run again for public office in 2016?

 

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Journey, Steve Miller Band headed to Florida and Carnival cruise ships in March 2015

It's crazy how much Journey is touring these days. But with no new album seemingly coming anytime soon, Neal Schon and the boys don't seem to mind the highway run into the midnight sun. The group, which has been touring with the Steve Miller Band, has added some dates in the Southeast for March 2015, including three dates in Florida.

For Tampa Bay fans, that means a Saturday night show on March 14 at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre.

For fans of cruises, Journey is performing on two Carnival cruise ships a couple of days after their Tampa gig. According to Pollstar, they're playing the Carnival Liberty and Carnival Splendor -- apparently when each ship is docked in St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. Here's more information on those sailings.

Here are the new tour dates.

Thu 03/05/15: Austin, TX, Austin360 Amphitheater
Wed 03/11/15: Columbia, SC, Colonial Life Arena
Thu 03/12/15: Jacksonville, FL, Jacksonville Veterans Mem. Arena
Sat 03/14/15: Tampa, FL, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre
Sun 03/15/15: West Palm Beach, FL, Flcruzan Amphitheather

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Another Eagle scores a solo hit in the '80s with 'Playin' It Cool'

With their classic Hotel California, The Eagles were considered the ultimate California band, but the only actual member to grow up in California was bassist Timothy B. Schmit who always plays it California cool.

When Randy Meisner poured a drink on Glenn Frey and quit the band in 1977, The Eagles hired studio ace Schmit as their new bassist. In an odd coincidence, Schmit replaced Meisner earlier in the ‘70s as a member of Poco. His Eagle highlight came when he sang lead on the Top 10 1980 hit I Can't Tell You Why. Schmit's solo career peak was in 1987 when he hit the Top 40 with Boys Night Out, however as far as videos go, I prefer his Playin' It Cool that hit No. 101 in 1984.

The video for Playin' It Cool is good ‘80s fun with hand claps, too-old-to-be-teenagers actors as high school students goofing around in the classroom instead of learning trivial facts. If you want a good trivial fact, it was in 1985 that Schmit, while on tour with Jimmy Buffet, coined the name "Parrotheads" as his nickname for legions of Hawaiian-shirt and parrot hat dressed fans that would always show up for Buffet shows. …

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Ready to join us on The '80s Cruise? Here are the official details

Eighties fans, you've been waiting patiently for more news on The '80s Cruise. Today, the cruise was officially announced on SiriusXM's Big '80s on 8 by former MTV veejay Alan Hunter. Here's the official press release on the trip. Stuck in the '80s will be on board as well. If you'd like to join us, email us at sit80s@gmail.com, but just so you know, we're not the booking agents. Booking information is below. Use the offer code "STUCK" to get more special offers.

Here's the news release:

The 80s Cruise (www.the80scruise.com) proudly announces that it will feature music presented by SiriusXM's ‘80s on 8 on its inaugural cruise from February 28-March 6, 2016.   The definitive curator of music, fashion, movies, games, pop culture and fun from the ‘80s era, SiriusXM's ‘80s on 8's influence will be an important addition to this lavish Caribbean cruise - the ultimate throwback travel experience of luxury and laughs.  SiriusXM's ‘80s on 8 will help guests on The 80s Cruise keep the party going long after the ship returns to dock, giving the first 1,000 guests who reserve cabins a 12- month subscription to SiriusXM Internet Radio.Full Story

See the ZZ Top video look made famous by ... an Eagle?!?

In 1975, The Eagles were progressing from a country-rock band to a more electric guitar sound and picked up Don Felder to join the flock of eagles. While The Eagles rocked, it wasn't until he went solo in the ‘80s that Felder traded up from Witchy Woman to Bad Girls.

Felder was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida, and in the 1966 Gainesville high school yearbook there is a picture of Felder sharing the page with another promising guitarist named Tom Petty. When Felder first joined The Eagles, one of the first songs he brought to the band was a guitar instrumental piece that Don Henley and Glenn Frey initially titled "Mexican Reggae." The lyrics would be changed and that song, Hotel California, would become one of the most popular rock songs of all time.

In 1981, Felder hooked up with sci-fi movie Heavy Metal to provide the excellent theme song Heavy Metal (Hitchin' A Ride) and the song just missed the Top 40, peaking at No. 43. An official video was never made for Heavy Metal, but thankfully Felder made his magnum opus video for Bad Girls.

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Video: Bono, Midge Ure are real stars in Band Aid 30 video remake

The remake of Do They Know It's Christmas was released this morning after a marathon weekend recording and producing session in London, and it's pretty good. I guarantee '80s fans will get chills when they see and hear U2's Bono reprise his famous line from the 1984 version -- only with a smart tweak of the lyrics. And there's a nice twist the final chorus as well.

Of course, I got chills seeing Midge Ure, who wrote and produced the original 1984 version, return to organize and produce this remake, the proceeds of which will to go fight the Ebola virus. (Click here to contribute and download the song).

Here are the tweaked lyrics to the 30th anniversary of Do They Know It's Christmas: …

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