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So you think you know the Pogues? Yeah, Yeah, Yeah...

With Thanksgiving over, Christmas music season is officially here. In the next month, Steve Spears will perhaps make his traditional post about his favorite '80s Christmas song - Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues. For many, our knowledge on The Pogues is limited to that song, so let's expand our horizons and hear more from The Pogues with their catch little ditty Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

The Pogues are best described as an punk-folk band from England with the focus centered on their lead singer Shane McGowan. Among McGowan's "assets" are his distinct drunkenly voice and the worst teeth in music. Those teeth are unfortunately on display for the poppy Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, a song that was a hit on the Modern Rock Tracks charts in 1989. The video for Yeah x 5 is an homage to the '60s going from the clean cut era to psychedelica.  


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'80s holiday gift idea: Behold the awesome Cassette Tape Mood Light

Looking for a holiday present for the ‘80s fan in your life but running out of ideas? How about a light that honors the mix tapes of our misspent youth?

Stacey Iden of Sarasota, Fla., has been making her “Cassette Tape Mood Light” and other retro-themed gifts since 2011. The 38-year-old operates the “Break the Record” shop on

The mix tape light is 4 inches by 4 inches by 8.5 inches tall and is built from 12 repurposed blank cassette tapes. The light kicks into action with 16 color-changing LEDs shining up from the bottom and reflecting off of the CD on top. There are both battery-powered and plug-in varieties. Prices start at $29. (There's also a 25 percent off sale for Cyber Monday. Just use the code CYBERMONDAY25 at checkout.)

I caught up with Stacey to talk over the inspiration and reaction to her retro light.

Steve: This is so cool! Where did the idea of the Mixtape Light come from?

Stacey: It came after a terrible experience selling and shipping a clock. A woman ordered a record clock for her baby's retro-themed nursery. I had just started selling on Etsy so I was not very experienced with shipping, especially a clock with delicate parts. Needless to say, she received the clock in many pieces and was not happy. So I made her a new one and I also wanted to send her another item because I felt so bad. Since she said the baby's bedding set was a design of records and cassette tapes, I immediately knew I had to make something out of cassette tapes. And with two babies of my own, I knew right away that every baby's room needs a night light. So I rummaged through my closet for my old cassette tapes from the ‘90s.

Are you a "child of the '80s?" 

I am definitely a child of the 80s. Music videos still mesmerize me. Not sure if it's my love of music, cinematography, or my ADD. A great tune, set to a mini-movie, and finished in around 3 minutes or less. There's just nothing better.

Did you make mix tapes back in the good ol' days?

Oh yes, I made mix tapes. Lots of mix tapes! And I passed them on to my sister who is 10 years younger, so her taste in music is stellar.

So considering cassettes are about as rare as dinosaurs today, where do you get your supply of tapes? 

I found a few different media companies in the country that still sell cassette tapes.  Any color, any number of minutes long, all different sound qualities, and even screwless for sending to prisons. I guess those little tiny screws could be used as a weapon inside a prison? I don’t know. The tapes I use are real ones, but I usually get the ones with ZERO minutes of tape loaded. Just saves time for my supplier. I do however sell some lights made with actual vintage tapes. Those all come from yard sales, Goodwill, and eBay when I can find them.

What other retro or nostalgia type items do you sell? 

I also sell record clocks, record mail holders that mount on the wall, record bowls, guitar pick earrings, and a few other jewelry items. The best seller so far is the battery-operated multi-color mixtape light. It's definitely a huge hit for parties and events.

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Concert review: T'Pau, Go West and Nik Kershaw

The biggest disadvantage to running Stuck in the ‘80s out of Florida is that we miss out on all the great concerts that happen half a world away in places like England, where so much of the ‘80s sound was born. But thankfully we have correspondents sprinkled all over the globe, including Peter Ryan of Montreal who happened to find himself in Guildford just outside London last week for a concert by T'Pau, Go West and Nik Kershaw. Here’s his review. 

Getting out of London at rush hour is never a fun endeavor, but the show that T'Pau, Nike Kershaw and Go West put on in Guildford Tuesday night made every second on the train worth it. The beautiful GLIVE hall in Guildford was packed with enthusiastic members of the ‘80s nation, and the dynamic trio that produced some of the most memorable sounds of our favorite decade exceeded all expectations, proving that classic performers only get better with age.

Carol Decker from T'Pau kicked off the show with a bang, channeling the racy Sex Talk then moving into two of her newer tunes from her latest album, and regaling Guildford with hilarious stories of her time touring with Nik Kershaw 30 years ago as his opening act. Carol ended her set with the classic T'Pau anthems Heart and Soul and China in Your Hand, earning her a well-deserved standing ovation and more than a few tears of nostalgia.

Nik Kershaw and Go West took to the stage together, delighting the crowd with a fantastic cover of Tears for Fears classic Everybody Wants to Rule the World. The two acts then alternated turns on the stage for the rest of the first set, belting out favorites including Call Me, Faithful, Don Quixote (which Kershaw dedicated to his wife), and finished the first half with an amazing rendition of I Am The One and Only made famous by Chesney Hawkes (despite being written by Nik Kershaw).

The second act proved to be both creative and energetic, with Go West and Nik Kershaw teaming up for a rare ‘90s song, in the form of a very listenable cover of Seal's Crazy, after which both provided the audience with a whole series of performances, bringing the crowd to its feet for the rest of the show, with the very danceable classics We Close our Eyes and Wouldn't It Be Good (which both acts performed as duos). Following the epic Pretty Woman anthem King of Wishful Thinking and Kershaw's Won't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, the show closed with a quick encore, leaving the audience wanting more, which was the perfect capstone to an amazing night of '80s greatness.

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Best times in Modern Romance's life? Probably 1982 when this song was a hit

During this Thanksgiving week as we reflect on our lives we probably will acknowledge we have it pretty good now. Which raises this question, "So is the best times of our lives now or when we were young in the '80s?" For Modern Romance the Best Years Of Our Life was definitely in the '80s.

I am always amazed when I learn that a song I've heard a hundred times before is an '80s song and I didn't know it. For those who have kids and own the 2001 movie Shrek will no doubt recognize Best Years Of Our Life. The version performed in the film is from the Baha Man (Who Let The Dogs Out), but did you know that the Shrek cover is originally by an English group named Modern Romance?

Modern Romance started hitting the U.K. charts at the beginning of the '80s and in 1982 they scored their biggest hit with Best Years Of Our Life that hit No. 4 on the U.K. charts and landed an appearance on the Top Of The Pops. Modern Romance would have a few more hits before breaking up in 1985.

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One 'Steve' rejoins Journey as band announces 2016 tour

Journey reunion fans, you've been rewarded for your patience: Steve is back.

Sadly, not Steve Perry, but drummer Steve Smith has rejoined the band. Smith replaces Deen Castronovo, who was fired on Aug. 10 after legal and substance abuse problems.

"I was terminated," Castronovo told Ultimate Classic Rock. "They haven’t released an official announcement but, yeah, I was fired. I was in treatment at the time and I’m grateful that I was in treatment to be able to process that, because that was heartbreaking. But then again, you know, Journey has a stellar legacy and I’ve tarnished that, and they did the right thing. They did what they needed to do. Not because they were punishing me, because it wasn’t about punishing me or wrecking my life. They didn’t do anything of the sort. They did this because they loved me and they wanted to see me alive."

Likewise, no statement from Journey has come about Steve Smith's return, but the drummer now appears on the official band publicity shots. Smith was the band's drummer from the '70s through the '90s during the band's peak of success.

Journey has also announced a 2015 "San Francisco-themed" tour featuring the Doobie Brothers and Dave Mason. Here are the tour dates.


5/12 — Irvine, Calif. — Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre
5/14 — Phoenix, Ariz. — Ak-Chin Pavilion
5/15 — Albuquerque, N.M. — Isleta Amphitheater
5/18 — Austin, Texas — Austin360 Amphitheater
5/20 — Dallas, Texas — Gexa Energy Pavilion
5/21 — Woodlands, Texas — The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
5/23 — Wichita, Kan. — INTRUST Bank Arena
5/25 — Memphis, Tenn. — FedEx Forum
5/27 — Indianapolis, Ind. — Indianapolis Motor Speedway
5/28 — Kansas City, Kan. — Sprint Center
5/31 — Rogers, Ark. — Walmart AMP
6/02 — Birmingham, Ala. — Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
6/04 — Charlotte, N.C. — PNC Music Pavilion
6/05 — Raleigh, N.C. — Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
6/08 — Atlanta, Ga. — Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
6/10 — Tampa, Fla. — MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amp.
6/11 — West Palm Beach, Fla. — Perfect Vodka Amphitheatre
6/22 — Bangor, Maine — Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion
6/24 — Bethel, N.Y. — Bethel Woods Center for the Arts
6/25 — Holmdel, N.J. — PNC Banks Art Center
6/27 — Wantagh, N.Y. — Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
6/29 — Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio — Blossom Music Center
7/01 — Virginia Beach, Va. — Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach
7/02 — Bristow, Va. — Jiffy Lube Live
7/05 — Saratoga Springs, N.Y. — Saratoga Performing Arts Center
7/07 — Toronto, Ontario — Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
7/09 — Darien, N.Y. — Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
7/10 — Mansfield, Mass. — Xfinity Center
7/13 — Syracuse, N.Y. — Lakeview Amphitheater
7/15 — Camden, N.J. — BB&T Pavilion
7/16 — Burgettstown, Penn. — First Niagara Pavilion
7/27 — Nashville, Tenn. — Ascend Amphitheater
7/29 — Cincinnati, Ohio — Riverbend Music Center
7/30 — Maryland Heights, Miss. — Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
8/02 — Grand Rapids, Mich. — Van Andel Arena
8/04 — Clarkston, Mich. — DTE Energy Music Theatre
8/06 — Omaha, Neb. — CenturyLink Center
8/07 — Des Moines, Iowa — Wells Fargo Arena
8/09 — St. Paul, Minn. — Xcel Energy Center
8/11 — Sioux Falls, S.D. — Denny Sanford PREMIER Center
8/13 — Tinley Park, Ill. — Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
8/16 — Oklahoma City, Okla. — Chesapeake Energy Arena
8/17 — Little Rock, Ark. — Verizon Arena
8/20 — Denver, Colo. — Pepsi Center
8/21 — West Valley City, Utah — USANA Amphitheatre
8/23 — Auburn, Wash. — White River Amphitheatre
8/25 — Ridgefield, Wash. — Sunlight Supply Amphitheater
8/27 — Las Vegas, Nev. — Mandalay Bay Events Center
8/28 — Fresno, Calif. — Save Mart Center
8/30 — Chula Vista, Calif. — Sleep Train Amphitheatre …

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How well do you know the '80s Cruise artists? Take this interactive quiz!

The inaugural '80s Cruise sets sail in early 2016, but are you ready for seven nights onboard the Holland America Eurodam with 10 amazing artists from the '80s? Here's a quick quiz to see how well you know their music. And don't forget their BOGO sale on cabins that runs through Nov. 30!

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Not ready with Thanksgiving plans? Sugarhill Gang says 'Jump on it! Jump on it!'

Thanksgiving is not only the time when we reflect on our blessings, but remember the heritage of our of country's forefathers and hearken back to the first Thanksgiving between the Pilgrims and the Native Americans. Sometimes our recollections about the Indians can be foggy, but wonderfully entertaining like the video for the Sugarhill Gang and their cover of Apache.

The Sugarhill Gang are considered by many to be forefathers themselves - of rap music that is. Their only Top 40 hit, Rapper's Delight, is in the Rock N Roll Hall Of Fame and in NPR's Top 100 songs as its claim to history is being the first rap record to hit the Top 40 when it peaked at No. 36 at the beginning of 1980. It has also aged well being one of the main scene-stealing scenes in The Wedding Singer. …

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The story of the Jackson Family, NFL and the disastrous Victory tour

Could a member of the musical royalty Jackson family that contains Michael, Jermaine and Janet have a lost song? All I have to say is Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming.

Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming is one of those great pop/dance songs that never gets played on radio anymore and we can blame it all on the suits. Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming is officially listed as a Jermaine Jackson song with co-singing credits to brother Michael Jackson.  Because Arista (Jermaine's label) and Epic (Michael's label) couldn't get together and hammer out a deal, Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming was not released as a single nor was a video made. Still, the song was so good it was played on most pop radio stations in 1984. Since Billboard ranked their charts solely on sales at the time, the record did not show up on the pop singles chart, but air play data showed it would have been equivalent to a Top 10 hit. In 1989, Robert Palmer remade the song and took it to No. 60 on the singles chart. …

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Mac McAnally deserves a little more than 'Minimum Love'

Who is Mac McAnally? A footnote in pop music chart history or perhaps more? In a couple of paragraphs we'll let you know about Mac and see if he gets your maximum or Minimum Love.

Alabama native McAnally hit the Top 40 in 1977 with a minor hit called It's A Crazy World and returned to the pop charts just once in the '80s with the song Minimum Love that just missed the Top 40 peaking at No. 41 in 1983. With a great bass line and sing-a-long chorus, perhaps Minimum Love  fell short because it had no promotional video. However, we do have a storyteller-type video that was made years later in which McAnally tells a humorous introduction about how he wrote Minimum Love.  Sounding a little like James Taylor, the video gives an acoustic version that is equally appealing. Here is a link if you want to hear the 1983 studio version that is very delicious. …

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Why didn't Melvin James stay? Alas, that's why we wrote about him here

There are many '80s artists that still stay current in the news, but alas most are forgotten. Where did they go? As for Melvin James, we ask him to come in, come out of the rain and ponder Why Won't You Stay?

When I stumbled upon the most excellent  Why Won't You Stay, all it took was hearing the chorus intro of "come In, come out of the rain" to remember  it instantly even though I probably haven't heard the song in over 25 years. Why Won't You Stay reached No. 17 on the Mainstream Rock Charts in 1987 and the video is your typical AOR performance with appearances by the mandatory pouty video vixen . News on James after 1987 is hard to find as after being released from MCA, James started a band called Planet Melvin that is based in Minnesota.  



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Styx sailing along just fine with current lineup, says our reviewer

It's always fun to hear when an '80s fan sees a "legacy act" like Styx in concert for the first time decades after the band stopped appearing on the Billboard charts. Gayle Weiswasser in Washington, D.C., filed this review of Styx's recent show in Bethesda, Maryland. Domo arigato, Gayle!

Styx is on a North American tour, playing smallish venues across the country. I caught them at a show in Bethesda, Maryland, where the band did a benefit at the Strathmore Music Center for an organization called CSAAC (Community Services For Autistic Adults and Children). Because it was a benefit show, they played a shorter set with fewer songs than the other shows on their current tour (according to

I'm not a Styx aficionado, and this was my first time seeing the band. The current lineup includes a few original members of the band: Tommy Shaw (guitarist/singer), James Young (guitarist), and Chuck Panozzo (bassist), who has struggled with health issues and only performed on two songs. In place of original singer Dennis DeYoung, Styx features classical piano player Lawrence Gowan on keyboards and lead vocals, who has been with the band since 1999. …

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Iceman is back! Val Kilmer says he'll join Top Gun 2

There's no script, director or production schedule yet, but Val Kilmer says he's agreed to reprise his role as "Ice Man" in Top Gun 2.

"I just got offered #‎topgun2 - not often you get to say 'yes' without reading the script," the actor announced on his Facebook page.

Sounds good to us. Kilmer can be my wingman anytime.

The original 1986 movie starred Tom Cruise and Kilmer as rival Navy pilots at the elite training school in Miramar, Calif. About the only character who can't return is Goose. Sorry, Anthony Edwards, but Goose is still gone. Great balls of fire!

Rumors about a sequel have swirled for years now with some having Cruise return to Miramar to take over the flight school. Cruise hasn't committed to the project yet, but has said he'd be interested in returning to play Maverick. In the meantime, we'll just survive on Kilmer's enthusiasm.

"This is a long way off so calm down," Kilmer wrote. "This has been talked about for a long long time and being offered a role is very different from doing a role. I jumped the gun with my post. I jumped the topgun... An innocent mistake. It was just such a wonderful phone call with my agent." …

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What is 'Real Men' about? Joe Jackson leaves that up to you

While I do spend the majority of my time listening to '80s music, I do try to stay somewhat current on new album releases by '80s artists. One of the better ones I've heard this year is Joe Jackson's Fast Forward that was released just last month.  The new material is reminiscent of his early '80s work on his Night and Day LP and has made me nostalgic for its lost songs like Real Men.

A chameleon of music styles, Jackson's best-selling album came in 1982 when his homage to New York City, Night and Day, produced several Top 40 hits like the classic Steppin' Out and Breaking Us In Two. The third single was Real Men and with its subject matter about gender definition and gay culture it's not a surprise that it did not chart in the U.S.; however it was a Top 10 hit in Australia. …

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Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo play Clearwater's Capitol Theatre on Feb. 15

Need a great Valentine's Day present? Try to get tickets to Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo on Feb. 15 at Clearwater's Capitol Theater. This intimate venue is the perfect spot for the husband-and-wife team to rip through all their classic tunes.

Though Benatar got all the album covers and press in the '80s, it was hubby Neil who wrote, produced and arranged the songs for her (as well as other '80s icons including Rick Springfield and John Waite.)

If you've never seen Pat and Neil together, you're really missing out. Their performances today are as strong as ever, and the tunes will be swirling around in head for days afterward.

Tickets go on sale Saturday, Nov. 21 at 10 a.m. and are priced at $97 and $77. They're available at the Ruth Eckerd Hall box office in Clearwater, via phone at 727-791-7400 or online at 24/7. Don't wait. This show could sell out fast.

Pat and Neil's "We Live For Love" tour also includes these days:
Feb. 6: Biloxi, MS (Beau Rivage Resort)
Feb. 9: Lakeland, FL (Polk Theatre)
Feb. 12: Melbourne, FL (King Center for the Performing Arts)

(AP photo)

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Final mission for Captain EO is Dec. 6

Michael Jackson has just a few more chances left to change the world: Epcot will close the Captain EO movie in Orlando on Dec. 6, the Disney Park Blog reports.

What will take its place? Who cares! It won't be an '80s phenomenon anymore! (Actually it will be a series of animated films and shorts as part of a "4D" experience. Hey, if it's not on a smart phone, will kids today even pay attention?)

Captain EO was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and executive produced by George Lucas. It follows the story of Captain EO (Jackson) and his rag-tag crew as they attempt to deliver a special gift to the "Supreme Leader." It features the tunes We Are Here to Change the World and Another Part of Me.

Captain EO opened in 1986 and then closed in 1994 to make room for Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. It began its final run in 2010.

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