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Podcast of Christmas Past: Toys and games of the '80s

Cast your mind all the way back to 2006. If you can. If you need help, well then, here's an early holiday present: It's Episode 71 of Stuck in the '80s, our tribute to the toys and games of the '80s as part of our Christmas celebration. Enjoy.

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Christmas Eve lost and found: Elvis Costello's 'Only Flame in Town'

It was a few weeks ago when an e-mail came across my inbox from a local concert venue saying that Elvis Costello would be coming to town this spring. Should I stay home and save my money or is Elvis the only flame in town?

In 1984, Costello released his album Goodbye Cruel Worl, which was one of the few albums that critics didn't unanimously favor from the bespectacled English hipster. Still, I have always liked the single The Only Flame in Town that reached No. 56 on the singles chart. The song and video features the voice talents of Daryl Hall with Costello's backing band, The Attractions, as they try the world of dating contests with varied results.

Always a sucker for some good xylophone in a pop song, The Only Flame In Town was still good enough to be included on Costello's first Greatest Hits record in 1985, which is a great introduction to the vast cannon of Costello's work if you have never made the time to listen to one of music's most revered artists.

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Have you forgotten the name of Josie Cotton's big hit? This could be the one

When a forgotten artist from the ‘80s has multiple great songs and videos, how do you decide which is the best one to pick? Sometimes it's just a gut feeling as I think today's song by Josie Cotton could be the one.

Texan Josie Cotton will be remembered most for her appearance in Valley Girl and the song Johnny, Are You Queer, but Cotton had other songs in her arsenal including the bubblegum pop of He Could Be The One. While "Johnny" made the Valley Girl soundtrack, He Could Be The One was Cotton's highest charting single on the pop charts when it reached No. 74 in 1982. …

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30 years later, 'Protocol' is still a pain in Goldie Hawn's butt

Five movies were released this week back in 1984: Birdy, The Flamingo Kid, Johnny Dangerously, Micki + Maude and Protocol. Care to guess which movie did best at the box office?

It was Protocol. (The photo probably gave that away, but still. Wow.) The movie (not to be confused with The Fourth Protocol from 1987 or Mission Impossible's Ghost Protocol) starred Goldie Hawn as a Washington, D.C., cocktail waitress who by random luck prevents the assassination of an Arab emir (and getting shot in her butt as a result.) The resulting publicity makes her a celebrity and she's offered a job with the protocol department as a result. …

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If you want to be happy, just revisit this Joe Dolce gem from the '80s

I hope you enjoyed last week's feature on cover songs and if you want to be happy, we'll start off the week with one more bonus cover with Joe Dolce

Joe Dolce? The name may not ring a bell with most Stuck in the '80s Nation, but chances are at some time you have heard his 1981 novelty hit Shaddup Your Face, which either brings a smile to your face or elicits your gag reflex. Perhaps, one day we'll do a novelty song week on Lost and Found and revisit Shaddup Your Face and the intriguing Dolce, but for today let's check out the remake If You Want To Be Happy and the interesting trivia associated with the song.

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Midge Ure's latest tour includes stops in St. Pete, Jacksonville

If you haven't seen Midge Ure in concert in the last two years, you're seriously making a grave error. The frontman of Ultravox (and mastermind behind Do They Know It's Christmas) puts on a live show that will melt your brain pan, especially when he gets to performing Vienna. Thankfully, Florida fans will have two chances to catch Midge in 2015: He's playing Jacksonville's Jack Rabbits on Jan. 19 and St. Petersburg's Local 662 on Jan. 20.

(Midge's official website lists the St. Pete date as Feb. 20 for some reason; Local 662's site says Jan. 20, which makes more sense since he's playing Jacksonville the night before.) Ticket information isn't available yet.

A few months ago, I interviewed Midge before the Retro Futura Tour (easily the best concert tour of 2014), and I asked him why the music press had been so tough on him on Ultrabox over the years. …

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Cover week finale: 'Sea of Love' becomes a two-time hit again in the '80s

Did you hear that there is going to be an ‘80s cruise in 2016 that is going to be attended by members of the SIT80's Nation? Of course you did, so let's go ahead and get the party started by featuring Sea of Love in the ‘80s.  

In 1959, Phil Phillips helped create the classic Sea of Love and took it to No. 2 on the charts. In 1984, the supergroup The Honeydrippers, featuring Robert Plant on vocals, nearly reached that mark when they took their lush orchestral version to No. 3 on the charts. However, always give me two guitars, bass and a drum when you play Sea of Love and give me the version by '60's legend Del Shannon that hit the Top 40 in 1982.

Del Shannon had eight Top 40 hits in the ‘60s including the classic Runaway (which in a coincidence was covered in the first week of Lost and Found, two years ago, with a version by Luis Cardenas). It was a dry spell of 17 years without hits that was broke in 1981 by Shannon when his version of Sea of Love with its beautiful harmonies, synth keyboard solo and rhythmic guitar peaked at No. 33 at the start of 1982. With no official video, this clip for Sea of Love finds a then 47-year old looking good on Solid Gold. …

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Peter Hook's Joy Division/New Order tour coming to St. Pete, Orlando

Fans of Joy Division and New Order in the Southeast are going to go nuts: Peter Hook has announced a tour of the Southeastern United States for spring of 2015, featuring stops in St. Petersburg and Orlando.

Hook, a co-founder of Joy Division and former bassist for New Order, will bring his band (The Light) for a series of shows that will feature music from the albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer, according to Slicing Up Eyeballs. There will also be an opening set of New Order hits.

The tour includes an April 18 stop at St. Petersburg's State Theatre and an Orlando gig at the Plaza Live. Both are small, intimate venues perfect for a show like this. Tickets for the St. Pete show are $25-$30 and go on sale Dec. 19. Tickets for Orlando are $25-$40 and go on sale Dec. 19.

Here are the tour dates.

April 17: Grand Central, Miami, FL
April 18: State Theatre, St. Petersburg, FL
April 19: The Plaza Live, Orlando, FL
April 21: Georgia Theatre, Athens, GA
April 22: Republic, New Orleans, LA
April 24: Granada Theatre, Dallas, TX
April 28: Exit/In, Nashville, TN
April 29: Headliners Music Hall, Louisville, KY
May 1: Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC
May 2: Orange Peel, Asheville NC

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30 years later, you must not fear 'Dune' ... Fear is the mind-killer

A boy becomes a man after a journey across the stars and a rendezvous with legend. Sound familiar? Thirty years ago, David Lynch took that simple premise and turned it into a nearly-incomprehensible mess in the 1984 release Dune. Frank Herbert's Hugo award-winning classic book had been bouncing around in development since the early ‘70s but the success of the Star Wars franchise brought new energy to this science fiction title.

Lynch's attempt to condense the complex religious, political and ecological themes woven through Herbert's 400-page book into a two-hour movie was not well-received. The film was a critical and commercial disaster, grossing $30 million against production costs of $40 million and receiving some of the most scathing reviews of 1984. Janet Maslin of the New York Times put it best, writing "Several of the characters in are psychic, which puts them in the unique position of being able to understand what goes on in the movie."

Here are five things you may not know about Dune, which was released on Dec. 14, 1984: …

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Nostalgia in the '80s ... for the '50s? Sure, just look at this cover of 'Mr. Sandman'

When you hear to beginning dolceful chimes of Mr. Sandman it conjures up visions of the 1950's, but let's build the case for the ‘80s significance of Mr. Sandman and the Top 40 hit version by Emmylou Harris.

Mr. Sandman was a No. 1 hit for the first time all the way back in 1954 by the girl group The Cordettes and was also a Top 10 hit for the male vocal group The Four Aces in 1955. After a 26-year absence from the Top 40, country singer Emmylou Harris woke up Mr. Sandman from its chart slumber as it reached No. 37 on the pop charts in 1981. While the Harris version has mostly vanished from the radar, Mr. Sandman has an enduring legacy in ‘80s movies - most specifically Back To The Future.

In Back To The Future, the playing of Mr. Sandman is a key foreshadowing that Marty McFly has time-traveled from 1985 to 1955. It is the Four Aces version you hear in that movie. Not a one-time movie inclusion, Mr. Sandman appeared in six different major ‘80s film releases including Halloween 2, A Little Sex, Grease 2, Uncle Buck and returned again for Back To The Future 2.  (It also appeared as the central show idea for one episode of the animated The Real Ghost Busters.) …

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Former Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung laments Rock Hall of Fame picks

Dennis DeYoung is one of the good guys in rock 'n' roll. Maybe one of the last ones too, since these days the only bands getting attention don't play instruments and rely on autotune. In any case, the former Styx frontman (who still puts on a HELL of a show now with a new band) took to his Facebook page today to "comment" on -- not necessarily criticize -- the latest inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

"Interesting. After (fans) informed me of the latest round of inductions into the R and R Hall of Fame I looked up Joan Jett only to find that she did not write her biggest hit I Love Rock and Roll but a band named the Arrows did. Wow! I did not know this. Their version nearly identical to hers is on YouTube." …

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'80s holiday gift idea: The '80s slang poster

All the '80s slang I ever needed to learn I got from Debbie Foreman and the cast of the 1983 flick Valley Girl. Man, it's like tripendicular, you know? But just in case there's a few choice phrases that slipped your mind, here's the official '80s Slang Poster.

From Charleychartwell.com, it's a real poster you can actually buy. (I need one for the Spears Lair!) It's $29 - "Righteous bucks!" - and you can buy it here.

I'll admit, until reading the poster, I never had heard (or knew the meaning) of the word "putt."

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Cover songs of the '80s: Angry Samoans' 'Time Has Come Today'

The time has come today to feature another cover song in the ‘80s, but instead of a cover by the legendary Ramones, let's go deeper with the Angry Samoans and Time Has Come Today.

Time Has Come Today is a classic song from 1969 from The Chamber Brothers and in 1983 the Ramones put their spin on it as their second single (following Psycho Therapy) off the Subterranean Jungle album. However in 1982, the Angry Samoans beat the Ramones to the punch with their version.

They may have been angry, but the L.A.-based punk band was not Samoan as principal leader "Metal Mike" Saunders was originally from Arkansas. The video is more apocalyptic commentary as the band decides the fate of mankind in a world where hitting the red button brings about the nuclear holocaust. Logging in at just over two minutes, Time Has Come Today is probably one of the Angry Samoans lengthiest recordings.

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Joan Jett, Lou Reed among inductees to Rock Hall of Fame in 2015

Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced its inductees for the Class of 2015: Lou Reed, Ringo Starr, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Bill Withers and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The announcement was reported this morning (predictably) by Rolling Stone.

The induction ceremony in April 18 in Cleveland. Artists are eligible to join the Hall of Fame 25 years after their first album or single. Among those nominated for 2015 that didn't get selected were The Smiths, Kraftwerk, Sting, N.W.A. and Chic.

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The phrases 'Human Sexual Response' and 'Cool Jerk' probably should be placed together

As we continue our "Play This Lost Cover - Not That Lost Cover" week, we invite you to get your weird on with Human Sexual Response and Cool Jerk.  

Originally a Top 10 hit in 1966 by The Capitols, the most famous ‘80s version of Cool Jerk is by the Go-Gos and was a popular album track off their 1982 Vacation album. When the Go-Gos compiled a greatest hits album in 1990, they released a newer version of the song as a single. (Here's a rare live version by the band from 1981.) However, please approach with caution as we introduce you to a more obscure version of Cool Jerk by the band Human Sexual Response.

As you could surmise, an unusual band name like Human Sexual Response begets an unusual band that would create a silly video for their 1980 version of Cool Jerk as we witness the band outfitted in retro nurses uniforms while laying down the new wave funk. Human Sexual Response was a popular band on the Boston bar scene in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s and released several albums before disbanding in 1982.

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