Bernard Herrmann (double N), and the Hitchcock extravaganza… get this masterful record, after all, it’s a Varese Sarabande release, and those in the know, know. Released in 1980, a solid year after my manifestation, Vol. 1 in the Soundtrack Series, this is certainly one to seek out. On a day of SEVERE disappointments, North By Northwest is a comforting chap.
I set out to acquire the Jaws soundtrack on 8-Track for the upcoming annual Jaws Day (July 3rd, don’t forget), and I ended up with a dirt cheap, fully functioning set of the following, all on glorious 8-Track: Jaws (Music from the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack), Star Wars (The Original Soundtrack from the 20th Century-Fox Film), and this copy of Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back. All in (just about) perfect working condition. I never thought I’d enjoy the romantic static and bass-heavy warmth of 8-Track sound as much as I do… makes me glad I keep the player in the living room. My SO on the other hand…
With CCR, Hendrix, Dylan, and original compositions by Neil Young, the 1980 soundtrack to the Hunter S. Thompson laugh-riot, Where the Buffalo Roam, is classic, classic rock. Bill Murray, aka Mr. Thompson even does a goofy-ass version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds. Needless to say, this comp is worthy of any and every Gonzo out there.
Any way you want Journey, that’s the way you need Journey… any way you want them. Released as the band’s sixth studio album in the dawn of the new, yet uncertain 1980s, Departure features 12 slam-bang journeys (see what I did there?) into arena-rock’s mysterious and flowing void. Although not as successful as 1981’s Escape or 1983’s Frontiers, Departure scratches that annoying and repetitive Journey-itch both efficiently and successfully. Although you can’t slow dance to Any Way You Want It at Jr. High dances, it deserves a proper spin.
Take a journey atop the gay-friendly, multicolored beetle-bug of yesteryear, any way you want it.
Can you imagine James Ensor in a piano keys tie? So too is the flabbergasting monstrosity that is to follow… 1980’s One for the Road was, sadly, and with a heavy blanket of shame, my first Kinks album. The raging rivers of comfort that are Arthur, Village Green, Something Else, and quite literally, every-damn-thing-else I’d discovered by The Kinks, were slow to flow throughout my younger, adolescent, and obviously stupid, darker days. One never forgets their first… as much as they’re willing to try.
As the long-told, infrequently-forgotten story goes, the sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band featured on the back cover of Dead Kennedy’s debut, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables was used without the band’s consent, and resulted in a threatened lawsuit causing variations of the Bay area’s backside cover art. LA-based Sounds of Sunshine (aforementioned sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band), wasn’t quite satisfied with their work-around beheading, and the Dead Kennedy’s were forced to come up with a new back cover concept altogether (replaced the sunshine-happy-give-us-your-money band sans heads with four vintage living room-dwellers sitting under a framed Alternative Tentacles logo… subsequent lawsuit forthcoming).
If any morals are to be learned from this tug-and-pull fiasco, they are forever silenced by the timeless music contained within.
Meco’s nightclub talents are sprinkled throughout my collection in healthy, respectful numbers, which is fairly gracious considering his brand of big screen-nabbing, dance floor-packing, Disco Duck-inspiring, funk-fused disco is little more than the same groove, repeated over several, action-packed themes, ad nauseum. Somebody somewhere likely said, “Slap a Star Wars logo on it, and the kids will eat it up!” Mr. / Mrs. Somebody was right, or at least, I can think of no other terrestrial reason to own this 10” RSO Records release from 1980.
This five track EP is exactly what you’d expect from Meco. Heavy synths, big brass, groovy bass and a hefty, four-on-the-floor disco beat. Meco mainly lives within the bowels of obscurity these days, but the man demands respect for creating a recognizable and danceable sound both familiar to big screen enthusiasts, and Saturday night ragers alike. If Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk isn’t enough for your calloused ears, seeking out this 10” may feed that Meco bug.
Is 365 to 1
Where to begin… Christmas in the Stars is nothing short of an exhaustive, and thorough disaster. This album makes the destruction of Alderaan look as trivial as spilled blue milk. Released in 1980, this Ishtar-like running gag features Anthony Daniels as C-3PO, a series of random beeps as R2-D2, a full freakin’ orchestra, and of course, John Bongiovi, AKA Jon Bon Jovi on lead vocals, because, you know, nothing says “let’s go save the princess” like Bad Medicine.
Everyone will have a cookie
I brought extra for the Wookie
Produced by Meco (yes, THAT Meco), and co-produced by Tony Bongiovi, Jon Bon’s cousin, Christmas in the Stars takes the colorful world of Star Wars (then only two films), coerces it with a shiny piece of candy, and takes it out back to beat it senseless with a pillow case full of D batteries. What Can You Get A Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns A Comb?) is not only a genuine track from this album, IT’S ALSO THE SINGLE! Man, would I have LOVED to have been a fly on the wall during these pitch meetings. “Uh, yes Mr. Lucas. Thank you for taking the time to meet with us today. We all loved Empire. Brilliant film. Yes, yes. So, our idea for the Star Wars Christmas album is this… what if we have a series of non-denominational Christmas songs (see the oxymoron there?) narrated by R2 & 3PO? I hear there’s a talented young kid out of New Jersey with a great singing voice, we can get him to do the backing vocals. We could have a full symphony, utilize Ben Burtt’s amazing sound effects, and we can see if Ralph is available to do the cover. The single, are you ready… is titled, What Can You Get A Wookie for Christmas (When He Already Owns a Comb?). What do you think, George?” “Green lit. Now, pass me that tube of cookie dough. I’m in pre-production on a 2nd chin.”
The ONLY redeemable feature with regards to Christmas in the Stars is the Ralph McQuarrie painted cover (note how the 1980 Kris Kringle looks an awful lot like a 2013 George Lucas). Christmas in the Stars is like receiving a pair of socks for Christmas every year from each of your relatives and loved ones. The anticipation far exceeds the end result, but at least your feet will be warm.
It’s not entirely difficult to consider this Seattle-based foursome adequate participants of the late 70s, early 80s sewer-like wave of repressed energy, known today as punk, or as my Mother likes to call it, “the Devil’s music.” Missing, or rather, subdued is the raw, misguided anger found in Los Angeles and San Francisco based punk acts of the time. In its place resides the mature, but no less angry, rhythmically brilliant 1/3 new wave, 1/3 minimalist indie-rock, and 1/3 punk-influenced musicianship that somehow gets lost amongst the 33-year-old haze that was 1980.
Blackouts (here losing the The… on a side note and completing having nothing to do with this post, do you remember The The?) consisted of future RevCo, Ministry, R.E.M. (you read that right), Pigface, KMFDM (to name only a few) drummer Bill Rieflin, Roland Barker (brother of Revco, Ministry, Lead into Gold, Lard, PTP, Acid Horse, U.S.S.A. bassist Paul Barker… who would join this band immediately following the release of this EP), as well as Erich Werner and Mike Davidson, of whom I know virtually nothing about. Phew! That’s a lot of band-name dropping there, but you can begin to see the overall scope of this band’s, and subsequently, this EP’s brilliance. Or, maybe you can’t and you’d much prefer the screeching yelps of Katy Perry, or God forbid, Madonna! Either way, this 4-track EP comes highly recommended and should prove for an interesting listen if nothing else.
Dischord Records did a remarkable thing for fans of early, D.C. based hardcore. Back in July of 2007, the label, owned by Minor Threat frontman and drummer, Ian MacKaye and Jeff Nelson, reissued four, LONG out of print 7” EPs as the 12” comp, Four Old Seven Inches On A Twelve Inch.
When you consider how much these original records sell for (brace yourself, because this is crazy: Teen Idles – Minor Disturbance E.P. – $750, S.O.A. – No Policy E.P. – $450, Government Issue – Legless Bull E.P. – $208.35, and Youth Brigade – Possible E.P. – $538.40), fans of the genre, like myself, may not otherwise have heard these historic rants had a compilation such as this not been released. Totaling $1946.75 for the originals, the $12 price of the comp still doesn’t seem so bad.
Five days after the conclusion of a decade filled with orange, brown, swagger and abundance (the 1970s), the United States saw a paramount release that that would transcend every other album released throughout the rest of the decade. On January 5th, 1980, Americans received a message from across the pond. It was a message of conflict, disdain and unforgettable beauty. This message… the uncompromising London Calling.
Five days into the 80s, and the decade saw its best work… crazy. Released a few weeks earlier in its native land (December 14, 1979 in the UK), London Calling became the owner of the #8 spot on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. #8… all time. 8… out of 500! This isn’t news to the majority of you as you probably already own this treasured album, and if you don’t, I’ll pretend not to know you in public next time I see you… seriously… GET this album!
Bridging the weathered gap between Hard Rock, Punk, Reggae, Lounge Jazz, Rockabilly and Ska (to name a few of the many genres defining this “epic” album… it was actually released on Epic Records in the states, so HA!), The Clash were able to showcase their angst towards authority, their cry for better paying jobs, their thoughts on civil war, love, and the church, and they were able to do it by staying within the confines of the social attention span. The Clash found that the message of insolence, distrust, hope and liberation could reach more ears if the music was more accessible to a broader audience.
Everyone who has ever learned to type has written about this album, so anything I say here won’t be groundbreaking. I will however express my personal affection towards this gem, and try to offer its beauty onto others. I’m a London Calling pusher, essentially… and I’ve got a quota to meet, so shoot up!
Really quickly, I’ll get into this then I’ll leave you the hell alone. It was July 1997 and I’d just turned 18. I was sharing a room with my best friend and we were both in our infant stage of record collecting. He with his Jimmy Durante, Glenn Miller and Dean Martin, and I with my Beastie Boys, NOFX and Doobie Brothers. There is a little store in Madison, Wisconsin called Half Price Books. If you’re from the Midwest you’ve undoubtedly been there. It was at the East Side location where I found my calling of the London variety. I’d already owned 1982’s Combat Rock, and was eager for more from the almighty Clash. Anyway, to make a long, drawn-out story short, the first side to the first record (London Calling is a double LP, btw) instantly became the soundtrack to our summer, with Rudie Can’t Fail becoming our favorite, miss-quotable song (substituting “chicken-boo for breakfast” instead of the proper “drinking brew…” something I still do to this day).
Maybe it was because that summer saw us living on our own for the first time, but for us, London Calling equaled liberation. Few albums attach themselves to such monumentally important moments in an individual’s life. The acute notice these moments, and they never forget them. London Calling, for all its global importance, still manages to satisfy my local, nostalgic needs.