80’s Music Rules ~ More from Retrospect CFRC-FM ~ 01-06-09

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Ed-FM kicked off the New Year with a dynamic show that left me scratching my head on several tracks. Even Googling the lyrics didn’t help and I had to wait until the songs were back-announced or clarified by email. I love the challenge and the obscure 80’s music lesson that accompanies it, so in all, it was a banner night.

Here is last night’s list. If you like what you see, be sure to tune in to CFRC-FM  out of Kingston, Ontario at 101.9 on the FM dial, or streaming over the Internet, next Tuesday night from 8-10pm EST. Ed takes requests by phone: (613) 533-CFRC (2372) or email: retrospectcfrc at yahoo dot ca. Indulge yourself in some “80’s music that doesn’t suck.”

CFRC-FM Playlist January 6, 2009

Basement of Carruthers Hall in Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
ED-FM ~ Retrospect
80’s Music That Doesn’t Suck

1. The Box – Friends
2. B-52s – 52 Girls
3. Danielle Dax – Big Hollow Man
4. Human League – Crow and a Baby
5. Blue Peter – Up to U
6. Nash the Slash – Psychotic Reaction
7. Altered Images – Happy Birthday J
8. Sex Beat – Sex Beat
9. Boys Brigade – Saigon
10. Dalek I Love You – Dad on Fire
11. Karel Fialka – Hey Matthew
12. The Jam – Precious (12 inch)
13. Peter Baumann – Time Machine
14. The Lotus Eaters – It Hurts
15. Men Without Hats – On Tuesday
16. Comsat Angels – Have You Seen (Demo)
17. Data-Bank-A – Etiquette of Travel
18. The Flower Pot Men – Beat City
19. The Cassandra Complex – Def Con One
20. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Wild Ambitions
21. Polyrock – Love Song
22. Hilary – Drop Your Pants
23. Josie Cotton – Johnny, Are You Queer?
24. The Coconuts – Naughty Boy

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80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Modern English

scband1One of the best things about reporting on 80’s New Wave music is that in the process, I have unearthed some well-kept “secrets.” Many bands/artists that I erroneously thought had only one or maybe two hits during the 80’s, actually produced numerous airworthy songs, both during that decade and beyond. One such band is Modern English whose one well-known and oftentimes misidentified hit called “I Melt With You” was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The band started out in 1979 as The Lepers with Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitar, vocals), and Michael Conroy (bass, vocals). When Richard Brown (drums) and Stephen Walker (keyboards) joined, the name was changed to Modern English. Their first album, Mesh and Lace, was released in 1981. This classic post-punk gem was a brooding blend of rhythmic and poetic selections.  After the Snow, which featured “I Melt With You” and was released in 1982, had a decidedly more upbeat tone, bringing the band into the growing New Wave genre. MTV and commercial radio played “I Melt With You” ad nauseum, not only giving the band much-deserved exposure, but also lending creedence to the belief that the group was only capable of producing one heavy-rotation worthy song.

When I discovered the song “Someone’s Calling,” also from After the Snow, I was enthralled. The combination of machine and music sounds was astounding.

Note 1/25/09: I had examples from YouTube up for this article, including my own home-made tribute. It seems that Warner Music Groups (WMG) went on a tear over the weekend and shut down videos. Their suppression of harmless music promotion by fans will hit them where it hurts. I have no sympathy for the corporate greed that is killing the music industry. My sympathies lie with the musicians who are stuck in the middle. Meanwhile, I am currently in the process of removing all of my tribute videos from YouTube, from which I have received nothing but the satisfaction of promoting good music. modern english

The songs “Life in the Gladhouse,” also from After the Snow, and “Machines” from Ricochet Days, are two songs which underscore the brilliant rhythmic signature sound that blends so well with Modern English’s unique instrumentation and vocal style. This band exhibited a wealth of talent that should have catapulted them firmly into the limelight. Instead, they were not properly promoted here in the states; allowed instead to slip off the heavy rotation radar in favor of less-talented, but corporate supported musical pablum/crap.

If you are a fan of quality 80’s New Wave/Post-punk/New Romantic, and are looking for something that has a slightly off-kilter vibe, poetic lyrics and a killer, signature rhythm section, the first three Modern English LPs,  Mesh and Lace, After the Snow, and Ricochet Days are must-haves. They are available for sale, but two out of the three come in at high, collectible prices. If that doesn’t fit your budget, start out with Life in the Gladhouse, 1980-1984: Best of Modern English. It contains some of the best tracks from the three aforementioned LPs.

80’s Music Rules ~ Spotlighting Some Fave Music Blogs

new-wave-wallpaperSo many bloggers are waxing poetic on leaving 2008 in the dust (thankfully) and hoping for a better year to come. Instead of following suit, I want to take this opportunity to only focus on the positive — by calling attention to some of my favorite music bloggers out on the Interwebs.

If not for a legion of dedicated, and in some instances downright fanatical music fans, there are so many musicians with extraordinary talent that would hardly ever get the attention they deserve. This music may be from past artists that were “criminally underrated” (the focus of a somewhat

(photo credit: http://tinyurl.com/7q8mzv)

weekly series of mine), all the way up to current bands and musicians who are struggling to have their music aired. One common theme that has refused to disappear over the past few decades is the hubris of corporate suits who feel they know what’s best for music fans. The amount of garbage the public has been force-fed over the past 4 decades would fill a thousand landfills to capacity. Thanks to a few DJs who bucked the good ol’ boy system of years gone by, and a current network of dedicated bloggers, music that should have been aired in the past and should be promoted in the present is finally getting the recognition it deserves.

My favorite Floridian, Chris, writes a noteworthy blog called The Local Vertical. In it, he features independent bands that are cutting edge and in dire need of promotion. If you want a dose of up-and-coming, along with some “kick-ass” NASA eye-candy sprinkled in for good measure, give Chris’s site a visit. I guarantee that Indie fans will find a whole treasure trove of material that will make you keep coming back for more.

My favorite New Waver, fiftypercent, runs a blog that is mostly 80’s New Wave and Post-Punk, alongside some notable 90’s and 00’s music, to boot. Mine for Life is chock full of obscure music that will have you smacking your forehead and muttering, “Where the heck was I when that came out?” Fiftypercent has a scorching satirical wit to go along with great information that outshines Wikipedia itself. Don’t miss out on listening to some exquisitely rare tunes.

Heading across the pond to England, we have DavyH and The Ghost of Electricity. Davy always spins a personal touch to each song he features, recalling sweet memories and humorous tales that the song evokes. There is a hint of eccentricity to this eclectic mix of tunes. That is just one of many reasons to hurry over and have a listen.flag_of_canada_and_the_united_kingdom

Speaking of “a little bit of everything,” that’s what you’ll find at Half-Hearted Dude’s blog, Any Major Dude With Half a Heart. In fact, he was one of the first to urge me to come over to WordPress when things heated up at Blogger. The Dude is a lover of all kinds of great music which spans multi-genres and several decades. He “tells it like it is” and relies on a vast wealth of knowledge to bolster his credibility. I can promise you’ll end up spending hours there.

Heading back over to Canada, we have Jason’s fine blog which centers on current Indie releases and is known as Get Your OJ Dot Com Version 9.0. Jason is a great journalist who keeps on top of music and news in Canada and beyond. I have listened to some fabulous musicians that I would otherwise have missed out on had I not taken the time to visit. His passion for vital Indie music is apparent and contagious. It is a must stop for all surfing audiophiles.

One more blogger I’d like to make mention of is Marilyn from A Future In Noise. This is a promising up-and-coming blog by a very knowledgable and gifted musician. I’m expecting lots of great things to turn up in Marilyn’s blog for 2009, and hope that you will stop by to check it out for yourself.

This is all that time allows me to feature, for now. I have a list of all of my favorite blogs on the right side of the page and urge you to indulge in a few clicks to see what they are all about. One thing I strongly encourage you to do — if you read something you like and/or listen to something you enjoy, please leave a note for the blog owner. It means a lot to the authors to know that their hard work is appreciated. Many of these bloggers give of themselves to promote others without recompense of any kind. All it takes is a few nice words to keep them fired up to continue promoting the music that they, and we, love.

Happy New Year to you all.