80’s Music Rules ~ Angelic 80’s Voices

Favorite music, favorite singers, favorite anything, really, is purely subjective. We all have different tastes and criteria that float each of our individual boats. So, I don’t expect people to agree with my selections for this entry, and readily admit up front that this is completely based on my own personal preferences.

That said, there were some outstanding male voices that emerged throughout my favorite music decade.

Iva Davies – Frontman for the iconic Australian band Icehouse, Iva Davies has a voice that easily spans several scales. Recently, I came across a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” that Davies nailed as well, if not better, than the Thin White Duke himself. Operatic, earnest, and flooded with emotion that envelops listeners and transports them to a place far within themselves, Davies’ voice is easily recognizable and welcomed when an escape from the cruel, cold world is prescribed. Enjoy the following performance given a full 30 years after breaking onto the music scene.

 Heroes” via YouTube user Maiblume4:

 Morten Harket – Nothing I can possibly say will do justice to Morten Harket’s voice. The amazing thing about this man is that his singing has gotten even better over the years. Best known for his work with A-Ha and the heavily rotated song “Take On Me,” Harket has continued to knock audiences out with his stunning vocals. A few months ago I featured Harket and A-Ha as “Criminally Underrated” because of the widespread assumption that they were “one-hit wonders.” Not true. Both Harket solo and along with a re-formed A-Ha continue to record and perform before sell-out audiences all over the world. The following is just one example of what he is capable of two decades after his world debut.

 “Darkspace” via YouTube user callimitty:

Bryan Ferry – Widely noted for his work with Roxy Music, Ferry’s career began in 1970, but blossomed in the 80’s with his newly re-formed version of the band. Ferry’s voice may not have the range of Harket’s or Davies’, but it is unmistakably gorgeous and sexy. “More Than This” is one of the most beautiful, long-lived love songs from the 80’s. More than 25 years after first hearing this song, I still swoon with overwhelming emotion when I play it. Bryan Ferry gave a world-class performance at the historic Apollo in 2001 and continues to thrill audiences worldwide. I can’t, and don’t even want to imagine my music collection minus Ferry’s seductive crooning. I know this: “Flesh and Blood” and “Avalon” (among other Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music LPs) were intimate friends that saw me through difficult times in the 80’s. Live from the Apollo and still incredibly sexy:

“My Only Love” via YouTube user azija44:

David Sylvian – I have heard that David Sylvian is not fond of his voice during his early Japan days. It’s true that he managed to mask a sultry, sexy, and hypnotic voice under a layer of post-punk glib for several years. When the “real” Sylvian finally emerged, it was as though he were taken over and possessed by aliens, the transformation was that dramatic. Post-Japan, Sylvian’s voice is mellow, hypnotic, and fabulously expressive. He continues to evolve, lyrically and musically with a voice that, like Morten Harket’s and fine wine, grows ever better with age. Whenever I need to curl up with a voice that transports me beyond the daily stresses and annoyances, Sylvian’s, via the LPs “Gone to Earth” or “Secrets of the Beehive” is one of the first to come to mind. Meanwhile, this is a fabulous example of David Sylvian live:

 When Poets Dreamed Of Angels” via YouTube user samadhisound:

Freddie Mercury – Somehow I feel that anything I write about Mercury’s voice has either a) already been written, or b) is woefully inadequate. The best I can do is to describe Mercury’s voice as a finely-tuned instrument, and that he was its master musician. The depth and range of Mercury’s voice knew no bounds. The members of his band Queen could only accompany him, rather than augment what was a superior and vital part of their sound. His untimely death in 1991 was the music industry’s and the world’s devastating loss. I firmly believe that he would have continued to evolve, always remaining elevated above the mere mortals of the music world. Freddie Mercury holding his own beautifully with opera singer Montserrat Cabelle in what would be his last performance:

 “Barcelona” via YouTube user buckey888:

Advertisements

80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ Icehouse

icehouse(Thanks to Sugarbear from the Marsbar Theatre for the inspiration to feature this great band).

 

One of many wonderful things we can depend on from our Aussie friends is brilliant music. Icehouse was no exception.

 

Icehouse started out as a group called Flowers formed in Sydney in 1977. The main founding member was singer/songwriter Iva Davies, who was known for his far-reaching and operatic vocals. He later changed the band’s name to Icehouse in honor of a cold flat he once lived in.

 

In addition to his beautiful and engaging vocals, Davies contributed his skills as a musician with guitar, bass, keyboards and oboe.  With a nod to the flourishing New Wave sound, Icehouse began using synthesizers and a drum machine. An album released in 1982 called Primitive Man featured Davies on vocals, guitar, keyboard, bass and drum machine. He got an assist from Keith Forsey who supplied additional percussion and also co-produced. The album was received very well in Australia and the UK, with a lukewarm reception in the US. Davies took his show on the road, reforming with John Lloyd (drums) and Michael Hoste (keyboards) from early Icehouse days, and adding Robert Kretschmer (guitar, backing vocals), Guy Pratt (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Andy Qunta (keyboards, backing vocals).icehouse_new

 

Icehouse released the album Sidewalk in 1984. Once again a success in Australia and the UK, the US remained a tough market to crack. It wasn’t until their 1986 LP release Measure For Measure, featuring Brian Eno that they reached the #9 Billboard position with the single “No Promises.” Their most successful album, Man Of Colours, released in 1987, yielded a single called “Crazy” that climbed to #10 in the US on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock chart. It had five singles charting in the top 30 in Australia.

 

Throughout the 90’s and 00’s, Icehouse would again reform and tour several times, with Davies bringing his fabulous vocals to stage and recording more releases. If you haven’t already availed yourself of this sinful pleasure, do yourself a huge favor and sample the early Icehouse recordings to experience firsthand the flawless singing style and moving lyrics of an amazing artist who also created most of his own backing instrumentals. This man and his band deserved the same recognition here in the States that they justly received in their homeland.

 

“No Promises” via YouTube user rrrjm:

 

“Crazy” via YouTube user gnowangerup:

 

“Great Southern Land” via YouTube user downunderupover:

 

My favorite David Bowie song as only Iva Davies could more than adequately cover – in fact, I’d venture to say it’s better than the original.

“Heroes” (2005 live cover) via YouTube user Maiblume4:

 

Icehouse Discography

  • Icehouse 1980
  • Primitive Man 1982 (aka Love In Motion UK 1983)
  • Sidewalk 1984
  • Measure for Measure 1986
  • Man of Colours 1987
  • Code Blue 1990
  • Big Wheel 1993
  • The Berlin Tapes 1995

icehouse-crazyPurchase Icehouse