18 February 2013

I Ran (So Far Away) - Flock of Seagulls

Okay, second post from the Oy! High School Years and because I was on vacation, didn't post one last week.

C'mon 40-somethings, you know you all loved this damn song!  If you say you didn't you're a damn liar!

As mentioned in my Big Country post, the 80s were the launch of MTV and the influx of everything not American and very funky looking was attractive.  We all heard it at every sock hop and turn-about dance we attended.

Flock of Seagulls was just something we weren't all exposed to.  The look, the hair, the big glasses, the full-on synthesizer music... we ate it up and yelled out the lyrics when they hit the chorus.

But probably what Flock are most known for is the hairstyle which, when you take a good look at it, looks like Donald Trump got caught in a Hurricane force wind storm.  They didn't exhibit this during the I Ran video but on their other big hit, "Space Age Love Song".

I never had the guts to try it.  I had the typical part down the middle, hair feathered back on the sides look during this time.  I'm not sure Mr. Brown (dean of students) or any of the good Benedictine Brothers, Priests and Nuns would have allowed it in the doors of good ol' Benet Academy if I had even tried.  Maybe as long as I had my tie on straight they would have?

In a Big Country - Big Country

Oy!  The High School Years.

Well, although I mostly tended towards hard rock, metal, classic rock during High School there was a time when, gasp, MTV and Friday Night Videos took a prominent place on my weekends.

Combine the fact that we could now see the artists performing along with the influx if much needed imported video with my oft-cited attraction to unique sounds et voila, Big Country, one of the biggest bands to come out of Scotland during that time other than The Signals ;-p (inside reference to someone who will know what it means)

The unique guitar sounds, often which were made to sound like bagpipes playing were constructed by lead guitarist and lead writer for the band, Stuart Adamson.  The songs were fun, invoked references to their love of their homeland and transported me to 80's Scotland as I would read the liner notes to their first albums.

The video below is from roughly their last performance with Stuart at the helm.  There may have been one or two performances after this but a year and a half later, he was found dead in a hotel in Hawaii having committed suicide.

I couldn't find the 'official' video that played in heavy rotation on MTV during that time but if I do ever find it, I'll post it.  It just made you want to get to the UK, which I did some 14 years later.

04 February 2013

The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff

Well, since one of the big hub-bubs before yesterday's Superbowl commercial-o-rama was about the VW spot and a few mis-guided, talking-head race-baiters calling it racist (it WASN'T), I thought it was appropriate to choose a Jamaican artist for today.

Kudos to VW for still running the ad.  My wife had NOT seen it OR the 'outrage' and laughed through the whole thing.

As I mentioned in my previous OMM post, college was a GREAT time for me and my music tastes and experiences rapidly broadened further than I could have ever imagined.

There were a few Reggae/Ska bands in Milwaukee and somehow the Delta Chi boys attached ourselves to a band of WHITE guys called Those X-Cleavers who were sort of a punk/ska sort of group. (Note: I think the ONLY other group was Kojo at the time and then there was Tony Brown Band out of Madison).  But what came from that was the quick exposure to groups much more than just the Bob Marley stuff that was playing on ever jukebox in every campus bar and house party.

I'll feature a group of guys later in the year named Sly & Robbie but back to this post; Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Jimmy Cliff playing "The Harder They Come".

Now, this song came out in 1972 (or close to it) but I hadn't heard it, at least not consciously, until the mid-80's.  I ALSO was able to finally see the movie around that time as well.  Jimmy was the star of that movie and of course, as he mentions in the video, it really propelled him into at least US notariety.

During the mid 80's he also did a movie that I actually PAID to see called Club Paradise with Robin Williams.

Jimmy never really had a ton of commercial music hits, but amongst the Reggae community, he continued to represent the 'no problem mon' attitude that helped tourism to this very day.  Frankly, most of anything he had ever chart were covers of other songs but hearing his original "The Harder They Come" is one that left its mark on me.

I was fortunate to see him live and it was absolutely fantastic and I got that chance in the early 90's at Summerfest where the aforementioned Those X-Cleavers opened up for him (and not like the band that plays at 12:00, they were the band that played right before he took the stage).

Lastly, please notice that he plays guitar left-handed but doesn't re-string the guitar, he just plays it upside down.  I heard an interview with him (again on the Guitar Center Sessions on DirecTV) where he said that it was just cheaper to buy a right-handed guitar and play it upside down.  Hell it worked for Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix, why not him

Funny enough my son plunks around on a right-handed guitar but he too is a lefty.  Maybe if it gets really good at it, we'll have a star on our hands.