How many times should a song be released as a single before it becomes a hit? In a-ha’s case, the answer is twice. a-ha released “Take on Me” twice before it became a big hit in 1985.
The first release was in 1984 and it was a decent hit in Norway from where the band was born, but it failed miserably in the UK and no one in the States had heard of it. However, the record company still had faith in the song and the band. They brought in another producer, Alan Tarney, and he spiced things up a bit taking the song all the way to #1 in the US and #2 in the UK.
He took the song and turned it in to a New Wave, synthpop masterpiece. His version was re-released in 1985 and is the version on the 45 Single that I am writing about. The song is upbeat, synth music with some acoustic guitars, some drums and drum machines and is such a frantic pace that it gets you moving. The tempo is like 100mph and a blast.
There are two other things that are special about the song other than that catchy synthpop sound. One is the voice of lead singer Morten Harket. As the song progresses, Morten’s voice gets higher and higher until the climatic part of the song he hits this killer falsetto that just makes the song. It is so high that only the dogs can hear it and wine glasses shatter. He captures the emotion of the song and its plea for love.
Continue reading “a-ha – “Take On Me” – (The 45 Single)”
Back in 1981, Billy Squier came screaming on to the scene with the classic track, “The Stroke”. This was the song that introduced me to him and kept me a fan all these years. The song did fairly well on the charts reaching #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the song comes from his second album ‘Don’t Say No’ which went on to be a triple platinum selling album.
Now admit it. You have always thought this song was about masturbation, didn’t you? “Put Your Right Hand Out / Give a firm handshake”…always led you to believe that Mr. Squier was manhandling his little…”guitar” for lack of a better word. Ok, I didn’t want to say dick, so there, now I have said it. However, the song is actually not about that at all.
The song is about the Music Business and how it treats it’s talent. How with “the stroke” of a pen, the musician signs their life away and becomes the property of the record label. They promise them the “big break”, get their music everywhere (“spread your ear pollution”) and promise fame and fortune. However, when the hits dry up, the label drops you (“when you’ve found you bled me / slip on by”). And when you look at the song from that perspective it is really a great song…okay…when you look at it the dirty way it is also a great song…either works!
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I came across this 12″ Single in someone’s collection I was buying and I knew I had to have it. I am rocker at heart, but this hip hop version of a classic Aerosmith song is quite groundbreaking and I knew I needed it in my collection. Mainly, because it adds to my Aerosmith collection as I don’t really have a Run DMC collection (until now I guess).
“Walk This Way” was released back in 1975 (and re-released in 1976) and reached #10 on the Billboard charts. The song is off the band’s album “Toys in the Attic” (great album by the way, but that is for another day) and it is that producer Rick Rubin pulled out and played for Run DMC while they were recording their album “Raising Hell” back in 1986. The band had sampled the song before, but didn’t know the song. Rick suggested the band cover the song, but the band was not too keen on the idea except for Jam Master Jay.
The band recorded the song and even were able to get Steven Tyler to sing and Joe Perry to actually play on the track. I said earlier it was a groundbreaking song and that was because it was really the first big hip hop & rock collaboration that crossed-over into the hip hop world and to the rock & pop world. The song helped take hip hop and rap mainstream.
Continue reading “Run DMC & Aerosmith – “Walk This Way” (12″ Single)”
Back in April 2018, Ace Frehley released his first single from his upcoming (yet unannounced) album. The day was actually April 27th which was Ace’s birthday…do you think they planned that?? This the first new track since his 2014 album ‘Space Invaders’. He did have a new album back in 2016, but it was a cover’s album so nothing new there.
The reception of the new music was so great, that a special limited edition 12″ Single has now been released (3 months later). They had no intentions of releasing a physical copy of the song, but the people spoke and Ace & the record company listened and BAM!! Physical product.
I was able to pick up one of these Limited Numbered Edition 12″ Singles with the White/Black Marble vinyl. And they weren’t kidding about being numbered. I am #3701 out of #4000, I believe.
The new song “Bronx Boy” is a heavy guitar driven track…what else would you expect, it is Ace “freakin’ Frehley. There is a raw, grittiness to the song that harkens back to his early days growing up in the Bronx, New York. The song opens with a quick, nasty guitar riff and jumps right into the vocals describing Ace’s life as a “street kid” and his “street life”. The vocals are rough and classic Ace which is what is great about the song. Plus, the guitar solo is what we know and love from the Spaceman and he doesn’t disappoint.
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Just a few short weeks ago, Matt Nathanson brought us a Def Leppard Tribute E.P. titled ‘Pryomattia’ which was a really nice surprise and damn near perfect. Well, now Matt brings us an actual new song called “Way Way Back” which is supposed to be from a yet unannounced new album coming “soonish” as Matt puts it.
If there is one thing Matt Nathanson can do and that is write a great song. The man has a way with lyrics and he delivers another sensational song. The story is of a love lost but letting that person know that they won’t find someone that loves them as much as you did. That when they realize what they lost they can find you in their memories.
I love lyrics like “Didn’t know that forever only meant forever till you found someone better” which is what I think most people really believe. And “Radio just wanna hurt me, put you in every song” as who hasn’t gone through a break-up and every song on the radio reminded you of that person. The song is so relatable and Matt has a way of making everything simple and crystal clear.
It is a love song that only Matt can write. It is a fun, catchy little tune that will get you singing and “do-do-doing” right along. If this is any indication of what is to come on the new album, I guess Matt will get more of my money as this will go on pre-order immediately when available…in vinyl of course!!
I would give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars if I had to rate which I guess I do since this is a review. Give it a listen or go buy now and help support the artist. It is the least you can do so we keep getting great new music from them.
Continue reading “Matt Nathanson – “Way Way Back” – Single Review”
For My Sunday Song #98, we take it back to the 80’s and hand it over to Scorpions with their ballad “Still Loving You” off the album ‘Love At First Sting” from 1984. With “Rock You Like a Hurricane”, I became a Scorpion fan and this song sealed the deal for life.
The song was the second single from the album and it only reached #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 which is crazy considering this song hit #1 in France. Yes, France. The Scorpions are credited with starting a baby boom in France in 1985 because of this song. I am not kidding!
The song is about a man who is in love with woman, but they fear the end of the relationship is fading and almost over. So what do they do, they try again to reignite that passion and flame and give it another shot. France is the country about love so that might be why it did so well.
At around 6:30, the song isn’t your typical power ballad..well at least in length. In style, it is exactly like every power ballad which is why it is a power ballad. The song’s slow crescendo throughout the song is it’s magic. The song keeps building and adding instruments and it gets more powerful and louder as it goes.
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In the fledgling days of MTV, they didn’t have a ton of videos so a lot of bands that weren’t getting played on the radio, suddenly had prominence on MTV simply because they had a video. One lucky band was The Tubes with their amazing song and video for “She’s A Beauty”. The song was released in 1983 and was off their album ‘Outside Inside’. The song reached all the way to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to MTV. I know I became a fan off that video and the constant rotation on MTV. When I came across the 45 a few months back, I had to grab it.
The song was written by Fee Waybill, famed producer David Foster and Steve Lukather from the band Toto. And the inspiration for the song came from a San Francisco peep show where Fee paid $1 to talk to a naked woman. The conversation was rather frustrating and that frustration turned into the song. There is a line in the song that references that conversation…”She’ll give you every penny’s worth / But it will cost you a dollar first” (thanks to Fee for discussing this in a YouTube video for the song).
Continue reading “The Tubes – “She’s A Beauty” (The 45 Single)”
The Wild Feathers are back with a new single, “Big Sky”, and a new album coming on June 29th titled, ‘Greeting From the Neon Frontier’. If you are not familiar with them, they are a cross between southern rock, country, folk and what ever label you want to lay on them. For me, their songs are a country rock blend that harkens back to the 70’s and this one is exactly that and more.
The song kicks off with some harmonies that take you immediately to sound of The Eagles and it has guitar playing that would fit perfectly in that era with an Allman Brothers feel. What you get is the feeling of the great outdoors and that you are driving down some Montana road with the top down and the wind in your hair, the radio blasting and you are in paradise looking at the mountains, the forests and whatever other scenery is around.
It also feels like a campfire song, so pop up a tent, start a campfire, grab the s’mores, pull out that old guitar and sing along. The Wild Feathers never disappoint and I am hoping this is a good sign of things to come.
Continue reading “The Wild Feathers – “Big Sky” – Single Review”
One of the most recognizable songs in the Journey catalog was “Open Arms”. It was from the ‘Escape’ album and the single was released in January of 1982. The song did pretty damn good and went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, but for some reason it couldn’t hit that #1 spot. However, that is still one of the highest chart positions the band ever reached for a single if not the highest.
The song is believed by many to be one of the greatest power ballads ever written and is said to be one of the main catalyst for starting the power ballad movement in the 80’s. The funny thing is that most members of the band other than Steve & Jonathan did not want the song on the album. It was too sugary sweet for their tastes. As tie has shown, those members of the band were wrong.
Or were they. The band became known for this sound and it changed everything for the band from that point on. They had to have power ballads on every album as they were now expected from the band. And they did end up writing many more great ones and went on to superstar status. It did get them huge successes and paydays, but was it worth it? Probably so.
The song was brought to the band by Jonathan Cain as he already had the melody written when he tried to use it for his previous band, The Babys. However, vocalist John Waite, was not real keen on the song and said it was too syrupy. Wow, both bands originally stated the same thing…both were wrong.
Continue reading “Journey – “Open Arms” (The 45 Single)”
For this month’s edition of ‘The Original vs The Cover’, we are going to cover the song “You Really Got Me” by The Kinks vs the cover by Van Halen. When Van Halen originally released this song back in 1978, I thought it was an original…what did I know, I was only 9. The Kinks didn’t exist in my world yet. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one as Ray Davies has mentioned that fans have come up to them after shows and thought it was cool that they played a Van Halen song.
“You Really Got Me” was released on Sept 2, 1964 in the US and the song was off the band’s album ‘Kinks’. The song went to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it went all the way to #1 in their home country of the UK. It was their third single at the time, but it was the first to really do anything for the band. It was so successful, it became their signature song.
The song has been described by Ray Davies as a “love song for street kids”. It is a rebellious track of sex and lust and all around gritty, dirty love. It is that energy both versions capture so well.
The Kinks’ version had a very Beatlesque quality to it which makes sense since the Beatles were huge at the time. The band wanted to capture that sound and they truly did. The song to me also had a real punk feel to it. It was aggressive and in your face, but it was the guitar sound that really made the song.
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