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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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).
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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.
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Disco era Kiss! Does it get any better than that?? Well, yes it actually does. Nonetheless, it was still Kiss and still awesome. I was out at my favorite little record spot and came across a 7″ single of Kiss and of course I had to have it. It was the 1979 single off the Dynasty album called “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”.
The single was only the band’s second Gold single and it went on to sell over a 1 million copies so needless to say, it was a hit. Which proved Gene and Paul correct that during the Disco era, anyone could write a disco song. Speaking of writing, this was the first time Kiss co-wrote a song with Desmond Child and it wouldn’t be the last. It was also Desmond’s first hit he ever had. The song was also written by Paul Stanley and Vini Poncia who played piano on the song and did backing vocals.
The really isn’t much to talk about in regards to the song. Think disco and you know what the song sounds like. You can get up and dance to it and sing along to the catchy, pop chorus. It is simple. One thing I guess I can talk about is that wikipedia has the 7″ single listed at 4:01, but my version has it at 3:57 which might not seem like a lot, but that is a big difference. The song is already cut down from the album version which was at 4:30. Not sure if I have a different version or wikipedia is just wrong.
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I was out and about at one of my favorite local record stores and came across this old 45 Single from Kiss. It was for the song “Tears Are Falling” off their 1985 album ‘Asylum. By 1985, Kiss was fully ensconced into the 80’s Hair Metal scene. Starting with their previous album, ‘Animalize’, the band’s sound shifted from the heavier albums like ‘Creatures of the Night’ and ‘Lick It Up’, to more of the Glam Rock sound to keep up with the music of the time. That meant power ballads. “Tears Are Falling” fit that mold quite nicely.
“Tears Are Falling” was released as a single in 1985 and made it to #20 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks, just not technically not a Top 40 hit since it only reached #51 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song did have better success on MTV where it was in frequent rotation on the station.
The song was written by Paul Stanley and one of the few times we ever get a true Stanley Only song. The next we got was not until his solo album in 2006. That bit of tidbit surprised me, but the internet can’t be wrong…can it?? The song was recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios which is Jimi Hendrix’s old studio and produced by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Interesting enough, Gene didn’t play bass on the song, it was played by Paul.
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Aldo Nova’s debut album came out in 1981 and it gave him his one and only hit. Yes, he is considered a one-hit wonder. That song was “Fantasy”. The reason he is considered a one hit wonder is the song “Fantasy” was the only song that he released that made it in to the US Top 40 Chart. It reached up to #23. He did have two other singles make the Billboard charts, but they never broke the Top 40. I find that one hit wonder label ridiculous because on the US Mainstream Rock chart he had 3 Top 15 songs…”Fantasy”, “Monkey On Your Back” and “Blood on the Bricks”. The One Hit Wonder status only relates to the US Top 40 chart.
All that aside, let’s talk about the song “Fantasy”. The album version of the song opens the album and is 5:05 in length. The single version that we are discussing from the 45 that I have is a lot shorter at only 3:13, What is the big difference? The opening sequence on the album (and the video) has a a slower build up with the synth sounds creating a helicopter that is flying in and after it lands you have a laser blast that then kicks in to the song. The radio single cuts all that out as well as the last minute of the song which is basically repeating the chorus over and over. It is now short and compact and full of punch.
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Still yet more in the big box of vinyl. This time the 45 single I found was actually one of my wife’s old 45’s. The single was for Lionel Richie’s song “Dancing On The Single”. The single was released in 1986 and was the title track for his third studio album.
I never thought I would do a post on this song as it is not one of my favorite Lionel Richie songs. Though it is a fun, energetic, dance song; it is a really terrible song at the same time. I am not alone in that thinking as Blender Magazine listed it as the 20th Worst Song ever out of 50.
However, the world disagreed with me and Blender as the song was a Top 10 hit in almost ever country it was released. The U.S. saw it go all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The B-Side of the single was “Love Will Find A Way”. However, as most of my singles from this box don’t follow suit with having the correct B-Side, this one is no different. This copy of the 45 is a Promotional Copy and Not For Sale. The flip side is actually “Dancing On The Ceiling” again. If I couldn’t get enough of the song on the A-Side, I can flip it to the B-Side and hear it again. Sure, let’s do that.
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