Monday, September 15, 2014

(It's Not Nostalgia) It's the 80s Express--Pt. 22

16.  "Need You Tonight"--INXS
Released 1987
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Six men from Australia, three bonded by blood, started a band with hopes of world domination.  Took a bit of time--more than five years, less than ten--but their lofty-ass goal was reached.

The foolproof plan:  take the riff from "Another One Bites the Dust," twist it just a li'l bit to the left, and allow the one above-average element of the band sufficient room to breathe long and low all over the track.  BOOM, panties disintegrated and INXS became global superstars.

"Need You Tonight" was a direct influence on the band Train, namely their song "Hey Soul Sister."  Punishment must be meted out.

Keep It?  NO

"Don't Change"--INXS
Released 1982
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  80

Chicken Little, so it turns out, was fulla crap.

Early INXS is hysterical to listen to, in the way peculiar to nascent racket-gangs who try to fit each of their musical influences into a single album (usually their very first).  In the case of INXS, these influences were pop, punk and ska.  Again, hysterical.  By album three, Shabooh Shoobah, they were finally using their own forms of ID to get into venues, and "Don't Change" is the perfect "last call."  None of the funk and dance elements of their most popular stuff is present here; this is a pub band doing sun-burst stadium rock. 

Why "Don't Change" wasn't their breakthrough baffles me to this day.  This is music that propels fleets forward.  The chorus itself is top ten of the decade. 

15.  "Jump"--Van Halen
Released 1984
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

So much hullabaloo to-do about keyboards being the prominent instrument here.  Five albums of balls-out hard rock and fret-wankery to spare, and then this happens?  Eddie, man, why?  This sounds fruity.  Look at the hand gesture I'm making to emphasize the fruitiness of their new sound!

So much pointless bitching, as it turns out Eddie Van Halen's instinct when playing any instrument is to be as fleet-fingered as possible.  "Jump" is great dumb fun, which also happens to be David Lee Roth's raison d'etre on this planet.  The occasionally-questioned Lord and Master of wearing clothes that went on "super sale" after a werewolf attack at the warehouse simply refuses to disappoint:

I get up!  And nothin' gets me down
You got it tough!  I seen the toughest around
And I know!

Superb.

Keep It?  YES

14.  "Walk Like An Egyptian"--The Bangles
Released 1986
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Weak.  "Riot Like An Egyptian," now that's the jam.

Preferable to walking the dinosaur, but so is traipsing 'cross a bed of hot coals or biting down on some cold snails.  Yeah, you go do that dumb-ass dance, you buncha dumb-asses.  (Every year I find myself saying that.)

Keep It?  NO

"Heaven is a Place on Earth"--Belinda Carlisle
Released 1987
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

In Heaven, the chorus comes first.  And Thomas Dolby is mashing the keys.

Step out into the light of a newly-fallen night.  Hop from self-made cloud to self-made cloud and never have to leave the ground.   Goddamn this is a highly-convincing argument for the existence of true love. Dido tried to do her own "Heaven is a Place on Earth" when she made "Thank You," except it was all so sad and British.  Then she tried again with "White Flag," which was also all so sad and British.

Belinda baby clutches the melody to her side like it's a baby chihuahua she just adopted.  The only flaw is mentioning "the sound of kids on the street outside" as a positive thing.

Heaven can be found in that fade-out.  Jebus, take the wheel; I'm gonna be singing for awhile.

13.  "With or Without You"--U2
Released 1987
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 Peak Position:  1

Given the wisdom accrued over thirty-eight (!) years, we should duly appreciate that time when Bono was not an insufferable shingle dangling from the crack of the Earth.  He's clearly always been self-absorbed, but not always unbearably so.  That came pretty much right after The Joshua Tree (the album from which this song hails) sold an obscene amount of copies, sending the susceptible young Irishman into an emotional tailspin.

Let us cry for the rich man.  I wrote a review for the rich man.

No matter how untamed the Bono Beast, "With or Without You" remains a stunner.  Is it sad?  Oh lawd.  Not quite Russian literature levels of sad, because he was still able to walk into a recording studio and sing actual words...this melancholia is more in line with the sort that descends upon a person when their dog has just leaped onto the table and scarfed up the last slice of pizza.

Why is it sad?  Romantic love, of course.  No one walks away unscathed.  Many are the ones who walk back. 

Keep It?  YES


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