Aug 302013

Driving home from dinner with my wife and oldest son the other night our local Oldies station played a fantastic run of (albeitly cheesy) mid-’70s songs that my wife and I probably too enthusiastically pointed out to our son captured the time when we were the age of his younger brother, who was not with us on this drive. I can’t remember the killer run of hits, but it kicked off with “Young Americans” and included “We’re an American Band” and “Whatever Gets You Through the Night.”

“What a titan John Lennon was,” I marveled in my head, privately, “to be able to inject such a suspect disco-boogie romp with so much energy and cool!” I felt a tear building in my left eye as that song faded while memories of that era continued to blare, as I anticipated what the DJ computer would spin next…

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Jul 052013

Fancy my trainers?

Last night, Mr. Royale and I went to one of those ’80s dance nights. I’m proud to say that I danced my f’ing ass off and even Mr. Royale was seen hoofing it to several classic ’80s Post-Punk tracks. This wasn’t your typical synth-pop, hair metal evening: David J was the guest DJ. As you can imagine, he filled the evening with darker, interesting British music from the early-to-mid -80s, most of it great to dance to and all of it enjoyable to hear.

This morning, the ’80s love-fest continued. While I was scanning my FB feed, another blog that I follow posted some videos from the Hacienda/Factory Records site. While I’ve been resting my weary feet, I’ve been watching these live clips from The Hacienda, circa 1982. Most of them are pretty interesting, and I’m guessing a few will get you up on your feet. The band line up is so good: I would call it my Summer of Love.

May 252013

Picked up two CDs from the $5 bin at FRY’s today (which is HUGE and has many treasures), both from the 1980s.

Darryl Hall and John OatesVoices has been a favorite of mine since I bought it in 1980 at the age of 9.

The other, Stevie Ray Vaughan‘s Soul to Soul, which was a huge LP for me when it came out 1985 and my band I’m in now can play the whole LP as a set (see Electric Stevieland).

I love both CDs—they just didn’t make the upgrade to CD…or to the car once the cassette deck went away.

The liner notes from SRV are a celebration of the Texas guitarist hitting the big time as part of a blues revival (Cray, T-Birds, Thorogood, etc) and keeping true to Texas blues roots—the words “the ’80s” are never used.

In their liner notes, Hall and Oates on the other hand mostly apologize for all things 1980s. Not sure why, the ’80s were pretty good for them! Cause its dated? X-static from ’78 is way more dated sounding but ’70s—a time that we have forgiven for its sins.

Question: Is “well it WAS the ’80s” a legit excuse for any musician/band/song/album?

Do any artists get an “’80s pass”?

Is there such thing as a “’90s pass?” A “’70s pass”?

A crapbuger record is bad because its bad. (Loverboy is Loverboy’s fault, not the producer or stylist’s.) It’s not all trends, fashion and production is it? Knowing when to say when is part of your artistic (or at least stylistic) integrity, right?<

The ’80s did not force itself on you (or did it) any more than that bandana and parachute pants combination did.

PS – Hall and Oates did have a Bad and Dated release: 1988 Ooh! Yeah! Sounded like it was stuck in 1986!!! The next one they went back to early ’70s soul and it was like the 1980s never happened.

May 032013
Hunkering down at U. Penn's Spring Fling, circa 1986.

Hunkering down at U. Penn’s Spring Fling, circa 1986.

I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, in the Philadelphia area, we are enjoying the most glorious, Classic Spring season in recent memory. It’s been sunny most days with just enough rain a few nights a week to keep the budding vegetation satisfied. The temperatures have been in the 60s, which I’ll take at this time of year. Some people, like my wife, wish we could get a month-long stretch of weather in the mid-70s, but I think that’s asking for too much. Often, at this time of year, we’re slogging through a full week of rain and temperatures still in the high 40s. My nearly half-century experience in this area tells me that once the thermometer hits 75º F in Philadelphia for 2 or 3 days in a row that a quick spike to 90º F with stifling humidity is just around the corner.

I’ve been so carried by the weather this April and the first few days of May that I’ve found myself having flashbacks to carefree spring days of my youth. As with many of my memories, a soundtrack is quickly associated. Days like this remind me of rushing from school or work to meet up with friends and start hitting the bong and/or the $6 case of beer. Freshman year at a college outside Chicago, during a week of just this sort of weather, I recall a friend and I placing stereo speakers on the windowsill of my dorm room and blasting the soundtrack from Apocalypse Now, a double-album set composed of the most of the movie’s dialog and sound effects, for passerby to hear: “Saigon…shit!”

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Apr 052013


If you’ve been following Rock Town Hall for even a couple of weeks you probably have an inkling of my severe distaste for the mainstream culture of the 1980s. If you didn’t live through that era and find it “charming” or whatever, I feel slightly worse for the future of humankind. That’s OK, I’m used to feeling that way. What troubles me is how we got to this point considering how great my generation was and how much greater our parents’ and grandparents’ generations were. If we were so great, shouldn’t the youth of today be better?

If you lived through that era and look back on it fondly, I am not-so-secretly jealous of you. I had a lot of youthful energy and love to give to the world at that time, and for all my exquisite taste I would have been happy to spread my energy and love on a mutually appreciative world, as you may have been able to do back then. Bravo, ’80s Mainstream Culture Beneficiaries!

Many of my associations with the ’80s, then and now, were filtered through my not-always exclusive pursuits of rock ‘n roll and girls, as I was young enough to call them through most of the decade. I desired a mastery of both, yet constantly found myself falling short of the mark. Most of the roadblocks encountered were part of my genetic makeup and/or self-erected. I think of all the poor decisions I made and inflexible stances I took owing to my born and bred stubbornness. I did have good taste, however, and I have no regrets about that. The mainstream culture of the 1980s threw its share of roadblocks at me. Perhaps no cultural artifact was a more daunting roadblock than a copy of Duran Duran‘s Rio placed at the front of a stack of albums in a girl’s dorm room or apartment.

Mar 222013


As I may have mentioned a few times over the years, I HATED THE 1980s!

I hated ’80s style and culture in general, but as a music-obsessed person, I especially hated “’80s” music, which I typify as synth-pop featuring Yahmaha DX7s and strained vocals. I hated hair gel and guys with dyed hair. I hated asymmetric hairdos and shirt collars. I hated shirts with shoulder pads and epaulets. I hated puffy socks and women wearing jeans with high-riding waistbands. I even hated Madonna, although stripped of her iconic ’80s style she was my idea of a Hot Woman. Thankfully Madonna provided some opportunities to confirm that suspicion.

I hated what the ’80s did to Michael Jackson. I hated the bright colors. I never aspired to androgyny. I even hated much of the “cool” underground music of the ’80s: hardcore, shitcore, REM, that goth stuff like Bauhaus coming out of England… I even hated bands that were making music fairly similar to my own band’s aspirations because I was jealous of their relative success.

I think I hated myself as much as anything. I grew up in the 1970s, feeling pretty much out of place but certain that I would develop into a well-rounded hipster in my early ’80s college years only to be unleashed in a world where I fit in even less. Damn you, 1980s!

Today, my wiser, kinder, gentler self occasionally hears Human League‘s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” on the radio and thinks to himself, “At least I always liked that song. There must have been another 24 hit songs in the ’80s that I liked, right?”

Well, were there? I am calling on you, my trusted Townspeople, to help me recall whether I liked 25 hit songs from the 1980s. The rules for submission follow…after the jump!

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