Welcome back to another exciting Friday! Before we start this week’s attack, I just want to thank those of you who e-mailed and offered to send me the i-Ten album that we referenced last week. I now have it, thanks to Kurt (who, like all rock stars, is out of retirement), and I think it’s the greatest album Foreigner ever released. So here’s their original version of "Alone," later made hugely famous by Heart.
I-Ten – Alone (download)
Now, back to this week – July 30, 1983!
10. Our House – Madness Amazon iTunes
9. Stand Back – Stevie Nicks Amazon iTunes
8. She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer Amazon iTunes
7. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson Amazon iTunes
6. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics Amazon iTunes
5. Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran Amazon iTunes
4. Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes Amazon iTunes
3. Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara Amazon
2. Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant Amazon
1. Every Breath You Take – The Police Amazon iTunes
10. Our House – Madness (download)
In general, I really don’t have a problem with artists who sell their songs for commercial use. (You know, being a Who fan and all.) However, if you’re gonna use the song, at least keep the original version, huh? This Maxwell House off-key mangling of "Our House" really gets on my nerves. Anyway, like System last week, I had no idea who sang this song until recently. (No word as to whether Jeff has, had or lost the Madness CD – although he now has the System CD, heh heh.) I’d love to call Madness a one-hit wonder, but I’m sure a number of you would remind me that they also had a #33 hit with "It Must Be Love" – which was also altered for use in a commercial for a British bank.
Anything else interesting I can tell you about Madness? They released a song called "Michael Caine" that actually featured Michael Caine in the video, but that’s not really so interesting. Everybody knows Michael Caine will appear in anything. I have the feeling there are probably some Madness fans reading this, so I’ll leave you to educate the rest of us regarding the finer points of the band. (Yeah, I get lazy sometimes.)
Enjoy this version of "Our House," which is a slightly extended mix!
9. Stand Back – Stevie Nicks
All that I know about "Stand Back," I learned from our reader Elaine. Elaine informed me that "Stand Back" was written by Stevie after hearing "Little Red Corvette." You can find more information here. Here’s a portion of the story, bolded emphasis mine:
I got married the day I wrote this song. We were driving to Santa Barbara and a new song by Prince came on, so we pulled over somewhere and got the tape. It just gave me an incredible idea, so I spent many hours that night writing a song about some kind of crazy argument, and it was to become one of the most important of my songs.
News Flash: don’t marry Stevie Nicks. Worst wedding night ever! Thanks, Elaine, for relaying the story and pointing out that Nicks is, apparently, a dedicated musician but a piss-poor wife.
As you’ll read in that link, Prince actually played the synths on "Stand Back" but declined to be credited. (Wonder why.) Elaine has requested that Mike and I, for Acoustic ’80s, perform a "Stand Back"/"Little Red Corvette" medley. As soon as we stop obsessing over the chord changes in "Caribbean Queen," we’ll give it a shot.
By the way, I saw Fleetwood Mac live in 2003, when they were touring in support of Say You Will. It’s always interesting to see how Fleetwood Mac fans are really split – they’re either Stevie fans, or they’re not. Much like the Eagles a few years back, long ago the Mac decided it was in their best interests to include her massive hit in their set. (What, no "Holiday Road" in tribute to Lindsey? Grrr.)
Well, there’s this one moment during "Stand Back" where she spins in a circle. Maybe 10 times. Not very fast, because she’s a big girl. But the crowd goes wild. It’s like when Townshend smashes a guitar. I don’t get it. She’s just spinning. Now, if she fell down afterwards, I’d go wild. Or if she did it while eating a pizza (a whole pizza, not just a slice) or maybe a donut.
There are a zillion "Stand Back" videos on YouTube (because Stevie Nicks fans are rabid), but I really like this one. Liberty Devitto is on the drums. Nicks is dancing all over the place. The best part, however, is when a d-bag in pleated khakis and a leather jacket leaps into frame and starts this dramatic pas de deux with Nicks. All she does is flip her head back on each cymbal crash, oddly reminding me of Miss Piggy. Then, suddenly, he’s gone again.
Jesus. Seven paragraphs on "Stand Back." Shoot me.
8. She Works Hard For The Money – Donna Summer
As the legend goes, Donna Summer was eating at Chasen’s Restaurant in Beverly HIlls. When she went to the bathroom, she found the attendant fast asleep. The attendant woke up and apologized, explaining that she was dog-tired after working two jobs. Summer found her inspiration for the song from this incident, and featured the attendant, Onetta Jackson, on the back cover of the LP. (Unfortunately, time constraints have prevented me from finding an image, but if you can track it down, let me know.)
I remember the original video fondly, although I’m not sure if I realized how similar she looked to Rick James at the time. However, here’s a video of an "acapella mix" of the song. I’m at least calling partial bullshit on this clip (at around 2:13, she sings but the microphone’s point out to the audience), but I have to admit it’s really well done – and does showcase Summer’s wonderful voice. She-male comments aside, she gets nothing but love from me. She’s one of the staples of CHART ATTACK!, after all, along with Tom Kelly.
7. Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – Michael Jackson
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post entitled "Thriller Revisited" over at my previous blog which pretty much sums up my feelings about this album. Written back during the Off The Wall sessions, "Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’" is an unbelievable track, and the perfect lead-off to Thriller: full of energy and promises, and thankfully, none of the tracks that follow disappoint.
Granted, I have no idea what MJ is talking about when he puts forth accusations of the listener being either a vegetable or a buffet, but I agree that if you can’t feed the baby, then don’t have the baby. And I haven’t even mentioned "mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa," which was lifted from saxophonist Manu Dibango’s "Soul Makossa," widely considered to be one of the first disco songs. Thanks to Robert, here’s the track:
Manu Dibango – Soul Makossa (download)
Dibango did sue Jackson, incidentally, and wound up with an out-of-court settlement. I’m not sure of the terms, but I’d be willing to bet that he wound up with more money than Jackson has at this point in time.
6. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) – Eurythmics
I feel no shame in telling all of you that, as a kid, Annie Lennox scared the crap out of me. What, she didn’t frighten you? I mean, I just didn’t know what she was: Boy? Girl? Bowie? It was a mystery to me. It’s true that I was six and also in the habit of confusing Cyndi Lauper with Madonna, but I don’t think I can be blamed for this one. "Sweet Dreams" remains the group’s only chart-topper, which is a shame when you think of some of the other fantastic songs they’ve released.
Here’s a nifty mash-up of "Sweet Dreams" and "Seven Nation Army," notable because the video is a mash-up as well. I can’t even imagine how much time it took to put this together.
5. Is There Something I Should Know? – Duran Duran
I know it’s my fault ’cause I pick the weeks, but man, I can’t believe I have to write about Duran Duran again. I’d just like to give the Durans credit for adding to all the exciting punctuation happening this week. Parentheses! Apostrophes! (That wild man Michael Jackson had TWO! Two in one song!) And now, a question mark! Bravo, Durans!
"Is There Something I Should Know?" was only included on an album in the U.S., specifically when Capitol re-issued their ’81 debut album following the success of "Rio." In England, it was released as a stand-alone single.
Did I mention the question mark thing?
4. Never Gonna Let You Go – Sergio Mendes
What? You haven’t read Mellow Gold #4, where we totally discussed this song, its multiple keys, its phantom singers, and featured a picture of Sergio Mendes with a pepper in his mouth? Go, go, go! (Psssst…the download’s back up, too.)
3. Flashdance…What A Feeling – Irene Cara
Punctuation rules 7/20/83 once more! An ellipsis! And a completely unnecessary ellipsis at that! I mean, with all the parenthetical abuse going on at the time, why didn’t they just throw ‘em in here? "Flashdance (What A Feeling)" works just fine. So does "Fl(ash)dance (What A Fee)ling."
Anyway, "Flashdance…………..What A Feeling" went on to win Best Song at the Academy Awards, as well as Best Female Pop Vocal at the Grammy Awards. Just one of many Giorgio Moroder soundtrack hits, you cannot beat a song that features backing vocalists enthusiastically insisting "I am music now!" and "I am rhythm now!" You can almost see the jazz hands, can’t you? And as you may recall, a few months ago, Jeff and I totally outed Joe "Bean" Esposito as one of the backing vocalists. We asked him if he had any qualms about singing those lines (he wa$ plea$ed to $ing them), but forgot to ask him about the jazz hands. Dammit!
2. Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant (download)
Hey, have you seen Eddy Grant lately? He looks great:
Oh wait, my bad. That’s not Eddy Grant. That’s Billy Ocean. I shit you not. He played his first concert on U.S. soil in 18 years last week – a free show in Coney Island with Air Supply. Couldn’t we have done something a bit better for Mr. Ocean? His first show in 18 years? Jesus.
Anyway, about Eddy Grant and "Electric Avenue." I love this song. It’s ’80s synth mastery at its very finest. Name the last time you heard a song this varied and funky that only contained one (one!) chord. Plus, it’s about social ills! (Not that I’ve ever taken the time to figure out the lyrics!) Grant was doing a good thing with this song. And how did we repay him? Well…we didn’t. Although I’m certain he’s probably doing pretty well off the "Electric Avenue" royalties. Catch up with Eddy Grant at his MySpace page, where you can purchase the two-disc (two!) Hit Collection. (Two! Good God!)
Here’s the video, featuring Eddy Grant’s death stare, as well as a scene where the living room floor becomes water. I think Billy Joel did this in "Pressure," too.
1. Every Breath You Take – The Police
it’s hard to come up with anything interesting to say about this song that hasn’t been said before. I know I liked it at one point – it’s a good song but I can’t remember the last time I allowed it to play on either my iPod or the radio from start to finish. (Guess it’s just me: according to CBS News, Sting pulls in almost $2000 a day from this song’s royalties.) I do love the guitar riff, and I love loving the guitar riff, since Sting brought the just-about-completed song to the band and Andy Summers recorded his part on the spot, in one take.
I’ll be seeing The Police next Wednesday, so it’ll be interesting to hear the band’s 2007 interpretation of this song. (I’m just kidding: no, it won’t. It’s likely to sound exactly the way it did back in 1983, and the audience will go wild, and I’ll patiently wait for Summers to play a bum note and get the stare-of-death from Sting.)
Another week, come and gone. Dry your eyes – we’ll be back next Friday for another edition of CHART ATTACK! Thanks for reading!