Archives » 1980s

Live It Up 82: Ashes to Ashes

Despite the 1970s being Bowie’s break-through decade (his first No. 1 Space Oddity in 1969 was something of a false dawn and for a time he had looked to be a one-hit wonder) he didn’t have a No. 1 in that decade, having to wait till 1980 for this song to be his second to top the UK charts, helped by a distinctly weird video, which was made to look like it had been filmed on another planet and whose lyric referred back to Space Oddity and gave a fresh angle on that earlier song

For myself I think it was the sound of a mellotron in the mix that made it.

David Bowie: Ashes to Ashes

Live It Up 81: Freaks

A stop-gap single to promote Marillion’s live album The Thieving Magpie released after Fish had left the group, though he was on vocals for this.

Marillion: Freaks

Live It Up 80: We Didn’t Start the Fire

I mentioned this song when I posted the same singer’s Leningrad in this category last year.

The lyrics are a reminder that the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” might have resonance for many people who lived in the second half of the twentieth century. And indeed, now.

They are also redolent of Harold Macmillan’s second most important warning. When asked what would he say was most likely to knock governments off-course he reputedly said, “Events, dear boy. Events,” a phrase I use for my posts on happenings (usually, it has to be said, deaths) in the wider world. It seems though that documentary evidence of Macmillan using these words is elusive.

That other warning of his? “Never invade Afghanistan.”

Joel has apparently said he doesn’t particularly like the song as the melody is, “terrible. Like a dentist’s drill.”

He’s doing himself an injustice. OK the melody’s nothing to write home about, but it matches the lyrics. And the lyrics are beautifully constructed.

Billy Joel: We Didn’t Start the Fire

Live It Up 79: Bette Davis Eyes

It wasn’t till I started researching this that I realised this distinctive song (particularly the cracked vocal) was part written by Jackie DeShannon. See here and here. It is Kim Carnes’s version that is most familiar to people in the UK, though. The song remains Carnes’s only hit here.

Kim Carnes: Bette Davis Eyes

Jackie DeShannon’s version is, by comparison, much more conventional.

Jackie DeShannon: Bette Davis Eyes

Live It Up 78: Holding out for a Hero – RIP Jim Steinman

The man who wrote Bat out of Hell and so was partly responsible for thrusting Meatloaf onto the world has died.

Despite not having much success on his own account Steinman had a few strings to his bow. As well as composing he was also a record producer and contributed not only to Meatloaf’s career but also to Bonnie Tyler’s, producing her two highest charting UK albums and writing her two biggest hits in the UK, Total Eclipse of the Heart and this one, Holding out for a Hero.

Bonnie Tyler: Holding out for a Hero

James Richard (Jim) Steinman: November 1/11/1947 –19/4/2021. So it goes.

Live It Up 77: Broken Wings

Mr Mister’s first UK hit.

Mr Mister: Broken Wings

Live It Up 76: The Love Cats

A nice piece of 1983 jauntiness from The Cure.

Their first top ten hit.

The Cure: The Love Cats

Live It Up 75: I Know There’s Something Going On

I heard this on the radio a couple of weeks ago and immediately thought, “That’s Phil Collins drumming.” It’s very reminiscent of his contribution to the track Intruder from Peter Gabriel’s third solo album and is a signature drum sound which Collins seems to have created with Hugh Padgham.

I confess I didn’t remember who had performed this song and was a little surprised to hear the DJ say it was Anni-Frid Lyngstad – she from ABBA.

It was indeed Collins on the drums and he also produced the track.

The song was taken from Anni-Frid’s first solo LP, Something Going On, released in 1982. It only reached no 43 in the UK charts.

Anni-Frid Lyngstad: I Know There’s Something Going On

Live It Up 74: Man Child

I hadn’t remembered this as having rapping in it.

Ah, well. There you go. (I must have blanked it out.)

Neneh Cherry: Man Child

Live It Up 73: Da Da Da

A piece of minimalism from German band Trio. Possibly tongue in cheek.

Trio: Da Da Da

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