Saturday, December 13, 1980

AC/DC chart with “Back in Black” single

First posted 10/24/2020.

Back in Black

AC/DC

Writer(s): Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Malcolm Young (see lyrics here)


First Charted: December 13, 1980


Peak: 37 US, 39 CB, 54 HR, 1 CL, 51 AR, 27 UK, 65 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, 0.6 UK, 4.05 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 612.0 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

After five successful albums in their native Australia, AC/DC were finally being embraced by an international market with 1979’s Highway to Hell, an album which went top 10 in the UK and top 20 in the U.S. Then tragedy struck. Rock singer Bon Scott died on February 19, 1980. On his death certificate, the official cause was listed as acute alcohol poisoning.

The group considered disbanding, but on the advice of their producer, Mutt Lange, brought in Brian Johnson for an audition. Scott himself had seen him perform with his former band Geordie back in 1973 and talked up the singer to the rest of the band. SF By the end of March, he had the job as the new singer for AC/DC.

Among the new songs recorded by the group was a song called “Back in Black,” which was a tribute to Scott. Guitarist Malcolm Young already had the main guitar riff down and the group already had the idea for the title before it had any words. SF Johnson recalled that the band asked him to write the lyrics, saying “it can’t be morbid – it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration.” WK Johnson responded with words such as “Forget the hearse, ‘cause I never die” and what he considered “mumbo jumbo” lines like “Nine lives. Cats’ eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.” The band, however, told Johnson “they saw Bon’s life in that lyric.” WK

While the song wasn’t a big hit from a chart standpoint, its iconic opening guitar riff made it into what The Guardian called “a classic metal anthem.” WK Metal Hammer magazine said, “There are rock songs that appeal to metal fans. And there are metal songs that appeal to rock fans. Then there is ‘Back in Black’ – a rock song and metal song that appeals to everyone…and it all hangs on that monumental, no-nonsense, three-chord monster of a riff.” WK


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Wednesday, December 10, 1980

Journey’s Dream after Dream released

First posted 10/12/2008; updated 9/11/2020.

Dream After Dream

Journey


Released: December 10, 1980


Recorded: date


Charted: date


Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks:

Song Title (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Destiny
  2. Snow Theme
  3. Sand Castles
  4. A Few Coins
  5. Moon Theme
  6. When the Love Has Gone
  7. Festival Dance
  8. The Rape
  9. Little Girl


Total Running Time: 35:22


The Players:

  • Steve Perry (vocals)
  • Neal Schon (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Gregg Rolie (keyboards, backing vocals)
  • Ross Valory (bass, backing vocals)
  • Steve Smith (drums)

Rating:

3.976 out of 5.00 (average of 7 ratings)

About the Album:

Dream after Dream was a soundtrack album for the Japanese fantasy film Yume, Yume No Ato. Because the music was by Journey, who’d become a well-known rock band thanks to their three previous Steve Perry-led affairs, the soundtrack received much more attention than the movie. Still, the music was a departure from Journey’s more current sound. Instead, it was a throwback to the more progressive rock beginnings of their first three albums before Perry joined.

Most of the soundtrack consists of instrumentals, meaning Steve Perry makes minimal contributions to the album. Two songs have sparse vocals – Destiny and Sand Castles. JM The only “true vocal track” JM is on “the lovelorn ballad Little Girl, easily making it the highlight of the album.” AMG It resurfaced later as the B-side to 1982’s “Open Arms” and was featured on Journey’s box set, Time 3.

These components made this “one of the most overlooked albums in Journey’s catalog.” AMG While it certainly didn’t fit the tastes of the arena-rock fanbase the group had developed over the last three albums, it “is a fine example of Journey’s underrated musicianship, and recommended to devoted fans.” AMG The album is also noteworthy for featuring Gregg Rolie’s final work with the band.

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Friday, November 21, 1980

REO Speedwagon’s Hi Infidelity was released: November 21, 1980

Originally posted November 21, 2011.



“If you need proof why arena rock was giant, this is it.” STE REO Speedwagon could arguably be credited with bringing arena rock to its pinnacle. They “had been slogging it out in the arenas of the U.S.” STE for nearly a decade, “building up a sizeable audience because they could deliver live.” STE This was much the same story for the band’s peers like Styx, Journey, and Foreigner. The difference is that all those bands had landed a couple top ten albums. The highest REO ever previously reached was #29.

Then, in 1981, all four bands topped the album charts. However, REO got their first “with this incredibly mainstream collection of power ballads and economic hard rock.” RO They did it with a fifteen-week chart-topper which sold more than 9 million copies in the U.S. This was “a record that not just summarized their strengths, but captured everything that was good about arena rock. This is the sound of the stadiums in that netherworld between giants like Zeppelin and MTV’s slick, video-ready anthems.” STE

“The band’s strongest attribute is its inconspicuous nature. You never see it coming. Kevin Cronin has a serviceable voice and Gary Richrath is a solid if unspectacular lead player” RO “but there’s a real urgency to the songs and the performances.” STE Keep on Loving You set “the pattern for the power ballads that would take many a hard rock band to the top of the charts throughout the ‘80s.” RO That song “and the surging Take It on the Run…define their era.” STE There’s also “the Bo Diddley-inspired opener, Don’t Let Him GoSTE and other radio-friendly songs like “the sun-kissed ‘60s homage In Your Letter, and Tough Guys.” STE

“What’s really great about these songs is not just the sheen of professionalism that makes them addictive to listen to, but there’s a real strain of pathos that runs through these songs – the album’s title isn't just a clever pun, but a description of the tortured romantic relationships that populate this record’s songs. This is really arena rock’s Blood on the Tracks, albeit by a group of guys instead of a singular vision, but that makes it more affecting, as well as a killer slice of ear candy.” STE




Awards: Resources and Related Links:

Saturday, November 15, 1980

Kenny Rogers topped the pop charts with “Lady”: November 15, 1980

Originally posted November 15, 2011.



In 1980, Kenny Rogers was the biggest draw in country music. To capitalize on his status – and a year which had already seen three top five hits on the country charts – his record label wanted a Greatest Hits package to ring in the Christmas season. Rogers had just ended his five-year relationship with producer Larry Butler and was seeking new blood to spark his creativity.

He turned to Lionel Richie, who wasn’t yet the solo superstar he was to become within a few years. At the time, he still fronted the Motown group The Commodores. Like Rogers, Richie had experienced major crossover success. The 1978 hit “Three Times a Lady” had topped the pop, R&B, adult contemporary, and UK charts. The country-tinged “Easy” (1977) was a hit on all four formats as well.

The pair of songs caught Rogers’ attention. Rogers contacted Motown founder Berry Gordy about working with the Commodores. Because of a motorcycle accident to drummer Walter Orange, the group had delayed a concert tour and Richie and Co. had time on their hands. Lionel flew to Las Vegas to meet with Rogers. Richie played demos of “Lady” and “Goin’ Back to Alabama”, songs he’d written two years earlier. BR1 Rogers cut both in an 8 ½ hour session; the former included some lyrical tweaking to reference Rogers’ relationship with his wife. TR As Rogers said, “The idea was that Lionel would come from R&B and I’d come from country, and we’d meet somewhere in the middle.” BR1

The song became Rogers’ fourth million-selling single and his first #1 on the pop charts. BB100 It was also the biggest pop song of 1980 WHC and the first song of the decade to hit all four of the major Billboard charts (pop, country, adult contemporary, R&B). BR1 It hit #1 on the first three of those.




Awards:

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Tuesday, November 11, 1980

Aerosmith released their first greatest hits package

First posted 4/11/2008; updated 9/7/2020.

Greatest Hits

Aerosmith


Buy Here:


Recorded: 1972-1979


Released: November 11, 1980


Peak: 53 US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, -- UK, 14.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Dream On (10/20/73, #6 US)
  2. Same Old Song and Dance
  3. Sweet Emotion (6/14/75, #36 US, #24 UK, #36 AR)
  4. Walk This Way (11/20/76, #10 US)
  5. Last Child (6/12/76, #21 US)
  6. Back in the Saddle (4/9/77, #38 US)
  7. Draw the Line (10/22/77, #42 US)
  8. Kings and Queens (3/11/78, #70 US)
  9. Come Together (8/5/78, #23 US)
  10. Remember Walking in the Sand (1/12/80, #67 US)


Total Running Time: 37:15


The Players:

  • Steven Tyler (vocals, keyboards, harmonica, percussion)
  • Joe Perry (guitar)
  • Brad Whitford (rhythm guitar)
  • Tom Hamilton (bass)
  • Joey Kramer (drums, percussion)

Rating:

4.214 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

“Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits remains one of the most popular and enduring best-of collections by any rock band…but when it was issued in 1980, the band had just about reached its nadir. With original guitarist Joe Perry gone (and Brad Whitford soon to follow), Aerosmith had turned into a directionless, time-consuming ghost of its former self.” GP

“Since there would be a three-year gap between 1979’s Night in the Ruts and 1982’s Rock in a Hard Place, Greatest Hits was assembled, more or less, to fill the void and buy the band some time. Of the ten songs here, nine “are bona fide classics.” GP

The band’s first album is represented with Dream On, a song which initially peaked at #59 on the Billboard Hot 100 when released in 1973. However, the song became a top-ten hit when it was rereleased after the band’s success with Toys in the Attic in 1975.

Same Old Song and Dance is the only song from Get Your Wings. Instead of the album version, the single version is used. It was edited by nearly a minute and has an alternate lyric with the line “You shady lookin’ loser, you played with my gun” substituted for the original “Gotcha with the cocaine, found with your gun.” WK

Toys in the Attic featured two classics from Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion and Walk This Way. The former was the band’s first top 40 hit while the latter would land the band in the top ten – twice. When originally released as the second single from Toys, “Walk This Way” didn’t chart. However, like “Dream On,” it resurfaced and became a top ten hit after the Rocks album was released in 1976. The song hit the top ten again in 1986 when rap group Run-D.M.C. remade the song with guest stars Steven Tyler and Joe Perry from Aerosmith.

The Rocks album is represented by Last Child and Back in the Saddle. Both were top 40 hits. A third single, “Home Tonight,” hit the Hot 100, but isn’t included on this compilation.

Draw the Line and Kings and Queens were both originally on the Draw the Line album. Both songs hit the Hot 100, but failed to go top 40.

Next up is the band’s “venomous cover of the Beatles’ Come Together, previously only available as a single and on the soundtrack to the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” GP

“The only poor selection is the forgettable Remember Walking in the Sand,” GP a cover of the Shangri-La’s top five hit from 1964.

“For the casual fan, Greatest Hits will do the job.” GP However, with the album clocking in at only 37 and a half minutes, many Aerosmith classics are not included, such as…their cover of ‘Train Kept a Rollin’” GP or “Big Ten Inch Record.”


Notes: A 1997 reissue added “Mama Kin,” “Seasons of Wither,” “Big Ten Inch Record,” “Lightning Strikes,” “Chip Away the Stone,” “One Way Street,” and a remix of “Sweet Emotion.”

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Friday, November 7, 1980

Eagles released first live album

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 9/20/2020.

Eagles Live

Eagles


Released: November 7, 1980


Recorded: live October 1976 and July 1980


Peak: 6 US, 24 UK, 25 CN, 3 AU


Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, -- UK, 10.6 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: classic rock


Tracks: Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Hotel California
  2. Heartache Tonight
  3. I Can’t Tell You Why
  4. The Long Run
  5. New Kid in Town
  6. Life’s Been Good (Joe Walsh solo song) (6/10/78, 12 US)
  7. Seven Bridges Road (12/20/80, 21 US, 17 AC, 55 CW)
  8. Wasted Time
  9. Take It to the Limit
  10. Doolin’-Dalton (Reprise II)
  11. Desperado
  12. Saturday Night
  13. All Night Long (Joe Walsh solo song) (5/17/80, 19 US)
  14. Life in the Fast Lane
  15. Take It Easy

Chart figures are only for songs not previously featured on any Eagles’ albums.


Total Running Time: 77:10


The Players:

  • Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Don Henley (vocals, drums)
  • Don Felder (guitar, vocals)
  • Randy Meisner (bass, vocals: 1976)
  • Timothy B. Schmit (bass, vocals: 1980)
  • Joe Walsh (guitar, keyboards, vocals)

Rating:

3.368 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


Quotable: “The most heavily overdubbed [live album] in history” - Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983)


Awards:

About the Album:

Eagles Live is the first live album by the…Eagles, a two-LP set released in 1980. The Eagles broke up on July 31, 1980 after their concert at Long Beach. However, the band still owed Warners a live record from the tour. Eagles Live (released that November) was mixed by Glenn Frey and Don Henley on opposite coasts – the two decided they couldn’t bear to be in the same state, let alone the same studio, and as Bill Szymczyk put it, the record’s perfect three-part harmonies were fixed ‘courtesy of Federal Express.’ The 1983 Rolling Stone Record Guide said it is ‘perhaps the most heavily overdubbed [live album] in history.’ After the credits that list no fewer than five attorneys, the album's liner notes simply say, ‘Thank you and goodnight.’” WK

Eagles Live includes…tracks recorded in the fall of 1976 (thus allowing for the inclusion of departed singer Randy Meisner on Take It to the Limit).” AMG Also from 1976, are New Kid in Town, Wasted Time, Doolin-Dalton (Reprise II), and Desperado. WK

However, “the bulk of the album comes from the end of the Eagles’ 1980 tour, just before they broke up, and it reflects their late concert repertoire, largely drawn from Hotel California and The Long Run.” AMG

“The occasional early song such as ‘Desperado’ and Take It Easy turn up, but many of the major hits from the middle of the band's career – ‘The Best of My Love,’ ‘One of These Nights,’ ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ – are missing, replaced by such curiosities as two extended selections from Joe Walsh’s solo career, Life’s Been Good and All Night Long.” AMG

“At least Walsh introduces some live variations to his material; the rest of the Eagles seem determined to recreate the studio versions of their songs in concert, which may work for them live but almost makes a live recording superfluous. The previously unrecorded rendition of Steve Young’s Seven Bridges Road is welcome, and the album would have benefited from more surprises as well as a livelier approach to a live recording.” AMG

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Monday, November 3, 1980

Adam & the Ants release Kings of the Wild Frontier

First posted 4/1/2008; updated 9/8/2020.

Kings of the Wild Frontier

Adam & the Ants


Buy Here:


Released: November 3, 1980


Peak: 44 US, 112 UK, -- CN, 2 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.3 UK, 0.8 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: new wave


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Dog Eat Dog (10/11/80, 4 UK, 15 AR)
  2. Antmusic (12/6/80, 2 UK, 14 AR)
  3. Los Rancheros
  4. Feed Me to the Lions
  5. Press Darlings
  6. Ants Invasion
  7. Killer in the Home
  8. Kings of the Wild Frontier (8/2/80, 2 UK)
  9. The Magnificent 5
  10. Don’t Be Square (Be There)
  11. Jolly Roger
  12. You’re So Physical (4/25/81, 19 AR)
  13. The Human Beings

Rating:

4.084 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the great defining albums of its time” – Stephen Thomas Erlewine, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

“Hooking up with Malcolm McLaren was a pivotal moment for Adam Ant, since the manager not only introduced Ant to the thundering, infectious Burundi drum beat that became his signature, he stole his band, too. Adam and the rest of the Ants had just worked up how to exploit the Burundi style when McLaren pirated the boys off to support Annabella Lwin in Bow Wow Wow – using the very same sound they had developed with Adam Ant. It was now a race to get that sound into the stores first.” STE

“Adam lucked out when he joined forces with guitarist Marco Pirroni, who quickly proved to be invaluable. Adam and Marco knocked out a bunch of songs that retained some of the dark artiness of Dirk Wears White Sox, largely anchored by those enormous Burundi beats and given great, irresistible pop hooks – plus a flash sense of style, as the new Ants dressed up in something that looked like American Indians with a velveteen touch of a dandy fop. It was a brilliant, gonzo move – something that quickly overshadowed Bow Wow Wow.” STE

“The resulting record, Kings of the Wild Frontier, is one of the great defining albums of its time. There’s simply nothing else like it, nothing else that has the same bravado, the same swagger, the same gleeful self-aggrandizement and sense of camp. This walked a brilliant line between campiness and art-house chutzpah, and it arrived at precisely the right time – at the forefront of new wave, so Adam & the Ants exploded into the British popular consciousness.” STE

“If image was all that they had, they would’ve remained a fad, but Kings of the Wild Frontier remains a terrific album because it not only has some tremendous songs – the title track and Antmusic are classic hits, while Killer in the Home and Physical (You're So) are every bit their equal – but because it fearlessly, imperceptibly switches gears between giddy and ominous, providing nothing short of a thrill ride in its 13 songs. That’s why it still sounds like nothing else years after its release.” STE

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Saturday, November 1, 1980

Alan Parsons Project released The Turn of a Friendly Card

Originally posted March 12, 2011. Last updated February 27, 2019.

Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)
  1. May Be a Price to Pay [4:52] v: Elmer Gantry
  2. Games People Play [4:17] v: Lenny Zakatek (12/6/80, #16 US)
  3. Time [5:05] v: Eric Woolfson (4/18/81, #15 US, #10 AC)
  4. I Don't Wanna Go Home [4:54] v: Lenny Zakatek
  5. The Gold Bug (instrumental) [4:28]
  6. The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part One) [2:39] v: Chris Rainbow
  7. Snake Eyes [3:17] v: Chris Rainbow (3/21/81, #67 US, #47 AR)
  8. The Ace of Swords (instrumental) [2:58]
  9. Nothing Left to Lose [4:03] v: Eric Woolfson
  10. The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part Two) [3:12] v: Chris Rainbow

All tracks written by Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson. The ‘v’ after the song listing indicates who does lead vocals.

Released: November 1, 1980


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 2.0 world (includes US and UK)


Peak: #13 US, #38 UK, #16 CN


Genre: progressive rock lite


Review:

“By then well-known for their concept albums, in 1980 the Project turned its sights” JW to “the age-old temptation of gambling and its stranglehold on the human psyche.” MD “It was a reasonably original theme for a concept album, having rarely been addressed by anyone with more intellectual wattage than Kenny Rogers (insert cutting remark here)” JW “The actual theme is well above the notion of gambling. Instead, it appears to be how we look at life, especially the hand we've been dealt, and what chances lie ahead of us if we're willing to take some risks.” CT

“Parsons and lyricist/occasional lead vocalist Eric Woolfson co-composed the album with imagination and flair.” JW “What sets this album apart and makes it remarkably listenable…is the strength of the arrangements by keyboardist/co-composer/producer Parsons.” JW

“Elmer Gantry's soaring vocals” JW kick things off on “the spacious, driving, synth-and-drums thumper May Be a Price to Pay.” JW

On lead-single “Games People Play, “our hero makes the conscious decision to walk away from the life he's been leading to try and find something different.” CT “Vocalist Lenny Zakatek sounds compelling and focused, giving the song a seriousness that aids in realization of the album's concept.” MD “There is a dynamism to the very progressive way Parsons mixes strings with exotic synth tones and…acoustic drums that creates one terrific pop hook after another.” JW This “is a great example of the AP approach at this stage of his career in that it has a basic pop structure, but features unusual shifts in tone and tempo, an ambient middle section, great use of orchestral elements and a generous guitar solo – all decidedly progressive touches.” JW

Next up is Time, which features Eric Woolfson on lead vocals for the first time. WK This ballad “immediately tugs on the heart strings and stays with you for a long time.” CT Woolfson’s “vocals are pitch-perfect,” JW “floating along amongst sighing strings and synthesizer washes and layered background vocals.” JW He “carries this luxurious-sounding ode to life's passing to a place above and beyond any of this band's other slower material.” MD It “may…be the best on the entire album” JW and “one of the Alan Parsons Project's best numbers.” CT

“No sooner has our hero left his old life behind when the voice of reason kicks in on I Don't Wanna Go Home,” CT voiced, by the way, by the “gritty ‘tattered and torn’ despair” JW of Lenny Zakatek. “This also could be the voice of doubt -- you take your pick: ‘You can't win you damn fool / You drank all the wine from the cup / And your painted lady's gone now / And you're way back on the downside, Lookin' up.’ As our hero realizes his plight, he decides not to return to his past - possibly because he can't face ridicule on his return.” CT

The album features a pair of instrumentals. First up is “an interesting number aptly titled The Gold Bug. Like most of the band's instrumentals, its flow and rhythm simulate the overall tempo and concept of the album, acting as a welcome interlude.” MD The song references the Edgar Allan Poe short story of the same name WK and includes a whistling part from Parsons where he imitates the spaghetti western film themes of Ennio Morricone. WK The saxophone was originally credited to Mel Collins, but in the remastered edition is noted as “a session player in Paris whose name escapes us.” WK

The Ace of Swords "features expert incorporation of the orchestra into a largely futuristic, synthesizer-driven cut. The APP core of Ian Bairnson (guitars), David Paton (bass), Stuart Elliott (drums) and Andrew Powell (orchestral arrangements), along with Parsons and Woolfson on keys, is at the height of its powers here.” JW

The five-part title suite, which includes “The Ace of Swords,” highlights “the breakdown of human willpower and our greedy tendencies.” MD It “is the only part of the album that squarely addresses gambling.” JW On The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part One), “our hero continues to press his luck, if only to return to what he used to be on Snake Eyes.” CT “Sung by Chris Rainbow, [this] is the most compelling of the five pieces, and ties together the whole of the recording.” MD

Although our protaganist “thinks luck is about to come his way, he eventually hits rock bottom with a deafening thud... which leads us to Nothing Left to Lose. On this number, the realization finally comes to him, and he is left with a clean slate to start his life again: "You read the book you turn the page / You change your life in a thousand ways / The dawn of reason lights in your eyes / With the key you realise / To the kingdom of the wise.’” CT

The album wraps with the unfairly overlooked The Turn of a Friendly Card (Part Two). This song rightly showed up on the Project’s second anthology, released in 1988, but was never a hit, despite nicely showcasing the album’s concept and still standing firmly on its own. This could well be the Project’s best forgotten song.

The Turn of a Friendly Card is to the point and doesn't let down when it comes to carrying out its idea.” MD It “is a strong piece of work that hangs together well and still entertains through repeated listens.” JWThe Turn of a Friendly Card remains one of this group’s most enjoyable albums.” MD


Review Source(s):


Awards:


Wednesday, October 8, 1980

Talking Heads released Remain in Light: October 8, 1980

Originally posted October 8, 2012.

image from musicchartheaven.com


Release date: 8 October 1980
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) / Crosseyed and Painless / The Great Curve / Once in a Lifetime / Houses in Motion / Seen and Not Seen / Listening Wind / The Overload

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 0.5 world

Peak: 19 US, 21 UK

Rating:


Review: In 1980, “Talking Heads fans were pleasantly stunned to hear Remain in Light,” AZ “a fuller, funkier sound nobody imagined they had in them.” AZ “Who knew that geeky former art student had this much soul?” BL David Byrne and “Talking Heads were always bursting with nervous energy and interesting ideas,” BL but by “adding horns and guest performers to their intellectually based muse” CL they “married their new-wave idiosyncrasies to Afro-funk beats and grooves that drew on everything from James Brown to Fela Kuti to disco.” BL Suddenly “the avant-punk avatars became polyrhythmic pop magicians.” RS500

The “animated David Byrne” CL “chanted and sang his typically disconnected lyrics” AMG “suggesting just enough to create a definite image and occasionally even an interesting sociological point, but never annoying or heavy-handed.” JA Meanwhile the group was “held together musically by a mathematically precise rhythm section of Tina Weymouth (bass) and Chris Frantz (drums).” CL Thanks to “the studied adventurousness” RS500 of Brian Eno as both producer and a composer, the Talking Heads “compositions and styles are deconstructed then reassembled afresh.” CL “Eno’s formula includes choppy funk bass, weird synth noises, dense layers of polyrhythmic percussion, and repetitive song structures that after a while lull the listener into a near trance.” JA

Crosseyed and Painless

“The dreamy, energetic Crosseyed and Painless is a great example. Better yet, he recruits whiz kid Adrian Belew to contribute some completely wacky guitar solos (The Great Curve)” JA Those two and Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) “are long, layered, full-body dance parties, with incessantly repeated phrases (musical and lyrical), and increasingly catchy melodic hooks that won’t let go for days.” AZ

Then there are “the bizarre horn arrangment on Houses in MotionJA and the “Eno-like droner The Overload.” AZ Eno had worked earlier on some of David Bowie’s records, but the Talking Heads “are an even better foil for him” JA as they go for “full-blown sound collages.” JA

That’s never more apparent “than on the exquisite Once in a Lifetime,” CL “the greatest song Byrne will ever write.” RC The song “suggests a pan-international sound without expressing it aurally. Post-modern alienation was never so danceable.” CL The single flopped initially, but “a striking video, its inclusion in the band’s 1984 concert film Stop Making Sense, and its second single release (in the live version) because of its use in the 1986 movie Down and Out in Beverly HillsAMG finally led to it scraping the bottom of the American charts.

Once in a Lifetime

The album was a “New Wave watershed” RS500 offering evidence that “Talking Heads were connecting with an audience ready to follow their musical evolution” AMG which was “clear-eyed, detached, almost mystically optimistic.” RC


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Award(s):


Friday, October 3, 1980

The Police released Zenyatta Mondatta

First posted 3/22/2008; updated 10/6/2020.

Zenyatta Mondatta

The Police


Released: October 3, 1980


Peak: 5 US, 14 UK, 2 CN, 11 AU


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.3 UK, 10.0 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: new wave/alternative rock


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Don’t Stand So Close to Me [4:04] (9/19/80, 10 US, 11 AR, 2 CL, 1 UK, 2 CN, 3 AU)
  2. Driven to Tears [3:20] (3/28/81, 35 AR, 14 CL)
  3. When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around [3:38] (21 CL)
  4. Canary in a Coalmine [2:26] (13 CL)
  5. Voices Inside My Head [3:53] (33 CL)
  6. Bombs Away (Copeland) [3:09]
  7. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da [4:09] (10/25/80, 10 US, 4 CL, 5 UK, 5 CN, 6 AU)
  8. Behind My Camel (Summers) [2:54]
  9. Man in a Suitcase [2:19]
  10. Shadows in the Rain [5:02]
  11. The Other Way of Stopping (Copeland) [3:22]

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 38:16


The Players:

  • Sting (vocals, bass)
  • Andy Summers (guitar)
  • Steward Copeland (drums)

Rating:

4.136 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Quotable: “One of the finest rock albums of all time.” – Greg Prato, All Music Guide


Awards:

About the Album:

The Police’s first two albums reached the top 30 in the U.S. and were platinum sellers, but one could be forgiven for thinking they might not do much better. From a singles standpoint, their only entries on the Billboard Hot 100 had been the top-40 hit “Roxanne” and “Message in a Bottle” which stalled all the way down at #74.

They were much more successful in their native UK where their debut album Outlandos D’Amour reached #6 and the follow-up, Regatta De Blanc went to #1, thanks to two #1 singles with with “Message in a Bottle” and “Walking on the Moon.” The came Zenyatta Mondatta. The album title is comprised of two made-up words. Stewart Copeland said, “It’s not an attempt to be mysterious, just syllables that sound good together.” WK

The music must have sounded pretty good to UK and U.S. audiences. It was the band’s second consecutive #1 album in the UK and gave them another #1 single with Don’t Stand So Close to Me. This time, however, the Police were ready to break big in America as well.

The “haunting” AMG “Don’t Stand” single spun a tale of a teacher lusting after a student, a la Lolita (a book referenced in the lyrics). Despite its creepy theme, the beat was undeniable and the U.S. public sent the song into the top 10. The album followed suit, reaching #5. Come Grammy time, voters named the song Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

“ While other tracks follow in the same spooky path (their second Grammy-winning instrumental Behind My Camel and Shadows in the Rain), most of the material is upbeat.” AMG That includes Canary in a Coalmine, Man in a Suitcase, and “the carefree De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da.” AMG The latter, the second single from the album, proved “Stand” wasn’t a fluke hit as it followed it into the top-10 in the U.S. There were even bigger hits to come with their next two albums.

Like its predecessors, Zenyatta showed the band’s reggae and punk influences. However, this was also Sting’s first foray into more “politically charged lyrics.” AMG Driven to Tears offered up commentary on poverty while Bombs Away referred to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. WK Those and When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What's Still Around “all observe the declining state of the world.” AMG

The album was recorded in four weeks during the Police’s second tour. The band members were disappointed with the end result because of the time pressures. Sting expressed that the album was “not all it could have been.” AMG and Stewart Copeland said, “We had bitten off more than we could chew…we finished the album at 4 a.m. on the day we were starting our next world tour.” WK They even went so far as to re-record the two singles in 1986, releasing the new version of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” on their Every Breath You Take – The Singles compilation.

The Police may not have been satisfied, but the critics were. All Music Guide’s Greg Prato calls it “one of the finest rock albums of all time.” AMG Rolling Stone’s David Fricke called it “near-perfect pop by a band that bends all the rules and sometimes makes musical mountains out of molehill-size ideas.” WK

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