Saturday, March 31, 1984

Kenny Loggins hit #1 with “Footloose”

Footloose

Kenny Loggins

Writer(s): Kenny Loggins, Dean Pitchford (see lyrics here)


Released: January 11, 1984


First Charted: January 28, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 2 AR, 6 UK, 11 CN, 13 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


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


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 44.8 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

1984 was a good year for movie songs. Prince hit #1 with “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” Phil Collins with “Against All Odds,” Ray Parker Jr. with “Ghostbusters,” and Stevie Wonder “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” The latter three, along with with Deniece Williams’ “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” and Kenny Loggins title song from Footloose, were nominated for Oscars for Best Song. It was the first time all five nominees had hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. FB

Dean Pitchford, the screenwriter for Footloose, was a co-writer on the title song, as he had been on 1980’s “Fame,” an Oscar-winning song from the movie of the same name. He had also worked with Loggins before on his 1982 top-20 hit “Don’t Fight It” and knew he wanted him on “Footloose.” He told Dick Clark, “It felt to me like he was the voice of the country.” FB Loggins also had experience with a hit song (“I’m Alright”) from a hit movie (Caddyshack).

Pitchford had never penned a screenplay, but was inspired by a real-life event. In 1981, the high school junior class in the Oklahoma town of Elmore City petitioned to overturn an 1898 law outlawing dancing so they could hold a prom. Reverend F.R. Johnson, from the nearby town of Hennepin, declared,“No good has ever come from a dance... When boys and girls hold each other they get sexually aroused.” 405

Pitchford said Loggins “persevered with me through script after script after script…He was very much around when the whole thing was coming together.” FB The pair wrote the song over four days while Loggins was suffering a rib injury and Pitchford from strep throat. They knew they had a hit when they saw audiences at Loggins’ concerts respond to the song before the movie had even been released. FB

Pitchford co-wrote all the songs on the soundtrack – six of which charted. In addition to the #1 hits “Footloose” and “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” the soundtrack churned out top-40 hits with another Kenny Loggins’ song (“I’m Free”) as well as tunes by Shalamar (“Dancing in the Sheets”), Mike Reno and Ann Wilson (“Almost Paradise”), and Bonnie Tyler (“Holding Out for a Hero”).

In the context of the movie, the music serves as a clarion call for the youthful spirit to kick back against the stodgy powers-that-be who would dare to squelch that need to groove, clothed or otherwise. However, the lyrics and mood of the song “Footloose” don’t sound the alarm to unite in extending middle fingers to some oppressive authority. They don’t incite rebellion or have any political motivation. The song is simply about having a good time and partying the night away. It comes down to Kevin Bacon’s character Ren’s immortal words at the closing of Footloose: “Let’s dance!”


Resources:


First posted 1/28/2021; last updated 1/24/2022.

Saturday, March 17, 1984

Alan Parsons Project Ammonia Avenue released

Ammonia Avenue

Alan Parsons Project


Released: March 17, 1984


Peak: 15 US, 24 UK, 29 CN, 16 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, -- UK, 1.35 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: progressive rock lite


Tracks:

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

  1. Prime Time [5:03] v: Eric Woolfson (3/31/84, 34 US, 33 CB, 33 RR, 10 AC, 3 AR)
  2. Let Me Go Home [3:20] v: Lenny Zakatek
  3. One Good Reason [3:36] v: Eric Woolfson
  4. Since the Last Goodbye [4:34] v: Chris Rainbow
  5. Don’t Answer Me [4:11] v: Eric Woolfson (2/28/84, 15 US, 17 CB, 10 RR, 4 AC, 15 AR, 58 UK, 22 CN)
  6. Dancing on a Highwire [4:22] v: Colin Blunstone
  7. You Don't Believe [4:26] v: Lenny Zakatek (10/31/83, 54 US, 12 AR, 43 CN)
  8. Pipeline (instrumental) [3:56]
  9. Ammonia Avenue [6:30] v: Eric Woolfson

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


Total Running Time: 40:22


The Players:

  • Alan Parsons (production, engineering, assorted instruments)
  • Eric Woolfson (vocals, keyboards, piano)
  • Ian Bairson (guitar)
  • David Paton (bass)
  • Stuart Elliott (drums, percussion)
  • Colin Blunstone, Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek (vocals, backing vocals)
  • The Philharmonia Orchestra, arranged and conducted by Andrew Powell; Christopher Warren-Green, leader
  • Mel Collins (saxophone)

Rating:

3.548 out of 5.00 (average of 17 ratings)


Quotable: ”The sum of the parts is greater than the whole product, which can’t be said for all of the Alan Parsons Project’s albums” – Mike DeGagne, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“One of the most interesting aspects about the Alan Parsons Project is the band's ability to forge a main theme with each of its songs, while at the same time sounding extremely sharp and polished. Much of this formula is used in Ammonia Avenue, only this time the songs rise above Parsons’ overall message due to the sheer beauty of the lyrics partnered with the luster of the instruments. The album touches upon how the lines of communication between people are diminishing, and how we as a society grow more spiritually isolated and antisocial. But aside from the philosophical concepts prevalent in the lyrics, it is the music on this album that comes to the forefront.” AMG

This album was also ”pivotal…because [the Project] were looking down the barrel marked ‘Following Up a Big Hit’ – to wit, 1982’s #3 single ‘Eye in the Sky’ and the #7 album of the same name…Perhaps it was too much to bite off in one chunk, but they gave it a shot.” DVAmmonia Avenue did spawn two Top Forty singles and a Top Fifteen album – but…it didn't do as well as Eye in the Sky and that the Project would never do so well on the charts again.” DV

”As one can expect from Parsons’ work, the production and engineering is flawless; so flawless, in fact, that this is one of the few Project CDs where the sound is – perhaps purposefully – just one step short of sterile. Musicianship is brilliant, with the severely underrated Ian Bairnson turning in several very tasty bits on guitar. This leaves the songs and the arrangements, traditionally the areas where Parsons and his band of studio musicians either rose or fell. In this case, it’s both.” DV “Parsons and…Eric Woolfson have crafted a set of songs, in their overseer role, that are texturally attractive and sonically impeccable…but it's merely a sonic soufflĂ©, empty calories puffed full of hot air.” RS

“What works is where Parsons leaves in the…orchestra…in the middle of a lovely rock song, [the Project would] suddenly pop in a full string section and some brass. There are great sweeping chunks of Ammonia Avenue where there's nary an orchestra pit to be found, and that absence results in two huge clunkers; Let Me Go Home and the execrable One Good Reason.” DV

On the flip side, though, ”the briskness of Eric Woolfson’s wording throughout Prime Time makes it one of the Project’s best singles.” AMG It is one of three great singles from the album.

”The subtlety of the ballad comes to life on the elegant Since the Last Goodbye, which focuses on a failed attempt at a relationship.” AMG

”The enchanting saxophone of Mel Collins on Don’t Answer Me adds to its lonely atmosphere;” AMG the track also bears some “Phil Spector homages.” DV

"Dancing on a High Wire is a brooding, complex song that bears repeated listen.” DV Still, one has to question lines like “’The silver-plated hero meets the golden-hearted whore.’ Later, she's ‘the ivory madonna.’ Huh?” RS

”On You Don’t Believe, the seriousness of the lyrics works well with the song's energetic pace.” AMG This was a perfect album rock track first featured on the Project’s first greatest hits compilation, released in 1983. As a single, the song was a stunning failure, not even cracking the top 40, which was a shock considering the #3 peak of 1982’s “Eye in the Sky.”

After Pipeline, the token instrumental (there’s always at least one per Project album), the gorgeous title track kicks in. Still, there are lyrical “non sequiturs like this one…’Is there no sign of light as we stand in the darkness / Watching the sun arise?’” RS that threaten to derail the album.

In the end, ”the sum of the parts is greater than the whole product, which can't be said for all of the Alan Parsons Project’s albums.” AMG Sonically, we have great production as always and “vocalists Eric Woolfson, Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek, and Colin Blunstone equally shine, placing their talents above and beyond the album's main idea.” AMG At the same time, “paying more attention to the Project's orchestral and progressive roots might have made it a great album.” DV As it is, though, misguided lyrics supporting perhaps the Project’s weakest concept to date unravel the album more than anything.


Notes: A 2008 reissue added alternate mixes and demos as bonus tracks.

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 8/22/2021.

Monday, March 12, 1984

Marillion released Fugazi

Fugazi

Marillion


Released: March 12, 1984


Peak: -- US, 5 UK


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.1 UK


Genre: neo-progressive rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Assassing (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas) [7:01] (4/30/84, 22 UK)
  2. Punch and Judy (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas, Jonathan Mover) [3:21] (1/30/84, 29 UK)
  3. Jigsaw (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas) [6:49]
  4. Emerald Lies (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas, Mosley) [5:08]
  5. She Chameleon (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas) [6:53]
  6. Incubus (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas) [8:30]
  7. Fugazi (Fish, Kelly, Rothery, Trewavas, Mosley) [8:12]


Total Running Time: 45:56


The Players:

  • Derek Dick, aka Fish (vocals)
  • Steve Rothery (guitar)
  • Mark Kelly (keyboards)
  • Pete Trewavas (bass)
  • Ian Mosley (drums)

Rating:

3.701 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Marillion worked diligently to restore progressive rock in the early eighties with debut album Script for a Jester’s Tear, and there was no reason to let up with their sophomore effort. Musically the most marked difference between this album and their first is the percussive, driving beat led by new drummer Ian Mosley. His “spot-on drumming was the perfect foil for Marillion’s meticulous musicianship.” AMG Lyrically, where “Script was wistful and grief-stricken, FugaziJC-52

The album title comes from a British Army slang term which means “Fucked Up, Got Ambushed, Zipped In.” American servicemen popularized the term during the Vietnam War. Fish learned about it through a book by Mark Baker called Nam. JC-52

“Assassing”
The lead song, Assassing, kicks in at high gear and won’t let up. It shows the band leaning on a harder-edged sound and moving, ever-so-slightly, away from their prog-rock leanings. It is one of the strongest songs of the album and, not surprisingly was released as the second single. It isn’t as catchy as “Garden Party” or “He Knows You Know,” the singles from Script for a Jester’s Tear, but the song’s relentlessness eventually earworms its way into your brain.

Fish said the song was originally written about ex-bandmate Diz Minnitt, but explanded to also be about former drummer Mick Pointer. “We basically sacked them,” he said. “It’s about how hard it is.” JC-52

“Punch and Judy”
The album’s second song, Punch and Judy, was the lead single from the album. It is a more obvious choice as a single, but surprisingly peaked at #29, compared to “Assassing” at #22. Of course, while Marillion could write memorable songs, they weren’t really meant to be a singles’ band anyway. Script for a Jester’s Tear showcased a band focused on making each song a strong effort, but ultimately contributing to the greater whole of the album.

The song is notable in that it includes Jonathan Mover in the writing credits. After Mick Pointer was fired as the drummer, Jonathan Mover was with the band for a short while. According to Mover, he was fired from the band when Fish started pushing for a concept album and Mover thought it was a bad idea since the current songs, which were not connected thematically, would have to be scrapped.

Thematically, the song is “a cynical meditation on marriage.” JC-53 Fish explained that it was about a husband who physically took out his frustrations on his wife.

“Jigsaw”
Fish described Jigsaw as being “about the relationship that splits up and forever comes together again [getting] worse each time.” JC-53 “The music on the first two verses seems almost nursery-rhyme like: guitar and keyboards chiming like a child’s xylophone, underlying the sense of conciliation in Fish’s words. The chorus could not be more different, as Ian Mosley batters his skins into submission, and Pete Trewavas’s bass thuds like punches. As it gives way to the solo, Steve Rothery creates one of those soaring, melancholic guitar lines for which he is justifiably lauded.” JC-53

“Emerald Lies”
Emerald Lies describes an accusation of infidelity…and the realization that, though proven false, the accusation has destroyed the relationship. Perhaps the most straight-forward song on thealbum, it nevertheless showcases some superb percussion work by Mr. Mosley.” JC-53

“She Chameleon”
She Chameleon describes the whole groupie phenomena, which the band had begun to experience on the Script tour. ‘Who was using who?’ Fish asked.” JC-53 The song is actually a reworking of a track that originated during the Script era. JC-54

“Incubus”
As before, lead singer Fish has his gift for wording on full display. In Incubus, he sings “darkroom unleashes imagination in pornographic images in which you will always be the star.” It is “a slow-burning track about a porn director whose former lover and lead actress has just opened as the lead in a legit West End play. Spying her spurned former paramour in the audience, she freezes, not knowing whether he’ll reveal her secret to the press.” JC-53

“Much of the track is built on a groove until, the director’s hurt building to a dangerous level, the band takes us into a waltz. The director’s Machieavellian manoeuvres are like a dance – guitar lines – then the bile’s really unleashed! The actress, mute on the stage, writes her own death notices, and he’s watching it all, a glint of pure evil in his eye.” JC-53

“Fugazi”
Like on their first album, Marillion churn out their best song with the anthemic title cut. It was “a highlight of the band’s live set for many years to follow.” AMG The song even explores the same themes as “Script for a Jester’s Tear”as Fish continues to struggle with substance abuse and failed romance.

The song “details Fish in mid-panic attack on the underground en route to the Marquee in Wardour Street. On a come-down from LSD, Fish said, ‘Viewing the other occupants of the carriage, it summed up the album and my views on life at the time.’” JC-53

“Initially based purely on the observations of the other travellers, Mark Kelly’s piano gives way to steadily more edgy synth lines. From here, we move outside the carriage to consider unhappy relationships, racial unrest, prostitution, and our treatment of war veterans. Then, as the whole world dissolves into a fearful smear of guitar string scrapes, screams, and doom-laden keyboards, Pete and Ian paint a quasi-militaristic regime of cold war nuclear paranoia.” JC-53

“Finally, as Fish desperately askes to be shown inspiration for a way out of this terrible mess, the band become the pipers of the apocalypse and Fish is swept along with the crowd, as it marches blindly on its way to its doom.” JC-54

Conclusion

Marillion work awfully hard to match the standard they set with their debut. There are times that it shows; some songs meander a bit more in Marillion’s effort to make them “epics” and that the album became “too wordy.” JC-54 Geoff Boswell, a fan, said “Fish swallowed a thesaurus.” JC-54 It also “lacked its predecessor’s cohesion and focus,” AMG especially on “the somewhat less-than-stellar Emerald Lies,” WK but this album reaches farther, and in many ways succeeds, more than most bands can ever hope.


Notes: A 1998 reissue includes a second disc with demos of “Punch and Judy,” “She Chameleon,” “Emerald Lies,” and “Incubus;” an alternate mix of “Assassing,” and non-album tracks “Cinderella Search” and “Three Boats Down from the Candy.”

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Marillion
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Fish
  • AMG All Music Guide review by John Franck
  • Jon Collins (2003). Separated Out. Helter Skelter Publishing: London, England.
  • WK Wikipedia


Other Related DMDB Pages:


Last updated 3/1/2022.

Saturday, March 10, 1984

Cyndi Lauper hit #2 with “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”

Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Cyndi Lauper

Writer(s): Robert Hazard (see lyrics here)


Released: November 6, 1983


First Charted: December 17, 1983


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 2 RR, 80 RB, 16 AR, 2 UK, 12 CN, 12 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.5 US, 0.6 UK, 4.09 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 860.7 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Not since Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” in 1967 had there been such a sing-along tune of women’s empowerment. Like that song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” was originally written and sung by a man. In the case of Aretha, Otis Redding originally penned and recorded the tune, but in Aretha’s hands it became an iconic #1 song.

In Lauper’s case, the original song was written and recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard, a new wave singer in the vein of Nick Lowe or Graham Parker. In his hands, it comes across as misogynistic as he appears to regard women as no more than playthings. However, with some lyrical tweaks by Lauper, it became “an ebullient, unapologetic piece of smiley-face feminism.” AMG In her book She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll, Gillian G. Gaar described it as “a playful romp celebrating female camaraderie.” WK

The song, which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 behind Van Halen’s “Jump,” was her first single as a solo artist, although she had recorded an album in 1981 with the group Blue Angel. SF While she would go on to hit the top of the charts with “Time After Time” and “True Colors,” this was her signature hit, capturing her quirky personality perfectly. Her colorful style were a hit on MTV where kids could see a woman with weird hair and weird clothes who celebrated who she was.

The video cost less than $35,000 to make, largely due to her friends, family, and business associates serving as a volunteer cast. WK It became one of the most successful of all time, ranking in top 100 lists by VH1 and MTV. It won the latter network’s first award for Best Female Video. The song was nominated for two Grammys – Record of the Year and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.


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First posted 11/26/2020; last updated 10/11/2021.

Saturday, March 3, 1984

Alan Parsons Project “Don’t Answer Me” charted

Don’t Answer Me

The Alan Parsons Project

Writer(s): Alan Parsons, Eric Woolfson (see lyrics here)


First Charted: March 4, 1984


Peak: 15 US, 17 CB, 10 RR, 4 AC, 15 AR, 58 UK, 22 CN, 43 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 10.1 video, 26.96 streaming

About the Song:

The Alan Parsons Project peaked in 1982 with the song “Eye in the Sky,” their only top-10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, and its top-10 parent album. They followed it up the next year with a compilation capturing highlights from 1976 to 1982, plus new song “You Don’t Believe.” In 1984, they returned with their seventh album, Ammonia Avenue. The album included “You Don’t Believe” as well as the group’s last two top-40 hits, “Don’t Answer Me” and “Prime Time.”

The top-20 ballad “Don’t Answer Me” was a slight departure for the Project in that it was crafted I the style of Phil Spector and his Wall of Sound technique. Eric Woolfson, the only mainstay in the Project other than Parsons himself, handled vocal duties. Lyrically, the song finds the narrator reaching out to someone who is lonely, SF which fit with the album’s concept of social isolation. AMG

The “soothing yet destitute wail of Mel Collins’ saxophone presented the song with its perfectly abandoned mood.” AMG A “recipe of subtle keyboards and dusty percussion enhance the song’s romanticism and intensify the desperate plea of Woolfson’s to be heard.” AMG

The Dick Tracy style video was designed by Michael Kaluta, who worked on comic books. SF It combined traditional cel animation and stop-motion as well as claymation. It took a 40-man team 23 days to film at a cost of $50,000. WK Avatars of Woolfson and Parsons appear in the video during a bar scene. SF At the first MTV Video Music Awards, it was nominated for Most-Experimental Video, losing to Herbie Hancock’s “Rock-It.”


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First posted 7/6/2022.

Friday, March 2, 1984

This is Spinal Tap hit movie theaters: March 2, 1984

Originally posted March 2, 2012.

image from inquistitr.com



Dave’s Music Database ranks This Is Spinal Tap as the #2 music movie of all time, second only to The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. The hilarious mockumentary satirized rock documentaries and heavy metal bands by focusing on the fictional British heavy metal band Spinal Tap, comprised of singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), and bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer).

trailer for This Is Spinal Tap



Director Rob Reiner plays fictional documentary film maker Marty DiBergi. Seemingly oblivious to the lunacy surrounding him, DiBergi plays straight man to Spinal Tap’s “sublime idiocy” AZ as he follows the band on its first American tour in six years. As St. Hubbins and Tufnel say, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” Thankfully for audiences everywhere, Spinal Tap crossed the line over and over, resulting in “the funniest, and most truthful, look at rock culture ever filmed.” AZ

Among the movie’s iconic moments are the monumentally small Stonehenge stage prop, the amplifier which goes to 11, and the absurd stories about their series of drummers “spontaneously combusting on their stool, drowning in somebody else's vomit,” AZ or expiring in a bizarre gardening accident. Much of the dialogue was ad-libbed, giving the film a more authentic feeling.


Awards:

Resources and Related Links: