Saturday, February 23, 1985

Alan Parsons Project Vulture Culture released

Vulture Culture

Alan Parsons Project


Released: February 23, 1985


Peak: 46 US, 40 UK, 25 CN, 32 AU


Sales (in millions): 0.3 world


Genre: progressive rock lite


Tracks:

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

  1. Let's Talk About Me [4:22] v: David Paton (2/9/85, 56 US, 10 AR, 89 CN)
  2. Separate Lives [4:42] v: Eric Woolfson
  3. Days Are Numbers (The Traveller) [4:02] v: Chris Rainbow (4/27/85, 71 US, 11 AC, 30 AR)
  4. Sooner Or Later [ 4:26] v: Eric Woolfson
  5. Vulture Culture [5:21] v: Lenny Zakatek
  6. Hawkeye (instrumental) [3:48]
  7. Somebody Out There [4:56] v: Collin Blunstone
  8. The Same Old Sun [5:24] 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: 37:01


The Players:

  • Alan Parsons (production, engineering, assorted instruments)
  • Eric Woolfson (vocals, keyboards, piano)
  • Ian Bairson (guitar)
  • Colin Blunstone, Chris Rainbow, Lenny Zakatek (vocals)
  • Stuart Elliott (drums, percussion)
  • David Paton (bass)
  • Richard Cottle (keyboards, synthesizer, saxophone)

Rating:

3.241 out of 5.00 (average of 16 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Vulture Culture confronts the notion that we live “in a parasitic society, where it's every man for himself. Those who can't fend for themselves simply won't survive in a world where the kindness of the human spirit is rapidly deteriorating.” AMG This isn’t the most original theme ever attempted, and is rendered even more unoriginal by the fact that every Alan Parsons Project album seems to address the nature of man in the face of conflict, be it technology (I Robot), gambling (Turn of a Friendly Card, or the watchful eye of the government (Eye in the Sky).

With the exception of the Edgar Allan Poe-themed debut album Tales of Mystery and Imagination, every Project album fudged a little on the overall concept, sometimes barely suggesting the theme. “On this album, though, the songs are weaker and are less effective in bringing out the album's complex idea…Vulture Culture lacks in cohesiveness and strength both lyrically and, to a lesser extent, musically.” AMGVulture Culture is, fundamentally, a flawed work with only a few good bits.” DV

“Production and engineering is, as always, crisp, clear, and flawless. Sad fact is, though, that that flawless production reveals the flaws in the compositions themselves. Songs like Separate Lives and Sooner Or Later end up sounding like the unholy mating of Parsons' immaculate synths with bubblegum pop.” DV Somebody Out There is even weaker. “The modest chart successes of Eye in the Sky and Ammonia Avenue resulted in a more pop-oriented sound -- a sound that just doesn't work. Andrew Powell’s orchestral sound is completely absent on Vulture Culture, and the traditional Project sound goes right out the window with it.” DV

Still, there are a few good moments. “The most appealing song, Days Are Numbers (The Traveller) with vocalist Chris Rainbow at the helm, combines simplicity with a timeless chorus.” AMG It is “a brilliant, textured, and complex ballad in the middle of a field of mostly banal lyrics and uninspired arrangements.” DV

Lead-off song and single Let's Talk About Me, like many Project songs before it, was inexplicably shortchanged by radio. This should have been a top 40 pop hit and top 10 album rock hit. Among the song’s highlights are the layered snippets of dialogue and “the pounding percussion of Stuart Elliot.” DV

The title cut is right in the middle of the pack. It is neither a complete throwaway, nor is it a standout like the two aforementioned songs. What hurts the song most is the fact that it is the title cut, thus weighting down the song with expectations that it will bring a clarity to the overall album theme. Instead, it would be more appropriate as one of those songs that after an album is over, you say, “I kinda liked that one song.”

“The instrumental Hawkeye adds life and contrast to the album at just the right time.” AMG It is still “somewhat average [but] has a great saxophone part.” DV

The Same Old Sun is a beautiful , “Broadway-style ballad, similar in feel and in quality to "Shadow of a Lonely Man" from Pyramid.” DV It makes for an excellent album closer and is one of the Project’s more overlooked songs.

When all is said and done, the few highlights of the album cannot overcome the suffocating amount of filler. “Without the usual balance of absorbing lyrics and well-maintained music, Vulture Culture remains one of this band's less prolific albums.” AMGVulture Culture can only be recommended to the completist.” DV


Notes: A 2007 reissue added an alternate mix of “Separate Lives,” a demo of “Hawkeye,” two versions of “No Answers Only Questions,” and “The Naked Vulture.”

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 9/22/2021.

Monday, February 18, 1985

Phil Collins released No Jacket Required

No Jacket Required

Phil Collins


Released: February 18, 1985


Peak: 16 US, 15 UK, 18 CN, 13 AU


Sales (in millions): 12.0 US, 1.93 UK, 26.45 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: pop/mainstream rock


Tracks:

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

  1. Sussudio (1/14/85) 1 US, 10 AR, 30 AC, 8 RB, 12 UK, 10 CN, 8 AU, gold single)
  2. Only You Know and I Know
  3. Long Long Way to Go
  4. I Don’t Wanna Know (4/13/85, 42 AR)
  5. One More Night (12/30/84, 1 US, 4 AR, 1 AC, 80 RB, 4 UK, 1 CN, 2 AU, gold single)
  6. Don’t Lose My Number (4/6/85, 4 US, 33 AR, 25 AC, 11 CN, 10 AU)
  7. Who Said I Would? (2/2/91, 73 US, 34 CN)
  8. Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore
  9. Inside Out (3/30/85, 9 AR)
  10. Take Me Home (7/25/85, 7 US, 12 AR, 2 AC, 19 UK, 23 CN, 64 AU)
  11. We Said Hello Goodbye (4/2/88, 34 AC)


Total Running Time: 50:27

Rating:

4.183 out of 5.00 (average of 12 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Prior to 1985, Phil Collins had released two solo albums in between albums with Genesis and topped the charts with “Against All Odds” in 1984. He’d already accomplished more than most musicians could ever dream of – and then came No Jacket Required. “The record established him as a major commercial force, and as one of the most recognizable voices of the 1980s.” AMG

Newsday’s Stephen Williams said the album “was loaded with musical hooks and textured arrangements.” WK It definitely had hooks. Eight of the album’s eleven songs (on the CD version, there were only 10 songs on the cassette version) hit one chart or another, with four of those songs hitting the top-10 of the Billboard pop charts. No Jacket Required won the Grammy for Album of the Year. With more than 25 million sales worldwide, it is one of the biggest sellers of all time. Rolling Stone’s David Bricke said, it “is not an album that waits to be liked.” WK

The title of the album came out of an incident in Chicago. Collins and Robert Plant were denied entrance to the Pump Room, a restaurant with a distinct “jacket required” dress code. Collins argued that he was wearing a jacket, but he was told it was not proper. Collins said he was never so mad in his life. WK He subsequently shared the story on late night talk shows and was sent an apology from the restaurant along with a complimentary sport coat. WK

The lead single, One More Night, was a #1 hit in the U.S. It showcased his shift to “sentimental ballads [such as with “Against All Odds”] over his previous darker and more dramatic solo material.” AMG Lori E. Pike of the Los Angeles Times said of Collins’ ballads, “When he slows down and lets his smoldering moodiness take over, the effect is magical.” WK

b>Sussudio was the follow-up single in the U.S., where it also hit #1, and the lead single in the UK. The title was a nonsense word he improvised and when he tried to replace it, he decided to keep the original and crafted lyrics around it about a schoolboy crush. WK Collins has said this is the song most people sing to him when they see him on the street. WK

The song demonstrated the other side of No Jacket Required which “found Phil Collins fully embracing horn-driven pop music, drum machines.” AMG Collins said the album was “a conscious attempt to move to a more uptempo sound.” WK The sound was similar to what he’d done with previous top-ten hits “Easy Lover” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.”

The third single, Don’t Lose My Number, was written mostly during recording sessions for his first solo album, 1981’s Face Value. Stephen Holden of The New York Times described the song’s lyrics as “vague, sketching the outlines of a melodrama but withholding the full story.” WK Collins himself said he didn’t fully understand the meaning of the lyrics. WK

“The pulsating Take Me Home utilizes the drama of ‘In the Air Tonight’ on a more wistful track.” AMG The song was the fourth from the album to reach the top 10 in the U.S. Collins has said that the lyrics refer to a patient at a mental institution and that it was inspired by the novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. WK

“Take Me Home” and Long Long Way to Go were both featured in episodes of Miami Vice. The latter “is one of Collins’ most effective ballads” AMG and was considered his most political song at that point in his career. WK Backup vocals were provided by Sting, who Collins met through Band Aid, the 1984 all-star gathering of British musicians who sang on the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

“Although the major hits…quickly came to sound dated, the album contains several standout tracks…Only You Know and I Know and Inside Out…show an effective aggressive side to the singer.” AMG

Doesn’t Anybody Stay Together Anymore was Collins’ response to everyone around him getting a divorce. He sang the song at Prince Charles’ 40th birthday party, not knowing that Charles and Diana would get divorced a short time later. WK

We Said Hello Goodbye originally appeared as a B-side on “Don’t Lose My Number,” but was later added as a bonus track to the CD version of the album. A remix of the song was released on the soundtrack for the 1986 movie Playing for Keeps. Caryn James of The New York Times assessed the song as being “a straightforward comment on leaving home.” WK

In summing up the record, Holden said it “is an album bursting with soulful hooks and bright, peppy tunes. But beneath its shiny exterior, Mr. Collins’ drums and his voice carry on a disjunctive, enigmatic dialogue between heart and mind, obsession and repression.” WK Geoff Orens of All Music Guide said “it’s not a completely satisfying recording, but it is the best example of one of the most dominating and influential styles of the 1980s.” AMG


Notes: “We Said Hello Goodbye” was a bonus track on the CD version of the album. In 2016, a deluxe edition of the album included a second disc with 11 live cuts and demos of “One More Night” and “Take Me Home.”

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/28/2008; last updated 9/21/2021.

Sunday, February 17, 1985

Tears for Fears released Songs from the Big Chair

Songs from the Big Chair

Tears for Fears


Released: February 17, 1985


Charted: March 9, 1985


Peak: 15 US, 2 UK, 113 CN, 5 AU


Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 0.9 UK, 11.3 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: synth pop


Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.)

  1. Shout (Roland Orzabal/Ian Stanley) [6:35] (11/19/84, 13 US, 12 CB, 13 RR, 6 AR, 1 CO, 4 UK, 12 CN, 11 AU)
  2. The Working Hour (Manny Elias/Orzabal/Stanley) [6:33]
  3. Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Chris Hughes/Orzabal/Stanley) [4:13] (3/16/85, 12 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 12, 2 AC, 2 AR, 1 CO, 2 UK, 11 CN, 2 AU)
  4. Mother’s Talk (Orzabal/Stanley) [5:08] (8/6/84, #27 US, #14 UK, #87 CN)
  5. I Believe (Orzabal) [4:57] (9/85, #23 UK)
  6. Broken (Orzabal) [2:39]
  7. Head Over Heels/Broken (live) (Orzabal/Curt Smith) [5:24] (6/85, #3 US, #7 AR, #12 UK, #8 CN)
  8. Listen (Orzabal/Stanley) [6:52]


Total Running Time: 41:53


The Players:

  • Roland Orzabal (vocals, guitar, keyboards)
  • Curt Smith (vocals, bass)
  • Ian Stanley (keyboards)
  • Manny Elias (drums)

Rating:

4.274 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Quotable: “Arguably the finest example of epic ‘80s pop.” – Half.Ebay.com


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair sits as an ‘80s music landmark;’ EA “while many of the band’s synth-pop peers continued to develop along a linear route” HE this album “heralded a dramatic maturation in the band’s music, away from the synth-pop brand with which it was (unjustly) seared following the debut, and towards a complex, enveloping pop sophistication.” AMG

“If [debut album] The Hurting was mental anguish, Songs from the Big Chair marks the progression towards emotional healing, a particularly bold sort of catharsis culled from Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith’s shared attraction to primal scream therapy.” AMG “The songwriting of Orzabal, Smith, and keyboardist Ian Stanley took a huge leap forward, drawing on reserves of palpable emotion and lovely, protracted melodies that draw just as much on soul and R&B music as they do on immediate pop hooks.” AMG “The album’s deep emotional explorations are at once uncompromising and appealingly tuneful.” EA

“Producer Chris Hughes helped push the band into a more organic” EO and “guitar oriented sound.” SM With his encouragement “Orzabal’s stronger voice takes center-stage for much of the album” HE thus “widening their emotional palette.” EO What also makes this album a classic is that “each song holds its place and each is integral to the overall tapestry, a single-minded resolve that is easy to overlook when an album is as commercially successful as Songs from the Big Chair.” AMG

With its “dramatic and insistent march,” AMG lead-off track and “moody mega–hit” EA Shout is “perfect…The sound was still synths and drum programming [but] Roland captured the energy of rock music. The song is very loud with a repetitive chorus, as well as innovative programming and much else to admire. Sounds great listened to loud.” AD Although the song “takes on the theme of catharsis that dominated The Hurting two years earlier, the progression…is manifest in every other facet.” HE

“As was Roland’s desire at the time, real instruments appear,” AD such as on The Working Hour, making for “the perfect realization of the new sound: a smooth six-minute arrangement of saxophone, piano, and guitar that’s marked by a restrained sense of drama.” HE The song is “ethereal [and full of] ambiance…particularly the drums and percussion.” SM “The gorgeous saxophone and bell-like electric keyboards that precede the Latin rhythms…conjure a daydream of heaven to distract the workingman from his woes.” DS

“The loping, percolating” AMG and “ear–friendly” EA Everybody Wants to Rule the World is among the most perfect singles of the last 20 years. Riding on a propulsive, circular beat, strong dual vocals from Smith and Orzabal convey a superior melody augmented by tinkling keyboard filigrees and tough, bristling guitar work from Orzabal and Neil Taylor,” EO the song “perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-‘80s while impossibly managing to also create a dreamy, timeless pop classic.” AMG “Such a sunny, lovely…song…Lots of simple elements all put together to create something special.” AD

Like “Shout,” “the spirited,” HE “jagged,” EA and “storming” AD Mothers Talk “sounds stupendous turned up loud. There are guitars here and there, but the drum pattern, the percussion, dominates.” AD This was the first single in the UK, but only released in the US after “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout,” and “Head Over Heels” had all been huge hits. This song works well as an album cut; it is hard to understand why it would be pushed as the lead single. Apparently, the British listeners agreed, this one stalled at #14; that seemed respectable enough, but was surely a disappointment after The Hurting’s three top ten hits.

“The torchy melancholy of I BelieveEA “is a true showcase for Roland Orzabal’s vocal abilities.” SM It “is a very serious ballad, quite soulful,” AD “and the dynamic range on the track is outstanding.” SM

After the emotive “I Believe,” we get another of the “crunch rockers” with Broken, which segues into “the shimmering, cascading,” AMG and “stadium-sized Head Over Heels.” HE The latter makes for a trifecta of “deservedly huge hits [this one and ‘Shout’ both featuring] enticing vocals singing emblematic words perched atop mid-tempo, majestic ocean liners of sound.” EO

After a live reprise of “Broken,” we head into the grand finale. “The song that surpasses all the others in terms of sound quality” SM or “sheer beauty” DS is Listen. “The incredible depth and dynamics” SM of “its cracking-glacier sound effects and airy synths, wafting operatic soprano and inscrutable chanting” DS “make this a prime candidate for showing off your stereo system.” SM “It’s a lovely surprise at the end” DS of a lovely album.

What is amazing about Songs from the Big Chair “is [that] not only [is it] a commercial triumph; it is an artistic tour de force.” AMG It “is one of the finest statements of the decade,” AMG an “enduringly resonant classic…essential for any fan of the genre” EA and “arguably the finest example of epic ‘80s pop.” HE


Notes:

A 1999 reissue featured seven bonus tracks, U.S. remixes of “Mothers Talk,” and “Shout, “along with the B-sides “The Big Chair,” “Empire Building,” “The Marauders,” “Broken Revisited” and “The Conflict.” A 2006 deluxe edition included B-sides and a second disc of single remixes. In 2014, a super deluxe 6-CD/DVD version was released which included B-sides, remixes, videos, and performances.

Review Sources:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 9/4/2021.

Saturday, February 16, 1985

George Michael’s “Careless Whisper” hit #1

Updated 2/13/2020.

Careless Whisper

George Michael

Writer(s): George Michael/Andrew Ridgeley (see lyrics here)


Released: July 24, 1984


First Charted: August 4, 1984


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 12 RR, 15 AC, 8 RB, 13 UK, 12 CN, 14 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 1.52 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 419.0 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Review:

As half of the pop duo Wham!, George Michael quickly overshadowed Andrew Ridgeley and began planning his post-Wham! career almost as soon as the duo struck big. To that end, “Careless Whisper” was billed in the UK as a solo single by George Michael, but the U.S. credited it to Wham! featuring George Michael. BBC The song was also on Wham!’s Make It Big album. Wham! chalked up two other #1’s on the U.S. pop charts before Michael amassed seven chart-toppers on his own. This song also hit #1 in the UK, on Cashbox, and the Billboard adult contemporary chart on its way toward selling 6 million copies worldwide.

Ironically, it was one of the few songs penned by Michael and Ridgeley AMG and the latter’s “only number one as a composer.” LW They “wrote the song when they were just 17, despite George’s own admission that he ’knew nothing about romance and certainly nothing about love.’” BBC It was a fictitious story Michael thought up while boarding a bus to his job as an usher at a cinema. SF Michael told reporter Daryl Morden, “‘It’s very na├»ve when you listen to it, but it still stands up, even if it does sound a little immature in some ways…We made up for that, I think, by making sure the production and arrangement didn’t sound simplistic.’” BR1-602 He has also said, “‘It disappoints me that you can write a lyric very flippantly and it can mean so much to so many people.’” KL-297

It definitely did that as it “touched fans and passive listeners alike to become one of, if not the only, love songs of 1985” AMG and “one of the most enduring ballads of all time.” BBC “A simple song with with just four chords, the track’s charm lies in its mournful saxophone intro, together with George’s anguished vocals as he pleads for forgiveness from the lover he’s cheated on.” BBC “Now a last-dance staple everywhere from school discos to weddings, the irony inherent in thousands of lovestruck couples smooching to a song about infidelity appears to be lost on most people.” BBC


Resources and Related Links: