Monday, September 30, 1985

Tears for Fears “I Believe” released

I Believe

Tears for Fears

Writer(s): Roland Orzabal (see lyrics here)


Released: September 30, 1985


First Charted: October 12, 1985


Peak: 23 UK, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.42 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

This was the fifth single from Tears for Fears’ 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout” were #1 hits in the U.S. and “Head Over Heels” got to #3 while “Mother’s Talk” reached #27. “I Believe” didn’t fare so well; it failed to chart in the United States although it did hit #23 in the UK and was a top 10 hit in Ireland.

Technically it was a live version of the song labeled “I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)” that was not available on Songs from the Big Chair. Roland Orzabal wrote the song about Primal Therapy, as evidenced in references to “a newborn scream” and “the shaping of a life.” WK

Orzabal calls “the introspective ballad” SF one of his favorites on the album. SF “Very simple, a nice sort of jazz swing to it…I think that they are the most potent and powerful lyrics we've ever put onto vinyl.” SF “The narrator taking a hard look at his beliefs, including whether his destiny is created through free will or determined by fate, and challenging the listener to do the same.” SF

He intended to offer it to British singer/songwriter Robert Wyatt, WK but the band decided to record it themselves. The B-side of the song was a cover of Wyatt’s “Sea Song.”


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First posted 8/5/2022.

50 years ago: Porgy and Bess debuted on stage

Porgy and Bess

George Gershwin (music), Ira Gershwin & Dubose Heyward (lyrics)

The Musical

Stage Debut: September 30, 1935

Opened on Broadway: October 10, 1935


Number of Performances: 124


Opened at London’s West End: ?


Number of Performances: ?


Movie Release: June 24, 1959


Cast Album Recorded: 1940, 1942


Soundtrack Charted: July 13, 1959


Peak *: 8 US, 7 UK


Sales (in millions) *: 0.5 US


Genre: show tunes/classical – opera


* 1959 soundtrack

Tracks:

Song Title (Performers) [time]

  1. Overture (Decca Symphony Orchestra) /
    Summertime (Anne Brown) [3:40] 1
  2. A Woman Is a Sometime Thing (Edward Matthews, Harriet Jackson, Eva Jessye Choir) [2:46] 2
  3. My Man’s Gone Now (Anne Brown, Eva Jessye Choir) [4:05] 1
  4. It Takes a Long Pull to Get There (Edward Matthews) [2:06] 2
  5. I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’ (Todd Duncan, Eva Jessye Choir) [2:42] 1
  6. Buzzard Song (Todd Duncan, Eva Jessye Choir) [3:44] 1
  7. Bess, You Is My Woman Now (Todd Duncan, Anne Brown, Evay Jessye Choir) [4:34] 1
  8. It Ain’t Necessarily So (Todd Duncan, Eva Jessye Choir) [2:46] 1
  9. What You Want Wild Bess? (Anne Brown, Todd Duncan) [3:00] 2
  10. Strawberry Woman’s Call (Helen Dowdy, Gladys Goode) /
    Crab Man’s Call (William Wookfolk, Georgette Harvey) [3:05]
  11. I Loves You, Porgy (Todd Duncan, Anne Brown) [3:24] 2
  12. The Requiem (Eva Jessye Choir) [3:57] 1
  13. There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York (Avon Long, Anne Brown) [3:02] 2
  14. Porgy’s Lament/Finale (Todd Duncan, Eva Jessye Choir) [3:20] 1

1 Tracks recorded in 1940 by the original 1935 Broadway cast. Released as volume 1. WC
2 Tracks recorded in 1942 by the Broadway cast for the 1942 revival. Released as volume 2. WC

In 1950, the albums were combined into one collection called Selections from George Gerswhin’s Folk Opera Porgy and Bess. CA


Singles/Hit Songs:

These were covers of songs from this musical which became hits:

  • ”I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’” – Leo Reisman (#5, 1935)
  • ”It Ain’t Necessarily So” – Leo Reisman, #16, 1935), Bing Crosby (#18, 1936)
  • Summertime” – Billie Holiday (#12, 1936), Sam Cooke (#81, 1957), The Marcels (#78, 1961), Rick Nelson (#89, 1962), Chris Colombo Quintet (#93, 1963), Billy Stewart (#10, 1966)
  • “I Loves You, Porgy” – Nina Simone (#18, 1959)


Total Running Time: 49:01

Rating:

4.387 out of 5.00 (average of 10 ratings from different versions)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).


Awards (Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong): (Click on award to learn more).


Awards (Miles Davis & Gil Evans): (Click on award to learn more).

About the Show:

Porgy and Bess is based on the novel Porgy, written by DuBose Heyward, and the play of the same name which he co-wrote with his wife Dorothy. It focuses on “African American life in the fictitious Catfish Row (based on the real-life Cabbage Row) in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1920s,” WK telling the story of Porgy, a crippled black man living in the slums, and his efforts to rescue Bess from her pimp (Crown) and drug dealer (Sportin’ Life).

“The opera is admired for Gershwin’s innovative synthesis of European orchestral techniques with American jazz and folk music idioms.” WK “After a furiously paced apprenticeship mastering Broadway song-and-dance musical comedy formulas, from the mid-‘20s on…As early as 1922, in the one-act opera Blue Monday, Gershwin had shown a flair for drama with a confident mingling of pop, blues, and jazz, though it was unmatched by literary discrimination; and his scintillant score is undone by a ridiculous book.” AMG

Gershwin was intrigued by Heyward’s story, but other commitments prevented him from tackling the subject until February 1934. “In the course of an intense correspondence, Heyward and Gershwin, with Ira contributing lyrics, shaped the stage version into a musical conception. In June, Gershwin visited Charleston, staying for several weeks in a cottage on Ferry Island to absorb the African-American ambience from which Heyward had drawn his locale and characters. Back in New York by July 21, he continued hasty composition as he fielded new commitments and began thinking ahead to production and cast. Todd Duncan and Anne Brown were signed for the title roles, with the erratic but brilliant John W. Bubbles tapped for the central part of Sportin’ Life. Composition was completed on August 23, 1935, and orchestration by September 2.” AMG

Gershwin conceived Porgy and Bess as “an American folk opera.” WK It “featured an entire cast of classically trained African-American singers – a daring and visionary artistic choice at the time.” WK It was premiered in Boston on September 30, 1935 and “garnered enthusiastic notices and a 15-minute ovation, but also frightened its producers by playing over three hours” AMG Gershwin trimmed it for its October 10 opening at the Alvin Theatre in New York. AMG The shorter version “hovered between the grand opera Gershwin had conceived and an over-elaborate musical, provoking mixed critical responses. Worse, audiences thinned drastically after the opening, and the show, though it played for 124 performances, lost money.” AMG

“Gershwin considered it his finest work,” WK but it wasn’t until 1976 when the Houston Grand Opera performed the complete score that it was “widely accepted in the United States as a legitimate opera.” WK Porgy and Bess is now “considered part of the standard operatic repertoire and is regularly performed internationally.” WK It has not, however, been without controversy as some have considered the opera to be racist. WK

Summertime , which is sung at the opening by Clara to her baby, “is by far the best-known piece from the work.” WK With more than 17,500 versions of the song recorded, it it the most-performed cover song in popular music. WK Some of the most notable versions include recordings by Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Janis Joplin with Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Billy Stewart, who had a top 10 pop and R&B hit with his version in 1966.

Other highlights include “Bess, You Is My Woman Now, a duet between the two lovers; My Man’s Gone Now, sung by the widow of the murdered gambler; and I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin, Porgy’s joyful anthem to simplicity. The choral numbers are unfailingly appealing.” AMG Some of the more celebrated covers of songs from the opera include Sarah Vaughan’s It Ain’t Necessarily So and Nina Simone’s I Loves You Porgy, a #20 hit in 1959.

Porgy and Bess received stage revivals in 1942, 1952, 1976, 1983, and 2006. A recording of some of the songs was released in 1940 which featured the original 1935 cast. A second volume was released in 1942 which featured the cast from the revival that same year. In 1957, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald recorded an album of some of the songs. Miles Davis did the same in 1958. Pearl Bailey, Harry Belafonte, Diahann Carroll, Ray Charles & Cleo Laine, Sammy Davis Jr. and Carmen McRae, and Percy Faith have also recorded the songs. A soundtrack of the movie version appeared in 1959. Over the years, there have also been full-fledged recordings of the complete opera, most notably back-to-back Grammy winners for Best Opera Recording with 1976’s Decca Records version featuring Willard White and Leona Mitchell and 1977’s RCA Victor recording with the Houston Grand Opera. In 1993, a television production of Porgy and Bess was nominated for four Emmy Awards.

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First posted 9/30/2011; last updated 1/29/2022.

Saturday, September 21, 1985

Dire Straits hit #1 with “Money for Nothing”

Money for Nothing

Dire Straits

Writer(s): Mark Knopfler, Sting (see lyrics here)


Released: June 24, 1985


First Charted: June 1, 1985


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 13 RR, 13 AR, 4 UK, 11 CN, 4 AU
(Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.4 UK, 0.45 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 150.2 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Money for Nothing” owes its existence to an appliance store. Dire Straits’ frontman Mark Knopfler and his wife Lourdes were shopping for kitchen supplies. They overheard a delivery man commenting on the wall of television sets tuned to MTV. He said things like, “That ain’t workin’” and that these artists got “money for nothing and chicks for free.” WK Knopfler sat down at a table in the store to write down some of the actual comments. As he said, “I wanted to use a lot of the language that the real guy actually used…It just went better with the song. It was more muscular.” FB

One line about “that little faggot with the earring and the make-up” generated controversy. Knopfler commented on the attacks that the song was homophobic. “An editor of Gay News attacked the song. What surprises me is that an intelligent journalist can misunderstand it.” Knopfler also said, “The same thing happened when Randy Newman recorded ‘Short People,’ a song that was clearly about the stupidity of prejudice.” FB

The video played up that idea, featuring computer-animated versions of two working-class guys commenting on music videos. It was considered groundbreaking for its early use of computer animation and won MTV’s Video of the Year award. The director, Steve Barron, also helmed A-ha’s “Take on Me,” another widely celebrated video for its innovative use of animation. “Money for Nothing” was the first video played on MTV Europe when the network launched on August 1, 1987. WK

Sting got a reluctant credit on the song. The band were recording in Montserrat. The bassist, John Illsley, said Sting was there windsurfing “and he came up for supper at the studio. We played him ‘Money for Nothing’” and Mark suggested Sting add something to it. WK Sting contributed the classic “I want my MTV” lines, sung to the melody of “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” by his band The Police. For that, Sting’s publishing company insisted he get a share of the profits from the song. Illsley relayed that “Sting said that it was completely ridiculous, but you know what record companies are like.” FB


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First posted 11/15/2019; last updated 7/31/2022.

Thursday, September 19, 1985

The PMRC Senate Hearings: September 19, 1985

Originally posted September 19, 2012.

Frank Zappa testifying at the PMRC hearings, image from vulture.com

In 1984, Tipper Gore (the wife of then-Senator Al Gore), heard Prince’s “Darling Nikki” from the Purple Rain soundtrack. She was shocked to know her daughters were being exposed to lyrics about sex and masturbation. When she watched other rock music videos, she was alarmed by the images of what she deemed graphic sex and violence. In 1985, she teamed with several other Washington wives to form the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). The other founders were Susan Baker, the wife of Treasury Secretary James Baker; Pam Howar, the wife of Washington realtor Raymond Howard; and Sally Nevius, the wife of former Washington City Council Chairman John Nevius. The group eventually grew to 22 participants.

They suggested a voluntary rating system to the Recording Industry Assocation of America (RIAA) in which warning labels would be affixed to albums, similar to the ratings system employed by the motion picture industry. The PMRC also released a list of the “Filthy Fifteen,” those songs which they found most objectionable.

The Filthy Fifteen

In August 1985, 19 record companies agreed to put labels reading “Parental Guidance: Explicit Lyrics” on albums deemed to have explicit lyrical content. In addition, the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee agreed to a special hearing on the issue. In addition to members of the PMRC, musicians Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, and John Denver testified, saying the move was a form of censorship which undermined freedom of speech.

The Senate committee was reportedly surprised by how articulate the musicians were. As Snider said, “They had no idea I spoke English fluently.” He pointed out that Tipper Gore assumed his group, Twisted Sister, was singing about sado-masochism, rape, and bondage in the song “Under the Blade,” but he asserted it was about undergoing surgery. Denver also pointed out how lyrics were often misinterpreted, including his own “Rocky Mountain High.” Zappa noted, “No one has forced Mrs. Baker or Mrs. Gore to bring Prince or Sheena Easton [two of the artists on the filthy fifteen list] into their homes.”

The PMRC Hearings (full)


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Saturday, September 7, 1985

Squeeze charted with Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti

Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti

Squeeze


Released: August 1985


Charted: September 7, 1985


Peak: 57 US, 31 UK, -- CN, 97 AU


Sales (in millions): --


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

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

  1. Big Beng (4:02]
  2. By Your Side (4:24]
  3. King George Street (3:48] (4/86, --)
  4. I Learnt How to Pray (4:47]
  5. Last Time Forever (6:24] (6/15/85, 28 CO, 45 UK)
  6. No Place Like Home [4:26] (9/85, 83 UK)
  7. Heartbreaking World (Difford/Holland) [5:09] (10/85, --)
  8. Hits of the Year [3:03] (10/5/85, 39 AR, 31 CO)
  9. Break My Heart [4:51]
  10. I Won't Ever Go Drinking Again (?) [5:05]

All songs written by Difford & Tilbrook unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 44:06


The Players:

  • Chris Difford (guitar, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Break My Heart”)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, guitar, keyboards, horns)
  • Jools Holland (keyboards, backing vocals, lead vocal on “Heartbreaking World”)
  • Keith Wilkinson (bass, backing vocals)
  • Gilson Lavis (drums)

Rating:

3.520 out of 5.00 (average of 14 ratings)


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti “heralded the return of Squeeze after a 3-year hiatus. The band had officially disbanded after the release of Sweets From a Stranger in 1982, and the years in between were used by band leaders Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook to launch a career as a duo. Finding neither critical nor commercial success, they reconvened with original keyboard player Jools Holland, who had departed after their third album, Argybargy.” EB

”Though spawning no big stateside hits, the album strongly makes its case with the band's solid musicianship and the always-inventive songs of Difford and Tilbrook.” EB “History and a dated production style hasn't been particularly kind to the album, [but] it is not without its merits. True, it is marred by much of the overblown ambition that undercut [the last two albums], but several of the songs…are real gems in the classic Squeeze tradition, and the move toward ‘sophistication’ is more fully realized and effective.” AMG

The album kicks off with “Wilkinson's throbbing bass lines” JA on the “interestingly experimental” Big Beng.

The “often overlooked King George Street” sounds like it should be the first single, but didn’t see release until nearly a year after the album came out. If that one wasn’t the single, then I Learnt How to Pray should have been.

Instead, Last Time Forever, “a near-flop” JA was inexplicably given those honors. The song is “a bland, deadening six-minute ballad with sequenced synth, a jazzy piano break, and nerdy voiceovers.” JA

That was followed by No Place Like Home as the second single, which was at least a slightly better choice. However, as inspired choices go, the band couldn’t have done any better than to go with Holland’s “Heartbreaking World, co-authored by Difford and featuring a wah-wah’ed guitar solo and peppy strings.” JA This song has a great feel and lyrics to match.

“The energetic Hits of the Year [features] a skittery hard rock lead guitar, funky bass line, and halfway-bearable synth windowdressing.” JA This was picked as the single to kick off the album in the U.S.

That’s followed by Break My Heart, “with a fat, leaden beat” JA and “vocal spotlights by Difford.” JA

It’s all closed out with one of the most interesting songs Squeeze has ever recorded, “the jokey ska experiment I Won’t Ever Go Drinking Again (?)).” JA Complete with the question mark at the end, the title already warns the listener to be prepared for a very tongue-in-cheek song. This and “Heartbreaking World” are the highlights of the album.

Still, overall, this is ”a flawed but certainly worthwhile album.” AMG


Notes: The 1997 UK re-release added bonus tracks “Love’s a Four Letter Word” and “The Fortnight Saga.”

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First posted 3/6/2008; last updated 2/7/2022.