Naked Eyes – Promises, Promises

I used to have the original release as an A  side to a TDK (cassette).  The B side was a copy of Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  Amazing that I remember the specific brand of the cassette, but I guess I had lots of that brand so perhaps not so surprising.

I’ve often struggled lately with whether I should continue to be the purist I was and always make sure I stick with original album releases or buy compilations of greatest hits such as this one.  Bottom line here is that I compared the track list of this compilation with the track list of the original Burning Bridges release and all (or most of anyway) the songs that were on the first release were also here on this compilation.  So I picked it up used (of course).

Promises, Promises is likely my favorite of the popular songs from Naked Eyes, but it really isn’t my favorite on the album.  There were actually two tracks that spoke to me the most when I listened to this album at 17 years old.  They were When The Lights Go Out and I Could Show You How.

Susie doesn’t go out very much
She likes to stay in bed at night
It seems that everything is all too much
But she just lays in bed at night
The day’s all right but then….
When the lights go out
She calls your name
When the lights go out
Always the same
Always someone left out in the rain
Always the same

Seventeen was a strange age for me.  I had a lot of exposure to what I thought love was supposed to be, but no real world  experience.  At the time that I was listening to this (over and over), I often thought of one particular girl that I knew and imagined that she felt this way at night about me.  A fantasy for sure in the truest sense, but it also went very well with the other song…

If I only had you here now
I could show you how
I could show you how I love you
I could show you how
I could show you how I love you
I could show you how
I could show you how
I could show you how

A little redundant perhaps, but that was how I was feeling.

So, now I’ve told you about the particular songs I liked and as you can see, the lyrics had certain meaning, but musically these were the best tracks as well.  The thing is that I listened to the whole tape a lot and much of it is similar in musical nature.  If you like Promises, Promises and Always Something There To Remind Me, then you’ll like the whole album.

If you are an 80’s Music Fan like me, just pick up this compilation and you’ll have what I consider the Best of Naked Eyes.

Oh, and why do I remember this particular cassette so well?  Because the girl I was thinking about and missing when I listened to the cassette (over and over) while driving from Colorado to Florida is named on the other side of the cassette.

Joan Jett – Bad Reputation

Like many others in the early 80’s, I first learned about Joan Jett from the classic I Love Rock-n-Roll.  However, since all of my music (or most of it anyway) came from the Columbia Record & Tape program and I was limited by what they actually had available.  You may remember back in the day (before this wonderful thing called the Internet) that information about tracks available on a particular recording was limited by the editorial space allotted for the individual description found in the catalog.  Often the editors would only list a couple of the tracks in addition to their short description.

I knew Joan Jett sang I Love Rock-n-Roll, but I didn’t know what album it was on. (Yah, I know it was on the same titled album, but at the time I hadn’t actually heard a dj say so.)  The only tape available in the monthly paper catalog was Bad Reputation.  Going out on a limb I ordered it and just hoped that the I Love Rock-n-Roll was on it.  It wasn’t, but in the long run that was okay because this was another cassette that I wore out.

Honestly, Joan Jett was a little more punk than this New Wave-esque boy generally liked to listen to.  However, Joan’s delivery of the lyrics over her hard-rock guitar really struck a chord with me (so to speak).  The lead and title track, Bad Reputation, sets the tone for most of the album.

I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation
You’re living in the past it’s a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s
What I’m gonna do
An’ I don’t give a damn ‘ bout my bad reputation

One couldn’t really say that Joan sang the lyrics as much as she shouted them over a hard-rock guitar.  This debut album, never caught on like her later I Love Rock-n-Roll, but there are many good tracks on it.  Bad Reputation itself was used much later in a scene from the first Shrek movie (the scene where he fights the soldiers in an arena).

Some tracks were remakes of stuff that I recognized from listening to “nostalgic radio” on one of Denver’s FM stations (nostalgic radio played mom and dad’s music).  You Don’t Own Me begins as a ballad with great piano and then switches to, you guessed it, hard rocking guitar; Wooly Bully retains the original acoustic piano background and feeling from the original… with added electric guitar; and Shout too retains the original feeling and Joan’s shouting vocals seem very apropos.

Two additional songs really stood out in my mind. Listening to Joan on my headphones asking Do You Wanna Touch?… Oh, yeah! I did.

Every girl an’ boy
Needs a little joy
All you do is sit an’ stare
Beggin’ on my knees
Baby, won’t you please
Run your fingers through my hair

The other outstanding track, All Right With The Boys, was an affirmation for me that she did, in fact, like boys (I really wasn’t sure at the time).  These two songs were exactly opposite on another on the cassette.  In fact, if I timed it just right, I could wait for the end of one track, flip the cassette in my Walkman and the other track would be exactly queued.  Do the same at the end of each song and I could just listen to All Right With The Boys and Do You Wanna Touch over and over again.  Later, when Sony came out with the auto-reverse cassette feature a simple push of a button would change songs.

Devo – Freedom Of Choice

Let’s talk about Energy Domes. First of all, yes, they were not actually upside down flower pots. These energy domes were introduced with the release of Devo’s Freedom of Choice which brought Whip It to the mainstream. Whip It peaked at #14 on the Billboard Pop Charts. I think that hearing Devo on pop stations is the turning point that changed New Wave to not be as cool. Of course, now we hear it in grocery stores and not even the musak versions, but the originals. But I digress…

The liner notes of the album included a mail-in form to purchase energy domes and other Devo memorabilia. I wish I had one today, not for the monetary value, but just because.

There is not a real reason to talk about Whip It, everyone knows this song.

Two other tracks stand out on the album for me though. Girl U Want is a driving song with the mix of vocals and music reminiscent of The Knack’s My Sharona. Now that I really think about it, there are a few similarities. Consider this snippet:

She sings from somewhere you can’t see
She sits in the top of the greenest tree
She sends out an aroma of undefined love
It drips on down in a mist from above
She’s just the girl, she’s just the girl
The girl you want
She’s just the girl, she’s just the girl
The girl you want

Not especially meaningful, but delivered in a catchy, repeatable rhythm that you can’t get out of your head after listening to it. Beware.

Freedom of Choice is the second outstanding track for me. I think is because of a story I had read about a dog who had a bone in the city of Pompeii and was found by archaeologists while excavating… with the bone still in his mouth.

This, though, is a story of a different dog, who had too many choices and couldn’t decide between them. The dog in this story appears to represent society in general behold…

In ancient Rome
There was a poem
About a dog
Who found two bones
He picked at one
He licked the other
He went in circles
He dropped dead

Freedom of choice
Is what you got
Freedom of choice!

Then if you got it you don’t want it
Seems to be the rule of thumb
Don’t be tricked by what you see
You got two ways to go


Wham Rap

In 1982 I was introduced to a new band by an acquaintance named Lance. He lived in a house that my father had built on King’s Flats outside of Central City, Colorado. Lance had a mohawk and wore a leather jacket. Although he drove a sweet black Mustang, he also occasionally road the bus. It was on one of those occasions that Lance brought his walkman. It was the first I had heard of Wham! and of course the first I heard them as well. I never knew the name of the cassette, only that it was by Wham!

Years later and after I moved to Florida, Wham! released Make It Big which spawned Careless Whisper. It was after buying their second release, that I looked for and found their first to add to my collection.

Long before George Michael came out, he and Andrew Ridgeley sang about being Bad Boys:

Boys like you, are bad through and through.
Still, girls like me, always seem to be with you….
We can’t help but worry,
You’re in such a hurry,
Mixing with the wrong boys,
Playing with the wrong toys.
Easy girls,
And late nights,
Cigarettes, and love bites
Why do you have to be so cruel?

One of my favorite tracks from Fantastic is Wham Rap. A very danceable and enjoyable “white” rap about being unemployed. The song came back to the dance floors in 1986 after Careless Whisper had opened their audience up to mainstream American radio.

A lesser known track is Ray Sunshine another bass-line driven title (it even says so in the lyrics). I often wake up in the morning with a bass-line in my head, sometimes it’s this one. I particularly like the use of the background singers to offset George’s higher register.

One surprise to me was a remake of Love Machine which was originally made popular by The Miracles. Here on this cover, Wham bring back the rough background growling with a the driving sound of synth drum and bass.

If you loved Wham! in the day, but never experienced this album pick it up from iTunes or your favorite retailer. Now I’ve got to…

Get, get, get on down,
Gonna, get, get, get on down,
Hey everybody take a look at me,
I’ve got street credibility,
I may not have a job,
But I have a good time,
With the boys that I meet “down on the line”

So you don’t approve,
Well, who asked you to?
This guy’s got better things to do
I ain’t never gonna work, get down in the dirt
I choose, to cruise
Gonna live my life, sharp as a knife
I’ve found my groove and I just can’t lose
I’m style from head to toe
Cool cat flash gonna let you know
I’m a soul boy – I’m a dole boy –
Take pleasure in leisure, I believe in joy!

Bow Wow Wow – Aphrodisiac

Bow Wow Wow was touring in support of their When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going release and in this case was opening for The English Beat.  The show actually opened with Joe “King” Carrasco & The Crowns, followed by Bow Wow Wow and finally The English Beat.  Don’t get me wrong I did and still do love The English Beat, but Annabella (I mean Bow Wow Wow) on stage stole my heart (I mean the show).

Can you tell I was a 16 year old with raging hormones at the time?  Annabella danced on the stage in her short, red, leather skirt and Native American themed costume, singing such songs to me (I mean the audience) like:

Ooh, I got arrows in my quiver, ooh, I got you you’re in my sight
Woh, when you’re close you make me shiver, woh, come with me and spend the night
Finding a way, a way to make whoopee, finding a way, a way to make love
Finding a way, a way to make whoopee, finding a way, a way to make love


I want him, I need him, I want him, I need him
He can move it, he can groove it, he’s a rhythm machine
He can take me, he can break me, he’s so hard and so mean
He’s my lover, he’s my hero, take it fast, take it slow
My baby, my baby, my baby oh no

Bow Wow Wow also gave us:  Aphrodisiac, Lonesome Tonight, Cowboy, Do You Wanna Hold Me, Louis Quatorze, Jungle Boy, Rikki Dee and What’s The Time (Hey Buddy)… and they are all here on this compilation.

As you can tell I’m a big fan of Bow Wow Wow and have all of their releases except one.  Well, okay, I have it on vinyl, but Do You Want To Hold Me has a regrettable whine in the background from being overplayed using a bad needle.  So, I should say, I have all of their recordings that are available on CD, except When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going.  While searching for that one, I came across Aphrodisiac – The Best Of Bow Wow Wow, which has all of the songs that were on When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going that I didn’t already have on other CDs… except one.  So I’m still in search of one song, Love Me.

If you are a fan of Bow Wow Wow, but not a crazy fan like me and just want to get a great mix of their material, Aphrodisiac – The Best Of Bow Wow Wow is worth picking up.  I bought it new through Amazon for less than $10 I think.

And…. just because I’m a crazy fan of Annabella Lwin (duh!) I offer the following nuggets:

    • Annabella recorded a cover of Like A Virgin for a release called Virgin Voices which was all covers of Madonna songs (I have this on CD).
    • Annabella recorded a cover of I Love Rock & Roll the Joan Jett song (I bought this on iTunes).
    • Annabella recorded an album of her own after Bow Wow Wow broke up (I have that on vinyl but am still trying to find it on CD or digital format).
    • Boy George reportedly tried out as a lead singer for Bow Wow Wow before they settled on Annabella – wow, that would have meant a totally different band.
    • The band backing Annabella in Bow Wow Wow is comprised of the Ants… from Adam & The Ants before Adam left the Ants and just became Adam Ant.


Peter Schilling – Error In The System

As a teen I had an interest in the German language due to a couple of hitch hikers my dad picked up during the summer.  Rolf and Jorge were traveling across the US from New York to California when they ran into my Dad in Colorado (but most of that is from another story/blog).  I was also very much into Science Fiction.  So it was only natural that Peter Schilling would become a favorite of mine.

I bought Error In The System on cassette and simply wore it out. The most recognized single in America is, no doubt, Major Tom (Coming Home).  I preferred the German version of the same song though, Major Tom (Völlig Losgelöst).  Either was fun with the countdown in the beginning of the chorus – 4, 3, 2, 1   /   Earth below us, drifting, falling   /   Floating, weightless, calling, calling, home   /   Across the stratosphere   /   A final message, “Give my wife my love” / Then nothing more.

Peter Schilling was probably the first that really got me listening to German version of various songs… well, Peter and later Falco… oh right, and Nena too.  Anyway, Error In The System was unique at the time for me because for several tracks on the cassette there was also a counter-part German version.

I think my favorite song on the album was The Noah PlanMajor Tom (Coming Home) was supposed to be the sequel to David Bowie’s Major Tom (about an astronaut), but since I really didn’t know much Bowie at the time it didn’t speak to me as much lyrically (just musically).  Getting back to The Noah Plan, the lyrical concept was that we had once again failed our planet…

A million years have come and gone
The Earth is shifting towards the sun
Synthetic atmosphere is lost
And forces the computers off
Communications are confused
The tides reverse
And start a chain reaction

I found that the title combined with the lyrical content really spoke to the Sci-Fi reader in me who enjoyed classics like The Foundation Trilogy, 1984 and The Dispossessed.

(Let’s Play) U.S.A. is another lyrically expressive song that mocked American politics of the 80’s.  The song is a very fast beat guitar with with lyrics delivered in an almost very redundant manner.  Then a little guitar solo in the middle that is reminiscent of national anthems.  And of course the entire flavor of the lyrics are very Sci-Fi like as well…

Won’t it be a lot of fun
Every man will own a gun
Shoot the ones whose point of view
Makes a point that bothers you
Go on and pollute the land
Clean air will be sold in cans
Did you hear the master plan
One nation under disney land

I guess as an American now darn near 30 years older than when I was listening to this on my headphones I should perhaps be offended.  But those were the 80’s and they were a different time to be sure.

This was actually one of the hardest of my worn out cassettes to replace.  I only found it as a special order, remastered import with both the German release Fehler im System and the American release Error In The System on the same CD.  Big bonus for me though because this means that I now have all of the original songs in both English and German versions.  Yay me!

Rachel Sweet – Blame It On Love

I think it is appropriate that I start this blog out with the first post on Rachel Sweet.  It was her that captured my imagination as a 13-year old boy after hearing her belt out B-A-B-Y and Just My Style on the compilation cassette that Uncle Ted gave me. This CD though is a re-issue and contains not only the stellar Blame It On Love, but also the prior year’s …And Then He Kissed Me.

I first purchased Blame It On Love in vinyl form in 1982.  I purchased it (along with Falco’s Der Kommissar) from the Peaches Records & Tapes store in Denver, Colorado.  Of course, I had already heard the entire track list (over and over) from Rachel Sweet’s debut album Fool Around.

Blame It On Love presented Rachel as older and sexier which fit right it with what I thought about her already.  Prior to purchasing the album I had seen the first single and opening track, VooDoo on MTV.  The song starts out “Close your eyes, baby make a wish” in a very sultry voice and the chorus “the voodoo that you do so well” certainly cast a spell on me.

…And Then He Kissed me includes Rachel singing Shadows In The Night.  Penned by Rachel, this was actually made popular by Pat Benetar.  The title track is a remake of two songs written by Phil Specter and performed by numerous other groups in the 60’s.  Rachel sings them back to back starting with …And Then He Kissed Me and blending directly into Be My Baby. After receiving the CD in the mail and importing into iTunes I found that I was marking most every track on the album between 2 and 4 stars.

This two album CD is a must have for any Rachel Sweet fan who doesn’t already own them and to remind you why you loved Rachel Sweet back in the day.