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.

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!

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!