Posts Tagged ‘1985’


Thursday night at Stereo Live on Richmond in Houston, TX was given a lil’ blast from the past from Great Britian and the US in the form of 80s bands When In Rome, Animotion, and A Flock of Seagulls. In the words of Animotion bass player Charles Ottavio, “You have just stepped into a time machine and traveled back to 1985.”

Animotion literally stole the show for the night. Their high-energy show was nothing short of  infectious and made you want to bang your head metal-head style, dance, or both. This was due in part to lead singer Astrid Plane, who performed such songs as their best-known smash single from 1983, Obsession. Animotion performed songs from their 1st and 2nd albums such as I Want You as well as some new songs like Ready To Fly in which lead singer Plane said “this song is dedicated to anyone who has had to start over this year.”

Well-spoken, Astrid!

Special thanks to Cactus Records in Houston, TX for the tickets.

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On July 27, 1981 Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks released her landmark solo album Bella Donna. That album with songs

30 years of entertainment and white-winged doves

like Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around, Leather and Lace – both duets with Tom Petty and Don Henley respectively, and the ever-popular Edge of Seventeen launched her enduring solo career. Though its a belated birthday, I, would like to present you with the 10 facts that you probably didn’t know about Bella Donna.

  1. The most well-known single from this album is, of course, Edge of Seventeen. Nicks has said that this song is about the death of her uncle and the death of John Lennon. She explained in her Live In Concert video that “I was in Australia when John Lennon was shot. Everybody was devastated. I didn’t know John Lennon, but I knew Jimmy Iovine, who worked with John quite a bit in the ’70s, and heard all the loving stories that Jimmy told about him. When I came back to Phoenix I started to write this song. Right when I got to Phoenix, my uncle Bill got cancer, got very sick very fast, and died in a couple of weeks. My cousin John Nicks and I were in the room when he died. There was just John and I there. That was part of the song when I went running down the hallways looking for somebody – I thought where’s my mom? Where’s his wife and the rest of the family? At that point I went back to the piano and finished the song.”
  2. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around was one of the earliest videos to air on a new network that debuted on August 1, 1981 at midnight called Mtv. Mtv ended up being massively popular with teenagers and young adults and introduced both Tom Petty of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and Nicks to a younger audience.
  3. Producer Jimmy Iovine (who has since worked with rap artist Eminem, Dr. Dre and R&B singer Mary J. Blige among others) produced the album. Iovine and Nicks ended up moving in together during the making of the album.
  4. Bella Donna is an italian expression for “beautiful woman.”
  5. Some tracks did not make the final cut of Bella Donna, but were included on other albums. Some of these tracks were “I Sing For Things (which was eventually re-recorded for her 1985 album Rock A Little), Gypsy (which was included later on Fleetwood Mac’s Mirage album in 1982), Sleeping Angel (which was included on the soundtrack to the hit film Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Blue Lamp (which was included on the Heavy Metal soundtrack) and Gold and Braid, which Nicks has performed live for the Bella Donna tour.
  6. The Bella Donna tour kicked off in Houston, TX at the the Summit, which was also where fellow rockers Journey recorded their 1981 Live In Houston – the Escape Tour video. Nicks herself would later return to The Summit in 1989 for her The Other Side of the Mirror tour and film the video for Whole Lotta Trouble at said concert. The Summit was the home of the Houston Rockets and later became known as the Compaq Center. It now currently houses bestselling Christian author Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church.
  7. There are many tracks that still remain officially unreleased but have become popular on sites like youtube and other peer-to-peer sites. Some of these tracks include “Castaway,” “Lady From the Mountains,””China Doll”, “Christian (Spinning Wheels)”, another duet with Tom Petty, and “Stay Away.”
  8. Bella Donna hit #1 on the US Billboard charts in September 1981 and was awarded platinum status 2 months later. It has since gone 4x platinum.
  9. This was the 1st recording to feature Nicks’ longtime backup vocalists Sharon Celani and Lori Perry Nicks.
  10. Nicks wrote Leather and Lace for a duet album for country singer Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter. However it wasn’t used by either singer so Nicks recorded it as a duet with Don Henley. The song itself hit #6 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in January 1982.

Heart is one of those bands that has had many incarnations but still has the constant two frontrunners in the form of sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. They are the female counterparts of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. However, their reasons for the original lineup change is because of their original romantic entanglements with former drummer Mike DeRosier and Roger Fisher.

Heart’s 1985 self-titled album is proof that that the lineup change that occurred with the previous album, Passionworks, and signing on with record label powerhouse Capitol Records, worked.

Heart’s self titled album is nothing short of great. While it stays true to Heart’s somewhat angry hard-rockin’ musical roots with songs such as The Wolf and If Looks Could Kill, one of the best changes is that there are some hard-rockin’ love songs. On Never, Ann cries “We can’t go on just running away/ If we wait any longer we will surely never get away/ Anything you want – we can make it happen/ Stand up and turn around – never let them shoot us down.” She continues with this passion on All Eyes.

One surprise is that, for a change, guitarist Nancy Wilson gets to sing lead vocals for the first time ever on a Heart album. She has a beautiful voice on the smash single These Dreams. The lyrics of the song describe the fantasy world a person enters when faced with a real-life difficult issue. This song was dedicated to a close friend of Nancy Wilson, Sharon Hess, who died of leukemia shortly before the song was made.

One track though, falls flat. Nobody Home sounds like it wants to be a hybrid power-pop ballad meets the signature sound of Heart. It doesn’t work for the band. Shell Shock sounds like an overdone hard-rock song. It even has corny and cliche love song lyrics that do not fit into the repertoire of Heart.

Caveats aside, the album is a welcomed return to both great music and the radio for Heart.


Stevie Nicks has proven herself to be the most powerful woman in rock & roll. However, even rocks Gold Dust Woman has her “what was she thinking” moments. Rock A Little perhaps is one of these.

Rock A Little is a little like her previous release, the 1983 classic The Wild Heart albeit with a more 80’s pop feel. It fits Nicks much like a fashion accessory – too many of them break the overall outfit. The title track, “Rock A Little (Go Ahead Lily),” is one of those tracks. The lyrics scream rock song or at least a power ballad, but instead it is a slower song. Either way, neither song nor lyric fit each other.

“The Nightmare” is a completely senseless song. Though it has a great beat, it’s like she was on quite a bit of drugs when she recorded it. The same goes for other songs such as “I Sing For Things” – which would be an enjoyable track had Nicks not been on drugs, thus slurring her words. She does this on many of the tracks. Shortly after the Rock A Little tour, she famously entered the Betty Ford Clinic for treatment for a cocaine addiction.

However, “I Can’t Wait” is almost like an updated version of the classic smash “Stand Back.” A surprise track that the Wild Heart loves is “If I Were You” – a ballad that is a plea to a significant other to stay in the relationship. It is a beautiful, yet uptempo, ballad. “Sister Honey” is a rare almost-dance track from Stevie Nicks. It is a great album cut. One of the best album tracks is “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything For You” – a song written for then-boyfriend and member of the Eagles Joe Walsh, who had suffered the loss of his young daughter due to injuries in an automobile accident en route to nursery school in 1974. Walsh took Nicks to the water fountain that she frequented when she was alive to show Nicks that her problems and pain were nothing compared to the hell he has put up with.

Overall the Wild Heart can only recommend this album if either a) you want to show your children what music on drugs sounds like or b) you are a die-heart Stevie Nicks fan. Otherwise, only download a few tracks and nothing more.


Ahhhh Fleetwood Mac. A band where you know who dated who and who broke up with who. However, when they make music together, it’s completely sheer magic. On Tango In the Night, this magic once again doesn’t fail them.

On this album, the band members take a more stylized production approach – a slick pop approach that still stays true to the style and music of Fleetwood Mac. Mirage and Rumours were more organic in both their sound and lyrics. Tango In the Night is, but with more production overdubs and a more pop approach. It sounds like they took more production cues from their most popular band member, Stevie Nicks, whose latest solo release at the time was Rock A Little (1985)

The greatest thing about this album is that there is no weak track. Each is a great standalone track. But perhaps one of the greatest tracks is Big Love due to the creative guitar-playing and “love grunting” of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham.

One thing to notice about the album is that the presence of Stevie Nicks is a little less. While she sings backup on many of the songs such as Little Lies, she has less songs where she is the lead vocalist, or even the main songwriter. The reason is due to the fact that she was in rehab for a cocaine addiction. On the other hand, Seven Wonders, though it’s not Gypsy or Gold Dust Woman, is still a viable (and underrated) classic. One surprise great track is Welcome to the Room…..Sara. It almost is a foreshadow of her later work including her latest single Secret Love from her latest album In Your Dreams.

Overall this is one of the most under appreciated albums of Fleetwood Mac. It is definitely a good listen, even though it is a deviation from the normal bluesy-pop/rock that has become beloved among Fleetwood Mac fans.

 


Vision Quest, though it has some gems, falls flat on its face

Ahhhh Vision Quest.  A movie I never saw that nevertheless has a rather strong soundtrack. Either way it is a soundtrack that has a little something for the balladiers, headbangers, rockers, and the pop princesses.

The soundtrack to Vision Quest is one that screams more 80’s than Flashdance ever did. The album starts out very strong with a track by classic rock greats Journey with Only the Young. Unfortunately it falls flat in some areas, such as the disco-themed Shout to the Top by the Style Council.  Even worse is I’ll Fall In Love Again by Sammy Hagar. It sounds too bland. However, it quickly redeems itself with Madonna’s The Gambler, a dance-oriented synth-happy track where the material girl exclaims “YOU CAN’T STOP ME NOW!”

This soundtrack even will please the rockers in the form of Don Henley’s She’s On the Zoom.

However, Vision Quest takes flight and goes off into its rocketing orbit with the late Ronnie James Dio‘s Hungry For Heaven. Dio proves himself to be worthy of a rock god.

One of the best tracks is Foreigner’s Hot Blooded, which has been covered a few times in concert by country rocker Gretchen Wilson.

Unfortunately, tracks by F0reigner, Journey and Madonna cannot even save this soundtrack. A good soundtrack should be able to tell the story of the film without seeing it. Vision Quest falls flat on its face.


Up until 1985, nobody ever would have thought that the words “Amy Grant” and the word “rock star” would have ever been uttered in the same sentence. That is, until 1985 when she released Unguarded.

This was definitely an album that broke many barriers within Contemporary Christian music back in the 1980’s. For starters, not every song was about Christ – some, such as I Love You, were love songs written for her then-husband, Gary Chapman.

For a Christian album, it has very few musical weak spots and one thing is clear: Grant knows how to rock. She proves it on the opening track, Love Of Another Kind, a track that seems reminiscent of  Jump by Van Halen. However, Grant truly shines on Find A Way and Wise Up. However, they sound better when performed in a live setting.

Unguarded shows its weakness in the end song, The Prodigal – which is a retelling of the story of the prodigal son from the perspective of the father. It is simply overproduced and cheesy.

Overall, I would highly recommend this album due to the fact that, for a Christian album, it does state the beliefs of the artist in a very creative way but at the same time, it does not come across as too preachy.