Give Me Back My Man — B-52’s, by Janelle Monae with Andre 3000.
Social media sites have been more splattered with 80s nostalgia than a Flashdance-off-the-shoulder puffy paint shirt.
When it comes to music, as a rule, I try not to dwell on the past, but the 1980s are special to me because they perfectly span my adolescence, from age 11 to 20.
I began my inklings of womanhood during the advent of MTV in the U.S. After growing up with the Eagles, the new sounds I discovered in 1982 were absolutely thrilling. Synthesizers came into their own, and jazz, reggae, Latin percussion and all sorts of exotic elements whirled together. Men and women experimented with looking androgynous and wearing stylish suits. Hairstyles were crazy and unpredictable.
Here is a list of just some of my personal favorite not-quite-so-overplayed MTV videos, the tunes that I struggled to stay awake to watch in the wee hours while crashing at my older brother Joe’s house (because he had cable and I didn’t).
I think I liked them so much because they were a little outrageous and glamorous, the antithesis of the 1970s prog and southern rock my teen brothers awakened me with well past my bedtime when I was a little kid.
Simple Minds — Promised You a Miracle
My first favorite video in 1982.
The English Beat — Save It For Later
I have two favorite videos from The English Beat, known simply as The Beat in the UK. The first is my favorite as a youth and the second is my favorite now. The Beat has stayed with me and evolved in familiarity more than most ’80s bands.
My favorite video of all time back then, Save It for Later has a sway and Beatnik aesthetic that was so cool to me as a kid.
The English Beat — The Doors to Your Heart
Now, this is hands down my favorite video. I love the energy and geography …
… but my favorite tune/video if I had to choose one …
The English Beat — Too Nice To Talk To
Prince – Controversy
This made us younguns’ go, “Wow, what was that? … Is it really 6 minutes long?”
(Of course, I couldn’t find it on YouTube)
INXS – Don’t Change
Uplifting, gorgeous rock ‘n’ roll. The band’s best tune of all time.
The Members — Working Girl
Irreverent, snarky and loads of fun.
The Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)
Considered by most to be a big-hair trifle, inferior to its members’ previous outing, the Specials, Fun Boy Three is unfairly underrated. The band had one of the most original sounds I’ve heard, combining modern effects with spooky reggae undertones, catchy choruses and dancy rhythms. Plus, David Byrne produced their album, The Waiting.
Bananarama with The Fun Boy Three — Really Sayin’ Something
Oh, Bananarama. I wanted so badly to dress like those girls when I was 13. They were my fashion icons. I even had my mom make me outfitslike theirs
Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter
Never Stop was my first pick but the original video wasn’t available; this is a gem, too, showing young Ian McCulloch’s full lips in full effect.
The Fall – Victoria
(One of thee best Kinks covers) with singer Mark E. Smith looking zany in a Napoloeon uniform. Very fitting.
R.E.M. – Can’t Get There From Here
Favorite R.E.M vid hands down. Funny, playful, smart,creative, crazy … the R.E.M. I love. Insanely arcane lyrics, like “Philomath is where I go.”
Let’s Active — Waters Part
Mitch Easter, Let’s Active’s frontman, produced R.E.M.’s early albums. This was my favorite on a favorite album of all time.
The B52’s — Song for a Future Generation
Thompson Twins — Love on Your Side
Blow Monkeys – Forbidden Fruit
Pretty horns and one beach party goddess. Loved the editing with backward-motion effect. (Sorry for the poor quality. All YouTube had.)
China Crisis – King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)
The dorky brilliance and gentile charm of so many unsung pop geniuses of that time period. It made me feel naughty to sing the word Catholic in less than a reverential manner when I tape-recorded this tune, which was right around the time of my confirmation.
Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark – Joan of Arc
Moody proto synth pop at its best. Another “Catholic” song.
Depeche Mode — Everything Counts
That xylophone in the refrain always got me.
Haircut 100 — Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)
Shimmering and timeless … excuse the poor video quality.
Heaven 17 — Penthouse and Pavmenet
Heaven 17 didn’t sound quite like anyone else. The Human League counterparts released two great singles that outdid all of Human’s League’s hitlist (in my humble adolescent opinion). Would have to revisit to see if I still feel the same. … Most likely.
Tears for Fears — Pale Shelter
My first VHS tape was of Tears For Fears’ singles from The Hurting album.
Aztec Camera — Oblivious
This video by the Scottish band that made me shriek whenever it came on and I maybe got to see it just a few times:
Ultravox — Dancing With Tears in My Eyes
Dramatic and so beautiful.
Japan — Visions of China
Another rarity and such a big deal to me when it came on, usually in the middle of the night …
The Style Council — “You’re the Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)”
My favorite love song of the 80s.
Or maybe it was this:
Prefab Sprout — When Love Breaks Down
Favorite heartbreak tune.
Joe Jackson — Breaking Us in Two
The Fixx — Stand or Fall
Time Zone — World Destruction
Along with “Radio Clash,” a favorite rap song and protest song.
Wham — Young Guns
Wham when they were known as “Wham UK” — “Hey sucker, what the hell got into you?!”
Adam Ant — Desperate but not Serious
The Clash — (This Is) Radio Clash
The Police — De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
The Police and The Clash — they both are known for their white reggae rock but hated each other. Yet they are doomed to be remembered by me in tandem. Here is a video I loved to see because it was seldom on MTV.
Talk Talk — It’s My Life
Gwen Stefani couldn’t touch this.
Icicle Works – Whisper to a Scream
Icicle Works introduced me to Buddhism, funny enough.
New Order — Blue Monday
In 1985 my focus veered from MTV to my favorite underage nightclub, Skyfeathers, which featured a Union Jack-painted dancefloor. This tune lured the majority of the kids with big hair at the time.
Tones on Tail — Go
Another danceclub favorite.
My two favorite female-fronted videos:
Siouxsie and the Banshees — Spellbound
The Pretenders — Tattooed Love Boys
(She wasn’t British but her band was.)
The Smiths — What Difference Does It Make?
Word porn for adolescents and great rock ‘n’ roll, period.
The Cure — In Between Days
The tune, the video that put me over the moon for the Cure.
Split Enz — One Step Ahead
No list would be complete without my favorite New Zealanders.
By Julie Garisto
Daniel, my other half, has taken over our Spotify and Youtube accounts, eschewing my trust-fund-kid-approved playlists of Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra in favor of Fetty Wap and O.T. Genasis.
His playlist on Spotfy is a diverse mix of hip-hop and R&B, ranging from Aesop Rock to Big Sean to Childish Gambino to Run the Jewels to J. Cole to Nikki Minaj. I’m a little late to some, but I’m starting to get current.
Boogie, who’s more intense and buggy-eyed than Lil’ Wayne, has grown on me. His “Oh My” has a big fat hook you could hang Andre the Giant’s coat on.
Chance the Rapper’s “Angels” is an ambitious track that doesn’t conform to the status quo but is equally bold, as so is his superheroic video.
Action Bronson is a cult sensation who along with rapping is a full-on chef who hosts a cooking show on Vice’s Munchies channel called “F*ck, That’s Delicious.” Along with being smart as a whip, the 32-year-old performer born Arian Asllani gives us this big teddy-bear nice guy vibe but can hold his own in a fight.
Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, is a humorist and lovable douche who has been dubbed an anti-rap artist because he crafts rhymes about saving money and the mundane pastimes of middle class life. His track “Lemme Freak” is a brilliant sendup of suburban male sexual frustration. My favorite part is when he envisions himself a senior in the virtual reality future, calling out his wife for throwing out his shoes.
Locally, Dynasty, aka Dream Pusher, aka Lady Dy still reigns supreme. Both fierce and uplifting, she is on point with her poetry and doesn’t have one iota of inauthenticity.
Here’s her track from a few years back, “Magnificent”:
Dynasty has always been community-conscious, too. Right now she’s recruiting kids for the STAAR Program, a music and arts summer camp in June. Visit her homepage for more details.
I had the honor of being the first journalist to interview Ms. Diana Hardy more than a decade ago for the Times/tbt*. Since then, Dy has had a number of great collaborators, from Talib Kweli to Tampa Bay rapper Mike Mass, who, likewise, has an effortless flow.
Mass was recently featured in Blame Ebro as an “Artist on the Come Up.”
For those of you who appreciate having more to love, Clearwater-based Blackwell, a Blakknation Music hip-hop artist, has just released a track dedicated to the BBGs of this world: “Thick,” featuring Shock Da world and D. Jone$. For more info go to Reverbnation.Com/blackwell612. Oh, I almost forgot: He’ll be on WTAN-AM’s “The Dawn Reese Show” Wednesday, May 11, 6-7 p.m.
Tampa favorite Breakdown, whom I was also fortunate to interview when he first hit, is working on a new album.
Here’s what he had to say about it:
“Quite a few of songs deal with my interactions with different women, so I touch on love, heartbreak, unrequited feelings, dating, etc. A couple songs deal with the frustration of just working full time and still trying find time to devote to writing music. So a lot of it’s dark, but there are a few songs about typical-rapper stuff. I actually composed all of the music first. Some of the songs started with samples from punk, emo, and melodic hardcore bands and the other songs started from original guitar riffs I wrote. There’s some faster tempo stuff and almost drum and bass on a few songs.”
Looking forward to hearing from you again Breakdown. It’s indeed been a minute.
When discussing music from the past, Brian Repetto, a.k.a. the Dark Esquire and of Dumbwaiters/Insect Joy fame has always had a great knack for reminding us about what we forgot and making us aware of what we missed. He’s the guy to remind you that Simple Minds had much cooler stuff out there way way way before the Breakfast Club soundtrack. Likewise, he’s on top of what’s new and unusual — not just embracing weird for weird sake but keeping an ear on what’s appealing and challenging in good ways.
If you want to be privy to what Repetto is listening to these days, visit his new blog, Obscure Alternatives. Highly recommended.
I get inundated with ridiculous band photos all year long from earnest and often talented musicians wanting to get their name out. Sometimes in their efforts to gain exposure they make some misguided decisions.
I think as a public service and excuse for a laugh we should award the best worst local band pics we see.
If your band lands here, it’s all in good fun. We won’t judge you (wink!).
Please feel free to submit your favorites to email@example.com.
Here are some:
Free Reign: Who told you to feel free to wear quasi-matching T-shirts … and how can you be so serious about it, too?
How’s that for some awkward patriotism?
Fort Myers’ DayMinus7 wants to kill you in the face … but will size up your fashion choice first.
The members of St. Pete’s Stalwart have been instructed to stand a few feet apart.
Are they about to begin an aerobics class?
No end-of-the-decade retrospective would be complete without mentioning a few of the great individuals who touched our lives and, sadly for us, left our world. While I regret I cannot include all the late great musicians who made an impact, there are certainly three standouts: Jeff Wood, Mike O’Neill and Dave “Dave Rat” Anderson.
Please read below and share in the reminiscences. E-mail any pictures or fliers you want to include here to firstname.lastname@example.org or share your own stories in the comments below.
… Let’s take a moment to raise a pint to them one more time.
A great musician, confidant, maker of merry, defender of the underdog and owner of beloved basset hound Bubbles, my friend and neighbor Jeff Wood died at age 42 on Sept. 14, 2007, after a several-year-long battle with brain cancer. The former drummer of Nutrajet, Joe Popp’s band and other acts helped out in a pinch and looked after his friends.
As a musician, the rocker nicknamed “Woody” was a precise and propulsive skins man, a captain in the army of British Invasion rock.
“He was as loyal a bandmate as anybody could ask for and would follow me blindly into any crazy idea,” recalls Popp. “He wore a dress in Macbeth and boxing shorts for the Bruiser release party. He was an unbelievable drummer and could play three times as hard as any other drummer for a solid hour. The saddest part is he never got to play for a living – an honor he most certainly deserved.”
An all-around force of nature, Jeff maintained a fierce exercise regimen. He never lagged behind in his employment, often working overtime at his shipping and receiving job, and all the while providing the beats for several bands at a time.
He left no question about his character, so big in size it didn’t seem to leave room for attitude or ego, and if you take into account the droves of musicians and fans who showed up to his memorial service – who still share stories about him over a beer – his spirit is still very much alive and among us.
Ask a former neighbor of ours, Connor Halpern, 9, who, according to his mom Andrea Halpern, recently got in a conversation about the afterlife with his grandpa.
“I believe in ghosts because I feel Uncle Jeff all the time,” Connor said. “He’s all around me.”
For more Jeff Wood memories, visit http://www.joepopp.net/Jeff_Wood/Home.html.
Dave “Dave Rat” Anderson – Another drummer beloved by the Tampa rock and punk scenes, a guy who also helped out on the spot and exuded a sweet soul — whose void makes hearts sink a little and leaves friends asking why — Dave Rat, did not have a reputation for picking fights, but found himself in the middle of a fatal one early morning Oct 24, 2004, at an event celebrating a reunion of friend John Kennedy’s former South Florida punk band, Nuclear Beer, at New World Brewery.
Anderson, 34, was fatally stabbed while attempting to come between musician Dave Decker of Valrico and Christopher Bellamy of Gainesville.
The friendly musician could be seen all around Seminole Heights and Ybor City, riding around on an orange scooter and never lacking for a smile for each person he greeted.
“I’ll never forget Dave’s mischievous smile!” said friend Christina Petro. “He was the first true punk rocker I ever met.”
Bellamy has since been convicted of second degree murder. Decker recovered from his injuries.
“Dave Rat never met a stranger,” Kennedy said once in a story I wrote earlier this decade. “You always knew where you stood with him. He was a very special person and touched many people lives positively. We should all be so fortunate.”
Mike O’Neill – A shock and heartbreak, the frontman for Monday Mornings, Nailbiters and Unrequited Loves committed suicide on July 17, 2006 at age 41, in a manner so publicized that I’d prefer you Google it than ask me to repeat it here.
In the late ’90s, fresh out of North Pinellas and having landed gig at the area’s alt-weekly newspaper, Weekly Planet, I found myself in contact with new artists and musicians. My head was swimming. It was exciting but hard at times. I didn’t have the sense of shared history everyone else had, but with Mike that didn’t matter so much.
Joe Popp, on the other hand, got to spend more time with O’Neill. “(He was) a great songwriter and a passionate talent,” said Popp. “I knew Mike for as long time. When I was in Dogs on Ice he gave us our first gig. He used to play extra notes in between chords, which is a trick I flat out stole from him. He was probably the only guy that was at the Hub as much as me. We used to joke about doing a rock musical together, in which he would star as me. He said we along with (Will) Quinlan were the class of ’65 and we would all one day live in a home for aging local musicians.”
For Mike O’Neill, my lack of scene cred or whatever you call it didn’t matter. He made anyone feel welcome – an equal-oportunity defender and, well, offender. He was even-handed joking around at your expense; part of his charm. It almost seemed if he should have cigarette holder. So droll was he.
Well read, astute, empathetic (yet unpredictably aloof) and sometimes a stream-consciousness rambler — whatever the moment, Mike came across as unflinchingly honest.
He always called me out on my mistakes. (Mike, if you’re reading, I am sorry I used the word Americana once in an Unrequited Loves blurb. I think I got confused seeing you with Diviners’ Will Quinlan on those long benders at the Hub. It was a busy week.)
Mike and I bonded many times over our tastes in music. We’d play the Kinks or Zombies and Nuggets garage rock CDs. He dated a couple of my friends. I dated a couple of his. Both recurrent situations made it awkward to bond at certain intervals.
I wish I could have talked to him more. I now make a mental note now not to let snafus with mutual acquaintances keep me from a good conversation with someone I respect. Life is too short for such nonsense.
Home: Home flew the coop just before this past decade began. The uncannily brainy-accessible band had established a huge following in Tampa Bay and decided to seek out new opportunities in New York. Some of those pursuits paid off. A short time later, Hope opened for Flaming Lips during the band’s European tour. Home returned home in 2000 to play a record-attended Screw Music Forever Showcase at the Orpheum with Dumbwaiters – probably the best local show of the past 10 years and have returned on a few more occasions. Home-comings are always huge and worth planning ahead to attend.
Tres Bien: During the fall of 2008, the Tampa Bay’s reality show finalists The Next Great American Band, decided to relocate up north to Pa. (See earlier entry for more details). When visiting our area, however, the energetic performers return to a local stage and go all out for at least one rousing British-Invasion/psychedelic popaganza.
Geri X: This month, Geri X performed her last show. The Bulgarian-born singer made quite a stir with her poetic, confessional lyrics and textured compositions. She said: “I’m terrified of leaving. It’s so final. I’ll miss everything I built here, but sometimes the greatest things come out of confronting your biggest fears. So I hope to go to Atlanta and focus more on my music full time and not so much the stress of my regular day-job life. I don’t expect to be on MTV next month, or to become a millionaire. I just would like to make some more people happy and tour. That’s all. I’m not sure why I have to leave to do it but I feel like I have to. The day of the going away show was probably one of the worst days I’ve had this year but the night and the actual show as one of the best. So I seem to be compensating for my shortcomings (laughs).”
Some have been around for a year or two, but 2009 saw these acts come into their own, playing the mainstays of the music scene. My personal favorites among many — and that’s saying a lot.
1. Sons of Hippies – Married duo Katherine Kelly and Jonas Canales break all the rules and bring back the rebelliousness of 80s punk and the idealism of 60s folk to paint their own stark and beautiful picture from jagged puzzles pieces of the past.
2. Stolen Idols – The soundtrack to a hep tiki party, Stolen Idols perform smooth lounge exotica with earthy percussion, inspired by tropical locales and composers Les Baxter and Martin Denny. Live, torches often line the stage and the guys wear Hawaiian or guayabera shirts while bird sounds coo through the PA.
3. Beardsley – Pop eats itself and twists itself on a fork with mind-bending noodles. Wash it all down with sweet catchiness, evocative lyrics and a playful stage presence. Member Andy Craven talks about the silly and the regal. You could characterize Beardsley’s music in a similar manner.
4. The Sheaks – Timeless pop and rock ’n roll that’s at times pleasant, raucous and always infectious. The savvy players in this band sport a keen awareness of the backlashes and cravings of musical trends; I heard drummer Hunter Oswald can predict what you’re going to have for dinner next Saturday.
5. Tie: Glasgow and Gentlemen, Please – Glasgow takes the best, dominant forces of the Tampa music scene, indie-pop atmospherics and folk, to create one crafty coalition of sounds. Gentlemen, Please performs otherworldly, intelligent and listenable pop brought home by Alastair St. Hill’s strong and intimate vocal; artistic challenge without the cringe.
I think 2009 became bogged down by holding patterns in many arenas of expression — especially in music … especially local music.
My complaint about recent times: My head is worn out from nodding. Please — somebody — shake my booty again. Keep your black-frame glasses and geeky cool indie aesthetic. That’s quite all right by me. You don’t have to go total Usher on me. Just give me some intelligent lyrics, solid instrumentation and FAT BEATs. Thanks.
Other than that, band upstarts and new releases by established acts were slim on the local music front, but — thank goodness — things will pick up after the new year.
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s on the horizon. Let me know what I missed by way of commentsurations.
1. King of Spain – Multi-instrumentalist Danny Wainright has joined Matt Slate to add rhythmic backbone and doubled-up atmospheric dynamics, hypnotic effects to the shimmering tunes of our beloved Señor Slate. We look forward to more shows by the duo and the impending release of a new EP titled Peek.
2. The Semis – also has a new album on the way, showcasing the onetime loud-but-arty garage band as more discerning and savvy masters of pretty (!) plus edgy pop. Prepare to be pleasantly surprised — and moved.
3. Beardsley – one of my favorite new skewed pop bands is set to release a CD. I have no idea if they’re staying in the same direction, but knowing these smart, funny dudes, it won’t be boring.
4. Poetry ’n Lotion – Twisted mandolin-kissed and folksy-progressive cover band PnL has evolved nicely, adding their own compositions to a suite of classic reinventions of Zeppelin tunes and TV show themes, such as the Knight Rider song. New CD releases in January.
5. Florida Nite Heat — More pyrotechnics in the sky, I hear. Hopefully this new band will offer something newer and more exciting in this vein since Tampa has almost as much of this type of thing as it has Americana. Word on the street is FNH won’t let us down. Says Matt E. Lee of Brokenmold promotions: “(FNH is) ephereal with melodic undertones; drums by Mes of Crate brothers, bass by Dre, a.k.a. Black Viking God and Pocketchomper, a.k.a. Jensen on guitar. They do a slowed-down version of A-ha’s ‘Take on Me,’ and Jensen is a phenomenal guitar player. He writes all the stuff and has a great tone/sound; he’s out of Jax and one of the premier up-and-coming artists in the bay area.” See the new act perform Jan. 29 at New World Brewery with Patrick Baldwin and November Foxtrot Whiskey.
Crystal Anters, performing tonight at Crowbar in Ybor City.
Antlers this time of year usually conjure images of Canadian beasts schlepping Santa’s sleigh.
If we were to suss out indie rock’s Rudolph, we’d have to allocate that awesome misfit honor to Crystal Antlers from Long Beach: “fringe-psych explorers of the first order,” according to label Touch and Go‘s site. The swirly, oomphy band headlines a sweet-ass experimental type show at the Crowbar tonight.
So as you pop in on and escape from the ho-hum holiday parties, remember there is something interesting and fun to do in Tampa tonight.
I would like to write more, but my computer is being a turd.
Hope to see you there.