Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Mr. Mike Project 1983

Make way for the New Wave! Arena rock bands were suddenly faced with obsolescence as MTV changed the rules from regular looking people to fancy hair cuts and costumes.

1983, MTV started to take hold. Music Videos began to break new acts left and right, particularly in the New Wave field. This took its toll on the established Arena rockers as they had made their name on live concert experiences more than having a photogenic look. Arena rock bands ran to the cameras for their closeups to compete with A Flock of Seagulls but ultimately could not translate their live appeal to video. The fact of the matter was that many of these guys weren't what would be called "pretty" and in 1983 looks mattered a lot more. As a result, '83 became the last gasp of true Arena rock. The regular guy look was out, glitz and glamour was in.

So my picks for my Arena rock songs of '83?

Disc 1:

Kansas - Fight Fire With Fire

John Elefante takes over for Steve Walsh on vocals and let's out a wail over a pounding riff as a giant mosquito bites his neck. One of the first records I ever bought. I used to get a lot of crap from my friend because it wasn't Metallica.

38 Special - If I'd Been The One

The video where the first Mrs. Springsteen shoots the singer and then drives off while the horses run free. A song where 38 asks a lot of "what if's", like what if I'd been the one to say goodbye, the one that makes you want to cry, the one that never fades away...dude, get over it!

Sweet Comfort Band - Don't Bother Me

Trying to be a completest here so despite my personal lack of spirituality I couldn't completely ignore Christian rock's contributions to the Arena rock genre. So I picked the most secular song I could find by a Christian rock band.

Manfred Mann's Earth Band - Runner

The 80's had these awesome synth rockers that were meant to sound futuristic and cool like this one. Would go great with a Logan's Run montage.

The Tubes - She's A Beauty

Maybe the most clean cut sounding song about a strip joint ever. In the video, I still can't believe what they got away with what's painted on the door the amusement park cart goes through towards the start.

Tony Carey - I Won't Be Home Tonight

Ex-Rainbow keyboardist strikes out on his own with a solid chunk of pop rock. And that's all I got here.

Genesis - That's All

Phil Collin's balladeer instincts began to kick in here though the group is clever enough to dress it up in an upbeat keyboard bit and tasteful guitars.

Vandenberg - Burning Heart

Flick your bic for a mighty fine power ballad courtesy of Adrian Vandenberg. This guy just has a name that is born to rock. Say it - Van Den Berg!

Def Leppard - Rock of Ages

The prime purveyors of Pop Metal get downright biblical on their hard rock stomper and introduce an unforgettable catchphrase to a generation - unta gleebin glossen globen.

Charilie - It's Inevitable

A song made for video arcades and miniature golf, this sounds awesome when you're trying to sink that last hole for a free game.

Eric Martin Band - Sucker For A Pretty Face

One of my favorite records back in the day, EMB aka 415 kicked out this blazin' ode to guys in Izod shirts with their collars up gettin' used by beautiful girls.

Billy Squier - Rock Me Tonite

The last of Squier's big run, of the Arena rockers to fail to transition to the video age few crashed harder than Squier. His fey dancing and rolling around in this clip has been cited as the killer of his career.

Alcatrazz - Hiroshima Mon Amour

Another Rainbow alumni, singer Graham Bonnet brought in guitar phenom Yngwie Malmsteen to burn up the fret boards like an A bomb.

Queen - Radio Ga Ga

Faced with the growing popularity of a medium they helped perpetuate, Queen takes on the music video era with a tribute to radio.

Night Ranger - Don't Tell Me You Love Me

Twin guitar fury hits like a locomotive. Night Ranger arrives on the scene guns blazing and Brad Gillis' whamming.

Journey - Faithfully

While "Open Arms" broke new ground for the Bay Area band's power balladry, "Faithfully" was the one that put the patent on it.

Dan Fogelberg - The Language of Love

Mr. Sensitive longer than same old lang syne dropped the misty eyed sentimentality for a second to find his inner cow bell.

Saga - On The Loose

More proof that Canada rocks, the Proggy Arena rockers lay down a thunderous groove for spinny keyboards and guitars to dance over.

Disc 2:

Def Leppard - Photograph

One of the first groups to really benefit from MTV exposure, the Lep unleash a butt load of hooks from the opening guitar riff to the "Oh!" chants to the cushy synths under the chorus to rock you in your living room.

I Ten - Alone

Songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly originally performed what would become a power ballad standard following Heart's remake in 1987.

Chris DeBurgh - Don't Pay the Ferryman

Before that whole "Lady in Red" thing, DeBurgh was a pop rocker with a dramatic flair.

Randy Newman - I Love L.A.

Sublime songwriter that he is, Newman went AOR in the early 80's penning one of the top rock anthems of the decade. The song became shorthand for the decadent feel good consumerism of the time.

Kiss - Lick it Up

The make up came off in '83, revealing...four pretty ugly dudes. Yet the trick worked, Kiss successfully switched from fading glam metal to hair band in a snap.

Bon Jovi - Runaway

Jon Bon Jovi makes his mark as a Foreigner styled rocker a few years before making the jump to premier hair band status.

Zebra - Who's Behind the Door?

One of the great forgotten power trios of 80's rock, Zebra mashed up Rush and Zep into a compelling sound.

Taxxi - I'm Leaving

Occasionally British bands would forget their from England and take a wholly American character. Point in case: Taxxi.

LeRoux - Carrie's Gone

Could vocalist Fergie Frederiksen be denied a spot on my CDs? Hell no!

Quiet Riot - Cum On Feel The Noize

The "Smells Like Teen Spirit" of the 80's, Quiet Riot's successful streamlining of a Slade classic ushered in the hair band era in an explosion of hair spray and spandex.

Toto - Africa

Showing the softer side of Arena rock, Toto gets mythical about "blessing the rains down in Africa" giving karaoke singers in the low vocal range something to shout about.

Journey - Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)

Own up to it, you would look for docks and warehouses to jump around in and do that grabbing the wrist of your shaking fist with your other hand thing for the "break those chains that bind you" part. Or maybe it was just me.

Michael Bolton - Fools Game

In one of his previous lives, Michael Bolton was a super cheesy rocker who oversang all over his backing track. As opposed to a super cheesy R&B crooner who oversang all over his backing track.

Asia - Don't Cry

The Fab Four of Prog rock score one more Top 10 hit before ego battling each other to the bitter end. And then coming back again two decades later.

Pat Benatar - Love is a Battlefield

You know, at the time "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" was her signature tune but now it's been supplanted by this one. Because taxi dancers need love too.

Loverboy - Hot Girls in Love

Did you ever notice in this video that the girl wasn't particularly hot? Or that the drummer was playing the drums with gas pumps? Or that no one was in love?

707 - Megaforce

Singer Kevin Chalfant strikes in this brilliant theme song to a craptacular movie about a military unit that rides rocket launching flying motorcycles and dune buggys. My younger brother loved this movie so of course I had to make fun of it, often referring to it as "Megafake".

Styx - Mr. Roboto

Japanese lessons courtesy of Dennis DeYoung, the song has become a kitsch classic that still gets referenced today. Even the Japanese guy who won an Oscar last week said "Domo Arigato Mr Roboto."

That's it for 1983, MTV makes an even greater impact on the next round. See you in 1984.


Some Kinda Wonderful said...

Hey! Long time, eh? Sorry I was out of it for a bit. Oh wait... I'm always like that. Nevermind... I have no excuse. Forgive?

Okay, lets see whatcha got here...
Okay, the glitz and glamour look: and we thought our high school pictures were embarrassing... whew! Hair as an art medium... interesting.
Kansas? Ehhhh, by 83 they weren't even getting much airtime on WDIZ.
38 Special? I've given my opinion on these guys before, I think.
Sweet Comfort Band? Never heard them or heard OF them. The Hooters now... I had their cassette. Wore it out.
Manfred Mann's Earth Band? Didn't they do Blinded By the Light back in the 70's? I liked that song.
The Tubes? Awesome song! Still winner, that one.
Tony Carey? Not sure I've heard that song. Is it on youtube?
Genesis? A pox on Phil's balladeer instincts. Ruined a good thing.
Vandenberg? Un... don't know him I guess. But yeah, the name? Great rock name!
Def Leppard? Awesome! Anything and Everything.
Charilie? Is that a girl, a guy, a group, or what?
Eric Martin Band? Was that a California thing?
Mr. Squier? You know how I feel about that one. :)
Alcatrazz? He got Yngwie in on it didn't he? How can you go wrong with that?
Queen? Ahhhh, geniuses. All of them
Night Ranger? Excellent concept.
Journey? Faithfully? Really? Wayyy too sappy for me. I tended to tune this one out. I liked their harder stuff much better.
Dan Fogelberg? I know who he is. I've even heard one or two of his songs. I think I even remember this one.
Saga? Sweet. You have a thing for Canada, don't you? Does your wife know? :D
More Lep? Rock On!
I Ten? Don't know them. Know the Heart version of this song, tho.
Chris DeBurgh? I LOVE this song. It was one of my most favorite during this era. Can't believe I totally forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.
Randy Newman? Funny guy. Used to torment my sister with his other big hit, "Short People". She's shorter than me, see?
Kiss? No thanks, really. Can't stand Gene Simmons, then, now, makeup or bare faced. He's just ick.
Bon Jovi? Nah.
Zebra? I think I heard one of their songs before, but I don't know if it was this one. It doesn't sound familiar to me.
I'm not real big on the rest of this disc, either. 83 must have been a very bad year for me musically. Ya think?

Some of these songs are sooooo good. And some of them are soooo not my taste and some of them I'm going to have to look up before I know one way or the other. One thing I can say, Mr. Mike... you sure know a whole bunch of music and artists. I learn something almost every time I read your blog. Thanks.

Mr. Mike said...

No problem SKW, glad to have you post whenever you can :)

Sweet Comfort Band - I sorta cheated I wanted to represent Christian rock without using a Christian rock song, something by White Heart or Petra probably would have been more suitable but then I would have to listen to it over and over in my car. And then I forgot in 1985 I had Stryper anyway so it ended up being redundant.

The Hooters? That was a great record they had, I have them in '85 too!

Tony Carey's song is on You Tube at:


Charlie is a group that had two minor hits. The song I have here is one where I heard it a lot but didn't know who did it until last year.

Eric Martin Band had some MTV play for this song but were bigger in Northern California because it's where they came from. Later on, Eric Martin fronted Mr. Big while drummer Troy Lucketta went on to Tesla.

You used to torment your sister with "Short People"? Funny!

lostinube said...

1983..the second of the US Festivals!

Ah, how many times did I watch Heavy Metal Day way back when?

Mr. Mike said...

I've always wanted to watch the US Festivals, those looked like great concerts! I recently saw the New Wave day from that festival on cable tv, a blast from the past. Heavy Metal Day would be killer to watch, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Triumph...all the greats.

Some Kinda Wonderful said...

I have to make a correction. I did know that Tony Carey song. I just didn't know I knew it until I found it on youtube. It is a good song. Reminds me of another one, but I can't quite put my finger on it. When it comes to me I will tell you.