I spent my teenage years in Plano, a suburb just north of Dallas. There wasn’t a lot for kids to to do in Plano. We went to school. We watched football. We played video games. We went to the mall. Sometimes we got crazy and played video games at the mall. Whoa.

And we listened to the radio.

North Texas was fortunate enough to have three rock stations after KEGL arrived on the scene in 1981. Each one of them played a lot of the same songs, but somehow they each had their own unique personality.

First up: 102.1 KTXQ.

Q102

Q102. Texas’ Best Rock. Home of the semi-famous DJ Redbeard, Triple Shot Thursday, and the best damn rock star promos in the history of the universe:

“Hello this is Klaus Meine from Scorpions we come from Germany to rock your world we love Texas because in Texas you really know how to paaaaarrrr-taaaaaayyyy when you listen to Q102 Texas Best Rooooooooocccckkkkkkkkkkkkkkk!”

Breathe, Klaus. BREATHE. Klaus was like Speed Racer actually on speed.

Next up: 98.7 KZEW.

987kzew

The Zoo. The burner station. For years, I thought KZEW t-shirts came off the rack with a pack of Marlboro Reds tucked into the sleeve. The first station I ever heard play the “Who the fuck are you?” version of “Who Are You.” At 4 pm. On a Tuesday.

Finally, we had 97.1 KEGL.

kegl7

The Eagle. This was the station you had to listen to if you were at a girl’s house. I rarely was invited into the house of an actual girl, so I rarely listened to the Eagle. No one I knew really listened to the Eagle, and yet somehow it is the only station still broadcasting. This makes me very sad.

Like a lot of you, I rarely listen to music on traditional radio stations anymore. But back in 1981, my radio was always on. Of course I bought records– but how many records could a ninth grader really afford? The three radio stations were our lifeblood to music, and their effect on our lives went far beyond the bumper stickers on our cars and the t-shirts on our backs.

Sure, there were certain bands who were perhaps slightly overplayed: Journey. Foreigner. ZZ Top. REO Speedwagon. Styx. And hey, there was nothing wrong with that. I still enjoy all of these bands to this day. However, there was one band that always seemed to be on at least one of the three stations at any given moment. Radio ruined this band for me. To this day, I cannot listen to this band. I cannot listen to anyone talk about this band. I cannot even write the name of this band. I will invite you in the comments section to guess the name of this band if you dare. Someone will certainly guess correctly, because I am sure there were many like me who were permanently scarred by the overexposure of the band that shall remain nameless…

OK, so perhaps I heard “Too Much Time On My Hands” and “Shake It Up” more times than I really needed to. But I do have to give Q102 and The Zoo and The Eagle credit: they exposed me to a ton of new music. For every “Working for The Weekend,” there was a “Trouble.” For every “Juke Box Hero,” there was a “Lunatic Fringe.” Album tracks. New artists. Deep cuts. That’s what made classic rock radio in the early ’80s so great.

Remember, this was 1981. MTV launched in August of that year, but Plano might as well have been on Pluto in regards to cable TV access. The only way we heard a new band was on the radio. Many of these great songs and bands have drifted from our memories over the years. My task here at the Analog Kid Blog is to bring them back…one blog post at a time.

So here we go: five long-forgotten classic rock flashbacks from the year 1981. I’ll post additional cuts from different years on future posts, so keep checking back. May you find your own inner “Sausalito Summernight” somewhere along the journey…

Balance

Balance: “Breaking Away” (Peppy Castro)

From the album Balance

Portrait Records, 1981

Breaking Away

Balance only made two records, but they had the classic AOR format down from the start. Guitarist Bob Kulick’s brother Bruce went on to join KISS after they took off the makeup.

 

Wanna Be A Star

Chilliwack: “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” (Bill Henderson/Brian MacLeod)

From the album Wanna Be A Star

Millennium Records, 1981

My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)

Chilliwack’s story is a fascinating one, and probably deserves an entire blog of its own someday. They were huge in their native Canada, but only had a few minor hits in the States. This song almost reached the top 20, and it was all over Q102. Warning: this song will stick in your head for the next 72 hours.

 

Small Change

Prism: “Don’t Let Him Know” (Bryan Adams /Jim Vallance)

From the album Small Change

Capitol Records, 1981

Don’t Let Him Know

Another Canadian band with a fascinating history. Producer Bruce Fairbairn got his start in this band, as did Jim Vallance. Both had left by this point, but Vallance wrote this song with an up-and-coming Bryan Adams and gave it to his former group. A great slice of early ’80s rock.

 

Sneaker

Sneaker: “More Than Just The Two Of Us” (Michael Schneider/Mitch Crane)

From the album Sneaker

Handshake Records, 1981

More Than Just The Two Of Us

If you went to a high school dance in 1981, you slow-danced to “More Than Just The Two Of Us.”  You can’t really tell from this song, but the band wore its Steely Dan influences squarely on its sleeve. Becker and Fagan even wrote a song for the album, and the self-titled debut was produced by former Dan and Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter. “More Than Just Two Of Us” made it up to #34 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it was a smash hit in Plano.

 

King Cool

Donnie Iris: “Love Is Like A Rock” (Donnie Iris/Mark Avsec/Marty Lee, Albritton McClain/Kathy Valentine)

From the album King Cool

MCA Records, 1981

Love Is Like A Rock

Everybody remembers “Ah! Leah!” from 1980, and that song still receives regular airplay on classic rock stations all around the country. Donnie Iris is thought of as a one-hit wonder, but he actually had a long a career in the business. Do you remember “The Rapper,” a 1970 #2 hit from The Jaggerz? That’s Iris. MIND BLOWN. I found this out a few years ago as I was enjoying a delicious Primanti Brothers cheesesteak in Pittsburgh (egg and slaw on the sandwich, please!). The shop had a huge mural of Pittsburgh legends on the wall, and Donnie Iris was right up front with Roberto Clemente. That seemed a little skewed to me, so I consulted my tiny phone-like computer for a little googling. As I said, MIND BLOWN. Iris even spent a couple years in the band Wild Cherry, but it was after “Play That Funky Music” had been released. Good thing, as my brain might have exploded if Donnie had been the one dancin’ and singin’ and movin’ to the groovin’.

“Love Is Like A Rock” made it up to #37 on the Billboard Hot 100, only 8 spots behind the highest position for “Ah! Leah.” Time has forgotten this one. The Analog Kid has not.

________________________________________________________________

Bonus Tracks!

The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.

Who Are You

The Who: “Who Are You” (Pete Townshend)

From the album Who Are You

MCA Records, 1978

Who Are You

 

Paradise Theater

Styx: “Too Much Time On My Hands” (Tommy Shaw)

From the album Paradise Theater

A&M Records, 1981

Too Much Time On My Hands

 

Shake It Up

The Cars: “Shake It Up” (Ric Ocasek)

From the album Shake It Up

Elektra Records, 1981

Shake It Up

 

Get Lucky

Loverboy: “Working For The Weekend” (Mike Reno/Paul Dean/Matt Frenette)

From the album Get Lucky

Columbia Records, 1981

Working For The Weekend

 

Law And Order

Lindsey Buckingham: “Trouble” (Lindsey Buckingham)

From the album Law And Order

Asylum Records, 1981

Trouble

 

4

Foreigner: “Juke Box Hero” (Mick Jones/Lou Gramm)

From the album 4

Atlantic Records, 1981

Juke Box Hero

 

As Far As Siam

Red Rider: “Lunatic Fringe” (Tom Cochrane)

From the album As Far As Siam

Capitol Records, 1981

Lunatic Fringe

 

Watts In A Tank

Diesel: “Sausalito Summernight” (Mark Boon/Rob Vunderink)

From the album Watts In A Tank

Atco Records, 1981

Sausalito Summernight

 

Back On The Streets

Donnie Iris: “Ah! Leah!” (Donnie Iris/Mark Avsec)

From the album Back On The Streets

MCA Records, 1980

Ah! Leah!

 

We Went To Different Schools Together

The Jaggerz: “The Rapper” (Dominic Ierace)

From the album We Went To Different Schools Together

Buddah Records, 1970

The Rapper

 

Wild Cherry

Wild Cherry: “Play That Funky Music” (Rob Parissi)

From the album Wild Cherry

Epic Records, 1976

Play That Funky Music

About The Analog Kid

"I'm 5-foot-8, 123 pounds. I have, uh, brown hair, blue eyes. I enjoy surfing, backgammon and men who aren't afraid to cry."

23 responses »

  1. MaxHorn says:

    Make your guesses here for the band that I shall not name, listen to, or speak of!

  2. MaxHorn says:

    Not Skynyrd. I have warmed to them over the years, although “That Smell” and “Freebird” still make me lunge for the dial.

  3. MaxHorn says:

    My wife actually guessed it via email, but apparently is too snooty to post it here in the comments. So we kinda have a winner, but not really…

  4. surpriseh says:

    I kind of have an inside track, though, considering I have to listen to you bitch about this band whenever they pop up on shuffle.

  5. MaxHorn says:

    Surpriseh (my wife) has inadvertently revealed the depth of my music addiction. I may hate the band whose name I will not mention, but that hasn’t stopped me from acquiring all of their albums– on both CD and LP– over the years.

    “The need for completion is strong with this one.”

    • MaxHorn says:

      WE HAVE A WINNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for playing. Where should I send your free t-shirt?*

      * free t-shirt offer valid only if/when I actually MAKE t-shirts, which I think we both know is highly unlikely

      • Randall Huff says:

        Well slap me and call me “Amanda”. This really has me “Feelin’ Satisfied” and gives me a “Peace of Mind” knowing that I was “Smokin” with my guesses. But as far as the t-shirt goes, I will just “Cool the engines” realizing that the offer was just “Foreplay” and that it will be a “Long Time” before you every make them.

  6. MaxHorn says:

    Randall, you have renewed my faith in humanity. God bless you, good sir.

  7. The Good Doctor Polymer Noyz says:

    What!?! You don’t like Boston?

  8. The Good Doctor Polymer Noyz says:

    Golden Earring “Twilight Zone” to big a hit for ya?

  9. The Good Doctor Polymer Noyz says:

    Ah, my bad. “Twilight Zone” was 1982.

    • MaxHorn says:

      Yes, “Twilight Zone” was 1982. They opened for Rush on the “Signals” tour, remember? Took me years to figure out the line, “This is a madhouse, feels like being cloned.”

      As for B____n, I was simply done with them after 9th grade due to radio overkill, I’m not saying they are bad. I just don’t ever want to hear “M_r_ T_a_ A _e_l_n_” ever again.

  10. Randall Huff says:

    I saw Golden Earring open for Rush and I still remember the clear drum kit with neon lights inside. Thought that was the coolest.

  11. Randall Huff says:

    Thanks for the Donnie Iris and Chilliwack songs. I had forgotten about those. They sure took me back.

  12. WTF Pancakes says:

    I feel much the same way about Boston: Solid stuff, but overplayed to the point that I never felt I needed to own a Boston album. Or hear any Boston music. Ever. Again.

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