This continuing series on the Analog Kid blog takes a look back at some of the best AOR songs from the ’70s and ’80s. All of these songs were radio favorites from my teenage years in Texas, but for some reason you just don’t seem to hear them much any more. I hope to change that.
Texas Radio & The Big Beat: 1984
Slade: “Run Runaway” (Written By Noddy Holder & Jim Lea)
From the album Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply
Epic Records, 1984
In 1984, I knew about Slade only through a cover version of one of their songs by Quiet Riot. That all changed with the release of Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply, Slade’s biggest-selling album in the United States. “Run Runaway” was Slade’s first Top 20 single on this side of the Atlantic, and it certainly provided many Wayne’s World/”Bohemian Rhapsody” moments while driving around Plano in my 1976 Pinto station wagon. The Pinto Party Machine may have had fake wood paneling and a pink/red/orange plaid interior, but it had one hell of a stereo system…
Dwight Twilley: “Girls” (Dwight Twilley)
From the album Jungle
MCA Records, 1984
The Dwight Twilley Band took the power-pop classic “I’m On Fire” to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1975, but it would be nine years before Twilley would have another hit. “Girls” also peaked at #16, no doubt in part due to the vocal contributions of Dwight’s friend Tom Petty. Phil Seymour, Dwight’s partner in the Dwight Twilley Band, had provided backing vocals on the Petty classic “American Girl” in 1976. Seymour and Twilley went their separate ways in 1978, and Seymour had his own power-pop smash with the infectious “Precious To Me” in 1981.
Van Stephenson: “Modern Day Delilah” (Van Stephenson)
From the album Righteous Anger
MCA Records, 1984
Van Stephenson only recorded three albums during his brief career, but anyone who listened to classic rock radio or MTV in the mid-’80s will remember “Modern Day Delilah.” Paul Stanley of KISS obviously remembered it, as he used the title for the lead single from 2009’s Sonic Boom album. After his brief flirtation with rock stardom, Stephenson returned to his country music roots and penned multiple hit songs on the country charts for other artists. Sadly, Stephenson passed away from cancer in 2001 at the age of 47.
Tommy Shaw: “Girls With Guns” (Tommy Shaw)
From the album Girls With Guns
A&M Records, 1984
The Texxas Jam was a summer tradition in Dallas during the late ’70s and ’80s. It was always held at the Cotton Bowl, and featured some of the biggest acts in rock in an all-day outdoor concert. In June of 1983, Styx headlined the show during the Kilroy Was Here tour. To say that it didn’t go well would be an understatement– would YOU want to perform Kilroy Was Here in costume before 80,00 drunk Texans who had just spent the afternoon rocking with Ted Nugent and Sammy Hagar? I wasn’t actually at the show as I was in California on vacation, but I got a first-hand report from many friends in attendance. The verdict?
“Styx SUCKED, dude!!”
The show in Dallas (and a subsequent show in Houston) was received so poorly that it essentially broke up the band. Tommy Shaw was done with Dennis DeYoung’s melodramatic Broadway tendencies and decided to go solo. “Girls With Guns” was the first single and title track from his debut solo album, and it received large amounts of airplay on both rock radio and MTV. I saw Tommy open for Rush a few years later in Austin, and he appeared to be having a great time on stage. He was probably just happy that he was back in Texas and that nobody was throwing beer bottles at him this time.
Orion The Hunter: “So You Ran” (Barry Goudreau/F. Migliaccio)
From the album Orion The Hunter
Portrait Records, 1984
The Analog Kid has a problem. In one of my very first blog posts back in October, I stated that there was one band I simply could not mention by name. It’s not that they were bad or anything– I had just grown so tired of them from overexposure that I was done with their music Today, I own all of that band’s albums on both LP and CD, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually played any of them (hey, collectors gonna collect, ya know?).
Here’s the problem: you can’t talk about Orion The Hunter without talking about that other band. Well, that kinda gives it away, doesn’t it? As many of you had surmised in the comments of that blog post, the band I would not mention was B_s_o_. Hey, I typed three letters! I’m getting better!
B_s_o_ was wrapped up in legal trouble over song ownership for a good chunk of the early ’80s, so the band members decided to try their hands at side projects. Singer Brad Delp joined up with former guitarist Barry Goudreau to form the Orion The Hunter, although Delp didn’t actually sing lead vocals on the record. That job went to Delp sound-alike Fran Cosmo, virtually guaranteeing that Orion The Hunter would sound almost exactly like B_s_o_.
I guess that brings up an interesting question: if I hate B_s_o_ so much, then why do I think “So You Ran” is such a great song? Must be because of the absence of T_m S_h_l_. “So You Ran” was the only hit for Orion The Hunter, and Delp returned to B_s_o_ to provide vocals for 1986’s long-awaited (by everyone but me) Third Stage album.
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.
Quiet Riot: “Cum On Feel The Noize” (Jim Lea/Noddy Holder)
From the album Metal Health
Pasha Records, 1983
Queen: “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Freddie Mercury)
From the album Wayne’s World: Music From The Motion Picture
Reprise Records, 1992
Dwight Twilley Band: “I’m On Fire” (Dwight Twilley)
From the album Sincerely
Shelter Records, 1975
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: “American Girl” (Tom Petty)
From the album Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Shelter Records, 1976
Phil Seymour: “Precious To Me” (Phil Seymour)
From the album Phil Seymour
Boardwalk Records, 1981
KISS: “Modern Day Delilah” (Paul Stanley)
From the album Sonic Boom
Universal Records, 2009