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: 1982
1982 was the year I got MTV, but that didn’t keep me from listening to the radio. All of the songs below were huge hits on local Dallas radio stations like Q102, and a few of them even made their way over to MTV. I usually only post five songs from the year when I do a “Texas Radio & The Big Beat” blog entry, but 1982 was so good that it deserves at least ten…
The Producers: “She Sheila” (Temple/Famous/Henderson/Holmes)
From the album You Make The Heat
Portrait Records, 1982
The Producers were a fantastic power-pop band from Atlanta. They only made two records during their initial run, but they received a lot of airplay in Dallas. In the late ’90s, I heard “She Sheila” on the radio during a flashback segment and completely lost my mind– how could I have forgotten about this pop masterpiece? The band’s two albums had just been released on a single CD, and I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon. That CD is now long out of print and worth a fortune. No, I will not sell my copy to you. But I promise that I will share it with you on a future “Lost Boys: Hard-To-Find ’80s Albums” post…
Steel Breeze: “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” (Goorabian)
From the album Steel Breeze
RCA Records, 1982
Steel Breeze’s “You Don’t Want Me Anymore” reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982, and it ended up being the only hit for the Sacramento-based band. In December of that year, Steel Breeze opened for The Who and Billy Squier at the Cotton Bowl. Wait– an outdoor stadium show? In Dallas? In December? My mother wouldn’t let 15-year-old me go. In retrospect, that was some solid parenting. But at the time…
Kansas: “Play The Game Tonight” (Ehart/Flower/Frazier/Livgren/Williams)
From the album Vinyl Confessions
Kirshner Records, 1982
The atmospheric video for “Play The Game Tonight” was all over MTV during the summer of 1982. Singer John Elefante had recently replaced original vocalist Steve Walsh, and the result was Kansas’ biggest hit in years (#17 on the Billboard Hot 100). Elefante only recorded one more album with Kansas before Walsh returned, but 1983’s Drastic Measures did produce another big AOR hit with “Fight Fire With Fire.”
Sammy Hagar: “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” (Hagar)
From the soundtrack album Fast Times At Ridgemont High
Full Moon Records, 1982
Sammy was always hugely popular in Dallas, and local radio played “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” constantly even though it was never released as a single. In the fall of 1984, Sammy and “Fast Times” provided one of my all-time favorite concert moments. Hagar was really struggling with his voice throughout the show, and it finally went out completely during the song “Swept Away.”
“Fuck it!” screamed Sammy, and he finished the song off with a blistering guitar solo. At that point, he explained to the crowd that he was sick and that his voice was completely gone. He then asked if anyone in the crowd knew the lyrics to “Fast Times At Ridgemont High.” The next thing you knew, some lucky bastard from the front row was on-stage singing the song with Sammy and the band. Understandably, the crowd went absolutely ape-shit.
And no, that wasn’t even the last song of the night. After “Fast Times,” Marc Storace from Krokus came flying out over the drum riser (wearing nothing but a pair of tiny briefs) and took over on lead vocals for a bunch of Led Zeppelin songs. It was the best shitty concert of my entire life.
Krokus: “Long Stick Goes Boom” (Von Rohr/Von Arb/Storace)
From the album One Vice At A Time
Arista Records, 1982
Speaking of Krokus, “Long Stick Goes Boom” definitely makes my list of Top 5 AC/DC songs of all time. “Long Stick” would have fit perfectly on Highway To Hell or Powerage, and I mean that as an extreme compliment.
Clocks: “She Looks A Lot Like You” (Swaim)
From the album Clocks
Boulevard Records, 1982
“She Looks A Lot Like You” was the only single from the only album Clocks ever made. The video received some minor MTV play, and the song had been stuck in my head for years. I finally tracked down a copy of the LP about ten years ago, and to my knowledge the album has never been released on CD.
Rainbow: “Stone Cold” (Blackmore/Turner/Glover)
From the album Straight Between The Eyes
PolyGram Records, 1982
“Stone Cold” was another video staple from my first summer with MTV in 1982. I didn’t really know anything about Deep Purple at the time, but I really liked Rainbow. I heard Paul McCartney tell a story once about an encounter with a fanatical Wings fan who had never even heard of The Beatles, and that seemed a little hard to believe. Consider this, though: if I had run into Ritchie Blackmore at the Varsity Arcade in Irvine that summer, I would have said, “Hey, you’re that guy from Rainbow!”
John Waite: “Change” (Knight)
From the album Ignition
Chrysalis Records, 1982
John Waite’s first solo outing after the demise of The Babys didn’t exactly tear up the charts, but “Change” did become an early MTV favorite. “Change” was produced by Neil Giraldo and written by Holly Knight, who would go on to write “Love Is A Battlefield” for Neil’s wife.
Toronto: “Your Daddy Don’t Know” (Roth/Iwamoto)
From the album Get It On Credit
Network Records, 1982
Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid
“Your Daddy Don’t Know” was a Top 10 hit in Canada, and made a small dent on the American charts (and on local Dallas radio). It was still Toronto’s biggest song, but Get It On Credit probably should have included another possible hit. Guitarists Brian Allen and Sheron Alton wrote (with the help of Jim Vallance) a little song called “What About Love” for the album, but the rest of the band opted not to include it. Oops.
Pete Townshend: “Slit Skirts” (Townshend)
From the album All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes
Atco Records, 1982
Some fans of The Who like to complain that 1981’s Face Dances and 1982’s It’s Hard suffered because Pete Townshend kept his best songs for his solo albums. When I listen to “Slit Skirts,” I find it very difficult to argue with this opinion. “Slit Skirts” is one of my ten favorite Townshend songs, and it was a remarkable way to end the massively underrated All The Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes.
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.
Kansas: “Fight Fire With Fire” (Elefante/Elefante)
From the album Drastic Measures
CBS Associated Records, 1983
Sammy Hagar: “Swept Away” (Hagar)
From the album VOA
Geffen Records, 1984
Pat Benatar: “Love Is A Battlefield” (Knight/Chapman)
From the album Live From Earth
Chrysalis Records, 1983
Heart: “What About Love” (Allen/Alton/Vallance)
From the album Heart
Capitol Records, 1985