It was early May, 1986. I was just about to finish my freshman year at the University of Texas. Soon I would take down the U2 posters from my dorm wall, carefully pack up my awesome new stereo system (the girls at the co-ed dorm LOVED my fancy new CD player!), and load up the T-Bird for my summer trek to visit my Dad in sunny Corona del Mar. At this point, I owned about 40 CDs. And that was considered a lot…
The Billboard Top 5: May 3, 1986
The Rolling Stones: “Harlem Shuffle” (Smith)
From the album Dirty Work
Rolling Stones Records, 1986
Sorry guys, there used to be a link to a Stones song right here– until I got a notice that said, “You’re a very naughty boy, Mr. Analog Kid, Please remove our song from your site. Love, Mick & Keef.” I’m a little bummed, but also very honored to be sent a legal notice from the Stones!
In February of 1986, the Rolling Stones were the recipients of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. That was 28 years ago. At the time, it had been only 21 years since “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” had been released. Feeling old? Me too. But not as old as the Stones!
During the Grammy telecast, the band debuted the video for “Harlem Shuffle,” the lead single from their new album Dirty Work. “Harlem Shuffle” eventually reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and the Stones haven’t had a single surpass that success since (1989’s “Mixed Emotions” also peaked at #5).
Van Halen: “Why Can’t This Be Love” (Van Halen/Anthony/Hagar/Van Halen)
From the album 5150
Warner Brothers Records, 1986
Only time will tell
If we stand the test of time
Despite its lyrical deficiencies, the first single from the newly-christened Van Hagar was a rousing success. I wore out my store-bought cassette of 5150 in my car during the spring and summer of 1986, and to this day I still actually have trouble listening to the CD or album version. My mighty 1979 Ford Thunderbird had a tape deck that ran a bit too fast, and I became so accustomed to the sped-up versions that the songs still sound way too slow to me at their actual tempos.
Audiophile note: I very rarely purchased cassette releases of albums in the ’80s. My preferred method was to tape the vinyl (or CD, post-1985) onto a TDK SA90, with another appropriate record on the flip side. Since the T-Bird stereo played cassettes slightly faster than it should have, I reset the speed on my home deck to match it (all you needed to accomplish this was a very tiny screwdriver, a very good ear, and a hell of a lot of patience). Therefore, all of the tapes I made myself played at the proper speed in my T-Bird. 5150 came out while on I was on a road trip, and I bought the cassette version so that I could hear it immediately.
If you have the means, speed up “Why Can’t This Be Love” and give it a listen. It really does make it sound better, but unfortunately it doesn’t change the lyrics. That Sammy…he’s a gentleman and a scholar!
Prince & The Revolution: “Kiss” [Single Version] (Prince)
Original version from the album Parade
Warner Brothers Records, 1986
Did anyone else develop a severe crush on Wendy Melvoin after seeing the video for “Kiss?” Prince was actually dating Wendy’s twin sister Susannah at the time “Kiss” was released, and Susannah would soon join her sister as a member of the Revolution. The sister combination didn’t last very long, though– by the time of the Sign ‘o’ The Times tour the next year, only Dr. Fink would remain from the classic Purple Rain-era lineup.
“Kiss” was the third #1 single for Prince, and the first to be sung by Julia Roberts in a bathtub.
Pet Shop Boys: “West End Girls” [7″ Version] (Lowe/Tennant)
Original version from the album Please
EMI America Records, 1986
The Pet Shop Boys had first recorded “West End Girls” in 1984, but the single failed to chart in their native UK. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe decided to re-record the song for their debut album Please, and the result was their only number one single in the United States.
Check the bonus tracks for “Inner City Pressure,” the fantastic “West End Girls” homage from Flight Of The Conchords. Hey man, I just want some muesli!
Robert Palmer: “Addicted To Love” [Single Version] (Palmer)
Original version from the album Riptide
Island Records, 1986
Robert Palmer had been making records for years, but his decision to record an album with John and Andy Taylor was the spark his career needed. The success of The Power Station project brought Palmer to a new level of fame in the United States, and it also helped him find his signature sound– the pounding electronic drums and in-your-face guitar took The Power Station’s cover version of “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” into the Top 10, and Palmer knew he was onto something good.
Palmer had declined to tour with The Power Station so that he could get to work immediately on a new solo record, but apparently Andy Taylor wasn’t too angry over the snub. Taylor’s gritty guitar greatly enhanced “Addicted To Love,” as did the contributions from Power Station producer Bernard Edwards (who also played bass) and drummer Tony Thompson. “Addicted To Love” would have likely been a sizable hit on its own merits, but the song’s classic model-rific video (and massive MTV saturation) helped elevate “Addicted To Love” to the top of the charts. The song was so big that even Van Halen played it live on their tour in the fall of ’86, and of course Palmer revisited the models in his video for 1988’s “Simply Irresistible.”
Palmer was only 54 when he died from a heart attack in September of 2003. Yep, feeling old again…thank God for Mick and Keith and Charlie and Ron!
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.
The Rolling Stones: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (Jagger/Richards)
From the album Out Of Our Heads
London Records, 1965
The Rolling Stones: “Mixed Emotions” [Single Version] (Jagger/Richards)
Original version from the album Steel Wheels
Virgin Records, 1989
Prince: “Kiss” [Extended Version] (Prince)
Prince: “♥ or $” [Extended Version] (Prince)
From the U.S. 12″ single Kiss
Warner Brothers Records, 1986
Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid
Flight Of The Conchords: “Inner City Pressure” (Clement/McKenzie)
From the album Flight Of The Conchords
Sub Pop Records, 2008
The Power Station: “Get It On (Bang A Gong)” [Single Version] (Bolan)
Original version from the album The Power Station
Capitol Records, 1985
Robert Palmer: “Simply Irresistible” (Palmer)
From the album Heavy Nova
EMI Records, 1988