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 very much any more. I hope to change that.

Texas Radio & The Big Beat: 1985

It’s 1985. The biggest priority in my life is recording the 10:30 PM airing of Star Trek on VHS. My social life revolves around my job as the guy who runs the drive-thru at the Plano Burger King. I finally go on my first real date. I see U2 live for the first time . I graduate from Plano Senior High School. I turn 18 and spend my birthday watching Live Aid. I start college at the University of Texas. My favorite beer is Michelob Light. UT opens its football season against Missouri, and I do not even bother to attend (this will soon change). Five or six girls gather in my dorm room every day at noon to watch Days Of Our Lives. I really like college. My roommate eats nothing but Chunky Sirloin Burger soup and generic Minyards pop tarts for six months. I receive my first CD player as a Christmas gift. I somehow manage a 3.2 GPA my first semester, even though I have no real recollection of going to class. And of course, I listen to a ton of music.

Bryan Adams_ Singles & B-Sides

Bryan Adams: “Diana” (Adams/Vallance)

B-side of the 7″ single Heaven

A&M Records, 1985

Diana

“Diana” is one of those great b-sides that somehow managed to get almost as much airplay as its a-side on local Dallas radio. OK, so maybe it’s no “Hey Hey What Can I Do,” but it’s still a fun little pop song that remained a staple of Adams’ live set up until Diana’s sad passing.

 

Pat Benatar_ Singles & B-Sides

Pat Benatar: “Invincible” (Knight/Climie)

From the album Seven The Hard Way

Chrysalis Records, 1985

Invincible [Extended Remix]

“Invincible” peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1985, and was actually Pat Benatar’s last Top 10 single in the United States. “Invincible” was originally recorded for the cult classic The Legend Of Billie Jean, a fact that Pat begrudgingly acknowledges every time she plays the song live by stating, “This song is from the soundtrack of the worst movie ever made.” In my eyes, nothing involving the gorgeous Helen Slater can ever be bad, so I’ll have to disagree with Pat on this one. Oh shit, I just remembered Supergirl. Ouch.

 

SpiesLikeUs

Paul McCartney: “Spies Like Us” (McCartney)

From the 7″ single Spies Like Us

Capitol Records, 1985

Spies Like Us

I’m not going to claim that “Spies Like Us” is Paul McCartney’s finest moment, but I will argue that it is at least 100 times better than “Ebony And Ivory” (and a hell of a lot more fun). The movie itself gets a bad rap, too– if you haven’t seen Spies Like Us in a while, you should give it another chance.

 

Astra 1

Asia: “Go” (Wetton/Downes)

From the album Astra

Geffen Records, 1985

Go

I bought Astra on cassette when it was first released in November of 1985, and I won’t lie: I really hated it. I think I found out that Steve Howe was no longer in the band when I unwrapped the cassette, and perhaps that influenced my initial impression. That tape sat on my shelf and remained virtually unplayed for years, and it eventually just disappeared. When I started collecting vinyl in the mid-’90s, I found a mint condition copy of Astra and gave it another spin, fully expecting to dislike it as much as I had back in 1985. I dropped the needle on “Go,” and immediately thought, “This sounds a lot better than I remember.” That held true for the whole record, which is now one of my favorite Asia albums. I’d like to formally apologize to John Wetton and Geoff Downes, and also request that that they play “Too Late” on the next Asia tour.

 

Power Windows

Rush: “The Big Money” (Lee/Lifeson/Peart)

From the album Power Windows

Mercury Records, 1985

The Big Money

Like Astra, I had to buy Rush’s Power Windows on cassette when it was first released. I didn’t have a turntable in my dorm during my first semester in Austin, so I had to rely on a boom box and cassettes for my first few months at school.

[Note: this terrible malady was remedied over the holiday break, as Santa provided me with the best Christmas EVER. JVC receiver. Technics turntable. Sony CD player. Denon tape deck. Infinity speakers. I assure you that I rocked the entire floor at Dobie dormitory during the spring semester!]

Unlike Astra, I couldn’t stop listening to Power Windows. I recall one particular night when I had to pull an all-nighter to prep for a calculus exam, and I just left Power Windows running on the tape deck for the entire cram session. The boom box had an auto-reverse function, so I didn’t even have to get up and turn the tape over. I studied for 12 straight hours that night/morning, meaning I listened to Power Windows 16 straight times. And yes, I got an A on that test– they don’t call Neil Peart “The Professor” for nothing…

________________________________________________________________________________

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.

Reckless

Bryan Adams: “Heaven” (Adams/Vallance)

From the album Reckless

A&M Records, 1984

Heaven

 

zep

Led Zeppelin: “Hey Hey What Can I Do” (Plant/Page/Jones/Bonham)

B-side of the 7″ single Immigrant Song

Atlantic Records,  1970

Hey Hey What Can I Do

 

Pat Benatar_ Singles & B-Sides

Pat Benatar: “Invincible” [Extended Remix] (Knight/Climie)

From the 12″ single Invincible

Chrysalis Records, 1985

Vinyl rip courtesy of The Analog Kid

Invincible [Extended Remix]

 

Paul McCartney_ Singles & B-Sides 1

Paul McCartney: “Ebony And Ivory” [Solo Version] (McCartney)

From the 12″ single Ebony And Ivory

Columbia Records, 1982

Ebony And Ivory [Solo Version]

 

Astra 1

Asia: “Too Late” (Wetton/Downes)

From the album Astra

Geffen Records, 1985

Too Late

 

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."

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