“The Lost Boys: Hard-To-Find ’80s Albums” gives you exactly what the title implies: a rare or out-of-print album from the ’80s in its entirety. Some will be from CD, but most will have been lovingly transferred from pristine vinyl culled directly from the Analog Kid’s vast collection. Whatever album I choose, it will be one that you can’t easily find a physical copy for sale on Amazon or in your local record store (if you even have one anymore). Death…by stereo!
Something really weird happened in 1986: all of a sudden, progressive rock was somehow cool. Madonna and Whitney Houston may have been dominating the charts, but some prog-rock “dinosaurs” managed to do pretty damn well for themselves. Consider the following:
-On July 19, Genesis’ “Invisible Touch” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
-That same week, the #2 song in the U.S.A. was Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer.”
-Emerson, Lake & Powell had a #2 Mainstream Rock hit with “Touch And Go.”
-ELO had their first Top 20 hit in years with “Calling America.”
-Kansas hit #19 on the Hot 100 with “All I Wanted.”
What caused this seemingly-out-of-nowhere explosion of chart success for these so-called progressive rock bands? I have a theory, but I won’t discuss it in detail because it would force me to mention (and therefore post) a certain song from a certain band that I think just might be the worst song of all time. The song I will not mention was a huge #1 smash in 1985, and I think that song’s success may have inspired some of these bands to modernize their sound in search of a hit.
OK, OK, I’ll say it: Starship’s “We Built This City” may have induced migraines for me (and countless other listeners) throughout 1985, but in the end it really helped out the careers of some long-existing bands who really needed a kick in the ass. Perhaps it wasn’t really the modernization of sound that led these groups to success, but just a very simple realization instead: “If that piece of shit can hit #1, why can’t we?”
One new band that fed off the “dinosaur” resurgence in 1986 was GTR. Legendary guitarists Steve Howe (Yes, Asia) and Steve Hackett (Genesis) combined forces to create the new supergroup, and their first (and only) album was an instant success. “When The Heart Rules The Mind” reached #14 on the Hot 100 and was an MTV staple, and the follow-up single “The Hunter” was also a big rock radio hit. “The Hunter” was written by Buggles/Yes/Asia keyboardist Geoff Downes, who also produced the GTR album.
Despite the success of the record (GTR peaked at #11 on the album charts), Hackett left the band in 1987 and GTR was no more. The GTR album has been out of print for years, and isn’t even available as a digital download. Knee Deep In The Hoopla, of course, is still readily available for purchase. Ugh.
Arista Records, 1986
1. “When The Heart Rules The Mind” (Hackett/Howe)
2. “The Hunter” (Downes)
3. “Here I Wait” (Hackett/Howe)
4. “Sketches In The Sun” (Howe)
5. “Jekyll And Hyde” (Hackett/Howe/Bacon)
6. “You Can Still Get Through” (Hackett/Howe)
7. “Reach Out (Never Say No)” (Hackett/Howe/Spalding)
8. “Toe The Line” (Hackett/Howe)
9. “Hackett To Bits” (Hackett)
10. “Imagining” (Hackett/Howe/Mover)
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.
Genesis: “Invisible Touch [Special Remix Version]” (Banks/Rutherford/Collins)
From the 12″ single Invisible Touch
Atlantic Records, 1986
Invisible Touch [Special Remix Version]
Peter Gabriel: “Sledgehammer [Extended Dance Remix]” (Gabriel)
From the 12″ single Sledgehammer
Geffen Records, 1986
Sledgehammer [Extended Dance Remix]
Emerson, Lake & Powell: “Touch And Go” (Emerson/Lake)
From the album Emerson, Lake & Powell
Polydor Records, 1986
Electric Light Orchestra: “Calling America” (Lynne)
From the album Balance Of Power
Epic Records, 1986
Kansas: “All I Wanted” (Morse/Walsh/Goodrum)
From the album Power
MCA Records, 1986
Genesis: “Horizons” (Hackett/Banks/Collins/Gabriel/Rutherford)
From the album Foxtrot
Charisma Records, 1972
Yes: “The Clap” (Howe)
From the album The Yes Album
Atlantic Records, 1971
Asia: “The Hunter” (Downes)
From the album Anthology
Snapper Music, 1997
Starship: “We Built This City” (Taupin/Page/Lambert/Wolf)
From the album Knee Deep In The Hoopla
Grunt/RCA Records, 1985
I remember liking “We Built This City” as a kid, as well as John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire”. But now I know that those songs have aged even worse than Captain & Tennille. Regardless, making fun of terrible music is pretty fun, even if listening to it isn’t.
Don’t mess with Toni and the Captain! 😉
The 80’s were a weird time for prog, huh? I don’t think that 1986 was that out of line with the rest of the early 80’s. Yes’ 90125 had already come and gone. The Moody Blues triumphant comeback Long Distance Voyager was a huge hit. Even King Crimson tightened up their sound and had a little commercial success. Plus, Genesis had been edging towards the mainstream ever since Hackett left and they pared down to a threesome. Oh, and Rush. One of the finest 3 album runs of any band in the history of ever.
I dunno why this would be. Maybe the theatrics of prog meshed with the MTV crowd? Did bands that already knew how to work with broad sound palettes benefit from 80’s production? Was it just a crash attempt to go commercial and make the gig pay? No clue, but I love the results.
I think there’s something to the “theatrics” you mention, and likely the fact that keyboard use was so heavy in both prog and new wave that they somehow meshed a little. And yeah, some of the bands sold out a little bit as well (but if 90125 is a sell-out, I am not complaining!). I still can’t believe that Genesis and Peter Gabriel were 1-2 on the charts in the same week– wonder what the odds on that would have been ten years earlier?
As I mentioned, Deep Purple “Perfect Strangers” was released and had equal if not better luck amongst the war torn old men from that wonderful cluster of midlife from veteran rockers.
Hello, I come here looking the GTR disk. I found a problem with the link to the track 10.
I download the track using this link: “https://analogkidblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/10-imagining.mp3”.
And indeed 1986 was special year, here in Mexico we had the Soccer World Cup.
Thanks & Regards!
Thanks for pointing that out! I fixed the link, so “Imagining” should now play (and download) properly. Thanks for reading and listening!
Thank for bringing this album back from the dusty recesses of my mind. I remember enjoying it at the time, but it didn’t stick for me. Maybe a fresh listen will help.