Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Eye of the tiger by Survivor

This classic rock song was released 30 years ago yesterday and was from an album of the same name.  The song will forever be synonymous with the Rocky movies, starring Sylvester Stallone and the track was actually specially written at the request of Sylvester for his forthcoming movie Rocky III (you know, the one with Mr T as the incredibly angry "Clubber" Lang).  Plot spoiler: Rocky takes him down!

The song was requested after Sylvester failed to get the rights to Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust".  I think Queen made a good choice as what he ended up with was more fitting.

The song was written by Frankie Sullivan and Jim Peterik, from the band Survivor. The bands other big hit was Burning Heart, from Rocky 4 (the one where he drops the Russian!), so both they and Sly Stallone have a lot to thank each other about as the songs definitely added to the movie and the band enjoyed great success with Eye Of The Tiger.

The song was amazingly successful and hit the number 1 spot in a number of countries including the UK and the USA (top spot for 6 weeks).  It won a Grammy award and was nominated for an Oscar.  The band never reached these heights again, but this will go down in history as one of the ll time 80's rock songs.

Here is  a great cover version.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


The Poltergeist movie was released in early June 1982, about a week apart from ET.  Both movies involved Steven Spielberg, this one was produced and co written by Stephen and it was directed and co written by Tobe Hooper.  In fact this fact is controversial as it appears most people say that Spielberg was the de facto director and was only not credited as such due to a clause in the contract for ET that prevented him directing two movies at once.

The basic plot of the movie is that a young girl called Carol Anne is kidnapped by a poltergeist that communicates with the girl through the TV set.  It emerges the house had been built on the site of a cemetery (isn't this always the problem in horror movies!) and in fact there are a number of poltergeists at work, but a dominant one called The Beast has taken Carol Anne to try to control the rest and to feed off her life force.

The family call in the services of a medium called Tangina Barrons and Carol Anne is freed.  Not surprisingly the family decide to move (if it were me it would have been after 2 mins of rescuing her!) but The Beast has a second attempt at kidnapping Carol Anne, before the family escapes and the house disappears into another dimension.

I thought the movie was scary when I first saw it and still do now.  Something about children being taken probably and the scenes with the tree coming alive. There are some lighter points in the movie and a few Spielberg trademarks, such as the bicycle scene near the start, when the kids make the guy on his bike drop his beer.  That looked like it was filmed on the same streets as used in ET!

This is the famous "They're here" scene

And this is the scene where Carol Anne is taken.

There were two sequels and number 2 was OK.  I hear a remake is being planned but would ask why?!

Even after 30 years, this movie still holds up completely and is worthy of a look. 

The music was by Jerry Goldsmith and really helped to add to the atmosphere of the movie, especially the creepy song used here.

I'll finish with a trailer and a reminder to TURN OFF THE TV SET.  I know I will!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Come on Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners

This classic track was released on 29 June 1982 and was the second number one hit for the band, after 1980's "Geno".  It was the best selling song in the UK in 1982.  The song was from the album Too-Rye-Ay.  It was written by the lead singer of the band, Kevin Rowland plus fellow band members Jim Patterson and Billy Adams.

The album and this track was a big departure from their former sound and had a big celtic influence, with lots of fiddles.

The album is about a girl that Kevin knew when he was 13.  The lyrics must be the most mis-sung in history as they are hard to hear clearly, but the song is basically about the transition from child to adult and specifically about Kevin trying to convince Eileen to have sex with him.

The song references right at the start the 50's (and very popular at the time) Johnny Ray, who had a thing about crying on stage as he sang.

Poor old Johnny Ray
Sounded sad upon the radio
Moved a million hearts in mono
Our mothers cried
Sang along, who'd blame them
Now you're grown, so grown, now I must say more than ever
Go toora loora toora loo rye aye
And we can sing just like our fathers

I have been told by my mother that it was incredibly common for men in pubs (bars, Americans) to basically take turns having a sing stood on a box on a Saturday night.

The girl in the video that Kevin puts his arm round was Máire Fahey, sister of Siobhan Fahey, former singer with Bananarama and Shakespears Sister.  The dance that they perform in the video was very popular at the time.  In particular, this was (and still is) a classic Wedding Song, a song they would play in the and since the 80's to really get people up on the dancefloor (right before "The Only Way Is Up" by Yazz!!  I'll admit I have attempted this dance myself after a few drinks - would have looked horrible!

The band never achieved anything like as much success again, but what a hit to have!

There is quite a popular cover that has been featured loads on Coverville by Save Ferris, who of course were named after the movie character in Ferris Buellers Day Off.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

1992 news: The ZX Spectrum is released

The ZX Spectrum was released to the World on 23 April 1982.  It followed on from the success of the ZX 80 and the ZX81.  All 3 computers were designed by a British guy called Clive Sinclair, later Sir Clive and released by Sinclair Research Ltd. The new Spectrum ("Speccy") was in colour though and it was a massive success story and really opened up home computing for the masses, along with the later Commodore 64.  Sir Clive popped up again in 1985, with less success!!

By todays standards, the Speccy was pretty under powered, with 16kb (yes, kilobytes) of RAM, however a 48kb version was also available.  A distinguishing feature of the original Speccy was the rubberised keyboard, with the keys set in a membrane.  These keyboards were not known for their long life and later on the keyboard was changed.

I had an original ZX Spectrum and in fact bought one again recently on ebay. One thing I forgot is how complicated the keyboard was.  Almost impossible to use! The programming language was Sinclair BASIC, which I seemed to be able to understand more aged about 13 than now!  It is fair to say that my iPad has completely nullified any knowledge I had in creating content in favour of consuming it!  The keyboard had a massive amount of shortcuts for some of the BASIC commands, such as a G in programming mode would produce GOTO on the screen.

One of the things most people remember about these machines was the storage and gaming, which was via cassette tape (yes, cassette...) and the noise that the machine made when uploading or downloading games and programs.

So, the Speccy has just turned 30.  It got a lot of major developers into computers, software is still produced for it and recently an updated emulator app with 100 games was released on iPad (with iCade support - yesssss).  Google did a very nice thing on 23 April 2012 (St George's Day in the UK). 

Finally, here is Stephen fry waxing lyrical about the Speccy.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me by Culture Club

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me was the third UK single release by Culture Club in September 1982, but it was the first US single.  It reached number 1 in the UK and number 2 in the USA (though, to be fair, Billie Jean was number one, off the Thriller album!).  This was the song that really launched the band and was a song on their first album, Kissing To Be Clever.  

Culture Club were led by George O'Dowd, or Boy George as he was known as, who had developed a very androgynous and unique look.  Even after the Ziggy Stardust and Glam era, I had never seen anyone who looked like George before, totally unique.

Even now, 30 years later, I distinctly recall a playground conversation after the previous evenings Top Of The Pops show, when the band made their first major UK appearance, on the subject of whether the lead singer was a boy or a girl!  Remember, in the UK in 1982, the way George looked and sang was completely unique.  I am pretty sure it was this actual performance we discussed in the playground.

I read somewhere that George was uncomfortable about the song being released as a single as it was a very personal song, as so many were on that album and the song itself is about George's (secret at the time) relationship with the bands drummer Jon Moss, pictured below (centre bottom).

And how could I not include this great scene from The Wedding Singer.  Set in 1985 of course!


Finally, another great cover version.  I think these guys nail it completely and show what a timeless classic it is.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

The bitterest pill (I ever had to swallow) by The Jam

This was released as a single in September of 1982 and was the penultimate single by The Jam.  The band was Paul Weller plus Bruce Foxton and Rick Butler and they must rank as one of the most consistent bands of the late 70's and early 80's with a string of hits and so, so British too.  So much so that none of their singles was released in the USA.

I've always been a big fan of this song and I actually find it really sad, and it is likely to induce a tear or two.  Part of this I am sure is that I always feel it is the end of an era with The Jam, and I regard this as their swansong rather than Beat Surrender a few months later.

  Fantastic lyrics too, the song is basically about a guy who has fallen for a girl only to find himself standing watching as she marries another.Paul Weller deserves so much credit for his lyrics, and for a guy who arose out of punk, he writes a really from the heart love song as well as anyone.

"In your white lace and your wedding bells
You look the picture of contented new wealth
But from the on-looking fool who believed your lies
I wish this grave would open up and swallow me alive
For the bitterest pill is hard to swallow
The love I gave hangs in sad coloured, mocking shadows"

The song title was also adopted by one of my favourite podcasters, Dan Klass from The Bitterest Pill podcast, who is a massive Jam and Weller fan.  This first post is for you Dan!

As you can see, no big production on the video!

Here is the original version.  This is nice too.

Not too many decent covers out there strangely, but I did like this.

So there we are, a great memory from 1982.  Many, many more to come