We go in a slightly different direction with this week's guest, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Senior Pop Editor at Allmusic! "Tom" has been with the publication since the beginning making him one of the most frequently read music critics in the world. We break this conversation into three parts - 1) how does Allmusic work, 2) the current state of music criticism, and 3) our personal bests and worsts. We also play a handful of his favorite songs. It's a fascinating look at a writer whose name is to music criticism what Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert are to movies. You'll want to have a notebook handy for this one!
Eddie and the Tide were a great Bay Area rock band of the early 80s that mixed heartland rock with some new wave flair, much like contemporaries Huey Lewis and the News and Greg Kihn. Over the course of the decade, they released five great albums (the second was produced by Eddie Money), but while their sound got sleeker and sleeker, no doubt for commercial purposes, that mass crossover never quite happened and the band called it quit as the decade was ending. These days, they may be best known for the song "Power Play" which was featured on the Lost Boys soundtrack, which turned 30 last week! Today Steve is a normal working man in Nashville, but he occasionally puts out excellent solo albums. One of my favorite discs of the last five years is his 2014 album The Eddie Rice Project, which is a soulful examination of an up and down life in hindsight. Enjoy!
The Escape Club had one of the biggest and most inescapable hits of the 80s with their 1988 number one blockbuster "Wild Wild West". Contrary to popular belief, they are not one-hit-wonders, and cracked the code again in 1991 when their balled "I'll Be There" hit the top 10 as well. Frontman Trevor Steel discusses the effects a number one smash has had on his life and, surprisingly, it isn't the consistent windfall huge hits have been for other guests we've featured on the show. He's had to pivot over the years to other roles within the music industry and Escape Club's fortunes have fluctuated. The band still do their thing occasionally, releasing an excellent album called Celebrity in 2012. He's a really good guy and honest about the ups and downs.
Nuclear Valdez were an excellent and highly buzzed about alternative rock band out of Miami in the late 80s. A lot of the hype centered around what shouldn't be that unique of a thing, but is, the fact that they were all Hispanic. Their debut album, 1989's I Am I with it's debut single "Summer" made a splash and the band was invited to perform on one of the very first MTV Unplugged episodes. Unfortunately, the label never put their full muscle behind the band (even though similar artists like the Alarm and Jane's Addiction were seeing big success) and after a second album, 1991's Dream Another Dream, the guys called it quits. Lead singer Froilan Sosa reflects on this time in his life and how he processed it all. The good news is that they released a new album on Record Store Day called Present From the Past, which is a collection of songs they were working on back in the 90s. And, they are playing a reunion gig in Miami this Saturday (7/29)! Great band - deserved more.
Jon was invited on Suburban Underground this week, one of his favorite radio programs (Bedford 105 in New Hampshire). Hosts Drew and Steve challenged all of us to bring a song from the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s that should have been a hit and then defend our choices. We need you to tell us who you think has the best taste!
Suburban Underground is a weekly show that plays excellent alternative rock that's under the radar or hasn't been heard in a while. It's also a podcast! Please subscribe for your weekly slab of great music that doesn't get heard as often.
XTC were one of the most beloved bands of the burgeoning alternative rock era. Armed with catchy and witty songs that leaned to the quirkier side of pop music, they produced a steady stream of excellent records from the late 70s until their demise in the 90s. Guitarist Dave Gregory shares with us some refreshingly honest stories about the challenges of being in the band such as not being able to tour and clashes with famous producers, but also the highs of recording such great music. Today, Dave's main gig is as a member of progressive rock band Big Big Train who released a new album, Grimspound, this year. Such a lovely guy and conversation!
Squeeze were one of the most beloved bands of the modern rock era and sitting at the center of the band was drummer Gilson Lavis. Always looking like a man out of time, looking smart and gentlemanly in the alternative UK underground, Gilson contributed to some of the best and most revered pop songs of the last 40 years like "Tempted", "Cool For Cats", and "Pulling Mussels From a Shell". He's been out of the band for 25 years now, but today he's employed by former bandmate Jools Holland in his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, so the music carries on. He's also begun a successful second life as a sketch artist and has a big show coming up at a gallery in NYC in September. If you're a Squeeze fanatic, you'll love this because we cover it all!
This is a busy year for Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson. For starters, there's a new String Quartet album of JT classics performed by the Carducci Quartet. In addition, this year marks the 40th anniversary of maybe the most formative album in my life, Songs From The Wood. He only had 20 mins to chat, so we discussed where Songs From the Wood fits in their canon and how the String Quartet album came to be, as well as a few nerdy things I've always wondered about. I could have kept him for hours!
Today is Independence Day in America and who better to celebrate with than Lee Greenwood! By now, his "God Bless the USA" has basically become another unofficial national anthem. He's performed the song for several Presidents, including at Donald Trump's inauguration in January. This is a unique opportunity to get to know the man behind the song. He had been a successful country singer in the early 80s before his signature tune took over his life. He talks candidly about how it's blessed his life as well as what gets him excited creatively today. We talk about the state of the country without making it about politics, which I'm particularly proud of. He's a really good man and a devout patriot. Enjoy!
Believe it or not, Don McLean has always felt like a second-class citizen in the music business. Despite over 45 years of success, and the credit of writing one of the most important songs in the history of recorded music with "American Pie", as well as many other hits, Don feels he's had to fight to be taken seriously. In this short, but candid conversation, we discuss why that is, what went into the writing of his legendary song, how he finally became a wealthy man, and his astonishment over inspiring modern legends like Drake. Get to know the man behind the song.
Orleans were another beloved soft-rock band of the 70s scoring two giant hits with "Dance With Me" and the ever-present "Still The One", which remains one of those great tunes that never completely goes away. Frontman John Hall has had a very unique path through life for a rock star. He went on to serve two terms as a congressman from New York and he's written a book about his experience called "Still The One: A Rock n Roll Journey to Congress and Back" that's worth your attention if you're into politics. Today he's still passionate about many issues and remains involved on a local level, but he's also still out there playing solo and as Orleans when the opportunities arise. We also talk about that legendarily bad album cover and his ability to pay his bills from his hits.
When you think about it, Firefall were one of the original super groups. With members hailing from legendary acts like the Flying Burrito Brothers, the Byrds, and Spirt, success must have seemed imminent to these seasoned vets. Buoyed by the incredible songwriting of frontman Rick Roberts, Firefall score half a dozen top 40 hits ("You Are the Woman", "Just Remember I Love You", etc) and had a pretty good run there for a while. The band has split up and come back together many times over the years, but they are a solid entity now, hitting the summer nostalgia circuit hard year after year. This week is a twofer - first we get to hear from multi-instrumentalist David Muse and then former lead singer Rick Roberts, who no longer tours with the band, but does his own unique solo thing.
New England were another one of those great rock bands of the late 70s/early 80s that deserved more. So many things were in place to make them successful - they were managed by Kiss's manager Bill Aucoin, opened many shows for Kiss over the years, and they released three excellent albums between '79 and '81, each produced by a legend (Paul Stanley, Mike Stone and Todd Rundgren respectively) - yet it didn't happen. They did manage to crack the pop charts once when "Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya" reached #40 in 1979. Though the band came to an end, drummer Hirsh Gardner has maintained a successful career for himself as a producer, a label-head, and the manager of a Boston-area Guitar Center. He's a fun-loving guy that is still passionate about music and a great storyteller.
Sisters Tracey and Melissa Belland grew up loving the alternative music coming out of Britain in the 80s. So, instead of sitting idly, they decided to move to the UK and start a band like their heroes, thus Voice of the Beehive. They had a good run there for a while, releasing three fun-filled albums between 1988 and 1995 and though they never crossed over to the pop charts, they did score a number of decent alternative hits. Eventually, the girls decided it wasn't worth continuing to pursue this dream and decided to call it a day. Since then, Tracey has found success as a teacher and Melissa has remained an artist and is also a care-giver. Believe it or not, the original band will be reforming for a reunion show in London on Oct. 7th this year. They are one of our most requested guests, proving the taste for the Beehive's music has never gone away!
Jesus Jones broke big in 1991 when their second album Doubt catapulted them into one of the biggest bands in the world. Hits like the still ever-present "Right Here Right Now" have never gone away, and have provided a nice living for lead singer Mike Edwards. So, expectations were high when they released the follow-up, 1993's Perverse. Unfortunately, that album underperformed mightily and the Jesus Jones bubble burst. The band released a couple more albums, but to less fanfare. Today, Mike and the band record and release music once in a while and are currently working on a Pledge Music campaign to fund a new album. Through it all, Mike remains a pretty unaffected guy, but also grateful for the success his hits have provided.
Paul grew up in the music industry of Los Angeles where hanging out with famous rock stars was no big deal. His dad worked for Capitol Records and helped discover acts like the Beach Boys and Bob Seger while his mom was an in demand session singer. After serving a mission for the LDS church, Paul dove headfirst into his own music career with his first major break through being a fruitful collaboration with producing icon Giorgio Moroder. From there he was selected to front a band put together by songwriting legend Holly Knight called Device. They only managed one excellent album called 22B3 and one top 40 hit with "Hanging On a Heart Attack" which reached #35 in 1986. After that he was pegged to join the second installment of popular band Animotion. With them he sang on the top 10 1989 smash "Room to Move". Once Animotion fizzled out, Paul eventually decided to leave the chaotic music business for a more normal life in the network marketing industry and settled in Provo, UT. It's been a wild ride, but Paul's never lost his head.
Johnny Hates Jazz was about to get big. Real big. In 1987 their seminal hit "Shattered Dreams" just hit #2 in the US (other singles did well in the UK and other parts of the world), they had a memorable band name, sleek videos, and the future looked bright. But, suddenly front man Clark Datchler decided he needed to leave the band and venture out on his own. In this engrossing conversation, Clark details what lead him to make that decision and how it impacted his bandmates. Basically, along with global success came an awakening to the sad, dark side of life on this planet as a member of the human race. It stirred within him a desire to fix what he could and inspire others to do the same. It's motivated him personally and creatively ever since and is at the core of who he is. So, get ready to go deep with a fascinating gentleman!
Happy 2nd Birthday to us!
This week we celebrate by having as our guest, one of the greatest drummers of the British alternative scene, Mel Gaynor of Simple Minds! Mel's the unmistakable beat behind iconic tracks like "Waterfront", "Alive and Kicking", "Promised You a Miracle" and, of course, "Don't You (Forget About Me)". Mel is now working on his first ever solo album set for release later this year which could include a US tour! We talk about why sometimes he gets the call to be in Simple Minds and sometimes he doesn't, how the late-great Robert Palmer appears on Mel's current cover of "Addicted to Love", and what the highlights of his career have been.
People who know will tell you that Max Carl has one of the greatest voices of any living soul singer, white or black. Max may not be a household name, but he's pieced together a successful workmanlike career for over 40 years. He's put out a few solo albums dating back to the mid-70s, he's fronted a few successful bands, namely Jack Mack & the Heart Attack, .38 Special, and Grand Funk Railroad where he's been employed for going on 17 years. He's written songs for artists like Kenny Loggins, Bette Midler, Aaron Neville, and Joe Cocker and sang with legends like Rod Stewart, Elton John and Don Henley. His most recognizable legacy may be writing and singing "Second Chance", one of .38 Special's biggest hits or having his track "The Circle" featured on the Weird Science soundtrack. He's an extremely kind, sensitive and intelligent man and I love his perspective on the ups and downs of his career.
The word pioneer gets thrown around a lot, but in the case of Genya Ravan it is well-earned. Genya's career has included so many "firsts", it's a crime she isn't a household name. She went from being a virginal topless model to fronting the first ever all-girl group signed to a major label with Goldie and the Gingerbreads. From there she led the popular blues/jazz group Ten Wheel Drive before going solo in the 70s and releasing a number of stellar solo albums (especially 1978's Urban Desire and 1979's ... And I Mean It!). While recording some of her own exceptional music, she also produced one of the greatest punk albums of all time, The Dead Boys' 1977 masterpiece Young Loud and Snotty. She has seen and done it all and lived to tell the fantastic story (she also published her autobiography The Lollipop Lounge, a must-read). She's the freest of spirits and biggest of personalities. An underground legend!
The 70s were a beautiful time for earnest, heartfelt singer-songwriters. One of the most versatile was Henry Gross, whose one and only hit was 1976's "Shannon". This tune about Beach Boy Carl Wilson's dead dog reached #6 in 1976 and placed Henry alongside contemporaries like James Taylor and Jim Croce as a force to be reckoned with. Henry is also an example of perseverance because, though "Shannon" was as good as it got on the charts, he has continued to record and perform, never losing his thirst for finding another great song. His vibrant energy leaps out of the speakers in this conversation as we ruminate on everything from music careers and creativity to politics and faith. He even talks about his Woodstock experience when he was the youngest performer that weekend (18 years old) while a member of Sha Na Na. I also get to tell him an impactful story on how he kinda sorta inspired this podcast. Enjoy!
This week we celebrate the big 100 with Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stu Cook, bassist for the legendary Creedence Clearwater Revival! Everyone knows and loves the music of CCR, but sadly the band has been fraught with tension almost from the beginning. In this intensely candid conversation, Stu lays out the reasons for much of the dysfunction. It basically comes down to lead-singer and main songwriter John Fogerty on one side and Stu and drummer Doug Clifford on the other. Thankfully, Stu and Doug have been able to soldier on for over 20 years now as Creedence Clearwater Revisited playing the songs they helped to make famous. Stu also discusses CCR's Woodstock experience, the drama behind that awkward Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and the reasons for the many legal battles that have erupted over the years. We are supremely honored to have Stu celebrate the 100 milestone with us! And there's also a giveaway, so listen til the end.
What can you say that hasn't already been said about an artist that defined a decade? We're kicking off our series on the 70s with one of the biggest musicians in history - Harry Wayne Casey, leader of KC and the Sunshine Band! They had dozens of hits you know by heart and sold 100 million records in the process. So, how does Harry look back on his career? We talk about those dark retirement years in the 80s, what inspired him to write such infectious songs, the literal fallout of the Disco Sucks movement, and what his daily routine is. Simply put - he's one of the most successful artists of all time. He also continues to release new music on occasion, such as his new song "Movin' Your Body" which will be out any day now!
Dana Dane came up in the rap game out of the Fort Green projects of Brooklyn with his best friend Slick Rick in the mid-80s. He created quite a stir in the underground with his debut album Dana Dane With Fame and lead single "Cinderfella Dana Dane". Even though the future looked bright for Dana, and with With Fame selling a promising half a million copies, two subsequent albums never quite caught on and he pretty much left recording after his third album in 1995. But, these challenges just caused him to diversify. He went on to write a bestseller and start a multi-media company. We talk about those early days with Slick Rick, how he's navigated the ups and downs of his career, what it was like opening for his favorite group Whodini, and him slowly easing back into music.
P.M. Dawn were one of the most revolutionary voices in hip-hop history and, frankly, they don't get the credit they deserve. Led by primary creative visionary Prince Be, the sibling duo brought colors and textures to rap that weren't there before and have influenced the more creative hip-hop we hear today. Sadly, Prince Be passed away last year, one of the many heart-breaking deaths from 2016, putting an end to a singular vision and voice. We are honored to have his partner and brother DJ Minutemix (aka Eternal, aka Jarrett Cordes) on this week to fill us in on how the family is doing, what Be was like and the spriritual influences of their music, the story behind giant hits like "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss" and "I'd Die Without You", and why someone named Doc G is out there calling himself P.M. Dawn.
Drummer Hilly Michaels has had one of the juiciest careers in rock. Beginnig from his early teenage days making music with best chum Michael Bolton, Hilly's path has taken him from the top to the bottom and back again. In the 70s, a tight friendship with Mick Ronson paved the way for collaborations with everyone from John Mellencamp to Ian Hunter to Ellen Foley. He even joined Sparks there for a while as well as the Dan Hartman Band with mysterious recluse Vinnie Vincent. He was even invited to join Kiss - twice! He managed to release two albums of his own, the 1980 masterpiece Calling All Girls, which featured the titular single (which happened to be the 94th video ever played on MTV) and an experimental second album, Lumia, which brought an end to his recording career. Every step along the way deserves it's own conversation, but in this one you'll get some of his best stories and get to know a truly sweet man. Kamikazee!
1987 was a great year for alternative blue-eyed soul music coming out of the UK. Bands like Breathe, Swing Out Sister, the Kane Gang and Hipsway brought a highly sophisticated sound to pop and dance music with a lot of funky horns and bass. My favorite of these groups was Curiosity Killed the Cat who did well in the UK, but had only one near-miss single in the states with "Misfit" which reached #42 that year. Part of CKTC's magic was the soulful voice of lead singer Ben Volpeliere-Pierrot. Unfortunately, the band only lasted a couple albums. Today, Ben is out there performing under the CKTC name to rapt crowds on the nostalgia circuit. In this conversation, we talk about the early club days, what he does now, and how Andy Warhol got involved with the band. Ben was one of the reasons I started this podcast and he wasn't easy to find, so I'm extremely grateful he talked to me.
Does it get anymore "indelible" than maybe the most long-lasting hit of the 80s, "Walking On Sunshine" by Katrina and the Waves? This #9 hit from 1985 has continued to live on for decades thanks to its use in everything from movie trailers to commercials. Kimberley Rew is the man that wrote that song, as well as most other songs for Katrina and the Waves, as well as being their guitarist. What casual fans of the band may not know is that there are dozens of primo power pop gems in their catalog and Kimberley is a top-flight songwriter. Before the Waves, Rew was a founding member of the highly acclaimed and influential post-punk band The Soft Boys. That short-lived band was fronted by the great Robyn Hitchcock, who went on to have his own successful solo career as well. So, being a trendsetter is part of Kimberley's make-up. We also talk about BMG purchasing the rights to KatW's catalog for 10 million pounds in 2015, their out-of-nowhere win in the Eurovision song contest in 1997 and his noteworthy solo career. Get to know the man behind the song!
Who can ever forget Musical Youth, those five cute black kids from Birmingham England who had a major worldwide smash with 1983's "Pass The Dutchie". The group, who it should be said wrote many of their own songs and played their own instruments, put out two albums before calling it quits while still in their teens. Unfortunately, some of the traps of life after child stardom crept in - financial problems, legal issues, death. Co-lead singer Dennis Seaton passes on to us some of his well-earned wisdom from those days. He also shines as an example of perseverance. Today, Musical Youth is back out there with Dennis and keyboardist Michael Grant, and they're even working on new music. As it should be!
The Breakfast Club were a fun dance/pop group who put out one album, which included their one and only hit, "Right On Track" which reached #7 in 1987. Unfortunately, that's all she wrote for band. What makes them a fascinating bit of rock history is that they originated as a punk band in NYC in the laet 70s and their drummer was none other than Madonna! Bassist Gary Burke recounts those early days with pre-fame Madonna as well as how the Breakfast Club managed to change directions and become a solid 1-hit-wonder a few years later. It's a fascinating glimpe into a great band and one of the most famous women of all time.
When talking about the indelible hits of the 80s, it doesn't get much bigger than "I Can't Wait" by Nu Shooz. Led by the husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, Nu Shooz finally hit the maintstream after years of plugging away on the Portland, OR club scene when "I Can't Wait" reached #3 on the pop charts (#1 on the dance chart) in 1986, embedding one of the most "iconic" basslines into the brains of music fans around the world. Their major label debut album, Poolside, also featured the #28 hit "Point of No Return", but sadly the follow up didn't perform as well and Nu Shooz releases slowed down from there. But the groove of "I Can't Wait" has never gone away from the numerous commercials, sampling, sporting events, and general background soundtracking of every day life. It remains a sample of funk and dance envelope pushing as well as studio wizardry. In here we talk about the effects of the song on their lives, what they do outside of music, their influences, and how they've kept a marriage together so long. They're maybe the most pleasant people on earth.
No series on the indelible hits of the 80s would be complete without showcasing the enduring "Obsession" by new wavers Animotion. This week we talk to co-lead singer Bill Wadhams and learn about how their biggest hit came into being and how it effected his career for good and bad. Consider this - you've just achieved world-wide fame, but on very unique terms you weren't mentally prepared for. In the process, the song becomes bigger than you and your talent and abilities get overshadowed. This bittersweet tale has a redeeming end, however, now that Animotion has released their first album featuring Bill and Astrid Plane in almost 30 years, Raise Your Expectations. Plus, it's a home run, something you may not have believed could be possible in 2017. Bill's very honest about the ups and downs of his career and what it feels like to get a second chance at the career you always dreamed of.
Cutting Crew made a huge splash with their debut album Broadcast in 1986, which featured three top 40 hits including the #1 smash "(I Just) Died In Your Arms". Lead singer Nick Van Eede had the musical chops and hunky good looks to catapult a great band into the mainstream. Unfortunately, a long delayed second album cost the group the momentum it needed to stay there, and Nick's broader and more epic songwriting lost some pop sensibility in the process. They sadly never regained their stature. Over the years, Cutting Crew have released five albums in total, including 2015's Add To Favourites, and held a pleasurable spot on 80s Rewind-type tours throughout the world. Nick talks about his prog influences, the death of his musical partner Kevin Scott MacMichael, his involvement in the creation of Cher's global juggernaut "Believe", and how he nearly replaced Phil Collins in Genesis. Cutting Crew may have seemed gone to those not paying full attention, but Nick has never really gone away.
2016 just couldn't go quietly, taking the legend George Michael away on Christmas day. To discuss his career and legacy, as well as his untimely death, we bring back Steve Spears of the popular Stuck in the 80s podcast to make sense of it all.
The Tubes were revolutionary for their time, mixing rock music and theatricality in a way few others were doing. At the center stage stood Fee Waybill, one of the greatest frontmen in rock history and one of the most fascinating entertainers ever. Though the Tubes staged legendary performances, they didn't garner any hits until the early 80s when they teamed up with a young David Foster and released singles like "She's a Beauty" and "Don't Want to Wait Anymore" that still get played today. Unfortunately, with success came a splintering in the band. In this conversation, Fee candidly talks about what brought the band down, how he got them out of debt, and what he did after it ended, which included collaborating with best friend Richard Marx just as his career launched into the stratosphere. There are also acting jobs, a property management career, a Tubes comeback and the craziest David Bowie story you'll ever hear.
There's no one like Fee Waybill. He's as good as it gets!
We're kicking off a series on the artists behind some of the indelible hits of the 80s with a legend, Wally Palmar of the Romantics! They are one of the most successful power pop bands ever and recorded a couple of hits that are still ubiquitous today like "Talking In Your Sleep" and, of course, "What I Like About You" (which was actually not a big hit when it came out in 1980). Despite some well-deserved success and a healthy touring schedule today, there were some lean years in the middle that the Romantics had to endure through, but came out the other end on top. We talk about the ups and downs of their career, the diversity of their albums, and how they've soldiered on for 40 years. We also discuss his wonderful side project The Empty Hearts, the supergroup he's in with guys like Clem Burke of Blondie and Elliot Easton of the Cars. Please enjoy!
707 were one of the underappreciated AOR bands of the early 80s. They should have been right up there with Foreigner and tourmates REO Speedwagon, but it never quite got as big. They did score one moderate hit with "I Could Be Good For You" from their debut album which reached #52 in 1980. After that a couple more excellent melodic-rock albums came out before the band called it quits. Guitarist Kevin Russell went on to have a successful career as a side man, slinger for hire, and special guest playing with everyone from Whitesnake to Clarence Clemons. He's also released a number of blues-based solo albums and today carries on the 707 name and legacy. Kevin's stories come like a runaway train and his appreciation and respect for rock and his fellow musicians is totally endearing. He's one of a kind!
Episode 85 - Cleveland Rocks! with Mark Avsec of Wild Cherry/Breathless/Donnie Iris and Jonah Koslen of Michael Stanley Band/Breathless/Solo
This week we pay respects once again to the great music city of Cleveland with a local legend two-fer.
First up is keyboardist and songwriter Mark Avsec. Mark's first big break was when he joined Wild Cherry ("Play That Funky Music") in the mid-70s before then jumping to Jonah's new band Breathless for two excellent albums in the latter part of the decade. From there he forged what would be the defining musical relationship of his life when he and Donnie Iris joined forces for a run that continues to this day. He even wrote Donnie's biggist hit "Aah Leah" which reached #29 in 1980. A legal issue relating to Aah Leah inspired Mark to go to law school. He's now a copyright lawyer in Cleveland and still gigs with Donnie whenever possible.
Jonah started out in one of Cleveland's biggest draws of the early 70s, The Michael Stanley Band. He eventually wanted to try his hand running his own band and performing his own material when he went on to form Breathless and released two great albums. Unfortunately, Breathless never quite broke to a mass audience (despite opening for Kiss). Since the early 80s, Jonah has continued to record solo albums that rock most excellently. Though he may have retired to LA, he released another excellent solo album this year with Nusic.
Enjoy this conversation with a couple guys that have seen a lot and done a lot and have the scars (and killer songs) to prove it.
Book of Love were one of the key synth pop bands of the 80s and early 90s. Though they never reached the level of global success that colleagues like Depeche Mode or Erasure did, they had a dozen or so big hits on the dance charts with their patented mixture of charming melodies and simple lyrics. The 90s weren't kind to Book of Love (or any of the bands like them) so Susan pivoted to a career as a food stylist and photographer. In this candid conversation, she's refreshingly honest about the challenges of making a living as an artist and creative person as well as the marginalization of the arts in today's schools. We also talk about the 30th Anniversary tour they're on now and the well-earned victory lap they're enjoying. Re-acquaint yourself with some of the best feel-good music there is.
The Au Pairs were one of the great British post-punk bands of the late 70s/early 80s. History has shown they were also one of the most revolutionary. Their aggressive mix of political screeds encased in jagged, in your face songs set them apart with bands like The Slits and Gang of Four from the mainstream. She won't say it herself, but Lesley's image as a lesbian icon set them apart even further. She doesn't fully embrace her role as a pioneer of the time, but while rallying against Thatcher may have been part of the punk uniform of the time, the amount of gay women doing it so openly seriously sets her apart. (Editor's note: she wanted it made clear that she has had relationships with "men, women, and trannies. Variety is the slice of life!"). Today she is an immigration lawyer in London and still occasionally making music. The Au Pairs may have been short-lived (with no chance of reforming, sadly), but it's artists like Lesley that allow progress to happen. I'll say it even if she won't.
In my humble opinion, The Chameleons are possibly the most underrated band of all-time, most certainly of the 80s. Every single fan of The Cure or The Smiths should also own their three core albums (Script of the Bridge, What Does Anything Mean, Basically? and my favorite Strange Times). Unfortunately, there is a lot of drama in the history of that band. I set out to tell their story, but the bad blood and hurt feelings were insurmountable. Luckily, drummer John Lever granted some time to discuss his new band, The Red-Sided Garter Snakes. Luckily, they are about as incredible as the Chams, so what we lack in Chameleons info, we gain in great new music by one of the greatest drummers of the 80s and a very kind man.
Something magical was happening in Britain in the 80s. The country produced amazing, genre-defining bands throughout the entire decade with legends like The Smiths, Simple Minds, Echo and the Bunnymen, Psychedelic Furs (I could go on and on) informing what would become alternative rock and/or post-punk. One of the great bands of that era were The Mighty Lemon Drops. Armed with some sugary sweet melodies, the Lemon Drops may not have hit the historic heights as some of those bands, but they made an impact and remain beloved today. David Newton was the guitarist and primary songwriter and in this enjoyable conversation we talk about all the bands we love from that era, why his good music is good and the bad stuff is bad, the current state of the band, and his current musical projects (which include producing one of my favorite bands of the last 10 years, The Soft Pack, as well as his wonderful side-project David Newton and THEE Mighty Angels). If you're a fan of 80s Brit Pop, you'll have a smile on your face for the duration.
Sue Saad was the frontwoman for the great Sue Saad and the Next, another in a long line of excellent bands that should have been much bigger. They were discovered in L.A. in the late 70s by Richard Perry of Planet Records and released one promising self-titled album in 1980 that reached #131 on the charts and was gaining steam in Europe. Unfortunately, as he's done with other guests of this show, Perry didn't put any marketing muscle behind the band and SSTN began to wither away. Thankfully, filmmaker Albert Pyun tagged her to sing on many of his classic 80s B movies. As great as that was, it didn't break her through so she retreated from music and has been largely off the grid ever since. SSTN did release an excellent second album earlier this year made up of material from their vaults. Get to know one of the most amazing voices you'll ever hear. It's a shame there couldn't have been more.
Loverboy were one of the most popular rock bands of the 80s producing a bunch of hits and selling millions of records. Thankfully, they're enjoying a bit of a resurgence these days thanks to that National Car Rental ad featuring them and one of their biggest hits, "Lovin' Every Minute of It". In this exclusive interview lead singer Mike Reno talks about the effects of grunge on their career, the secret sauce to keeping the original band together, and what goes into deciding who to tour with. We also talk about the two excellent new singles they've released this year, "Some Like it Hot" and "Hurtin'". Mike couldn't be nicer and Loverboy deserves the success they've earned.
Ellen Foley burst onto the music scene in a gigantic way when she sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" with Meat Loaf on his mega-smash Bat Out of Hell album. That incredible performance got her a record deal and she put out three albums with some of the biggest legends in the biz behind the boards (Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, The Clash, Vini Poncia, etc). In the early 80s she decided to focus on her acting career and was rewarded with a starring role on the first season of Night Court, as well as appearances in decade-defining films like Tootsie, Fatal Attraction and Cocktail. When she got married and became a mom she stepped away from the spotlight to raise her kids and now works when she wants. We discuss her thoughts on her career, what it was like collaborating with so many legends, and how she looks back on her career. Imagine the memories that must be floating around her head!
Going back to where it all started!
Stephen Bishop has been a highly successful singer-songwriter for 40 years. He's had several hits of his own and penned many for others such as Barbra Streisand, Eric Clapton, and Art Garfunkel. He just released a "brand new" album called Blueprint which puts the finishing touches on several songs and demos he's been working on over the years (hence the name). Here we talk about his approach to songwriting, how the industry has changed and how that affects him, and he shares some insight on his old friend, the late great Andrew Gold.
Glen Burtnik embodies exactly what The Hustle represents - the artist that works tirelessly to stay vital, involved, creative and paid. Glen was launched as a promising solo artist in the mid-80s releasing two great records on A&M. He achieved some chart success with 1987's "Follow You" which reached #65 on the pop charts. As the solo career was sputtering, Glen was invited to replace Tommy Shaw in Styx and wrote their last decent-sized hit with 1991's "Love is the Ritual". This began a new career as a professional songwriter (penning hits for Patty Smythe and Don Henley, as well as Randy Travis) and as a gun for hire, bringing his professionalism and vast talents to anyone that needed them. These days he's in, no kidding, at least half a dozen different groups/projects/ensembles all of which showcase his passion for great, classic music.
This week's guest shares a story we've heard all too often. Michael Harville was the drummer of the excellent Texas power pop band Sugarbomb. After a successful independently released debut album, their major-label debut, Bully,was released in 2001 and just starting to gain some momentum when RCA dropped them two weeks later! This had long-lasting effects on some members of the band, understandably, but Michael has soldiered on making a living as a drummer ever since. We talks candidly about the ups and downs and shares a hilarious story about how he nearly kicked Mathew McConaughey's butt twice (just don't ever call him Matt), and a rather disappointing story about Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick. If you like bands like Jellyfish and Fountains of Wayne, then please enjoy re-discovering Sugarbomb. The name says it all.
Jacob Slichter was the drummer for the excellent alternative rock band Semisonic, whose 1999 hit "Closing Time" remains a staple to this day. But, we aren't here to talk about that. Jacob covered that story perfectly in his 2004 memoir "So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star", one of the greatest books on life as a mildly successful rock band during the waning days of the traditional music industry ever written. Since his book mirrors the arc we try to cover on the Hustle, I wanted to talk with him about his post-book life, ask some questions I had that the book didn't address, and expand on the emotions he has experienced along the way. He was a great sport about it. This book inspired this podcast. We've come full circle.