January 2, 2018
For a duo with a hit as big as "Let's Go All The Way" was in 1986, there should be more to the Sly Fox story than there is. Brought together in an almost "boy band" fashion, Michael Camacho and Gary "Mudbone" Cooper only managed one album that featured one giant hit (#7 in 1986) and that was all she wrote. To this day, their one album, also titled Let's Go All the Way, has never been released on cd. This week Michael tells us how the band came together, what that brief moment in the spotlight was like, and what he's been doing since, which includes his solo jazz album Just For You from 2006.
November 28, 2017
This week we are going deep on one of the most iconic songs ever. "867-5309/Jenny" hit #4 on the US charts back in 1982 and has never left the public consciousness. It has to be the most famous phone number in history. First up this week we talk to the man who wrote that song, Alex Call. Alex began in the band Clover dating back to the height of the Haight/Ashbury days in San Francisco. Also notable about Clover is this is where a young Huey Lewis begins his career as well. By the early 80s, the band was over, Huey had moved on, and Alex was desperate for some success of his own. Luckily, he wrote this track, as well as hits for Pat Benatar, Southside Johnny and his old pal, Huey. He's still making music today. After Alex we hear from Tommy Tutone himself and how that song has affected his life. Tommy was never able to reach those heights again and has had a primary job in computers for around 25 years now. These days he plays the occasional nostalgia show and is brutally honest about the ups and downs of his life. These two are pretty fascinating!
October 17, 2017
Alannah Myles struck gold in 1989 when her gigantic hit "Black Velvet" reached #1 in the US. The song won her a Grammy for Best Female Rock Performance and achieved radio spins of over 5 million. It should have been smooth sailing from here, yet it wasn't. While she's mum on some of the details to protect the living, it's clear from her story that she has not had an easy road in the music business. In the wake of shining a light on abusive men in power like Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, you can imagine the kinds of things she may have been subjected to. Basically, this interview has to be heard to be believed.
August 22, 2017
John Parr was one of the most promising artists of the 80s. He broke out in 1984 with the decent-sized hit "Naughty Naughty" (#23), but then he hit the jackpot when his theme for the movie St. Elmo's Fire, "Man In Motion", topped the charts in 1985. This should have launched him into the stratosphere with other heavyweights like Bryan Adams and Eddie Money, but it didn't. Once again, label politics stifled what should have been a big career. John did carry on for a few more years, recording several more movie themes along the way (Running Man, Three Men and a Baby, American Anthem, Quicksilver), but wasn't given the support he deserved. Ultimately, he's had the last laugh though, as "Man In Motion" has never gone away and he's very active on the 80s tour circuit. He's a wonderful man who's been though a lot and come out the other end victorious. Plus, you'll remember how much fun his music is. Enjoy!
June 6, 2017
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.
February 28, 2017
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.
February 14, 2017
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!
February 7, 2017
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.
January 24, 2017
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.
October 28, 2016
Going back to where it all started!
For some reason - I don't see this episode in our iTunes feed, so I'm rereleasing it so new subscribers who might have missed it can catch up. And because Bruce is the best and this remains one of my favorite episodes. Enjoy (whether you've heard it before or not)!
October 18, 2016
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.
July 19, 2016
As big as "hair metal" was in the late-80s, there were very few women singers that were as big as the boys and could hold their own next to them. That is, except for Fiona, who released a string of hard rock albums from the mid-80s to the early 90s scoring a couple moderate hits in the process. She is probably best known for her electric duet with fellow genetic lottery winner Kip Winger, "Everything You Do (Your Sexing Me)" which barely missed the top 40 in 1989. However, what makes Fiona Flanagan truly demand your respect is what all she accomplished when the music career petered out. She had the foresight to enroll in UCLA and become an accountant, which she did for many years before settling down as a mom to raise her kids in New Jersey.
In this absolutely enlightening conversation we discuss the state and treatment of women in rock during that time and whether she ever felt exploited by it (her answers may surprise you), what caused her to go into accounting, and her experience working with Bob Dylan on the set of Hearts of Fire. She's one of the most articulate and intelligent guests we've ever had. Prepare to be amazed.
July 5, 2016
This week is the one and only Taco ( yes, that is his real name - Taco Ockerse )! He hit it big in 1983 with his hypnotic take on the classic 'Puttin On The Ritz', which reached #4 that year, and was a bit of a cultural touchstone.
Unfortunately, that was all she wrote for Taco in the States and we talk about the difficult decision he made to abandon the US market and go all-in in Europe where he's remained very active ever since. Taco continues to release music there, most of which is in keeping with his unique style, merging classic show tunes with the latest production flourishes.
We talk about putting his debut album together in just two weeks, the old Hollywood legends he met during the height of his fame, and how he stays vibrant today!
June 28, 2016
Peter McCann is the man behind the immortal classic, "Do You Wanna Make Love" which was a #5 smash in 1977. He's an admitted one-hit-wonder, but his career is much broader than the one hit. He started out in a folk group called The Repairs who were managed by Andrew Loog Oldham (also of the Rolling Stones) and signed to Motown of all places! Berry Gordy didn't know what to do with them, so they were dropped after two albums. Peter went solo, but learned early on that he much preferred writing songs for other people. In fact, Jennifer Warnes had a #6 hit also in 1977 with his "Right Time of the Night". Peter has been a successful songwriter ever since, penning tunes for artists like the Oak Ridge Boys, Kenny Rogers, and Janie Fricke. One of his songs even made it on Whitney Houston's debut album (which has since sold 30 million copies). He's an exceptionally refreshing guy with a wonderful outlook on the business. He also tells a great story about Christie Brinkley and the Vacation soundtrack!
May 24, 2016
Anthony Kaczynski was the lead singer of the great Detroit synth band Figures on a Beach throughout the 80s. They started out as a more avant-garde focused outfit along the lines of early Simple Minds, OMD, and Can, but they eventually put out two major label albums in the late-80s that had a much slicker, synth-pop sound. Unfortunately, success wasn't in the cards (although they did record one of the great alternative singles of the late-80s with "Accidentally 4th Street (Gloria)"). Anthony didn't do much of note musically until the end of the 90s when he started his current band, Fireking, who are one of the great current powerpop acts. Today he has his hands in many different musical projects and he may be busier (and happier) than he's ever been, all the while paying his bills by co-owning a company with his ex-wife. His spirit is infectious, enjoy!
May 10, 2016
Amanda Blue was the lead singer of one of those great rock and roll with a touch of new wave bands of the late 70s/early 80s called Spider. They cracked the top 40 once in 1980 when "New Romance" reached #39, but after two albums, they changed their name to Shanghai and released one more album before calling it quits and Amanda embarked on a solo career. What might be most interesting about Spider are the many recognizable names that circled their orbit. The band was discovered by Kiss and managed by Bill Aucoin (Gene Simmons also managed Amanda for a while). Also, one of the band members was Holly Knight, who would go on to be one of the most successful songwriters of all time ("Love is a Battlefield", "Simply The Best", "The Warrior", etc). And, the drummer, and Amanda's ex-husband, was Anton Fig, who would land the steadiest gig in music as the drummer for David Letterman's band. Amanda now makes healing her life's mission, which we talk a lot about. Lovely lady with an amazing story.
May 3, 2016
To celebrate The Hustle's 1st Birthday, we created a full circle moment. This week's guest is Mark Brzezicki, drummer of the iconic Scottish band Big Country! You may remember in the intro to The Hustle that I recorded a year ago, I mentioned that the suicide of Big Country's lead singer Stuart Adamson was an inspiration for me creating a place where I could let my favorite unsung artists know how much I love them. Here we are 52 conversations later and still going strong! Mark and I discuss what Stuart was like as a man, the ups and downs of being in the band, what everyone is doing now, and some of the session work Mark's done to maintain a career. With all the joy these artists have brought to our lives, they deserved better.
April 19, 2016
Todd Pipes was the lead singer of Deep Blue Something, who hit it big in 1995 with the seminal "Breakfast at Tiffany's" which reached #5 on the US charts. Sadly, it was their one and only hit and after a couple more albums that received less attention, the band slowed way down. Todd is now an English teacher in Dallas and makes music when he wants to, including an excellent ep from last year called Locust House. We talk about music in the 90s, the aftermath of having such a big, divisive hit, and the other bands they blew off the stage. My personal feeling is that there has always been more to this band than "the hit" and the deserve to have the rest of their music discovered.
April 12, 2016
Ranking Roger is a music and style icon that needs no introduction. He was a founding member of one of the most important and beloved alternative/ska bands of all-time with the English Beat. Then, he and fellow front man Dave Wakeling broke off and formed General Public to even greater chart success ("Tenderness" #27 in 1984). Today the former partners function as two separate groups - Dave carries on as The English Beat in the states while Roger is The Beat throughout the rest of the world. We discuss the dynamic between the two, the state of potential reunions, Roger's excellent solo work, and his views on marijuana. And, he announces new Beat music coming in 2016!
April 5, 2016
Phil Spalding has been an in demand session bassist for almost 40 years now. His highest profile gig from an American perspective was probably when he was a member of that short-lived supergroup GTR, who had a big hit with "When the Heart Rules the Mind" which reached #14 in 1986. Since then he's collaborated with everyone from Seal to Terence Trent D'Arby to Right Said Fred to Elton John, all the while living as a full-blown drug addict. Thankfully, he's been in recovery for 11 years now and serving as best he can to help others in the same situation. Here is his amazing story!
March 29, 2016
Hipsway were a Scottish band in the mid-80s that scored one hit in the states off their first album with "The Honeythief" in 1986, one of the finest singles of its era. That was about it for Hipsway, however, and after one more album that was barely released the guys parted ways. What's interesting about lead singer Grahame Skinner is that he's been a part of numerous other bands, both before and after, that were even better and deserved to be discovered, but mostly weren't. Today he manages a cafe in Glasgow, while making killer music as The Skinner Group when opportunity presents itself.
February 16, 2016
Billy Vera and the Beaters can claim one of the flukiest #1 songs in pop history. In 1986 a song they wrote and recorded in 1981. "At This Moment", was chosen to appear in an episode of Family Ties. It caused such a stir that it eventually propelled the song to the top of the charts in January of 1987. What most people probably don't realize is that Billy had already been around for 20 years writing songs for artists like Ricky Nelson and Dolly Parton, not to mention a couple of hits on his own. And, he's continued to reap loads of success since "At This Moment" by diversifying into acting, voice-over, and jingle writing.He's done and seen it all and conquered almost every corner of the music industry.
February 9, 2016
Reacharound were a killer rock and roll band (think Social Distortion mixed with Rev. Horton Heat) in the mid-90s that had one hit on alternative radio with "Big Chair" in 1996. But, after one album (and only one single) the band was done. Lead singer Matt Caisley has bounced around L.A. working regular jobs while continuing to follow his rock star passions. Today, his primary creative outlet is the more electro-industrial band Former Human Beings. We talk about the highs he experienced in the 90s, the inspiration for his biggest hit, the very ambitious project Former Human Beings are working on now, and why you should never give your band a sexually suggestive name.
January 19, 2016
John Pazdan was a founding member of two of the greatest power pop bands of the 70s. He formed Pezband, but left before their first album came out (he would rejoin in the 80s). He and singer Cliff Johnson left to form Off Broadway, but he only stuck around for that band's debut album, which spawned the #51 US single "Stay in Time" in 1979. In the 90s he was a member of the cowpunk band Big Guitars From Memphis, who were relatively successful at the time, but has mostly been lost to history.
Since then John has made a living as a gun for hire and has composed and arranged loads of tunes for various multi-media projects, and still plays around the Chicago area when he's asked, including gigs playing for President Obama. He is a wonderfully outspoken and opinionated artist and we discuss his views on the treatment of musicians, how they're paid, and the state of the business today.
January 12, 2016
Today, Tony Ortiz is about as regular a guy as it gets. Normal desk job, family, friends, grandkids, a mortgage, etc. But, in 1982 he was on the road to something bigger. Tony was the lead singer of the rock/new wave band The Monroes who's lone single, "What Do All The People Know" was climbing the charts, reaching #59 in the U.S., before the bottom fell out. Just as the Monroes debut EP was also gaining momentum, their Japanese record label went bankrupt grinding everything to a halt and thwarting the hopes and dreams of the band. After a couple more years of trying to pick up the pieces, Tony left for Minnesota, where he settled into a normal life, leaving his rock and roll fantasies behind (and largely unfulfilled). Tony talks about what that brief chapter of his life was like, how it felt to play before 20,000 people, how he's trying again now to make another go of it, and how difficult it is to convince his co-workers that he is in fact the guy singing that song whenever it comes on (and it does a lot, as it's continued on as a cult favorite). These stories are what this podcast is all about!
December 29, 2015
The Kane Gang were one of those wonderful bands that came to the states from the UK as part of the Sophisti-pop or Blue-Eyed British Soul movement of the mid-to-late 80s. They only released two albums and had two hits in the states (more back home in the UK), the biggest of which was "Motortown" which reached #36 in 1987. The Kane Gang were done after that, but come to find out lead singer Martin Brammer has carved out a hugely successful songwriting career penning hits for everyone from Tina Turner to Sheena Easton to Nick Carter to the Lighthouse Family. In this conversation, Martin helps us understand exactly what a publishing deal is and how you make a living as a songwriter.
December 22, 2015
Kurt Maloo wrote and sang one of the most iconic and unique hit songs of all time with "The Captain of Her Heart" which reached #16 in 1986 in the US. That's one of those songs almost everyone knows, but maybe not everyone knows who sings it. Kurt, along with creative partner Felix Haug, put out two albums as Double before disbanding in the late 80s. Unfortunately, Felix passed away in 2004 ending any potential for a Double reunion. But, "Captain" is still a standard and continues to be played all over the world for subsequent generations, which has provided a very nice life for Kurt and has freed him up to continue to forge a solo career on his own terms. Get to know the man behind the song!
December 8, 2015
Dig grew up in Cambridge, Ohio where he was turned on to all genres of music from the Temptations to Alice Cooper. But, what really did it for him was rockabilly, which inspired him to move to New York and start an authentic rockabilly band called Buzz and the Flyers. From there, he headed to London where he fronted the excellent 80s band JoBoxers, who had one of the greatest singles of all time with "Just Got Lucky". That song reached #36 in 1983 in the US, but was their one and only hit and after one album the band dissolved and Dig lost some of his taste for music. Today, Dig is an acting coach in L.A. We go deep on the music and moments that changed our lives forever.
October 20, 2015
Eight Seconds were a Canadian synth-prog/pop band in the late-eighties who had one minor hit in the US with a song called "Kiss You (When It's Dangerous)". Their unique sound (think The Fixx) set them apart from a lot of what else was happening at the time, but the dreaded label politics held back the release of their second album and the band sank into obscurity. After trying out several music-related projects, frontman Andy del Castillo started his own media production company in 2004 and hasn't looked back. I've always felt Eight Seconds deserved more attention, especially from 80s music fans who appreciate epic, anthemic songs with a little more going on.
October 13, 2015
Walter's the self-proclaimed "Forrest Gump of rock" and the man behind one of the most enduring hits of the 70s "Magnet and Steel" which reached #8 in 1978. His career was launched with the support of producers Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, who were also in the throes of their own drama recording the landmark Rumours album. Walter got caught up in that as well, and he drops the bomb of hooking up with Stevie around that time! In fact, his love life becomes a hot topic of discussion as well as the rest of his musical career outside of his biggest hit, which deserves more attention.
September 29, 2015
Walter Wray was the lead singer of the excellent alternative rock band King Swamp who had a minor hit in 1989 with the song "Is This Love". The band had a great pedigree, as it featured members of Shriekback, as well as Dominic Miller, who has played with Sting for the last 25 years or so. Walter stepped away from the music biz in the early 90s, but has recently started a unique new project with the Shriekback guys called LiTTLe MaCHiNe. King Swamp is another in a long line of great bands that deserved more.
September 22, 2015
In the States, the Blow Monkeys are best known for their #14 1986 hit "Digging Your Scene" and their appearance on the multi-million selling Dirty Dancing soundtrack. But, Dr. Robert has never stopped in Europe releasing several solo albums as well as re-igniting the Blow Monkeys in 2007. We talk about how the band's sound changed over time, his conflicted feelings about his 80s work, why he can be difficult to work with, and how he almost became the next Barry Manilow!
June 23, 2015
Baxter was the lead singer of the British new wave band, Re-flex, who had one hit in the states when "The Politics of Dancing" reached #23 in 1983. They continued to make music, but label politics made it difficult for the work to get released. We talk about that, what he's been doing since, his experience with early Re-flex band member Mark King (now of Level 42), and we clear up those rumors that "Politics" was rejected for the Footloose soundtrack (or do we?)
June 16, 2015
Clive is the man behind one of the most enduring hits of the 80s, 1988's "The Promise", which was reborn when it was featured in Napoleon Dynamite in 2003. Unfortunately, his band, When In Rome, quickly broke up and there's a lot of bad blood that's still very toxic to this day. Clive is working hard to take his destiny into his own hands and keep his name alive. It isn't easy.
June 9, 2015
Brian Canham fronts the Australian band Pseudo Echo, who hit it big in 1986 when their cover of "Funkytown" reached #6 in the states. We talk about why the band dissolved a couple years later, how they ended up on the North Shore soundtrack, why he was memorably wearing a New York Yankees t-shirt in the "Funkytown" video, and what Pseudo Echo is up to now.
May 12, 2015
Mister Zero is the guitarist and primary songwriter of the Canadian power pop band The Kings who reached #43 in 1980 with "This Beat Goes On/Switching To Glide". We talk about working with Bob Ezrin on their debut album, his time in movies after music ended, and how a recent health scare may jeopardize the future of the band.
May 5, 2015
Bruce Blackman was the lead singer of the 70s band Starbuck, who had a #3 hit in 1976 with "Moonlight Feels Right". When the band broke up in 1980 Bruce turned his attention to other things until 2014 when he released his first solo album. We find out what he did in his time off, what motivated the comeback and how he got his famous style (check youtube to find out what I mean).