Wednesday, December 14, 2011

They Will Get By - OC Weekly

Five Questionable 80s Comebacks from 60s Rock Artists

Rock and roll is a tough and fickle business. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next you’re on top of a float, blowing kisses to strangers in Branson, Missouri. In between, anything goes. Tonight, Eddie Money, a singer no stranger to the ups and downs of the music business presents a holiday show at the Grove of Anaheim, alongside Lou Gramm of Foreigner and Mickey Thomas of Starship. In honor of their bumpy but persistent road we present a list of five artists who proved in the 1980s that it is never too late for a second act.

Centerfield (1985) – John Fogerty

With a bandana-ed Springsteen reaping in balefuls of cash singing to the people and a lack of demand for good songs about swamps, John Fogerty had hit a quiet patch. For his first solo album with Warner Bros., he offered up his own homage to baseball glories with “Centerfield.” Thirteen years after Creedence Clearwater Revival had disbanded, Fogerty found himself back on the charts. With its twangy “La Bamba” like intro and lyrics that reference Chuck Berry, ”Centerfield” was knee deep in nostalgia and luckily for him that translated to the biggest record sales of his career.

You Got It (1989) – Roy Orbison

Twenty-four years after his last charting solo appearance Roy Orbison hit it big with “You Got It.” Unfortunately he had died the month before. The song was written by fellow Wilbury’s Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne but one might argue that the formula had been written decades before. With its thundering timpanis and fluttering strings “You Got It” was classic Orbison that could have fit on any set-list of his career – except he didn’t get any of the songwriting royalties for it.

Touch of Grey (1987)– Grateful Dead

Curiously “Touch of Grey” is the Grateful Dead’s only real radio hit. It was also their first attempt at a music video. It would appear that the best way for the Dead to “get by” was for them to become the Dire Straits. With plucky 80s synths and a bare minimum of guitar noodling this was the Dead at their commercial peak and creative low.

Take Me Home Tonight (1986)– Eddie Money feat. Ronnie Spector

By 1986 Eddie Money was looking for a comeback of his own. After striking it big with his debut a decade earlier the boy from Levittown was having little luck on the charts. “Take Me Home Tonight,” which pairs Money with Phil Spector’s muse Ronnie Spector, was just the ticket. The song features Spector singing the chorus to the Ronnette’s 1963 hit “Be My Baby” as the chorus to “Take Me Home Tonight.” It proved to be Money’s biggest hit, charting almost as well as the original, and relaunched both of singers’ careers for the rest of the 80s.

Kokomo (1988) – Beach Boys

Oh, brother. Al Jardine is wearing a Beach Boys hat. Mike Love is wearing a saxophone. And John fucking Stamos is playing the steel drum. It is important to know that when this song was written there was no such place as Kokomo. The success of the song led to Sandals naming one of their resorts after it. In a national moment of weakness the song, a breezy innocuous return to the old surfing days, was embraced making it the only Beach Boys #1 not written by Brian Wilson. Eighteen years later Mike Love tried to catch another Hawaiian shirt in a bottle by recording “Santa’s Goin’ to Kokomo.” We’ll spare you the link.

80s Comebacks @ OC Weekly

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