Watch “INXS – Never Tear Us Apart” on YouTube

A recent conversation left me reexamining my mental (re)collection of the 1980’s music scene. I came from an acoustic, Martin, early 1960’s to gritty 1970’s household, ya see.

Now, I was a young `un during the `80s, not even alive for the full decade. I write from sloppy memory & unresearched timelines.

To wit. viz. My first memories of favorite songs (years before-gasp-receiving my first cd/tape player boombox) include:

1. Phil Collins (solo, post Genesis); Groovy Kind of Love

2. The Beach Boys (see Surf’s Up not Pet Sounds. Giggle); Kokomo

3. Don Henley (solo, stag de La Eagles); All She Wants to do is Dance

My radio cassette player allowed me to record radio to cassette tape. I took great advantage of such a Tape OP.

The draped-on drum production kinda kills me.

Insta-musical carbon dating.

Not necessarily standing the test of time.

Remaining revolutionary.

But hindsight blahblahblah.

I know I’ll take Tears for Fears, INXS, and George Michael (see also The New Radicals 1990’s) most days.

But I thought real hard about what song with which to start a Pressed review.

The 1980’s have some spectacular introductory pieces (ala Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain).

Songs that mesmerize you before they truly begin.

Donnie Darko previously re-popularized Tears for Fears Head Over Heels. Same band, Sowing the Seeds of Love continued a pop sentiment that trickled down to Oasis, Space Hog. REM.

But, as far as knock out 1980’s intros that I can immediately recall, I had to land here with INXS. Vaguely Antish?

P.s. an exemplar par excellence of the use of a 1980’s sax. Too often wrecking a track.


Watch “The Isley Brothers-Ohio Machine Gun” on YouTube

Back to back hits from The Isley Brothers.
For decades, white rock acts covered the most famed material of The Isley Brothers, particularly, “Shout” and “Twist and Shout“.

The Isleys decided turn about was more than fair play and decided to do the same to music made famous by white artists such as Stephen Stills, Eric Burdon and Neil Young.
The artists they chose to cover were not musicians that were apt to cover a song by the The Isley Brothers. In fact they were contemporary artists with unique voices and sounds they developed themselves. I like that these were the artists covered on Givin it Back. So many ways to interpret Giving it Back as an album title.

Slyly, titling this album Givin It Back, the Isleys prove they can re-enliven the music of others, thoughtfully. Distinguishing “a cover” and “a reinterpretation”.

Ohio/Machine Gun is my favorite gem.

CSNY might as well have written Ohio for the The Isley Brothers to perform.

And, I like CSNY’s version but when it is stood aside The Isley’s version, a certain, subtle social commentary forms. The songs speak to one another. The Isley’s version casts a subtle irony on the earnestly enthusiastic tradition of white protest music. Now, a naïveté tints the original.

The original release of Ohio, topical to the very hostile American political climate of the time, intended to make a statement, to shine light on injustice in order to produce change. It purports righteousness that slides toward self-righteousness when considered with The Isley Brothers rendition.

Among the songs they covered were “Spill the Wine”, “Love the One You’re With”, the social commentary medley of “Ohio” and “Machine Gun” (from Jimi Hendrix), “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor and Bob Dylan‘s “Lay Lady Lay“.

Their covers of “Love the One You’re With”, “Lay Lady Lay” and “Spill the Wine” became charted hits. Bill Withers plays guitar on the Isleys’ version of his “Cold Bologna”.

In 2015, Givin It Back was remastered and expanded for inclusion in the 2015 CD box set The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters 1959-1983.