Sunday, March 20, 2016

Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities: 1986

It's been a while since the last post in our "Hits, Cult Classics & Obscurities" series, so I'll start by reminding you that the simple idea behind it, is to pick a year and then select three great songs released as singles that fall in one of these three categories, based on the level of their critical and commercial success.

Last year, when we did our first post in this series, we started by going back 30 years to 1985. This is exactly what I'm going to do for the reboot: time for a flashback to 1986 for three, pretty "funky" songs; one that you definitely know, one that you probably do and one that the odds are you're hearing for the first time:

Run DMC - Walk This Way

The more than 27 million views of this video on YouTube really says it all about the level of success for Run DMC when they had the brilliant idea to cover Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" with the participation of its songwriters, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry. The song became the first hip hop single to crack the US Top 5 and helped "Raising Hell", Run DMC's third LP, to achieve triple-platinum status and become the first rap album to reach Number One in the charts. This was not the first track to bring hip hop and rock together, but its unprecedented level of success birthed the rap-rock hybrid and opened the doors of the mainstream to hip hop music.

Julian Cope - World Shut Your Mouth

"World Shut Your Mouth" was the title of Julian Cope's first solo album in 1984, a few years after the demise of The Teardrop Explodes, one of the key bands of the post-punk Liverpool scene of the late '70s - early '80s era. The song of the same title surfaced two years later when it was released as the single to prepare the ground for Cope's third solo LP, "St. Julian", which followed in March 1987.

The upbeat single became Cope's biggest commercial success, reaching the Top 20 in the UK and even managing an entry into the US Top 100. The 12-inch version of the single is highly recommended as there you can also find a Trouble Funk remix of the title song, as well as two killer cover versions of the 13th Floor Elevators' "(I've Got) Levitation" and Pere Ubu's "Non-Alignment Pact", two of Julian Cope's favorite bands.

The Spikes - River of Love

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there is a video for The Spikes' 1986 single "River Of Love", as the band from Adelaide, Australia that was active between 1983 and 1986 never found much commercial success and an internet search of their name will not give you back many useful results (apparently there was also an Irish band with the same name in more recent years).

The Spikes made their debut in 1983, a fine era for Australian rock, with the excellent single "She’s Melting" which was released on Greasy Pop Records, a label founded by their guitarist Doug Thomas. After the 1984 mini LP "Six Sharp Cuts" and another single ("Bloody Mess") the next year, they released in 1986 their first and last album "Colour In A Black Forest", a great "lost" garage-rock gem of the '80s, which opened with the funky bass line of "River Of Love", also released as a 7-inch single. I could say that this was a track ahead of its time, as it was bringing together rock and dance grooves a few years before the rock-dance crossover started to rise in popularity in the UK indie scene of the late '80s - early '90s. Unfortunately the The Spikes were from a different continent and a few years too early for that, so they remained a name known only to those few who kept an ear to the underground Aussie rock scene of the '80s. Not that the rock-dance thing was their main style. Check out here "Colour In A Black Forest" to better understand why The Spikes deserved a wider audience.

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