Tag Archives: INXS

It’s Curt Smith’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Tears for Fears, the duo consisting of Roland Orzabel and Curt Smith, released their debut album, The Hurting, in 1983. In their native England the album spawned three top five singles, “Mad World,” “Change” and “Pale Shelter.” In the US, their most successful single, “Change,” peaked at #73 on the Billboard Hot 100.

When it came time to do their second album, they wanted to break the US market. Needing one more song to round out the record, the duo’s producer, Chris Hughes, suggested Orzabel flesh out a song sketch he brought into the studio. Orzabel did so, and while he didn’t think much of the finished piece, Smith and Hughes thought this is the song that would change their fortunes stateside.

This song, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” was the first single released in the US from Songs from the Big Chair. It went to #1. The song that was the album’s first single in much of the world, “Shout,” was the second US single from the album, and the duo’s second #1.

Ringo + T4F
Today, Curt Smith of Tears for Fears turns 55 years old. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with a song on which Smith sings lead, Tears for Fears’ #1 breakthrough hit “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”


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Throwback Thursday – 1986

By 1986, Aerosmith appeared to have had their best years behind them. Sales of their releases that decade lagged significantly behind their hits in the 1970s, and the group’s members were struggling with drug addictions.

They did have fans, though. One was music producer Rick Rubin. He was working with rap group Run-D.M.C., who were known in hip hop circles and with music critics for incorporating rock guitars and beats in their boastful raps, such as “Rock Box” and “King of Rock.”

Rubin suggested Run-D.M.C. do a remake of Aerosmith’s 1977 hit “Walk This Way,” but the rappers had no interest in doing a cover. However, the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay, was open to the idea, and Rubin called Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to come into the studio. Perry was familiar with the rappers, as his stepson was a fan. Jam Master Jay convinced Run and D.M.C. to give the remake a shot, seeing as Tyler and Perry were in the studio with Rubin.

The Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith version of “Walk This Way” was not only massively successful, but highly influential as well. It became Run-D.M.C.’s first crossover hit, and the first rap track to make the top ten of Billboard’s Hit 100, peaking at #4, six notches higher than Aerosmith’s original peaked. It opened the door to future song/rap collaborations, something that continues to dominate the charts to this day, not to mention bringing “rock rap” to a wide audience.

Steven Tyler went to rehab in 1986, and the other members of Aerosmith also sought treatment for their drug addictions. On the heels of the success of the “Walk This Way” remake, Aerosmith released the Permanent Vacation album in the late summer of 1987. Its first single, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” became the group’s first hit single outside the Run-D.M.C. collaboration since 1978’s “Come Together.” They followed that single with a string of big hits over the next few years, including “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” and “Jaded.”

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1986, kicking off with the groundbreaking “Walk This Way,” performed by Run-D.M.C. and featuring Aerosmith’s “Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.


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It’s Michael Hutchence’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

There’s a dead bird on my balcony. I don’t know the bird. I don’t know how he or she died. I raised the shades on Tuesday morning and saw the bird underneath one of the two lounge chairs I bought at Ikea ten years ago.

I don’t know what to do with the dead bird. I’d like to alert his or her family, who for all I know are keeping a vigil, hoping to see their loved one come home to roost, or whatever non-chicken birds do when they return home. More so, I’d like the dead bird off my balcony, as it makes me sad to see him or her whenever I have the shades up. Dead bird aside, I like to have the shades up.

It would be great if a huge breeze came along and blew the dead bird off of my balcony and into a neighbor’s backyard, where he or she would no longer be my problem, but that seems unlikely. We were promised that El Niño would hit Los Angeles in mid-January and wreak havoc through mid-May, also bringing about some much-needed rain to our drought-ridden state, but our hopes for miserable weather have been dashed. Yesterday was sunny and in the mid-seventies with nary a breeze in sight (in feel?), and today is a mere five degrees cooler.

If I were still living on the east coast, I’d be preparing for a huge blizzard right now, one in which dead birds are blown far away, or at the very least covered in snow, where they can’t be seen when one raises their shades. Count your blessings, east coasters. Each and every morning I’m forced to face a dead bird, and by extension my own mortality, while you get to lock yourselves up inside your tiny apartments, never to again set foot outdoors. Lucky.

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with the late Michael Hutchence, who was born on this date in 1960. I’ll tell you. Michael Hutchence was the original lead singer of INXS, and New York is expecting INXS of ten inches of snow over the next twenty-four or so hours.

If you’re in New York, or elsewhere on the east coast where blizzards are expected, stay inside and dance. If you’re on the west coast, where dead birds mysteriously show up on your balcony beneath one of the two lounge chairs you bought at Ikea ten years ago, stay inside and dance. Everyone else should stay inside and dance. Here is your Michael Hutchence-inspired Friday dance playlist.


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It’s David Bowie’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with a track that was inspired by a song from the 1952 film Hans Christian Andersen. In the movie, Danny Kaye performs the Frank Loesser’s “Inchworm.” While schoolchildren sing “Two and two are four / Four and four are eight” etc., Kaye sings to the titular worm “You and your arithmetic/ You’ll probably go far,” and asking “Could it be you’d stop and see
how beautiful they are?” Singer-songwriter David Bowie told Performing Songwriter magazine “You wouldn’t believe the amount of my songs that have sort of spun off that one song. Not that you’d really recognize it. Something like ‘Ashes to Ashes’ wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t have been for ‘Inchworm.’ There’s a child’s nursery rhyme element in it, and there’s something so sad and mournful and poignant about it. It kept bringing me back to the feelings of those pure thoughts of sadness that you have as a child, and how they’re so identifiable even when you’re an adult. There’s a connection that can be made between being a somewhat lost five-year old and feeling a little abandoned and having the same feeling when you’re in your twenties. And it was that song that did that for me.”

Today is David Bowie’s 69th birthday. Put on your red shoes and dance the blues with this playlist of club tunes.


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Throwback Thursday – Hit Songs Of 1988

me in WoodbridgeThe blogger in 1988

On this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, we listen to some of the biggest hits from 1988.


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It’s Sting’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

“Turn on my VCR, same one I’ve had for years”

beta
I still have my beta player. It’s not a Betamax, which is a Sony brand, but rather a Sanyo. I haven’t used it since I moved to LA in 2003, because it isn’t working. I don’t want to get rid of it, though, as I have a lot of great stuff on beta tapes. Stuff that is irreplaceable.

beta tapesThere are plenty more where these came from!

Some of the recordings I have on beta tapes can be found on YouTube – The Making of “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” for example. Others, such as Purple Rain and The Flamingo Kid, are available on a host of formats that have hit the market since beta. I’m sure I could find Madonna’s pre-fame feature A Certain Sacrifice on-line if I bothered to look for it.

I used to always keep a recordable beta tape in the machine. You never know if while channel surfing you’ll come across Chaka Khan being interviewed on a Spanish talk show on UHF. (UHF pre-dates cable TV. It pre-dates beta tapes. Look it up.) I have several dozen tapes filled with television performances from artists I was obsessed with during my beta machine’s lifetime. Not that it’s dead. I refuse to believe it is. Perhaps I’m still in the denial stage of Dr. Kübler-Ross seven stages of grieving, but I believe the beta machine can easily be fixed. It probably needs a new band. Getting the machine fixed is on my To Do list. I can’t wait to dig in to those old tapes. I look forward to watching the one I labelled “Highlights from The Late Show With Joan Rivers.” It contains her interview with the late great disco queen Sylvester in which he accidentally outed his boyfriend. It also contains several appearances by The Bangles, as I was obsessed with both the Bangles and Joan Rivers. Sometimes I miss the 80s, but then I remember Duran Duran.

Might any of my LA readers be able to recommend a beta machine repair person?

The lyric that opens this post is from The Police’s song “When the World Is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.” I have some of the band’s TV appearances on those beta tapes.

Today is the 64th birthday of that band’s usual lead singer, Sting. Our weekly dance party kicks off with the song with the longest title of any in the trio’s recorded repertoire.


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It’s Joe Strummer’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Nineteen seventy-nine saw the release of The Ethel Merman Disco Album. That same year saw western music banned in Iran. If you heard that album you’d hail that decision. Six-and-a-half minutes of “Everything’s Coming up Roses” set to a dance beat was deemed too decadent and an insult to decent citizens. By order of the Prophet, they banned that boogie sound, as it degenerated the faithful.

Ethel Merman discoIt’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a sin!

While waiting for his bandmates to come to the studio to work on the album with the working title Rat Patrol from Fort Bragg, The Clash’s Topper Headon recorded a song he wrote. He played drums, piano and bass on the track. Per the group’s former associate and sometime manager Kosmo Vinyl, Headon accompanied his music with “very, very pornographic lyrics” about his girlfriend. The Prophet would not be happy.

Raga is a style of Indian classical music. Its performed pieces typically last for a half hour or longer. After a few days of hearing each song being worked on for the The Clash’s album lasting a minimum of six minutes, band manager Bernard Rhodes asked “Does everything have to be as long as a raga?” The question inspired the band’s Joe Strummer to write the lyric “The king told the boogie men ‘You have to let that raga drop.’” (NOTE: Joe Strummer did not compose the KC & the Sunshine Band hit “I’m Your Boogie Man.” Or did he???)

With that line as his starting point, Strummer replaced the original “pornographic” lyrics Headon wrote for his tune with ones inspired by Iran’s ban of disco music. In the song, once the Shareef is out of sight, the populace ignore the ban. Even the fighter pilots the Shareef brings in to drop bombs on the partying civilians turn up the music on their radios once he’s been chauffeured away. Western dance music? The Shareef don’t like it!

By the late 1990s the laws against western music had been relaxed in Iran, only to be reinstituted in 2005 by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ringo + The Clash
Though Ahmadinejad thinks it’s not kosher to boogie, we at Tunes du Jour think it’s treif to let Friday pass by without dancing. Our weekly dance playlist kicks off with The Clash’s “Rock the Casbah,” with lyrics by Joe Strummer, who was born on this day in 1952. By the way, the album from which the song is taken, released under the name Combat Rock, contains only one song longer than five minutes, the five-and-a-half minute long “Straight to Hell.” The king won.


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

While performing stand-up comedy in the late 1990s/early 2000s I appeared in several contests. More often than not I scored very well. In a contest at the club StandUp NY to find New York’s funniest gay man, I came in second. First place went to Seth Rudetsky. Around that same time both of us were entrants in another stand-up contest. Again, I came in second to Seth’s first.

Our acts were similar. Both of us were (are) thin New York gay Jews who mocked silly pop song lyrics in our sets. Seth talked about Sheena Easton’s “Morning Train” while I discussed Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” I don’t begrudge him his first place winnings – he was great.

Seth went on to write for The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which garnered him several Emmy nominations. He has written for the Grammy Awards and the Tony Awards. He hosts a radio show on SiriusXM about Broadway musicals.

This past Tuesday my friend Scott and I attended Seth’s one-person show at Largo. His opening act was Judd Apatow. In the audience were Barbra Streisand, Sean Hayes, and the guy who played Valerie Cherish’s PR person on The Comeback. Also in the audience was me, the runner-up. Was I jealous? Was I bitter? You bet I was!

On the positive tip, I was inspired as well. It was a very fun show and gave me some ideas as to how to structure the one-person show I’ve been saying I will write for the past fourteen years. Destiny is calling me – open up my eager eyes, ‘cause I’m Mr. Brightside.

Our weekly dance party kicks off with The Killers.


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It’s Richard Butler’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

About the Psychedelic Furs song “Love My Way,” Richard Butler, the band’s lead singer, said “It’s basically addressed to people who are fucked up about their sexuality, and says ‘Don’t worry about it.’ It was originally written for gay people.”

I could be upset that he says I’m fucked up about my sexuality, but I choose to focus on the positive. He wrote a song about me. Thanks, Richard, and happy birthday!

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour, so let’s get this party started!


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Happy Australia Day – Twenty Australian Music Acts You Should Know

Today is Australia Day, unless you are in Australia, in which case it was yesterday, because by the time I post this it will be tomorrow there, which is their today but our tomorrow. Therefore, our today is Australia Day, which makes no sense, really, as the holiday is celebrated in Australia, where, as I pointed out, today is tomorrow, the day after Australia Day.

Australia Day commemorates the day the British proclaimed sovereignty over the eastern seaboard of the country/continent, or at least that’s what someone entered in Wikipedia.

Today’s playlist is made up of twenty acts that hail from Australia. Before anyone asks, AC/DC’s music is not on Spotify, hence their exclusion.

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