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Sharp turn at 1980


James

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I find that a lot of bands/artists that I adored in the 1970s seemed to take a sharp turn (downward imho) almost exactly when 1980 hit: 
 

Hall & Oates - perfect cut off. Their 1970s music was pretty awesome. As 1980 hit their sound changed and though it was still good music, it wasn´t near as quality as their 1970s sound.

Elton John - while he still sold a ton in the 1980s, and his music was still good, it couldn´t hold a candle to what he did in the 1970s. Very different.

America - loved their 1970s sound, not so much "Could it be magic".

Heart - they seemed to cave to the 80s sound, at the cost of exiting their pristine pop/rock of the 1970s.

REO Speedwagon - Hi Infidelity came out in 1980 I believe, and was their monster commercial success of their catalog, and while it was very good, it went in a softer direction and was not as good as their harder edged stuff from the live album (1977) or Tuna Piano or even Nine Lives which I thought was very good and underrated.

I´ll think of some more.


 

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 The 1980s just don't hold a candle to the 1970s or '60s, in terms of popular music.  You have five good examples for your thesis. I was going to offer Paul McCartney, because I wasn't crazy about McCartney II (1980) or Pipes of Peace (1983) or Press to Play (1986) . But he did give us Tug of War in 1982 and Flowers in the Dirt in 1989.  

Then there are the Eagles. Not only did they take a sharp turn in 1980 (after 1979's The Long Run), but they fell off a cliff and didn't go back to the studio for a group effort unit 2007. 

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Couple more:

Aerosmith - their 80s commercially very successful hits were a far voyage from the pristine rockin stuff like songs from "Toys in the attic".

RUSH - at about 1980 they exited the Alex Lifeson mean electric guitar driven songs.....for the more spacey, techy, synthy and imho less good stuff.

Olivia Newton John - in the early 80s she, probably driven by her handlers,  tried too hard to be sexy, and thus became, for a spell,  much less sexy than before, and her music travelled on a similar path.

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Well the artists aged and had some cash in their coffers.  

Think of what was happening.  The war in Vietnam had ended, and the hippies and protesters were now buying condos and having kids.

The Eighties were about money. 

These established bands were headed towards middle age, were getting comfortable and lost their edge.  They were no longer the up and comers.  They had become those they had fought.  They were now the Establishment.

Their middle aged mediocrity opened the door for the next generation of the New Romantics, Punk, New Wave & Rap.

Many of the new bands were looking back to the Sixties to bring back that lean energy that had become bloated and fat with corporate rock.

 

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Great analysis, Susie. The '80s did feel a little like "surrenders." Things like Live Aid seemed to rejuvenate some of the "classic rock" bands; otherwise, acts like the Clash were making noise and sounding edgier and different. And the pop side of Punk and New Wave gave us new acts like the Cars (I remember that first album of their's making such a splash), Elvis Costello, Blondie, and Joe Jackson. The late-'70s/early-'80s music of the latter four and others of their ilk seems like pure pop today, but when they emerged out of music's disco-dominated days, they sounded edgy, no? 

The '80s were also a decade where our friend Eric slowed way down. He started the decade with a bang (Tonight You're Mine), but put out only one more studio album... until finally doing his last audio album in the late 1990s. (Thank God the Raspberries reunion brought him back out for a few years! He was at the top of his game those years.)

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But back to the '80s—I'd have a hard time picking a list of 10 favorite artists who STARTED in that decade.

I think the compact disc angle is a point we forget about—but it may account for at least a little of the new music "wasteland" some of us sensed in the 1980s. The CD burst onto the scene in 1983. Record companies turned a lot of their focus to filling out their catalogs with reissued classics. Yes, it was business as usual with then-current artists... but the investment in building up CD catalogs ate into focus on and promotion of new acts.

At the time, I was editing a music magazine. While we were all over new music coming out, we also devoted a ton of pages to the rush of reissues coming out. It was big money for the labels to mine their archives and get old favorites onto CD for a buying public. Remember that people were shelling out close to $20 (or even more) for CD versions of favorites from their LP collection. For the labels, it took a big investment of time and money in CD planning, scheduling, production, and promotion to meet the demand.

I remember putting together a number of regular features called "Wanted on CD," where our reviewers would list and describe albums we were dying to have on CD. The biggest story there was always—surprise!—the Beatles catalog. Capitol was under assault by the music world to get the Fab Four's catalog on CD. It took them from the early 1980s to 1988 to start rolling them out. 

So... when I personally think of the '80s music scene, I think not of new artists breaking out, but "new" reissues filling CD bins and leading to rediscovery and reinforcement of favorite artists.

As usual, I wrote too much! 

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Yes, interesting perspectives, all!

The 80's (and 90's) had us transitioning to the mountains...and country music. Country music went through something similar to pop/rock. The 'new wave' of country artists started getting some competition from new artists touting the old guard sound- guys like Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, and some others. Then country went through another paradigm shift when it became the new 'pop' scene, with artists like Darius Rucker realizing that if you still could write a song with pop elements- verses, chorus, middle eight- country radio was the way to get it played.

 

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On 2/24/2022 at 11:38 PM, Rhonda B said:

One of the reasons I love this site is reliving songs from my past that come up unexpectedly like this.

Russ Ballard from Argent wrote this song. He would collaborate with many artists providing them with sure fire hits in the 70s and 80s. He wrote "Back in the NY Groove. Which for Ace Frehly, became a big hit.

Also, another interesting fact: Bill Mumy co-wrote many songs with America.

Thats right Billy "Will Robinson" Mumy who brought us the lovely Fish Heads (that's a joke)

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On 2/27/2022 at 7:23 PM, Vinnie B Trask said:

This version sold and is the better one!

I will agree to disagree on the "better version" comment.  I own the Hello version.

Of course a Kiss member solo record outsold that of a minor English glam rock band.  Between the corporate promotion behind Kiss and the Kiss Army, I'm sure the sales were phenomenal.

However, it's interesting to note that Ace failed to make the song his own and basically copied Hello's production.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

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Very good discussion going on here. I always think it maybe boils down to which version you heard first or maybe only one of them you heard and didn't even know there was another one, like myself. I only knew Ace's version. And I bought the 45 of this when it came out... if I bought a 45 that means I was totally obsessed with the song from hearing it on the radio. I loved Ace's version because of the guitar riffs, first introduced in the introduction that caught my attention right away. He sings with strong conviction and the key change is very prominent in this version and that really appeals to me. Now if I would have heard the other version first I maybe would like that for some reason better because it was the only version I heard. The fact  that Ace borrowed Hello's arrangement and I'm just going by what Susie said,  means that they both have very good musical tastes.

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