Thursday, December 29, 2016

MA-103 - It Ejected from the 1980s

Here's another madcap, whip-pan view of some of the great and not-famous pop music produced in the 1980s.  Some might be labeled synth, New Wave, post-punk, or ... who knows?

01 - Age of Communication - Dancing Madly Backwards   1983  (4:20)
02 - Pretty Boys and Pretty Girls - Book of Love  1988  (4:27)
03 - Drafted - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission   1980  (4:28)
04 - I Don't Know How to Love Him - Front Page   1981  (2:12)
05 - Kill Yourself - The Elements   1981  (4:23)
06 - Power Blackout - (e)   1981  (2:35)
07 - Humanesque - Major Thinkers   1983  (3:11)
08 - Remain Untouched - The Global Infantilists   1983  (3:41)
09 - Younger Now - Exotica Maximus   1983  (4:06)
10 - My Heart Beats Empty - The Popular Sex   1984  (3:32)
11 - Welcoming a New Ice Age - Gleaming Spires   1985  (4:21)
12 - Call It Music - Glass Torpedoes   1981  (3:22)
13 - I Let Go - Fictions   1980  (2:28)
14 - Modern Girl - Helicopter   1981  (4:30)
15 - Money - Ex Post Facto   1981  (3:00)
16 - It's Not the Time - Volcano   1983  (3:24)
17 - Pretty Plastic - The Elektriks   1981  (4:03)
18 - Join the Ranks - D-Day   1983  (4:09)
19 - Security Code - Twenty Twenty   1985  (2:12)
20 - City Business - The Staff   1982  (2:30)
21 - TV in My Eye - Los Microwaves   1982  (3:41)
22 - Television Satellite - Sophie and Peter Johnston   1987  (3:23)

In this selection there are many of ruminations upon the increasing advancement of technology in personal lives, along with fears of depersonalization.

Track 1 is a wonder.  The chorus is the triumphant, self-recursive statement, "You can tell by the words that I'm sayin' ... that the Age of Communication has arrived."  If you can hear her, then she has successfully communicated!  And the second verse is fun, describing work-from-home via computer (in 1983).  Then there's the insouciant bit, "They say that Big Brother will be watching in our bed.  But when we learn to turn it on, we'll be watching him instead."

Take that, Surveillance State!

Track 2 is notable in that it was widely considered to be one of the first pop songs which referenced AIDS.  The song's narrator is lonely, tempted by the attractive people all around, "but sex is dangerous."

Track 12's plaint against pop-music's processed blahness, "Call it music ... it's all the same," resonates with those of us who remember listening to the same ten songs playing and replaying on Top-Forty radio, in the 1960s-1970s.

Track 15 is one of those luxuries afforded to artists --  when they complain about the same system that they hope will make them rich.  Money is so terrible, she sings.  Honey, I have news for you:  Money is just something created by people.  It can be used to help, or it can alternately be used to wield power over another.  "Money makes a whore" -- Unh-unh, baby:  The buyer and the seller perform THAT transformation.

Track 22 is a golden lullaby to the wonders of video communication.  Sophie Johnson's voice can lure me into the maw of the machine ANY TIME.

But for me, the treasure is Track 21, an ode to mass advertising and its influence.  We both show up for work in the same outfit; we both know about the new TV season and the new family in it ... because I got a TV IN MY EYE! 

When we listen to this track in the car, six-year-old Araya Sunshine and I smile and shout out the chorus together.

And we all know what to eat,
And we all know what to wear,
And we all know what to buy,
Got a TV in my eye!

For her, it's just a silly image -- somebody with a little TV in their eye.  For me, it's both absurd and head-shakingly accurate.  (Remind me some time to tell you about the Glass People I see every day.)

For me the problem comes not with the advertising, or the consumption, but the unexamined obeying of the ads' directives!


MA-103 - It Ejected from the  1980s  NEW  LINK  UPDATED  2021

Please tell me you like these songs.  That's the communication I WANT to hear.

See you next year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space: The Biography of a Classic Sci-Fi Series, Volume 2

It’s now in release!  This is the second of three volumes in this in-depth series that analyzes Lost in Space, the CBS-TV series which ran 1965-1968.

          What makes these books the ultimate source for background and information about the series?  Author Marc Cushman achieved access to the papers of producer Irwin Allen, and interviewed many cast and crew.  In these books he produces Nielsen and other ratings information for the show, and harvests information from hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles.

          Following the format of his books on the original Star Trek TV series, Cushman covers the making of each episode.  This includes the genesis of each story; the production staff’s comments and changes; casting; special effects; publicity for the episodes; period reviews or comments; and each episode’s ranking against its competitors.

          Season Two represented a big visual change for Lost in Space.  The show made the jump from black-and-white to color, creating  a different stylistic vibe.  Lost in Space brought Pop Art to life in a manner usually attributed to its competitor, ABC-TV’s Batman.

          Allen and the network had discovered that the camp team of Dr Smith and the Robot brought viewers and media attention.  With Season Two, the producers amped up this dynamic, at the expense (and sometimes frustration) of the top-billed stars.  The ever-changing dynamic of stars, staff, critics, and audience is chronicled throughout the book.

          The tale of this groundbreaking sci-fi series can also be read as a parable of the state of TV in the 1960s: struggles over time and budget, over aspirations and possibilities. 

          Stay tuned for Volume Three, coming soon!

TRUTH IN REVIEWING:  I am the (enthusiastic!) editor of these volumes.  It’s great to be involved in the production of such interesting books.

Buy Volume 2 here or here.
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© by Mark Alfred