Quarter Life Crisis: When Problems Arise

Friday, September 23, 2011

Talk about a problem arising! I was so deep in the 'crisis' that I found out there were more singles that I loved from 1986 than I figured, and since September is running low on dates, I have decided to combine in two separate posts all the singles that I adore. Alrighty then let's continue the Quarter Life Crisis!


When Problems Arise - Fishbone
Fishbone dared to be different in '86 when they released their debut, In Your Face as they weren't your typical outfit at the time. Merging ska-rock in with hip-hop, lots o' funk and a zest of humor, Fishbone shook up and funked out with their unique sound. They wouldn't get alternative tastemakers attention till 1988's Truth and Soul and would get oh so heavier as the years went on, but it all started with "When Problems Arise" their lone single from In Your Face. It was a great way to kick things off as "Problems" is hysterical (a song all about a real selfish weasel of a person) but it's also grooves in all the right places. I truly think they should have been as big as the Red Hot Chilli Peppers became, but alas Fishbone is one of music history's gems, and when you do discover (or re-discover) them it is like finding treasure.




Change Of Heart - Cyndi Lauper
It's idyllic to tell you that all the Cyndi Lauper you need is on She's So Unusual, her 1984 classic debut. It is true, I mean "Time After Time", "She Bop", "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"---classics. But it's not always that simple. Cyndi has always had a lot more to say, and even though some people never went past Unusual, there were moments on True Colors, Cyndi's encore, that proved she had lasting power. "Change Of Heart" was the game changer. I was never a fan of the gooey title track, but "Change Of Heart" with it's edgy guitar work really does 'turn it around' and earned it's #3 position in '86. With The Bangles on backing vocals, "Heart" is spunky and pure Lauper that showcased that she was sharpening her pop sound for later years to come.




Typical Male - Tina Turner
As a devotee to her majesty, the Queen of Rock n' Soul, I love a lot of Tina tracks and always feel like I can never single out one great one. But I confess: "Typical Male" is probably my all-time favorite Tina track. I was never much a fan of Break Every Rule as found it spotty and a bit uninspired, but there were a couple of moments that really stood out and "Typical Male" was one of them. It was a glossy chart grab for Tina as it reached #2 on the Hot 100 and featured drum work by Phil Collins. Since Tina had recently returned back to the spotlight with the massive success of Private Dancer, this was the song I felt kept her on the right track.



Stay A Little While Child - Loose Ends
This is one of those "Mariah Carey sampled it and wow, I discovered it's a whole song!" moments. As a 90's child, I grew up hearing samples. It seemed every song on the radio had a sample or was a remake that everyone thought was an original and then became salty when the truth was uncovered. I first heard Loose Ends' "Stay A Little While Child" on Mariah's "My All/Stay Awhile (So So Def Remix)" and I dug the sample so much that like a good little Audio Diva I became a fan of Loose Ends not long after. Off of the British soul group's third record, Zagora, "Stay A Little While Child" is a seducing blend of sophisticated soul n' jazz, the formula that Loose Ends perfected.



Left Of Center - Suzanne Vega
I used to watch Pretty In Pink a lot when I was in high school. I was no Molly Ringwald, but I identified with sort of being 'left of center'. I was a band nerd and a drama geek---I literally set myself up, right? This song, off of Pretty In Pink's soundtrack, always managed to capture me because of Vega's vocals. Not till college did a good friend (a very cool one) possessed the soundtrack to PIP on vinyl and I re-discovered this song all over. I like some of Suzanne's later 90's material, but I always enjoy "Left Of Center" even over her 'bigger' hits like "Luka" and "Tom's Diner". I love the line where she says: "When they ask me what I'm looking at and I say 'nothin' much'" How pre-Daria.



Candy - Cameo 
This stuff is starting now! I'm going to a wedding in a week and I know I'll be electric sliding to Cameo's "Candy" at some point in the evening. Not that it's a bad thing---okay, electric sliding is like getting a tooth pulled to me-- but what is it about this song that provokes people to do the electric slide? I think folks watched The Best Man way too much and figured this is what you should do every time you hear that legendary bass line. Well, there's no denying that your rump won't sit still while this is on, as well as number of other cuts on Cameo's big hit, Word Up! album. "Candy" has been sampled to death (see 2Pac, Will Smith, and oh yeah, Mariah Carey again...), but nothin' beats the original.



Under The Influence - Vanity
Okay. Vanity is not the best singer in the world nor does she have the most tact---an yes,"Pretty Mess" is pretty awful. But she was in Prince's Vanity 6 which is iconic in every sense and her looks could make a straight woman question herself---so you must give this woman her props. Before Vanity found religion and denounced her Vanity persona, her last album, 86's Skin On Skin was actually a surprise to me because at how good it was. Really it is. I urge you to seek it out online somewhere as it is out-of-print. "Under The Influence" especially is the best cut Vanity has ever done. Oddly, Motown didn't back it as thoroughly as they should have as well as a number of other single-worthy gems on Skin On Skin. An opportunity lost.



Experiment IV - Kate Bush
Only Kate Bush could whip up a song about the military creating a "sound that can kill someone"---literally. As you can see in the music video below, Bush is the 'killer sound' as she portrays a seemingly docile woman into a banshee like character who kills all the doctors in charge of the operation (funny, one of the doctors is future House actor, Hugh Laurie). As a female myself, I can't help but see a link to female frustration somewhere in that storyline....unless that is just me. Meant as an bonus addition to Bush's first hits compilation, The Whole Story, "Experiment IV" is actually one of Bush's best moments. It follows in the same brooding manner that possessed her album Hounds Of Love, with it's slick synth work and nightmare bedtime story background. A real tried and true Kate classic.



I Can't Think About Dancin' - Missing Persons
For most, Color In Your Life was where Missing Persons forgot who they were and were at their worst. Even with the addition of Chic's Bernard Edwards overseeing production, things just didn't seem to gel. But there is something about this song I really like, it's bold and completely over-the-top (as most of the songs on CIYL are) and there was a wasted opportunity for it being the opening to an 80's teen flick. It does go on a bit longer than it should, but it's a lot of fun and thanks to Bernard it has a funky disposition. Missing Persons soon broke up after "Dancin'" and the Color In Your Life album failed to attract much attention, but I really think they were on to something with this track.

1 comment:

  1. You've highlighted a lot of good stuff here, but I'll just focus on one: Cyndi. I like CoH because it was a lot darker, broodier, and fuller than any of the singles from SSU. In fact, it signaled, obviously & dramatically, that TC was a turning point in her sound. Though as an album it peters out due the weak triology it closes on, that album is worth another look. Plus, I think her best album is a toss up between "Hat Full of Stars" (1993) & "Bring Ya to the Brink" (2008).-QH

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