High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Shady's Eighties Greaties, Part 2

 It's time once again to hop into 

 our hot tub time machine and 

 flash back to the musical sights 

 and sounds of the 1980s! 

Welcome back to the 80s, the golden era of MTV and
VH-1, when it became more important than ever for recording artists to look as good as they sounded.

 Experience Eighties Greaties! 


He was a Working Class Dog. He sooo wished that he had Jessie's Girl. He was soap heartthrob Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital. He's singer/songwriter/musician/actor
Rick Springfield. The native Australian's handsome features, charisma and power pop proficiency made him perfect for MTV and VH-1 which exploded at the same time that Rick's career took off. Along with Abba, Rick Springfield was a guilty pleasure of mine. I didn't want to like the pretty boy soap star, but I did. Rick's early 80s recordings were highly commercial and very listenable chunks of ear candy.

After "Jessie's Girl" hit #1 in both America and Australia in 1981, Rick piled on four more top 10 U.S. hits. "Don't Talk
to Strangers" was one of them. Released the following year, "Don't Talk to Strangers" vaulted to #2 with a bullet but was denied the top spot three weeks in a row by "Ebony and Ivory," the Paul McCartney/Stevie Wonder collaboration.

 "Don't Talk to Strangers" - Rick Springfield 
 (May 1982, highest chart position #2) 

Another of my favorite Rick Springfield songs and videos was "Human Touch," a top 20 single taken from the 1983 album Living in Oz.

 "Human Touch" - Rick Springfield 
 (Sept. 1983, highest chart position #18) 

Rick Springfield impressed me most when he graduated from teeny pop idol to a mature rocker with street cred. In 1988 Rick released his most powerful and introspective song accompanied by an incendiary video, the autobiographical "Rock of Life."

 "Rock of Life" - Rick Springfield 
 (March 1988, highest chart position #22) 


The Second British Invasion took place in the 1980s when a number of English acts achieved success in America thanks largely to their high concept videos that ran on MTV. ABC was one of principal acts of the Invasion, a New Wave/New Romanticism/synthpop group from Sheffield that racked up
ten hit UK singles and five hit American singles during the decade including three 12-inch singles that topped the U.S. Dance Chart. ABC's debut album The Lexicon of Love went to #1 on the UK album chart in 1982 and "The Look of Love," a delightfully infectious single pulled from it, is my Pick to Click for the group.

 "The Look of Love (Part One)" - ABC 
 (December 1982, highest chart position 
 #4 UK/#18 Hot 100, #9 Cash Box, 
 #1 Billboard Dance/Disco


The Copenhagen duo of John Guldberg and Tim Stahl remind me of a Danish Hall and Oates. Calling themselves Laidback (eventually spelled Laid Back), the guys produced recordings that had a refreshingly different New Wave synthpop sound.
I used the song "One Life," a track from the act's 1985 album Play it Straight, as the music bed for a commercial that I produced for a hair salon. The 30 second spot featured video of various models spinning rapidly on the shop's swivel chair, each girl sporting a different hair style. I cut the footage to the beat of the song and the commercial turned out nicely.

 "One Life" - Laid Back (from 1985 album 
 Play it Straight

Laid Back is best known for the 1983 post-disco underground club smash "White Horse." The song was originally the B side of "Sunshine Reggae" but caught fire in U.S. dance clubs to such an extent that it was re-released as an A on both 7-inch and 12-inch platters. "White Horse," a slang term for heroin, spent three weeks atop the Billboard Disco Action chart, crossed over to the top 5 of the R&B chart, and reached the top 30 of the Hot 100. Radio play was reduced in some markets because the word "bitch" is punched hard in the song. Here's a great remix of this mid 80s crowd pleaser.

 "White Horse" - Laid Back (May 1984, 
 highest chart position #26 Hot 100
 #1 Disco Action chart) 



In 1982 superstars of soul and funk joined forces to record "Standing on the Top," a 10-minute tour de force that kicked butt all over town. Funkmeister Rick James wrote, produced and lent his vocal talents to the high energy recording that became the lead track on the Temptations' Reunion album and was released as a radio single and a 12-inch club mix. The Reunion album and accompanying tour saw the return of original Temptations David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks after ten years of solo work along with the gravel voiced Dennis Edwards who also returned as a lead singer after an unsuccessful solo attempt. Ruffin, Kendricks and Edwards take turns on lead and the result is nothing less than a Motown masterpiece!

 "Standing on the Top" - The Temptations 
 with Rick James (May 1982, highest chart 
 position #66 Hot 100/#6 R&B) 


Buffalo born funk superstar Rick James, the nephew of Melvin Franklin, bass singer for the Temptations, was on the cutting edge of the dance club scene during the late 70s and early 80s. In 1978 Rick's solo single "You and I" topped the R&B chart and narrowly missed the top 10 on the pop survey.

Rick kept the hits coming. "Super Freak," released in 1981 became Rick James' signature song. However, my Pick to Click for Rick is "Give it to Me Baby" a chart topping R&B dance single released earlier that same year.

 "Give it to Me Baby" - Rick James 
 (July 1981, highest position #40 Billboard, 
 #34 Cash Box, #1 Billboard R&B


After listening to "Give it to Me" and observing Rick's bad boy behavior in the video, it seems like a small miracle that the song didn't make the Filthy Fifteen. Neither did "Super Freak" or any other Rick James recording. The Filthy Fifteen was a list of the 15 most objectionable popular records compiled by Tipper Gore and her watchdog committee the Parents Music Resource Center. Ironically, the PMRC did see fit to label as filthy recordings that were less overtly sexual and sung by females instead of males. These included "Dress You Up" by Madonna, "She Bop" by Cyndi Lauper, and "In My House" by the Mary Jane Girls, an act developed by Rick James.

Presumably, the Mary Jane Girls got their name from Rick's fondness for marijuana which in those days was sometimes called Mary Jane. The Mary Jane girls you hear on their recordings are JoJo McDuffie backed by the Water Sisters. The group that performs in the video is a different lineup: JoJo on lead and three other women dressed in alluring costumes that depicted stereotypical character types, the Spice Girls of the 80s if you will. There was a good reason why the ladies who laid down the vocal tracks were different from the ones used as eye candy in the video.  The latter could not sing.  They were meant to be seen and not heard.

 "In My House" - Mary Jane Girls 
 (June 1985, highest chart position 
 #7 Billboard#5 Cash Box
 #1 Dance Club Play

 Don't miss Parts 3 and 4 of

 Eighties Greaties coming soon! 

Have a Shady day!


  1. Good Morning Professor...I'm reporting to class early today! I do agree with you that Rick Springfield improved when he went beyond Pop. I liked his R&R sound.
    Now you've gone and given us some new faces (for me) and voices to listen to. I wasn't familiar with ABC as a recording group. In this part of the world that's known as 'Anyone But Carolina'! My UNC grads don't like that take but my NCSU grads seem to bandy it about frequently.
    Moving down your chart...Laid Back...I'm wondering if some of our friends across the Pond have a greater knowledge than I of this duo?

    I loved the video with the Temptations...I am in awe of how those Mo Town groups did their synchronized moves! Great Stuff! I keep wracking my brain over Rick James as his name is so familiar. His Give It To Me Baby had me chuckling... I swear in the first clip the gal looked like she couldn't keep a straight face when he first walked in the room. It goes to show how the videos have changed...I'm sure if that was made today we wouldn't be seeing bathing suits in the pool. Sad sign of the times in my opinion.
    I was sure the Mary Jane girls were named for the reason you gave....Sad they didn't use the real vocalists in the video.
    I enjoyed this session today Dr Tom...another informative and entertaining class!

  2. Hello, dear Sush! You beat out Shelly for early bird honors but I think it's because she's away at her conference by now. I'm glad you showed up promptly for class, learned your ABC's and discovered Laid Back. As you can tell by looking at the charting dates, most of my favorite recordings of the 80s emerged during the first half of the decade. It was an exciting time for me because I was a bachelor and frequented the clubs where these dance tracks played nightly. Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend Sush. I hope you and your steady date had a wonderful V-day celebration!

  3. Tom I have to say I'm loving your break down of the 80s! ABC are one of my favourites from the 80s! Is is Rick James. The Look of Love and Superfreak are always on my 80s playlist!

    Hope you're doing well my friend! Glad my comments seem to be coming through again!

    Emma xx

  4. I had to pop back in to say I use to have a huge crush on Rick Springfield. I can remember adjusting my college and work schedule just to see General Hospital. That he was such a good singer was a major bonus.

    Thank you, good friend, for taking me back to those glorious 80's! I had to chime in even though typing on a phone is really tough!

    Have a terrific day- the beach errr... meeting is calling me!

  5. For the three Rick Springfield videos, I was denied access because, "the uploader has not made this video available to you". Shame on you, Tom. How could you exclude me ;)

    I was able to listen to all the others, so have decided to forgive you. My favourite here today was ABC's The Look of Love. Thought their lead singer was rather dishy :)

    I was interested to read of the 30 second spot video advert you designed for the hair salon. Pity it wasn't available to us to see here.

    I hope you are having an enjoyable day and that Toto is feeling happy.

  6. Emma - Hello, dear friend! Even when your comments weren't getting through, your friendship still was. I know it's there and I deeply appreciate it. I thought you might like some of my Eighties Greaties. The extended dance track of ABC's "The Look of Love" is my Pick to Click but I couldn't find it among the videos on Y/T. Rick James was the bad boy of funk and I admit that during my 1980s bachelor years I behaved much the same as Rick did. Thank you very much for joining the party today, dear Emma, and have a wonderful Wednesday in Ireland!

    Shelly - Life's a beach, at least for you, at least for the next week or so. I'm delighted that you were able to make it over here. I just got finished explaining your absence to Sush. Yes, I remember the splash Rick Springfield made on General Hospital. In the last couple of years several G.H. actors left Port Charles, moved to Genoa City and joined the cast of The Young and the Restless. They include Stephen Nichols, Tristan Rogers, Genie Francis and Kin Shriner. Thanks again for showing up for me, dear friend Shelly. I hope your conference is both educational and fun. I will miss you!

    Desiree - Hello, dear friend! I'm sorry YouTube blocked you. It's always a challenge to find videos that have clean video and clear audio and sometimes they are not available for playback in certain countries. Rules rules rules! You'll just have to move to Florida, I suppose! :) I enjoyed creating that 30 second TV advert. It was one of my earliest commercials but remains a favorite. Toto has definitely perked up after paw surgery and a course of antibiotics. Thank you very much for caring, dear friend Desiree, and for coming over to visit today!

  7. Rick Springfield was a cutie. No wonder a very, very young teenager named Linda Blair got involved with him! My favorite here is Rick James. Somewhere out there is a video of me dancing with a Heineken in my hand, a mini skirt and a co-worker who was singing along to Super Freak. They called me a Super Freak when I started dating again. It was funny! So sad that Rick James ended up in trouble, a drug addict and dead way before his time. Talented he was.

  8. BB - Hello, dear friend! Please spend the upcoming weekend searching high and low for that Super Freak video of yours so that you can post it on your blog! (LOL) As I told Emma, I was no choir boy back then either. I took a ten year walk on the wild side, hanging out in dance clubs where the 12-inch versions of these recordings were popular. It's always a pleasure to welcome you here, dear Barb. Thanks for coming and enjoy the rest of your week!

  9. I am a big fan of the tunes of the eighties but I only knew the Rick James tune. Apparently I need to study up more on one of my favorite decades. Thanks for the lesson. Your musical knowledge never ceases to amaze me. :) Hope you are having a lovely day!

  10. Amber Blue Bird - Hello, bestie! I'm a bit surprised that I stumped you with most of these and that the Rick James number was the only one you remember. In my humble opinion the period from 1981 thru 1986 represents the best of the 80s. It encompasses post-disco dance music, New Wave and the New Romanticism movement that included acts like ABC, Duran Duran, Boy George, A Flock of Seagulls and Level 42. In many way the 80s was the last great decade and I hope I inspired you to delve deeper into it. Thank you very much for coming to call, dear friend Amber, and have a terrific evening up there in Connecticut.

  11. My daughter Sandy was crazy about Rick Springfield. General Hospital was a favorite show also. I remember 'Jessie's Girl' but that is it. I went to youtube to hear his songs and had to laugh at the video for Human Touch. I did like the song very much.

    I'd never heard Laid Back and was surprised to see an accordian in the video! I enjoyed 'One Life'. Loved the Temptations song and watching them. I find it very interesting to learn about 1980s songs because I didn't listen to music those years. Thanks so much for all the info and great music.

  12. Belle - We all have our blind spots, blocks of time during which we were tied up and distracted by other things in our lives and missed some of the music, movies and TV shows that others remember well. Being a bechelor during the 80s gave me a unique opportunity to live like a teenager again. I'm so glad you enjoyed Laid Back and their catchy song "One Life." You don't hear many accordions in pop music unless you go back to the Big Band era. The VJ's played that video often at my MTV style station. The lyrics resonated with me. I decided to use the recording in that commercial for a hair cutter because a new hair style can give a woman confidence to get out there and make her mark. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting, dear Belle, and have a wonderful afternoon and evening in Western Canada!

  13. I didn't know any of the artists on the lineup today good buddy and to be perfectly honest it's probably because I never listened to that style of music. I'm more of a Nat King Cole, 5th Dimension type of music lover. Have an awesome rest of the week.

  14. Hi, Odie! Hey, don't forget the Association! (LOL) That's quite alright, my friend. I didn't expect you to like Rick James or even Rick Springfield for that matter. The pendulum will soon swing back to older oldies, that I can assure you. In the meantime, I very much appreciate you stopping by and I wish you a happy evening up in Carolina, good buddy!

  15. Well, today's class was informative for me. I know Rick Springfield *swoon* and of course, Rick James, but I didn't know about the others. During the 80s I was busy raising my kids, so maybe that's the reason. But this was a fun little trip back in time where I discovered some good old music!

  16. Hi, Karen! That's right. Many of you were raising families during the 80s and missed some of these artists and recordings. I'm pleased to introduce them to you. Rick Springfield could easily be dismissed as another pretty boy pop idol but in my opinion he had solid credentials. I like his work! Thank you very much for coming by, dear friend Karen, and I hope to see you again soon!

  17. Hi my friend. Like Odie, regretfully I didnt know any of the artistes featured today, But the music of the 80's wasn't really my thing. Like Desiree, I couldn't open a couple of the videos today :( hope all is well with you. I keep waiting for the photos of the refurbished Shady Dell!

  18. Dear Tom,
    I got all excited thinking I would recognize the artists highlighted in the eighties. After all, those were my middle and high school years! And would you believe that the only recognizable face to me is Rick Springfield? You stay true to Dell tradition in resurrecting the obscure music and bands. Which just proves even more that the past is a treasure trove to discover "new" sounds and sights and people. I appreciate the return to my generation's adolescence. Thank you for visiting me today with your comforting words and friendship. I appreciate it so much.

  19. Thisisme - Hello, dear friend! I'm sorry to learn that you are unable to view some of these videos. I also realize that the pop songs of the 80s are not your cup of tea. What matters is your visit and your ongoing friendship which I very much appreciate. It funny that you (and Jenny) should mention the new pics of the Shady Dell. I have been working on that post and it will be coming your way very soon. Thank you again for coming to call, dear friend Thisisme, and have a wonderful afternoon and evening in Devon.

    Jenny - Hello, dear friend! I know that you are mourning the loss of your family's wonderful dog and it means a great deal to me that you set aside your grief long enough to visit me. I hope some of this music gave your spirits a lift, even that which is unfamiliar to you. My thoughts and prayers remain with you during this sad time. Take care, my dear friend.

  20. Well Shady, as usual I'm bringing up the rear. In the 80's we lived out of city limits where there was no cable. I did work for a stockbroker in town and he eventually got cable TV so he could keep up with the market. In his absence I finally managed to find MTV, so I would tune into it when he was out of the office, Haha! I'd only heard about it. So the new wave music had come out, and I knew of Spuds McKenzie since I had a young son. Those kids were all over that scene. After I moved to Fort Worth I had some catching up to do.

    Oh, Rick Springfield! He is still the rage of the ladies. 'Don't Talk to Strangers', and of course, Jessie's Girl were the greatest.

    And, Rick James! I saw him first on Soul Train, and he caught my attention, I think, first of all, because of his hair. I knew he wrote a lot of stuff. You know that David Chappelle used to do a real good impression of him. He was talented, and I did like him. I'm always going to favor Rick's 'Super Freak' song. How sad of his early death.

    Of course, The Temps are one of my all time favorites, even today. Ruffin was so good, but the rest of the group was a class act and complimented him.

    I remember the Mary Jane Girls, but didn't pay much attention to their work. Your featured videos are all good. I came by last nite, but didnt get a chance to say hello. So HELLO! Hope you and yours are doing well. It's nice and cool in Texas. Thanks for the fun post and cool videos Shady! Oh, and they allowed tennis shoes in the Shady Dell? Our dance clubs didn't want the rubber from tennis shoes scuffing up the dance floor! See you soon. ♪♫

  21. Hi, Susan! You made it over in plenty of time, dear friend, and I thank you for coming. Yes, Spuds McKenzie was one of the advertising icons of the era and it's nice of you to remember him. He brings to mind the long running Miller Lite Beer "Great taste... less filling" ad campaign that started in the 70s. In the mid 80s I produced a commercial of my own in tribute to that popular Miller Lite series. I hired 50 people, divided them into two groups, and taped them having an argument at a picnic over the merits of a custom auto parts retailer: "Great prices... best parts." A monster truck interrupted the debate, scattered the crowd and smashed their picnic tables.

    Yes we wore sneakers to dance at the Dell. John installed a solid oak dance floor and it was coated with a fine layer of wax (mixed with Dell dust). I never noticed any scuff marks on it. Thank you once again, dear Susan, for coming to visit. Have a great weekend!

  22. Oh sweet friend I LOVE this one. Fun music. Would it be bragging if I said Rick Springfield asked me out on a date? What would you think if I said I told him no thank you,even though I thought he was so handsome. I love my visits to your blog. I listen to music, I reminisce,I smile. Hugs!

  23. Katie, are you serious? Rick Springfield asked you out on a date? THEEE Rick Springfield? Wow, I'd love to hear the back story. Emma Samms (Holly Scorpio) asks me out a lot but only in my dreams! (LOL) Thank you very much for coming to see me and leaving such an exciting comment, dear Katie. Have a super Sunday, too!

  24. I grew up in the 80s and had a huge crush on Rick Springfield. I still have some of his hits on 45s that my mother purchased during one of our many outings to the local record store. I also have "White Horse," which was definetley a favorite of ours back then. I didn't realize it was about heroin until I was much older. be young and innocent. "In My House" was a favorite as well and still pops into my head from time to time so I was pleasantly surprised to see that you shared that one.

    I recently went through my mom's old vinyl and there are a lot of 80's greaties in there but I need to purchase a record player so that I can listen to them again. Thank you for sharing a few of them here. :)


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