You all know I love the music of the 1980s. Recently I was with my older brother Bill who is six years my senior, and another friend my age. We were in a bar on 23rd Street in NYC literally right next door to the historic Hotel Chelsea where so many cultural luminaries have stayed before they got famous (or dead), including Bob Dylan, Dylan Thomas, Janis Joplin, Arthur C. Clarke(!) and of course, the infamous and ill-fated Sid Vicious (of the ‘70s punk rock band The Sex Pistols) and his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.
The topic of conversation turned to music. Bill came of age in the ‘60s, the lucky bastard. So while I was kind of young to really appreciate the music of the time, he received its full force on his teenage psyche.
Anyway, I got to ranting (as I do) about how the music of the ‘80s was so great, better than all other music ever made (there may have been beer involved). Bill looked at me with that practiced, condescending expression of an older brother who wasn’t about to let a younger one get away with saying something stupid, even if there was beer involved.
“So tell me, Bobby,” he said with arched eyebrow, “what are some of the bands from the ‘80s that I might have heard of?”
Uhh. Ever get put on the spot and draw a complete blank? It was a classic Jackie Gleason moment. Hammina-hammina-hammina. I scratched my brain, but only weakly came up with the Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, and…I looked at my cohort for help, but he offered none.
Bill said nothing, letting us stew in our uncomfortable silence. He’d made his point. In defense of the 1980’s, while we may not have had supergroups like The Beatles and the Stones, we still did have a lot of great music produced by infinitely more but less well-known bands. (Actually, as I type this I’m still having trouble coming up with ‘80s bands that really made a mark. Flock of Seagulls? Really? I think not. But they did have a good song or two. Okay, one.)
Flash forward. There is a new channel on my local cable system called Cool-TV. They play music videos the way MTV and VH-1 used to before those channels turned to shit. I usually do not have the TV on unless I want to watch something specific (e.g. “Cougartown”), and then I shut it off. But I had Cool-TV on in the background the other day while doing, oh, something important (playing on Facebook, I think). And then it happened. A song began that I had trouble identifying at first. I could have been Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” (from “The Wall” album), but it might also have been Stevie Nicks’ “Edge Of Seventeen.”
Nope, neither, it was Survivor’s 1982 hit, “Eye of the Tiger.” The song is typical ‘80s crap-rock, but the video is hilarious. Hilariously bad, that is. I can’t believe that the people putting this together actually thought it was good. It is not. It rivals Journey's horrible "Separate Ways" video for sheer and utter badness.
The "Eye of the Tiger" video opens up with various night scenes in an indeterminate city. It’s obviously a bad part of town, judging by the signs we see for “totally nude girls." We are introduced to the band members one at a time. First is the leather jacket and beret-clad lead singer, Dave Bickler. He scowls menacingly, then begins striding quickly down the street, joined in V-formation by the rest of the band who are also similarly attired in too-tight leather jackets and waaaaay too-tight jeans (dear Lord!). As I said, they are all similarly attired…except…except for founding member of the band, Jim Peterik. Either the producer failed to tell Peterik that the “look” of the video was going to be “everyone in black leather” or Peterik unilaterally decided to go his own way with his unbuttoned shirt and white t-shirt (what a rebel!). He looks decidedly out of place in that band of faux-ruffians.
I present the video here for your viewing pleasure. Be prepared to laugh.
I get my brother Bill’s point. But I still maintain that some terrific music came out of the 1980s, even if the decade did live in the shadow of the 1960s, which I’ll soberly concede produced some of the greatest music of all time.