Sunday, May 13, 2012
Ten Great Songs From One Great Week
The songs the radio played this week in history
May 12-May 18, 1985
MOVE Row House Bombing (May 13th) - MOVE ("Christian Movement for Life") is a Philadelphia-based black liberation group founded by John Africa. MOVE was described by CNN as "a loose-knit, mostly black group whose members all adopted the surname Africa, advocated a "back-to-nature" lifestyle and preached against technology." The group lives communally and frequently engages in public demonstrations related to several issues. Since the 1970s, their activities have drawn the attention of the Philadelphia Police Department. A major incident occurred in 1978, when the police raided their Powelton Village home. This raid resulted in the death of one police officer and the imprisonment of nine group members, now known as "The MOVE 9." After this, the group relocated further west to a house at 6221 Osage Ave.
In 1985, the group made national news when police dropped a bomb on the Osage house from a helicopter in an attempt to end an armed standoff. The explosion ignited a fire in which 11 people died, including five children and the group's leader, John Africa. Only two occupants survived, Ramona, an adult and Birdie, a child. In addition, 60 homes were destroyed.
On May 13, 1985, responding to months of complaints by neighbors that MOVE members broadcast political messages by bullhorn at all hours and also about the health hazards posed by the piles of compost, as well as indictments of various MOVE members for various crimes, including parole violation, contempt of court, illegal possession of firearms, and making terrorist threats, the police department attempted to clear the building and arrest the indicted MOVE members, which led to an armed standoff. The police lobbed tear gas canisters at the building and the fire department battered the roof of the house with two water cannons. MOVE members fired on the police, and the police responded by returning fire. A police helicopter then dropped a four-pound bomb made of C-4 plastic explosive and Tovex, a dynamite substitute, onto the roof of the house. The resulting explosion caused incendiary materials listed in the police indictment, and stored by MOVE in the house, to catch fire, thus causing the house to catch fire.
The resulting fire ignited a massive blaze which eventually destroyed 65 houses. Eleven people, including John Africa, five other adults and five children, died in the resulting fire. The firefighters were stopped from putting out the fire based on allegations that firefighters were being shot at, a claim that was contested by the lone adult survivor Ramona Africa, who says that the firefighters had earlier battered the house with two deluge pumps when there was no fire. Ramona Africa and one child, Birdie Africa, were the only survivors.
Mayor W. Wilson Goode soon appointed an investigative commission called the PSIC or MOVE commission. It issued its report on March 6, 1986. The report denounced the actions of the city government, stating that "Dropping a bomb on an occupied row house was unconscionable." No one from the city government was charged criminally. In a 1996 civil suit in US federal court, a jury ordered the City of Philadelphia to pay $1.5 million to a survivor and relatives of two people killed in the incident. The jury found that the city used excessive force and violated the members' constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Philadelphia was given the sobriquet "The City that Bombed Itself."
On the 25th Anniversary of the 1985 Police bombing, the Philadelphia Inquirer created a detailed multimedia site containing retrospective articles, archived articles, videos, interviews, photos, and a timeline of the events.
#1 Single -- "Crazy For You" by Madonna
#1 Album -- "We Are The World" by USA for Africa
1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a "proclamation of neutrality" which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.
1880 – In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison performs the first test of his electric railway.
1916 – Sholom Aleichem, Russian author (b. 1859) passes away. The musical Fiddler on the Roof, based on his stories about Tevye the milkman.
1939 – The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later becomes WDRC-FM.
1948 – Arab-Israeli War: the Kfar Etzion massacre is committed by Arab irregulars, the day before the declaration of independence of the state of Israel on May 14.
1958 – The trade mark Velcro is registered.
1980 – An F3 tornado hits Kalamazoo County, Michigan. President Jimmy Carter declares it a federal disaster area.
1989 – Large groups of students occupy Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.
Don't You (Forget About Me) -- Simple Minds
This was featured in the 1985 movie The Breakfast Club. Directed by John Hughes, it featured many members of the "Brat Pack," including Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, and Judd Nelson. The song is so associated with The Breakfast Club, that it is often used in movies or TV shows any time they reference the movie. Simple Minds had been around for 5 years and developed a strong following in England when this was released. The song was much more bombastic and radio-friendly than their previous material, and alienated many of their core fans, but was a breakthrough hit in the US for the band, where it was by far their biggest hit.
Crazy For You -- Madonna
This was recorded for the soundtrack to the wrestling film Vision Quest, which also featured a guest appearance by Madonna herself, playing a singer at a local restaurant. After the success of this song, the film was renamed "Crazy For You" in some European countries to capitalize on the song's popularity. Madonna was relatively unknown when this song was recorded, as only her first album had been released. Bettis and Lind wrote it based on the script of Vision Quest, and not to Madonna's voice. When Madonna's second album Like A Virgin was released in November 1984, her popularity soared, but all of her singles to that point were medium or uptempo dance songs that didn't showcase her singing ability. When "Crazy For You" was released in March, 1985, the ballad proved that Madonna could handle a challenging song, and that she had singing talent to go along with her image.
Everybody Wants To Rule The World -- Tears For Fears
This song is about the quest for power, and how it can have unfortunate consequences. In an interview with Mix magazine, the band's producer Chris Hughes explained that they spent months working on "Shout," and near the end of the sessions, Roland Orzabal came into the studio and played two simple chords on his acoustic guitar, which became the basis for the song. Said Hughes: "'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' was so simple and went down so quickly, it was effortless, really. In fact, as a piece of recording history, it's bland as hell." This was the first US #1 hit for Tears for Fears. "Shout" went to #1 two months later.
Obsession -- Animotion
This was written by Holly Knight and Michael Des Barres, who recorded the song as a duet in 1983. Des Barres is an actor who was also in the bands Silverhead and Detective. Knight is an accomplished songwriter whose credits include "The Best " by Tina Turner and "Love Is A Battlefield" by Pat Benatar. This song is about a stalker, and he seems to get more obsessed as the song progresses. At first, it appears that he has a serious crush on the girl, but he later becomes more dangerous and intent on "capturing" the girl.
Nightshift -- The Commodores
This is a tribute to legendary Motown singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, who both died in 1984. Wilson was 49 when he died, Gaye was 44. When this song was performed on "Motown Returns to the Apollo" in the early '80s, more verses were added to honor other Motown legends who had passed on. This is The Commodores' only hit since Lionel Richie left the band in 1982. The vocals were shared by Clyde Orange (an original member who also wrote the song) and J.D. Nicholas, a former backup singer for Diana Ross who was brought in to replace Richie. "Nightshift" won the 1985 Grammy for Best R/B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. The band got a new recording contract as a result of this song, but they were never able to follow it up with another hit.
Walking On Sunshine -- Katrina and the Waves
Kimberly Rew, who founded Katrina and the Waves, wrote this song. Prior to The Waves, Rew was the guitarist from 1978-80 of The Soft Boys, a band which also featured Robyn Hitchcock. Rew also wrote "Going Down to Liverpool," which was covered by The Bangles and "Love Shine A Light," which won the 1997 Eurovision Song Contest. This song about unadulterated joy has been used in a number of feature films including: The Secret of My Success (1987), Bean: The Ultimate Disaster Movie (1997) and American Psycho (2000). Also, Jack Black's character in High Fidelity (2000) plays this song on a cassette tape.
Smuggler's Blues -- Glenn Frey
Frey played a bad guy on the TV show Miami Vice in 1985 in an episode based on this song. It was good timing for Frey, who wrote a song about drug smuggling at a time when Miami Vice was looking for ideas. After the Eagles disbanded, Frey found solo success in the 1980s, especially with two #2 hits: the soundtrack songs "The Heat Is On" (from Beverly Hills Cop) and "You Belong to the City" (also from Miami Vice, the soundtrack to which stayed on top of the U.S. album charts for 11 weeks in 1985). "Smuggler's Blues", hit #12 on the Hot 100. Frey also contributed the song "Flip City" to the Ghostbusters II soundtrack, and "Part of Me, Part of You" to the soundtrack for Thelma and Louise. He released his first solo album in 20 years, After Hours, featuring covers of pop standards from the 1940s-1960s, on May 8, 2012.
Voices Carry -- 'Til Tuesday
'Til Tuesday came out of Boston, Massachusetts after winning a radio contest, Boston's WBCN Rock and Roll Rumble, in 1983, with the song "Love in a Vacuum," which was re-recorded for "Voices Carry." They established themselves as one of the new wave bands of the mid-'80s, staggering out into American culture to mix with the Minneapolis sound, the tail end of punk, and the blooming of the first yuppies - they're often compared to The Cars. 'Til Tuesday only charted in the Top 40 once more, with "What About Love" (not to be confused with the Heart song that the Swiffer mop company ruined forever with their sappy commercials). After faithfully hanging in there for four more albums, they broke up in 1988. Kind of like The Velvet Underground, they are now seen as a band ahead of their time, adored by critics but not selling well enough to stay together.
Every Time You Go Away -- Paul Young
This was written and originally recorded by Daryl Hall and John Oates in 1980; Young's version became a hit 5 years later. In the October 16, 2009 issue of Entertainment Weekly, Hall listed this as one of his favorite Hall and Oates songs, and explained: "Paul Young had a pop hit with it a few years after we released it. It's just one of those songs. I feel very proud of its craftsmanship." This was the biggest hit for Young. He contributed to Band Aid in 1984, and had hits with covers of R/B classics "Oh Girl" and "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted." However, his next biggest hit was 1984's "Come Back and Stay."
Through The Fire -- Chaka Khan
Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens), frequently known as the "Queen of Funk", is a 10-time Grammy Award winner who gained fame in the '70s as the frontwoman and focal point of the funk band Rufus. This romantic song is about someone who is so certain that she's met the love of her life, she's willing to put it through any test. It was written by David Foster, Tommy Keane and Cynthia Weil. The video for this song was shot in a train station and featured several couples. Most of the couples were quarreling, which seems to contradict the song.
We Are The World -- USA For Africa
This was a benefit single for victims of famine in Africa. It raised over $60 Million, which was distributed to Ethiopia, Sudan, and other impoverished countries. Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote this song and it was produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian. The USA For Africa project was inspired by Band Aid, the British group Bob Geldof put together the year before to record "Do They Know It's Christmas." The project began as an idea Calypso singer Harry Belafonte had for a benefit concert featuring black musicians. Lionel Richie's manager, Ken Kragen, liked the idea of releasing a single and contacted Richie about the project, who agreed to help. After Belafonte and Richie, Stevie Wonder was the first star to agree to the project. From there, word got out and many members of the music industry signed on to help. This was recorded on January 28, 1985, the day of the American Music Awards. Since the artists were all in town for the awards, it was much easier to get them together to record the single.