Friday, June 29, 2012

West End Girls

Pet Shop Boys, taken from the album Actually

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band Pet Shop Boys, and the song "West End Girls."

The Pet Shop Boys were an electronic dance music duo from the UK, featuring Neil Tennant on vocals, keyboards and guitar, and Chris Lowe on keyboards. They are one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold over 100 million records worldwide. They are also listed as the most successful duo in UK music history by The Guinness Book of Records. The Pet Shop Boys have been recognized with numerous awards. They are three-time Brit Award winners and six-time Grammy nominees. Since 1986 they have achieved 42 Top 30 singles and 22 Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, which include four number one hits: "West End Girls", "It's a Sin", "Always on My Mind" and "Heart".

Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in August of 1981 in an electronics shop on Kings Road in Chelsea. They immediately recognized that they shared a mutual interest in dance music and began to work on material together. It was during those early sessions that several future hit songs were created, including "It's a Sin", "West End Girls", "Rent" and "Jealousy".

They orignially called themselves West End because of their love of London's West End, but later they came up with the name Pet Shop Boys, which came from friends of theirs who worked in a pet shop in Ealing. They received their big break in August of 1983, when Tennant was assigned by Smash Hits to interview The Police in New York. During their trip to New York, the duo managed to have lunch with their idol, Hi-NRG records producer Bobby Orlando. They got Orlando to listen to their demo tape, and Orlando then invited them to make a record with him.

In April 1984, the Orlando-produced "West End Girls" was released, which became an instant club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was merely a minor dance hit in Belgium, and France, and ironically was only available in the United Kingdom as a 12" import.

I love the song "West End Girls." This song reminds me of being at one of those awkward high school dances where the boys are standing on one side of the room, and the girls are standing on the other side of the room, and no one wants to make the first move! I am so very glad I am past those days!

And here it is, for your listening pleasure ... "West End Girls."

And as a bonus track, here is "It's a Sin. " In June of 1987 the Pet Shop Boys released what would go on to become their second number one single, "It's a Sin". Despite it's overwhelming success, the single caused some controversy in the UK. Tennant's school, St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, in Newcastle upon Tyne, criticized him in the press, and Jonathan King accused them of plagiarising the Cat Stevens song "Wild World". Pet Shop Boys went on to sue King and won damages, which they donated to charity. Here is "It's a Sin" for your listening pleasure!



Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where Are They Now? Gerome Sapp

Gerome Sapp, photo from

Born in 1981, Gerome Sapp grew up in a tough area of Houston, raised by his mother with little in the way of extras to be found.

She helped steer him toward a successful path that later included an important role model in his high school football coach, Lee Malowitz. Sapp played football at Lamar High School in Houston where he became a Parade All-American defensive back as a junior and the top-ranked recruit in Texas as a senior.  Acting upon his mother’s request to see the world, Sapp left Texas and became a part of a Notre Dame defensive squad that scored more points than the offense. He then went on to play safety for five years in the NFL for the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts.

Q: How did you make the decision to leave Texas and play football at Notre Dame?

A: “I didn’t really know much about Notre Dame as a kid. When I was about 8 years old I remember seeing them on TV. I thought they were a professional team, though, because they were always on TV. At about 13 I realized they were actually a powerhouse college football team. Growing up I did not really like Notre Dame. Florida State was my favorite team and I loved Charlie Ward. When the movie “Rudy” came out, my whole perspective of Notre Dame changed. When you grow up in Texas, the only schools you are exposed to are Texas, Texas A&M, and maybe Oklahoma. Once I figured out what the essence of Notre Dame was, they moved to the top of the list.”
... Read more at NoCoastBias


Monday, June 25, 2012

Where Are They Now? Reggie Brooks

Reggie Brooks at Notre Dame in 1992
Reggie Brooks burst onto the scene at Notre Dame, switching from defensive back to running back in 1992 with great success. He once scored a touchdown while unconscious after fighting his way through six Michigan tacklers, a play that took its rightful place in Fighting Irish lore. Brooks then found more immediate success in the NFL in 1993 as a rookie running back for the Washington Redskins, racking up 1,063 yards in his first pro season.

Brooks was born in Tulsa, Okla., on Jan. 19, 1971. He played football at Booker T. Washington High School, and was originally set on staying local and playing football for Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Instead, he followed in older brother Tony’s footsteps and played football for Notre Dame. He currently resides in South Bend, Ind., with his wife and five children ages 21, 17, 14, 8 and 1.

Q: Why did you decide on accepting a football scholarship from Notre Dame?

A: “I was very interested in playing for either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State, but by the time I got to be a senior in high school both of their programs were on probation. There were three other schools on my short list, USC, Miami and Notre Dame, but several factors caused me to lean towards Notre Dame. The biggest was the fact that Notre Dame had just won the national title. Also, the fact that my brother was already at Notre Dame and I had been there several times to visit him and had gotten to know his teammates. That really pulled me in.” ... Read more at NoCoastBias


Friday, June 22, 2012

Hold Me Now

Joe Leeway, Alannah Currie, Tom Bailey (1983)

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band The Thompson Twins, and the song "Hold Me Now."

The Thompson Twins were a British new wave band that formed in April of 1977. The band consisted of Joe Leeway, Alannah Currie, and Tom Bailey. They achieved considerable popularity and success in the United States and the United Kingdom in the mid 1980s. The band was named after the two bumbling detectives Thomson and Thompson in Hergé's comic strip, The Adventures of Tintin. The band's sound was predominantly synthpop, however they were joined on stage at Live Aid by Madonna and were at the forefront of the so-called Second British Invasion.

The band achieved success on the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at the beginning of 1983 with the songs "Lies" and "Love On Your Side", the second of which became the band's first UK Top 10 single. At this point they released the album, Quick Step and Side Kick (called simply Side Kicks in the US), which peaked at number 2 in the UK. During 1983, the band also opened for the The Police on their US concert tour.

Near the end of 1983, a new single, "Hold Me Now", was released, and was an international chart success. It peaked at #4 in their native UK, and reached #3 in the US in the spring of 1984 becoming their biggest American hit.

The band released their next album, Into the Gap, in early 1984 and became one of the year's biggest sellers. Hit singles from Into the Gap included "Doctor Doctor" (UK #3) and "You Take Me Up" (UK #2, which was their their highest UK singles chart placement).

The Thompson Twins were a classic retro band. Their synthpop sound is resonant of the 80's. The band, according to Currie, strove to "make something completely different . . . using technology." So many people at the time did not think good music could be made with machines, but The Thompson Twins proved the skeptics wrong. They continued on to become the leading purveyors of synthpop music. They were innovative, combining dance, pop and reggae music with experimental sounds to produce a string of distinctive hit singles.

And here it is, for your listening pleasure ... "Hold Me Now:"

And as a bonus, "Doctor Doctor"


Monday, June 18, 2012

Where Are They Now? Adrian Jarrell

Adrian Jarrell was born in Athens, Ga., and grew up in the shadows of the University of Georgia. Instead of following many of his classmates there, he instead chose Notre Dame and played there as a wide receiver from 1989 to 1994, receiving a fifth year of eligibility after breaking his arm during his Junior season. Here is my interview with Jarrell, walking down the memory lane of time spent at Notre Dame and a discussion of where life took him after football.

Q: What made you want to go to Notre Dame instead of Georgia, which was so close to home?

A: “When I was being recruited in high school to play football at the collegiate level, I was one of the top rated quarterbacks in the country. I grew up in the shadows of the University of Georgia, but UGA really wasn’t where I wanted to be. I was very familiar with many of the guys at UGA. I also saw what happened to many of these guys when their football careers ended, and they did not put education first. They did not have any skills to fall back onto and many of them were lost.”

“Notre Dame was another story.... read more at NoCoastBias!


Friday, June 15, 2012

Chloe Dancer

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band  Mother Love Bone, and the song "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns."

"Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" is a song by the Seattle based rock band Mother Love Bone. The song is the fourth track on the band's debut album, Shine (1989). "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" is actually two songs sequenced together. "Crown of Thorns" is found by itself on the band's sole studio album, Apple (1990). "Chloe Dancer" was not released as a stand alone track.

"Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns" is considered one of Mother Love Bone's best songs. Jason Josephes of Pitchfork Media described it as "one astoundingly great song." Steven Rosen of The Denver Post referred to the song as "trancelike epic." Spencer Patterson of the Las Vegas Sun comments that the song is "fantastically melancholy." Essi Berelian of the Rough Music Guide writes that it is "beautifully swirling." The Salt Lake Tribune found the song "eerie" and praised Mother Love Bone vocalist Andrew Wood's "powerful and emotive voice." The song was included by Rolling Stone in their list of "The Fifty Best Songs Over Seven Minutes Long".

The song was featured in director Cameron Crowe's 1989 film, Say Anything, however it was not included on the film's soundtrack. The song is also featured on the soundtrack for another one of Crowe's films, the  1992 film Singles (which is one of my all time favorite films as far as sound tracks go). It was also featured in the One Tree Hill episode "Pictures of You" in 2007 and can be found on The Road Mix: Music from the Television Series One Tree Hill, Volume 3.

I absolutely love this song. First of all, it was one of the songs on the standard play list for the band that we were "band-aids" for on college. Second of all, the song tells a beautiful/erie song that tells a story of love, life, and the struggles that one faces along the journey. I'm not really sure why I like this song so much, but the lyrics and sound are all pretty amazing.

Okay, without any more rambling, here it is for your listening pleasure, "Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns."


Friday, June 8, 2012

Rock 'N' Roll High School

The Ramones, Chateau Neuf, Oslo, Norway [Helge Overas]
This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band the Ramones, and the song "Rock 'N' Roll High School."

The Ramones were an American rock band that formed in 1974 in the New York City neighborhood of Forest Hills, near Queens. Many music critics give them the distinction as being the first punk rock band. Despite achieving only limited commercial success, the band had a large influence on the punk rock movement both in the United States and across the pond in the United Kingdom.

All of the band members adopted pseudonyms ending with the surname "Ramone", though none of them were actually related. They performed 2,263 concerts, touring virtually nonstop for a total of 22 years. In 1996, after touring with the Lollapalooza music festival, the band played a farewell concert went their separate ways. Little more than eight years after the breakup, the band's three founding members, lead singer Joey Ramone, guitarist Johnny Ramone, and bassist Dee Dee Ramone, had passed away.

The band's logo, based on the Seal of the President of the United States
Their only record with enough U.S. sales to be certified gold was the compilation album Ramones Mania. However, since then the band has been recognized for it's influence over the years, and they are now cited in many assessments of all-time great rock music, such as the Rolling Stone list of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time and VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. In 2002, the Ramones were listed as the second-greatest band of all time in Spin magazine, trailing only The Beatles. On March 18, 2002, the Ramones, including the three founders and drummers Tommy and Marky Ramone, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2011, the group was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Ramones' musical style was loud, fast and straightforward, and was highly influenced by the pop music that the band members grew up listening to in the 1950s and 1960s. The band that were of most influence to their musical style included such groups as: The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Kinks, and The Rolling Stones; bubblegum acts like the 1910 Fruitgum Company and Ohio Express; and girl groups such as The Ronettes and The Shangri-Las. They also drew some of their style from the harder rock sound of The Stooges and the New York Dolls. The Ramones' style was in part a reaction against the heavily produced music that was dominating the pop charts in the 1970s. "We decided to start our own group because we were bored with everything we heard," Joey once explained. "In 1974 everything was tenth-generation Led Zeppelin, tenth-generation Elton John, or overproduced, or just junk. Everything was long jams, long guitar solos.... We missed music like it used to be."

My favorite Ramones song is, "Rock 'N' Roll High School." The song "Rock 'N' Roll High School" was on the album, End of the Century. End of the Century was the fifth studio album recorded by The Ramones. It was released on February 4, 1980 and was produced by Phil Spector. Vocalist Joey Ramone was an avid fan of Spector's early work, most notably Let It Be by The Beatles. In an attempt to achieve a Top 40 record and gain some mainstream acceptance, the songs on this album are more "produced" and longer in duration, averaging around three minutes.

End of the Century achieved a top 50 placement, reaching number 44 on the US Billboard 200 chart, and number 14 on the UK Albums Chart. This made it the band's highest-charting album in both countries.

And now, for your listening pleasure, "Rock 'N' Roll High School!"


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Where Are They Now? Marc Edwards

Marc Edwards vs. USC, from Aaron M. Smith, Odyssey
This is the third post in my series, “Where Are They Now?” featuring Notre Dame athletic greats and showcasing how their lives have changed since leaving South Bend. This week I interview former Notre Dame fullback Marc Edwards.

Marc Edwards was born in Norwood, Ohio on Nov. 17, 1974. He was named Ohio’s Mr. Football in 1992 as the state’s top football player. He went on to play fullback for the University of Notre Dame from 1993-1997. His NFL career consisted of playing for five NFL teams including the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. During his time with the Patriots, he won a Super Bowl in 2002. He is now married and has four children ages 13, 11, 8 and 2.

Q: What made you want to go to Notre Dame as opposed to Ohio State or another major university?

A: “Well that is kind of funny, actually! During the late 1980’s I hated Notre Dame. When Notre Dame was in the run for the 1988 national championship I was not a Notre Dame fan at all. I was rooting for Miami to beat Notre Dame. But by the time I got into high school, I started to change my mind.

Read more at!


Friday, June 1, 2012

Wild Wild West

This week's edition of Retro Friday features the band The Escape Club, and the song "Wild Wild West."

Copyright : Warner Music UK, Ltd., 1991

The Escape Club are an English pop rock band, formed in London in 1983. The Escape Club was composed of former Mad Shadows members' lead singer/rhythm guitarist Trevor Steel and guitarist John Holliday, along with former Expressos members bassist Johnnie Christo and drummer Milan Zekavica.

In 1985, The Escape Club signed with EMI and recorded the album White Fields, which was released in the following year. In 1987, the group moved to Atlantic Records and began recording their next album, entitled Wild Wild West. The album was released in the summer of 1988 and the first release off album was the single, "Wild, Wild West." The single very quickly became a hit sensation, and climbed to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart while the song's distinctive video received a lot of MTV airplay. Notably, it was banned from being used in their homeland because it was claimed to have been sexist and offensive.

This may not be one of my typical Retro Friday songs, but this is one of my all time favorite songs from the 80's. It was released the summer before my senior year in High School, and I have great memories of this song, and the boy that I very much associate with this song. Unfortunately said boy has since had a tragic life story since High School, but I still have very fond memories of him, and this song brings them into full view.

And without further ado, here it is for your listening pleasure ... "Wild Wild West"