Album\Single: Thicke of the Night (1984)
Song: Thicke of the Night
Oh how badly I wished this had FM in it so I could post it in the #SummerOfFM. Alas, it is just regular synth. But it is also chalk full of pre-Growing Pains Alan Thicke!
I find myself to be quite the fan of Alan Thicke, and this is just another reason to enjoy his work. Who knew he had these pipes on him?! I was prepared for this track to be silly. The name alone prepared me for that. But what Iw asn't prepared for was for it to be good. It is not just good, it's really good. This is a one off, and the other song on the single is terrible. But this track is a peach!
Alan Thicke, I still believe the best is yet to come.
Album: Deco featuring Siedah Garrett - Fast Forward Soundtrack (1985)
I used to work at a video store back in the VHS days, and I would put this tape in for the soundtrack alone. I am not a fan of dance or gettin' "served", but I am a huge fan of synthy 80s music. Fortunately, this movie is stocked to the brim with original 80s synth pop bangers!
This one in particular has survived the test of time, and seems to find it's way on to every "random" playlist I hand create. These lyrics, they just get to me. This girl is speaking my language.
Musically, the vocals are dynamite, and the energy is pumpin'. But, as usual, that synth bass takes the cake. I just can't get enough of a good fat synth bass. This bass line is so good!
But what would an Anomaly be without an irrational dosage of synths all over the place. This track has everything I want it a good 80s track. Can't drive too fast, I ain't no straightaway. Tell it girl!
Edit: Also, looks like Giles, from Osborne and Giles was a part of writing this track. Good ol' Giles!
Album: Osborne & Giles - Stranger in the Night (1985)
Song: Keep Pushin' On
Either this song has been intentionally swept off youtube, or it is surprisingly not been uploaded. Either way, it is not fair to keep everyone from hearing such an unusual and amazing track.
Everything is here that I enjoy in an 80s track. the fast pace, the very melodic approach to song writing, the synth etc. With one special and very exceptional ingredient: The uncommonly high pitch vocals
The lead singer appears to be singing in a higher register then the song was actually meant for. Something that is extra noticeable because it is a male vocalist. While lots of male singers sing in this falsetto style, I feel like they aren't really doing it with the same approach as it is here. It almost seems like the singer is struggling (but not straining) to maintain in this higher range when it would be easier to do it in a lower register. And because of that, I really find it fascinating to just listen to. Not even really paying attention to the lyrics. I just pay attention to when he is going from regular high pitch to falsetto high pitch. it's an art.
In addition, the backup female vocalists really go to town with some very high pitch backup accents that kind of seal the deal for the whole high pitch thing. It almost seems as if the song is being played at a faster BPM then was intended, and heck, maybe this random mp3 I have been jamming to for a year was improperly encoded or something. Which begs and even bigger question: How relative is pitch in regards to our enjoyment of a song?
At the very least, it is rare when I have a song in my anomalies folder that is not yet on youtube. I don't know if that is by design here, or not, so enjoy this track while you can, and keep pushin' on!
Album: Fun Fun - Have Fun (1984 Italy)
Song: Give Me Your Love
This track had me doing double takes just to make sure it was not a modern song parading as a retro song. Indeed, this song is genuinely from 1984, which is hard to believe as this is the exact synthwave sound everyone seems to try and recreate.
After the movie Drive came out in 2011 the music landscape was changed for a lot of musicians. For me, the first Mass Effect video game got me really interested in paying attention to synth, but when Drive came out, that was the exact moment I decided to finally buy Cubase and learn about making music like this.
I was definitely not alone though, and a lot of amazing artists seemed to emerge directly after the release of Drive that all strove to write such convincing 80s synth music that it would actually fool the listener. Sometimes even drastic steps were taken to degrade the sound quality to make it sound as if it were a distressed tape. Accurate synth patches would be used on modern virtual instruments, and period accurate production techniques were resurrected.
But as most video game fans already know, our memory of the past in in high definition. We tend to remember things looking or sounding better then they did, on average at least. Most of the time when you go back to something, you see a lot of the seams that you were never aware of before, and it almost never looks or sounds as full as you remembered.
That's what made me do a double take of this track when I first heard it. It SOUNDS like a modern group trying to sound like high definition nostalgia of the 80s sounded. That is a mouthful, I know. But consider how interesting a specimen this is, that is sounded like the future looking back, but in the actual past.
I could be wrong, or reading it to it too much, but I don't really care either way. This is a dynamite synthwave track, for any era.
Fun fact: the models on the cover were a Milli Vanilli situation. Drama!
Album: Aina - Target Practice (1985 Norway)
Song: Target Practice
Completely obscure Norwegian synthpop never sounded so good. Though her English is indistinguishable, I like the believe there is a little Norwegian poking through in some of those Scandinavian "ou" sounds.
While this is perhaps a fairly low impact song, I have found myself returning to it quite a lot when I am putting together last minute playlists for car trips. Nothing about the production leaps out at me, which leads me to believe it is entirely the performance. There is a thick presence to the energy of this track. It's punchy, and kind of wild, but overall it is just a catchy hook that really just digs it's hook in.
Plus that cover... Man alive. Aina looks like she could kick some ass, and I ain't hatin' it. I'm not sure how or why, but I think this cover, and the fact that is is Norwegian helps me like the song more. Shoot shoot shoot, right from the heart.
Album: Mavis Staples - Wildcats Soundtrack (1986)
Song: Show Me How It Works (1986)
These one offs always make the very best Anomalies. Mavis Staples was a singer that hadn't put out an album since 1979 by the time this soundtrack came out, and out of no where, appeared on this one track to knock it out of the park (co written by James Newton Howard).
The scene in the movie that this song plays during is a long marathon race of attrition where to win the respect of the players on the team, Goldie Hawn's character has to beat them all in a race where the last person standing is the only winner. As the race goes on, it starts raining, and eventually the entire track they are on is more like a muddy hellish landscape where dudes are literally falling to their knees. As it turns out, Goldie Hawn's character was a marathon runner in the past, and these high school would be athletes got schooled.
That's one of the reasons why this song is so cool. This chorus section, where Mavis keeps singing "show me how it works", is just so competitive and confident. It's another great sports anthem for you to just roll up your sleeves and show everyone what you can do. With the perfect lingering 80s guitar and keyboard chords and echoing vocals for dramatic effect, ultra meaty synth bass, and some well times cascading tom fills, this track is just stupidly encouraging.
Put this on your running playlists and show them all how it works!
Album: Marilyn Scott - Without Warning (1983)
Song: Only You
I first heard this song about 5 years ago. Just a random download from a music blog that has probably long since been shut down. The colours of the album cover immediately caught my eye, and caused me to take notice. While the entire album has a lot of dynamic range, this was the most energetic track on the album by far, and immediately got placed in the Anomaly folder. Marilyn's vocal style is much like that of John Farnham below, where she is constantly ad libing new parts and really showcasing a lot of command over the exact pronunciation of each lyric, as a form of art. It's very entertaining to hear and dissect.
Aside from the great vocal performance, this track once again features a tasty dose of crunchy, bouncy and warm synth bass, and some very energetic piano rhythm section. And it wasn't until many years later I found out it was Michael Sembello from "Maniac" who actually performed all the keys, and co wrote this song. The dude is a walking talking Anomaly. Listen to those crystal clear synth bells!
Since the entire album did not really have another song like this, we've got a real Anomaly on our hands, once again.