In the early 1980’s there was a spectacular wave of interesting Belgian bands. This was not obvious to me at the time, as I (born on the mid 60’s) was just discovering music, so I figured this abundance was the default situation. Only in retrospect did I realize how exceptional the era was.
Such a bold statement of course begs for some proof to back it up, so here’s a very nice example: Allez Allez (which happens to be both the name of the band and the song).
In the 1980s and 90s this song would always be ranked in the top spot whenever I submitted a top 3/5/10 of all time favorites. Nowadays it’s down to number 2 – ever since Eels started releasing albums.
Part of the enchanting magic of Steppin’ Out is the fade in from the previous song on the album Night & Day, which you can unfortunately not experience in this clip. So, if you ever have the opportunity: do listen to the entire album.
Another one from the decade of my musical awakening – I was 18 at the time this was released. In the 1980s Thomas Dolby was one of my personal favorites, and even today some of his songs are still just that. One of them is definitely Hyperactive!, not in the least because it contains a hilarious line that I am still able to use in various circumstances every now and then: “You’ll be safer at the back, when I’m having an attack.”
Writing great, original songs is an amazing skill. The creative artist(s) at his/her/their peak. But making alternative versions of existing songs can lead to equally amazing results, especially if the new version is not simply a cover, aiming to replicate the original as closely as possible, but rather an individual interpretation.
In my experience, some of the best results are linked to a switch in genre between the original and the new version. Take for example Nouvelle Vague, a french band that has released some albums with bossa nova versions of new wave classics – some of them absolutely wonderful, like Blue Monday.
Do you also have those fits of nostalgia where all you want to do for the next few minutes is freak out on a song from time of your musical awakening? In my case that happens to be the 80s – and as you will notice by clicking the Play button in the clip below, I just had one of those fits.
In the 1980’s there was something called ‘free radio’ in Belgium. Officially only the state was allowed to broadcast (it was acceptable until the 80s), but every town, even every village had at least two or three of these free radios. Most of them were just a couple of kids (some young, some a bit older, but all young at heart) with some often second hand equipment broadcasting to the local community (from a few streets to a few kilometers).
In 1982 I became of those kids. And the very first song I threw into the ether was Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band. A magical word that indeed really put a spell on me. Even today I still feel a craving from time to time to go live on air for an hour again (prerecorded is a drag, live is a thrill).
The video and sound quality are not spectacular, but it was acceptable in the 80s.