Archive for May, 2020

Great Rock Albums of 1986: The Pretenders- Get Close

Posted in Uncategorized on May 6, 2020 by 80smetalman


Public Service Announcement: If you feel there is an album from 1986 onward, (I won’t back track to previous years), then feel free to email me with your suggestion at

It was from an emailed suggestion which prompted me to make the above announcement and to listen to and post about the 1986 “Get Close” album from the Pretenders. The album pretty much escaped my notice back in that year, probably as my focus was definitely on heavy metal. I remember the single “Don’t Get Me Wrong” but I also remember that while it wasn’t bad, it didn’t really have me wanting to shout about it either. However, I will say that it’s geared more toward what I had come to expect from The Pretenders than most of the other songs on the album.

Two observations from listening to the album and from what I read about the behind the scenes history regarding it. First one was from a comment from Joe of 1537 fame when I wrote about their previous album, “Learning to Crawl.” I totally agree that by this time, the band was less The Pretenders and more the Chrissie Hynde Band. After firing drummer Martin Chambers, she was the only original member left in the band. The other observation was that the album was moving from the original new wave sound of the Pretenders to a more soft rock sound.

The first three tracks of “Get Close”clearly demonstrate what I mean with the soft rock. All three songs fit under the label although on the third track, “Light of the Moon,” Robbie McIntosh lays down the first of his several good guitar solos on the album. It’s his guitar solo which saves the next track, “Dance.” If it hadn’t been for his killer solo on the song, I would have thought that Chrissie was trying to go disco with it. However, it is the two extremes of the dance back beat and the killer guitar solo which makes it difficult to judge if I really like the song or not.

One intriguing track is “Tradition of Love.” It seems to go a bit space rock with Chrissie’s more extended vocals and the stoner rock sounding beat. Plus, Robbie delivers a cool guitar solo on it. For this album and for The Pretenders, the song is definitely unique and my vote for second best track on the album. The rest of the album is more towards the soft rock side, although there is a strong reggae feel to “How Much Did You Get For Your Soul.” But the best is saved for last with the cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic, “Room Full of Mirrors.” It is definitely the best track on the album for me. It sounds as if the band just puts everything else aside and just goes for it. In comparison to the rest of the album, the song just rocks! It is a good way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. My Baby
  2. When I Change My Life
  3. Light of the Moon
  4. Dance
  5. Tradition of Love
  6. Don’t Get Me Wrong
  7. I Remember You
  8. How Much Did You Get for Your Soul
  9. Chill Factor
  10. Hymn to Her
  11. Room Full of Mirrors

The Pretenders

Chrissie Hynde- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Robbie McIntosh- guitar

T.M. Stevens- bass (tracks 3, 4, 6-9)

Blair Cunningham- drums, percussion (tracks 3, 4, 7-9)

Additional Musicians:

Bob Worrell- organ, synthesizers (tracks 1, 3, 4, 8, 9, 11)

Martin Chambers- drums

Rupert Black- keyboards

Carlos Alomar- percussion (track 11)

Bruce Brody- organ

Mel Gaynor- drums (track 1)

Steve Jordan- drums (track 6)

Tommy Mandel- synthesizer

Johnny McKenzie- bass

Chucho Merchan- bass (tracks 2, 4, 6, 10)

Simon Phillips- drums (tracks 2, 5, 10)

Patrick Seymour- synthesizer

L. Shankar- violin (track 5)

Bruce Thomas- bass

Paul Wickens- synthesizer, piano

Malcolm Foster- bass

Maybe Chrissie should have used Steve Lukather!

The me back in 1986, wouldn’t have been to impressed with “Get Close” as a whole. Though, even then, I would have thought the closing track rocked. The present day me is a lot more open to things not metal and I can say that it’s a decent album, though I’d rather still listen to “Learning to Crawl.”

Again, if you feel that I should post about an album, please email me. Though I should say that I have pretty much exhausted the rock portion of 1986 and am eager to get to the metal portion of this great year. Believe me, there are vast number of albums for me to write about!

It is also my sad duty to announce that the Bloodstock Festival has also fallen victim to the Covid crisis and will not take place this year. With everything that has been going on in regards to the lockdown, I was planning to go on the Sunday because Saxon and Judas Priest had the top two spots on the Dio Stage. The organizers are hoping to have the 2020 line up for next year, so here’s hoping.

Next post: Georgia Satellites



























Great Rock Albums of 1986: Weird Al Yankovic- Polka Party

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2020 by 80smetalman


“Polka Party” by Weird Al Yankovic was one of those albums I missed in 1986 because it was released in the US after I had gone to England. For most people in the UK, Weird Al is considered a one hit wonder best known for his Michael Jackson parody, “Eat It.” However, I do know he does have a bit of a cult following here. After all, it was an English friend who alerted me to his succeeding album which was better than this one. But that’s saved for 1988.

Maybe the fact that “Polka Party” is considered one of his worst albums both critically and commercially is another reason why news of it never reached the shores of Great Britain. While I might agree that it’s far from his best album, there are still some really good things on it to talk about. It was nominated for a Grammy for best comedy album.

Parodies come through straight away on “Polka Party,” opening with “Living With a Hernia” which takes off on James Brown’s “Living in America” from the “Rocky IV” soundtrack. It is done really well. Another cool parody coming two songs later is the parody of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love” called “Addicted to Spuds” where Weird Al sings about someone who really likes potatoes. This is significant because at the time, one critic stated that his parodies were of songs which would be forgotten in a couple of years. Has anyone really forgotten, “Addicted to Love?” Other parodies include “Here’s Johnny” which was a parody of “Who’s Johnny” from El Debarge. A song that I had forgotten about and could be considered outdated because the song also parodies then announcer from the “Tonight Show,” Ed McMahon, who is famous for introducing the show by saying “Here’s Johnny!”

Some of Weird Al’s originals are parodies as well. “Dog Eat Dog” is done in the style of the Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” and it is a rip at the yuppie corporate life of the 1980s. Likewise, “Good Enough for Now” is a dig at country music love songs and “Christmas at Ground Zero” is a take off of Phil Specter Christmas songs. Released as a single for Christmas in 1986, some radio stations refused to play it because they argued that nuclear destruction was not an appropriate song for Christmas. Hey, I think it’s a funny song but there were a lot of killjoys around in the 1980s.

Like his previous albums before this, there is the usual snippets of rock songs set to polka music, which gives the title track its name. Most of the songs given the polka treatment were contemporary at the time. Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” Phil Collins’ “Secudio,” Madonna’s “Papa Don’t Preach,” Tears for Fears’ “Shout” and Lionel Richie’s “Say You Say Me” are all included. This could be the reason why some critics accused Weird Al of going through the motions with the album, which could be true in the sense that on his next album, there’s no polka tunes.

Track Listing:

  1. Living With a Hernia
  2. Dog Eat Dog
  3. Addicted to Spuds
  4. One of Those Days
  5. Polka Party
  6. Here’s Johnny
  7. Don’t Wear Those Shoes
  8. Toothless People
  9. Good Enough for Now
  10. Christmas at Ground Zero

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- vocals, accordion, keyboards


Rick Derringer

Rick Derringer- guitar

Steve Jay- banjo, bass, backing vocals

Jim West- guitar, backing vocals

Jon ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion


Who cares what the so-called critics say? “Polka Party” still has quite a few songs to enjoy and laugh along with.

Next post: The Pretenders- Get Close