Terms of Endearment promo photo

Pop Culture Capsule — January 1-7, 1984

Terms of Endearment promo photo

It’s a brand new year, so what better time to look to the past, right? Well anyway, I’m going to do it and I hope you’ll join me for yet another pop culture capsule.

To start off this year’s capsules, I’m taking us back 30 years and putting us knee-deep in the 1980s. By this point in American popular culture, the last vestiges of the ’70s have been shed and we’re smack dab in the middle of the Reagan Era.

For those of you on Spotify, a lot of the tunes listed here are included on some of my Ultimate ’80s Hit Collection playlists. Specifically, the ones for 1983 and 1984.

Top 10 Movies

1. Terms of Endearment ($11.5 million)
2. Sudden Impact ($9.6 million)
3. Scarface ($5.6 million)
4. Yentl ($5.5 million)
5. Uncommon Valor ($5.2 million)
6. Two of a Kind ($5 million)
7. The Rescuers ($4.2 million)
8. Silkwood ($3.8 million)
9. Christine ($3 million)
10. D.C. Cab ($3 million)

Top 10 TV Shows

(Note: Most shows were not airing new episodes the first week of January, so these rankings are from the week of January 8.)

1. Something About Amelia [TV movie] (31.6)
2. 60 Minutes (26.6)
3. Dynasty (25.7)
4. The A-Team (25.3)
5. TV’s Bloopers, Commercials and Practical Jokes (25.0)
6. Dallas (24.2)
7. Simon & Simon (24.1)
8. Hotel (23.0)
9. Falcon Crest (21.5)
10. Magnum, P.I. (21.5)

Top 10 Albums

1. Michael Jackson, Thriller
2. Lionel Richie, Can’t Slow Down
3. Linda Ronstadt, What’s New
4. The Police, Synchronicity
5. Quiet Riot, Metal Health
6. Yes, 90125
7. Culture Club, Colour by Numbers
8. Billy Joel, An Innocent Man
9. Barbra Streisand, Yentl
10. Daryl Hall & John Oates, Rock ‘n Soul Part 1

Top 10 Singles

Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, "Say Say Say"1. Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, “Say Say Say”
2. Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Say It Isn’t So”
3. Duran Duran, “Union of the Snake”
4. Yes, “Owner of a Lonely Heart”
5. Olivia Newton-John, “Twist of Fate”
6. The Romantics, “Talking in Your Sleep”
7. Matthew Wilder, “Break My Stride”
8. Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
9. The Rolling Stones, “Undercover of the Night”
10. Lionel Richie, “All Night Long (All Night)”

The New York Times Best-Selling Fiction Books

1. James A. Michener, Poland
2. Stephen King, Pet Sematary
3. Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose
4. Bill Adler & Thomas Chastain, Who Killed the Robins Family?
5. Mary Stewart, The Wicked Day
6. Isaac Asimov, The Robots of Dawn
7. Danielle Steel, Changes
8. Anne McCaffrey, Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
9. Bette Midler, The Saga of Baby Divine
10. Joan D. Vinge (adap.), Return of the Jedi

The New York Times Best-Selling Non-Fiction Books

1. Erma Bombeck, Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession
2. The Best of James Herriot
3. Thomas J. Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr., In Search of Excellence
4. Art Buchwald, While Reagan Slept
5. Ken Follett, On the Wings of Eagles
6. John Naisbitt, Megatrends
7. Stanley Karnow, Vietnam: A History
8. Robert H. Schuller, Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!
9. Jonathan Miller, The Human Body
10. William Manchester, One Brief Shining Moment

Andy Summers, The Last Dance of Mr. X (1997)

Sunday Jazz: Andy Summers, “The Three Marias”

Andy Summers, The Last Dance of Mr. X (1997)While Sting got all the attention (and record sales) after the Police broke up in the mid-1980s, I’ve always found guitarist Andy Summers’ solo material to be more consistently satisfying. And the one album of his I love more than any other is 1997’s The Last Dance of Mr. X. Summers is backed by a crack unit including Tony Levin on bass and Gregg Bissonette on drums. The trio crackles with energy on “The Three Marias,” the second track on the album. Enjoy!

(listen to “The Three Marias” by Andy Summers)

And because I know you’re curious, here’s a live performance of “The Three Marias” by Wayne Shorter, recorded in 1995. The original version can be found on his 1985 solo LP, Atlantis.

(Spotify users — you can listen to these and other featured Sunday Jazz songs by subscribing to my GFS Sunday Jazz playlist.)

Robert Plant, The Principle of Moments

My favorite music: 1983

If there’s one thing the internet lacks, it’s pointless music lists. So to fill that void, here’s a sampling of my favorite albums from some random year. Let’s say, 1983.

(Spotify users, check out the accompanying playlist and subscribe!)

Robert Plant, The Principle of Moments Robert Plant, The Principle of Moments — While I would in no way claim that Robert Plant’s solo output bests Led Zeppelin’s music, a lot of times I simply prefer to listen to Plant. In fact I’d say that Plant has enjoyed one of the most artistically rewarding solo careers of any artist who was part of a popular band that I can think of. The Principle of Moments is probably my favorite Plant solo effort (next to Fate of Nations) — he sounds freed from the constraints of creating larger-than-life rock and the music just crackles with energy. “In the Mood” and “Big Log” are all-time classics.

Iron Maiden, Piece of Mind — Four albums into their career, Iron Maiden had gone through just as many lineup changes. But when drummer Nicko McBrain replaced Clive Burr (trading Burr’s pocket groove for McBrain’s heavy metal thunder), the classic Maiden lineup was complete. With McBrain behind the kit the band released Piece of Mind, their most ferocious LP yet. While not the top-to-bottom classic that The Number of the Beast was, this album boasts some of the best songs in Maiden’s catalog — “Where Eagles Dare,” “Flight of Icarus,” and “To Tame a Land” just to name some. Even so-called filler songs like “Sun and Steel” or “Quest for Fire” are raucous fun.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Weird Al” Yankovic — It feels like Weird Al has been making fun of popular music forever, but in fact it all started with his modest self-titled debut in ’83. I can’t imagine this being of interest to someone just getting into his music, but I love all of it. The parodies are strong — “I Love Rocky Road” and “My Bologna” being the best — but the originals carry this disc. “Gotta Boogie” and “The Check’s in the Mail” are absolutely products of their time, but are musically strong. Capping the whole thing off is the absolutely twisted and hilarious “Mr. Frump in the Iron Lung,” a touching tale of the friendship between a young man and his terminally ill pal.

Yes, 90125 — I would have been perfectly happy with another album from the Drama lineup of Chris Squire, Steve Howe, Alan White, Trevor Horn, and Geoff Downes. I loved that album so much. But it’s hard to deny the greatness of 90125, even as slick and thoroughly ’80s as tracks like “Changes” and “Leave It” sound now (or perhaps because of that). This album (thanks in no small part to “Owner of a Lonely Heart”) achieved something most probably thought was impossible — it made one of the champions of ’70s progressive rock artistically and commercially relevant for a whole new generation of music listeners.

R.E.M., Murmur — There’s a small but vocal legion of R.E.M. fans who hold that nothing the band did after Murmur measured up to the group’s debut LP. I don’t buy that, but I can see where they’re coming from. There are just so many strong songs here — especially “Perfect Circle” and “9-9” — and they’re all delivered in such stark, simple fashion. And as I wrote in the second part of my ongoing R.E.M. exploration series, Murmur seems to get stronger as it goes on.

AC/DC, Flick of the SwitchAC/DC, Flick of the Switch — This is the last album AC/DC released in the ’80s that’s worth hearing, although admittedly it doesn’t stack up to Back in Black or For Those About to Rock We Salute You. Still, Angus Young’s thunderous riffing is mostly on the money on this record, and Brian Johnson still sounds energized behind the mic. Overall the tried-and-true hard rock-meets-blues formula feels fresh here, and songs like “Rising Power” and the thundering title track are the best examples of that.

Journey, Frontiers — I knew nothing of the older, more rock and fusion-oriented sounds of Journey before I bought this on cassette in ’83 and I didn’t care. Hell, I still don’t. I love everything about Frontiers — from the arena-ready rockers (“Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)”) to the tender ballads (“Send Her My Love”, “After the Fall”) to the obscure, off-kilter cuts (“Back Talk”). In my mind’s eye, Journey will be forever rocking out on the pier with invisible instruments.

Frank Zappa, The Man From Utopia — One of the most-asked and most difficult questions in music fandom is, “Which Zappa album is the best for a non-fan to start a collection with?” There are a handful of outstanding options, one of them being The Man From Utopia. Zappa plays it relatively straight here — well for him anyway, although the music is unmistakably his. If the crude humor of tracks like “SEX” or “The Jazz Discharge Party Hats” isn’t your style, there’s always the excellent instrumentals “Tink Walks Amok,” “We Are Not Alone,” and “Mōggio.”

Genesis, Genesis — I’m not one of those Genesis fans who gnashes his teeth over any album that isn’t 100% prog rock. They have plenty of really good songs that are relatively straightforward and poppy. And this album (aka Mama) has very good pop songs (“That’s All”, “It’s Gonna Get Better,” and “Silver Rainbow”) as well as very good art rock (“Mama”, “Second Home By the Sea”). Yeah, “Illegal Alien” is a but much to take, but it’s the only really dodgy song here. It’s also a more consistent record than Abacab.

Paul Simon, Hearts and Bones — I’ve never been a huge Paul Simon fan but this album has resonated with me for some time. The title track alone is worth the price of admission, and ranks among Simon’s greatest compositions. The up-tempo tracks are uniformly good, but I go for the more melancholy numbers like “Train in the Distance” or the excellent “The Late Great Johnny Ace,” the latter of which was as much a eulogy to John Lennon as to the titular rock and roller.

Metallica, Kill ’em All — Raw, powerful, visceral. From the fade-in of “Hit the Lights” to the fade-out of “Metal Militia,” Kill ’em All is 50-plus minutes of some of the finest thrash metal ever recorded. Metallica wanted to release this with the title Metal Up Your Ass but was convinced by Megaforce Records to ease up a bit. But musically, there is no compromise on this album. And although guitarist Dave Mustaine was booted from the band just prior to the recording sessions, his fingerprints are all over it in the form of four co-writing credits and numerous uncredited guitar parts. (I’d include a song sample here but, you know, Lars.)

Randy Newman, Trouble in ParadiseRandy Newman, Trouble in Paradise — The sound is sleeker, and the arrangements are a little slicker, but this is Newman near the top of his game. This is worth the price of admission just for the timeless pop paean “I Love L.A.,” but the one-two punch of the melancholy “Same Girl” — his best ballad since “Marie” — and the acerbic yet mechanical “Mikey’s” is stunning.

Kiss, Lick It Up — A lot of people attribute Kiss’s resurgence in the ’80s to them taking off the makeup and getting out of the 1970s. That’s probably true, but I think it was also a case of them finally producing kick-ass rock for the first time in years. With short-timer Vinnie Vincent in the fold, the band effectively straddled the squiggly line between hard rock and heavy metal. Dismissing Lick It Up as mere hair metal is lazy and misses the point — groups like Poison and Cinderella never put out music with as much power or ferocity as songs like “Exciter,” Fits Like a Glove,” or “Young and Wasted.”

XTC, MummerMummer seems to take a bit of a beating from fans and critics who didn’t care for the more pastoral and introspective bent XTC took after Andy Partridge retired from public performing. As it turns out, this is the one album of theirs I never get enough of, and it’s by and large because of the pastoral and introspective moments (“Love on a Farmboy’s Wages” and “Ladybird” are simply divine). Of course if you like your XTC angular and nervous, there’s still the outstanding “Beating of Hearts” or “Deliver Us From the Elements” to satisfy.

Queensrÿche, Queensrÿche — While Queensrÿche’s debut EP did little to distinguish them as a metal act, it was a surprisingly mature and accomplished effort all the same. The entire band is ferocious, but it’s Geoff Tate’s soaring and Halford-esque vocals that push songs like “Queen of the Reich” into the stratosphere. The band’s full-length debut (The Warning) showcased their ambition much better, but the 18 or so minutes of this release are much more aggressive and laser-focused, setting the stage for things to come.

Pink Floyd, The Final Cut — Yeah it’s basically a Roger Waters solo album, so what? While more David Gilmour would have been welcome, it’s clear that the band was done by this point. Even so, this is a powerful album that is made all the more so because it largely bypasses the excesses of The Wall. Waters’ sense of weariness and betrayal is evident throughout the entire record on songs such as “The Hero’s Return” and it makes for riveting listening.

Mötley Crüe, Shout at the Devil — The amount of really good music Mötley Crüe released relative to their stature is not all that much. But this is one of the defining metal albums of the ’80s, and nothing can change that. This is the sound of a hungry and creative band, before drugs and glam metal excess took their toll. Side B runs out of steam just a bit, but there are so many killer songs on here — the title song, “Looks That Kill” and “Too Young to Fall in Love” just for starters — that you won’t even notice. And I still maintain that Tommy Lee’s name deserves to be included in the list of great metal drummers of all-time.

The Police, SynchronicityThe Police, Synchronicity — The transformation from the Police’s first album to Synchronicity is astounding. While some of the punkish aggression heard on Outlandos d’Amour is still present here (especially on the Andy Summers-penned “Mother”), there is a high level of gloss now. Sting is very clearly in the driver’s seat from a creative standpoint, although in retrospect it’s clear that Summers and Stewart Copeland kept him somewhat in check. How else to explain numbers like “Every Breath You Take” and “King of Pain”, which are still essential listening today rather than forgettable soft rock dreck Sting was to become known for?

Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Texas Flood — I can count the number of blues or blues rock artists I like on one hand and still have fingers left over. And yet there’s something so positively mesmerizing about Stevie Ray Vaughan and his debut album. I guess the only way I can put it is that Vaughan just oozed authenticity. Oh yeah, and there’s that instantly recognizable playing style and guitar tone. How can a song like “Pride and Joy” not make you want to boogie? The best thing about this album is that as popular music was becoming buried in synthesizers and other artifice, this album took three musicians (Vaughan, bassist Tommy Shannon, and drummer Chris Layton) a total of three days to record.

Def Leppard, Pyromania — In retrospect it’s easy to see how Pyromania was just another step on Def Leppard’s road to blandness (under the guiding hand of producer Mutt Lange). But at this point, they still delivered the best pop metal in town. There’s enough crunch to please all but the most hardcore metal fans, and of course there are hooks and melodies to spare. You’d have to have a cold, cold heart not to love songs like “Photograph” or “Rock! Rock! (Till You Drop).” And of course there’s my absolute favorite, “Foolin’.”

Billy Joel, "Tell Her About It"Misc. 1983 songs that I love:

  • U2, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
  • Black Sabbath, “Zero the Hero”
  • Frank Stallone, “Far From Over”
  • Tears for Fears, “Pale Shelter”
  • Culture Club, “Karma Chameleon”
  • Elton John, “I’m Still Standing”
  • David Bowie, “Let’s Dance” and “China Girl”
  • The Beepers, “History Lesson” (WarGames soundtrack)
  • Ozzy Osbourne, “Bark at the Moon”
  • Madonna, “Borderline”
  • Asia, “Eye to Eye”
  • Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson, “Say Say Say”
  • The Fixx, “One Thing Leads to Another”
  • Duran Duran, “Union of the Snake”
  • John Cougar Mellencamp, “Crumblin’ Down”
  • Dio, “Rainbow in the Dark”
  • Billy Joel, “Tell Her About It” & “Easy Money”
  • The Tubes, “She’s a Beauty”
  • Men at Work, “Overkill”
  • Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”
  • Herbie Hancock, “Rockit”
  • Steve Hackett, “Bay of Kings”
  • Tangerine Dream, “The Dream Is Always the Same”
  • The Human League, “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”
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The Police perform music and it sounds good

So much for snappy titles. Anyway, I made the trek to Giants Stadium on Sunday to catch the Police in the midst of their “Backing up the Brinks Truck 07/08” world tour. Mrs. Suit and I met up with our bestest buds Thom/Mrs. Thom and mizerychik/mizerydude and had a grand old time. Rather than spend the next six or seven paragraphs opining on the evening I will just say that it was indeed an awesome show and well worth the money. For anyone who thinks reunion tours are a waste, I challenge them to see a show on this tour and maintain that view.

So with that out of the way, here are some random thoughts that popped into my head during the day:


  • It’s pretty much a social contract that when you tailgate at a concert and play music from your car stereo you either play the band you’re there to see or something in the same style/genre. If you don’t want to play Police songs before a Police concert that’s fine – some acceptable substitutes would be the Cars or XTC. What is not acceptable is Fergie, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera or anything of that ilk.
  • For all the money charged for tour merchandise, Sting better be saving a hell of a lot of rain forest.


  • I had my doubts as to how good the sound would be for a stadium show, but it was at least as good as I’ve heard some indoor arenas. Very nice stage setup and video displays as well.
  • I’m terrible at remembering song order or anything like that, but I do know there were more than a few moments where the performance felt really “locked in,” for lack of a better phrase. “Drive to Tears” in particular rocked my world. “Synchronicity II” kicked major buttocks as well.
  • The band changed the arrangements of some of the songs enough to make them sound fresh, but not so much that they became unrecognizable.
  • Hats off to the piss-drunk frat boy jerkoffs in section 328. I don’t think I’ve seen a simian mating ritual that laughably pathetic since the last hour of my Freshman Mixer in college. Seriously, the friggin’ Elephant Man had better moves than these clowns. The fact that they got any response at all from the ditzes next to them is a testament either to the power of the human sex drive or the brain-numbing effects of alcohol.
  • “Walking in Your Footsteps” has never been a favorite of mine but it translated very well in concert.
  • Stewart Copeland remains one of the finest percussionists of the last 25 years and I am really glad I got a chance to see him in concert.
  • “Weird Al” Yankovic has officially ruined me for “King of Pain.” I could not stop the lyrics to “King of Suede” from popping into my head the whole song.
  • I would’ve loved to hear “Tea in the Sahara” and “Canary in a Coalmine” but other than that the setlist was spot on.


  • I’ve now seen the reunited Kiss and reunited Police kick ass live. If Genesis (with Hackett and Gabriel) and Pink Floyd can get it together I can die happy.

Gray Flannel Mixtape – 10 Classic B-sides


Looking back, mixtapes sure were a pain in the ass to put together. But man, were they fun. So for just a minute, let’s imagine iPods don’t exist (I know, scary) and we are putting together a new one. The ground rules for the songs on this mixtape are:

  • Each song was released as the B-side of a commercially available single.
  • The songs did not appear on a regular album (at least not at first).
  • No more than one song per band.
  • I must like the song (the critical part).
  1. “Total Eclipse” (Iron Maiden) – Over the years Iron Maiden has compiled what is probably the strongest collection of B-sides in heavy metal history. This one nearly made it onto the group’s seminal 1982 album, The Number of the Beast, but was left off and instead included on the “Run to the Hills” single. The band has since rectified that oversight by including it on a subsequent reissue of the album.
  2. “Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers) – I can’t hold it against the Righteous Brothers that this song is forever linked with the image of Patrick Swayze coming back from the dead to make some sex-ay pottery with Demi Moore. The fact is that this song is one of the prime example of how potent Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound treatment was. It’s also de rigeur at wedding receptions, and one of the great ballads of the 1960s to boot.
  3. “Crossing Over” (Van Halen) – This dark, brooding piece was originally recorded in 1983 and features Eddie Van Halen playing all the instruments. It was updated a decade later with new lyrics by Sammy Hagar, written as a tribute to recently deceased manager and friend Ed Leffler. It nearly made the final cut for 1995’s Balance, but was relegated to the B-side of the rather bland “Can’t Stop Loving You.” It was included as a bonus track on the Japanese album release. This is an atypical VH song, in that Eddie’s guitar provides more atmosphere than the usual lead fireworks.
  4. “Hiro’s Song” (Ben Folds) – I was totally bummed when Ben Folds Five broke up, but when I heard Ben’s first solo album, Rockin’ the Suburbs, I felt a whole lot better. One of the best songs from those recording sessions concerns Hiro, a rather unhappy guy going through a mid-life crisis. Instead of buying a convertible, he leaves his family and starts dating his secretary. Sadly, this new relationship isn’t very fulfilling. Sounds a little depressing, right? I’d think so too if I hadn’t actually heard the song. One of Folds’ best.

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Rush Album Countdown: #4-#1

Well we’ve arrived, and not a moment too soon! Snakes & Arrows is mere days away, and I look forward to seeing it take its place in the Rush pantheon. But before I reveal the four greatest Rush albums ever, let’s recap one last time:

Part 1 (#17 – #15)Rush, Hold Your FireRoll the Bones
Part 2 (#14 – #12) —  Test for Echo, Vapor Trails, Fly by Night
Part 3 (#11 – #9)Caress of Steel, Power Windows, Presto
Part 4 (#8 – #5)Counterparts, Hemispheres, 2112, A Farewell to Kings

For those who have been paying attention, a pattern has been developing over this countdown. Most of the early and recent albums, while good, don’t seem to stack up as well. Last time we got into the creamy center of Rush’s catalog, and now we reach the rich, nougat center. I think. I don’t eat enough candy to make that analogy work.

#4 – Signals (1982)

Rush - Signals album coverAny doubts about Rush’s intentions to explore new musical territory were put to rest on this one. And just as the band wore their influences on their sleeves the first time they staked out their territory (’74-’75 or so), so did New Wave and Reggae-lite (aka The Police) figure prominently in the territory carved out by Signals.

“Subdivisions” needs no introduction – it’s simply a classic entry. The rest of the album, while not uniformly great, sounds strong and assured – not at all the sound of a group unsure of where they’re headed. “The Analog Kid” grooves righteously, and contains some great lyrics centered on longing, a theme Neil Peart writes about quite well.

Two under-appreciated gems reside on Signals – “The Weapon” and “Losing It.” The first is not particularly dynamic, but pulses insistently and always sticks with me long after I’ve listened to it. “Losing It” is, in a word, gorgeous. If it’s true that pain is art, then this song is high art my friends. There is no solace to be found here, but there is still beauty.

As for “Countdown” – yeah, some of the lyrics are from 7th-grade Creative Writing class. But I will give Neil a pass here, as they were written in the exuberance of being present for the first-ever Space Shuttle launch. In any case, the song is musically strong enough to overcome the lyrical faux pas.

More than any of the Rush albums in my Top 10, Signals is much greater than the sum of its parts. I think this is one of the reasons many fans might be down on it. It really has to be taken as one large work, rather than eight individual songs.

Rush - Grace Under Pressure album cover#3 – Grace Under Pressure (1984)

I remember reading a bit in the Rush biography Visions (released around the Hold Your Fire era) that the band nearly broke up after this album, because they didn’t think they would ever release anything better. While I obviously disagree, I can see why they might have thought that.

A lot of Rush fans point to this album as the point where Rush lost the plot, so to speak. They point to the abundance of synths and especially to the dreaded (*gasp!*) electronic drums. But really, those are just tools. They don’t write the songs – and this album boasts some great ones.

There is nothing laid back or humorous about Grace Under Pressure, and that suits me just fine. Well, except the horrid video for “Distant Early Warning.” That’s just cringe-inducing. But the song is forceful and dark, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Alex Lifeson returns with a vengeance, after being buried for most of Signals. Geddy Lee’s vocals are some of the best and most nuanced he ever delivered, and Neil is…Neil.

Other than the aforementioned “Distant Early Warning,” my favorites here are “Afterimage” and “Between the Wheels.” They are powerful musical, even artistic, statements. Even the odder tracks like “Red Lenses” are delivered with unexpected forcefulness. Grace Under Pressure is not a “fun” album to listen to by any means, but it resonates with emotion like no other entry in the Rush catalog.

Rush - Permanent Waves album cover#2 – Permanent Waves (1980)

As Rush entered the ’80s, they began to leave behind their prog rock sound like a Pet Rock. And boy did they do it with style. According to the Rush bio Visions (and my memory), Permanent Waves was originally planned as another album in the vein of Hemispheres. I even remember reading that one of the songs (at least) was going to be a retelling of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I can’t help but think they made the right choice in ditching that idea.

To be sure, some vestiges of the old style remained, particularly in the moody “Jacob’s Ladder.” But other than that, the rest PW ain’t your older brother’s Rush. “The Spirit of Radio” is one of those songs that has been played so many times, it occasionally risks losing its impact. Luckily it’s so damn good.

Then there is “Freewill,” one my Top 5 Rush tracks ever. My posterior is still booted by the ferocious bridge section. Rock on indeed. Then there are the mellow duo – “Entre Nous” and “Different Strings.” I would point to these as the only time this album sags at all, but it’s not very much.

The album closes with what must have been one of Rush’s most challenging numbers ever, “Natural Science.” I say this because whenever I’ve heard it played live, it seems they are mustering all the skill they have to keep up with things. But on the album it’s preserved forever in its perfection.

Rush - Moving Pictures album cover#1 – Moving Pictures (1981)

Yeah I know, what a shocker. But really, it’s the obvious choice. The transition away from classic prog that began with Permanent Waves continues even more forcefully on Moving Pictures. And while longtime fans may bemoan what was to come, few can take issue with the fact that Rush seemed to have a whole new musical vocabulary at their disposal on Moving Pictures.

Has there ever been a better sequence of songs to start an album than the ubiquitous “Tom Sawyer,” “Red Barchetta,” “YYZ” (the song that launched a million air drummers), and “Limelight”? Don’t bother thinking, the answer is no.

“The Camera Eye” turned out to be Rush’s last epic song, and it is a classic (although I prefer “Natural Science”). But what really rounds this album out as Rush’s greatest are the final pair of songs – the dark and minimalist “Witch Hunt” and the ferocious New Wave-inspired “Vital Signs.”

So there you have it. I hope this was entertaining, enlightening, or both. And if you do actually disagree with any of my choices, please consider the possibility that I am just correct. And in the end, that’s really what this blog is all about, isn’t it?

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Well the gods truly smiled on me today. After getting denied on Police tickets for MSG, I managed to score them for their August date at Giants Stadium! Of course it’s pretty far back, so I hope security lets me in with my binoculars, cotton balls (for nosebleeds), and Miracle Ear hearing aid.

The Police - Looking a lot younger

So many decisions…

I’m sure you have been coming here every day for months, wondering what happened to me. Kind of like opening the refrigerator 20 times in a night in the hopes that something new and delicious will have appeared since the last time you checked. Well I have no new ham or salad for you – just some old hot dogs.

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