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DailyBoom Your Old School Music Authority

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Metallica - 'One'


Imprisoning me
All that I see
Absolute horror
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell

Has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell "

1988 brought with it an onslaught of hair bands that took turns dominating the charts. If you weren't an actual fan then being able to distinguish between Whitesnake, Europe and Skid Row was probably damn near impossible. Each power group a lineup of hot men with better hair than most of the girls that I knew. Metallica had been toiling in the hard rock ranks for years but it was the final single off of their fourth album that was a total breakthrough.

"One", an anti-war song skyrocketed into MTV's heavy video rotation almost immediately with a video that alternated between scenes of a supposed war vet sent home to die and actual footage from the 1971 anti-war film Johnny Got His Gun. The strong lyrics along with the black and white visuals helped Metallica to win the very first Grammy in 1989 for a Best Metal Performance. 

This is one of those songs that always gives me chills and it's beyond words live. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Spandau Ballet- 'True'

With a thrill in my head and a pill on my tongue
Dissolve the nerves that have just begun
Listening to Marvin (All night long)
This is the sound of my soul
This is the sound
Always slipping from my hands
Sand's a time of its own
Take your seaside arms and write the next line
Oh, I want the truth to be known

I love those songs that serve as an instant vehicle to take me back in time. Spandau Ballet's "True" is most certainly one of those. Every time I hear it (which is actually pretty often) I'm instantly reliving 1983 all over again. To say that this song got a lot of air play would be a real understatement, especially since even now, more than 30 years later it's still in heavy rotation on some stations. "True" is the kind of song that you just kind of know all of the words to, even if you don't like it. I remember it always being on in the car and so nearly every time I hear those opening notes, then at least for a second I'm back in my dad's old Buick driving to god knows where.

"True" was Spandau Ballet's biggest hit in the U.S. and while they aren't often seen here they do often still perform in the UK. You guys remember this song, right? I'm betting that you start singing along (even if it's just in your head) almost immediately!

Daily Boom Lost Hit: Daryl Hall & John Oates - 'Family Man'

Friday, August 7, 2020

Daily Boom 70's Throwback: Chic- ' I Want Your Love'

"Sometime, don't you feel like you
Never really had a love that's real?
Well, here I am, and who's to say
A better love you won't find today?
Just one chance and I will show you love
Like no other, two steps above.
On your ladder I'll be a peg.
I want your lovin', please don't make me beg."

When I was seven years old I discovered disco. Just when I thought that "Disco Duck" was everything my dad introduced me to Chic and the absolute magic of Nile Rodgers.  "Le Freak" became the first single that I walked into a record store and picked out on my own. The beat and riff is infectious to this day.  How do you stay still? I think it's impossible.

While my love for "Le Freak" is unmatched "I Want Your Love" might actually be my very favorite Chic song. It just seems to be a perfect blend of everything that the group had to offer and Rodgers was perhaps at his very best. "I Want Your Love" is one of those songs with a special kind of longevity. It has been covered by a bunch of other mainstream artists and even if they only throw one line of the classic song into the chorus of their own work, it clicks and gets a reaction because we all know "I Want Your Love". Even if you are too young to remember Chic in their heyday, you'll likely know this song. Check out the video below. It's a great way to start your Friday!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Sheena Easton - 'The Lover In Me'

Taurus - Sheena Easton __ Sheena Easton (born Sheena Shirley Orr; 27 April 1959) is a Scottish international recording artist and stage and TV/film actress.

"If everlasting love is
What you're waiting for
Then that time for you
Just has arrived"

When I say the name Sheena Easton a lot of you will probably connect her one of those big 80's ballads ("For Your Eyes Only" anyone?) that she sang. She spent the first five years of her career being packaged as the proverbial good girl- and then Sheena hooked up with Prince and her image went through a huge overhaul. "Sugar Walls" showed us all a completely different side of her, one most certainly motivated by her work with Prince. By 1988 the songstress had signed with a new label and was embarking on a more soulful, R&B path.

"The Lover In Me" made it to number two on Billboard's Hot 100 but not without some mixed reviews. For every music critic that insisted that this was Sheena's best work to date there was another just waiting for a chance to pan it. Check out the video below. Did you prefer her work later on in the 80's when her image had been vamped up, or did you prefer the sweeter Sheena who sang "Morning Train"?

Daily Boom Lost Hit: Jaya- 'If You Leave Me Now'

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Quarterflash - 'Harden My Heart'

"Cryin' on the corner, waitin' in the rain
I swear I'll never, ever wait again
You gave me your word, but words for you are lies

Darlin', in my wildest dreams, I never thought I'd go
But it's time to let you know

I'm gonna harden my heart
I'm gonna swallow my tears
I'm gonna turn and leave you here"

I think one of the very first videos that I can remember watching is Quarterflash's "Harden My Heart". I remember as a kid it not making a whole lot of sense to me and visually it reminded me of an episode of Doctor Who. I was a bit freaked out by that show but I quickly got over it resembling it because I absolutely loved the song.

I think that Quarterflash singlehandedly made me love the saxophone in under four minutes. From that point on, I looked for and usually found a sax solo in every song that I loved in the 80's. Rindy Ross handles vocals and sax like a rock goddess and in my mind, no other woman has ever come close to her playing. She said in an interview years ago that she felt the sax was like an extension of her voice and I actually get that feeling when a Quarterflash song plays.

I don't think I'm alone in loving "Harden My Heart" because it is one of the top songs that old school radio stations across the U.S. favor.  And honestly, how could they not? Whatever happened to sax being a regular part of top 40 music? It added so much to so many songs, why did it disappear and who is going to decide to start bringing it back- one song at a time?

In the meantime, check out this classic below!

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Exclusive Interview: Nick Van Eede of 'Cutting Crew' Embraces the Future While Reimagining His Past on 'Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven'


I think that one of the coolest things about music is how it affords each and every one of us the ability to travel through time. You know what I mean, that twenty-second song intro that just for a flash of a moment makes you feel like it really is 1987 all over again. Some songs just stay with you, forever imprinted in your mind, following you through life like comfortable old friends, and no amount of passing time changes your love for them. Nick Van Eede, the co-founder, singer and songwriter of Cutting Crew, has created exactly that kind of gift for millions of people worldwide via "(I Just) Died In Your Arms", a song that shot to number one in 1987 and continues to pop up in pop culture to this day.

I think that most people believe that once you "make it" in the music industry you're sort of set for life if you handle your money properly. The actual truth is that the music business is at best, a harsh place to try and exist. You could be at the top of the charts and playing sold-out shows now and in six months you're back to waiting tables or washing dishes. The only solid guarantee is that every star eventually falls from the sky and then it takes talent, timing, and unshakable determination to get back up again. 

In his thirty-five years since starting Cutting Crew, Nick has experienced the highs of sold-out tours, as well as the unimaginable loss of Kevin MacMichael, the secret ingredient (and brilliant guitarist) that helped to balance the band. Despite the losses, a storyteller can never stay quiet for too long and over the last decade or so he has rebuilt the band with a new Cutting Crew co-conspirator, guitarist Gareth Moulton, who has truly honored the past while leaving his own imprint on the music.

The band was steadily gigging until Covid-19 brought the touring industry to a screeching halt, making this the perfect time for that new release that had already been planned. Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven puts an incredible symphonic twist on a catalog of already beloved songs. It was a risky move but one that Nick completely embraced. We spoke recently about these reimagined classics and Nick was happy to really dig into the details of how this album came to life.

Nick Van Eede on embracing the idea of a symphonic album:

"It was a wonderful thing! Fifty years ago when my granddad would hear me playing guitar in the lounge he would say, 'your songs seem to work well, if only they had an orchestra' and then many years ago when we first got a publishing deal there was always mention of an orchestra. Over the years, I have performed 3 or 4 of the songs maybe 25 times with an orchestra.  Cutting Crew songs aren't better than anyone else's' and they're no worse than anyone elses', but I do kind of write those big melodies, and the layering of our arrangements just begged for it. I've joked about how I've been waiting for the call to do this and then there really was a call out of the blue from a record label to do it (laughing). Then came the million-dollar question of do you do this with songs that are so precious to millions of people and risk making it not as good. I finally decided to jump and so we jumped off the cliff together!!

It was time-consuming and meticulous work. I wish I could sexy it up and tell you that I flew all over the world to make this album but it didn't happen that way (laughing). You know how everyone is doing things now since the world has changed because of this virus?  People are recording remotely or doing concerts from their house, well this was done pre-Covid but really under the same rules because of how scattered we all are. The string arranger was in Manchester, my guitarist is in the middle of England, I'm in the south of England, the orchestra was in Prague, the engineer was in Slovenia and lastly our drummer, he was in Russia. It was quite a task and there were moments in time when we just said, 'f--k it this is just impossible'- like while trying to tell a Russian drummer that the high hat isn't quite right (laughing), those were the tricky bits. The beautiful thing was working with the string arranger, Pete Whitfield, I must say that it was a pleasure and gift for me.

It's not a perfect science because especially the rocking songs like "Any Color", have some great string parts but you can't really layer too much. I grew up playing classical guitar and if you came to my house now I wouldn't be playing rock music, I'd be playing you classical music because I know my composers and I'm pretty deep into them  I love it and sometimes I'm humbled by it you know, I listen to Mahler's "Adagio" and think, well that's it, there's no point in writing another note (laughing). When Pete, our string arrangerwould send me huge manuscripts of notes I'd thank him and remind him that I'm not very good at reading music (laughing), then ask him to send the audio along as well. Only then I would get involved, which he liked. He told me so many acts in the past have hired him and they'd get what they get, so he was happy that I wanted to be involved."

Nick on reimagining Cutting Crew songs after the works of specific composers:

"I have recently worked with quite an acclaimed classical composer in this tiny little village in Sussex where I live. His name is Nigel Crouch and he has always loved "I've Been In Love Before". He insisted that the composer that was the best match was Sibelius and told me to listen to the last movement of Symphony #5. I checked it out and pointed Pete to that and so now on that song you can hear some movements a' la Sibelius.

"The Broadcast" was a risky one to makeover. When the song was first imagined I had this transistor radio and I would never listen to the pop stations. Instead, I'd go right up to the end of the dial on short wave and you'd just get these strange sounds. It would be like propaganda from North Korea or Arabic music and that was my little world at the time. I really wanted to get the feeling of when I was a teen in rural Sussex and so Pete and I both agreed that the style of music was like that of a British composer named Ralph Vaughan Williams. I was at first worried that the song might feel a bit too Broadway but hey, we're reimagining these songs and they're supposed to sound different, right?.

"(I Just) Died In Your Arms", the Reprise, has to be one of the most emotional recordings that I've ever had to do, just me and the orchestra. I think it was done in two takes, just did it and cut the takes together. Those words now as a 62-year-old man mean something completely different to me then when I originally wrote them as a 26-year-old guy. I've lost my father, I've lost my brother, I've lost Kevin my original guitarist and best pal, I have a daughter too- so many things have changed. I've always been good at writing fairly oblique lyrics and something that you can read whatever you want to in it but doing that one as an older guy meant a lot of tears. There were a lot of tissues on the floor (laughing). That song was in the style of Edward Elgar who is probably my favorite British composer. We got his trademark cellos to move around and sound very foreboding yet beautiful at the same time. That will go down as one of the most memorable moments in my entire career.

"Berlin In Winter" is now one of our biggest songs to play live and it stems from a story that you just can't make up. In 1989 when the wall fell, Cutting Crew was on tour and I remember watching the television with Kevin and seeing these amazing images and beautiful human moments. Three days later we were actually playing in Berlin. We had a hit record on their charts and a sold-out tour but only about twenty-five people came to the gig (laughing), quite rightly too. I think we did about six songs and had people onstage with us and then we went down to the wall together and had an incredible time. That has always been one of the abiding memories in my life and this song is an imaginary song about a guy who was sequestered by the Communists to build the wall, lived through all of the atrocities of it and then was there as an old man to see it fall. It's hard to write a story because you have to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending in only three verses, so I'm very proud of that one.

I knew it had to be Russian sounding for this recording,  Pete said  'that's Shostakovitch and I was thinking more Tchaikovsky, something with a haunting, descending cello line and again a quite cold and daunting sound, but definitely a Russian influence.

That time in Berlin, it was a blur and pure joy but no anger. There could have been people coming through from the east, pointing at the policemen or saying 'f--k you' or whatever, but instead it was a beautiful embracing evening. I have a memory of being with a big roadie friend of mine who had a hammer and dinged off a piece of the wall for me and I've still got that here somewhere. It has really stuck with me and I've played in Berlin 20 times at least since then. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. It shows those scars but it has done it very well. It's a special place and they've kept the wall intact in some places so that you can see it. It's just a little wall, not this gigantic thing, but of course, if they tried to cross it back then they would have been shot.

So if I make another million pounds I'd love to buy an apartment there. I'd love to live there as an older guy. Let it be said too that new Germany is a wonderful place. They've never ever tried to sweep it under the carpet, everywhere you go there are memorials to the history of the country. I think I work more there than anywhere else and I love it."

Nick on the legacy of "(I Just) Died In Your Arms":

"I knew it was special because that was reinforced by anyone that heard the really scratchy first demo. I was 25 then and had been writing quite well for about 7 years, so I had other things to compare it with. The longevity of it absolutely staggers me. Ten years after I thought well that was a good run (laughing), twenty years after it was an even better run. It may be 20 million people's worst song in the world but that doesn't take away from the other 200 million people that really like it. I've always just really embraced the song and it's a number one record that has really outlasted a lot of other number one records. I always refer to the song as 'she' and I say that she's my passport, she's like a lover, she's an accidental dinner conversation, she's my bank manager (laughing), so I'm quite happy to have her in my life.

When it came time to do this album I wanted to do this song near the end because I needed to know how we were going to make this album work first. I felt that touching this song was really risky and somehow it just came together. I don't really smoke but I had about ten cigarettes that day and a lot of Johnnie Walker as well to get the vocal right."

Nick on his writing process:

"Well, this is important, I never, ever sit down and tell myself I'm going to write a song about something in particular, like my daughter's blue hair (laughing). It just doesn't work that way. I do have the ability to write very obliquely though and that leaves my lyrics open to interpretation in a myriad of ways.

It has to hit a very high bar that I set for myself. I won't put anything out there in writing that I view as just a filler song. I'm always proud of my albums and while you don't have to like every song, they've hit my bar and that is always in the back of my mind. At the same time, when you give birth to something you must never share it too soon. Just let it roll and if it starts sounding a little like "Hey Jude", as an example, don't worry, it might not end up sounding anything like "Hey Jude". Don't get scared, it's just not there yet, and don't kill it too soon.

I really have to sit there and find that muse though. I usually write on the keyboards because I love them becauseI don't play them very well, so I have all sorts of happy accidents because I don't know what the f--k I'm doing (laughing). It's also all very phonetic and I've been brave enough to at times just make sounds that kind of hit with the music. Once you're really off and running then the actual lyrics just seem to pour out and you can be done with it even in an hour because you found what has rooted you to the song.

Also, I'll warn you, if during the course of this conversation you say something to me that I absolutely love it'll be written down and transferred to my ten-meter long piece of wallpaper that I sometimes stick up in my studio.  It has my little catchphrases, titles and sayings that I really like and so while creating something I can look up and see all of these possibilities. It's my responsibility as a songwriter to keep track of possibilities."

Nick on striking gold twice with guitarists' Kevin MacMichael and Gareth Moulton:

"When I found Kevin all those years ago it was like a good marriage because everything was easy, no egos when wrote together. He was my editor and very good at taking my straightforward jolly lyrics and making them darker. He would put some negativity in there (laughing) and it's what was needed. When I spoke at his funeral I think I judged the mood right and told that story, adding that if Kevin had his way that song would have been called "(I Just) Lived In Your Arms".  So to find Gareth Moulton after having already found a Kevin was just astonishing. He has to tip his hat to what Kevin did while at the same time being himself and he has done that masterfully. Gareth does all of the sensational guitar playing on the album. He's my best friend and to find somebody like that is so special."

Nick on embracing whatever comes next:

"We have had 22 gigs canceled so far this year, including one in Trinidad, plus Switzerland, Japan, and everything else. There is still a show scheduled for Budapest and one in Tel Aviv but there are no flights. Also, if I go then when I come home I'll have to quarantine for fourteen days, so playing requires real thought. That said, we're very clever humans and so I imagine we'll figure it all out in the end. Things are going to be different and I'm ready to embrace it. I love doing the unplugged things and so maybe Gareth and I will just be dueting for a while and telling the stories behind the songs. When we do the rock shows he always tells me to stop talking (laughing), but I enjoy telling the stories too.

In spite of all of the awful things, there are so many beautiful young people coming through in this world and I'm totally encouraged by them. They'll lead the way towards whatever is next for us all in this crazy world."

Get your own copy of Ransomed Healed Restored Forgiven at Cutting Crew's official site.  Check out their Facebook & Twitter for gig updates and behind-the-scenes fun.

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: 'Til Tuesday - 'Voices Carry'

"I try so hard not to get upset
Because I know all the trouble I'll get
Oh, he tells me tears are something to hide
And something to fear-eh-eh
And I try so hard to keep it inside
So no one can hear
Hush hush, keep it down now, voices carry"

You guys remember "Voices Carry", right?  The song by 'Til Tuesday barreled up Billboard's charts to number 8 back in 1985 and the video really did help the group to become one of MTV's early favorites. Aimee Mann's vocals about a doomed love affair are haunting and ring true for anyone that has been in a relationship with the wrong person. You feel like you can't do anything right and everything that the other person does is just plain wrong as well. At one point in time Cyndi Lauper was hoping to record "Voices Carry" herself and ya know what, it probably would have been a hit for her too.

Instead, 'Til Tuesday did the honors and it cemented their place in new wave history.  Rather than going with the original video I thought I'd instead post this live performance.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Bananarama- 'Trick Of The Night'

When the day is over
And the work is done
Well it's a different story
As the darkness comes around
I tried to let you know
You're going the wrong way

And the streets you thought
Would all be paved with gold
But when the wind cuts through
You'd even try to sell your soul
Everywhere you go
It's the long way

Bananarama is easily one of the most popular girl groups of the 80's. Songs like "Cruel Summer", "Venus" and "I Heard A Rumor" kept them near the top of Billboard's Hot 100 charts for a few years in the mid-80's. Their True Confessions album from 1986 is probably one of my all-time favorite pop efforts from that era, with "A Trick of the Night" arguably being one of Bananarama's best songs ever. The album version is basically a ballad but when it was released in December of 1986 as a single extra synthesizer and vocals were added in to give it a dance feel.

"A Trick of the Night" was also included on the Jumpin' Jack Flash movie soundtrack. While the song kind of stalled out on the charts it is still considered by many to be one of the ladies' best songs, especially in retrospect. Do you guys remember this one?

Daily Boom Lost Hit: Duran Duran - 'Come Undone'

Friday, July 31, 2020

Daily Boom Freestyle Flashback: Noel - 'Silent Morning'

Daily Boom 80's Throwback- Def Leppard "Hysteria"

It's really rare for me to love just about every single song on an album. I really do cherry pick most of the time and so when something is good all the way through, I remember it.  I'm currently working on something that requires quite a bit of research on the mid-80's so I ordered a bunch of old magazines off of eBay to take me back in time. The best way to get into the right mindset seems to be a combination of forgetting what I think I already know and reading what was actually written way back then. Yesterday I was flipping through a copy of Rolling Stone from 1987 and came upon a piece on Def Leppard.

Now, flash forward 30+ years and we already know that their Hysteria album is considered to be one of the best rock albums in history. It went 12x platinum and spawned 7 singles over the course of about 18 months. To this day, "Pour Some Sugar On Me" remains a rock party anthem that nearly everyone seems to know the lyrics to. Ironically, the album's producer, Mutt Lange set out to help the guys create the rock equivalent of Michael Jackson's Thriller, meaning that nearly every track on it could be released as a successful single. Mission accomplished.

But back in 1987 when Hysteria was first released, Def Leppard had no clue of what was really to come. Instead, all that the guys knew for sure is that it took them three years to complete the album and that no one deserved the amount of bad luck that they had to persevere through in order to complete the record. It was during this time that drummer Rick Allen lost his left arm after a car accident and had to learn how to play all over again, using his left foot and pedals. That crisis was the clincher and from it the title Hysteria was born. The media was all over the group at the time of Allen's accident and it was the one word that seemed to sum up their lives.

I still love nearly every song on this album and at least half of them have a specific memory attached. While Hysteria is not my favorite track, it is a great one, especially knowing a bit of the backstory.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Cinderella - 'Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)'

"I can't tell ya baby what went wrong
I can't make you feel what you felt so long ago

I'll let it show

I can't give you back what's been hurt
Heartaches come and go and all that's left are the words
I can't let go
If we take some time to think it over baby
Take some time, let me know
If you really want to go

Don't know what you got till it's gone
Don't know what it is I did so wrong

Now I know what I got

It's just this song."

How can you not love a good power ballad? I mean, even if you hate hair bands, how can you not love a power ballad?? Aside from tugging at the heartstrings and connecting to people on a gut punch level, they were also a brilliant marketing tool back in 1980-something. Heavy metal bands already had guys liking them but women were often a tougher sell- until the power ballad came along. Love songs appeal to women and one 4 minute song could easily sell tickets to that demographic. 

Picking a favorite is really tough because there were so many great ones. In the case of Cinderella, one of their ballads was their top charting hit of all time. "Don't Know What You Got (Till It's Gone)" seemed to speak to our teenaged generation just as much as it still speaks to a fortysomething going through a divorce now. Up until that point, the Philly-born band was firmly rooted in the hard rock scene and their videos were loaded with big hair, bright lights and a string of half-dressed chicks. This time out Tom Keifer sat down at his piano and just poured his heart out and boy did it work. The video was in heavy rotation on MTV and the song reached number 12 on Billboard's charts. 

More importantly, it's a ballad that still resonates to this day. Check out the video below!

Daily Boom Lost Hit: Heart - 'There's The Girl'

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: The Jets- 'Cross My Broken Heart'

Image result for The Jets music group

"Cross my broken heart, boy
Swear, I'll never part from you
I want you to be mine
I know you think I'm not
Your picture-perfect jewel
And let us break apart
When everything was cool
I needed to explore
And open up the door
But now I need you more"

Today we're going back in time to the summer of 1987. Beverly Hills Cop 2 had just blasted into theaters and while it may not have been as fantastic as the original, it did serve up a great soundtrack. The Jets, a family band out of Minnesota had already had a string of hits when they brought us "Cross My Broken Heart". It was the first single off of their second album and did really well, reaching number seven on Billboard's Hot 100.

More importantly, the song got tons of radio play and was a really big dance hit. While the Wolfgramm family eventually became best known for some of their ballads (like "Make It Real"), songs like "Cross My Broken Heart" were really a lot of fun and still get plenty of play on satellite radio. As for The Jets, they are still performing together and you can often catch them out there as part of the Freestyle Explosion tour. 

Daily Boom Lost Hit: Exposé- 'I Know You Know'

Monday, July 27, 2020

Daily Boom 80's Throwback: Tina Turner- 'Private Dancer'

"Well the men come in these places
and the men are all the same
You don't look at their faces
and you don't ask their names
You don't think of them as human
You don't think of them at all
You keep your mind on the money
keeping your eyes on the wall

I'm your private dancer
a dancer for money
do what you want me to do
I'm your private dancer
a dancer for money
and any old music will do."

I fell in love with Tina Turner's music back in 1984 when she released Private Dancer. I knew nothing of her career years earlier with Ike and I knew nothing of her struggle to establish herself as a solo artist. I only knew that when the video for "What's Love Got To Do With It" started I was completely sucked in. I remember at that time my dad would buy singles' and add them to a mixtape, then I'd get to keep the 45. At the time my dad, like every other DJ on the radio was mesmerized by Tina's fishnets on the cover. I just thought she reeked of coolness.

By the time the title track, "Private Dancer" was released I was already a fan. At first, I thought that the song was a bit boring but it quickly grew on me. Now many moons later I love it AND all three of the videos that have been released for it. The one below is my very favorite. Shot during a concert at Wembley Arena, it shows just how popular Tina really was in her heyday. It's also a subtle version of a song that's kind of timeless, don't you think?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Exclusive Interview: Night Ranger's Kelly Keagy on the Band's 'Rebirth', Touring and New Music to Come

(Photo: Ash Newell)

Since Covid-19 has brought summer gigs to a screeching halt we are flashing back to some of the best of the best content here at DailyBOOM.


One of the coolest things about music is the way that it provides each and every one of us with the ability to travel through time. You know what I mean, a twenty-second song intro and for just a flash of a moment, you really do feel like it's 1980-something all over again. Night Ranger always takes me back to the tail end of middle school, when laying in the sun while trying to win albums off of a local radio station was an actual hobby. My first boyfriend was a bit obsessed with the band and so I became a fan as well. That was 35 years ago and while I have no idea where he is today, the Night Ranger on vinyl is still with me.

If you haven't had an opportunity to check this band out live then you really owe it to yourself to grab some tickets and just go. The videos that were so popular way back when really didn't do Night Ranger justice in terms of showing just how capable they are of playing a great rock set. I caught the guys recent gig at M3 Rockfest and was keenly aware of just how much the audience seemed to appreciate their talent.

I also had an opportunity to speak with one of the driving forces behind the band's continued success, drummer/vocalist Kelly Keagy. He considers his return to the stage last year after a health crisis not only a rebirth but also a joyful opportunity to be even better than before.

(Photo: Ash Newell)

Cate Meighan: How was the M3 Rock Festival for you and the rest of the band? 

Kelly Keagy:  It was cool. M3 is more of a metal-ish kind of festival and I know that everyone worries about throwing a straight rock band into that kind of lineup. In Europe a metal band show is totally different and filled with bands people in the states may never have even heard of. I remember when Night Ranger was put on a Sweden Rocks show about five years ago and it was mixed up musically. They had Pearl Jam, they had us and they had 10cc from 70's yacht rock play right before us (laughing). 30,000 people came out to see them because they still sounded just like the record and it was phenomenal. I was standing at the edge of the stage singing along, "I'm not in love...thinking how much I loved these guys too.  It's nice to be thrown in with a bunch of different kinds of acts and to be able to hold your own.  

I like being in front of people that know our songs but aren't actually fans because then when we go up and not just play, but also interact with them, we can really wow them.  

CM: I've noticed that people almost seem surprised by just how great you guys are live. Why is that? 

KK:  When you first start out it's all about playing live and it's all about being really good in front of an audience. That's how we started out and then we went in to start making records we had to start thinking in terms of promotion. Since a lot of our radio hits were ballads, the videos that went along with them were often a lot lighter than our live shows would be.

When you are playing live then it's about how you relate to an audience and bring them in. For the last fifteen years or so we've been added on to shows with Journey or Foreigner or some of those bands that were around for maybe ten years before we actually had success. Some of those audiences wouldn't have necessarily been our fans so it's a real challenge for us to go into that situation and have the confidence to know that we can win people over. We always end up walking away with the feeling that maybe those who hadn't seen us before might come and check us out again in the future, so that's cool.  

(Photo: Ash Newell)

CM: Rising to meet the challenges that the music industry presents really isn't a new concept to you though, is it? 

KK: It has always been a whirlwind for us, especially in the early days. Our first record was on Boardwalk, which went bankrupt in the middle of our tour. We came back after doing two sold-out shows with Sammy Hagar and the record company told us that the IRS had locked the doors so we weren't going to have any records in the stores! We had to go back in to make another record as soon as possible and thankfully we already had an offer from MCA, so we went in just as soon as we could. We started writing and we already had some songs leftover. "Sister Christian" hadn't been put on our first record because we already had a lot of ballads, so we were able to use it on our second record. We ended up writing the majority of the other songs in about a month and then we went back in and recorded it. We were very lucky because we just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Anybody else would have just folded because there it was, that one shot to make it and that first record company collapsed. We were lucky to have another shot and so we really ran with it. 

CM: Some of the singles put out were a bit of an issue for you too, weren't they? 

KK:  Oh yeah, the singles that they chose often times weren't really what we would have picked for ourselves and I think it's part of the reason why people don't realize that we're so good live. We did an album called Man in Motion back in 1988 and we were kind of defiant about it. Since all that wanted to do was release ballads, we turned the record in without one (laughing)! They thought we were kidding, a Night Ranger record without a ballad.
The record company would just push those tracks that radio was expecting and so we went back and wrote a really great ballad, but they never used it. Instead, they wanted to use a Russ Ballard song and we were stunned because we write our own material and do well with it! Why would we do a song that doesn't even sound like us? That's when people started to write us off a tiny bit and wonder what happened to Night Ranger. We had to wholeheartedly try and promote that song because the rest of the album was good and we were proud of it, so we had to promote this ballad in the hopes that people would hear the rest of the record 

(Photo: Ash Newell)

CM: So many people end up being involved that it almost seems like a small miracle when any record does get made. How has the process changed for you over the years? 

KK: It has flourished a lot especially in the last three records. On the last one the three of us, myself, Jack (Blades) and Brad (Gillis) decided to just write all of the songs together. In the past I'd bring 2 songs, Jack would bring 2 and we would have almost half the record already so we would then start piecing it together with the rest of the band. With this album, we wanted to be creative together from the very start. Kerri and Eric have had great ideas right off the bat too so it has really been a joyous situation.  

We have the benefit of having a great record company that has been putting out our stuff for a while now. Frontiers Music Srl, owned by Serafino Perugino, is very passionate about all of the bands from the 80's era. They give us some space because they ultimately know that we're going to give them what they want. It's a big business because these companies put a lot of money on the line, and so they have to be sure that they get what they need. Every time they drop a single it's a quarter or a half of a million bucksIt was insane back in the day to do those videos and it's not that much cheaper to do these things now.  

We really care about what the fans think and we'll always make those records that the fans like. But it's nice not to have to worry about the record company breathing down our necks reminding us that we don't have a single to send to radio. We're confident in what we're doing and Frontiers is on board with us.

CM: Is the process of writing and recording different for you now than it was even ten years ago? 

KK: Absolutely because we get to produce our records. Back in the day, we had some pretty heavyweight producers come in and they made all of the crucial and sometimes unpopular decisions. They picked the songs and just did everything. Now, we get to produce the records and decide what songs will be on there and we're having a much better time developing our albums. We needed someone to make all of those decisions back then because when you're young, you don't know how to produce a record (laughing). You need that second ear to tell you when a song isn't worth spending time on and so then, that was good for us. Producers get a lot of money too and we wanted to be able to take our budget and make the best sounding album with it for the fans.  

On Don't Let Up, the last record that we did, we wrote all of the songs together and we recorded it in our home studios. Honestly, for a bunch of old school guys that was a tough decision. What we did do is make sure that the writing and work were really solidly done as demos. We were confident in them and then all we had to do was to re-record our parts. We weren't too far off the mark that way, but if you were doing it without real structure then it wouldn't work.  We were doing sessions 3 or 4 days in a row and then coming back and listening to them, before doing a few more days in a row. That worked pretty well. We had time to live with the demos and then have discussions about them and so we ended up pretty excited about the project. Ultimately, I really do think that it's a good idea to go in there and have everyone present. The emotions really come out when you're all together playing and singing, so there's a kind of magic in the music then. 

(Photo: Ash Newell)

CM: I know that you went through a health crisis about a year ago and ended up having heart surgery. How did that experience change you? 

KK: Oh, wow it really has changed me. I didn't realize it until after I had the heart surgery and I was at home recovering. The doctor had warned me that there was going to be some depression that might set in while I was just sitting there and the band was still out playing. They would send me videos of the audience singing "Sister Christian" and just saying hello to me. At that point, it was just impossible for me to not learn to appreciate those days on stage because they're not going to last forever. I started thinking that this was now a challenge to get back in there with the band. I knew that people were going to be looking at me to see if I would still be as good as before. I looked at it as a new lease on life and so now I had to be even better. It might take a while but I was determined to be strong and singing even better than before. Once you plant that positive seed in your mind then it truly grows 

We are such a close band, even with newer members like Kerri Kelly and Eric Levy, we're really tight and so any crisis brings us closer. My recovery really did do that because I heard from everyone daily and then the fan support was intense. It is truly a miracle to see that kind of energy come into your inner circle and flourish. Such a difficult thing eventually was just such a blessing. It was like a rebirth that brought us all closer. Then we made another record, which was great in my mind. We just keep coming up with good stuff to write about and it's all of these different pieces that ultimately make us still viable. We're still passionate and music is still very important to us and that's how it'll stay for as long as we're making music. 

CM: I know that the band keeps you busy, but is there anything else that's close to your heart now? 

KK: I'm an ambassador for the Musician's Hall of Fame & Museum in Nashville, which is just an amazing place. People can actually come and visit the museum to see pieces of the history that they've been listening to. It's all about the unsung heroes of music from the 50's up until now and there's just this rich music history that unfolds right in front of you. The owner of the museum just seeks out these amazing items and their goal is to preserve music history, whenever and wherever they can. It's such a great place for music buffs to visit and so they really should come and check it out. 

(Photo: Ash Newell)

CM: Night Ranger's summer is already loaded with tour dates so your fans will have plenty of opportunities to catch you live. What comes after that? 

We figure every three years we'll put out an album. Heading into next January after things slow down, we might start kicking ideas around. We've been having such good success at just getting together in a room and jamming out with good, solid musical ideas. I could see that easily happening and then the record would come out a year later- or maybe the fall of 2019. We kind of put it on the calendar, even though it might not happen exactly that way. We're still working with our last record Don't Let UpWe've got another single coming out from it called "Truth" and we're just finalizing the video for that. We like the material so much that we're going to add another song or two in for when we have 90 minutes or a two-hour set. 

CM: How do you feel about those fans that appreciate you as a great live band? 

KK: Every time that I walk on stage it's just such a positive thing to know that these people have come from all over to hear us play. I feel like it's important for us to say something positive to get us all in sync and in the same circle. Bringing everybody together is what it's all about and to still be able to do that is a big deal. We think about it even after 35 years. Not only are we still doing it but we like doing it. We even still like being with each other which is a blessing in itself (laughing). We have to cherish these times because this could be it, we're all getting older and things happen. We're not going to worry about the future because it's all about right now. Stuff goes by really fast and it doesn't come back so we're going to keep going until we literally can't anymore. 

Check out Night Ranger's official site for music, tour dates, and merch! You can also plan a trip to the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum here.