If you were any kind of weirdo in the 80’s you more than likely loved Prince to some degree. Seriously, he has always had a very large fanbase in alternative circles. So much so that I have never met a weirdo who hates his music. I have even talked to dudes into heavy hardcore punk who loved and respected him for doing things the way he wanted to instead of bowing down to music industry pressure. Also, his music was played in every single alternative club back then and it was fun as hell to dance to.
With all of that being said I have loved him since the early 80’s when I first saw the videos for1999 and Little Red Corvette on MTV. I also really liked the earlier song I Wanna Be Your Lover but I didn’t know that was made by him for years. During that time I actually went and saw Purple Rain in a theater as a double feature with Mad Max II(Road Warrior). I got my mom to buy the soundtrack and I listened to it so much that I ended up warping the cassette. In fact I still know all of the words to the songs off of it.
I liked some of the songs he did after Purple Rain but his earlier material is what I have always connected more with. When he died it upset me more than any other celebrity death because here was a man who was a musical genius that died because he became a Jehovah’s Witness. That cult believes that you cannot have blood transfusions because it is against the word of God, or something silly like that. Prince really needed to get hip replacement surgery but he couldn’t because of the whole blood transfusion thing. Instead he got addicted to pain pills and overdosed. I still get teary thinking about it sometimes.
Prince is the number one musician that I regret never seeing live. However, through the magic of the internet, we can watch all of his videos and performances. These are my all time favourite Prince songs in no specific order. If you have never listened to his music before you are in for a treat.
The first time I ever heard TSOL’s music was when I was at a friend’s house watching the early 80’s punk film Suburbia. I’m pretty sure it was in late 1989 because I remember being just out of high school. Watching Suburbia was a right of passage if you were any kind of weirdo back then.
I love the film because there were some parts of it that were very relatable, such as metalheads, and other general assholes, who would give you shit even though you were just walking down the street, or shopping, minding your own business. Sure, the acting is pretty atrocious, but that is what makes it a cool film. Most of the actors were actual punks so they looked and acted more real than say the people in Return Of The Living Dead. Also love that film but one of the reasons why it’s so funny is because of the shit they got wrong in it.
With all of that being said the scene that really pulled me into the film and got to me on a deeper level was when TSOL took the stage at the club and started singing Darker My Love. At that time I was already listening to goth and punk music and that song spun the genres together into a sound that really hit me hard in a good way. I’m not going to lie, Jack Grisham was also really easy on the eyes! That same week I bought the soundtrack of the film, Dance With Me and Beneath The Shadows. Needless to say I was hooked. Watch it below.
The only sad aspect to all of this was by the time I discovered them Jack had left the band and without his presence they had morphed into a hair metal band; a music genre that I generally disliked. In 1999 the original members sued the hair metal singer for the rights to the band name, and for the right to perform their older songs. They won, and afterwards started touring again.
In 2001 I had just left my ex-husband so I was somewhat scantily dressed when I went to see them play at The Cactus Club in San Jose. It was a cool venue and I had seen 7 Seconds, Christian Death and some other bands there in the past. When TSOL started playing I was sitting on some stairs that were attached to the left of the stage. I was was only a couple of feet from the band so when Jack complained about the tour bus getting a parking ticket I took some change out of my purse and handed it to him. He gave a sarcastic chuckle, and soon afterwards came the familiar intro to Code Blue. The audience went really nuts and everybody was singing it together. Jack grabbed me and a guy and motioned us to get in front of the mic and sing some of the lines. I don’t have the greatest voice but I knew all of the lines and gave it my all! I had such a blast and after the show I shook Jack’s hand and thanked him. To this day I still smile when I think of that show, because it’s not every day that you get to sing a song about necrophilia with one of your favourite bands!
I make so secret on social media about having a huge fondness for disco, soul and funk coming out of the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up during those decades so I came of age while this music was being played on the radio. Not surprisingly it really means a lot to me and I will never turn my back on it. This list is not exhaustive and is in no particular order since my very favourite songs from these genres fluctuates at times. Some songs are partially in one of the genres and some are in several.
DONNA SUMMER – I FEEL LOVE (1977)
This a very pioneering song that merged disco beats with pure electronic music. I love Donna Summer’s vocals so much in this because she weaves her voice among the beats not overwhelming them. It’s a perfect pairing that still sounds futuristic even though it was made about forty-five years ago.
MARY JANE GIRLS – IN MY HOUSE (1985)
The Mary Jane Girls was a group formed by Rick James, who wrote their songs and produced their recordings. I remember watching this video on MTV and thinking that they looked very cool, and that the song had a cool beat. It’s really fun to sing along with!
PRINCE – CONTROVERSY (1981)
I love the hell out of Prince, especially his work from Purple Rain backwards. This is hands down my favourite song of his because it has such a deep funky beat to it. Plus the lyrics are very political! When you think about it the man was brave as hell to make this song, so I will respect and celebrate him by dancing like crazy to it!
ISAAC HAYS – THEME FROM SHAFT (1971)
Probably the funkiest theme song ever made! If this song doesn’t make you want to dance then you should go see a doctor because you are probably dead. If you have never seen the movie I command you to go see it now!
THE GAP BAND – YOU DROPPED A BOMB ON ME (1982)
I love The Gap Band and this is my favourite song by them. Everything about the song is so cool! The groove, the vocals and the bomb dropping effects come together to form a perfect dance tune! This is so 80’s Cold War that it reminds me of when I first saw The Day After. Hmmmmm…….this could have a strange connection as to why I love post-apocalyptic/dystopian themed films so much.
ANITA WARD – RING MY BELL (1979)
I distinctly remember doing some roller disco to this song. That’s right, I used to roller skate to disco music in Golden Gate Park when I was a kid, which means I was very cool and could actually skate! I haven’t skated in over thirty years so I would probably now break an ankle, but if I could this would be the first song I would choose because it’s fun!
EDWIN STARR – WAR (1970)
This was made the year before I was born but I distinctly remember this song from when I was a kid. I was raised on anti-war music so this song really ties into my childhood of learning about how wrong the Vietnam War was. This is the most political song on my list and its message still stands today. War is fought by the common man, and what is it good for? Nothing. This song will get you emotional, so if you are feeling too down to listen to it I understand.
CHAKA KHAN – I FEEL FOR YOU (1984)
Guess who originally wrote and performed this song in 1979? Prince! That is part of the reason why this song is so cool. The other reason why? Chaka Khan’s voice is really stellar! The woman can sing like hell! Plus, the rapping portion of the song, done by Grandmaster Melle Mel, is fun. If you can breakdance you should be doing it to this song!
DEBBIE DEB – LOOKOUT WEEKEND (1984)
When I would go to high school dances in 85-86 this was one of the only songs that I actually liked. Mostly because it has a cool beat and the laser-ray sounds are pretty cool and dorky at the same time. This song lives in a total 80’s time capsule along with neon clothing and perms…both of which I never had! *proud*
KC & THE SUNSHINE BAND – THAT’S THE WAY I LIKE IT (1975)
This is such a fun band! They made so much cool music that it was hard picking my favourite song out of the bunch. I finally chose this one because the female vocals add some extra oomph to it that inches it over the cliff for me. Their music was played constantly in the 70’s, so I knew the music before I knew who they were. If you have never heard their name, and you’re older like me, I guarantee you will recognise quite a few of their songs.
There is no way I could fit all of my favourite songs of these genres in one post so there will be a part two later this week. Get on down and boogie!!!!!