Back to the 80's
“Man, people sure looked funny back the 80’s with their mullets and shorty shorts,” says the guy with a man bun wearing skinny jeans while he plays with his overgrown beard.
Yes we are talking about the 80’s, the decade before dressing like a lumberjack and being depressed became cool. Why are we talking about past? Well, the new season of the Podcast is doing Todd Morr’s Fiero which happened to take place in the 80’s. So in the spirit of the 1980’s we take a look back at some of the cool stuff from the decade, with our not regular feature five cool things.
- People could play the shit out of the guitar. Sure dressed like an aging whore in desperate need of electrolysis a lot of them looked funny doing it, but even the silliest of the silly glam metal bands of the era had a guy who could play (check out Reb Beach from Winger, George Lynch from Dokken, Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P., Brad Gillis and Jeff Watson from Night Ranger* ). When they weren’t buying hairspray and eyeliner these dudes practiced like they were going to be doing a Crossroads like guitar battle for their soul later. In the non make-up department (mostly) guys like Yngwie Malmsteen took what Ritchie Blackmore and Randy Rhoads did to another level. Dude named Mike Varney started a record label called Shrapnel records which was dedicated to guys who could shred on guitar. Bringing guys like Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine, Paul Gilbert and Marty Friedman (Megadeth) to the masses (well to masses of guitar geeks anyway). If you were a guitar player in the 80’s and you could not play Eruption by Van Halen the general consensus was you sucked. Banging out the four chords to Smells Like Teen Spirit (or as we called it then More Than a Feeling) would have impressed no one. Grunge did a lot great things but had the unfortunate side effect of having tons of people miss the point and started to think gaining a level of mastery on a musical instrument was no longer cool.
- On a related note - on the occasionally dressing silly without going full glam side of things the 80’s brought us real metal. Heavy Metal was not invented in the 80’s but most of the bands who defined it did their best work in the decade. Iron Maiden released Number of the Beast, Piece of MInd, and Powerslave. Metallica unleashed KIll them all, Ride the Lightning and And Justice for all. Metallica fired Dave Mustain who formed Megadeth, who put out Peace Sells. . . But who’s Buying. Judas Priest put out British Steel and Screaming for Vengeance. Ozzy Osbourne got kicked out of Black Sabbath to give us Blizzard of Ozz and Diary of a Madman (featuring the stellar guitar work of Randy Rhoads). After giving us Mob Rules Ronnie James Dio was kicked out of Black Sabbath and released Holy Diver and The Last In Line. Know of a current metal band who was not influenced by some if not all these albums? No, you don’t and if you do that band is either not metal or they suck. All these guys ripped it up on guitar too
- The rise of the action hero - Did you know there was a time when Chuck Norris was not a series of jokes or a right wing doosh? Okay, he was probably always a right wing Doosh, but he was too busy round house kicking the crap out of everybody for anyone to notice. In the 80’s Arnold was telling Sully he was going to kill him last, Kurt Russell was telling people to call him Snake and Sylvester Stallone was re-fighting the Vietnam war ( we got to win this time) before later helping the Taliban (seriously, check out Rambo 3, or don’t it kind of sucks) beat the Russians. Patrick Swayze beat the Russians without helping future terrorists in Red Dawn. Clint Eastwood revived Dirty Harry so he could get in on the fun telling people to ‘Make my day’. Bruce Willis as John McClane uttered his first yippie-kai-yai mother fucker in the 80’s. The pre-killl catch phrase was invented and perhaps perfected in the 80’s. Without these guys leading the way The Rock and Vin Diesel might be looking for jobs. If you can’t see the influence of 80’s action insanity in the Fast and Furious franchise you aren’t paying attention. While, like glam metal, it is easy to poke fun at the excess and stupidity of the many of the 80’s action flicks or get the vapors over the ‘toxic masculinity’ presented on screen, but there is a reason those Expendable movies made so much money trotting out an aging steroid enhanced Sylvester Stallone toting a big gun and it wasn’t Jason Statham.**
- Stephen King - He published books in the seventies and every decade since, but the 80’s was his best decade - Firestarter, The Running Man, Cujo, the first two Dark Tower Books, Pet Sematary, Christine, It, Misery, and the Dark Half all came out during the 80’s. The best King movie adaptation ‘The Shining’ also debuted in 1980 (sorry Shawshank Redemption fans and Steve himself, but this movies kicks some ass). Sure he had other great books in the decade before (Carrie, The Stand and The Shining) and a few since, but the definitive King decade is the 80’s.
- This is also the John Carpenter decade. The Thing, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and They Live all came out during the 80’s. Along with an adaptation of Christine. These are all movies every good parent should make their kids watch. These are all so good we can forgive him for all the not so great sequels and tired imitations his original Halloween (not the 80’s but close) inspired.
Want more 80's? then go to the Big Bad Old School Radio Radio Serial Podcast and get yourself some.
* Not really a glam band, but close. More a hard rock pop outfit with a chart topping 80’s power ballad (Sister Christian).
** Despite once again giving him a hard time we really do love Jason Statham.