1980s Second Tier Singles with Production that NAILED IT


Welcome to WEEK 203 of 4T! (Video Episode #29) 1980s Second Tier Singles with Production that NAILED IT (1985-87) https://open.spotify.com/playlist/55SOZvgkK68ysVgCRhlS7M?si=mICY-Lg-Qz60EXRE3tOlNA

Ahh 1980s production values. It all started out so well. Crisp, clean, tight, bouncy but slightly dark, and with awesome amalgams of styles and sounds. But after 1982-3 or so, we all know how out of control it got. The big, crashing snare. The overlayered instruments. The cheesy keyboard sounds. The MELODRAMA. It’s a perfect example of why every 10 years or so a new style comes along to clean the slate of excess – in this case grunge.

But all of that is true only if we focus on the biggest hits and broadest trends. There were some kick-ass second tier singles in the mid ‘80s that still sound very of their time but managed to keep it tight. The production did exactly and ONLY what the song needed. They weren’t the biggest hits, or the most memorable or representative of their time. But they nailed it on every level.

These six 12” singles from my collection all did that. You don’t get tired of listening to them because their production is so choice. And they haven’t been overplayed. And though two of the songs (“Human” and the original Cherrelle version of “I Didn’t Mean to Turn You On”) stemmed from Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, in general the other common factor is that they were artist driven and independently produced. They were prime examples of the artists following their muses. And the two cover tunes – from Robert Palmer & Pseudo Echo, plus Robbie Nevil’s remake of his own composition, did total justice to the originals – in some ways even outdid them.

The 1980s are all over my tunes, especially the crispy-tight version of that era. You can hear this prominently in these two songs:

“Whatever We Have To Do To Wake Up High” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5vFWmn6Qvk

“KPS (Korean Pop Song)” - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMZsT8bAdoQ

Do you remember these songs? Can you hear the difference in production values between these and other bigger 1980s hits? Discuss dammit!

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© 2018 by Nick DeMatteo

New York, NY