Thursday, February 04, 2010

Music Box: The Flirts

While the rest of the nation was watching someone who cannot sing (Taylor Swift) and yet another group I've never heard even once (Zac Brown Band?) win Grammy awards, I was lost in the '80s (surprise), trying to decide if my friend Taffy was right that 1983 was the quintessential year of the New Wave. Although I certainly understand his reasoning, I've always thought 1982 was "the" year, albeit somewhat unfairly because I'm including everything from '81 that didn't know about until I "turned" New Wave the following year. You see, I discovered albums like "Beauty and the Beat," "Dare," "It's a Condition" and "See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah, City All Over! Go Ape Crazy!" all around the same time I got "Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?," "Under the Big Black Sun," "Benefactor" and the two Slow Children albums, making 1981-82 the most important "year" in my music history.

With the emergence of my beloved Go-Go's came one one of my favorite memories of this time, a virtual four-way competition between my friends Greg and Mark plus my brother Bill and me to discover "the next" great all-girl band. Bill got the ball rolling when he came home with an import 12-inch single of "Shy Boy" by Bananarama, a group he had first heard singing with Fun Boy Three. The Catholic Girls, Belle Stars ("Sign of the Times") and Toto "I Eat Cannibals" Coelo (or Total Coelo as they were known here) came next -- and I think it was the following year that we discovered the Bangles and a 12-inch single of "Baby Doll" by Girls Can't Help It (who I'm pretty sure turned out to be another Milli Vanilli type of act).

But it was Greg in who discovered "10 Cents a Dance" by the Flirts, an album that delights me as much today as the day I first heard it back in '82 in his bedroom on West Kiowa in Mesa. Although I would later come to realize how influential writer/producer Bobby Orlando's Spector-esque Wall of Synth genius was -- Divine, anyone? -- back in 1982 we were just mesmerized by his unique brand of disco/Hi-NRG, with female singers whose voices were so off-key (and manly) that at times it seemed like a girl-group parody -- one that I just couldn't get enough of -- producing instant classics like "Calling All Boys," On the Beach," "Jukebox (Don't Put Another Dime)" and "Passion." (Is it any wonder Neil Tennant sought Orland out to produce an early version of "West End Girls"?) Although I'm not sure the rotating lineup of girls that came with each album would have mattered much anyway, I never got any of the Flirts albums after "10 Cents." Lighting rarely strikes more than once, and in 1982 the Flirts struck me hard.

If you don't have the classic debut album by the Flirts, it appears to be available HERE.


Frank Anthony Polito said...

Love The Flirts! But for me, the "year" in music had to be '83-'84, which is when I came into my own in terms of "my" MTV:

Favorite '45s from that school year (which is how everything was based back then): "Cum on Feel the Noize" (Quiet Riot), "Mexican Radio" (Wall of Voodoo), "Der Kommissar" (After the Fire), "Rebel Yell" (Billy Idol), "99 Luftbalons" (Nena), "Electric Avenue" (Eddy Grant), "Don't Stand So Close to Me: (The Police), "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (Bonnie Tyler), "The Reflex" (Duran Duran), "Twilight Zone" (Golden Earring), "The Safety Dance" (Men Without Hats), "Heart and Soul" (Huey Lewis and the News)

With the exception of a few of these, can you tell I had a total crush on a STRAIGHT boy that year?

Joe said...

I barely got past your statement about Taylor Swift! I TOTALLY AGREE! Why in the world would Stevie Nicks (who I could hardly hear at all) duet with her?
To Frank, I agree with you. 83-84 was my time too. My brother and sisters and I all loved MTV! Some of the titles you mentioned ("Mexican Radio", "Electric Avenue" and "Twilight Zone") were big favorites in the house. I ended up being a total "pop" boy (MJ, Janet, George Michael, Prince, etc), my brother loves rock, one sister loves classic R&B, and the other sister loves a variety of tunes. Thank you for reminding me of some of the best songs of the time!

Anonymous said...

Oh Kenneth...I still have that song on 12".... in fact it was one of the first I converted to mp3 when I got my USB turntable. Remember dancing to it at Ceasars' Show Bar in Toledo and up at Menjo's in Detroit ( I think I might be showing my age a bit here ....).

nojarama said...

Again, another reason why we were separated birth. We were soooooooo lucky to have grown up during such a fantastic time in music. It really was an incredible decade altogether. My all-time favorite Flirts song will always be "Danger"!

Glenn said...

The 12" remix of "Passion" is probably one of my 10 favourite tracks of the '80s. Brilliant. Also "Danger", "Juke Box" and "Calling All Boys", which would still be a hit today if sung by one of those "protege" type artists (Keri Hilson or whoever).

alguien said...

i seem to remember a friend and i using a flirts record as a cake platter back in '83.