Flashback Fridays is a feature where we take a closer look at a piece of music which has gone stale with time. The aim of this feature is to embrace the social happenings and popular culture from the year of the songs release as a means to fully illuminate both the artist and their work. It's also an attempt to remember what it felt like for the audience who experienced this music for the first time.
Today's featured artist is Steve Winwood with his 1987 re-release of the tune Valerie from his compilation album Chronicles.
I have been lovin' on this video recently for a few reasons. First, its from the school of song writing that says all you need for a Pop hit is a woman's name, and then a few of the most obvious rhymes you can think of; Valerie – Come to me, etcetera. Second, I really dig the old school Don Johnson (it is 1987 after all) pastel effect in the video footage. I'm pretty sure this effect looked dated by the morning after it's release, but now it's dated in the cool, ironic, I want to go back to my undergrad days and throw a college theme party kind of way. That being my mindset, let's go all out and get this theme party happening by making sure we are completely topical on the playlists and conversation. Here's a list of significances from 1987. Hold on to your butts, its about to get radical.
Grammy award winners in 1987 included Paul Simon's Graceland for album of the year, and our man Steve Winwood for record of the year with Higher Love. Jim Henson was awarded the Grammy for Best Album for Children with his recording of the alphabet by the Sesame Street cast. Dire Straits also won a Grammy for best music video with their hit Brothers in Arms.
The top grossing movies of the year were Fatal Attraction, Three Men and a Baby, Moonstruck, Beverly Hills Cop II, and Good Morning Vietnam. Michael Douglas won the Oscar for best actor for his performance in Wallstreet, Olyimpia Dukakis won for her performance in Moonstruck, and best picture went to the film The Last Emperor. We also got to see Nick Cage get slapped in the face 25 years before he truly deserved it. You were ahead of the curve once again Cher!
Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The world was hot with the Iran-Contra affair and the Black Monday stock market crash began in Hong Kong and rippled outward across the global economy. Michael Eisner, CEO of Walt Disney greenlit the Euro-Disney project, and Wrestlemania III set the record for indoor sporting event attendance – which was not broken until the 2010 NBA All Star game.
In the opera world John Cage's classic Nixon in China premiered and on the opposite side of the dime Whitney Houston's second album became the first from a female artist to debut at number one on the charts. Speaking of (dead) girl power (was that too soon?), Aretha Franklin became the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In the television world, Remington Steele returned after taking a hiatus to allow its star Pierce Brosnan the chance to play James Bond. Televangelist Jim Bakker was forced to resign from his job after an embarrassing sex scandal and The Simpsons debuted on The Tracy Ullman Show. Finally, my favorite 1987 fact is that Bob Barker, the host of the Price is Right stoped dying his hair and received a minute long standing ovation the first time he took on the set with grey hair. Bravo old man.
In the sporting world, the Giants won the Superbowl, the Twins beat the Cardinals in the World Series 4 games to 3, and in the NBA the LA Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 4 games to 2. In boxing, the rising star of the not yet facially tattooed Mike Tyson continued to climb as he defeated James Smith by decision after 12 rounds to add the WBA heavy weight title to his WBC belt.
Notable deaths from 1987 included jazz drummer Buddy Rich, Czar of the classical guitar Andres Segovia, chemist and Nobel Prize winner John Howard Northrop, actor and comedian Jackie Gleason, actor Lee Marvin, and theater choreographer Bob Fosse. 1987 gave us the births of notable Canadians Ellen Page, and Sydney Crosby, but also born that year were Zach Effron, Hillary Duff, and a crazy amount of Korean pop stars.
All in all I'd say 1987 was a success. Steve Winwood was on top of his game, Michael Jackson was still pure and good, and Back to the Future and Spaceball jokes were still appropriate and understood. The 1987 theme party at my place has a five dollar cover chage. I can't wait to see who shows up as the Ayatollah Kohmeni. Until then, enjoy the video. You dig?