Ending up our week of 80s icons and lesser-knowns with a 1983 concert from Tears For Fears. Recorded by the BBC right around the time of the release of their debut album, The Hurting. Tears for Fears were enormously popular right from the start. Their debut album went platinum – a pattern that would be duplicated, and doubled when their follow-up album was released two years later. They had a string of hits, even though they switched styles later on – going from New-Wave/Synth to more mainstream later on, they still had a huge following all the way up until their dissolve in 1991. After several releases as solo acts, the team of Roland (Orzabal) and Curt (Smith) reunited and are continuing where they left off.
Tonight’s concert puts them right at the place they were achieving worldwide popularity in 1983 and a reminder of a lot of great music the band made during that time. Recorded at The Hammersmith Palais in 1983 by the venerable BBC. They were, after all, the quintessential 80s band.
Ever since the end of World War 2, the growth in population of the U.S. was steadily increasing, at a daily rate. What wasn’t increasing was the size of classrooms needed to accommodate this flood of youth about to descend on American schools. Couple that with the Red Scare and the threat that Russia was investing heavily in education and we were in trouble.
By the early 1950s, the average American classroom was jammed to capacity. In some schools, children had to share books, sat two and even three at a desk – or didn’t have desks at all. Makeshift classrooms were arranged in hallways, storage rooms, anywhere a kid could fit. School hours were reduced – in some communities, particularly suburban areas, school hours were cut to three and students had to attend in shifts.
It was a crisis, and it was a perfect storm – and the bottom line was; anything that would be construed as falling behind the Russians was a bad thing. And education, in both the Truman and Eisenhower Administrations was crucial.
But getting all this new construction took bond measures and community activism, and an increase of taxes.
Then as now, the notion of any kind of tax increase on a Federal or local level to support education was met with open hostility in some sectors. Rather than look at the big picture, the one that extended into the future, many felt government support of education was tantamount to Socialism. So it was a fight. Still is.
But the situation was too big, and the idea that private funding would only mean some schools would be well funded, while others would not. Add to this the recent (1954) Brown V. Board of Education decision on School de-segregation and the situation was untenable.
So to focus on the problem, and to illustrate what some communities were doing as a solution, a series of documentaries were produced in 1952 by CBS Radio in conjunction with the Ford Foundation called “The People Act”. On the one hand, it could be construed as a sort of Cold War “we-can-do-this-thing” call for community activism. But on the other hand it illustrated that community activism was a good thing, and the more of it that happened, the better off most Americans would be.
Have a listen for yourself – The People Act – July 1, 1952.
Even though it was the dead of Winter, the cold snap hitting Alaska on this January 30th in 1989 raised a few eyebrows. With temperatures dipping to 125 below zero in some places the cold snap, now three weeks old was putting a new spin on the term Frozen.
And the weather may have been a factor in the crash of a Canadian Military C-130 Transport plane, killing some 8 Canadian Special Forces soldiers when it broke apart during landing at Ft. Wainwright airfield near Fairbanks after hitting a snowbank.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul Afghanistan was closing and the diplomats were heading home. Chargè d’affair John Glassman expressed a desire to return someday. And rebel leaders promised not mount any attacks on Kabul before the last of the Soviet troops were scheduled to leave by February 15th. Comforting and prophetic.
News of the second time in ten days that a radical Pro-Solidarity Priest was found murdered in Poland. Suspicions were placed on hardliners within the Communist Party in Poland were responsible, since negotiations between Solidarity and the Military government were getting closer to agreement.
Lebanon’s warring Shi’ite groups were expected to sign a peace accord in Damascus, Syria ending a year-long feud in which hundreds had been killed.
Far Right extremists led by ann ex-Nazi won local elections in West Berlin, bringing cries of “Nazi’s Out!” as crowds hit the streets in protest. In what was thought to be a dull local election turned into a political sensation. The new Far Right Party campaigned on the grounds of a dislike of foreigners, of which over 200,000 Turks live in West Berlin. But even the Far Left Wing won victories, further weakening the Centrist government of Helmut Kohl.
And after his first week in office, President Bush was battling a Cold.
All that, and a lot more for this January 30th in 1989 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.
Continuing 80s week with Altered Images. Short-lived by most band’s standards, Altered Images attracted a lot of attention from the get-go. A boost from John Peel was a big plus. A budding acting career for lead singer Clare Grogan also helped. And being named Best New Band of 1981 from New Musical Express was the icing on the cake.
They were hailed as one of the biggest New Wave acts at the time and were poised to achieve household name status. From their initial appearance as warm-up act to Siouxsie and The Banshees in 1980 to headlining by 1981, Altered Images had a quick and meteoric rise.
But they failed to make a dent in the U.S. and, after their initial jolt of success, weren’t able to duplicate it with follow-up releases.
Their last tour in 1983 included a few U.S. appearances, but by the end of the year the band broke up
As a reminder of Altered Images when they were at the crest of a popularity wave, here is a concert they did from October of 1981, recorded by BBC Radio 1 for their In Concert series.
First week of a new Presidency, same Cold War games of tit-for-tat, same give-and-take on Capitol Hill.
News from Moscow was the goodwill gesture in releasing two U.S. airman it had detained for violating Russian airspace. The move was applauded in some circles, but diplomatic circles were wary this was a glossing-over of other issues in the Cold War atmosphere; notably Laos and Cuba. Some felt if wanted to be a real goodwill gesture, Moscow could stop meddling in the affairs of other countries.
On Capitol Hill, President Kennedy held his first cabinet meeting ahead of his State of The Union Address on the 30th. The wrangling and politicking was in full bloom however, with much going on over President Kennedy’s proposed economic measures.
The Space program was coming under scrutiny with word of a new committee forming to address the issue of labor problems at various rocket and missile installations around the country. Seems much money was being wasted by strikes going on between unions at these installations and Senator McClellan was heading up an investigation over a file cabinet filled with accusations of waste and improprieties.
And news regarding the goings-on with The People’s Republic of China. Reports from Taipei that food shipments from Red China to Russia and other aligned countries were increasing. The news was greeted with perplexity, as it had been widely reported Red China was in the grips of a famine and that domestic food supplies were purported to be at their lowest level in years. The news caused some to wonder how much was fact and how much was fiction.
And that’s what people were thinking about and talking about, this last week in January, 1961.
15 years ago, on January 29, 2000 the news was about protestors disrupting the Economic Summit in Davos Switzerland, where President Clinton was scheduled to make an address and where questions regarding the U.S. government’s acknowledgement that some American workers developed Cancer because of their work at Nuclear Weapons plants were being addressed. Still, the World economy was teetering on the brink and battles erupted in the streets of the normally sedate Swiss town of Davos.
Victims of the crash of TWA Flight 800 in 1996 were threatening to sue, saying the government was lying about the official cause of the crash. Investigators concluded a series of events, including damaged wires and corrosion could have caused a spark in the fuel tank. Some families weren’t buying that explanation and there had to be another reason the TWA flight blew up in mid-air after taking off from New York City, bound for Paris and Rome.
And the South was getting sick of Winter weather, with repeated snow storms hammering everywhere from North Carolina to Georgia. It wasn’t expected to cause a delay in the upcoming Superbowl in Atlanta though.
And that’s a little of what went on this January 29th in 2000 as presented by CBS Radio News.
As long as we’re spending this week in the early 1980s, I thought I would toss a concert by Blancmange into the mix. Although probably not all that well known in the U.S. than in their native UK, Blancmange had a string of hits in the early 80s and were very well received by both critics and the audience.
In retrospect, they were one of the first New-Wave/Techno bands to rely almost exclusively on keyboards and synthesizers. A style which has been duplicated quite a bit over the years, especially now with the advent of EDM. Blancmange were a duo; Neil Arthur and Steve Luscombe.
But tonight it’s 1984 and music from their newly released second album, Mange Tout which came out earlier in the year. Tonight’s concert was simulcast on BBC Radio 1 and 2 and televised as part of the BBC‘s Sight and Sound Series on March 31, 1984.