I experimented with a lot of things in college, but the only one I got addicted to was music.
I couldn’t wait to get my next fix. And, best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime.
All I had to do was walk down one of the many hallways of my 14-story dormitory and I’d be exposed to a cornucopia of new and exciting sounds.
The vast majority of students were from Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. As a result, their tastes in music ran the gamut.
At any given time, I could hear rock, country, blues, punk, and/or new wave, emanating from the dozens of cubicle-sized rooms — often at maximum volume.
I was a rocker at heart, enjoying many contemporary styles, as well as the golden oldies. Hailing from a large city myself, I thought I was well-versed in contemporary music.
Boy, was I wrong.
I soon found out that my hometown radio stations were rather conservative and extremely limited in scope. They still are.
I began to get introduced to artists who I’d only heard about and more from those who had only one or two hits that received airplay. I was like a kid in the proverbial candy store.
However, my candy store sold vinyl records and an assortment of drug paraphernalia. It was the mid-1970s.
To feed my habit, I took a job delivering pizza three nights a week. Surprisingly, it never affected my grades.
It also helped to fund my affinity for alcohol and frivolity with the local coeds.
Hey, come on, it was college. After all, I did graduate and become a productive citizen.
Anyway, I began to buy two or three albums a week, sometimes having never even heard the artist’s work.
Fortunately, I was never disappointed.
A case in point was the Motel’s debut album. I was oddly attracted to the cover, even though it probably ranks among the most repulsive ever printed. Thirty years later, I would see plenty of women who resembled the one who graced the cover when I lived in Florida. Let me tell you, they’re scary.
Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the album, although I may have been one of the few who did.
But, as fortune would have it, their followups would become quite popular, featuring a couple of selections that received tons of airplay during the new wave period of the early 1980s.
Of course, they were from Los Angeles, California, and led by a dark and mysterious female vocalist.
Her name was Martha Davis and she has a smooth, sultry voice.
They scored a minor hit off their first album, released in 1979, entitled “Total Control.”
It’s one the most haunting ballads I’ve ever heard, punctuated by an infectious guitar line and awesome saxophone solo.
Here’s a link to the Youtube video of “Total Control:” https://youtu.be/HDOYbzyqARE
Their followup, “Careful,” didn’t fare as well, but they hit the big time with their third release, “All Four One.” Propelled by the smash hit, “Only the Lonely,” it went gold in 1982. The song cracked the Top Ten at #9.
They did it again in 1983, with the release of “Little Robbers,” featuring “Suddenly Last Summer.”
It also reached #9.
Unfortunately, it was downhill from there. Davis suffered a setback when she was diagnosed with cancer.
She rallied and beat it, eventually going out on her own. She later reformed the band, touring as The Motels featuring Martha Davis.
To her credit, she’s still making music and touring today.
I would get lucky, again.
In 1980, I picked up an album by a band calling themselves “Blue Angel.”
The cover appeared to be a throwback to the 1950s.
It turned out to be appropriate. They were billing themselves as a rockabilly band.
They definitely had a groove, but it was the female vocalist who stole the show.
To this day, I can say that I’ve never heard a more powerful voice.
The voice belonged to a rather eccentric young woman named Cyndi Lauper.
Her vocals literally soared.
The band broke up and she virtually disappeared until 1983. She’d been working as a waitress at an International House of Pancakes (IHOP), when she was signed to solo record deal after being heard singing in clubs around New York City.
Her first solo release entitled, “She’s So Unusual,” led to her becoming a household name. The album peaked at #4, catapulted by the success of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” which was custom made for heavy rotation on MTV.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Give it a spin.
Follow the link below to the Youtube video of Blue Angel, featuring Cyndi Lauper, performing “I Had a Love.”
Here’s a link to the complete Blue Angel album (Audio set to static images): https://youtu.be/a0lbBVY81mc