Vintage Sunglasses 9-15-16: Horn...ey Music

Don't let the title fool you; this will not be "Sexual Healing" on loop for two hours. Nope -- instead, for this week's show I've compiled a collection of some of the best '80s music featuring...horn sections! Trumpets, saxes, trombones, you name it, we've got it in the next two dozen-plus tunes. But let me tell you a little bit about each one...
  1. Phil Collins, "Hang In Long Enough"
    I could have chosen any number of solo or Genesis hits featuring Phil alongside the Phenix Horns, the name given to the Earth, Wind & Fire ensemble. And most of those hits were much bigger. But let's lead off the night with the leadoff track (and a Top 25 charter in its own right) from Phil's 1989 ...But Seriously album, because the opening few seconds are just insane.
  2. Earth, Wind & Fire, "Let's Groove"
    The peak of EWF's chart success had come and gone by the dawn of the 1980s, "September," "Boogie Wonderland," and "After The Love Has Gone" having been huge hits in '79. But they still cracked the Top 5 with "Let's Groove" in 1981, providing a worthy, late-period addition to their already considerable list of pop/R&B smashes.
  3. Lionel Richie, "All Night Long (All Night)"
    Full album version included here. For all of Lionel's wildly successful ballads, the impeccable "All Night Long" is (at least in my opinion) the undeniable pinnacle of his solo career. And I still don't know what that chant is all about.
  4. Diana Ross, "I'm Coming Out"
    Arranged and produced by Chic's Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards -- but remixed to Miss Ross' specifications, at no small disappointment to the production pair -- this was memorably (and Notoriously) sampled in the 1990s. The original, of course, has become lovingly linked with the LGBT community.
  5. Michael Jackson, "Bad"
    With a horn arrangement by veteran trumpeter Jerry Hey, the leadoff title track from MJ's 1987 album (dirty little secret: I like it better than Thriller) serves in retrospect as an early prototype for the New Jack Swing sound that sister Janet had helped introduce on 1986's Control, and which Michael himself had fully adopted by the time Dangerous came out in 1991.
  6. Joe Jackson, "You Can't Get What You Want (Till You Know What You Want)"
    If you have heard too much of "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" or "Steppin' Out" on classic rock radio, you've probably forgotten all about this jazzy single from 1984, which hit #15 in the U.S. And no, Joe is not related to Michael.
  7. Swing Out Sister, "Breakout"
    This British group was sadly a one-hit wonder in America (sadly leaving out 1992's "Am I The Same Girl," a sung-through remake of the '60s instrumental classic "Soulful Strut" which just missed the Top 40). But man, what a hit. The horn section completely goes for broke, lead singer Corrine Drewery provides one of the catchiest melodies on the radio in 1986-87, and the final key change is just magical.
  8. KC & the Sunshine Band, "Give It Up"
    Like EWF, KC had seen better days on the charts when "Give It Up" hit the pop Top 20 in '83. That being said, it's a triumph of the highest order. Everything works. The disco elements of the previous decade having been toned down, this is pretty close to the perfect danceable pop song. Even the synths aren't too bothersome.
  9. Buster Poindexter, "Hot Hot Hot"
    In one of the more bizarre turns in pop history, erstwhile New York Dolls frontman David Johansen dug up this obscure track and, recording under his alter-ego alias, formed it into one of the '80s most enduringly annoying earworms. Everything's *here*, but unlike "Give It Up," it doesn't quite work. Still, the song has joined the likes of Squeeze's "Tempted" by becoming a staple of the decade without ever reaching the Top 40.
  10. Howard Jones, "Things Can Only Get Better"
    If you have been a fan of any of my '80s shows on WTSR, you might wonder why the 1986 remix of "No One Is To Blame," produced and featuring drums and backing vocals by Phil Collins, isn't the Jones representative picked here. Goodness knows I played it enough. But shockingly, given the Collins connection, it doesn't have horns! This does.
  11. Glenn Frey, "Livin' Right"
    The late Frey was just barely hanging on as a hitmaker by 1988, when the "Soul Searchin'" album came out. "True Love" was the big radio hit and just missed the Top 10. This one, the brassy leadoff track propelled by the Heart Attack Horns, stalled all the way down at #90 pop.
  12. Billy Joel, "Keeping The Faith"
    I could have gone with "Tell Her About It" here; I knew I was going to include a selection from An Innocent Man, and that was almost it. But I picked "Keeping" because the sax arrangement is fairly intricate for a mainstream pop song. It's an entertaining listen, and one of the first showcases for then-new Joel band saxophonist Mark Rivera...now the longest-tenured member of Billy's touring group.
  13. Tears for Fears, "Sowing The Seeds Of Love"
    Songs from the Big Chair was such a smash, producing back-to-back #1s with "Shout" and "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" plus a #3 classic in "Head Over Heels," that it's easy to forget that "Seeds" reached #2 on the U.S. charts when TfF returned with new material in 1989. It's a deliberate Magical Mystery Tour-era Beatles pastiche, equal parts "All You Need Is Love" and (the trumpet solo gives it away) "Penny Lane."
  14. Eurythmics, "Would I Lie To You?"
    1985's Be Yourself Tonight was the album on which Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart definitively and successfully moved away from synth-pop into a more R&B-driven arena, not only with this Stax-inspired hit but with "There Must Be An Angel," featuring a blistering Stevie Wonder harmonica solo, and "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves," Lennox's transcendent duet with the Queen herself, Aretha Franklin.
  15. Don Henley, "Sunset Grill"
    Likely the third-best remembered single from Henley's Building the Perfect Beast album in '84, the easygoing "Sunset Grill" can best be appreciated in its full album iteration, when synth and live horns duke it out (another Jerry Hey arrangement) in an extended jam during the fadeout.
  16. The Psychedelic Furs, "Pretty In Pink"
    What a difference a saxophone lead can make. The sax was added to this 1981 song when it became the namesake for the classic 1986 Brat Pack film. The Furs had had their fortunes turned by a shift in production before; 1982's "Love My Way" benefited from Todd Rundgren's insistence on a marimba part that became the hook of the song.
  17. Huey Lewis & the News, "I Want A New Drug"
    Yes, the bass line may or may not have been lifted from M's "Pop Musik," then rather deliberately appropriated for "Ghostbusters" when Huey wasn't available and Ray Parker was. But the sax ensemble borrows more than a bit from swing standards like "In The Mood," too.
  18. Paul Simon, "You Can Call Me Al"
    Synth horns and live horns marry again (the live ones just getting progressively louder and louder) in another decade staple that was not as big of a chart hit (#23) as its retrospective reputation suggests. What helped it get there: the iconic video co-starring Chevy Chase, and the most notorious bass guitar solo, maybe, ever.
  19. INXS, "Kick"
    Title track from the Aussie band's most successful album, "Kick" demonstrated INXS' long-standing commitment to horn-driven pop-rock. (Saxophonist and full-fledged band member Kirk Pengilly's contributions defined such hits as "What You Need," "Never Tear Us Apart," "New Sensation," and in the '90s, "Beautiful Girl.") This made a bit of a dent on Billboard's rock charts.
  20. Miami Sound Machine, "Bad Boy"
    The album version is a silly throwaway in the vein that "1-2-3" would be on MSM's next album (on which Gloria Estefan would take top billing). But the single edit, one of the first career-defining remixes by Shep Pettibone, takes the synth solo from the bridge and puts it right up front, with live horns, in the song's intro. There's also a great horn counter-melody in the long fade.
  21. Paul McCartney & Wings, "Coming Up" [live]
    Another alternate to a studio recording (this one from Paul's 1980, one-man-band McCartney II album), the live cut from late 1979 was the hit single released on this side of the Atlantic. It's quite a workout, but perhaps not as much as McCartney's buddy...
  22. Stevie Wonder, "Do I Do"
    ...in undoubtedly the most exuberant musical moment of the 1980s: "Ladies and gentleMENNNNN! I have the pleasure to present, on MY album, Mr. Dizzy Gillespie!! BLOWWW!!!!!" The full album version, one of the four new tracks recorded for Stevie's 1982 Original Musiquarium I retrospective, is essential here. (Where's Original Musiquarium II?)
  23. George Michael, "I Want Your Sex, Pt. 2"
    George Michael is no fool when it comes to what works and what doesn't in pop. That's why, for one of his career-spanning compilations, he included JUST Part 2 of this #2 hit (a daring first single from his solo debut Faith). Part 2, as you might guess, picks up where the single edit cuts off, and immediately launches into a brass-driven riff derived from the synth fills during the main song's chorus.
  24. Genesis, "Anything She Does"
    Phil returns! Here's a song that never got released as a single, but got some play on rock stations when the Invisible Touch album confirmed Genesis' long, slow transition to a straight-ahead Britpop outfit. And unlike some of Invisible Touch's singles, "Anything She Does" has actually aged pretty well over 30 years.
  25. Chicago, "Hard To Say I'm Sorry/Get Away"
    The only way to end the show, this is the moment when Chicago symbolically crossed over. The first three-and-a-half minutes continue in the same vein as the band's soft-rock indispensables like "If You Leave Me Now" and "Baby, What A Big Surprise," and point toward later moneymakers like "You're The Inspiration" and, after Peter Cetera left, "Look Away." But the last 90 seconds reminded you, perhaps for the final time, that this was the same band that once brought you "25 Or 6 To 4."