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By Henry Branham Jr.

            When a rock band has a ton of success all at once, they often get categorized as part of an era.  Some groups continue to have mild success in other decades.  Some don’t.  Regardless of the fact that a band consistently records and tours, they are still lumped into one particular era.  Five bands that are considered “80’s” bands all have new product out in 2011 and it’s every bit as relevant as their most famous work more than twenty years ago.  Check out these five releases that won’t just allow you to relive your youth, but continue to groove on today!

  1. DURAN DURAN : ALL YOU NEED IS NOW – They may be best remembered as a video band by the masses, but hardcore fans who have followed them know that Duran Duran definitely qualifies as one of pop music’s super groups!  Their biggest hits may have come out of the early 80’s, but they continued to chart well into 1993.  Since then they have released some great albums which have mostly gone unnoticed, despite well intentioned publicity.  Their latest release harkens back to the classic D2 new wave sound with the ever present dance beats that has made their music so timeless after all these years.  “Safe” is a funky dance floor scorcher and “The Man Who Stole a Leopard” is delicious film noir storytelling at it’s finest.  Duran Duran begins a U.S. tour in October featuring four of the five original members!  Click here for tour dates; http://duranduranmusic.com/?page=tour

  1. BLONDIE : PANIC OF GIRLS – Blondie albums are always unpredictable as none of their previous eight albums sound the same.  Having number one records in three decades (70’s, 80’s, and 90’s), Blondie has gone above and beyond to prove that there isn’t any musical genre they won’t tackle.  Unlike their last two albums (1999’s “No Exit” and 2003’s “Curse of Blondie”), which are all over the musical map, “Panic of Girls” is a solid pop album that flows freely while never compromising the Blondie style.  The album opens with an autobiographical whopper “D-Day” (D for Debbie Harry!) and glides through brilliant pop gems like “What I Heard”, “Mother”, and “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me”.  Two foreign language tracks (“Le Bleu” and “Wipe Off My Sweat”) and two covers (“Sunday Smiles” and “Girlie Girlie”) prove that they are not just resting on their legacy.  The closing ballad, “China Shoes” is absolutely beautiful from beginning to end.  Blondie is touring the U.S. in September.  Click here for tour dates; http://www.blondie.net/event/

  1. THE CARS : MOVE LIKE THIS – The band’s first release in nearly 25 years and it falls right into place with their most classic work.  The Cars heavy use of synthesizers never hindered them to be classified as only a new wave band, but classic rockers as well.  Songs like “Blue Tip”, “Keep on Knocking”, and “Take Another Look” will have you finger popping and foot bopping all the way through.  The only thing missing is original bassist and singer Benjamin Orr who passed away in 2000.  If you are even the most casual fan of The Cars, you will love this album!
  1. HUMAN LEAGUE : CREDO – Although it’s been a full decade since their last album was released (the incredible “Secrets”!), this is certainly no “comeback” record.  Human League never lost their spirit or edge and “Credo” proves that from the opening track “Never Let Me Go” to the luscious final song “When The Stars Start to Shine”.  As always, the lyrics are intelligent, the melodies are cool, and the beats are electrifying and hot.  This is one band that definitely deserves more recognition for their fantastic body of work.  The band is doing a very small U.S. tour at the beginning of September.  Check www.ticketmaster.com for remaining dates.

  1. BOY GEORGE : ORDINARY ALIEN – If you are expecting the pop magic that made Culture Club a household name, then you would be looking in the wrong place.  Boy George’s solo career has taken many swerves and turns in different musical directions, but this is pure electronica all the way.  The songs fit perfectly into a dark, basement dance club groove.  They’re sexy.  Smart.  And best of all – fun!  “Human Racing” (also found on his 2006 album “Yum Yum”) has the great lyric, “The problem with you is, you’ve got problems – welcome to the human race!”  “Turn 2 Dust” and “The Psychology of a Dreamer” are just more examples of his spectacular dance floor prowess.  “Amazing Grace” and “Yes We Can” are both catchy and addictive, and very pop radio friendly.  In the event that “Ordinary Alien” is too out there for the casual Boy George fan, check out his incredible, and Culture Clubesque song “Somebody to Love” on the Mark Ronson album “Records”.

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