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The story behind ... 'Christmas Wrapping' by The Waitresses

Is there a song from the '80s that better represents the ups and downs of the holiday season better than Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses

Probably not, which is why it's the latest "story behind" blog item for a Sunday. For the record, the excellent website Songfacts.com has the total and complete story behind the song, thanks to an extensive interview with the tune's author.

It was Chris Butler, the founder/songwriter/guitarist of The Waitresses, who wrote the tune. The title was a play off of a 1979 song Christmas Rappin' by Kurtis Blow.

"It was a joke on it, of course," Chris told Songfacts. "... Plus, I liked the idea of the word 'wrap,' like a wraparound, because the story is circular. It wraps up backward at the end. So I was double-punning, but it was kind of appropriate."

The group was under pressure by their label ZE records to create a holiday song, but Chris was a self-admitted "scrooge" who found the task daunting. 

First of all, the request for the song came in July with a deadline of August - not exactly a yuletide time of year.  …

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Friday freakout: ‘Against All Odds’ was a remake?!?

Who doesn’t love the 1984 flick Against All Odds? The story of an aging football player (Jeff Bridges) - playing in the real-life uniforms of the very ‘80s L.A. Express of the USFL - who is sent looking for a shady friend’s missing girlfriend (Rachel Ward) only to fall in love with her when he finds her … well, heck, even if you didn’t love the cheesy ‘80s-ness of the movie, you loved the of-its-era, title song by Phil Collins, right? 

What if I told you it’s a remake? A total and nearly perfect homage to a movie from 1947 called Out of the Past? (Sorry, no Phil Collins song for the original flick.) …

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Can you name the one American band that recorded with Band Aid?

Band Aid was considered the best collection of popular musicians that Britain had to offer but not every artist in Band Aid was from across the pond. So who was the answer to the trivia question of what American group participated in Band Aid? It was Kool & the Gang.

So why was Kool & the Gang in Band Aid and not other hipster or bigger name American bands? It was just simple logistics as Band Aid was rushed together in a matter of days and Kool & the Gang just happened to be touring in the country at the time. One other American appeared in Band Aid and that was Jody Watley, who was recording in England with Shalamar before starting her successful solo career.

There was no more consistent band in the '80s than Kool & the Gang as every year they released an album that went gold or platinum and spawned a couple of Top 40 hits. In 1982 they had two Top 40 hits that are rarely played these days - Big Fun (featured on Lost & Found several years ago) and today's feature of Let's Go Dancin' (Ooh, La, La), which was a minor hit that made it to No. 30 on the singles charts. 

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New Gremlins soundtrack also subject to Mogwai care rules

Do you remember the three rules for caring for a “Mogwai” from the classic '80s flick Gremlins? Avoid bright light. Don’t get them wet. And never feed them after midnight. Turns out two of those rules apply to the movie’s soundtrack as well.

Pitchfork.com reports that Mondo has released a new vinyl version of the soundtrack to the 1984 movie. The cover of the 2-record set has hidden messages that can only been seen when it’s exposed to UV light. And the sleeves holding the records have additional graphics that appear when the sleeves are exposed to moisture. No reports yet of what the record does if you smear food on it after midnight.

The set was reportedly released this week. Check out Mondo’s website for ordering details (and links to other ‘80s soundtracks, T-shirts and posters).

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One band was the status quo in Britain for six decades

If you were to ask an American to name the biggest Brit bands of the rock 'n' roll era, you'd get responses like The Beatles, The Who, The Kinks and the Rolling Stones. But in England, a band that lasted just as long and produced as many hits in their native country was Status Quo, who were successful all through the '80s with songs like In The Army Now.

When you watched the video for Do They Know It's Christmas back in 1984, perhaps you didn't recognize some of the background singers, especially that jovial guy with the receding hairline and unfashionable ponytail. That individual would be Francis Rossi, lead singer and guitarist for Status Quo. 

Status Quo first hit the charts in 1967 with Pictures of Matchstick Men, which was their one and only Top 40 hit in America (remade by Camper Van Beethoven as an alternative hit in 1989). They have the distinction of scoring a U.K. Top 40 hit in six consecutive decades and have charted nearly 60 singles in the Top 40. In the '80s, their biggest hit was In The Army Now, which made it to No. 2 on the U.K. charts and No. 1 in several European countries.

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Eddie Murphy was almost in Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home?!?

There are some days in the ‘80s kingdom when we think we know it all. And then there days when your world crumbles because you learn Eddie Murphy was THIS CLOSE to appearing in 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

Yeah, the whale one. Our Beverly Hills Cop was almost in the whale one.

In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Steve Meerson - one of the writers of the screenplay - reveals that Murphy was up for a small part in the movie. As we all know from our homework, The Voyage Home revolves around the Enterprise returning to 20th century Earth to bring a pair of humpback whales back to the future. 

"It was always the same story that got approved, but the original draft included a part for Eddie Murphy," Meerson told THR. 

But why Murphy?

"Eddie was on the lot at Paramount at the time and arguably was the biggest star in the world," Meerson said. "They had told us he was a huge Star Trek fan."

(Actually those of us who saw Murphy’s 1992 movie Boomerang might remember that his character also loved Star Trek. Watch the scene here. Who knew it was actually true?) …

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One of U2's best albums only had two singles ... including this lost classic

Band Aid was a call to conscience for many musicians in the '80s. It was Band Aid that ignited the humanitarian efforts for U2's Bono and started his Unforgettable Fire.

Three months before their involvement with Band Aid, U2 secluded themselves in Ireland's Slane Castle and - with the help of producers Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois - forged a new atmospheric sound with The Unforgettable Fire. Only two singles were released from the album, Pride (In The Name Of Love) that became U2's first Top 40 hit in the U.S. and the title track, which did not chart on in the U.S. However The Unforgettable Fire was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and was U2's first No. 1 single in their home country of Ireland.

The inspiration for The Unforgettable Fire was an art exhibit of the same name about the atomic bombings in Japan during WWII that the band viewed while visiting the Peace Museum in Chicago earlier in 1984. The music video for The Unforgettable Fire was also included a 1985 VHS special on the making of The Unforgettable Fire album that includes such nuggets as the band viewing an eclipse while The Unforgettable Fire plays in the background.

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When the world calls, Bob Geldof still answers

It's was about this time in 1984 that Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas was released and always at center stage of its anniversary is the visionary of the project: Bob Geldof. As a solo artist, Geldof attempted to reach out to all of us again, this time with This Is The World Calling.   

The explosion of Do They Know It's Christmas made life a whirlwind for Geldof as instead of pursuing his music career, he went on to help organize Live Aid and took on the unenviable task of making sure the donations raised were going to the right groups. As the champion of the starving Ethiopians, he also called on foreign dignitaries to round up more aid - all efforts that culminated in his becoming an honorary knight in 1986.

Also in 1986, Geldof released his first solo single, This Is The World Calling, which was co-written with the Eurythmics' Dave Stewart. The single only made it to No. 82 on the U.S. singles chart for the man who gained fame as lead singer of the Boomtown Rats and as the main character in Pink Floyd's movie version of The Wall. Part anthem/part spiritual, the video for This Is The World Calling is a plea for calm and peace.

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Rick Astley’s U.S. tour includes stop in Clearwater

Make all the jokes you want about Rickrolling and that he’ll never give you up or let you down: Rick Astley was a pop music god in the ‘80s. So when we heard he was planning a U.S. tour to promote his new album 50, all we could do is hope he wouldn't let Florida down with his travel plans. 

It turns out that Rick’s tour, which starts Jan. 21 in Las Vegas, will have two Florida stops: the obligatory Miami pitstop but also a Feb. 6 gig at Clearwater’s Capitol Theatre.

Astley had a ton of success in the ‘80s, eventually landing five singles in the Top 10, including Never Gonna Give You Up, Together Forever, It Would Take a Strong Strong Man and She Wants to Dance with Me

Tickets for the Clearwater show go on sale Friday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m. Tickets are $59, $45 and $35 will be available at the Ruth Eckerd Hall Ticket Office located at 1111 McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater or by calling 727.791.7400. Fans can also purchase tickets at www.AtTheCap.com.

RICK ASTLEY 2017 U.S. TOUR DATES: …

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The story of Sting's forgotten tribute to a slain engineer in Nicaragua

Many '80s anniversaries go unnoticed, but the anniversary of Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas always draws plenty of attention this time of year, so Lost and Found will join the fray this week profiling some of the artists, like Sting, that participated on the king of charity songs.

Besides Band Aid talk, Sting has also been in the news lately with the arrival of his recent album 57th & 9th and its lead single I Can't Stop Thinking About You. In 1988, Sting's hit album Nothing Like The Sun was still going strong and the fourth single released was the poignant Fragile. The song was a tribute to Ben Linder, an American who was killed in Nicaragua in 1987 by the American-funded Contras while working on a dam as a civil engineer. Fragile did not chart in the U.S. and only made it to No. 70 on the U.K. charts.

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Look inside Pat Benatar's Hawaii home - or buy it for only $3.2 million

How would you like to buy the home of Pat Benatar and her husband/music partner Neil "Spyder" Giraldo located in an off-the-path hamlet in Maui, Hawaii. And it, of course, includes a recording studio. On the con side, it will set you back - are you ready to be hit with their best shot? - about $3.2 million.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the couple wants to sell the home, which they purchased in 2002 for $550,000, because their busy touring schedule makes it too difficult to live there anymore. 

According to the official listing on Island Southeby's International Realty, the property is 3,295 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 3 1/2 bathrooms. It officially went on the market on Nov. 9.

[Read the official Stuck in the '80s interview with Neil Giraldo from 2012.]

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The story behind the enduring appeal of 'The Power of Love' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood

One of the more unusual power ballads of the '80s is 1984's The Power of Love by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. For a band that had previously topped the UK charts with a song about sex (Relax) and another about politics (Two Tribes), to land a third No. 1 single by honoring love was either the most expected or least-expected move by the lads from Liverpool.

Because of its nativity-themed video for MTV (directed by Godley & Creme) and its late November release, The Power of Love is often considered a Christmas song, though the lyrics don't make any obvious references to the holiday or Christianity. (Instead, there are references to vampires and the "Hooded Claw," reportedly a character in the 1969 Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Perils of Penelope Pitstop.)

Still, lead singer Holly Johnson (who co-wrote the song along with drummer Peter Gill, bassist Mark O'Toole and guitarist Brian Nash) would later tell a reporter about his intent with the song: 

"I always felt like The Power Of Love was the record that would save me in this life. There is a biblical aspect to its spirituality and passion; the fact that love is the only thing that matters in the end." …

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A Thanksgiving message from the '80s: May we all 'Live in Peace'

A refrain heard frequently in the past few weeks is for us all to live in peace. That plea has been going on since the first war and in the '80s it was no different. During our favorite decade, it was not just youthful bands like U2 trying to spread the message of peace, but also seasoned rock 'n' rollers too, like The Firm and their anthem Live In Peace.

The Firm was an all-star band from England led by Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers and Led Zeppelin guitar legend Jimmy Page. The Firm put out two albums in successive years with their debut single Radioactive becoming a Top 40 hit in 1985. Their 1986 follow up album Mean Business did not have any singles that hit the Top 40 but two songs were big hits on the Mainstream Rock Charts: All The Kings Horses and today's Live In Peace.

Live In Peace was originally recorded for Rodger's 1983 solo album before being remade by The Firm. The video for Live In Peace follows scenes from all around the globe as their world comes to a pause due to what appears to be a nuclear explosion. On that happy note, have a great and peaceful Thanksgiving break.

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Shannen Doherty joins Heathers series for TV

Some '80s remakes have been in the works for so long, we'll have to pass along the rumor mill on news to our grandchildren. Heathers definitely fits that category.

The 1988 movie, which has largely been aped over and over again on the big screen in flicks like Mean Girls, has long been going through an adaption to fit onto our TV screens. 

TV Land is the current network working on its reincarnation. And now comes news from Entertainment Weekly that Shannen Doherty - who played one of the original "Heathers" in the movie - has joined the cast.

Doherty, whose character isn't known just yet, even posted an Instagram photo from the set. 

Still no word on when fans will actually see the completed work. 

 

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There can be more than one (director) for Highlander reboot

There's no small sense of irony that a movie about immortality continues to see life well beyond its original death. And so it is that Highlander, long a target for rebooting by Hollywood, now has another director tapped for the projec.

The Hollywood Reporter says Chad Stahelski (of John Wick fame) is now on board to bring new life to the movie franchise that began in 1986 with the film starring Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown and Sean Connery

According to DenofGeek.com, Stahelski is the fourth director to be attached to Highlander.

"I've been a huge fan of the original property since I saw it in high school," Stahelski told THR. "Such great themes of immortality, love, and identity are all wrapped up in such colorful mythology. I can't think of a better property that gives the opportunity to create interesting characters, mythic themes and action set pieces."

The rest of the details - cast, production timelines, etc - have yet to be worked out so don't lose your head just yet. 

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