21st Century Boy will not be heard today

While nobody said it publicly, I’m sure after reading last Monday’s post, you were all thinking, “But t, what about Tony?”

Yes, what about Tony? Tony James, the Yin to Billy Idol’s Yang (or vice versa. I’ve hardly the desire to put forth the effort figuring out which is supposed to be which in this instance) during his Generation X days. Well we all know that when Gen X went bust, and Billy stole “Dancing…” Tony was pretty much left without a pot to piss in, creatively speaking. So he decided to form a new band, with a new sound.

Now, Idol must have been a very taxing musician to work with, because when Tony started up his next venture, he hand-picked a band with very little prior musicianship, opting instead to choose individuals who “looked like rock stars” rather than actually being so. He went about it this way, because the whole idea to this new group was to be a total and one hundred percent sell-out, from top to bottom. The songs were constructed in such a fashion as to maximize their chart-ability, the wardrobes and hairstyles were created to garner attention – good or bad, it mattered not. The press – well, the press was almost ridiculous. I recall way back when listening to CFNY (the coolest New Wave radio station ever. Out of Canada, of course. The coolest New Wave nation ever) on my little radio; hearing that they even gone so far as to create a billboard wherein the lead singer was hanging from a cross, touting themselves as the “Second Coming of Rock & Roll” – pretty damned crass, right? But that was the whole point. Long before the world ever knew of Marilyn Manson, Tony James presumably tried to highlight mankind’s sheep like tendencies and gullibility in the knee-jerk reaction department, all while making a boatload of cash at the same time.

Quick side note – how is it, that every time we speak ill of our species, it’s OK to say “mankind,” but when we’re speaking highly of ourselves, we have to use the genderless “humankind?”

Anywho, where was I again? Oh yeah, Tony and the boys were attempting to show us all what sell-outs we were, by being sell-outs themselves (they even went so far as to sell commercial space in between the tracks on their debut album). The problem was, their plan didn’t work. Turns out, merely putting out lots of flash and thunder wasn’t enough to secure you a career. Turns out, we felt you needed some sort of talent as well (odd we felt that way then, when you consider all the talent-less and void “celebrities” we blatantly lust after today).

So in the final analysis, I feel that while Tony may have had a good idea, he applied a little bit too much shtick. The real DJ’s rebelled as a result (God bless you, Chris Sheppard!), and the resulting lack of airplay was deafening. Their second album was merely a plink in a pool already overflowing with 80’s style creativity. And while I believe Sigue Sigue Sputnik (did I even mention the band name yet?)  just recently got back together, the fact that I can’t even find the energy to verify that last tidbit of info, is telling as to how much long-term interest they’ve maintained.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Mr. Idol faired much better. Why it was only a couple of years ago that he went so far as to release a Christmas album. CHRISTMAS! My brother burned me a copy, but I’ve yet worked up the courage to give it a listen. Hey, I need my ears for the rest of my life, I can’t risk them becoming damaged.

So, why won’t we be listening to “21st Century Boy” today? Well, for two reasons. First off, I can’t find the version I like on Youtube (did I forget to mention? They made – on average – seventeen hundred different mixes of each and every song they recorded). Secondly, as I’m assuming most-to all of you at one point in time have seen “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” the song I chose may be the only one you’ve ever heard from Tony and the boys.

Similar to “Dancing With Myself,” it’s still good for steering wheel beat-downs, just not nearly as heartfelt.


Now, for a much more informed take on both the band and their first album, I would invite you to jump over to superstition is all we have left‘s bloggie (where I “fleeced” today’s picture from) – in the words of the best Doctor Who ever, Mr. David Tennant, their post on the subject is simply “Brilliant!”

8/2 Live Aid, MTV and the (past) future Me

On July 13th, 1985, i spent the entire day glued to the television set. And i mean Glued. Bathroom breaks were kept to a minimum, and i even tried to ensure i stuck with the “shake it more than once and you’re playing with it” rule – all in an effort to ensure i didn’t miss a second of the show.

The “show” of course was Live Aid, and while its main focus was to help raise funds for the starving in Africa, it also served in opening a particular door for me that, once passed through, would forever alter the man i was to become.

i had initially plunked my skinny white behind down on my folks living room floor – right in front of the TV cart – in the hopes of seeing Judas Priest, and no one else. As mentioned previously, i felt Rob was the Cat’s Meow, and the particular brand of metal that Priest played was at that very moment also “opening doors” of a different sort (fodder for a different story altogether) for the future me as well. i started watching at the beginning of the day simply because i had no idea when Priest would be on, and i simply could NOT miss them – but by the time they did hit the stage, it was too late – my transformation was already underway.


You see, while waiting to see Judas Priest (which by the way, got cut off for a commercial break by my local station – right in the flippin’ middle of “You Got Another Thing Coming”!!!!) i also got to experience bands like Ultravox and Style Council. Artists like Adam Ant and Sade. Institutions like Elvis freakin-Costello. In short, i got to see an entirely New World.

And not just that, but a New World which seemed to be filled with people just like me – people who spoke directly to me with their song. Had i been “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes”? Yes! Had i been longing to see my “Walls Come Tumbling Down”? Yes again!


Honest to Jesus, until that very day, i had no earthly idea that there were others of my kind out there. Until that day, i felt that i would have to spend my life “wedging” myself into some random subset of people while “playing along”, all in the hopes that no one would notice that i didn’t “quite fit in” anywhere. It never once dawned on me that i had actual Tribe of my own out there.

Now, i might use a standard “small town” excuse, but i’m quite sure this lack of knowledge was more out of fear than anything else. Fear of what was “out there” and fear of what was inside of me. But when the World (as brought to you by Live Aid) snuck into my life, i was finally forced to see the truth – forced to see that my fears were not only unfounded, but a little bit ridiculous as well. There were many people like me, and i didn’t need to be alone or “wedge”. i could be who i was, and i was free to start searching out more of my kind.

And so i did. And i have Live Aid to thank for that, and for all the memories and joy that resulted. And i love it still because of that.

“So, what made you think of Live Aid anyway? Wasn’t it like, 8 million years ago?”

Well, more like 30 years, actually.

C and i happened to stumble upon a partial replaying of Live Aid (hell YEAH, the Queen set!!!!!) during VH1 Classic’s homage to the 30th anniversary of MTV. We had never really spoken of it till then, but we quickly realized that this event was equally as important to both of us, and she too, had spent the entire day glued. Tribe again – and this time with a woman i’ve enjoyed marriage with for many years…

We stayed up later than we should have – glued once again – just so we could see Freddy dance across the stage with his patented brand of full blown bravado one more time. And we both were able to relive our joy, this time together instead of alone.

And now i have Live Aid to thank for that, too.