When was the last time you thought of these forgotten 1980s era bands?

Somehow, I scratched my eye the other day, which made me break out my glasses in order to be able to see.  I hate wearing my glasses because they make me feel frumpy.  I mean, I’m often frumpy anyway, because I usually wear sweats all day and rarely wear makeup.  But as I was sitting here, pondering how much I hate wearing my glasses, I suddenly had a flashback to the 1980s to songs that were once sexy and are now forgotten.

Back then, I was just a kid and loved the radio.  At that time, you could turn on a top 40 station and hear an eclectic mix of what was then considered pop music.  For people with very eclectic musical tastes like mine, it was an exciting time.  Anything from Led Zeppelin to James Ingram was liable to be played and usually by a local disk jockey who might even take requests.  During that time, there were a lot of one hit wonders from bands that had some moderate success with a song or two or maybe even a few songs.  Then they’d fade into oblivion, only to pop into my consciousness decades later.

So this morning, as I nurse my irritated bespectacled eyes, I remember the band Naked Eyes, which had moderate success with a few songs.  The one I remember best and liked most was “Promises, Promises”.

“Promises, Promises” by Naked Eyes

Maybe it’s a little dated, but I’ve always liked this song.  I think Naked Eyes had a good pop/new wave sound, too.  I wonder why they only had a handful of hits.  Was it just because of their music or did their band just not have a catchy enough name? Naked Eyes is still around. Recently, they released a special edition of their 1983 album, Burning Bridges and have plans to release a new album, Piccadilly, in 2013. Will the new album launch Naked Eyes back into the public eye? We’ll see… hopefully with contact lenses again.

“You Don’t Want Me Anymore” by Steel Breeze

Moving on, I started thinking about other forgotten bands from the 1980s and the next one that popped into my brain was Steel Breeze.

Lordy… this is one old and forgotten 1980s song. I was in fifth grade when this video had regular rotation on MTV. It was popular and then… they just plain disappeared. Was it because of the band’s name, which was evidently coined from a phrase in Pink Floyd’s song “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”? I don’t know, but it seems like Steel Breeze wasn’t strong enough to blow away the competition.

“Sausalito Summernights” by Diesel

What about Diesel? Remember them? They were a Dutch pop group that had some success with a song called “Sausalito Summernight” way back in 1981. I remember loving this song back in the day and it was the only hit Diesel had in America.This song is about a road trip in a car that is literally on its last legs… or tires as the case might be. I never really paid attention to the lyrics when “Sausalito Summernights” was popular because I was too taken by that catchy guitar hook and odd harmonies on the verses. Diesel ran out of gas in the early 80s and failed to fuel up again, making them a true one hit wonder act, at least in the United States.

“You Could Take My Heart Away” by Silver Condor

How about a love song? Before the Internet, I was frequently tormented by forgotten songs that weren’t on the radio anymore. One song that tormented me for years was a song by a band called Silver Condor. In 1981, they had a hit called “You Could Take My Heart Away”. It was a radio staple for awhile, then went away. Every once in awhile, it would get stuck in my brain. I was delighted when I could finally search for it on the Internet by plugging in what few lyrics I could remember.

Here’s a clip from Solid Gold, yet another relic from the 1980s. Since the vast majority of acts that appeared on that show lip-synced, this video is an excellent representation of how that song sounded on the radio. Wow… it sounds very early 80s. No wonder this band failed to soar, though I have to admit this forgotten song remains a guilty pleasure today. The lead singer, Joe Serisano, had a great voice that sort of channeled Steve Perry of Journey and Dave Bickler, of Survivor.

“Sweetheart” by Franke and the Knockouts

Another band that always takes me straight back to 1981 is Franke and the Knockouts, who had a hit with “Sweetheart”.

Seems like this was their one big hit, though I did learn by reading Wikipedia that Franke Previte and Billy Elworthy, two guys behind Franke and the Knockouts, are responsible for writing two very well-known hit songs.  Remember “Hungry Eyes” and “(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life” from the hit 1987 film Dirty Dancing?  They wrote the music and lyrics and sang the original versions.

“Brite Eyes” by The Robbin Thompson Band

The next song that popped into my head this morning is truly obscure… at least it was to me until a few months ago, when I finally figured out who sang this song that kept running through my brain.

It took some time to find this song because I kept spelling the word “bright” correctly. When I finally spelled it “Brite”, I found it and was plunged back into early 80s bliss. This song reminds me of something The Eagles might record. Robbin Thompson has recorded with Bruce Springsteen and Timothy B. Schmit and is based in Richmond, Virginia, which sort of excites me since I’m from Virginia.

“Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo

As a kid, I used to watch HBO a lot and they used to kill time between movies with “Video Jukebox”, where they would show videos from obscure early 80s artists. Two songs I well remember from that age are “Mexican Radio” by Wall of Voodoo and “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors.

I can only guess what life events prompted Wall of Voodoo to write “Mexican Radio”.

“Turning Japanese” by The Vapors

Okay, so “Turning Japanese” got some airplay in the classic John Hughes film Sixteen Candles, but whatever happened to The Vapors? Actually, come to think of it, these two songs sort of give this post a little international flair.

I’m sure if I tried, I could sit here all day and think of more obscure hits from the 1980s. But it’s time to get on with my day and stop pondering as to why these forgotten 80s bands, who once had successful hits, have become distant memories to those of us over 40.