If any song summed up my 9th grade year, circa 1984-1985, it’s this under two-minute hyper-negative anthem by Fear. I first heard this in a cheesy horror anthology film called “Nightmares,” in which one of the segments had a video game addict, played by Emilio Estevez, blasting this song in his headphones. I then heard it a year later when a friend of mine had Fear’s “The Record” album on cassette and upon hearing it, my eyes lit up like that blind guy in Fritz Lang’s “M” when he hears Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King” being whistled by a serial killer.
Despite how twisted (or quaint) this song sounds (in actuality, I wore sweaters/khakis back in the day of hardcore and had a 3.5 average), I realize that had I admitted my love for this song post-Columbine, I would have been institutionalized or at least, been put on an extreme regimen of SSRIs that would arguably have made me legitimately nuts. In reality, though, all I really needed back in the day is a “cut the bulls–t” talk by an understanding adult and a kiss by a cute girl. Regardless, this is still a legitimately great, extremely “negative” song. Despite the near psychotic suppressing of anything negative these days, it’s actually healthy to have negative thoughts from time to time, folks. If you need further explanation, see the new Pixar film “Inside Out.”
Holy mackeral! This song damn near defined my 9th grade year in junior high. To my immature ears, this was the angriest, coolest, and funniest song I’d ever heard. Though, crazily enough, I actually first heard this song in the cheesy 1983 horror film “Nightmares.” In that film, Emilio Estevez played a video game addict who played this song constantly in his headphones. In retrospect, that was the ONLY thing I remembered about that otherwise s–tty movie.
When a friend of mine played it for me a year later on a punk compilation he had copied, I freaked out like that blind guy in the 1931 Fritz Lang film “M” when he heard the serial killer humming “In The Hall of the Mountain King.” I later learned the band who did this was Fear. … who I later saw in several infamous and legendary clips on the punk TV show “New Wave Theater” … and whose lead singer Lee Ving had pivotal acting roles in several mid-1980s films (“Flashdance,” “Streets of Fire,” “The Wild Life,” “Clue”) … and who I later learned was one of John Belushi’s favorite bands before he died (Fear plays a VERY pivotal role in the final third of the infamous Bob Woodward biography of Belushi “Wired”).
Guns n’ Roses later covered this on their 1993 album “The Spaghetti Incident”.
A totally rude and nasty classic!!! From Fear’s 1982 album “The Record.” Due to multiple f-bombs, not safe for work.
This is the legendary appearance by the hardcore punk band Fear on Saturday Night Live for the Halloween episode in October 1981. Fear were hired at the behest of John Belushi, who was a huge fan of Fear’s, and Michael O’Donoghue, that season’s head writer. Producer Dick Ebersol asked O’Donoghue what Fear was like and the infamous Mr. Mike explained that they were a pop group, just like the Carpenters. What resulted is mayhem and underground TV history.
O’Donoghue and Belushi bused in multiple punks from Washington D.C. (including, legend has it, Ian MacKaye). After being introduced by actor Donald Pleasance, the band started playing and the punks went completely nuts, violently slam dancing and stage diving. During the third song, one of the punks grabbed lead singer Lee Ving’s microphone and either said “F–k you New York” or “New Your sucks!” The scene faded to black and transitioned to a repeat of the infamous (and funny) satire of Norman Mailer’s sponsorship of Jack Henry Abbott, “Prose and Cons”.
Nowadays, such antics seem corny and quaint. But back when hardcore punk was virtually unknown to the masses, this moment was a sight to behold. One of the all-time best performances by a music guest on SNL.
Like Randy Newman, John Cale has been responsible for some of the most beautiful, sad, frightening, and darkly amusing music ever written. “Buffalo Ballet” is more on the beautiful / sad side than the hair-raising or mordantly humorous one. Cale’s equivalent to Newman’s “Louisiana 1927.”
OK, I’m blaming the selection of this guilty pleasure on my daughter’s theater group doing “Les Miserables” this week. Let’s just say I’ve been feeling a little “Fosse” the last few days and if you give me any s–t about it, I will post Neil Diamond’s horrendously inappropriate cover of “I Dreamed a Dream” to punish you. Don’t think I won’t do it.
Anyway, I’ve always liked this song and the movie it came from (“Streets of Fire”). Arguably, Jim Steinman’s finest hour as a writer/producer. And even if you don’t like it, you can see Diane Lane strutting her stuff (NEVER a bad thing!), while Michael Pare, Willem Dafoe, Robert Townsend, Mykelti Williamson, and Lee Ving (from the beyond politically-incorrect punk band Fear) do their thing in the background.