Red legs & creativity

Spotted on the way to London’s Brick Lane neighbourhood:

London - creative graff wall

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memories of the ’80s – That’s What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick (and friends)

Twice recorded, but second time lucky: That’s What Friends Are For topped the charts in February 1986 thanks to the vocal stylings of Dionne Warwick. And a few friends.

Written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, the song was first recorded by Rod Stewart in 1982 for the soundtrack of the film Night Shift.

In 1985, Warwick, joined by Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder, recorded this song as a single to raise funds for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. John played piano and Wonder played harmonica,

Released in November 1985 by Arista Records, the song topped the adult contemporary, R&B and Hot 100 charts in 1986 and was certified gold after spending several weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. The single sold over two million copies in less than four months.

The song went on to win the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Best Pop Performance by a Group or Duo and was nominated for the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single.

Warwick included the song on her next album Friends, which became her most successful album of the 1980s.

And the best news – it raised US$3 million for the AIDS research, as well as being chosen as the song of the year for 1986 by Billboard Music.


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A wild creature

Spotted on my walk between London’s Brick Lane and Shoreditch:

London - graffiti weasel

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memories of the ’70s – 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover by Paul Simon

The mid 1970s brought Paul Simon his first solo hit with the memorable song 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.

Recorded in the Fall of 1975, the song was released by Simon in December 1975, the second single from his solo album Still Crazy After All These Years.

The song was written after Simon’s divorce from Peggy Harper, with the song’s voice a woman advising her husband how to end a relationship. Back up vocals were provided by noted singers Patti Austin and Valerie Simpson.

The soft rock/folk rock song had a memorable chorus, with Simon rhyming the way to escape the relationship with a man’s name ie. You just slip out the back Jack or Hop on the bus Gus….

The song became Simon’s sole Billboard Hot 100 number one, keeping the top spot for three weeks in February 1976, also topping Billboard’s adult contemporary charts and the Billboard Top 200 charts.

Outside the US, the song was also popular in Canada and France, and the song was popular on radio playlists, and was certified gold in March 1976, and spent five months on the charts.




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The walls of Shoreditch

Walking to the Tube station in Shoreditch:

London - Shoreditch graff wall

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The eye of Shoreditch

Look who’s watching you in Shoreditch:

London - graffiti eye

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memories of the ’80s – Stripes

Stripesposter.jpgThe 1980s were a goldmine of comedy movies, and one of the films that helped Bill Murray make his mark was Stripes.

Directed by Ivan Reitman and written by Harold Ramis, Len Blum and Daniel Goldberg, Stripes starred Bill Murray as cab driver John Winger.

Losing his job, his girlfriend and his apartment, Winger decides his only option is to join the US Army.

Dragging his best buddy Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) with him, the two go through basic training, causing havoc with the fellow recruits with parties, secretly dating two female MPs and annoying their commander, the very conservative Sergeant First Class Hulka (Warren Oates).

Another recruit, Dewey “Ox” Oxberger (played by John Candy) is encouraged to mud wrestle women at a local bar, causing a riot and putting the troop in trouble, although John and Russell are protected by their MP girlfriends so they aren’t dismissed from the Army.

Other members of the military troop included actors Timothy Busfield, Dave Thomas, Bill Paxton, Judge Reinhold, John Larroquette and Joe Flaherty, many in their first film or early film careers in comedy.

But its the incompetent Captain Stillman (Larroquette) that causes problems – and gets their teacher Sergeant Hulka injured. Demonstrating their unique camraderie and interpretation of Army rules, the troop is recognized on graduation by General Barnicke and sent to Italy to be part of a new military project.

John, Russell, Ox, their MP girlfriends and fellow soldiers cause havoc in Italy and are led by Stillman into Czechoslovakia, but of course in the end, the troop saves the day in the most humorous way possible, despite Stillman’s mistakes.

Released in June 1981, the film was made for US $10 million and filmed in Kentucky and California. Although it wasn’t the number one film initially, it steadily gained fans by the end of 1981 had made US$85 million at the box office.

It was the first major role for Harold Ramis, who had mainly been a comedy writer until this point, and for Bill Murray, was another successful comedy for his film career.


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