Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Real Life - Heartland

Welcome to 2014, the year Martin’s View takes a detailed focus at the music of 1984 as well as the occasional album from 1979. It is all for this year’s round of anniversary albums.

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Heartland, the debut release from the Australian band Real Life. The roster included David Sterry (vocals and guitar), Richard Zatorski (violin and keyboards), Alan Johnson (bass) and Danny Simcic (drums).

The album was first released in Australia in 1983, but its world-wide distribution (thanks to a hit music video on MTV) occurred in January of 1984.

Side one starts with their hit “Send Me an Angel”. Released as the first single, it hit number 6 in Australia and number 1 in New Zealand. Released again in 1984, it went to number 54 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 29 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 19 in Spain, number 18 in Canada, number 9 in Austria, number 4 in Sweden, number 2 in Switzerland, and number 1 in Germany. In the lyrics, a man questions whether he will ever find true love. This one has a haunting synth line backed by a driving, cascading beat which I have always loved. It was a big party track during my freshman year of college.

“Catch Me I’m Falling” was the A-side to the third single and B-side to the international release of “Send Me an Angel”. It went to number 40 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 12 in Switzerland, number 9 in Germany and number 8 in Australia. The lyrics of this up-beat dance track focus on a reoccurring dream.

“Under the Hammer” is a mid-tempo track about the aftermath of a break-up.

The title track “Heartland” is next. This ballad has a very somber tone as a man is forced to leave his war-torn homeland.

“Breaking Point” closes out the side on a reflective note. Again, we’re looking at a relationship that has fallen apart.

Side two begins with “Broken Again”, another break-up song. This one is done with a mid-tempo rhythm though, and I really like the violin accents through out.

“Always” has a quick, quirky beat to it that I like. It has an uplifting sound, even if the guy in the song has to be satisfied with a brief, fleeting long encounter.

“Openhearted” was the second single, which peaked at number 72 in Australia. It has a thundering beat that reminds me a lot of the side one opener.

The B-side to the third single was “Exploding Bullets”, a tale of two people on the run in a dangerous part of the world.

The album ends with “Burning Blue”, a painful ballad about a love that will never die even after one person has moved on to another.

Real Life’s Heartland is a very rare record to find. Because it has yet to be released in a downloadable format, CD releases of it demand top dollar on the online market. Thanks to YouTube, though, I was able to listen to those tracks I did not previously have in my music library (I had “Send Me An Angel” thanks to a Rhino Records compilation).

I thought side one started off strong with the two big singles that hit in the US. After that, things got a bit mellow until the start of side two. I would put Real Life right into that 80’s music category that includes A-ha, Duran Duran, and early Spandau Ballet.

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