“To do then now would be retro. To do then then was nowtro”.
This quote is from the hilarious music movie spoof A Mighty Wind, but it makes a lot of sense because the men and women of Generation X and Y are little older these days, and are hankering for the music of their youth – the 80’s and 90’s.
Television has been quick to leap on the bandwagon of this current phenomenon, with programs such as NBC’s “Hit Me Baby 1 More Time” resurrecting the careers of some one-hit wonders of that era including Vanilla Ice, Wang Chung, Howard Jones and Tiffany.
There’s even CBS’s “Rock Star” and “Rock Star: Supernova”, where a clutch of young hopefuls competed for the chance to replace the late Michael Hutchence as the new front man – or woman – of the Australian band INXS, and then the new lead singer of Tommy Lee Jones’ new group, respectively. These programs seem set to continue, because every week large audiences are tuning in and proving that nostalgia and music go hand-in-hand.
But there are some bands and singers from the 80’s that have not been transported into the “Where Are They Now?” vaults quite yet. Sure, they may not be having Top 10 hits and platinum albums, but in an age of iPods and downloading music where the charts are becoming less and less relevant to many people, they are still alive and kicking.
Berlin will always be best known for their massive worldwide hit single “Take My Breath Away” from the movie Top Gun starring Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Kelly McGillis, it even had a second life when it was used in a car commercial some years later – and was a huge hit once again.
No true 80’s party is complete without song, and those slow and sexy vocals of lead singer Terri Nunn are still going strong today – as is her band Berlin. They recently featured in VH1’s Bands Reunited, yet their new CD 4Play was released in July 5th, and they are also currently on tour in California.
It might not have happened at all, though. Surprisingly, Terri had initially wanted to be involved with a 70’s phenomenon that still resonates today – she had auditioned for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars, a role that eventually went to Carrie Fisher.
Based in Los Angeles, Berlin started as a classic New Wave synth pop group, and was founded by Terri, bassist John Crawford and keyboard player David Diamond. They quickly made an impression with their provocative single “Sex (I’m A…)”, with Terri’s blunt, R-rated dialogue a raunchy alternative to the frigid, robotic singing of many bands of the time.
Maybe the critics weren’t so impressed, but their debut EP “Pleasure Victim” went gold, and Terri’s blond looks and British-sounding vocals – kind of a cross between Pat Benatar and The Eurythmics’ Annie Lennox’s – made her an icon, and gave Berlin a cult MTV following with their videos for “No More Words” and “The Metro” – the latter a current favorite on new LA radio station JackFM.
They made their first album, “Love Life”, in 1984. It went gold as well, and soon after they had their huge chart topper, the aforementioned “Take My Breath Away”, in 1986. The more commercial direction that the band was taking wasn’t for everyone in the band though, and Terri left Berlin in 1987 for a solo career, releasing her debut album “Moment Of Truth” in 1992.
After a lengthy hiatus from music, Terri recruited some new musicians and returned to Berlin and to writing new songs. The result came in 2000, with a concert showcasing the new sings, and the release “Berlin Live: Sacred and Profane” followed. True to Terri’s rebellious spirit, the album cover – which showed a woman breast-feeding her baby – was caused controversy, and some nervous moments for the record label.
Now back in the groove again, a flurry of recording sessions followed, including writing tracks with Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins, and the end result was “Voyeur”, was their first full-length album release in over 15 years – until now.
Still touring – probably as we speak – Berlin are still right at the front of the stage: the song Scream from the 4PLAY album is the theme song for new Lifetime series “Angela’s Eyes”, which is a new series from the producers of last year’s Best Picture winner at the Oscars, “Crash.”