“Skateboard wheels my ass!”
Once I saw that subject line, I knew who was writing. It was Ray Stilwell, Metphistopheles  himself. He was, in the parlance of Sportsphone, fast and first in September with almost all the answers to our first DVD quiz.
Almost. He answered “skateboard” when the right reply was “skateboard wheels,” a detail captured correctly by another contestant who was awarded last month's prize. I felt really bad that Ray slipped on that particular ramp given that he's been not just a loyal reader and commenter, but has credited us for sparking his own excellent blog. I felt even worse when a storm left him in the dark for several days during the playoffs and hoped he would see the light and be able to give this quiz a crack.
Well, Ray was fast and first again but this time tripped on nothing. Though I'd be happy for anybody who earned it, it is with a smidge of blolleague pride and mutual redemption that I announce Ray Stilwell of somewhere near Buffalo the winner of the A&E Home Video , which contains the remastered highlights of the '69 and '86 World Series, along with a collector's pin from the 2006 NLCS (fondle it as you recall Games One, Four and Six plus a couple of moments from Seven) and an actual scrap of paper with Faith and Fear history written all over it.
We received several entries, for which I thank all contestants. Everybody came fairly close and I applaud you for either your Googling skills or your relatively scary recall of the musical scene in 1986. It's almost as scary as mine, and I scare myself sometimes with what I retain.
Flashback Friday was a lot of fun to produce. Some scaled-down, more intermittent version will likely reappear in this space in 2007. As ever, stay tuned. Until then, haunt the Greatest Hits of 1986 on the sidebar to your left to relive our most recent world championship at your leisure.
Oh yeah…the answers. All chart positions referred to are from the Billboard Hot 100.
1. To this day, TALKING HEADS and any number of musical acts from the 1980s make more sense than many of the talking heads on sports radio. In '86, their “Wild, Wild Life” peaked at No. 25.
2. I guess Mike Francesa and Chris Russo are smart for themselves, and if you find yourselves listening to them for very long, you're the ones with SIMPLE MINDS. In '86, the uplifting “Sanctify Yourself” rose to No. 14.
3. Though two readers thought Eurythmics met the description of a duo that was more like a soloist plus one, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart formed what appeared to be a true partnership (my bad for not phrasing the question more clearly). The same couldn't be said for WHAM!, which was essentially George Michael. He was once asked to explain what his sidekick Andrew Ridgeley did. Plays rhythm guitar and adds to the image of the group, he said. No wonder George dropped the pretense and went solo in '87. In '86, their final Top 10 hit, “The Edge Of Heaven,” climbed to No. 10.
4. MTV began showing old MONKEES episodes in the spring of '86 and by summer, the prefab four was reunited (minus Michael Nesmith). Their return hit was “That Was Then, This Is Now,” which made it as high as No. 20.
5. I bought the 45 and probably put it on a mix tape. I hope I didn't send it to whom it was intended. In any event, HONEYMOON SUITE was, like my fleeting crushes back in the day, here and gone pretty quickly, but not before “Feel It Again” peaked at No. 34.
6. Former Stray Cat Brian Setzer's solo career stalled in 1986 when “The Knife Feels Like Justice” missed the Hot 100. The same could be said for his old buddies Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker. They teamed up with Earl Slick to form PHANTOM, ROCKER & SLICK and, though “Men Without Shame” also failed to break on Billboard, it got its share of airplay on WLIR Garden City plus a few rotations on MTV in early '86. I have the single to prove they existed. Setzer would take off with a swing band more than ten years later. PR&S…still men without hits (not unlike the Mets versus Scott).
7. The rest of the N.L. East were PRETENDERS, same as the group with a No. 10 hit in '86, “Don't Get Me Wrong”.
8. She was a Go-Go who dated a Dodger. Eventually BELINDA CARLISLE broke up with Mike Marshall and went solo in a more substantive way, scoring a No. 3 smash in '86 with “Mad About You”. Marshall didn't last the 1990 season with the Mets, but that's another tune altogether.
9. Every woman, every man join “The Caravan Of Love,” an inspirational No. 51 hit for ISLEY, JASPER, ISLEY in '86. Their family act was known earlier, later and better as the Isley Brothers, whose path to stardom began in 1959 with “Shout,” the eventual touchdown anthem of the Buffalo Bills. I think I heard it after Game 4 of the 2006 World Series at Busch Stadium as well (a little bit softer now).
10. A group better known for catchy technopop went all the way to No. 1 with a ballad of regret. The song was “Human” and they were the HUMAN LEAGUE.
11. Met legends left Shea that summer and fall but the ROLLING STONES rolled into Flushing in October 1989 to play some shows, including one I had a ticket for before giving it up in deference to a business trip. Three years earlier “One Hit (To The Body)” slammed its way to No. 28.
12. MADONNA remains in the news to this day by adopting young African boys and making pretty good dance albums. Who'd have thought she'd last that long when she first broke through in 1984? By '86, when “Live To Tell” topped the charts, we might have had an inkling. (Somebody guessed Whitney Houston, but Whitney didn't really break until '85…and she's no Madonna when it comes to generating pub on her own terms.)
13. We became familiar anew with NEIL DIAMOND when the Mets either exhibited excellent musical judgment or completely ripped off the Red Sox by playing “Sweet Caroline” every night down the stretch and into the playoffs this year. Alas, his 1986 hit, “Headed For The Future,” stretched only as far as No. 53 — his last Hot 100 single to date.
14. Pete Rose and Eric Davis were probably simply red in the face when Howard Johnson blasted that 14th-inning homer in Cincinnati on July 22, 1986. SIMPLY RED, on the other hand, had to have been satisfied that “Holding Back The Years” shot to No. 1 in '86.
15. Sort of as GEICO did in 2006, the movie soundtrack Down and Out in Beverly Hills catapulted the voice of LITTLE RICHARD back into our ears in 1986, the same year he was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame (its first class). “Great Gosh A'Mighty!” was a throwback to “Tutti-Frutti,” but a) it peaked at only No. 42 and b) it wasn't, to the best of my knowledge, covered by Pat Boone.
16. We lost ROBERT PALMER in 2003, but not before he left us with a couple of indelible video images, starting with him and his all-girl band strumming “Addicted To Love,” his No. 1 smash from '86.
17. One of the great “gotcha!” songs of all-time was “The Rain,” the only pop hit for Def Jam artist ORAN “JUICE” JONES. He caught “you…and him” doing something tawdry amid precipitation and took that information all the way to No. 9.
18. When my family was auditioning Long Island-based bands for my sister's Valley Stream wedding in 1982, one combo's manager excitedly told us that his was the very same group that launched the career of Lindenhurst-raised New Wave queen PAT BENATAR. My mother had no idea who this was, but in 1986, she still had enough of a following to send “Le Bel Age” to No. 54.
19. DAVID LEE ROTH is no Howard Stern. In 1986, he didn't have to be. “Yankee Rose” boogied its way to No. 16. Of course Van Halen/Hagar zoomed to No. 3 with “Why Can't This Be Love?” And nobody's listening to Roth these mornings.
20. I don't know if the MOODY BLUES were nearly as big as they were in the plotline for the video of “Your Wildest Dreams,” specifically the part where groupies and hangers-on are carrying lead singer Justin Hayward away from the sad Mod girl who has missed him for twenty long years. Quite a lot of fuss for a song that peaked at No. 9 in 1986.
TIEBREAKER: “True Colors” by Queens' own Cyndi Lauper was the No. 1 song in America for the weeks ending October 25 and November 1, 1986, encompassing October 27, 1986, the night the Mets won their last World Series. It topped the chart, it topped the page that had the questions we just answered and it is played over a montage of highlights on the 1986 portion of the DVD Ray Stilwell has won.
“Skateboard wheels my ass!”