During the past eight years or so, something happened within American pop culture that many music fans assumed would never actually come to be: in the form of a 2004 stroke, the ravages of time had finally begun to catch up with seemingly ageless, legendary musical TV personality Dick Clark. Unfortunately today - despite an impressive recovery from that stroke over the past several years - Clark passed away at age 82 from a massive heart attack suffered during a hospital visit for an outpatient procedure. It's a genuinely sad day for music lovers of the rock and roll era, who one way or another grew up with Clark as a broadcast icon. And yet there's also so much to celebrate about a man who witnessed massive changes in the music industry and its styles across the decades as host of the long-running American Bandstand. Always earnest and business-like in his attempts to interview '80s acts disparate and seemingly unlike himself - from heavy metal band Autograph to sultry R&B vixen Vanity - Clark believed in his platform for pop music appreciation across the ages, which is perhaps his greatest legacy.
That brings us to this week's feature. I poked around the hundreds of '80s artists that appeared on the program during its final decade, and ultimately I settled on Patty Smyth's band Scandal as a reasonably representative example of the type of moderately successful music acts that performed week to week on Bandstand. Clark treated them all with respect and genuine interest, and in the case of Scandal, the rather brief period of fame wasn't really enough. Smyth and the band are generally best known for their bigger hits (the worthy "Goodbye to You" and "The Warrior"), but "Love's Got a Line on You" continues to stand tall as an energetic and highly listenable new wave-tinged mainstream rock song. Despite barely cracking the Top 30 on the Billboard mainstream rock charts in 1983, this track shines as more than just an above-average arena rock tune. Buoyed by the muscular, passionate lead vocals of Smyth but also by the solid, underrated songwriting of bandmate Zack Smith (something Clark probably detected during his brief encounter with the band), this song is as good a way as any to mark the passing of a true pop music populist. Rest in peace, Ageless One.
- Sample or download "Love's Got a Line on You" here.
- Compare prices on Scandal & Patty Smyth music here.
- Top Rock Music Women of the '80s
- Worthy Underrated Arena Rock Songs of the '80s
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Sony