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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Spider - "What's Going On"

By March 19, 2014

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Early-'80s American arena rock band Spider quietly boasted three underrated but highly influential '80s music figures. The band itself never really went anywhere beyond a couple of minor hits, but two of its primary creative linchpins - just in time for Women's History Month - are undoubtedly female '80s music icons. Let me explain why you should take me at my word despite a general lack of obvious evidence.

Lead vocalist Amanda Blue injects a sweeping, ABBA-tinged majesty to AOR on "What's Going On," which just so happens to be co-written by bandmates Holly Knight and Anton Fig. Knight is none other than the writer or co-writer of such '80s rock classics as Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield," Tina Turner's "Better Be Good to Me" and Heart's "Never" and "There's the Girl." And if that's not enough to recommend this band, Fig - for those unaware - is the longtime drummer for David Letterman's late-night house band. Those tidbits certainly fail to tell the whole story of this interesting band that could never quite turn its brand of new wave/hard rock fusion into the stuff of early MTV-era mass consumption. That's one reason why, as always, it's a good idea to turn directly to the music for lasting evidence. The graceful blend of this tune's central guitar riff, haunting synth lines and Blue's expressive, aching vocal style deserves more than just passing attention from those interested in more than merely exhuming '80s music relics. Shades of Knight's eventual hitmaking prowess can certainly be heard in the song's sturdy verse melody and its appropriately placed soaring harmonies, but there's also a toughness here that should have allowed Spider to cash in on at least a sliver of the Benatar mania just around the corner.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of Dreamland

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