The 1983 HIDEAWAY 200: The EP's (Part One)

Hello and welcome to 2018. We have a lot planned for The Hideaway this year and for our first major undertaking of the year, we're revisiting the music of 1983. While 1982 and the nine years that preceded it will always be our favorite decade in music, the music of 1983 is absolutely wonderful. We begin our journey into the music from 1983 with five of our favorite extended plays (EP) or mini-albums from 1983:

After "Don't You Want Me", Dare and The League Unlimited Orchestra, I was deep into The Human League so when the Fascination EP hit stores, I was all over it. I don't recall hearing either of the record's two singles - "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" and "Mirror Man" - before picking up the EP so my hopes were high until after about 48 seconds into the former song, which opened Side 1, and that annoying fake horns synth riff started. Then the singing started and it was downhill from there. "Mirror Man" was better; it could have been a leftover from the Dare sessions. I love "Hard Times" and think "(Keep Feeling) Fascination-Improvisation" is a vast improvement over the Extended version of the song as the bass line helps drown out that synth-horn riff which I find still find so very annoying nearly 35 years down the road. If it wasn't for the repeated listenings of "Hard Times" and the Improvisation version of the title track, Fascination! would not be here on the list. (I know I'm in the minority on this one so tell me how much you love it in the Comments.)

It was "White Lies" playing in Wherehouse Records one Sunday night in April 1985 that made me a fan of vocalist Jason Ringenberg, guitarist Warner Hodges, and their tight rhythm section. I took home their album Lost & Found that night and within six months I had found the Fervor EP from 1983 in the bins at PDQ.

After September 1982's Love Over Gold, Mark Knopfler and his Dire Straits mates released the throwback-sounding ExtendedancEPlay barely five months later, in February 1983. Track 1, Side 1 is "Twisting By The Pool" which quickly became a mixtape staple as I included it whenever possible at the end of Side B, almost always unlisted. As the past four decades have flown by, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you how the other three songs went if I hadn't just revisited them this week. While Jason & the Scorchers were more of a private joy, everyone seems to enjoy "Twisting By The Pool".

Into Battle is one of the many records I purchased soon after hearing a song featured on a television show or in a movie. In this case, the song was "Beat Box", the movie was Breakin' and it was May 1984.
Stayed and watched the bright red screen of crawling credits (above) after the movie looking for something that resembled "Beat A Box" (which is what I thought I heard) and saw Art of Noise and "Beat Box". Then exited the theater in the mall and went directly to Wherehouse (also in the mall) and found Into Battle with "Beat Box" filed among the twelve-inch singles. (It wasn't until Valentine's Day 1985 that I finally acquired the Breakin' soundtrack album from Columbia House.) Besides "Beat Box", the big takeaway from Into Battle was the epic chill of "Moments In Love". A month after picking up Into Battle, my Art Of Noise collection doubled in size with the addition of their first album (Who's Afraid Of) The Art Of Noise and suddenly everyone I knew was a fan. 
...and a time to dance
Ask me what I had for lunch today and I would have to think a while on it but ask me where I first heard Los Lobos and I'd immediately say Zip's on University. That Zip's location (there were four in town at the time plus Loco Records, which was owned by Zip's) stands out as:
  1. the second closest record store* to my high school at a little over half a mile away and
  2. it is just one of three record stores I've ever had the pleasure to set foot in where they just sliced open the boxes from the record labels on New Release Day and put them on display with little neon colored handwritten signs attached to each box so you knew what the price was for each album

I was in Zip's one day after school and this cool song came on featuring an accordion and a singer who just sounded happy! Then came a sax solo. It sounded like a Fifties rave-up and after it finished another track came on with a more prominent guitar and that enthusiastic vocalist. Needing to make my purchases and make it to the bus stop soon, I headed up to the counter with a couple albums (I can remember many things about that day at Zip's but cannot for the life of me even begin to guess what two albums I bought that day or what day it was) and saw that the record playing, the songs I had really liked was by a band called Los Lobos. Then a Spanish-language song came on, equally as powerful as the first two songs, and the clerk rang me up and asked if I wanted to take Los Lobos home for just $3.99. I had just enough money to pull the trigger on that deal so I was out the door before "Anselma", as the song in Spanish was titled, ended. Through the years, ...And A Time To Dance has been my most listened to of all the EPs from 1983 featured today. Los Lobos is one of the rare acts that record critics agreed with me on and ...A Time To Dance was voted Best EP in the prestigious Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll while "Anselma" won the first-ever Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance.
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*Discount Records, the closest record store to Tucson High School in 1983, was just three doors west of Zip's on University. The third closest record store to Tucson High back then was less than a mile due east on 6th Street, directly across from the University of Arizona Football Stadium and next door to a Circle K. This was Al Bum's.


  1. For honorable mention, I nominate the following 1983 EPs:
    Aztec Camera - Oblivious
    Butthole Surfers - self-titled
    Marshall Crenshaw - U.S. Remix
    Roxy Music - The High Road
    INXS - Dekadance
    and because I didn't buy it until '83, I'm going to grandfather in...
    Billy Idol - Don't Stop

    I do indeed love "(Keep Feeling) Fascination" but I can see where the synth sound could be considered abrasive. I have a similar reaction when I hear the attempts to play saxophone on Quarterflash recordings. I played the heck outta my Fascination! EP back in '83 but it hasn't gotten much play since then.

    The tops for me in this very narrow category is Twisting by the Pool. Shameless plug: I've already given this Dire Straits EP some love over at the My Favorite Decade blog: https://myfavoritedecade.blogspot.com/2013/11/dire-straits-twisting-by-pool-1983.html

    I'm tempted to include U2's Under a Blood Red Sky but it was promoted as a "Mini-LP" - 8 tracks, 35 minutes, $5.99. It would easily top the list. Judge's ruling?

    1. Love Dekadance and am kicking myself for not including it instead of Fascination! or making the list an even six by including both EPs. Guess I'll have to shoehorn it into 1984 list next year somehow.

      Under A Blood Red Sky is another favorite I somehow overlooked. The terms EP and Mini-LP are the same in my book.

      Does this mean we can expect a 1983 EP list complete with commentary, charts and images from the soft rock kid? Hope so.

  2. I had that Fascination EP and loved it! Good times. And, like you, I was always fond of "Twisting By the Pool" - a perfect summer tune.

    1. A bonus "Twisting By The Pool" memory:

      A friend of mine had an older brother who lived in a newly remodeled apartment complex down by the university. In the Summer of 1984, his brother had to travel for work for about two months so my friend moved in to "house-sit" and shortly thereafter invited me to a pool party at the complex.

      At some point during the party, "Twisting By The Pool" came on about a dozen guys, only some of whom were dressed for the pool, began literally twisting by the pool. As soon as the song ended, all the girls ran up and pushed all of us into the pool. Fortunately, I had my board shorts and a tank top on. Also managed to drag two girls into pool with me.

      One guy, the preppiest of the bunch, actually threw a huge hissy fit and stormed out of the party, sloshing all the way. Good times.

    2. That scenario so fits the song. Hilarious. Good memory.