Bands and Songs You Didn’t Know Were Inspired by Electricity
You arrive early to a concert and get to your seats. Fans swarm in by the thousands. Anticipation and excitement drip from the walls of the arena. Then, at last, the lights go down… hands go up, the roar of the crowd drowns out your own screams, and onto the stage walks… the greatest band ever.
Face it. Concerts are an electrifying experience. From the sheer excitement of seeing your favorite band to the actual amount of lights, lasers, and electricity being used for equipment, energy is the staple of any show.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five bands and (more than) five songs that are electric.
One of the greatest metal bands during its peak, Tesla formed in Sacramento in 1982. Taking its name from famed electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, its 1989 album The Great Radio Controversy centered on whether Tesla or Guglielmo Marconi was the true inventor of radio.
Psychotic Supper had the 1991 hit song “Edison’s Medicine,” pitching the epic war-of-currents battle between Thomas Edison’s DC and Tesla’s AC. It reflects Tesla’s risky and ambitious ideas in a race against time with Edison, who did everything he could to discredit Tesla’s work.
Eat your heart out, Elon Musk.
There are a myriad of stories on how this badass band got its name, some more sinister than others. (Anti-Christ/Devil’s Child – really?) The reality is that it stands for Alternating Current/Direct Current, and was assumed by the band when Angus and Malcolm Young’s sister saw the term “AC/DC” on a sewing machine. The band named several of its albums with an electric theme, including High Voltage, Powerage, and Flick of the Switch.
Electric Light Orchestra got its name as a combination of “electric light,” as in a light bulb, and “light orchestra,” popular orchestras in Britain during the 1960s where only minimal cellos and violins were used. Known for classics such as “Don’t Bring Me Down,” “Evil Woman” (aren’t they all?), and “Strange Magic,” ELO is the quintessential band who people have never heard of, yet know many of their songs.
Five Man Electrical Band
Well known for its hit single “Signs,” the band’s name stemmed from a song of the same name because it was, in fact, a five man electrical band. Though not ever seeing much commercial success, these Canadians were successful in inspiring the aforementioned Tesla to release Five Man Acoustical Jam, a 1990 acoustic live album.
Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem
Quite possibly the most successful group in the history of music, and the leading inspiration of countless bands, the Mayhem was created for The Muppet Show by Jim Henson. Featuring members Dr. Teeth, Janice, Animal, Floyd Pepper, Zoot, and Lips, this psychedelic band travelled around in a tricked-out, awesomely painted bus and entertained millions of children over the years.
Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant)
A staple of my youth, this ditty was one of the biggest charting singles of 1983. It revolves around the 1981 Brixton riot in London, which centered on the police and citizens involved in a protest about racial tension. It has an infectious beat, but is a surprisingly sad and unfortunate song.
The Body Electric (Rush)
Anything this band puts out is amazing, even when it isn’t. Admittedly, this isn’t one of my favorite Rush songs, but its bass grove is classic Geddy Lee. The song appeared on 1984’s Grace Under Pressure, the period in which the band turned to a (thankfully short) electronic experimentation era, heavy with synthesizers and stripped down guitar solos. Its 40th anniversary tour starts in a few months and hits my hometown of Buffalo on June 10th.
Electric Lash (The Church)
This is an uplifting and beautiful song by a completely underrated Australian band. Best known for “Under the Milky Way,” The Church’s music brings me back to the best era of music, and a much simpler time, the 1980s.
Electric Boogie (Marcia Griffiths)
Everyone loves to dance at weddings, especially to “The Electric Slide.” What most people don’t know is what the original title is and who sang the song. This is it. The “Queen of Reggae” gave the world this gem of a song in 1976 and it has become routine at weddings and parties ever since. Once you hear it, you’ll be singing it for days… much like I will be doing now.
Electric Youth (Debbie Gibson)
While “Lost In Your Eyes” was the kind of song that made any 14-year-old boy think Debbie Gibson was singing directly to them (you never returned my fan letters, Debbie!), “Electric Youth” had a beat strong enough to get teenage girls dancing in the malls, donning Jordache jeans, and buying Aqua Net by the case.
There you have it, a sampling of the music industry’s standout electric offerings. Next time you’re pumping your fist at a concert or tapping your foot at your desk, remember where all the energy is coming from.
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