Isn’t it funny how things occasionally bubble up out of the collective unconscious? I haven’t thought about the band Giuffria or its lone top-20 hit in years, but quite inexplicably, I’ve run across three references to both in the past week. So now, naturally, I have the song running on an infinite loop in my head, and I thought I’d do my part to boost the signal.
I don’t have any specific memories of “Call to the Heart,” aside from the fact that I always liked it. Curiously, I tend to associate the song and its corresponding video with my freshman year of college, 1987-88, when I spent much of my free time between classes in the student union watching MTV on the giant rear-projection television screen that used to dominate the dining area. However, a quick check of wikipedia reveals that the song was released several years earlier, in 1984, and that the band had in fact broken up by the time I would’ve been hanging around the union. So why then does my mind insist on placing it three years later in the timestream? No idea. Perhaps the video was back in the MTV rotation at that point, or maybe it just reminds me of similar-sounding pop-metal ballads that were on the charts around that time. Or it could be that I’m just getting old and all my memories are compressing into each other as the hard drive fills up. I prefer to think it’s one of the former options, but I have a good hunch of which one it really is.
As I mentioned, Giuffria — named for its founder and keyboard player, Gregg Giuffria — had a brief lifespan comprising a mere four years during which they produced two albums. Their self-titled first album did fairly well and spawned “Call to the Heart,” which peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. The band’s second album, however, crashed and burned, and the group broke up not long after. In 2015, three of the original members got back together to play a few live shows, but Gregg himself wasn’t with them, which frankly baffles me. How the hell can a band named for a specific person go on without the person for whom the band is named? That’s a real paradox there.
I’ll concede this video isn’t anything remarkable. If nothing else, these weekly rambles down memory lane have taught me that most music videos were pretty lame, once the initial burst of creativity that accompanied the break-out of MTV had passed. But as John Scalzi pointed out in his usual tongue-in-cheek fashion, the video for “Call to the Heart” is an excellent time capsule of a particular moment in time, preserving forever the hair and clothes that defined the middle 1980s. Some of that stuff still looks pretty good to me — I tend to dress a lot like the lead singer’s first outfit, the white trainers, snug jeans, and leather jacket — but some of it… well, some of it does not. (Zebra and leopard prints, and spandex. Oy.)
Regardless of the look, though, I still like the sound. That moody opening and closing synth riff evokes neon-soaked alleyways on muggy summer nights, and the kind of angst that you couldn’t wait to outgrow but which nevertheless made you feel completely alive…