It's that time of year again when music fanatics, record collectors, bloggers, and journalists all start building lists of the year's best, the year's most memorable, and the year's most forgettable. Being in this boat, I've been trying to figure out my lists as well, and my mind keeps coming back to Numero Group'sButtons: From Champaign To Chicago compilation, which has spent almost a solid couple of months on my turntable. It's a double LP set compiling the best of Illinois' forgotten power-pop bands that blossomed in the wake of Cheap Trick (aka the only thing of relevance to ever come out of Rockford). Focusing on obscure singles released between 1973 and 1987, Buttons contains some truly addictive, perfectly crafted pop music. Today's 12 O'Clock Track is the second song on the collection, 1987's "Get Away" from Romeoville native Julian Leal.
"Get Away," with its clap-clap-clap-clap count-in and thick synth chords, obviously pulls a lot of influence from Rockford's finest. Everything about this song is so silly and perfectly cheesy, it's almost too good to be true: the harmonized guitar solo, the "Heys!" in the chorus, and Leal's nasally, sugary croon. When this track ends, you'll want to hear it again. And probably again.
This song was featured on a 1988 episode of Dick Clark's American Bandstand before Leal fell back into the obscurity from which he came. He's now a family man in his forties, living in Plainfield, Illinois.