Friday, November 17, 2017

"Look My Way" by The Vels

Spotlight Alert!
Song#:  2225
Song#:  1802
Date:  02/23/1985
Debut:  92
Peak:  72
Weeks:  6
Genre:  New Wave, Dance, Synthpop

Pop Bits:  This Philadelphia trio consisting of Charles Hanson, Alice DeSoto, and Chris Larkin formed in 1980 and over the next few years they honed their sound and gathered a solid following. Eventually, Mercury Records came calling and the band got signed to the label. Working with producer Steve Stanley (of Tom Tom Club), the trio recorded their debut album, Velocity. The initial single from the album, "Private World," couldn't do much except a #30 showing on the Dance chart. This next single got a little more attention thanks to an MTV video and the song was able to reach the Pop chart for a few weeks while getting to #39 at Dance. It would be their only single to reach the Pop chart. A second album, House of Miracles, was issued in 1986, but it quickly disappeared. The Vels broke up later in '87.

ReduxReview:  I've never heard of this Philly band, but they hooked me right from the opening of this song. The warm chords, the nice melody, the boy/girl vocals, and the 80s synthpop production are all right up my alley. Then, to top it off, there is a rap section a la Debbie Harry in "Rapture." It was produced by the same guy who co-wrote and produced Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love," so that seemed to rub off here. Sadly, this song couldn't do as well and it quickly disappeared. It deserved a better fate. I've called up a couple of their other tunes and they show promise, so I ordered up both of their LPs to see what else they had to offer. Regardless, this is a lost gem from the 80s and a lovely surprise to run across. As I've said before, discovering tunes like this is one of the best things about this project and I think it is worthy of being in the Spotlight.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) Charles Hanson's first brush with success came via the New Orleans-based punk band The Normals. Formed in 1977, they only issued one single back in the late 70s, but had recorded enough songs for an album. These would later be issued on LP and then in 2011 as a CD titled Vacation to Nowhere. Apparently, at the time they were considered New Orleans' first punk band. After an unsuccessful attempt to break through in New York, the band split and Hanson went on to form The Vels. It seems these days Hanson owns what is considered one of the oldest bars still in operation in NYC. Now called the 169 Bar, it originally opened in 1916.  2) After The Vels broke up, Alice DeSoto returned to her real name of Alice Cohen and in the early 90s was a member of the Athens, Georgia, band Die Monster Die. They released two albums that did well critically, but were commercially unsuccessful. While in The Vels, Cohen wrote a disco-style song called "Deetour" that was a #34 Dance hit in 1982 for singer Karen Young. Young previously had one charting hit at Pop called "Hot Shot." That 1978 track reached #1 at Dance while getting to #67 at Pop.



  1. 8/10 for me! And the date is correct? Yesterday's was 2/23/1985 while today's is 2/26/1985.

    1. Yeah, I really hooked into this song. Just thought it was an interesting slice of synthpop. Thanks for the date check! Yes, it should be the 23rd.