“I hear the secrets that you keep…”: Detroit power pop band the Romantics on “Radio 1990″

By on July 19, 2018

This vintage episode of Radio 1990 — which originally aired on February 22, 1984, and you can now find streaming on Night Flight Plus — kicks off with the Detroit-based power pop band the Romantics and their memorable video for “Talking In Your Sleep,” a song that was somewhat remarkably their only Top Ten hit.


If you’ve seen the video before,  you probably remember seeing the band walking through a crowd of scantily-clad women, staring straight-ahead in a trance, and dressed in see-through nightgowns, pajamas and other sleepwear.

Watching it again today, we were surprised that it reminded us of those decommissioned and usually fully naked “hosts” we’ve been seeing on HBO’s Westworld,” zoning out in that large, badly lit cold storage room called Sub-Level B83.


The Romantics performed “Talking In Your Sleep” on the still-popular ABC dance show “American Bandstand,” on Christmas Eve Day, December 24, 1983.

That appearance may have helped the single — released a few months earlier — reach its peak position on the Billboard Hot 100 in early January, 1984.

The single held that #3 chart position for three weeks — spending twenty-one weeks total on the Hot 100 altogether — but the song also made it to #1 on Billboard‘s Album Rock Tracks chart and the Hot Dance Club Play charts.


“Talking In Your Sleep” was the biggest hit of their career, and only one other song of theirs (“One in a Million”) even made it into the U.S. Top Forty.

Surprisingly, their first memorable hit,”What I Like About You,” only made it to #49.


By August of 1984, “Talking In Your Sleep” had crossed the proverbial pond and charted in the UK too — not for the Romantics, though, but for a British band called Bucks Fizz, whose version charted at #15 on the UK Singles chart.

In Greg Prato’s book MTV Ruled the World, drummer/singer Jimmy Marinos says it was the last track recorded for the Romantics’ 1983 album In Heat:

“All we had was a backtrack, the instrumental part of the song. And we realized it was too good a track to leave unfinished. So everybody put their heads together, and in a couple of days, we finished up the song melodically and lyrically.”


Marinos also says that this video was filmed in Detroit at eight o’clock in the morning in Detroit, which he didn’t think were very “rock ‘n’ roll hours.”

Read more about the Romantics below.


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The four original Romantics hailed from the east side of Detroit —  Marinos, Wally Palmar (singer/guitarist), Mike Skill (lead guitarist) and Rich Cole (bass) — formally became a band on Valentine’s Day, 1977.

Their earliest influences were the Beatles, the Kinks, and the Dave Clark Five, among other British bands, and lots of local Detroit bands, even Motown acts.


Like Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Dwight Twilley and Cheap Trick, they were sometimes mistakenly classified as “new wave, ” but they were adamantly never new wave, and obviously never “punk” either.

The music they played harkened back to an earlier, more melodic power pop sound dating back to the Swingin’ Sixties.

They also embraced some of the clothing and hairstyles from that era too, including stovepipe-legged trousers — including leather pants — and matching retro-style jackets, skinny ties, and bouffant hairstyles too.


Ultimately, in 1979, after first releasing a single and an EP, they signed with Nemperor Records, an independent label distributed through Epic/CBS in the U.S.

Nemperor was owned by Nat Weiss, a friend of the late Beatles manager, Brian Epstein. Weiss had at one time been in charge of the American side of the Beatles’ publishing and merchandising.

Weiss also managed the Cyrkle (“Red Rubber Ball”), James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt.


In September 1979, working with British producer Pete Solley, they recorded the tracks for their self-titled debut album, including “When I Look in Your Eyes,” their cover of Ray Davies’ “She’s Got Everything,” and their late ’70s power pop classic, “That’s What I Like About You.”

Their second album, National Breakout, released in 1980, showed a lot more of their influences — including surf music — and soon they were touring the world, playing their first dates in Europe and Australia.


The touring and inner-band squabbles eventually led to the departure of lead guitarist Mike Skill, who was replaced by Coz Canier, but Skill ended up returning one album later, replacing Rich Cole on bass.

By now the Romantics were reaching their commercial peak, and their next album, In Heat, would end up selling over 500,000 copies, eventually selling nearly double that amount in the U.S.

It was also their last album with original drummer/singer Marinos.


All of these lineup changes were creating problems with between band members and their management, and ultimately with their record label, Nemperor, who would issue just one more album, 1985’s Rhythm Romance.

A lawsuit between the band and their management also prevented the group from touring or recording on a regular basis, leading many to believe that they’d broken up.

In fact, they’d added a fifth member, Detroit keyboardist Barry Warner, for their 1985–1986 tour, but that was likely their last hurrah, although the band have remained together, in one form or another, to the present day.


This vintage 1984 episode of Radio 1990 also features “Night Flight” contributor/host Lisa Robinson’s interview with Mick Jagger — read more here — as well as host Kathryn Kinley talking about Sports Illustrated‘s hot ’80s supermodels, on the beach in itty bitty bikinis, and there’s even more music videos too, by Elton John, Bob Seger and several more, and it’s all streaming on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.