Song of the Week Archive
|1||10/08/2000||Video Babe||Alan Vega||
This crazed and goofy number by former Suicide-member Alan Vega was a blatant attempt to mimic Elvis in a campy, new wave sort of vein. Released in 1983 on the forgotten album classic, Saturn Strip , produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. In fact, look for Ric Ocasek in drag in the video, if you ever have the opportunity to view this lost masterpiece of cheese.
Amazing fact: Al Jourgensen of Ministry (during his New Wave days that he'd love to forget!) supplies some of the primitive keyboards on this album (not sure about this song in particular).
|2||10/15/2000||The Blue Hour||Raise the Dragon||
"The Blue Hour" is a gentle, reflective number by this little-known Scottish duo consisting of vocalist Richard Spellman and guitarist Sean Lyons (formerly of art rock/new romantic outfit Metro, which featured Peter Godwin). It comes from their Deliverance EP (1984, I.R.S.) -- you can hear elements of Bryan Ferry and even David Bowie in the song. This song was produced by Anne Dudley of Art of Noise fame (and now an Academy Award winning composer). Raise the Dragon later changed their name to Intimate Strangers, releasing a full-length album in '86. They even remixed this song for the album, but this original version still sounds fresher, in my opinion.
|3||10/22/2000||Don't Let Me Down||The Mood|
|4||10/29/2000||So Much for Everlasting Love||The Sights||
Like The Mood last week, The Sights are yet another band about which very little is known. "So Much for Everlasting Love" is the title track from the 4-song EP (1982) by this power pop quartet from (presumably) Southern California. They released a single called "Virginia" a year later and disappeared. This song is a blend of Merseybeat and harder-edged power pop. The lyrics spin a sarcastic and gritty tale about an obsession with a hooker, making this song something like the raunchier cousin to The Police's "Roxanne".
|5||11/05/2000||Modern Lovers||Fay Ray||
Fay Ray never managed to get much airplay during the UK New Wave invasion of America in '82. Their sole album, Contact You, was lost amongst all the other new acts snapped up by the major labels hungry to capitalize on the phenomenon. Fronted by vocalist Sheila McCartney, Fay Ray sounded like something between Quarterflash and Siouxsie & The Banshees. They were also decidedly political on several of their songs. "Modern Lovers" was one of the single-worthy tracks from this incredible album -- still unavailable on CD.
|6||11/12/2000||Modern Day Love||Dial M||
Hey, we're living in the year 2000, so why not continue with the theme of modern love?! "Modern Day Love" is perhaps the shining moment for this obscure new wave duo from L.A. Dial M released a self-titled album in 1983 (on the indie D&D label), from which this song comes from, and then an EP entitled For a Good Time in '84. Another example of a one-hit wonder gem that should be available on CD ... somewhere.
|7||11/19/2000||Like Papers on a Rack||Polyrock||
One of most innovative and underappreciated bands of the New York City new wave movement was Polyrock. Their quirky, angular sound often defied normal pop sensibilities, much like the Talking Heads. They attracted the attention of Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi, who produced their self-titled debut in 1980 as well as their 2nd album, Changing Hearts, from which "Like Papers on a Rack" comes from. They independently released their final EP, Above the Fruited Plain in 1982, which fell on deaf ears despite its brilliance. They disbanded several years later after an aborted 4th release.
|8||11/26/2000||Canvas of Life||Minor Detail|
|10||12/03/2000||On the Beam||Space Monkey|
|11||12/10/2000 - 1/13/2000||Say You Will||Blanket of Secrecy|
|12||12/10/2000 - 1/13/2000||Sheila||Colour Radio|
|13||12/10/2000 - 1/13/2000||Still of the Night (EP Version)||Industry|
|14||1/14/2001||Total Eclipse||The Expression||
I'm back after a busy holiday season and a business trip that prevented me from updating my site last week. This week's song is from a little known Australian band, The Expression, led by Tom Haran. Their style was definitely a nod to the lush sounds of late Roxy Music. "Total Eclipse" is probably the most memorable track on this brilliant, self-titled album from 1983 which is still criminally unavailable on CD (I recorded it to CD-R for obvious reasons). The Expression released a follow-up album, Conscience, in 1985, which I still haven't been able to track down. Still, beautiful stuff.
|16||1/29/2001||Up Periscope||Novo Combo||
Since we're on a Police sound-alike kick (i.e., last week's Tenants song), here's another band that sounded remarkably like The Police at times, particularly in their Stewart Copeland-like drumming and Andy Summers-esque guitar work. Novo Combo were a power pop band with art rock leanings fronted by well-known drummer and electronic musician Michael Shrieve (a non-vocalist by the way). Novo Combo released two albums -- Novo Combo (1981) and The Animation Generation (1982) -- before finally calling it quits. They got a fair amount of airplay on AOR and progressive early 80's stations with this song as well as "City Bound ('E' Train)", "Tattoo" and "Animation Generation" (which was a notable MTV video classic).
|17||2/4/2001||Drop Your Pants||Hilary||
This bawdy number was a KROQ (L.A. radio station) cult classic in its day. Hilary probably scored biggest with her synth-pop gem "Kinetic", but "Drop Your Pants" is the one on everyone's minds and more requested for obvious reasons! Both songs come from her Kinetic EP from 1983, which was engineered, co-written and co-produced by Stephen Hague, who would later gain production fame working with OMD, the Pet Shop Boys and New Order.
|18||2/11/2001||In the Common Tongue||Iam Siam||
Iam Siam was not so much a band as a studio project. Mainly the brainchild of Stefan Vienna (Steven Weiner) who wrote most of the lyrics, Iam Siam also included songwriter Brian Rothschild, producer David Sonenberg and Larry Fast (of Synergy fame). Most of the songs on this overlooked 1985 album, She Went Pop, featured various female vocalists, including this week's song (with its brief spoken prologue) -- mysterious, alluring and one of the best songs on the album despite never being released as a single. Iam Siam was best known for their minor hits "Talk to Me (I Can Hear You Now)" and "She Went Pop" both which featured cutting edge videos shown on MTV back in the day.
|19||2/18/2001||Prime Time||Haircut 100||
After their frontman Nick Heyward left to pursue a solo career, Haircut 100 pressed on to complete their follow-up album Paint and Paint (1983). This time, percussionist Mark Fox took over lead vocals. The album got unfairly panned by critics, probably in much the same way that Kajagoogoo's follow-up after Limahl left was mostly ignored. "Prime Time" was one of the "lost" singles from this album, and you can still hear the distinctive Haircut 100 sound.
|20||2/25/2001||Heartache Feeds Heartache||A Drop in the Gray||
A Drop in the Gray was a cross-pollination of L.A. and European musicians -- the result was very lush, almost orchestral synth/guitar pop caught somewhere between Gene Loves Jezebel and Roxy Music. "Heartache Feeds Heartache" is one of the outstanding cuts off of Certain Sculptures (1985), the only album released by this band. This song received a bit of airplay, at least here in the States, along with another of their songs: "Wide Eyed One".
|21||3/4/2001||Anna With Antennae||4 Out of 5 Doctors||
4 Out Of 5 Doctors were an obscure power pop outfit out of Washington D.C. who released two albums in the early 80's. The first self-titled album (1980) was produced by English studio master Alan Winstanley. "Anna With Antennae" -- perhaps their most infectious song with its thumping bassline -- comes from their 2nd album, Second Opinion (1982).
|22||3/11/2001||Radio Silence (Original Version)||Thomas Dolby||
This well-known song by Thomas Dolby was released in this version on the original pressing of The Golden Age of Wireless back in 1981. This version is decidedly more upbeat and guitar-driven. Listen for Lene Lovich's "try to think of nothing" mantra towards the end -- a passage that was never used on the re-recorded version that is widely available on CD. Truly an interesting, forgotten artifact from Thomas Dolby's early days.
|23||3/18/2001||Shock of the New||Trees||
Trees was the synthpop genius of then San Diego musician, Dane Conover (now living in northern California). The only album by this one-man band, Sleep Convention (1982) ranks up there with the greatest lost 80's albums of all-time. Even Ira Robbins of the sorely missed Trouser Press couldn't praise this album enough: "That this album died the commercial death is not just incomprehensible, it's criminal. " "Shock of the New" was one of the singles from the album and the video received some MTV airplay.
|24||3/25/2001||Rock Against Romance||Holly and The Italians||
Formed in L.A., Holly and the Italians was the vehicle for Chicago-born singer/songwriter/guitarist Holly Beth Vincent. After relocating to England to secure a record deal which resulted in the classic The Right to Be Italian (1981), Holly went solo, releasing the confusingly titled Holly & The Italians the following year. "Rock Against Romance" is one of standout songs on her first album -- a driving, anthemic rocker. Yet another talented artist awaiting proper reissue on CD. Holly resurfaced in the 90's with her collaboration with Concrete Blonde's Johnnette Napolitano on 1995's Vowel Movement .
|25||4/1/2001||All That I Wanted||Belfegore||
Belfegore was a short-lived transcontinental trio consisting of German guitarist/vocalist Meikel Clauss, Canadian drummer Charly T. Charles and American bassist Raoul Walton. They released their sole self-titled album in 1984 -- a dark, electronic rock album that was a bit new wave, industrial, goth and metal all rolled into one. The album was produced by the late and legendary Conny Plank. "All That I Wanted" was the only hit single from this album and also featured a memorably frantic video with people running everywhere on a New York pier while cameras gave chase to dizzying effect.
|26||4/8/2001||Young Boys||The Hawaiian Pups||Before you go jumping to pedophilic conclusions about this song, keep in mind that it's quite tongue-in-cheek ... kinda like the flip side to Oingo Boingo's "Little Girls". Still, "Young Boys" was a brilliant-sounding song from obscure NYC trio The Hawaiian Pups, who released only one EP, Split Second Precision (1983). One of their other songs, the bizarre "Baby Judy", managed to be a club classic despite never being released as a single. I have received emails from members Tara Shanahan and John Klett, both of whom are still involved in the music/recording industry. By the way, their name comes from Tara's dog, who was spotted wearing a lei at a New Year's party!|
|27||4/15/2001||Eight Miles High||The Thought||The Thought were a neo-psychedelic Dutch band who, like their American 'Paisley Underground' counterparts from the mid-80's (The Plimsouls, Rain Parade, etc.), professed a love of late 60's garage and psychedelic rock. The Thought released two self-titled albums (1982 and 1984), both of which are well worth seeking out, particularly their latter album on MCA. Their rendition of The Byrds' "Eight Miles High" is arguably the best cover of this already-much-covered classic. They manage to inject a new level of darkness and ominousness (is that a word?) to this song. Truly a great, very forgotten band from the 80's if ever there was one.|
|28||4/22/2001||Computer One (U.S Mix)||Dear Enemy||Dear Enemy were an Australian band who scored with this single in 1983. "Computer One" is very reminiscent of Canadian band Strange Advance in terms of style and its sci-fi overtones, and comes from Dear Enemy's sole album, Ransom Note.|
|29||4/30/2001||The Bottom Line (Parts 1 & 2)||Big Audio Dynamite||One of Big Audio Dynamite's classic hits was "The Bottom Line" from their debut album, This Is Big Audio Dynamite (1985), however the version presented here is the full version with the Part 2 segment intact. The album version fades out just as Part 2 is about to kick in; the first half of this mix is essentially the album version. I have often wondered why Mick Jones and Company chose to drop the Part 2 segment ... perhaps they were embarrassed by what sounded like an attempt to rap. In any case, this is really the way this song should have been presented on the album.|
|30||5/6/2001||Hunting||New Musik||One of the most underrated and underappreciated synthpop bands of the 80's was New Musik, the brainchild of genius producer and member Tony Mansfield, who went on to produce Naked Eyes and a-ha among others. New Musik scarcely sounded like anything else at the time (80-82) -- quirky and eccentric with odd sound effects and production techniques, but often with satirical and heartfelt lyrics by Mansfield. "Hunting" is an addictive song despite its repetitious nature and comes from their overlooked 3rd album, Warp (1982). Their first two albums have been thankfully reissued on CD and are widely available, and I urge anyone who likes synthpop to buy them and prepare to be blown away.|
|31||5/13/2001||Nighttime (12" Version)||Invisible Zoo||"Nighttime" is probably the shining moment for this obscure L.A.-based synthpop trio. Invisible Zoo only managed to release one self-titled EP in 1983 with a follow-up 12" single. This "Nighttime" 12" version is superior to the EP version, in my opinion, and really fleshes out the song better. A lost synth classic that actually managed to get some airplay where I grew up.|
|32||5/20/2001||Choreography||Modern Eon||Modern Eon were among the early gothic rock innovators back in 1981 when they released their much overlooked and only album, Fiction Tales (on the legendary "futuristic" UK label Dindisc). "Choreography" is just one of the excellent brooding pop songs from this album.|
|33||5/27/2001||Work That Dream||November Group||November Group was a techno-pop group out of Boston -- primarily the female duo of Ann Prim (lead vocals/guitars) and Kearney Kirby (vocals/keyboards). From 82-85, they released three EPs (never a full album) -- the first two were released on indie labels, while their final EP, Work That Dream, was released on A&M (1985). This week's song is the catchy title track to this EP (including the instrumental intro "Volker"). November Group were considerably innovative -- the early EPs, in particular, bear more of a similarity to European and Canadian new wave than anything that was going on in America at the time.|
|34||6/3/2001||The Message Is You||Gary Myrick||Texas native Gary Myrick first gained recognition with his band Gary Myrick & The Figures and their hit "She Talks in Stereo" (1980), while based in L.A. After another Figures album , he went solo releasing the Language EP in 1983, from which this song with its stirring chorus comes from. In the 90's, he was involved in Havana 3AM -- a latin-infused project started by ex-Clash bassist Paul Simonon. Simonon later left the band, leaving Gary to carry the name of the band on and off in recent years.|
|35||6/10/2001||Dance After Curfew||Nash the Slash||Nash the Slash is one of the supreme oddities to come out of Canada. Originally a member of pop electronic group FM, he went solo in the late 70's creating his unique blend of avant-garde electronic music with postpunk sensibility, wielding both electric guitar and electric violin! Like San Francisco's Residents, he always appears in disguise, usually sporting his trademark bandaged face, sunglasses and top hat. "Dance After Curfew" was one of the classic dark electropop songs from his repertoire and comes from his soon-to-be-reissued 1982 album And You Thought You Were Normal. He's still active, releasing albums -- including a recent score for Nosferatu -- and touring (visit www.nashtheslash.com).|
|36||6/17/2001||Goodbye Indian Summer||Language||Language was a short-lived band fronted by UK vocalist/songwriter Steve Hale, and included Eddi Reader (later of Fairground Attraction) on backing vocals. Their style was dance-funk-inflected new wave -- a sound that was becoming increasingly popular in the mid 80's. Only one EP was released: Alphabet City in 1984 (not to be confused with ABC's 1987 album of the same name!), which firmly places this song in the extreme obscurity file.|
|37||6/24/2001||Ice Machine||Comateens||The Comateens were a NYC-based trio consisting of Lyn Byrd and brothers Nic and Oliver North (no, not our favorite Reagan-era "patriot"!). They created clever and sophisticated synthpop with a penchant for darker, horror-movie elements (they even did a cover of the "Munsters Theme"!) as well as a touch of old and new. Case in point: "Ice Machine" (from their 1983 album Picture on a String) taps into the then rising rap and hip hop movement in New York City before it became a global phenomenon. They are yet another band sorely deserving of a CD "Best of" at the very least.|
|38||7/1/2001||I Love You (7" Version)||Yello||This zany Swiss band needs no introduction, having secured a notorious one-hit wonder status here in the States with their hit "Oh Yeah" made famous in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Featured this week is the 7" version of their earlier 1983 semi-hit "I Love You", which appears to have been replaced everywhere on CD with a later remixed version that originally appeared on their early compilation, The New Mix in One Go (1985). This 7" version is the same version that was used in their video (see photo).|
|39||7/8/2001||Desire (Vocal Mix)||Endgames||Endgames were a Scottish synthpop band who made a brief appearance in the early and mid-80's. The vocal mix of "Desire" featured here is superior in my opinion -- albeit more stripped down -- to the version that appears on their 1983 debut album, Building Beauty (shown left). They had some other outstanding singles, including "Love Cares". "Waiting for Another Chance" and "First, Last for Everything". Yet another band that is sorely deserving of a proper 'Best Of' at the very least.|
|40||7/15/2001 - 7/28/2001||Video D.J.||EBN-OZN||Well, I'm off on vacation/holiday for 10 days, so I'm leaving you with two obscure, campy dance songs for the summer. On the west coast from sunny southern California we have "Tacky" by Pat Wilson from her Bop Girl EP (1984), the title track of which was a KROQ classic back in the day. And from the east coast (NYC to be exact) we have "Video D.J." -- a nod to the rising Puertoriqueno salsa scene in the Big Apple (is "New Yorican" the proper term now?) -- by EBN-OZN, the dance-pop duo of the late Ned Lieben (EBN) and Robert Rosen (OZN) from their overlooked album Feeling Cavalier (1984), famous for that crazed classic "AEIOU Sometimes Y".|
|41||7/15/2001 - 7/28/2001||Tacky||Pat Wilson|
|42||7/29/2001||Hurricane||Cowboy Mouth||I'm back from vacation only to find that I'm out of a job ... my company's office is closing! Fun huh?! Oh well, it's not going to stop me from putting up the Songs of the Week! This week we have "Hurricane" from the little known Cowboy Mouth out of NYC, not to be confused with the current Louisiana-based band of the same name. This song comes from their sole 1986 album Cowboys and Indians released on the Boston label, Throbbing Lobster.|
|43||8/5/2001||Annoying All the Neighbours||Little Bo Bitch||Little Bo Bitch were an obscure UK punk/power pop band who only managed to release one album The Lonely Boys back in 1979. The US release had their name changed to the less controversial Lonely Boys. "Annoying All the Neighbours" is one of those should-be-classic humourous punk pop songs from the era that very few have ever heard ... until now!|
|44||8/12/2001||You Only Left Your Picture||Fashion||Fashion were a UK art-punk band that burst onto the postpunk scene
with their 1979 debut Product Perfect. For their 2nd (and best,
IMO) album, Fabrique (1982), they re-fashioned (ha ha) themselves
into more of a new wave funk outfit with some of their earlier edgy/dark
elements still intact. "You Only Left Your Picture" comes from this
classic album which was purportedly reissued, however I can't verify
that it ever was. By the time they released their 3rd and final album,
Twilight of Idols (1984), they had replaced their previous
lead singer De Harriss and were decidedly more pop-sounding.
Addendum: Right after I posted this, I discovered that a Fashion reissue called The Height of Fashion is being released next week in the UK by Cherry Red and it's essentially Fabrique plus bonus tracks! Oh well, I will keep this one up in any case. Go figure!
|45||8/19/2001||Counting the Beat (US Mix)||Swingers||
The Swingers were the short-lived brainchild of ever-eccentric Phil Judd (shown lower right in picture on the left), one of the founding members (along with Tim Finn) of New Zealand's most famous musical export: Split Enz. After departing Split Enz around 1977, he soon formed the Swingers, who released Counting the Beat in 1981 down under (later remixed and released with alternate tracks in the States in '82). This week's song is the US mix of their zany classic "Counting the Beat".
|46||8/26/2001||House of Stone||Roaring Boys||"House of Stone" is a forgotten classic steeped very much in the lush romantic style of late Roxy Music. This notable 1985 single by the Roaring Boys comes from their self-titled and only album. I have no information about them, other than their name implies that they are likely a UK band. "Roaring boys" is a phrase used to indicate young men who stir up unrest (something like that!), not commonly found here in the States.|
|47||9/2/2001||The Sound of Breaking Hearts||Espionage||Espionage were a short-lived synth pop/rock outfit who released two albums -- Espionage (1983) and E.S.P. (1985) -- and then prompty disappeared like so many other bands. Both albums were produced by the legendary Roy Thomas Baker (of Queen and Cars fame), and his style figures quite prominently, particularly on Espionage's notable hit "The Sound of Breaking Hearts" from their debut album.|
|48||9/9/2001||You're a Zombie||Norm Norman||I can find very little about this extreme obscurity known as Norm Norman. While he only released a self-titled EP in 1983, he did leave us with this riotous, campy classic: "You're a Zombie", accompanied by a hilarious video that I believe was shown on MTV back in those golden days.|
With the horrific, tragic events of the past week, I chose a heartfelt and appropriate song by Minor Detail that not only honors the spirit of freedom and America, but also the triumph of the selfless individual (Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa) in overcoming the odds to create positive change in the world. This Irish brotherly duo created one of the most moving, passionate songs of the era that is both tear-jerking and triumphant.
Please note that while Minor Detail honor Christopher Columbus in the lyrics -- the effective namesake of the song along with the Space Shuttle Columbia -- they certainly weren't aware back in 1983 how many would come to feel about Columbus and the exploitation (and that's putting it mildly) of native peoples of the Americas by him and other Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Don't let this fact sour the honest intentions of this song. I'm sure they were conveying the spirit of adventure, not so much the ugly details of history.
I can only hope that an event of this magnitude will unite and bring out the best in all Americans, freedom-loving people and democratic nations the world over, but uniting in hate is not the answer. Oppressive governments and fundamentalist religious sects will topple where truth and freedom are allowed to flourish without fear, persecution and desperation. The triumph of the individual and collective human spirit will prevail.
|50||9/23/2001||Change Reaction||Robert Hazard||
Robert Hazard hails from Philadelphia, and was a local success as Robert Hazard and the Heroes from 1979 through 1982. In '82, he dropped the band name and effectively went solo. His first release was a self-titled EP which contained his breakthrough hit "Escalator of Life" along with this brilliant 2nd single, "Change Reaction," which always seems to get ignored on 80's compilations. A little historical tidbit: Robert wrote the song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" which became the defining smash hit for Cyndi Lauper in the 80's. Robert Hazard is still putting out records and performing in the City of Brotherly Love.
|51||9/30/2001||Calling Your Name||All About Eve|
|52||10/7/2001 - 10/20/2001||The Hardest Thing||Rubber Rodeo||
For the next two week stretch, I thought I would delve into a bit of American country-tinged new wave featuring Rubber Rodeo and Joe Ely.
Rubber Rodeo were part of the new wave country/"cowpunk" scene which cropped up in U.S. starting in the mid-80's, which included bands like Rank & File, Beat Farmers, Mojo Nixon, Dash Rip Rock, Cowboy Mouth, and arguably others like Charlie Sexton. "The Hardest Thing" is one of the classic hits from this New England-based band and hails from their first album Scenic Views (1984).
Texas native Joe Ely has been a country-rock heavyweight since the 70's. In 1984, he experimented with synthesizers and a new wave sound on his not-so-critically-acclaimed album Hi-Res. Regardless it spawned a sizeable radio hit with "What's Shakin' Tonight".
|53||10/7/2001 - 10/20/2001||What's Shakin' Tonight||Joe Ely|
Chas Jankel was one of the founding members of Britain's infamous Ian Dury and The Blockheads in the 70's: the vehicle of the late, great eccentric Ian Dury. In the early 80's Chas moved into dance/funk territory as a solo artist releasing Questionnaire (1981) among his other releases, which is where "109" hails from. Also featured on this album is the stupendous dance floor thumper "Glad to Know You", with quirky lyrics provided by none other than his old mate Ian Dury (appears on the Billboard Top Dance Hits 1982 compilation, by the way).
|55||10/29/2001||The Ripper||The Headboys||
With Halloween this week, I wanted to feature a song that is both fun and just a touch creepy. I chose "The Ripper" (not to be confused with the Judas Priest song!) by the Scottish band the Headboys, which couldn't have been more timely, given the recent release of the film From Hell about none other than "Saucy Jack"! The Headboys released one self-titled album in 1979 and promptly disappeared, but not before leaving us with some memorable power pop like the above song. Keyboardist Calum Malcolm became a producer, working on Blue Nile's albums.
|56||11/4/2001||Uncertain Smile (Original 12" Version)||The The|
|57||11/11/2001||Spring in Fialta (Extended Mix)||Slow Children||
Slow Children was the L.A. duo of Pal Shazar and Andrew Chinich. They released two albums -- Slow Children (1981) and Mad About Town (1982) -- full of quirky, danceable pop and artsy, intellectual lyrics. Both albums featured well-known producer Stephen Hague and singer/songwriter Jules Shear. "Spring in Fialta" comes from their debut album, however the extended 12" single mix is featured here. One of their other minor hits, "President Am I", appears on Rhino's New Wave Hits of the 80's Vol. 11 -- probably the only song of theirs to make a showing on CD.
|58||11/18/2001||Everyday||One the Juggler||
One the Juggler personified the lost pipe dreams of so many bands during our favorite decade of excess. They were yet another one of those bands that managed to release two albums and a handful of singles before disappearing off the radar for all time. In this case, One the Juggler were a UK band fronted by members Rokko (vocals/guitar) and Lushi (bass). "Everyday" was one of the standout hits from their second album, Some Strange Fashion (1985) -- a catchy, infectious song that bears more than a passing similarity to late Split Enz and Crowded House at times, with Rokko's vocals sounding strikingly like Neil Finn, in this case.
|59||11/25/2001||Now You Know||Neats||
This week I decided to feature two under-3-minute nuggets of American 80's indie/underground. The first is "Now You Know" by the Boston band The Neats, whose sound was very influenced by 60's garage rock, before they reformed in the late 80's with a more swampy, blues style. It hails from their self-titled 2nd album (1983) and you can definitely hear similarities to Hüsker Dü and Bob Mould here.
"Mind My Have Still I" comes from the quirky short-lived trio, What Is This?, fronted by the late great Hillel Slovak in the mid 80's between being a full-time member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This song comes from their Squeezed EP released in 1984. They also released self-titled album in 1985. Both of these records are well worth seeking out for RHCP fans.
|60||11/25/2001||Mind My Have Still I||What Is This?|
|61||12/2/2001||Living on the Borderline||Smash Palace||
Smash Palace was a New York band headed by brothers Brian and Steve Butler, formerly of the band Quincy. They released their self-titled album in 1985, from which this killer song emerged. "Living on the Borderline" received significant airplay at the time, however the album, albeit strong, never translated into sales. Amusingly enough, this song, with its hard, crunchy guitar pop and Brian Butler's vocals, reminds one of the Alarm and the Psychedelic Furs who are fronted by none other than another Butler ... Richard Butler (no relation, of course)! Against all odds, Smash Palace re-emerged and released another album in 1999 called Fast, Long, Loud, and from what I hear it really rocks, despite being completely ignored.
|62||12/9/2001||Shoo Shoo Wah||The World||
Not a lot is known about The World, save that they were yet another synthpop band aiming squarely for the Top 40 market during the new wave blitzkrieg on the American charts in the early 80's. They released the album Break the Silence in 1983 with "Shoo Shoo Wah" as the single. The album was produced by Roy Thomas Baker (of Cars and Queen fame), and you can certainly here his touch on this album, sounding very much like another synthpop band he produced around the same time, Espionage.
|63||12/16/2001 - 12/30/2001||The Bombs Dropped on X-Mas||The Reels||
For the Holiday Season, I wanted to feature a Christmas song and one fitting for the New Year. First, we have "The Bombs Dropped on Xmas" by the oft-overlooked Australian band, The Reels, from their 1980 Christmas EP Five Great Gift Ideas. This song is definitely political and cynical in tone and uncannily applicable to the current events in Afghanistan and the ever-escalating violence in the Middle East (even Santa couldn't bring peace to the world), but also very much in the wry style of Ray Davies of The Kinks ("Father Christmas" anyone?) ... even David Masons' vocals sound like a dead ringer for Ray. So, if this song is a bit of downer, then let us have a New Year's "World Dance Party" with the campy Boston band The Fools (famous for their novelty classics "Psycho Chicken" -- a spoof on the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" -- and "Life Sucks...Then You Die") from the 12" single released around their World Dance Party album (1985).
See you next year.
|64||12/16/2001 - 12/30/2001||World Dance Party (Remix)||The Fools|
Welcome back! It's now 2002, but why not roll it back over 20 years to this amazing, punk-pop rocker from the virtually unknown UK band Masterswitch, featured on the classic early new wave compilation Permanent Wave (1979), which also featured the Only Ones, The Vibrators, After the Fire and The Diodes among others.
|66||1/13/2002||Call of the Wild||Polyrock||
One of most innovative and underappreciated bands of the New York City new wave movement was Polyrock. Their quirky, angular sound often defied normal pop sensibilities, much like the Talking Heads. They attracted the attention of Philip Glass and Kurt Munkacsi, who produced their self-titled debut in 1980 as well as their 2nd album, Changing Hearts. "Call of the Wild" comes from their third and final release, Above the Fruited Plain (5-song EP, 1982), and is the only song to feature keyboardist Kathy Oblasney on lead vocals, rather than band leader Billy Robertson. They disbanded several years later after an aborted 4th release, but left behind some of the most important music from the American new wave scene of the early 80's. Unfathomably unavailable on CD.
|67||1/20/2002||Nothing At All||Jazzateers||
Jazzateers hailed from Scotland, releasing their self-titled debut in 1983 featuring this murky post-punk rocker, "Nothing At All". This short-lived group was fronted by Grahame Skinner, who later became the vocalist for late-80's pop group Hipsway (recall "The Honeythief").
|68||1/27/2002||Romanticide (7" Version)||Combo Audio||
This week's song is "Romanticide" from Combo Audio, a new wave band out of the midwestern US -- one of the few American bands that attempted a serious "new romantic" sound. This is the superior and longer(!) 7" version from 1982 which differs from the later version of "Romanticide" featured on their sole self-titled EP (1983), which appears on the EMI new wave CD comp, Living in Oblivion, Vol. 1.
|69||2/3/2002||Energy Crisis||Athletico Spizz 80||
Athletico Spizz 80 surfaced with the album Do a Runner in 1980 -- yet another incarnation of punk/pop eccentric Spizz and his ever-changing lineup. It was also his first full-length album after a series of singles (including the legendary "Where's Captain Kirk?") and name changes ranging from Spizzenergi to Spizz Oil. The following year, he released Spikey Dream Flowers under the name The Spizzles. Spizz has continued in his maverick fashion to churn out odd albums and singles throughout the 80's and 90's and into the new millennium. "Energy Crisis" is an essential nugget of aural mayhem that brilliantly captures the whole DiY/new wave/postpunk spirit of the era -- the perfect antidote for anyone trying to dismiss all 80's music as disposable, wimpy or uninventive.
|70||2/10/2002||Something I Don't Need||Blanket of Secrecy||
For this week of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd supply some pretty and wistful songs about yearning to be with that special someone. Firstly is the Australian band The Reels (yes, I recently featured them during the X-Mas/New Year's set but I couldn't resist this one), with their beautiful rendition of a far more spritely, earlier hit for them: "Prefab Heart". This version comes from their 1982 album titled -- what else -- Beautiful ! Also from 1982 is "Something I Don't Need", a wonderful pop ditty from the anonymous band Blanket of Secrecy (famous for their minor hit "Say You Will") about being on the road, playing in a band, and all the while secretly longing to be with your love, however hopelessly trying to convince yourself otherwise.
|71||2/10/2002||Prefab Heart (Beautiful Version)||The Reels|
|72||2/17/2002||Empty Heart||The Cretones||
"Empty Heart" is a superb Power Pop/AOR crossover gem from this little known U.S. band, The Cretones. They released two albums -- Thin Red Line (1980) and Snap! Snap! (1981) -- on Planet Records. Guitarist/vocalist Mark Goldenberg had worked with Linda Ronstadt on her Mad Love album around the same time, and has recently been working with Jackson Browne.
|73||2/24/2002||See You on the Other Side||Brian Briggs||
I haven't been able to find out much about Brian Briggs, save that he released two albums on the Bearsville label in the early 80's. One website I found seemed to imply that he was none other than Bearsville studio engineer John Holbrook, but I can't confirm this. (He's clearly not from upstate New York where the studio is located!) In any case, "See You on the Other Side" comes from his first album Brian Damage (1980) -- very much in the tongue-in-cheek spirit of Ian Dury or Jona Lewie ... it sounds like something that belonged on the Stiff label back then. Great tune from a very forgotten artist.
|74||3/3/2002||Contact You||Fay Ray||
Fay Ray never managed to get much airplay during the UK New Wave invasion of America in '82. Their sole album, Contact You, was lost amongst all the other new acts snapped up by the major labels hungry to capitalize on the phenomenon. Fronted by vocalist Sheila Brook (neé MacCartney), Fay Ray sounded like something between Quarterflash and Siouxsie & The Banshees. They were also decidedly political on several of their songs. Featured here is the terrific title track from this incredible album -- still unavailable on CD.
Industry was a shortlived synthpop quartet out of New York. They initially released a self-titled EP in 1983 followed by a full length album in 1984 called Stranger to Stranger. "Communication" is featured on both releases. They are best remembered for their anti-war anthem and minor hit "State of the Nation", which is actually available on CD, appearing on EMI's Lost Hits of the 80's.
|76||3/17/2002||Paris Is One Day Away||The Mood||
The Mood were one of many overlooked synthpop/new romantic bands out of the UK in the early 80's. It didn't help that they never released an album, only managing to release a series of singles and an EP entitled Passion in Dark Rooms (1983) in the States which collected several of their early singles, on which this minor hit appears. "Paris Is One Day Away" as well as The Mood's image perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the new romantic movement: glamour, intrigue, style, romance (of course) and a requisite dash of androgyny. The Mood apparently disbanded around 1985, their final single being "I Don't Need Your Love Now" (to the best of my knowledge).
Fingerprintz was a forgotten yet incredibly talented UK quartet fronted by Scotsman Jimmy O'Neill (shown second from right), whose brogue shines through on this infectious, quasi-instrumental groove from their debut -- and arguably best -- album, The Very Dab (1979). "Wet job" is apparently about the killing of Bulgarian novelist/playwright/dissident Georgi Markov in London by Durzhavna Sigornost (Bulgarian State Security) in 1978 -- certainly topical for the time. Fingerprintz's brand of clever guitar-based new wave was quite distinct and noteworthy for the early 78-81 period of the new wave movement. O'Neill and guitarist Cha Burns later went on to form The Silencers, who had a hit with "Painted Moon" in 1987.
|78||3/31/2002||Swear (Full Length Version)||Tim Scott||
Tim Scott, formerly with new wave rockabilly revivalists The Rockats, went solo in 1983 (the Swear EP). Featured here is the full-length title track, which was a minor hit on US new wave radio back in the day. Tim Scott (now known by his full name Tim Scott McConnell) released another album -- this time, country-tinged -- in 1987 entitled The High Lonesome Sound. He later formed the short-lived Havalinas in the early 90's.
|79||4/7/2002||Synthesizer Man||Invisible Zoo||This obscure L.A.-based synthpop trio never made an impact on the US airwaves, but produced a fairly catchy self-titled EP in 1983 and a follow-up 12" single. Like so many other American synth bands of the period, Invisible Zoo definitely borrowed from the likes of Devo and The Cars. "Synthesizer Man" epitomizes 80's synthpop -- a bit cheesy and tongue-in-cheek (hints of band member Doug Lynner's childhood?), but certainly fun.|
|80||4/14/2002||Let Go||Intimate Strangers|
|81||4/21/2002||Burning Flame (12" Version)||Vitamin Z||This UK band -- primarily the duo of Geoff Barradale and Nick Lockwood (the two guys on the left) -- were unfortunately nothing more than a minor one-hit wonder in the annals of 80's new wave with their single "Burning Flame". The 12" version is featured here. The debut album, Rites of Passage (1985) has something of a cult following (never released on CD to my knowledge), and yet they also managed to release one more parting album in 1989: Sharp Stone Rain (very out of print on CD). Still, "Burning Flame" is a bittersweet classic that deserves to be remembered.|
|82||4/28/2002||Love Is...||Troy Tate||Troy Tate, formerly a member of Julian Cope's legendary short-lived pop band The Teardrop Explodes, released his first solo album in 1984: Ticket to the Dark. Among the minor singles from this album comes "Love Is..." -- a great song with a great chorus, showcasing Troy's baritone croon (somewhat reminiscent of Jim Morrison, Chris Rea or Nick Cave).|
|83||5/5/2002||Anger||The Thought||The Thought were a post-punk/neo-psychedelic Dutch band who, like their American 'Paisley Underground' counterparts from the mid-80's (The Plimsouls, Rain Parade, etc.), professed a love of late 60's garage and psychedelic rock. The Thought released two self-titled albums (1982 and 1984), both of which are well worth seeking out. "Anger" comes from their debut album -- raw and powerful despite the muddy production.|
|84||5/12/2002||Can't Help Myself (U.S. Club Mix)||Icehouse||Icehouse -- originally known as Flowers in Australia before they changed their name to Icehouse -- was mainly the vehicle for lead singer/songwriter Iva Davies. They released several excellent albums well before they achieved US chart success in 1987 with their album Man of Colours, which spawned the hit singles "Crazy" and "Electric Blue". Featured this week is the U.S. Club Mix of "Can't Help Myself" from 1981.|
|85||5/19/2002||Triad Dimensions||Rheingold||Little known outside of Germany and mainland Europe, Rheingold created some great post-punk and synthpop that's well worth seeking out, often released bilingually in both english and german forms. "Triad Dimensions" ("Dreiklangdimensionen" in its german form) comes from their 1982 EP, Fan Fan Fanatic.|
|86||5/26/2002||Target for Life||Our Daughters Wedding||This San Francisco Bay area trio was one of the few American synthpop/new romantics to crack the UK charts back in 1981 with their hit "Lawnchairs" -- which, in retrospect, severely borrowed ideas from early OMD of the same period. "Target for Life" is another worthwhile cut from their debut EP, Digital Cowboys (1981). They later released a full-length album -- Moving Windows in '82 -- but were never able to make any impact at home in the States.|
|87||6/2/2002||Done and Gone||Necropolis of Love||I can find next to no information on this obscure band, who released an EP in 1984: The Hope. Still, well worth seeking out for some excellent moody, gothic post-punk.|
|88||6/9/2002||Goodbye Darling||Alan Vega||Alan Vega was a member of the seminal New York electro-punk duo Suicide. After a couple solo albums in the early 80's, he released the campy, infectious and still-unissued-on-CD 1983 album Saturn Strip, produced by Ric Ocasek of The Cars. "Goodbye Darling" is just one of the forgotten gems on this album, that also featured Al Jourgensen of Ministry on some of the keyboards and effects.|
|89||6/16/2002||Like a Ghost (Original Version)||Ignatius Jones||Formerly with the controversial theatrical Australian act, Jimmy and The Boys, Ignatius Jones released the Like a Ghost EP in 1982. The title track (original mix featured here), a catchy dance tune with somewhat creepy lyrics, was penned by Church frontman Steve Kilbey, who later recorded it for his solo album The Slow Crack.|
|90||6/23/2002||Digital Stimulation||Units||Formerly with the controversial theatrical Australian act, Jimmy and The Boys, Ignatius Jones released the Like a Ghost EP in 1982. The title track (original mix featured here), a catchy dance tune with somewhat creepy lyrics, was penned by Church frontman Steve Kilbey, who later recorded it for his solo album The Slow Crack.|
|91||7/4 - 7/13/2002||Our Fathers||Stump||This eccentric UK quartet had a flair for seriously quirky alternative avant-pop in the late 80's. They scored a minor hit with "Buffalo" from their only full-length album A Fierce Pancake (1988), which was a brilliant send-up of naive and confused American tourists in England ("How much is the fish? How much is the chips? Does the fish have chips?") and also featured one of the most hilarious and bizarre videos from the 80's. Featured this week is "Our Fathers" -- a more toned down, reasonably melodic song from their earlier Quirk Out! EP from 1986 (can you guess which Frank Zappa album they are spoofing in the title?).|
|92||7/14/2002||Person-Person||Joe 'King' Carrasco & The Crowns||
Texas native Joe "King" Carrasco carved out a niche in the 80's with his unique blend of tex-mex new wave, with its sound firmly steeped in classic Farfisa organ 60's rock (no surprise that Sir Douglas Quintet and Sam the Sham & The Pharoahs were also from Texas). Always with the camp factor on high (how can you go wrong with song titles like "Caca de Vaca" and "Monkey Got My Frisbee"?!), sporting a crown and with a predisposition for stage diving, Joe's live act was something not to be missed back in the day. He's still going strong today. He scored his only significant hit with "Party Weekend" back in 1983, but the wacky-groovy "Person-Person" comes from his earlier 1982 album, Synapse Gap , with a classic low budget video to boot.
|93||7/21/2002||Let's All Make a Bomb (US Mix)||Heaven 17||
Best remembered for their numerous dance floor hits like "Let Me Go", "Penthouse and Pavement" and "Temptation", Heaven 17 had a strong series of albums in the early 80's, before they fell into relative decline. They continue to this day, but have too often fallen prey to remixing and updating their earlier hits. This dance mix of "Let's All Make a Bomb" appeared on the U.S. version of their second album, The Luxury Gap (1983), and I'm not aware of it existing on CD despite numerous Heaven 17 compilations.
|94||7/28/2002||All the Same||A Drop in the Gray|
|95||8/11/2002||The Wild Colonial Boy||Ruefrex||
This Irish band's only full-length album, Flowers for All Occasions, was released in 1985 and clearly follows the anthemic, political rock of U2 and The Alarm. They, however, released an EP back in 1979 (One by One) that actually predates U2! "The Wild Colonial Boy" was one of the singles from the Flowers album, and despite much critical acclaim, the album never made an impression and fell into obscurity. Even a final EP in 1987 (Political Wings ) couldn't sustain them and they disbanded.
|96||8/18/2002||She Went Pop||Iam Siam||
Iam Siam was not so much a band as a studio project. Mainly the brainchild of Stefan Vienna (Steven Weiner) who wrote most of the lyrics, Iam Siam also included songwriter Brian Rothschild, producer David Sonenberg and Larry Fast (of Synergy fame). Most of the songs on this overlooked 1985 album, She Went Pop, featured various female vocalists, including this week's song -- the title track -- which was one of the singles. Iam Siam was best known for their hit "Talk to Me (I Can Hear You Now)", which, along with "She Went Pop", featured cutting edge videos shown on MTV back in the day.
|97||8/25/2002||City for Lovers||Way of the West|
Roman Holliday were the new wave era's answer to swing revivalism, long predating the swing craze of the late 90's. Their debut -- Cookin' on the Roof (1983) -- yielded two major singles, "Don't Try to Stop It" and "Stand By". "I.O.U." is another outstanding cut from this album, reminiscent of other jazz-inflected new wave popsters like Haircut 100 or JoBoxers.
|99||9/8/2002||It's You, Only You||The Meteors||
This Dutch new wave band -- not to be confused with the later British psychobilly band -- released three albums in the early 80's before passing into obscurity. Featured this week is "It's You, Only You" -- later a successful hit for Lene Lovich -- from their debut, Teenage Heart (1980).
|100||9/15/2002||Too Late to Fly the Flag||Hambi & The Dance||
Hambi & The Dance was a short-lived vehicle for Liverpudlian
producer Hambi Haralambous, who was well-known amongst the local
synthpop bands (OMD, A Flock of Seagulls, Dead Or Alive, etc.)
at the time, particularly for his studio, Pink Museum. "Too Late
to Fly the Flag" was one of the singles off of the debut album,
|101||9/26/2002||Look All You Like||The Rivits||
Every so often, it's fun to throw one in from left field. This week's song was the only single released by this obscure UK band assembled by Jess Roden (of the Jess Roden Band; also worked with Robbie Krieger and John Densmore of The Doors in the Butts Band). Their 1980 album, Multiplay, is a noteworthy lost pop rock album that's entirely keyboard driven (no guitars). The late keyboardist/co-songwriter of this band, Peter Wood, was also the co-writer of "Year of the Cat" with Al Stewart.
Trees was the one-man band of San Diego musician Dane Conover. As Trees, he released one album, Sleep Convention (1982) -- a superb lost synthpop album that deserves to be heard. Seek this one out ... it's well worth it. Even Ira Robbins of the famed Trouser Press music magazine couldn't praise this album enough.
I even corresponded with Dane a couple years ago. If the email addy is still current, feel free to contact him at email@example.com ... I'm sure he'd love to hear from 80's music fans.
|104||10/27/2002||Dark One's an Angel||Space Monkey||
Space Monkey was a short-lived UK synthpop band fronted by Paul Goodchild. They released one album -- On the Beam -- in 1985, which didn't sell despite being loaded with catchy, infectious (albeit dated by today's standards) dance melodies. You can hear elements of Duran Duran and Dead Or Alive on much of this album. This week's song is vaguely Halloween-oriented with its dark, "satanic" implications (no offense to anyone, especially in lieu of featuring practicing Catholic Sal Solo last week!).
EBN-OZN was the NYC dance-pop duo consisting of the late Ned Lieben (EBN) and vocalist Robert Rosen (OZN), best remembered for their zany classic "AEIOU Sometimes Y". The other major single from their overlooked 1984 album -- Feeling Cavalier -- was "Bag Lady (I Wonder)", which featured late actress Imogene Coca as the bag lady in a socially-conscious video.
|106||11/17/2002||I Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Wanna Get Rid of You||Psycotic Pineapple||
Trying to play catch-up after missing a week, I decided on featuring two brief nuggets from the obscure Bay Area band Psycotic Pineapple (sic) -- and why not, with garage rock making a huge comeback these days. These garage-revivalist jokesters released one all-too-brief album, Where's the Party? back in 1980.
|107||11/17/2002||I Want Her So Bad||Psycotic Pineapple|
|108||12/1/2002||The Man With the Four Way Hips (Long Version)||Tom Tom Club||
Tom Tom Club is the side project of Talking Heads' members, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth. Initially more or less a one-off project with their excellent debut in 1981 (featuring the oft-sampled classic "Genius of Love"), they returned in 1983 with their 2nd album, Close to the Bone (still unavailable on CD). Featured this week is the 12" version of "The Man With the Four Way Hips" -- the chief single from Close to the Bone. Tom Tom Club has since released 3 more albums, including the recent The Good, the Bad and the Funky (2001).
Troy Tate, formerly a member of Julian Cope's legendary short-lived pop band The Teardrop Explodes, released his first solo album in 1984: Ticket to the Dark . "Thomas" is one of the stand-out singles from the album.
|110||1/12/2003||See Through||Pseudo Echo||
Australian quartet Pseudo Echo are best known for their cover of "Funkytown" and a handful of lesser singles from what was already their 2nd album, Love an Adventure, but few people -- particularly here in the States -- ever had a chance to hear their debut, Autumnal Park (self-titled in the U.S) back in 1984. "See Through" is one of many excellent songs from this very synthy, new romantic-styled album.
|111||1/19/2003||House of Joy||Dial M||
Dial M was a L.A. synthpop duo consisting of Mark M. and Mike Kapitan. They released a self-titled album in 1983 and a follow-up EP in '84. "House of Joy" is one of the notable tracks from the LP, along with "Modern Day Love", for which they made a video that may have been in minor rotation on MTV back in the day. Mike Kapitan later became part of Thomas Dolby's backing band, The Lost Toy People.
|112||1/26/2003||Don't Stop Trying||Rodway||
Rodway was a synthpop outfit led by Steve Rodway, who, according to one website, was affiliated with the Buggles, although I can't verify that he actually played on either Buggles album. "Don't Stop Trying" comes from the 1983 album, Horizontal Hold -- certainly an overlooked, infectious single.
Ah, for the week of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd throw in a postpunk gem from the brilliant and criminally overlooked NYC band, Polyrock. "Love Song" hails from their second album, Changing Hearts (1981), which was produced by Philip Glass and Kurt Munkasci. That this band has languished in obscurity for as long as they have without even a single CD anthology is really hard to believe.
|114||2/16/2003||Money Talks Loud||Leyden Zar||
Leyden Zar was an obscure new wave/power pop quintet from Quebec, releasing a self-titled album in 1981. "Money Talks Loud" is one of the catchy singles from the album. Other than that, I have very little info on them.
|115||2/23/2003||Don't Stop||The Mood||
The Mood were one of many unsung synthpop/new romantic bands from the early 80's that scarcely registered a blip on the musical radar. It probably didn't help that they never released an album—yet between 1982 and 1984 they released enough singles with their respective b-sides to make up a complete album. They did, however, release a 5-song EP—Passion in Dark Rooms—in the US in 1983 that featured many 12" versions of their singles up until that time, including this week's song. This EP is well worth seeking out for fans of early 80's new romantic and synthpop.
Annabel Lamb certainly created an interesting style combining art rock and postpunk edginess with good pop sense. Featured this week is Annabel Lamb's superb cover of The Sound's "Heartland" from her debut album, Once Bitten (1983). In fact, Adrian Borland (of The Sound) appears on this album, along with Ray Manzarek of The Doors. She continues to stay active, releasing several albums in the 90's.
|117||3/9/2003||Say What||New Models||
New Models (clearly not to be confused with The Models or New Model Army) were well received in their native Boston area, releasing a catchy EP in 1983: Sight and Sound. "Say What" is a perfect blend of power pop and synthpop -- another lost gem recovered here for posterity.
|118||3/16/2003||12 O'Clock High||Dirty Looks||
Dirty Looks (no relation to the hard rock band of the later 80's and 90's) was a supremely overlooked punk/mod-inflected power pop trio out of NYC who got the attention of Stiff label producer Dave Robinson, who subsequently signed them. Unfortunately, things didn't pan out as planned and they never got the attention they deserved, calling it quits after two albums. "12 O'Clock High" is from their self-titled debut from 1980. Ska/Punk-pop/emo-core bands of the 90's--spearheaded by bands like Green Day and Rancid--owe a heavy debt to the ska, punk & mod revival styles developed by bands like The Jam, The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, and indeed Dirty Looks (though many have never heard of them).
|119||3/23/2003||Ravers Red Light||Wide Boy Awake|
|120||3/30/2003||Fear of the Dark||Scars|
|121||4/6/2003||The Labouring Man...||Martini Ranch||Martini Ranch was the short-lived synthpop duo of Andrew Todd and actor Bill Paxton. "The Labouring Man" first appeared as a single in 1986 with an ingenious Devo-meets-Fritz Lang video with all-star cameos including Linda Hamilton, Anthony Michael Hall and Judge Reinhold. Martini Ranch later completed a full-length album—Holy Cow—in 1988. It's no wonder that this week's song resembles Devo, since three of the key members—Mark Motherbaugh, Alan Myers and Bob Casale—had a hand in it. The album was released on CD, but it's difficult to track down. I recorded this version from the original 12" single. As an interesting footnote, their 2nd video, "Reach!", was directed by Paxton's director pal James Cameron (both worked together in Aliens in 1986. Game over man!)|
|122||4/13/2003||Adrianna Dreams||Colour Radio||Colour Radio was a brief and obscure blip on the American synthpop radar in 1984 with the release of their self-titled album, produced by Rick Derringer. "Adrianna Dreams" is one of the notable songs from the album, and their only single "Sheila" received minor airplay back in the day. This quartet hailed from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but it appears that nothing was heard from them afterwards.|
|123||4/20/2003||A Seaside Song||Beargarden||Beargarden was an Australian band that arose from the ashes of punk band Ears and featured vocalist Sam Sajavka (now a world class playwrite). This great lost single from their only (and rare) album All That Fall (1985) has a very anthemic quality and sounds a bit like the Psychedelic Furs, Simple Minds and David Bowie all mixed together!|
|124||4/27/2003||Get Off My Case||Comateens|
|125||5/4/2003||Watching Their Eyes||Kissing the Pink||Kissing the Pink hailed from Glasgow and created some interesting, arty synthpop before shortening their sexually suggestive name to KTP and ploughing a more commercial dance pop sound resulting in a breakthrough hit with "Certain Things Are Likely" in 1986. "Watching Their Eyes" is one of the classic singles from their edgy 1983 debut Naked, which also featured the club hit "Big Man Restless". This is a difficult one to come by on CD.|
|126||5/11/2003||Mom and Dad and God||Suburban Lawns||This quirky punk-pop outfit from California fronted by Sue Tissue had a couple cult hits with "Gidget Goes to Hell" and the lyrically ambiguous "Janitor". "Mom and Dad and God" is a ska-tinged ditty—sung by guitarist Frankie Ennui—from their 1981 self-titled debut on IRS.|
|127||5/18/2003||Rhythm Method||The Fountainhead||This Irish duo—from what I can gather—released their first album The Burning Touch in 1986. "Rhythm Method" was the noteworthy single from the album—undoubtedly a sly reference to Catholic Ireland's preferred method of birth control, and their name clearly a nod to the Ayn Rand novel. Still, a great lost dance tune with intriguing middle eastern flair.|
|128||5/25/2003||What's Gone Wrong (Original Version)||The Untouchables||This popular L.A. ska band debuted with their Live and Let Dance EP in 1984, from which the original version of "What's Gone Wrong" hails. Best known for their hits "Free Yourself", "I Spy for the FBI" and "Agent Double O Soul", The Untouchables were one of the few American bands exploring mod and ska styles—with a generous helping of reggae and soul—back in the 80's. They have continued to release live and studio albums throughout the 90's.|
|129||6/1/2003||Stay (Remix)||The Blue Nile||This enigmatic Scottish band fronted by Paul Buchanan have made things all the more difficult by managing a mere 3 albums in the space of 13 years. This remix version of "Stay"—the beautiful and atmospheric lead single from their 1983 debut A Walk Across the Rooftops—comes from the 12" single, differing slighly from the album version. They received some much deserved critical praise on their 2nd, and arguably most accessible album, Hats in 1989.|
|130||6/8/2003||Let's Cook (US Mix)||Mental As Anything||"Let's Cook" was just one of numerous singles from the quirky and much-loved Aussie band Mental As Anything. This US mix differs slightly from the Australian version—as was frequently the case during the 'Oz Invasion' of '82 and '83 in the States, when numerous Australian acts were snapped up by labels such as A&M, and the albums were often remixed and resequenced for the American market. The Mentals are still going strong after 25 years, although two key members Reg Mombassa and Peter O'Doherty (brothers in fact) have since left the band.|
|131||6/15/2003||Should I Love You||Cee Farrow||Cee Farrow was a former model turned new wave star with the smash success of this single from his only full-length album, Red and Blue (1983). He resurfaced again in 1991 with the single "Imagination" and later went on to do some production work.|
|132||6/22/2003||I'll Be the One to Cry||Strange Advance||This Canadian synth-rock trio burst onto the scene in late 1982 with their first single "She Controls Me". This single along with the magnificent title track from their debut album, Worlds Away (1983), gained significant airplay in Canada and the States. "I'll Be the One to Cry" is one of the strong non-singles from their 2nd album, 2wo (1985), and neatly bridges the gap between new wave and AOR/prog 80's rock.|
|133||6/29/2003||The Motor Song (Stick in Your Dipstick)||Randyandy||Here's one to throw in your next party mix that'll have everyone going "who the hell was that?" Randyandy was the short-lived synthpop duo of Randy Badazz and Andy Armer (quite possibly not their real names). Their sole self-titled album from 1983 is a true obscurity, but contained within the grooves are some quirky but catchy tunes—this week's tune would even elicit a smirk from funk grandmaster George Clinton!|
|134||7/7/2003||Life Is Like||The Suburbs||
One of the more underrated new wave/postpunk bands from the States—The Suburbs—were legendary in their native Minneapolis: the birthplace of other postpunk legends like The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. This raucous quintet was all over the map musically and their albums (In Combo, Credit In Heaven and Love Is the Law all thankfully reissued on CD) are well worth owning, but by the time they had released their final (and self-titled) album in 1986, they had become rather tame and short on inspiration. "Life Is Like" is one of the noteworthy tracks from this album, still unvailable on CD. A nice tune, but a far cry from the early quirk-punk of "Tape Your Wife to the Ceiling" and "Chemistry Set" or the infectious dance pop of "Love Is the Law" and "Rattle My Bones".
For an excellent overview check out: Ladies and Gentlemen, The Suburbs Have Left the Building
|135||7/14/2003||The Young Reporter (single version)||The Nits||
The Nits are one of the more celebrated not to mention prolific bands from Holland during the new wave era—definitely a treat to those of us in the North America who got little to no exposure to this great band. "The Young Reporter" is from the 1980 single, with a different version featured on their 2nd album, Tent (1979).
For an excellent career-spanning overview check out: Nits Hits
|136||7/21/2003||Accretions (US mix)||Shriekback||
Shriekback emerged in 1982 practically poised to be a postpunk supergroup, with Barry Andrews (ex-XTC) on lead vocals/keyboards, Dave Allen (ex-Gang of Four) on bass, and Carl Marsh (of the lesser known Out On Blue Six) on guitar. They developed a unique avant dance/pop/funk sound that was difficult to pin down, and their tendency for cryptic lyrics and esoteric subject matters made them all the more enigmatic. After an initial EP, Tench, they released their first full-length album in '83 entitled Care. This version of "Accretions" comes from the US version of the album, which featured a different track listing than the UK version—a superior version of the album that may never see a proper issue on CD.
|137||8/4/2003||How Much Longer?||Re-Flex||
Re-Flex are best known for their smash 1983 single "The Politics of Dancing" along with its provocative video. Their debut (and only officially released) album The Politics of Dancing contained several other dance pop gems like "Hurt" (one of my favorites) and "Praying to the Beat", despite being more or less panned by critics. "How Much Longer?" is the rare and only single released prior to what was to be their 2nd album, Humanication, in 1985. As far as I've been able to determine, no copies of the album have ever surfaced—even as a promo—making for quite a phantom collector's item. If anyone has it, please let me know!
See if you can figure out who makes an uncredited guest vocal appearance on this song. Hint: leader of one of the biggest bands of the 80's!
|138||8/11/2003||Talking in Code||The Boomtown Rats|
|139||8/18/2003||Don't Follow Me (March Hare)||All About Eve||
All About Eve emerged in the mid-80's as a gothic rock outfit who embraced a folkier style moreso than many of their contemporaries. "Don't Follow Me (March Hare)" is the b-side from their first 12" single "D for Desire" (1985), when their identity hadn't been well established—you can clearly hear a similarity to Siouxsie & The Banshees and Cocteau Twins in their early singles. Lead vocalist Julianne Regan had a short stint as bassist for Gene Loves Jezebel prior to forming the band. Marty Willson-Piper of The Church filled in on guitar in the 90's, after original guitarist Tim Bricheno departed.
Despite a 'Best Of' and a 'Rarities' CD, many of their earliest singles—including this song—have not yet been released on CD.
|140||8/25/2003||Peer Pressure||Red Rockers||
This week we have a two-fer of punk firepower from Red Rockers (who knew, right?). This transplanted San Francisco band (by way of New Orleans) really packed a punch on their debut album, Condition Red (1981; released on the legendary San Francisco label 415), owing a large debt to The Clash and other politically-charged bands from the original UK punk explosion, and they fit right in with other postpunk political bands like U2, New Model Army and The Alarm who were emerging at the same time. As you can clearly hear, these songs bear next to no resemblance to the smoother jangle pop sound the band generated later with hits like "China" in 1983.
|141||9/1/2003||Hold On||Red Rockers|
This week I thought I'd feature a song from the little known avant electropop Dutch trio Kiem. "It's Working" comes from their self-titled debut from 1984—an interesting minimalist tune with a touch of "industrial" using only a synthesizer, metal drums and sax for instrumentation. I was able to locate a little more info on a Dutch music site here. Too bad I can't translate ... maybe one of our Dutch message board members can give me more info on them?
This week I dredged up a skeleton from Ministry mainman Al Jourgenson's closet—from a time I'm sure he wishes we all could forget, but alas it wasn't that bad after all. "I'm Falling" comes from his debut Cold Life EP, originally issued on the famed Wax Trax! records in 1981. Despite a new wave club sound, you can definitely hear the beginnings of his angst and paranoia rising to the surface. It's actually a shame that this song didn't get added to Ministry's Wax Trax! 12" singles CD, since it was one of his best early songs. He went on to release the overlooked synthpop classic With Sympathy (1983) before heading down the 'ol industrial grindcore road one piece at a time.
|144||9/22/2003||Gone West||Rain Parade||
The Rain Parade were one of the legendary bands of the "Paisley Underground" movement that sprung up predominantly in L.A. in the early 80's—a scene which openly embraced the sound of 60's pop, folk and psychedelia and featured other bands like The Dream Syndicate, The Bangles, The Three O'Clock and The Plimsouls. After the Rain Parade's critically acclaimed debut, Emergency 3rd Rail Power Trip (1983), and equally noteworthy follow-up EP, Explosions in the Glass Palace (1984), they regrouped for their third and final album, Crashing Dream (1986), having previously lost lead singer David Roback to his new project Opal (and later Mazzy Star). "Gone West" is one of the strongest songs from this otherwise disappointing album, proving how integral David Roback was to their distinctive sound.
Recommended on CD:
|145||10/6/2003||The Good Life||The Hoovers||
The Hoovers were an obscure ska quartet from San Francisco fronted by a pair of transplanted Brits and were heavily influenced by the then-current second wave of ska. Their debut album Skin & Blisters (1980) was shortly followed by an EP in 1981 entitled Smut & Class. Unfortunately, the 2nd wave of ska never caught on in the States, and they swiftly disappeared.
|146||10/13/2003||Dance the Dance||Nomo||
Another true obscurity, Nomo was a short-lived synthpop trio fronted by David Batteau, who released previous albums under his name in the 70's. Nomo released one album, The Great Unknown in 1985 — "Dance the Dance" is one of the more memorable songs from this otherwise forgotten album.
Trees was a one-man band consisting of San Diego-based musician Dane Conover. He released one album in 1982—Sleep Convention—to little fanfare, but what an album ... infectious, thinking person's synthpop. It ranks up there as one of the greatest lost new wave albums of the 80's. Read what Ira Robbins of the famed Trouser Press had to say about this album. This week I'm featuring "Red Car"—the excellent, much requested closing track on the album.
|150||11/10/2003||Infinite Roads||The Hawaiian Pups||
The Hawaiian Pups were a short-lived trio out of New York that managed only one EP—Split Second Precision—back in 1983. Their brand of intelligent, eccentric synthpop was showcased on their cult classic "Baby Judy". The fact that they only released an EP, like many other artists from the period, led Eno, Spaz an I to create a series called ObscureEPs, which collects 3 lost EP's from different artists on a single CD. The Hawaiian Pups are definitely one of those artists!
|151||11/17/2003||Hey Little Girl (US Dance Mix)||Icehouse||
Icehouse was one of the more successful Australian acts to rise out of the new wave movement and achieve eventual chart success in the States ("Crazy", "Electric Blue", "No Promises"). The band changed its line-up several times, proving mainly to be a vehicle for singer/songwriter Iva Davies. This week's song is the U.S. dance mix of the classic "Hey Little Girl" from 1983, which sounds more stripped down (i.e., less lush sounding) than the original and reinserts a lost—although fairly inconsequential—verse back into the song.
Recommended on CD:
|152||11/23/2003||Tell Me Now||The Rescue||
The Rescue was a short-lived American new wave quintet who released one infectious EP—Messages—in 1984, with production wizardry courtesy of Tony Mansfield. Lead singer Paul McGovern sounds incredibly like Robert Smith (of The Cure) at times.
|153||12/15/2003||Close to You||Nine Ways to Win||
Another true 80's obscurity, the synthpop duo Nine Ways to Win released one self-titled album in 1983. "Close to You" was the lead single from the album.
|154||12/22/2003||Christmas Is Coming||Payola$||
In the spirit of the holiday season, I couldn't help but feature a Christmas tune (so bear with me this week all ye scrooges or if you don't celebrate the holiday). This one comes from Vancouver's Payola$ (who made an impact on American radio back in '82 with their timeless classic "Eyes of a Stranger"). This little X-mas nugget comes from their 1983 album Hammer on a Drum (and yes, you can find it on CD on Oglio's The Edge of Christmas compilation). Happy holidaze!
|155||1/5/2004||Feel the Fear (Extended Mix)||Positive Noise||
Positive Noise were certainly one of the more underappreciated synthpop bands of the early 80's. Hailing from Scotland, they released 3 albums and a slew of singles over the course of 5 years. "Feel the Fear" comes from their 2nd album, Change of Heart (1982) — this week's song features the extended mix. These guys are long overdue for a decent CD retrospective.
Oh, and welcome to 2004!
|156||1/12/2004||Only Dreaming (Wide Awake) (Acoustic)||Red Lorry Yellow Lorry||
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry hailed from Leeds, also home to fellow gloom/goth rockers Sister of Mercy. This version of their single "Only Dreaming (Wide Awake)" is the version that appeared on the US release of their 1988 album, Nothing Wrong, which is frequently tagged as the "acoustic version" due to the acoustic intro.
As a brief member of Julian Cope's pop band The Teardrop Explodes, Troy Tate also had a solo career in the mid-80's, releasing two albums in short succession: Ticket to the Dark (1984) and Liberty (1985), as well as an earlier 10" EP. "Sorrow" is the standout single from Liberty.
|158||2/2/2004||Ink and Paper||Modern English||
Modern English have been unfairly designated a "one-hit wonder" here in the U.S. with the timeless and perhaps-just-slightly-overplayed "I Melt With You", but "Ink and Paper" could easily have been another smash — the standout single on their 4th album, Stop Start (1986), still unissued on CD. It is interesting to note that the song was co-written by ex-Rubinoo power popster Tommy Dunbar, demonstrating that at this point, Modern English had long since traded their earlier post-punk, gothic roots for pop.
|159||2/16/2004||New Day Dawning||The Mockers||
The Mockers enjoyed some success in their native New Zealand, but were scarcely known to the outside world. This new wave quintet fronted by Andrew Fagan released a series of highly collectable singles (many on colored vinyl) and several albums throughout the 80's. "New Day Dawning" is an outstanding album cut from their 2nd album, Culprit and the King (1985).
|160||3/1/2004||Nothing Changes||The Expression||
The Expression were one of the lesser known bands to emerge during the "Oz Invasion" of the States in the early/mid-80's. A&M was one of the major U.S. labels to release a number of Australian and New Zealand artists on the legendary Mushroom label (Split Enz, Mental As Anything, Machinations, to name a few) during that period. This smooth, Roxy Music-esque quintet fronted by Tom Haran released their exquisite self-titled debut in 1983 to little fanfare. This "full length version" of "Nothing Changes" — one of the best album tracks — is actually a b-side that slightly extends the album version. After the departure of several members, The Expression released a rare 2nd album, Conscience, in 1985 and disbanded shortly thereafter.
|161||3/15/2004||Talk||Necropolis of Love||
I can find next to nothing on this band, who released an EP in 1984, The Hope. Still, well worth seeking out for some excellent moody, gothic post-punk. "Talk" would make a fantastic goth/darkwave club song — alas, despite being released as a single, it probably never got a spin in the clubs.
|162||3/23/2004||To Prove My Love (Original Version)||The Quick (UK)||
This UK synthpop duo (consisting of Colin Campsie and George McFarlane) with a flair for funk & soul, burst onto the scene first in Australia with a smash single "Hip Shake Jerk". The single was so successful that a debut album — On the Up Take — was rushed to market down under in 1980. This week's song is the original version of "To Prove My Love" from this Australian debut album. Their debut elsewhere in the world didn't arrive until 1982 with Fascinating Rhythm (featuring production work by John Luongo), essentially a reworked version of their debut with some new tracks replacing older ones on the debut, including the club hit "Zulu".
|163||3/30/2004||Ashes and Diamonds||Zaine Griff||
Born in New Zealand to Danish parents, Zaine Griff relocated to London in his teens to concentrate on his musical career and was poised to be the next David Bowie for the eighties when he released his first album Ashes & Diamonds in 1980. He even had the look (and cheekbones) to boot! Even more convincingly, the album was produced by Tony Visconti (famous for his production work with Bowie). This week's song is the superb title track from this intriguing album that should be a must for any Bowie/glam/art rock fans.
As an insteresting side note, David Bowie even re-recorded a handful of his classics (“Space Oddity”, “Panic In Detroit” and “Rebel Rebel”) using Zaine and his band, after hearing about him from Tony Visconti. Two of the songs from these sessions appear as bonus tracks on the 1992 Ryko issue of Bowie's Scary Monsters (sadly out of print and highly sought after).
|164||4/12/2004||Celebrate||Lost Loved Ones||
Lost Loved Ones were clearly one of those bands that got lost in the maelstrom of musical activity in the mid-80's. This trio had a catchy sound along the lines of other guitar-based bands of the era like The Alarm or Hoodoo Gurus, as noted on this outstanding track from their only album Outcast (1985), but success eluded them and into obscurity they went. I have very little information on them other than the album and a handful of singles.
|165||4/19/2004||Assembly Line||Hilly Michaels||
Hilly Michaels — an in-demand session drummer — decided to try his hand at songwriting and lead vocals, releasing two solo albums in the early 80's that went without much notice; however, his brand of playful new wave pop was certainly enjoyable. The likes of Dan Hartman, Davey Johnston, Greg Hawkes, G.E. Smith, Rick Derringer and many others made guest appearances on his albums. "Assembly Line" is a catchy number from his 2nd album Lumina (1981).
|166||4/26/2004||Warm & Dry (live, 1983)||Polyrock||
Polyrock were one of the great unsung new wave bands out of New York in the early 80's. Their first two albums were produced by Philip Glass, followed up by an independently-produced EP, Above the Fruited Plain. They never managed a proper 4th release, but they did release a document of demos and live recordings on cassette-only in 1986 entitled No Love Lost. "Warm & Dry" is a live recording (hence the average sound quality) of a song that never made it to any of their albums.
|167||5/10/2004||All About You||Scars||
This short-lived Scottish band had a dark and psychedelic/post punk sound that at times resembles Lords of the New Church or early Alice Cooper (as many critics cited). The Scars released both an album and an EP titled Author! Author! in 1981 -- each containing differing tracks. "All About You" is one of the catchier singles released from their short but prolific recording period.
The one-off, one-man band known as Trees was nothing short of ingenious. San Diego native Dane Conover released this one infectious synthpop album Sleep Convention in 1982 to little fanfare. Thankfully, revered Trouser Press music critic Ira Robbins caught on to it and couldn't praise it enough. "Come Back" is the lead-off song on what is one of the greatest lost synthpop albums of the 80's.
Boston's Neats arrived in the early 80's with a sound very influenced by sixties psychedelia and garage — you can definitely hear similarities to Hüsker Dü and Bob Mould."Ghost" is one of the outstanding cuts from their 1983 self-titled album. They went into hiding for several years before re-emerging in the late 80's sporting jean jackets, long hair and playing swampy, blues rock.
|170||6/7/2004||All Girls Lie||Bette Bright||
By popular demand, I'm featuring two songs from Bette Bright for two weeks (I'm going to be on vacation for a week). Bette Bright — future wife of Graham "Suggs" McPherson of Madness — previously performed in the art rock band Deaf School before striking out on her own for her "SOLE-o" album Rhythm Breaks the Ice (1981).
The bonus song needs no explanation — a classic oddity regardless of your political leanings. So long, Mr. Reagan.
|171||6/7/2004||Hello, I Am Your Heart||Bette Bright|
|173||6/21/2004||Come With Me||Space Monkey||
Space Monkey was a short-lived UK synthpop band fronted by Paul
Goodchild. They released one album — On the Beam —
in 1985, which didn't sell despite being loaded with catchy, infectious
dance melodies. You can hear elements of Duran Duran, Flock of Seagulls
and Dead Or Alive on much of this album — truly one of the
better overlooked albums released in new wave's twilight years.
"Come With Me" is the catchiest single from the album,
having never charted in either the UK or US!
|174||6/28/2004||Prove Me Wrong||The Sound||
This week's song is a bittersweet gem from The Sound's last great
hurrah — the 1987 album Thunder Up. The late,
great Adrian Borland has never sounded so true and sincere than
on this wonderful track. Despite having been released on CD, Thunder
Up is long out of print and hard to come by these days.
It's a shame that Renascent wasn't able to reissue this album like
they did the earlier back catalogue of The Sound. Perhaps it's not
|175||7/12/2004||Small Brave Land||The Expression||
The Expression were one of the lesser known bands to emerge during
the "Oz Invasion" of the States in the early/mid-80's.
This stylish and introspective band fronted by Tom Haran released
their self-titled debut in 1983 to little fanfare. Pared down to
a duo after the departure of several members, The Expression released
a rare 2nd album, Conscience in 1985, only to disband
shortly thereafter. "Small Brave Land" — a nod to
their native land (certainly not small in terms of size!) in the
spirit of Icehouse's "Great Southern Land" — is
the only single released from this hard-to-find album.
|177||8/9/2004||Stop This Car (Motor Mix)||The Woodentops||
This week's song is the Motor Mix of The Woodentops' infectious
and hyperkinetic 1988 single "Stop This Car" (from their
2nd album Wooden Foot Cops on the Highway). Released
on a now out of print CD single (as well as vinyl, of course), this
eccentric mix kicks things off with the song effectively being played
like a 33RPM record at 16RPM before segueing into a nice ambient
groove, but then out of nowhere comes a "valley girl"
going on about her experience with a police officer ("I said
'Officer, like what's your sign?' and he said 'No parking.'")—how
weird is that? It's only in the final minutes that we actually get
to the heart of the song!
|178||8/16/2004||Half a Lifetime||Wire Train||
Wire Train were one of the memorable bands on the roster of the legendary 415 Records label out of San Francisco. Their 1984 debut, In a Chamber, was full of shimmering guitar pop and ponderous lyrics, but it was their 1985 sophomore album, Between Two Words, where they achieved their pinnacle—the singing and songwriting duties split between frontmen Kevin Hunter and Kurt Herr. This week's song—"Half a Lifetime"—is the b-side to the single "Last Perfect Thing". It accidentally appeared in place of its respective a-side on their 1996 retrospective CD until the error was quickly corrected. Luckily, I have a copy of this version and I must say that this song is as strong as anything that appeared on the album.
|179||8/23/2004||Table for One||The Producers||
To anyone familiar with them, The Producers were unquestionably one of the most overlooked bands of the early 80's. These power pop heroes out of Atlanta, Georgia had some modest Stateside radio success with gems like "What's He Got?", "What She Does to Me (The Diana Song)" and "She Sheila", but by the time they had released their 3rd album, Run for Your Life, in 1985, it was clear that their shot at fame had eluded them. "Table for One" is one of the memorable songs from this album—by special request!
|180||8/30/2004||Love Insight||Sons of Heroes||
Sons of Heroes released one self-titled album in 1983, produced by Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. By request, this week's song is "Love Insight"—one of the catchier album cuts from this obscure UK synthpop trio.
|181||9/13/2004||The Rise and the Fall||The Thought||
The Thought were a post-punk/neo-psychedelic Dutch band who, like their American 'Paisley Underground' counterparts from the mid-80's (The Plimsouls, Rain Parade, etc.), professed a love of late 60's garage and psychedelic rock (they covered both "Eight Miles High" and "I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night"). In making up for two weeks, I'm featuring two album tracks from their 2nd self-titled album (1984) — another gem lost to obscurity.
|183||9/20/2004||It Ain't What You Dance, It's the Way You Dance It (U.S. Mix)||The Swingers||
The Swingers were the short-lived brainchild of ever-eccentric Phil Judd (shown lower right in picture on the left), one of the founding members (along with Tim Finn) of New Zealand's most famous musical export: Split Enz. After departing Split Enz around 1977, he soon formed the Swingers, who released Counting the Beat in 1981 down under (later remixed and released with alternate tracks in the States in '82). This week's song is the US mix of one of their smash singles "It Ain't What You Dance, It's the Way You Dance It".
|184||9/27/2004||The Girl with the Curious Hand||Digney Fignus||
Bostonian Digney Fignus had his brief moment of fame when he won MTV's Basement Tapes competition in October 1983 with the video for this week's song. He followed up with a self-titled 6-song EP in 1985. He has long since shifted to country music.
|185||10/4/2004||Come Tonite||Norm Norman||
Yet another obscurity, Norm Norman (from San Diego, if my sources are correct) released one self-titled EP in 1983. I featured his only single "You're a Zombie" a year or two ago, which had a video that I believe was in rotation on MTV for a short while.
Industry was a noteworthy synthpop band out of New York that received minor airplay with the excellent "State of the Nation." They initially released an EP in 1983 and followed it up with a full-length album, Stranger to Stranger, in '84. All of the songs from the EP appeared on the album, with one song being reworked ("Still of the Night"). "Romantic Dreams" is one of the songs to appear on both releases—you can definitely hear Roxy Music influence in the instrumentation here.
|187||10/18/2004||Why Take It Again||Minor Detail||
Minor Detail released one memorable self-titled album in 1982, including the minor radio hit "Canvas of Life." This synthpop duo consisted of two Irish brothers, John and Willie Hughes. This week's song, "Why Take It Again", was a lesser single from the album and seems an apt "call to action" with the U.S. elections looming ahead.
|188||11/8/2004||Broken Haloes||Rhythm Method (Corps)||
Rhythm Corps were an American band out of Detroit who made an earnest attempt at the rousing, often politically-charged sound of bands like U2 and The Alarm. "Broken Haloes" comes from their debut EP, Paquet de Cinq (1982), when they were known as Rhythm Method. "Common Ground" was their breakthrough alternative hit (the title track from their 1988 album Common Ground). They never gained the widespread attention that they probably deserved.
|189||11/8/2004||Common Ground||Rhythm Corps|
|190||11/15/2004||Stormy Seas||The Meteors||
The Netherlands' Meteors — not to be confused with too many other bands with the same name — are perhaps best known outside their native land for being the originators of the song "It's You, Only You" made big by Lene Lovich. Their brand of gritty, glam new wave gave them a unique signature. This week's song is the title track to their 3rd album Stormy Seas (1982).
|191||11/22/2004||One More Trauma||Slow Children||
The L.A.-based duo Slow Children released two quirky albums in the early 80's before calling it quits. Stylistically somewhere between The Waitresses and Martha & The Muffins, their songs were always brimming with hyperliterate lyrics delivered in Pal Shazar's sweet and pouty vocal style. Slow Children are best known for their minor club hits "President Am I", "Spring in Fialta" and "Vanessa Vacillating". This week's song is the opening track to their 2nd album, Mad About Town (1982). Both albums were produced and assisted by Jules Shear and Stephen Hague.
|192||11/29/2004||Every Second of the Day||Roaring Boys||
The 200th Song of the Week is nearly at hand! For the next few weeks, I'm featuring two-fers until the 200th song is reached. I will be offering a 2-disc collection of MP3's featuring every Song of the Week since October 2000 when I began this page. For all you faithful old-timers, I will be upgrading all older 128kbps songs to VBR, so the quality will be top notch. Stay tuned for more details!
The popularity of the Roaring Boys' lost alterna-hit "House of Stone" featured on Fritz's recent edition of Name That Tune (Vol. 15), convinced me to offer a two-fer of additional songs from the self-titled Roaring Boys album from 1986. Though nothing quite lives up to the magnificence of "House of Stone", these are two of the stronger songs from an otherwise average album.
|193||11/29/2004||Strange Girl||Roaring Boys|
The 200th Song of the Week is nearly at hand! I'm featuring two-fers until the 200th song is reached. I will be offering a 2-disc collection of MP3's featuring every Song of the Week since October 2000 when I began this page. For all you faithful old-timers, I will be upgrading all older 128kbps songs to VBR, so the quality will be top notch. Stay tuned for more details!
Trees was a one-man band consisting of San Diego-based musician Dane Conover. He released one album in 1982—Sleep Convention—to little fanfare, but what an essential album it was ... infectious, thinking person's synthpop. It ranks up there as one of the greatest lost new wave albums of the 80's. Read what Ira Robbins of the famed Trouser Press had to say about this album.
The Reels were one truly overlooked new wave/pop band out of Australia fronted by singer/songwriter Dave Mason (no, not of Traffic fame!). They had a flair for eccentric pop and covered numerous songs (reinterpreting many of their own) over the course of their career. These songs cover a period from 1980-83, when The Reels were at their creative peak. Most of their material is long overdue for reissue, with only one CD compilation entitled Requiem available to my knowledge.
|197||12/13/2004||No. 3||The Reels|
|199||SOTW 200 BONUS||Ouverture / You're in the Army Now||Bolland|
|200||SOTW 200 BONUS||Enjoy||Suburban Lawns|
|201||1/3/2005||Love on the Rebound||Person to Person||
Happy 2005 everyone! The Song of the Week 200 has now officially concluded ... thanks to all of you for helping to support this effort. It was fun assembling and looking back on all the great tunes selected over the past four years. And now onward towards another great year of lost 80's nuggets...
Person to Person was a short-lived new wave/pop experiment that included former ABC drummer David Palmer. They only managed one album, Stronger Than Reason (1985), before calling it a day.
|202||1/10/2005||My Kinda Girl||The Rings||
The Rings had one prolific year in 1982 when they released two albums — The Rings and Rhythm Method. This power pop quartet had a new wave edge that resembled fellow Bostonian superstars The Cars at times. "My Kinda Girl" was the major single from their self-titled debut.
|203||1/17/2005||His Eyes||Pseudo Echo||In hopes of eventual reissue later this year of the classic synthpop/new romantic album Autumnal Park from Pseudo Echo (Almancantar Records was in negotiation, but now currently on hold), I'm featuring a song from the album. Autumnal Park saw a delayed release in the U.S. in 1984 as a self-titled album. If anything, this album will instantly put to rest any argument about Pseudo Echo being few hit wonders to be judged merely by their later commercial hits: "Funkytown", "Living in a Dream", etc. Let's keep our fingers crossed, folks!|
|204||1/23/2005||Directly from the Heart||The Innocents||
The Innocents had a brief moment in the limelight in 1982 when they were the focus of an early MTV documentary that chronicled the life of an up-and-coming band. All the attention would seem like a godsend, but like so many other bands experiencing the rocket to fame, backlash ensued and success eluded them. Their sole self-titled album from this period is still a lost new wave/power pop classic that is worth tracking down. It's worth noting that former keyboardist Tommy Newman is both a relative of Randy Newman and also a successful film composer.
Oh, and for any of you message board regulars, you might recognize the writer of this AllMusic Guide review of The Innocents.
|205||1/31/2005||Step into the Light||Iam Siam||
Iam Siam was essentially a one-off studio project of assembled studio musicians and producers including Brian Rothschild, David Sonenberg, Larry Fast (of Synergy fame) and Stefan Vienna. For their sole, quasi-concept album She Went Pop (1985), they used a rotating roster of female vocalists, but Rothschild himself sung on their biggest hit, "Talk to Me (I Can Hear You Now)". "Step into the Light" is a haunting album cut (sounding a bit on the Bonnie Tyler side) from this interesting 80's artifact. The album and its liner notes hinted at a larger, mysterious story involving fictitious superstar Rena Devere, a military general named John Earlyshow, a cult known as "The Way of the Star", and a race of beings called the Lamorians. Intriguing....
|206||2/7/2005||Look around the Corner||Brian Briggs||
Brian Briggs is probably best known for his minor novelty hit "See You on the Other Side" (featured in an earlier Song of the Week). This eccentric Aussie released two albums in the early 80's on the Bearsville label. "Look around the Corner" is a catchy near-instrumental offering from his 2nd album, Combat Zone (1982) which also features a rousing version of Jimi Hendrix's "Crosstown Traffic".
|207||2/14/2005||Sound of Thunder||Tim Scott||
Tim Scott, formerly with new wave rockabilly revivalists The Rockats, released a solo EP in 1983 which contained the hit "Swear". He later released an alternative album with a western flavor, The High Lonesome Sound, in '87, which included this minor single, "Sound of Thunder." Now known by his full name of Tim Scott McConnell, he also helmed the short-lived Havalinas in the early 90's.
DFX2 hailed from San Diego. Led by twin brothers Douglas and David Farage, they crafted some memorable power pop often with a nod to Sir Mick and the Stones. "Downtown" comes from their debut EP, Where Are They Now (1980). They released an acclaimed EP, Emotion, in 1983 featuring the outstanding title track (included in Rhino's Just Can't Get Enough new wave series).
|209||2/28/2005||Bitter Surprise||De Film||
Danish synthpop quintet De Film released a noteworthy self-titled album in 1985. "Bitter Surprise" is one of the singles from this album — very reminiscent of Alphaville from the same period.
|210||3/7/2005||I Won't Let You Go||New Regime||
Toronto-based New Regime made their debut in 1985 with a self-titled album brimming with glossy pop rock. This week's pick — surprisingly not a single — sounds incredibly like King or ABC from the same year. New Regime released another album, The Race, in 1987, before disappearing into obscurity.
|211||3/14/2005||I'm Just Beginning to Live||Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers||
Always a popular favorite, Jonathan Richman has been turning out his quirky, good-natured, sparsely-produced sing-alongs for over 30 years now. His seminal debut with The Modern Lovers (compiled from demos recorded with John Cale in 1973) is an essential album to own. In 1985, he returned with the Modern Lovers for his Rockin' & Romance album — still unreleased on CD. "I'm Just Beginning to Live" is one of the singles from this overlooked album. Richman still remains something of a cult figure in indie pop/alternative circles, and even put in prominent cameos in the Farrelly Brothers movies Kingpin and There's Something About Mary.
|212||3/28/2005||I'll Be Your Man||Any Trouble||
Any Trouble was a pub rock outfit who signed to Stiff Records in 1980. After two promising but commercially disappointing albums, lead singer Clive Gregson emerged in 1983 with a refurbished line-up and a more polished, keyboard-driven sound. The Joe Jackson-esque "I'll Be Your Man" is one of the singles from their self-titled third album.
|213||4/4/2005||Take Me to Your Heart||The World||The World was the American duo of Wayne Hammer and Jeff Slater. They came together as session musicians working in London and burst onto the scene with their catchy debut single "Shoo Shoo Wah". "Take Me to Your Heart" was one of the lesser singles from their 1983 debut album, Break the Silence, produced by Roy Thomas Baker (Queen, The Cars).|
|214||4/11/2005||Touch the Radio Dance||Language||
Language was a short-lived band fronted by UK vocalist/songwriter Steve Hale. Releasing only one EP, Alphabet City, in 1984 (not to be confused with ABC's 1987 album of the same name), the style was dance-funk-inflected new wave not far removed from where Gang of Four left off on 1983's Hard. This week's song is the lead single, which features Eddi Reader (of later Fairground Attraction fame) as one of the backing vocalists.
|215||4/18/2005||Tutti Ragazzi (Original Version)||The Nits||
The Nits are one of the more celebrated not to mention prolific bands from Holland during the new wave era—definitely a treat to those of us in the North America who got little to no exposure to this great band. Featured this week is the original version of one of their early singles "Tutti Ragazzi", taken from their hard-to-find 1978 debut.
For an excellent career-spanning overview check out: Nits Hits
|216||5/2/2005||Dome of the Spheres||Bone Symphony||
Bone Symphony was a short-lived new wave outfit fronted by Scott Wilk (of Scott Wilk & The Walls fame). They only released one self-titled EP in 1983, and contributed a song to the soundtrack for Revenge of the Nerds ("One Foot in Front of the Other"). "Dome of the Spheres" is one of the noteworthy cuts from the EP.
|217||5/9/2005||The Adventurers||Interview||Interview was a UK band led by vocalist Jeff Starrs and guitarist Pete Allerhand. They turned out two albums around 1980. "The Adventurers" is the opening cut from their 2nd album Snakes and Lovers (self-titled in the U.S.). Starrs' vocals are very reminiscent of Neil Finn on many of the songs.|
|218||5/16/2005||Lifeline||Captains of Industry||
Captains of Industry was fronted by "Wreckless" Eric Goulden (of "Whole Wide World" fame) and featured members of the Blockheads. Their only album entitled A Roomful of Monkeys (1985) is full of inventive and infectious if somewhat unconventional pop tunes. "Lifeline" is one of the singles from the album.
|219||5/30/2005||The Price||Thompson Twins||While most people came to know the Thompson Twins as the trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway, few realize that they started out with a completely different line-up in the late 70's and early 80's. When they released their 1981 debut, A Product Of...., Alannah Currie was only a featured vocalist and Joe Leeway was only a side member. Soon after, the group ballooned to seven members(!) for 1982's Set (aka In the Name of Love). It wasn't until 1983's Quick Step and Side Kick that they settled into their now familiar trio. "The Price" is a cut from their much overlooked debut.|
|220||6/27/2005||Weapon of Love||Annabel Lamb||
Annabel Lamb blended art rock and postpunk edginess with a dash of good pop sense. Featured this week is an album cut from her 2nd album The Flame (1984). She has continued to stay active, releasing several albums in the 90's.
|221||8/1/2005||We Go to Sleep Believing||Nomo||
Nomo was a short-lived synthpop trio fronted by David Batteau, who released previous albums under his name in the 70's. This week's song was a single from Nomo's only album, The Great Unknown (1985).
|222||8/8/2005||Start of the Human Race||Sons of Heroes||
Obscure synthpop trio Sons of Heroes released a self-titled album in 1983, produced by Bill Wyman of The Rolling Stones. This week's song is a stellar cut from this little known album.
|223||8/15/2005||Others Need You||Minor Detail||
Irish brothers John and Willie Hughes released a self-titled album under the Minor Detail moniker back in '82, brimming with positive and pensive synthpop. Singles like "Canvas of Life" and "Hold On" as well as the reflective closer "Columbia" anchor this tremendous album — one of the lost treasures of the era.
|224||8/29/2005||The Scandinavian||Zaine Griff||
Zaine Griff was poised to be the next David Bowie for the eighties when he released his first album Ashes & Diamonds in 1980. He even had the look (and cheekbones) to boot! Even more convincingly, the album was produced by Tony Visconti (famous for his production work with Bowie). This week's song is the slinky, not-surprisingly-Bowiesque opener for side 2 (remember that?).
|225||9/12/2005||Hand on My Heart||Shriekback||
This week is one of my all-time favorites from Shriekback — the original album version of "Hand on My Heart" (from Jam Science ). Oddly enough, only the 12" mix is available on CD at this time. Hopefully the Jam Science album will see a proper reissue soon ... long overdue.
Positive Noise were certainly one of the more underappreciated synthpop bands of the early 80's. Hailing from Scotland, they released 3 albums and a slew of singles over the course of 5 years. "Inhibitions" hails from their 2nd album, Change of Heart (1982).
The Rescue was a short-lived American new wave quintet who released one EP—Messages—in 1984, with production wizardry courtesy of Tony Mansfield. It is noteworthy how much lead singer Paul McGovern sounds like Robert Smith (of The Cure) at times.
|228||10/24/2005||Spook Opera||The Hawaiian Pups||
This week's song resides at and comes courtesy of the official Hawaiian Pups Web site. "Spook Opera" was released as a novelty single in October of '83, shortly after the release of their Split Second Precision EP. The single became a favorite on the Dr. Demento Show during the Halloween season.
According to the Hawaiian Pups site, they are planning on a CD release of all their recorded material, so keep an eye peeled.
Dial M was a L.A. synthpop duo consisting of Mark M. and Mike Kapitan. They released a self-titled album in 1983 and a follow-up EP in '84 and were best known for their minor hit "Modern Day Love". This week's song comes from their LP. Mike Kapitan later became part of Thomas Dolby's backing band, The Lost Toy People.
For the next two weeks, I'm featuring both versions of an early Thompson Twins single "Make Believe" from their much overlooked debut A Product Of... (1981) — back when they were not the recognizable trio of Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie and Joe Leeway, but a collective of many musicians led by Bailey.
|231||11/29/2005||Make Believe (U.S. Version)|
Robert King was a member of Scottish post-punk band the Scars before he decided to have a go at a solo release. This 1982 single signals a departure from the edgier Scars sound.
|233||12/12/2005||A Winter's Tale||The Mockers||
The Mockers enjoyed some success in their native New Zealand, but were scarcely known to the outside world. This new wave quintet fronted by Andrew Fagan released a series of highly collectable singles (many on colored vinyl) and several albums throughout the 80's. To ring in inevitable chill of winter, I chose this outstanding album cut from their 2nd album, Culprit and the King (1985).
|234||1/9/2006||Read My Mind||The Brains||
The Brains—fronted by keyboardist Tom Gray—hailed from Atlanta, Georgia. They released two albums in the early 80's, both produced by Steve Lillywhite. This week's song comes from their final, 4-song EP, Dancing Under Streetlights (1982).
|235||1/16/2006||The Other Side of Love (Remixed Extended Version)||Yazoo||
Yazoo (Yaz in the US) created quite a lasting impression during their brief 2-year lifespan. Between their two classic synthpop albums, they released a non-LP single "The Other Side of Love" in late 1982. While this track was released on a CD single in the mid-90's, it's fairly difficult to find and rarely known. Many thanks go out to my good friend Patrick ('atriedesny' on the message board) for mastering this from vinyl.
Fay Ray released one brilliant album in 1982 entitled Contact You that was tragically lost amongst all the other new acts vying for attention during that very busy year in music. Fronted by vocalist Sheila Brook (neé MacCartney), Fay Ray sounded like something between Quarterflash and Siouxsie & The Banshees. They were also decidedly political on several of their songs, including this chilling album closer.
|237||2/6/2006||Red and Grey||The Neats||
The Neats emerged out of Boston with a style influenced by 60's garage rock. They disappeared in the mid-80's before returning at the end of the decade sporting long hair and a swampy, blues sound. "Red and Grey" comes from their 1982 EP The Monkey's Head in the Corner of the Room and you can detect similarities to Hüsker Dü and Bob Mould.
|238||2/20/2006||Fantasies and Factories||The Nits||
Moving from The Neats to The Nits, here's another offering from the 1978 debut album from one of Holland's longest running and most esteemed bands. The Nits' hard-to-find debut featured a slew of well-crafted pop songs — long overlooked and overdue for reissue on CD.
|239||2/27/2006||Out of Oblivion||
Another noteworthy although fairly obscure band out of the Netherlands was The Thought. They released three albums between '82 and '86, but their 2nd self-titled album from 1985 was perhaps their best: a glorious nod to 60's psychedelia filtered through the lenses of post-punk goth, yet very much a kindred spirit to the American 'Paisley Underground' movement of the same period (The Plimsouls, Rain Parade, etc.).
This zany character (real name: Murray Grindley, from the band The Underdogs) out of New Zealand released a self-titled EP in 1983 which spawned a minor novelty hit with "Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang" (no kidding!). Here's another noteworthy cut from that EP. His backing singers, by the way, were known as The Cassettes.
|241||3/27/2006||Lost Loved Ones||Lost Loved Ones||Lost Loved Ones — lost indeed! — are on a long list of those bands that got passed over in the maelstrom of musical activity in the mid-80's. This power pop trio had a catchy sound similar to other, more successful bands of the era like The Alarm or Hoodoo Gurus, but they never caught on. This week's tune is the namesake song from their only album, Outcast (1985).|
|242||4/3/2006||Red Lipstick||Nomo||Nomo was a short-lived synthpop trio fronted by David Batteau, who released previous albums under his name in the 70's. This week's song was a lesser single from Nomo's only album, The Great Unknown (1985).|
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