Wednesday, October 17, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #51: Peter Murphy - All Night Long

Wellllcome!   This week we slouch slightly closer to the Halloween holiday …. 

Llast week I promised we would start to get our goth on….. and when anyone mentions spooky goth and 80s new wave in the same sentence I only think of one name …. and that’s Peter Murphy!

Peter Murphy was the lead singer of the granddaddies of goth, Bauhaus - they were to goth like Kraftwerk is to synthpop!  Bauhaus had many spooky goth songs worthy of a listen, but it was after Bauhaus broke up for the first time that Murphy did his best work IMO.  

For this week’s Awesome Song we go to 1988 and his first solo effort “Love Hysteria”, which gave us the wonderfully sung atmospheric tune “All Night Long”.  The song is a real showcase for Murphy’s distinct voice, and the melody is also unique, evoking an almost Eastern European (Transylvanian?) feel, complete with spooky voices and a video shot in black & white that pays homage to the original vampire movie, Nosferatu, from 1922.  Now that’s spooky!

But let’s not stop there!  A great companion piece to “All Night Long” came just a year later, on Murphy’s second solo album “Deep" - it’s the equally spooky and ethereal song “Cuts You Up” from 1989 … it features the skeletal and vampiric Murphy running through a threatening foggy forest in (what else?) his boots and a cape!   The song has a similar feel but this time the goth is much stronger within Pete… there’s all black clothing (including gloves), black leather pants, eye shadow and (of course) howling at a full moon! AOOOOOOWWWW!

In the event that this wasn't goth enough for you, remember to join us next week when we crank our Halloween goth meter up to 13 !   In the meantime, let’s all listen to our New Wave synthpop … All Night Long!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Dada Nada - Haunted House

The Countdown to Halloween continues! Next up is "Haunted House" by Dada Nada.

Robert Ozn shot to fame as one half of Ebn-Ozn, the experimental new wave group he formed with Ned Liben in 1982. Their single "AEIOU Sometimes Y" reached #20 on the Billboard club chart and received heavy airplay on MTV that year. While I've never much cared for that song, it's still popular today in new wave circles.

After Ebn-Ozn broke up in 1985, Ozn went solo under the name Dada Nada. His first self-produced single, "Haunted House", reached #4 on the Dance chart that year, making him a star in the nascent house music genre. Incorporating elements of new wave, house, and hip-hop, "Haunted House" is a great song that has found its way onto my Halloween playlist and almost made my Top 200.

Bonus! Another great Halloween new wave video!

Be back next week with another spooky song that just missed the list.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #50: B-Movie: Nowhere Girl (original version)

As we enter October, we also enter a most wonderful theme month for Awesome Song …. the month featuring Halloween!   But since it is still early October, we need to segue slowly into our theme… we don't want to freak everyone out and go over the edge prematurely! Plenty of time for that later in the month!

Besides slowly getting into our theme, it’s also the week of a watershed landmark: Awesome Song #50 !!!!  So a very special Awesome Song is called for !

Readers of Marc’s Top 200 Blog will recall that there is a song that is very special indeed … one that screamed into position #5 in the Top 200 and if your humble DJ WAS had a list, it would have made #1.  This week’s Awesome Song is the original version of that song, B-Movie’s “Nowhere Girl”!  

Ahhh … but it’s not the same song as before - this one is the "first" version from 1980, the one that appeared on B-Movie’s original demos called “The Dead Good Tapes” (a little bit spooky!)  The video also features a ghostly visage of our favorite nowhere girl in a gothic manor (a little more spooky!) and the same wonderful, haunting vocals as the more famous version (boo!)

Listeners of any New Wave Dance Party will also be familiar with the “Extended Version” of the song (the one that starts with manic girl laughter) .. that one is very Awesome as well, but this is Halloween, so let’s get Dead Good and enjoy the original!   
But wait there’s more!  

While we are segueing into our Halloween month, let’s do two more Awesome songs, from another big favorite on the blog…. Play!   Wayne Kennedy & David Rome scored #60 & #164 with two superb songs off their one and only EP.  Today let’s do two more of Play’s songs as a Halloween bonus as they (verrrry loosely) tie into our theme!

“Red Movies” was the first Play song I ever heard and instantly fell in love with… it’s the EP’s title track and I NEVER get tired of it!  Hmmmm… could it refer to a spooky slasher flick?  

Another crazy good classic Play tune also fits our theme!  “You Don't Look The Same” is clearly because you’re in your Halloween costume!  

And look … Wayne K is even wearing a mask in the video!

And join us next week …. when we begin to get our Halloween goth on…..

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Vision - Lucifer's Friend

The Countdown to Halloween begins! This week and all through October we are going to be highlighting haunting songs that fit our All Hallow's Eve theme. I'll start things off with this macabre gem, "Lucifer's Friend" by Vision.

Vision was formed in 1981 in Sheffield, England, by vocalist Russell Bonnell and keyboard virtuoso Andrew Beaumont. They signed a development deal later that year with MVM Records, releasing several singles over the next few years.

They never managed to get a full LP together, but their second single, "Lucifer's Friend" was a dance hit all across Europe in early 1983.

Telling the macabre tale of an immortal vampire ruminating on his (after)life, "Lucifer's Friend" is a spooky new wave treat perfect for this time of year.

...and here's a bonus Halloween new wave video, because why not?
Be back next week with another chilling tune that almost made my Top 200.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #49: Near Paris - Visions

So far on Awesome Song, we have been to London, and we’ve been to Germany …. I think it’s time to (re)visit Paris! 

Synthpop pros Near Paris landed Awesome Song #3 with “Ceiling” - a wonderful tune off their one & only EP from 1985.  I promised we’d see them again and here they are!  This week’s Awesome Song is “Visions” from the same EP.  Although previous pick “Ceiling” was the most popular song on the disc, “Visions” is my all-time personal favorite.

I made contact with Near Paris lead singer Dana Riashi recently, and told her this, and sent her the blog entry...her reply: "Thank you for your positive shout out to Near Paris! I felt Visions was the best lyric I wrote for sure ;)" - and we can now count her among the fans of Marc's Top 200 blog!

...and while we are in Paris in the 80s...let's do a bonus song! The Mood were a short-lived UK band from York. They only lasted a few years but did turn out one gem of a song that ties nicely with this week's theme - let's go back to 1983 and enjoy a slice of the seriously synthy sounds of The Mood doing "Paris Is One Day Away"! Ooh la la la! 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Data - Living Inside Me

Data was formed by electronic composer George Kajanus and vocalist Francesca Boulter in London during the steamy summer of 1979. Created as an experimental project, commercial success was not their main aim. Their first album, 1981's Towers of Babel was a critical hit but attracted little attention aside from the alternative music press. When their second record, entitled 2-Time, was released in 1983, however, it spawned the minor hit "Living Inside Me", which charted in several European countries.

The band produced one more album, 1985's Elegant Machinery, before breaking up.  

"Living Inside Me" is right up my alley as I have always liked this kind of music. The song was eventually left off my Top 200, but it would have been included had it been a Top 250 instead.

As an aside: there's just something about 100% analog synthesizers! Their sounds just can't be duplicated by digital syths. This song really emphasizes the difference, especially during the bridge section.

Be back next week as the Countdown to Halloween begins with a spooky song that didn't quite make my list.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #48: Paul Haig - The Only Truth

Waaaay back on Awesome Song #8 we heard from Paul Haig, and a promise was made that we’d hear from this little known but excellent artist again …. and when we make a promise on Awesome Song.. we keep it!  

Paul Haig’s best known song is the Awesome Song this week, “The Only Truth”, from his outstanding album “The Warp of Pure Fun”.  Released in 1984, it features synth work galore … and several surprises!    Paul got Bernard Sumner from New Order to guest on guitar, and Bernie brought the Blue Monday drum sound with him… so what we have here is an original song that essentially sampled another … way before it was cool.   Second, I’ve linked to the video for the extended version of the song - as that’s the one that features a nice long complex instrumental break that I could listen to forever!

BONUS: Also off “The Warp Of Pure Fun” - another Paul Haig song I simply adore.  “Love and War” is just monumental with it’s use of synths and wailing guitar to nail down a great wall of sound. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Fair Control - Symphony Of Love

The Germans Are Coming week continues!  

Bernard Goke and Hans Schoner formed Fair Control in Cologne, Germany in early 1984. In 1986, they released their second single, "Symphony Of Love", intending it to be included on their forthcoming debut LP. Unfortunately, the LP never happened, as the two musicians split before it could be completed, and only "Symphony" made a splash on the German charts (hitting #10). I've always liked the song and considered it for a spot on my Top 200.

A curiosity involving "Symphony Of Love" is the synth line, which is nearly identical to that of fellow German band Alphaville's 1984 song "Big In Japan" (#182). Intentional, or just another cosmic coincidence from the wild world of New Wave? We'll probably never know!

Be back next week with another (non-German) song that barely got edged out of a spot on my list.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #47: Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Coming Home)

Guten Tag, Damen und Herren!  This week’s Awesome Song arrives during a very German week!  Right in between Von Steuben Day (German-American bonding celebration often involving parades the Chicago parade was famously featured in 80s classic film “Ferris Beuller's Day Off”) — and the opening of Oktoberfest in Munich this coming weekend!   As a result, we will delve into German New Wave in all it’s awesomeness!  

Although their country of origin is not always obvious, many New Wave bands from Germany have already appeared high in the Top 200.  Propaganda (#16), Cetu Javu (#26), Camouflage (#41), Alphaville(#34, #112, #182), Falco (#61* with an asterisk as he was from German-speaking neighbor Austria) are all from various parts of der Fatherland. Fellow Austrians Edelweiss landed Awesome Song #11 with their self-titled cuckoo song.  And new wave Grand-Opas Kraftwerk landed Awesome Song #7 - their impact on New Wave & Synthpop was nothing less than GROSSE!  (Huge!)

Other New Wave artists with a germanic pedigree include minimalists Trio (Da,Da,Da), poppy one-hit wonder Nena (99 Luftballoons), and that cutting edge looney songstress Nina Hagen.

And finally, for today’s Awesome Song, we go to the person whose first hit was not just a New Wave synthpop song FROM Germany … it was originally sung IN GERMAN… and became a big hit anyway!   “Major Tom (Coming Home)” from Peter Schilling hit it big in 1983 as it retold and updated David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”.  As it grew in popularity an English version was made that soared even higher, but I always preferred the original German one.  It set the tone for artists like Nena and Falco to release German language songs in their original form internationally - a watershed moment in New Wave!

Peter Schilling didn't stop there … late in the 80s (1989) he hit again with “The Different Story (World of Lust & Crime)”, a collaboration with Michael Cretu best known for his German electronica band Enigma.  The late 80s had a lot of songs with a similar (overly dramatic) sound & structure - “The Great Commandment” (Camouflage again!) and “The Promise” from When in Rome come to mind.  “The Different Story” was a dance hit but other than that the album tanked, and was Schilling’s last English language album, after that he went back to making them in German again.  

… and how can we not mention one of the finest sythpop songs to ever come out of Germany?  Cetu Javu’s “Have in Mind” is simply a timeless classic!  The extended version (my preferred one) is included here.  Enjoy!  And Happy Oktoberfest!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Leisure Process - Cashflow

Leisure Process - Ross Middleton & Gary Barnacle - snagged two spots on my Top 200 with "Anxiety" (#106) and "Love Cascade" (#7). Another single from the band, 1982's "Cashflow", just missed joining them on the list.

With a catchy hook and a peppy beat, "Cashflow" deserved to be a hit. Unfortunately it wasn't to be, and Leisure Process broke up soon afterwards. 

Be back next week with another song that nearly made the Top 200.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #46: Devo - C'Mon

Those Akron Mutants known as DEVO bioengineered themselves into position #63 on Marc’s Top 200... a respectable showing for a nerd herd of Midwestern freaks for sure!   DEVO has an entire career full of original awesome tunes… too many to count.  My current favorite and this week’s Awesome Song comes from one of their less respected albums - “Shout” from 1984.   The simple, tuneful and synthy song “C’mon” is a perfect poppy masterpiece from a group whose work was always interesting but not always as accessible.  But that was kind of the point!  

As a bonus, let’s have a look at one of their wackier and more complex songs, a great version of which was done live no less!   What talent … in a devolutionary sort of way, of course.  Enjoy Smart Patrol / Mr. DNA!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Gary Numan - Music For Chameleons

Gary Numan grabbed three spots on my Top 200: #139 for "Me! I Disconnect From You", #66 for "Cars", and #37 for "Stormtrooper In Drag". If you were wondering what the fourth song would have been, your question has been answered!

"Music For Chameleons" is from Numan's I, Assassin album and hit #19 on the UK charts in January, 1982. The LP itself was a smash hit, reaching #8 on the albums chart.

The song contains the awesome line "We need to win like you need to breathe", which will be said by the evil coach if I ever write a Friday Night Lights-like movie script based on a college football tournament.

"Music For Chameleons" was on my Top 200 for a time but ultimately was cut right at the end.

...and to complete my "top 5" Numan songs, here's "Tracks" from his 1980 album The Pleasure Principle.

  Be back next week with another song that didn't quite get there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #45: U2 - The Unforgettable Fire

Fresh on the heels of last weeks’ end-of-summer entry, this week we have a song that always reminds me of early autumn...

On Awesome Song #38 (Someone, Somewhere, In Summertime) way back in July, I dropped a reference that a similarly dreamy & ethereal song was coming up soon… as part of an entry featuring a New Waver known for having a golden touch like Messrs Clarke, Dolby and Moroder.  Well New Wave fans, the wait is over - here it is !

Somewhere between their interesting but rough early post-punk/rock albums and their later unlistenable work (after they turned into a bunch of lecturing narcissists) U2 went into the studio and made a fascinating record called The Unforgettable Fire.  TUF was unlike anything they made before or since  - it was the first record where they teamed with the legendary Brian Eno, a man with magical instincts and abilities.  On UF he used all of his studio tricks to create a lush, textural ambient sound - something he had vast experience in. In search of a new sound, U2 let him run with it, and the record IMO is their finest.  It showcases all of the best of what the band could do in subtle, talented and interesting ways… as opposed to the heavy-handed messianic clubbing they tended to default to later.  And the finest song on it, and this week’s Awesome Song, is the title track.  Dreamy and romantic, “The Unforgettable Fire” has that combination of vocals, instrumentation and yearning that makes so many songs of the era so great. The added touches of Eno on it is the icing on the cake that turned a great song into … a masterpiece!

Brian Eno didn’t just perform this miracle on U2 !  Hey, when you are a founder of Roxy Music, produce David Bowie’s best albums (The Berlin Trilogy), get covered by Bauhaus and invent the concept of tape delay, the odds are pretty good you can improve anyone’s game.  And this is exactly what happened when Eno teamed up with Talking Heads - his work with them included the absolutely visionary “Life During Wartime” - one of the best songs ever.  But in keeping with today’s theme, our bonus song is more mysterious, ethereal and “Eno-esque” …. off Remain In Light, enjoy “Crosseyed and Painless”!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Special Report! Lost 80s Live Concert

On Thursday, August 30th I attended the Lost 80s Live concert at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona. This event was a six-band celebration of
eighties music and culture, featuring Bow Wow Wow, Animotion, When In Rome, Wang Chung, Missing Persons, and of course headliners A Flock Of Seagulls.

I'm going to review each band separately, but first a little rundown of the day of the concert. I had arrived in Arizona on Tuesday night and spent a bit of time exploring Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale on Wednesday. I had never been to the desert southwest and had to get acclimated a bit to the 40-degree-plus heat (that's 105-degree-plus heat for those who prefer Farenheit).

This poster is about as epic as they get.
My sightseeing finished, Thursday was devoted to preparing myself for the concert. My hotel was a mere three blocks from the Comerica, so I walked down during the daytime and scoped the place out. There were 80s music fans milling about, hours before the show. It was a fun atmosphere and I got into a discussion about the merits of Depeche Mode with and without Vince Clarke with an enthusiastic fan of the band. Various vans and trailers were arriving with gear and equipment. After a quick stop for food back at my hotel, it was time for the show!

When I returned and got into line (near the front), I discovered a lot of interesting characters had already arrived. A woman dressed like 1984-era Madonna. A guy wearing a neon MTV bandana. Another fellow with a spiked mohawk. A couple sporting matching Echo & the Bunnymen tour shirts. The promoters were handing out free hacky sacks, and a lot of hacky sacking was taking place.

This place was the epicenter of 80s fandom on August 30th

Through security and finally inside, I settled into the beautifully air-conditioned theatre and found my floor seat (Row 11 - not bad). The wait for the show to begin was almost over. 

Overzealous security allowed NO ONE anywhere near the precious fog machines!
Here is the lineup of bands, plus my thoughts on each:

1st - Bow Wow Wow: Unfortunately, only lead singer Annabella Lwin appeared, as her touring session musicians couldn't make it. In the very early 80s, Bow Wow Wow was actually fronted by a pre-Culture Club Boy George, before Lwin stepped in. A few years later she was booted from her own band, Limahl-style. She sang "I Want Candy" and other Bow Wow Wow songs to a recorded backing track, and did a decent job of getting the crowd fired up. I've never been a huge fan of the band, but I won't say anything negative about her performance - she put in a lot of effort by herself. 5/10.

2nd - Animotion: I was really looking forward to seeing these two live in concert. Astrid and Bill looked great, in stylized Matrix-inspired leather outfits. They played both songs I wanted to hear, "I Engineer" (#152 on my Top 200) and "Obsession" (#32). Their other material was decent too, even the stuff from their new CD (which I bought). Very enjoyable. 7.5/10.

Animotion rocks out.
3rd - When In Rome: I can't give these guys a good review. They messed with their classic songs, cutting some short ("Wide, Wide Sea" - #148 on my list) and playing extended/altered versions of others ("The Promise" - #115). I'm all for artistic freedom, but people want to hear the hits as originally presented. Not great. 3.5/10.

4th - Missing Persons: Their set was tight, and they played all the hits. Dale Bozzio's appearance has...changed...since the 80s, but the band still sounds great. I was waiting for "Walking In L.A." (#131), and sure enough, they came through! Props to Bozzio for sticking around long after the show signing autographs for fans and allowing herself to be photographed. 7/10.

Missing Persons frontwoman Dale Bozzio now has a very unique look.
5th - Wang Chung: The low point of the entire night. I've never really been a fan of these guys, and their attempts at "witty" banter from the stage fell sadly flat. They didn't even play the one song of theirs I like, "Don't Be My Enemy" (#91). The one pleasant surprise was when the band played their rendition of Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun". Just as I was starting to enjoy it, however, they screamed "girls just want to WANG CHUNG!" and broke into "Everybody Have Fun Tonight". I went to get some popcorn and a Coke. 2/10.

6th - A Flock Of Seagulls: The headliners were up next. Truth be told, the entire reason I went to the Lost 80s Live was to finally see the Flock in person. They did not disappoint. With Gordon Deppe of Canadian new wave icons the Spoons on lead guitar (ably filling the shoes of legendary original AFOS guitarist Paul Reynolds), Mike Score and the band got things off to a flying start, launching right into "Modern Love Is Automatic" (#2), and following up with "Telecommunication" and, later, "Space Age Love Song" (#15). They sprinkled in some other tunes from their first few albums, and by the time they played their biggest hit, "I Ran (So Far Away)", as a finale the crowd was singing along and dancing like crazy. I can't rate AFOS anything less than 9/10. I'm deducting one point from them for not playing "Messages" (#122), though.

I stuck around after the show to see if I could get a picture with Gord, but when I asked Mike Score he said he wasn't coming out. Oh, well.

The highlight of Lost 80s Live: seeing A Flock Of Seagulls play "Modern Love Is Automatic".
I recorded some videos of the Flock Of Seagulls set, and I'm presenting them below. Be warned: because of some problems with my cell phone, I was using my wife's camera from Costco. The sound quality is a bit suspect, but here are the videos, anyway:

See you on Saturday with a new song that just missed my Top 200 list.