Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Remember the 80s

Those of you who were still learning your ABCs in the 80s may be shocked to learn that most of the cool kids weren't listening to The Fall, Mission of Burma, Galaxie 500 and the other bands that have been retrospectively claimed by a bunch of fibbing hipsters. No indeed. At my junior high/high schools, the reasonably clued-in were into "new wave"--an amorphous genre that included everything from popular hits by the Thompson Twins, Billy Idol and Simple Minds to more musically adventurous (for the time) stuff from REM, XTC, The Smiths, The Cure, Killing Joke, Elvis Costello or whatever else the local new wave station deemed broadcast-worthy (which in those pre-Clear Channel/Infinity days could in fact be a pretty interesting setlist).

Most of the bands were British--which only fuelled my desire to go to school in England (a seed that was planted in my pre-teen years by an addiction to Enid Blyton's boarding school books and a concept my parents regarded with a great deal of mirth). And a lot of them relied on that instrument that has again become in the 2000s the most fashionable accessory for smart, young bands: the synthesizer. Obviously, there were a lot of dreadful synth pop albums released in the 80s. Too many to count, really. But there were also a couple of good ones--albums that are probably too easily dismissed today because they don't fit the "post-punk" label that's made contemporary heroes out of Gang of Four and because . . . hell, they were popular. These two albums were great then, and they're still pretty amazing:

Cupid & Psyche 85 - Scritti PolittiScritti Politti

Ignore the post-structuralism informed lyrics, and pretend these are straight-up love songs (I certainly didn't know what singer/enigmatic frontman Green Gartside was talking about when I was a kid and I wish I could erase that information from my memory now). Focus on those wonderfully synthetic beats, those body-moving grooves and the way Gartside's voice is as high and as sweet as the younger Michael Jackson's (except, of course, without the subsequent icky connotations). Read more about Scritti Politti here.

Perfect Way (mp3) - Scritti Politti

Lover To Fall (mp3) - Scritti Politti

Upstairs At Eric's - YazYaz

I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.
-Losing My Edge, LCD Soundsystem

Wise man, James Murphy. Because as artificial as Vince Clarke's instrumentation was, this Yaz record oozes humanity, thanks in no small part to Alison Moyet's rich, honeyed voice. I bet most people who lived through the 80s, and even a lot who didn't, know most of these songs pretty well--danced to them, did homework to them, made out to them . . . performed pep club routines to them (cough, cough--S, you can resume your laughing fit. D, there's the embarrassing personal revelation you wanted).

Situation (mp3) - Yaz

Only You (mp3) - Yaz


Blogger AG said...

oh, man, this takes me back... ask SG about duran duran.

2:24 PM  
Blogger trill42 said...

Very nice post, Amy... You're right that I didn't listen to the Fall as early as some people. However, I got into the Fibbing Hipsters before they recorded anything or played a single concert. Surely, that's worth something! My fave Yaz song is Nobody's Diary, incidentally.

6:12 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

AG: Oh, I know all about SG and Duran Duran. Musical skeletons in the closet aren't safe from me. (I was a Simon girl myself.)

Trill: Ha--but joke aside, it's actually a good neo-new wave band name. I can play the keyboards. I don't suppose you play guitar?

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:43 PM  
Anonymous sg said...

AG, I seem to recall a half-baked plan to UPS ourselves to Nick and John.... As for remembering the 80s, I've recently been feeling every one of the years since then: Bob Geldof seemed a lot worse for wear at Live8, Duchess Madonna chucked her lace for Versace -- thank God for Bono, mullet-free but still singing his rebel songs. And the sight of Tim Farriss et al. trying to replace bandmate Michael Hutchence on Rock Star: INXS (with Dave Navarro no doubt added to bridge the gen gap)? None of these wanna-bes should be allowed to sing "The One Thing."

9:15 PM  
Blogger trill42 said...

The Fibbing Hipsters jumped out at me - definitely sounds like a band. That's cool that you can play keyboards. I've never played guitar, but I can play the piano... a bit. (Could we possibly play mostly Christmas songs? That would help)

Liked their music but I didn't have a crush on anyone in Duran2. David Bowie, however... Also thought Neil Tennant was cute.

So Dave Navarro on (airquotes) "Rock Star" to bridge the gen. gap... yeah, probably true. I like that better than the idea that he's supposed to add credibility or vitality. I've only seen the show a few times. At least from those eps, I don't think he's done much to help in either department.

(What was the flaw with the UPS plan? Airholes, some snacks and water...)

3:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I met Green Gartside once (but I didn't get any pleasure out of bragging to my friends about it because they didn't know who the hell he was). He was sweet, and pretty cute in person. No John Taylor, though. (Still yummy, IMHO.)

3:34 AM  
Blogger -tr0y- said...

love Yaz!!! always pulling out something unique amy--keep it up!!! definitely inspiring

9:31 AM  

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