1981


Title: Love Action (I Believe In Love)

Artist: The Human League

Album: Dare!

Year Released: 1981

What It Is: The second big hit from “Dare” in the UK, (“The Sound Of The Crowd” charted three months before this) and the justification of the stylistic change of the Human League (at least commercially) from brooding electronic experimentalists to a arty synth-pop group. In the US, of course, the League were non entities until “Don’t You Want Me” (the third UK “Dare” single). This wasn’t even released in the US as a single – but got a boatload of MTV play.

Riffage / Hookage: Yeah, there are riffs. Electronic riffs for the most part, but riffs. Actually, I believe Jo Callis and Ian Burden do play guitar and bass on this, but they’re treated and mixed in with the synths. It’s pretty interesting to hear the various parts and treatments. Oh, and there are big ol’ hooks.

Cowbell?: Well, it’s not a real cowbell, but during the verses a darn ‘bell’ rings all the way through.

Words Of Wisdom: “I believe, I believe what the old man said
Though I know that there’s no Lord above
I believe in me, I believe in you
And you know I believe in love
I believe in truth though I lie a lot
I feel the pain from the push and shove
No matter what you put me through
I’ll still believe in love”

Mixology Report: It may surprise some people, because this is a pretty sophisticated song with a lot of moving parts in it.

Top Five Genius Results: Visage – Fade To Grey
Stranglers – No More Heroes
The Teardrop Explodes – Rewards
Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Geno
Ultravox – Vienna

For The Good Of The Order: I was quite certain that this was a big US hit. Even though I had the research books, I glossed over the entry for The League. And it wasn’t until much later, when a whole bunch of people (who didn’t have MTV in the early 80’s) said they didn’t know this song that I realized that it was just a UK hit. So much for my chart knowledge, eh?

Here’s the video. It’s one of the best early MTV vids.

Here’s a bored looking group on Top Of The Pops. Love the hair, Phil!

Oh, and one more, from Australia. Nice dancing, ladies!

Back from a turkey day repast to end all repasts!

Title: Celebrity Art Party

Artist: The Embarrassment

Album: The Embarrassment EP

Year Released: 1981

What It Is: Quirky, fun new-wave music from America’s heartland. No, not Chicago or Minneapolis or other known musical venues. But…WICHITA, KANSAS. The same town where I was just at for Thanksgiving.

Riffage / Hookage: This has great guitar lines and a neat bass line!

Cowbell?: No, but decent drumming.

Words Of Wisdom: Not found online, but they use narcissistic correctly and mention Art Carney a few times!

Mixology Report: Yeah, throw it on there. It won’t hurt anything.

Top Five Genius Results: The Replacements – Color Me Impressed
Talking Heads – Warning Sign
Mission Of Burma – Academy Fight Song
Pere Ubu – Non-Alignment Pact
New Order – Your Silent Face

For The Good Of The Order: It’s really odd to think that this band existed in Wichita, even more so that this band existed in Wichita and actually made records and played out. They left a small legacy behind, but one that lives on to this day since their output is still in print and available. Most all of their songs are quirky and witty, yet they’re not just novelty tunes. There’s some well thought out music amongst the wry, dry wit.

Here’s the actual video for this song, shot for about $2.19 it looks…

And here’s a live vid of them. I’ll need to ask my wife if she ever went to the Flatiron. And they’re nerdier than I ever was!

Title: Nasty Habits

Artist: Oingo Boingo

Album: Only A Lad

Year Released: 1981

What It Is: Boingo personified? At least the early Oingo Boingo, before Weird Science and Danny Elfman’s foray into soundtracks which turned into his whole raison-d’etre, or however the heck they spell it. It’s got the horns, the guitar riffs, a twisted lyric and those fun close harmonies.

Riffage / Hookage: It’s kind of all over the place. The opening theme is pretty neat (showcasing the manic side of Boingo) but there’s not a hook or riff per se. No matter, I don’t think this was meant for that. It has another purpose. There is nice slide work from Steve Bartek and a neat bass line from Kerry Hatch.

Cowbell?: Not here. Boingo wasn’t opposed to whacking a lot of things, though!

Words Of Wisdom: “People act so proper when they’re going ’bout their business
Cup of coffee, friendly conversation
‘Til they get home,
‘Til they get home

Turn the phone off, lock the door and shut the curtains
Make sure that the neighbors are without suspicion
No one will know
No one will know”

That’s the ‘close harmony’ part that I love. Is it the actual chorus, or a bridge?

Mixology Report: Probably not for yer Ma or Dad, unless they’re cool for school. It may blanche the blue hairs minds!

Top Five Genius Results: Big Mess – Devo
Friend Or Foe – Adam Ant
Angst In My Pants – Sparks
Mental Hopscotch – Missing Persons
Party At Ground Zero – Fishbone

For The Good Of The Order: Boingo’s success started with some cool MTV videos and “Weird Science”. Unfortunately, they smoothed out the quirky edges that endeared them to me and became more conventional and commercial, as it were. But the early albums, though inconsistent, were golden!

Here’s a live cut (from 1991) of this tune! Glorious! The guitar is more prominent here.

Title: Double Dutch Bus

Artist: Frankie Smith

Album: Children Of Tomorrow

Year Released: 1981

What It Is: One of the first melanges of rap and funk. Oh, and one of the only top 40 hits with Pig Latin. So give me a “HO” if you’ve got your funky bus fare…

Riffage / Hookage: It’s got a groove, an addictive bass and keyboard line, and an easy to remember tune. Yeah, it’s catchy.

Cowbell?: It has a bus horn!

Words Of Wisdom: “When I’m dealing with the funky sidewalk
I say sssssssss-sugar”

Admittedly, that loses something out of context.

Mixology Report: Oh yeah, especially on dance mixes!

Top Five Genius Results: In My House – Mary Jane Girls
No Parking (On The Dance Floor) – Midnight Star
Atomic Dog – George Clinton
You & I – Rick James
Dazz – Brick

For The Good Of The Order: In researching this song, it said that Pig Latin was big with the kids at this time. What? What? That trend totally missed me. But of course, I was a nerdball in the Midwest, but I had a cleric that could smite your ass with his mace!

Yeah, a video! HO! HO! HO! HO! It cost about $1.47 by my calculations.

Title: It’s Obvious

Artist: Au Pairs

Album: Playing With A Different Sex

Year Released: 1981

What It Is:Sharp, smart, angular post-punk very much in league with the Gang of Four. In fact, they are cut from the same cloth as that better known band, especially in that Lesley Woods, the front woman and main idea person behind the band, wrote very political and activist songs.

Riffage / Hookage: Nice, steady guitar shards from Woods and Paul Foad and a great bass part from Jane Munro (a cute as a button red-head who looks tiny but plays a powerful bass).

Cowbell?:No, but there are some percussion accents of a sort (things being whapped like claves, if my ears are to be trusted) and a great steady beat from Paul Hammond. He and Munro really lock in tight.

Words Of Wisdom: “You’re equal / but different.”

Woods was a lesbian feminist activist and could sound a bit docrtinaire in her lyrics.

Mixology Report: Yes, especially on a mix that has a lot of the newish bands like Franz Ferdinand, the Editors and Interpol since they all are a kin to this sound.

For The Good Of The Order: Woods is an attorney (and still outspoken) now in the UK. I think Munro may be a photographer (but that’s just a guess.)

Here’s a still shot video with the track playing underneath. It’s fantastic if I say so myself and is definitely worth checking out!

Title: Lunatic Fringe

Artist: Red Rider

Album: As Far As Siam

Year Released: 1981

What It Is: A moody song that has kind of a post-apocalyptic vibe. It’s quite effective in that it paints some stark pictures with its soundscape. No wonder many TV and movie producers have used it.

Riffage / Hookage: It’s got a pretty menacing groove behind it underlying the mystery. The solo is played on a steel guitar that’s got amplification and distortion like a regular rock guitar. (If you can believe the video).

Cowbell?: No, just drummin’. And if you believe the vid, the drummer makes ‘O’ faces when just doing simple fills.

Words Of Wisdom: Lunatic fringe
In the twilight’s last gleaming
This is open season
But you won’t get too far
We know you’ve got to blame someone
For your own confusion
But we’re on guard this time
Against your final solution”

Not exactly polite Canadians, are they.

Mixology Report: It’s a great piece to set or extend a mood.

For The Good Of The Order: You may know that Red Rider’s singer, Tom Cochrane, infected the USA with a noxious bit of populist ear candy “Life Is A Highway” back in 1989. In my book, that ruins his goodwill from this song.

If you, like me, were watching MTV during its glory days (you know, when they played MUSIC VIDEOS, now VH-1 Classic is running away from that – can’t we have just ONE music video channel please?) this was on pretty much constantly. And it was probably filmed with a budget of a couple of toonies and a loony (Canadian money references for $100, Alex), so please excuse that. But just watching this brings back all kinds of memories.