Keeping with the theme of late 70s/early 80s artists, I have chosen the BEST BAND of the era that never was. The band's name is Translator. They experienced some moderate success in the early 80s - mostly on college radio & the west coast. Their sound was a combination of British Merseybeat mixed in with punk and psychedelia. Their lyrics were often ironic, self-deprecating sprinkled with existentialism (remember this was happening in an era when disco was still king, and Williamsburg was crack alley). Their debut album, 'Heartbeats and Triggers,' is one of the best I have ever heard. It took me many years to, in fact, find a copy of this particular record (since it's out of print). During one of my MANY random road trips, I stumbled across a used copy on vinyl at a tiny record shop in the Haight (I'm assuming I lucked out on this adventure since Translator was a Bay-area band). Recently, their entire back catalog has become available on iTunes. If you'd like to download/check out their debut, click on 'Heartbeats & Triggers.' Their biggest hit is 'Everywhere That I'm Not.' Although this is an AMAZING tune, my personal favorite is 'Necessary Spinning.' Regardless, they are an awesome band that should not be over-looked. Below is there one and only music video (to my knowledge) for their most famous song. Enjoy!
Joe Jackson is probably one of those artists who you have never heard of, but you have heard his songs. The height of his success was in the late 70s/early 80s, when he was a prominent figure on the New Wave/Pop UK & US scenes, respectively. He is still active, although his most recent work has been a hybrid of jazz & classical (and less of his more known new wave/pop style). His best album (in my humble opinion) is his 1979 debut, 'Look Sharp!' However, one of my favorite tunes of all time is his song, 'Steppin' Out,' from his 1982 release 'Night and Day' (and, yes, the title is an homage to Cole Porter). It's not that the song itself is particularly brilliant (sample lyric: 'we are young but getting old before our time/we'll leave the TV and the radio behind/don't you wonder what we'll find/steppin' out tonight'). The thing that makes this song so special is in its performance/recording/arrangement. The use of the piano & glockenspiel over the simple, yet pulsing rhythm truly encapsulates the feeling of getting ready to go out into the 'big city.' The use of analog synths creates just the right layer of metropolitan chaos. The removed vocal style meshes with the melody as if it were a song from a bygone era. All these elements come together making the song equally romantic & ethereal, lively & forlorn.
However, if you don't want to take my word for it, check it out for yourself!
Wall of Voodoo is an AMAZING New Wave band from the late 70s/early 80s. They are best known for the song 'Mexican Radio' (unfortunately). Those of you who haven't dug deeper into their work are missing something very special. Stylistically, they merged synth pop, punk and 'spaghetti western' film music. The band was originally formed by Stan Ridgeway with the intention to score low-budget horror films. In fact, the band's early formation began at Acme Soundtracks, an L.A.-based film score business. Marc Moreland, guitarist for the Skulls, started jamming with Ridgeway at the Acme Soundtracks office. Soon, other members from the Skulls joined in (Bruce Moreland on bass & Chas T. Gray on keyboards) along with drummer Joe Nanini (Black Randy and the Metrosquad). From there, the first incarnation of Wall of Voodoo was launched into the musical stratosphere. Although the band went through various line-up changes, Stan Ridgeway remained the consistent creative force in the band. He is still active as a solo performer & film composer.
Below is a live version of my favorite Wall of Voodoo song, 'Can't Make Love.' Enjoy!
'Instant Karma is gonna getcha!' - gypsy george via john lennon.