Echo and the Bunnymen

THE ULTIMATE VALENTINE’S DAY NEW WAVE MIXTAPE Part DEUX! 5

For those who look forward to Feb. 14 and those who abhor it: Our second-annual playlist, and this one’s half dedicated to space-aged love songs, the other half a soundtrack of gut-wrenching weepies. (To listen via Spotify, click here.)

 

Side A: Anti-love songs:

JB PICKS:

“Love Song,” Simple Minds 

Not sure how much of a love song this actually is. Simple Minds were in their determinedly impenetrable phase, so who knows? Classic 80s freaking-out-the-squares video.

 

“Love Song,” The Damned

Not sure how much of a love song this actually is either. The Damned, in their second incarnation, with their first proper hit, unveiling their hidden secret: Captain Sensible was a really good pop songwriter.

 

“Love Part 1 (Poem),” Dexys Midnight Runners

This definitely isn’t a love song. “Love Part 1 (Poem)”, from Dexys’ classic first album, is a sour, spoken-word refutation of the very existence of love. When I interviewed Kevin Rowland for Mad World: The Book, he claimed to have no memory of the song’s existence.

 

“When Love Breaks Down,” Prefab Sprout

Possibly something of a theme emerging here? Prefab Sprout’s most straight-forward song is tasteful slice of heartache.

 

LM’S PICKS:

“The Other End of the Telescope,” Til Tuesday

I’m a big fan of Til Tuesday’s Everything’s Different Now album. Though it starts with the optimistic ode-to-new-love title track, it’s filled with some of my favorite sad love songs, like “J For Jules,” Mann’s breakup ballad for ex-boyfriend Jules Shear, and the single “(Believed You Were) Lucky.” But the one that’s really stood the test of time is this bittersweet duet with Elvis Costello.

 

“Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,” The Smiths

How many nights did I soak my pillow while listening to this on my Sony Walkman in my teenage bedroom? How many teens are doing that very thing right this minute? How many ADULTS? “The story is old, I know, but it goes on…”

 

“Love Will Tear Us Apart,” Joy Division (Thank you to @Tammy Hiller for this suggestion.)

Though the jangly guitars and singsongy melody sound upbeat and happy, this Joy Division classic — Ian Curtis’ swan song to his marriage — is the penultimate it’s-over track. I dare you to read the lyrics and not get a lump in your throat.

 

“A Promise,” Echo and the Bunnymen (Thank you to @Tammy Hiller for this suggestion.)

For every person who’s tried to change their partner (that would be every single human being ever): Don’t.

 

“Never Say Never,” Romeo Void (Thank you to @Davido222 for this suggestion.)

“Old couple walks by/as ugly as sin/But he’s got her/And she’s got him.” Yep, that sums about half the world’s feelings on Valentine’s Day.

Side B: Mushy New Wave Love Songs

LM’S PICKS:

“Stripped,” Depeche Mode

I’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey, and I have no interest in seeing the movie. But, for my money, this is what sexy sounds like.

 

“Home and Dry,” Pet Shop Boys

This latter-day PSB track is the ultimate long-distance dedication: “Oh tonight I miss you/Oh tonight I wish you could be here with me/But I won’t see you til vou’ve made it back and again/home and dry.”

 

“Wishing (If I had A Photograph of You),” A Flock Of Seagulls

New wave men were so romantic — just listen to the soaring synthesized melody! The wistful lyrics! I would totally have dated Mike Score back in the day, hairdo and all. Hairdo especially.”

 

“Wonderful,” Adam Ant

I remember how shocked I was when Mr. Goddard released this romantic ballad. Equally shocking: it managed to be romantic even with the lyric “…when I nearly hit the face I love.” Thankfully Heather Graham got out before the going got rough.

 

“Save A Prayer,” Duran Duran

It’s everybody’s favorite new wave slow-dance jam. Somehow Simon Le Bon managed to convince Duran’s teenage fan base think the climactic love-‘em-and-leave-‘em couplet comparing one-night stands to paradise was something to sigh over.

JB’S PICKS

“Just Like Gold,” Aztec Camera

Sixteen-year-old Roddy Frame ablaze with poetic fervor pouring his heart out on his first single.

 

“Lets Get Together Again,” Human League

Hard to imagine the Human League haven’t tried to forget they once covered Rock N Roll Part 2 by the evil predator, Gary Glitter. But the band’s Glitter connection goes deeper. On their patchy 1990 Romantic? album, they took a shot at the Glitter Band’s awesome glam hit “Lets Get Together Again” which is safe to post until wizened members of the Glitter Band start getting arrested.

“I’m In Love With A German Film Star,” The Passions

Which one? Gert Frobe? Horst Bucholz? Curt Jurgens? Thomas Gottschalk? We may never know?

 

“Goodbye Joe,” Tracey Thorn

Sultry cover of the already sultry Monochrome Set song

 

“(I Love You) When You Sleep”, Tracie

Paul Weller’s teenage prodigy sings an Elvis Costello song about how love can be at its strongest when the object of affection is unconscious.

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Mixtape: Toys & Games 0

Once again, Chris Rooney digs deep into his sack.

Ho! Ho! Ho! and Oy, Vey! / Here are 11 fun songs you should play / A holiday mixtape about games and toys / For all the naughty or nice New Wave girls and boys!

To listen via Spotify, or to check out our other mixtapes, click here.

Visage, “Mind Of A Toy” (1981)
Frontman Steve Strange might the only member from Visage who got any face time, but the group also included Ultravox’s Robin Simon on guitar.
Recommended Game: Simon, the electronic memory game with the slogan, “Simon’s a computer, Simon has a brain, you either do what Simon says or else go down the drain!”

Peter Gabriel, “Games Without Frontiers” (1980)
Gabriel was inspired by a long-running TV show called Jeux Sans Frontières broadcast in several European countries in which teams of bizarrely-dressed neighbors would compete in games of skill.
Recommended Game: The premise of the show sounds oddly familiar to the fantasy role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons that was particularly popular with pre-adolescent males in the late 70s and early 80s before home video game consoles became so ubiquitous.

Altered Images, “Real Toys” (1981)
Altered Images singer Claire Grogan in many ways is a living embodiment of the popular toy, Barbie – cute, blonde, stylish and a poppy chirpy singing voice to boot. Heck, Altered Images even had an album called Pinky Blue, which are probably Barbie’s two favorite colors.
Recommended Toy: Barbie, the bestselling dress-up doll for the last 50 years

Level 42, “Love Games” (1981)
Many popular arcade video games in the 1980s had multiple levels players had to complete in order to advance. Level 42 seems like nothing compared to the 256 possible levels in a game of Ms. Pac-Man.
Recommended Game: Love is in the air during the first Act between levels in Ms. Pac-Man. Both she and her love interest, Pac-Man are chased by ghosts until they collide and kiss.

Toyah, “I Want To Be Free” (1981)
Even before she was a singer, Toyah Willcox exercised her rebel instincts by experimenting with hair color and style. To this day she doesn’t know why her parents gave her the unusual name of “Toyah”.
Recommended Toy: Launched as a TV show tie-in, the Barbiesque doll named Jem was a rock star like Toyah sporting a shocking pink head of hair and was “Truly Outrageous” according to the show’s theme song.

Echo & The Bunnymen, “The Game” (1988)
Ian McColloch’s piercing lyrics, “Through the crying hours / Of your glitter years / All the living out / Of your tinsel tears / And the midnight trains / I never made / ‘Cause I’d already /Played… the game” foresees the Bunnymen’s Annus Horribilis. McCulloch would quit the band shortly after this and drummer Pete de Freitas died in a motorcycle accident the following year.
Recommended Game: Banned in the United States the same year as the release of The Bunnymen’s song, the popular backyard game of Lawn Darts apparently caused a lot of injuries and one fatality. There was even a 1989 song written about them by Ed’s Redeeming Qualities called “Lawn Dart” which lamented their removal from the shelves at K-Mart.

Lene Lovich, “New Toy” (1981)
Making fun of consumer culture, Lene was sick of her television, radio and vacuum cleaner that she demanded a new toy in her life.
Recommended Toy: The timing couldn’t have been more perfect to introduce her to the 1980 Toy of The Year, the Rubik’s Cube. With over 350 million sold, it is widely considered today to be the world’s best-selling toy.

Yello, “Vicious Games” (1985)
The Swiss synthpop duo had to try hard to hop over the English Channel and the Atlantic to market themselves to a larger English-speaking audience. In the end, they were met with modest success in the British pop charts and American club charts.
Recommended Game: Frogger challenged the player to help a frog avoid being viciously run over by automobiles while crossing a busy road. By the mid 1980s, many households had home video game consoles like Atari that played many of the popular arcade games including Frogger.

The Toy Dolls, “Nellie The Elephant” (1984)
Pop punkers The Toy Dolls were known for not taking themselves or their songs too seriously when recording parodies of popular songs. Their cover of the 50s children’s song “Nellie The Elephant” was their sole hit.
Recommended Toy: While adoptable Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were the “it” toy in 1985, along came the Garbage Pail Kids series of trading cards that parodied the dolls. Each Garbage Pail Kid character had some comical abnormality, deformity or terrible fate paid off with a humorous, word play name.

The Psychedelic Furs, “Only a Game” (1984)
In order to win a pink Entertainment wedge, answer this question: Before settling on the name “The Psychedelic Furs,” what other moniker did the band playing under during their early days? Answer: “The Europeans”.
Recommended Game: Trivial Pursuit, the board game that tested your general knowledge and popular culture questions peaked in popularity back in 1984, a year in which over 20 million games were sold.

Duran Duran, “Bedroom Toys” (2004)
Ahem, well… Duran Duran’s song and companion video might actually be more fitting for Santa’s naughty list.
Recommended Toy: We’ll leave that to the grown-ups.

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MIxtape: And The Band Played On. 0

Freddie And The Dreamers. Sly And The Family Stone. Dion And The Belmonts. Reparata & The Delrons, Booker T & The MGs. There used to be a time when a pop group had a caste system, when one member of the band was regarded as being of more importance than the other. These days are gone. Partly because pop bands themselves are pretty much extinct and partly because it’s deemed insensitive to elevate the contribution of one member over another. The eighties was the last stand of the And The bands.

“Stand And Deliver,” Adam And The Ants

Perhaps the Ants most confident record. No longer the bitter loser or the outsider with a chip on his shoulder, “Stand And deliver” saw Adam Ant as his homeland’s biggest pop star and he used his vast platform to stick two amused fingers up at the old, ugly, smelly state of rock music, those who followed it, played it, consumed it and wrote about it. He was rewarded with a single that soared straight in at number one, a rarity in those days.

“Happy House,” Siouxsie & The Banshees

There was a feeling the Banshees had blown it with their second album, Join Hands. It seemed like the work of a band bereft of ideas. “Happy House” debuted to low expectations but turned out be the start of an amazing run of singles that proved Siouxsie’s Voice of Doom was as it;s most effective when fronting a band that soared rather than lumbered.

“Rescue,” Echo And The Bunnymen

Major label debuts of bands who’d intrigued in the indie incarnations could be disappointing. Not the case with “Rescue”, the first post-Zoo Echo release. Still ominous, still enigmatic but now with a sound as big as their ambitions.

“Forest Fire,” Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

The rare case of an Englishman moving to Glasgow to find fame and fortune. Lloyd Cole’s killer combination of smugness, pretension and instant success made him an easy figure to loathe and plenty teenage Glaswegians were more than equal to the challenge. “Forest Fire” shut us up. “Total Control” by The Motels is one of my favorite example of a song that’s all tension and no release. This song exerts a similar grip but lets the listener exhale with the long guitar workout at the finish line.

“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick,” Ian Dury And The Blockheads

Let’s take a second to deal with the notion that this song by an aging Cockney polio victim with it’s free jazz breakdown at the mid-point was not only a number one record but was never off the radio, played at every school disco and teenage party and was not his only hit. Different times.

“Do Anything You Wanna Do,” Eddie & The Hot Rods

Like Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & The Hot Rods, were stuck in the divide between pub rock and punk. They tried to bridge the culture gap by changing their name to Rods and releasing this, their best ever record. It was hailed as a classic summer single. They triumphantly reverted back to their original name and never released another song anywhere near as good or successful. This clip comes from Marc Bolan’s old, after-school TV show.

“Call Me Every Night,” Jane Aire And The Belvederes

In Mad World:The Book, we tell the story of how Akron’s The Waitresses were a record first and then a band. The same thing happened with Jane Aire And The Belvederes who were formed to take advantage of the British media’s post-Devo interest in all things form Akron. Stiff Records put out an Akron compilation album featuring the song “Yankee Wheels” and a conglomeration of local musicians working under the name Jane Aire And The Belvederes. The singer and the guy who wrote the songs moved to London, started a real band, featuring Jon Moss on drums, and took a shot at becoming an actual pop group. They made a few records, unnoticed by most but loved by Teenage Me.

 

 “Driving,” Pearl Harbor & The Explosions

Here’s a crazy coincidence. “Driving” was also recorded by Jane Aire And The Belvederes. Two female-fronted And The bands doing the same song at approximately the same period of time. Even more amazing, it was a hit for neither.

“The Lonely Spy,” Lori & The Chameleons

Yes, the great lost new wave record by our own Lori Majewski. JK!  (Her song, “I Love Shelf! has yet to be retrieved from the archives) L&TC were another semi-imaginary combo invented by Zoo Records, Bill Drummond of the KLF wrote and produced this, inspired by the wistful voice of a girl he apparently discovered on her way to class at a Liverpool art school.

“The Captain Of Your Ship,” Bette Bright & The Illuminations

Not the first appearance in this feature of wife of Suggs and Liverpool legend Bette Bright, but a fitting way to close as a female-fronted And The band from the eighties, covers a classic from a female fronted And The band from the sixties!

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