WISH LIST WEEK* (AUGUST 10-16, 2015)
When they say "complete," they mean complete Polydor recordings, but that's still a fantastic compilation: these two discs contain the 1982 debut album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful, the 1982 EP, I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts, the 1983 album Bruiseology, and 4 non-album bonus tracks. The band wasn't heard around my place in 1982 as they should have been. The group is quirky enough to be compared to the B-52's, but this group has more of a ska feel to its retro-50's New Wave beat. Our boy Christgau won't bite on the B-52's comparison, instead opting for "the male-feminist Monkees reveal themselves as a cross between Blondie and the Bus Boys." Bandleader/guitarist Chris Butler was an underrated songwriter and could put bitterly honest lyrics over some great hooks (songwriting so good, in fact, it seems like some of the band has trouble keeping up at times). Patty Donahue's voice had something appealing about it; I just can't put my finger on what it is - indifference? snarkiness? teasing? all of the above? Great liner notes. A welcome addition to the my menu. Fun.
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: Did not chart (Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful #41, I Could Rule The World... #128, Bruiseology #155)
On this EP, the best tracks are Christmas Wrapping, Square Pegs, and the live title track. The instrumental bonus track, Hangover 1/1/83, was the b-side to Christmas Wrapping and sounds like a one take b-side thrown together while hungover, so there's some truth in advertising for ya.
In the liner notes, Butler states that making this album was "no fun" and it shows in the darker songwriting. This was my first time hearing his album (produced by Hugh Padgham, better known for his work with The Police and XTC), but at first blush I'm partial to Make the Weather, Open City, and Pleasure.
The 3 superfluous bonus tracks on the second disc are an alternate version of the song Bruiseology and two dance mixes of the Blondie-esque Bread And Butter from a 1983 promo 12" single. None of these versions add much to the originals.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: None
*My money earned for teaching summer school usually pays for the family summer vacation. This year, however, we decided to forgo the usual vacay and spend money updating things around the house (the wife has been watching a lot of HGTV). Anyway, there was a little money left over, so I went over to Amazon and bought every CD available on my wish list, some of which had been on said list for over four years. This week, I'll be featuring some of these new-to-me discs; listening to many of them for the first time.