Thursday, May 10, 2012

Life Songs: the ’80s part five

Aaaaaaand we’re back! I’m gonna finish up the ’80s tonight, excited?

  • Act — Laughter — Remember Propaganda? Claudia Brüchen did this afterwards. Her voice is so strong and distinct, throaty in a sort-of WWII cabaret way. Also, while it’s not on my list here, their version of of The Smiths’ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now is so innocent and light-hearted. Not for everyone, but interesting.
  • Billy Bragg — Must I Paint You A Picture?; Waiting For The Great Leap Forward — There’s something so raw and honest about Billy Bragg. He’s a sort of modern-day Woody Guthrie. Do yourself a favour, there’s a really good double cd collection (also called Must I Paint You A Picture?) that’s an excellent buy...
  • The Church — Under The Milky Way — It’s surprising to me how many people know this song. I had always thought of it as an early ’90s alternative/goth favourite, but I find fans of all different genres have a soft spot for it. “Wish I knew what you were looking for, might have known what you would find...”
  • Dead Can Dance — Severance — You all know how I feel about DCD. This one’s another Brendan Perry one. I really didn’t know this song until the mid-’90s. Bauhaus did an interesting cover of it too.
  • Human League — (Keep Feeling) Fascination — And on a much happier note, this one is just so much fun and reminds me of the summer. Everybody dance!
  • Images In Vogue — So Careful — This song doesn’t get the props I think it should. Seems like die-hard IIV fans don’t like this more commercial-leaning, somewhat harder version of the band, and Dale Martindale’s new short haircut, but people who didn’t like their big-hair-goth-y leanings never gave it a chance. Shame really, it’s good.
  • The La’s — There She Goes — While I admit that it’s easy to over-play this song, that doesn’t change the fact that it’s delightful. Featured in So I Married An Axe Murderer, a little film that also featured my favourite beat poem.
  • Bette Midler — Oh IndustryBeaches, remember it? Of course you do. People either hated it or are bat-crap crazy over it. I’m neither, strangely. I had the soundtrack for a while — until I realized it was only this song that made me want it. Now I’m free!
  • Ministry — Stigmata — Ministry leaves its goth pop roots in the dust and dives head-first into the industrial pit. Thrashy and hard and angry. Also on the Hardware soundtrack, and interesting little movie.
  • Mission — Tower Of Strength — Oh, you all know it. It’s incredibly romantic. My friend M used to have an EP of it and would bring it over and we’d lay on the floor and let it wash over us. That was fun.
  • Peter Murphy — All Night Long; Indigo Eyes; Time Has Got Nothing To Do With It; My Last Two WeeksLove Hysteria got some radio play, but he was still flying a bit under the radar on this album. All Night Long is lush and sexy. Indigo Eyes and Time are both pop-friendly, and Two Weeks is just a little sad.
  • Plasterscene Replicas — We Can WalkGlow was a great album, and they were one and done. I wore my tape right down. They never put out a CD either, which is sad. This song is happy, just what is needed sometimes.
  • Siouxsie & The Banshees — Peek-A-Boo — Everyone knows this one. So much fun to dance to. I love the way they play with her vocals.
  • Sugarcubes — Motorcrash; Birthday; Coldsweat — I had a slight obsession with Sugarcubes at the time. I had a three-sided EP of Birthday that I’d bought in Niagara Falls from Poptones, the best record store ever.
  • They Might Be Giants — Ana Ng; Lie Still, Little Bottle; Purple Toupee; They’ll Need A Crane — John and John continue their domination as the world’s most successful indie band with the release of Lincoln. I saw them perform Little Bottle at Lee’s Palace in 1997, they had a GIANT rainstick with a microphone at the bottom and used it as the percussion. Still my favourite version.
Wow, 1988 was a strange mix. Bette Midler, Billy Bragg and Ministry? I’m nothing if not eclectic. (Sure, we’ll just call it that.)

  • Kate Bush — The Sensual World; Love And Anger; Heads We’re Dancing; This Woman’s Work; Rockets Tail — This album has grown and grown for me, every time I listen to it I get something more from it. This Woman’s Work has been covered by some inferior people, please ignore all of those. Just listen to her version and cry and cry.
  • Terence Trent D’Arby — This Side Of Love — The last thing I heard from him. Still sexy. Still strong. He’s changed his name now to Sananda Maitreya after having a dream. Hrm.
  • Front 242 — Welcome To Paradise; Headhunter — Industrial/Goth anthems. “Lock the target. Bait the line. Spread the net. Catch the man.” It’s just that simple.
  • Grapes Of Wrath — All The Things I Wasn’t; What Was Going Through My HeadNow And Again was yet another monster album, I think the first three tracks didn’t leave regular play on the radio for a whole year. And for good reason — it’s an amazing album, it all hangs together so well. I don’t think they reached this level again, but we have this gem to look back on.
  • Hoodoo Gurus — Come Anytime — I have liked their songs before and I actually removed a few of them as I was whittling this full list down, but I’m leaving Come Anytime because it’s just so good. Such an open message, just tell me what you want and we’ll see what we can do about it. How nice is that?
  • Lyle Lovett — Here I Am; Nobody Knows Me; If You Were To Wake Up; Once Is Enough — Biggest hair in Nashville. Lyle Lovett And His Large Band is a fantastic album, I can listen to at least these four tracks over and over. Here I Am is light and funny, Nobody Knows Me is a bit mournful, If You Were To Wake Up is sad and romantic, and Once Is Enough has just the right bluesy twang. Never understood the whole Lyle and Julia thing, what was up with that?
  • MC 900 Ft Jesus And DJ Zero — Truth Is Out Of Style; I’m Going Straight To Heaven — I’m not quite sure why I like these so much. The humour? Maybe...
  • Sarah McLachlan — Steaming — You know, this is really the only song by her that I like anymore, it seems like all the others are way too wishy-washy. Steaming, on the other hand, is powerful and sexy. And speaking of sexy...
  • Peter Murphy — Deep Ocean Vast Sea; Marlene Dietrich’s Favourite Poem; Cuts You Up; A Strange Kind Of LoveDeep is still an amazing album. Poem is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard and I cry a little every time I hear it. The quiet version of Strange Kind Of Love (not the more pop-y radio friendly version) is also really lovely. And Cuts You Up is undeniable. He was in the height of his sexiness to me at this time.
  • Nine Inch Nails — Head Like A Hole; Down In It; Ringfinger; Get Down Make LovePretty Hate Machine was a revelation. When it came out, I had never really heard anything like it — I remember coming back from a party in Hamilton one night with my friend M and listening to CFNY (back when I liked them), and as we pulled into my driveway Head Like A Hole started. We had to sit there and listen to it all the way through before turning off the radio, we were both so enthralled. Trent Reznor may not have been the first to do this kind of thing, but seems like he brought it to a wider audience. I’ve mentioned it before as one of the albums that has had a huge influence on my life. Thanks, Trent. Thrent.
  • The Ordinaires — Kashmir — I’ve never heard anything else from them, but I remember this got heavy play on MuchMusic (thank you CanCon!). I might just prefer this to the original!
  • Pixies — Monkey Gone To Heaven — Let’s get this straight — The Pixies are not a ‘thinking man’s band,’ they’re just a fun group fronted by an egomaniac (seems that way anyway). That said, Monkey is awesome.
  • Pop Will Eat Itself — Wise Up! Sucker; Can U Dig It? ; Def Con One; Not Now James, We’re Busy — Hard to find a more unattractive man to front your band. That was my first thought when I saw the video for Sucker. But I got over that. Because these guys are fun. Seriously, so much fun to dance to. Not deep, but fun.
  • Stone Roses — I Wanna Be Adored; She Bangs The Drum; Fools Gold — You all remember Fools Gold. Dreamy and druggy with a singer who looked like an extra from Quest For Fire. Hard to deny though, their self-titled debut was amazing. I bought it on vinyl, only to discover that Fools Gold was actually NOT ON THE VINYL RELEASE. Grr. That’s okay, the rest of the album was still a good coherent piece. Also one of the ones I consider to be a major influence, as posted before.
  • Camper Van Beethoven — Pictures Of Matchstick Men — This Status Quo cover is possibly the funniest song to play full blast the morning after a heavy night of drinking when you are the only one in the house not hung over.
  • West India Company — My Shooting Star; Bengalis From Outer Space — WIC did the soundtrack to La La La Human Steps’ New Demons tour. This whole album is amazing. Just give it a listen — is that a TARDIS I hear on this album?
  • Wire — Eardrum Buzz — They were on the punk forefront, but they later settled into an odd niche within the alternative movement, and I like them there the best. Love the shirt of ears in the video.
  • XTC — The Mayor Of Simpleton — What a great song. Seriously, such a sweet love letter. I’m not all that smart, but I know I love you — what else needs to be said?
Well, that’s the end of the ’80s, what did you think? Did I miss out something really special? Do you think I’m crazy for something on my list? Let me know!

Once again I’ve made a most-of-it list for these over on Grooveshark, feel free to check out 1988 and 1989...

Previously: Life Songs: ’70s; Life Songs: ’70s, additional; Life Songs: The ’80s, Part One; Life Songs: the ’80s part two; Life Songs: the ’80s part three; Life Songs: the ’80s part four. Did you miss them?

Next time we’ll delve into the ’90s...

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