Laurie Anderson: Big Science
‘Good Evening, this is your captain. We are about to attempt a crash landing. Please extinguish all cigarettes.’
By all rights this album should not have been made, much less hold up all these years later. But damn, it does. I am sure my perception of ‘Big Science’ has changed over the years, but that would probably make Laurie happy, since I always considered this more of an art experiment than a bunch of songs. Oh, and ‘O Superman’ too.
Hear many of the tracks on the ‘Live in New York’ album:
Culture Club: Colour By Numbers
After the wonderful ‘Kissing To Be Clever’ comes the best CC album. The following ‘Fire’ LP was too overproduced, and things went downhill from there. With “Colour By Numbers’ CC left behind the SKA and rap elements, and what was left was pure pop, and some downright stunning songs. Along with the vocal talents of Helen Terry, this is definitely more than the sum of its parts. ‘Karma Chameleon’, ok, a good song, but the weakest of the bunch.
The CD re-release adds some excellent instrumentals.
U2: Under A Blood Red Sky
Before they hit the stratosphere with ‘Unforgettable Fire’ this little EP and it’s corresponding video introduced a lot of America to U2. The Red Rocks concert footage was an early MTV staple. This album was made up of various concerts, but the Red Rocks concert was released on VHS, and to be honest, I taped the soundtrack from the video onto cassette and liked it better than the official album. There were more songs and felt more like a true concert. The cassette has since died, but still have the VHS tape and of course on CD.
Men Without Hats: Rhythm Of Youth
You can dance if you want to, but then you will miss the rest of this New Wave classic. These songs are all over the place, shifting from style to style, but it works. I got the LP in 1983 after my 2 cassettes started to go bad. ‘I Like’ and ‘Antartica’ are some of the best tunes, but the whole album is more than the sum of its parts. Finally re-released after being out of print for years.
A Flock Of Seagulls: Listen
Oh, the hair….. After a great self-titled LP, I thought they could not do better, but they sure came pretty close. Wall to wall synths in a New Wave package, ‘Listen’ is a synth pop classic. ‘Transfer Affection’ is a fantastic song, long intro, funky bass, out in space guitars, it has it all.
A friend of mine had this cassette he was playing at the beach. It was still the middle of summer ’83, and before ‘Holiday’ had hit. This was just great pop, not a great voice here, but some fun tunes, and a dance energy. Ran out and got this ‘Madonna’ album the next day. Of course little did we know the juggernaut that was being launched. Still my favorite of hers. My friend Rick’s pressing had a 4:48 version of ‘Burning Up’, had more percussion, still look at the label anytime I run across it at some thrift store, never have found that pressing or that version [and no, it is not the version on the 12 inch single].
[Update: 2-14-2016] Doing some blog cleaning and updating. The longer ‘Burning Up’ track was on some early pressings of “Madonna”, and somewhere along the line finally got a copy of it downloaded, but not the original LP from which it came.
Discogs.com notes about the original release: First East coast pressing, pressed by Capitol Records Winchester, with 4:48 version of “Burning Up”. East coast reissue with 3:41 version of “Burning Up” can be found here…etc. from: Discogs
Elvis Costello and the Attractions: Punch The Clock
God I love this record. Yes, he swerved from New Wave to Pop, but boy what a collision. EC fans like to dismiss Punch as too pop, but really it isn’t. The songs, the words, the horns, and just some fantastic tunes create something much more that just ‘pop’. “Everyday I Write The Book” does not even come close to the best song on the album. This LP is just plain fun from start to finish.