Beware: I am about to open Pandora’s Box.
’80s new wave music is my true love. This is the music of MTV. KROQ. Valley Girl. Martha Quinn. The Atari 2600. Members Only. Friday Night Videos. Nina Blackwood. Ms. Pac-Man. Night Flight. Richard Blade. Sixteen Candles. Alan Hunter. Jam boxes. Revenge Of The Nerds. Cabbage Patch Dolls. Parachute pants. J.J. Jackson. Live Aid. Mark Goodman. Rubik’s Cube. Donkey Kong.
This is the music that still makes me feel like a perpetual teenager.
Ecstatic ’80s New Wave: 1985
Baltimora: “Tarzan Boy” (Hackett/Bassi)
From the album Living In The Background
EMI-Manhattan Records, 1985
The keyboard player in my band recently suggested that we add “Tarzan Boy” to our repertoire. The name of the song didn’t immediately ring a bell, so he pulled it down from the cloud and cued it up. Five seconds in, it all came crashing back to me. I’m sure I probably hated “Tarzan Boy” in 1985, and now I’ve spent months working on my best Carol Burnett yell in order to do this classic justice on stage.
“Tarzan Boy” peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985, and for some reason I want to buy mouthwash every time I hear it…
The Rave-Ups: “Positively Lost Me” (Podrasky)
From the album Town + Country
Fun Stuff Records, 1985
You probably remember the Rave-Ups (and “Positively Lost Me”) from the bar scene in 1986’s Pretty In Pink, but the band had actually made an appearance in an earlier John Hughes classic:
Samantha Baker scrawled the band’s name all over her notebook in 1984’s Sixteen Candles– not bad for a band that had yet to even put out an album! Molly’s sister Beth dated Rave-Ups singer Jimmy Podrasky, and Molly had become a fan of the band. It was Ringwald who convinced Hughes to use the band in Pretty In Pink.
Jane Wiedlin” “Blue Kiss” (Wiedlin/Kirsch)
From the album Jane Wiedlin
I.R.S. Records, 1985
I’ve had a crush on Jane Wiedlin ever since I first saw her sing the bridge of “Our Lips Are Sealed” on MTV. In addition to writing some of the Go-Go’s biggest hits, Jane also appeared in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. With a résumé like that, no wonder I was head over heels…
“Blue Kiss” only reached #77 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it received a substantial amount of MTV airplay. Note to self: feature the entire Jane Wiedlin album in a future blog entry!
Sting: “Love Is The Seventh Wave” [New Mix] (Sting)
From the 12″ single Love Is The Seventh Wave
Original version from the album The Dream Of The Blue Turtles
A&M Records, 1985
Vinyl rip courtesy of the Analog Kid
The Dream Of The Blue Turtles came out in June of 1985, a few weeks after my high school graduation. I had driven my 1979 Ford T-Bird to California for the summer, and I was visiting my grandmother in Sacramento when the album was released. I remember going to Tower Records and buying two cassettes that day: The Dream Of The Blue Turtles and Night Ranger’s 7 Wishes. I’ll let you figure out which tape I wore out at the beach that summer.
The Models: “Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight” (Freud)
From the album Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight
Geffen Records, 1985
“Out Of Mind, Out of Sight” was the only song by an Australian artist to reach #1 in Australia in 1985. It was also The Models’ first big song in America– it broke the Top 40 and received a lot of MTV airplay. I had forgotten all about the song until I re-discovered it in the early days of Napster, and now the Out Of Mind, Out Of Sight album is one of favorites from the mid-’80s.
Camper Van Beethoven: “Take The Skinheads Bowling” (Lowery)
From the album Telephone Free Landslide Victory
I.R.S. Records, 1985
I’ll let David Lowery himself tell you about “Take The Skinheads Bowling.”
“We regarded “Take The Skinheads Bowling” as just a weird non-sensical song. The lyrics were purposely structured so that it would be devoid of meaning. Each subsequent line would undermine any sort of meaning established by the last line. It was the early 80′s and all our peers were writing songs that were full of meaning. It was our way of rebelling. BTW this is the most important fact about this song. We wanted the words to lack any coherent meaning. There is no story or deeper insight that I can give you about this song.”
And that’s what makes it so AWESOME.
The Church: “Tantalized” (Kilbey/Willson-Piper/Koppes/Ploog)
From the album Heyday
Warner Brothers Records, 1985
“Tantalized” is my favorite song from The Church. I was introduced to the band by my friend Curtis during my sophomore year in college. He played his vinyl copy of Heyday constantly that year, and he always wore paisley shirts just like what the band wore on the cover. I can’t listen to Heyday without thinking of him. We miss you, brother.
Don Dixon: “Praying Mantis” (Dixon/Glasgow)
From the album Most Of The Girls Like To Dance But Only Some Of The Boys Do
Enigma Records, 1985
Don Dixon was behind the boards for a slew of classic records in the ’80s (including R.E.M.’s Murmur, perhaps my all-time favorite album), but he also made his own music. The quirky “Praying Mantis” was a surprise college radio hit that even garnered some airplay on MTV.
Tears For Fears: “Shout [U.S. Remix]” (Orzabal/Stanley)
From the 12″ single Shout
Mercury Records, 1985
“Shout” isn’t my favorite from Songs From The Big Chair (that honor belongs to “Head Over Heels”), but I love the “U.S. Remix” of this Tears For Fears classic. “Shout” spent three weeks at #1 in August of 1985.
Kate Bush: “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” (Bush)
From the album Hounds of Love
EMI Records, 1985
The Analog Kid considers “Running Up That Hill” to be one of the greatest pop songs ever written. You can disagree, but you would be wrong.
The first rule of The Analog Kid blog is that if you write about a song on the Analog Kid blog, you share the song on the Analog Kid blog.
The Go-Go’s: “Our Lips Are Sealed” (Wiedlin/Hall)
From the album Beauty And The Beat
I.R.S. Records, 1981
Jane Wiedlin: “Blue Kiss [Extended Version]”
From the 12″ single Blue Kiss
Night Ranger: “Four In The Morning” (Blades)
From the album 7 Wishes
MCA Records, 1985
R.E.M.: “Perfect Circle” (Berry/Buck/Mills/Stipe)
From the album Murmur
I.R.S Records, 1983
Kate Bush: “Running Up That Hill [12″ Mix]” (Bush)
From the 12″ single Running Up That Hill
Tears For Fears: “Shout” (Orzabal/Stanley)
From the album Songs From The Big Chair
Mercury Records, 1985
Tears For Fears: “Head Over Heels [Single Version]” (Smith/Orzabal)
From the 7″ single Head Over Heels
Original version from the album Songs From The Big Chair
Mercury Records, 1985
Sting: “One World (Not Three)/Love Is The Seventh Wave [Live]” (Sting)
From the album Bring On The Night
A&M Records, 1986