Wall of Voodoo – Dark Continent (IRS Records) 1981. Like many people my age, I got hipped to Wall of Voodoo very early on. It’s hard to believe now but there was a time when MTV actually played videos. And, really early on, there weren’t a lot of videos for them to choose from. So they almost had to play anything just to program a full day. Kinda like the news networks today.
Yes… for a brief moment, there was a crack in the wall of bullshit that shapes our daily reality. And before the crack could get sealed up by cock-rock and Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Mexican Radio seeped out. It was totally surreal really. Look at Mexican Radio today! There is no way that song should have been a hit…..None….People are just not that cool…and yet it was.
At the same time, The USA Network was trying to fill its programming up by repeating Urgh! A Music War ad nauseaum. Hey it beats Pants Off Dance Off.
And who is one of the first bands to appear in Urgh? Wall of Voodoo of course.
So this all was happening when I was about 13 and I honestly believed at that time that Wall of Voodoo was pop music. I now know that this was untrue. Instead, there was a bizarrre crack in the Time-Space Continuum and it caused Wall of Voodoo’s early-80′s popularity. As soon as the media oligarchs could repair it, we returned to standard programming.
Cuz by any quantifiable standard, Wall of Voodoo was NOT pop-music. The guitar was played by Marc Moreland like it was nothing more than a glass-slicing machine. Anyone who ever saw thier performance in Urgh can attest to the drumming….I believe Joe Nanini plays the triangle in that song while a machine takes care of the beats. Not to say the folks in Wall of Voodoo weren’t accomplished musicians who couldn’t play. It’s just that they already did that on Flesheaters albums and in bands like Black Randy and the Metrosquad. In Wall of Voodoo the musicians treated thier instruments as a means to an end and said end was a very deliberate attempt to merge film soundtrack music, electronics, western mythology and Stan Ridgeway’s beat poetry.
At the time this was a totally radical notion. Kraftwerk had perfected the template of “Maschine Musik” and it’s icy, European approach could be felt from Gary Numan to Afrika Bambaataa. Wall of Voodoo offered a new template. Electronic music as organic music and in this case, western music. Sure there were precursors…Eskimo by The Residents was electronic-organic music…The Fibonnacis and Oingo Boingo were certainly contemporaries in the LA-New Wave cum Soundtrack-Artist approach. But Wall of Voodoo‘s vision was the most realized.
Its fuckin’ brilliant when you think about it. The fact that they scored such a major hit with Mexican Radio off their 2nd full length, Call of The West is nothing short of amazing. An all-too rare moment when the good guys win.
01. Red Light
02. Animal Day
03. Ten Minutes To Lunch
04. Full of Tension
05. Me and My Dad
06. Back In Flesh
07. Tse Tse Fly
08. Call Box
09. This Way Out
10. Good Times
11. Crack In The Bell