Wall of Voodoo – Dark Continent

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

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20 Responses to Wall of Voodoo – Dark Continent

  1. Ian W. Hill says:

    Glad you posted this! I already have it (didn’t know the CD was out of print; glad I got it), as well as just about everything else from the band, but anything that can be done to let people know they weren’t just a one-hit-wonder band (as great as the hit was) is a GOOD THING.

    All their albums are worth it (if some a bit less than others) as are the solo albums from Ridgway (and, in fact, by his replacement as singer, Andy Prieboy).

  2. Anonymous says:

    The links to this are having some problems. No matter which song I click on it downloads Red Light.

  3. Will says:

    I was about 8 years old when this hit MTV and it’s the only song from that time that has really stuck with me.

  4. Joe Stumble says:

    The links are fixed. This new Google Blogger is a pain in the arse!

  5. Anonymous says:

    This stuff has aged really well. It’s a shame their isn’t some sort of deluxe reissue.

  6. Anonymous says:

    it was a hit; yes it was a hit in DC that is. And that Mexican Radio album is by far their best. Call of the West is another great song. Thanks

  7. Tom says:

    Now, if Joe will post the EP, so I don’t have to get it off a cassette, I would be thrilled beyond belief….

  8. Tom says:

    Oh, and the last song is called Crack the Bell, not Crack in the Bell.

  9. Drindle says:

    I saw this band a few times live, great band. The drummer was one of the best I’ve ever seen. They used a fair ammount of electronic drums, But he would augment the electronics with some terriffic pounding. He had a set of pots and pans he’d use, and add in all kinds of effects. I love there sound. The quality of these MP3s , however, is diapointing.

  10. Joe Stumble says:

    Yeah Drindle…from anyone else I might just give a fuck.

  11. fred says:

    Screamers were the precedent, and they were the ones who turned everyone onto 60s soundtrack music.

    There is a great bootleg of Wall of Voodoo’s earliest demos floating around, “Take Me To Your Leader” I have always liked the first EP best.

    Ever heard the Celtic Frost version of Mexican Radio? Funny.

    My brother once saw Voodoo around the time of the first LP where they were joined onstage by Johnny Thunders!

    bye

  12. jon manyjars says:

    Thank you for posting this, because it brought back a moment from my adolescence: my dad walking into my bedroom just as I was listening to “Me and My Dad”. Art and life collided at that awkward moment.

  13. Erich says:

    i remember how much i detested “mexican radio” back then – but now that I just played the video 3 times in a row, I dunno why anymore. it’s a great weird song. it’s drastic to see how much times have changed. as you said, imagine this being a popular hit nowadys. no way.

  14. Miki says:

    Thanks for posting this!! I never realized how great this band was!

  15. Tom says:

    Joe,

    What is your source for this? I ask because the track lengths don’t match what I see on the Web. I was wondering if other sites use CD track lengths and you made this from vinyl, or vice versa.

  16. Joe Stumble says:

    Hey Tom – It’s from my old vinyl copy.

  17. Mr Phreek says:

    Hey Joe!

    Just wanted to say thanks for posting this, even though it’s two years after the fact. I own it on vinyl (for the second time – had to leave my first one in LA when I moved to NY) and I really wanted my girlfriend to hear it, but I didn’t feel like moving the stacks of CDs on top of my turntable. You’ve done me quite a service, sir!

    And she loves it, too!

  18. Joe says:

    No problem. Glad your girlfriend likes it!

  19. chica says:

    here’s an interview with stan ridegway i taped off australian TV waaaay back in 82/83:

    http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=Minordian#p/u/21/c7eX_Yj_bco

    cheers.

  20. Tangento says:

    Hey, great job here man. This band was one of a kind, and their legacy must be preserved. You’ve done your part nicely, my friend.

    I have this thing here, which could probably really use an update or 2:

    http://www.tangento.net/wallofvoodoo.html

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