Five Selections from My Musical Influences
Going to the way-back machine for this week’s music post. I was going through old digital photos before Thanksgiving and came across an old Word doc with track listings for mix tapes that I created for someone (don’t remember who) back in the early 90s. The 10 track listings was a who’s who of classic 1980’s new wave, and a few odds and ends from that period that didn’t fit into any single genre, but that were influential on my early tastes during my formative musical years (6th through 8th grade). So for this week, here are five songs that had a big impact on me:
Pass the Dutchie – Musical Youth (1982)
I absolutely loved this song when it was released. While I had grown up hearing reggae music, like Bob Marley and the Wailers, this Musical Youth song was played alongside the post-punk and new romantic pop and rock of the early new wave movement. It was a one-hit wonder from a forgotten band that produced 2 albums, but it is one of the most memorable songs from my youth.
Genius of Love – Tom Tom Club (1981)
The second single from the debut album for a side band formed by two members of Talking Heads, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, Genius of Love hit #1 on the US Dance tracks, and, like all of the other songs on this list, it has stood out from my youth. While most people these days probably have no idea about Tom Tom Club, the band produced 6 studio albums, had 4 singles in the US Dance Top 10, and two more in the Top 40. The song is a total earworm, but in a good way.
Electric Avenue – Eddy Grant (1983)
The iconic single by Guyanese-British musician Eddy Grant, which hit the Top 10 in 12 different countries, and earned him a Grammy nomination. A great blend of rock and reggae, this is another song that instantly takes me back to 8th grade where I’m standing outside after school, waiting for the bus, and someone has the song playing on the radio.
Collapsing New People – Fad Gadget (1984)
My good friend Paul had a huge impact on my music collection and introduced me to many obscure artists, including Frank Tovey (also known as Fad Gadget). In fact, I think I still have a Tovey t-shirt in my collection from the Snakes and Ladders era (1986). It was due to Tovey that I discovered Mute Records. I don’t think he ever hit any charts in the US, but Tovey had quite a few Top 20 hits in the UK, producing 10 studio albums and 3 compilation albums and often touring with Depeche Mode before passing away in 2002 at the age of 45 due to a heart attack.
Nowhere Girl – B-Movie (1982)
Another one-hit wonder that stuck with me, with an interesting twist. Formed in 1979, B-Movie released several singles in the early 80s before releasing their first of three studio albums, 1985’s Forever Running, but are probably best known for their second single, Nowhere Girl, released in 1980. And for the twist: co-founder Paul Statham started as the guitarist then moved to keyboards, but went on to partner with Peter Murphy (who I collect extensively) on 4 of his albums, as well as co-writing Dido’s hit single, Here With Me.