Friday, January 15, 2010

Musical Interlude: Wall of Voodoo

I had practically forgotten about Wall of Voodoo until this evening when I was watching Rumble Fish. No, WoV doesn't appear on the film's soundtrack, but their front man (or by the time of the film's release, former front man) Stan Ridgeway laid down a vocal for one of the tracks, "Don't Box Me In." I remember liking the single at the time - there was always a noirish quality to Ridgeway's voice and lyrics that easily fit the vibe of the film (which of course I would have to wait several years after its release to see - no bread, you see). But that tune got me thinking back a bit. I had first heard of WoV through my high school's newspaper sometime in late 1981 or maybe early 1982. Dark Continent was already out, and Call of the West was soon to be released. Somewhere around then, the band appeared on one of the late night shows that I'd catch when I was probably supposed to be asleep. The single, "Mexican Radio" was one of the tunes I distinctly remember being played. The tune itself was pretty catchy, definitely edgy and off-kilter, with a heavy dose of pathos bubbling just beneath the surface.

The success of "Mexican Radio" and the relative lack of attention that the rest of their early work received along with the lack of interest that the post-Ridgeway edition of the band generated usually gets these cats classified as one hit wonders. I'd like to think there was more to the Ridgeway era than just that one hit. Ridgeway had this knack for spinning stories about life's lost souls and losers, the deep dark pit beneath the veneer of the American Dream. And many of the tunes had that "spaghetti western meets rock's new wave" feel to them. Given my interests in the imagery and soundtrack music to the old spaghetti westerns, that hit it about right as far as I was concerned.

How about the somewhat menacing "Funzone"?

Or, "Lost Weekend"?

Or, "Factory"?

Not easy listening perhaps, but interesting and provoking.

Oh, and here's the old video for Copeland and Ridgeway's "Don't Box Me In":

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