Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Look out, here comes, here comes..."

If an alien landed on earth -- and said alien had never heard rock music before -- and asked me: "Give me two examples of perfect rock songs."

I would give that alien these two videos.

The Bangles' "Hero Takes A Fall" is the first thing I heard by the group in late 1984and the video is a bit laughable but I have to say that Susanna Hoffs' voice on it is just about the best female singing I've ever heard. Yes, it's only pop but the kids still love it.

Sure, Janis and Aretha seemingly put more soul and obvious effort into their singing but, for me, the vocals on this track are the right mix of vulnerable and cocky and the way she sings "Here comes, here comes" in the final bridge just makes me weak in the knees.

England's The Primitives rode in on the C-86 wave like a female-led Jesus and Mary Chain, however, The Primitives, with leader Tracy Tracy, owed a bigger debt to 1960s American pop -- think the same things that inspired The Bangles (once called The Bangs) only fed through feedback like the Mary Chain. The Darling Buds covered the same ground but without the hooks of this band.

Both songs are obviously retro in many ways but neither one is entirely beholden to its influences; they both are bold, stand-alone singles that other bands would kill for.

And, apart from the visuals in the clips, neither one sounds too terribly dated despite being recorded in the mid-to-late 1980s, an era known for production overkill.

Both should have been huge hits and I am continually perplexed as to why music like this was never as big as Jody Watley or Madonna.

I never got to see The Primitives -- I don't think they ever toured the States -- but I did see The Bangles twice, even meeting them in 1989 when "Eternal Flame" was still a big, big hit.

On a personal level, Blondie's Deborah Harry may be the first female pop singer that caught my eye, but, at the end of the day, Susanna Hoffs is the ultimate American woman vocalist for me.

It's subjective but it's my blog.