80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/ Bands ~ (Much More Than) One-Hit Wonders

It’s time to go on a rant about extraordinarily gifted artists and bands who were unfairly labeled “one-hit wonders.” Oftentimes, these artists were not properly promoted after charting; although they continued producing incredible music, the powers that be at the record companies and radio stations turned a deaf ear in order to promote the next flavor of the month. We, the listeners, were the big losers.

So much fantastic music from the 80’s has since been unearthed, that it’s not even necessary to listen to the contemporary repetitive swill out there. My iPod has 10 days’ worth of obscure 80’s listening gems. Each week, when I listen to the champions of the little guys, David Marsden and Ed-FM, I am treated to even more music that wasn’t promoted, that should have been, and that absolutely rocks.

This week will showcase three wrongly identified “one-hit wonders.” I urge you, if you haven’t already done so, to explore and enjoy their music. You will discover music your ears have been longing for, that will soothe your soul, and make you fall in love with your speakers all over again.

Gary Numan

Numan’s first group, Tubeway Army, scored big hits with “Cars” and “Are Friends Electric” back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Since then, Gary Numan has been a very busy man, working hard to reinvent himself and finally finding success with a move to a decidedly Goth/Industrial/Dark Wave genre. Starting in the mid-90’s, Numan hit his stride with the albums Sacrifice, Exile, Pure, Hybrid, Jagged, and the latest, Dead Son Rising (sheduled to be released later in 2010). Never heard of them? If you enjoy Dark Wave, do yourself a huge favor and check them out. Both Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson have cited Numan as an influence. Exile and Hybrid are personal favorites of mine. Gary Numan has transcended Tubeway Army in a huge way and deserves much more than the limited success of the past 15 years.

 

“Absolution” via YouTube user Patrickingham21:

“Exile” via YouTube user MollyClark4430:

“Haunted” via YouTube user Industrial82:

Modern English

Modern English scored a big hit in the 80’s with “I Melt With You.” If you haven’t taken the time to listen to any other of their eclectic 80’s tunes, you are cheating your ears out of pure pleasure in a big way. Their four 80’s LPs were Mesh and Lace (1981), After the Snow (1982), Ricochet Days (1984), and Stop Start (1986). My personal favorite is “Someone’s Calling” from the After The Snow LP. Definitely take the time to go back and check out any Modern English music you may not have heard the first time around. This band deserved to be more than a “don’t blink or you’ll miss them” phenomenon.

“Someone’s Calling” via YouTube user ealdrett:

“Ink and Paper” via YouTube user delahuerta:

Blue Peter

Virtually unknown outside of Canada, Blue Peter enjoyed a couple of hits with “Don’t Walk Past” and “Radio Silence.” The band, led by Paul Humphrey, continues to play in and around Toronto to this day. If you like the style of David Byrne, front man of Talking Heads, you’ll love Blue Peter. Humphrey embodies all that is great about Byrne, with a little David Bowie and Bryan Ferry thrown in for fun. Criminally underrated doesn’t even begin to describe Blue Peter’s talent. Even if you were lucky enough to have heard either of their hits back in the 80’s, chances are you missed out on gems such as “Falling,” “Take Me to War.” “All Your Time,” “Unchained Heart,” and “Video Verite.”

 

“Don’t Walk Past” via YouTube user johnmcboston:

“I Walk Alone” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

“Video Verite” via YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

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80’s Music Rules ~ Criminally Underrated Artists/Bands ~ Blue Peter

uptoyouLong-lived yet virtually unknown outside of Canada, Toronto’s 80’s New Wave band “Blue Peter” enjoyed a couple of hits with “Don’t Walk Past” and “Radio Silence.” The band’s original line-up was comprised of Geoff McOuat, Mike Bambrick, Ron Tomlinson, Chris Wardman, Paul Humphrey, Owen Tennyson, Rick Joudrey and Jason Sniderman.
 
Blue Peter’s sound is basically unique, more piano-driven than synthesized, and heavy on bass riffs; however, the more I listen to tracks like “Falling,” “Take Me To War,” “All Your Time,” and “Unchained Heart” from the 1983-released album Falling, the more Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music-esque influence is apparent. Paul Humphrey’s voice is strong and descriptive, conjuring images of love, lust, heartache, and a heavy dose of reality tossed in for good measure. They may have tired of the comparisons to David Byrne, Roxy Music, and David Bowie when Blue Peter was trying to break into the music scene, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. When someone new and musically exciting comes along, the tendency exists to describe them in relation to someone or something well-known.  
 
Blue Peter’s songs remain timeless, lacking the signature 80’s New Wave sound which shackles a lot of their contemporaries to that decade. Much of that is owed to spare use of keyboards/synthesizers and a more heavy accent on guitars and rhythm. Their popularity as a local Toronto attraction remains strong twenty years later, fueled by a hard-core group of dedicated fans. There aren’t an abundance of quality current Blue Peter videos on YouTube, but their video for their best-known 80’s hit never fails to raise a goose-bump or two.
 
 
Blue Peter ~ Don’t Walk Past from YouTube user johnmcboston:
 

Blue Peter ~ Video Verite from YouTube user orbitalpopdog:

Here’s an amateur video taken from a live concert in Toronto last year. The energy and talent is still there after all these years.

Blue Peter ~ Radio Silence from YouTube user FritzBacharach:

I know I sound like a broken record, reaching the same oft-repeated conclusion in all of my “Criminally Underrated” posts, but I am adamant about this: Blue Peter should have caught a hugely deserved break here in the U.S. With a musical prowess that rivaled all of the acts they were ultimately compared to, this band earned the privilege of being in heavy radio and MTV promotion, yet they were allowed to drift into oblivion. The only winners are the fans that have stood by them all these years, being paid back for their loyalty with superb live shows and first rate music.

Purchase Blue Peter while it’s still in print:
radio-silence

Radio Silence

 

 

allthroughthe-night All Through the Night

 

 

fallingFalling