6. The Call
Michael Been was a stud. Check out any of their videos. Bearlicious. But the music is also good. A bit too serious, but then again it was the eighties. Self-righteousness was in: also see U2, The Alarm, Simple Minds, and Peter Gabriel. They all played huge arena-rock songs thought they could change the world, baby! But all they did was make us dance.
Why hasn't Modern Romans or Scene Beyond Dreams been released on CD? In this day and age, you'd think everything that would possibly be commerical has been reissued. Maybe only me and few thrity-something music geeks would buy those CDs, but I will always love the Call's brand of guitar-heavy "bear rock". Michael Been's son Robert is the lead singer for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, so maybe the next generation of cubs will carry on.
Gay, gay, gay. In the eighties, Depeche Mode was a really influential band. But the odd thing was... even thought they were often imitated, they were never copied. So it was such a great surprise that this band got the formula right. It's fluffy, but occassionally Camouflage mixed goth with synth-pop to record something as fun as the song "The Great Commandment".
8. The Caulfields
Great power-pop. They vanished without a trace after releasing two great albums: Whirligig and L. See also the Judybats and Scruffy the Cat for bands that didn't get the recognition they deserved. In my dreams, I die and go to heaven, and all my favorite bands have released more songs than I could ever hear.
9. Cheryl Wheeler
She's fat. She will never be a star. Maybe she'll be known as a semi-famous folk musician when she dies, but that's about it. And that's a shame, because she's written some outstanding songs. There is no justice in this world.
In an age when most women merely sing other people's songs, Cheryl writes stunning orignals that she sings ."If It Were Up to Me" was played after the Columbine high-school massacre, and there is a special place in my heart for "Arrow". Cheryl has a bad habit of being funny, and writing songs abour potatoes or estate sales that are funny once, but you never want to hear them again. Of course, those are the songs that the audience wants to hear again and again. I guess that's the secret of being a musician - give the audience what they want to hear. But when Cheryl can write a melody that makes me weep, I don't want to hear filk.
Left-wing music collectives don't often last long. Also see "Chumbawamba" for an example. Trying to create a rock band where nobody is the leader, and dozens of members get an equal voice is sometimes a bad idea. Hell, even the annual Lollapallooza concert collapsed under it's own political weight. As George Bush reminded us... a dictatorship is just so much *easier*. Right, Billy Corgan?
This band made some very hit-and-miss albums, which is understandable because their genre changed depending on who was writing the songs. Music went from bubblegum rap (the Yeastie Girls "You Suck") to hardcore electronica (my favorite, the amazing brain melting pro-choice song "Butyric Acid"). Keyboardist Mark Pistel went on to work on some great CDs (like his own self-titled "Pistel"), and the band's left-leaning sloganeering lives on in every Berkeley artist's heart.