From the Vault...


Wall Of Voodoo
"Dark Continent"

© IRS Records

Year of Release: 1981

track listing
  • Red Light
  • Two Minutes Till Lunch
  • Animal Day
  • Full Of Tension
  • Me And My Dad
  • Back In Flesh
  • Tse Tse Fly
  • Call Box (1-2-3)
  • This Way Out
  • Good Times
  • Crack The Bell

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    Wall Of Voodoo
    "Dark Continent"

    Wall of Voodoo's first major label debut gets the nod for review this week, as this album (and for the band) represents the style of new wave and/or punk. The band was named by the band's lead singer, Stan Ridgway before their first gig, While recording and overdubbing with a Kalamazoo Rhythm Ace drum machine. Ridgway jokingly compared the machine and Farfisa-organ-laden recordings to Phil Spector's Wall of Sound, whereu a friend made the comment it sounded more like a "wall of voodoo." The band's name was then born. Other bandmembers were Marc Moreland (guitar), Bruce Moreland (bass) [Marc's brother], Chas T. Gray (keyboards), and Joe Nanini (drums).

    Early synthesizer pop and movie producer Ennio Morricone's soundtracks for Italian director Sergio Leone's epic western films of the 1960s is another good comparison in the style of the Wall of Voodoo. They used mixing drum machines with unconventional instruments such as pots and pans and various kitchen utensils. They featured raw electronics with interlocking melodic figures, as well as twangy spaghetti-western guitar. Ridgway's unusual vocal style and highly stylized, cinematic narratives were heavily influenced by science fiction and films, singing with lyrics of ordinary people, incorporating what would be references to the American Dream. Vocally and musically, the best to compare their sound, would be that to another popular band in the area of new wave/punk, The B-52's. Many of the songs here on Dark Continent have introductions to their songs similar to Blondie's Heart Of Glass -- The synthesizer intro. The synthesizer is heavily used on this album, as it truly does define the new wave/punk style. And quite honestly, this is what a true new wave/punk album should sound like.

    "Red Light" would probably be the lead single from this album, as it is a very good punk styled track. "Two Minutes Till Lunch" is a quick song, yet it has a different ending, as if it was another song. Learning of the band's interest in "spaghetti western" soundtrack music, this is now understandable. Having a different ending is also heard at the end of "Tse Tse Fly." Likewise the introduction of another track, "This Way Out." On the latter tune, it's intro is definitely compared to a sci-fi movie soundtrack, as it is eerie sounding, as heard in most sci-fi soundtracks. As for "spaghetti westerns," "Me And My Dad" could be used in that kind of movie soundtrack, and somehow I can easily hear this song in a Quentin Tarintino movie, if he did decide to produce a "spagheti western" movie of his own.

    As for the remaining tracks, they all are truly defined as punk wave/punk songs. The B-52's are compared throughout this album, especially on Back In Flesh." Stan Ridgway has a very distinctive voice, just as The B-52's' lead singer, Fred Schneider.

    Dark Continent would be the band's first full-length album, having a previous EP the year before, self-titled. "Ring Of Fire" (Johnny Cash) was the hit from the EP. No major hits were from the debut album, yet their second album released in 1982, (Call Of The West) produced their biggest hit, "Mexican Radio." Truthfully, I never really cared for this song. Yet, when I found Dark Continent (it may have been found in the cut-out section; I can't really remember.) I was curious to hear other songs from this band. Little did I know, that this album would be their official debut. Wall Of Voodoo would release 3 more albums from 1985 to 1989. Bandmembers Stan Ridgway, ANdy Prieboy and Marc Moreland pursued solo careers. Another member, Joe Namini released an EP. Sad to say, 2 members passed away in the 2000 decade -- Joe Nanini of a brain hemmorage (2000), and Marc Moreland of kidney and liver failure, in 2002. In 2006, Stan Ridgway reformed Wall Of Voodoo as an opening act for Cyndi Lauper. He would be the only original member. In 2009, their first two albums (Dark Continent and Call Of The West were re-released on Raven Records. Raven also reissued/remastered Andy Prieboy's solo albums, with bonus tracks.

    New Wave/Punk fans will enjoy Wall of Voodoo's first major debut album, Dark Continent. The songs truly define these two genres. Quirky styled, and Stan Ridgway's voice is distinctive, just as Fred Schneider's, of the B-52's. It's a good album to listen to, especially for those who enjoy New Wave and Punk Rock music.

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    Previous Review: #1492
    Electric Light Orchestra--Discovery
    Next Review: #1494
    The Pretenders--Learning To Crawl