Sunday, August 5, 2012

under-rated band, Missing Persons

great vocalist, Dale Bozzio, like an American Clare Grogan almost

another New Wave American outfit that made no impression whatsoever in the U.K. (well, not until they stopped being New Wave in this case and did a horrible, huge-hit power ballad AOR type thingy whose title escapes me) was Berlin... like Missing Persons, they're on the radio still, a lot, usually with this tune ...

unlike Missing Persons (an obviously proficient and seasoned rock band who'd gone Noo Wave... indeed some of them supposedly played with Zappa!), Berlin were fully-fledged synth-pop...  indeed one of the few American examples that can really rank with the U.K. and European outfits of the time (I mean, Our Daughter's Wedding, gimme a break... and as for early Ministry...)

on "The Metro", Berlin are a bit like an American Visage...   vapid Europhilia at its most alluring


  1. You've really hit the sweet spot of L.A.-bred "KROQ bands" circa 1982 here.

    I bought and mightily enjoyed Missing Person's debut album Spring Session M when I was 13 years old. They must have been a A&R man's dream back then, and no wonder: day-glo visuals and coiffured haircuts notwithstanding, Missing Persons made an excellent gateway into new wave for North Americans entrenched in suburban rock. Their resumé with Frank Zappa is a bit of a red herring, because they aimed straight at AOR listeners who might be disatisfied with (or too clueless to accept) the rock orthdoxy of fat guys slinging guitars in the age before video. I still think the thwack on the singles "Words" and "Destination Unknown" sound great (YouTube sound quality doesn't do them justice). And even rock snobs could be dazzled by the album track "U.S. Drag," a Burroughs-inspired lyric set over a devilishly tricky Terry Bozzio beat (which recently merited its own amateur YouTube drum lesson:

    Berlin's debut EP (with 8 songs!) Pleasure Victim was another exciting album for a new wave-curious 13-year-old. As I recall, the key track was "Sex (I'm A)", a Moroderesque throb that was kind of a straight version of what Soft Cell were doing with "Sex Dwarf." I can still smell the collective hormones emanating off the dancefloor when that song was played at the high school soc hop!

    Go back a year earlier, and you can include the obviously more successful Go-Go's in this category. (If I may be immodest, I do just this at They were coming from yet another musical direction, of course, but they underscore how significant just the presence of female singer (much less an all girl band) was to new wave. Not that frontwomen would be taken for granted in the UK, but they were so rare and so transgressive in a suburban North American rock context as to alone code a group as "new wave." Along these lines, see also the honorary "new wave" frontwomen Pat Benatar and Patty Smythe/Scandal.

  2. "Take My Breath Away" was the later Berlin hit you are thinking of. Produced and co-written by Giorgio Moroder.