Thursday, November 5, 2009

No. 1 in Heaven (1979)

So out of nowhere, they decided to hook up with Giorgio Moroder for an album of electronic disco pop that was ultimately a huge, explicit influence on artists like Depeche Mode. A bold move, and you can't argue with the results. Well, I guess you could quibble with them a little. But come on. No need to be disagreeable for disagreeableness's sake.

There are only six tracks, and as such it sort of straddles the border between EP and LP. Like Bowie's Station to Station. Of these six, I only think three are bona fide classics--which isn't to say that the others aren't pleasant to listen to, but they don't necessarily make you explode out of your seat and burn up the dance floor.

However, "Tryouts for the Human Race" kind of does. The burbling, insistent synthesizer beat is pretty all-encompassing. I'm going to be an elitist jerk and just point you to John Barth's "Night-Sea Journey" if the lyrical theme isn't apparent to you, and I have to say, the feel of the song pretty well matches up with that. It's kinda great!

Then there's the epic "No. 1 Song in Heaven." I somehow thought this was a single, but…evidently not. It probably should've been, though that would have necessitated some serious cutting. So maybe not! I don't know! It turns out the devil DOESN'T have all the best tunes, apparently. It features an excellent slow build, and the "Gabriel plays it, God how he plays it!" refrain is kind of wonderful.

But the best track is the woefully underrated "La Dolce Vita." The melody is irresistible, and I find the image called up by the lyrics, of opportunistic Italian lotharios draped theatrically over furniture in ostentatiously jaded array, quite hilarious. "You're the only bank that's open all night…Now that that's clear, when do we eat?" Also, "Looking real bored is what you pay me for…Looking real bored's as hard as scrubbing floors." I love it. Also features the line "Life isn't much but there's nothing else to do," which was this blog's tagline for a while. This album is good and you should hear it. End of story.

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