Big Hair, Bigger Hearts
Earnest Eighties bands get a second chance on XM Radio.
By Christopher Gray,
4:42PM, Wed. May 2, 2007
Nothing truly makes perfect sense at 3:30am, but glancing over at CNN and seeing Hillary Clinton giving a speech over the screen caption "The Bono Effect" is pretty jarring. Turns out Clinton and the U2 singer had announced a new initiative to add billions of foreign-aid dollars to overseas education programs – particularly, of course, in poverty-stricken nations. (As far as that new record goes, Edge must've needed the studio to himself yesterday. Hopefully.) As an irrationally passionate U2 fan, a condition that only deepens as the years pass, it's funny to think of the days when they were just part of the same pack as Simple Minds, the Alarm, INXS, Tears for Fears, the Call, Midnight Oil, the Waterboys, and a few others.
Post-punk bands tended to shake out one of two ways: these brooding, quasi-mystical Celtic poet-bards girls (and some guys) adored and the much more lovelorn and dour miserable bastards in the Cure, Smiths, and Echo & the Bunnymen. Over the years, critical myth-making has largely confined itself to the not-getting-any camp (go figure), while the former is ignored if not outright abhorred – no one is asking Simple Minds to reunite at Coachella. But it's a good 20% of XM Radio's classic alternative channel Fred (XM 44), and you can make a decent-sized playlist – or mixtape, for those who remember such ancient notions – of these moody British Isle (and Commonwealth) bands who weren't afraid to take rock & roll seriously. Maybe too seriously. It was the Eighties, after all. Even the hair was serious. Especially the hair.
Boomtown Rats, "I Don't Like Mondays"
Tears for Fears, "Mad World"
The Alarm, "You Sold Me Down the River"
World Party, "Ship of Fools"
Simple Minds, "She's a River"
Waterboys, "This is the Sea"
The Call, "Let the Day Begin"
INXS, "Don't Change"
Midnight Oil, "Blue Sky Mine"
Gene Loves Jezebel, "Who Wants to Go to Heaven?"
Simple Minds, "Alive & Kickin"
Boomtown Rats, "Looking After Number One"
Tears for Fears, "Shout"
Waterboys, "The Whole of the Moon"
INXS, "Listen Like Thieves"