An intentional and accidental selection today, we have the album “Dead Man’s Party” from Oingo Boingo, who was led by vocalist and songwriter Danny Elfman. Oingo Boingo was one of many bands riding the wave of new wave success, and although they do have a British sound that I would equate to The Fixx on Red Bull, they hail from southern California. Oingo Boingo is a natural selection for this list given their success and influence in the 1980s, but the primary reason I have included them will be noted below.
I really enjoyed this album a lot, more so than I expected. My previous awareness of the band was pretty well contained to the title track on this record and a few other brief snapshots. I have to say, this was an entertaining listen that I played a couple of extra times for the fun of it. The first song, “Just Another Day”, was a good upbeat rocker to open the album. Next comes the title track, which I knew was from some ‘80s movie that I could not recall. Some further research reminded me that they performed this song at a party in the movie “Back to School” starring Rodney Dangerfield.
Each of the tracks was unique and different in sound, and I can resonate with my son’s comment as we listened to the album last night. “I love this, each of these songs sound like they could be the soundtrack for a cartoon.” He isn’t that far off.
Another song that really stood out, and is probably my favorite song on the album, is the song “Stay”. It has a beautiful and infectious melody and is a guaranteed add to my playlist. I received another unexpected surprise on the last track of the record, when the song “Weird Science” came on. Two ‘80s movie hits on one album? Yes, it is true. Who can forget that epic film with Anthony Michael Hall and Kelly LeBrock. A comical film and song, providing even more validation that Oingo Boingo belonged on the list for 1985.
All of that musical goodness aside, I primarily selected Oingo Boingo in tribute to my good friend David, a running friend of mine for almost 25 years. Oingo Boingo is either his favorite band, or very high on the list. David is one of the most unabashed and overtly positive people I have ever met. He is a deacon in his church, and he enjoys brewing beer and playing disc golf, as well as raising chickens. He always makes me laugh, he always challenges me to think, and he is a dear and trusted friend like all of my running pack, current and past. Music is very much a part of my running life, particularly in recent years, and when I’m not listening to it, I’m frequently discussing it and sharing it with my running buddies. I know of at least one other album on this list that is directly inspired by a member of the group, and pretty much every friend in that pack has helped shape my musical tastes for the past three decades. David is also a very accomplished hiker, and you can read all about his amazing hike on the Pacific Crest Trail at wanderingdave.com. I love him like a brother… and Oingo Boingo isn’t too bad either!
2 thoughts on “Oingo Boingo “Dead Man’s Party” (1985)”
Thanks for the shout out, Dave. I am honored to be your friend and it has been my great pleasure to know you all these years. I love your review of this Oingo Boingo album. Zach is onto something with his cartoon soundtrack comment. This album is zany, professional, polished and theatrical. It was about this time, too, that the group’s leader, Danny Elfman, started writing soundtracks to major Hollywood films (Edward Scissorhands, the Batman movies, A Nightmare before Christmas). And while this album is great, band’s efforts after this album are more mature thematically and musically. The songs become more interesting. Sarcastic fatalism is tempered by hope. And you know I’m all about light at the end of the tunnel! If you ever get the desire to do a “Side B” version of this blog, I would love to hear your take on those later OB albums. Hasta luego, mi amigo.
I loved the evening where you introduced me to a much deeper view of the breadth of Oingo Boingo while also wiping the floor with me in billiards. I look forward to many good days ahead…