Sunday, July 3, 2016

Song of the Day # 896 The Motels

I spent the day in York in a country, despite its surface civility and calm, in complete turmoil. Some retail therapy was inevitable and the first Motels album was one of three albums I bought. It's a strange beast, not really New Wave, although this was how it was packaged by a major record level looking to capitalise on the Punk phenomenon, (not yet an explosion in the States as it had been in the UK but nevertheless causing considerable ripples). The guitars for example generally lean closer to Journey than Elvis Costello & the Attractions.

Signing bands like The Motels up was the major label's response to all this but they were looking for bands to shift units in a way the artier CBGBs were never likely to. You can look at The Motels as a sleek commercial upgrade on the Patti Smith Group just as The Cars stepped in for Television. Total Control is the standout song on the record. Creeping and measured, with a bank of synthesisers and weeping saxophone supporting the ticking, metronomic guitars as the song swells and ebbs. It was the band's first hit, making the Top Twenty in New Zealand and Australia. It's no wonder. It must have sounded great on the radio and sountracked a thousand breaking relationships. An apt song for today as well as yesterday.

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