New Toy

[Stiff/Epic 5E 37451]

THE B-52’S

Party Mix

[Warner Brothers MINI 3596]



[Warner Brothers MINI 3574]

The Primer

NW (for “new wave”) seems to have revitalized a sagging market for the late, great EP (for “extended play”). As opposed to an S (for “single”), which offers very little music for a lot of money, and an LP (for “long play”) with a lot more music for a couple extra bucks; the EP gives the listener a chance to sample the wares of the artist without limiting quantity (Ss) or wasting megabucks (LPs). Checking in at half the time and money of an LP, EPs are well worth the E (for “effort”).

However, what EPs usually are are PR (for “public relations”) devices, keeping artists’ names and music in the bins (usually with re-releases, compilations or live mixes) without keeping them in the studio. On occasion an EP will be “the latest’ offering, but most of the time it’s all the SOS (for “same old stuff’).

The Review

Not so for Lene Lovich’s New Toy, surely the finest of the three discs under consideration. “New Toy” has been a popular single for some time in the Commonwealth, but this marks its first stateside release. Loaded with catchy rhythms, a strong chorus and a haunting vocal, this may be Lovich’s very best song. Producer Les Chappel’s sprightly mix punctuates the staccato feel of the song, and it even sounds good on a bad AM radio. The other five songs fare well also, particularly “Savages,” with its wordless singing and punchy horns.

Recorded on their 1980 tour, Devo’s Live ranks as one of the best live EPs in recent memory. This will put to rest any claims that these guys are still a novelty act belonging on the Dr. Demento show. “Whip It,” “Girl U Want,” “Gates of Steel” and “Be Stiff’ are rendered in top notch form, complete with good vocals and strong instrumentation. A special tip of the flower pot must go to the devo-id at the drum kit, especially on the “Freedom of Choice Theme/Whip If’ medley, as he keeps the high hat rattling for six minutes straight. You have to be there to appreciate it.

Remixed, reshaped, retooled and revised - the six Party Mix tunes from the B-52’s first two albums were better left alone. It never occurred to me that they were undancable! Party Mix merely reduces the Boo-fants to the level of discodroids, mindless little robots who need the bump bump to pump. Do yourself a favor... skip this sucker and stick to the originals.

-J. E. Sumrell