There were a few times in the middle of the summer of 84 I saw on MTV a video from a new (to me, anyway) all-female band from LA. I was impressed by “Hero Takes a Fall,” but after it didn’t get any chart traction, it quietly disappeared from the rotation and my brain. When “Manic Monday” began making noise during my last spring at Transy, I did recognize it was by the same band whose song I’d enjoyed eighteen or so months earlier, though.
It’d take about another year beyond that before I would plunk down $ for The Bangles’ All Over the Place, that 84 release featuring “Hero Takes a Fall,” and I don’t regret the purchase for one moment. This might be heretical, but after listening to Beauty and the Beat several weeks ago, I think I’m ready to say that All Over the Place has held up better over three-plus decades. It’s just an amazing pop record—enough stylistic variation so as not to lull one into complacency, and very solid songwriting, mostly courtesy of Vicki Peterson, with important contributions from Susanna Hoffs. The two covers are outstanding, too. Just don’t ask me to rank this album’s tracks—my favorite changes virtually daily (today it’s either “Dover Beach” or “Tell Me”).
Eventually I also got a used CD copy of their commercial breakthrough, Different Light. I think it’s very good, but it doesn’t feel as fresh right now as AOtP. “Walk Like an Egyptian” is tons o’ fun, but the best tracks on Different Light are the middle two, the album cut “Return Post” and the second single—this week’s #34 song—the Jules Shear-penned “If She Knew What She Wants.” I simply do not get how this topped out only at #29 (especially after “Walking Down Your Street” later reached #11 as the fourth single). More evidence, as if I needed it, that my tastes regularly don’t align with those of the public-at-large…
I was a big fan of the subsequent cover of “Hazy Shade of Winter,” but after that my interest in The Bangles’ music began to wane. I wasn’t alone—the group split not long after the release of the next album, Everything. Somewhat akin to the path blazed by The Go-Go’s, The Bangles have periodically re-formed over the years, also releasing new material occasionally.
(I really haven’t tried here to give either of these albums the attention they deserve. If you want to read more about why these albums are worthy of your time, here’s The Old Grey Cat on both All Over the Place and Different Light.)