One of my personal favourite THINGS to come out of the 80’s was the band Oingo Boingo, an eclectic mix of pop, rock and… trumpets.
Dead Man’s Party was their fourth album, released in 1985, and boasted some of their greatest hits as well as a few nifty new tracks. The masterful titular song, “Dead Man’s Party”, was to be used one year later in the Rodney Dangerfield film Back To School which also starred the band themselves singing the song in the movie. From then on, this was to become the ultimate Halloween party song. A classic.
Another song from the album which was used in a movie was, of course, “Weird Science” in the John Hughes flick of the same name. The song is an 80’s masterpiece: beautifully layered, put-together insanity. Definitely the work of a musical mad scientist and one of the band’s most recognisable tunes. It certainly ends the album with a bang.
The album opens with “Just Another Day”, one of my personal favourite songs from the band: it’s a dramatic, energetic tune that’s super catchy and just really good all around. It’s a perfect start to a terrific album. Another really good song is “Stay”, which comes in about halfway through the album with a cool, catchy chorus and a chilled, though slightly creepy, build-up. What comes next is “Fool’s Paradise”, one of the many party songs in there and an altogether fun track with a funky beat and, well, trumpets, obviously.
“Help Me” is a darker, moodier song, that is, until the surprising, explosive gospel chorus which will either make or break the song for you. It’s a weird Blues Brothers-style direction to take it but a few, less cynical peeps will be pleasantly surprised, I’m sure.
Another party song is “No One Lives Forever”, and although it’s also darker in tone, it remains a playfully macabre, entertaining song with a truly nutty build-up. That one’s definitely one of the most cartoonish songs on the album, much like “Same Man I Was Before”, a goofy, march-rhythmed track that grows on you and is tons of fun if you let it get in your head. Another song that won’t necessarily grab you straight away but which should definitely grow on you over time is “Heard Somebody Cry”, a more dancey tune which follows “Dead Man’s Party”.
As an album, Dead Man’s Party is short and sweet, bringing in some of the band’s best work without wasting a second, never delivering anything less than the best you’d expect from Oingo Boingo.
One of their best albums, if not their best, and an unavoidable piece of poppy New Wave ska which more than deserves its 5 Ziggies out of 5.