On a 'Mission of Mercy'

I don’t know why, but I thought you good people maybe needed to hear some Motels today. No bonus points if you’re thinking, “Yeah, I don’t know why, either.”

The first time I heard the Motels was on a TV show that used to air late night – either Friday or Saturday, I forget – on one of the non-major networks in Los Angeles. This show, which was only on for maybe a season, ran pre-MTV videos from new wave and punk bands. I remember seeing things from bands like the Buzzcocks and wondering why the radio wasn’t playing this stuff.

Anyway, that show was my introduction to the Motels. I think the song was probably “Whose Problem,” from the band’s 1980 debut disk, Careful. I can tell you for sure I was fascinated with Martha Davis, the Motels’ singer. She seemed to put out a femme fatale image that, at the time, totally captivated me.

As the 80s rolled on, the Motels became more new wavy and less edgy. By the time of their last album, 1985's Shock, the band had become almost an electronic pop-dance band (Richie Zito, of Giorgio Moroder fame, produced it). I bought that album and ended up promptly giving it away.

The Motels’ biggest selling album was All Four One, released in 1982. The story behind All Four One is that this was actually a re-recorded version of an earlier album – Apocalypso – the band’s label wouldn’t release. Wanting to stretch the limits as to what they could do artistically and musically, the Motels recorded darker and heavier music than what was on their debut. The results were mixed: While arrangements on some tracks were outstanding, others were too experimental and not as well produced (guitarist Tim McGovern was also handling some of the production chores). When they turned the tapes over to Capitol, the label rejected the album, saying it was “not commercial.”

McGovern left the band shortly after, and the Motels returned to the studio with Val Garay. He was able to reform the material into something more viable to Capitol, and on April 5, 1982, All Four One was finally released.

Mission of Mercy.mp3

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At 3:55 AM , Blogger jellyrollfortheearhole said...

As I remember, the debut was the eponymous "Motels:" A brilliant piece of work. The single from that one was Total Control which wasn't even one of the album's better songs. For me, nothing that came after was even close. Though, Mission of Mercy rocked like a mofo.
Thanks for the blog and posting this.


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