Friday, September 12, 2014

WA WA NEE-Wa Wa Nee (1986)

ORIGINAL POSTING DATE: September 12, 2014

Back to Aussieland and back to the 80's—two of my favorite places to go to when it comes to serving up good tunes from my pop music collection. It seems like ages ago—actually, it was ages ago—when I had first gotten hip to the cool bunch that called itself WA WA NEE. But it doesn't seem like ages ago the last time I heard any of their music prior to this week.....unless you count about six or seven years ago as being 'ages'? Still, a long time. At any rate, the mentioning of a familiar artist from my yesterdays is typically all the motivation I need to dig up some old favorite tunes to enjoy while giving that familiar artist a bit of spotlight here at "The Music Spectrum", and that's what happened now as I present WA WA NEE's self-titled debut. Self-titled plus, I should say, as yours truly has, as usual, gone above and beyond to include the B-sides to all of the original singles taken from this album. But before indulging in all of the extras, there's plenty of good stuff contained within the original ten-track playlist. The hit that every WA WA NEE fan knows and loves so much: "Sugar Free", which very well may have been the very first of their hits I'd ever heard. Doesn't take long to get swallowed into the song's extremely catchy funk/pop beat, of which the sweetest part being those synthesized vamps—there's like five of them—that put an exclamation point at the end of every pass of the main chorus. It just makes you wanna dance! Four-and-a-half minutes not long enough? I've got yo covered with the pair of extended mixes included in the bonus pack. And every WA WA NEE fan knows and loves this other memorable tune: "Stimulation". How's this one for 'stimulating' the 80's pop music senses? Praises to the production for creating something else infectiously catchy that always makes me want to dance! Had to offer up the 7+ minute extended mix for this one as well. Unless you were a true WA WA NEE follower, you might not have recalled the album's other tunes. I admittedly didn't hear tunes like the opener, "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)", and "Gone" until I got my own copy, but you know what? They sound great, too! I really like the high voice of lead singer Paul Gray on "One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)" while the appeal for "Gone" lies in the monotonic, repetitive chanting of the title itself in the lyrics that somehow hooks me to the music all the way through to the end when the beat drops out completely. It may have one of the more bizarre titles on this album, but "Jelly Baby" is a hidden gem in disguise. Has a pleasant ambient feel to it, given the graceful rhythm and the lofty background vocals chiming together, yet at the same time, it still feels so 80's to me. And me always being one to like songs with long, drawn-out instrumental sequences, I felt right at home with "Love Reaction", another hidden gem that really puts the easy in the listening with the soft piano and whatever stringed device is being delicately strummed. And you gotta love this other favorite of mine, too: "When The World Is Not A Home". Something attractive about the beat and the melody just strikes a chord with me, which is simply more evidence that I'm forever attached to Aussie pop production. Now let me ramble somewhat about the bonus freebies I alluded to earlier. My favorite of all of WA WA NEE's B-sides is "Meela Polarmay"—more specifically, the near 6+ minute extended mix. I just love the twinkly melody, that spacey synthesizing going on and that deep, suspenseful beat creeping beneath the haunting melody and the ghostly, angelic background vocals—creates such a beautiful atmosphere. And you know what? I never quite paid much attention to the lyrics of this song; I don't even know what 'Meela Polarmay' is in reference to, but it's probably a person? I'll leave that for you other WA WA NEE-ers out there to answer. "Wild Days And Windy Nights": another I could classify into that weird/unusual category. It's a slow number with an uncanny rhythm that seems designed for live theater a stage production.....for Halloween no less! Well, it's not that scary, but it does have this dark, unsettling feel about it, thanks to Paul's quivering voice and the chilling instrumental accompaniment. Always nice to see some experimentation and variety, and that's what you get with "Rubber Cookie" (hmmm—'sugar' and 'cookies' on the same album?), something else that I personally pick from the batch of B-side because I like that cool calypso and that woodwind playing along with the beat (what's up with that demonic laughing at the very end?). There's twenty tracks here altogether, so you have enough pop to bop to 'til you drop and pick up the album again:

1. One And One (Ain't I Good Enough)
2. Teacher
3. Stimulation
4. Jelly Baby
5. Gone
6. Sugar Free
7. When The World Is A Home
8. Manchild
9. Love Reaction
10. I Could Make You Love Me

*****BONUS TRACKS*****

11. Meela Polarmay [Extended Mix]
12. Headlines
13. Wild Days And Windy Nights
14. Mind Over Matter
15. Playtime
16. Rubber Cookie
17. Sugar Free [Extended Dub]
18. Sugar Free [Extended Mix]
19. Sugar Free [Single Mix]
20. Stimulation [Extended Mix]

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