Come On – New York City 1976-80

Come On
New York City 1976-80

A friend of mine is a serious 80’s music fan. Oh sure, he listens to more up-to-date music as well, but he has a fixation with the 80’s. In fact, he goes out of his way to buy albums of commercial jingles from that decade. I didn’t mind 80’s music in the 80’s – then it was modern. Today, it’s hideously retro, and I fear its relevance only lies in how it inspired the music we listen to today. In the face of that, Come On, a rock band that played in the late 70’s and early 80’s, sent this album to be reviewed, apparently with the hope of reviving interest.
The band comes across as sounding like they were trying a bit too hard to be The Talking Heads. Sure, the Heads were a good band, and they managed to adapt their sound throughout the years, changing often. But they were more than a quirky band, and that’s why they managed to create such great pop songs. In 1978 (and the 80’s when they played), Come On were stuck in the early stages, when it was cool to be quirky like the Heads and Devo. They list David Byrne, David Bowie and Brian Eno as big supporters at the time, and Thurston Moore and Klaus Nomi as similar fans. Of course, that doesn’t make them any more relevant today.
All that makes this album a little bit difficult to listen to today. We’re not really used to hearing this style of pop music anymore. But that’s not to say that Come On were bad. There’s a killer guitar riff throughout the fun “Old People,” which has the singer sounding perilously like David Byrne. And “Don’t Walk On the Kitchen Floor,” despite its ludicrous lyrics (did lyrics matter in the 80’s?) is a fun song with a rocking beat, and “Housewives Play Tennis” is very Devo-esque. There’s even a disco-soul feel in “Howard After Six.” “Bad Luck With Parents” has a bit of a bluesy feel to the guitar and a Cars rhythm. But, quite honestly, most of these songs are silly, and some downright ludicrous.
So why are the members of Come On pushing this group of 16 odd 80’s pop songs more than 20 years later? Perhaps it’s because the 80’s are coming back. Look at the popularity of boy bands and the proliferation of keyboards in rock music. David Bowie and David Byrne are still making music, but their music has adapted throughout the years. And that’s what makes this so startling today, because we’re hearing it as it was then. Is it still relevant? I’d say no. This would be better for fans of early Talking Heads and Devo who want to dig up some early bands for their 80’s revival parties.