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Wall of Voodoo was a New Wave band in The Eighties. Formed in Los Angeles in 1977, the band had two line-ups: one with Stan Ridgway as singer, another with Andy Prieboy. The band's earlier sound (less so on the later albums) could be described as Something Completely Different, not unlike Devo. But instead of electronic dance music, their style was "Ennio Morricone meets New Wave". They made two original hits, "Mexican Radio" and "Far Side of Crazy".
The first main line-up, with Stan Ridgway on vocals, also had Marc Moreland (guitar), Bruce Moreland (bass, synthesizer), Chas T. Gray (synthesizer, vocals), and Joe Nanini (percussion). The band also extensively used a drum machine to back them up on albums and in live performances, with Nanini usually adding fills on old pots and pans, cowbells, and various percussive toys. This line-up (sans Bruce, who would return after the personnel change) would record the song, "Mexican Radio"
In 1983, after a performance at the US Festival, Stan and Joe jumped ship. Stan would go on to make an impressive solo career for himself, with his latest album released in 2010. He collaborated with Stewart Copeland on several occasions; e.g., the Rumble Fish soundtrack.
After Ridgway's departure, Marc and Chas struggled to keep the band alive. Luckily, Andy Prieboy and drummer Ned Leukhardt joined up and the band released a new album, Seven Days in Sammystown, then two more, the last one being a live album.
After the last LP, the band got dropped by the label. Though most of the members faded into relative obscurity, Andy decided to continue. In 1990 he released "... Upon My Wicked Son", which consisted mostly of songs he wrote for WOV, with Ned on drums and Marc playing guitar on some of the tracks. After that, Andy released two more albums (the latest in 2010) and wrote the musical White Trash Wins Lotto. He wrote an original hit, "Tomorrow Wendy".
Original drummer Joe Nanini passed away in 2000 of a brain hemorrhage
Guitarist Marc Moreland passed in 2002 after complications from a liver transplant. However, he managed to record his own solo record, "Take It To the Spotlight", shortly before that. He was also the guitarist for the one-shots "Pretty and Twisted" and "Department of Crooks".
Both Stan Ridgway and Andy Prieboy are still active, as of 2011. They performed together on Andy's song "Shine" (Stan was on harmonica).
Bruce Moreland formed a new band, "Ravens Moreland", and has been releasing records since 2007.
Wall of Voodoo were signed to the I.R.S. label.
- Wall of Voodoo EP (1980), later reissued on a CD with nine bonus tracks.
- Dark Continent (1981)
- Call of the West (1982)
- Seven Days in Sammystown (1985)
- Happy Planet (1987)
- Ugly Americans in Australia (live) (1989)
The band had provided examples of the following:
- Appropriated Appellation: They're named for a comment made by Stan Ridgway's friend Joe Berardi about some of the soundtrack work Ridgway and Marc Moreland had done together. Ridgway jokingly compared the material to Phil Spector's Wall Of Sound, and Berardi responded that it sounded more like a "wall of voodoo".
- Black Sheep Hit: When line up #1 recorded "Mexican Radio", they had no idea that song would be that successful.
- Concept Album: Call of the West was loosely themed around the search for America's Wild West; Happy Planet was mostly a tribute for the nostalgia and optimism of 50's and 60's.
- New Sound Album: Seven Days in Sammystown, the very first album recorded after Stan's departure.
- One-Hit Wonder: "Mexican Radio" actually missed the US Top 40, peaking at #58 (which was, coincidentally, the same peak it achieved in the UK). Nonetheless, it remains the band's most popular song and their only major chart appearance in their native US. The Prieboy-led "Far Side of Crazy" did quite well in Australia.
- Shout-Out: Happy Planet does that to Brian Wilson and Elvis Presley, among others.
- Updated Rerelease: The Index Masters is a re-issue of their first EP, with 9 bonus tracks.
- X Meets Y: Line up #1: Henry Mancini meets New Wave. Line up #2: New Wave meets Country.