[Part six of the New Music from the Past 30 Years series]
This one may seem obvious at first because of the popularity of Danny Elfman and the films for which he’s done soundtrack work. But prior to Elfman’s involvement and exclusive turn to scoring, he created many absolutely fantastic and timeless albums under the name Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo and, simply, Oingo Boingo.
I can’t say where I first heard them, although it very well may have been their Budweiser ad…
The song, though made for Bud, was really a knock-off of “Who Do You Want to Be Today?” – a frentic, angry, exciting sweat-fest of a dance punk song… with horns!
In the 80s and early 90s, I had several opportunities to see Oingo Boingo live and each show was simply insane. Danny Elfman has a stage presence that I’ve never seen since. He can turn any event and every song into a frightening, intense event that makes you feel like he’s just teasing you… “this is the last song you may ever hear… before I kill you!!!”
It was also at an Oingo Boingo show in Milwaukee that I had one of those concert occurrences that you only read about in Rolling Stone.
I had gone to the show with my friend Steve and his then girlfriend (now wife) Afton. We were in the front row and were having a blast. Danny Elfman was mesmerizing and seemed to be playing the show strictly for us. It was almost as if he was singing only to us.
Well, close. After the show, a roadie type grabbed the three of us and asked us if we’d like to go backstage to meet the band. OK, so he was singing to us… kind of. In fact, he was singing to Afton. Not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t dragged the stiffs along.
As it was, we went backstage and had a good time. There was a big slice of chocolate cake that, no surprise to anyone who knows me, I went straight for and devoured. And hence, my entry into the annals of Boingo history as Danny Elfman entered the room and almost immediately asked “Who the hell ate my cake?” I sheepishly wiped the excess chocolate off my mouth and we exited into the alley.
I had first row center for every Boingo show after that, but I never got asked backstage. He was probably holding a grudge about the cake.
Oingo Boingo made a series of fantastic albums with ethnic percussion, driving horns, strange noises and Danny Elfman’s dare-you-to-turn-it-off vocals. Check out the albums Nothing to Fear and Good For Your Soul. I think you’ll find they’ll fit right in to your 2008 collection and still sound like nothing else.
Here’s “Grey Matter” live. This should serve as both a sample of their best music and a slight glimpse into the madness that is Danny Elfman.