Flipping through the mounds of vinyl during a recent trip my local Salvation Army store, a couple of records caught my eye. These were two albums I had never seen or heard of before, and they didn’t seem to meet the standard criteria for thrift store record bin finds (i.e. Barbara Streisand, 101 Strings Orchestra, Herb Alpert, Perry Como etc.).Just by looking at the covers I safely assumed they were from the 1980’s. The bold colors, geometric shapes, and angular division of space displayed on both covers are all graphic elements typical of not only 1980’s design, but of New Wave music in particular. I listen to a lot of music from this era and I’ve spent a lot of time sifting through dusty piles of records, and I didn’t know either of these albums. So after determining that both were in good, playable condition, I paid the cashier my $2 and eagerly took them home.
My first listen was the Scott Wilk & The Walls self-titled album. It was released in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by what I heard. I really wasn’t expecting much out of either of these records, but this sounded pretty good, especially at first listen. The singer is trying a little too hard to sound like Elvis Costello, but the music has a slightly different edge than what The Attractions were putting out at the time this record was released. Overall it’s a really good sounding record, but I guess the world only needed one Elvis Costello, because the band never released another album.
Next up was Contact You, by the band Fay Ray, released in 1982 by Elektra/Asylum Records. I liked this record even better than the first one. They’ve got great female vocals (akin to Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxie & The Banshees) and a far more punk-influenced guitar sound. Like Scott Wilk & The Walls, Fay Ray only released one album (a second was recorded, but scrapped by their label and never released). This is a very catchy album. Every time I listen to it I’m amazed the band never got more recognition. But there is something to be said about bands that put out that one good record, leaving people wondering about “what could have been.”