Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Motels - No Vacancy (the best of the Motels)


It's funny we're reviewing this as lead singer Martha Davis has been staring at me from a picture hanging in our kitchen for almost as long as Mine and YourZ (truly) have been together.  But I've been told this is all I can say about the picture as the story of why belongs to Mine (better to do as I'm told than risk another beating). (Mine says: glad to see you're finally getting the message)

I have fond memories of The Motels, associated with being in an early eighties covers band in which we played Total Control.  The song was always a winner with the audience.  In fact, it was one of those tracks we could rely on to get the audience up and dancing, even though it was kind of slow.  Don't ask me why, though.

I'm actually surprised by how many tracks off No Vacancy I'm familiar with, given that I've never had anything more than a passing interest in the band.  Quite a few of these songs were played a lot on radio and music television in Australia in the early eighties, as The Motels, for some reason, struck a chord with the general public and were quite popular here.  These tracks sound quite dated now but in the same way The Cars tracks sound a little dated.  Unlike The Cars, though, I don't think I'll be revisiting this album in a hurry.



The picture hanging on the wall of our kitchen was taken on the night of 11 November, 1980, when I saw the Motels live for the first time.  I went along with a group of friends (Hi Deb and Karen!) and we'd declared the day National Motels Day, skipping school and consuming lashings of rose, our favoured drink of the time.
The details of how we spent the time between then and the actual concert has blurred, but I remember being terrified I'd be carded at the door - it was a licensed venue and I was four days off my 18th birthday.  Deb and I knew all the words to the songs bar one - which wasn't on either their self-titled debut album or the follow-up, Careful.

It remained the best night of my life for some time, which is why I took the opportunity to buy the photo some months later.  I'm sad it's faded over the years, and wish I'd spent that extra bit of money I didn't have at the time to buy the framed print, rather than the laminated board.  So if anyone knows if photographer Steve Nebauer still has the negatives from that night, maybe they could drop me a line?  I have more cash these days.

Martha Davis was a personal hero of mine.  She wasn't a teeny-bopper goo-goo doll, she was a real woman fronting a real band writing real songs - much like another hero of mine, Debbie Harry of Blondie.  For that, and because those songs are still as fresh in my mind 30 years later, this album is always staying with me.

VERDICT: TURN IT UP (Celia, see what you've done...)

For more information: http://www.themotels.com/

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