Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Bongos - Numbers With Wings

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Numbers With Wings, the third EP from the Bongos. Hailing from New Jersey, the group consisted of Richard Barone (vocals and guitar), James Mastro (guitar), Frank Giannini (drums) and Rob Norris (bass).

The title track “Numbers With Wings” opens side one. Released as a single, this pop song has rich harmonies and a steady beat. It topped the College Music Journal charts for six consecutive weeks in 1984. I first discovered it on a new-wave music collection from Rhino Records that I picked up in the mid-90’s.

“Tiger Nights” opens with a simple guitar accompaniment, followed by the rest of the band joining in on the second verse. Don’t let that “false ending” catch you off-guard at the 3:35 mark; there is another forty seconds of instrumental fade out.

Side two begins with “Barbarella”, a song likely inspired by the early 1960‘s comics by French sci-fi author Jean-Claude Forest (which in turn was made into a 1968 film by the same name starring Jane Fonda). I like how the tribal drums go from one speaker to another on this one. Later CD and digital releases of the album included a dance remix version of this track.

The mid-tempo “Skydiving” was the B-side to the single.

The slower, seducing “Sweet Blue Cage” closes out the record.

From what I read, fans of the band did not like this new direction that the band was taking with this release. I had not heard any of their earlier stuff (yet); I knew the Bongos, as I noted above, just from the title track of this EP. However, upon my first listen to the rest of Numbers With Wings, I have to say this is definitely the kind of 80’s pop-rock that I totally enjoy. For a couple dollars, I am definitely going to pick up these tracks.

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