Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Danny Elfman - So-Lo

Today (November 11th) marks the thirtieth anniversary of So-Lo, the appropriately titled only solo studio album from Oingo Boingo’s Danny Elfman. Even though most of the band played on the record, it was not marketed as an Oingo Boingo album so that they could get around a dispute between the band and their label A&M Records. So-Lo was released by MCA Records.

Unlike Oingo Boingo’s ska-based sound, this record features songs that were more like the mainstream synthpop sound of 1984.

Side one begins with “Gratitude”, a single that also appeared on the soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop towards the end of the year. It opens with a jaunty synth riff before bringing in a steady dance beat. I like the guitar solo here as well. The song really gets the record going on the right note.

“Cool City” continues the party with this urban story set to a frantic, new-wave rhythm.

Things slow down a bit with the next track “Go Away”, a song about heartbreak and loneliness. The extended instrumental intro is very nice.

“Sucker for Mystery” is a quirky dance track that makes effective use of repeated phrases thoughout.

Side two starts with “It Only Makes Me Laugh” which is the only ska track on the album. I have always liked the vocal harmonies on this number, especially during the opening. The lyrics remind us that sometimes when life kicks us around that we just have laugh it off. This one saw me through a number of hard times during the 80’s.

The mid-tempo “Last Time” shows a bit of an eastern influence in the music on the verses, while the chorus has a broader rock sound. The combination of the two play well off one another.

“Tough as Nails” was released on the B-side to the “Gratitude” single. The song about a volatile individual features a gritty jazz-funk sound to it. The horns are my favorite part on this one.

“Lightning” is a very charged song, with a quick beat and vocals on point. It was written with Elfman’s energetic style in mind.

The record closes with the tension building “Everybody Needs”.

As an Oingo Boingo fan, I owned a copy of So-Lo on vinyl, bought during my sophomore year of college. It later become one of those 80’s records I had forgotten about when I got rid of my vinyl in the late 90’s. A number of years back, I picked up a copy on CD and have again got to enjoy it as part of my digital library.

For more from Elfman and Oingo Boing, click here.

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