Music Review: The Vapors


If you listened to rock in 1980, you remember the song "Turning Japanese". It came across as something of a novelty song, and the group that did it certainly suffered under the one-hit-wonder label. Way back then, my brother bought their first album New Clear Days, and I liked the whole thing. The Vapors weren't the apotheosis of music, but they did have a moodiness that caught my ear. Their second and final album Magnets wasn't as good, but it did have some tunes that I remembered even though I only heard them a few times ("Jimmie Jones", "Spiders").

To my recent surprise, I found that New Clear Days was now available on CD. Since I've been filling in the holes in my New Wave collection, it was a must. Pleasantly enough, it's as good as I remembered. The CD, Anthology, also contains four tracks from Magnets.

The moodiness is still there. "Bunkers" reminds me of J. G. Ballard's writing; the narrator seems to live in a depopulated and anarchic world. Even though the CD contains lyrics to most songs, some of it is still opaque ("Sixty Second Interval").

The real treat is the bonus songs. "Magnets" is a slow, heartfelt song about (of all things) the Kennedy assassination. It works. "Spiders" and "Jimmie Jones" are still creepy fun. "Live at the Marquee" isn't quite there, but it was nice to hear a contemporary reference to video games.

All in all, a treat, and a good deal too at about $12.00. Hey, it's from One Way Records, the same folks who put out the Blotto compilation CD. I wonder what other forgotten gems they're going to re-release.

Last updated 8 June 2000
All contents ©1998-2002 Mark L. Irons