Monday, April 30, 2007

Lost Innocents

Awhile back, I wrote a dedicatory blog about The Rockets, a band I had only recently discovered. This time around I need to pay cyber-homage to The Innocents, and band I never get tired of...and probably one of the best bands you never heard of.

Like the other dozen or so people who bought The Innocents' lone LP in 1982, I first became aware of the band via a television show about them. I think it may have been a "20/20" special, but the basic premise of the program was to follow the band from club dates through a label signing to making their album. This mini-bio comes from AllMusic, written by Stephen Schnee:

This quirky new wave band found initial fame as the subject of a 1982 TV documentary that chronicled the life of a new band, following them from the clubs straight through signing a major label deal. Unfortunately, the initial interest quickly waned and the band found itself ridiculed by the same industry that initially embraced it. Fronted by vocalist Michael Hurt and featuring keyboardist Tommy Newman, lead guitarist Tony Kowalski, drummer Chris Kaye, and bassist Marten Ingle, The Innocents were, in reality, a talented and very creative band that mixed pop sensibilities and new wave quirkiness and created an original sound that no one before or since has managed to duplicate. Once the band split, the only member to attain any kind of notoriety was Newman, being part of the legendary Newman family of film composers (which also includes Randy). Under the name Thomas Newman, he's gone on to be nominated for numerous Academy Awards for many of his film scores.

I agree wholeheartedly with Schnee's assessment of the group; I never found them to be particularly "quirky," but their mix of pop and new wave was definitely combined with an unmistakable Devo-like hollowness. The first two songs rip into this sound right away: both Stop Shooting Up Stars and Directly From The Heart pound and thrust with an urgency that was poppy, but not necessarily radio-friendly. Track 3, Hold My Hand, is a tender ballad that nevertheless manages to feed this established urgent fire by crashing into the pre-chorus with a plaintive howl of pure sexuality: "Dontcha like messin' around, around, around? Dontcha like feelin' your heart begin to pound?" This same idea is presented once again in a later up-tempo number, Twisted Kiss, when vocalist Hurt insists that "She shakes when she's in my arms, trembles when she's next to me, ohh and that's a message of love!"

Side 2 of the album is a little more diverse, but still delivers a cohesive "Innocents" sound. Backseat Of My Car is perhaps the most like Side 1, with its lightning-fast chorus delivery. Sob Story and You Gotta Cry are both quasi-50's tunes, not so much in the way of production as the hollow sound of Hurt's voice and the throbbing 12/8 "stroll" feel. Without Time is a return to form, the repetitive cry of the chorus satisfyingly memorable.

And what of the players themselves? Thomas Newman is certainly the most high-profile Innocent; a prolific film composer, he's been nominated for Academy Awards for everything from The Green Mile to American Beauty to Shawshank Redemption. Bassist Marten Ingle hasn't disappeared either, keeping active in the music world by playing and touring with a variety of musicians in Europe. Of the other three members...well, I don't know. I Googled each, but was only able to find their names connected with the single album. They're probably all living "normal" lives now, rarely bothering to think of "that band I was in once." Don't worry, guys; you're not forgotten by at least ONE person out here who thinks that your lone LP was brilliant. Every time I sing along to "d-i-r-e-c-t-l-y, yeah baby!" your music lives on. Especially since a newly-acquired USB turntable has allowed me to transfer a happily found virgin copy of your album onto a CD. And the rest of you, reading this? Go out there and find a copy of this great, great music. You may have to hunt a little bit, but you'll be happy when you get it home & listen.


Blogger L*I*S*A said...

I'll have to check 'em out...

5:26 PM  
Blogger kat said...

This is what I call a persuasive essay.

Do tell - who's the next Newman brother you'll write about?

7:35 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

Argh! Your post sounded dangerously close to all the Concert Reviews I JUST finished grading! No worries. I didn't find any grammatical errors, but you could have mentioned a few more of the musical elements and terms we learned in class. Someone please stop me!!!

5:48 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

good stuff, thanks

sorry i had a few days to catch up on.

i love the anonymous reply, easy for anominity to throw out crap, but leave no real way to create a dialogue, they must be from Quebec!!! it's a canadian thing

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have this album in storage and have been searching high and low for a CD or cassette, as my turntable broke years ago. Hold My Hand remains one of my all-time favorites.

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As another lover of this band, I hope you won't mind my post. I also watched that special and got the album. The show actually was a special for NBC when they were bringing back the peacock as their network logo/mascot. I've been pondering a way to convert it to CD or to my MP3 player, having held onto it all these years. I am very jealous of you and your USB turntable. I still have "Directly From the Heart" running through my mind. Thanks for your post!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous EMA IV said...

I had the album and lost it long ago. I recently found a taped copy I made YEARS ago and have about playedit todeath. I also really liked the band having seen them in the TV show when I was a freshman in college.

Thereis a My spacepage dedicatedto the band with four streaming songs available.


8:35 PM  
Anonymous TL Hines said...

Count me as one of the 11 other people who bought the album. After watching the documentary on television in1982, I was immediately taken with the band's sound; I called my local radio station in Kalispell, Montana and asked them to play "anything by 'The Innocents'". Their reply: "The what?"

All these years later, they still stick in my head, and I find myself occasionally doing web searches for them every so often (which is how I found your post). My original LP is long gone, and I've often wished I could get a digital copy somehow.

11:28 AM  
Blogger bazookajones said...

This is an awesome band and a fantastic album. It has a hyper-sound like SEX, CAFFINE AND ROCK AND ROLL! They are now on MySpace as well at:
I would love to see some of the television special (Rock And Roll Dreams) show up on YouTube. Spread the word...The Innocents deserve it!

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys MUST check-out the Innocents fanpage on MySpace!!! {}.
And leave a comment if you've a mind.
Please & Thank You

10:52 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

This album is BEYOND great. Every song is a gem, and even though I lost my copy long ago during one of many cross-country moves, I've never forgotten those songs. What I would give to track down another copy.


8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lead singer was Michael Hurt (Michael Convertino). He is also quite an accomplished composer and has written a number of film scores. But you are right...the album was great! Still is.

1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also remember the documentary on this group and went out and bought the album. I'm sure I still have it (somehwere) too. Just wish I had a way of making a clean CD of the music.

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I thought I was the only one after all these years to love these guys. I was in the record store and this was playing. I bought the album. I memorized every word, every beat, every breath. My album copy is long gone now. I wish I could get it on CD. Where are the guys after all this time? They were so awesome. Before their time really. What an impact they made on this teenage girl. I still find myself singing one of their long remembered songs from time to time. Thank you The Innocents - where ever you are!

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just found this ancient blog post after Googling The Innocents. Since seeing the documentary in 1982, and immediately buying the album, the songs which I must have burned into my memory still pop into my consciousness from time to time. I was having a "whatever happened to" moment and was surprised to actually find some info. You're right about Thomas Newman, but lead singer Michael Hurt aka Michael Convertino also became a very successful film scorer. With Tommy's Hollywood connections, which were never made apparent in the documentary that I recall, it's really no wonder the band was signed. They probably could have made a go of it, but I get the sense they got bored and wanted to move on to bigger and better things.

10:40 PM  
Blogger The Moviequill said...

if you have any updates on that NBC special please email me as I'd love to see it again

11:43 AM  
Blogger Sam L. Parity said...

Somebody please post the NBC special already! Or let me know how I can get a copy. Love to see it again.

7:29 AM  
Blogger aword said...

American composer Michael Convertino graduated from Yale University, and furthered his musical career studying at the Paris Conservatoire, where he was a member of a successful jazz band, before returning to America in the early 1980s. He achieved a degree of fame as the lead singer of the 80s rock band The Innocents, before turning to film in 1984. He made his film music debut writing music for director Tim Burton's short "Frankenweenie", and scored his first major feature two years later, the critically acclaimed drama "Children of a Lesser God" for director Randa Haines. He went on to write music for a number of critically and commercially successful films, including "Bull Durham" (1988), "The Doctor" (1991), "The Santa Clause" (1994), "Guarding Tess" (1994), "Milk Money" (1994), "Bed of Roses" (1996), "Jungle 2 Jungle" (1997) and "Dance With Me" (1998). In recent years, however, and for no apparent reason, Convertino has virtually vanished from the international scoring scene, having scored only a handful of minor movies since the turn of the millennium, and with nothing of significance on the horizon.

11:41 PM  
Blogger Clifo said...

For all to enjoy. This is and was a fantastic record released on a fantastic label ran by a fantastic man.

The Innocents 1982 Boardwalk Entertainment (320kbps)
Download link:

The Innocents 1982 Boardwalk Entertainment (320kbps).zip

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought this album when I was 14, still have it. I remember it like it was yesterday. Or maybe wishful thinking?

12:16 AM  

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