Why You Should Like… Missing Persons

Missing Persons

With her candyfloss hair, plastic bra and squealing, Betty Boop vocal histrionics, Dale Bozzio was New Wave personified, but such a figure overshadowed the songwriting and musical chops of the rest of Missing Persons, formed by Frank Zappa sidemen Terry Bozzio and Warren Cuccurullo. You love “Destination Unknown,” but why should you like the rest of Missing Persons? The evidence, please:

New Wave’s Best Musicians: Drummer Terry and guitarist Warren honed their craft under Zappa for years, and there probably wasn’t a more demanding taskmaster. That’s why Missing Persons were the tightest band in New Wave, able to stop and turn on a dime. When keyboardist Chuck Wild added evocative sequences and space-age synth flourishes, the result was ferocious, especially live. In fact, the band chose not to lipsynch in their video for “Words,” and instead performed live, not only matching the studio version in precision, but surpassing it:

The group’s live shows were nearly legendary, and the near punk-rock velocity of “Mental Hopscotch (Live 1981)” (download) shows a band at its peak, giving critics notice that this wasn’t just another bunch of New Romantic posers (although there was plenty of that, too!).

New Wave’s Best Rhythm Section: With the later addition of bassist Patrick O’Hearn, Missing Persons could then boast the best rhythm section in New Wave, just edging out Duran’s Taylors. Nowhere was this more showcased than on the band’s second full-length LP, Rhyme & Reason, and especially on that album’s single, “Give (Extended Version),” (download) where O’Hearn pops and thumps against Bozzio’s combo of programmed and live drums, creating a completely separate melody in the process.

The band’s third LP, Color In Your Life, took these Chic-isms to the next level with none other than Bernard Edwards producing. Edwards toned down Dale’s yelping, forcing her to control herself in a lower register which showcased more of the songwriting and musicianship. “I Can’t Think About Dancin'” (download) is a stellar example of the “mature” Missing Persons, but amidst all this maturity something was … Missing.

For all the critical stick Dale took for her look and vocal acrobatics, those coos and yelps were an essential part of Missing Persons. Color suffered by sanding all her edges off, but there were still some gems such as the title track, “Color In Your Life” (download) where Dale got to cut loose a bit and show that she was just as important as the big-name musos backing her up

Their Crowning Moment: The lead track on their first album, Spring Session M, “Noticeable One,” (download) is the quintessential Missing Persons track, an ode to celebrity with a vicious performance from the band. It’s the hit that should have been.

Shockingly, all three Missing Persons albums are out of print on CD, while Spring Session M is still available on iTunes. Used copies of Rhyme & Reason fetch $200 on Amazon, if you can believe it. An ignoble fate for a band that deserves much better.

For Fans Of: No Doubt, Lene Lovich, Berlin

Get Missing Persons music at Amazon or on Missing Persons




  • http://www.nanafunk.com Titsley Tecate

    if you need more reasons, the girl shows her boobs and the guy shows his ding dong

  • JohnHughes

    Each very impressive.

  • Darren

    I remember buying the first EP sight unseen at my local hardware store, taking it home and being blown away. I also remember playing it over the phone for my buddy, who flipped. I mean, if you've ever had somebody try playing you something over the phone, you know how hard it is to be blown away…but the MP's did it, man.

    Also, I thought Dale toned it down quite a bit for Rhyme and Reason, using her lower register to great effect on standout tracks like Surrender Your Heart.

    Aside from the title cut, Color In Your Life was completely useless, as were the songs tacked onto the album after Dale had been sacked. That's right, the band actually tried to soldier on without her. How'd that work out, you ask?

  • http://www.bullz-eye.com DavidMedsker

    I'm glad you included that video version of “Words.” You're dead right, it blows the album version out of the water. And “Mental Hopscotch” still kicks ass.

  • http://mostlymodernmedia.wordpress.com Beau

    I wonder how many of the people revering Terry Bozzio as a drum deity now even realize he once played in a pop band with his wife.

    And how good that band was.

  • :::theroux

    I heard *that*
    Nothing beats a man with a horse cock and an electric gee-tar!

  • :::theroux

    “Give” was brilliant, so very under-rated. I love that frantic part that comes right after “you've got to give, a little bit more-ore” budah-buh-dum-bump/buhdah-buh-dum-bump. Orgasmic!

  • http://dbreakdown.blogspot.com DDay

    Wow… To be honest, I never knew much about Missing Persons. The first time I heard of Dale was through my Prince-obsession… I got her solo-album 'Riot In English' and Simon Simon was a hit over here (Belgium, Europe), but never really gave her much attention. And now I find out there's a Zappa-link? Hmm, why didn't that last name trigger anything… I must pay closer attention to liner notes from now on :-)
    Anyway, thanks for enlightening me!

  • Fudgester

    But does it tell me why I should like them? is a great rhthym section enough? I always preferred sloppy myself.

  • JohnHughes

    Well, there are all those songs and stuff.

  • Elaine

    I always thought “Walking in L.A.” was one of the best pop songs ever. And I like their version of “Hello, I Love You” better than The Doors'zz. Mrs. Bozzio might have had her singing limitations, but the sound was very recognizable. Like you said, the band wasn't Missing Persons without her distinctive yelping. Didn't Josie Cotton kinda try to copy it?

  • jsd

    I've been a fan of MP since I saw “Words” on MTV back in 82. My iPod is never without a copy of Spring Session M. (It may be out of print on CD but you can buy the mp3's from amazon).

    At the time it seemed like nobody was prepared to take them seriously due to Dale's hiccuping vocal style, which is weird when you think about the other crimes against music being perpetrated in the name of pop/new wave, but whatever. I'm glad there are still people who enjoy their music. I'm a fan for life!

  • Ron DIngleberry

    I think Gwen Stefani owes Dale a check or something for gimmick infringement :P

  • http://creepyeepy.blogspot.com Chris X

    or how about the fact that he'd been playing with Korn recently?

    And how bad THAT band is.

    Yikes.

  • No Otis Able Won

    It is just me, or does the “Noticable One” music track sound a little like Oingo Boingo playing Foreigner?

    Which, surprisingly, is not a bad thing.

  • Pete

    Her outfit is the best new wave getup ever. As classic as those early tunes.

  • Ray

    Absolutely LOVE Missing Persons! Had the EP and Spring Session M on vinyl and made sure I got the One-Way CD (with a few bonus tracks) issue during the relatively short time it was available. The Capitol CLASSIC MASTERS series is a decent compilation collection and well worth adding to your music library. Oh and psssssst… the band also appeared in the 1980 throwaway comedy flick LUNCH WAGON (some VHS copies spring up on eBay every now and then, doubt if it will ever make it to DVD though).

  • http://www.lstyrsmdl.com Model-001

    IT'S TRUE… Missing Persons just isn't the same without the yelping…that and as they released their second and third album they definitely lose more and more of their snarl… listening to dale drone on about how now is the time for love just isn't as great as her yelping out about she's gonna dye her hair blue so that people pay attention to her… Dale finally gets back to squeaking on her solo record, Riot in English (released 4 years or so after Color in Your Life), but none of the material on that record even comes close to that of Spring Session M… T_T

  • http://www.lstyrsmdl.com Model-001

    IT'S TRUE… Missing Persons just isn't the same without the yelping…that and as they released their second and third album they definitely lose more and more of their snarl… listening to dale drone on about how now is the time for love just isn't as great as her yelping out about she's gonna dye her hair blue so that people pay attention to her… Dale finally gets back to squeaking on her solo record, Riot in English (released 4 years or so after Color in Your Life), but none of the material on that record even comes close to that of Spring Session M… T_T

  • http://www.lstyrsmdl.com Model-001

    IT'S TRUE… Missing Persons just isn't the same without the yelping…that and as they released their second and third album they definitely lose more and more of their snarl… listening to dale drone on about how now is the time for love just isn't as great as her yelping out about she's gonna dye her hair blue so that people pay attention to her… Dale finally gets back to squeaking on her solo record, Riot in English (released 4 years or so after Color in Your Life), but none of the material on that record even comes close to that of Spring Session M… T_T

  • Tim

    Rhyme and Reason should have done way better than it did. The whole band tried to stretch beyond their first album but was not appreciated by the fickle buying masses of the time. It is unfortunate that the band collasped after only three albums and Dale Bozzio never really recovered career wise it seems.