There’s a memorable quote from the famously awful movie Showgirls where choreographer (I think? The movie never explains what it is he does) Marty Jacobsen describes our heroine’s dancing talent:
“She’s no butterfly. Tony, she’s all pelvic thrust! I mean, she prowls. SHE’S GOT IT!”
That pretty much sums up the appeal of Missing Persons’ singer Dale Bozzio. While her singing ability is quite limited, she just had that something. Now whether that something appealed to you or not was completely subjective. Dale was/is very love her or hate her. Looking like cotton candy wrapped in aluminum foil, Dale fronted the band of Zappa-trained musos for three great albums, each admittedly a little weaker than the previous, but for many, Missing Persons embodied New Wave until their breakup in 1986.
Guitarist Warren Cuccurillo joined Duran Duran, drummer and Dale’s ex-husband Terry Bozzio went back to his lucrative session work and Dale signed to, of all labels, Prince’s Paisley Park Records. The fruit of this team-up became Riot In English.
It’s groundbreakingly, epicly awful.
I mean, it’s really bad. But Showgirls bad, in the effect that you can enjoy it for its sheer campy awfulness. Surrounded in an already-dated-at-its-time-of-release Prince-like production more suitable for Appolonia 6, Dale hiccups, growls, squeals and coos through nine songs of minimal melodic structure. She also occasionally sings. With titles like “Giddi Up Baby – Be Mine” and “Ouch That Feels Good”, you don’t have to actually listen to it to realize how atrocious it has to be.
But you must.
Dear lord, she raps (!!) “Mary Had a Little Lamb” on “Love Is Hard Work”. If nothing else, please listen to “He’s So Typical”, where, instead of coming up with say, an actual chorus or anything, Dale uses the opportunity to squeak and squeal like a ferret in a blender instead. It’s awesome and I truly mean that. The only thing more awesome may be the AllMusic.com review of the album – I’m not sure if it’s a joke or what, but it includes glowing praise such as:
Bozzio has grown up here, as “Simon Simon” rocks with authority, a good leadoff, as is the song which launches side two, the title track, “Riot In English”.
Ah, yes, “grown up”, as in singing a sub-nursery rhyme chorus in “Simon” or TALKING her way through the title track. But, wait! There’s more! Like, how totally awesome her lyrics are:
Like Steven Tyler, she knows how to pull a chic clichÃ© and envelope it; “Tiptoes through the tulips/Do you know what I mean” may give a nod to Tiny Tim and Lee Michaels, but in reality it’s an Yma Sumac-style reinvention of Marianne Faithfull’s “Broken English,” and that’s quite an amazing mixture of ideas.
That’s right. Sit back for a second and soak it all in. Ahhhh. That’s gold, right there, people. Um, shall we start by defining the word “reality” for our reviewer?
But hey, don’t take my bitchy word for it. Here, in all its complete and wretched glory, is Riot In English. Standouts are the first single, the aforementioned “Simon Simon”, the Prince-written “So Strong” (which could have been a hit for anyone else in his posse…seriously, what was he thinking?) and like I said, you MUST hear “He’s So Typical”.
And, oh my God, there’s a video for “Simon Simon”, complete with a mulleted bodybuilder and a half-nude Dale:
Seriously, I could write about that video for pages and pages. Sigh. LOVE. HER.
Thankfully, Dale came to her senses years later and began touring with a new Missing Persons line-up before reforming with her real bandmates a few years ago. They keep threatening to release new music, but nothing’s come of it yet. Perhaps a remake of “He’s So Typical”?
Riot In English is out of print, but you can buy used copies at Amazon…but please, do yourself a favor and buy some Missing Persons music instead.
“Simon Simon” did not chart. C’mon.