Monday, December 01, 2008

Word of Mouth

Toni BasilOh mickey you're so fine. This here album is a definite slice of the eighties. Toni Basil's debut album, Word of Mouth, came out in 1982 and pop-music history was made. The music video for "Mickey" was one of the most popular of the early MTV video days. Word of Mouth is an eighties New Wave classic slice of vinyl, featuring enough songs and musical contributions from Devo, that it could almost be considered a lost Devo album (no surprise that Basil and Devo's Jerry Casale were an item at the time). Actually she has had quite an extraordinary career.

After high school, she became a go-go dancer and quickly moved into choreography, working on '60s television shows like Shindig and The T.A.M.I. Show; in 1964, she appeared with Annette Funicello in the film Pajama Party, which she also choreographed. In 1966, Basil released her first single, the Graham Gouldman-penned "28"; the B-side was her recording of the title song from avant-garde filmmaker Bruce Conner's Breakaway, in which she also appeared as a dancer. Basil's acting career soon hit a peak with her role in 1969's landmark Easy Rider as a New Orleans hooker; she went on to appear with Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces and Dennis Hopper in The Last Movie. During the '70s, she choreographed films like American Graffiti and The Rose, and also worked on David Bowie's 1974 concert tour.

In the late '70s, Basil formed her own urban-style dance troupe, the Lockers, and moved into music video directing as well, helming the groundbreaking Talking Heads clip for "Once in a Lifetime." In 1981, she signed to Chrysalis as a recording artist and cut her debut album, Word of Mouth. Back when MTV was new and worth watching, they actually showed videos all the time and Mickey received heavy rotation on the fledgling network. Yeah she was a cheerleader in high school and that's her actual cheerleading outfit from her high school days in the video.

As popular as this album was (#22 on the charts), it's a shame it has never been released on cd. You can kind of piece it together from different compilation albums. I would love to see this remastered and finally released on cd. If the only thing you're familiar with is Mickey, it's worth your while to check out some of the other tunes from the album which I feel are much better. Enjoy this blast from the past.

You Gotta Problem
Space Girls

The Best of Toni Basil: Mickey and Other Love Songs

Funny Toon