Hoodoo Gurus: Mars Needs Guitars (1985)

I assume we all have a few records we hang onto even if we don't play them very often, 'cuz they've got that one absolutely amazing song you can't live without.

"Bittersweet," the lead-off track from the Australian band's second album, is a song I'll forever associate with a certain time and place, a gloriously catchy pop song we played the living crap out of back on the college radio station. 35 years later, and it still gives me a smile every time I hear it, just pure joy.

The rest of the album? Hey, it's fine, mostly fun party music with an 80s vibe. A cross between jangly guitar pop, 60s revivalist garage rock, and new wave, there are plenty of solid tunes here. "Poison Pen" is a pointed romp that calls to mind big, boomy UK bands like Echo & The Bunnymen, albeit with harmonicas; "In The Wild" is an upbeat rocker; "Death Defying" and "Show Some Emotion" are mid-tempo janglers that fit in well with the US college radio scene of the day; others are more garage-y, songs like "Like Wow/Wipeout" a blend of "Gloria" and the Plimsouls; and "Hayride to Hell" is mock alt.Americana, a silly spin on the Meat Puppets.

I didn't spend a lot of time with the Gurus after the first 2 albums, as they moved into a harder rocking alt.rock direction--I've got a sprawling double-CD compilation called Ampology which is more than enough Gurus to meet my needs--but those first couple records are still a lot of fun.

Here's the "Bittersweet" video:
...and the "Death Defying" video:
Here's a live "Poison Pen":

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