Record Review: The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx – Do What You Wanna Do 12

Warner Bros. Records ‎| US | 12″ | 1982 | 0-29969

The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx: Do What You Wanna Do US 12″ [1982]

  1. Do What You Wanna Do [long ver.]
  2. Do What You Wanna Do [dub ver.]
  3. The Slammer

It was over three years ago when I came across the compilation 2xCD  “Trevor Jackson Presents Metal Dance” and it rocked my world, but hard. There were lots of new entities to investigate on it, and one of them was The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx. The dub mix of “Do What You Wanna Do” caused me to exclaim that it “makes me want to track down the original 12.” <flash forward three years later> Well, after our trip to Winston-Salem, that time was now.

Nona Hendryx can ignite a record

The band The Cage, that was built around Ms. Hendryx [no slouch herself, either] was highly attuned to my interests. It was basically Visage as they existed in 1982 following the exits of Dave Formula as well as Midge Ure and Billy Currie following the lawsuit to extricate the band from Morrison/O’Donnell management [who were also representing Ultravox – can you say “conflict of interests?”]. That meant Rusty Egan on drums with Steve Barnacle on guitars and synths with brother Gary on sax and synths. Production via the great John Luongo. So yeah, this slotted nicely right next to the harder edged Visage revealed on “Pleasure Boys.”

The song was a cover of  a T-Connection disco track from 1977 that was very much in the traditional mold of the day. This one was much tougher with the full complement of Visage’s sonic vocabulary that they’d already established on their two albums. Drum machines kept the time while Egan drummed around them on acoustic percussion. Providing lots of vibrant fills and percussive volleys. Steve Barnacle played mostly extreme funk bass here with brother Gary adding sax interjection.

The drum solo breakdowns on this one were bold and hard and lasted as long as they wanted even as hints of the Mororder sound gave it all a machine-led energy that the more traditional instruments used as a foundation. Of course, Ms. Hendryx was more than capable of matching the toughness of the musicians. This one felt right at home adjacent to the “Pleasure Boys” single and I wonder how and why I’d never heard of this when it was released. I should have owned this single for 36 years, not a few weeks!

The dub mix was familiar from the “Metal Dance” compilation. It was really an instrumental remix,, but I would not call it a dub mix per se. You know how it goes! It does function adequately with out Ms. Hendryx, but having heard her hold court on the A-side, her absence is noticed. As heard below.

I was interested in the B-side, “The Slammer” because a title like that one took no prisoners. I have to admit that finally hearing it didn’t let me down. This was a rock hard jazz-funk that made the likes of Level 42 sound like milquetoast dilettantes. [that could be a band name … memo to self…] and when I say jazz-funk, there were plenty of complex chord changes here to earn that title, which can be dispensed fairly liberally. Not here. This time, Steve Barnacle leaned heavy on the tough guitar leads as well as the maximum funk bass.  We can duly proclaim it… smoking hot. Hearing this makes me wish that the Visage players had done more extracurricular activity of this nature back in the day when they were legally stymied by their management lawsuit and needed to get some work done. As for Nona Hendryx, there’s a huge void in my Record Cell that I am ashamed of and need to address.

– 30 –

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6 Responses to Record Review: The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx – Do What You Wanna Do 12

  1. Echorich says:

    Monk, why have we never discussed The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx!?! Do What You Wanna Do hit HARD! It is my second favorite thing Ms. Hendryx has ever done – Bustin’ Out with Material being my favorite, of course.
    I’ve always thought that DWYWD satisfied a need for the Visage boys in the band to contribute to the Latin tinged sound that the Blitz scene had radiated towards by 82. That scene was more influenced by NYC and the August Darnell stable at that point and less by Bowie. The repeating keyboard chords, echoing Barnacle’s bass throughout the track are what grab me most.
    But for all the Disco Funk of the A-side, it’s the B-side that makes my jaw drop every time I hear it. The Barnacle Brothers are on fire throughout The Slammer. I have The Slammer on a playlist with Talking Heads’ Born Under Punches as the natural next track. In fact, there are elements of The Slammer that also remind me of pre Luxury Gap Heaven 17 – if you are willing to follow me there – not the least of which is some of Steve Barnacle’s guitar that reminds me of John Wilson. And just back up my ears, while not The Slammer, DWYWD is followed by H17’s Play To Win on the soundtrack for a horrible 80s film, Summer Lovers. As an aside, if you EVER thought you needed to hear Tina Turner singing Johnny And Mary, which appears on the soundtrack as well….YOU DON’T. Dreadful would be a kind description.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Of course, Nona Hendryx was the first degree of separation between this single and “Remain In Light” as she sang on both, if not expressly on “The Slammer.” Gott Im Himmel! I can hear the sequencing right now and I think I love it! Those two are quite the matched pair.

      I remember the trashy movie but had no idea about the music on the soundtrack. It’s funny. I remember an ad on the back of Trouser Press for the LP but that memory was wrong! I looked it up last night and it was a back cover ad for the movie itself. Ugh! A Randall Kleiser movie! I somehow recall a piece in a John Waters book [“Crackpot: The Obsessions Of John Waters”] where he praises “Summer Lovers” thusly: “Summer Lovers – the ultimate Kleiser work, is an awe-inspiring ménage-a-trois love story concerning characters who are all young, rich, nude, and stupid.”

      I also recall that in the 80s I had great difficulty discerning that Harry Hamlin and “Summer Lovers” leading man Peter Gallagher were actually two different people! That soundtrack was no prize, seeing as how it contained cutting edge music like Stephen Bishop and Chicago next to Depeche Mode, Heaven 17, and The Cage Featuring Nona Hendryx! So Tina Turner didn’t do “Johnny + Mary” proud, eh? Figures, since it was produced by Richard Perry; never good news.

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      • Echorich says:

        Mr. Waters was completely on point re: Summer Lovers. But I can just imagine him being fascinated by Gallagher. As for your commment on Richard Perry, by the early 80s, any production cred he had was lost in the overproduced sheen he layered on everything.

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  2. MathManDan says:

    I also discovered the Trevor Jackson compilations! I can’t remember how, perhaps because I always loved the 12″ version of “Metal Dance” by SPK. But when I saw the track listings I knew I would like them. I wasn’t aware of this Nona Hendryx track until I got this CD. I learn something new every day…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      MathManDan – I first heard about the comps in the pages of The Quietus. It was shortly before the release of vol 2 p, which they were covering, and then afterward I ran into a promo copy of vol. 1 for a dollar at the annual Harvest Anniversary sale. I was so impressed, that the next year when I found volume two at a store in Charlotte, I bought it full price, no questions asked. As I would do with any volume 3 in a heartbeat.

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  3. You could mix this with Play to Win and get away with it as well!

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