The Motels


The Motels  are a new wave band from the Los Angeles area best known for “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer”, each of which peaked at number nine on the Billboard Hot 100, in 1982 and 1983, respectively.  Their song “Total Control” reached No. 4 on the Australian charts in 1980.  Martha Davis (born January 19, 1951), the lead singer, reformed a version of the band called “The Motels featuring Martha Davis” in 1998 and toured as such with various line-ups of musicians.  In 2013, the band was rebranded with a permanent name, Martha Davis and the Motels.  (More from Wikipedia)
The bandleader and songwriter for Code BlueDean Chamberlain is best known as one of the founders of the 1980’s new wave band the Motels, which had two #9 hits with “Only the Lonely” and “Suddenly Last Summer” in 1982 and 1983, respectively.  The band was formed, however, all the way back in 1971.  Originally called the Warfield Foxes, the bandmembers were Lisa Brenneis (bass), Dean Chamberlain (lead guitar), Chuck Wada (rhythm guitar), and Martha Davis (vocals, guitar).  Chamberlain eventually tired of the Bay Area scene and moved to Los Angeles; as he puts it:  “I came down to L.A. to see Iggy Pop at the Whisky a Go-Go and stayed.”  The rest of the bandmembers joined him there by 1975.  Lisa Brenneis had originally been the impetus for the formation of the band, but she dropped out shortly after the move.  Richard D’Andrea replaced her on bass; the band also added drummer Robert Newman.  After calling themselves Angels of Mercy for a time, they settled on the name the Motels
After struggling for a couple of years, Capitol Records offered the Motels a recording contract in 1977; instead, the band broke up, citing creative differences.  From Dean Chamberlain’s standpoint, he thought that there was too much emphasis on lead singer Martha Davis.  One song, “Counting” survived from this very early period in the Motels; the song was first included on a 1978 Rhino Records compilation album, Saturday Night Pogo
Counting later appeared as the final track on the first album, simply called Motels, which came out in 1979.  I have seen the album several times in record bins; maybe it is the lack of “The” or the fact that it has a completely different look from their flashy later albums, but I never even thought of this album as being by the Motels.  In any case, the only bandmember still around from the original Motels was Martha Davis.  Dean Chamberlain describes the Motels that he helped found as being “a crazyass funky [Led Zeppelin] style band”. 
The hidden history of the Motels includes a total of eight albums; I have half of them and enjoy them all, with their second album Careful being my most recent purchase.  What would have been their third studio album, Apocalypso was rejected by the suits at Capitol Records and wasn’t released in its original form until 2011.  Apocalypso was reworked in 1982 and became their first hit album, All Four One.  The Wikipedia article on the Motels lists a remarkable 35 current and former bandmembers. 
The opening cut on the Motels’ breakthrough album, All Four One is called “Mission of Mercy”, and that might not be a nod to their earlier name, Angels of Mercy.  However, the lyric “skin to skin” from Code Blue’s excellent song “Face to Face” could very well reference their original name Skin
Richard D’Andrea later joined a band called the Pits that was founded by controversial rock critic John Mendelsohn, whose previous projects included underground glam rockers Christopher Milk.  For about three years, D’Andrea was in The Know with one of the founding members of BlondieGary Valentine; they released several singles but never landed a record deal. 
(September 2012)
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Last edited: March 22, 2021