Although the Bangles' debut album, All Over the Place, was often quite overlooked during the band's '80s heyday, it actually far better represents the group's sound than its hit-packed subsequent albums. This track represents the Bangles' signature attitude toward collaboration, both as a cowrite from Susannah Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and as a spotlight for the quartet's precise harmonies. What's more, the song displays with surplus energy the band's jangly guitars inspired by '60s California rock, with lead guitarist Vicki Peterson particularly showcasing her considerable talents in that area.
In place of the Bangles' monster hits "Manic Monday," a solid song from an outside songwriter (Prince) that has had more than its share of attention, and "Walk Like an Egyptian," the almost embarrassing novelty hit that has nothing to do with the band's true sound, I submit this lovely track from the band's debut for a place on this list. Thankfully, this tune relies heavily on textured guitars and '60s-inspired vocal harmonies, elements that summarize the Bangles more accurately than the music people have heard the most. At their best, the Bangles are a symbiotic quartet, with no individual member trumping any other.
Cult singer-songwriter Jules Shear functioned during the '80s as a somewhat major supplier of compositions for better known artists to record. This lovely track, perfectly suited for the Bangles' chiming guitars and vocal harmonies, comes across as much more artistically sound than most of the bigger hits from the group's 1986 breakthrough, Different Light. Unfortunately, however, the tune's quality could not help it climb any higher than No. 29 on the pop charts, a rather paltry peak considering the substantial fluff with which the Bangles competed during the mid-'80s. Hoffs' lead vocals particularly shine here.
The release of 1988's Everything moved the Bangles further away from their strength as an egalitarian unit, creating ever more focus on Hoffs as photogenic frontwoman. Nonetheless, this No. 5 pop hit at least showcased the band's typical harmonies even if it was one of many songs on the album that lacked a collaborative songwriting element that had been so integral to the Bangles' previous success. It's still an enjoyable song, offering mildly suggestive lyrics for Hoffs to exploit her coy but sexy image, but too much orchestration and cluttered production dull the tune's impact somewhat.
Instead of the popular but atypical "Eternal Flame," I choose this lesser-known track from Everything to round out this list. If, for some reason, you can't stand the idea of the Bangles' biggest hits being shunned in this way, at least there's consolation in the fact that we've all heard those songs enough to never be able to forget them. In a perfect world, there should be more attention on Bangles' tunes featuring other members on lead vocals. I'll do my best to make a dent here by spotlighting drummer Debbi Peterson's performance on this lively number that represents a last gasp of the group's guitar-based past.