Welcome everyone to my very first “WTF!? Wednesday” during which I will dedicate some blog time to the lesser known bands that I have come across over the years. Let’s take a MTV time warp back to 1983. During that year, you might have seen a whacked out video about an astronaut and his significant other for the song “Why Me?” by a band called Planet P Project.
The song and video describe an astronaut that was estranged from his significant other for unspecified reasons. Throughout this semi-science fiction video, the astronaut is pining for his lady as he hurtles through space while she continues living on Earth. The look of the video has Eighties technology written all over it. Yet, the video remains compelling for some reason, which may be that young love separation anxiety that you may feel for another while in your teens and twenties. The only difference is the infinite amount of distance that space travel could theoretically place between two lovers.
So, who was this Planet P Project. First of all, they were a one hit wonder with “Why Me?” The album and band was really the children of the great keyboardist Tony Carey, who at the time was just coming off an acclaimed stay in Ritchie Blackmore’s post-Deep Purple band called Rainbow, which had also included at the time, vocalist-extraordinaire Ronnie James Dio. Anyway, Carey had been sign in 1980 by Geffen Records for a solo career. But, Carey had written a batch of science fiction-based songs that were way different from his solo material. Since this new material, including the song “Why Me?”, were so different from the sound of his first solo album, Carey decided to record them under a band name, Planet P Project. The sound of the band is along the lines of Asia, Triumph or a very light Rush.
Throughout Planet P Project’s self-titled debut album, Carey’s lyrics take on the usual Eighties worry of technology encroaching upon humanity, a theme that was huge during the Party Decade. This album seemed to find a niche crowd within the fans of Rush, Dungeons & Dragons and Dune. I can vividly remember some frat brothers really getting into this album. While I found the first single, “Why Me?” compelling, I found the rest of the album full of lyrical cliches and the music a rip-off of mostly Triumph.
But, if you have ever heard the “Extended Dance Version” of “Why Me?”, you could probably hear what was compelling to me. Now, let me tell you right away that this is a typically eighties remix, with big-sounding electronic drums, swooshing and echoing synthesizers and a heavy use of the song’s hook. The biggest difference is the use of a scratchy lead guitar and a heavy use of echo. All of a sudden a good song has been recreated into a compelling strange Eighties dance/rock song. In other words, the dance version was totally new, a sound that producer (and former member of The Buggles) Trevor Horn will use to great effect and success with The Art of Noise (“Close to the Edit”, “Kiss” the Prince-cover with Tom Jones) and Frankie Goes to Hollywood (“Relax”, “Two Tribes”). The remix was credited to Fraςois Kevorkian and John Potoker. This version was one of the first whose sound seemed to “jump” from the speakers with a bass that pulsed through your body while dancing at the club.
In 1995, MTV released a compilation CD entitled The Class of ’83. It was a compilation of the songs whose videos were in heavy rotation at some point on the channel during that year. Mostly, the songs were new wave classics, except for this enigmatic song, Planet P Project’s “Why Me?”.
Unfortunately, radio seems to have forgotten this one great song with the sound of a “faceless” band. Planet P Project is a mere footnote, although they have continued to record and release albums to this day. Unfortunately, “Why Me?” was the closet the band came to a hit song when in peaked at number 64 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles and number 4 on the magazines Rock Hits list. Hopefully, Spotify or Pandora will rediscover this song.