One of the most curious U.S. Top 50 hits of the very curious skinny-tie new wave era—a woman named Patti Paladin recites, in a stark monotone, mercenary Berry Gordy lyrics that everybody from The Beatles to The Supremes to Waylon Jennings had sung since Mississippi soulman Barrett Strong first unveiled them (“the best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, I want money”).

An Irish-born experimental composer named David Cunningham, schooled in Marxist theory and sound collage, offers cavernous dub echoes, swirling sounds, stereo-demonstration samples, and blurting horn farts while, supposedly, throwing rubber toys, phone books, Chopin sheet music, and ashtrays at a piano. At Occidental College in L.A., a young Barack Obama is said to have enjoyed blasting this record in his dorm.