Lost 80s: Trees – Sleep Convention

Two weeks ago, I discussed David + David’s Boomtown and one could argue it wasn’t that lost of a classic. It did have multiple singles chart even if I don’t remember them. This week, I present an album that seems to have completely fallen through the cracks of popular culture. Thanks to a suggestion from Joey at Record City in Las Vegas, I sought out Sleep Convention by Trees and it is every bit a lost classic.

Trees is the solo vehicle of Dane Conover and 1982’s Sleep Convention was the only album released by MCA. Looking back, I don’t understand why this didn’t gain more traction on the newly born MTV. The song “Come Back” did appear on MTV a few times (I’ve read) but I don’t remember it. I feel like I would have. Every song on Sleep Convention captures the excitement of synth-pop in it’s early years from irresistible hooks (“Shock of the New”) to lyrics about Cold War tension (Red Car”). The videos reflect the DIY-spirit of the early 80s before record labels noticed what their artists were up to on “that cable channel”.

So why did Sleep Convention fall between the cracks? It’s really hard to say. Men Without Hats struck it huge with “Safety Dance” – a clever anti-establishment song but their album Rhythm of Youth doesn’t come close to Sleep Convention for consistently great songs. Sometimes, it’s just luck and timing and Trees missed out on both.

The album’s stand-out track is the nuclear lament “Red Car” which feels future nostalgic and is begging to be covered in 2021. While Duran Duran would really take this song somewhere interesting, I keep hearing Lana Del Rey singing the song in my mind. Regardless, it’s a beautiful song full of regret about how far humanity goes to create mass destruction. For fans of 80s synth-pop, Trees’ Sleep Convention rivals some of the best albums of 1982.

If you’re like me, this album will leave you wanting more. Apparently, there was a second album in the works though the label never released it. A few years ago, Sleep Convention was reissued and Conover included the tracks that were destined for that follow-up. You can track it down via Discogs or even Amazon (note: I get no commission for sending you to Amazon). I have a few more albums in my Lost 80s series to come but I think Sleep Convention is the most hidden of the gems. Check it out!

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