Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Compendium of When - New Wave thru 1980

By 1980, particularly in the face of New Romance and the artificial instrumentation of Simple Minds or Blancmange, picking out the New Wave was simple - no one was accusing Steve Strange of being a punk or a rocker - but creating a chronology of New Wave (excluding Punk and Glam) is a simple task only in the 80s. Where then, to start? For me, the New Wave began in 1979 with Unknown Pleasures. I didn't discover Sparks' Kimono My House until '81 and, at least at the time, I wasn't including the likes of Joe Jackson or Elvis Costello (hindsight clarifies everything – despite our insistent revisionism); and I'd never heard of Simple Minds. It's interesting how many readers were confused that AM went from Pink Floyd to Joy Division despite our insistence on continuity. Indeed the only real connection was the odd dichotomy that The Wall and Unknown Pleasures were of the same era.

The 70s, though, were rich in its diversity. While 60s radio found a common thread with Beatles and Buffalo Springfield, with Shangri-Las and Temptations, the 70s were all over the map. The decade began with those bands and artists evolving from out of the psychedelic scene or creating a singer/songwriter enclave in Laurel Canyon, instantly establishing a new sound, a 70s sound, distanced from the naivete of what had come before. It was in the 70s that The Stones fully emerged from the shadow of whom Mickey Dolenz referred to as "The Four Kings of EMI;" and those kings would go on to find a voice as individuals. Pink Floyd found a niche that would propagate one of the great musical achievements of the 20th Century, and Americana was borne out of After the Goldrush and Mud Slide Slim. Joni found jazz, CBGB's found The Ramones and Blondie and Talking Heads. And then there was disco and punk in reaction; and when we finally settled down, there came the New Wave.

Over the past month, AM has followed the emergence of progressive rock from King Crimson to Syd Barrett; the thread of connection simple, but while most will trace the New Wave as the evolution of Punk, there are many more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in that silly, one-sided philosophy of yours, Horatio. Those who fail to see the progressive influence on bands like New Order and Cocteau Twins, or the obvious progressive punk of King Crimson.3 (with Adrian Belew and Tony Levin), are thickheaded.

As a primer for when, let's examine New Wave long before Post Punk (A special thanks, btw, to my dog-eared, yet treasured, collection of Smash Hits magazine): 

1974: Kimono My House, Sparks; so far ahead of its time. True New Wave and not merely a Glam change of course (like The New York Dolls); Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), Eno; ditto. Skip '75. 1976: Blondie, Blondie. 1977: Marquee Moon, Television; My Aim is True, Elvis Costello; Costello's appearance on Saturday Night Live (December 17, 1977), aside from being controversial due to Elvis's on-air decision to play "Radio, Radio" rather than "Less Than Zero," may be the single most important moment in establishing New Wave as a genre. Talking Heads '77, Talking Heads; an argument can be made (and a good one) that this is indeed where New Wave begins. Note: 1977 was Punk’s first and most iconic year. With the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, The Ramones, The Clash and Damned, Damned, Damned, the genre was an in-your-face answer to prog and corporate pop, and more decidedly, disco; a dedicated fuck you to Georgio Moroder 
1978: Parallel Lines, Blondie; the Blondie breakthrough of thoroughly accessible Punky Pop. More Songs About Buildings and Food; the reason most of us first discovered Talking Heads and retroactively TH '77Outlandos D'Amour, The Police; "Roxanne" was the first New Wave "standard;"  All Mod Cons, The Jam; Modern Dance, Pere Ubu; Jesus of Cool, Nick Lowe; This Year’s Model, Elvis Costello; First Issue, PIL  (Post Punk); The Cars, The Cars (New Wave hits Top 40 radio); Are We Not Men?, Devo. 

Can You Even Guess?

In 1979, Punk had come and gone (if punk ever really goes away), Making way for the 80s.

1979: Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division; Fear of Music, Talking Heads; Look Sharp, Joe Jackson; "Is She Really Going Out With Him," one of the first crossover hits. Armed Forces, Elvis Costello. Regatta de Blanc, The Police; Drums and Wires, XTC; Labour of Lust, Nick Lowe; Life in a Day, Simple Minds; Replicas, Tubeway Army; Entertainment, Gang of Four; Candy O, The Cars; Three Imaginary Boys, The Cure; B-52's, B-52's; Cool for Cats, Squeeze; Dirk Wear White Sox, Adam and the Ants;  1980: Remain in Light, Talking Heads; Closer, Joy Division; Get Happy, Elvis Costello; Crazy Rhythms, The Feelies; Reel to Real Cocophony, Simple Minds; Sound Affects, The jam; Colossol Youth, Young Marble Giants; Vienna, Ultravox; Los Angeles, X; Kilamanjaro, The Teardrop Explodes; Searching for the Young Soul Rebels, Dexy's Midnight Runners; Boy, U2, Crocodiles, Echo and the Bunnymen; Seventeen Seconds, The Cure; Kaleidoscope, Siouxsie and the Banshees; Argy Bargy, Squeeze; The Correct Use of Soap, Television; Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark , Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark; Psychedelic Furs, Psychedelic Furs; Gentlemen Take Polaroids, Japan; Travelogue, The Human League; True Colors, Split Enz; Black Sea, XTC; Pretenders, Pretenders.

And all of it happened in the 1970s (yes, we've covered this before: 1980 is a part of the 70s; it's just simple arithmetic). (It's funny, but there are few who even mention the band that in many respects, from the 70s, throughout the 80s and well into the 90s, were the biggest band in the world, despite disco and punk and post-punk and the new wave. Really? You don't know? Of course you do: The Grateful Dead.)