Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/2/13

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Picture This” by Blondie

There was nothing new about punk and new wave. It came about as a reaction to the bloated excesses of progressive rock groups like Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Genesis and Yes and their seemingly obligatory side-long multi-part suites of music.  (Not that there was anything wrong with that…)

Groups like Ramones and Blondie brought back the sounds of the early 1960s. They simplified things, kept their songs under three minutes and created sugary-sweet melodic gems that were bashed out on guitars and drums.

But being from New York, Blondie were just as inspired by the Broadway scene, and you can feel the presence of Broadway all over their third album Parallel Lines, in the sugar-coated poppiness of “Sunday Girl,” or the call and response chorus of “Just Go Away,” or even in the full on Broadway rock of “I Know But I Don’t Know,” that wouldn’t have felt out of place on the Original Cast Recording of Hair

By the time of their breakthrough album Parallel Lines, Blondie had consisted of Deborah Harry on vocals, Chris Stein on guitar, Jimmy Destri on Keyboards and electronics, Clem Burke on drums, and new members Frank Infante on guitar and Nigel Harrison on bass. They had been together for several years and had scored hits throughout Europe. Their sound had matured and now included elements of the electronic disco that was being played all around the clubs of New York City, hence the percolating electricity that is the hit, “Heart Of Glass.”

They had been playing a slowed down version of the song as early as 1974. Inspired by Kraftwerk and the New York City club scene, Jimmy Destri recast the original as an electronic disco track and it topped the charts in 1979. There were several more worldwide smashes from the album including the urgent rockers “One Way Or Another” and “Hangin’ On The Telephone,” that further established Blondie here and abroad as mainstream artists while at the same time representing the newly-coined new wave music scene.

“Sunday Girl,” is pure girl group sweetness, with a coolly detached edge that only Deborah Harry could be responsible for. It was never released as a single in the U.S; however it topped the charts in England. Today’s Song Of The Day was the first single released from the album in the U.K. where it climbed all the way to number twelve on the charts. It was also never released as a single here in the states.

The album’s tune stack also included, the rocker “11:59,” a cover of Buddy Holly’s “I’m Gonna Love You To” that failed to chart when it was released as the record’s first single in the  U.S., and the atmospheric ‘60s Goth of “Fade Away And Radiate,” featuring guitar work by Robert Fripp.

In 2006 the group was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame notably for incorporating elements of ‘60s girl group rock, punk, new wave, disco and rap in to their music.

Edited: March 2nd, 2013

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/25/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Got You” by Split Enz

Like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Split Enz started out as a visually stunning progressive rock band that dressed up in wild costumes and performed elaborate stage shows, with the original lineup of Phil Judd, Tim Finn, Mike Chunn, Robert Gillies and Noel Crombie. They formed in 1971, but it wasn’t until 1980 that the band found success outside of their native New Zealand in the USA. That’s when Tim Finn’s brother Neil, who barely knew how to play the guitar, joined the band as their lead guitarist after the departure of Phil Judd. At the time, Neil started taking on second lead vocal duties and writing songs that led to the band adopting a modern new wave sound. By now, they were a big sensation in their native New Zealand and Australia, but it wasn’t until this song from the laser-etched album, “True Colours,” that the band had a bona-fide international hit. After several years of non-stop touring and no huge follow-up hit, Tim Finn left the band in 1983 and Paul Hester was added to the lineup on drums. The band soldiered on as Split Enz for one more year before Neil Finn and Paul Hester went on to form Crowded House.

Edited: July 24th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 7/8/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “I Learned How To Pray” by Squeeze

As was the case with Lennon and McCartney before them; the whole was way more than the sum of the parts with Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford. Together, the songwriting team behind the group Squeeze composed some of the greatest pop songs of the late ‘70s and 1980s: “Tempted,” “Pulling Mussels From A Shell,” “In Quintessence,” “Is That Love,” “Up The Junction,” “Another Nail In My Heart,” “Cool For Cats,” to name but a few… even though they didn’t place many of them up the charts. Apart, their solo recordings didn’t amount to much except to point out how much they needed each other’s input. After releasing several best-selling consecutive albums between 1979 and 1982, Difford and Tillbrook took three years off for solo projects before reuniting for the 1985 album “Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti.” The album was not well received and was ridiculed for it’s over the top production, and while the production hasn’t worn well with time, the songwriting is as sharp as it ever was especially on this song. They went on to release several more worthwhile records including “Babylon And On “ in 1987, “Frank” in 1989 and “Some Fantastic Place” in 1993 before they packed it in after “Domino” in 1998. They briefly reunited to re-record some of their best songs on the pleasant but unnecessary CD “Spot The Difference” in 2010. Word is that they will reunite for a brand new Squeeze album and tour next year.

Edited: July 7th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 6/23/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” by Devo w/Neil Young

Q: Where do the worlds of The Kingston Trio, Devo and Neil Young all collide? A: Why, on “Human Highway,” of course! “Human Highway” was a mostly dreadful film released by Bernard Shakey (aka Neil Young) in 1982. The film starred Neil Young, Dean Stockwell, Dennis Hopper, Russ Tamblyn and Devo and was filmed between 1978 and 1981. It was briefly shown in movie theaters upon its release and was never to be seen again until its home video release in 1995 on VHS. It is currently out of print. While the movie is quirky and mostly incoherent, it is also very funny and somewhat entertaining in places. Devo were cast as Nuclear Garbagepersons, but getting into the convoluted plot that deals with a nuclear power plant and the last day on earth would be as convoluted as watching the film again. Devo can be seen performing the Kingston Trio classic “Worried Man Blues” on the back of a truck and “Hey Hey My My (Into The Black)” with Mark Mothersbaugh in his “Booji Boy” guise and Neil Young on guitar. In fact, it was in this performance that Mothersbaugh first uttered the words “rust never sleeps” that gave Young the title to his next record.

Edited: June 22nd, 2012

Song Of the Day by Eric Berman – 4/2/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)” by Haircut 100

Nothing like a wacky band name! Haircut 100 were rivaled only by A Flock Of Seagulls in the New Wave band name wars of the early 1980s, but you could always tell the bands apart by their hair styles (…and their trousers…they were tight…). Haircut 100 were formed in 1980 by lead singer Nick Heywood and while they did score four top ten singles across the pond, in America they are primarily remembered by this song and its follow-up single “Love Plus One.” Both songs were on their very popular debut album, “Pelican West,” where the band dabbled in a slick brand of dance, punk’n’funk influenced by XTC and Talking Heads. The band’s popularity in America was largely due to the heavy rotation their videos received on MTV.

Edited: April 1st, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/31/12

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Soul Kiss” by Joe Jackson

For an artist as ornery as Joe Jackson was on stage berating his audiences regularly; he did come out with some of the sweetest and most articulate music of his time. While critics were rightly comparing Elvis Costello to Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, they kind of missed out on the real carrier of their torch in Joe Jackson. The “Big World” album was conceived on stage and recorded in a controlled live environment in front of audiences. After the three-sided, 2 record set came out in 1986, he took to the road to promote it, hence this video. “Soul Kiss” is one of his funkiest songs, with a piano part that rivals anything Elton John ever came up with. Twenty-six years later, the music resonates and hasn’t dated at all. Indeed, it is still a “Big World.”

Edited: March 30th, 2012

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – 3/1/12

 

Song Of The Day by Eric Berman – “Never Gonna Cry Again” by Eurythmics

The duo of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox took the ’80s by storm with their synth-pop cocktail of infectious melodies and cool detached vocals. The duo met in the mid-70s and performed in the bands The Catch and The Tourists who released several records with minor success. After the Tourist split, Dave and Annie formed Eurythmics in 1981 with assists from Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of the group Can, and Clem Burke of Blondie. Their debut album, “In The Garden” followed, although it did not receive a release in the US until the late 1980s. This is their first video clip, which also didn’t get an airing on these shores until much later. Superstardom followed with the release of the “Sweet Dreams” album in 1983 with a string of hit albums and singles released through 1990. I went to see them at The Ritz in NYC in 1984 on their “Touch” tour and from what I can remember, they were very good. Since their breakup, Dave had released many solo records, soundtracked some films and has produced albums for the likes of Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr, Stevie Nicks and Joss Stone. He is also a member of the group SuperHeavy along with Mick Jagger, Joss Stone and Damian Marley. Annie went on to release several chart-topping albums including “Diva” in 1992 and “Medusa” in 1995. The duo have regrouped sporadically over the years, the last time was for a Greatest Hits album in 1991.

Edited: March 1st, 2012

Song Of The Day – 10/15/11

Song Of The Day – “I Love A Man In A Uniform” by Gang Of Four

By 1982′s “Songs Of The Free” album, bassist Dave Allen left Gang Of Four for the greener pastures of Shriekback to be replaced by Sara Lee. This found remaining members Andy Gill and Jon King trading in their agit-Punk for a more dance-oriented sound creating a bona-fide Gay anthem in the process. After the initial shock, fans shut up and danced…

Edited: October 14th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 8/17/11

Song Of The Day – “Up The Neck” by Pretenders

This song exudes pure sexuality in its imagery although the lyrics tell a different story…”Lust turns to angers, a kiss to a slug…” Chrissie Hynde was just amazing during this era and their debut album remains a solid 5-star classic to this day. Here is the original line up of the band in Paris featuring the essential guitar work of James Honeyman-Scott.

Edited: August 17th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 7/24/11

Song Of The Day – “Cincinnati Fatback” by Roogalator

Another great track from the “Stiff Records Box Set!” Roogalator was one of the first Stiff releases in 1976 and was right in line with the other “Pub Rock” releases they dealt in during the early days of the label. Danny Adler hailed from Cincinnati and was a rare American amongst a sea of Brits. He also was a member of Elephant’s Memory for a short time.

Edited: July 24th, 2011

Song Of The Day – 7/23/11

Song Of the Day – “They Don’t Know” by Kirsty MacColl

Another gem from the Stiff Records Box Set is the 1979 original version of this song that would later become a hit for Tracey Ullman in 1982. Kirsty MacColl wrote the song and in her hands it was much slower and more mature sounding. It’s funny how a pure pop nugget like this was categorized as “New Wave” music just because of the label it was released by…

Edited: July 23rd, 2011

Song Of The Day – 7/22/11

Song Of The Day – “Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric

Recently listened to my Stiff Records box set from back in the day. They were the British Punk and New Wave label that first signed the likes of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Ian Dury, Lene Lovich, Rachel Sweet, Devo and Madness. Not bad for a mid-70s upstart on a shoestring budget. This one is by Wreckless Eric and was featured in the film “Stranger Than Fiction.”

Edited: July 22nd, 2011