Monday, July 23, 2012

at Our God Is Speed, Greyhoos chips in with his own thoughts 'n' memories of New Wave

from his selections, this:

fuck me, is that a find or what?!?

The opening riff is pure Franz Ferdinand.

Funnily enough I was just yesterday perusing Chuck Eddy's second edition of Stairway to Hell, his eccentric guide to heavy metal, and in the afterword he lists a whole bunch of records that he's subsequently to the first ed's publication fallen in love with and shoulda included, and one of them is Alice Cooper's  Flush the Fashion.  But i hadn't realised that this was AC's noo-wave-move!

Who else in America, out of the Old Wave, made a Noo Wave move?

Billy Joel, I guess, with much of his Eighties material. Although this track is not sonically a new wave move but more a kind of New Wave acknowledging yet also recuperating / deflating manifesto of catholicity ("music-is-music/there's-only-two-kinds-of-music-good-music-and-bad-music") -- which has in fact becoming the programming policy and raison d'etre of post-Ipod middle-aged geezer targeting radio stations like Jack FM ("playin' ... what we like" said in a voice that sounds like Huey Lewis).

Another one: this album El Loco by ZZ Top was their New Wave move (although hints of it were on the one before, Deguello)

And then they really went for it with Eliminator and the album after that, by which time they often had a sequencer pulse chugging along alongside the drumming (which was already getting straightened out into something pretty metronomic and Billy Idol/Keith Forsey like).

One of my LA radio revelations since moving here was hearing the Cars and realising that not only could they play but that most likely before punk, they were probably playing similar kind of blues-based rock to ZZ Top or Foghat or James Gang... it may even have been a direct segue on Jack FM  from "La Grange" to "Just What I Needed It" that brought it home to me...

Well in terms of Old Wave to New Wave, they weren't Well Known before punk, but Huey Lewis & the News is old old style music given a New Wave-ish production finish and tautness

Didn't the musicians in the News play with Elvis Costello very early on (Clover?)

And then H & the News went back to the roots and did a bluesy album that totally tanked.

Here's another good example -  shameless Rod Stewart

i suppose those aren't really Noo Wave as in skinny tie / Devo-jitters though, more like just trying to do a commercial post-Moroder / synthpop era club-friendly radio-ready please-help-me-keep-up-me-mortgage-payments-on-me-mansion type job (cf the Stones records in the early-mid Eighties)

More troo Noo is Robert Palmer, another bluesy-rock Brit rasper who remodelled his sound, several times...

right up to the point of doing a Gary Numan cover

and then went electrofunk/postdisco

And of course the J.Geils Band, the same Old-to-Noo syndrome...

Oh and classic old-into-Noo is the production job (dry and sparse) on this imperishable tune by all-American heartland rocker Johnny Cougar

i'm sure there's scores more examples...

postscript: how could I forget, Neil Young (Devo fan supreme) and Trans!

Neil's movie that he got Devo to do a scene for

postpostscript: and  I forgot (that i'd remembered, a week or two ago) all about Bill Wyman's Je Suis Un Rockstar, which is Old Wave goes New Wave par excellence, and maybe the most successful, on all levels (middling hit; sounds reet nifty and not embarrassing like yer dad trying to dance to disco) out of all these Old-into-Noo mooves)

what i found out after posting it the first time the other week: he wrote it as a demo for Ian Dury's consideration. But nobody in the Stiff camp would actually present it to Dury! Were they afraid of incurring his wrath? I love this little fact because I once averred that the Blockheads were the best British groove group since the Stones. Ian should have done it, he'd might have arrested his decline as UK hitmaker!

of course there's a most unfortunate resonance to one of the lyrics here -- "they'll think I'm your dad/and you're my daughter" -- given Bill's love life later in the decade


  1. Re, "Looking for Clues" -- a nice weird one to hear turn up on the radio back in 1979. The jerky, organ-driven rhythm, and instead of a guitar solo you get a xylophone solo instead, and then when the guitar solo finally does arrive it's just some short, chiming one-noter thing. Funny, but funnier still that it charted.

    As I recall, Chuck Eddy really goes on about (ugh) Rush in "Stairway to Hell" -- talking about how much of their '80s albums were recorded under the heavy influence of Devo (which Eddy seemed to consider a definite improvement for the band).

    Tons of older established artists/bands jumped on the bandwagon or got talked into updating their sound under label duress. Too many to mention, many of 'em not worth mentioning.

    But yeah, I gather the Cooper noo-wave albums have a much better legacy these days than they used to. But for many years they had disappeared into a critical/fandom limbo.

  2. Yes! Rush (no ugh from me) were one of the most successful bands to try this, shifting from prog-metal to a kind of New Wave-inflected AOR. The breakthrough album is called 'Permanent Waves', implying a Billy Joel-esque world-weary scepticism about the ebb and flow of musical fashion, but they actually embraced the new sound quite effectively. They talked about their enthusiasm for The Police, Talking Heads and Tears for Fears (!), and the evidence of the former, in particular, is all over their albums from the early 80s. Neil Peart's busy prog drumming absorbs the spirit of Stewart Copeland very easily. The guitars are pushed down in the mix and become increasingly effects-heavy, with a lot of what I think is flangeing.
    'Spirit of Radio', the hit single, is great. And 'Tom Sawyer', from the follow-up 'Moving Pictures', is a drum-and-synth monster loved by hip-hoppers.
    Rather improbably, Rush then managed to go post-grunge in the early 1990s, too: putting the crunch back in the guitars, dropping the synths and delivering a couple of albums that were admired by Joe Carducci.

  3. Also under Robert Fripp's entry in the prog-rockers going New Wave files: the revived 'Discipline'-era King Crimson, which actually had Adrian Belew as a member, on 'Remain in Light'-style guitar and David Byrne-style vocals. It's a great album, in fact, although diminishing returns set in with its two successors.

  4. Some of which

    Around 1980, the whole new-wave thing received a fair amount of support and (to some degree) was quite welcome with a certain older set, particularly a number of figures who had been a part of the '60s generation. I remember the likes of Neil Young, Zappa, Paul Kantner (et al) being pretty vocal in their support of acts like Talking Heads and Devo; and Rolling Stone gave many of the bigger-name artists a fair amount of press, as well. I always figured it was maybe due to their own experiences throughout the '70s -- watching the music industry become more corporate, having to deal with increased label pressure to make something that'd chart and pander to this or that trend (particularly disco). So they welcomed the appearance of punk and new-wave because it signified an artistic shift -- reintroducing musical unconventionality, trafficking in more topical lyrics, signifying a rejection of the commercial status quo, etc. Which is why I suspect that Alice Cooper's new-wave move may have been as much his own idea as anyone else's.

  5. That's a good call about Rush, guys. Forgot about how they tried to push the synth forward at the expense of the gtr. Alienated quite a lot of their fans circa Power Windows didn't they.

    Fripp started going new wave with his solo albums, the March to 1981 sequence i think he called them. Exposure, where on the cover he had a suit and tie and very short hair. Then the one with David Byrne doing a guest vocal (God Save the Queen/Heavy Manners) and the discotronics. And yeah the super-anal King Crimson reformation with Belew. Didn't he also form a band The League of Gentleman with the someone who used to be in XTC?

    Gabriel, obviously, another one -- clearly influenced by Comsat Angels and Random Hold on PG3. Guest performance from P. Weller.

    Yes hooked up with ex-Buggles Geoff wotsisname and Trevor Horn, who would then leave but produce that album that had "Owner of a Lonely Heart" on it.

    Probably harder to find Sixties/early 70s musicians who didn't attempt to adapt to the New Wave/New Pop era...

    I expect there's some undignified update-myself attempts on those Robert Plant solo albums...

  6. Of course, it's a bit unfair to knock Fripp as a bandwagon-jumper, when he actually played on one of New Wave's foundation stones: 'Heroes'.

  7. ...and of course he embraced New Wave more whole-heartedly than most, by marrying Toyah Wilcox!

  8. i wouldn't say he was a bandwagon jumper, just a convert. also, he saw early that the writing was on the wall for the Old Wave, that the prog megaband era was coming to an end for financial reasons as much as anything, too expensive, too unwieldly -- hence his talk of small mobile intelligent units -- time for something leaner and more agile.

    marrying Toyah is a real sign of commitment