Even though New Wave is considered to be a singles genre, I believe the reason the genre has so many great songs is that there are a large number of fantastic albums. Plus, many of those albums are now considered classics. When compared to glam or punk, New Wave’s hold upon the late Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers is the high quality of songwriting that was put into the songs. Plus, may of those artists created albums that contained multiple hit songs.
Of course, this genre is not without is share of posers. Yet, overall, there is a large number of quality acts. So, let’s get on with today’s countdown.
90. Bangles – All Over the Place (1984). As the most successful band from L.A.’s Paisley Underground scene, the Bangles burst onto the scene with this Beatlesque masterpiece that fully displayed a formidable band with four distinct personalities, songwriting points-of-view and voices that blended together like sweet honey. Their full-length debut album remains their best.
89. Utopia – Utopia (1982). Todd Rundgren’s band of four musicians recording in a total democratic environment released this corker of an album upon an unsuspecting public that was ready for the band’s progression from a art/prog band to an AOR band to a power pop band to a new wave band on this album. And, they made the whole transition seem so effortless. FYI Utopia fans: they are reuniting for a tour this spring.
88. Spandau Ballet – True (1983). These New Romantics stumbled upon their updated Motown sound simply by chance. But, once they did, they made an album for the ages. No other music the band created in their career ever reached the heights of this one. Plus, the timeless title song is one for the ages.
87. The Tubes – The Completion Backwards Principle (1981). When The Tubes burst on the scene back in 1975, they were something beyond description, almost like a traveling performance art ensemble-cum-Broadway show on tour-via-a-rock-band with a sound that was equal parts punk, art rock and Rocky Horror. But, the band pared down the membership to only musicians, bought matching suits and became a rock band of corporate AOR raiders on this new wave classic. This album was everything that The Tubes had been promising since they debut album.
86. Tracey Ullman – You Broke My Heart in 17 Places (1983). Before Tracey Ullman displayed her greatness in her late-Eighties sketch comedy variety show, The Tracey Ullman Show (NOTE: The Simpsons debuted on this show!), on FOX, she dropped this masterpiece ode to the girl group sounds of the Sixties. This whole album is pure fun.
85. The Romantics – The Romantics (1980). Detroit’s The Romantics burst on the scene like a modern day Kinks as their debut single “What I Like About You” blasted through radio speakers announcing The Romantics were here. Unfortunately, the band slowly softened their sound in an effort to guess what the radio. But, at least we have this metal-melting album of superhero-proportions.
84. Big Country – The Crossing (1983). Rolling Stone once described this album as having guitars louder than AC/DC. Well, I wouldn’t have used such hyperbole to describe this album, but the guitars are aggressive and, at times, sound like bagpipes. However you want to describe Big Country, they at least brought the guitar back to new wave.
83. Stray Cats – Built for Speed (1982). Literally, anything was a go during the New Wave days of the Eighties. So, these New Yorkers who moved across the pond to jolly old England to find an audience ready for some big time retro rockabilly. And, the Stray Cats gave it to them. So, their record company compiled the best cuts from their two UK releases, titled it Built for Speed and brought rockabilly back to the masses in America. “Rock This Town” or “Stray Cat Strut”, which do you prefer? Can’t go wrong with either.
82. Various Artists – Pretty in Pink Soundtrack (1987). John Hughes tapped into the whole youthful Gen X zeitgeist in his teen films of the Eighties. And, his films’ soundtracks were impeccable. But, Pretty in Pink remains his finest soundtrack statement of Eighties youth angst.
81. Love and Rockets – Love and Rockets (1989). These goth rockers finally got the hit they deserved with the highly sensual “So Alive”. Still, this album, along with The Cure and Depeche Mode, brought the goth scene to the States, and darkness has never been so beautiful as on this album.
Now, we are twenty albums into this countdown, and I have been discovering just how timeless this music is. Long live New Wave!