Today is Day Four in my countdown of the Top 100 New Wave Albums of the original era of this terrific music. For me, the era began when I first purchased Cheap Trick’s In Color in the Fall of 1977. And, I have read that the genre began simultaneously with the punk era, since there is relatively no separation between the two related genres. Basically, we can think of New Wave as Punk’s tame little National Honor Society member brother. Distilled down, Punk is about revolution, and New Wave is about fun pop music. Yet, both share DNA, even artists.
With that said, let’s get on with our countdown.
70. M – New York – London – Paris – Munich (1979). To start, M is the project of Robin Scott. And, everyone knows his lone hit, “Pop Muzik”, was a number one hit throughout the world, then he disappeared. At least he left behind a pretty interesting album of synth pop music.
69. Flash and the Pan – Flash and the Pan (1979). Flash and the Pan were a new wave project of former Easybeats and production/songwriting team of Harry Vanda and George Young, older brother of AC/DC guitar duo Angus and the late Malcolm Young. This album is known for the terrific single “Hey St. Peter.”
68. A Flock of Seagulls – A Flock of Seagulls (1982). First off, this album is an awesome album mix of new wave pop music and AOR guitars that was putting the band onto rock radio. But, when lead singer Mike Scott gave himself that stupid yet iconic hair style, the band’s luck began to wane. At least this album gave us “I Ran (So Faraway)” and “Space Age Love Song”.
67. Crowded House – Crowded House (1986). After the seminal Australian new wave band Split Enz called it a day, Neil Finn started Crowded House. The band’s debut album has all of the pop chops of the Enz without all of that band’s pretentious art band stylings. This album is the reason Crowded House is the most success rock band in New Zealand history.
66. The Power Station – The Power Station (1985). When Duran Duran reached the pinnacle of their success, when the members decided to decompress in 1985 and follow their own muses. Guitarist Andy Taylor and bassist John Taylor hooked up with Chic drummer Tony Thompson and singer Robert Palmer to create a great super band with the aid of producer Bernard Edwards. This album is a fun concoction of Chic funk, Sex Pistols punk and T. Rex glam for a perfect. “Some Like It Hot” is a sexy slice of pop/rock/dance heaven.
65. Split Enz – True Colours (1980). As Australia’s first successful band not named AC/DC, Split Enz earned a world-wide hit in 1980 with “I Got You” and this album. At least on this album the Enz toned down their Peter Gabriel-inspired quirky dress and focused on their songcraft, which obviously paid big dividends.
64. Haircut One Hundred – Pelican West (1982). Nick Heyward, the creative mind of this band, showed off his songwriting skills immediately on this new wave classic of great pop songs with Caribbean undercurrents while the band sported preppy clothing. After this album, Heyward went on to a critically successful solo career. The band had two hit songs from this album: “Love Plus One,” “Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl),” “Fantastic Day” and “Nobody’s Fool”, all UK Top Ten hits.
63. Buzzcocks – Singles Going Steady (1980). Buzzcocks were ground zero for the whole pop punk phenomenon of the Nineties and beyond. And, this album is the perfect introduction to the bands’ music, as it is a compilation of singles from other albums, non-LP singles and B-sides. In any case, it is a classic album.
62. Bram Tchaikovsky – Strange Man, Changed Man (1979). After Tchaikovsky left The Motors, he started a new band with his name. And, this debut album is a near perfect power pop classic. The album is led by “Girl of My Dreams” and “Lady from the USA”, both odes to some messed-up love affairs between a man and sex dolls. Listen closely to the lyrics.
61. General Public – All the Rage (1985). When The English Beat broke up, Dave Wakeling and Ranking Roger started General Public as their new project, while the others went on to form Fine Young Cannibals. General Public’s debut album was the best, spawning two great Top 40 hits that should have been bigger hits than they were. The first, “Tenderness”, went light on the ska and heavy on the pop to create a plea for utopian love, while “General Public” was more of the band’s mission statement. Unfortunately, the duo could not follow up this great album.
Well, sports fans, we are now three-fifths the way through this countdown. I hope its stirring up some memories.
Just a reminder that Record Store Day is coming in mid-April, and the list of special vinyl and cassette releases has been posted on the holiday’s website, http://www.recordstoreday.com. Bowie fans, there are three new vinyl releases scheduled for that day. The list is long and interesting, and, in my humble opinion, lacks any true must-haves. Nonetheless, I am looking forward to the day.