Posts Tagged New Wave
Punk was cresting and the New Wave was just beginning to swell when the Pretenders (see my playlist here) floated their eponymous debut on January 19, 1980. Pretenders was one of those bridge-the-gap albums that clearly spanned the divide between the loud, raw energy of 70s British punk and the subtler, synthesized post-punk sounds of the 80s.
Ohio native Chrissie Hynde assembled her band in 1978 in London, where she’d been a music critic and aspiring songwriter. The band released several singles in 1979 and generated enough enthusiasm to produce a full album. The nucleus of Pretenders is several of those early tracks, including the cover of the Kinks’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” the glorious pop-rocker “Brass In Pocket” (#14 single in 1980) and a re-recorded version of staccato “The Wait” (a Dr. Rock favorite). Seven new songs round out the affair, notably a rolling “Tattooed Love Boys,” a jangly love song in “Kid” and a pop-based but still edgy “Mystery Achievement.” On all tracks, frontwoman Hynde’s beautifully confident, rich voice reaches above but still complements the riffs and solo spurts supplied by guitarist James Honeyman-Scott and the driving rhythm from bassist Peter Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers. (Sadly, Honeyman-Scott and Farndon would die from drug overdoses less than a year apart in 1982 and 1983).
Pretenders reached #1 on the U.K. album charts (#9 in the U.S.). I’ve included it as #10 on Dr. Rock’s Best Debut Albums (click here for the list) and #2 on my Top 25 Albums for 1980 (click here). Rolling Stone magazine ranked it #155 on their Top 500 Albums of All-Time. That should tell you enough about its place is your collection. Pretenders is available for download on iTunes (click here) and can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads from Amazon (click here).
New Wave synth-pop band Human League had a rough go from formation in 1977 until the hugely successful third album Dare!, which came out on October 20, 1981 and featured the hit “Don’t You Want Me” (one of the highest selling British singles of all time). HL started out as an all-male quartet playing art-synth-rock, although only two of the members (Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh) had any real depth in music. After two disappointing albums and with mounting debts and pressure from their record label, HL splintered and Ware and Marsh quit to form Heaven 17. That left Philip Oakley (lead vocals) and Adrian Wright (not much more than an equipment manager) to hire accomplished musicians to support them while Wright began to learn the synthesizer. Oakley ended up recruiting two teenagers, Joanne Catherall and Susanne Sulley, as backup vocalists, but they quickly moved to the front next to Oakley. Dare! was released on the heels of and includes three U.K. singles from mid-1981, “The Sound Of The Crowd” (#36), “Love Action (I Believe In Love” (#3) and “Open Your Heart” (#6). But it was the unexpected, runaway success of the chart-topping single lifted off the album, “Don’t You Want Me” that drove Dare! to #1 on the British album charts and #3 in the U.S.
For their fourth studio album, Remain In Light, the Talking Heads added African flavors to their tight, eccentric and edgy brand of post-punk, New Wave pop-rock. Using a recording studio in the Bahamas probably helped as well, for the result was a lighter, more upbeat and danceable album than anything previous. Remain In Light was released on October 8, 1980 and begat two singles, “Crosseyed And Painless” and “Once In A Lifetime.” The latter features frontman David Byrne’s preaching lyrics chanted from a gospel-revival pulpit atop a polyrhythmic African jam, and like the rest of the album it finds the link between the listener’s head and feet. Remain In Light was the third and final Heads’ album produced by Brian Eno. A marginal seller despite reaching #19 on the U.S. album charts (only briefly, though), it is nevertheless one of their best and ranks #126 on Rolling Stones’ list of the Top 500 albums of all-time. The Talking Heads are in the Playlist Vault at DrRock.com and Remain In Light is available on Amazon (CD) and iTunes (track downloads).