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Friday, June 28, 2013

Whatever the First New Wave Song...

This list of New Wave / Postpunk songs is extracted from a full and definitive article on Punk and New Wave that I wrote years ago, to be included in the essay anthology, entitled Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?which I will be publishing soon.  

Whatever the first New Wave song is remains to be debatable. Many references cite a Blondie song. Personally, I initially  went farther back in the 1960s to cite early songs by The Byrds ("The Bells of Rhymney" and "Turn! Turn! Turn!", both 1965), by David Bowie ("Uncle Arthur," 1967), Pink Floyd's first two singles ("Arnold Layne" and "See Emily Play," both 1967), The Doors ("Light My Fire," 1967), and Velvet Undergound ("Femme Fatale," 1967) as probably the first New Wave songs. However, I realized--after careful consideration--that including anything from the 1960s would be dangerous. It might just open a floodgate for countless similar-sounding bands and songs from this decade: The Zombies, The Hollies, The Who, Small Faces, The Beau Brummels, and even The Beatles! And that would obviously be only diluting the definition of New Wave. After all, my primary purpose for all these is to clarify or put in a clear and well-defined perspective the genre of music now known as New Wave. 

One of the first New Wave songs, Sparks' "Fa la Fa Lee" (1971)

One of the first New Wave songs, Roxy Music's "Virginia Plain" (1972)

One of the first New Wave songs, Kraftwerk's "Airwaves" (1975)

Therefore, for the sake of assigning a ground zero for the genre New Wave, I deliberately excluded anything from the 1960s, regardless if some of these recommendable songs carried a very New Wave sound. After all, New Wave as a music genre was not yet recognized in the 1960s; moreover, many references cite the 1970s as the birth of New Wave; although many journalists assign 1977 as the actual year. I go against this popular consensus, however. Personally, I assign 1971 as the actual birth of that distinct sound that came to be named as New Wave in the few years that followed: 1971, the year of release of Roxy Music's début album, which contained "Virginia Plain," which sonically bore the template of a typical New Wave song--melodic guitar-led intro, angular rhythm guitars and melodic but ear-catching adlibs, repetitive keyboard melody, steady bass, danceable drumbeats, a few stop-start in the song structure, and distinct vocal style. Add to that, Roxy Music's entire discography did not veer away much from its trademark sound; in fact, it even gravitated to the typical sound of New Wave, appropriately bookended by the band's final album, Avalon (1982), best represented by the song "More than This," which many music listeners and journalists acknowledge as New Wave proper.

So, here is a list of personally selected bands that I think best represents the music genre known as New Wave with recommended songs from proper début,  earlier, or landmark albums. Take note, however, that I used New Wave as an umbrella genre that includes offshoot or closely related genres or subgenres like Postpunk (Joy Division, The Slits), Synthpop (Depeche Mode, Strange Advance), Sophistipop (Fra Lippo Lippi, Johnny Hates Jazz), New Romantic (Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet), and Ska (The Selecter, Bad Manners).

Halfnelson (Sparks)  Fa La Fa Lee (1971, Halfnelson)
Roxy Music – “Virginia Plain” (1972, Roxy Music)
David Bowie  Starman (1972, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars)
Kraftwerk – Airwaves” (1975, Radio-Activity)
Blondie – In the Sun” (1976, Blondie)
The Jam – “Away from the Numbers” (1977, In the City)
The Stranglers – “No More Heroes” (1977, No More Heroes)
Talking Heads – “Uh-Oh, Love Comes to Town” (1977, Talking Heads: 77)
Television – “Guiding Light” (1977, Marquee Moon)
Ultravox – “The Wild, the Beautiful, and the Damned” (1977, Ultravox)
The Cars – “Just What I Needed” (1978, The Cars)
Devo – “Praying Hands” (1978, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!)
The Police – “Roxanne” (1978, Outlandos d’Amour)
Public Image Ltd. – “Annalisa” (1978, Public Image: First Issue)
Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Mirage” (1978, The Scream)
Adam & the Ants – “Never Trust a Man (With Egg on His Face)” (1979, Dirk Wears White Sox)
The B-52’s – “Rock Lobster” (1979, The B-52’s)
The Cure – “Fire in Cairo” (1979, Three Imaginary Boys)
The Fall – “Rebellious Jukebox” (1979, Live at the Witch Trials)
Gang of Four – “Return the Gift” (1979, Entertainment!)
The Human League – “Empire State Human” (1979, Reproduction)
Joy Division – “Shadowplay” (1979, Unknown Pleasures)
The Knack – “My Sharona” (1979, Get The Knack)
Martha & the Muffins – “Echo Beach” (1979, Metro Music)
The Pretenders – “Brass in Pocket” (1979, The Pretenders)
The Raincoats – “Life on the Line” (1979, The Raincoats)
Simple Minds – “Chelsea Girl” (1979, Life in a Day)
The Slits – “Instant Hit” (1979, Cut)
The Specials – “Doesn’t Make It Alright” (1979, The Specials)
XTC – “Making Plans for Nigel” (1979, Drums and Wires)

Bad Manners – “Special Brew” (1980, Ska ‘n’ B)
Bauhaus – “A God in an Alcove” (1980, In the Flat Field)
Berlin – “Talk Talk Video” (1980, Information)
Blue Peter – “Video Verite” (1980, Radio Silence)
Bow Wow Wow – “Sexy Eiffel Towers” (1980, YourCassette Pet)
Echo & the Bunnymen – “Do It Clean” (1980, Crocodiles)
Icehouse – “We Can Get Together (1980, Icehouse)
INXS – “Just Keep Walking” (1980, INXS)
Killing Joke – “Wardance” (1980, Killing Joke)
Madness – “Baggy Trousers” (1980, Absolutely)
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Messages” (1980, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)
The Psychedelic Furs – “Imitation of Christ” (1980, The Psychedelic Furs)
The Selecter – “Out on the Streets” (1980, Too Much Pressure)
The Sound – “Heartland” (1980, Jeopardy)
U2 – “I Will Follow” (1980, Boy)
The Vapors – “Letter from Hiro” (1980, New Clear Days)
Young Marble Giants – “Credit in the Straight World” (1980, Colossal Youth)
Altered Images – “Beckoning Strings” (1981, Happy Birthday)
The Church – “For a Moment We’re Strangers” (1981, Of Skins and Heart)
Depeche Mode – “Just Can't Get Enough” (1981, Speak & Spell)
Duran Duran – “Girls on Film” (1981, Duran Duran)
Girls at Our Best! – “Warm Girls” (1981, Pleasure)
The Go-Go’s – “We Got the Beat” (1981, Beauty and the Beat)
Josef K – “Sorry for Laughing” (1981, The Only Fun in Town)
Men at Work – “Down Under” (1981, Business as Usual)
Modern English – “Dance of Devotion” (1981, Mesh & Lace)
New Order – “Dreams Never End” (1981, Movement)
Spandau Ballet – “To Cut a Long Story Short” (1981, Journeys to Glory)
Spoons – “Conventional Beliefs” (1981, Stick Figure Neighbourhood)
Thompson Twins – “When I See You” (1981, A Product of … [Participation])
A Flock of Seagulls – “Space Age Love Song” (1982, A Flock of Seagulls)
ABC – “Poison Arrow” (1982, The Lexicon of Love)
Blancmange – “Waves” (1982, Happy Families)
China Crisis – “Some People I Know to Lead Fantastic Lives”  (1982, Difficult Shapes & Passive Rhythms,
          Some People Think It’s Fun to Entertain)
Culture Club – “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” (1982, Kissing to Be Clever)
The Fixx – “Red Skies” (1982, Shuttered Room)
Fun Boy Three – “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)” 
(1982, Fun Boy Three)
Haircut 100 – “Love Plus One” (1982, Pelican West)
Men Without Hats – “I Got the Message” (1982, Rhythm Youth)
Missing Persons – “Tears” (1982, Spring Session M)
Orange Juice – “Falling and Laughing” (1982, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever)
Rational Youth – “Saturdays in Silesia” (1982, Cold War Night Life)
Strange Advance – “Kiss in the Dark” (1982, Worlds Away)
Thomas Dolby – “Europa and the Pirate Twins” (1982, The Golden Age of Wireless )
Virgin Prunes – “Down the Memory Lane” (1982, Hérésie)
The Waitresses – “I Know What Boys Like” 
(1982, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?)
The Wake – “Heartburn” (1982, Harmony)
Yazoo – “Only You” (1982, Upstairs at Eric’s)
10,000 Maniacs – “Grey Victory” (1983, Secrets of the I Ching)
Aztec Camera – “Walk Out to Winter” (1983, High Land, Hard Rain)
The Big Country – “Fields of Fire (400 Miles)” (1983, The Crossing)
Blue Zoo – “Something Familiar” (1983, Two by Two)
Boys Brigade – “The Passion of Love” (1983, Boys Brigade)
Care – “Flaming Sword” (released as a single in 1983; an album
compiling all the band’s recorded materials was released in 1997)
The Chameleons U.K. – “Pleasure and Pain” (1983, Script of the Bridge)
The Creatures – “Dancing on Glass” (1983, Feast)
Darkroom – “Tears Hold No Cure” (1983, San Paku)
Dolly Mixture – “Will He Kiss Me Tonight?” (1983, Demonstration Tapes)
Gazebo – “I Like Chopin” (1983, Gazebo)
Gene Loves Jezebel – “Psychological Problems” (1983, Promise)
The Glove – “Like an Animal” (1983, Blue Sunshine)
Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy” (1983, White Feathers)
The Lords of the New Church – “Dance with Me” (1983, Is Nothing Sacred?)
R.E.M. – “Radio Free Europe” (1983, Murmur)
Real Life – “Catch Me, I’m Falling” (1983, Heartland)
Red Rockers – “China” (1983, Good as Gold)
Tears for Fears – “Suffer the Children” (1983, The Hurting)
The The – “This Is the Day” (1983, Soul Mining)
The Three o’Clock – “Fall to the Ground” (1983, Sixteen Tambourines)
X-mal Deutschland – “Boomerang” (1983, Fetisch)
The Alarm – “Where Were You Hiding when the Storm Broke?” (1984, Declaration)
Alphaville – “Sounds like a Melody” (1984, Forever Young)
Blue Nile – “Stay” (1984, A Walk across the Rooftops)
Bronski Beat – “Smalltown Boy” (1984, Age of Consent)
The Cult – “Spiritwalker” (1984, Dreamtime)
Dead or Alive – “You Make Me Wanna” (1984, Sophisticated Boom Boom)
Eurogliders –  "Heaven (Must Be There)" (1984, This Island)
Felt – “Sunlight Bathed the Golden Glow” 
(1984, The Strange Idols Pattern and Other Short Stories)
Fiat Lux – “Secrets” (1984, Hired History)
The Fiction Factory – “(Feels Like) Heaven” 
(1984, Throw the Warped Wheel Out)
Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax” (1984, Welcome to the Pleasuredome)
Friends Again – “State of Art” (1984, Trapped and Unwrapped)
General Public – “Never You Done That” (1984, All the Rage)
Howard Jones – “New Song” (1984, Human’s Lib)
The Icicle Works – “Birds Fly (Whisper to a Scream)” (1984, The Icicle Works)
Industry – “State of the Nation” (1984, Stranger to Stranger)
Information Society – “Running” (1984, Creatures of Influence)
Lloyd Cole & the Commotions – “Perfect Skin” (1984, Rattlesnakes)
The Lotus Eaters – “German Girl” (1984, No Sense of Sin)
Marc Almond & the Willing Sinners – “Gutter Hearts” (1984, Vermin in Ermine)
The March Violets – “Radiant Boys” (1984, Natural History)
New Model Army – “Smalltown England” (1984, Vengeance)
Nik Kershaw – “Wouldn’t It Be Good?” (1984, Human Racing)
The Pale Fountains – “Palm of My Hand” (1984, Pacific Street)
Platinum Blonde – “Doesn’t Really Matter” (1984, Standing in the Dark)
Prefab Sprout – “Cue Fanfare” (1984, Swoon)
Romeo Void – “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)” (1984, Instincts)
The Room – “New Dreams for Old” (1984, In Evil Hour)
The Smiths – “Hand in Glove” (1984, The Smiths)
The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Moods” (1984, Café Bleu)
Tones on Tails – “Lions” (1984, Pop)
Wire Train – “Chamber of Hellos” (1984, In a Chamber)
a-ha – “Take on Me” (1985, Hunting High and Low)
The Adventures – “Two Rivers” (1985, Theodore and Friends)
The Armoury Show – “We Can Be Brave Again” (1985, Waiting for the Floods)
B-Movie – “Switch On, Switch Off” (1985, Forever Running)
Big Audio Dynamite – “E=mc2” (1985, This Is Big Audio Dynamite)
Clan of Xymox – “A Day” (1985, Clan of Xymox)
The Colourfield – “Thinking of You” (1985, Virgins & Philistines)
Communards – “You Are My World” (1985, Communards)
The Damned – “Grimly Fiendish” (1985, Phantasmagoria)
Del Amitri – “Heard through a Wall” (1985, Del Amitri)
The Dream Academy – “Life in a Northern Town” (1985, The Dream Academy)
The Essence – “The Cat” (1985, Purity)
Everything but the Girl – “Ballad of the Times” (1985, Love Not Money)
The Farmer's Boys – “Phew Wow” (1985, With These Hands)
Fra Lippo Lippi – “Shouldn't Have to Be like That” (1985, Songs)
The Grapes of Wrath – “Love Comes Around” (1985, September Bowl of Green)
Indochine – “A l’Assaut (Des Ombres Sur L’O)” (1985, 3
Love & Rockets – “If There’s a Heaven Above” (1985, Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven)
The Lucy Show – “Ephemeral (This Is No Heaven)” (1985, …Undone)
Propaganda – “Duel” (1985, A Secret Wish)                          
Pseudo Echo – “A Beat for You” (1985, Autumnal Park)
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – “Hollow Eyes” (1985, Talk about the Weather)
The Sisters of Mercy – “Walk Away” (1985, First and Last and Always)
Strawberry Switchblade – “Let Her Go” (1985, Strawberry Switchblade)
Translator – “Gravity” (1985, Translator)
The Waterboys – “The Pan Within” (1985, This Is the Sea)
The Bible – “Graceland” (1986, Walking the Ghost Back Home)
The Big Dish – “Big New Beginning” (1986, Swimmer)
The Bølshøi –“Sunday Morning” (1986, Friends)
Book of Love – “I Touch Roses” (1986, Book of Love)
Cactus World News – “Years Later” (1986, Urban Beaches)
The Call – “Everywhere I Go” (1986, Reconciled)
Crowded House – “Now We’'re Getting Somewhere” (1986, Crowded House)
The Cutting Crew – “One for the Mockingbird” (1986, Broadcast)
Died Pretty – “Blue Sky Day” (1986, Free Dirt)
Easterhouse – “To Live like This” (1986, Contenders)
Erasure “Who Needs Love like That?” (1986, Wonderland)
Eyeless in Gaza – “Welcome Now” (1986, Back from the Rains)
The Flaming Mussolinis – “My Cleopatra” (1986, Watching the Film)
The Fountainhead – “Rhythm Method” (1986, The Burning Touch)
Fruits of Passion – “Love’s Glory” (1986, Fruits of Passion)
The Go-Betweens – “Head Full of Steam” (1986, Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express)
Guadalcanal Diary – “Pray for Rain” (1986, Jamboree)
The Housemartins – “Happy Hour” (1986, London 0 Hull 4)
I Start Counting – “Letters to a Friend” (1986, Translucent Hands)
Jimmy Jimmy – “I Met Her in Paris” (1986, Here in the Light)
Lick the Tins – “Belle of Belfast City” (1986, Blind Man on a Flying Horse)
The Lover Speaks – “Still Faking This Art of Love” (1986, The Lover Speaks)
Lowlife – “Wild Swan” (1986, Permanent Sleep)
The Mission U.K. – “Severina” (1986, God’s Own Medicine)
Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls” (1986, Please)
Peter Murphy – “Canvas Beauty” (1986, Should the World Fail to Fall Apart)
Red Box – “Heart of the Sun” (1986, The Circle & the Square)
The Shop Assistants – “I Don’t Want to Be Friends with You” (1986, Will Anything Happen?)
The Smithereens – “Blood and Roses” (1986, Especially for You)
Two Minds Crack – “Upside Down” (1986, The Victory Parade)
The Weather Prophets – “Almost Prayed” (1986, Diesel River)
The Woodentops – “Shout” (1986, Giant)
World Party – “All Come True” (1986, Private Revolution)
The Beloved – “A Hundred Words” (1987, Where It Is)
Black – “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” (1987, Wonderful Life)
The Bodines – “Therese” (1987, Played)
The Christians – “Ideal World” (1987, The Christians)
The Close Lobsters – “I Kiss the Flowers in Bloom” (1987, Foxheads Stalk This Land)
Curiosity Killed the Cat – “Down to Earth” (1987, Keep Your Distance)
Flesh for Lulu – “Postcards from Paradise” (1987, Long Live the New Flesh)
Immaculate Fools – “Tragic Comedy” (1987, Dumb Poet)
Midnight Oil – “Beds Are Burning” (1987, Diesel and Dust)
Primal Scream – “Gentle Tuesday” (1987, Sonic Flower Groove)
The Railway Children – “Gentle Sound” (1987, Reunion Wilderness)
Scarlett & Black – “You Don’t Know (1987, Scarlett & Black)
The Screaming Blue Messiahs – “55 the Law” (1987, Bikini Red)
Shelleyan Orphan – “Midsummer Pearls and Plumes” (1987, Helleborine)
The Wedding Present – “Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft” (1987, George Best)
A House – “I’ll Always Be Grateful” (1988, On Our Big Fat Merry-Go-Round)
Camouflage – “Strangers’ Thoughts” (1988, Voices & Images)
Celebrate the Nun – “She’s a Secretary” (1988, Meanwhile)
The Darling Buds – “Hit the Ground” (1988, Pop Said…)
Edie Brickell & New Bohemians – “Circle” (1988, Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars)
The Godfathers – “Birth, School, Work, Death” (1988, Birth, School, Work, Death)
Grace Pool – “Awake with the Rain” (1988, Grace Pool)
The House of Love – “Christine” (1988, The House of Love)
Johnny Hates Jazz – “Different Seasons” (1988, Turn Back the Clock)
The Mighty Lemon Drops – “Inside Out” (1988, World Without End)
Mighty Mighty – “When You Trusted Me” (1988, Sharks)
Morrissey – “I Don’t Mind if You Forget Me” (1988, Viva Hate)
One Thousand Violins – “If Only Words” (1988, Hey Man That’s Beautiful)
The Pursuit of Happiness – “She’s So Young” (1988, Love Junk)
The Soup Dragons – “Soft as Your Face” (1988, This Is Our Art)
Tuesday Blue – “Love Me Simple” (1988, Shibumi)
Voice of the Beehive – “Don’t Call Me Baby” (1988, Let It Bee)
When in Rome – “The Promise” (1988, When in Rome)
The Wild Swans – “Whirlpool Heart” (1988, Bringing Home the Ashes)
16 Tambourines – “Bathed in the Afterglow” (1989, How Green Is Your Valley?)
1927 – “That’s when I Think of You” (1989, …ish)
Kon Kan – “Harry Houdini” (1989, Move to Move)
The Ocean Blue – “Between Something and Nothing” (1989, The Ocean Blue)
The Orchids – “If You Can’t Find Love” (1989, Lyceum)
Red Flag – “Broken Heart” (1989, Naïve Art)
The Stone Roses – “She Bangs the Drums” (1989, The Stone Roses)

9 Ways to Sunday – “Midnight Train” (1990, 9 Ways to Sunday)
Anything Box – “Living in Oblivion” (1990, Peace)
Cause & Effect - "You Think You Know Her" (1990, Cause &Effect)
The Lightning Seeds – “Pure” (1990, Cloudcuckooland)
The Sundays – “Here’s where the Story Ends” (1990, Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic
Heavenly – “Lemonhead Boy” (1991, Heavenly vs. Satan)
Riverside – “Cinnamon Eyes” (1992, One)
The Other Two – “Movin’ On” (1993, The Other Two & You)
The Listening Pool – “Oil for the Lamps of China” (1994, Still Life)
Love Spit Love – “Am I Wrong?” (1994, Love Spit Love)
Northern Picture Library – “Catholic Easter Colours” (1994, Alaska)
Trembling Blue Stars – “For This One” (1996, Her Handwriting)
Babacar – “Midsummer” (1998, Babacar)
Antartica – “Absence” (1999, 81:03)

Desert Wolves – “Mexico” (2000, Pontification)
Vermont Sugar House – “Braveheart” (2008, Carlton Gardens)
Bad Lieutenant  – "Sink or Swim" (2009, Never Cry Another Tear)

Chvrches - "Clearest Blue" (2015, Every Open Eye)
No Devotion - "" (2015, Permanence)
Primal Scream - "Where the Light Gets In" (2016, Chaosmosis)

Final Note
While the book is yet to be published, I will be including more entries to represent the missing years in every decade; for example, I am still on a hunt for a New wave band that will best represent 1970, 1971, 1997, and for the most of the noughties (2000s).


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