MIxtape: And The Band Played On. 0

Freddie And The Dreamers. Sly And The Family Stone. Dion And The Belmonts. Reparata & The Delrons, Booker T & The MGs. There used to be a time when a pop group had a caste system, when one member of the band was regarded as being of more importance than the other. These days are gone. Partly because pop bands themselves are pretty much extinct and partly because it’s deemed insensitive to elevate the contribution of one member over another. The eighties was the last stand of the And The bands.

“Stand And Deliver,” Adam And The Ants

Perhaps the Ants most confident record. No longer the bitter loser or the outsider with a chip on his shoulder, “Stand And deliver” saw Adam Ant as his homeland’s biggest pop star and he used his vast platform to stick two amused fingers up at the old, ugly, smelly state of rock music, those who followed it, played it, consumed it and wrote about it. He was rewarded with a single that soared straight in at number one, a rarity in those days.

“Happy House,” Siouxsie & The Banshees

There was a feeling the Banshees had blown it with their second album, Join Hands. It seemed like the work of a band bereft of ideas. “Happy House” debuted to low expectations but turned out be the start of an amazing run of singles that proved Siouxsie’s Voice of Doom was as it;s most effective when fronting a band that soared rather than lumbered.

“Rescue,” Echo And The Bunnymen

Major label debuts of bands who’d intrigued in the indie incarnations could be disappointing. Not the case with “Rescue”, the first post-Zoo Echo release. Still ominous, still enigmatic but now with a sound as big as their ambitions.

“Forest Fire,” Lloyd Cole & The Commotions

The rare case of an Englishman moving to Glasgow to find fame and fortune. Lloyd Cole’s killer combination of smugness, pretension and instant success made him an easy figure to loathe and plenty teenage Glaswegians were more than equal to the challenge. “Forest Fire” shut us up. “Total Control” by The Motels is one of my favorite example of a song that’s all tension and no release. This song exerts a similar grip but lets the listener exhale with the long guitar workout at the finish line.

“Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick,” Ian Dury And The Blockheads

Let’s take a second to deal with the notion that this song by an aging Cockney polio victim with it’s free jazz breakdown at the mid-point was not only a number one record but was never off the radio, played at every school disco and teenage party and was not his only hit. Different times.

“Do Anything You Wanna Do,” Eddie & The Hot Rods

Like Dr. Feelgood, Eddie & The Hot Rods, were stuck in the divide between pub rock and punk. They tried to bridge the culture gap by changing their name to Rods and releasing this, their best ever record. It was hailed as a classic summer single. They triumphantly reverted back to their original name and never released another song anywhere near as good or successful. This clip comes from Marc Bolan’s old, after-school TV show.

“Call Me Every Night,” Jane Aire And The Belvederes

In Mad World:The Book, we tell the story of how Akron’s The Waitresses were a record first and then a band. The same thing happened with Jane Aire And The Belvederes who were formed to take advantage of the British media’s post-Devo interest in all things form Akron. Stiff Records put out an Akron compilation album featuring the song “Yankee Wheels” and a conglomeration of local musicians working under the name Jane Aire And The Belvederes. The singer and the guy who wrote the songs moved to London, started a real band, featuring Jon Moss on drums, and took a shot at becoming an actual pop group. They made a few records, unnoticed by most but loved by Teenage Me.

 

 “Driving,” Pearl Harbor & The Explosions

Here’s a crazy coincidence. “Driving” was also recorded by Jane Aire And The Belvederes. Two female-fronted And The bands doing the same song at approximately the same period of time. Even more amazing, it was a hit for neither.

“The Lonely Spy,” Lori & The Chameleons

Yes, the great lost new wave record by our own Lori Majewski. JK!  (Her song, “I Love Shelf! has yet to be retrieved from the archives) L&TC were another semi-imaginary combo invented by Zoo Records, Bill Drummond of the KLF wrote and produced this, inspired by the wistful voice of a girl he apparently discovered on her way to class at a Liverpool art school.

“The Captain Of Your Ship,” Bette Bright & The Illuminations

Not the first appearance in this feature of wife of Suggs and Liverpool legend Bette Bright, but a fitting way to close as a female-fronted And The band from the eighties, covers a classic from a female fronted And The band from the sixties!

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Mixtape: O Canada! 0

Where are the women? Where are the goths? Where are the Canadians? Just some of the complaints we’ve dealt with these past few months in regards to what some people see as our exclusionary artist policy. You can’t please all the people all the time, but this week we’re going to please the easily-pleased populace of Canada. You wanted an all-Canadian new wave mixtape? Well, your wish is, belatedly our command. And by us, we don’t mean the authors of Mad World: The Book. This week, we turn the controls of the big rig over to special guest mixtape curator and friend of the blog, Chris Rooney. So you know who to thank. Or blame. (For listen via Spotify, click here.)

 

 

01. “Echo Beach,” Martha & The Muffins (1980)
With all the elements of a great Blondie or B-52s song, some how this classic missed the ears of American listeners. But just like those other two bands, the Toronto band were appreciated more across the pond in 1980 where they had minor success in the UK Top Ten.

02. “Nova Heart,” The Spoons (1982)
The generous use of a drum machine and chorus pedal on the guitar combined with their Duran Duran-esque hair and fashions, early Spoons’ work has a distinctive British flair to it that would have fit in perfectly with early MTV’s infatuation with New Wave videos.

03. “I Like,” Men Without Hats (1982)
This song is the perfect anthem should Facebook ever choose to run commercials. Men Without Hats were formed in 1980 by the Montrealer brothers Ivan and Stefan Doroschuk and are best remembered for their international hit “Safety Dance” released two months after “I Like”.

04. “Eyes Of A Stranger,” The Payolas (1982)
The rumor is that American Bandstand host Dick Clark prevented the band from playing on his show because their name derived from the cash-for-radio play scandal that he was linked to while deejaying in the early days of rock-n-roll. Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie guitarist and producer Mick Ronson produced the song and provided support on keyboards, guitar and backing vocals. With its slinky, moody beat, the song is probably best remembered being featured on the 1983 soundtrack of “Valley Girl” starring a young Nicolas Cage.

05. “Worlds Away,” Strange Advance (1982)
Described as Canada’s Ultravox, the Vancouver synth band Strange Advance’s work on their debut album was nominated for a Juno Award, the Canadian equivalent to a Grammy or the Brit Award, for “Most Promising Group of the Year” in 1983.

06. “Living In Video,” Trans-X (1983)
Once upon a time three decades ago, this was considered futuristic – a world of keyboard guitars and boxy computers with black and green displays demonstrated here by the Montreal synthpop ensemble Trans-X in their 1983 video.

07. “Mimi On The Beach,” Jane Siberry (1984)
While the kids in America had MTV, neighbors to the north were tuned into the music video channel MuchMusic when it launched the same year as Jane’s first charting song in 1984. She had a few more pop hits before focusing on a more “high art” rock music akin to Kate Bush or Peter Gabriel by the late 80s.

08. “Sunglasses At Night,” Corey Hart (1984)
Perhaps Corey Hart’s aspirations of being the Justin Bieber of his day never quite materialized as he was unable to capitalize on his initial pop star success in America after this song.

09. “Black Stations/White Stations,” M+M (1984)
After Martha & The  Muffins was reduced a duo, they rechristened themselves M+M and challenged radio stations to “Stand Up and Face the Music/This Is 1984!” because of the perceived racism in the radio industry. Ironically the song was banned by many radio stations.

10. “I’m an Adult Now,” Pursuit of Happiness (1986)
What are your rebelling against? What do you got? This is the perfection coming-of-age song when those teenage years in the 1980s were ending and you now had to face adulthood.

11. “As the End Draws Near,” Manufacture ft. Sarah McLachlan (1988)
First signed to Nettwerk, the Vancouver music label Initially specializing in electronic music genres such as alternative dance and industrial, Sarah McLachlan provided vocals on this running in stark contrast to the more ethereal Adult Contemporary pop work she would do later in the 1990s.

12. “I Beg Your Pardon,” Kon Kan (1990)
For the longest time I thought this was an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark song when I heard it on the radio as the sampled chorus of Lynn Anderson’s 1971 hit “Rose Garden” sounded just like Andy McCluskey of OMD. The song surprisingly managed to do better outside of their native Canada in both the US and the UK.

13. “Pale Shelter,” Matthew Dear featuring Tegan and Sara (2013)
With a blessing from Tears For Fears, Canadian pop duo and identical twins Tegan and Sara provided the vocals on this recent cover of their 1982 song. Sara Quin recently told the indie music news site Stereogum that she and her sister “have been heavily influenced by Tears for Fears” and called it one of their favorite songs.

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Mixtape: The Best David Bowie Covers 2

In honor of David Bowie Day (the acclaimed exhibit finally lands in the U.S., opening today at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art), here is a playlist of Bowie covers from some of our favorite new wave artists. (For a Spotify playlist, click here.)

“Ziggy Stardust,” Bauhaus (1982)

 

“Ashes to Ashes,” Tears For Fears (1992)

 

“Fame,” Duran Duran (1981)

 

“Boys Keep Swinging,” The Associates (1979)

 

“The Man Who Sold the World,” Simple Minds (2001)

 

The Man Who Sold the World,” Midge Ure (1985)

 

“TVC 15,” Comateens (1981)

 

“John I’m Only Dancing,” The Polecats (1981)

 

“Under Pressure,” Annie Lennox and David Bowie (1992)

 

“Young Americans,” The Cure (1995)

 

“Drive-In Saturday,” Morrissey (2000)

 

“Starman,” Culture Club (1999)

 

“Moonage Daydream,” The Chameleons (2007)

 

“Heroes,” Clan of Xymox (2007)

 

“Heroes,” Blondie (1980)

 

“Nightclubbing,” Human League

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