Category Archives: new wave
“Bop ‘Til You Drop” by Rick Springfield
There was a time when Rick Springfield was cool, we may all want desperately to want to forget it, but it’s true. Memory is a tricky thing. We may want to remember Rick Springfield as bubble gum pop, but there was a time he was considered not only rock, but even a little tiny bit new wave. I heard “Jessie’s Girl” for the first time on WMMR, and follow-ups “Affair of the Heart,” and the two videos featured here, all on WYSP during their new music hour.
The truth is that he had been around a long time before his ‘overnight success,’ was a minor pop idol and even had his own Saturday morning cartoon in the 1970s. And after, he was the original “Forever Knight,” the original “Human Target,” and released what I think his best album, Tao.
I fully agree with my online friend DJ Marilyn Thomas, “Bop ‘Til You Drop” is a New Wave song, no matter what you say, you selective memory music heathens.
And then there’s this one…
“Human Touch” by Rick Springfield
Rocker trying desperately to be new wave in a music video, trying to capitalize on the odd music video fashions of the time, pretending it’s the future, and looking uncomfortable the whole time – check. For a long time, this was what music videos looked like. At least it’s not…
“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Wow, the future looked kinda bleak in the early 1980s…
“Wot” by Captain Sensible
Honestly I had never really thought of this one as lost, but as more of a classic, but it’s been pointed out to me recently by someone who really knows his music – this was something new to him. New, but properly loved, as it should be.
“Wot” is one of my favorites of the new wave era, and could be listened to on a loop for maybe hours, grooving every moment. I love it. And the fact he namedrops and disses Adam Ant in the song just makes all that much cooler.
Captain Sensible goes way back in the punk and new wave movements. He founded The Damned, was in the supergroup Dead Men Walking, and was the first of many to record “Jet Boy, Jet Girl,” which I am sure we’ll cover here at some point. Last I heard, the Captain had formed his own anarchist political party over in the UK. Still punking after all these years.
This has happened before. Even though I lived through the New Wave era, the 1980s give or take, there are still songs that eluded me. This is another.
I knew the name Robyn Hitchcock, and I had seen it dozens upon dozens of times flipping through albums while shopping or browsing (or filing albums when I worked in a record store). But oddly enough, I don’t actually recall ever hearing any of his music. At least not when it was current.
“Balloon Man” by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians
Hi folks, it’s been a long journey the past week and a half on the Robin Renee Blog Tour. Tonight, I wanted to share a few odds and ends that had to be edited for space in yesterday’s interview with Robin at Biff Bam Pop!. Here you go, enjoy!
Robin on Covers
We both have a deep love of covers, and I wanted to say that your quiet subtle version of Nick Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” is beautiful. What made you decide to do this song?
Robin Renee: Well, there’s a funny story. When I was in junior high school, I had a Ouija board. When my parents found out, they got all mad and took it away, thinking something evil would come through it or something. After that, I was pissed off and determined to have a Ouija board. I decided to make one by writing out all the letters on a chalkboard I had (in heavy pencil or some kind of ink). Next, I needed an indicator. I had the 45 record of “Cruel to be Kind.” I loved that song, but wasn’t crazy about whatever song was on the B-side, so I wound up using the record as the Ouija indicator with the B-side scratching against the board.
Wacky story, right? But unforgettable. So first, “Cruel to be Kind” is just a quintessentially great pop song. I was also a rather precocious person and was a bit interested in BDSM, so I liked the song title for that possible construed meaning. And finally, the song will forever be linked to that funny Ouija board memory for me. I guess when I made the All Six Senses album, it was just time to record a new take on this classic tune.
Robin on Devo Dan
Now you have done other covers of another type. Do you want to talk about Devo Dan?
Robin Renee: Devo Dan… Strange you should ask me about Devo Dan. From time to time, some people have told me I kind of look like him and some think I sound like him. I don’t really get it. But I finally looked him up and I like it a lot! It’s kind of synth pop meets the smooth sounds of the 70’s, or something like that. I found his story here and my favorite Devo Dan song is here.
Robin on the Mutant Mountain Boys
How about the Mutant Mountain Boys?
Robin Renee: I absolutely love being part of the Mutant Mountain Boys! We come from all over the country, so we get together when we can. The band is the brainchild of Samantha, whose musical favorites are Devo and Charlie Poole. She put the two together, added some Church of the Subgenius, and Presto! You’ve got a Devo-gone-bluegrass, SubG gospel band! We have so much fun, and I really hope we can figure out a way to get together and play more often. We need some nerds and geeks to invite us to play their favorite venues and conventions (hint, hint).
Check out “Look Away from the Pinks” and a few other Mutant Mountain Boys tunes.
Robin on the Holidays
You have also released a couple terrific and unique holiday songs over the years, “(Almost Had A) Holiday,” “The Yule Song,” and “Hare Krishna Christmas.” What can you tell us about these great tunes, and especially the video for that last one?
Robin Renee: I know, I didn’t set out to have a tradition of releasing holiday songs, but it seems a trend has started! Who knows – maybe there’ll be a holiday album one of these days that includes the tunes already recorded plus some more from various traditions. “The Yule Song” is to the tune of Adam Sandler’s “The Chanukah Song,” and it kind of serves the same humorous and serious function for those of us who celebrate Yule, or Winter Solstice in the Pagan traditions. “(Almost Had A) Holiday” is actually an original song I first recorded with a band I used to be in called The Loved Ones. It is upbeat, but about planning a perfect holiday with a partner only to have a breakup and wind up somewhere far away. It’s a fairly true-to-life song, and the cool thing about it is it’s come full circle – After many years apart, I have started spending Christmas Eves with that ex and his family. It’s a nice shift.
I wrote “Hare Krishna Christmas” (“Holly Jolly Christmas” parody) around the time I was first getting deeply into kirtan and bhakti. It was Christmastime and I was just in this really intense place of diving into something new while trying to uphold all the traditional stuff and holiday obligations. So, I was kind of laughing at myself and that song just came out while I was doing my holiday decorating. For the video, I asked friends to send me all kinds of holiday pictures, I had a few, and we used some royalty-free images, too, to come up with something kind of funny and also clearly embracing all winter holiday traditions.
Robin on Her Background
If I’m not intruding, could you tell us about your upbringing?
But seriously, folks… you aren’t intruding at all. It is a ginormous question, though. I grew up in Southern New Jersey and I was lucky in that my interest in music showed up pretty early and my parents were very supportive of that. They also encouraged my interest in science and I got to travel since I was fairly young, which I really appreciate. My parents are (were, actually – they are both deceased) my maternal grandmother and her second husband, who raised me from the beginning and adopted me when I was about five. She was black and he was white, so I had a completely biracial upbringing, though it took me a long time to recognize that as a big part of my identity. I’m really happy I understand that now. They had an interracial marriage several years before Loving v. Virginia, and while it was not illegal in New Jersey, I think it was courageous of them and probably wasn’t always easy early on.
There was always a lot of music in the house, and my parents were pretty metaphysical in their outlook. They were Christian, and also into Edgar Cayce, so I learned about meditation and other broad and alternative spiritual perspectives early on. My brother was there, then off at college & other travels, but we grew to have certain things in common like some musical tastes and love of cartoons. My grandmother (i.e. biological great-grandmother) lived with us, too, and she really was the overriding mother figure. I have often reflected that I think my relationship to Grandmom has been the purest of my life – there was just so much love without complication. My mom was pretty political, so I probably inherited the activist gene from her. Of course there is so much more, but I’m not sure what else I could say without writing a book here.
Robin on Wigheads
Tell us about Wigheads.
Robin Renee: I kinda have no idea. I love them. I find mannequins in general to be strangely compelling and beautiful – maybe that’s the New Wave/Gary Wilson aesthetic. Somewhere along the line, something moved me and I discovered that wig display heads are my canvas for now. I love making 3-D collages with them, and as I work it’s as if they start to tell me their story. Songs and other writings do that, too – they change and grow in the process. I’d like to make more wigheads, and to make photographs from them. I have a lot of other practical and artistic projects that seem to be ahead in line, but I haven’t forgotten them. One day, I’d love to do commissioned wighead works, like create them for clubs and other interesting spaces.
More to come!
“Jocko Homo” by DEVO
Over on The GAR! Podcast, as part of the Robin Renee Blog Tour, Ray and I interviewed Robin for about a half-hour or so. One of the things that came up in conversation was transformative moments in music on “Saturday Night Live.”
In those early seasons of the program I was exposed to many new musical experiences that shaped and influenced how I perceived music, and in the growing punk and new wave atmosphere of the late 1970s, “SNL” was full of new musical experiences. Both Robin and I were affected by an appearance by David Bowie. Ray talked about seeing Fishbone, although much later. I remember being amazed by Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, The Specials, The Clash, the B-52s, Gary Numan, and yes, DEVO.
I wouldn’t be as hardcore into the band as I was later in the Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists years, but the visuals and sounds stayed with me. I was especially drawn to their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and that it did what all covers should seek to do, overtake the original. I still to this day feel the DEVO version is superior to the Stones’.
Richie Havens 1941-2013
Crissy Amphlett 1959-2013
Today is a sad day in music…
“True Love, Pt. #2” by X
Man oh man, the sound and visuals are scratchy, but I still love it. I can remember a time way waaay back in early 1984 when I would wear out this track on More Fun in the Big World. I came to X quite late, and probably to many purists, this album, produced by Doors organist Ray Manzarek, represented the band selling out – but I loved it hard.
I don’t know what it was about “True Love, Pt. #2,” whether it was the driving groove, the medley vibe it had featuring “Black Betty” and “Freddie’s Dead,” or that it simply included the first song I ever learned to sing myself – “Skip to My Lou” – I thought it was da bomb.
X formed in Los Angeles (also the name of their perhaps greatest album) in 1977 as one of America’s first punk rock bands. The charismatic line-up was composed of co-vocalists Exene Cervenka and John X. Doe, smiling guitarist Billy Zoom, and drummer DJ Bonebrake. From the 1980s through the 2000s they have released over a dozen albums (about half live and greatest hits, but hey they rule live), and today they still tour.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
“Antmusic” by Adam and the Ants
In my review, at Biff Bam Pop this week, of Adam Ant’s new album Adam Ant Is the Blueblack Hussar in Marrying The Gunner’s Daughter, I talk a bit about my first impressions of Adam and the Ants. You can check it out here.
I remember playing both the Kings of the Wild Frontier and Prince Charming albums constantly and obsessively. I loved them. As I had mentioned before with The Police, I also got to see the music as well on “Rockworld.” It was the beginning of a life long love affair.
No matter how you slice it, Adam Ant is a true superstar of the New Wave, whether he agrees to the label or not. His career has spanned from the mid-1970s to today with this fabulous new album.
“Dog Eat Dog” by Adam and the Ants
“The Fanatic” by Felony
Folks who were at last night’s Dumpsta Players show in Philly got their heads refreshed for this one.
While they did continue to perform and make records, Los Angeles’ Felony secured a true one hit wonder here, with “The Fanatic,” which was used not only in the film Valley Girl in the 1980s, but also the recent Take Me Home Tonight.