Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Wave Remembered, New Wave Betrayed (and Another Anti-Lady Gaga Note)

•One of the Todd-defenders, writing at Daily Caller after the C-SPAN2 thing last year, was Mark Gauvreau Judge, who is a music-savvy Catholic (mentioning him will have to count as my nod to St. Patrick’s Day).  He understands the subtle yet creepy difference between Madonna invoking religious (and sadomasochistic) imagery – which is troubling enough to begin with – and, worse, Lady Gaga invoking religious (and sadomasochistic) imagery.  He wrote a book last year on such things, and you can read a few brief, pivotal excerpts from his article on the specific Madonna-Gaga tension right here

In short, the decadent tail should not be wagging the impassioned dog or else real, dehumanizing nastiness has a tendency to ensue, even if it’s tricked out with imagery borrowed from more wholesome sources.

•But let us turn our minds instead to New Wave, starting with perhaps my favorite Miami Vice scene ever, the one that confirmed my status as a Peter Gabriel fan – with “Rhythm of the Heat” playing as a deranged arms dealer, a former colleague of Crockett who to this day I remember was named Evan (William Russ would make a good Joker), demonstrated what MAC-10s can do to mannequins – and why Vice looked and sounded cold and stylish enough to air three decades later without seeming hokey.  This version of the clip is dubbed into German, but in a weird way, that helps (“Zvitek!”). 

•My Favorite became: Secret History.  The band My Favorite, who I mentioned a long time ago, eventually parted ways with their lead singer but reorganized as the band Secret History, this time with two female singers, one the daughter of David Bowie guitarist Mick Ronson (whose widow not only created the Ziggy Stardust haircut but once cut the hair of my friend Michael Malice).  I’m pleased the reconfabulated band still shows New Wave influences.

•How about some real, vintage New Wave, though?

If the Fixx (who inspired the title of my March 14 blog entry) don't sound New Wave enough in their usual quasi-prog mode, how about their song "Liner," in which they sound a bit ABC, I think?  A nice balance of ominous-robotic and snooty, like much of the best British New Wave stuff (and very catchy, I think).

And if the Fixx sounding like ABC doesn't help, how about them sounding like Talking Heads?  (Dave Whitney thinks that one sounds a bit like this Talking Heads song -- with Robert Palmer on bongos.)

•Truth be told, although I’m always happy to hear New Wave, even as a kid in the 80s I never lived by New Wave alone.  No, I didn’t go through the metal-loving hair band phase that most of my contemporaries did.  What I had a special soft spot for at the time, really, was classic rock acts enduring into the New Wave era or making comebacks (and new bands, especially if fronted by women, that were more hard rock than effete-Brit).  Thus, the following twelve songs were all great sources of joy for me back in the day:

1. Russ Ballard’s “Voices” (also put to great use in a Vice scene once, as Tubbs headed off in a speed boat to kill Calderone once and for all at the end of a two-parter)

2. Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell”

3. Box of Frogs’ “Back Where I Started” (with a very-80s vine-covered guitar)

4. Heart’s “How Can I Refuse?” (again with the viney guitar; this is my favorite post-1977 Heart song, by the way, no matter what the masses say)

5. Scandal with Patty Smyth’s “The Warrior” (written by the prolific and life-altering Holly Knight – and perhaps achieving its most 80s visual moment when we see the red/blue makeup; Knight’s Heart song “Never” wasn’t half-bad either – not to mention Animotion’s “Obsession” and Pat Benatar’s “Love Is a Battlefield,” among her many compositions)

5a. (BONUS SONG!) It was less popular, but I think Scandal/Patty Smyth’s “Beat of a Heart” sounds even more like she’s coming to kick your ass than “The Warrior” does, ironically (and this is my second-favorite Patty Smyth song, not “Goodbye to You,” great thought that is).

6. Red Rider’s “Young Thing Wild Dreams (Rock Me)”

7. Eric Clapton’s “Forever Man”

8. Tina Turner’s “One of the Living” (also written by the brilliant Holly Knight, along with roughly every song sung by a tough broad in the 80s)

9. Indeed, Robert Plant of all people did one of my favorite songs (and videos) of the entire decade, “Little by Little.”

I’m reminded by that one of one ex saying, to my surprise (though it makes sense upon reflection) that she found such videos disturbing and found it disturbing that I watched them as a child.  Formative stuff, in fact.  Hmmm.

10. Even Don Henley, fer chrissakes, pleased me greatly with things like “All She Wants to Do Is Dance.”

11. Deep Purple’s “Perfect Stranger”

12. And the (Rand-influenced) Rush goes without saying.  Note the Atlas Shrugged reference in the chorus of “Distant Early Warning” here.

P.S. And as today’s tiny East Asia moment: if anyone mistakenly tells you Corey Hart was a one-hit wonder with “Sunglasses at Night,” remind them not only about “Never Surrender” but “Boy in the Box.”  A hit – and almost never heard since then. 

No comments: