Saturday, August 18, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Dresden China - We Are Wise

Dresden China was formed in 1984 in Hamburg, Germany by Uli Werdin and Werner Littau. The duo saw Alphaville perform live and were inspired to start their own new wave band. They wrote songs and began to rent studio time to produce the demo tracks that would become their first (self-titled) album. In October of that year, RCA heard their demo material and offered them a record deal.

"We Are Wise" hit #63 on the German charts in late 1985 as the second single off the LP. It's always been my favorite Dresden China song, and just missed making the Top 200.

Dresden China continued to release material, on and off, until they finally called it quits in 2012.

Bonus! Here's the band's biggest hit, "Come Back", which charted on Top 40 lists throughout much of Europe in mid 1985.
See you next week with another song that almost made it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #42: The Jam - Going Underground

WAS and family are just back from a week vacation in London (England, not Ontario!) so this week’s Awesome Song will feature some 80s UK gems!

The Jam were one of the biggest bands of the 70s-80s in England but basically unknown in North America...  A power trio from Woking, Surrey, they were punk mods with 60s fashions and music that was rocking, hook laden and politically heavy (that last point likely explaining their strictly provincial popularity).  Think of them as what you would get if The Clash made “Quadrophenia” instead of The Who.  Their leader Paul Weller later went on the form “The Style Council” - which landed #138 in Marc’s Top 200.

The Jam’s best song IMO was one that was released in 1980, hit #1 in the UK and had many themes in common with the present day.  “Going Underground” is a roaring gem with hooks, vim & vigor that makes so many British songs of the era so great.  

My favorite line :
"We talk and we talk until my head explodes - I turn on the news and my body froze - These braying sheep on my TV screen - Make this boy shout, make this boy scream!"

38 years later, I believe we can still relate ?

Enjoy “Going Underground” (and if you like the Jam, I highly recommend “Snap!” - a collection of the best songs - great from start to finish!!). 
Our Bonus Awesome Song this week is in the same vein … it’s a song that’s quite manic punk, but was released way past the heyday of punk.  It earned the coveted “Screamer of the Week” spot on NY New Wave radio station WDRE on October 1, 1983... but wasn't very well-known.  Like “Going Underground” it echoes the issues of the present day and easily gets stuck in your head...  The video has a totally spooky & paranoid feel to it and still looks fresh today!   

Enjoy Intaferon and “Get Out of London”!
 Oh and despite these angry London songs, I did have an awesome vacation!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: John Foxx - Stars On Fire

John Foxx week continues! In 1985, Foxx released In Mysterious Ways, which was lauded as his "New Romantic" LP. A commercial failure (only reaching #85 on the UK album charts), In Mysterious Ways was his most accessible and radio-friendly work to that date. "Stars On Fire", the leadoff single, barely scratched the pop chart, reaching a lowly #89. I've always loved the song, and it just missed making my Top 200.

Here's the title track as well:
...and here's "Your Dress", another awesome Foxx track from his previous album, 1983's The Golden Section. about one more? "Quiet Men" from Foxx's days with Ultravox - specifically, 1978's Systems Of Romance.
That brings Foxx week to a conclusion. Hope you enjoyed it! I'll be back next Saturday with another (non-John Foxx) song that almost made my list.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #41: John Foxx - Swimmer II

Frequent readers of Marc’s Top 200 know that there is much love for John Foxx (both with and after Ultravox) here. He landed #128 on Marc’s list with “Europe After The Rain”, a spectacularly melancholy solo song, and his masterpiece with Ultravox “Hiroshima Mon Amour” blazed to a scorching #29!  Speaking of scorching, it has been an unusually hot summer, so this week’s Awesome Song dives right in to a cool refreshing pool of scorching solos with our second featured instrumental - courtesy of the genius of Mr. Foxx - Enjoy “Swimmer II” from his phenomenal release “The Garden”!

Bonus!  Another wonderful instrumental from 1980’s Metamatic!  Enjoy “Glimmer"

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Tangerine Dream - Le Parc (L.A. - Streethawk)

My partner in crime, WAS, brought us the first ever instrumental on this blog when he featured Ad Infinitum's "Telstar" as his Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week series' 14th entry. I figure it's time I spotlight an instrumental as well! 

To my mind, there's no better choice than "Le Parc" from 1970s synth phenomenon Tangerine Dream. Formed way back in 1967 and featuring an ever-changing lineup of amazing musicians, Tangerine Dream reached their apex when the band was comprised of founders Christopher Franke, Edgar Froese, and, of course, Peter Baumann (see above photo).

Baumann left to go solo, and his later albums snagged him several spots on my Top 200 (#185 and #22), plus a prior mention on an earlier edition of Just Missed It. 

Without him, Tangerine Dream continued, and were tapped by ABC to write the theme song for their 1985 motorcycle-superhero TV show, Streethawk.

The resulting song, "Le Parc (L.A. - Streethawk)" has been recognized as one of the best television themes of all time. I considered it for my Top 200, but ultimately decided to leave it off.

Here's the actual show opening, because I can't help myself!

More awesome Tangerine Dream!
"Beach Scene", "Monolight", & "Choronzon"...

Be back next week with another song that didn't quite make my list.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #40: The Specials - Pressure Drop

The Specials were a band out of Coventry, England formed in 1977.  Part of the Two-Tone ska revival along with bands like The English Beat (who scored Awesome Song #15), the Specials were a whole troupe of stylin’ multi-racial musicians with a unique sound and great original songs as well as covers.  My favorite song of theirs and this weeks Awesome Song is one of those covers, a Toots & the Maytals Jamaican reggae song from 1969 - a huge hit at the time called “Pressure Drop”.  This Specials song is also notable for having appeared in a movie with one of the greatest New Wave based soundtracks of all time - Grosse Point Blank!

But let’s not stop there - as a bonus here are two more Specials treats - their first hit “A Message To You Rudy” as well as another Toots cover, "Money Man”!


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Information Society - How Long

Information Society grabbed the #92 spot on my Top 200 with "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)", their biggest pop hit. That song is from their eponymous debut LP, released in 1988. Another great song by the Minneapolis trio is "How Long", from their 1990 follow-up album, Hack. This lead-off single failed to make the Hot 100, but hit #20 on the US dance chart. It's always been one of my favorite InSoc songs, and it just missed making my list.

Bonus! Here's "Peace & Love, Inc.", another great song from Information Society, the title track from their third LP. It reached #10 on the dance charts in 1992.

 Be back next week with another incredible song that almost made my list.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #39: The Records - Starry Eyes & Bram Tchaikovsky - Girl Of My Dreams

A special treat this week - a duo of new wave power-pop awesomeness from 1979 !

The Records were an English band that straddled the late 70s and early 80s and banged out timeless power-pop like champs.  A one-hit wonder, “Starry Eyes” was a sunny upbeat power-chord laden-song about their disaffection with their manager (of all things!)  It still sounds fresh today.

Bram Tchaikovsky (aka Peter Bramall) also dwelled in the same few years between 1978 and 1982 and was also a one-hit power-pop wonder.  His song was of the same genre but with much more interesting subject matter!  “Girl Of My Dreams” featured clanging guitars and over-dubbed harmonies galore but the real kicker was that it was Bram’s touching paean to …. a blow-up doll!

"Girl of My Dreams":
 Ah, 1979 … what a glorious time to be alive!

BTW, both of these power-pop forerunners to the New Wave movement (and much more cool stuff!) can be found on one excellent compilation CD: DIY: Starry Eyes - UK Pop II (1978-79)


While we are in the 1979 - 1980 period, there is a song we should … no MUST… add to this week’s entry.  In fact, it’s a segue song, TWO awesome songs linked together as one.  It’s also one that I am shocked that I beat our gracious host Marc D to naming!  

The Kings are a Canadian band from Vancouver BC whose biggest hit dropped in 1980 and is the very definition of pre-new-wave rocking power pop.  “This Beat Goes On / Switching To Glide” is a song that got tons of airplay in the early 80s in NYC and one I never, ever get tired of !  And remember - nothing matters but the weekend - from a Wednesday point of view!  


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: New Musik - Design

New Musik was a new wave offshoot of the London-based Nick Straker Band. 

Crooner Nick Straker himself was a founding member, with Tony Mansfield as the most important other component. Their lineup varied through their 3-album career, as they placed five singles onto the UK top 40 in the late 70s and early 80s. Their best song, in my opinion, is 1981's "Design", from the group's second LP, Anywhere. Though never released as a single (for some incomprehensible reason), I like it considerably more than "Living By Numbers", New Musik's biggest chart hit.

Another great song by New Musik is their cover of "All You Need Is Love", from the band's third (and final) LP, 1982's Warp. I'm not a huge Beatles fan - only three of their songs are on my personal playlist: "With A Little Help From My Friends", "Twist And Shout", and my favorite, "Penny Lane" - but this track is awesome as played by New Musik.

Bonus! Here's the Nick Straker Band's best song, 1980's "A Walk In The Park".
Be back next week with another great song that didn't make my Top 200.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #38: Simple Minds - Someone, Somewhere In Summertime

This week’s Awesome Song is by a band who already have two appearances in the Top 200 (that’s how awesome they are!).

Simple Minds scored spots #69 and #179 on Marc’s Top 200 with “Don’t You Forget About Me” and “Love Song” respectively. Great songs.  I always preferred early Simple Minds, when their songs were either more driving (like “Love Song” and "I Travel") or dreamy and ethereal (like the entire New Gold Dream album). 

This week’s entry is of the latter variety and comes off of New Gold Dream and is my favorite SM song.  It’s a timeless, haunting, beautiful classic.

Enjoy “Someone, Somewhere In Summertime”!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Fatal Charm - Summer Spies

Summer is here! What better way to celebrate it than with some awesome summer-themed new wave? That's what Was and I are doing this week. I'm starting things off with Fatal Charm's "Summer Spies".

Brits Paul Arnall and Sarah Simmonds formed Fatal Charm in 1978 as a punk group, but by the early 80s (after several unsuccessful punk singles) they had morphed into a new wave outfit. Fatal Charm was finally able to cobble together a full-length debut LP, Endangered Species, in 1985. Third single "Summer Spies" caught fire and just missed charting in the UK. Simmonds soaring vocals and Arnall's synth wizardry created a haunting, ethereal sound combination.

I did have "Summer Spies" on my Top 200, but eventually it fell off the list in one of the last few rounds of cuts. 

Later, in 1987, Fatal Charm did finally have a charting single, "Lucille", from their second album This Strange Attraction. I like this song as well.
Be back next week with another great song that just missed making the list. Until then, watch out for Summer Spies in your room!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #37: The Icicle Works - Understanding Jane

The Icicle Works nailed down position #74 on Marc’s Top 200 with “Birds Fly (From a Whisper To A Scream)” off their eponymous first LP.  Great song, and one that has stood the test of time.  

My favorite Icicle Works song is off the first album of theirs I owned, “If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy, Sing His Song”.   From 1987, “Understanding Jane” is at once a sentimental love song and smashing rock rave-up - like a Journey song that was kidnapped at gunpoint by the Ramones, taken to a tattoo parlor, redecorated, and released, so it could rock out with wild abandon!

The original video of the song was pretty cheesy, featuring the nerd herd of a band in an English pub - the video enclosed is not only easier on the eyes, it sounds 10x better!

Enjoy “Understanding Jane”!
Bonus! Speaking of Icicle Works, a song I often played on my radio show before or after "Birds Fly" was today’s bonus track - another one that would make my personal Top 200 for sure!   

Talk Talk scored #100 on Marc’s Top 200 and their namesake song is wonderful - but my favorite is “It's My Life” - a huge international hit for them and this one we will link to the video, as it both haunting and beautiful.

Enjoy “It’s My Life”!

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Just Missed My Top 200: Freur - Riders In The Night

Was already featured Freur in his Awesome Song Of The Week series awhile back, with the awesome tune "Doot Doot". Another great song from the 1983 album of the same name is "Riders In The Night", which nearly made it onto my Top 200. In fact, at the time I was listing songs for the 200, I didn't even consider "Doot Doot", since for some reason I didn't care for it much until I listened to the track a few more times due to Was!

Anyway, "Riders In The Night" has always been my favorite Freur song, as it deftly straddles the line between new wave and 80s rock in a much more appealing way than many more famous acts.

I also enjoy "Matters Of The Heart", from the same LP.
Be back next time with another song that almost made the list.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

WAS's Awesome New Wave Song Of The Week #36: X - 4th Of July

This week’s Awesome Song would definitely make my 80s post-punk Top 20 — and as an added bonus, it arrives on an absolutely perfect day!

X started out as a punk band in Los Angeles in 1977 and touched many genres - punk, rockabilly, folk, roots rock, countrified hard rock - but retained the basic elements of their sound throughout.  Although they have many songs I like, their clear triumph was on their 6th album, See How We Are, released in 1987. 

4th of July” is about as non-punk a song as they did, but it is perfect in almost every way.  The vocal delivery, instrumentation, romantic yearning and lyrics all nail it.  I may have bent the “new wave” rule on this choice but hey baby … it’s the 4th of July


Bonus: A great song off my favorite X album, 1983’s More Fun In The New World:

"Poor Girl":

And since we are celebrating American post-punkery on this July 4th US Holiday, here is another 1987 dose of awesomeness - from a Raleigh, North Carolina band named the Connells.  IMO The Connells may be THE most criminally under-rated late-80s band in history - Their whole catalogue is stunningly good !

"Scotty’s Lament":