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New Wave / Another Use For Plastic 1977 - 1981


1977 - 1978


1 Boomtown Rats ‘Lookin’ After No 1’ New Wave LP July 1977

2 Mink Deville ‘Spanish Stroll’ Mink Deville LP July 1977

3 The Boys ‘ The First Time‘ Single A Side July 1977

4 Advertising ‘Lipstick’ Single A Side August 1977

5 Ian Dury ‘ Sex And Drugs And Rock’n’Roll’ Single A Side August 1977

6 Stranglers ‘No More Heroes’ Single A Side September 1977

7 Talking Heads ‘ Psycho Killer’ Talking Heads LP September 1977

8 Ultravox ‘Rockwrock’ Single A Side October 1977

9 The Modern Lovers ‘Pablo Picasso’ The Modern Lovers LP October 1977

10 Rezillos ‘(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures’ Single A Side November 1977

11 XTC ‘Statue Of Liberty’ Single A Side January 1978

12 Rich Kids ‘Rich Kids’ Single A Side January 1978

13 Tonight ‘Drummer Man’ Single A Side February 1978

14 The Boys ‘Brickfield Nights’ Single A Side February 1978

15 The Vibrators ‘Automatic Lover’ Single A Side March 1978

16 Elvis Costello & The Attractions ‘(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea’ Single A Side March 1978

17 The Saints ‘Private Affair’ Eternally Yours LP March 1978

18 Devo (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ Single A Side April 1978

19 The Only Ones ‘Another Girl Another Planet’ Single A Side April 1978

20 Strsanglers ‘Nice ‘N Sleazy’ Black And White LP May 1978

21 Buzzcocks ‘Love You More’ Single A Side July 1978

22 Boomtown Rats ‘Blind Date’ A Tonic For The Troops LP July 1978

23 The Police ‘Can’t Stand Losing You’ Single A Side August 1978

24 Blondie ‘One Way Or Another’ Parallel Lines LP September 1978

25 Wreckless Eric ‘Take The Cash’ The Wonderful World Of LP October 1978


1979 - 1981


1 The Members ‘Sound Of The Suburbs’ Single A Side January 1979

2 Elvis Costello & The Attractions ‘Green Shirt’ Armed Forces LP January 1979

3 The Pretenders ‘Stop Your Sobbing‘ Single A Side January 1979

4 Joe Jackson ‘Sunday Papers’ Look Sharp LP January 1979

5 Lene Lovich ‘Lucky Number’ Single A Side February 1979

6 The Romantics ‘What I Like About You’ Single A Side March 1979

7 Buzzcocks ‘Everybodys Happy Nowadays’ Single A Side March 1979

8 The Undertones ‘Here Comes The Summer’ The Undertones LP May 1979

9 The Knack ‘She’s So Selfish’ Get The Knack LP May 1979

10 The Pretenders Tattooed Love Boys’ Single B Side June 1979

11 Xtc ‘Reel By Reel’ Drums And Wires LP August 1979

12 Blondie ‘The Hardest Part’ Eat To The Beat LP October 1979

13 Doll By Doll ‘Gypsy Blood’ Gypsy Blood LP October 1979

14 The Cure ‘Jumping Someone Else’s Train’ Single A Side October 1979

15 The Passions ‘Hunted’ Single A Side November 1979

16 Holly & The Italians ‘Tell That Girl To Shut Up’ Single A Side January 1980

17 The Psychedelic Furs ‘Pulse’ The Psychedelic Furs LP February 1980

18 The Monochrome Set ‘The Strange Boutique’ Strange Boutique LP April 1980

19 Devo ‘Girl U Want’ Freedom Of Choice LP May 1980

20 The Plimsouls ‘Everyday Things’ The Plimsouls LP June 1980

21 The B-52’s ‘Give Me Back My Man’ Wild Planet LP September 1980

22 Skids ‘Hurry On Boys’ The Absolute Game LP September 1980

23 Generation X ‘Dancing With Myself’ Single A Side September 1980

24 The Go-Go’s ‘Our Lips Are Sealed’ Single A Side May 1981

25 The Psychedelic Furs ‘Pretty In Pink’ Talk Talk Talk LP May 1981


   In July 1977, at the very peak of punk mania, Phonogram Records issued New Wave, a compilation album featuring the likes of The Dead Boys, The Ramones, The Runaways and The Boomtown Rats ‘Lookin’ After No 1’. It was the first time new wave had been used to reference music but it heralded the start of a genre that would come to dominate the charts, radio and Top Of The Pops for the next four years.

   Now genres can be fuzzy things, particularly when what fits where is uncertain. But, contrary to most lines of thought (in America new wave is used to describe everything from The Pretenders and Joe Jackson to the Duranies and Depeche Mode), one thing I know for sure is that new wave had absolutely no connection to post punk or new pop. OK, so it may have been inspired by punk originally but it was always easily identifiable as a quite separate beasty, full of groups too steeped in trad pop values to be regarded as experimental or modern, whether it was The Stranglers trademark 60’s Doors sound or the early 70’s cod reggae of The Police. Infact, at its narrowest and most disparaging, new wave came to represent something very particular, four geeky late twenty nerds, with short hair, plastic shades and blank expressions. And that cemented the defining paradox of new wave – musically it wasn’t new at all. Most punks, including myself, had already dismissed it out of hand. 

    Punk’s principle problem with many of these groups was that they were undeniable bandwagon jumpers of the most cynical kind, older, opportunist pub rockers who cut their hair and reinvented themselves as soon as punk began hoovering up the column inches. Having said that, some tagged as new wave like the Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, The Boys, Generation X and The Vibrators, had originally emerged during the very first days of punk, long before their less abrasive sensibility came to the fore. And there were others like XTC, a permanent fixture at Readings Target pub early 1977, The Only Ones Talking Heads, The Cure, John Foxx’s Ultravox!, The Psychedelic Furs and The Monochrome Set who were only thrown into the mix because they didn’t fit anywhere else.

    In the end new wave was so insanely catchy that even I was seduced by its charms. With an obsession for seven inch singles I ended up buying almost as many nerdy new wave records as scroaty punk ones. They were certainly more tuneful and some of them, XTC, The Saints, The Only Ones, The Buzzcocks and The Cure in particular, remain as favourites to this day. In the late 70’s at least, there can be no doubt that new wave’s endless energy, pop precision and stripped down dynamics contributed to the excitement of the era as much as anything.

   Ultimately of course it was the emergence of ABC, Scritti Politti, Duran Duran, Soft Cell and the like that did for it. Trapped in a trad pop and rock cul de sac new wave was usurped by the shiny surfaces and sonic luxury of the new pop terrorists. All of a sudden it felt outdated, outmoded and ridiculous. Why listen to The Pretenders when you could listen to the Human League? Why bother with the sounds of the past when the sounds of the future were so enticing?


September 2012