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Posts Tagged ‘New Wave’

Favorite Songs by Decade

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 18, 2016

My Favorite Songs by Decade

Recently, Gretchen and I were listening to our favorite DJ, Richard Blade, on our favorite radio station, First Wave, on SiriusXM as he interviewed The Cure’s Robert Smith, one of my favorite singers from one of my favorite bands. Gretchen can’t stand him. Richard asked him an interesting question and I was surprised by Robert’s answer. The question was for him to name his top 30 songs from the 1980s. A tough question to answer. Since The Cure started out as post-punk in the late 1970s, before quickly transitioning to goth (which they’re still known as by most fans), and later simply as an alternative band, one of the biggest in the world, I was expecting mostly songs by alternative bands, as well as a few goth bands. I was surprised by the answer because that was not at all the case. It was a diverse mixture of songs from all genres and I thought that was very interesting. And it got both of us thinking about what our lists would look like. So we decided to make our own lists.

When I sat down to make my list of my favorite ‘80s songs, I knew it would be very long and I’d have to make some hard cuts. That’s exactly what happened. I initially chose close to 100 songs. Then I started cutting. The first 20 were pretty easy, but after that, it got surprisingly hard. Each song had merit. Each song deserved to be on the list. But I had to keep cutting. Finally I got down to 50 and had to stop. I couldn’t go any further. There was simply no way I could cut any from my list of 50 and have any integrity that the list would be a complete list of my top songs from that decade. So I was finished. When Gretchen did hers, she was much more brutal and ended up with 30. When we shared them with each other, to no one’s surprise, they were very different. There was almost no crossover. While I had a lot of new wave, goth, and industrial, she had almost none of that. It was interesting.

So interesting, we wondered what a list of the 1990s would look like. That decade is one of her favorites, while it’s one of my least favorites. Or so I thought. I didn’t think I could come up with enough songs, but Gretchen challenged me to do so, so I sat down and started thinking. And to my shock, I was able to come up with a few songs. I really don’t think much good music was made during that decade. At all. Gretchen loves the music from that decade, but I think it’s a lost decade. Nonetheless, I was able to compile a shortish list and when I was done, I counted how many songs I had and to my surprise, I had exactly 40. Since I didn’t really want to cut any of them, I decided to keep them all and left my list at 40. When Gretchen did her list, it was 30 again. And again, our lists were very different. While Gretchen’s was mostly grunge, pop alternative, and alternative, mine was mostly industrial, alternative, electronica, world, and metal.

This brought us to the gigantic decade: the 1970s! Since we both grew up in that decade, it would be a gigantic challenge because there would be so many songs to choose from. When I sat down to work on mine, little did I know it would take me three days. I also decided to cut as I went, instead of writing down all of the songs and then cutting after I had written them all down. So as I was writing, I cut well over 125 songs as I went along. When I was finished, I had a list of 128 songs! I have gone over and over that list to see what else I can cut, but I cannot bring myself to cut a single one. After all, I’ve already cut 125 as I was compiling the list. Many classics I love didn’t make the list. But the list is long. I wanted it to be no longer than 75 songs. However, that proved to be impossible. There are too many good bands, too many good songs. I simply can’t cut, so to my shame, I’m leaving my list at 128 songs. And Gretchen? She wants to make her list, again, 30 songs, but she hasn’t done hers yet. I am begging her to do at least 50 because 30 won’t be a fair representative of that decade, but she seems determined. And my list? It’s comprised of classic rock, disco, soul, metal, new wave, arena rock, and a couple of punk songs. A big variety of music.

Gretchen will probably want to do a list from the year 2000-. While I like some music from that decade, it’s mostly some “new” rock and I’m tired even of that, so I doubt I’ll do any more lists. I think these three are enough for me. I’m going to post all three in this blog post, in order of decade, from oldest to most recent. I’m sure no one will agree with many or most of my choices, but that’s the beauty of lists, subjectivity, and free will. Anyone can make a list of their own and they can all differ as much as they want. Whatever the case, I hope you enjoy seeing my eclectic lists. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into these, for no good reason other than the fun of it. Cheers!

 

Scott’s Top ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s Songs

Top ‘70s Songs

1. AC/DC — Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

2. AC/DC — Highway to Hell

3. The B-52’s — Rock Lobster

4. Billy Squire — The Stroke

5. Black Sabbath — Paranoid

6. Black Sabbath — Iron Man

7. Boston — More Than a Feeling

8. Boston — Foreplay/Long Time

9. Boston – Don’t Look Back

10. The Cars — Good Times Roll

11. The Cars — My Best Friend’s Girl

12. Cheap Trick — Dream Police

13. Chic — Le Freak

14. Chicago — 25 Or 6 To 4

15. Chic Corea & Return to Forever – You’re Everything

16. Christopher Cross — Ride Like the Wind

17. Chuck Mangione — Feels So Good

18. The Commodores — Brick House

19. The Commodores — Sail On

20. David Bowie — Changes

21. David Bowie — Ziggy Stardust

22. David Bowie — Suffragette City

23. Deep Purple — Smoke On the Water

24. Deep Purple — Space Truckin’

25. The Eagles — Hotel California

26. The Eagles — The Long Run

27. Earth, Wind & Fire — September

28. Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove

29. ELO — Mr. Blue Sky

30. Elton John — Goodbye Yellow Brick Road

31. Elton John — Island Girl

32. Fleetwood Mac — The Chain

33. Foreigner — Cold As Ice

34. Foreigner — Hot Blooded

35. Gary Numan — Cars

36. Gary Numan — Down in the Park

37. Heart — Barracuda

38. Heart — Magic Man

39. Heart — Crazy On You

40. James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend

41. Jeff Beck — Led Boots

42. Jeff Beck — Blue Wind

43. Jeff Beck — People Get Ready

44. Jefferson Starship — Miracles

45. Jefferson Starship — Jane

46. Jethro Tull — Aqualung

47. Jethro Tull — Cross-Eyed Mary

48. Jethro Tull — My God

49. Jethro Tull — Locomotive Breath

50. Jethro Tull — Thick As a Brick

51. Jethro Tull — Bungle In The Jungle

52. Jethro Tull — Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day

53. John Lennon — Imagine

54. Journey — On a Saturday Night

55. Journey — Hustler

56. Journey — Feeling That Way

57. Journey — Wheel in the Sky

58. Joy Division — Isolation

59. Kansas — Dust In the Wind

60. Kansas — Carry On Wayward Son

61. KC & The Sunshine Band – That’s the Way (I Like It)

62. KC & The Sunshine Band — Get Down Tonight

63. KISS — Rock and Roll All Nite

64. KISS — Detroit Rock City

65. The Knack — My Sharona

66. Kool & the Gang — Celebration

67. Kool & the Gang — Get Down On It

68. Led Zeppelin — Good Times Bad Times

69. Led Zeppelin — Communication Breakdown

70. Led Zeppelin — Stairway to Heaven

71. Led Zeppelin — Rock and Roll

72. Little River Band — Cool Change

73. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Gimme Three Steps

74. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Call Me the Breeze

75. Lynyrd Skynyrd — Free Bird

76. Michael Jackson — Off the Wall

77. Molly Hatchet – Flirtin’ With Disaster

78. Mott the Hoople — Sweet Jane

79. Mott the Hoople — All the Young Dudes

80. Pat Benatar — Heartbreaker

81. Pat Benetar — Hit Me With Your Best Shot

82. Paul McCartney & Wings — Silly Love Songs

83. Paul McCartney & Wings — Live And Let Die

84. Paul McCartney & Wings — With a Little Luck

85. Paul McCartney & Wings — Band On The Run

86. Paul McCartney & Wings — Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey

87. Paul McCartney & Wings — The Long And Winding Road

88. Paul McCartney & Wings — Listen to What the Man Said

89. Peter Frampton — All I Want to Be (Is by Your Side)

90. Peter Frampton — I Wanna Go to the Sun

91. Peter Frampton — Do You Feel Like We Do

92. Pink Floyd — One of These Days

93. Pink Floyd — The Great Gig In the Sky

94. Pink Floyd — Brain Damage

95. Pink Floyd — Welcome to the Machine

96. Pink Floyd — Have a Cigar

97. Pink Floyd — Wish You Were Here

98. Pink Floyd — Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)

99. Pink Floyd — Comfortably Numb

100. Pink Floyd — Run Like Hell

101. Queen — Bohemian Rhapsody

102. Queen – You’re My Best Friend

103. Queen – I’m In Love With My Car

104. Queen — Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together)

105. Queen — We Will Rock You

106. Queen — We Are the Champions

107. Queen — Sheer Heart Attack

108. Queen — Get Down, Make Love

109. Rainbow — Man On the Silver Mountain

110. Ramones — Blitzkreig Bop

110. REO Speedwagon – Ridin’ the Storm Out

111. The Rolling Stones — Shattered

112. Rush — The Trees

113. Rush — Closer to the Heart

114. Rush — La Villa Strangiato

115. Sex Pistols — God Save the Queen

116. Styx — Renegade

117. Styx — Come Sail Away

118. Styx — Suite Madame Blue

119. Styx — Miss America

120. Supertramp — The Logical Song

121. Supertramp — Take the Long Way Home

122. Tom Petty — Refugee

123. Tom Petty – Don’t Do Me Like That

124. Van Halen – Runnin’ With the Devil

125. Van Halen — Eruption

126. Van Halen — And the Cradle Will Rock…

127. ZZ Top — Tube Snake Boogie

128. ZZ Top — Cheap Sunglasses

 

Top ‘80s Songs

1. Asia — Time Again

2. Bauhaus — Stigmata Martyr

3. Bauhaus — Telegram Sam

4. Bronski Beat — Why?

5. The Cars — Magic

6. The Church — Reptile

7. The Cult — Phoenix

8. The Cure — Pornography

9. The Cure — Fascination Street

10. David Bowie — Cat People

11. Duran Duran — A View to a Kill

12. Echo & the Bunneymen — Bedbugs and Ballyhoo

13. The Fixx — Are We Ourselves?

14. Front 242 — Welcome to Paradise

15. Front 242 — Headhunter, Vol. 1.0

16. INXS — New Sensation

17. KMFDM — Virus

18. Dead Can Dance — Black Sun

19. Love and Rockets — Ball of Confusion

20. Love and Rockets — No New Tale To Tell

21. Madonna — Into the Groove

22. Michael Jackson — Beat It

23. Ministry — Stigmata

24. Ministry — So What

25. Moev — Wanting

26. Nine Inch Nails — Head Like a Hole

27. Nine Inch Nails — Terrible Lie

28. Nitzer Ebb — Control I’m Here

29. Peter Murphy — All Night Long

30. Peter Murphy — Cuts You Up

31. Prince – Let’s Go Crazy

32. Queen — Another One Bites The Dust

33. REM — Feeling Gravitys Pull

34. REM — The One I Love

35. REM — Orange Crush

36. Red Hot Chili Peppers — Higher Ground

37. Rush — Tom Sawyer

38. Simple Minds — All the Things She Said

39. Simple Minds — Sanctify Yourself

40. Sinead O’Connor — Jerusalem

41. Sinead O’Connor — I Want Your (Hands On Me)

42. Sisters Of Mercy — Dominion/Mother Russia

43. Sisters Of Mercy — Lucretia My Reflection

44. Skinny Puppy — Tin Omen

45. The Smiths — Bigmouth Strikes Again

46. Tears for Fears — Shout

47. Thomas Dolby — Hyperactive

48. Tones On Tail — Go!

49. U2 — Bullet the Blue Sky

50. Van Halen – Panama

 

Top ‘90s Songs

1. AC/DC — Back In Black

2. Arrested Development — Tennessee

3. Bigod 20 — The Bog

4. The Chemical Brothers — Block Rockin’ Beats

5. Dead Can Dance — Yulunga (Spirit Dance)

6. Dead Can Dance — The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove

7. Dead Can Dance — Carnival Is Over

8. Death In Vegas — Dirt

9. Deee-Lite — Groove Is In The Heart

10. Deftones — My Own Summer (Shove It)

11. Depeche Mode — Enjoy the Silence

12. Depeche Mode — Policy of Truth

13. Depeche Mode — Barrel Of A Gun

14. Faith & the Muse — The Trauma Coil

15. Faith No More — Epic

16. Jane’s Addiction — Been Caught Stealing

17. Jesus Jones — Right Here Right Now

18. Lisa Gerrard — Sanvean: I Am Your Shadow

19. Manufacture — As The End Draws Near

20. Manufacture — A Measured Response

21. Marilyn Manson — The Beautiful People

22. Marilyn Manson — Rock Is Dead

23. My Dying Bride — Your Shameful Heaven

24. My Dying Bride — Turn Loose The Swans

25. My Dying Bride — She Is The Dark

26. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult — A Daisy Chain 4 Satan

27. Nine Inch Nails — Broken

28. Nine Inch Nails — Hurt

29. Nitzer Ebb — Lighting Man

30. Rage Against The Machine — Killing In The Name

31. Rage Against The Machine — Wake Up

32. Rammstein — Sehnsucht

33. Red Hot Chili Peppers — Under The Bridge

34. Revolting Cocks — Stainless Steel Providers

35. Skinny Puppy — Tormentor

36. Sonic Youth — Kool Thing

37. Tool — Stinkfist

38. Type O Negative — Black No. 1

39. Type O Negative — Love You To Death

40. Type O Negative — Burnt Flowers Fallen

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A Review of Praying To The Aliens

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 27, 2015

Praying To The AliensPraying To The Aliens by Gary Numan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ever since I heard “Cars” on the radio in 1979 at the age of 14, I’ve been a Gary Numan fan. He was different. He was strange. He made good music. I enjoyed his first few albums and then lost track of him. Well, recently, I’ve renewed my interest in Numan and have purchased quite a few of his albums, including some older ones I didn’t have and some newer ones that are quite different from his old sound. And I’ve really enjoyed listening to his music again. For a long time, I wondered what this unusual person was like. He obviously had been influenced by glam and Bowie. But how much? And the fascination with the synth? It’s like they were made for him.

I found out about this book last year and immediately wanted to get it. It’s Numan’s autobiography, but it’s from a British publisher and is apparently out of print because you can’t get new copies. It was also published in 1998, so it’s not brand new. Still, it sounded promising. A couple of months ago, I found a bookstore in England that had a good used copy they would sell me for an obscene price, but I bit the bullet and paid and it was for some reason shipped through Switzerland and arrived at my house last week. I was elated.

I dove into the book and couldn’t stop reading. It was everything I had hoped for and more. It’s an excellent autobiography, very personal, very telling, very detailed, very good.

Numan was born Gary Webb to doting parents who pretty much spoiled him. He was initially a good student, but as he approached his high school years, became rebellious and was kicked out of school. From an early age, he showed an appreciation of music and of airplanes.

He learned to play the guitar at a young age and played at being in a band with some friends. This was news to me, because I’d always thought of him as a keyboardist. I didn’t even know he played the guitar. He eventually formed a band as a late teen called Tubeway Army and they were signed to a small label, where they put out their first album sometime around 1977 or so. However, as Gary was the driving force in the band, they changed the name to Gary Numan and Tubeway Army and later just to his name. (He had come up with a more “interesting” surname than just Webb.)

His album Replicas came out in 1979 and was an immediate hit, much to everyone’s surprise. “Down in the Park” was a great song, and there were other good ones on it too. He then felt pressure from the music label to come up with something else, so later in the same year, he released the classic, The Pleasure Principle, which featured “Cars” and soon both the song and the album were number one on the charts. He was a star at the age of 20.

Now bear in mind, he was very much an introvert — except when he was on the stage. He was a loner, he felt uncomfortable with other people, he was socially awkward, and he liked technology more than he did people. When he discovered synthesizers in a studio, it not only changed his music forever, it changed his life. Now he was the front man, no longer playing guitars, and his band was synth heavy. In 1980, he released Telekon, which I believe also hit number one with great songs, such as “This Wreckage” and “We Are Glass.” His devoted parents were now part of his crew. His dad was his manager, his mother, his wardrobe designer and in charge of the new fan club. All of a sudden, he was rich and bought houses and cars and eventually even an airplane that he learned to fly. He went on tours of both Europe and America and even though he never played to big audiences, he usually connected with his fans in a big way. Except his tours lost money. A lot.

In 1981, Dance was released with the single, “She’s Got Claws,” and it too was a hit. His music company was putting pressure on him to become more dance-oriented, though, and his stuff, while it sometimes had a beat, was more tech-based. His lyrics were also strange, drawing on his love of Philip K. Dick and Williams Burroughs.

It was at this point he started to slip. In 1982, he released I, Assassin, but it didn’t do as well as his previous records and the press was absolutely just slaughtering him publicly, something he never understood and something that would never change in his career. The press hated him. As he continued to release albums, other New Wave, synth-heavy bands started competing with him and he couldn’t get any more radio airplay, which just killed his career. Soon, he split from his label, and finding little interest elsewhere, formed his own. However, instead of concentrating on his career, he stupidly signed insignificant indie acts and plowed money into them, which he subsequently lost. By the mid to late ’80s, he was no longer musically significant, even though he continued to produce records. And he went broke. In debt, even. He had to sell the houses, cars, airplane, etc.

Let me interject. He met other musicians along the way. At one point, he was elated to get to meet his hero, Bowie, to do a television concert. Well, Bowie blew him off and got him tossed off the show. That really hurt him. However, he also got to meet Queen, and writes that they were tremendously nice to him and he had a great time hanging out with them. That was cool, as I’m also a Queen fan.

During Numan’s down time, he decided to embark on a crazy journey — he flew around the world. It’s a really interesting tale in the book and it was a harrowing journey, including getting arrested in India on suspicion of being a spy! He got so good at flying, he eventually became an instructor and did air shows.

Back to the music. A couple of things happened in the mid ’90s to turn things around for Numan. First, popular bands started doing Numan covers in concerts and on their albums — groups like Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, The Smashing Pumpkins, Fear Factory, Hole, and many more. Many musicians cited him as being a major influence on their own career. And he came back out of the shadows and became sort of in fashion again. Also, he found a new sound. He moved to a heavier goth/industrial sound with more sobering lyrics and, as a result, gained a new audience. Since then, his albums have sounded this way and I have several and I just love them. They’re brilliant. Nothing like his early stuff, but that’s okay. Musicians have to grow and change or they’ll become stagnant.

It was around this time that he met his wife, Gemma, and they’re still together — I follow both on Twitter — and they have three daughters. He’s made back some of his money, although I don’t know how much, but things seems pretty good for him. And that makes me happy.

This book looks deep inside Gary Numan and it’s a real treat to read about his happiness, his insecurities, his victories and his defeats. It’s a very personal autobiography and I can’t endorse it strongly enough. Heavily recommended.

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A Review of Rip It Up and Start Again

Posted by Scott Holstad on August 29, 2013

Rip It Up and Start AgainRip It Up and Start Again by Simon Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an exhausting book to read, in part, because the author was so exhaustive in his research and, thus, the book is a thorough overview of British, and to a lesser extent, American post-punk rock. It’s also a strangely intellectual book, and at times, it felt like I was reading a modern history textbook.

Early on, Reynolds discusses the demise of punk and the (odd) opinion that The Sex Pistols’ “Never Mind the Bollocks” actually signaled the end of punk — not the height of its glory. He shows post-punk to be distinct from punk and New Wave, among others. The post-punk bands that followed punk wanted to continue the revolution that it began but failed to fulfill. There was a sense of existing to negate the corporate hit-making machinery and ideology of 70s-era prog and commercial rock, or at least until New Pop and New Wave came along and flailed against such post-punk rebellion by emulating the most listener-friendly pop forms. These early post-punk bands began exploring other forms of music, such as experimentation with art rock, electronics, dub, reggae, funk, and even disco. Some of these early post-punk bands wanted to make a wall of noise and often the bands were made up of a collective as opposed to trained musicians. Often, the traditional instruments (guitars, drums, etc.) were completely ignored for synths and tapes, as well as other assorted unknown instruments. If there were even concerts, film and theater often played large roles. Audience participation was often encouraged.

The book is divided into two halves: one is pure post-punk and the second is “new pop and new rock.” As a result, it read like two distinctly different books. The first chapter is about PIL (Public Image Limited), Johnny Rotten’s band he formed after ditching the Sex Pistols. According to Reynolds, PIL was the start of the post-punk movement. However, numerous other bands formed and began playing, such as Joy Division, Cabaret Voltaire, Devo, Gang of Four, Wire, Pere Ubu, Throbbing Gristle, and tons of bands I’ve never heard of. The second half begins with The Specials, before moving on to ska and Bow Wow Wow, as well as the New Romantics, such as Adam Ant. The author goes further into groups like Gary Numan, Haircut 100, ABC, Duran Duran, and pretty much ties it all together with Madonna, of all people, at the end of the book. It’s a very exhaustive look at hundreds of bands and many scenes throughout the UK and America. And that kind of presents a bit of a problem. The chronology of the book’s chapters runs back and forth as different scenes and genres are covered, which was occasionally confusing. Everything was thrown into the mix together — the bands, band missions, various genres, record stores, record labels, clubs, new types of technology — everything. It was nearly overwhelming.

One of the major problems of the book was its tendency of the chapters to follow a pattern that got a little old fairly soon. Reynolds first discusses a specific post-punk hot spot, often geographically (such as Manchester, Liverpool, NYC, San Francisco, etc.). He then discusses the best band, or several bands, from that scene before mentioning virtually every band possible from that same scene or hot spot. Like I said, it gets a little old….

Another major problem I had with the book was its insistence that this second British invasion was the most important musical movement since the first, citing hundreds of bands, most of whom I’ve never even heard of, and I’d wager many other people never have either. Among the bands Reynolds discusses are The Pop Group, New Age Steppers, Delta 5, The Future, Teenage Jesus, This Heat, Tuxedomoon, Factrix, A Certain Ratio, and so many more. Many of these bands he discusses as so very relevant never even released an album, and those that did usually just released an EP or one debut album that sold something like 5,000 copies and they were never heard from again. I fail to understand why so many of these, frankly, unimportant bands were deemed worthy of inclusion.

The book, and many of the bands in it, pay homage to some that came before them, such as Captain Beefheart, Roxy, Bowie, Eno, etc, and that’s cool. It’s really not a bad read and I learned a lot. I just think a lot of it was unnecessary and I question the author’s intentions. Did he just want to expand the book’s pages to charge more? I also could have done with a little less (band) name dropping and more detail on some of the more significant bands. However, it was good to see personal favs like Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, and Skinny Puppy mentioned. I’d recommend this book for any 70s music fan and many music enthusiasts, but it’s a bit of a cautious recommendation. I think you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to the good stuff, and that’s a bit of a pity — but it’s ultimately worth it.

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