Doing The Wave

It's much easier to jump on the bandwagon when you are already in a band...


When New Wave entered my life in the late 1970's it felt a little like learning the Metric System. The songs/units of measure were shorter than what we were used to. It came from Europe and we were supposed to accept it while disregarding what was being listened to/used at the time. Eventually we allowed some of it to become part of our culture (2 liter bottles and eyeglass frames that were too big for your face). There are some things that will most likely never make the conversion. We will not eliminate miles for kilometers and we will never accept Foghat as a New 
Wave band.

Foghat is Boogie Rock and guys with big mustaches. It's the music that runs through your head when you open a Mickey's Malt Liquor or when you see a Camaro. The songs are long enough to time with a sundial. 

Popular music will cause bands to make wholesale changes to be or stay popular. In 1980, the most recent example was the Disco craze that saw numerous artists recording a "Disco" song no matter how removed from the scene they were. New Wave was a safer bet to conform to, yet still maintain some shred of credibility. The difference between the two is that there is no money in New Wave. Foghat should not be faulted for trying. They paid attention to the scene and made some changes in album design, the sound of the band, and they cut their hair. The band's lead singer Lonesome Dave Peverett, was a fan of New Wave, "It appealed to me, even though I felt Foghat was part of what New Wave was trying to replace. So I was kind of knocking myself in a way." The problem was that it still sounded like Foghat, but without the guitar hooks. The confusing "Tight Shoes" gave us the aptly titled "Stranger In My Home Town." Aptly titled because the London they knew had changed while they were out touring the football stadiums of the US. If you have ever made a meal at 3 am while you are drunk, you will experience deja vu upon hearing this song. The song is full of things that you would never normally put together, but there they are... so you might as well enjoy it.

Listen to "Stranger In My Hometown"


The louder your argument, the less prepared you are to have someone agree with you. In order to be right and sustain the feeling of superiority, someone m
ust be wrong. When the enemy changes sides by agreeing with you it confuses you to the point that you label the person a sellout for doing what you wanted them to do. Punk and New Wave music made some high volume points on the bloated state of '70's stadium rock, however, no one expected bands like Nazareth to buy into it. The band's sonic makeover was one part "you were right honey" husband-like reaction so he can return to watching a ball game and another part "we need to get back on the fucking radio." They got back on the radio with the album "Malice In Wonderland." What kept it from sounding like
 a cheap knock-off was the band mixing the current music scene with a few bottles of whiskey, making it a little more mature and worldly--like a bouncer at a New Wave bar.

While most of the record goes the angular and upbeat route, "Fast Cars" follows bands such as New Order and Wire down a dark alley. The results are a moody, sparse, and atmospheric departure from a band that thrives on big stadium anthems. The song, as good as it is on its own, is guilty by association. Getting AOR airplay on the heels of the rock radio hit "Holiday", people found it difficult to associate this song with this band. Much like a dog that speaks french, the uniqueness catches your attention until the novelty wanes and you just want the dog to bark again. Even though the album (according to the band themselves) "went nowhere with a bullet" in the UK, it reached #41 in the US and tempered the band's sound for future records.

Listen to "Fast Cars"


Foghat is sold out! You're welcome...


DJ said...


Always a very special treat (and education) to absorb your take on things. I've always respected your style and perception.

This new installment- the Foghat/New Wave turning tide phase of an entire era's swan song- I wasn't even consciously aware of so many nails that you hit on the head.

Dig a little deeper, you fine people out there. Mr. McClellan's humble autopsy of The Cars had me laughing out loud... something I don't normally do, being in the business I'm in.


Nes said...

You hit this one on the head King...I loved Nazereth coming out of high school and claimed "Hair of the Dog" as my own anthem entering the unknown of college life to show my inner misconstrued bad-ass image. However, with their need to re-invent themselves, the song "Fast Cars" off of 'Malice in Wonderland' creates all the excitement a 48 yr. old sees in cow-tipping after no more Little Kings bottles are left to throw at mailboxes on your favorite high school rural partying drive. However, listening to it again (yawn) on your windows media player with those free trippy visuals did bring back some good memories (or flashbacks) from just around the same time. Well done JM!

International Flower Spy said...

I can't tell you where I go when I hear "Slowride". Even though when it came out I could have found a great make-out partner, my awkward teenage blues forbid that action (sigh). Luckily, the song had lasting power and I made up for lost time in college (smile) while it played on the turntables of my retro-stoner roommates.
Whether these guys were considered New Wave, Boogie Rock, whatever--the fact remains that in the minds of many end-boomers, they brought a different sound that still made you feel like fu%@*ng or drinking and isn't that what rock and roll is really all about?

Great blog John the Scotsman.

Uncle E said...

Slowride makes me want to pullk out my "Special Edition" of Dazed and Confused.
First time here and I will echo dj by saying you're one funny, musically endowed dude!
I'll be coming back often!

John Surname said...

Thanks for the link mate!