In 1979 I was in my second year of college. Something called New Wave music was re-shaping the Rock landscape. It was exciting and things were changing in a hurry. Tremendous bands new began to surface in droves. Off the top of my head, the late 70′s into the early 80′s produced greats and near greats like The Cars, The B-52′s, Blondie, The Call, The Jim Carroll Band, Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, Nick Lowe, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Thomas Dolby, Ian Dury & The Blockheads, The English Beat, XTC, Erasure, The Eurythmics, The Fixx, Gang of Four, Human Sexual Response, The Human League, Billy Idol, INXS, Joe Jackson, The Jam, Grace Jones, Lene Lovich, Joy Division, Madness, Missing Persons, The Motels, Gary Numan, Orchestral Manoeuvres in The Dark, Graham Parker & The Rumour, The Police, The Psychedelic Furs, Romeo Void, Pete Shelley, Shriekback, Split Enz, Squeeze, The Stranglers, Talking Heads, Tears For Fears, The The, The Thompson Twins, The Clash, The Tom Robinson Band, Translator, Ultravox and Wire to name just a few.
I have no idea what New Wave really means, but the onslaught of great new music did resemble a wave of sorts. I always think of New Wave as The Cars. They were not a hard rock band and they had these unbelievably catchy songs that seemed to rely on synthesizers. I was sold on them after one song though I can’t remember if it was “Let The Good Times Roll” or “Best Friend’s Girl.” Living in Boston means I probably don’t need to turn to any Cars, Aerosmith or J. Geils records for the duration of my time on This Mortal Coil due to over saturation, but if you have to hang your city’s hat on three bands you could do a lot worse. As for New Wave, there were scores of one hit wonder acts with absolutely fabulous singles like The Buggles, The Records, Robin Lane & The Chartbusters and The Fabulous Poodles. They were danceable and you could sing along to them. Think Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love” or Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.” Once you ruled out the guitar god sound, which I still love to this day, you had the freedom to experiment and change it up. Pop Muzik (talk about) became anything you wanted it to be.
When you hear a Gary Numan or a Flash and The Pan today, you still have to love them in my opinion. There was a big difference between crappy and sappy fare like Kajagoogoo’s “Too Shy,” Spandau Ballet’s “True,” ABC’s “The Look of Love” and, say, Translator’s ”Everywhere That I’m Not.” I guess what I’m trying to say is the New Wave era produced a ton of music, some of it inherently sappy, but most of it has stood the test of time. 80′s music is very hot these days, but I say there’s a lag time of nostalgia driving that type of thinking that lasts about 20 years. In the aughts 80′s music was big. I’ll bet you as time marches on the next decade will look back wistfully at some 90′s fare. It’s just a function of generations coming of age and Hollywood using some of that music in their movies. The 70′s had a huge revival in the 90′s as bands like Led Zeppelin became universally accepted even though their brand of Blues Metal was absolutely offensive to a ton of folks back in their day. Not me of course, but they were a tough sell for parents in the 70′s. They didn’t call themselves Black Sabbath or anything, but Jimmy Page allegedly had some ties to mysticism and alternative practices like Witchcraft. That stuff seems comical today and the best we can do now is Marilyn Manson. Scary huh? We’ve moved onto other things I guess. It’s a wonder I made it this far what with McDonald’s and Black Sabbath. Someone should have died right? Geesh.
To make a long story longer, my specialty it seems, I came to talk about the Australian act Flash and The Pan today. Flash was actually a studio project led by two ex members of The Easybeats named Harry Vanda and George Young. You may remember The Easybeats for their famous song “Friday On My Mind,” covered by David Bowie among others. And, much to The Giant Panther’s delight I’m sure, George Young turns out to be the older brother of Angus and Malcom Young of the legendary Hard Rock outift AC/DC. Love those Australians. Ryan loves (sic) those guys. The Flash actually have/had half a dozen records on the market, but none sold like that first one. I’m posting their four most famous songs. “Hey, St Peter” was their first single. “Down Among The Dead Men” was a song so popular as a single the first record needed to be re-issued to include it. “Walking in The Rain” was covered by Grace Jones and the last one called “Media Man” which came from their second release in 1980 called Lights in the Night. Flash and The Pan should have been a Flash in The Pan, but somehow they were better than that and some folks like me still listen to them some 30 years later.
Buy or download Flash and The Pan from Amazon here.