Genre of the Week 5: New Wave (Part 3)



While new wave was emerging out of the CBGB scene in New York, in the UK, at the same time some new wave artists were staying true to their musical roots.

One of these was Elvis Costello, who with his band the Attractions bought a rock and roll feel to this supposed “new” “underground” music. Costello was hard to box into a genre and during the time was called both pub rock and punk.

In reality though, he didn’t fit into either of those scenes and pretty much just relied on good songwriting and a good musical knowledge to produce some of the best new wave music of the time.


Nick Lowe had a massive influence on British new wave and his foot print is all over the scene. He produced Elvis Costello’s first five albums and also had success himself as a solo artist in a similar vein musically to Costello.

This was good old fashioned song-writing that was based on melody and staying true to one’s routes. His song “Cruel To Be Kind” was an early new wave anthem.


The Stranglers had closer links to both pub rock and punk than a lot of their contemporaries, and in many ways sprang out of those scenes.

The band were also very successful commercially for a new wave band, garnering 14 top 40 singles between 1977 and 1983.


And last but not least on day three of new wave week, Ian Dury is back, but this time he had his own band called Ian Dury & The Blockheads.

Now Dury was not your typical front man in that he had polio which prohibited his movement. But he was one of the most charismatic performers and gifted songwriters of the new wave scene.

His songwriting in many respects was continuing on from Ray Davies work with the Kinks, with Dury’s lyrics a mix of lyrical poetry, word play, observations of British everyday life, character sketches, and sexual humour. This can be seen in this song from 1979 “There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards”.



 – Sam

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