There was a tendency for new wave to take inspiration from punk but move forward musically. However, in England a few bands decided to look back, drawing inspiration from movements and genres long gone.
One of these scenes was Two Tone, a musical movement that looked to Ska and reggae for inspiration. The prime group in this scene was The Specials, and their socially conscious, ska-influenced sound was commercially and critically successful.
Madness were another band that formed part of the Two Tone movement, and, like The Specials at the time, they also had routes in ska.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners also looked back, but not to reggae. Instead, they took influence from soul and R&B.
Their horn-driven new wave soul sound combined well with lyrics which explored the social climate of late-70’s England.
The last of the British new wave bands which looked back were The Jam. They were part of what was labelled the mod-revival.
They dressed like mods, rode scooters and drew musical inspiration from 60’s R&B and pop.
Paul Weller was also a master song-writer and took up the challenge of being a spokesman for his generation, writing for the working class and taking aim against Thatcher England.