Book Review – Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s

madworldbook

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s
Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein

Lipstick, big hair, floppy shirts and synthesizers. “New wave” was a unique trend that was the conglomeration of many things – punk, post punk, new romanticism, technology and attitude. And in the early 1980s it defined a generation.

While bands were always making albums, the genre was defined mostly by singles – songs with a quality that stood out as a representation of a band (especially a new band) and helped to sell both albums and concert tickets as well as the 7-inch single itself. While some bands exist only as one-hit wonders, others have used their success in those early days to create music – and careers – that spanned decades.

Mad World by Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein is a collection of those songs in book format, each with an introduction, some snarky facts, a “where are they now” update, a “mixtape” list of suggestions of similar songs and, most importantly, an interview with the principal artist in each band.

(more…)

Read More

One Small Square of Fabric

I did a double-take this afternoon. Walking the dogs past the hair salon on the corner, I watched one of the stylists step outside for a smoke. This particular girl has curly purple hair and enough gear to make it obvious that she’s fairly alternative in her lifestyle.

What threw me off was that she had a bandana tied around the ankle of her knee-high leather boot. A white one, with a black pattern.

Flash back to 1985 or so, when the scarf around the ankle was all the rage. I had a vast collection of scarves and bandanas in every colour. I have no idea why it started, but it was one of those things that seemed to have come from the New Romantic movement. I’ve always associated it with Duran Duran, but can find no photographic evidence to support that thesis. Rockers picked it up soon after, and every hair metal band seems to have at least one member sporting an ankle bandana.

Like most silly fashion trends, it was a point of teasing, just as those drop-crotch pants a few years later would warrant passing comments about shoplifting or bodily functions. I had an English teacher who joked that I’d never manage to hold up a stagecoach with the bandana tied around my ankle instead of over my face. The French teacher tried to ban the fashion statement from his classroom, but backed off when he couldn’t give a decent reason as to why. It was an era of lots of stuff, accessory-wise, and bandanas were just one item in a vast selection of everything from jelly bracelets to lace gloves and neon shoelaces.

(more…)

Read More