Harmony In My Head our UK Power Pop & New Wave 1977 – 81 3CD Boxset is out this Friday26th October!
This release is another of Cherry Red’s celebrations of a bygone era – this time, the boom in Power Pop and New Wave which followed the Punk explosion in 1977.
This triple-CD box set spins off the success of the 4-CD compilation Action Time Vision (2016), which documented Punk on independent labels.
New Wave was a term coined in 1977 to describe a clutch of new artists whose music shared much of the energy of punk, but boasted a more sophisticated level of musicianship and a heavier reliance on traditional pop melodies. Although the term had such a wide definition in the States that it was quickly rendered almost meaningless, it was more strictly applied in the UK, with the radio-friendly likes of Elvis Costello and Squeeze scoring numerous hits and influencing younger bands to the extent that, by the early Eighties, the New Wave itself had become Old Wave.
The British scene’s reiteration of the appeal of a more traditional pop approach saw several attempts to provide an alternative to the unsatisfactory ‘New Wave’ epithet. Nick Lowe coined the phrase “pure pop for now people” to describe his approach, early brand leaders The Pleasers described their sound as Thamesbeat (a literal update of Merseybeat), while a handful of bands (including The Monos! and The Monochrome Set) played regularly at a London club that marketed itself as Newbeat, “a reaction to punk”.
But none of these terms caught on, and instead the genre became known as Power Pop. Once again, there was a significant difference between the UK and US models, but Britain had its own Power Pop scene that slowly mutated into the Mod Revival. Many of the Mod bands drew heavily on melodic 60s records (it was, after all, The Who’s Pete Townshend who had coined the term ‘Power Pop’ back in 1967), although by late 1981 that scene had in turn morphed (in London, at least) into the short-lived New Psychedelia movement.
HARMONY IN MY HEAD includes many of the New Wave/Power Pop scene’s biggest hitters alongside the more melodic Punk bands. Name acts include Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Buzzcocks, Eddie & The Hot Rods, Nick Lowe, The Jags and Wreckless Eric, who are joined by other less successful but nevertheless key players (The Records, The Freshies, The Flys etc) as well as a host of rare 45s on tiny labels, many of which have never been on CD before.
The deluxe clamshell package includes a weighty booklet full of illustrations, with a 12,000-word sleeve-note incorporating band-by-band biographies by compiler David Wells.