Monday, March 30, 2009

New Wave for the New Week #4

999 album coverImage via Wikipedia

The line between what was "new wave" and what was "punk rock" was, at times, an intentionally blurry one. Punk rock couldn't sell in the States in the late '70s and early '80s - radio programmers wouldn't touch a record by a "punk" band, and in those pre-MTV days, if you weren't on the radio you weren't going to sell records.

Hence the term "new wave" came into vogue circa 1976/1977 in the hopes of getting past this genre block. Of course, this didn't work either because American radio at the time was still sleepwalking through the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac, about to turn the oh-so-safe corner to meet Journey and REO Speedwagon. Zzzzzzz....

Meanwhile, there were myriad bands who were being labeled as both Punk Rock AND New Wave - The Ramones, The Dickies, Blondie; I can still pull out my copy of the Wave News new wave compilations which included obvious punk bands like The Exploited and Dead Kennedys under the umbrella!

So it was with this weeks NW4NW entry, 999.

Named for the British equivalent to America's 911 emergency phone number and consisting of Nick Cash (vocals/guitar), Guy Days (guitar/vocals), Jon Watson (bass), and Pablo Labritain (drums), 999 starting playing the British punk clubs in 1977, being one of the umpteen-hundred bands inspired by The Ramones and The Sex Pistols to pick up instruments and began thrashing away. While they are often included in the list of first-round UK punk bands, they always had a bit more of a melodic sense than some of their contemporaries. Indeed, by the time their self-titled debut LP hit the shelves in 1978, they had already taken to wearing the bright neon colors and skinny ties that came to be more associated with new wave than with punk rock.

The clip this week, for their fifth single, 1978's "Emergency", also shows off that new wave look. It's a classic bit of early video production - just the band in front of an all-white background, with a basic wash-out effect on the picture. But it's a clip that's hardly seen anymore, and it's a great song, so...your New Wave for the New Week is 999's "Emergency":

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