Monday, January 4, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #48

There came a point, about the middle of 1983, when the standard in music videos changed from the early shoestring-budget chromakey clips of bands singing their songs amid various cheap-o video effects to high-minded "concept clips" that told a story. What was once a three-minute promo clip for a song became twice as long, with some sort of scene played out using the band as actors before getting around to the song itself.

Usually, only the big-name major-labels had the budgets to create these mini-movies, but in early 1984 a little-known indie label out of North Carolina, Dolphin Records, created one for their band-of-the-moment in hopes of gaining a slot in MTV's airplay rotation and the national exposure that came with it.

Although the clip was timely (a take on the Indiana Jones saga so popular at the time) and well done, and although the song was fantastic and the band local cult heroes in Durham, NC, "Change Gotta Come" by The X-Teens never received the airplay that was hoped for.

Kitty Moses (vocals and bass), Robert Bittle (guitar), Ned Robie (drums), and Todd Jones (keyboards) formed The X-Teens in 1980 and immediately released their first of three excellent records, ...big boy's dream. Mixing ideas and sounds gleaned from Elvis Costello, Pylon, and The B-52's into a twitchy, poppy blast, The X-Teens found an eager audience in the early '80s North Carolina New Wave scene.

Two more albums would follow: X-Teens in 1983 and Love and Politics in 1984; but the band was getting frustrated that their regional success was not translating into a wider fan-base. When "Change Gotta Come" failed to break them big, the band split up.

The X-Teens remain well-known in their home state, and are often pointed to as forerunners of what would become known as "The Chapel Hill Sound" of the mid-to-late '80s as defined by NC bands like Let's Active, The Connells, and The dB's. Indeed, all three of The X-Teens records were produced by Mitch Easter and Don Dixon, whose trademark sound practically defined that subgenre. All three records are well worth your efforts in finding, but for now, here's our first NW4NW entry for 2010 (and a fitting title as we enter a brand new year with hopes of better days than 2009 left behind!), "Change Gotta Come" by The X-Teens. Enjoy!

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1 comment:

  1. Reminds a little of XTC/Dukes of Stratosphere. I do remember seeing them while stationed at Ft. Bragg. We often headed up the Triangle Park area for music. For south central PA it was the Sharks that had similar issues. They actually won a video contest but still no real national exposure.