Friday, November 5, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #91

[All throughout the month of November, all NW4NW entries will be based on requests made by you, dear readers. Because of the amount of requests coming in, there will often be more than one entry per week during this month - I recommend signing up for email alerts on the left-hand side of the screen so that you don't miss any of the fun! If you wish to make a request, you may do so either in the comments section of this post, on Twitter, or on the Facebook Fanpage. Don't be shy - tell me what band you want to see featured!]

Jon Paulette is a fellow veteran of the college radio DJ life.  Over the years, Jon and I have introduced one another to many, many cool bands and helped each other build substantial collections of obscure vinyl.  Jon was one of the first to pipe up with a request this year; in fact, he had a short list of suggestions (as many of you have), and from those I chose to feature a one-"hit" band whose big single remains one of my favorite songs of the era, The Humans.

You won't find a ton of information about The Humans online.  They were here and gone in a flash, part of that early-'80s Southern California New Wave scene that spawned many like-minded and equally ill-fated bands.  What can be culled is this: the core of the band (Sterling Storm, Eric Gies and John Anderson) had been making music together for almost 15 years when they added a drummer and became The Mysterious People in 1976.  By 1979 they had signed with Miles Copeland's I.R.S. Records, renamed themselves The Humans, and released an odd-format debut record, PlayPlay was a 4-song 7-inch housed in a heavy gatefold sleeve with a lyric book and sold as a "Mini LP."  Among it's tracks are a soaring cover of the surf-classic "Pipeline," a stab at pseudo-reggae with an Elvis Costello sound-alike vocal ("Tracy"), an iffy title track, and one amazing work of New Wave genius, an outstanding ode to modern life: "I Live In The City"

With it's rat-a-tat sung-spoken vocals, driving keyboard riffs and hiccup-y melody, "I Live In The City" is a nifty three-minute encapsulation of the 1979 SoCal New Wave sound.  Storm's geeky delivery is perfect for the occasionally shoehorned-in lyrics (listen to him cram the couplet "You ask me what I'm going to do with my life/You act as if I have a choice" into the second verse).  All in all, it remains one of the classics of the New Wave era.

The Humans were back in the record racks in 1981 with a proper full-length album, Happy Hour, which never quite lives up to the promise of the Play EP.  That said, it's not a bad record by any means.  The lead single, "Get You Tonight" is the high point, though, of a record that is pretty much just this side of innocuous.

Both Humans records are long out of print, but worth searching out (especially Play).  Here, then, is the video for their one great moment in the sun, "I Live In The City."  My thanks to Jon for this request!

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