Tuesday, November 16, 2010

New Wave for the New Week #97

[All throughout the month of November, all NW4NW entries are based on requests made by you, dear readers. Because of the amount of requests received, 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! I cannot take anymore requests for this month, but please always feel free to suggest bands you might like to see featured in future NW4NW posts. You may do so either in the comments section of this post, on Twitter, or on the Facebook Fanpage.]

Gene Loves JezebelCover of Gene Loves JezebelNext up in our month-long parade of NW4NW Requests is the suggestion made originally by James Holmes, who I first met a few years back on the old VH1-Classic message board.  James listens to a pretty wide scope of music, ranging from New Wave to Pop to Rock, and his request is a band that neatly encapsulates all of those genres, despite splitting into two versions of itself.

In-fighting amongst bandmates is certainly nothing new in the music world; when the feuding folks happen to be brothers, it can get a bit more intense, as seen in the sharp divisions between Ray and Dave Davies of The Kinks and, more recently, Noel and Liam Gallagher's onstage sparring in the band Oasis.  So it was for the Brothers Aston, Welsh-born twins who were the impetus for - and the deconstruction of - Gene Loves Jezebel.

Gene Loves Jezebel emerged from an earlier group, Slav Aryan, around 1981, and first came to public attention with their 1983 debut album Promise, and its main single, "Bruises."  Sporting a bizarre androgynous look and a dark, slinky sound marked by sheets of guitar noise and Bono-like vocals pock-marked with shrieks and yelps, Gene Loves Jezebel was quickly lumped in with the emerging Goth scene - although that was not a completely accurate classification.  Two years later, Immigrant revealed a tougher, louder version of their sound, perhaps best realized on a non-album 12-inch single "Desire," which was their first big breakthrough and remains one of their best-loved songs.

"Desire" was so successful that it was added to the following year's release, Discover. This was their first major-label American release, and it sported a second single, "Heartache," that saw the band drifting ever-closer to the same sort of over-the-top Glam-Rock redux that The Cult had proven to be so commercially viable at the time.  They fully realized that transformation on House Of Dolls, their most mainstream-sounding record to date - and the beginning of the end for the Aston brothers.  Michael left the band, feeling his artistic vision was being compromised by brother Jay's attempts to commercialize the band.

Without Michael, Jay continued the band and released Kiss Of Life, which contained their highest-charting single yet, "Jealous."  Heavenly Bodies stayed the course the following year, but after their record label collapsed, Gene Loves Jezebel disintegrated.  Michael and Jay each pursued separate solo careers before attempting a reconciliation and reunion in the late 1990s.  They recorded a new album, VII, and toured, but were soon at each other's throats over which musicians to use (they each wanted to use the musicians they had been working with on their solo projects) and how to split the profits.  Jay had VII re-issued in the UK with Michael's songs removed, and the brothers were once again at odds.

Since then, each has led a band of musicians on tour and in the recording studio under the Gene Loves Jezebel moniker, which has resulted in legal proceedings between the brothers and annoyance and confusion among fans.  As things settled out, the brother each wound up with a viable claim to the rights to the name Gene Loves Jezebel: Michael owns the name here in the US, while Jay has the UK rights to the name.  So, here in the US, "Gene Loves Jezebel" refers to Michael's band, while Jay's is known as "Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel;" in the UK the situation is reversed.  Got it?

Despite the bickering, Gene Loves Jezebel made some decent music, and I thank James for this request.  Enjoy the clips for two of their best, "Desire" and "Jealous":

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