The Now Wave Sampler

Format: 7″ EP

Label: Columbia

Country: US

Year: 1979

Price paid: $3.50

Purchased at: The Vinyl Underground, Kent OH

The ‘Now Wave?’ Never heard of it. I think Columbia was attempting to imply that the bands presented on this disc are ‘New Wave’… or perhaps even something cooler? Based on the scruffy rag-tag groups I see on the sleeve I’m not buying it, but let’s see what we’ve got here:

Sinceros- ‘Take Me To Your Leader’

The sound is sort of a mix between Blotto and Queen. Inoffensive. But wow, they’ve got pedigree. Their rhythm section, consisting of members Bobby Irwin and Ron Francois, are credited with bass, drums, and backing vocals on Stiff artist Lene Lovich’s debut LP ‘Stateless.’ They even joined her on the ‘Be Stiff’ promotional tour in 1980. After the band’s demise in 1981 member Don Snow moved on to The Squeeze, while François joined The Teardrop Explodes before relocating (in 1982?) to Australia where he worked with such groups such as The Eurogliders. New Wave rating- A

Hounds- ‘Doo Wah Diddy

American band from Chicago formed in 1975. This single reminds me of The Cars on an off day. Supposedly they were a pretty big deal in the local Illinois music scene of the 70s, but outside of their home range they were seen as anachronistic relics, survivors carrying on rock’s ‘old school’ sensibility. New Wave rating- F

The Beat- ‘Don’t wait up for Me’

Known in the US as ‘The English Beat.’ High-profile British 2-Tone ska band with a touch of punk thrown in for good measure. Odd song choice on this EP however, as by this point in their career they three singles in the UK top-ten charts to choose from… this was not one of them. New Wave rating- B

Jules and the Polar Bears- ‘Good Reason’

If I were to go solely by the sound of this track I wouldn’t be very impressed. Rather standard rock stuff, with a splattering of synth keyboards thrown in at the bridge for good measure. Not exceedingly cutting edge. However… the draw here would have to be Jules Shear himself. He found success as a writer, penning hits for both The Bangles and Cyndi Lauper. He was in a relationship with singer Aimee Mann, the subject of ‘Til Tuesday’s song ‘J for Jules’, and co-writer of the title track on their third album ‘Everything’s Different Now.’ In January of this year (2013) he released the album ‘Shear Shazar’ with his wife Pal Shazar, formerly of Slow Children. New Wave level- A+

Aesthetically this one’s a ‘bit ugly’ for my tastes- if I’m any kind of music snob then I’d have to be considered the type that’s somewhat bias when it comes to sleeve graphics. I won’t turn away good music due to lackluster packaging but, well, this one makes me feel a bit ill. Something about all those hairy 70s-era men on a poorly designed B&W sleeve is unsettling. I’ll stomach it however since this was designed as a ‘demonstration’ (their words) promo and not for sale as such (where concepts such as ‘pretty’ and ‘eye-catching’ would be of greater importance…)*

Regarding rarity- although this is a ‘promo’ item it seems to be fairly common. My guess is it was a POS (Point of Sale) freebie given away at record store counters back in the day.

*edit- After further research it appears that this was a free EP given out when you purchased an LP by one of the featured artists. 45cat

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