Thursday, June 15, 2023

40 Favorite New Wave Albums

In response to Ultimate Classic Rock's recent male-dominated list of the Top 40 new wave albums, I give you my list of 40 new wave favorites

A couple of caveats: Unlike UCR, I only allowed one album per artist. (Still reeling over the fact that their list had FOUR Talking Heads albums, and THREE Elvis Costello and THREE Devo albums!) Suffice to say, if I'm a fan of Romeo Void's "Benefactor" you can guess that I'm also wild about "It's a Condition" ... and so on. I didn't grow up in a Talking Heads-Costello-Devo environment -- or even David Bowie -- so none of their albums made my list. (Please don't excoriate me for only being a casual fan of all four.) 

What's here are the albums I truly love -- not the ones I think I'm supposed to love -- records I have listened to 100+ plus times, that I know every word and every breath of. And it's no surprise that the Top 10 features all female singers. Also, my best "new wave" friend chastised me when I included songs from after 1984 on a list in the past, so I'm using that year as the (I feel random) cutoff point. If I hadn't, the debut albums by Lone Justice, 'Til Tuesday and Pet Shop Boys may very well have made the cut, as well as "The Queen Is Dead" by the Smiths.

Regular readers won't be terribly surprised by many of these. But here's hoping a few of you learn something you'd never heard of before -- and that you send me your picks in the comments so that I may learn a thing or two, too! 

My full list BELOW.

 1.  Blondie: Parallel Lines (1978) 

 2.  Pretenders: Pretenders (1980) 

 3.  Go-Go's: Beauty and the Beat (1981) 

 4.  The Waitresses: Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? (1982) 

 5.  Romeo Void: Benefactor (1982) 

 6.  Slow Children: Slow Children* (1981)

 7.  Everything but the Girl: Everything but the Girl* (1984) 

 8.  Bangles: All Over the Place (1984) 

 9.  Divinyls: Desperate (1983) 

10. Bananarama: Deep Sea Skiving (1983) 

11. The B-52s: Wild Planet (1980) 

12. The Jam: Snap! (1983)

13. The Motels: The Motels (1979)

14.  R.E.M.: Reckoning (1984)

15. Depeche Mode: Speak & Spell (1981) 

16. Kim Wilde: Kim Wilde (1981) 

17. Aztec Camera: High Land, Hard Rain (1983) 

18.  The Style Council: My Ever Changing Moods* (1984) 

19. Kirsty MacColl: Desperate Character (1981) 

20. Psychedelic Furs: Talk Talk Talk (1981) 

 21. Prefab Sprout: Swoon (1984)

22. The Human League: Dare (1981)

23. Altered Images: Happy Birthday (1981)

24. Lloyd Cole & and the Commotions: Rattlesnakes (1984) 

25. Holly and the Italians: The Right to Be Italian (1981) 

26. O.M.D.: Architecture & Morality (1981) 

27. Bow Wow Wow: I Want Candy* (1982) 

28.  Josie Cotton: Convertible Music (1982)

29. New Order: Power, Corruption and Lies (1983) 

30. Blue Angel (1980) / Cyndi Lauper: She's So Unusual (1983)

31. Culture Club: Colour by Numbers (1983) 

32. Orange Juice: You Can't Hide Your Love Forever (1982)  

33. Squeeze: Singles, 45's and Under (1982)

34. Eurythmics: Sweet Dreams Are Made of This (1982)   

35. Thompson Twins: Side Kicks* (1983) 

36. Tom Tom Club: Tom Tom Club (1981)

37. Spandau Ballet: True (1983)

38. Haircut 100: Pelican West (1982) 

39. Heaven 17: Heaven 17* (1982) 

40. Yaz: Upstairs at Eric's* (1982) 

Honorable mentions:

41. Marshall Crenshaw: Marshall Crenshaw (1982) 

42. The Bluebells: Sisters (1984)

43. Japan: Tin Drum (1981) 

44. Eurogliders: This Island (1984) 

45. The Questions: Belief (1984) 

46. Echo and the Bunnymen: Ocean Rain (1984) 

47. ABC: The Lexicon of Love (1982)

48. Soft Cell: Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret (1982)

49. Missing Persons: Spring Session M (1982)

50. Catholic Girls: Catholic Girls (1982)

51. The Cure: The Walk (1983) 

Wasn't eligible for list because it's an EP, but I adored this record as a kid so am including it here!

52. Let's Active: Afoot

Another classic EP that might have been on the list otherwise.

*Note that I've used the U.S. version of the album, which was the first copy I had.

P.S. We can all argue about who is and isn't "new wave" -- I feel like Bananarama started out living and practicing in the Sex Pistols' old rehearsal space and then later became pop stars. But if UCR can include Wham! on its list, then whatever I think also goes!


JimmyD said...

Great list!
Bowie (my Number 1) and Costello aren't, in my opinion, New Wave anyway.
Talking Heads... maybe.

PAC said...

Love the list. I'd add Soft Cell, Missing Persons and maybe the Catholic Girls.

Randy Slovacek said...

Excellent list!

grapecherry said...

I got a promotional copy of the the Catholic Girls album to review in high school. I was editor of the (Catholic) high school newspaper. I would add Duran Duran "Rio," The Police "Zenyatta Mondatta" and INXS "Shabooh Shoobah" - - if these count as "new wave." I also loved Elvis Costello and "ChangesOneBowie" - - but did not discover until after 1984.

thegaycurmudgeon said...

I love this list (and have many of these albums), although I'd be one of those people who excoriate you for not having any Talking Heads/Elvis Costello/Devo/Bowie. (Then again, I'm older than you are, so I DID grow up with them.) Did I mention that I just wrote a screenplay about the Cruel World festival, an '80s music festival that I recently attended in Pasadena, CA? I just sent it to their producer.

schmiedepaul said...

Altered Images ❤️

whitmanarchive said...

Well, that was fun, wasn't it? Of course, my own list would be quite different, but I was positively giddy to see Parallel Lines up first. BTW, I bet I can, based on your choices here, guess when you were born to within 2 years.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Thanks, whitmanarchive!

Please do guess. :-)