american new wave music


On this day in music history: April 30, 1982 - “A Flock Of Seagulls”, the debut album by A Flock Of Seagulls is released. Produced by Mike Howlett, it is recorded at Battery Studios in London from Summer - Late Autumn 1981. Formed in Liverpool, UK in 1980 by brothers Mike (keyboards and lead vocals) and Alister “Ali” Score (drums), the original line up also includes Frank Maudsley (bass). They take the name A Flock Of Seagulls from a lyric in the punk rock band The Stranglers song “Toiler On The Sea”. They add guitarist Willie Woo to the band. A hairdresser by day, Mike Score and the band rehearse in a space above the hair salon where he works. They see changes in personal shortly after when the Score brothers have a falling out, with Ali being replaced by drummer Mark Edmondson. Woo departs soon after as well. At Maudsley’s suggestion, they replace Woo with Edmondson’s friend Paul Reynolds on guitar. Only seventeen years old at the time, Reynolds unique playing style augmented with numerous effects including digital delay and echo becomes an essential part of A Flock Of Seagulls sonic trademark. When Ali Score returns to the band, Mark Edmondson leaves and the band’s line up is finally set. They begin playing clubs throughout England and land a recording contract with Jive Records. Recording and releasing the singles “Modern Love Is Automatic” and “Telecommunication” during the Spring and Fall of 1981, the band finish recording their self titled debut album near the end of the year. When it is released in the UK in the Spring of 1982, it initially does not make a big impression in their home country. However, pockets of support develop in other parts of the world. Having made a low budget music video for “I Ran (So Far Away)” (#9 Pop, #8 US Club Play, #43 UK), it begins airing on MTV in the US during the Summer. The immediately catchy new wave/pop song, grabs the attention of American music fans, and by the Fall the single hits the top ten in the US and number one in Australia. The follow up single “A Space Age Love Song” (#30 Pop, #34 UK) cements the band’s sound and visual image, punctuated by Mike Score’s dramatically coiffed hair, styled to make him look like a bird of prey. The instrumental track “D.N.A.” also wins them a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance in 1983. The album is also well received by critics and fans, and is regarded as an 80’s new wave classic. The US version differs somewhat from the UK release, featuring a shifted running order, and omitting the track “Tokyo”. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued by Cherry Red Records (on the Cherry Pop imprint) in 2011, with four additional bonus tracks. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP by Music On Vinyl in 2013. “A Flock Of Seagulls” peaks at number thirty two on the UK album chart, number ten on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Prince refused to be a commodity
Prince refused to be a commodity


The iconic musician, actor and activist died today at the age of 57 at his home outside Minneapolis. His most popular songs are rocketing to the top of the iTunes charts as we speak, but his influence went far beyond just music.

Daphne A. Brooks is a professor of African American studies, theater studies and American studies at Yale University. She loves music — rock, punk, New Wave, soul — and often writes about music’s impact on social justice.

Brooks was in New York today to give a lecture. When we spoke, she was in the office of her friend and fellow music scholar Alexandra Vazquez. They were supposed to meet for lunch, but all they could talk about was Prince.

“He was the sound of post-Civil Rights freedom struggle. He was the sound of blackness, as capacious and as unapologetic and as eccentric, as wondrous, as imaginative as you could possibly think in our contemporary world today.”

Brooks said Prince “had an understanding of how black artists had been exploited across the 20th century — still are — in the music business, and refused to have his name be turned into something that was just a commodity for big business. He was an absolute ground-breaking presence in that sense too.”

For her, the loss of Prince goes beyond academic and cultural appreciation.  

“Being a kid who grew up listening to punk and New Wave along with soul, he was somebody who embodied all of those sounds for me. He made me feel free, he made me feel liberated.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.