new wave 80's


On this day in music history: July 20, 1980 - “New Clear Days”, the debut album by The Vapors is released. Produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven, it is recorded at Basing Street Studios and The Town House Recording Studios in London from Late 1979 - Mid 1980. Formed in 1978, The Vapors consist of David Fenton (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Howard Smith (drums), Edward Bazalgette (lead guitar) and Steve Smith (bass, vocals). Their break comes early on when they’re seen by Jam bassist Bruce Foxton while playing the pub circuit. Foxton offers to co-manage them along with Paul Weller’s father John. Shortly after, they are touring as the opening act for The Jam. The Vapors sign to United Artists Records, working with The Jam’s producer Vic Coppersmith-Heaven. Releasing the single “Prisoner” in the Fall of 1979, it fails to make a ripple in the charts. With Fenton writing the songs, their debut album is completed over the next few months. Their fortunes turn around with the release of “Turning Japanese” (#3 UK, #36 US Pop) in February of 1980. The song becomes a smash in the UK, leading to its release around the world. An urban myth about what the song title really means, lead to some US stations refusing to play it. A rumor spreads that the song is actually “a euphemism for masturbation”. In truth, the lyrics are about the angst experienced in youth and it having an unexpected outcome. In the US, United Artists promote the single by pressing a special 7" white vinyl disc shaped like a Japanese flag. The album title “New Clear Days” is a pun on “nuclear days”, with the cover art of a weatherman pointing at a map of England with a radioactive symbol and a mushroom cloud over London. The title and cover art are meant to be commentary over the cold war and conflicted views over the use of nuclear power. It spins off two other singles including “Waiting For The Weekend” and “News At Ten” (#44 UK). The chart performance of “News” is scuttled in the UK when a strike at the BBC pre-empts “Top Of The Pops”, cutting off a major source of public exposure for the record. BBC-1 radio also refuses to play the record after the band appear on rival network ITV performing the song. They also have their momentum impeded in the US when United Artists is abruptly shuttered, with the record being transferred to Capitol subsidiary Liberty Records. The US release of “New” features a shifted running order, and omits the track “America”. In spite of their “one hit wonder” status, “Turning Japanese” goes on to become a new wave classic, and is later featured in the films “Sixteen Candles”, “Romy And Michelle’s High School Reunion” and “Charlie’s Angels”. The album is released on CD in 2000 by UK label Captain Mod Records with eight additional bonus tracks. “New Clear Days” peaks at number forty four on the UK album chart, and number sixty two on the Billboard Top 200.