Last year I did a few posts on the phenomenon of False New Wave, and these were wildly popular, so the impetus has always been there to revisit the topic. The comments gave me grist for future posts I’ve yet to write. But as it transpires, much of this music has [perhaps willfully] fled my mind over the intervening three decades since then. Until now. This morning I had a horrible thought flit into my mind and it has left its unwilling imprint there, to fester into a full blown blog post on False New Wave; the topic that will not die!
The culprit today is one of the worst offenders ever. In fact, so spectacular was its failure, that it flat out destroyed the wildly successful band that dared to make it. Suffice to say that faux American would-be prog-rockers STYX® had bounced around for most of the seventies until their single “Lady” got re-issued enough times for their label, Wooden Nickel, to finally make a buck off of them and cause A+M to come sniffing around! They spent the rest of the seventies making money for A+M with a series of turgid rock epics beloved by seventh graders the world over. An eye opening glance at their history on Discogs.com reveals amazing facts.
- I have only ever heard about eight of their songs in my life. Gosh, it seems like so much more!
- All of their early, unpopular albums seem like they would be right at home with Kansas in the Home For Wannabe Midwest Prog Rockers! Really! They did “Fanfare For The Common Man” years before ELP got around to it! There’s Beaver & Krause covers on those Wooden Nickel albums nobody ever bought! If the name Beaver & Krause doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably under sixty years of age!
By the time that 1981 rolled around, every other teen in America had a copy of their “Paradise Theatre” album. They were just about to mint coins with the images of STYX® on them… but then they realized that no one knew what they looked like! Suffice to say, at no point in my pre-teen or teenaged years did they once ever speak to me! They represented all that I wanted Punk Rock and New Wave to fully wipe from the smug rock star map. They were middlebrow aspiring to highbrow and firmly reaching a lowbrow audience. They were an embarrassment to all that I valued in music. After 1981, they could have done anything to the ecstatic squeals emanating from the accountants offices deep within the bowels [very appropriate] of A+M Records. What they chose to do in the heady year of 1983 was to… go New Wave!
Next: The horror… the horror!
Oh boy, I’m gonna enjoy this one immensely. This will hit home for me since my lovely wife of 24 years grew up in the midwest and came of age in Jerksonville, FL. Styx was her band, maaaan. In her defense, Styx, Kansas, REO S**twagon, and mid 70s era Rush were all she and her siblings were exposed to. Of course I corrupted her and she now has excellent taste in music, but deep down I know she still holds some Styx music near and dear for the memories. Just for the record though, she always considered that Mr. Roboto Kilroy thing a total crock of crapola.
Let ‘er rip Mr. Monk….
Brian Ware – I had forgotten that your wife grew up in in Jacksonville, Florida! Jacksonville: Like Orlando without any soul whatsoever! Hah! A little inside joke for once and former Orlando residents! Yeah, STYNX® were corn-fed prog for those uncomfortable with the virtuosity of a Yes or ELP. They made my head hurt badly with this little project.
Ooh this is gonna be good. My college years in Binghamton, NY, were filled with unwanted megadoses of those heinous arena-rock acts. I will allow that my first ever rock concert (at age 16) was Kansas on their “Point of Know Return” tour, and while it sounds gruesome in retrospect, it did instigate my love of live music. Not sure Kansas ever had a faux-wave moment; if they did it fell on deaf ears. Unlike Mr Roboto, which caused more projectile vomiting than any quantity of ipecac.
Taffy – I am guessing that Kansas deferred to somebody’s better judgement and quietly retired without such brain-warping moments as evidenced on “Kilroy Was Here.” At least STYNX® went out with a “bang.” It’s hard to forget such a farrago as this! And it’s too obtrusive to be swept under any carpet!
I have a Kansas (Steve Walsh) story best left for another time…let me just say…it involves Mick Jones of The Clash…