The reason 10,000 records by rock groups were issued during the years of Beatlemania is because the recording industry saw profits there. For a record to come out, somebody has to put it out, and although independent recording today is a viable alternative, the floodgates won't open for New Wave music until some of the groups start having hits. Big hits. Every record company in the world is poised to throw everything they've got into the New Wave at the first sign of this. And let's face it, the really big hits are not going to be the two-chord records about tearing down the British social system. Really hard rock has never had the mass-commerciality of pop, and it will be acts like the Ramones, the Jam, the Boys, Dwight Twilley, 20/20, Cheap Trick, etc. who will crack the charts and have the first hits. Radio wants to play New Wave records but they don't want to offend their mass audience with crude, obnoxious music. They're waiting for Powerpop. And so are the kids of America--all 40 million of them.
Let's give it to 'em.....
And January of 1979:
The problem has been putting my finger on exactly what it is that I and everyone else involved heavily in the New Wave scene these days, is feeling about the cultural climate coming out of the summer of ‘78 and heading into a winter that may be as symbolic as it is literal. A spirit of disenchantment is certainly in the air, and for a lot of valid reasons. I was going to go into some of this, but better yet, those who care should pick up the latest issue of New York Rocker with its extensive analysis of the New Wave recession, including some of my thoughts on the economic factors.
The fact is, it has happened. What started as a year of unbridled optimism is ending in confusion and doubt for a lot of people. Even as recently as the last issue of BOMP, as I was speaking of a permanent, expanding New Wave scene as an accomplished fact. The change must seem abrupt to readers who have not kept their gaze riveted on the front battle lines the last few months, but it did happen rather suddenly (though the signs were there to see, if we wanted to see them—which of course we didn’t!). What actually happened, I guess, was that the momentum pushing everyone along just sort of collapsed as more and more people realized they weren’t getting anywhere. It got harder and harder to believe that this scene would explode when people finally got exposed to it, after the mass audience had every opportunity for exposure and still remained apathetic.
But by March 1979:
Looking over the musical landscape as the new year begins, it feels more like a clean slate than the shattered ruins I saw towards the end of ’78. Among the people I know there is less moaning over the fading of punk and and more excitement about the new possibilities opening up. The general feeling, which I share, is that ‘79 could become a very important year for music.
There are a number of ways to look at what’s taking place now. We started three years ago with a totally decadent music scene, against which punk was a violent reaction in the direction of simplicity and raw immediacy. Now that too has worn thin and some people are looking for a sort of synthesis to emerge. Another viewpoint holds that punk's more creative musicians, fed up with reaching only the limited clique of punk patrons and starving all the while, see now the possibility to broaden their perspective, reach a larger audience, and still hold most of their cult following. In other words, that the survivors of punk will be those who can “go commercial”. Someone recently pointed out that none of the punk bands of ’64-66 survived their era, but that the generation of groups who immediately followed, the more experimental bands of ’67-68, are (those who survived) among today’s biggest and most entrenched stars—Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, et al. And that from this we might deduce that the next year or two will bring new bands, influenced by punk but without the constricting self-limitations, who will stay around to develop the musical vocabulary of the '80s.
Analysis to follow, but feel free to discuss in the meantime....