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  • Writer's pictureNeil Rajala

CRATE DIGGING: Geef Voor New Wave

With Crate Digging I’m occasionally going to dive into my record collection and dig out the unusual, the seldom seen, and rarely heard stuff I’ve collected over the years. They’re some of the jewels of my collection and deserve a brief moment in the spotlight.

GEEF VOOR NEW WAVE – A compilation record from the Netherlands, released in late 1977 on the Ariola Benelux label. The marketing concept was to pitch it as a kind of charity record. The title translates to “Give for New Wave,” with the idea, as explained on the inner sleeve, that people should buy the album to support struggling artists deemed to be on the “new wave” of popular music. (In case you’re not familiar, that’s an old alms can pictured on the front and back covers).

There were a couple of flaws in that approach. For one, the message was on the inner sleeve - the buyer didn’t get that call to altruism until after they bought it and opened it up. The other issue, of course, is 1977 was years before “New Wave” was attached to any particular style of music (or look). Ariola was using the term in the broader, next big aesthetic movement, context, much like it had been used in art, literature, and film in previous decades. A little too erudite for rock and roll fans, perhaps. There was a competition announcement on the inner sleeve, inviting folks to "create something that you think of as very new wave, and win a trip to London." I’d love to see the entries, seems like it would make a great exhibit somewhere if they still exist. Hall of Fame, are you listening?

Geef Voor New Wave is a mishmash of artists and songs whose only connection seems to be that they were creating something apart from what was commercially viable at the time. Too fast, too raw, too simple, and too outspoken, compared to the music that was topping the charts in 1977 - the year of rock and roll vanilla smoothies like Rumours, Hotel California, Aja, and Slowhand. Some of the bands on it went on to have successful careers (Tom Petty), but most sunk into oblivion, became cult favorites, or broke up after their flash-in-the-pan moment.

My reason for including it is simple – it plays like an essential 1977 album. I bought it because it was the first LP I had ever seen with an import sticker and the allure of owning a record from overseas was impossible for a budding record collector to resist. I quickly grew to love every second of it. The juxtapositions from song to song can be a bit jarring sometimes, with stylistic leaps from fast proto-punk to pub rock to slinky, sexy rock and roll, but the alchemy necessary for a great compilation is here in spades. I’ve listened to this record so many times I can’t hear one of its songs anywhere else without my brain expecting the next one on the album to follow. Geef Voor New Wave is thoroughly entertaining snapshot of a brief, bright moment in rock and roll history. It’s the sound of creative doors opening and I’m glad to have every one of these songs in my collection, especially the obscure ones.

Side One:

1. Rubinoos, “Rock and Roll is Dead” – The album kicks off with a U.S. cult power-pop band that made a record of new music as recently as 2018. This song was never a single, my guess is it was chosen as a mission statement for the album. Their only single that made a slight ripple on the charts was a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells' “I Think We’re Alone Now,” that bizarrely led to them appearing on American Bandstand.

2. The Motors, “Dancing the Night Away” – The remains of the seminal British pub rock band Ducks Deluxe. As The Motors they sharpened up their hook-writing skills and streamlined their sound into an impressive version of locomotive power pop. Much more successful in their native U.K. than here, but still influential. Cheap Trick covered this song impressively a few years later, which gives you a ballpark idea of their sound.

3. Johnny Moped, “No One” – Early, hammer-to-the-head U.K. punk. Loud, crude, fast, and catchy as hell. These guys were not virtuosos instrumentally, at a time when that wasn't an obstacle to getting a recording contract. A very minor hit in the U.K., no impact whatsoever here. Their biggest footnote in music history is that Chrissie Hynde was in their earliest lineup, before they found their way into a recording studio, sadly.

4. Eddie and the Hot Rods, “Do Anything You Wanna Do” – I’m forever grateful to Geef Voor New Wave for introducing me to one of the greatest singles in rock history. Soaring, hooky, propulsive, and sung by Barrie Masters in an achingly sincere style that made you believe he was demanding something new in his life. E&THR were a band until Masters passed in 2019, although he was the only constant member of an ever-changing lineup. There never was an Eddie, btw, that was the name of the dummy they used to prop onstage at their live gigs. The joke went stale quickly and Eddie was abandoned. Wonder where he is now?

5. The Adverts, “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” – Bassist Gaye Advert has a legitimate claim to being the first female punk star. Mojo magazine put this song on its “Best Punk Singles of All Time” list and deservedly so. Not because the band were great musicians, they certainly weren’t, but because a song from the point of view of a man receiving an eye transplant from a convicted and executed killer is so irredeemably punk.

6. Generation X, “Your Generation” – A hit single in England, despite Sir Elton calling it “dreadful garbage” in the press. When it hit, the band fractured under the weight of their giant egos and the main offender, singer Billy Idol, took off to America to seek fame and fortune.

7. X-Ray Spex, “Oh Bondage Up Yours!” – Is this the best ever punk single? Maybe. It’s certainly the best one sung by a woman. The single and subsequent album, Germ-Free Adolescents, are deserving milestones of the British punk movement. The song is startlingly ragged, vocalist Poly Styrene’s singing is unhinged and jumps octaves impressively (if you don’t mind that her jumps don’t land on-key) and sax player Lora Logic is wailing away in a style that’s not, well, logical. It shouldn’t work, but try to get “Oh Bondage Up Yours” out of your head once you’ve heard it.

8. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” – From their debut album. These guys hadn’t made any real chart noise yet, although their first single “Breakdown” cracked the U.S. 40. The second single, “American Girl,” stiffed here, believe it or not, but made the Top 40 in the U.K. so “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” was only released as a single over there. Subtle and unpolished compared to their later sound, but irresistible and catchy, and another lyric that seems to capture the spirit of this compilation.

Side Two:

1. Jonathan Richman, “Roadrunner” – The version here isn’t the more famous one that appeared on the Modern Lovers’ debut, it’s the one credited to Jonathan only, with the Greg Kihn Band backing him. Musically simple (a two chord wonder), lyrically goofy, and amazingly catchy. A perfectly dumb rock and roll single. Richman would go on to make a career out of simplistic, even childlike, pop and rock songs, but “Roadrunner” is his purest stroke of regressive genius.

2. Sex Pistols, “Pretty Vacant” – The other “famous” band on the compilation, the difference being Tom Petty took a few more years to get there, the Pistols were huge at the time of Geef Voor New Wave’s release. The third of Johnny Rotten and Co.’s four legendary singles, before they started to implode and releasing unlistenable crap like “My Way” and Monkees covers. Compared to anything else on the record that could be called punk, in this context it’s easy to see why the Pistols ruled the scene. “Pretty Vacant,” like everything else on their only real album, jumps out of the speakers like a snarling attack dog, with a chorus for the ages.

3. Motorhead, “Motorhead” – If the compilers of Geef Voor had been sticklers for detail, both the band and song would’ve been listed as Motörhead, but what’s a missing umlaut between friends? The brainchild of Lemmy Kilmister (bass guitar and gravel-gargling vocals), Motörhead combined heavy metal with copious amounts of amphetamines and may have inadvertently invented thrash metal, six years earlier than Metallica planted their flag. This song was my introduction to the band and although I never became as fanatic as their still-tweaking fan base, I can throw on Ace of Spades or No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith (those pesky amphetamines again) and happily bang my head awhile.

4. Dwight Twilley Band, “I’m On Fire” – Another lost power-pop jewel – slinky, sexy, irresistible, and never in any universe intended to follow Motörhead. Mr. Twilley hailed from Tulsa, OK. He and songwriting partner Phil Seymour moved to L.A. in 1974, got a record contract as The Dwight Twilley Band, and had one hit single, this song, that reached #16 on the sales charts. Dwight went solo a few years later and had another hit single, “Girls,” that hit, you guessed it, #16 on the charts (goosed by some backing vocals from fan Tom Petty). Loads of management and label issues derailed any momentum Dwight’s career might have gained, but he left behind a slew of hook-filled, effervescent power-pop albums. I’m grateful to Geef Voor for motivating me to seek them out.

5. The Radiators from Space, “Television Screen” – The album closes with a few true obscurities, starting with this one. The Radiators sometimes get credit as Ireland’s first punk band. I haven’t gone down that particular rabbit hole to verify the claim, but their only "hit" single (top 20 on the Irish charts) is fast, raspy, and owes more than a little to good ol' American rockabilly. It goes by in a supremely catchy blur, fits perfectly on the album, and remains the only song from their catalog I’ve ever heard.

6. Radio Stars, “Dirty Pictures” – Not punk, not new wave, not heavy metal, “Dirty Pictures” is a proudly sleazy power-pop song about exactly what the title says. “I get my kicks up in the attic / with a Kodak Instamatic” indeed. Like a lot of bands that sprung out of the furious label signings in the U.K. after the Sex Pistols kicked the door open, the Stars had intermittent flirtations with the U.K. charts, opened for more famous bands, had multiple lineup changes, a couple of break-ups and reformations, and left behind one brilliant single. I'm glad to have it.

7. Earth Quake, “Train Ride” – The most obscure song on a compilation full of them. Also the most incongruous. Earth Quake was a traditional, old-school hard rock band from northern California, and “Train Ride” sounds like it in all the right old-school bluesy, propulsive ways. Nothing “new wave” about them except they were one of the first bands signed to Beserkley Records after crapping out on A&M. I can tell you an interesting story about them – their manager started Beserkely after getting a cash settlement from the producers of the Steve McQueen/Ali McGraw film, The Getaway, because they didn’t pay for the rights to use Earth Quake’s music in the film – but I can’t tell you how to hear them in 2023. They don’t exist on any streaming platforms and their few albums are so far out of print it’s like they never existed. I can’t even Google an agreed upon number of albums they released; Wikipedia says eight, AllMusic says six.

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Mar 31, 2023

I had a promo of that Earthquake album for decades. Came home with me from one of the stores I worked at. The only other copies I ever saw were promos too. I don't think they actually sold any.

Neil Rajala
Neil Rajala
Apr 01, 2023
Replying to

And that makes you the only other person I've met who's heard of them. They would be an interesting archeology project if their music was a little more compelling.

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