The new pop is the new wave turned on its head and given a bath. As punk seems less and less of a threat to anyone, "rebellion" and "cause" are starting to look hollow. Energy, once a blessing, is now an excuse for a million and one no-hope redundant punkeroos. Redundant because the bands of the third wave, the 1978 beat boom, have taken a huge step on and a giant leap away.
As well as our choice of bands, there are others, like Gen X and Radio Stars, who've been around for a while doing roughly the same sort of thing. Erstwhile "punks" — New Hearts and 999 for example — who, with a wash and brush up, will slot in nicely. For other new names, stay tuned to RM.
Nick Lowe began as he's about to continue — as a pop star. Originally in a failed teen-idol band called Kippington Lodge (later Brinsley Schwarz) he is now set to become the Godperson of pop because all through '77 and before, he was producing clean melody beat numbers that cauterized the punk hooha and made him a cult star. With several major misses to his name on Stiff Records — notably "Heart Of The City," "So It Goes" and then the Bowi EP he has now moved onto Andrew Lauder's Radar Records and an album is expected soon.
Lowe, an acid casualty and prolific boozer, has everything going for him in '78. If he bothers to realise it and cash in he could become the biggest of all the new pop stars. Unfortunately he seems to have such a low boredom threshold that I wonder if he's capable — or even cares if he's capable — of making a sustained enough effort to become a household name. Last year, remember, he flipped constantly from role to successful but impermanent role — producer (Damned, Graham Parker Dr Feelgood), singles craftsman, solo live performer, bass player in Dave Edmunds Rockpile.
The only thing that might hinder his success is that Lowe does precisely what he wants to do and not what trends dictate. It would be typical if he now moved onto something else (the sound 1979?) and left the bandwagon jumpers to reap its harvest from the seeds he sowed and then abandoned.
Jake Riviera has carved out an imagine niche for Elvis Costello that has captured the imagination of so many E.C. has become the first of the new pop stars. With his tough but clean face, nice suits and gimmick spectacles, Fleet Street, Mavis Nicholson and the Public At Large fell burbling at his feet.
The details of his rise to fame are well documented - computer operator humps tapes hopelessly round record company offices until he finds one bright enough to sign him. Enter Andrew Jakeman, otherwise known as Riviera, perhaps the most paranoid and perhaps the most clever entrepreneur in the business. Costello does one solo gig at London's Nashville without a band, released flop singles "Welcome To The Working Week" and "Alison" and disappears to put together a band.
Now the manipulation begins. No one is allowed to go and see Costello rehearse with his new band, despite accelerating press interest. This just makes people more curious. When Costello does tour with The Attractions he's only given one interview with one music paper and that, after three blown-out appointments.
In other words, he's acting like a star when, in business terms, he was still a commercial dead duck. Everyone becomes madly interested, huge press coverage and a hit single "Detectives," follow and Costello's phenomenal talent for writing short, hard, exciting pop songs, is given the exposure it no doubt deserves. As he gets sucked more and more into the industry his anti-biz pose is bound to falter but the music is still there, and it's enough. Elvis will go from strength to strength in 78.