1981: A New Wave
As the eighties progress, new wave continues to find a place in the collection and perhaps typifies the most accessible and popular sounding records of the time in the collection. By the early eighties, what once was a more direct response to the punk of the seventies, was well on it’s way to the synth-pop that would come to dominate popular rock music in the decade. While we will not find the popular groups in the WNUR collection, we do see many groups like the Leeds group Delta 5 who find themselves between the more gritty post-punk of the mid-seventies and the polished and produced new wave rock of the mid-eighties. Here you can hear the track “Make Up,” reminiscent of New York bands like Television. However the differences between the sounds of the two band are distinct and important, most importantly the high production value horn section and the phaser effects on the drums. In the bridge new wave music like this record, we can continue to see the lasting pop sensibilities of WNUR music directors.
As a polar example, and a showcase of the other more experimental directions new wave rock music was moving, we have the Düsseldorf based Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft. D.A.F. was an incredibly influential and relatively unknown group to many U.S. audiences. Like the Branca disc, the mere fact that WNUR has this record signifies the relationships music directors had forged with underground networks of distributors early in the eighties. Beyond the historical importance of the record, Der Mussolini also represents the wide weeping subgenre interest at WNUR, and particularly the commitment rock show continues to show toward more experimental electronic music throughout the eighties and nineties, amid the more guitar-driven indie rock movements going on in America. This fascination continues to this day on the rock show and raises an interesting question of what really falls under the rock music umbrella and the kind of power WNUR had in sculpting those genre distinctions and classifiers. While a track like “Der Mussolini” holds enough resemblance to other post-punk in vocal style and musical delivery to sit comfortably with other contemporaries like Suicide in the rock canon, the track is only a few sonic steps from dance music and sits at the interesting crossroad of both.