Tuned In To Music

Reflections from a lifetime

Review: Various Artists, Nouvelle Vague Presents New Wave

“New Wave” is something like a recursive function applied to Nouvelle Vague’s standard musical formula.  Nouvelle Vague are French duo Marc Collin and Olivier Libaux who typically new waveproduce covers of new wave songs that have been infused with the sound and stylings of Brazilian pop.  With “New Wave” they move the basic idea one step backward in time; rather than Brazilian covers of new wave tracks they present new wave covers of older rock and pop tracks. 

“New Wave” collects 24 tracks over two CDs and it works surprisingly well.  Part of the reason for this is that most of the artists represented are doing sincere covers, not tongue-in-cheek and archly self-conscious goof songs.  Another reason the collection works is that Collin and Libaux have selected a great set of music by new wave artists who are both well known and obscure.  Among the highlights are covers of the Stone’s “Mother’s Little Helper” (Performed by Polyphonic Size), the Kink’s “You Really Got Me (Silicon Teens), Velvel Underground’s “Waiting for the Man” (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark), Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By” (The Stranglers), Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music” (Telex), the oft-covered “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” (The Slits), David Bowie’s “Fame” (Duran Duran), and the ringer in the group, Velvet Underground’s “Sister Ray” (Joy Division). 

Not everything works so well.  I was disappointed with Karel Fialka’s cover of the Doors “People are Strange”.  The song would seem to provide perfect subject material for the sense of chilly alienation that was a strong element of many of the new wave groups but the version included on “New Wave” is plodding and dull.  Nouvelle Vague have also chosen to program the set without space between the tracks which produces jarring juxtapositions as often as smooth transitions from one track to the next.

Putting together a collection like this demands that the compilers have a deep knowledge of the music and a deep record collection to draw from.  Nouvelle Vague have both and “New Wave” serves as a model of how older musical styles can be anthologized in creative and interesting ways.  I find a little of this type of music tends to go a long way and two discs worth is more than I’m going to want to hear at one time.  However, Nouvelle Vague have chosen such a good set of tracks that “New Wave” is the kind of collection I can enjoy by playing either disc at just about any point in the track list until the style wears thin.


12/12/2007 - Posted by | CD reviews, music, music reviews

1 Comment »

  1. i wanna go back to 70’s-80’s

    Comment by aha | 05/02/2008 | Reply

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