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Before Blondie and Talking Heads: Now Sounds Presents The Original “New Wave”

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Blame it on the bossa nova.   It was at a Westwood record store that Reid King first heard Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One Note Samba,” performed by the great Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida and the Modern Jazz Quartet.  In no time at all, King found inspiration in the tricky chords of the bossa nova.   He mastered them and went on to write his own songs, often in collaboration with one-time child actor Thom Andriola, who performed under the stage name of Tommy André.  By 1966, King and Andriola were recording demos, and one year later, they were signed to Canterbury Records.  At the cult favorite Sunset Boulevard label, home to the Yellow Balloon, they found themselves collaborating with rock royalty as The New Wave.  Van Dyke Parks, Gene Page, Mike Post, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye all added their magic to the duo’s debut.   But the promise of the day soon gave way to disappointment, and the New Wave’s lone LP has been shrouded in mystery for over forty years, out-of-print since its 1967 release. 

Now Sounds, truly the home to the best in retro California pop/rock, rectifies this with the May 30 release of Little Dreams: The Canterbury Recordings.  This new disc compiles both the mono and stereo versions of this long-lost LP together with two bonus tracks.  For their debut, The New Wave brought together the sounds of King’s beloved bossa nova with jazz, pop and classical strains, while the harmonies recalled late-period Chad and Jeremy or even Peter and Gordon.  (One guesses that Reid and Tommy just didn’t have the same ring to it, especially in the psychedelic days of 1967.)

The New Wave took its name from the French filmmaking movement.  Nouvelle Vogue included directors Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard among its numbers, their work epitomizing the auteur theory of cinema as espoused by publications such as Cahiers du cinéma.  King and André hoped to bring that singular vision to their music.  As such, they wrote all but one of the songs on their first (and only released) long-player, and the one cover version was a rearranged version of Michel Legrand’s “Autrefois” from Jacques Demy’s 1964 musical film Les Parapluies de Cherbourg, or The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  This was hardly Top 40 fare in 1967, adventurous though those times were.  King took Legrand’s romantic melody and rearranged it as a bossa nova, paying homage to two of his most pronounced influences in the process.  Perhaps in tribute to the Modern Jazz Quartet’s Milt Jackson, the evocative, sometimes eerie sound of the vibraphone played a major role in the sound of The New Wave.  Renowned bassist Ron Carter (one-time labelmate of Jackson at Creed Taylor’s CTI label) even contributed bass to the record.

Carter was just one member of an illustrious musical cast.  Hit the jump for more, plus track listing and discographical details! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

May 18, 2011 at 10:12

Posted in News, Reissues, The New Wave