bec-xmasPopCult Note: Today we just have one post for the 2016 PopCult Gift Guide, and it’s guest-written by Sydney Fileen, the presenter for Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on The AIR. Sydney is a legendary UK voice on radio and television, and her passion is the classic music of the New Wave era. You can hear a 24-hour marathon of Sydney’s Big Electric Cat today on The AIR, running from Midnight Friday to Midnight Saturday.

I want to thank Rudy Panucci for allowing me to take over his PopCult blog today to share with you my picks for the best New Wave Music gift ideas for the intelligent and charming person on your holiday shopping list who also has impeccable taste in music. Mr. Panucci assures me that he will insert links where appropriate.

We will try to show you that having a love for music created thirty to forty years ago doesn’t make you old. It makes you cool.

71opvvqdrcl-_sl1200_We will begin with a good sampler of the type of music we’re talking about. A budget-priced 3 CD boxed set, The Greatest Ever Punk And New Wave, The Definitive Collection very nearly lives up to its rather unwieldy title. Scattered across its three discs are classic New Wave tunes from the likes of The Stranglers, The Damned, Stiff Little Fingers, Martha and the Muffins, Adam and the Ants, The Dead Kennedys, Joe Jackson, Madness, Lene Lovich and more.

There are 57 tracks in all, and every one of them is a gem. This is a terrific sampler for the newbie just learning of the wonders of the New Wave era, and it’s also a kind artifact for those gentle souls who have survived after experiencing it firsthand.

Having awarded them a good library of Punk and New Wave classics, my advice is for your giftee to explore and discover which types of New Wave music most excite them. Then they must tell you which artists they prefer so you can get a head start on next year’s gift giving.

Moving on, we have some brand new music from one of the most respected Ska bands of the early 1980s. Over here in the UK we know them as “The Beat.” In the US they are “The English Beat.” You may remember their hit, “Mirror In The Bathroom.” Now there are two bands, one with each version of the name, and each containing one original vocalist. Thankfully, both bands are on good terms with one another.

917k-equ1-l-_sl1500_The Beat, based in the UK, are fronted by Ranking Roger, the original toaster of the group. The UK version of the Ska stalwarts has a new album out called Bounce. This album is a great surprise, with its eleven tracks soundling like the original band did in its prime. It’s new music, but it’s in their recognizable style, proving that The Beat is not merely an “oldies” act.

Not to be outdone, Dave Wakeling, and his English Beat, have a new album in the pipeline from PledgeMusic, but sadly it will not be released in time for the holidays.

Since you can hear me talk about and play New Wave Music every Friday at 3 PM EST on The AIR, I will devote the rest of my suggestions to books, fashion and art.

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s
51nhja9x6hlby Lori Majewski and Jonathan Bernstein
Harry N. Abrams
ISBN-13: 978-1419710971

Though published a couple of years ago, this book is a lovely oral snapshot of the heights of the New Wave era.
Mad World is a highly entertaining oral history that celebrates the New Wave music phenomenon of the 1980s via new interviews with 35 of the most notable artists of the period.

Each chapter begins with a discussion of their most popular song but leads to stories of their history and place in the scene, ultimately painting a vivid picture of this colorful, idiosyncratic time. Mixtape suggestions, fashion sidebars, and quotes from famous contemporary admirers help fill out the fun. Participants include members of Duran Duran, New Order, The Smiths, Tears for Fears, Adam Ant, Echo and the Bunnymen, Devo, ABC, Spandau Ballet, A Flock of Seagulls, Thompson Twins, and INXS.

Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and Songs That Defined the 1980s is a quick read, fun, bright and frivolous, and perfectly suited for the New Wave Music fan on your holiday list. You can order this book locally using the ISBN number above, or order it from Amazon.

The Clash FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Clash City Rockers
51ph8ihezilby  Gary J. Jucha
Backbeat Books
ISBN-13: 978-1480364509

A new entry in the subcategory of books about “The Only Band That Matters,” The Clash FAQ is a very good, informative overview of the band. Founded by guitarist Mick Jones and fronted by the legendary Joe Strummer, the Clash had the charisma of Elvis, the integrity of the Beatles, and the swagger of the Rolling Stones, according to the press materials fo this book.

By 1982, members of the Clash found themselves not only with a hit album ( Combat Rock ) but also playing opening sets during the Who’s first retirement tour. It appeared the Clash would fill this gap.

It was not to be. A series of self-inflicted wounds led to a legendary downfall mere months after appearing in front on their largest audience ever at the U.S. Festival in 1983. Strummer and bassist Paul Simonon soldiered on with the underrated Clash, Round Two, but eventually disintegrated under the weight of their manager’s mind games. In The Clash FAQ , author Gary J. Jucha covers the band’s inception and emergence in the early British punk scene, all of the studio albums as well as bootlegs, the band’s success in the U.S., the lineup shifts, tours, and more. Fresh in its approach and broad in scope, this an essential volume for every fan. You can order this book locally using the ISBN number above, or order it from Amazon.

Punk Play Book: Starring Vivienne Westwood
91n7mrgp10lby     Matteo Guarnaccia
Ore Cultura Srl (Acc)
ISBN-13: 978-8866483243

This play book is being published four decades after the birth of punk, and it is devoted to one of the most spectacular youth revolutions in the whole of history: a provocation held together by safety pins, one that was rather short lived (1976-1980) but definitely made its point… and left a deep mark on our imagination. Thanks to torn clothing, spiky hair, chains, razor blades, studs, leather, sullen facial expressions, and a fast pace, the movement elbowed its way to the frontline of style. Punk was the product of an economic crisis, of the failure of ideologies, of the wake-up call of the dream of love and peace in the sixties, but it was also a healthy reaction to the tediousness and pomposity of the cultural pundits. It appeared with a rebellious and rude attitude, together with vibrant music performed by a motley crew of performers wearing garish stage outfits: from the Sex Pistols to The Clash, from Iggy pop to The Ramones.

Admittedly, this is all a bit silly, but it’s essentially a coloring book, and therefore is inherently silly to begin with. You can order this book locally using the ISBN number above, or order it from Amazon.

If listening to the music and reading about the history is not enough for the person on your holiday shopping list, then you may wish to visit New Retro Wave, a webstore devoted to preserving the look and style of the 1980s. For your New Wave-inspired home decoration needs, I simply must point you to the website of the late Patrick Nagel, where you can still purchase lithographs of his most enduring works.

With that, I fear my allotted space has been spent. I do hope you’ll join me as I present Sydney’s Big Electric Cat on The AIR every Friday. it has been my pleasure to assist you in your pursuit of a Happy Christmas. Remember, keep riding that new wave.