“No Wave” Compilation (1979)

I bought this over at Osaka’s Time Bomb Records thinking it was something released only in the Japanese market, but later that evening I realized it was actually put out in a number of different countries. “Oh well,” I thought. “At least it’s got the cool OBI and Japanese-language insert”. Turns out, though, that there are two Japanese versions of No Wave, both from 1979, and fortunately for me I ended up with the rarer of the two. My version has 16 songs while the other Japanese pressing has only 12, but what’s really weird is that there are songs on the 12 song version that don’t appear on the one with 16 songs. I feel like there’s a story here that I’m not going to get to the bottom of. What’s even weirder is all the other versions pressed in other countries also have 16 tracks… so not sure what’s up with the shorter version.

Anyway, let’s get something out of the way right up front – none of these bands qualify as being “No Wave”. Sure, the comp came out only a year after the seminal and genre-defining No New York, but let’s be real – these artists are more new wave, or simply rock, than no wave. The Police? No wave? C’mon. No wave was an anti-movement, one that pretty much ceased to exist as soon as the first copy of No New York sold. The moment someone tried to define and sell something the entire spirit of it imploded leaving behind nothing more than a few copycats that record execs tried to package as some kind of hip outsider movement.

But back to No Wave. There are some decent tunes here and a number of bands/artists I haven’t heard before – Klark Kent (who was actually Stewart Copeland of The Police), David Kubinec, Bobby Henry… and all of it is quite good. Squeeze brings us a pair of solid tracks, most notably the synth-driven “Take Me I’m Yours,” my favorite song on the comp. In fact all three of their contributions to No Wave are killer – I may need to keep my eyes peeled for Squeeze records from now on.

There’s plenty of good stuff on No Wave, though I’d probably suggest you just stick with one of the much less expensive UK versions if you’re just in it for the music.