Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: ‘The Encyclopedia of New Wave’


I’ve consumed my share of colorfully illustrated books on punk, but they’ve always seemed a little wrong to me. Cheerily eulogizing the musical equivalent of a stick of dynamite up the sphincter kind of misses the point. The overtly commercial, style conscious New Wave, however, is ripe for that kind of overview, and Daniel Bukszpan’s Encyclopedia of New Wave is a doozy. Or maybe I should say “it’s a totally tubular tube of awesomeness that doesn’t make me want to gag myself with a spoon” or something. However you word it, The Encyclopedia of New Wave is a supremely entertaining retro trip through a pop-culture movement that seemed retro while it was happening, even though it was supposed to be, like, totally futuristic.

Bukszpan trots out hundreds of profiles on megastars like Madonna, credible artists like Elvis Costello, obscurities like Q-Feel (seriously… who?), and—errr—Robert Palmer. The profiles are brief but fairly informative. Above all else: They. Are. Hilarious. Bukszpan is a really, really, really funny guy. Consider this quote from his piece on Bananarama:
“The follow-up, Bananarama (1984), was another success, featuring the song “Cruel Summer,” which would appear in the epic Pat Morita film The Karate Kid, which was the moving story of a man getting his car waxed by a teenage boy.”
His profiles on Alphaville and Animotion also made me laugh out loud. Bukszpan must have written his profiles in order, because some of the comic inspiration evaporates as the book moves from A to Z. That still leaves us with a fun look at a diverse menagerie of one-hit, multi-hit, and no-hit wonders. Bukszpan sometimes interrupts his artist profiles with tangents on New Wave fashion, heart throbs, T.V., videos, and movies delivered with the same thrilling irreverence as the rest of the book. And if all those pesky words are too much for your coke-addled, Simon Le Bon-obsessed brain, The Encyclopedia of New Wave will still captivate you with its abundant photos and a design so dazzlingly colorful and awesomely garish you may need your Ray-Bans to view it.

You will buy The Encyclopedia of New Wave, and you will buy it using this link to Amazon.com:
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