The late seventies was always a tricky time for music genre labels in the chaotic swirl of the recent upheavals and ripping up of rule books. Even now balding gentlemen or a certain age hold very strong opinions over just what was pub rock, what was punk and what was new wave. If pub rock was the bluesy muscle that fuelled the sound of punk, new wave was the twitchy, agitated and tighter sounding music which stepped through the door as the last clatter of punk faded out on the chill wind. That’s my thoughts on the subject, not that it matters…just don’t ask me quite where Power Pop fits in!
New Feeling is the long lost debut album from Nottingham’s stalwarts, The Favourites, being a collection of singles, their b-sides and ten other never released tracks and if you want to know just what the close of that decade sounded like as punks year zero was becoming a distant memory having opened doors and kicked down barriers for a whole raft of new sounds and attitudes, then this sums things up nicely. The songs here have the drive of the previous revolutionary onslaught but things are honed down and popped up, finely tuned and deftly woven. Taught and concise is the order of the day here. It is still the sound of the underground but also of things heading towards more commercial climes and their two singles aside (ABBA’s SOS and The Wasp’s Angelica) the rest of this album easily suggests that with a fairer wind and a couple more years together, we could now be talking about The Favourites in the same way we do the likes of Squeeze, Costello or The Only Ones.
But it wasn’t to be and the dream didn’t last but as a group of musicians they made more than a few of their own footnotes in the annals of musical history. Darryl Hunt went on the replace Cait O’Riordan in The Pogues, Tony Berrington and Kevin Green formed the Deadbeats and Duncan Kerr served time in Darts before joining psych punks The Brainiac 5 and Americana advocates Proudfoot.
Musical history is full of “what ifs” and New Feeling is a wonderful slice of speculation but it is also a document of the times and a fantastic collection of songs, one which has easily stood the test of time. A week may be a long time in politics but forty years in music seems no time at all.