Rock rocks on through web-based service.


I’ve been trying to recall the name on the poster I saw at London’s Gloucester Road Tube Station in 1985 so I can write a post about how I lost music.

At that station the platform is not underground; it’s open to the sky above, but high stained brick walls hem in the damp, with only weeds sticking up above.  Two other people joined me.  It is impolite to make eye contact in Britain – or was then, in those circumstances.  Thus I stared across the tracks at a billboard showing the bottom third of a woman walking with her fur coat dragging on the floor, making a trail of blood.  This was the same year anti-fur warriors hung a banner over Harrod’s roof decrying the sale of animals skins.

Turning away from that troubling sight – after all, my grandfather had been the agent at the train station that shipped goods from a silver fox fur and mink farm – I spotted an interesting graphic on a poster advertising – what?  There was a name that made no sense at all (the one I can’t remember), and bold brush strokes of white on black.  No product mentioned, no address, no date.

Later I was told it was the name of a band, and from that time forward, I noticed, bands seemed to be competing for the most inscrutable definition of who they were and what they did.

Over the past quarter-century I had forgotten the name on the poster, and so last month I searched the World Wide Web for “British rock bands 1980s.”  I tapped into MinistryOfRock (, a mine of information, including the tidbits below:

“The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (or NWOBHM) began as a very underground movement, essentially the metal equivalent of punk in that it came from the streets, with a very working-class ethos. It was played hard and fast, much like punk, often with a deliberate disregard for the glamour and spectacle that had grown up around big rock shows. …From its unprepossessing start, it grew to dominate the rock end of music for the first half of the 1980s, and several of the bands have enjoyed long international careers. “

Just a few of the top bands were described.  I wondered: did I see the word Motörhead that day?  It couldn’t have been Iron Maiden.  Was it, by chance, Def Leppard?  Maybe someday I will continue the chase on websites devoted to those prominent three.  Or to rock band posters.

The MinistryOfRock entry for the 1980s ends with the statement that the New Wave of Heavy Metal found a much larger and accepting audience in America than the one at home (Britain), and that it was a brief era of musical style leading to Hard Rock.

Ready to swish and twirl.

This brings me back to my point:  Teenagers tucked away in the countryside of Wisconsin in the 1950s were into a Big Band revival with the release of the “White Album,” commemorating the 10th anniversary of Glenn Miller’s death.  We slow-danced and jitterbugged to our very our own Top Hatters band.  Too involved with extracurricular activities and homework, we missed Elvis Presley’s debut on TV, and paid scant attention to the craze that took hold in the junior high schools.  We moved on to college, where wordless Cool Jazz was The Thing.

Aside from choral music, only 1970s ballads have caught me ear since. Today’s pop chart tunes are wallpaper, and only when I can’t flip a switch.

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