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Massive Gallery of New Wave Single Sleeves header

by Tony Maygarden

"New Wave," a term borrowed from the French New Wave cinema movement in the late 50s and early 60s, was used by the music press to describe the wide variety of new rock music styles that emerged in the mid-70s. The new music was faster, shorter, more "street" oriented, and in some cases, contained political and/or socially conscious lyrics. The bands and singers flaunted their newness, and many made a distinct effort to distance themselves from the previous generation of "Dinosaur Rock" bands.

Even in the beginning, a wide range of styles was thrown into the New Wave melting pot, and it wasn't long before sub-genres broke out: "Punk," "Power Pop," "Techno," "Ska," etc. By the late 80s the term New Wave had been pretty much abandoned by the music industry, with the myriad of ever increasing sub-genres lumped together under the phrase "Alternative Rock."

The sleeves here roughly fall into the period 1976 to 1987. They were chosen from my collection, and some were supplied by friends. They don't necessarily reflect the best or most important musical output of the New Wave, but I tried for a good representation of great sleeve art. I also wanted to provide a quick overview of sleeve art from this period for graphic artists and designers. Much like the music, the sleeve art was stylistically diverse and in many cases strikingly different from sleeve art of earlier decades (although a retro '50s look was quite popular).

I make no claims that the gallery is a complete overview of any particular New Wave artist's sleeves. There are some obvious omissions (no Madonna? no Prince?). Some sub-genres don't get as much coverage as others. Some of the artists included here would probably blanche at being called "New Wave" but they're here anyway. There is also one page of artists who predated the New Wave but who were both big influences on the New Wave movement and were still making music in this period.

The index covers all of the artists with sleeves in the gallery, with names listed alphabetically. Following the link will take you to the page with the artists' sleeve(s). Or, if you want to just browse, get started!

As for more historical and discographical information on individual artists, I suggest you go to google and do a search. Include the word "discography" with the artist name.

Here are a few links if you're interested in other aspects of New Wave music:

fact-index new wave page: Basic history and background about the New Wave movement and major artists.

punkmodpop Covers pretty much what it's name implies, with cover scans.

New Wave Photos by Philippe Carly: Stage photos of a surprisingly large number of the artists with sleeves in the Endless Groove gallery. Cool stuff!

If you're into punk/hardcore sub-genres, these are two excellent sites with discographical info and sleeve scans:

New Wave "Powerpop" fans will definitely want to check out:
Bubblegum the Punk (A Guide to America Powerpop Underground 1975-1985)


Gemm is a database of thousands of professional dealers, and there are millions (literally!) of items listed. You can probably find just about all of the sleeves listed in this gallery through Gemm, although admittedly you may have to pay a lot for some of them. You can go straight to gemm.com, but if you click on the Gemm links you will find throughout the gallery, you will be magically transported to our Gemm affiliate page with the artist's vinyl listing pre-sorted for you. When you buy through our affiliate page we get a small (very small) commission from Gemm for each sale. This doesn't cost you, the buyer, anything, as it comes out of Gemm's commission from the dealer. A single sale's commission isn't much, but they do add up and help pay for the upkeep of this site.

I must credit the following sources for much of the annotation information accompanying the gallery sleeves:

The Trouser Press Guide to New Wave Records, edited by Ira A. Robbins, Scribners, 1983.
Trouser Press Record Guide, Fourth Edition, edited by Ira A. Robbins, Collier, 1991.
England's Dreaming, Jon Savage, St. Martin's Press, 1992.
Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 5th Edition, Joel Whitburn, Billboard, 1992.
Goldmine Price Guide to Alternative Records, Tim Neely, Krause, 1996.

Plus years and years of reading music magazines such as Rolling Stone, Trouser Press and Creem.

Also, thanks to my friends Mark and Preston for making some of the sleeves available.


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GEMM is your best source for impossible-to-find !

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