Lene Lovich: New Wave Pioneer

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Artist Profiles, Goth, New Wave, Post-Punk
Tags: , , , ,

With her quirky style and unusual vocals, Lene Lovich was one of the most unforgettable artists of the early eighties. My first glimpse of Lovich was in the video “Lucky Number.” Although it was released in 1978, it received pretty good airplay on MTV in the early eighties. The song’s combination of punk and new wave sound fit in well with the time period. The video featured Lovich in her signature braids looking very much like a Goth flamenco dancer. I had never heard such odd vocals and seen such an eccentric performance before (I had yet to encounter Nina Hagen). Taking a look back at Lovich’s career, you realize how much she influenced artists like Cyndi Lauper, Bjork, and Gwen Stefani, among many others, and it’s evident she didn’t get the recognition she deserved.

Due to her English accent, I mistakenly thought Lovich was British but she was actually born in Detroit, Michigan (her mother and siblings moved to England when Lovich was 13). She also had a very unconventional background, which most likely contributed to her theatrical stage persona. She attended several art schools, was a cabaret and go-go dancer, played sax in a funk band, wrote songs for disco artist Cerrone, was a member of a West Indian soul band, dubbed screams for European horror films, and worked in fringe theater groups. After brief stints with other bands, Lovich and partner Les Chappell signed with Stiff Records in 1978 and released the album “Stateless,” which includes the single “Lucky Number.” The song was a hit, reaching #3 on the UK charts.

Lovich went on to record two more albums and one EP with Stiff records before breaking with the company after the release of 1982’s No Man’s Land. There were rumors that Lovich, under pressure from the record company, refused to tone down her look and act for the bosses at MTV so they broke ties. She didn’t release another album until 1989, and took a long leave and returned in 2005 with another album. Lovich continued to make guest appearances on stage with other artists and in 2012 formed the Lene Lovich Band and toured throughout 2013. That same year, she started her own record label, Flex Music, which allowed her to gain control of the back catalogue of her music. She is now in the process of getting ready for a European tour with talks of a new album and an American tour.

New Toy” is off the EP of the same name released in 1981. It was written by Thomas Dolby, who also plays keyboards and appears in the video. It was a hit in the US dance clubs and peaked at #53 on the UK singles charts.

 

The video for “It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz),” has Lovich dressed up as a Spanish bride and a Zorro-like character. The song was the first single released from the album No Man’s Land, and had minor success on the US dance charts.

 

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