Oh, the 80s. So much to answer for. So much celebrate, too.
I’m just days away from starting my fortieth year, so forgive me the nostalgic mood, but there’s another anniversary near and dear to my heart that that’s recently come up: the 30th anniversary of “Nova Heart”, the quintessential Canadian new wave single from Canada’s quintessential new wave band, Spoons. The current line-up, featuring original members Gordon Deppe and Sandy Horne along with Casey MQ (on keyboards) and Chris McNeill (on drums), marked the milestone with a special anniversary show at Revival in Toronto last Friday, March 30, 2012, and released a 30th anniversary edition of the Nova Heart EP (available on iTunes now).
I began discovering popular music just as pop music began discovering TV, began exploring the visual medium as a means to getting its message across. Synth-based, dance infused pop music is so inextricably linked to the music of the time, and for me, “Nova Heart” was the (pardon the pun) heart of my musical universe. Not only was my nascent musical obsession just starting to take hold, but I was discovering a budding patriotism, a pride in Canada. Back in 1982, MuchMusic was still two years away from hitting the airwaves, so if any Canadian band wanted to get the attention of their countryfolk, they had to go about it by endless touring, or getting a record on Canadian radio. Sure you could make a video, and maybe get it aired on one of those hour-long video shows like CityTV’s Toronto Rocks, but that wasn’t going to get you national exposure. You had to gig, and you had to have a great song that would get radio programmers’ attention. Spoons had that in “Nova Heart”.
Produced by John Punter, who had worked with the likes of Japan and Roxy Music, “Nova Heart” would become Spoons’ first charting single in Canada. It was followed into the charts by “Smiling In Winter” and the title track from 1982’s Arias & Symphonies; “Old Emotions” from their 1983 LP Talkback; and “Tell No Lies” and “Romantic Traffic” from 1984. Shortly after, keyboardist Rob Preuss and original drummer Derrick Ross left the band, effectively ending the first chapter of Spoons’ career. As the decade wore on, Spoons would move away from their original new wave sound into rock and pop territory, but “Nova Heart” would forever be their calling card. For some bands, such a closely associated song could become an albatross, but “Nova Heart” has aged gracefully, in my opinion, and still resonates three decades on.
There was/is a personal connection to the band too,( a connection I won’t revisit now, but you can read it on your own time), but that was secondary to why I was so passionate about the band. They were my first real musical crush, one that I still haven’t gotten over all these years later. Nor do I want to get over it. That’s the great thing about running your own blog, you get free rein to write about your own personal obsessions, so let me indulge a bit in my “Nova Heart” obessions.
First up, I thank Gord Deppe and Spoons for permission to post the new 30th anniversary Singularity Mix of “Nova Heart”. It’s available on the new Nova Heart 30th Anniversary EP available on via iTunes now:
Former Spoons keyboardist Rob Preuss now lives in New York, where he’s currently working on Once: the Musical based on the Academy Award winning film of the same name. Recently, he posted this haunting and beautiful clip of “Nova Heart” played on acoustic piano that I think deserves to be expanded into a full version:
And finally, in doing some digging for this post, I came a cross a recent version of the song by Montreal’s Montag, featuring vocals by Liane Balaban, from his Phases project, which is explained here: