Themes From Great Cities

It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs on the interweb and I’m just sharing the wealth.

Should you have any Questions, Comments, Ideas, Re-up Requests or just general straight forward Requests post them in the relevant comments boxes and I’ll get back to you.

Thursday

Fulham Fallout (Shadow Re-Up)

Though history rarely credits the Lurkers as much more than West London's answer to the Ramones, think carefully before you assume it's a put-down. The Ramones influenced many groups, after all, but how many of them responded by taking the New Yorkers' blueprint and making it wholly their own?
Formed late in 1976 the band were one of the pioneering punk bands that played live in the first few months of the now-legendary Roxy Club in London. Their debut single "Shadow", the first release on Beggars Banquet Records, was voted by John Peel's listeners as the twelfth best track of the year in 1977's Festive Fifty.
The band’s debut album, Fulham Fallout, is an astonishing accomplishment, a blur of high octane riffs and unforgettable hooks tumbling over one another without a care for manners or niceties. When the band is at its best (notably in their singles "Ain't Got a Clue," "I Don't Need to Tell Her," and "Shadow...") with production that really makes the guitar kick. It's sloppy and amateurish, but that's what makes it so great.
Fourteen tracks make up the original LP; this Captain Oi reissue adds a further dozen bonus tracks, drawn from B-sides, compilations, demos and more. "Be My Prisoner" appeared on Streets, a landmark 1977 compilation album of early UK punk bands from a variety of independent record labels.


Earcom #1


When releasing this (12" EP) first issue of the Earcom compilations, Bob Last might seem to have thought that giving an opportunity to fresh happening talent, in fact at times so fresh, that some of these young padawans would not venture far beyond this very point.
Now I wouldn’t want to suggest that you skip the Prats offerings because I find them completely awful, even giving them the benefit of the doubt because they were still at High School when they committed themselves to recording directly onto a portable cassette tape, learning to play their instruments as they pressed the REC button. Horrible! However, both of the (I wouldn't be seen dead with them!) Blank Students (from Preston Lancs) contributions are awesome. "Background Music" is on the more Wire side of things, which as a reference point/influence is not bad at all for 1979. Graph delivers a screechy mid-tempo dirge, with some nasty "Fear of Drowning" vocal barks thrown in at the end. Drowning could be a touch too long, but overall still an interesting listen. We have already been introduced to future Pop Aural artists The Flowers who managed to get both tracks from their Confessions / After Dark 7" single on the Mutant Pop 78/79 comp (featured last month) as well.
Oh, and finally there's The Guest Item version of "(My Baby Does) Good Sculptures" (that would be track B5), credited to Simon Bloomfield/Tim Pearce and written by Jo Callis of The Rezillos. Again, not really worth waiting for, but mildly interesting if you’re a fan of hammering nails into your eyes. Definitely worth a download as five outta the nine tracks are enjoyable enough.

Tuesday

New Wave Soft Class-X 1


A brief introduction to the Belgium New Wave Club Class X series finds us locking horns with the likes of Spizenergi, Psychedelic Furs, Comsat Angels, Modern Eon, Ultravox and Tones On Tail. Pretty straight forward you’d imagine…fuck no! Killing it softly we begin this odyssey with Jane singing unaccompanied about a fine day quickly followed by Everything But The Girl having a go at the Cole Porter song ‘Night & Day’. I do like Tracy Thorn’s vocals and the minimal two guitar approach but it’s not CLUB, so whatever you do, don’t think this is a bounce around the kitchen compilation. Spizz on the other hand can’t control himself on the stop/start ‘Spocks Missing’ follow up to ‘Where’s Captain Kirk’. Modern Eon get the ball between their feet kicking off a very drum heavy trio with T’Furs and Comsat Angels but still nothing to get yer dancin’ shoes out for. Minimal synth now to the end with Young Marble Giants ‘Final Day’ and John Foxx (still with Ultravox) explaining ‘My Sex’ while Tones On Tail get all worked up under ‘Burning Skies’. Not quite the Something For Everyone mix, but then you’d have twigged this by my mischievous use of the word Belgium, where nothing is straight forward.

Sunday

A Factory Sample


There were the only two songs that I was familiar with when I first listened to the 2x7”singles that represent Factory Records first release. Joy Division’s Digital is tense, punky, but with a really catchy bass line. Ian works himself into a frenzy by the end of it, one of the first true times he did this. Glass has never been one of my favourite songs, but it's more indicative of where Joy Division were going. Durutti Column’s offerings are actually pretty good. They're basically just a Post-Punk band at this point (instead of the Dream Pop/Post-Rock/Ambient Pop/whatever the fuck they were doing afterwards). Vini doesn't play as large a role, obviously, but his guitar sound is still there, effects and all. No Communication has a sort of Dub feel with atmospheric guitars and deadpan spoken-word delivery. Thin Ice follows the same formula with more spoken word delivery. I don't know much about John Dowie outside that he is/was a comedian. Its Punk Rock instrumentals with comedic lyrics overtop of them in the timeless Punk delivery. Mildly humorous. And finally, Cabaret Voltaire, who were just beginning their career on Rough Trade around this time (not sure if their '78 EP came out before this or not...). Two songs very much in their early Minimal Wave / Industrial style with primitive drum machines, discordant electronics and echo-y vocals. Baader Meinhof is more of a soundscape, while Sex In Secret is a little more traditional. Overall, it's a diverse compilation but still a pretty good one.

Friday

Burning Ambitions


Possibly the first serious attempt by Cherry Red at gathering some of the best bands from ’77 through to ’82 who wore the grubby T-Shirts of punk, in one seminal gatefold double album. As noted by many commentators who love to state the obvious, no shows by The Clash, Sex Pistols, Banshees or The Ramones for a history of punk seems more like lawyers from the big labels getting involved. Although prominently a collection of UK bands there are a few classics from the colonies with The Saints, The Heartbreakers and Dead Kennedys keeping it real. Some of the other personal highlights hidden within the soft folds are The Adverts, Swell Maps, The Lurkers, Spizzenergi, Killing Joke and Vice Squad. If you want a quick and entertaining education covering some of the best music from the punk era, Burning Ambitions has it all, well almost!

Wednesday

Disturbing The Peace


Well, thanks a bunch Blogspot for NOT posting this on Monday. Normal (well kinda normal) service will resume with…

415 Records was a San Francisco record label created in 1978. The label focused its efforts on local punk rock and new wave music acts of the late 1970s through the late 1980s, including The Offs, The Nuns, The Units, Romeo Void, and Wire Train. Its name, pronounced four-one-five (not four-fifteen), was a play on both the telephone area code for the San Francisco area and the California penal code section for disturbing the peace (indeed, in some promotional material, the phrase "disturbing the peace" was written underneath the 415 logo). The label had a productive partnership with Columbia Records from 1981 until shortly before it was sold in 1989 to Sandy Pearlman, who retitled the label Popular Metaphysics. [Thanks Wiki]

Saturday

Lonely Is An Eyesore


If the artsy British indie label 4AD had a calling card, it's June 1987's Lonely Is An Eyesore, featuring many exclusive selections from their late-'80s staples. Recorded at Blackwing Studios the album was engineered and mixed by John Fryer and produced by Ivo Watts-Russell. The album title comes from the track Fish by Throwing Muses, who at that time were the newest signing to the label. On the album you get tribal mysticism from Dead Can Dance (Frontier, The Protagonist), fractured pop mysticism from Throwing Muses, dream pop mysticism from the Cocteau Twins (Crushed), gothic mysticism from This Mortal Coil and Clan of Xymox (Acid, Bitter and Sad and Muscoviet Musquito, respectively), instrumental mysticism from Dif Juz (No Motion), sound collage mysticism from Colourbox (Hot Doggie), and pop art mysticism from the Wolfgang Press (Cut the Tree). It isn't exactly a sought-after independent label sampler in the manner of Rough Trade's Wanna Buy a Bridge? (still to come), and it's not as legendary as Factory's A Factory Sampler (also still to come), but it does offer some fine examples of 4AD's excellence, especially in the cases of the Throwing Muses and Dif Juz selections. The compilation was also released in a severely limited edition (try 100, of which only 30 were commercially issued), encased in a wooden box with a VHS supplement and a number of graphic prints. Priceless.

Thursday

The Indie Scene


Pinch, Punch, first of the month. Well that was unexpected, loads of people enjoyed last month’s series of compilations so much so, that I’ve made an executive decision (well, it is only me), to continue with them into a second month. So hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen because this time around we’re really getting the BIG GUNS out. Namaste 

The Connoisseur Collection's ten-volume Indie Scene: The Story of British Independent Music series maps the shift from punk to post-punk and new wave in the U.K. from 1977 to 1986. Focusing on artists who were on fledgling independent labels and thus digging up plenty of otherwise forgotten chips from the late-'70s/early-'80s fireball, each volume contains plenty enough for voracious neophytes to sink their teeth into. And if you were a scenester back then (a hipster today) and need to relive the glory of all those singles your mum threw out while you were at your umpteenth punk festival, these compilations should plug some gaps. The Indie Scene 1977 begins with the Flamin' Groovies' title track from 1976's Shake Some Action, but after that the disc more or less sticks to the younger and snottier generation that carried the torch for proto-punk bands like the Flamin' Groovies themselves. As with the other instalments in the series, the inclusions are mostly from U.K. bands, with the odd exception figuring into the scheme -- the Dead Boys ("I Don't Care"), the Ramones ("Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"), and the Heartbreakers ("Born to Lose") represent the U.S. bands that had an effect (and/or a major influence) on their English counterparts. It makes perfect sense that Buzzcocks' "Boredom" appears, as it was part of one of the first self-financed and self-released records, the legendary Spiral Scratch EP. Other highlights include the Stranglers' brutish "(Get A) Grip (On Yourself)," Tubeway Army's (pre-Gary Numan solo) roaring "That's Too Bad," the Adverts' "One Chord Wonders" (they were!), Wreckless Eric's "Whole Wide World," and Johnny & the Self Abusers' (pre-Simple Minds) "Saints and Sinners."

Tuesday

Crossing The Red Sea With

Crossing the Red Sea With….The Adverts was the summation of a year's worth of gigging, honing a repertoire that (jagged, jarring, and frequently underplayed though it was) nevertheless bristled with hits, both commercial and cultural. "No Time to Be 21," "One Chord Wonders," and "Bored Teenagers" were already established among the most potent rallying cries of the entire new wave, catch phrases for a generation that had no time for anthems; "Bombsite Boy," "Safety in Numbers," and "Great British Mistake" offered salvation to the movement's disaffected hordes; and the whole thing was cut with such numbingly widescreen energy that, even with the volume turned down, it still shakes the foundations.
The band's original vision saw a rerecording of "Gary Gilmore's Eyes," a Top 20 hit during summer 1977, included on the album, being dropped (for space considerations) at the last minute. It's one of the few punk songs that truly deserved to be called a classic. Although excluded from the initial release of the album, the mistake is corrected by this 2002 re-release of the album and it's included no less than three times. Talk about over compensating.
As well as the three version of 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes' this re-release throws in a pile of additional extras including live tracks and some songs that weren't included on the original album. Crossing The Red Sea With….The Adverts, with the addition of the mysteriously excluded 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes', stands up well on its own, the added extras merely seal the deal.
It's time to put away your dubstep albums and your witch house white labels and get an infusion of old school punk into your veins courtesy of the Adverts.

A Cast Of Thousands (as requested) New Link Fixed


Famously recorded with Mike Oldfield associate Tom Newman at the controls, the second Adverts album was never going to be just another punk album. Although the group's live performance remained as fiery as ever, T.V. Smith was opening their sound to all manner of influences, including augmenting the line-up with keyboards; Richard Strange handled synth on what would become the new album's title track, before Newman introduced another Oldfield sideman, Tim Cross. His flourishes and textures would come to dominate the record (he appears on all but two songs), adding to the alien environment that was the new, ambitiously arranged world of the Adverts. It was not an album that was to win the Adverts many friends, but it probably wasn't meant to. A flagrant departure from even the most extreme expectations, Cast of Thousands not only cast the band adrift from the new wave mainstream, but it would also alienate all but the most adaptable of the band's following. Live, the new songs had blended effortlessly into their surroundings; adapting so many of the characteristics of the older numbers that one could almost believe they were seeking defensive camouflage. Once in the studio, however, the Adverts dispensed with every last vestige of familiarity, treating each song as if it were a completely new piece, and not, as in the case of "Male Assault," the oldest song in sight, something which they'd dragged along to every gig they'd done for the past 18 months. And, overall, it worked, although the Adverts themselves would not stick around to reap its rewards. Barely was the album in the stores than the band broke up, leaving Cast of Thousands alone to be battered by the brickbats of misunderstanding critics; not until its Anagram Records CD reissue, a full 19 years later, was the album perceived as the heroic and, in places, precognitive effort that it was, a window opening into the extremes (and, occasionally, excesses) of the 1980s new wave, and doing so with such effectiveness that the bonus tracks, drawn from the band's period singles, sound absolutely old-fashioned by comparison.

Sunday

Natures Mortis – Still Lives


Released by 4AD as a sampler album for the Japanese market (CAD 117) in 1981 however, for some strange reason, 500 copies were imported back to the UK. At the time of its original release, all the tracks had been previously released by 4AD, with the exception of Rema-Rema's "Feedback Song" (track 3) which has an alternate intro that is unique to this compilation. Tracks 13-17 are bonus tracks, not found on the original LP. 

Friday

Rodney On The ROQ


Rodney Bingenheimer is one of the very few DJs on commercial radio who has autonomy over what he plays. As a result, over the decades, he has been the first to play many up-and-coming bands, including The Runaways, Blondie, The Ramones, and Van Halen. According to legend, bands would knock on the parking lot door of KROQ's old studio in Pasadena and give their music to Rodney. If he found a track he liked, he would he would put it on the air immediately. Although his show has now been relegated to a midnight to 3 a.m. slot on Sunday evenings, it still has a fair amount of power to make or break new artists. Between 1980 and 1982, Rodney released three compilation albums on Posh Boy Records featuring the music he played on-air: Volumes 1, 2, and 3 of Rodney on the ROQ.
A reviewer on Amazon says, “Classic 80's So Cal punk from the greatest radio station - KROQ - in Southern California and Rodney Bingenheimer, an icon from that era! If you lived in So Cal at that time, you know what I mean!”

Wednesday

Something Bizzare


The digitally remastered, expanded and enhanced edition of this influential album that not only helped launch the careers of the likes of Depeche Mode, Soft Cell and The The, but also cemented Some Bizzare Records' position as one of the world’s most important independent labels. Features two bonus audio tracks originally considered for the initial release (by Fad Gadget and The Normal) plus an enhanced video of The Residents' 'The Act of Being Polite'. A true collector’s Item for anybody interested in the genesis of '80s Electronica, Goth and New Wave. An extremely important album which featured the first outings from some of these legendary artists, this album is as relevant today as it ever was.

Monday

One Pound Ninety Nine


Really great compilations from a time when Goth rock was at its peak and some of the indie majors like Beggars Banquet and their sister label Situation Two were leaders in the genre, don’t get much better than this. With the band rosters bulging at the seams (Bauhaus, The Cult, Gene Loves Jezebel, Love And Rockets, The Ramones, The Bolshoi and Peter Murphy) and most of the artists nibbling at the American market things were looking up. This is a really great snapshot of Beggars muscle in the UK indie market during the mid 80’s.

Saturday

[Fast Product] Earcom #3


Established in Edinburgh by Bob Last and his partner, Hilary Morrison, in December 1977 the label issued the first records by a number of early and influential post-punk bands from Northern England, including the original Human League, the Gang of Four and the Mekons. Fast Product also released the first singles by the Scottish punk bands Scars and The Flowers. Compilations of various new bands called 'ear comics' or Earcom releases were also produced by Bob Last with Morrison producing photographs and visuals for the record sleeves. Fast Product's releases challenged pop music conventions (hence the label's early monikers: "difficult fun" and "mutant pop"), and through its releases and marketing invoked a DIY punk spirit and generally socialist political outlook. Often packaging records with a caustic yet subtle sideswipe at consumerism (for example, the image of a wall of gold discs on the cover of the Mekons' second single), Fast Product attempted to show that all aspects of the record business, from musicianship to design to distribution, could be taken out of the hands of the major labels.

Thursday

20 Of Another Kind


SMASH HITS, DECEMBER 1978: The Jam figure twice on "20 Of Another Kind", Polydor’s New Wave compilation album. There are one or two fillers among the 20 tracks, but mostly it's a strong collection (and a good way to catch up on some fine singles you might have neglected to add to your collection in their 7" forms). Best tracks are Siouxsie & The Banshees' 'Hong Kong Garden', The Jam's 'In The City', The Stranglers' 'No More Heroes', Sham's 'If The Kids Are United', and The Adverts' 'Gary Gilmore's Eyes'. Also represented are Otway & Barratt, Gen X, The Boys and 999. SMASH HITS, JANUARY 1979: Release of the new wave compilation "20 Of Another Kind", which we told you about last month, has been held up due to objections from Siouxsie & The Banshees over the inclusion of 'Hong Kong Garden'. The Banshees say they weren't asked if they would allow their track to go on, and now they're withholding permission.
SMASH HITS, FEBRUARY 1979: Reasonable collection of mainstream New Wave singles from 1978 for the non-singles buyer. All established stuff, however only The Cure offer anything really new and interesting. Still, at least you know what you're getting this time. Dreadful cover.

Tuesday

To The Shores Of Lake Placid

The origin of Zoo Records is probably known the world over, so prepare your-self for a plethora of artists that have become legendary. Formed in Liverpool in 1978 by Bill Drummond and David Balfe (Keyboards in the Teardrops Explodes) to release a 12” single by Drummond’s perennially struggling band, Big In Japan (From Y to Z And Never Again). Zoo would only release two albums and a handful of singles by the likes of the Teardrop Explodes, Echo & The Bunnymen and Lori & The Chameleons. Inside we're informed that the music had been taken from a play To the Shores of Lake Placid which ran from August 24 1978 to February 21 1981 with "all titles performed by the Original Cast". Society For Cutting Up Men (SCUM) by Big In Japan opens (shown in a photo with a young Ian Broudie lying against a giant Teddy), followed by Drummond's other band Those Naughty Lumps with Iggy Pop's Jacket (issued as a single in January 1979). Next up we have the Teardrop Explodes with their original version of When I Dream, a couple of tracks by Echo & The Bunnymen and to close side one a couple of real gems in the Lori & the Chameleons single Lonely Spy and the Turquoise Swimming Pools (featuring Troy Tate) previously unreleased track The Wind. Side two begins with Whopper and Dalek I Love You and more from the Turquoise Swimming Pools, Teardrop Explodes, Big In Japan and Echo & the Bunnymen.

Sunday

Cut or Uncut 4AD


Picked up from the November 1998 edition of Uncut Magazine this 4AD sampler really covers the labels basics from the beginnings up to its release in ’98 (yeah, 20 years ago). The obvious classics you might think, but no, there are some little gems hidden within. Label stalwarts are well represented here with Colourbox, Dead Can Dance, The Breeders, Pixies, This Mortal Coil and Cocteau Twins all taking their places along with The Birthday Party, Red House Painters, Throwing Muses, The Mojave 3 and Lush (the others are still new to me). A something for everyone job lot on the front of a magazine within easy reach of the passing 30 somethings who vaguely remembered liking one or two of the bands while at University.

Friday

Labels Unlimited


Following hot on the heels of the semi successful Business Unusual compilation, Cherry Red decided to try again, this time aiming for the Christmas market of 1979. 16 tracks (15 from other indie labels) this time pushing the envelope to even more extraordinary lengths. New wave, Industrial, Experimental, Electronic and Girlschool. A mix that yet again doesn’t appear to work on paper but somehow gels well as yet another cross section of the indie music scene in 1979. The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), Anarcho Punk, Zoo Liverpool and Spizz Oil to name but a few of the genres represented here make listening quite interesting. Welsh band Llygod Ffyrnig sing about the N.C.B. in Welsh, as you’d expect. I’ve no idea what they’re singing about, but it doesn’t really matter.

Thursday

R.I.P. John Wicks - Shades In Bed Reposted with a bunch of extras



Like the Motors, the Records were re-born pub-rockers, who made a giant leap into the present by leaving their history behind and starting afresh with finely honed pop craftsmanship and the full-scale record company support they had never previously enjoyed. While the Motors went for grandiose production numbers, the Records made sharp, tuneful confections that offered maximum hooks-per-groove in a classic Anglo-pop style not unlike the Hollies, with similarly brilliant harmonies and ringing guitars.
The Records first UK LP Shades In Bed is a pure pop masterpiece featuring the near-perfect singles "Starry Eyes" and "Teenarama." The first UK pressings came with a bonus 12" entitled High Heels, which featured a collection of four covers. The album was re-sequenced and retitled The Records and dressed in a completely different cover for America with an untitled 7-inch in early copies. Shades In Bed is a wonderful album, featuring song after song of pure pop with clever lyrics and winning melodies.

Shades In Bed must rate as one of the greatest all time classic power pop albums.