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.

Sunday

It Will End In Tears


The first of 4AD owner Ivo Watts-Russell's multi-artist studio sessions under the This Mortal Coil name, 1984's It'll End in Tears was a surprisingly influential album in many circles, key in the reawakening of interest in artists like Alex Chilton and the late Tim Buckley by a younger generation of listeners. (Two songs from Big Star's Third are included, a version of "Kangaroo" featuring Cindytalk vocalist Gordon Sharp that sounds even druggier and more disorienting than the original, and a chilling piano and strings version of "Holocaust" with haunted vocals by Howard Devoto; the simple but ravishing version of Buckley's "Song to the Siren" by Cocteau Twins Liz Fraser and Robin Guthrie was cited by David Lynch as the direct inspiration for Julee Cruise's first two albums and has since been used several times in commercials and films.) The covers are the most memorable part of the album; a Robbie Grey-sung version of Colin Newman's "Not Me," cleverly incorporating a hypnotic riff from another Newman song, "B," is the most conventionally hooky song on the album, to the point that folks who haven't listened to the album for a while tend to forget that half of the songs are "band" originals. These six songs mark 4AD's definitive break from its origins as an artsy post-punk imprint (Bauhaus, Modern English's first few records, etc.) to the development of "the 4AD sound," a heavily reverbed wash of treated guitars and atmospheric keyboards with vocals treated as another instrument in an amorphous wash of sound. The problem is that these largely instrumental tracks sound more like half-baked studio doodles than fully formed songs; a three-song stretch on side two featuring Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard is particularly tiresome. As a whole, It'll End in Tears is a lovely, often exquisite record; taken individually, the power of some of the songs is lost.

Friday

Hurt Me


The set-up of just a mic and an acoustic guitar with the odd electric overdub is just perfect for Johnny Thunders voice and songs. The version of 'Sad Vacation' is incredible. The whole thing is like an intimate live gig in your living room. Well Hell!! Hurt Me is a rarity in Johnny Thunders' catalogue; a collection of acoustic recordings revealing that he could be a hell of a performer when he wanted to. There are a number of predictable songs here, such as the classic "You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory," as well as some good covers. It's an anomaly in Thunders' catalogue, and all the better for it.

What Johnny didn’t need teaching was rock n’ roll. For that week in 1983, he owned Soho. Outside the Marquee club, the ‘House Full’ sign is up but people are still pushing to get in. It’s the hottest August on record for years and the overpowering stench of sweat and beer in the club isn’t helping. The tiny dressing room offers no respite. By 20.45, the usually tranquil Christopher Giercke keeps taking frequent glances at his wrist watch. Of course The Heartbreakers are late. Suddenly the dressing room door swings open. Johnny clad in an undertaker’s frock-coat strolls in and politely instructs security to clear the room of liggers. Jerry Nolan follows, dressed like a priest who decided to become a pimp. He sticks to his customary pre-show regime, finding a quiet corner and staying in it. Only the most foolhardy would dare to approach him. A few tense moments pass until Billy Rath wanders in seemingly unaware of his surroundings until someone hands him his bass. His eyes suddenly snap into focus. Nobody talks very much. It’s hard to say if the silence is brought on by nerves, drugs, surly dispositions or all three. With everyone present, Christopher finally relaxes and regales the assembled with tales of adventures in the Amazon. Maybe it’s the heat. Someone makes it backstage to report that Hanoi Rocks are out in mass to see Johnny and company but no one budges. The club is too full to contemplate leaving the relative safety of the backstage area…

Nina Antonia author of Johnny Thunders: In Cold Blood.
 

Thursday

Tin Machine is 30



Reminded of the date by Sal, over on Burning Wood, of today’s Tin Machine anniversary, a quick re-post of this classic and well-loved album was deemed necessary for all to enjoy.
A remarkable recording for many reasons, the debut of Tin Machine predates by nearly five years much of the guitar-oriented alternative poop that followed the grunge explosion of 1991-1992. This does not sound like Bowie in a band; missing are the quirkiness and theatrics that characterize much of Bowie's solo work. This is a band with a band attitude, not exactly what the fans were wanting at the time. Stunt guitarist Reeves Gabrels provides much in the way of ambient guitar solos, not unlike Adrian Belew's work. Drummer Hunt Sales provides a sticky tenor vocal similar to Bowie's own voice in a higher register; they blend very well together. The music is hard-edged guitar rock with an intelligence missing from much of the work of that genre at the time. Highlights include the emotional "Prisoner of Love" and the driving "Under the God." The band does a rocking rework of John Lennon's "Working Class Hero," with a killer machine-gun fire-sounding riff that permeated the track. The strongest analogue to Bowie's earlier work is a five-minute number toward the beginning of the record called "I Can't Read"; with its deliberately out-of-tune guitars and half-hearted vocals, it's a nice piece of artistry. This record would have been more popular had it been released five or six years later.


By the end of 1987, David Bowie had been a superstar for 15 years. Mentioned in the same breath as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen, Bowie was a very wealthy man with hit albums, movie roles and top-grossing concert tours. However, the sheen of pop stardom faded after the mega-excess of the Glass Spider tour. “Being shoved into the Top 40 scene was an unusual experience,” Bowie admitted during an interview at the time. “It was great I’d become accessible to a huge audience … but not terribly fulfilling.” The tour was financially in the black, but the reviews from critics were harsh, causing Bowie to question the authenticity of his music and the nature of superstardom. He wasn’t interested in being a greatest-hits singer, but was eager to reinvent himself once again.
The creation of Tin Machine, with Bowie as lead singer, would be the path to his reinvention. And although the band released only two studio albums (the first of which was released on May 22, 1989) and one live album in its brief lifespan, Tin Machine became David Bowie’s musical redemption.
The group was created as a way for Bowie to purge his past while making his usual deft assault on the market. The first part of that statement certainly turned out to be accurate. Bowie teamed up with Reeves Gabrels, Hunt Sales and Tony Sales to form a band where every member was equal. Favouring jamming with each other versus having a songwriter bring in lyrics and a demo for the group to learn, Tin Machine were a cathartic experience for all involved.
The Sales brothers were part of Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life tour with Bowie, while Gabrels was a relatively recent musical partner Bowie met during the Glass Spider tour. Together, they were ready to create music that weaved in their influences from the ‘60s to the ‘80s. Bands like Cream, the Pixies and Jimi Hendrix were all mentioned as key influences in Tin Machine’s sound. And from the opening track of their record, the bluesy “Heaven’s in Here,” it’s clear that a kind of British interpretation of blues was part of the group’s sound; a sound that was grittier than most rock bands in the music business at the time.
Even the way the album was recorded (live takes, few overdubs, and no finessing the lyrics), was at odds with production standards of the day. It took a certain leap of faith on the part of the engineers to trust in the way they wanted to record.
The band relished its unorthodox approach and the creative freedom this process produced, ignoring the modern rules of recording. The result was an unvarnished, proto-grunge sound that had Gabrels’ screeching, yet melodic, guitar at one end, the Sales brothers adding deep, rhythmic foundations of drums and bass on the other. Bowie remained at the centre, an angry middle-aged man.
Tin Machine’s sound was ahead of its time. As such, when the band made its 1989 debut, the general reaction seemed to be collective confusion. Rolling Stone, MTV and Melody Maker all gave Tin Machine fairly positive press, but the majority of the media simply savaged the group. Many of Bowie’s fans were not pleased with the music, either. Few knew what to make of a bearded Bowie simply serving as a singer in a hard rock band.

Rains On Me


Heavenly Bodies was a new wave/ethereal group from England, formed in 1986. The band comprised lead vocalist Caroline Seaman, along with didgeridoo player and saxophonist Tony Waerea of This Mortal Coil, former Dead Can Dance members, drummer James Pinker and bassist Scott Rodger. The released their first track on the Perdurabo compilation in 1987 while recording their debut album Celestial for release in 1988 on C’Est La Mort Records. Following the album release a 12”EP Rains On Me was released remixed by Robin Guthrie of the Cocteau Twins. Big beats, ethereal vocals, and a swirling chorus comprise this track, which appears in both extended and edited form alongside an exclusive instrumental B-side.

Wednesday

Is Nothing Sacred?


The shadow of the Rolling Stones, the classic role model for bands who embrace rock's scuzzy, dangerous, vaguely satanic side, looms large over Lords of the New Church's second album. The influence of Mick Jagger on Stiv Bators' lippy, sneering delivery has never been more apparent. Brian James emulates Keith Richards' rhythm-oriented guitar parts, leaving Dave Tregunna's bass as the lead instrument. Nicky Turner may not be Charlie Watts (who is?), but he provides a dependable backbeat. Is Nothing Sacred? even offers such Stones-y song titles as "Black Girl White Girl," "Goin' Downtown," and "Partners in Crime." You'd hope this was a conscious homage, but it sounds more like the Lords were having trouble deciding on a direction and fell back on old habits. Still, if Is Nothing Sacred? were a Stones album, it'd be a pretty good one, well played and entertaining throughout. "Dance with Me" (funky, slinky, and goth-tinged with lyrics that invoke voodoo and bondage) is one of the Lords' best songs and, coincidentally, one of their biggest hits. "Live for Today," a surprisingly straight cover of the Grass Roots classic with slick production and keyboards by Todd Rundgren, closes the album on an uplifting though incongruous note. As a follow-up to the Lords' promising debut, Is Nothing Sacred? isn't a disaster, but it is a small step backward rather than forward.

Monday

Ache


Although some may dismiss Jim Thirwell, aka Foetus, as a confrontational, rabble-rousing noisemaker (which he is), his eccentric and wide-ranging talent is usually overlooked; the trouble is, most listeners simply don't have the patience to find Thirwell's genius amongst the deranged sound sculptures that are his songs. Ache, Thirwell's second album (recorded under the You've Got Foetus on Your Breath pseudonym), sounds like it was recorded in the same time and place of its predecessor, Deaf, and bears exactly the same top-heavy, abrasive production stamp of that album. Seemingly a musical omnivore, Thirwell devours everything -- from swing to Krautrock -- and spits it back out in a scrap heap of sonic chaos, twisted beyond recognition. His oblique yet subversive lyrical themes don't make Ache any more palatable for the faint of heart. This is the sound of unfiltered imagination, absolutely unencumbered by notions of commerce or accessibility. Utterly Brilliant.

Sunday

Night Shift


The 10 double singles posts experiment seems to be a success, which is great news for you, but a royal pain in the ass for me. Over the next couple of weeks there follows a selection of single, single posts (with a little help from Wiki) that I hope you’ll enjoy. First up, The Names.

After local gigs as The Passengers, the band changed their moniker to The Names in time for their debut single, "Spectators of Life", released by WEA in 1979 to test the Belgian market for home-grown new wave music. The band though was keen to sign to a British label, and connected with Factory Records at a Joy Division gig at the Plan K venue in Brussels. The Names, augmented by new drummer Luc Capelle, recorded "Nightshift" in Manchester in August 1980 with in house producer Martin Hannett. The single was representative of their overall sound: dark, controlled modern rock in the mould of Magazine, Comsat Angels and Joy Division/early New Order. It peaked/stalled at No. 35 on the UK Indie Chart.

Saturday

Who’s Been Sleeping In My Brain


The title of the album, songs with names like "I'm Her Frankenstein" and "Wish I Woz a Dog," the utterly demented look of Nik Fiend in full make-up and regalia, not to mention the rest of his bandmates; the Alien Sex Fiend ethos was set from the start, in all its wiggy glory. Sometimes the sheer wackiness obscured the fact, though, that Alien Sex Fiend offered great music along with the humour, always the distinction between the truly great comedy bands and the ones that are just a bad joke to begin with. While not pretending to be pushing the cutting edge of music, Brain was still a great combination of punk's snarl, glam's giddiness, campily dramatic theatricality equal parts Alice Cooper and the Damned, and not a little bit of envelope-pushing with the band's extensive use of drum machines alongside Johnnie Ha-Ha. With Mrs. Fiend pulling a bit of a Ray Manzarek on keyboards and bass sounds, and Yaxi kicking up the guitar dust, all Nik needed to do was wrap his electrocuted-Cockney singing around it all, and the rest was genius; however, Youth provided the finishing touches as a producer, balancing crispness with just enough echo and murkiness to satisfy all sides. To its further credit, Brain wasn't just one tune repeated over and again; while Alien Sex Fiend aren't exactly ever going to be known for ballads, the rumbling Burundi-into-'50s raunch of "Wild Women" isn't the pulsing pagan psychosis of "New Christian Music," which in turn isn't the anthemic, heroic surge of "Ignore the Machine," and so forth. Though arguably Alien Sex Fiend has never really moved beyond the bounds of what it set on Brain, what the band did come up with was more than great then and now.

Thursday

The Blue Meaning


The Blue Meaning is the second album by Toyah, released in 1980 by Safari Records. Although not the first full-length release, this is often considered to be the band’s first “proper” album. The album saw a band line-up change and was supported by a tour which was documented in the 1980 profile documentary ‘Toyah’ for the ATV network. The album contains one of Toyah’s most infamous songs, ‘’Ieya’’ which was released as a single in shorter edited faded form and later re-recorded in 1982. The Blue Meaning was recorded during April 1980 at Parkgate Studios in Battle, East Sussex and mixed at Marquee Studios, London: The band line-up was Toyah Willcox – Verbals & Unusual Sounds, Joel Bogen – Guitar, Pete Bush – Keyboards, Trumpet, Charlie Francis – Bass Guitar, Steve Bray – Drums. The album was released while the band travelled the UK on the Ieya Tour. Promotion for The Blue Meaning was “multi-media”, an idea that was a fairly new concept in 1980. Aside from the month-long UK tour there were television appearances by Toyah and the band – mostly regional – including Granada Reports in the North West, and Straight Talk in the Midlands. Press ads ran in most of the major music press and Toyah was interviewed by NME, Sounds, Zig Zag, Record Mirror …etc. The Blue Meaning, a pop-punk-gothy mix of mayhem and magic.


Tuesday

Kim Wilde


There's no doubt many heard Kim Wilde searching for the beat on "Kids in America," but know now that she finds it; thus, the rest of this sterling debut comes dangerously close in quality to that killer kick-off. The second cut, "Water on Glass," follows the sound from the wild streets to Wilde's brain, maintaining a high level of exuberant class. Weird staccato runs down the streets of "Our Town," while "Everything We Know" chills into an icy groove. Wilde only wants to be free in "Young Heroes," and by side two's single, "Chequered Love," she gives permission to touch her and do anything (surprising, considering her pro-pop dad and brother wrote the whole LP). Hard guitars and xylophones get physical, until horns and Ska skip into "2-6-5-8-0"; by this point in the record, Wilde can pull off anything she wants, and ends up sounding like a No Doubt B-side. "You'll Never Be So Wrong" mellows the turgid tempo but not the precise passion, and she just plain gets upset in "Falling Out." From the womb to the end of "Tuning in Tuning On," Kim Wilde is one excellent inaugural, one excellent chapter in the evolution of hi-NRG, and one excellent slab everyone should own.

Sunday

Hope Downs


Melbourne’s latest guitar legends Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's first two EPs introduced a band that knew a thing or two about making jangle pop. With one foot in the six-string chime of the '80s and another planted firmly in the here and now, the Australian quintet crafted plangent songs built around half-sung melodies, spiraling lines, and tempos that had a low-key drive to them. It was a little rough around the edges, a little unfocused at times, but on its debut album from 2018, Hope Downs, the band has tightened things up in just the right ways and come up with something magical. The guys in the band headed off to a remote area of Australia, bunkered down with producer Liam Judson, and refined their sound until it shone like a gem. More than before, the guitars have a spiky bite, the vocals come through clearly, the rhythm section has some kick, and every song feels like a hit. The first three songs, "An Air Conditioned Man," "Talking Straight," and "Mainland," are breath-taking guitar pop, built on the DNA of the Feelies, the Go-Betweens, and R.E.M. but given new life by the emotion the three songwriters and vocalists (Fran Keaney, Tom Russo, and Joe White) pour into the words and singing. Not to mention the thrilling interplay of their guitars; none of them are virtuosic, but the parts they play fit together as seamlessly as Lego pieces. The vocals also fit together nicely, sounding just different enough that each song has its own flavour and similar enough that their harmonies blend in a very warm and satisfying way. After the trio of genius pop songs knock the breath out of the listener, the rest of the record just keeps punching. Slashing rockers ("Time in Common"), lilting songs that exude nostalgic melancholy ("Sister's Jeans") and sweetness ("Cappuccino City"), and very Robert Forster-sounding pop ("The Hammer") combine to create the kind of album that any jangle pop band of the '80s would have traded their Rickenbackers for. Who knows what they would have traded to get a song as hooky and immediate as "Bellarine" or as effortlessly heart breaking as "How Long?" Certainly few, if any, bands of the era made an album as consistently great as Hope Downs. Not many in Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's era have, either. It's a small-scale triumph of hooks and guitars from a band whose members have figured it all out and delivered a debut album that comes as close to perfect as any guitar pop album can.

Saturday

10,000 Maniacs and The Beloved


A low-budget horror film from the 1960s, called 2,000 Maniacs is where 10,000 Maniacs took their name from. The original line-up featured Robert Buck (guitar), Dennis Drew (keyboards), Steven Gustafson (bass), Natalie Merchant (vocals) and John Lombardo (guitar). They emerged from the small town of Jamestown, NY, making areas like Buffalo and Rochester, NY and Cleveland, OH their strongest initial markets. At the beginning of 1983, Jerry Augustyniak joined the band as their permanent drummer. The Maniacs met Augustyniak when they played in Buffalo, New York, where he was in a punk band called The Stains. Between March and July, the band recorded songs for a second record, ‘’Secrets Of The I Ching’’ their debut full-length album, which was pressed by Mark Records for the band's own label Christian Burial Music. The record was well received by critics and caught the attention of respected BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel in London. One song, ‘’My Mother The War’’ remixed and released on 12” in February 1984 turned out to be a minor hit in the United Kingdom and entered the independent singles chart. The song is probably about the Vietnam War as it talks about three year tours and how everyone was initially supportive but it ended in grief and dismay for millions.


It’s not too difficult to understand why The Beloved try hard (way too hard) to mimic their idols from Manchester. The group's role models aren't difficult to guess; after all, they spend much of the time using New Order's "Dreams Never End" as a blueprint. "A Hundred Words," gives it away: a sinister bassline and icy vocals propel a cold, mechanical beat. However, at least "A Hundred Words" has hooks; the band suffers from the same problem that plagues most imitators of New Order and their earlier incarnation, Joy Division; plenty of atmosphere but no memorable songs. The Joy Division guitar drone and Jon Marsh's depressed singing can't sustain interest for much longer than say, 3 minutes. It's was always easy to compare the Beloved to other artists because their influences are so obvious. Despite this "A Hundred Words" sports the kind of descending hook that made Johnny Marr a god in the mid-eighties. As Smith-y and Cure-y as this single is, it just radiates with indie-pop joy. Forget its debts and wallow in all its cardigan-inspired glory.

Thursday

The Cortinas and The Heartbreakers


There’s never going to be a reason not to post something from Bristol's first punk band, The Cortinas. Formed in March 1976 when Jeremy Valentine (vocals), Nick Sheppard (guitar), Mike Fewins (guitar), Dexter Dalwood (bass) and Daniel Swan were still at school. "Jer put the band together, he definitely had a vision of what he wanted; he was very hip - Dexter and Mike went to the same school as him" remembers Nick. "He found me via Mark Stewart, who I went to school with, and I brought Dan in; we had played in a band together before. We used to practise at the back of Jer's Dad's shop".
The Cortinas soon built up a big local following, and a break came when the band supported The Stranglers at the fabled Roxy Club in Covent Garden on 22 January 1977. Nick recalls how it came to be: "Hugh Cornwell was staying at a friend of his' flat near the university, on holiday, and me and my girlfriend met him in the street. This would have been in the summer of 76. We started talking to him because we recognized him from seeing The Stranglers and hung out for the afternoon. I told him about the band. Later on, in January 77, he sent us a postcard asking us to play at the Roxy, so we rang up and said yes! I remember my mum telling me not to be too disappointed if people didn't like us...". Things then moved quickly for the band. Miles Copeland and Mark Perry's Step Forward label released the classic singles 'Fascist Dictator' in June and 'Defiant Pose' in December, the band recorded a fine Peel session, and they appeared on the front cover of the April/May issue of Sniffin' Glue. Heady stuff, but sadly, it was over all too soon. The following year, after a poorly received album, the band were no more, but in 1977 they were unstoppable - simply one of the best first wave punk bands around.


Few other rock musicians have ever danced on the edge of drug oblivion for as long and hard as Johnny Thunders did. The theme of hard drugs (namely heroin) cropped up time and time again in Thunders' music, perhaps never more evident than in one of Thunders' best-known songs, "Chinese Rocks." While the song is pure Johnny Thunders (ragged guitar riffs, an almost drunken vocal delivery, lots of attitude, etc.) Thunders did not pen it. The song's main author was the Ramones' bassist Dee Dee Ramone. He set out to write a song that would out-do the Velvet Underground's "Heroin," as the song shed light on the grim and desperate life of a junkie (strangely, it was more comparable to another VU song, "I'm Waiting for the Man," rather than "Heroin"). Dee Dee supposedly wrote the song in Debbie Harry's apartment, but when he showed it to his Ramones bandmates, they rejected it since they didn't want any drug-based songs. Dee Dee then showed it to friend Richard Hell, who was in Johnny Thunders' band the Heartbreakers at the time. The Heartbreakers recorded it for their classic L.A.M.F. release, but, over the years, Thunders was erroneously assumed to be the song's author, even though he had nothing to do with the song's creation.

Wednesday

Part Time Punks Sessions


In 2017 Danish trio The Foreign Resort travelled across North America, performing at festivals and small venues to spread their post-punk / New Wave genius. While on a stopover in Los Angeles, they recorded four songs live in the studio. They opted to release them as part of an EP available on Bandcamp for the outrageous price of name your own. Part Time Punks Sessions Live EP demonstrates how great The Foreign Resort sound regardless of the setting, which partially explains why people in Denmark flock to their gigs. With the harrowing dark tones of Pornography-era The Cure, the starkness of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and the luminescent shoegaze of A Place To Bury Strangers and My Bloody Valentine, “Suburban Depression” is a hammering number whose sole purpose is to nail us in our place and experience its episodic nature. Listen closely to the lyrics as well because, despite it being written over two years ago, the song’s message still very much applies to modern times. Ours is a world that is losing its mind, and we’re all crumbling down into our “own private hell”.

Tuesday

True Romances


The Cortinas, forming in March 1976 had soon built up a big local following, and a break came when the band supported The Stranglers at the fabled Roxy Club in Covent Garden on 22 January 1977. Things then moved quickly for the band. Miles Copeland and Mark Perry's Step Forward label released the classic singles 'Fascist Dictator' in June and 'Defiant Pose' in December, the band recorded a fine John Peel session, and they appeared on the front cover of the April/May issue of Sniffin' Glue. Heady stuff, but sadly, it was over all too soon. In 1977 they were unstoppable - simply one of the best first wave punk bands around.
Interest in The Cortinas was at its peak. They had released two singles on Miles Copeland's Step Forward label. They'd supported The Stranglers and headlined at the Roxy. They'd been top of the bill at The Marquee played with Chelsea and Sham 69 and toured with Blondie and Television. Promoters had booked them with the caution befitting a punk reputation, which had been further guaranteed by a photograph in the NME precariously close to the incident involving Shane MacGowan and the missing ear lobe.
It was time for an album; Miles who had his finger in every punk pie going and was the king of the record deal gave them to CBS and consequently the album True Romances was recorded. 'Real' punk does still exist there; even though the critics of the day argue that it was lost on the album, released after the band had split, the spirit still seeps through the 13 tracks on offer.
Never able to shake off the schoolboy image, much was made of Mike Fewings and Dexter Dalwoods waif-like image and drummer Danny Swan was still just 17. CBS used the bands age to counter criticism but did nothing to promote the album or further its member’s careers. Hamblett further suggested they'd either grow into fine young musicians- either that or Oxford Dons - well they did more or less, but he didn't manage to foresee the famous artist Dexter was to become.
By their own admission much of the punk stuff had been 'hastily written and perhaps a bit formulaic’; many said the tracks that became True Romances had returned them to their formative R&B roots. Whatever the verdict, you'll find Ask Mr Waverley' going round and round in your head for days after hearing it and if you remember him, you probably know the answer already.


Honey Bane and The Damned


Honey Bane began her musical career at the age of 14 in 1978 when she formed the punk rock band the Fatal Microbes. The band released a split 12" record with anarcho-punk band Poison Girls the same year. The first single, "Violence Grows" garnered some press attention and was given positive reviews by the British music paper Sounds.
After the 1979 breakup of the Fatal Microbes, and a stint in a juvenile detention facility that garnered more press attention, Bane began a collaboration with Crass while she was on the run from the Social Services after serving a sentence at the St. Charles Youth Treatment Centre in Essex. Lending lead vocals and backed by the band under the name Donna and the Kebabs, Crass released the EP You Can Be You in 1979. It was the debut release on Crass' newly found label, Crass Records. The following year, Bane released her debut solo single, 'Guilty' and sang vocals for Killing Joke on "What's the Matter" during a February 1980 gig at London's Venue club.


Friday 13th EP was issued as the result of a one-off deal with the NEMS Records label. It was released on 13 November 1981, which just happened to fall on a Friday. The EP was released in the UK and Sweden on 7" and also in Germany on 12" (the German 12” is the version to get). In 1981, EPs were still eligible for the UK Top 75 Singles chart, and Friday 13th reached the heady heights of  No. 50. The lead-off track, "Disco Man", was featured on a large number of compilations, also becoming a live favourite. Two of the other three tracks, "Billy Bad Breaks" and "Limit Club", were composed by the band; the final track was a cover version of The Rolling Stones song "Citadel”. The Vanian/Sensible/Scabies/Gray line-up has always been my favourite, and this EP as an example of just how good they were in the early 80s. I went through a phase of listening to Friday 13th on repeat a couple of years ago because "The Limit Club" is quite possibly one of the best songs The Damned ever did and sadly is so underrated.

I had a dream or was it true
I saw the sun set low on you
In a blood red sun's final rays
We laughed at that subtle shadow play...


"The Limit Club" is proof that The Damned really were at their peak at this time after the punk and before the goth-pop. Melancholic, swooning, psychedelic-tinged….heaven.

Sunday

Tones On Tail and Dead Or Alive


Tones on Tail was a British post-punk band formed in 1982, originally as a musical side project of Daniel Ash of Bauhaus. Their music was described by one critic as "doom-and-dance-pop. While still a member of Bauhaus, Ash formed Tones on Tail early in 1982, originally as a duo with art school friend, flatmate and Bauhaus roadie Glenn Campling. The band's name was a reference to the way calibration tones were recorded on the "tail" of reel-to-reel tape. Fuelled on a steady diet of hash and Big Macs, this musical offshoot became the psychedelic and light-hearted antithesis of Bauhaus' gloom and doom reputation. The pair issued their debut eponymous 12”EP on 4AD in March 1982, followed by the 12” single "There's Only One!” released by Beggars Banquet Records on 24 September.



Formed from the rotating door of Liverpudlian musicians that were part of Nightmares in Wax, Pete Burns decided on the eve of a Peel Session in May 1980 to change the bands’ name to Dead Or Alive. Still suffering from a continued churn of members Dead Or Alive managed to release two excellent independent singles on Inevitable Records debuting in 1980 with the Ian Broudie-produced Doors sound-alike I'm Falling. Number Eleven followed, but just as the group was gaining momentum, it was swept aside by the emergence of the new romantic movement, with Burns subsequently charging that fellow androgyne Boy George of Culture Club had merely stolen his outrageous image.

Saturday

Silence Yourself


Plenty of bands have resuscitated post-punk throughout the 2000s and 2010s, but few have done so with the passion that reverberates through Savages' debut album, Silence Yourself. The band's early singles drew favourable comparisons to Patti Smith, Siouxsie Sioux, and a host of other strong female acts with post-punk roots, and the entire album burns with the same kind of confrontational fire those older artists had, which somewhat paradoxically, makes Savages sound particularly refreshing compared to many of their more blasé contemporaries. Yet Silence Yourself is also an emphatic declaration of independence that is reflected in the band's approach to making music (they paid to make it with their own money and splashed their manifesto on the cover) as well as in the actual music. Since Sleater-Kinney's dissolution, powerful all-female bands have been few and far between in indie rock and there's nothing wispy, precious, or coy about Savages on these songs. Their music is pointedly undecorated, particularly on tracks like "No Face," a searing three-and-a-half-minute showcase for what they do: singer Jehnny Beth leads the charge with her furious wail, and Ayse Hassan, Fay Milton, and Gemma Thompson do their best to keep up with her. Beth may be the band's lightning rod, but she's also a fairly versatile and evocative singer, moving from the feral, taunting "Husbands" to the ultra-gothy swoon of the closing torch song "Marshal Dear." At this point in their career, there's no escaping that Savages' music owes a significant debt to their foremothers, but Silence Yourself is more than just a collection of touchstones and footnotes. Beth and crew have a riveting presence that makes each track magnetic, and more than a few songs here hint at how wide their musical scope actually is: "Strife" swaggers along at a self-assured pace, and follows the album's poppiest chorus with doom-laden chords suggesting that Savages may be (not so) secret metalheads, while "Hit Me"'s breakneck pace nods to hardcore. Even their more traditionally post-punk tracks like "She Will" reflect a viewpoint (regarding the wilder parts of female sexuality in this case) that is unique. Given that much of the initial buzz about the band revolved around their electrifying live performances, in some ways Silence Yourself doesn't provide the full Savages experience, but it offers more than enough to make it a powerful debut that suggests they'll become an even more distinctive force to be reckoned with over time.

Friday

The Mission and Killing Joke


Two heavyweight contenders for the “Still Slogging It Out, Goth Legends” award, The Mish and KJ. Once rumoured to be playing a three band set of gigs with the Cult, KJ threw in the towel early and left T’Mish and T’Cult to co-headline an outstanding short UK tour. But enough of that, we’re here for T’Mish. Starting life as The Sisterhood, Wayne, Adam and the other two kicked of their new direction, after saying ByeBye to Messer Eldritch and T’Sisters, with a string of low key dates in Europe culminating in a London return as special guests to T’Cult. This stimulated the Eldritch fella to bang out some tunes, with the help of James Ray, calling this incarnation The Sisterhood just to piss Wayne and the boys off. Not to be downtrodden or deterred, The Mission were duly christened and a spankingly brilliant 12” single was released to celebrate.



Despite the primitive synths, the germination of the classic Killing Joke sound is here. The four tracks (three originals and one dub variation of the title track) all have that martial industrial beat and underlying aggression that the band is known for. What isn't fully formed yet is the abrasive, metallic guitars and Jaz Coleman's patented rage that would eventually define them. There are flashes, like the gritty "Almost Red" and "Are You Receiving", but tracks like "Nervous System" and the dub take on the title track "Turn To Red" groove more than they assault. It would take another year of marinating to completely bring that side of the band out with their brilliant debut.

Thursday

Free Dirt


The band's first full-length album found the group starting to come into its own more and more. While the various influences that can be referred to are still present, Died Pretty are starting to sound more like a group finding a distinct sound instead of taking a cue from good influences. Helped in the studio by a variety of guests on everything from sax to pedal steel guitar, and with good, full production from Rob Younger continuing the job he started with the Pre-Deity tracks, Free Dirt is a fine, fiery effort. "Wig-Out" serves as good an example of its quality as any; with martial drumming and a very Celtic drinking tune atmosphere made just that much more intense by being performed on rock instruments; it shows how the band hotwires the past for its own purposes. Opening song "Blue Sky Day" is, perhaps, the band's best-yet, an energetic but never overbearing rocker with a comfortable glow and surge to it, Brett Myers' really wonderful guitar matched by the additional performances on mandolin and violin. His work throughout the album is exemplary, powerful but never pointlessly showy, while Brunetti's keyboards take the melodic lead more often than not, calling to mind Ray Manzarek's often-similar role in the Doors, while not sounding like a clone of same. Similarly Ron S. Peno's Jim Morrison inspirations are clear, but his higher-pitched, less self-obsessed singing is in many ways warmer and more immediate than those of his forebear. Top it off with the fine Mark Lock/Chris Welsh rhythm section, and it's clear a crack band is at work. "Through Another Door," sung by Myers in a warm, winning fashion, the grand concluding solos on "Life to Go" and "Next to Nothing," and the beautifully cryptic "The 2000 Year Old Murder," are among the many highlights. As a fine bonus, the CD version includes both of the stand-alone singles "Stoneage Cinderella" and "Yesterday's Letters."