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. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.

Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.

Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.


TV-Glotzer (White Punks On Dope)

At age 21 Nina Hagen had settled in Hamburg, where she was signed to a CBS-affiliated record label. Her label advised her to acclimatise herself with Western culture through travel, and she quickly arrived in London during the height of the punk rock movement. Hagen was quickly taken up by a circle that included The Slits and Sex Pistols. Hagen discovered new styles of music during her stay in London and became inspired mainly by punk and reggae. She met with Ari Up, the lead singer of the band The Slits and together they wrote the song "Pank", which would later appear on the début Nina Hagen Band album.

Inspired by the London music scene, Hagen returned to West Berlin’s Kreuzberg district mid ’77 and met with members of the band Lokomotive Kreuzberg. Manfred Praeker, Herwig Mitteregger and Bernhard Potschka were joined by Reinhold Heil and along with Hagen they created the Nina Hagen Band. In November 1977, the band signed a two album recording contract with CBS Records. By 1978 they had released their self-titled debut album, Nina Hagen Band, which included the singles "TV-Glotzer" (a cover of "White Punks on Dope" by The Tubes, though with entirely different German lyrics), and "Auf'm Bahnhof Zoo", about West Berlin's then-notorious Berlin Zoologischer Garten station. The album also included a version of "Rangehn" ("Go for It"), a song Nina had previously recorded in East Germany, but with different music.

Using elements of American new wave similar to Patti Smith or Blondie, Hagen was in high demand and the renowned German news magazine, Spiegel, celebrated the band as one of the hottest European bands since the Sex Pistols. On the way to becoming an international star, however, Hagen dissolved the band because she felt that guitar solos had become more important than her voice to her accompanists. Hagen finished a second album with the band recording in West Berlin while the vocals were recorded in Los Angeles to fulfill the bands obligation to the record company. Unbehagen, released in 1979, was a success throughout Europe. In the meantime, Hagens extensive European media coverage focused more and more on her scandalous lifestyle rather than on her anti-establishment lyrics and music.


Talk About The Weather

For a substantial chunk of the '80s, the City of Leeds was a reliable exporter of the darker side of life. Whether this was down to proletarian dissatisfaction, the effects of Thatcherism or simply due to a preponderance of drum machines stuck on heavy reverb settings, we may never know. The Lorries tended to be dogged by Joy Division comparisons rather than the usual questions about occult interest, but a few bars of Talk About The Weather quickly reveals why their brand of beat-heavy gloom was ushered beneath the tattered wings of Goth. Claustrophobia reigns supreme, choking any moments of space and silence before they have the chance to expand. Every second is comprehensively smothered by an echoing snare-snap, or the wide, murky guitar washes which practically swamp each track. Lyrically, the record richly mines the irony of titles such as “Happy” in order to explore the chillier sides of human interaction and dabble in moderate doses of existential angst. As a result, this is one weather discussion devoid of sunshine.

The Lorries' first full album kicks off with the grinding title track, steady, not punishing, but still aggressive and Chris Reed's abrupt but not shouted vocals. Keeping that in mind, Talk About the Weather has more going on for it than meets the eye. There's certainly more than a little ghost-of-Andrew Eldritch in the arrangements, not to mention Ennio Morricone (thus trumping the Fields of the Nephilim's own twist on that influence by a couple of years), but Reed's lyrics and singing definitely show the Ian Curtis touch more in their emotional roil as opposed to Hammer horror. As a result, compared to the Sex Gang Children or the like, the Lorries come across more straightforwardly, their music here sounding often brusque. The album's downside is that the basic sound doesn't really change much, but when it's on, as with the title track, it's very much on. "Hollow Eyes" is another one of the winners, taking the high-speed, nervous post-punk approach and adding on a great, simple, but effective chorus to the spiralling riffs and the hollow bass lope, while the sudden shift in velocity on "Strange Dreams" shows a great sense of drama. "Sometimes" ranks up there as well for being the secret winner (it's the closest the album gets to a quiet and tender love song, which it really isn't per se). But Reed's singing aims at a warmer approach here on the chorus, as does the music, and there's definitely a tangled emotional interplay that comes through, love and hate in a few words.

The Flood Is Here

Richard Jobson, Russell Webb, John McGeogh and John Doyle formed the Armoury Show together in 1983, taking their name from a famous 1913 modern art exhibition in New York. Unfortunately they only had a brief existence, but they left us with a gem of a record in the guise of 'Waiting for the Floods', their 1985 one and only album. ‘Waiting for the Floods’ has been reissued as a double CD, with the original album and bonus tracks on one CD and a second CD full of remixes, 12" versions and other bonus tracks.

The Armoury Show remained largely unheard in their heyday in the mid-1980s, despite featuring several eminent new wave musicians. At the start of that decade, the Dunfermline-born punk band the Skids were coming to natural end, and, after guitarist Stuart Adamson left to form Big Country, singer Richard Jobson and bassist Russell Webb also eventually went in a new direction. Around this time the Manchester-based group Magazine, which had included drummer John Doyle and guitarist John McGeoch, were also dissolving. McGeoch had also had a stint playing with Siouxsie and the Banshees, until he was dismissed for excessive drinking.

There was a real array of talent here and it has that distinctive 80's sound to it. It is packed with various other influences from around that era, but has also a brave unique sound slightly ahead of that time. There are echoes ironically of Adamson's Big Country, but the Armoury Show, while mixing together various other 80’s influences, also had their own sound.

The singles on here, "Castles...", plus "We Can Be Brave Again" and "Glory Of Love" could all easily have been arm-waving, lighter-in-hand anthems enough to turn Jim Kerr a sickly shade of green, but only a handful of people bought them. Life isn't fair, is it? I don't know, of course, but I would imagine Richard Jobson is immensely proud of this record. Four people came together and created something magical; it's just a shame that so few of us shared that magic.


Me And My Desire

A truly neglected classic, 999's eponymous debut album was issued in March, 1978, on the back of three stunning 45s -- the romping "I'm Alive," the anthemic "Nasty Nasty," and the oddly ambitious "Me and My Desire." The first and last of these appeared on the album, together with the summer smash that never was, June, 1978's, "Emergency," and it is with these tracks as its benchmarks that 999 should be judged. A ferocious live band, the group harnessed every iota of their stage performance for the studio, turning in an album that zips past at the speed of light, in a blur of chant-worthy choruses and pogo-able riffs; even better, three bonus tracks round up the absent "Nasty Nasty" 45, plus a pair of period B-sides, to deliver a picture perfect portrait of 999's first year. There would, of course, be many more to come.

999 were founded in London by singer and guitarist Nick Cash, and Guy Days. Cash and Days met each other when the former was a member of the pub rock band Kilburn and the High-Roads, and the latter was a session guitarist who played on some of the band's demo tapes. In late 1976, they placed an advertisement in Melody Maker for band members and ended up turning down Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders), Jon Moss (Culture Club) and Tony James (Generation X).
The band soon established themselves as a powerful live act on London's punk scene and became regulars at the Hope and Anchor, Islington. On the strength of their well received, self-financed debut single, 999 were signed to United Artists Records around the same time as Buzzcocks. "I'm Alive" became a firm favourite in the punk clubs. The band's second single, "Nasty Nasty", was cited nearly 20 years after its release as a seminal punk single.
Their self-titled debut album, produced by Andy Arthurs, was released in March 1978. One retrospective review claimed it "demonstrated their limitations as well as their strengths. The 45 cuts like "Me And My Desire" and "Emergency" demonstrated the latter, but the album lacked that special ingredient, uniqueness or originality to make it stand out from the crowd." The album reached No. 53 in the UK Albums Chart. The following year, the song "Emergency" from the album appeared (alongside songs by bands like The Jam and The Stranglers) on the punk compilation 20 of Another Kind. That album reached No. 45 in the UK chart. Years later, "Emergency" was included in Mojo magazine's list of the best punk rock singles of all time.