Ad-Hoc Posting Schedule

Willkommen Leser, Down-Loader, Lurker und Teilnehmer alle.

It might have come to your notice that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you'll just kinda have to get used to. I will however, now and again, have bursts of creativity and if it was to please the massed hordes, who chose to visit this insignificant page, to supply some input on the direction and type of music you would like to sample (before going out and buying yourself a copy) this little communication will not have been in vain.

I will also say now that some of the outstanding music already available to sample will be reaching their 30 days without a click threshold, where by they're deleted by the host.


Many thanks for reading this far...and please feel free to interact.



slàinte


Saturday

Do Animals Believe In God?



Jayne Casey's post-Big in Japan endeavour, Pink Military, was quickly snapped up by Virgin after critical accolades showered their 1979 12” single "Blood and Lipstick." Nearly a year later, and sporting a new rhythm section, Pink Military released the wonderfully moody Do Animals Believe in God?. The album would become both their debut effort and swan song. Alternative beats which border on darkwave inform much of this set, and Casey keeps the mood sweet and melancholy, but imbues the songs with an edge that barely conceals her sharper points. This works to wonderful effect on many of the songs, but most especially on "I Cry," which crossed U.K. post-punk ethics with a smidgen of Nico and a little Rocky Horror Picture Show thrown in for kicks. "Did You See Her?," the album's lone single, keeps the vocal range low but brightens the vibe with some light-hearted synth. Elsewhere, the band continues to shine on "Back on the London Stage," as well as on the dramatic title track; sung, incidentally, by an unidentified band member. Pink Military only falters when they step into the more experimental waters of "Living in a Jungle" and "War Games." Sadly, this wonderful album fared poorly, leaving Casey to regroup and redefine the band's dimension, burying Pink Military and giving birth to the new era of Pink Industry in 1982.


One upon a time, a striking young lady named Jayne Casey, together with her brood of mates, would become one of the first gaggle of youths which would fly the fundamental flag of the 'new wave' in the City of Liverpool in the mid to late 1970s. Already tuned in to what was happening regarding new music and styles from New York-past and present, Casey was ready to open eyes and ears- as well as ruffling the feathers of many a passer-by in the city centre with her creative and outrageous flair in clothes, hair and make-up.
She formed Pink Military (originally named Pink Military Stands Alone) after the disintegration of one of Liverpool's most notorious 'Punk' bands, Big In Japan, who collapsed under the weight of its motley bunch of characters in 1978. Holly Johnson, Bill Drummond, Ian Broudie and Budgie- would seem to find their own separate channels and reap the rewards soon afterwards.
Casey was always 'on the ball' as regards new ideas and directions, but has never been fairly championed as someone who possessed spot-on talent and insight into the many things she has been involved in and contributed to, over the years.

When you think of it, there weren't that many female personalities in 'the scene' in Liverpool at the time and Casey didn't have the equivalent bolstering back-up that Siouxsie Sioux had in London for example, what with the Slits, Polystyrene, not to mention the likes of auntie Westwood.
However, she battled on...

Thursday

Getting Nowhere Fast



Classic Re-Up of an album that fell through the cracks and needs to be heard if you're a fan of New Wave/Post Punk
 

Girls At Our Best emerged from the Leeds punk scene in 1979 and were frankly responsible for some of the finest post punk pop of the era; featuring, oddly enough, a pre-fame Thomas Dolby here and there on keyboards. Girls At Our Best's sole album, Pleasure, is an underrated delight, tempering the sometimes harsh edge of the earliest singles to an equally passionate and entertaining approach not afraid to be calm here and there. The quartet touched on everything from the Banshees' arty edge to Gang of Four aggro-funk and full-on power pop catchiness, and did so brilliantly. Jo Evans' voice was at its considerable best at many points; sometimes so light that it was hard to catch what was being sung, but often able to deliver her sometimes wry, sometimes sunny, but always smart sentiments just right. Excellent as it was, Pleasure doesn't have the band's defining moment, the absolutely brilliant début single "Getting Nowhere Fast," which sounds equally as fresh now as it did back then; that opening harsh nagging riff, the descending looping bass giving way to swirling guitars that hints at early Banshees – this is short, spikey pop complete with Jo Evans ever so imperfect vocal delivery about trading your life for a replacement. Sharp, short, and perfectly catchy down to its sudden edit ending two minutes in, it's one of the highlights of turn of the '80s Brit rock. 


The group initially consisted of vocalist Judy "Jo" Evans, guitarist James "Jez" Alan, bassist Gerard "Terry" Swift, and drummer Chris Oldroyd. The band took its name from a line in their track "Warm Girls", which first appeared on their 1980 début single "Getting Nowhere Fast" on their own Record Records, and was followed up by their second single, "Politics" c/w "It's Fashion!”. Oldroyd departed to join Music for Pleasure, and was replaced by Darren Carl Harper before the next single, "Go for Gold" c/w "I'm Beautiful Now" on Happy Birthday Records, which was their biggest indie chart hit. The group released their album, Pleasure, the first to be released on the Happy Birthday label, and reached No. 2 on the indie chart and No. 60 on the UK Album Chart. The band's fourth and final single, "Fast Boyfriends" c/w "This Train", was released later that same year.

Debate still rumbles on as to whether Jo could actually sing, certainly in the accepted sugar coated manufactured pop environment they preceded her voice, the band weren’t perfect, but aren’t the imperfections the things that make great pop music?

Horse Rotor Vator



The title Horse Rotorvator is explained in the liner notes as a device large enough to "plough up the waiting world," created from the jawbones of the horses of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The Bay City Rollers this isn't. On the group's second full album, Coil continue the refinement of brute noise and creepily serene arrangements into a truly modern psychedelia, from tribal drumming and death march guitars to disturbing samples and marching band samples and back. John Balance shares the same haggard, mystic vocal delivery common to fellow explorers of the edge like David Tibet and Edward Ka-Spel, but he has his own blasted and burnt touch to it all. His lyrical subjects range from emotional extremism of many kinds to blunt, often homoerotic imagery (matched at points in the artwork and packaging) and meditations on death. As a result the cover of Leonard Cohen's "Who by Fire" isn't as surprising as one might think. Previous guest Marc Almond appears again on the track with backing vocals, as well as adding them to "Slur," which is composed of an unsettling mix of harmonica, bells, percussion and whatever else can be imagined. Other guests include Almond's then-musical partner Billy McGee, adding a haunting, sometimes grating, string arrangement to "Ostia," which is about the murder of radical Italian filmmaker Pasolini, and Clint Ruin, aka Foetus, adding his typically warped brass touches to "Circles of Mania." Paul Vaughan narrates the lyrics on "The Golden Section," creating a stunning piece that in its combination of demonic imagery and sweeping, cinematic arrangements holds a common ground with In the Nursery. All the guests help contribute to the album's overall effect, but this is Coil's own vision above all else, eschewing easy clichés on all fronts to create unnerving, never easily digested invocations of musical power.


What surprises me, though, is how small the 80's era of Coil is, in terms of material. In spite of all this, my favourite Coil record might just be from their 80's era, before they'd turn to more ambient, abstract and experimental ventures. That would be Horse Rotorvator, a concept album that's apparently about a world-destroying device of the same name, made out of the jawbones of the Four Horsemen's horses.
The first thing to go over is the music, since it's the hardest to describe: Coil may have not dabbled in industrial music for very long, but Horse Rotorvator isn't any less than that; in fact, it's the most industrial that the group ever got... well, its first half is. See, even if this era consists mostly of "Sex", there is still "Death", and that's what sticks out in tracks 7-12; the number are a lot more atmospheric and sombre, with "Circles of Mania" (fittingly the most manic number on the album, driven by a screwed up brass section and an absolutely insane vocal part).
Truth be told, those songs are all excellent. Even the bonus track "Ravenous", which was only added to the record on CD releases, fits perfectly thanks to its hellish mood, based on low synthesized voices and further punctuated by a screwed up, chaotic guitar line, a harmonica part, and sound effects ranging from elephant calls to the stomping of horses. There's also "Blood From The Air"; I consider it the weakest track on here, but it's still very cool thanks to the weird assortment of effects that appear throughout, along with the already strong melody that lays the foundation for the song.
The last three tracks are much more memorable, however: "Who By Fire" is, very interestingly, a cover of a song by folk musician Leonard Cohen. I have yet to listen to the original track, but I do see the folk elements stick out (especially in terms of structure), and the translation from that genre into industrial is very well done. "The Golden Section", in the meantime, justifies its 6-minute length thanks to the combination of a marching band drum line, string and brass arrangements, and synthesized voices (as in "Ravenous"), along with a spoken narration that talks about Azrael, the Angel of Death. It's definitely intriguing.
The album closes with "The First Five Minutes After Death", and much like "Ravenous", it wins out thanks to the amazing atmosphere it creates, even if the high brass(?) line seems more like it's noodling rather than making a coherent melody. Much like the previous five tracks, it's nothing I would recommend to everyone on the planet, including their 2-year old children and grandparents, but these 6 songs already make Horse Rotorvator a masterpiece of the industrial genre, recommended for any fan. So, in that case, why do I think it's Coil's best record?
Well, the first six songs are fucking amazing, and they make up the most visceral, hilarious and terrifying 22 minutes that the group has ever committed to a slab of vinyl or polycarbonate plastic. They're at their most provocative without resorting to drone or anything easy of the sort, and they handle their intentionally "comedic" approach in such a way that you totally believe what they're saying. If you don't count the short "Babylero" and "Herald", which simply serve as (effective) transitions, then all four of the songs are classics, and among Coil's best.
The album opens with "The Anal Staircase", a scary opening tune made especially incredible because the one semblance of a main melody (I believe it's a sample, but I'm not even sure) is located in the background of the song, with all of the percussion, effects and vocals in front. Add to that all of the voice clips, and the track perfectly depicts some kind of demonic staircase of torment, perversion and sexual catharsis, down to the strange sample that ends the song. It's followed by "Slur", which seems even more circular in nature, in that it sounds like it keeps spinning round and round; the most memorable part of it is the elephantine melody; everything else seems to be lost in the glorious chaos.
Guess what? Those aren't even the best tracks. No, I saved the best for last: Horse Rotorvator has the chance to host two huge centrepieces, both of which capture best most of the group's ideology. The first, "Ostia (The Death of Pasolini)", is an irresistibly sombre tune, driven by a sharp strings arrangement and a keyboard line with the same type of coldness and precision as ancient Greek architecture, dedicated to Pier Paolo Pasolini, a highly controversial film director who was murdered on the beach at Ostia, a neighbourhood in Rome. I'd even dare say this is Coil's most striking exploration of the subject of death.
And yet, this is still not the best cut on here. Nope. That would be "Penetralia", my favourite Coil song, period. It's got no lyrics: the most we get are some unintelligible vocal samples. What you get is the most powerful and angry industrial song ever made. Nothing that Nine Inch Nails, Ministry or even fucking Swans have put out comes close to demonstrating such fury and crushing force as what the drum machines and the brass lines manage to create in this song. What shocks me the most is that Coil don't really aim for emotion or anger, and yet, "Penetralia" brings up a more powerful emotion in me than most of my music library, capturing both the pure, primal energy of sex and the absolute menace of death.
Whew.
Now, with that out of my system, you got no reason not to check out Horse Rotorvator if you want to get into either Coil or industrial music: by both the group and the genre's standards, it's pretty accessible, and even if you don't get into the first half, the second holds tons of goodies for those who pay attention and serves as an excellent introduction into the rest of Coil's very, very large discography.
You can't go wrong with this one

Wednesday

Yet Another Girl…



The Only Ones were a band that became identified with the British punk scene largely because leader Peter Perrett had a funny voice and could write a great straightforward rock & roll song at a time when such virtues were possessed almost exclusively by the faster-and-louder brigade. This helps explain why the Only Ones' self-titled debut album is regarded as a classic of the first wave of U.K. punk despite the presence of the midtempo jazz-accented "Breaking Down"; the '50s pop moves of the opening cut, "The Whole of the Law"; "The Beast," which sounds like some sort of lethargic neo-boogie; and the graceful semi-acoustic semi-samba "No Peace for the Wicked." Of course, when the Only Ones felt like rocking out, they did it brilliantly, and along with the instant classic "Another Girl, Another Planet," this album includes the sinister but rollicking "City of Fun" and the feedback-drenched crunch of "The Immoral Story," which points to another factor that made the Only Ones heroes in their day - their eclecticism was rooted in a genuine talent for embracing different sounds rather than the inability to pick a style and master it. Perrett and his bandmates -- John Perry on guitar, Alan Mair on bass, and Mike Kellie on drums - sound like a tight and imaginative combo even when they're surrounded by keyboard and horn overdubs, and Perrett's tales of one guy's search for love and coherence in a fractured world are intelligent, witty, and deeply cutting at all times. If the creative ambition of the Only Ones sometimes comes at the price of a tight stylistic focus that would make these songs cohere better, every track is memorable in its own way, and these ten songs always have heart, soul, and honesty to spare - and if that isn't always the benchmark of punk rock, it's at least in the neighbourhood.





Emerging in the early 1970's as a fledgling Dylan-soundalike out of north London, Peter Perrett, a promising young songwriter/drop-out, formed his first band, England's Glory. In 1973, they recorded an album's worth of demos and handed acetates of these to various record labels, all of whom said no thank you. England's Glory fell apart and Peter honed his songwriting ability, passing the next three years in a haze of drugs, folk clubs and thwarted ambition. Until the punk rock clarion-call came and everything changed. The time had finally arrived and Peter's bubbling talent was ready to explode. Recruiting three veteran musicians: John Perry on lead guitar, Mike Kellie (formerly of prog-rock group Spooky Tooth) on drums and Alan Mair (who had featured in umpteen Scottish pop bands down the years) on bass, Perrett called them The Only Ones, proudly announcing from the very start that this band would be a one-off.
During 1977 they issued their debut single, Lovers Of Today on their own DIY label, Vengeance Records. It quickly became a collector’s item, receiving much critical acclaim and as a result, a bevy of major labels came swooning to their side. CBS emerged as the prize-winners. And so to June 1978 and the release of their amazing first album, titled simply The Only Ones. Stuffed full of very strong songs and was curiously old-fashioned (for the most part), in the punk rock climate. It has worn very well and boasts at least four of the best songs Peter Perrett would ever write.
Another Girl, Another Planet - the most famous and successful song of Perrett’s fractured and intermittent career, its reputation as a true classic, featured on all the Best Of Punk compilations, the critics fave rave etc., is quite genuine. Sexy, razor-like guitars stutter and pop, followed by a weird frightening sound which rushes up to the foreground like a demented monster, before settling down momentarily into the main rhythm, drums splashing an agreeable tom-tom-ride-cymbal wash and John Perrys fabulous guitar-lines. At which point, Peter Perrett's charismatic voice enters the fray with this stunning first line: 'I always flirt with death, I look ill but I don’t care about it' double-tracked on the choruses. The gaunt wastrel proclaims his love: 'I think I'm on another world with you, I'm on another planet with you.' John Perrys elegant but powerful guitar solo will be talked about for as long as people enjoy music, a high-octane rush of pure joy. 'Space travel's in my blood, there ain’t nothin’ I can do about it, long journeys wear me out, but I know can’t live without it' Is he singing about a galactic peregrination, or about his heroin addiction? Musically, the melody of Another Girl, Another Planet is very similar to a Vibrators single, We Vibrate, released on RAK records in 1977. Has anyone else noticed this? Whatever, Another Girl is one of the great tracks from the New Wave.
At the end of side 1 we have The Beast, a track as monolithic as its title suggests. Beginning with gentle guitar strokes, ticking cow-bell and some dexterous bass-runs, it is the big confessional on the album, a warning to the kids: 'Don’t touch heroin! It’ll fuck you up!'
John Perry plays a memorable, melodramatic riff prior to Perret's devastating vocal: 'run from the beast, there's danger in his eyes. He's been looking for you for a long time, you might think this is funny, but I'm not laughing, I know that it couldn't happen to me.' The song is fantastic, a ghoulish, marauding epic, vividly relaying real feelings, and real regret. 'Out in the street the modern vampire prowls, he's been spreading disease all around, there’s an epidemic, if you don’t believe me, you ought to take a look at the eyes of your friends, when someone tempts you, you can’t refuse.' The instruments get louder, it builds and builds, than falls away to its previous ghostly calm, and Perrett's parting shot: 'I've tried to show you your whole life in print, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, think about it! All you gotta do is think about it, there's no cure.' Now the others take over with a powerhouse of ensemble playing, aided by an over-dubbed brass-section subtly placed in the mix. Drums and guitar fight it out in an explosion of excitement, with the incendiary guitar of John Perry emerging as the winner.
Amazing.
Alright, It's okay, I've calmed down now, phew!

I Can't Escape Myself....plus

Despite the production's rough edges, the limited budget that fostered it, and the feeling that it sounds more like several A-sides and a couple decent B-sides thrown together than a singular body, Jeopardy is a caustic jolt of a debut that startles and fascinates. With the plaintive intro of the rhythm section, a spidery guitar, and incidental synth wobbles (which all sounds surprisingly Neu!-like), "I Can't Escape Myself" begins the album unassumingly enough until reaching the terse, one-line chorus that echoes the title of the song; suddenly, from out of the blue, all the instruments make a quick, violent, collective stab and retreat back into the following verse as singer Adrian Borland catches his breath. The reverb placed on his voice is heightened at just the right moments to exacerbate the song's claustrophobic slant. The ecstatic onward rush of "Heartland" forms the back end of a dynamic one-two opening punch, with a charging rhythm and blaring keyboards leading the way. It seems to be the spawn of XTC and U2, just as giddy as something from the former (think Go 2) and almost as anthemic as something from the latter (think Boy). Much later on, near the end, "Unwritten Law" comes along as one of The Sound's best mid-tempo mood pieces -- one of their greatest strengths. It also shows how much a simple shading of synth can affect a song, as it affects it with a melancholic smear that no other instrument could possibly provide. In all honesty, they weren't breaking any new ground here. Their influences were just as apparent as the ones donned by the other bands who inhabited similar post-punk territory. Smart journalists of the time (meaning the ones who truly listened and were aware of the band's past) knew well enough that The Sound belonged in the same league as the bands they were compared to and not somewhere in the bushes. Hardly coattail jockeying, The Sound were developing and growing alongside them. If you're thinking that this sounds like someone's telling you that you need Jeopardy just as much as you need Kilimanjaro or Unknown Pleasures or Crocodiles, you're right again. 



Jeopardy is THE album missing from your music collection.

Making such a bold claim banks on two assumptions, which I’ll come clean about right now. First, that you don’t already own Jeopardy. I assume this because, in the transition from a historical moment to a musical canon, the sad reality is that some bands, good as they may be, get left by the wayside. This unfortunate fate has most certainly befallen The Sound. Though they signed in 1980 to Korova Records (the very same major label which also housed Echo and the Bunnymen, with whom they also share a sonic likeness) they would hardly enjoy the same fame. Their cult status in England never translated into any notoriety on American shores; they remain unknown even by rabid new wave and post-punk fans on both sides of the Atlantic. Such a tragic tale only goes to show that, in the world of music, there most certainly no justice.
My second assumption is arguably one based on taste, but for anyone interested in how punk got to be post punk got to be new wave got to be ‘80s synth pop, Jeopardy is a critical piece of the puzzle. Nestled in that moment before what has become the signature ‘80s Euro sound was full-on explode, The Sound find musical cousins in the Cure, the Fall, the Gang of Four, Joy Division, and the Psychedelic Furs. Pretty good company, right? Now ask me again why you don’t already know about this band.
Jeopardy is the band’s debut release; it bursts with fresh energy while also maintaining a startling maturity and skill. These are songs that haunt, blaze, rip, and govern, sometimes within the same moment. Oh, their elements: the guitars twitch like an itchy trigger finger, the vocals teem with fury and fire, the bass like a controlled nuclear reaction, keyboards always at the perfect colour, whether dark or luminescent. In addition to the original material from the 1980 release, this particular reissue also contains tracks from rare live Instinct EP recorded in London in 1981.
“I Can’t Escape Myself,” the album’s opener, is an intensely dramatic, mesmerizing number. The characteristic quickfire bass and upbeat drum kicks start almost inaudibly and rise like smoke filling a closed room. Guitar agitates in unison with the drums. Then singer/guitarist Adrian Borland begins: “So many feelings/ Pent up in here/ Left alone, I’m with/ The one I most fear.” His paranoia intensifies across the verse, until the theatrical interjection of the chorus. Borland drips “I can’t escape myself,” as it’s echoed, in screams and guitar jabs, in the background. But this is a brief, Kafkaesque release. Even the closing of the song offers no real exit, Borland singing his final “escape myself” over the relentless bass, both of which cut out abruptly.
“Heartland”, the agile punk race which follows, is far more optimistic—blusteringly lively, indeed a “chemistry of commotion and style,” as the lyrics astutely note. Midway through is a genius guitar solo that recalls Richard Hell or Tom Verlaine, and the whole thing is overlain with a keyboard zing that nimbly dances across unexpected note progressions.
The exchange between “I Can’t Escape Myself” and “Heartland” is characteristic of the album writ large—brooding suspicion followed up by amphetamine-y mania. (Is it really a surprise that the band was beset by drug addictions and internally and externally imposed turmoil?) “Words Fail Me”, The Sound’s version of a “love song,” is as curious and angular as you’d expect from someone as anxiety-ridden and troubled as Borland comes off as being. It pops with horns and jumps with desperation, guitar rapid-firing a single note throughout the vocal acrobatics of the chorus. The melodramatic and shadowy “Missiles” follows and it could not be more of a departure. “Who the hell makes those missiles/ When we know what they can do?” Borland implores. Whether located in the government or in the depths of their own collective consciousness, the world is filled with forces beyond The Sound’s control.
All this, and I haven’t even touched the album’s best tracks: the roller-coasting “Heyday” and asymmetrical, supernatural “Desire”, not to mention the jaw-dropping live rendition of “Brutal Force”. Feel free to debate me on these selections, as so much of the album overflows with brilliance that it’s endlessly hard to pick a favourite. In fact, I’m stupefied in trying to figure out another superlative I could give to this tremendous record. Let’s just say, Jeopardy far surpasses my humble writing ability. I hope, for your own sake, that it’s not missing from your record collection for much longer. 

Outsider



Issued in May 1977, the Outsiders' first album has attracted some renown as an historical footnote, since it might have been the first self-released U.K. punk LP, or at least one of the first. (There's also some dispute as to whether it should be considered self-released, as it did come out on a label set up by guitarist/singer Adrian Borland's parents that was technically independent from the band.) Why isn't it cited in punk histories like, for instance, the Buzzcocks' early-1977 self-released Spiral Scratch EP is? For one thing, it was panned upon its appearance by some highly regarded U.K. music critics who championed punk, Julie Burchill and Jon Savage. For another, it's actually not all that punky, though a few tracks certainly qualify by most listeners' standards. If you're not expecting a lost prime class of 1977 document, however, it's not so bad. The title track has the anthemic spewed lyrics and fast guitar blur typical of early British punk, as do "Terminal Case" and "Hit and Run," though the latter veers toward hard rock. On other songs, however, they play decidedly non-punk, quieter, more introspective material. "Break Free" and "Weird" are more like moody Jonathan Richman or Peter Perrett than all-out punk assault; "On the Edge" is like muted Stooges in its sludgy midtempo wariness; "Start Over" is an actual acoustic guitar-centred ballad, if a downbeat one; and "I'm Screwed Up," despite the punky title, is more a grungy hard rock song than a defiant assault. Certainly better than the initial U.K. music press reviews would have you believe, it's nonetheless no lost classic, sounding more like a young band with a hint of promise and some knack for expressing vulnerable frustration. The sound quality's pretty good for an essentially self-generated effort, but the playing is sometimes a bit dodgy, the songs lacking in memorable riffs and variety. So it adds up to something that seems a bit more like a demo than a finished product, though it certainly has its interest for U.K. punk collectors, in part because the quieter songs don't stick to a generic formula.




Discussion of punk albums can often find themselves loaded with contradictions. The Outsiders records are no exceptions. Legend has it that the true punks couldn’t play. Yet Borland was a guitarist of some repute. He wasn’t alone in this respect and we could easily point to Stuart Adamson (The Skids), Keith Levene (Clash/PIL) and Marco Pirroni (Banshees/Ants) as other examples of prodigious axe talent from the punk era. The thing that strikes most about Borland is just how good a guitarist he was so early into his career. So much so that on Calling On Youth youll find all manner of nods back to previous bands such as The DoorsVelvet Underground and even Roxy Music, when most punk bands were rebelling against the past. There are even guitar solos on the album, usually anathema to supposed punks.
But what did punk rock mean anyway? Nevermind The Bollocks is supposed to be the landmark album of the era but that isn’t really a punk record. Listen to the glossy production values and you’ll find that the Pistols famous LP is far from the scratchy, garage/demo quality of true punk recordings. Indeed some might venture that punk was merely a movement or concept, that the whole idea of punk was non-conformation. Thus signing with a label and pressing an album are at odds with the whole punk ethic. Calling On Youth was a punk album but The Outsiders hadn’t been signed. The record goes into the history books as the first self-funded album by any UK punk act. In an era dominated by singles this might seem about as anarchic a move imaginable. So allow yourself a private chuckle with though thought that Adrian’s parents put up most of the money.
The music is patchy and sprawling as it could only be. There are few signals on the album proper of the tense, post-punk soon to follow. (If you don’t know The Sound, I’ll summarise by saying they were as close to Joy Division as any London act ever came. Buy From The Lions Mouth, one of the truly essential albums of British post-punk.) The extra One To Infinity EP tracks start to sound tighter and less cluttered, signposting the way forward. Calling On Youth is a decent punk record but not much more than a curio, even for fans of The Sound. 

Tuesday

Newly Ordered

NEW ORDER
June 30, 1983
Cabaret Metro, Chicago IL USA

It’s not often something like this sort of falls in your lap.

June 30, 1983 was the hottest day of the year to date in Chicago. The now-legendary venue Metro - then known as Cabaret Metro - had been open for roughly a year. New Order finally made their debut appearance in Chicago. Attendees say it was unbearably hot inside the Metro that night. And allegedly even hotter on the stage. That day, the high temperature reached near 100° F in Chicago and it had barely cooled as the evening went on. Making matters worse, the band took nearly two hours to get on stage after the opening act, which made an uncomfortable and stinky audience even more strident.



The set starts out as your typical New Order set of the era would. Things seem OK, maybe a bit rowdier crowd than normal, until late in the fourth song “Truth” when the sequencer starts to act up. They launch straight into “Leave Me Alone” which ends uneventfully. Then, the power goes out (as you’d have it). A restless crowd begins complaining amongst itself, with audible complaints about sweat dripping into eyes, another mentioning rubbing ice all over their face, and vocalized thankfulness that they brought paper towels in. Random sequencer bleats punctuate the rumbling crowd, as the roadies and venue staff try to get the power sorted. Hooky mentions needing a shower. Eventually, “Your Silent Face” starts. It devolves into a unique and fascinating exposition on what a sequencer-using band does when the sequencers are failing mid song - Steve Morris jumps behind the drum kit far earlier than usual, and essentially drives the song to its skittering end as the sequencers never recover. I think this take is spectacular and I think you’ll agree.

Barney then makes reference on stage to equipment and power problems, mentions the band’s just going to jam, and Steve then pounds out the drum riff for “Denial”. Instead of jamming, the band then finishes the set with four straight sequencer-free tracks, ending on the majestic “In A Lonely Place” well into the wee hours of the morning.

There is no jamming, no acoustic “Blue Monday” despite the venue owner’s misremembered statements made over the years since. It’s possible of course at some point these did exist and were edited out from this tape upstream, but I doubt it and all other recollections of this gig fail to mention any acoustic “Blue Monday” performances.

For the past 34 years, this set has been legendary in the New Order community due to the circumstances which befell it. And a tape was never known to exist, nor a setlist for that matter. With the 1980 Beach Club set, it was part of the Holy Grail pair of lost New Order sets.  That changes today.


Friday

A Touch Of Evil

Wow, originally posted over 2 years ago...a request to up-load again. I'll leave the original post as it was, and the original MP3






I will let Andy Kellman's All Music review of this unmissable slice of shear brilliance introduce you to Cabaret Voltaire...


It isn't without reason that Red Mecca is often referred to as one of Cabaret Voltaire's most cohesive and brilliant records. There are tangible bumpers (the record is buttressed by squealing/wheezing interpretations of Henry Mancini's music for Orson Welles' Touch of Evil), so by that aspect there's a tangible center. And taken as a whole, the record contains all the characteristics that have made the Sheffield group such an influential entity when it comes to electronic music of the untethered, experimental variety that isn't afraid to shake its tail a little. Unlike a fair portion of CV's studio output, Red Mecca features no failed experiments or anything that could be merely cast off as "interesting." It's a taught, dense, horrific slab lacking a lull. Dashes of Richard H. Kirk's synthesizer are welded to Chris Watson's tape effects for singed lashes of white noise, best heard on the lurching "Sly Doubt" and the jolting "Spread the Virus." Throughout, Mallinder's sinister jibber jabbering punctuates the high-pitched menace. What he's ranting about is rarely obvious, as the clarity of his voice is often obstructed by the tape effects, synth work, and other random whip-cracks (Watson's periodic surges of organ are another treat). Judging from his irritated tone, odds are the lyrics have little to do with bunnies jumping over dandelions or anything nearing pleasant -- it's that lack of definition that makes things all the more unsettling. Several tunes have a thick rhythmic drive. The instrumental "Landslide" is painfully short at two minutes, with a bopping machine beat and barely perceptible vocal samples that dart between the left and right channels. A grainy programmed rhythm and Kirk's sickly guitar manglings dominate the sleazy "Split Second Feeling." Sick, searing, engrossing. Along with 2X45 and The Living Legends, this is their best offering.

Thursday

Halo I - IV



It's been 28 years since industrial titans Nine Inch Nails released their landmark debut album; Halo I-IV is a limited edition vinyl box set collecting the complete 1989 version of Pretty Hate Machine on 180 gram vinyl, as well as the domestic versions of all three 12" singles released from the album on 120 gram vinyl. The singles include some B-sides and alternate mixes, making this the perfect way to revisit Pretty Hate Machine in all its dark, catchy splendour. Although vinyl copies of the album aren't too hard to come by, this will be a must-have for Nine Inch Nails' followers, and it's got just the right balance of flashiness and functionality.



Virtually ignored upon its 1989 release, Pretty Hate Machine gradually became a word-of-mouth cult favourite; despite frequent critical bashings, its stature and historical importance only grew in hindsight. In addition to its stealthy rise to prominence, part of the album's legend was that budding auteur Trent Reznor took advantage of his low-level job at a Cleveland studio to begin recording it. Reznor had a background in synth-pop, and the vast majority of Pretty Hate Machine was electronic. Synths voiced all the main riffs, driven by pounding drum machines; distorted guitars were an important textural element, but not the primary focus. Pretty Hate Machine was something unique in industrial music -- certainly no one else was attempting the balladry of "Something I Can Never Have," but the crucial difference was even simpler. Instead of numbing the listener with mechanical repetition, Pretty Hate Machine's bleak electronics were subordinate to catchy riffs and verse-chorus song structures, which was why it built such a rabid following with so little publicity. That innovation was the most important step in bringing industrial music to a wide audience, as proven by the frequency with which late-'90s alternative metal bands copied NIN's interwoven guitar/synth textures. It was a new soundtrack for adolescent angst -- noisily aggressive and coldly detached, tied together by a dominant personality. Reznor's tortured confusion and self-obsession gave industrial music a human voice, a point of connection. His lyrics were filled with betrayal, whether by lovers, society, or God; it was essentially the sound of childhood illusions shattering, and Reznor was not taking it lying down. Plus, the absolute dichotomies in his world (there was either purity and perfection, or depravity and worthlessness) made for smashing melodrama. Perhaps the greatest achievement of Pretty Hate Machine was that it brought emotional extravagance to a genre whose main theme had nearly always been dehumanization.

Wednesday

So Alone



Following the drug-fuelled implosion of the Heartbreakers, Johnny Thunders bounced back with his first solo outing, So Alone. Featuring a veritable who's who of '70s punk and hard rock -- Chrissie Hynde, Phil Lynott, Peter Perrett, Steve Marriott, Paul Cook, and Steve Jones, among others -- the record was a testament to what the former New York Dolls guitarist could accomplish with a little focus. Much like Thunders' best work with the Dolls and Heartbreakers, So Alone is a gloriously sloppy amalgam of R&B, doo wop, and three-chord rock & roll. Despite the inevitable excesses that plagued every Thunders recording session, Steve Lillywhite's solid engineering job and a superb set of songs hold everything together. A cover of the Chantays' classic instrumental "Pipeline" leads things off, and is a teasing reminder of what a great guitarist Thunders could be when he put his mind to it. The record's indisputable masterpiece is "You Can't Put Your Arms Round a Memory," a wrenching, surprisingly literate ballad in which Thunders seems to acknowledge that his junkie lifestyle has doomed him to the abyss. Songs like "Leave Me Alone," "Hurtin'," and the chilling title track continue the theme of life inside the heroin balloon. Fortunately, all this back-alley gloom is leavened by some memorably animated moments. "London Boys" is a scathing reply to the Sex Pistols' indictment of the New York punk scene, "New York." The funky "Daddy Rollin' Stone" features the inimitable Lynott on background vocals, while the rave-ups "Great Big Kiss" and "(She's So) Untouchable" are terrific examples of Thunders' raunchy take on classic R&B. Sadly, Johnny Thunders never followed up on the promise of his solo debut. His subsequent records were a frustrating mix of drug-addled mediocrity and downright laziness. But for one brief moment, he seemed to put it all together. That moment is So Alone.


So for me, it has always been So Alone which stands as Thunders best work. Having shifted from the over the top swagger of the Dolls through to the streetwise punk rock n roll of the Heartbreakers, So Alone always seemed like an attempt to establish Thunders as something of a serious artist. A rocker, to be sure, but a singer-songwriter as well. Maybe he wasn’t that calculating about it, but it was the first album to really show he aspired to something more than just piss and vinegar.
It’s also an incredibly flawed album.
Everything that was wrong with Johnny Thunders the solo artist is on display on So Alone. For a guy apparently looking to go his own way as a solo artist, there are almost no new songs. Of fourteen tracks (on the expanded reissue), well over half are either covers or reworked Dolls/Heartbreakers songs. This would plague the rest of Thunders’ stumbling career, with ensuing albums too often grab-bags of reworked tunes, too seldom offering anything of real impact.
Song writing was certainly not beyond Thunders, but finding the appropriate headspace in which to perform the task was, I suspect, difficult for the man who became a poster boy for heroin as a lifestyle choice. Add to this a thin production, and an even thinner nasal whine masquerading as a singing voice and you’ve got an album that… Well, we’re a long way from Quadrophenia here.
Somehow though, the guy who snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with both the Dolls and the Heartbreakers manages to pull it off. In part of course, it’s because the album’s title is a complete misnomer. Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook and Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott play on many tracks, while both Steve Marriott and Chrissie Hynde also make appearances. It’s the first album I owned to feature all of those artists together, which on its own makes this a landmark album for me, but the mix of players also served as a signal of the esteem in which the New York Dolls were held.

Thursday

The Damned – Peel Sessions (1976/1977)



Foreword – By John Peel.
This may be neither the time nor the place to admit that I never got to see the Sex Pistols play. I did drive to Derby one night to catch them on tour but upon arriving at the venue found only a hand-written note stuck to the door announcing that the gig was off. In a strange way, I wasn’t disappointed – a cancelled gig seemed decidedly more Punk than one that went ahead. I never saw The Clash either, although I almost saw them at one of those 100 Club gigs on London’s Oxford Street but had to leave to do my radio programme before they came on. I did just catch Birmingham’s Nightingales though and thought their song, “VD”, which consisted of little but a second or two of wild-eyed strumming and the shouted words “I’ve got VD” – as fine as anything I heard in all of that astonishing Punk year. It remains one of the few songs I can sing in its entirety.
On the plus side, I did see and hear the subjects of this present volume. The first time I caught The Damned in impressively violent action was at an almost formal concert they played at a theatre in Victoria. That’s Victoria, London. My memories of the event are hazy now (my memories of this morning aren’t too good so bear with me) but I seem to remember the other bands on the bill were Eddie & The Hot Rods and Graham Parker & The Rumour (both these ensembles, but especially the Hot Rods – played their part in unlocking the door that the Punks were about to kick down and they don’t get enough credit for it). I had imagined that The Damned would see me, the compere and a man blatantly working for the BBC, as a tool of an oppressive regime and would, more than likely, give me a bit of a well-deserved kicking before running, snarling like wild dogs, to inflict further mayhem elsewhere. In the event (and they may well hate me for saying this) they were quite amiable, hardly spat at me at all, played a blinder and were quickly booked for the first of seven sessions for the programme (They also did two for Mike Read and one apiece for Janice Long and Saturday Live. They did an In Concert too. Blimey). In a funny way, I thought The Damned caught the true spirit of Punk, as understood by Punks, better than their rivals. They devoted less time to striking attitudes and never forgot, as many historians have, that Punk could be quite funny as well as exciting. I mean, “Stab Yer Back”? Come on.
As a footnote and by a genuine and astonishing coincidence, this morning’s post brought me a CD by a band called Slipper. The EP is called “Earworms” and features, at the drums, Rat Scabies. The beat goes on.
John Peel – 29/05/02.



A very strong twin 12” EP set, recorded live in the studio at BBC Maida Vale in late 1976 and early ’77. The Damned were at their peak and some versions here are as good as, if not better, than the originals. "Neat, Neat, Neat," "New Rose," "I Fall," and most of the other songs that make up their debut are here. The band proves its versatility, going from the raging punk of "So Messed Up," which is as menacing as anything the Sex Pistols ever recorded, to the very Doors-ish "Feel the Pain." A highly recommended listen that proves the Damned were a step above the majority of their punk brethren.



Wednesday

Music For Pleasure



A contender for the most maligned second album ever,


‘Music For Pleasure’ is as unsung as any record can get. Even its creators have condemned it. The Damned – newly expanded to a five piece with the addition of second guitarist Lu Edmonds - managed to record and release their sophomore long player before many of their punk contemporaries had got around to their first one. Naturally it was accused of being a rushed, ill-conceived release, with songs inferior to ‘Damned Damned Damned’ and an over-refined production at dramatic odds with the treble-dominated chaos of that debut LP. I doubt that the producer in question being an A-list prog rock drummer helped its punk credibility, but first choice Floyd member Syd - a true punk in all but his time - was unsurprisingly indisposed when asked to slide the faders.

Personally, I think ‘Music For Pleasure’ is a gas. Sure, it’s far from perfect, but unlike The Jam’s near contemporaneous ‘This Is The Modern World’, it shows a true progression on its makers’ debut album and – to these ears at least – doesn’t sound rushed at all. In fact, so taken was I with its relatively sophisticated, slightly prog-infused vibe that I all but disowned the back-to-basics output that the reformed, James-less Damned spilled onto the masses a couple of years later. And I never went back. As their first record label would say, if it ain’t Stiff, it ain’t worth a fuck, and that applies to The Damned in my book. Two fine albums, a handful of 45s of mostly high quality, and goodbye.

I suspect that a lot of folks’ issue with ‘Music For Pleasure’ may lie with the 45 that opens the album, ‘Problem Child’. Certainly from this punter’s perspective, it’s the weakest track here and doesn’t inspire confidence in what’s to follow. Co-credited between Brian James and Rat Scabies, it may be the drummer who is largely responsible for a one-dimensional tune which, unlike his minimalist masterpiece ‘Stab Yor Back’ on the first LP, hasn’t the energy to save it from yawndom. It drags, and seems to last a lot longer than the two minutes thirteen seconds it actually does.

Once that’s over, the vim is back – and how. ‘Don’t Cry Wolf’ and ‘One Way Love’ are Brian James-by-numbers riff fests with loads of ooomph and choruses that infuse the cranium like acid. ‘Politics’ is faster still, with some well-weird time signature abuse in its verses, a barmy lyric that expounds anything but what its title suggests (“Give me fun, not anarchy”) and an opening guitar lick that floors me every time I hear it. The two guitar line-up really makes its presence felt here. ‘Stretcher Case’, a re-recorded version of one side of a freebie single given away at The Damned’s summer gigs, is another James/Scabies co-write, thankfully blessed with more character and verve than that iffy opening track.

This far (ten minutes!) into the album, it’s been Brian James' own songs that have stimulated the grey matter. But then comes ‘Idiot Box’, a Sensible/Scabies affair, that closes the first side and really turns ‘Music For Pleasure’ upside down – in a good way. On the face of it a puerile diatribe against New York new wavers Television (I’ve never understood why), ‘Idiot Box’ is built around a staggering, jazz-influenced riff which is as far away from barre-chord simplicity as punk would ever get. That gives way in turn to a chorus lick which owes more to heavy metal, before moving to an extended coda where James gets to show off some insanely fast, high neck string plucking over Lu’s arpeggio chords. It’s punk, Jim, but not as we know it – and certainly not as we expected it in the fall of ’77. Whatever the genre, it’s fabulous: one of the standout tracks in an already great year. And it’s totally at odds with everything The Damned had released up to that point …and maybe beyond.

The rest of ‘Music For Pleasure’ is purely Brian James inspired, aside from a Dave Vanian co-credit on ‘Your Eyes’, a song built around a particularly adroit, mid-paced riff with I suspect deliberate ambiguity in the way Vanian pronounces the second word of the title (I won’t spoil it for you, but I hear another part of the anatomy… maybe it’s just me!). All five tracks – the last James would write for the band – are well up the standard set by ‘New Rose’, but two – ‘Alone’ and the closing ‘You Know’ – are little short of astounding.

‘Alone’ is as frantic a Damned song as ever existed, its 200mph riff defying all melodic and rhythmic logic while Scabies out-Moons his greatest inspirer with serious cymbal abuse and Vanian infuses another bile-filled lyric with his patented creepiness (Check out how he intones the “You're alone…and I love you” bit at the close – ugh!). It makes The Clash sound like a boyband by comparison and, musically speaking anyway, is a credible precursor to what the likes of Crass and Discharge would subsequently unleash upon the world – and I’m sure I don’t need to emphasise how influential that was.

I’ve always loved fade-ins, and ‘You Know’ has a great one. Yet another superb James riff (on the face of it simple but no one else would ever have come up with it) rises from the depths and roots itself into your consciousness like an alien in John Hurt’s gut. Delivered at a steady yet relentless pace, on and on it goes, relieved only by a not dissimilar lick after each chorus. Towards the end none other than Lol Coxhill enters, blowing some serious free jazz genius over the melle. In fact, he gets the last word as his multi tracked soprano sax closes the record alone. It makes for a close that seems resolved, yet unresolved, at the same time. I find the only way to effectively deal with it is to play the LP right through again (minus ‘Problem Child’, natch) but then the same issue arises half an hour later. Kinda strange, but I like it.

And through it all lies that Pink Floyd drummer’s production which, while unaffected, takes nothing away from the vitality of the songs and, I think, actually makes ‘Music For Pleasure’ sound much more original and relevant today than another Nick Lowe treble-fest would have done (and I speak as a true admirer of Basher in all of his guises). By the time they came to make their second album, the dying Damned had progressed every bit as much as the Canterbury bands that had so thrilled their bassist at the start of the decade and needed, in turn, a producer who could capture that change without losing their ever-present energy. Much as I wonder what ‘MFP’ would have sounded like with a Madcap production job, I’ve never had a problem with Nick Mason’s production skills. After all, no-one to my knowledge has ever criticised the way ‘Rock Bottom’ sounds, and if he was good enough for Robert Wyatt, I’m Damned sure he was good enough for this lot.

Contrary to its critics and creators, ‘Music For Pleasure’ is precisely that. Great sleeve too!

The Light Pours Out Of Me


Come dark music, bring us autumn days...

Howard Devoto had the foresight to promote two infamous Sex Pistols concerts in Manchester, and his vision was no less acute when he left Buzzcocks after recording Spiral Scratch. Possibly sensing the festering of punk's clichés and limitations, and unquestionably not taken by the movement's beginnings, he bailed (effectively skipping out on most of 1977) and resurfaced with Magazine. Initially, the departure from punk was not complete. "Shot by Both Sides," the band's first single, was based off an old riff given by Devoto's Buzzcocks partner Pete Shelley, and the guts of follow-up single "Touch and Go" were rather basic rev-and-vroom. 


Yet, like many punk bands, Magazine would likely cite David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Roxy Music. However (this point is crucial) instead of playing mindlessly sloppy variants of "Hang on to Yourself," "Search and Destroy," and "Virginia Plain," the band was inspired by the much more adventurous “Low”, “The Idiot”, and "For Your Pleasure". That is the driving force behind Real Life's status as one of the post-punk era's major jump-off points. Punk's untethered energy is rigidly controlled, run through arrangements that are tightly wound, herky-jerky, unpredictable, and proficiently dynamic. The rapidly careening "Shot by Both Sides" (up there with PiL's "Public Image" as an indelible post-punk single) and the slowly unfolding "Parade" (the closest thing to a ballad, its hook is "Sometimes I forget that we're supposed to be in love") are equally ill-at-ease. The dynamism is all the more perceptible when Dave Formula's alternately flighty and assaultive keyboards are present: the opening "Definitive Gaze," for instance, switches between a sci-fi love theme and the score for a chase scene. As close as the band comes to upstaging Devoto, the singer is central, with his live wire tendencies typically enhanced, rather than truly outshined, by his mates. The interplay is at its best in "The Light Pours out of Me," a song that defines Magazine more than "Shot by Both Sides," while also functioning as the closest the band got to making an anthem. Various aspects of Devoto's personality and legacy, truly brought forth throughout this album, have been transferred and blown up throughout the careers of Momus (the restless, unapologetic intellectual), Thom Yorke (the pensive outsider), and maybe even Luke Haines (the nonchalantly acidic crank).
Still it's shameful that Magazine weren’t considered one of the best acts of the post-punk period. Devoto led one of the shortest ever careers with Buzzcocks and then resurfaced ten thousand years away from the punk hooliganism casting a handful of creative musicians to form Magazine. Listening to Magazine it's like being in the presence of an idiosyncratic and exhilarating blend of Peter Hammill's tragedian, Brian Eno's lush quirkiness and post-punk energy.
"Real Life" is like a steely cathedral surrounded by snow. And is also a terrifying study on loneliness. At these times, only Wire has reached the same detailed level of enthralment. At these times, Magazine was not fucking joking...
"Definitive Gaze" and "My Tulpa" are two formidable openers to any album. "My Tulpa" is the best keyboard-driven song from the post-punk years. A masterpiece in nine movements. 

Sunday

All I Know For Sure


A Numbered Limited Edition LP from Mobile Fidelity Silver Label The Sisters of Mercy - First And Last And Always. Mastered on Mobile Fidelity’s World-Renowned Mastering System and pressed at RTI (best record plant in America): first time any The Sisters of Mercy records have been given the audiophile treatment on LP.






The template for all goth-rock records that followed, The Sisters of Mercy’s First And Last And Always stands as one of the (if not the most) influential albums of its kind ever released. Distinguished by Andrew Eldritch’s ghostly singing, which gives the impression of hearing a forlorn ghoul croon from a foggy English graveyard, the 1985 set is drenched in gloom, claustrophobia, black humour, and dance-ready beats that provide exhilarating contrasts. Fans of the Cure, Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets, Peter Murphy, mid-period Nick Cave, and Joy Division will find it to be a new favourite record if they haven’t already got a copy.
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity’s world-renowned mastering system and pressed at RTI (the best record plant in North America), Silver Label numbered limited edition LP presents First And Last And Always with a fuller, richer sound that positively obliterates the thin, feeble sonic perspectives that have limited the music until now. Every aspect from Eldritch’s haunting singing to the group’s jangling guitars and prancing bass lines finally gain genuine definition. Yet what’s most improved is the sense of atmosphere: The Sisters of Mercy revel in painting tone poems, where the feel and effect are as essential as the notes that are played. This is now an atmospheric tour de force.
Ever since its release, First And Last And Always has been aptly shrouded in mythology. Eldritch pushed the envelope during the recording sessions, literally walking into walls and repeatedly unable to maintain his focus. Strung out on amphetamines, dazed by days of no sleep, upset by a recent breakup, and eating little, the vocalist channelled his discord into sombre lyrics and brooding singing. He’s framed by pulsing albeit lean, spare rhythms, patient tempos, and the clatter of a programmed drum machine that, in spite of its mechanical operation, sounds strangely organic. The songs evoke wet dungeons, walls-closing-in paranoia, and late-night strolls amidst the U.K.’s mysterious underground.
Despite its overall dark character, the records arrangements value spaciousness, putting a premium on room and minimalism that makes each note count. As a result, twinkling pianos and keyboards parallel steel-cutting guitars and low-tuned bass lines that, in combination with Eldrtich’s baritone, suggest glimmers of hope among the decay. Songs such as the shaking “Possession,” dramatic “Some Kind of Stranger,” and desperate “Marian” remain models of the gothic and post-punk disciplines more than 25 years after their debut. It’s no surprise that, given all of the tension and personality that infuse the album, The Sisters of Mercy disbanded just months after its release.

"The lead track, “Black Planet,” showcases the new remastering to full effect. The song features an all-encompassing bass rhythm that, with every strike, infects the tune like mustard gas unleashed in a trench. On a poor master, the bass would threaten to suffocate the rest of the arrangement. But Mobile Fidelity keeps it in check with a distinct, sparkling, upper-mid sensitive guitar; the bass merrily sits on the edge of the soundstage."
--Paul Rigby, TONE Audio, Issue 38, June 2011

It’s unlikely that any goth-rock album has ever sounded this good. This MoFi Silver Label LP will turn your room into rainy, dreary England, circa 1985, and expose you to one of the most harrowing vocal performances on record.

The band's epic Floodland also available on Silver Label LP

Friday

New Hope For The Wretched



You can't put an exploding car or a television that's been smashed to bits inside a record sleeve, which sums up the problem the Plasmatics had in capturing their appeal on vinyl -- so much of the band's initial reputation was based on their frantic and destructive live show, and divorced from the images, their first album, New Hope for the Wretched, simply had to get by on the band's music, which was a bit of a stretch. As musicians, the Plasmatics were tight and not without imagination; their attack suggests guys who had been playing metal or hard rock who figured this punk rock stuff was going to be the next big thing, but rather than disguise their roots, guitarists Richie Stotts and Wes Beech were more than willing to let their doom struck metal influences shine through on the instrumental breaks to tunes like "Monkey Suit" and "Concrete Shoes," and parts of New Hope suggest thrash metal arriving a few years early. However, as songwriters Stotts, Beech, and Rod Swenson (the band's manager and idea guy) didn't have all that much to say and not an especially compelling way of saying it. Stylistically, New Hope for the Wretched keeps going around in circles until it finally wears a groove into the floor, and the album's real weak spot is lead singer Wendy O. Williams, who hadn't been singing very long and delivers most of these tunes in a guttural bleat that suggests Stiv Bators with a mouthful of Novocain; she may well have known what to do on-stage, but in the studio her weaknesses were obvious and unavoidable. And while the album's great musical experiment -- the middle section of "Dream Lover," during which the musicians could neither see nor hear one another -- may have been an interesting idea, the results suggest a roomful of college freshmen making their first stab at forming a noise band. A bit like Kiss' first three albums, New Hope for the Wretched is the work of a band struggling to make the excitement of their stage show work in the studio and falling short of the mark, though there are a few moments where the Plasmatics manage to get over on sheer sneering energy, one quality the microphones were able to capture.


ICHI NI SAN SHI

The Plasmatics received a lot of mainstream press compared to most punk bands of their era due largely to their over the top stage show and the provocative attire of lead singer Wendy O. Williams. Wendy often performed topless with only a piece of electrical tape covering her nipples. She had a really butch, gruff voice but as feminine of a body as it comes and the band’s shows were something of legend. A Plasmatics show was visual overload where Wendy would take a chainsaw to anything in reach and cut it up (often guitars) and she’d even blow things up as well. All of this was happening while they were playing their fast-paced punk rock. They took punk rock and mixed it with performance art and there wasn’t really anyone else doing anything like it at the time.
My first exposure to the band came thanks to their ability to get some mainstream press. I read an article about the band and was enamoured with the photos of the band which depicted Wendy destroying things on stage. It was mesmerizing to say the least and I wouldn’t even hear their music for another year or so. When I finally did hear their first album, New Hope For the Wretched, I was pretty blown away by it as punk rock was very new to me at that time and very exciting. Their music was fast and powerful and their songs were mostly on the shorter side of the spectrum and this charismatic lead singer of theirs had such a gruff voice that was delivered in grunts that she almost sounded like a guy. That album has been in regular rotation for me for decades now and it is weird that they don’t get talked about by many people these days in comparison to the other bands of that era. In the modern-day they are overlooked and I’ve yet to see this album come up in any of those “best punk album” listicles you see all over the internet that are written by people who weren’t even born when records like this were released but somehow feel qualified to make a list and try to pass it off as gospel. In a list of best punk albums, the first Plasmatics album would certainly make the cut. I think it has held up well and is pretty timeless. It also beats the hell out of any modern mainstream or even punk music.

Wednesday

Act Like Manure



It’s been a few months, almost half a year and I’m making a limited comeback. No promises, I’m either here or I’m somewhere else in the world, obviously.

SO, Alternative from that Bonnie Scotland place where I was raised. Pretty fucked up again with the local politics that I left behind 20 years ago. For all the moving forward that we do as a society, some people think that they know what everyone else wants, they go into the world of politics and fuck it all up for everyone. So, is there a place in the world for bands like Alternative again? Have these bands ever completely disappeared? Loosely based on the countdown to 1984, Big Brother and the state control that never came, (or did it?).
I had seen 19 summers in 84 and now I've seen 52 and the world has changed a great deal in those 33 years, the fact that I can write this, post it and you’ve read it, means that even today I can still type the slogans and bite sized clichés that were so relevant then and they’ll fit into today’s political landscape.

But that’s not what you’re hear for!

In retrospect Alternative wasn’t the best choice for an opening salvo as there isn’t much written up about them, but there is a place you can visit, read about and download everything they’ve ever recorded.  http://www.bigmeathammer.com/alternative.htm  I’ve copied some of the words relating to the In Nomine Patri single on Crass Records and the If They Treat You Like Shit LP on Corpus Christi 




In Nomine Patri 7” EP
Recorded at Southern Studios by John Loder, the main thrust of the EP was the potent 'Anti-Christ', a powerful statement opening with the unforgettable metaphor, 'I came out of the warm womb into a world of fear and hopelessness, I was given the gift of life, but the package of this gift was opened by someone else...' It spent three months in the Independent Charts, peaking impressively at No. 6, and Alternative played many shows, not only with local bands such as Patrol, UK Anarchists and Why?, but also with the bigger acts such as Crass, Flux Of Pink Indians, Poison Girls, The System and The Mob whenever they ventured north of the border to tour Scotland.


If They Treat You Like Shit... Act Like Manure
Recorded again at Southern, only this time with Pete Wright of Crass overseeing production duties (he also contributed some backing vocals, alongside Annie Anxiety, to 'Til Death Do You Part'), the album was an accomplished collection of memorable and provocative protest songs. From the up-tempo - not to mention, sarcastic - opener, 'Another Subversive Peace Song', reminiscent of Conflict at the height of their powers, to the mournful melodies of 'Now I Realise', the album still stands as fine tribute to a criminally-overlooked band that commanded tremendous compositional skills. By far the most poignant song on the LP, 'Caroline's Carnival' addressed the abduction - and subsequent killing - of five-year-old Caroline Hogg from Portobello, near Edinburgh, on July 18th, 1983. The murder went unsolved until, in 1994, paedophile serial killer Robert Black was convicted and sentenced to ten consecutive life sentences for the heinous crime. Linda's sombre intoning, 'Listen a while, just listen, to the screams of little girls, incestuously loved...', still resonates with hair-raising pathos. Elsewhere on the album, she achieved the terrified, breathless vocals on 'Death Isn't So Sweet' (about the plight of a hunted fox) by sprinting around the studio several times before attempting her take.

A decently varied anarchopunk album that genre fans should enjoy, but it also welcomes outsiders.

Sunday

Raw Power



In 1972, the Stooges were near the point of collapse when David Bowie's management team, MainMan, took a chance on the band at Bowie's behest. By this point, guitarist Ron Asheton and bassist Dave Alexander had been edged out of the picture, and James Williamson had signed on as Iggy's new guitar mangler; Ron Asheton re-joined the band shortly before recording commenced on Raw Power, but was forced to play second fiddle to Williamson as bassist. By most accounts, tensions were high during the recording of Raw Power, and the album sounds like the work of a band on its last legs -- though rather than grinding to a halt, Iggy & the Stooges appeared ready to explode like an ammunition dump. From a technical standpoint, Williamson was a more gifted guitar player than Asheton (not that that was ever the point), but his sheets of metallic fuzz were still more basic (and punishing) than what anyone was used to in 1973, while Ron Asheton played his bass like a weapon of revenge, and his brother Scott Asheton remained a powerhouse behind the drums. But the most remarkable change came from the singer; Raw Power revealed Iggy as a howling, smirking, lunatic genius. Whether quietly brooding ("Gimme Danger") or inviting the apocalypse ("Search and Destroy"), Iggy had never sounded quite so focused as he did here, and his lyrics displayed an intensity that was more than a bit disquieting. In many ways, almost all Raw Power has in common with the two Stooges albums that preceded it is its primal sound, but while the Stooges once sounded like the wildest (and weirdest) gang in town, Raw Power found them heavily armed and ready to destroy the world -- that is, if they didn't destroy themselves first. 


The Ig. Nobody does it better, nobody does it worse and nobody does it, period. Others tiptoe around the edges, make little running starts and half-hearted passes; but when you're talking about the O mind, the very central eye of the universe that opens up like a huge, gaping, suckling maw, step aside for the Stooges.
They hadn't appeared on record since the Funhouse of two plus years before. For a while, it didn't look as if they were ever going to get close again. The band shuffled personnel like a deck of cards, their record company exhibited a classic loss of faith, drugs and depression took inevitable tolls. At their last performance in New York, the nightly highlight centred around Iggy choking and throwing up onstage, only to encore quoting Renfield from Dracula: "Flies," and whose mad orbs could say it any better, "big juicy flies ... and spiders...."
Well, we all have our little lapses, don't we? With Raw Power, the Stooges return with a vengeance, exhibiting all the ferocity that characterized them at their livid best, offering a taste of the TV eye to anyone with nerve enough to put their money where their lower jaw flaps. There are no compromises, no attempts to soothe or play games in the hopes of expanding into a fabled wider audience. Raw Power is the pot of quicksand at the end of the rainbow, and if that doesn't sound attractive, then you've been living on borrowed time for far too long.
It's not an easy album, by any means. Hovering around the same kind of rough, unfinished quality reminiscent of the Velvets' White Light/White Heat, the record seems caught in jagged pinpoints, at times harsh, at others abrupt. Even the "love" songs here, Iggy crooning in a voice achingly close to Jim Morrison's, seem somehow perverse, covered with spittle and leer: "Gimme Danger, little stranger," preferably with the lights turned low, so "I can feeeel your disease."
The band is a motherhumper. Ron Asheton has switched over to bass, joining brother Scott in the rhythm section, while James Williamson has taken charge of lead; the power trio that this brings off has to be heard to be believed. For the first time, the Stooges have used the recording studio as more than a recapturing of their live show, and with David Bowie helping out in the mix, there is an ongoing swirl of sound that virtually drags you into the speakers, guitars rising and falling, drums edging forward and then toppling back into the morass. Iggy similarly benefits, double and even triple-tracked, his voice covering a range of frequencies only an (I wanna be your) dog could properly appreciate, arch-punk over tattling sniveler over chewed microphone.
Given material, it's the only way. The record opens with "Search And Destroy," Vietnamese images ricocheting off the hollow explosions of Scott's snare, Iggy secure in his role of GI pawn as "the world's most forgotten boy," looking for "love in the middle of a fire fight." Meaning you're handed a job and you do it, right? Yes, but then "Gimme Danger" slithers along, letting you know through its obsequiously mellow acoustic guitar and slippery violin-like lead that maybe he actually likes walking that tightrope between heaven and the snakepit below, where the false step can't be recalled and the only satisfaction lies in calling your opponent's bluff and watching him fold from there. Soundtrack music for a chicken run, and will it be your sleeve that gets caught on the door handle? Hmmmm ...
Cut to "Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell," first called "Hard To Beat" and the original title ditched in favour of Funhouse's "1970." If it didn't seem like such a relic of the past, the Grande Ballroom would have to be resurrected for this one, high-tailing it all the way from Iggy's opening Awright! through James' hot-wired guitar to a lavish, lovingly extended coda which will probably be Iggy's cue to trot around the audience when they ultimately bring it onstage. "Penetration" closes off the side, the Stooges at their most sensual, lapping at the old in-out in a hypnotic manner that might even have a crack at the singles games, Clive and Columbia's promotion men willing.
"Raw Power" flips the record over, and the title track is a sure sign that things aren't about to cool down. "Raw Power is a boilin' soul/Got a son called rock 'n' roll," and when was the last time you heard anything like that? "I Need Somebody" builds from a vague "St. James Infirmary" resemblance to neatly counterpoint "Gimme Danger," Iggy on his best behaviour here, while "Shake Appeal" is the throwaway, basically a half-developed riff boosted by a nice performance, great guitar break, and some on-the-beam handclaps. Leaving the remains for "Death Trip" to finish off, the only logical follow-up to "L.A. Blues" and all that came after, crawl on your belly down the long line of bespattered history as the world shudders to its final apocryphal release.
I never drink ... wine.