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.



The Dead Can Still Dance

Putting early punk backgrounds and the like behind them, Brendan Perry and Lisa Gerrard created a striking landmark in early '80s atmospherics on their first, self-titled creation. Bearing much more resemblance to the similarly gripping, dark early work of bands like Joy Division, The Cocteau Twins and The Cure than to the later fusions of music that would come to characterize the duo's sound, Dead Can Dance is as Goth as it ever gets in many places. Perry and Gerrard's wonderful vocal work, Brendan’s rich, warm tones and Lisa’s unearthly, multi-octave exaltations, are already fairly well established, but serve different purposes here. Thick, shimmering guitar and rumbling bass/drum/drum machine patterns practically scream their sonic connections to the likes of Robin Guthrie and Robert Smith, but they still sound pretty darn good for all that.
When they stretch that sound to try for a more distinct, unique result, the results are astonishing. Gerrard is the major beneficiary here. "Frontier" explicitly experiments with tribal percussion, resulting in an excellent combination of her singing and the rushed music. Then there's the astonishing "Ocean," where guitar and chiming bells and other rhythmic sounds provide the bed for one of her trademark, and quite, quite lovely, vocal excursions into the realm of glossolalia. Perry in contrast tends to be matched with the more straightforward numbers of digital processing and thick, moody guitar surge. The album ends on a fantastic high note, "Musica Eternal," featuring a slowly increasing-in-volume combination of hammered dulcimer, low bass tones, and Gerrard's soaring vocals. As an indicator of where the band was going, it's perfect.
Then continuing in the vein of the self-titled debut but more clearly plunging into a wider range of music and style, Garden Of The Arcane Delight is the clear transition between the group's competent but derivative Goth start and something much, much more special. Opening track "Carnival of Light" captures the band at play, with rolling drums, dulcimer, processed guitar and more creating a swirling, evocative mix of sound at once new and old. Gerrard's simply lovely vocals are further icing on the cake. "Flowers of the Sea" is another similarly entrancing effort, simpler in arrangement but no less hypnotic. The remaining numbers, "The Arcane" and the wordily-entitled "In Power We Entrust the Love Advocated," follow the first album's general pattern -- Perry is again a fantastic singer, but the songs themselves aren't as memorable, embracing doomy goth sonics without adding much to the overall sonic canon.


The Waking Hour

Either a temporary project, a promising alliance that fell apart, or a waste of time; Dali's Car and its sole effort isn't something easily agreed upon, even by long-time fans of both Peter Murphy and Mick Karn. Even its original appearance was fraught with doubt given that the two were signed to separate record companies, resulting in the creation of a wholly new label just to get it in print (Beggars Banquet has since taken over full pressing on its own). While on the one hand Waking Hour is pretty much the sum of its parts; Murphy's dramatic, edgy singing style and Karn's fluid, immediately recognizable fretless bass and other instruments, plus percussion from Paul Lawford; there was enough variety going on to set it apart enough from the legacies of both Bauhaus and Japan. On the one hand, the band's music feels a little harsher and more electronic than the flowing arrangements of late Japan, no doubt accentuated by the electronic drums in place of Steve Jansen's work. Similarly, the production feels a bit hollower; not quite demo level, but a little more straightforward all around, occasional fripperies like the exotic synth line on "His Box" aside. Meanwhile, Murphy avoids the more torturous roars and screams of his most extreme work in Bauhaus; it's still recognizably him at 50 paces off, but everything feels a touch gentler and more meditative. He indulges in his usual cryptic images, admittedly (quite what "Dali's Car" itself is meant to be is unclear) but as is so often the case, his all-around performance is what counts the most. If nothing else, points for credit for the cover art: a lovely reproduction of the famed Maxfield Parrish painting Daybreak.


I Will Have My Dreamtime

Image-wise, the Cult still weren't entirely there yet, as the band photos show. Ian Astbury's bandana is more dated than anything else. But it's Billy Duffy's look (a Duran Duran/Spandau Ballet wannabe, down to the haircut and suit) which is terribly amusing in context. Musically, though, on their full-length debut, the Cult were pretty much on their way. Duffy's dramatic, spaghetti Western-tinged, dark psychedelic guitar and Astbury's passionate semi-wailing set the tone from the start and throughout, while the Jamie Stewart/Nigel Preston rhythm section keeps the tribal/goth feeling running equally high. Indeed, Goth is still stalking the band's effo
rts whether the members liked it or not: consider "83rd Dream" and its distinctly creeped-out introduction, Astbury's vocals fed through extra effects. If there's not as much in the way of blunt power chording as later, Dreamtime is still loaded with a variety of moody, energetic joys. "Spiritwalker" is especially fantastic, Preston's rolling drums and Duffy's epic, crystalline guitar not that far off from what U2 was going after, but (arguably) with even more appeal. Add in Astbury's explosive singing, and it's a definite treat through and through. The other strong tracks include the title effort, which may reference the native Australian concept of time, but is more about wearing long hair and tripping on the shamanic vibes, and the who-else-but-the-Cult invocations of mythic America in "Go West," "Horse Nation," and "A Flower in the Desert." If everything is sometimes too shrilly and dramatic for easy digestion, one can't fault the band for energy, and given that they would shortly improve all around, Dreamtime is still an attractive enough listen.


We Are… The League

The years pass, the wheel of time turns, and the shocking, moral-challenging ne'er-do-wells of one generation eventually seem almost sweet when compared with those of later days. Every so often, though, something will remain almost gloriously offensive and wrong no matter what the future brings; T’League's filthy gob of a debut album fulfils that brief, and then some. Musically, there's nothing here to surprise or challenge anybody; already dated three-chord thrash, smash, and bash at the time of its release, years later it just sounds like the type of stuff folks like Offspring listened to while killing time in rehearsal studios. However, for all of the band's protestations of "being shit," the roar is actually reasonably produced, with a good oomph to it instead of becoming too treble. Every so often the band tries something just a tiny bit different (the slow opening to "Woman," which is almost a late '50s tearjerker in modern leather gear before everything revs up), but mostly they just do what they do. It's vocalist Animal, though, who transforms T’League from being just another band to becoming veritable kings of trash. His rough vocals tackle everybody and everything, not least of all himself and his bandmates; suspect sex, random contempt (the brilliantly titled "[We Will Not] Remember You" and "I Hate...People"), and more just scratch the surface. The group even trashes their own medium, as "Can't Stand Rock 'n' Roll" concludes "the man who made it was big and fat." The undisputed highlight, of all things, is a cover of Ralph McTell's folk anthem "Streets of London." Transforming the sympathetic look at the city's outcasts and dregs into a celebratory anthem of defiance, T’League delivers one of the best remakes ever done, almost in spite of it-self. This reissue also contains that single's notorious B side, "So What," a gleeful detailing of sexual and social depravities revived by Metallica in the '90s.


The Blurred Crusade

After such a fine debut as Of Skins and Heart, creating a follow-up might have been a burden for the Church; and maybe it was, but the end result was well worth it. Perhaps even better than their first, The Blurred Crusade captures what for many remains the classic early Church sound, blending both the various strains of '60s inspiration and postpunk drive detected from the start with an even more elegant melancholy. Musically, both Willson-Piper and Koppes are just fantastic, their combination of guitar playing running the range from sparkling post-Byrds chime to sharp power. If the group doesn't fully explode here as much as later albums would demonstrate, especially on Heyday, it perhaps can be laid at producer Bob Clearmountain's feet. Consider the slow but steady build-up of "When You Were Mine," guitar lines and notes setting the scene before fully kicking into the main riff and the clever but not forced production on the vocals on some of the middle verses. Add on the fantastic solo about four minutes in, and this is great rock music, period, deeply impressive coming on a sophomore album. Highlights are plentiful throughout Blurred, but the best numbers are perhaps the opening "Almost With You," a note-perfect combination of hooks and downbeat but not morose atmosphere, and the lengthy, powerful "You Took." Willson-Piper's lead vocal number "Field of Mars" and the brief, concluding "Don't Look Back" are further songs of note.


The Kick Inside

Kate Bush's first album, The Kick Inside, released when the singer/songwriter was only 19 years old (but featuring some songs written at 15 and recorded at 16), is her most unabashedly romantic, the sound of an impressionable and highly precocious teenager spreading her wings for the first time. The centrepiece is "Wuthering Heights," which was a hit everywhere except the United States (and propelled the Emily Bronte novel back onto the best-seller lists in England), but there is a lot else here to enjoy: The disturbing "Man With The Child In His Eyes," the catchy rocker "James And The Cold Gun," and "Feel It," an early manifestation of Bush's explorations of sexual experience in song, which would culminate with "Hounds Of Love." As those familiar with the latter well know, she would do better work in the future, but this is still a mightily impressive debut.


Natural History

On this collection of singles, the March Violets sound very much like their former label mates The Sisters Of Mercy: simple drum programs, droning bass, slashing guitar and deep, melodic male vocals (with Simon Denbigh as the poor man's Andrew Eldritch, though, like Eldritch, he clearly loved his David Bowie collection). The main thing that distinguished them from the Sisters is the presence of female vocalist Rosie Garland, while the dark, aggro surge of the music carved its own wired and romantic path. Guitarist Ashton and bassist Elliott found a reasonable space between Joy Division, Echo And The Bunnymen and Bauhaus for their respective approaches, and were as much masters of shade, throb, and scalpel sharp guitar lines as anyone. Natural History isn't organized by any particular order of recording, there are singles (A and B’ sides) and John Peel session tracks. It's no surprise in the end why the band essentially ended after Denbigh's departure in later years; when he was around, the tension usually built to the breaking point. The male/female vocal dynamic was definitely one of the March Violets' strong points, and their most successful tracks push that hard, whether it's the murkier edge of "Children on Stun," the wonderfully vicious "Radiant Boys," or the blunt "One Two I Love You."

Natural History is not without its high points, "Fodder," "Undertow," and especially "Snake Dance," which hints at potential yet to be realized.


Standing Up Straight

The Wolfgang Press (Michael Allen, Mark Cox and Andrew Gray) were one of 4AD’s most enduring bands, spending the entirety of their career (more than twelve years) with the influential British indie label set up by Ivo Watts Russell back in 1980. Even before they formed the Wolfgang Press in 1983, Cox and Allen had released material on the label; first as Rema Rema (with future Ant-person Marco Pirroni), and then with Mass. (Prior to joining the Wolfgang Press, Gray had also been involved with 4AD, releasing three singles on the label with In Camera.)
The story of the Wolfgang Press is a familiar one. They were a talented alternative band with a distinctive, multifaceted vision: over the course of five studio albums, their sound encompassed everything from dark, somewhat difficult noise to orchestrally enhanced art-angst to idiosyncratic electronic funk-soul hybrids that were well received on the alternative dancefloor. The group garnered critical acclaim, flirted with mainstream success and soldiered on until the mid-‘90s, only to end up as a footnote in alt. rock history, coming up in the context of questions like “Whatever happened to that 4AD band the Wolfgang Press?”
By the time of 1986’s Standing Up Straight, the Wolfgang Press had started to explore more expansive, orchestral and industrial textures. While "Hammer the Halo" and "Rotten Fodder" in particular stand out as two of the group's most aggressive efforts, the intensity level remains high throughout. “I Am the Crime”, an austere, melancholic number that has much in common with the kind of doomy, dark melodic sound that the 4AD label is perhaps best known for. Indeed, songs like this would reinforce the reductive, erroneous categorisation of the Wolfgang Press as a Goth band. On “I Am the Crime”, Allen’s deep vocals put listeners in mind of Nick Cave, while Elizabeth Fraser makes an appearance, albeit in a more recognisable vocal mode.
A challenging and even punishing album, but a rewarding one as well.


Turn On The Bright Lights

One might go into a review like this one wondering how many words will pass before Joy Division is brought up. In this case, the answer is 16. Many are too quick to classify Interpol as mimics and lose out on discovering that little more than an allusion is being made. The music made by both bands explores the vast space between black and white and produces something pained, deftly penetrating, and beautiful. Save for a couple vocal tics, that is where the obvious parallels end. The other fleeting comparisons one can one whip up when talking about Interpol are several -- roughly the same amount that can be conjured when talking about any other guitar/drums/vocals band formed since the '90s. So, sure enough, one could play the similarity game with this record all day and bring up a pile of bands. It could be a detrimental thing to do, especially when this record is so spellbinding and doesn't deserve to be mottled with such bilge. However, this record is a special case; slaying the albatross this band has been unfairly strangled by is urgent and key. Let's: there's another Manchester band at the heart of "Say Hello to the Angels," but that heart is bookended by a beginning and end that approaches the agitated squall of Fugazi; the torchy, elegiac "Leif Erikson" plays out like a missing scene from the Afghan Whigs' Gentlemen; the upper-register refrain near the close of "Obstacle 1" channels Shudder to Think. This record is no fun at all, the tension is rarely resolved, and (oh no!) it isn't exactly revolutionary, though some new shades of grey have been discovered. But you shouldn't allow your perception to be fogged by such considerations when someone has just done it for you and, most importantly, when all this brilliance is waiting to overwhelm you.


Real To Real Cacophony

To the delight of some open-minded post-punk fans (fans who also had space for the relatively new, untraditional likes of Devo, Kraftwerk, and Eno in their record collections) the relative simple-mindedness of Life in a Day was blown to bits and left for dead on the pub floor by Real to Real Cacophony, the wide-eyed carnival-like follow-up released only seven months after its predecessor. The artistic leap from Life in a Day to Real to Real has to be one of the most mesmerizing ones imaginable, an improvement that is even more impressive when the short time between release dates is considered. It's where Simple Minds ventured beyond the ability to mimic their influences and began to manipulate them, mercilessly pushing them around and shaping them into funny objects the way a child transforms a chunk of Play-Doh from an indefinable chunk of nothing into a definable chunk of something. Aside from a mercifully brief lapse into aimless murmuring and doodling that occurs during the middle of the record, Real to Real Cacophony is rife with countless bizarre joys. It knocks you on your back with pretentious artsy-fartsiness as instantly as New Gold Dream dazzles with its art pop pleasures, but its challenging melodicism through jerky time signatures and an endless supply of varied sounds and textures keeps you coming back for more. "Real to Real," a sinister rewrite of Kraftwerk's "Radio-Activity," is a good, quick point of reference. Guitars are employed less frequently and are replaced by burbling electronics and further use of keyboard shadings, though the absolute high point of the band's early years, "Changeling," benefits from plangent, angular jabs. The record is certainly as much of an achievement as New Gold Dream; an achievement that's on a plane with other 1979 post-punk landmarks like Metal Box, 154, Entertainment, and Unknown Pleasures.
No kidding.


The Last Magician Of Rational Thought

In December 1984, Andrew Eldritch travelled to Germany to attempt to remix The Sisters Of Mercy’s forthcoming album, First And Last And Always, with seasoned producer Reinhold Mack at Giorgio Moroder’s Musicland Studios in Munich. Alas, Eldritch wasn’t pleased with the results so the job was called off but that didn’t stop a number of Mack’s mixes from circulating at WEA on in-house cassettes, one of Mack’s mixes even made it on to the album’s American LP promo. An unmarked copy of the 11 January 1985 in-house cassette  – containing a selection of Mack and Eldritch’s remixes – made its way to the Phantom Twins, who were engaged in releasing “interesting and quality recordings by The Sisters Of Mercy which are unavailable through Merciful Release” on their Palazzograssi label. Four of the tape’s tracks were chosen to comprise their fourth release, The Last Magician Of Rational Thought. It contains three Mack mixes (“No Time To Cry”, “First And Last And Always”, and “A Rock And A Hard Place”) and one Eldritch mix (“Walk Away”), none of which feature on the finished album.

I tracked down a copy of this important Sisters artefact to needledrop as the other transfers I’ve heard have been fairly poor sounding. My copy is in VG+ condition, and the transfer is very listenable, providing a good insight into these alternate mixes. For the sake of completeness, I have included Mack’s mix of “Walk Away” (absent from the Palazzograssi record), which I transferred from the American LP promo (1985, ST-E-60405-1).


Strange Man

At the height of their popularity, Bram Tchaikovsky left The Motors to form his own band. Feeling unable to express himself in a band dominated by Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster, Tchaikovsky decided to strike out on his own. What appeared to be a foolhardy move resulted in one of the finest power pop/pub rock albums ever released. Comparable to Dr Feelgood or Steve Gibbons at their best, Strange Man, Changed Man was a revelation. Produced by his former Motors bandmate Nick Garvey on a shoestring budget, the resulting thin sound only serves to enhance the songs which owe as much to '60s pop as they do to pub/punk rock. The pure pop of "Girl of My Dreams" (a minor hit in the U.S.) perfectly encapsulates late-'70s Brit-pop and stands as one of the classic singles of the era.


The Nuns

The Nuns were a punk rock/new wave and gothic rock band in San Francisco. Best known as one of the founding acts of the early San Francisco punk scene, the band went through a number of hiatuses and periodic reunions, line-up changes, and changes in style. Overall, The Nuns performed and recorded on and off from the mid-1970s into the 2000s. While the band was centred on Jennifer Miro and Jeff Olener through its various incarnations, Alejandro Escovedo, who went on to later success as an Americana and alternative country musician, was also a key member during its years of fame in late 1970s San Francisco.
Despite the likes of the Ramones, Dead Kennedys and X receiving all the hype when it comes to American punk, San Francisco’s The Nuns delivered one of the classics with their eponymous debut (actually the material dates from 1977).
The Nuns featured three powerful personalities, each leaving his unique stamp on the material. Alejandro Escovedo is the musician of the group (later a member of Rank and File), but most dominant is Jennifer Miro, both night-life diva and teenage tramp, her glacial keyboards and supreme voice contrasting the sleazy Lou Reed-like monotone of Jeff Olener.
Decadence, rebellion, S&M, street-life, junk, nihilism, laziness, and depravity abound in this exuberant set of songs, ranging from perfect punk-pop that would give Deborah Harry a run for her money (“Savage”, “You Think You’re The Best”), to amphetamine-driven punk oozing charm and attitude (“Media Control”, “World War 3”, “Confused”), to theatrical brilliance (“Wild”, “Getting Straight”, “Suicide Child”) etc.
You could hear their Blondie-like single “Wild” on Bomp! EXPERIMENTS IN DESTINY, and now here’s San Francisco punk pioneers debut slab on Butt records. If you dig new wave stuff like The Rezillos or Blondie you probably like this. 

Back In Flesh (Again)

In some ways, Dark Continent is Wall of Voodoo's greatest album. Although it lacks the "Mexican Radio" of its follow-up, there is no filler and the arrangements and concepts are brilliantly executed. Proffering an utterly unique blend of drum machine beats, Marc Moreland's Western-influenced guitar leads, and Stan Ridgway's distinctive vocals and lyrics, Dark Continent has been compared to the music of Devo, but is not quite like anything (or anyone) else. The songs deal with natural and industrial perils, tense relationships, and reflect a cranky, working-class perspective that offers an interesting contrast to the new wave elements of prominent synthesizer and hyperactive rhythm box beats. If originality and artistic vision are any measure of a rock album's worth, Dark Continent delivers on both counts.

Every once in a while, a band creates an album that is truly unique, an album so starkly original and wildly creative that nothing before or since has sounded similar to it and likely never well. Truly this is the case with the group Wall of Voodoo's first LP, Dark Continent. Best remembered for their Top 40 1983 hit "Mexican Radio", a staple on most new wave and alternative rock stations as well as being a favourite in the early years of MTV, Wall of Voodoo is a group that's gained a cult following over the years but still remains unfortunately underrated by most. This is a damn shame, and I suggest anyone with an interest in new wave, punk, indie, and college rock as well as synthesizer-driven music with wildly absurd lyrics, really I'd suggest anyone with an interest in alternative 80’s music in general to pick this album up.
"2 Minutes to Lunch", introduces you to one of the main lyrical themes of all of Wall of Voodoo's music, that being their perspective on life in the working class and the dull, tiresome tedious everyday existence that can eat away at you on the inside. This theme comes up repeatedly in Wall of Voodoo's music, which really makes this band the perfect group to listen to if like most of us you're stuck in that dead-end job working for fuck all pay and the simple everyday routine of constantly checking the clock until you can escape from your duties and responsibilities.
“Animal Day” is yet another classic example of prototypical Wall of Voodoo song in that it features complex synthesizer effects, a ringing Ennio Morricone spaghetti-Western influenced guitar and the absurd and humorous lyrics of Ridgway, sung as only he could. If you're looking for an album with emotional and personal lyrics, look elsewhere, as Ridgway is more concerned with pointing out life's absurdities and putting a humorous spin on them as only he could.
But allow me to get to the song that initially got me interested in Wall of Voodoo and remains my favourite track of theirs to this day, and that's "Back in Flesh", which you may recognize from the brilliant performance the group did of the song for the 1982 documentary "Urgh! A Music War". This is truly Wall of Voodoo at their best.

An astonishingly unique and wildly creative cornerstone album of new wave music from the 1980s.

Where The Hell Have You Been?

Inspired by psychedelia, sure. Bit of Jim Morrison in the vocals? OK, it's there. But for all the references and connections that can be drawn (and they can), one listen to The Bunnymen’s  brilliant, often harrowing debut album and it's clear when a unique, special band presents itself. Beginning with the dramatic, building climb of "Going Up," Crocodiles at once showcases four individual players sure of their own gifts and their ability to bring it all together to make things more than the sum of their parts. Will Sergeant in particular is a revelation (arguably only Johnny Marr and Vini Reilly were better English guitarists) with flavours of delicacy, shades, and inventive, unexpected melodies. More than many before or since, he plays the electric guitar as just that, electric not acoustic, dedicated to finding out what can be done with it while never using it as an excuse to bend frets. His highlights are legion, whether it's the hooky opening chime of "Rescue" or the exchanges of sound and silence in "Happy Death Men." Meanwhile, the Les Pattinson/Pete De Freitas rhythm section stakes its own claim for greatness, the former's bass driving yet almost seductive, the latter's percussion constantly shifting rhythms and styles while never leaving the central beat of the song to die. "Pride" is one standout moment of many, Les Pattinson's high notes and Pete De Freitas' interjections on what sound like chimes or blocks are inspired touches. Then there's McCulloch himself, and while the imagery can be cryptic, the delivery soars, even while his semi-wail conjures up, as on the nervy, edgy picture of addiction "Villiers Terrace," "People rolling round on the carpet/Mixing up the medicine." Brisk, wasting not a note, and burning with barely controlled energy, Crocodiles remains a deserved classic.

Together these four young men are electric. The dark melodies appearing on this album are crafted by a band who have an incredible amount of skill, combined with heaps of identity. You'll easily recognize a song by the Bunnymen. If you don't recognize the psychedelic, dramatic and at times jazzy rhythm, you'll recognize Will Sergeant's guitar. And even if you actually don't recognize the "Bunnymen sound" straight away, Ian McCulloch will come into the picture, doing his thing, and leave you with no doubt that this is the Bunnymen's sound. "Punky but slick".
To keep the theatrical sound company, there's Ian's lyrics. They're not only poisonous catchy pop tunes; they're also dramatic, creepy pieces of poetry, who insists on showing a sense of premonition and cleverness. But let’s be honest; does it really matter? Ian McCulloch could just as well be singing the Yellow Pages, and it would all still be very interesting. Why? Because his voice is so insecure, yet firm. He shouts and he whispers. He sings and he tells. It's all just so dramatic and atmospheric. McCulloch is basically one of a kind.
On tracks like "Going Up", "Crocodiles" and "Villiers Terrace" - we get a glimpse of greatness. This is admittedly one of the best British rock albums from the '80s. Crocodiles is combined with unbelievably catchy and well crafted melodies and lyrics. It's all that and a bag of chips... and all that jazz


The Avengers

No, wait…not THE Avengers but The Avengers from San Francisco…yeah? Ok, got it!

During the late 70’s, in San Francisco, the punk scene was a smouldering powder keg that was set to explode. Out of it would come such seminal bands as Flipper, The Units, Negative Trend and of course the Dead Kennedys. But the band that truly lead the way was fronted by the unlikeliest of people. A gifted and talented artist, Penelope Houston, who came from Seattle to the San Francisco scene and became the voice of The Avengers, a band that was directly inspirational to the bands that came after.
The Avengers, James Wilsey bass, D. Furious drums and Greg Ingraham guitar, were a San Francisco based punk band in the first wave of American punk. Penelope Houston, who later turned to folk music, was the singer and main song writer for the band, and was part of what made the band unique and memorable.
Their first EP release (and only while the band was originally together) was “We Are The One”, was released on Dangerhouse Records in 1977. After opening for the Sex Pistols final show at Winterland in San Francisco, Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones sat in the producers chair for a recording session for their second EP “Avengers”. This recording, released in 1979 a few months after the band had already split up, on White Noise Records features the memorable songs, "The American in Me," " Uh Oh!," "Corpus Christi," and "White N!gger." Brad Kent played guitar on "Corpus Christi." 

An album called “Avengers” (sometimes referred to as the Pink Album) was released in 1983. It featured tracks recorded through the band's whole time together, and was compiled by drummer Danny Furious.


A Thin Red Line

TV21 were from Edinburgh, Scotland and were only around long enough to issue this classic long player "A Thin Red Line" and a few singles before disappearing into the distance. The last thing I remember hearing about them was that were appearing as a support group to the Rolling Stones on their "Tattoo You" tour dates in Scotland. TV21 issued a single in early 1982 "All Join Hands" then simply disappeared. I thought they were a group with immense promise and a glowing future. At the time of the release of "A Thin Red Line" TV21 were hot property in the UK music press, I remember them having a full colour cover feature in Melody Maker and their album was greeted with glowing reviews. "A Thin Red Line" was issued in November of 1981, a year where one great album was released every month. From the likes of The Undertones, The Comsat Angels, Teardrop Explodes, The Passions, The Sound, Echo & The Bunnymen, Wah! and even U2’s debut album Boy.
Enough Now! Back to why you’re here, the fabulous music of TV21. I was initially attracted to the group because they were described as a cross between The Jam and Teardrop Explodes (two of my favourite groups at the time) and looking back I would say that is a pretty accurate comparison. In reality the group clearly had a sound of their own which was more than clearly demonstrated on this flawless debut album. The opening number "Waiting For The Drop" hits you immediately with its Joy Division-ish bass line and Teardrop Explodes style horn section. While I do think the Teardrop Explodes comparison is just, although TV21 had a more aggressive sound, highlighted by Norman Rodger's gruff vocals.

The reason I’m reposting TV21 is because I recently acquired a digital copy of the “Snakes And Ladders” compilation CD that was released in 2010, and I thought it only right to share the wealth.  


Entertain Me!

Entertainment! is one of those records where germs of influence can be traced through many genres and countless bands, both favourably and unfavourably. From groups whose awareness of genealogy spreads wide enough to openly acknowledge Gang Of Four's influence (Fugazi, Rage Against the Machine), to those not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it (rap-metal, some indie rock) -- all have appropriated elements of their forefathers' trailblazing contribution. Its vaguely funky rhythmic twitch, its pungent, pointillist guitar staccatos, and its spoken/shouted vocals have all been picked up by many. Lyrically, the album was apart from many of the day, and it still is. The band rants at revisionist history in "Not Great Men" ("No weak men in the books at home"), self-serving media and politicians in "I Found That Essence Rare" ("The last thing they'll ever do?/Act in your interest"), and sexual politics in "Damaged Goods" ("You said you're cheap but you're too much"). Though the brilliance of the record thrives on the faster material a true highlight amongst highlights is "Anthrax," full of barely controlled feedback squalls and moans. It's nearly psychedelic, something post-punk and new wave was never known for. With a slight death rattle and plodding bass rumble, Jon King equates love with disease and admits to feeling "like a beetle on its back." In the background, Andy Gill speaks in monotone of why Gang Of Four doesn't do love songs. Subversive records of any ilk don't get any stronger, influential, or exciting than this.



After the epic proportions of Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus double-disc in which Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds laid out two sides of the songwriter's melodic and ambitious look at both rock & roll and balladry, Grinderman sounds like a wild, nasty, woolly rock & roll monolith who simply need to let it rip and then see what happens. Along with Warren Ellis, Martyn P. Casey and Jim Sclavunos (right, 3/7 of the Bad Seeds), Cave and company turn in a squalling, raucous, twist-and-turn garage band set that takes on all comers. Check out the opening line of the single "No Pussy Blues" for clues as to why the song writing screenwriter (and seriously B-grade actor) may be doing this; the sounds of a typewriter plunking only to be joined by a Sclavunos' hi hat before Cave prattles in spoken word with real menace: "My face is finished, my body's gone, and I can't help thinking but think standing up here with all this applause and gazing down at all the young and beautiful with looking up with their questioning eyes/That I must above all things love myself..." Joined by a snarling bass, he goes on to try to woo some young woman in the crowd with all his tricks, from sucking in his gut and getting all togged up to quoting her Yeats to doing her dishes and sending her doves, but he is rejected. The wail of age is fraught with both danger and delight as he continues his desperate and unsuccessful attempt at seduction, but all he ends up with is the "no pussy blues." It adds up to two things: black humour and a love for the kind of rock & roll younger musicians have to plot, plan, pose and dig deep into their record collections to try and emulate. When the band jumps in with all the racket unleashed, the track is as tragically funny as it is unhinged. The singer's frustration is understood and empathized with to the point of sheer vitriol. And it's a careening jolt of rock & roll that would send his listeners to the volume control for more. The opening track "Get It On" is similar but even wilder: it comes bursting out of the box like a rabid wolf. Even on the slower tunes such as "Electric Alice," a story-song, the grimy organ sounds and Ellis' distorted bouzouki and violin meet the slippery mud shuffle of Sclavunos' drums and Casey's plodding, droning bassline. All of this said, there are moments here, such as on "Depth Charge Ethel" and "Honey Bee (Let's Fly to Mars") where Grinderman are so freaking awesome they transcend the garage band thing altogether and sound like some flipped-out cross between Suicide, the Stooges, Bo Diddley and the Scientists. The songs come through and stand on their own amid the noise, so don't be surprised if some of these evil little nuggets get new treatments when the Bad Seeds reconvene. While the sound of pure snarl and glee is what melts the speaker cabinets the most, the overdriven menace of most these songs doesn't undermine their worth as songs. Cave is far too gifted for that and his bandmates are too empathetic to let him veer too far off course. The album closes with "Love Bomb," with Cave railing on electric guitar. It's a pumping anthem of pure male libidinal dis-ease that takes the sentiments of "No Pussy Blues" to the extreme, though Bob Dylan could have written the words. It's an anthem of male malaise, dysfunction, the rage at emasculation and desire. In fact, the protagonist in most of these songs is literally sick with it, and so is almost all of the music itself here. Grinderman, not the Bad Seeds, are the most logical (though not necessarily similar-sounding or serious) extension of the Birthday Party legacy Cave left behind 25 years ago. These are songs to chew on, get knocked down by, guffaw at, and take deep inside your own shadow side to celebrate. Grinderman was the impure rock & roll album to beat in 2007.


Chat And Business

Ikara Colt follows the punk rock fleet of 2002 (the Liars, Interpol) and spits on rock mainstream in the process. Chat and Business, their first for Epitaph, functions with a minimalist approach; threads of early Sonic Youth ("One Note") and Joy Division ("At the Lodge") echo throughout as Ikara Colt keeps a near-bulletproof guitar jam. Frontman Paul Resende is a vocal curmudgeon with style, and assuredly he comes off fresh. The formulaic three-chord riff that blazes through "Rudd" and "Pop Group," and the electric jolt of "Sink Venice" highlights a nervy, raw rhythm section at the top of their game. Guitarist Claire Ingram is queenly in her role of guiding Ikara Colt's synth-driven sonic power. Claire and Paul emphasize the band's uncompromising disposition, and the heavy twitch and snarl of "Here We Go Again" is distinct in saying so. Chat and Business isn't just a punk record. What is punk anyway? The mixture is a bit thick nowadays. Ikara Colt creates an edgy, electronic/punk-inspired sound with Chat and Business, and the end result is impressively slick.

Ikara Colt existed because 99.9% of everything else was shit and getting shitter.

We are at the absolute other end of the spectrum from Stereophonics here. Both ‘Pop Group’ and the killer first single ‘Sink Venice’ are based on the Colt‘s oft-expressed and entirely admirable opinion that, after five years, all bands should be taken out and shot before they get the chance to get fat, old, smug, contented or soft-handed. No compromises made to the lucrative possibilities of dance remixes or daytime radio play – all you get is relentless minimalism (‘One Note’), paranoia (‘At The Lodge’), inverse snobbery (‘Belgravia’) and a spitting hatred of pop mediocrity (‘Video Clip Show’). Put it this way – if you don’t loathe the likes of Starsailor and Travis with every fibre of your being then there’s absolutely no fucking chance whatsobleedingever that you’ll like Ikara Colt. They’re a sort of twat-filter. And this, by the very fact of its existence, is brilliant. 
[Steven Wells, NME Sept 12th 2005]


Geography 242

Listening to Geography in the 21st century is a surprising experience in ways; one can tell exactly who's making the music, but things were still incredibly different at the start for Front 242. That said, the edge of the band is fully present, but the sheer amped-up level of brute aggression isn't. As a self-consciously modernist electronic body music act, though, Front 242 made a good debut, with a lot of the familiar elements of the group -- de Meyer's disembodied, passionless voice, Codenys and Daniel B's ears for threatening atmospherics -- in place. The Depeche Mode comparisons are understandable (check out the synth stabs and general pace of "U-Men" for a good example) but not perfectly accurate. Lyrically, Front 242's focus is mostly turned well away from love and religious imagery in favour of cryptic threats, though the THX 1138-sampling "GVDT" is calm and playful enough to imagine David Gahan singing it. A good demonstration of where Front 242 was at can be heard with the first two songs. While "Operating Tracks" adds enough white noise and full percussion slams to indicate the future, "With Your Cries" isn't all that removed from what Kraftwerk had already done. From there the quartet keep bouncing back and forth, sometimes offering up flashes of real inspiration but often indulging in the kind of random noodling that gave early-'80s industrial/dance music something of a bad name. That a number of the tracks are fragmentary instrumentals doesn't help, though they can make for nice enough mood music, and the rough recording quality actually helps in that regard.


Shades In Bed

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

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


Not The Only Fun In Town

They didn't play encores. They were a bit existential. They were dark. They wore suits. And they never recorded anything with saxophones.
The jittery, frenetic Scots of Josef K may have recorded what would prove to be Postcard's lone full-length in less than a week, but it's no shambling matter. Much of The Only Fun in Town's material had indeed been recorded and scrapped earlier, so the focus of the LP is unwavering. The sound of many a post-punk band at the turn of the '80s involved scratchy and tinny guitars, jerky rhythms bordering on danceable, and sometimes melodic vocals -- a sound that had the tendency to wear thin on most ears after lengthy exposure. But Josef K did their job and got the hell out of Dodge here; the ten tracks whip by in roughly half an hour. Though slightly derivative with shades of Fear of Music-era Talking Heads, XTC's second and third albums, and Joy Division without the inner chaos, The Only Fun in Town nonetheless influenced a legion of U.K.-based bands centred on the Creation label's mid-to late-'80s roster.

Josef K were formed in Edinburgh in 1979, originally as TV Art, by Paul Haig (guitar/vocals), Ronnie Torrance (drums), Malcolm Ross (guitar/vocals/violin/keyboards) and their ex-roadie David Weddell (bass) replacing original bassist Gary McCormack. The band all knew each other from the city’s Firrhill High School. They took the name from the main character of Franz Kafka’s novel “The Trial”.
Their first release “Chance Meeting” / “Romance” (ABS 1) was the first, and only, single on Steven Daly’s Absolute Records label in December 1979. The band then signed to Alan Horne’s Postcard Records, joining Orange Juice, the Go-Betweens and Aztec Camera on their roster - becoming a key component in “The Sound of Young Scotland”. They released just five critically acclaimed singles and one album on the label during 1980 and 1981.
Strong “post-punk” scenes developed in both Edinburgh and Glasgow, but Josef K never felt marginalised by not being in Glasgow, though there were differences in the sounds that emerged. "Glasgow bands were more jangly and influenced by west coast Americana," recalls Haig. "In Edinburgh, it was definitely darker. There wasn't any sense of competition between the cities, though."
The band’s debut album “Sorry For Laughing” was recorded during 1980 at Castle Sound Studios in Pencaitland near Edinburgh. It was shelved as they were unhappy with the album’s production and only a handful of promo/white label copies exist. They returned to the studio, this time in Belgium, and recorded “The Only Fun In Town” in six days.
"For all their slightly delirious talk of fun, laughter and craziness, Josef K were among the most austere and monochromatic of post-punksters. Never mind 36 years on, the furious, scrabbling textures of these songs are a savage pleasure in their own right"


Feeding The 5000

Originally released in 1978 on the great UK label, Small Wonder, Feeding The 5000 was subsequentially reissued in 1979 on Crass Records in a fold out poster sleeve and re titled, The Feeding Of The 5000 (The Second Sitting). From the moment you fold out the sleeve to reveal the decaying hand of a dead soldier caught on barbed wire under the sarcasm of 'Your Country Needs You' you know they will deliver their attacks with power and wit. The Feeding Of The 5000 is an absolutely unique and enduring classic punk album. Crass spat out their messages with a rabid power and excitement unmatched by the majority of more mainstream punk bands at least one of which they openly despise on this release. Crass is ferocious music and they stake their claim as absolute leaders in the 1977 era punk explosion. Their far left stance finds Crass spewing out anthems addressing class warfare, social hypocrisy, organized religion, and punk rock itself with serious venom. It's not without humour at times, either, as on the famous chorus, "Do they owe us a living? Of course they fucking do!" (A lyric sheet, always an essential item for Crass releases, is provided.) Check out "Banned from the Roxy". Steve Ignorant is in total command of his indictment of government and their protection of the rich or hypocritical music promoters with the line 'Do they think guitars and microphones are just fucking toys?' "Punk Is Dead", another indictment, this one against the punk movement in general, singling out The Clash and Sex Pistols as sell outs. The most enduring piece, actually, had relatively little to do with punk rock: On "Asylum," the spoken female voice delivers a vitriolic attack on Christianity over disquieting guitar feedback.
Profane it might be but profanity delivered with such menace, verve and vitriolic wit is always a’s just that these days we have forgotten how important it is to enjoy it this way.


Gods Own Medicine

Even though the Cult had already mastered the art of mashing goth with more traditional elements of classic rock, the Mission's debut, God's Own Medicine, was the marker for goth rock's invasion of the U.K. charts for a good chunk of the late '80s. Having already made a serious dent on the top reaches of the indie charts with the singles "Serpent's Kiss" and "Garden of Delight," the Mission were on the precipice of becoming big-name players in mainstream circles. Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams had plenty of Goth cred, having played with and acrimoniously left The Sisters Of Mercy in 1985, and Hussey's ability to bring in elements of classic rock and English fantasy meant that he had a fan base in place and the added touches to reach the larger listening public. In that light, God's Own Medicine was a hit, broadening the Mission's appeal and establishing them as the flagship for the movement as it was unfolding. Musically speaking, the album isn't really their best, as it suffers from some inconsistencies, a muddled track order, and a mistakenly pap version of the indie single "Garden of Delight." And if one can get past Hussey's rather silly spoken intro "I still believe in God, but God no longer believes in me," then one will find moments worth hearing. "Wasteland," "Severina," and "Stay with Me," all strong tracks and singles lifted off the LP, are key Mission tracks, while "Blood Brother" (an homage to The Cult leader Ian Astbury) and "And the Dance Goes On" deserve attention. A bit laborious and over the top in their subjects, the slower tracks are stacked toward the end of the record and make the album end on sort of a "blah" note (Hussey's attempts at songs about sex and romance can either wind up sounding corny or smarmy), but the Mission would eventually get the slower stuff right, so it's interesting to hear these selections as embryonic efforts charting a direction to future successes. True, much of what happened on the charts as far as this sound was concerned was quickly forgotten in the wake of Madchester and such, but God's Own Medicine stands as a good signpost for a misunderstood time.


First Issue (Again)

Like it or not, Public Image Limited's First Issue (aka Public Image) was an album that helped set the pace for what eventually became known as post-punk. In England a vacuum had opened up in the wake of the breakup of the Sex Pistols in January 1978, and many punk fans and rival groups were impatient to see what ex-Sex Pistols front-man John Lydon aka "Johnny Rotten" was going to roll out next. Disheartened owing to events in his legal proceedings against the Sex Pistols management company Glitterbest, and disgusted by the punk scene in general, Lydon was determined to create something that was neither punk nor even really rock as it was known in 1978. Working with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene, first-time bassist Jah Wobble, and Canadian drummer Jim Walker, Public Image Limited produced an album that represented the punk sound after it had shot itself in the head and became another entity entirely. Embracing elements of dub, progressive rock, noise, and atonality and driven by Lydon's lyrical egoism and predilection towards doom, death, and horror, First Issue was among a select few 1978 albums that had something lasting to say about the future of rock music. And not everyone in 1978 wanted to hear it; contemporary critical notices for First Issue were almost uniformly negative in the extreme. 

Not all of the material on First Issue was necessarily forward-looking: "Attack" and "Low Life" could almost pass muster as latter-day Sex Pistols songs if it weren't for their substandard production values. These two numbers were recorded late in the project, and on the cheap, as the fledgling Public Image Limited had already been kicked out of practically every reputable studio in London. And there was a bracing song about Lydon's pet peeve, "Religion," presented in both spoken and sung incarnations. It is about as vicious and personal an anti-Catholic diatribe as exists on record, and in its day was considered a high holy turnoff by many listeners. But from there it gets better -- Public Image Limited's debut single, "Public Image," was also included on First Issue, and Keith Levene's guitar part, with its tasty suspensions and held-over-the-bar syncopation, was an important departure from standard punk guitar language absorbed so quickly by others (the Pretenders, U2, the Smiths) that listeners and musicians alike forgot the source of the sound. First Issue's opener, "Theme," was a force to be reckoned with, a grindingly slow dirge with wild, almost Hendrix-like figurations on the guitar and Wobble's floor-splitting foundation. This was punk with the power of Led Zeppelin, but none of the pretension. Lydon's anguished mantra in "Theme," "...and I just wanna die," was the exact reflection of what his generation was thinking about in the wake of the collapse of classic punk. "Annalisa" is the hardest-kicking rocker on the album, with nosebleed-strength guitar from Levene; it is so good that Nirvana in all practical purposes purloined the whole number, with minor alterations, as "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter" on In Utero.
But even with all of the calculated controversy seemingly built into the various cuts on First Issue, none attracted quite so much attention as "Fodderstompf." Faced with a serious shortage of material to fill out the album and with its release date looming, Public Image Limited decided to conclude the project with a track 7:45 in length, consisting of no more than a disco beat, chattering synthesizers, a bassline, and Jah Wobble singing, shouting, and screaming the phrase "we only wanted to be loved" in a joke voice. Rock critics savaged the song as a deliberate attempt to rip off the public, but it became hugely popular at the Studio 54 disco in New York; the drag queens and hipsters sang and screamed right along with Wobble out loud on the dancefloor -- nothing like that had ever happened at Studio 54. As it is perhaps the earliest extended dance mix that has little to do with disco or dub, it is apparent that "Fodderstompf" is an obvious precursor to the acid house and techno that began to evolve in the mid-'80s, although it is seldom accredited that distinction.
After it was released in December 8, 1978, First Issue peaked at number 22 on the British album charts, and import copies were snapped up in America practically as soon as they were loaded off the boat. But Warner Bros., the American label to which Public Image Limited were signed, was unhappy with the album, particularly in that the label felt the bass was mixed too loudly -- no one had ever recorded the bass so hot on a regular LP before. Public Image Limited protested, but Warner Bros. stood fast and the band ultimately relented; in the early weeks of January 1979 the whole of First Issue was re-recorded for the American market. But the only portion of this project ever to surface appeared on the backside of the U.K. 12" single of "Death Disco" in July 1979, a mix of "Fodderstompf" minus the vocals, re-titled "Megga Mix." Warner Bros. never released the remade album, and the remainder of it has since disappeared. By early 1980 Trouser Press was joking that the American issue of First Issue was the "longest rush release in recorded music history," but clearly long before First Issue was a "dead" issue with Warner Bros. Right after the remake session concluded, drummer Jim Walker surprised Public Image Limited by departing with no notice to join the interesting but now forgotten English group the Pack (Kirk Brandon). In came ex-101'ers drummer Richard Dudanski, and by their next album, Metal Box, Public Image Limited had already worked out an entirely different sound and approach. 


Everything’s Gone Green

The early New Order singles, as relentless as the album tracks on Movement, are more beat-oriented and feature synthesizers more prominently. On "Temptation," you can even make out the lyrics clearly, a New Order first. These 3 singles began the change away from (the) Joy Division towards (A) New Order.

The 5 track EP was put together mainly for the American market as a compilation of three of New Order's early singles. It contains "Procession" from September 1981, plus the 12" versions of "Everything's Gone Green" (released December 1981) and "Temptation" (released May 1982) plus two of the b-sides, "Mesh" and "Hurt". A second b-side to "Everything's Gone Green", "Cries and Whispers" is curiously omitted; as is New Order's first single "Ceremony" / "In a Lonely Place". The sleeve was designed by Peter Saville and uses a painting from his then-girlfriend Martha Ladly.
The songs of this era (in particular this version of "Temptation") signalled a critical turning point in the development of New Order as the group shifted from simply being the remnants of Joy Division after the suicide of lead singer Ian Curtis to becoming a singular band in its own right. The EP is frequently viewed as the bridge from the group's debut album, Movement, to the new electronic-based sound contained on their softmore album, Power, Corruption & Lies.
This version of "Temptation" has been described as being "where Manchester's finest stop hearing ghosts in their shell and stake their claim to a danceable pop of unprecedented grimness and power," noting that it was "the first real song this sharp-cornered sound-and-groove band has ever come up with.”
The EP also documents the band's break away from producer Martin Hannett, who had produced both of Joy Division's studio albums and Movement. While Hannett produced "Everything's Gone Green", "Procession" and "Mesh", the other two songs on the EP were produced by New Order. Bernard Sumner remarked: "Martin's last track was "Everything's Gone Green" – fact he walked out halfway through the mix because Hooky and me asked him to turn the drums up"


The Party's Over

Talk Talk are one of the more interesting collectives in all of popular music. The once Duran Duran infused with Roxy Music group soon became one of the forefathers for post rock, creating both Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock, two of the most critically acclaimed albums of the 20th century. These two albums, along with their third release, The Colour Of Spring (which is a perfect blend of jazz-esque structures with an art rock sound) often overshadow the first two releases in Talk Talk's discography, this and their sophomore release, It's My Life. However, these should not be written off as bad records simply due to the fact that they do not compare to the better albums in Talk Talk's collection of albums. Their debut, The Party's Over, is often viewed as "just another new wave album" from the early 80s, and represented the band in their more pop=oriented beginning. Keeping that in mind, this is an incredibly fun record that, given its time period, has aged better than the other synth-pop relics that vanished into obscurity towards the end of the 80s.
I am going to get this out of the way right from the get-go: this album is FULL on 80s cheese. Plucky synth chords, deep, analogue basses, and Simmons drums are all over the record. From the exterior, it seems like your typical new wave album. But Talk Talk has one advantage; Mark Hollis. Hollis is easily one of the most interesting musicians of our time, and his vocal delivery was unlike any of their contemporaries. Some like to point to Hollis as sounding similar to Bryan Ferry, whose producer coincidently produced this album. While that comparison does hold, Hollis's delivery is very different to that of Ferry's. Hollis sings in a weird mix of a whisper and a shout, and isn't afraid to belt out high notes that drastically alter his voice from its normal sound. It's one of the key traits that make Hollis such a captivating singer to listen too. "Today" best shows Hollis's unique voice, with the beginning verses involve him singing in a lower, whisper voice. But once the background singers scream "Today!" and Hollis belts "It's a dream away!" you immediately notice the difference in his style.
These carry over into other tracks on the record, including the self-titled song "Talk Talk," which feature large drums, and even larger synths. The rest of the record is your typical new wave affair, and all of the tracks have some appeal to them. That is with the exception of "Mirror Man." I have listened to all 5 of the Talk Talk records, and this is, without a doubt, their worst song. It starts out promising enough, but once it gets into the chorus, Hollis and the other background vocalists sound like they are choking, it took me by surprise the first time I heard it. It was annoying to enough to anger me slightly, and I just skipped the track all together. Giving it a second listen, it got slightly better due to the nice synth break during the bridge, and the violins and other strings are a nice touch as well, but not enough to save the song entirely.
If Talk Talk had stopped after It's My Life, they probably would have been a forgotten about synth-pop band that would fade into obscurity like many other small bands of the same genre tended to do. But with their colourful history, the first and second albums stand as an early stage of Talk Talk, that many look at when examining the band as a whole. The Party's Over not only stands as the first music of the later incredible band, but a solid synth-pop album as well.


Sixteen Days Of Fighting

“Sixteen Days / Gathering Dust” is a bouncy ethereal Goth pop track that fully displays Ivo’s love of the Goth rock scene with comparisons to Bauhaus, The Cure and early Siouxie & The Banshees apparent. The length of the track at over 9 minutes was quite rare for a pop oriented style of music but somehow keeps the groove generating with the jangle guitars, new wave drum machine and silky Gothic female vocals. The second track “Song To The Siren” a cover of singer Tim Buckley’s 1970 folk song is beautifully performed by Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. The closer “Sixteen Days Reprise” is exactly as you’d expect it only more in The Cure sort of Goth pop delivery. In fact I’d say it sounds more like late 80s Cure than the Cure sounded themselves at the time. It has more changes and sound effects.

While only a three song 12” EP, this debut is quite the fun listen. Each track is quite distinct, well-crafted and stands apart from the more commercial sounding bands of the era. While not quite as raw as Bauhaus and not as ethereal and dream poppy as the Cocteau Twins, it manages to find that middle ground with just enough rock gusto mixed and mingled with the suave Gothic rock approach. Personally I find this to be a great starting point to explore one of the coolest Goth spinoffs in This Mortal Coil that have since been pegged as ethereal wave(?)


Shadow Man

The Dickies proved that punk bands needn’t have some ideological program or anger/outrage to vent, but that having a whole lot of immature fun and a crazy ride through pop culture could do the trick as well.
They could be compared to The Ramones, minus a few brain cells, with a British touch most apparent in singer Leonard Graves Phillips’ snarly tone, and also the band’s poppy side, reminiscent of bands like The Jam and Buzzcocks. On top of that, it was a gig by first generation British punks The Damned that inspired The Dickies to form, and after a lot of touring Sparks manager John Hewlett decided to produce the band’s debut album, which is often still regarded as the pinnacle of their birthday party inanity.
The band's reputation may also have something to do with their legendary covers, as their takes on Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, P.F. Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction” (Barry McGuire anyone?), and The Monkees’ “She” are all performed at the same insane breakneck speed, while Phillips’ stuffed up nose and helium-powered delivery will have you wondering whether you just bought yourself a 78rpm record.
So even though The Dickies never did away with the pop elements in their music, their ferocious attack sometimes resembles the single-minded fury of hardcore punk, lending them a unique American/British appeal.
As for the rest of the album, the comic book simplicity, B-movie camp, and delightful humour never lets up ... these are songs about getting bullied on the way to school (“Give It Back”), meeting the garbage man, cable guy or elevator operator (“Shadow Man”), and the downside of staying in a madhouse. Some of the songs come off as a bit too fluffy (“Mental Ward”, “Walk Like An Egg”), but they’re hard to resist, and remind you it’s okay to act silly once in a while.


Horses Fucking

I’ve been desperate to talk about the 1983 debut mini album by Colourbox, but I’ve never found anyone who had taken the time to review it…until I happen by chance to see Rho had. So here’s his/her(?) take.

Colourbox is the debut mini-album from Colourbox, released by 4AD in November 1983. MAD 315 is the album's catalogue number, used to distinguish it from their 1985 self-titled album, although the mini-album is sometimes referred to as Horses Fucking due to the cover image. Colourbox are as revolutionary as they remain unfairly obscure. Mixing soul sensibility (Lorita Grahame's gorgeous vocals) with fundamental eclecticism into a not at all easy sound identifications, this (actually their self-titled debut mini LP) is one hell of a tiny experimental episode from their precious vaults. "Justice" demonstrates the creative process without digital equipment available now - which Colourbox pioneered beating down many of their peers. The track leans towards ultimate balladry while at the same time the listener is mercilessly mind warped to great effect by its subliminal, experimental repetition. Even Grahame's voice is suddenly perverted by a tape-like chewed sound sliding in and out of its massively reverbed melodic focus. Albeit released in 1983, 'Colourbox' mini LP is way ahead of its time.


And Also The Trees

"So This Is Silence" kicks off the Trees' debut with a semi-tribal drum rhythm sounding not unlike something from the Cure's Pornography, albeit lighter; given that Cure drummer Lol Tolhurst produced the record, such a connection makes perfect sense. However, the Trees weren't, and have never been, mere clones of the Cure despite Tolhurst's help and Robert Smith's long-term patronage, though at this stage of their careers the band's collective influences certainly hung heavy. Flecks of all the early British post-punk/proto-goth big names crop up throughout, from Justin Jones' chiming, intricate guitar lines a la the Chameleons or the Comsat Angels to Simon Jones' Ian McCullochesque sense of vocal projection (unsurprising given how both singers took inspiration from Jim Morrison; the Doors' general sense of art-rock theatre informs much of the album's general vibe, if not specifically the sound). While lacking in immediately catchy songs -- partially due to the fact that at this point the band generally favoured series of verses or poetry without rhyme to more conventional lyric structures -- the album still kicks up some smoke, as with the quite atmospheric "Midnight Garden" and the first gentle, then brawling "The Tease the Tear." "Shrine" is especially noteworthy, given its intricate guitar work mixed with somewhat flanged effects, which soon would become a key element to the Trees' sound. Add to that some nicely melancholy cover art of a fog-shrouded forest and the generally rural setting of the lyrics, and a distinctly 'old' English flavour becomes clear, which would also help further set the Trees apart from other similar bands in later years.



Mastered on Mobile Fidelity’s world-renowned mastering system and pressed at RTI, this Silver Label LP improves the record’s splendid dynamic contrasts, low-end thrust, expansive dimensionality, and moody atmospherics. Steinman’s unforgettable sonic contributions finally receive proper due in the form of towering choruses and operatic heft. The group’s signature epic “This Corrosion,” described by Eldritch as a narrative about “power in the face of misery,” sounds downright staggering, with an awe-inspiring performance by the New York Chorale Society and blooming classicism.
Mobile Fidelity's all-analogue remastering of Floodland is a must hear thanks to their audiophile technique. Listen out for mix variations unique to this pressing!

The Sisters Of Mercy emerged from a brief hiatus and lineup overhaul in spectacularly grand fashion on Floodland, an epic album that stands as the group’s commercial breakthrough as well as one of the period’s monumental productions. Having witnessed his bandmates leave, singer Andrew Eldritch recruited bassist Patricia Morrison, utilized a ground breaking drum machine, and hooked up with Meat Loaf collaborator Jim Steinman to attain a glorious, bombastic, and irrepressible marriage of gothic rock and sumptuous balladry.
Throughout, The Sisters Of Mercy traverse myriad styles in breaking down goth-rock conventions. As on the band’s noisier debut First And Last And Always, brooding emotions, nocturnal episodes, and dim sentiments gloss over the song writing. Yet there’s a colossal amplification of evocative spirituality, delicate accents and anthemic riffs that combine with funky drum-machine beats and visceral tension to yield music that dares listeners not to dance and/or lift their hands skyward.
Rhythms play as large a role as the leader’s trademark stentorian vocals, with thundering grooves and crashing percussion illuminating incisive lyrics and industrial-tinted scenery. Whether felt via the dramatic waves of “Lucretia My Reflection,” balladic sweep of “1959,” or charging protest of “Dominion/Mother Russia,” Floodland is a touchstone, topped off by iconic cover art that fits in with today’s vampire-obsessed society as well as it did upon release in 1987.


Upstairs At Eric’s

Vince Clarke can claim involvement in two stunning debuts in only two years: Depeche Mode's Speak and Spell and Yazoo's Upstairs at Eric's. While Speak and Spell is, by far, the more consistent record, Upstairs at Eric's is wholly more satisfying, beating the Depeche record on substance and ambition, and is light years ahead in emotion. "Don't Go" and "Situation" are absolutely killer with Clarke's bubbling synth and singer Alison Moyet's bluesy and powerful delivery. They're both rightful dance floor staples, and have since undergone numerous remixes, both official and bootleg. "Bring Your Love Down (Didn't I)" is just as good a thumper, adding a wonderful mumbled bridge that shows how much Clarke enjoyed messing with pop music. The softer "Only You" would have sounded silly and robotic if it had appeared on Speak and Spell, but Moyet's vocals makes it bittersweet and engaging. The clumsier experimental tracks make most people head for the hits collection, but to do so would be to miss the album's great twist. The loony tape loop of "I Before E Except After C," the skeletal "Winter Kills," and a disruptive phone call in the middle of the naïve "Bad Connection" offer up more complex and intimate moments. Like its curious cover, Upstairs at Eric's presents a fractured, well-lit, and paranoid urban landscape.

Zen Arcade

Grant Hart, drummer and singer of the seminal alternative rock band Hüsker Dü, has died at 56 after being diagnosed with cancer. The news was confirmed by his bandmate Bob Mould in a lengthy Facebook post. 
"The tragic news of Grant's passing was not unexpected to me," Mould wrote. "My deepest condolences and thoughts go to Grant's family, friends, and fans around the world. Grant Hart was a gifted visual artist, a wonderful story teller, and a frighteningly talented musician. Everyone touched by his spirit will always remember." 
"We made amazing music together," Mould continued in his tribute to Hart. "We (almost) always agreed on how to present our collective work to the world. When we fought about the details, it was because we both cared. The band was our life. It was an amazing decade ... Godspeed, Grant. I miss you. Be with the angels."

In many ways, it's impossible to overestimate the impact of Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade on the American rock underground in the '80s. It's the record that exploded the limits of hardcore and what it could achieve. Hüsker Dü broke all of the rules with Zen Arcade. First and foremost, it's a sprawling concept album, even if the concept isn't immediately clear or comprehensible. More important are the individual songs. Both Bob Mould and Grant Hart abandoned the strict "fast, hard, loud" rules of hardcore punk with their songs for Zen Arcade. Without turning down the volume, Hüsker Dü try everything -- pop songs, tape experiments, acoustic songs, pianos, noisy psychedelia. Hüsker Dü willed themselves to make such a sprawling record -- as the liner notes state, the album was recorded and mixed within 85 hours and consists almost entirely of first takes. That reckless, ridiculously single-minded approach does result in some weak moments -- the sound is thin and the instrumentals drag on a bit too long -- but it's also the key to the success of Zen Arcade. Hüsker Dü sound phenomenally strong and possessed, as if they could do anything. The sonic experimentation is bolstered by Mould and Hart's increased sense of song craft. Neither writer is afraid to let his pop influences show on Zen Arcade, which gives the songs -- from the unrestrained rage of "Something I Learned Today" and the bitter, acoustic "Never Talking to You Again" to the eerie "Pink Turns to Blue" and anthemic "Turn On the News" -- their weight. It's music that is informed by hardcore punk and indie rock ideals without being limited by them.