Themes From Great Cities
It might have come to your attention that I'm not a regular poster of love and understanding, which you will just have to get used to. I will however, have bursts of creativity where I move completely randomly from post to post with no rhyme or reason. I have recently posted a few singles (7 & 12”) and the odd bootleg which have been received very well by all who visit. More of the same will continue as you, dear readers, seem to be enjoying them.
Some of the rips are my own, but many more are from other blogs and I’m just sharing the wealth. If other bloggers out there wish to share the rips from my posts, please as I do, host them yourself. To combat this, the FLAC files that are over 6 months old will be replaced with MP3 files.
Finally I am happy to re-up old posts where the link has expired. Please comment in the relevant posts comments box.
“Pure Mania” focuses on sex. What’s more important than girls? If you’re in the business of making albums, I’d recommend following The Vibrators’ formula of love ballads with ridiculously catchy beats and those vocals that will make almost every girl swoon. Why not throw in a piano and organ behind a voice yearning “Baby, baby, baby, won’t you be my girl?” Make sure you have a decent crew of backup vocalists to match your chilling “Ooooooh’s,” designed to run up a girl’s spine. They need to be solid musicians as well to achieve a similar overlay of guitars that provide a spark on top of a throbbing bass. You can try, but you probably will only get as far as succeeding as a Vibrators’ cover band. I doubt you can also match the relentless gear shifting vocals of Ian “Knox” Carnochan. His voice grinds and soothes, with recognizable resent and confidence, as he sorts through his love life. He is the ignition to The Vibrators’ aforementioned mastery of hooks and a vital supplement to the competent instrumentation that drives The Vibrators’ sound.
Once “Pure Mania” begins, you’re tapping. You’re fidgeting, you’re nodding, and you're mouthing the words. “Into the future! SEX KICK!” You sing along. Why? Because The Vibrators have got your number. After the opener “Into the Future,” the corny but undeniably amusing “Yeah Yeah Yeah” begins with a repetitive line that you can only guess given what you just learned. It gets better. Whether it’s the pounding “No Heart,” with its deep vibrations and verbal accusations of “She ain’t got no heart and no love…gonna send her off to heaven with a .38,” or “Stiff Little Fingers,” with lyrics indicting the living dead, The Vibrators create music that is legendary.
There are many songs on “Pure Mania” that qualify as compelling. With the possible exception of “I Need a Slave,” every song on “Pure Mania” will draw you in with an addictive sound. What you should consider then is that the first 13 songs of the album are stellar, catchy, and raunchy doses of punk rock. The closer “Bad Time” does not disappoint, so you can add it to the list. It also helps immensely that the entire album clocks in at just over 30 minutes. If you’ve connected the dots, you probably understand that this all means you have something new to listen to tonight.
A Double Headed Vibrator??!!
Even punks hated Suicide, reacting to their gigs with astonishing violence. In response, the band locked the exits so no one could flee. Jon Wilde asks them how they survived it all.
Though probably nobody fully appreciated it at the time (perhaps least of all the band!) Depeche Mode's debut is at once both a conservative, functional pop record and a ground breaking release. While various synth pioneers had come before -- Gary Numan, early Human League, late-'70s Euro-disco, and above all Kraftwerk all had clear influence on Speak And Spell -- Depeche became the undisputed founder of straight-up synth pop with the album's 11 songs, light, hooky, and danceable numbers about love, life, and clubs. For all the claims about "dated" '80s sounds from rock purists, it should be noted that the basic guitar/bass/drums line up of rock is almost 25 years older than the catchy keyboard lines and electronic drums making the music here. That such a sound would eventually become ubiquitous during the Reagan years, spawning lots of crud along the way, means the band should no more be held to blame for that than Motown and the Beatles for inspiring lots of bad stuff in the '60s. Credit for the album's success has to go to main songwriter Vince Clarke, who would extend and arguably perfect the synth pop formula with Yazoo and Erasure; the classic early singles "New Life," "Dreaming of Me," and "Just Can't Get Enough," along with numbers like the moody thumper "Photographic," keep everything moving throughout. David Gahan under sings about half the album, and Martin Gore's two numbers lack the distinctiveness of his later work, but Speak And Spell remains an undiluted joy.
That nothing else here measures up to that breakthrough hit is neither here nor there, for these are still pretty accomplished pop songs. There’s not much point in digging beneath the surface, but then Speak And Spell hardly set itself up as anything but a pop album, albeit early enough in the day for the instrumentation to sound exotic and futuristic. If the twisted, tormented, tortured Mode of the nineties would come closer to being “real artists” (whatever that is), there’s something to be said for the early incarnation that wanted to muck about, have a good time and, hopefully, get on Top of the Pops.
And yet even that’s unfair, for there are hints of things lurking beneath the surface; it’s just that no-one has worked out quite where to go with them. So there’s an ambivalent feel to “Photographic”, a vaguely prophetic, celebratory dystopianism, but they were all at that kind of thing in those days. Unsurprisingly, the Martin Gore composition “Tora! Tora! Tora!” comes closest to the future direction of Depeche Mode with its Numanesque air of being lost to forces beyond mortal control.
And in retrospect, Speak And Spell is more of a dry run for Yazoo than for the future Depeche Mode – what are “Boys Say Go!” and “Nodisco” if not prototypes for “Situation” and “Don’t Go”? What is fun here became more interesting when Vince Clark teamed up with someone in Alison Moyet who was capable of countering the artificiality of the electronics with bluesy humanity through her vocals.
At any rate, you underestimate the influence of this LP at your peril. Stuff like this made large numbers of boys just entering their teenage years badger their parents to buy them a synthesizer for Christmas. Even an earworm the size of Brazil like “Just Can’t Get Enough” has stood the test of time surprisingly well. I’m sure you can get enough of it, but I haven’t. At least not yet.
The other comes during a short explanation of the song "We're Desperate" (from second album "Wild Gift"). Exene says "There's going to come a time when we play this song and people are gonna think "sure, they're desperate. I just paid $6 to see this band… they're not desperate"" and then adds almost embarrassedly "There are other ways of being desperate than being poor"
Both examples are telling as it shows that X, even though they were connected to that scene, were not like other prominent L.A. punk bands like Black Flag. They were co-operative. Their approach was more professional, with the punk ethos being less a style and more about making music that was direct and honest. It was obvious that they were taking their careers and the music that they made seriously. While other bands were pursuing the proto-aggro side of punk with hardcore, X went in the Americana direction with revved-up surf, roots and rockabilly riffs. They had much more in common musically with bands like The Blasters and Rank n' File than with the Circle Jerks.
Of all the punk debut albums that were released during that 1980-1982 period, X's "Los Angeles" was easily the most accomplished of the crop. Even though they were slammed for doing something as unpunk as having ex-Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek producing (plus adding keys); he was able to have the band keep that balance between the raw and the cooked. It also didn't hurt that X had brought a great batch of tunes to the table. All eight originals are keepers, with "Johnny Hit And Run Paulene", "Nausea", The World's A Mess, It's In My Kiss" and the title track being standouts. Also, their cover of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" is better than it has any right to be.
What can't be denied is the band's chemistry. Be it Exene and John Doe's harmonizing, Billy Zoom's hyperbilly riffing or DJ Bonebreak's rocksteady drumming; it all fits together perfectly.
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...
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 here and there on keyboards. Girls A 's sole album, , 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 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, 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.
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.