lunedì 20 dicembre 2010

Before & after digital synthesisers

So this is new roma(nce)? I know that we talked about them in a recent post about the new italian scene, but they are so great that we absolutely wanna make them bigger than they actually are letting you know better their music. I'm talking about Ancien Regime, the capital band that sounds exactly like Duran Duran & Omitd in their heydays, mixing stunning melodies with cold drum machines in a Kraftwerk style! Now that all their Mannequin records went so soon out of print, you absolutely have to listen to their wonderful 12" vinyl split debut, shared with the american postpunkers Led er est... just 4 tracks but really memorable! Hope they will make more great music soon, but for the moment, please support them and do not miss their future gigs here in Italy or everywhere else... they will be famous soon!!!

sabato 4 dicembre 2010

from Liverpool to Papua

China Crisis were founded in Liverpool, England by Gary Daly and Eddie Lundon. Eddie and Gary first met at St Kevin’s school in Kirkby. The two started working together in 1979 after leaving school.China Crisis debuted in 1981 with the single "African and White", then followed another single "Scream down at me" in 1982. Both these releases were on a small Liverpool independent label, Inevitable Records (.Inevitable recs – label ran from 4 Rutland Rd & formed in 1978 by Pete Fulwell (who ran Eric's) & Jerry Lewis (Amazon studios). 1st rel was to be Freedom Fighters by Dalek I Love You, but they signed to another label, so Inevitable wasn't officially launched until Dec79. Had numerous Indie & Chart hits with Wah! Heat, Modern Eon, Dead Or Alive, Faction. Pete left in May81 & set up Eternal Recs leaving Jerry to continue.) The band was then signed by Virgin Records who re-released "African and White", which then became a minor UK hit, reaching number 45 in the singles chart.The debut album "Difficult shapes and passive rhythms, Some people think it's fun to entertain" surfaced in late 1982 and hit the number 21 spot in November. times changed so fast and theen they started recordings overproduced tracks following the ghost of success. But I prefer to remember them in their heydays when they recorded also some interesting Peel sessions where you can hear the pure & genuine sound they had in their beginnings, a real pleasure for your ears!

venerdì 26 novembre 2010

North Marine Drivers

October 1982, from the Mark Sinclair archive, Tracy speaking about the "Distant Shore" mood:
"A Distant Shore' wasn't intended as an LP at all, I sent some songs down from Hull to Cherry red and they decided to put them out. It felt right at that length because all the songs were written in a compact space of time just after I'd gone up to Hull. "I felt it ended there. It sounds corny, but I'd said all I had to say I couldn't have written more songs just to pad it out. I left the songs in chronological order as well so to me it flows really well because I know exactly what each song was about and what was happening. Part of a continuing experience. And then it just ends. It seems really right." "I'm riding on the crest of a wave from the things I've done before. So I suppose the good publicity and chart ratings it has got is due to people thinking 'let's see what Tracey's solo album is like'. "All sorts of strange people like the Marine Girls. We get lots of peculiar letters, We started all those 'sea' connotations and there was nothing meant by it but people asked if we're obsessed by the sea and do we eat fish for breakfast? It's quite annoying actually. We get sent shells. Little kids send up letters about their trips to the seaside." "A distant shore is quite thoughtful I suppose. People say they relax to it but I can't relax to it at all. I play it and it puts me all on edge! The music is relaxing but the lyrics certainly aren't. I'd hate it to be thought of as background music.""Actually my granddad's got this new cassette recorder, he doesn't know how to work it but I send tapes of everything that I do and he jigs about. They're very proud. To them someone they know making a record, let alone someone they're related to, is incredible. They can't believe it. To them, only famous people make records." Those were the days!!!

martedì 16 novembre 2010

nervous breakdown - italian wave 81-85

"...At the beginning of the 80s, the “Italian model” boomed as it had never done before: this was true for art and culture, but also for people’s customs and everyday life. After leaving behind the bitterest and most nihilist phase of Punk, at that time and at that moment, a number of musical bands looked for new forms of expression and made their activities known everywhere in Italy: Gaz Nevada, Litfiba, CCCP, Denovo, Diaframma, Neon, Underground Life, Bisca, Pankow, Gang, Violet Eves, Rinf, Moda, Monuments, Art Fleury, Kirlian Camera, Detonazione, Timoria, Frigidaire, Tango, Afterhours and many more. Many of these bands do keep their art alive and kicking, and are still the best representatives of the Italian independent music production (Giovanni Lindo Ferretti, Piero Pelù/Litfiba, Afterhours, Gang, Ustmamò, Bisca, Marlene Kuntz), in the same way as many young people of that generation do play an important role in the artistic launching of new musical bands and the organisation of musical events (Alberto Pirelli, Indipendente Produzioni, Alex Fabbro, etc.). Crollo Nervoso is a compilation cd and a journey based on fragments, thoughts, considerations and stories on the most creative and non-conformist years of the 80s. Federico Guglielmi, the modfather of italian post punk lead you thru this journey that is mainly focused on completely unknown musical bands, but. A kaleidoscopic “trendy” fauna who was able to fill up those years – which seemed to be empty and superficial – with innovative and exciting experiences and contents..." You can find the original cd/dvd edition of Crollo Nervoso on Spittle Records at their site at or simply listen to my "hypotethical volume 2" made just for yor pleasure!!!

domenica 24 ottobre 2010

The mile of miracles

The original Harem Scarem slowly emerged from Melbourne's mid-80's indie scene, but, it could be argued, were closer in sound to classic Australian blues-rock from a decade before (Dingoes, Coloured Balls, Chain, Rose Tattoo etc.). Their sound was infused with a heady mix of punk spirit and Stax soul that also made them contemporaries of the likes of The Gun Club and the better known Beasts Of Bourbon. Harem Scarem first appeared on the Melbourne Psychobilly compilation “Asleep at the Wheel”. They soon developed (via the “Dogman” EP and some key line-up changes) into a powerhouse live act, where Christopher Marshall's extraordinary, passionate vocals combined with Charlie Marshall's stonesy guitar. The band were renowned for their dynamic blend of punk, blues and soul and ignited many a local stage in the 1980s. With a loyal following and upward trajectory of critical and popular acclaim they disbanded way too soon in 1987 when the brothers finally stop fighting one against the other. The Melbourne scene of the 80s embraced a wide range of music, but it was rare for a band to actually create their own genre with the panache that Harem Scarem did. Their first album, Pilgrim’s Progress, was originally released in 1986, and is a steaming chunk of urban blues from the Yarra delta. A little too hard blues for me but it surely kicks down the barroom door from the outset, with ‘Last Stand Man’, a bragging boast and challenge to any woman within earshot, followed by ‘Miracle Mile’, a great song, which makes it clear drinks are on the house. Then Harem Scarem pushed theirselves a little too hard, the fragile equilibrium of the brothers gave way, and they finally took our separate paths. But it was not the end, not for me... anyway, Chris the guitarist returned to academia while Charlie kept the name of Harem Scarem and went on to make one more album under that title. And so they reinvented themselves and came out their masterpiece called "Lo & Behold", strongly influenced by the Replacements and the american paisley underground groups. This is Lo & Behold, a strong lean rock album, full of great songs devoted to the americana style and to the the Aussie eighties sound, a bit remind me of Died Pretty and a bit also the boss Bruce, what a mixture!

lunedì 18 ottobre 2010

'Till the last bullet!

It was the 26th of may, in the year 1986... i was there at The Big Club in Turin waiting to see the first italian appearance of the Reid Brothers, aka The Jesus & Marychain, the last british "ready to use" phenomenon in pop music. What a night it was, with tons of dark & goth people with their Robert Smith's t shirts, heavy rimmel & black nails. But me and my friends were not ready for what happened next when suddenly came the ghost of the greatest band on earth, The Clash and gave a fist straight in our white mascara faces! The Gang came on stage that night supporting J&MC and it was incredible, an italian band that sounded exactly like our punk maestros. The band played with a lot of power and anger setting the audience on fire. What a an impact they had on the crowd with their rockabilly haircuts and red bandannas. Based on the excitement of the crowd and the group’s intensity, the Gang did not come across as a mere opening act, they were pure r'n'roll! They came from Marche, one of our reddest land and they know how to fight for their rights and for their music, no matter if someone came before them . They were amazing in their songs and in their Clashist poses and I could'nt believe that they were even better that their original inspiration. Early punk-era cuts like “Night in jails” and obvious concert closer “I Fought the Law” were been honed by the band, with an original garage-born buzz replaced by the wallop of a confident, practiced band. Never seen anything like this in Italy... so they were not just simple clones, time will prove that they could play as an international great band... soon they will leave those White Riot style just to meet an artistic evolution similar to the Strummer-Jones band, close to the real rock and roll and reggae and soul spirit of Sandinista. Then came a collaboration with Billy "MyGod" Bragg and the caribbean reggae echoes, then came the folk ballads and their masterpiece "Le radici e le ali", equally distant from their uk models as from the italian traditional "cantautori style". But I wanna come back to that night at the Big Club just because that was the moment we all understood what really matters in music, the roots and the spirit of 76, not the passing fashions . An attitude or a way of life, not a style. Once again my friends, Libre El Salvador, Libre El Salvador!!!

martedì 12 ottobre 2010

The child's players

Modern Eon were from Liverpool in the North West of England. They were a part of the "New Liverpool Scene" that sprang up in 1979-1980 around 'Eric's Club'. Their music defies the routine by occasionally adding odd analog electronics and saxophone. The vocals are bathed in reverb and delivered with smooth eloquence, barely intelligible.Definite influences from Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen can be heard. Their music is moody, melodic and always leaves a certain mysterious impression. At times a harshness bursts through. "I see our songs as simple reflections, there's no answers there! I'm not pretending I have any answers. I don't think I'm any different from other people, so I make these observations, they might be able to relate to them in the same way. I think it must be said, some of them are doomy though! I just have to write the way the mood takes me and inevitably I sometimes fell down." -said once Alix, their leader/singer/composer…Their records buzzes, hums, and pulsates its way into the listener's dream world - creating a mystical place in your subconscious…Each song is an act of love which climaxes and envelopes itself in the oblivion of ecstasy. -- Record Mirror 1981

lunedì 4 ottobre 2010

Sorry for the delay - The new italian wave scene!

The end of cold wars
25 years late, not so much after all "... but at last, a new phenomenon. For three years now, Italian club nights like London Loves in Milan and Rome's Fish n Chips have been bringing the post-punk and industrial sounds of London's East End to Italian audiences, playing the same records and bringing the same bands - Hatcham Social, Neils Children, Ipso Facto, Electricity In Our Homes, These New Puritans - to Italian fans, and gathering the country's like-minded youth under the banner of the alternative. Now the reaction is imminent: a new wave of Italian groups is trying its luck in London, returning to its musical roots in a foreign city, with its own singular sound. As with the London groups, musical styles and fashions vary wildly. European Coldwave is a frequent reference: Soviet Soviet( and General Decay( both employ the leaping basslines and chiming guitars of groups like Siglo XX and Asylum Party, but also take chilly atmospheric notes from their European predecessors' original influences (mostly Joy Division). Too Young To Love( are cryptic and symbolic, a smoke-wreathed enigma of a band: a unique blend of unsettling percussive rhythms and hazy melody draped in austere Grauzone-style synthesizers; they are to release their debut EP on Trouble Records (home to An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump) later in the year.Death in Plains ( is a one-man electronic project, brilliantly warping childlike synthpop melodies with distorted industrial percussion and already attracting attention from London's DiscError Recordings and photographer Dean Chalkley. MeanwhileDance for Burgess ( push their pop-inflected blend of Josef K and The Cure towards psychedelia - they've recorded with KASMs' Rory Attwell, and played with The Horrors and S.C.U.M at last year's Isle of Wight Festival..." And what about hte fabtastic Newclear Waves, hailing from Rome, exploring droned out electro pop territories, with less technology and more heart than many predecessors... they certainly remaind me of synth maestros like Kraftwerk, Robert Rental or even Cabaret Voltaire but they sound authentically new (& old) at the same time, dark & beautiful, even dreamy. They really have great cold & minimal tracks with their KR55 drums, a pretty tune & a distant mechanical voice... minimal wave from at its best. Let me spend the last words for my favourite band, Ancien Regime, half Duran Duran & half OMitD, "...a new wave band from Rome, Italy, formed in 2006, as a project conceived by Valerio Bulla (vocals and bass) and Gino Maglio (drums). In 2007 Angelo Stoikidis (guitar) joined the band and helped the project in approaching its real identity. To get the ultimate shape of sound, in 2008 Domenico Migliaccio (drums), drummer of well known roman bands like Bedtime for Charlie and Sadside Project, took the place of Gino Maglio, who, from then on, would handle the synth. The band’s sound incorporates influences from ’80s dark wave music and modern indie-alternative rock..." i believe the future belong to them but how can I be sure and "...the only question is this: will their homeland will embrace them as vigorously as the starved alternative London scene is currently doing? Is Italy itself ready for the new wave, or will it make an impact only where the ground has already been broken by its British predecessors?..."
For records, downloads and infos:

mercoledì 29 settembre 2010

That was the way

Art Boulevard, a group from Bergamo Italy, in my opinion, one of the best of the entire post 85 new wave/post punk italian scene. They mixed with success their strong dark influences with the new tendency to psychedelia & garage revival. Just 2 years of activity but a lot of great tunes and an unforgettable ep called "Favourite toy". It was 1987 then nothing else... According to the notes of their recent Spittle Retrospective cd that you must absolutely buy from them ("...Art Boulevard, born in 1985 in Bergamo (northern Italy), immediately stood out from the pack for their aesthetic and existential attraction to post-punk combined with a musical vision that was straight out of the late sixties: “rock as art” and not merely as an urgent expression of adolescent rebellion. The CD is a complete retrospective of all their songs, including their “The Favorite Toy” EP (which got rave reviews at the time, but like the great majority of Italian releases, disappeared into obscurity), their two cassettes and their songs from the “Arezzo Wave” and “Pluto” compilations. In the 1990s Art Boulevard, now a trio with a drum machine and the name “Orange Party”, changed sound and identity…but that’s another story"...

mercoledì 15 settembre 2010

In bizarre recordings

Naked Lunch started in 1979, with the aim to create electronic music influenced by Gary Numan, Kraftwerk, and Ultravox. During the hedonistic days the band joined up with Stevo who promoted many of their early gigs. In 1980 they were of the moment and hovered on the fringes of success alongside 'Futurist Chart' bands B-Movie, Fad Gadget, DAF etc. The song called Horror shock Horror only comes on the original vinyl LP record TERPSICHORE COMPILATION MINIMAL SYNTH 81. Rabies/Slipping Again is a classic period-piece single and collectors item. Their song La Femme appeared on the legendary Some Bizzare compilation album released 1981 which also included B-Movie, and the then unestablished Depeche Mode, Blancmange, The The, Soft Cell, etc. The band were short-lived but it has recently been stated that Naked Lunch have reformed and are recording new material!

lunedì 6 settembre 2010

Others acrylic afternoons

The naughtiest girl was a monitor, what a strange name for a pop group!
I loved this ultra obscure band since I bought their first strange-cover ep in London, guess it was 1981. That songs were more or less punky little synth tune with fist-pumping riffs, definitely uber-geeky, catchy, and amazing. The NGWAM were one of Sheffields finest Synth-Wave-Band of the early eighties. Mellow and synthesizery of course with original vocals. Music obviously sounded a bit like early Human League tangled in a knot with David Bowie and drowned with tears of OMitD too. I guess it's fair to say a lot of bands starting using synthesizers in 1980 but these folks weren't afraid to pick up the ball and run with it. It's not really synth-pop though, it's too...melancholy for that I think. Just pure feelings and moods for the upcoming summer-times. As a bit of trivia, the band would lend equipment to budding brit-pop act Pulp, enabling them to cut their first recordings. Please take a listen to the pure beauty of their tracks and if you're lookin' for a contemporary reference point, you might wanna imagine Ariel Pink going full-on new wave! Off-kilter, breezy tunes filled with analog synthesizers, drum machines and strings too! A must!

venerdì 23 luglio 2010

Sound of the past

Pavia, Northern Italy, 1981. — From the ashes of Doctor Mabuse, protagonists of incendiary concerts of which no trace remains, came Dark Tales. Authors of three demotapes, they also appeared on numerous compilations of the period, including the now beyond rare “First Relation.” Distorted vocals, futuristic sounding keyboards and clean sounding guitars. All inserted in a new wave atmosphere made less sinister by a tight rhythm section always at the forefront, but never obsessive. Then in 1985, the end, due to exhaustion, lack of funding, and stupidity of those who were there, but refused to understand.
Listen & enjoy their great mini "Living out" and buy their fantastic reissue cd on Spittle records.

giovedì 15 luglio 2010

Spanish Johnny & the prunes

“To properly understand the Virgin Prunes you’d have to go and live in Dublin for at least ten years. You’d have to experience the overpowering narrow-mindedness of the place at first hand - the pernicious maintenance of jaded and hypocritical religious morals, the smothering claustrophobia… It’s a society built on mind-bending paradoxes and guilt-ridden inhibitions… it’s crazy to think that, in a town where it’s easier to buy a slice of dope than 20 Rothmans, it’s a criminal offence to obtain contraceptives! The Church still has its stranglehold, and is effectively more powerful than the government… sin is still a far more powerful deterrent than any mere judicial system, and guilt is mightier than the sword. Beginning to get the picture? To understand why the Prunes can’t operate in half-measures - why they have to deal in extremes just to survive.”
Helen Fitzgerald in “Dressed to Kill”, an interview with the Virgin Prunes in Sounds, 11 December 1982.

lunedì 12 luglio 2010

(Re-post) Future in the past

Back to r'n'r now. Italian mod band Four by art had a solid reputation in the eighties for their memorable live performances but most of their recordings in the studio - the "ST" (1985) mlp & "Everybody's an artist with" (1986) an year later always on Electric Eye Records - like so many 80s bands, didn't compare. Their first ep was memorable to me and it still shines however as a jingle jangle gem of 60s influenced beat pop. "My mind in four sight" has been written in their early days when they wore mod shirts, sported bowl haircuts and were pretty much unknown outside of their home region of Lombardia. Garage mod bands weren't exactly falling over themselves in the mid 80s but they used the Paisley Underground template well adding their own touch of modernisms. They were definetly a psychedelic dance band (Claudio Sorge once called it "sixties garage party") when the forgettable 80s were infested with awful synth bands and perm haired metal puffs from America. They recently reformed and have some more fun travelling Italy with their shows but that's another story and I don't know who's really interested now. This was 1983 and they wished it could be 1969 again!

venerdì 25 giugno 2010

Equal but different

Blasting into the post-punk consciousness with a tremendous debut album, the Au Pairs, fronted by lesbian-feminist Lesley Woods, played brittle, dissonant, guitar-based rock that shared political and musical kinship with the Mekons and (especially) the Gang of Four. The music was danceable, imbued with an almost petulant irony, and for a while, very hip and well-liked by critics. Unlike many bands of the day, however, the Au Pairs (at least initially) backed it up with searing, confrontational songs celebrating sexuality from a woman's perspective. Also, they took swipes at the conservative political climate sweeping England after Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister. Occasionally, Woods' commitments to sexual and social politics made her sound inflexible, doctrinaire, and hectoring (especially on their OK second album). But, at first blush, the Au Pairs were a mighty intimidating proposition, able to take on so much and deliver great music in the process. After a desultory live album in 1983 (Live in Berlin), the band split up, and Woods and her bandmates have maintained a low profile. ~ John Dougan

domenica 20 giugno 2010

Tapes from darkness

Neon is not a common name for italian post punk lovers. Born in Florence, the cradle of peninsula's wave, they were probably the first important post punk gothic band in our country and they are still nowadays one of the most active band in 80's Italian new wave time, still marking Italian rock history. The band, which was born first as a duo at the end of the 70's in Florence's undeground culture, soon stands out for its Kraftwerk and new wave icons' synth, which made their style a unique 80's cultural dream's specimen, together with newromantic and post punk tought of bands like Joy Division, Ultravox and Human League. In 1980, the band got off to an electronic start with the single "Information of death", and later, through several line up changes, it achieves to synthetize a mix of obsessive electro sounds, obscure athmospheres and quite original pop melodies which take shapes in later works like "Tapes of darkness" (1981), "Obsession" (1982), "My blues is you" (1983), "Dark Age" (1984); in 1985 "Rituals" sanctioned Neon as the best Italian new wave band of that year. Excellent studio productions and intense live activities has brought Neon to be one of the few icons belonging to alternative 80's Italian music scene.Marcello Michelotti's band, following a different direction from their well known hometown friends Litfiba, choosed a difficult electronic and experimental sound instead of easy rock'n'punk tunes. Their impressive abilty to combine dark and powerful sound gave us some of the best pages of italian wave. In late 2005 a cd box containing Neon's first vynil works has reissued: "Boxed", and it allowed audience to appreciate more and more quartet's emotional fund, innovative power and mainly showed its heritage into the international electro - wave scene. In 2008 two other cd issues: Oscillator, the first Neon concert back in 1979 in Florence and Memories, the best of Neon 1980-1986. In 2009 their first album "Rituals" was released in cd with 3 bonus tracks. The band is in activity, live and preparing a new cd album. Long live Neon!

martedì 15 giugno 2010


Before The Psychedelic Furs and The Bunnymen came the Wasted Youth. They were an original early 1980s band from London, completetely devoted to the the Peter Perret sound mixed with a decadent taste inspired by Brian Ferry. They sounded quite original for the times, blended early Goth and post-punk with dark acoustic strains of the sort associated with Nick Drake and Syd Barrett but also with Black Sabbath! The line-up of the band was Ken Scott (vocals & guitar), Rocco Barker (guitar), Nick Nicole (synth), Darren Murphy (bass) and Andy Scott (drums). Their records were released through Bridgehouse Records, a label set up by the bassplayer's father in the pub he owned in Canning Town. Wasted Youth emerged from the remnants of mid 70's Heavy Rock band Warrior, fronted by Ken Scott. They disbanded anyway in 1982 after one fantastic album (Wild and wandering) and a bunch of precious singles. There were several posthumous releases and some rare tracks too. Rocco Barker was later in Flesh For Lulu and now he's a tv star!!!

giovedì 10 giugno 2010

Marlene on the wall

Never loved the nineties, never loved grunge, never loved post rock... but i would like to make a special post today for my friends Marlene Kuntz with their unique mixture of existential post noise-rock. They are from Cuneo a little Piedmont province, and they were founded around 1990 by the guitarist Riccardo Tesio and the drums player Luca Bergia. The singer and guitarist Cristiano Godano, who previously sang in the broken up Jack on Fire, immediately joins the band and became their leader. They come to the final in the rock contest "Rock targato Italia" in 1993 and Gianni Maroccolo notices them. Their first album, "Catartica", released in May 1994, is one of the best italian post rock album ever. This album contains most of the "classics" of the band, which their public still wants to listen to during their concerts nowadays. Marlene were (are) a real class act and their public still adore them after more than 20 years, a rare example of coherence and musical convinction. They never went to Sanremo Italian Festival and you will not see them very often on tv. But they are very famos nowadays, still playing a sophisticated style of dark and brooding music, a little bit influenced by grunge but also devoted to the italian traditional idea of post punk music. They have been on the music scene for around 20 years and they surely deserve their premiere place in our poor rock history. If you enjoy well-constructed hypnotyc songs a la Radiohead played with panache then they are worth a listen!

giovedì 27 maggio 2010

English as a second language

The Names were a great Post-Punk band from Brussels (Belgium), formed in 1978 around bassist and songwriter Michel Smordynia. After local gigs as The Passengers, they changed their name in time for their debut single, Spectators of Life, released by WEA in 1979 to test the market for home-grown new wave music. Being signed by famous Manchester label Factory Records early in 1980 helped the band to achieve a strong reputation both in Belgium and abroad. The single "Nightshift" marked the beginning of their collaboration with Martin Hannett, the producer of Joy Division, with whom the band were to record an album ("Swimming") and two more singles ("Calcutta" and "The Astronaut"). Those were their heydays as you can hear in some tracks recorded from some 1979-1981 Belgian radio concerts, features stand-out tracks Nothing To Fear, Memories and a version of the classic Factory single Nightshift. While a show from Oostakker from summer 1980 includes Questions And Answers, Other Enquiries and I Wish I Could Speak Your Language. Superb material which echoes other keyboard-led groups of that era such as Magazine and Simple Minds. The Names recently made their return on stage (with new drummer Laurent Loddewijckx) during a Factory Night event at Plan K, in Brussels, in december of 2007. A live DVD, "Nightshift", was released in 2008 by LTM. The new studio album, "Monsters Next Door", came out this April on Str8line Records.

lunedì 24 maggio 2010

dream florence dream

There was life after Diaframma & Litfiba in Florence and there were bands more or less important there in the late eighties. Nicola Vannini's Soul Hunters were amongst the best, with an interesting album and a pair of singles too. Once Nicola sang in Diaframma but the egemony of Federico Fiumani was impossible to contrast in the same band. So he formed a new combo and mad some interesting music too. It's a real pleasure to hear those atmospheres of The Cure or The Sisters of Mercy, revamping it into the classic florence wave style once again, in a peculiar sound and sophisticated tracks. Their music reflected the mood and tones of that times and opened to middle european influences too. Between pop, rock and dark tones there was an intersection, which The Soul Hunters claimed for themselves and fill with heart and life.

domenica 16 maggio 2010

Grandsons of dungeon

The Triffids were with no doubt an essential part in the soundtrack to my adolescence. I first heard of them while briefly living in London, where they arrived in the long hot summer of 1984, with great hopes and the immense talent of their "so inspired singer" David McComb. I was a common teen at the time and never really share my italian friends taste in music. But London was something different and NME was a good guide for a post punk boy! Like many others at the time, I used to devour the musical newspapers voraciously and that summer they announced the Triffids as "the group who will save rock music" once again... I was there waiting for them and, after reading NME, I immediately went out trying to find all their records... so I finally found a wonderful copy of their fantastic debut mini lp "Treeless plain" that I discovered in the Notting Hill Records & Tapes Exchange discount department, downstairs in the basement. The Triffids finally came over Uk, "arriving in London with a wad of cash they’d saved up and 5 return plane tickets scheduled to expire by Christmas". They began by playing gigs with the The Go-Betweens and and soon supporting Echo and the Bunnymen. At first, it was something about their look that intrigued me a lot. They looked like they had just been plucked from the australian desert, shell - shocked and a little under nourished. From this point on they never looked back to the the wide open roads. Then a word about their singer, my singer. His sound deep, soft and sensual transmited such good feelings in my body and my head! With his voice, David finally took me to a better world! A major influence on the group's sound was surely their geographical location, coming from Perth, the world’s most isolated city on the west coast of Australia, facing a cold ocean and backing onto a huge, empty desert. The isolation infused The Triffids' work with a feeling of emptiness and loneliness. I was living thousands of miles away from them but, hearing their music, I felt exactly the same as I was there in Australia, in my adolescent dreams. Their most Australian-sounding album, the wonderful sophomore album Born Sandy Devotional came some months after. The rest of the story is well known. In Belgium, Holland, Germany, France and particularly Scandinavia, the Triffids became big business. The fickle European rock press devoured the unusual sounds and intriguing lyrics that captured Australia's intimidating landscape and in Belgium, they played to 70,000 fans. From Calenture to the Black Swan in pretty short order I bought later all their realses and I was equally captivated, never dissatisfied. They were all well received, but the success wasn't overwhelming, which inevitably disappointed the band members to the point where they soon after dissolved. According to my idol David, as he wrote ..." In 1986 we found ourselves at last on the holy mount of bigtime Oz rock as part of the infamous Australian Made bachannalia. Time was even found for a quick fling in America in 1989, but by this stage of the decade it was obvious to most coolheaded observers that a beautiful era was at an end. The last Australian shows were in late 1989, and the final Triffids entertainment booking was, appropriately, in front of a few miserably frozen stragglers in a snow resort in Jindabyne. Well, actually it was Canberra ANU, but let's not spoil a good ending"... The day David died, just a few days short of his 37th birthday, I felt like a part of my adolescent self died at that moment too, forever. As someone else's wrote, "I never knew David, but felt I had grown with him somehow". Please celebrate him once again buying the soon to be finally realised deluxe box set "Come Ride With Me ... Wide Open Road" and listening to their old Blah Blah Blah 1985 Radio session...

lunedì 3 maggio 2010

The friend I had was a passionate friend...

..." Soon or later it had to happen. The painfully predictable way in which rock scenarios repeat themselves certainly belies the once optimistic image of a dangerous, freewheeling medium constantly expanding like some parallel universe journeying to dimensions never seen or heard before. A thriving primal musical milieu began to flower on Mathew Street, Liverpool, circa 1977. From the ego shattered breakdown of the portentously named Crucial Three, a band that never made it out of sitting room let alone the garage, crawled Ian "Mac" McCulloch (Echo And The Bunnymen), Pete Wylie (Wah! Heat) and Julian Cope (Teardrop Explodes). The bands' early singles on Zoo and Inevitable were acclaimed and it dawned that here was another much needed opportunity to write on and help manufacture a phenomenon - The Liverpool Scene, The New Merseybeat, and so the labels linger on. Once the buzz had filtered onto the discreet pages of the Sunday glossies, there came a need for the final ingredient: a ritual sacrifice. The Teardrops released their debut album "Kilimanjaro", which embraced pop in favour of their formative experimentation. It also included their past singles and, although excellent in parts, veered towards the bland by virtue of its unifomiity. It was a golden opportunity for the big put down. The knives were drawn and suddenly it's et tu, buddy. Couple this with Julian Cope's propensity to unashamedly air the band's internal and external rivalries like the dirty washing from the northwest's other soap box fantasy, "Coronation Street," and you find an incestuously, inward looking menage a trois that looks like imploding under the weight of its own negativities. While the critical backlash aimed at the Teardrops' debut album, flawed as it is, seems more than a little unfair, the way the Teadrops have become the eye of a bitchy whirlwind of jealousies, slander and cynical asides is hardly surprising when you realise that the band is fuelled on in-fighting and hatred. "Yes, I must say I don't like Dave. He gets a pretty dubious character sometimes." This is Julian Cope talking about his keyboard player and producer Dave Balfe, a man who frequently works with great effect with the other great Zoo controller Bill Drummond under the collective title of The Chameleons. "He just plays a good role in the band that's all," he continues, "but we often fight, and I mean physically. I usually win because he's a bit of a wiinp ... not that I'm a fighting person though." Speaking as if he'd just snorted an entire week's supply of speed, the Teardrops' mainman continued his explanation on polemics as a means to creativity in the romantic setting of the Ali Kebab House somewhere near their north London rehearsal studios. "Dave is just one of the most extreme characters I've ever met. Sometimes he gets me so knotted up inside .. but then again that's good because it keeps me pushing; you know, right there." Hardly the kind of thing you expect from a man who writes predominantly love songs, and very good ones too, and confesses to a long-running affair with the metaphysical poets like Donne and Marvell. Turning, momentarily from aggression to what he calls the "alternative society" of Liverpool, he had this to say: "It's become the hip thing to deny that there's a Liverpool scene but there is. "It hasn't been exaggerated by the press in fact. It is a very cliquey place, very insular. We all meet in the same places and despise each other jokingly. One thing though, there's certainly not a Liverpool sound." , As if to amplify this point he goes on to point cut that he considers the Bunnymen to have become too dirge like - "they've lost their original fragility" and Wah! Heat are accused of being "too heavy and ponderous." Much of the emotion on the album revolves, not unnaturally, around girls, apart from occasional tracks like "Went Crazy" and "Books". The latter is the only song without the lyric printed on the inner sleeve and it's not without significance that it was written with former partner, Mac McCulloch. Like their friends/enemies (you choose) the Bunnymen, they received more than their share of flak for signing with a big label rather than an independent. Julian's answer to those "rootsier than thou" critics is typically uncompromising and pragmatic. "Oh that's all shit . , . I don't think there's anything called selling out these days. We recorded the album first and then took it to Phonogram. There was never any doubt I always wanted us to go with a big label." By throwing in their lot with Phonogram they will also have the financial backing to make their current Daktari tour more than just a slog round the halls promoting the album. Eschewing camo chic - "We're heavily inyo army gear, I've got 17 pairs of army pants all hanging up and we've even got a jeep" in favour of nouveau naturalism. "Our backdrop is like a huge zebraskin" the band will also be using the unusually talented road crew that helped make the Bunnymen tour so visually powerful. As the consciously Love inspired horn section is central to the album's ambience there will be two trumpet players on stage with the band. It seems a crucial tour in many ways. The white light seems to be shining on them harder than any other time in their history. After raising so many hopes, they've committed the fatal sin of disappointing the self-righteous upholders of street credibility, not to mention one particular rock journalist currently conducting a personal campaign of character assassination in their home town. You might like to have known what the other members of the band thought about this tale of back stabbing and tribal warfare, but according to the garrulous Julian there was no point asking them. "I usually do the interviews because I’m the only one with anything to say really. Like Alan just spends most of his time thinking, and Gary (the band's drummer) never says anything. "I can usually speak for them better. Dave would just start pissing you off ... it sounds like a really horrible band, doesn't it?" Ian Pye

Reproduced from Melody Maker, 18th October 1980.

Listen to The Teardrop Explodes playing live at Eric's in 1979

mercoledì 21 aprile 2010

For a soldier...

Founded in 1982 in Perugia as a quartet, with musicians coming from previous experiences, Aidons la Norvege made their live debut with a three-piece line-up (Francesco Frondini-vocals-sax-synth, Augusto Croce-guitar, Massimo Rossi-bass) and a rhythm machine. The name of the group comes from an anti-Nazi poster issued in France in 1940 to protest against the invasion of Norway. In 1983, the line-up became stable with new drummer Alessandro Costantini. The group played in many Italian cities, and in 1985, along with their fellows Militia they were able to play a german mini-tour, with two dates in Tübingen and one at the legendary K.O.B. in Berlin. In the same year the band signed a deal with an independent record label from Tuscany, Spittle Records, to release a 12-inch mini-LP. The record, self-produced and financed by the group, came out in 1986 for a Spittle subsidiary, called Label Service, with the title La sfida. It was a 12-inch with four tracks in the typical style of the group, a dark-inspired new wave sound with Italian lyrics. At the end of 1986 drummer Alessandro Costantini quit the group, replaced by Francesco Pauselli, with which Aidons La Norvege kept on playing live, even supporting, in 1987 edition of the Rockin' Umbria festival, the Irish group That Petrol Emotion. The group broke up in March 1988, following a concert at Hiroshima Mon Amour in Turin. In the following years there were many attempts of reforming the original line-up, but all of them were unsuccessful. They recently played together again altought someone says it's no more time of post punk...

lunedì 19 aprile 2010

Songs about infidelity

This reminiscence was submitted by Switchboard fan Y.B. Blinky.

The Human Switchboard was the second new wave/alternative/underground whatev band I ever saw live. The first one having been the Wombats, who played ahead of you at the first WRUW Studio Arama in the Mather Memorial Courtyard that was my very first show. It was 1981 and I was 17 and had just graduated high school. I ended up almost married to the Wombats' lead guitarist, but that's another story entirely. Me and my best high school friend were both at the WRUW show because we were music geeks with no social lives and had gotten into listening to Lars Harper's D.O.P.E. radio show every Saturday night, and calling up him and Larry Collins and generally being little Catholic fangirls, although we of course didn't see it that way and thought we were being very mature and hip. We basically had to browbeat my mom into driving us over to the show cuz she was very dubious about all this band stuff, but I was going to college at Case that fall anyway, so what could she do.So we got there really early and sat in the yard and looked at people's outfits and watched the soundchecks. I believe it was during your soundcheck that the mother of the bride and matron of honor from the wedding going on in Mather Chapel came onstage and started to raise hell about the noise. After that got worked out, my next memory is when you guys played a song with obscenities (I think this was "Book on Looks" where Bob sang "I don't care if your baby sucks, I dunno if she knows how to fuck" or something like that) and I was all like Oh no, I hope my mom isn't listening to the live broadcast because I'll catch hell when I get home! Not to worry, I learned later that her hearing and ability to discern lyrics was so bad she couldn't tell when people were swearing in radio songs. But I was totally worried about it at the time. We didn't get to see too many bands - I know we saw all of the Wombats set and all of your set and then there was some other band that we might have seen part of the set of, when my mom showed up and told us it was time to go home and basically hauled us away making a big fuss because she thought some of the chicks at the show were dressed too slutty. After that show, I went out and bought "Who's Landing in My Hangar?" It was one of the first records I picked up on Coventry after I was living at Case and could walk down Mayfield and get there easily. Besides listening to the record and playing it on my radio show on WRUW when I got one, I also read all the notes on the sleeve and went down to the library and checked out "Twisted Kicks" and read it, because it was mentioned on the album cover. I wanted to be cool like all you guys. I thought Bob in his sunglasses was like, the epitome of cool. I also remember one time walking back from Coventry I went around the corner and Myrna was standing in some apartment yard talking to somebody (dunno if she lived there or was visiting) and I was all like "Wow, that's Myrna from the Human Switchboard! I saw Myrna! Cool!" I didn't go up and say hi because I was too shy and anyway I thought of band people, even local band people, like rockstars then and figured they wouldn't want to be bothered with the likes of me so I was just cool about it. I did get to say hi to Bob a couple times when he was visiting Lars on his radio show. Bob and Lars together were like dangerous aging frat boys, humorous and sinister. I saw the Human Switchboard play a couple more times but not too many. In 1981-82 I didn't drive, didn't have access to a car, and for part of the year I was underage because they raised the drinking age in Ohio. The next year I started going with Johnny Wombat who drove me to all the shows I wanted to see for about the next five years, but by then it seemed like the Human Switchboard wasn't playing out as much. Lars moved away and I took over his radio show, which made me happy and sad at the same time. When I graduated I moved to Maryland and I used to see copies of Bob's "After Words" album (I think that's what it was called) in the marked-down alternative bin of the local record store, along with Death of Samantha's albums, and that was very weird, like seeing your past life flashing before your eyes, because five or six years is a lot when you're only 23. Sometimes over the years I have heard or read in the paper stuff about one or the other Human Switchboard member, and it always takes me right back to being 17 and on the verge of An Exciting New World with college and new bands and all. I still remember a lot of the songs and I have never figured out what's being sung on "Refrigerator Door" that sounds like "Mareechko Baby" but it's kind of cool leaving that a mystery so I have never tried too hard to find out. Well that's my silly little Human Switchboard story. Hope you enjoyed it .Thanks for the music.

martedì 13 aprile 2010

Niagara Falls on a tightrope

Artery was one of the bands that sprung up in 1978 and they developed a large following in Sheffield. The quartet was originally called "The" but they opted very soon for a change. Mark Gouldthorpe, the singer, was their leader. Very expressive in his perfomance as Jarvis Cocker of Pulp used to follow them around in those Sheffield lost nights. He describes their gigs as "electric and generating mild hysteria". Their first single was the acerb 'Mother Moon' in 1979. The following one was surely more fascinating and it was a double ep called "Unbalanced" on the Aardvark indie label. That time, the band released a double-pack single and I guess it was on May of 1980. I remember that "skin heads alike" cover and the package, featuring two studio songs and a second 7" consisting of four others poorly recorded at the Rotherham Arts Centre. Years later, they will re-record the title track from this ep in a new brand wonderful version: a masterpiece, a fantastic song with a killer bassline, and lovely spooky nocturnal vibe to the tune.. It will reamain, in my personal opinion, one of the best track ever from the post punk years! They released also 3 studio albums, including the mini-album, 'Oceans', in 1982 but they never saw a bit of success. Their final studio album, 'The Second Coming', was released in 1985 but the sound was even heavier than before, nihilistic, and pretty hard for most people to take. John Peel was very keen on Artery and had them in his studio twice for interesting sessions. The band had UK press features (NME, Melody Maker, Sounds) and had a following in Japan and Europe - notably Italy (me!!!), where they toured in 1984 to a fanatical (?!) response. Artery split in 1985 between the general indifference. Simon Hinkler was also involved with early Pulp and later became a member of the Mission UK. Now they recently reformed and they obviously look like pensioneers more than angry young men...“I happened to say to a friend of mine that if I was the man who walked across Niagara Falls on a tightrope, I would have fallen off halfway across just to prove I could fall off. So with a sardonic smile, he said I was unbalanced.”