domenica 8 dicembre 2013

Flewing jets again (for the US airforce)

Having recently seen them pithily reviewed online somewhere as "Joy Division without the joy", someone forgets (or maybe he never knew) that Artery was one of the bands that sprung up in 1978 and they developed a large following also here in Italy where they incredibily had a minor hit with their single "Into the garden"! "People wanted to express themselves and that opened doorways" said Mark while reforming his band in 2007... It's a real pleasure to hear them again with a lot of new powerful songs to perform... welcome back Mark it's really a a huge pleasure to hear your great band again after 25 years with your magic intact, "never to late to spread the word"...

lunedì 25 novembre 2013

The "sweetest" girls

Possibly the finest early eighties band never to have a chart single and they split up before having any real success. According to wonderous singer Judy : "...When the first single ”Getting Nowhere Fast° became NME single of the week, the group ‘Girls At Our Best!” didn’t exist as such. Jez (James Allen) & I were determined to get our 2 songs on vinyl with a view to seeing what if anything happened next. Well something did happen & another record was clamoured for which meant we had to write 2 more songs & find someone to help us record them. This was the time when Gerard Swift & Carl Harper joined us; but there was no serious intention of playing live until much later. The music & the lyrics we wrote, the strategy we used, the image we tried to create was definitely intended to be a serious force in popular music, but we disguised it so as not to appear pretentious, intellectual or musically serious. I suppose that with most bands that break up, the reasons are both incredibly simple & boringly complicated. There was a series of events which I think inevitably led to the band splitting up. We went to America, as just mentioned, which screwed everybody up a little bit. Our record contract came to an end just after our return & we were all getting on each other’s nerves. Just at this vital point in the career of GAOB, when there should have been consolidation, vision & energy, there was a big void & we all just drifted apart. The record contract was left to rot & GAOB didn’t exist anymore...." Girls At Our Best were one of the finest, most life-affirming of a new breed of independent bands who cropped up at the turn of the 80s – long-standing fan John Peel once referred to them as one of the few groups that made the period bearable. All four of their singles for their own Record Records, Rough Trade and Happy Birthday Records are pure gems. The album "Pleasure" a little bit less but still memorable. Hear them playing live with their unique pre C-86 style and enjoy once again Judy's distinctive unique voice.

the season of steel

The idea of an Italian Wave as a genre remains a difficult beast to try and capture, file or contain. The music often collected under that banner is strongly associated with a sort of "total derivative" sound that looked at uk post punk bands, but it also grew by itself becoming something more interesting and complex. Nowadays, from our lofty 21st Century perspective, Italian Wave appears to mount repeated incursions into an almost unknowable number of previously well guarded genres: Synthpop, Techno, Dark, Punk, Garage etc.. United mainly by barely commodified electronics and tiny print runs of 7“s and later cassettes (although somewhat morbidly respectable by today’s sales standards). All of this decentralised music making makes an easily digestible guide all but impossible. And exactly like many of the Uk post punk bands that inspired our italian wave movement, our bands faded into domesticity and obscurity soon after their ninyl debuts. No Depeche Mode and no Cure here in Italy, just a pair of bands like litfiba & Diaframma that were arguably the most successful, carving out a career that’s now spanned (amazingly) four decades. but we're more interested in the ones that couldn't survived the passing of time. This is a simple "homage" to them through a compilation of  updated sounds from  those "now reformed" heroes of italian wave... a little adventure in the music from a far decade which we don't want to become another forgotten story.

venerdì 11 ottobre 2013

no mortal coil

Whichever way you look at them, in the "decade that counts", Cocteau Twins has gradually acquired a mythical prestige that transcends both their original ambitions and the music’s own guileless outlook. One of the early practitioners in Shoegazing territories, the Twins came very much to be synonymous with the 80s and the Atmospheric turn the decade took in music. Not a common dreampop combo but a band that came from post punk and finally reached a mainstream enduring success with the music they played for years. And it wasn't just another r'n'roll swindle and I'm not talking about Enya or Enigma, although someone used to compare them to those kind of plastic popstars. I've alway preferred looking at their music as an evolution of the Banshees style mixed with a sort of Krautrock feeling.  Anyway, embracing a kind of selfmade minimalism in their music, Cocteau Twins and the ethereal vocals of Elizabeth Fraser soon ended to create a style. Their influence was felt in several other bands for years and the volume of the Twins' related traffic on the Internet alone is testament to how profoundly was (and is) their influence on contemporary music. History says that they also split with sorrow and tears and this is why within weeks of the announcement of a 2005 Coachella reunion, Lizzie sadly announced she wouldn't take part cause she still could no longer face working with Robin. This probably means no future for them but a magic past to rediscover once again...

lunedì 16 settembre 2013

The lost patrol

After being ejected from punk group The Wall in 1979, singer Ian Lowery and guitarist Nick Clift (ex-Debutants) formed Ski Patrol, along with Pete Balmer (ex-Stranded, later to record with Fad Gadget) on bass and Bruce Archibald on drums.  Inspired by the darkwave and punk-funk sounds and emotions of British post-punk bands Joy DivisionGang Of Four, the band set about writing angular, moody songs that fused Lowery's dark lyrical pre-occupations with Clift's ringing, textured guitar chord phrasing. They released their first 7” Everything is Temporary / Silent Scream on their own Clever Metal label. Archibald was subsequently replaced by Alan Cole for the line –up which recorded the first of two singles for the Malicious Damage label: Agent Orange / Driving and Cut / Faith In Transition. Rumour has it that the anonymous synth player on Agent Orange is none other than Killing Joke’s Jaz Coleman. Anyway this last is without any doubt one of the best post punk tracks ever. Pete Balmer was then replaced by Francis Cook by the time of the 3rd single, Cut / Faith in Transition, and this was the line up that recorded a John Peel Session for Radio One and that was one of the real high points of the band. Just a week after they played their final gig at Charing Cross Hospital. The guitarist (Nick Clift) decided to leave and Francis (Cook), the bass player, and Ian lowery decided to change their name to Folk Devils and never came back on their split decision. Malicious Damage never remastered their recordings and no one seemed to care. Ian Lowery played for years with new projects but never had a minimum of success. Then he died too soon in 2001 but we'll never forget him for his music.

venerdì 2 agosto 2013

The liquid legends

March 1979
"Island had dropped us, and I was planning to leave because I thought synthesizers were going to change music in the same way that the electric guitar did. Then we were offered a tour of America by Miles Copeland and his brother [Ian] - there was a big audience for British new wave acts at that time. We flew over on the cheap with Laker Airlines and, as there were no luggage restrictions, took all of our instruments and our backline amps. When we got off the plane Miles's brother was waiting for us with a van and we did six weeks with one day off. People like the artist Jean Michel Basquiat and John Frusciante from the Chili Peppers came to see us. The tour ended in Hollywood at the Whisky A Go-Go. After the last show I just told them all that I had had enough and was leaving, that they could have the name and the band identity. Things were already tense - at the end of long tours everyone is full of adrenalin but very tired - and a minor argument broke out although I can't remember what it was about. Billy and Chris walked out of the dressing room and Warren stayed hut was really angry, although he didn't shout, as we weren't that sort of people. We left the venue in separate cars and I flew back to England on my own the next day. It was a great wrench to leave, but the grey suits were waiting. I wanted to work alone with a tape recorder, drum machine, a synthesizer and get rid of anything that was rock'n'roll. As for their later success with Midge Ure, I have nothing to say about them, as that band has nothing to do with me". (JF)

From 1976 to 1979 Ultravox were legends as Mr. Foxx was their singer and musical guide. Their immense influence in the rise of uk post punk sound is undeniable.  Then came Midge and the New Romantics Years but please remember them playing with Mr.Dennis their last mythical 1979 us tour...

lunedì 15 luglio 2013

Amazing stories

According to discogs:

On cold autumn evenings of Milan in 1981 met for the first time Nino La Loggia and Giacomo Spazio. Both were regulars of the Bar Concordia, one of the few meeting places for the post punk generation. Nino with Mark Philopat (now established writer) had given birth to the HCN, one of the pioneering punk bands of the peninsula. Giacomo instead was a performance artist, interested in graphics and was looking for a new form of painting that was innovative and provocative. When the two met sparked. The two had the same passion for music: Kraftwerk, Joy Division, DAF and the whole new scene of proto-electronic wave and together they decided to start the musical project called 2 + 2 = 5, a tribute to Orwellian dystopia. The two split the roles immediately, Nino continued to pursuit the sound to the limit of experimentation and Giacomo wrote texts. The band made their début at the "Cinema-Music Non-Stop" at the Cinema Porpora of Milan in May 1982. Shortly after entered the band Cha Cha Hagiwara, already a keyboard player in 'Jeunesse d'Ivoire', enriching the band's raw sound with sonority which we can now define analog. After several dates among Milan, Turin and Switzerland, the trio entered the studio to record their first LP titled  '... Into The Future' which was to be published towards the end of the year 1983.........and that was the beginning...
Please listen again to their amazing stories... old songs/new versions, recorded in their unexpected 2010 live comeback in Milan!

lunedì 1 luglio 2013

Another wild ride with the leather kings!

There are some bands who never give up. Who after almost thirty years and thousands of bar gigs still do not know anything better than to cut another record or make another gig in front of 60/70 desperate/fortunate people. The legendary Fleshtones formed in Queens one million years ago (was it 1976 or...) and since then they started touring and never end. Maybe this is the reason why they became  the greatest garage rockers of all time. In all these years, they drew from the best parts of The Yardbirds, The Kingsmen, The Sonics, The Seeds, The 13th Floor Elevators, The Rolling Stones, The Cramps etc. They borrowed from the old and created a monster of American rock music that lived up to the haughty "Super Rock" title they gave to their sound. They intensified everything but the sound: cool, anxiety, joy, and energy. Over the years they've become a tradition unto themselves, incorporating also '50s R&B, '60s frat-rock, and '70s disco into a heady mix that can only be recognized as "their unique sound". I've seen them live no less than half a dozen times and it has always been F.U.N.! And that song too, the one I consider the "SONG" of american garage revival... yes, i'm talking about  “The Dreg”, with the incredible cool fuzz bassline (Jan-Marek Pakulski), a guitar that builds to a fever pitch, soaked in reverb  by Keith Streng, with tones of percussions rattling off in all directions and a cool understated vocals by Peter, singing of a person searching for the meaning behind their intuition, moving forward in life with whatever they have. What a song, what a band! As someone else recently wrote, "The Fleshtones were all garage rock without any qualms of being original; they were just better than what they started with". Not a lot more to say, in my opinion they really symbolize what still matters in rock & roll... dance again to their american beat and sing "Sha la la la" forever!!!

martedì 4 giugno 2013

30 years of twee sounds

Ah the C86 years, full of little diy bands playing like The Smiths with no Johnny Marr on guitar, shouting like Orange Juice with no Edwyn singing... and what about those wonderful Sarah small packets on my po box coming from another planet or it was just a dream? I usually listen to C86 bands, often labelled as 'twee' just because they remind me of my teen years and those type of bands usually speaked out my mind, whether lyrically, whether instrumentally I don't know for sure. But tere must be a good reason if I spent those years exchanging mixtapes and twee badges with my penfriends from abroad (where are they now?) and drinking a lot of milkshakes instead of beers...The Pastels speaked out my longing for lost freedom as a teenager, like in 'Automatically yours' (from 'Up For A Bit With The Pastels') for example. And also they played some of the loveliest love songs around at the time. They were not dramatic as post punk heroes I usually love or talk about riots and revolutions, but about a love I kind of wish I had: genuine, spontaneous, simple, young and... boh, the typical teenage love we all dream about even when we grow... 'A Million Tears' is quite the perfect example to it: 'If I can't have you then I don't want nobody else, I'll tear myself apart and cry a million tears...'. So simple but so true. Thanks Stephen if I dreamt of trucks, train & tractors as it was me driving in the green fields. "Please don't think of us as an 'indie band' as it was never meant to be a genre, and anyway we are far too outward looking for that sad tag" said once Stephen Pastel. Sad tag or not, I viewed The Pastels and the C-86 phenomenon at the time as an intelligent reaction to the opulence of the Big League indie bands. And while U2, The Cure and Simple Minds filled their stadiums and sold billions of records, The Pastels reminded us that there were bands still recording in small rooms with their mummies in the kitchen and their papas watching tv...More sounds from Leamington please and buy SLOW SUMMITS immediately!!!
Hear them playing live some times ago and enjoy them once again...

mercoledì 1 maggio 2013

Do you gesang?

Here we probably got one of the best band from the subterranean italian new wave music scene. This was i'm gonna write about is one of the few notable dark-synth act coming from Italy, more precisely from Milano, more or less 30 years ago. There weren't much infos about the story of band or if they played live alot... but there's been a lot of talking in the recent years about this band and their "coldwave" sound. I remember them playing my hometown Torino in a dark rainy night at The Big Club, but sincerely I was not so impressed by them at the time, they played like millions of others and they sang with very terrible english pronounce... So the question was and still is, do they deserve all this posthumous fame the world of blogging bloggers tribute them? What about other hundreds of bands that never surfaced here in Italy from the beginning to the end of post punk era? Boh, sometimes history changes the facts and what we believe to remember is not what exactly happened... listening once again to their records and their live tapes they do no seem so bad and I must admit I really like them now... anyway, also here in Italy we now have our little "joydivisionesque phenomenon", Weimar Gesang (who?) of course! As I told before, more than three decades have passed since they hardly tried to emerge from the minor cultural rubble of italian's wave to a kind of darkly propulsive post punk anthems. The band consisted of four members: Donato Santarcangeli, Fabio Magistrali, Giuseppe Tonolini, and Paolo Mauri, a few of which went on to play in various other Italian bands over the years. Their base was the historical label and record shop Supporti Fonografici. With their atmospheric soundscapes "a la cure" Weimar Gesang tried to demonstrate a personal kind of glacial grandeur, maybe never seen before here in the land of the sun & spaghetti. It was not easy for them, mainly because their derivative post-punk  sound, in the new born wave italian movement, was not immediately known. But now they had their revenge. In the last years it seems that anyone around the blog involved in coldwave things have a word for them, and many have cited Weimars and their works as "seminal" and influential...they certainly weren't, but now they are, stars...

mercoledì 24 aprile 2013

In the Bridgehouse again

Wasted Youth were arguably one of the greatest lost London band of the post-punk years. Rarely mentioned, if at all, in the era's music history books, they were heavily influenced by the dark narcotic glamour of the Velvets and Transformer-era Lou Reed. The Only Ones were their myths and also Peter Perrett produced them, as did Martin Hannett some years later. It seems very far nowadays but I remember they were hugely popular as the Eighties dawned with punks, looking for something more sexy and sophisticated. As many others, Wasted Youth looked set to become much more than the cult band they became. They pre-dated Positive Punk and Goth and are still remembered as quietly-influential and a superb live band by fans.  They only had a three-year life but even more than others they were acknowledged as one of the bands which really influenced the darkwave & gothic band scene. Their records were released through Bridgehouse Records, a label set up by the bass player's father in the pub he owned in Canning Town (The Bridgehouse, the first pub in the world with its own record label!!!). There is also a one and only wonderful album, even pressed on CD, titled "Wild & Wandering", one of my favourite record of that times. Guitarist Rocco had some fame after they split forming Flesh For Lulu but this story is not so much interesting. In the late eighties the Bridgehouse pub became a sort of club, later also an hotel with a restaurant... Wasted Youth original singer Micks Atkins leaved us in 2008 and recently came the sad new that also the bass-man, Darren Murphy, died after a battle with cancer... anyway, if anyone wishing to find the missing link between The Only ones, The Psychedelic Furs & Manic Street Preachers should search no further than this overlooked great band!

lunedì 15 aprile 2013

A children's board game

The greatest punk rock band ever or the most overrated band of all time? One thing is for sure in my opinion, the Huskers were not as successful as some of the countless bands the trio influenced – from Nirvana to the Pixies or Green Day – but they bowled over pretty much everyone who ever saw them play. Me too, it was 1987 and they played my hometown Turin, Italy with an astonishing set including the whole Warehouse masterpiece. Though I never suffered the angst of youth that attracted so many guys to the Huskers back in the day, I still love their crystalline metal pop powerblast nowadays. And though I'm not exactly the prototype of world's biggest 'hardcore' fan I definitely can't deny the immense talent these Minneapolis guys had. From their beginnings in the late ‘70s to their bitter demise in 1988, Husker Du played with a sort of emotional ferocity that made almost every band before or since sound tame. I even saw Pixies & Nirvana playing in "those important years", there was really no comparison with the Husker Du "true punk rock fury"For sheer emotional intensity, it was quite impossible to top them and it's still hard to think of anyone who will make it better.

Husker Du " Spin Radio FM Concert 1985".

lunedì 1 aprile 2013

Heart and the glory and me

After all these years, I don't know why I love you ... and yes, The House Of Love are still one of my favourite bands ever. They were not particulary original and their work is quite "derivative" to be honest. i know I know I know. But in my opinion, they had (have) the touch of the true rock (?) legends... must be be the way Guy sings or must be the way Terry plays guitar. Must be the songs or... anyway, thanks to Guy & Terry reunited again, they recently made a quite triumphant return as the legendary combination of Chadwick and Bickers still proves that time hasn’t diminished their chemistry at all. Their new album "She paints the world in red" is really fantastic and I'm not joking... no Bauhaus in whites, no Bloody Valentines covering themselves and no Primal Screamaedelica sequel... Having listened to this album many, many times in these days and it seems that times never passed for them. I'm absolutely astounded by the consistent high standard of the songs and performance. No Retromania this time, no vain attempts to relive past glories or dragging out a reunion story a little longer. Like they made before, they're still playing in heaven (in italy we say "paradiso"): those melodic traits that characterized the House Of Love’s eighties and nineties are finally back and time waited for them as we were still living the golden Creation era... and just like Christine, they're still walking at me and still talking at me...

venerdì 8 marzo 2013

The banshees design

from their site:
Style Sindrome began to play in Rome in 1980, inspired by the new wave and post-punk music scene pioneered in the United Kingdom by such giants as Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Anna and Stefano came from TM Spa, a rock band that had been among the winner of the First Italian Rock Festival in 1980, whereas Giorgio had been part of Electroshock, a well known Italian rock band in the late ’70s. When Massimo and Raimondo joined in, the band emerged with the final line-up. The music of Style Syndrome is characterized by an unconventional and well-balanced mixture of dark sensibility and psychedelia, as well as an evocative alchemy of sounds which creates a rarefied atmosphere. The band self-produced a couple of demo tapes in the years ’81 and 82. In 1982 RAI produced a videoclip featuring Style Sindrome for the show “Mister Fantasy”.Later on in the same year, Style Sindrome participated with the track “Waving in the dark” to the compilation “Gathered”, edited by Rockerilla and released by Electric Eye Record. Recently restored, “A mysterious design” cd collects 7 original tracks from the band’s two self-produced demo tapes recorded in Rome in the years ’81 and ’82, which had largely remained unreleased and gone lost over the years.  After a 30 years absence, Style Sindrome returned also on stage with a memorable concert in Rome (Init) on 9th November 2012, in which they celebrated with an enthusiastic audience their long-awaited reunion.

venerdì 1 marzo 2013

The keys to the future

David Ball had no doubts that synthesizers have finally arrived in 1979. 

"When electric guitars were first used I'm sure people were saying, 'Do you really think this is gonna last?' Electric guitars have been with us for years now, and I think it will be the same with synths. People have accepted it as a conventional instrument rather than a freak of science.'' "I think synthesizers are here to stay, regardless of what they're playing now. A lot of things I thought were gonna happen a few years ago have happened." England has a basis for synthesizer music. I don't think it's a fad, because it's lasted. Since Gary Numan there's always been synthesizer music in the English charts. It's gone through all the different fashions and it's still there.  "The synthesizer's such a flexible instrument. You can play anything on it. It's not a kind of music; it's a way of making music." Synthesizers now have the potential to become the next classic rock 'n' roll instrument. Keep your ears open. Who knows-in a few years the sequel to this piece may even star you! 
Trouser Press, May 1982

mercoledì 20 febbraio 2013

When the buses were red

(Torino Calling 1982-87) - A collection of rarities & demos
28 years later there is still someone listening to that old post punk cassettes, with quite exotic titles like "City Delicatessen"or  "Space invaders" and "could have been" bands like Suicide Dada or Sythetic Sun? Yes, here I am, with my old rotten collection of demo-tapes. Nothing original and anyway nothing that survived the time... but sorry, i can't forget and this is still the music I like! So you have travel back in time once again and now you are in 1982 where a bunch of unconventional people, often dressed like scarecrows,  were deeply involved into "my" tkind of music... and they were called dark, goth, punks, skins, mods or wavers or they weren't called at all. But in the eighties they really were the only most visible form of alternative music and culture - oh yes, they were quite strange, but not enough bizarre yet. What kind of music i'm talking about? Well it's very easy to say, listening to this wave collection of joydivisionesque/robertsmithesque/marcalmondesque tunes, part punky but more introspective, a little dark and moody, sometimes emotional and quite artistic although no less rock and roll oriented. It was the same old story, even in Torino, north of Italy. Another town filled with disaffected youth facing miserable futures discovers new sounds through records & visiting artists. Then adventurous bands like Teknospray & Blind Alley starting to create their own style, twisting and turning guitar sounds into something new. The story told that, apart from Mr. Casacci, none of our local bands become national or worldwide artists, others at least have one or two moments where they briefly realize a dream of musical success, while many simply burn out and rejoin the real world after their youthful energy dissipates. Another beautiful failure, a scene that probably "never was" and suddenly died exactly when a "new wave" attempted to overthrow the very order of rock and roll. Those are still the days where I belong...

Winter never ends (CD-R not on label)
The new wave scene of Torino 82-87 vol.2

00. Polaroid- Un'estate Inclemente II (soundtrack)
01. Tally Ho - Transmission
02. Tommy De Chirico - Close Your Eyes (demo version) 1983
03. Casino des images - God counts women's tears (re-mix)
04. Quiet - Enemy Inside (unreleased)
05. Synthetic Sun - Tell Me What It's For
06. Aqua - Due
07. Magritte - Freedom & Power (never realesed).mp3
08. Prostitutes_ tiny d.
09. Suicide Dada - Acque (2012 mastering)
10. Avantgarde - Call Me Liar (12 mix)
12. Deafear - Stillness Resting (last demo)
13. Inox - Waiting for you
14. Monuments - Herz Von Samt (demo mix)
15. Chromagain - Spot (Whistle)
16. Martin Mixo - Staff's Stuff (b-side)
17. Carmody - Messangers Of Love
18. Blind Alley -  I Was Dreaming (1983 pre mastering mix)
19. No strange_ shadows of my soul
20. Statuto - Ghetto (Vacanze version)
21. Blue Vomit - Non mi alzo in pullman!

venerdì 1 febbraio 2013

Goodbye Toulouse

Whoever Vic is, wherever Vic is, he can't take the credit for inspiring a very, very fine record. Written on the strength of a phone-call that turned out to be a wrong number, 'Is Vic There?' is the first single by some bunch calling themselves Department S. It's good, alright, and so are they. But you needn't take my word for it: in the recent NME Winners Poll, being chosen as a fave new act by Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton, with an additional 'best single' nomination by Weller as well. I'd last seen four of the London five piece just as they were emerging from the ruins of a group called Guns For Hire, at a Rock Garden debut which singer Vaughn Toulouse was later to sum up as "A drunken bloody mess" - not a million miles from my own impression of the event, as it happened.
Department S aren't used to the interview game yet and they discuss themselves with a succession of reluctant shrugs and mumbles, unwilling to try and define their music too closely, and partly suspicious after Vaughn had found himself grotesquely misquoted in a Hot Press piece last week. (But then you often find that the most eager, articulate talkers, who'll theorise about their work until the cows come home, are the ones least capable of delivering where it really counts: in the music itself.) Toulouse, incidentally, has only recently finished a stint as a critic himself, contributing reviews to The Face.
Anyway, the facts are these. The quartet which made its chaotic debut in London last July, soon grew to five-piece with the introduction of synth player Eddie Roxy - who left soon after to form his own synth-oriented group. His replacement is Mark Taylor, who doubles between synth and guitar: "Because the synth isn't important enough in our sound to warrant a full time player. The main reason we got it in the first place was just to fill out the sound - not to get all Gary Numan." Apart from Taylor and Toulouse, there's Michael Herbage on guitar, Tony Lordan on bass and Stuart Mizon on drums...
Having recently struck up an association with Jake Riviera, the Department S found themselves with the chance to put out a 45 on Riviera's Demon label - resulting in the enigmatic and tense 'Is Vic There?', backed by a knockabout version of Bolan's 'Solid Gold Easy Action', both sides produced by ex-Mott The Hooplers Overend Watts and Buffin, who the band met through friends The Nips. It was a rather unadventurous choice for a B-side, though the band themselves are less than happy with it, putting it down to running out of studio time and lack of control over mixing. "We did it for a joke in the first place, cos we didn't have enough songs. None of us was there when it was mixed. I really don't like that song", Vaughn explains. "It's about the worst song Bolan ever wrote. But all the best ones have been done, like the Banshees did 20th Century Boy".
The follow up single will be 'Clap Now' which they describe, pulling faces, as "Psychedelic Funk….with glam-rock drums". And if that sounds confused, it's meant to. "We're all different people really, all of us are having our own say".
Two of the group's bigger breaks so far have come with support slots for Toots & The Maytals ("except the crowds wouldn't listen cos we were different. I remember these kids at Cardiff shouting 'C'mon, skank it up boyo' and I just thought 'Aw, fuck off' ") and, more successfully with The Jam ("the only headliners to give us a decent sound check"). What remains to be seen is whether Department S can ever create a sizeable audience of their own. "Short hair music" is the definition that Vaughn Toulouse favours, but he stresses that their main aim is to find and provide an alternative - both to the elitism of Spandau Ballet & Co. and to the bootboy boredom of present punk. Not that the band are ready to make any great claims for themselves. The reckless abandon of their stage act contrasts with the cautious reserve they display in other areas: "We haven't signed anything. We haven't even got a manager. We don't want to jump in until we know what we want to do. We're all fairly inexperienced in group things".
At the same time, they repeatedly assure me they're not taking it seriously, that "it's still a laugh". So can they succeed? I think that they can if they can find the will, they'll find there's a way.
Between Boots and Ballet Shoes/ Paul Du Noyer - 'NME' - 21st February, 1981

martedì 1 gennaio 2013

Decadence and pleasure towns

Simple Minds showed how it should be done. They attain the kind of elegant, outlandish falmboyance Wasted Youth and Martin Dance long for, without resorting to the tempting deviations the others use. There's no sign of visual distractions, the musicians are unobtrusive to the point of visual insignificance, with the exception of Jim Kerr, frontsman and actor, who with the whole of his face and form mirrors the frantic and flickering lines of thought in the lyrics. The rest of the band's energy is channelled into the music, and the result is an unnerving, rich sound, bursting with the inward tension and intensity of the music and jarred by the sporadic, unconnected imagery which leaves you, the voyeur, feeling as if you're clinging to the edge of the centre of a whirlwind, temporarily avoiding being sucked in by the atmosphere, watching the iamges and film clips pelting lunatically around. Over the solid, marble-like foundation the synth lays, Jim Kerr's voice, the fourth and most extravagant instrument, soars in neo-operatic arrogant melodrama. The guitars are confined to the background in most part, consistent but never stagnant, subtly enhancing the vigour of the vocals and keyboards. They started with 'Capital City', a grandiose parade through alien streets, portrayed by the promise-of-something-worse wail of guitars and keyboards with Kerr's voice soaring haughtily and lugubriously over. This filtered into the wonderful 'Factory', which has the vocals and guitars hiccoughing over the gorgeously rounded keyboard melody, until it all coheres and climaxes into a pealing, church-like refrain. "A certain ratio we know have left us..." The next song, 'Thirty Frames' with its chaos of hopelessness and euphoria, celebration and confusion was the most wildly subversive song of the night. Here, Kerr's despair ("I lost my job / Security / Self confidence / Idenity") is set against a whirling background of pulsating disco guitar and zooming keyboards. This sent the audience into a roar of unanimous approval. Pause for identification: stage left, Charlie Burchill, sweet-faced boy, guitarist. Centre, Jim Kerr, vocalist, all burning eyes and pale expressive face. Derek Forbes plays bass, a languid, feminine sort of person, and a tiny bit self-aware, with it. And Michael MacNeil, invisible behind his synthesisers, but a keyboardist of immense ability. Of course they played their single, 'I Travel', recently demolished on 45, but here taken faster and unabridged, a glorious and hedonistic tide of instrumentals, with Kerr being swept along indifferently, making observations in his haughty grandiloquence. Simple Minds played for nearly an hour and left me still dancing to the echoes of 'Fear Of Gods' while a hall full of exhausted people bellowed for more and more.
Terri Sanai - 'Sounds' 8th November 1980 (UK)