Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Camberwell Now – “Working Nights” (1986)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on September 24, 2009

Camberwell Now – “Working Nights” (1986)

This Heat casts a long shadow, and rightfully so–their blend of the edge and energy of punk with longer-brewing strains of art-rock tradition created one of the most lasting archetypes of post-punk. But an unfortunate side effect is that their brief years of existence can obscure the fact that drummer and mastermind Charles Hayward has continued to make riveting, artful, and often beautiful work for nearly thirty years since This Heat disbanded. His compositions have tended to stretch out a bit from the punch of This Heat circa ‘Deceit,’ favoring the atmosphere of the bands earlier work and the rhythms of something like “Health & Efficiency,” but virtually none of the judiciousness and visceral impact was lost regardless of minor production shifts over the years. “Working Nights” represents one of the (numerous) high-water marks in Hayward’s oeuvre, This Heat included, reaching musical and emotional crescendos rarely matched in rock music. It’s a political work, I think, about the worker and industry; but it also explores more mysterious ground, the emotional level of someone who feels trapped in a machine that has no regard for its components, and the clattering, ghostly world in which the night-shift worker can live.  The track also happens to presage, perhaps moreso than any of This Heat’s work, the cyclical, instruments-as-loops groove of the best of 1990s “post-rock” like Disco Inferno, Stereolab, Tortoise, or the various Thrill Jockey proponents–all from the unfashionable year of 1986.  [Charles Hawyard and This Heat are featured in numerous mixes at Musicophilia that seek to expand upon their unique sounds.]

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[Audio] – Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on September 7, 2009

Family Fodder – “Philosophy” (1980)

Family Fodder are the lens through which I view post-punk, my personal central nexus for the whole movement and creators of some of my very favorite albums and EPs of the era.  For me, they’re the un-U2, the un-Joy Division, the antidote to the absurdly huge shadow cast by the Big Few Names that color the genre as a dead-end of gloom ‘n politics.  Family Fodder instead pick up, run with and expand all of the best attributes of the Canterbury Scene (Caravan, Soft Machine, Wyatt, Ayers), the Texas Weirdos (Red Krayolas, 13th Floor Elevators), the Ohio Freaks (Pere Ubu, Devo, David Thomas) and even the Rough Trade/RIO Artsters (Henry Cow, Raincoats, This Heat), stir in a little French chanson and Jamaican dub magic, and infuse it all with their unmatched playfulness.

For a band whose modus operandi is fun first, a philosophical manifesto might seem counter-productive.  But “Philosophy” is a manifesto-of-fun, cleverly communicating an intellectual commitment to remembering not to get too damned grown up about it all.  That’s not to say they’re joking–the song expresses a sincere and pithy philosophy to live by while delivering a pointed critique of a zero-sum, lock-step, religious-minded “adulthood”.  They don’t get self-serious about it either, setting it all to clomping drunk-tap-dancer drums, warbling organ, and snake-charmer reeds.  They ultimately appeal to music geeks like us who see the beauty of humanity in music, and sum it all up: “when you make music, you play“.  Which is to say, you live.

[Family Fodder are featured on ‘1981‘ mixes here and here, as part of the ‘Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook,’ and on a volume of post-punk ‘Miniatures‘ at Musicophilia.  And coming at the end of this week, they’ll be featured in a guest-post by me (with a mini-essay) at the indispensable Post-Punk Tumblr blog as part of the “Top 35 Or So Songs of the 80s” project.]

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[Audio] – Eurythmics – “Take Me To Your Heart” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 18, 2009

Eurythmics – “Take Me To Your Heart” (1981)

A few heroes of art rock/proto-punk were welcomed with open arms by their post-punk progeny, and had a distinct and direct effect on, even participation in, their music despite the reputation for death-to-the-past futurism: Eno, This Heat’s Charles Hayward, Brian Ferry, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Lennon and Reed comrade Klaus Voorman, even hippies like Mayo Thompson and unrepentant longhair Robert Wyatt.  No less important or participatory were Can’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit and their producer Conny Plank.  Here they assist Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart on the very first Eurythmics album–what fledgling group could have hoped for a more auspicious start?    [For more late-Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.  The Eurythmics are also featured in the ‘1981’ Box Set and the Young Lady’s Post-Punk Handbook]

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[Audio] – Michael Karoli & Polly Eltes – “Home Truths” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 17, 2009

Michael Karoli & Polly Eltes – “Home Truths” (1984)

Michael Karoli is sometimes easy to miss (for me) in his contributions to Can–dominated by Jaki Liebezeit’s incredibly inventive beats and Holger Czukay’s sonic textures–and I’ll confess, his soloing is occasionally the thing that detracts from the focus and force of later Can.  But he seemingly followed some of the same obsessions of his bandmates, post-Can–especially reggae/dub and a penchance for a blissed-out quality of songwriting.  His lone post-Can LP, with Polly Eltes (on whom I can find little information, but who apparently sang on Eno’s ‘Taking Tiger Mountain,’) will be a major find for fans of the Raincoats ‘Odyshape’ and after albums, the Slits’ “Earthbeat” phase, and the Rough Trade/west London sound in general: it’s playful, percussive, warm, sophisticated but unaffected.  This is one of few post-Can projects that seems readily in-print and available (along with Liebezeit’s Phantom Band’s third LP, ‘Nowhere’) and is expanded with three fantastic tracks not on the original 1984 issue, so be sure to pick it up if you enjoy this track.  [For more Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Phantom Band – “You Inspired Me” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 17, 2009

Phantom Band (Jaki Liebezeit with Rosko Gee) – “You Inspired Me” (1980)

Phantom Band, Jaki Liebezeit’s post-Can band and the most sustained project of any Can member, morphed considerably over four years and three albums (see this post for a track from their next album) but maintained a very high quality throughout.  The second and third LPs have a distinct arty post-punk feel to them.  But their self-titled LP from 1980 picks up largely where Can’s ‘Saw Delight’ and ‘Out of Reach’ left off, bringing in strong elements of African pop music and polyrhythmic percussion (as well as the underrated Can vocalist Rosko Gee).  But in my opinion, it improves on these albums with greater focus and musical clarity, stripping things down a bit, and bathing everything in a gentle warmth combined with a feeling of mystery that reminds me of the best of Hamilton Bohannon‘s late 70s work (the echoed guitar at 3:20 is a virtual homage) and a touch of fusion-era Miles Davis.  “You Inspired Me” is especially Bonannon-esque, combining major-chord joy (matched by Gee’s lyrics) and minor-chord ambiguity (in the instrumental sections) deftly. [For more Can and post-Can music like this, be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Irmin Schmidt – “Endstation Freiheit (Title Theme)” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 16, 2009

Irmin Schmidt with Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli & Rosko Gee – “Endstation Freiheit (Title Theme)” (1981)

The “breakup” of Can was apparently not an acrimonious one, if judged by the frequency with which its members collaborated on one another’s projects and with one another on production work–it seemingly matched pace with Can’s album output.  It also often matched the quality of Can’s work, as with this piece, involving three core members plus late-era vocalist and bassist Rosko Gee. [Be sure to check out two recent Can-centric mixes at Musicophilia for an in-depth exploration of late- and post-Can music.]

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[Audio] – The Suburbs – “Ghoul of Goodwill” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 9, 2009

The Suburbs – “Ghoul of Goodwill” (1981)

Minneapolis’ The Suburbs are a unique hybrid of American, even Mid-Western, qualities and European sensibilities that leaves them sounding like little other “post-punk” music, fitting neither nascent “indie rock” qualities nor glitzy “New Romantic”.  They’re not at all slavishly tied to Euro heroes like Roxy Music or contemporaries like Visage or The Only Ones, but they possess a similar elegance.  They combine this elegance, most singularly expressed through their unique use of piano (not synth) as a principle instrument, with muscular rhythm and wit.  Their 1981 album ‘Credit In Heaven’ is one of my favorite of that year. [The Suburbs are featured on several mixes, including two ‘1981’ discs, at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – China Shop – “Kowtow” (1983)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 8, 2009

China Shop – “Kowtow” (1983)

Another great track originally unearthed by Hyped2Death, China Shop’s “Kowtow” is what psychedelic could’ve meant in the 80s, instead of a (usually) twee indie imitation of the late 60s.  It ebbs and flows in a woozy way, but it’s not a purple haze–it has a New York post-punk edge and New Pop catchiness to its tripiness that places it pretty much out of time.  China Shop’s nearly-complete work–a seemingly uneven but always interesting and often surprising oeuvre–is available at the nifty digital reissue label, Anthology Recordings.

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[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 3 (Gary Numan, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Television Personalities)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 3

Adding to the  ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia, here’s part 3 in a series of “bonus tracks” revealing the hidden nostalgic side of the post-punk ethos. This set features Gary Numan making “On Broadway” his inimitable own; Siouxsie & The Banshees with a post-Manson Beatles cover; and Television Personalities with a slightly twee revival of their bow-wielding godfathers The Creation.  Be sure to hear the originals at the links below.

Gary Numan [Leiber, Mann, Weil, Stoller] – “On Broadway” (1979)

The original, as performed by The Drifters

Siouxsie & The Banshees [The Beatles] – “Helter Skelter” (1978)

The admittedly pretty fucking heavy original

Television Personalities [The Creation] – “Painter Man” (1982)

The original performed by The Creation

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[Audio] – Crash Course In Science – “Flying Turns” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

Crash Course In Science – “Flying Turns” (1981)

Crash Course In Science made homemade music from a basement in the distant future, in 1981.  And it still sounds like the future in 2009.  The ingredients are not dissimilar from much that we recognise as DNW, but what often feels amateurish and even cute from Germany is, perhaps counter-intuitively, more menacing, hard-edged, and cool-as-hell from a boy-girl-vocals group from Philadelphia.  I can’t think of a single post-punk act more desperately in need of a full-on reissue treatment (outside of the full works as originally created of Family Fodder).

[Audio] – Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 4, 2009

Mr. Partridge – “The Day They Pulled The North Pole Down” (1980)

“Mr. Partridge” is Andy Partridge of XTC, but this solo-ish work isn’t the singer-songwriter-perfect-pop you might expect from later years.  This track comes from one of the attempts Partridge made at dub/remix work in the early, more post-punk phase of the band’s career, sampling elements songs from the first three albums.  The results are unique in the band’s oeuvre, and are underrated and wonderfully weird.  [My other favorite track from early solo Partridge, though not a sample-based piece, can be heard as part of this beat/dance-oriented set at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 2 (Doctor Mix & The Remix, Lounge Lizards, Neonbabies)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 3, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 2

Companion to the recent ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia, here’s part 2 in a series of “bonus tracks” dispelling the myth that all post-punk musicians were perfect Modernist cultists, eschewing all ties to the past.  Here’s Doctor Mix & The Remix providing a coldwave take on king of cover tunes “Hey Joe;” The Lounge Lizards adding a little no wave skronk to Thelonious Monk; and Neonbabies giving a DNW edge to a classic show tune.  Don’t forget to check the links to videos of the originals!

Doctor Mix & The Remix [Billy Roberts] – “Hey Joe”

The original, as performed by The Leaves

The Lounge Lizards [Thelonious Monk] – “Well You Needn’t”

A more orthodox interpretation, as a piano duet

Neonbabies [Cy Coleman] – “Big Spender”

The original performed by Peggy Lee

Download the ‘No Heroes’ Compilation | Subscribe to Musicophilia Daily

[Audio] – Death Comet Crew – “Exterior Street” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 3, 2009

Death Comet Crew – “Exterior Street” (1984)

Rammellzee posesses a rhythmic fluidity and a full-force speed that made his MCing pretty damned advanced for the early days of hip-hop.  And it fits the post-punk-ish artiness and darkness of this Electro/hip-hop track.  The combination adds up to a manic, tense, sharp, and fiery concoction.  Certainly it doesn’t feel like party music, unless it were a celebration of an apocolypse.

[Audio] – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 1 (Agent Orange, The Cramps, Cristina)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

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Various – ‘No Heroes’ Bonus Tracks, Part 1

Post-punkers were ardent futurists, concerned only with moving forward, striving for ex-nihilo expression, right?  Well, maybe rhetorically; but like everyone, they made art partly because they loved art they’d experienced.

Following the recent ‘No Heroes’ compilation at Musicophilia (with links to YouTube videos for the originals), here are some “bonus tracks” of more post-punk covers of classic rock/pop/r&b/jazz tunes.  In this set, we’ve got Agent Orange and The Cramps taking on surf rave ups, and Cristina adding a touch of classy schmaltz to The Beatles.

Agent Orange [Dick Dale] – “Miserlou”

The original by Dick Dale

The Cramps [The Trashmen] – “Surfin’ Bird”

The original by The Trashmen (covering/altering the Rivingtons)

Cristina [The Beatles] – “Drive My Car”

The original by The Beatles (in animated form)

Download the ‘No Heroes’ CompilationSubscribe to Musicophilia Daily

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[Audio] – Gang of Four – “I Love A Man In Uniform” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on June 2, 2009

Gang of Four – “I Love A Man In Uniform” (1982)

Gang of Four’s transition into slinky-sexy New Pop is certainly not as deftly graceful as that of, say, Scritti Politti.  And they’re not quite reaching Fela-like sublimity in their “move their asses and sneak in a message” approach–they wield their politics as forcefully as ever to really give your ass equal consideration.  But I suspect there’s a reasonable sense of humor at work here not so evident in earlier work; the music is servicable, and the satire of Thatcherite machismo and gun-as-“self-respect”-as-sex-organ psychology is pretty fun.  I mean, “the girls, they love to see you shoot,” “I need an order,” and “to have ambition was my ambition” are pretty succinct and biting.  The vocal crooning style du jour–well, again, not graceful, but enjoyable in its campy employment.

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[Audio] – Neon Judgement – “TV Treated” (1982) + “Concrete (NY Stoney Wall Doll) (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 26, 2009

Neon Judgement – “TV Treated” (1982)

I try to avoid the “if you like [contemporary band x], you should check out [influence x]” formula.   But the Neon Judgement were so prescient and so good, and so clearly foreshadow one of the musical developments of the last half decade I tend to enjoy–the entire DFA/LCD Soundsystem/Hercules & Love Affair/”dance-punk” sound (not to mention Goldfrapp, Out-Hud, Les Attaques, et al)–that it’s hard to avoid.  The Neon Judgement were from Belgium, clearly loved Suicide and a fantasy-world NYC, and could be called DNW-related or proto-Electro, but their sound is more fully-formed and fully-fledged than those labels can often suggest.  There’s the hard, long-lasting dance beats; the saw-tooth sine wave synthetics; the “punk” vocals; and the New Wave guitar jangle, and it’s intoxicating stuff–so much so that I’ve got to share two tracks.  They deserve more attention.

Neon Judgement - Concrete (NY Stoney Wall Doll) (1984)

Neon Judgement – “Concrete (NY Stoney Wall Doll)” (1984)

[Audio] – The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 11, 2009

The Del-Byzanteens – “Girl’s Imagination” (1981)

From the final ‘1981’ mix up today over at Musicophilia, “Girl’s Imagination” is further proof of just how cool New York was in the world of ‘Downtown ’81,’ or at least in the minds of its art-participants.  (One participant here of note is director Jim Jarmusch, on vocals and keyboards.)  The EP earns its hieroglyphic cover with a beguiling, snake-charmer sound and a fascinating storyteller approach.  The sound of the coolest mental breakdown ever, a nightmare you want to hang out in for a while.

[Audio] – Phantom Band – “Experiments” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on May 6, 2009

Phantom Band – “Experiments” (1981)

Carrying on with the accidental theme of side projects/lesser-known work, Phantom Band has a central sonic element you’ll probably recognise: it’s that drum sound, so metronomically perfect yet humane, courtesy of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit (the guitar line sounds not unlike late-era Karoli, the keys have some Schmidt to them, and the bouncing bass wouldn’t have shamed Holger Czukay, for that matter).  A dubbed-out minimal funk with fabulously altered vocals and squelching bits of electronic noise, this stuff deserves to be much better known.  Call it post-punk, call it proto-punk funk, call it no-disco, it’s good stuff.

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[Audio] – Debile Menthol – “Go-Jaunit” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 21, 2009

Debile Menthol – “Go-Jaunit” (1981)

This Swiss group walks the fine, sometimes precarious line between RIO-style prog and post-punk with great success.  While generally more Henry Cow or ‘Red’-era King Crimson than This Heat, they avoid most of the noodly show-off pitfalls of ur-prog, and instead give it a little muscular restraint and humor as they speed along.  This album, which I heard thanks to Mutant Sounds, reminds me most of Bill Laswell’s Material or the Belgians in the Honeymoon Killers/Aqsak Maboul, bouncing saxophones and vamping keyboards with odd percussion and kinetic, almost entirely rhythm-oriented guitar and bass.  I imagine if there really were Seychellian Circuscore Post-Punk, I imagine it might sound rather like Debile Menthol.  [Check out the whole record at Mutant Sounds.]

[Audio] – Front 242 – “Black White Blue” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 21, 2009

Front 242 – “Black White Blue” (1982)

I can’t speak for later Front 242, but in the early 80s these Belgians were really onto something, making a spooky style of electronic music that is akin to Throbbing Gristle or fellow Liaisons Dangereuses and presages later Electro, but which remains unique.  This track, with its periodic hyper-32nd-note 808-hi-hat breaks and bouncing rhythmic emphasis remains strikingly contemporary.

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[Video] – Arthur Russell – “Terrace of Unintelligibility” [Part 2] (1985)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on April 10, 2009

Arthur Russell – “Terrace of Unintelligibility” [Part 2] (1985)

This is an excerpt from the short film that was included with the first copies of Audika Records’ reissue of ‘World of Echo,’ featuring live performances of tracks from that album (especially “Answers Me”).  The meditative fullness that Russell could achieve breaks my heart every single time, hundreds and hundreds of listens on, after so many years.  I can’t begin to fathom how he could do so much with so little, but I’ve heard nothing truly like it.  This film nicely reflects the intimacy one feels when hearing ‘World of Echo’ in the dark through headphones.  [Find previously featured incarnations of Mr. Russell at Musicophilia Daily here, and mixes which incorporate his music at Musicophilia here.]

[Audio] – Charlie Chaplin – “DJ A Dance” (1985)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 9, 2009

Charlie Chaplin – “DJ A Dance” (1985)

This is early “digital” reggae, dancehall, as roots music absorbed solid-state technology and began that process of creating an odd hybrid of the Rastafarian and the Babylonian.  When compared to average U.S. hip-hop of the day, the flow of these DJs (the MC-equivalent) seems considerably advanced.

[Audio] – The Beat – “Mirror In the Bathroom” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 6, 2009

The Beat – “Mirror In the Bathroom” (1980)

This is UK Ska Revival at its best, in my opinion–borrowing heavily from 60s ska but not slavishly imitating it, pushing the artform (without breaking from it, as with Specials AKA or Fun Boy Three).  There’s an itchy urgency to this track, with its perfect beat and double-time rhythm guitar, with that booming echo-drenched guitar line doubling up the careening bassline.  It all adds up to the coolest take on paranoid (drug-fueled?) narcissism/obsession I can imagine.  Catchy doesn’t do it justice–this is infectious. [The Beat are featured in a ‘1981’ mix and a ‘Post-Punk Miniatures‘ mix at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – Zoomers – “From the Planet Moon” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 2, 2009

Zoomers – “From the Planet Moon” (1981)

Baton-Rouge Louisiana’s Zoomers are from the grand tradition of weirdos making incredibly cool music far outside of anyplace where cool is usually produced, with the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, Red Krayola, MX-80 Sound, The Residents, and later on the Flaming Lips or Neutral Milk Hotel.  Something about being trapped in a cultural backwater, way too smart and way too bored and way to drug-fucked for your own good. . . is really good for music geeks.  Zoomers are tangentally post-punk, but their sound is clearly from another time (though it wouldn’t have been mainstream in any era,) combining a stripped-down, bouncy psychedelia with excitedly-detached vocals that fit the contradictory phrase “cool as hell”.  Besides the Homosexuals reissues, the Zoomers ‘Exist‘ is definitely my favorite release from Hyped 2 Death, and very well worth your $9[Zoomers are featured on a ‘1981’ mix at Musicophilia]

[Audio] – Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on April 1, 2009

Hajime Tachibana – “Rock” (1984)

I dig “Japan’s Devo” The Plastics, but guitarist/vocalist Hajime Tachibana’s post-Plastics solo work is generally more interesting and certainly more diverse.  This track is among the more Plastics-like of his solo work, a quirky vocal pop with some of that B-52s 60s-spy-movie feeling but a little heavier and leaner.  Other work (which I’ll feature later on down the road) is less like one would expect from the Plastics sound–often consisting of carefully arranged reed instruments, percussion and electronics, with wide-ranging melodic sensibilities that remind me a little of work by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Magazine’s Mick Karn, Penguin Cafe Orchestra or Terry Riley.  This album and other early records can be found on spendy import reissue, but you can try these beautiful records out from the fantastic Mutant Sounds first.

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[Audio] – Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 30, 2009

Zapp – “More Bounce to the Ounce” (1980)

This is the sound of the West Coast 90s to those of us in our late 20s and 30s, even though it was made in 1980 in the Rust Belt.   The ultimate in minimal parts, maximum results, you could walk for hours without noticing, if this were your soundtrack on repeat.  A truly perfect track.

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[Video] – La Bionda – “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1980)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on March 29, 2009

La Bionda – “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (1980)

I would never, ever have suspected this fantastic fully-animated video existed for one of my favorite Italo Disco/pop tunes.  But it does, and like the track, it’s pure joy.   Every once in a while, YouTube justifies its existence big-time.  Unfortunately, nothing on the album from which “I Wanna Be Your Lover” comes close, as I learned the hard way a while back with a dodgy Russian “import,” but some of their other stuff seems like reasonably good, if rather more standard-issue, disco fun.  (For a bonus, check below the ‘more…” link for a “live” performance by the duo of the track, in front of this video on a bluescreen, that adds another unbelievable layer. )

(more…)

[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 4 (Blah Blah Blah, Blancmange, Blondie, Blue Angel, B-Movie)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 28, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 4

Five more tracks constitute the 4th installment from the ‘1981’ box set’s ‘Briefcase’ disc, which housed over 250 further bands and tracks not found in the nine themed mixes in the set. You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag.

Still in the “B”s, again we have a playful grab-bag including the familiar, the not-yet-famous, and the more or less forgotten.  Blah Blah Blah and Blancmange are here from the ‘Some Bizzare Album‘ compilation, the former with an oddly entertaining spoken-word ghost story, the latter with a diminutive little organ-beat-and-guitar doodle in the instrumental Young Marble Giants/Essendon Airport mode.  Then there’s one that needs little introduction from Blondie (though the “rap” part probably needs an apology, even from the days of fairly stilted flow).  You might think the Buddy Holly-inflected music of Blue Angel sounds familiar–and you’re probably right, if you were alive in 1983-1988 or so: it’s Cyndi Lauper’s band, and it’s pretty catchy and cute.  Finally there’s B-Movie, with a track that’s for some unknown reason stuck with me more than it probably warrants; but it has an infectiously urgent feeling and a nice full-stop-restart chorus, keyboard hook, and piano accompaniment that makes it remind me a little of the Suburbs, who’re featured a couple times on the main mixes.

1000ohmBlah Blah Blah – “Central Park”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughBlancmange – “Sad Day” (Edit)

absolute-body-controlBlondie – “Rapture” (Edit)

adam-and-the-antsBlue Angel – “Can’t Blame Me”

flock-of-seagullsB-Movie – “Remembrance Day”

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[Audio] – Rail Band – “Konowale” (1985)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 27, 2009

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Rail Band – “Konowale” (1985)

I doubt any other government-sponsored music has ever been half as groovy as this made in Mali by the Rail Band (also known as the Super Rail Band of the Hotel Buffet de la Gare, Bamako).  This was one of the first African pop albums I ever owned as a teenager, and I still love it.  Gliding along on a fretless bassline Magazine and would swoon for, my closest points of reference for this track are High-Life with its celebratory feel and sunny brass arrangements and percussion; and 70s funk-soundtracks and early disco during the bridge.  Hopefully this will send you into the weekend feeling right.

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[Audio] – Big Black – “Steelworker” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 24, 2009

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Big Black – “Steelworker” (1982)

Albini was already doing his dark weirdo shit in ’82, and while you’d say it’s post-punk in the big umbrella, he’s doing something that sounds pretty unique–rooted perhaps in Suicide’s bare-minimal synthetic beats, but with unabashed single-note distorted guitar (if not to say “soloing”) over it, and lyrics that are more brutal and less comic-book violence.  Not everyday listening, but compelling if you can get in touch with a little anger.

[Audio] – A Certain Ratio – “Do the Du” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 23, 2009

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A Certain Ratio – “Do the Du” (1980)

The “other” early Factory band to most people, and generally teased and mocked as the lightweights compared to Joy Division.  But I’ll take A Certain Ratio’s herky-jerky British attempts at funk (and later tropicalia) over the glum seriousness of Division any day; and it rarely got better than this little slice, with it’s perfect beat, scratch guitar, and judiciously applied reverb.

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 3 (Babylon Dance Band, The Bangs, Beranek, Dara Bimbaum, Black Sheep)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 21, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 3

Here’s the third installment of tracks from the ‘1981’ box set’s catch-all ‘Briefcase’ disc, which featured over 250 further bands and tracks beyond the nine themed mixes in the set.  You can see previous installments and keep track of new ones with this tag.

Moving on alphabetically to the “B”s today, we’ve got a grab bag of playful tracks, including some from the zany end of the post-punk spectrum, along with a spot-on representative from the tiny but soon to be significant proto-C86/Paisley Underground 60s pop-rock revivalist school.  Babylon Dance Band (from Louisville, who would become Yo La Tango comrades Antietam) bring a little Midwestern lo-fi dance party not far in sound from the Bloomington, Indiana sound of the era.  The Bangs–who would quickly be much better known as The Bangles–are here with a little slice of 1967 pop with roots in the even earlier Girl Group sound.  Beranek were a Norwegian group working very much in the DNW idiom, albiet its sunnier side here.  Dara Birnbaum present a tiny bit of fast-paced collage from the ‘Just Another Asshole’ LP, a collection of minute-long tracks from arty New Yorkers.  Finally, Black Sheep of the RIO/ReR coterie convey a British take on a Devo/Midwestern-US post-punk “quirk rock” feel.

1000ohmBabylon Dance Band – “When I’m Home”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughThe Bangs – “Getting Out of Hand”

absolute-body-controlBeranek – “Crystal Dream”

adam-and-the-antsDara Birnbaum – “Kojak Wang”

flock-of-seagullsBlack Sheep – “Non Stop Fun Pop”

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[Audio] – Telex – “En Route vers de Nouvelles Aventures” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 18, 2009

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Telex – “En Route vers de Nouvelles Aventures” (1980)

It’s criminal that basically none of Telex’ work is currently in print–a state that surely can’t continue for long.  They’re better (and for my money “more important”) than just about every post-Kraftwerk/Moroder synth-pop band that existed during the post-punk era; their first three albums have the timeless quality we all love from Kraftwerk’s ‘Computer World’.  This track is a good introduction: warm, bouncing, graceful, sophisticated, fun.  Thank goodness for the always-thorough (though currently moribund) Music Blog of Saltyka & His Friends, in the meantime till someone realises they could make bank getting Telex-awareness to a just level in the USA.  [Telex are featured along with tons of other fuzzy synth-disco goodness in a four-part megamix at Musicophilia.]

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 2 (Alternative TV, Angelic Upstarts, APB, Aquila, Avocados)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 14, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 2

Here’s the 2nd installment of further music from 1981, drawing from the ‘Briefcase’ mp3 disc of the ‘1981‘ Box Set from 2004-2005.  Every weekend for the next year or so, I’ll be posting several more tracks.  For a brief introduction to the series, read here; to download the main themed mixes from the 1981 set (which tend to feature somewhat better-known artists), head over to Musicophilia.  You can keep tabs on future updates with this tag.

Continuing on with alphabetical confidence, this week brings us tunes from the simpler, rock-ier DIY territory of post-punk.  Alternative TV and APB bring us ruminations on the awkwardness of young love(making).  Angelic Upstarts come with Ruts-style political rasta-punk, and Aquila give us a ruminating mini-epic.  The star of this bunch for me is the Avocados, who appear to be part of the fantastically fun 49 Americans clan with a perfect little indie-pop-ditty.

alterative-tvAlternative TV – “My Hand Is Still Wet”

angelic-upstartsAngelic Upstarts – “I Understand”

apbAPB – “I Understand”

aquilaAquila – “Without A Care”

avocados-i-never-knewAvocados – “I Never Knew”

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[Audio] – The Blue Nile – “A Walk Acros the Rooftops” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 12, 2009

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The Blue Nile – “A Walk Across the Rooftops” (1984)

Famously financed by a hi-fi tech company, The Blue Nile’s first LP fortunately has the musical sophistication and artistry to warrant luxe treatment.  To my ears a forebear of Talk Talk’s later wide-screen works–with a judicious use of space in the mix, careful and subtly unusual staging and instrumentation, and expansive dynamics, this album is also emotionally resonant belying its supposed “audiophile demonstration record” roots. [Blue Nile are featured with their first glorious single here in a 1981 mix on Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 10, 2009

friction

Friction – “Cycle Dance” (1980)

Friction almost literally imported No Wave and the late 70s New York post-punk vibe to Japan, with two members having played with James Chance in the Contortions.  Still, they’re no carbon copy, bringing a more rythmic emphasis than Mars or DNA, especially on this track, with its rolling double-tom drumming and chanted vocals.  I don’t imagine this band’s records were absent from the Boredom’s record collections.  This album is currently available as a fairly costly “LP sleeve” Japanese CD import, but for fans of the New York discord, it’s worth it.

[Audio] – Wire – “Our Swimmer” (1981)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 9, 2009

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Wire – “Our Swimmer” (1981)

Wire’s “final” single (until the late-80s reformation) carries on Colin Newman’s catchy qualities (think “Outdoor Miner”) but, if I’m not mistaken, taking on a little Factory/99 Records dance/funk influence.  It grooves along with a one-note bassline, one chord (with that inimitable Wire guitar sound), double-tracked vocals, punchy drums, and bits of warm synth wash, slowly becoming more and more mutant-disco.  There’s a weirdly zen-like quality to the whole thing, surprisingly.  It would’ve been a proud way to move on, if they’d stuck with the break-up. [Wire is featured here in a mix of post-punk miniatures at Musicophilia]

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[Audio] – 1981 ‘Briefcase’ Tracks, Part 1 (1000 Ohm, ABC, Absolute Body Control, Adam & The Ants, A Flock of Seagulls)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 7, 2009

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Various – Tracks from the ‘1981’ Briefcase Disc, Part 1

For the next, oh, fifty weekends or so, it’s my intention to post several tracks from the ‘Briefcase‘ disc of the ‘1981’ box set.  To recap briefly: ‘1981’ was a 10-disc set; nine were themed mixes (and can be found at Musicophilia); and the 10th was an alphabetically-arranged mp3-disc catch-all, including over 250 tracks by an additional 230+ bands not heard on the main mixes.  The crazy thing about 1981 (representative of post-punk in general) is that there almost isn’t a bottom of the barrel–certainly the tracks on the ‘Briefcase’ disc don’t scrape it, in my opinion.  So if you like what you’ve heard on the mixes proper, you’ll probably want to keep tabs here at Musicophilia Daily–all future installments can be found at this tag.

So this weekend, we start at the beginning.  1000 Ohm and Absolute Body Control present catchy darkwave/DNW/synth-pop.  ABC are here with their first single, with a rawer, funkier sound (that I find, somehow, reminiscent of later Au Pairs).  And Adam & The Ants exploit the pirate-prince-Native-Burundi thing with a big wink and a little self-depricating/self-glorifying pomp.  A Flock of Seagulls might have already had the haircuts in ’81, I’m not sure; but their sound is almost Devo-esque (till the chorus floodgates open) and less slick than you might remember.

1000ohm1000 Ohm – “A.G.N.E.S.”

abc__tears_are_not_enoughABC – “Tears Are Not Enough”

absolute-body-controlAbsolute Body Control – “Is there An Exit?”

adam-and-the-antsAdam & The Ants – “Prince Charming”

flock-of-seagullsA Flock of Seagulls – “Telecommunication”

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[Audio] – Cyber People – “Polaris (Club Mix)” (1984)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 6, 2009

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Cyber People – “Polaris (Club Mix)” (1984)

A pretty perfect encapsulation of the electro end of Italo Disco, Cyber People’s “Polaris” has everything you could want–bouncing fuzzy bass line, cowbell intro, accentuating e-hand claps, a wah-wahed faux-guitar hook, clean chorded synth accents, a Depeche Mode-worthy melodic line, a couple mid-track break-down, and robotic vocals, 120 BPM, all wrapped up in an earworm-worthy, danceable confection.  With a perfect cover in that key hot pink, green, purple and yellow color combo. It should put a smile on your face.

[Review] – Arthur Russell’s ‘World of Echo’

Posted in Audio, Review by Soundslike on March 6, 2009

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Review of Arthur Russell’s ‘World of Echo’ (1986, reissued 2004)

I can’t think of a record that changed the way I thought about sound and music–by being exactly what I’d always wanted to hear but never thought existed–more than ‘World of Echo,’ which I first heard around the summer of 2001.  The first album I heard was Phillip Glasses’ posthumous 1993 compilation ‘Another Thought,’ then the only thing in print, and that was love.  When I finally tracked down ‘World of Echo’–that was love forever.  And so it was a wonderful surprise and a joy when around 2004 many of his recordings began to be reissued (most by Steve Knutson at Audika Records) and more importantly, appreciated by many more people than ever heard his music in his lifetime.  Since then, a number of very good to revalatory reissues and compilations have been released, and I continue to be amazed as new facets of this sublime artist are revealed.  [Don’t miss, for example, the collaboration with Peter Zummo, “Song IV,” previously posted here at Musicophlia Daily.  And you can hear more Russell featured in mixes here, here, here, and here at Musicophilia.]

Here is a track not from ‘World of Echo,’ but appended on Audika’s 2004 reissue which seems to have been recently re-pressed–so please buy it!  This is one of the most heartbreaking, beautiful, true songs I’ve ever heard: “Our Last Night Together”

Beyond the “more…” link is a review I wrote for Localist Magazine around the 2004 reissue of the album.  I sent it to Audika’s Mr. Knutson, who passed it on to Arthur’s parents and partner; it was a moving moment when I heard back from Steve that they approved, and reportedly said I’d really gotten to the core of things.

(more…)

[Audio] – Peter Zummo with Arthur Russell – “Song IV” (1985)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 5, 2009

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Peter Zummo (with Arthur Russell) – “Song IV” (1985)

Peter Zummo collaborated with Arthur Russell on seemingly every disco and experimental work Russell headed up.  Here trombonist Zummo gets top billing, but it’s clearly a collaboration of equals.  This piece was a revalation to me when I first heard it–yet another side to Arthur, a sublimely spiritual instrumental work rooted in his study of Indian music, with Russell on wordless vocals and cello, Zummo on delay-trombone.  Simply beautiful–and reissued last year, so pick it up!  [Arthur Russell is featured in various incarnations here, here, here, and here.  If you don’t know Arthur yet–rent ‘Wild Combination’ and buy ‘World of Echo’ (recently re-pressed) and you’ll never look back.]

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[Audio] – Steinski & Double Dee – “Lesson No. 1: The Payoff Mix” (1983)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 5, 2009

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Steinski & Double Dee – “Lesson No. 1: The Payoff Mix” (1983)

This track is embedded in the trajectory of contemporary culture, just as much as it (and its sequels) drew from mass culture through ’83.  But besides all that “importance” bit–it’s just a great listen for those who dig electro, early hip-hop, and cultural sampling in general.  Reissued in 2008 on the compendium ‘What Does It All Mean? 1983-2008 Retrospective,’ it’s a good thing this stuff is now quasi-legitimately available.  UPDATE: New stream link.


[Audio] – Ut – “Safe Burning” (1989)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 5, 2009

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Ut – “Safe Burning” (1989)

Despite getting started in New York in 1978, most of Ut’s recordings come from England and the mid- to late-1980s.  That’s ok–the No Wave spirit stayed strong with Ut, so this recording from 1989 is still prime post-punk, for fans of Sonic Youth, Au Pairs, Glenn Branca, Y Pants, and the more ambitious sides of Riot Grrrl and revivalists like Erase Errata.  Their last two albums, ‘In Gut’s House’ and ‘Griller’ (from which this track is taken) were reissued last year, and both are great.  [Ut will be featured on an upcoming series of further ‘Post Post-Punk‘ mixes at Musicophilia.]

[Audio] – Our Daughter’s Wedding – “Buildings” (1982)

Posted in Audio by Soundslike on March 3, 2009

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Our Daughter’s Wedding – “Buildings” (1982)

Another celebratory track, this is joyous singalong ramshackle synth-pop from the white-kids-who-dig-Bernie-Worrell-and-Prince school.  The lyrics are basically “Someone’s out there building tonight | Everybody’s Having Fun | Yeah!”  I loved it from the moment I first heard it, and wished it’d been released in 1981.  ODW were recently given the compendium treatment on CD (‘Nightlife: The Collection’), and it’s well worth seeking out.

UPDATE: Backup stream:

[Video] – Dif Juz – “No Motion” (1987)

Posted in Video by Soundslike on March 3, 2009

Dif Juz – “No Motion” (1987)

Their early-80’s work is even more to my tastes (find early EPs on the readily-available ‘Soundpool’ compilation), but this is still heady stuff, out of time for the late 80’s and undeniably calling ahead to Disco Inferno and their heirs.  [Dif Juz are featured here and here in mixes at Musicophilia.]

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