In which Yazoo (or perhaps merely Yaz) remind us that in the early days of synth-pop, it was pretty much obligatory that an album include some genuinely experimental side-trips, because why not? But in the case of In My Room, it ends up being way more than just some mucking around with tape loops and sound effects. It’s a smart, soulful examination of angst, loneliness, confusion – all the things that go on in one’s room.
3 Teens Kill 4 only ever released one album, but it was a good one, very much in synch with the temper of the increasingly nasty times. In the case of Tell Me Something Good, that meant grabbing some audio from the TV coverage of John Hinkley‘s attempted 1981 assassination of Ronald Reagan, laying it over some mutated funk and turning it into a cover of that Rufus song. And nobody complained really. Homeland Security were not called. Nobody got stuck on a no-fly list. Welcome to the 1980s when such at thing as an art underground was more than just a marketing term; it actually existed, a dark and mysterious place that was genuinely hard to get to, or get out of.
In which Malcolm McLaren, best known for his genius level mismanagement of the Sex Pistols (it’s a long story) leaves Punk well in the rear view and embraces … what exactly? “It was Young Tim (friend of a friend) that turned me onto Duck Rock. More to the point, he forced it on me, because I wasn’t biting at first. Even with the Pistols connection. Because the guy clearly could not sing, and there was no evidence of proper punk aggro on it anywhere. Just exotic sort of party grooves and sounds (sampling before we even had a name for it, Trevor Horn take another bow). And, in the case of Double Dutch, high school girls skipping rope with a vengeance. Until one night, a little wasted, there I was dancing to it. It was fun. Cultural boundaries were eroding, great Jericho walls were crumbling, everything seemed possible, I was smiling.” (Philip Random)
“One more from that lost and forgotten alt-reality wherein the 1980s were everything they should have been and a record like the Undertones‘ Love Parade hit the toppermost of the poppermost – melodic, soulful, full of light, and so damned popular we all got sick of it. But it wasn’t so we didn’t, so thank all gods for that. And man, that Feargal Sharkey could sing.” (Philip Random)
In which that band from Ireland (still not quite a household name), make it very clear what they believe in: the atomic bomb, the powers that be and the halls of Christ’s Church. All worth celebrating apparently.
“Back in the day, I was known to argue loudly that Pornography was the only Cure album the world ever needed, a singular masterpiece of darkness, doom and fecund seaminess. But I was wrong. Because the Cure have certainly conquered other peaks, and sometimes Pornography does get a little murky. But Hanging Garden definitely rises above, all pounding rhythms and bleak forward motion, redolent indeed of 1982. The sleet heavy rains of eternal winter were falling hard, but still we struggled for the light.” (Philip Random)
They called Rank + File cowpunk at the time of their first album, because key members, Chip and Tony Kinman had previously done time in punk contenders The Dils. But it was really just kickass countrified rock and roll. Big beat, lots of twang, and in the case of The Conductor Wore Black, a train to hell, like there’s anywhere else for a train to go.
Vic Coppersmith-Heaven (now there’s a name) was a sound guy, producer, engineer (big in the early days of punk and before), who somewhere along the line, got his own thing going, tripping out some very earthbound grooves and sounds, including working with a certain monkey chant (from both beyond and before time) indigenous to the Indonesian backwoods. “I found Pengosekan on on 1982’s Music + Rhythm, a fundraiser for Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Festival, and one of the essential compilation albums of the decade. So-called World Music started there. At least, it did for me.” (Philip Random)
“I don’t generally buy Mike Oldfield as a pop contender. That’s just something he had to do for a while in the 1980s to shift a few units so he could keep cranking out the big deal epics. But Five Miles Out (found on the album of the same name) definitely rates, if nothing else, as one of the weirder singles to ever at least flirt with the charts. Ethereal vocals c/o Maggie Reilly, vocoder and metal licks c/o Mr. Oldfield, and a story being told of a small airplane caught out in hurricane weather. Or if you’re thinking metaphorically, it’s about any of us at a crisis point. Sometimes, you’ve just got to fix a course, and hold true, either get to the other side of the storm in question or be annihilated trying. At least that’s how old friend Charles put it to me, late 80s sometime, having emerged from a very dark point in his young adult life.” (Philip Random)