“The band known as X were definitely onto something come 1983’s More Fun in the New World, moving beyond their punk origins into a richer, more widescreen sort of rock and roll that was definitely More Fun. Like that first line in The New World about the bars being closed, they must be voting for the President or something. Way the f*** better and smarter than anything the Springsteens or Mellencamps or Huey Lewises … were cranking out at the time. But did it get played on the radio? Hardly. This is why I generally have no problem saying that the 80s sucked musically speaking. Not that the music itself was bad – it was just so hard to find the really good stuff. ” (Philip Random)
“The Blackouts didn’t last very long before breaking up and getting more or less absorbed by Ministry – the rhythm section anyway, Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin, and just in time to propel that outfit to world pummeling fame and/or notoriety. And it’s all there in Everglades, the twelve minute plus A-side of their Lost Souls Club EP, the only record of theirs I ever heard. And honestly, I don’t think I ever made it to the B-side more than once. Because once Everglades hooked me, there was no going anywhere else. Just so much to explore.” (Philip Random)
“It’s all there in the first couple of lines of This is the Day, the story of my life, summer 1983: Well you didn’t wake up this morning ’cause you didn’t go to bed – You were watching the whites of your eyes turn red. Maybe 5AM, looking myself in the mirror after way too many mixed up hours of mixed up partying, imbibing, whatever. The song spoke directly to me, Matt Johnson and his burning blue soul joining me in my young adult mixed up pain and ecstasy, telling me I wasn’t alone, wherever the hell I was. Melody was pretty much perfect, too. The whole album really.” (Philip Random)
“As the story goes, ECHO was a drum machine and the Bunnymen were a few guys from Liverpool that hung around with it, made weird, angular, dark, psychedelic music. Eventually they got a real drummer, but they stuck with the weird, angular, dark, psychedelic stuff, even as they edged into the popular realm (in Britain anyway). Not unlike early U2, except there was no Jesus in sight. As for The Back of Love, well it just rocks in a particularly sharp sort of way. No idea what it’s about, but something tells me it’s more about confusion and tearing apart than sweetness.” (Philip Random)
If you were halfway cool in 1983, you were hip to the Violent Femmes first album. None of the commercial radio stations were playing it, but you’d long ago given up on them anyway — cesspools of bad sound, populated by liars. Unlike the Femmes who couldn’t not be fresh, horny, mad, honest – sometimes annoyingly so. But not with Kiss Off. Kiss Off hit it all just right, particularly the part where he counts them all down, his ten points of rage, frustration, spite, EVERYTHING. A punk that required no amplifiers, that could be delivered from a street corner, which is how the band got discovered in the first place.
“When power pop (to the point of punk) heroes the Undertones broke up in 1983, their absolute one of a kind singer Feargal Sharkey next showed up doing something pretty much completely different with the Assembly. Which we assumed was a new band, but it was really just him and Vince Clarke, recently ex of Yaz (or perhaps Yazoo). In fact, the only thing I ever heard from them was the one song, which makes Never Never (and the Assembly in general) more or less pop perfect. Talk about not overstaying your welcome.” (Philip Random)
Mysterious live performance from somewhere in Europe, 1983. Chris + Cosey (late of Throbbing Gristle) exploring strange sonic regions via the nebulously labelled CTI – European Rendezvous album. This was the kind of thing you’d record off the radio back in the day, late night weirdness, the DJ never telling you who it was. Maybe a decade later, you’d finally figure it out.
“My immediate King Sunny Ade memory is summertime 1983, way the hell up the trails of the North Shore mountains. The acid is kicking in nicely and Motron decides to put Synchro System on the blaster. The now sound of Nigeria suddenly imposed upon the melting, lysergic edge of western civilization. And it worked, like displaced tourist music, which is generally what you want whilst tripping the beyond within. The live show was also transcendent a few weeks later, Commodore Ballroom, the King and twenty-odd of his African Beats working grooves within grooves within … well, you get the picture.” (Philip Random)
In which Severed Heads remind us that there’s joy in repetition, or maybe just madness; and truth in the notion that many of the so-called Industrial artists of the 1980s only got worse as they got better at figuring out their instruments and related technology, got to sounding more and more like normal musicians. In Severed Heads case, that means they’d peaked long before I ever heard them via any number of cassette only releases. But fortunately, that truth eventually found me via Clifford Darling, Please Don’t Live In The Past, a double vinyl compilation full of delightfully strange and, if needs be, antagonistic excursions.