“It’s maybe 1986 and the Commodore Ballroom is packed – some big deal band about to play. But first there’s a warm up act, a new British outfit nobody’s ever heard of called Wood-something. They open with a pumped acoustic thing that proceeds, over its three or four minutes, to amp up into something so extraordinary that we all know exactly who they are by the time it’s done. The Woodentops, who it’s sad to say, never really got any better, but man were they great that night! I don’t remember who the headliners were.” (Philip Random)
“A friend of mine caught Trouble Funk live around this time (1986) while on business in their hometown of Washington, DC (on a Saturday night, of course). I remember him trying to describe the show to me. Like rap, except not at all really because they weren’t rapping, and there was a full-on band. And Holy F***ing Sh** did did people go wild for it! Drop The Bomb indeed.” (Philip Random)
Nobody saw this coming in the mid-1980s. Public Image Ltd (aka whatever original Sex Pistol John Lydon feels like doing) hooks up with Bill Laswell, Ginger Baker, Riuchi Sakamoto, Stevie Vai (and more) and cranks out the closest thing to a proper Led Zeppelin planet cruncher that anybody’d heard since Physical Graffiti. The album was called Album (unless you bought it in cassette or CD format) and Ease was the furthest it went toward setting the atmosphere on fire.
“54-40 have given us a lot of good albums over the years, but the only one I’d truly call great was their second, the one called simply 54-40. A mostly straight up rock record that was (a rarity for the 1980s) not a pile of dumb clichés, but rather a collection of smart, solid songs with Alcohol Heart a particular stand out because it never got overplayed (even on campus and community radio) and yes, as a matter of fact, it tells the truth. Drink enough (but not too much) and close your eyes, and you really can feel the whole damned world.” (Philip Random)
“The The (aka Matt Johnson) being the last word in ‘The’ bands, Infected being their second (or perhaps third) album, and though not as overwhelmingly soulful and melodic and relevant as its predecessor, Soul Mining, it was still pretty darned strong. Sweet Bird of Truth was the lead off single, and sweet it wasn’t, because it was 1986, and if you were reading the papers, it was pretty clear we were all gonna die, and soon, what with the arms race out of control, Ronald Reagan slipping into dementia, the Doomsday Clock ticking closer and closer to midnight. And if that wasn’t keeping you up at night, there were all those angry folks in the Middle East and beyond seen often on TV, jamming city streets, shaking their fists, Death To The Infidels and all that, and we deserved it. Sweet Bird of Truth captured all of this rather nicely.”
“Tony Banks (keyboard guy and founding member of Genesis) partners with Toyah Willcox (actress, proto punk, emergent pop songstress, and in 1986, only recently married to Robert Fripp) to deliver the definitive Genesis track of 1980s. Or so it felt at the time — that stark realization that it wasn’t my former favourite band that I’d become allergic to, but their fundamentally annoying front man. Because given a big, ambitious Banks composition to work with, she sent things out of the stratosphere. At least that’s how it hit me late one night, alone, a little high, headphones on, listening to a mixtape a friend had left in my car. Suddenly I was that lion, free and savage and symmetrical (whatever that was supposed to mean). Epic stuff.” (Philip Random)
“The first two Violent Femmes albums were so strong that The Blind Leading the Naked was always going to disappoint. Which doesn’t mean it didn’t give us a few cool nuggets, most notably No Killing, a charged number that felt infused with all the evil sh** we were hearing out of various lost zones in Central America (or perhaps Milwaukee) – CIA trained death squads on the roam, doing their worst so tinpot el prezidentes could maintain power, and the good ole Yankee dollar forever flourish. Same as it ever was.” (Philip Random)
They sold their share of records, but Love and Rockets never really got the respect they deserved in the 1980s. Serious fans of Bauhaus (the band from which all three had come) stayed huddled together in windowless rooms awaiting the resurrection of their main man, Peter Murphy (which never really happened). Serious art types were too busy getting their ears shredded by the likes of The Jesus + Mary Chain. Meanwhile David Jay, Kevin Haskins and Daniel Ash kept cranking out some of the coolest, best psychedelic sounds since the 1960s.
If We Are The World was the worst record ever released, then it’s entirely arguable that Culturcide‘s assassination of it was the best. It was certainly the purest response to it. Just take the original, sh** all over it and otherwise make an ugly-beautiful mess of things. Maybe you just had to be there: Ronald Reagan‘s trickle down economics in full effect, the rich getting ever richer, pissing from their penthouses on everybody below, nobody really noticing as they stood in lines around the block for Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwartzennegar and Michael J Fox movies. There is an alternative history of the past twenty-five where the revolution did happen. The masses did rise in unanimous disgust and hunger, and ate the rich. And it all started with the 1986 album Tacky Souvenirs of Pre-Revolutionary America.