It’s all there in the opening line: I am angry, I am ill, and I’m as ugly as sin. Welcome to Magazine, a band that is definitely not working the same boring teenage fantasies as your Van Halens, Bostons, Foreigners or any of the other popular outfits of the day. Nah, this was a Dostoyevskian truth, bitter and perversely beautiful. And what a hot band! All the bile and eviscerating energy of punk, but not afraid to be a little sophisticated. Hell, you could even dance to it, annoy the people downstairs, under the floorboards.
It’s 1979 and man, it’s cold out there. Back in the 1950s, they said wine, women and song. Come the 1960s, it was drugs, sex and rock and roll. Now, almost into the 1980s, it’s just, I will drug and fuck you on the permafrost. At least, that’s how the band known as Magazine put it on their second album, Second Hand Daylight, as bleak as it was invigorating, taking all the bile and negation of punk and smartening it up some, getting progressive even.
“Magazine were first pitched to me by a guy from Quintessence Records. Late 1979, maybe early 1980, he made it his business to convince me that Prog Rock was dead, that punk had killed it, that whatever cool, innovative, progressive music the future might hold — it would come from punk and the wreckage it had made of all that had come before. Anyway, I finally bought Second Hand Daylight which started strong with Feed the Enemy and never really let up. A plane crash over the border, unconvincing border guards, suspicious arrangements, no room for doubt. Here was a future I could grab onto. And holy sh** — what a bass line!” (Philip Random)
“My first impression of Magazine front man Howard DeVoto was that he looked pretty much like I’d expected. Not what you’d call a conventional leading man. Which made sense given the unconventional manner in which he snarled out his venomous tales of torn up romance and confusion. And yet he was telling the truth, and thus the light just poured out of him. It poured out of the whole Correct Use of Soap album, or perhaps you knew it as The Alternative Use of Soap (a few different tracks, a few different mixes, same fired up, angst-driven post-punk or new wave, or whatever). Either way, it was a sense of a future I could get behind. Not exactly pretty, but perhaps beautiful.” (Philip Random)
As the story goes, Magazine got formed because Howard Devoto thought the Buzzcocks were already sounding too “old hat”. Which makes My Mind Ain’t So Open a perfect intro to this new sound he had in mind. A little too smart for punk, a little too vicious for pop. The 1980s were still two years away but stakes were already clarifying. They’d be like the 1960s all over again, except this time it would be love and spite, not peace.