“I missed Gang of Four at their peak, didn’t catch them live until maybe 1983 by which point they were softening their sound, going for a more friendly sort of agit-funk, and it wasn’t working. But then came Anthrax, saved for the encore. Guitar feedback so poisonous it could wipe out an entire city. And it’s a love song. Sort of. ” (Philip Random)
“By the time I got around to properly listening to Gang of Four, they were rather past it, attempting to work a sort of white-washed funk that, in retrospect, was probably even worse than it seemed at the time. Or more to the point, subsequent explorations of their earlier stuff revealed a grittier, nastier, far better band. Still somewhat funky, but not remotely clean – the funk being explored in service of the punk, no prisoners being taken, much damage being done.” (Philip Random)
“Somehow I missed Wire completely the first time around. Three future inventing albums culminating with 1979’s 154 at which point they went their separate ways for a long while. Then came 1987’s Ideal Copy, which was way too good to not get curious about, which eventually led me back to 154 and the revelation that, holy sh**, this album invented the 1980s (sort of). The energy of punk driving something smarter, more abstract and intense, taking it way behind enemy lines. No wonder they needed a seven year break.” (Philip Random)
In which first wave American punk band X (straight out of LA) rein in the intensity of their attack a touch and rather brilliantly nail down the zeitgeist circa 1983. Which was that, come year three of Ronald Reagan’s presidency, humanoid reptiles were in full ascendancy. Look no further than the radio dial. Where was any band that mattered? Nothing left to do but tell the truth.
“Second of two in a row from Brian Eno’s Before And After Science, because the already post-punk frenzy of King’s Lead Hat has never really sounded right to me unless it’s fading up from the strange and sensual calm of Energy Fools the Magician (and vice versa). In fact, the whole first side of that album is an argument for the whole being more than the sum of its parts, even as the parts are, in turns, disorienting, magnificent, groovy, abstract, intense, everything. And Side Two – well, that’s a whole other kind of journey.” (Philip Random)
“Bauhaus were one of those rare bands who were so confident in the songwriting and performing categories that they could casually release something as raw and nasty and good as Lagartija Nick and not even bother to include it on an album. Which isn’t to say it didn’t make it onto my obligatory Bauhaus mixtape, essential soundtrack to many an mid-early 80s trip to the fun part of the dark side (or was it the dark part of the fun side).” (Philip Random)
Dynamite pop nugget from Cowboys International, one of those so-called post-punk outfits out of England that came, blew hearts and minds, then went long before we even knew existed over here in the Americas. M[emorie] stands out because of the cool, old school analogue synth work, and guitars that truly ring like bells.
“My first impression upon seeing a photo 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).” (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 love and peace.