“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)
In which Brian Eno kicks out some almost punk intensity dada circa 1974, at least two years before such aggressive tendencies would even begin to stick, culturally speaking. Though the surrealism of the lyrics suggests other more complex forces at work than mere punk anyway. Also, the yodeling.
“In which the Stranglers at the peak of their not-exactly-punk form dish one out in the name of a million dead heroes. Dedicated in particular to all of those ponderous hard left politicos who tried to convert me back in my formative days. I was right all along, assholes. The Revolution died with Stalin, the supreme asshole. He killed all the real heroes, had icepicks rammed into their brains. So yeah, all hail the Stranglers for setting things straight in less than three and a half minutes.” (Philip Random)
“Peter Gabriel’s first three solo albums were all called Peter Gabriel, so we fans (and I was definitely a fan) tended to refer to them as The Weird Eyes (the first), Nails On The Blackboard (the second), and Melting Face (the third). Melting Face was the one that mattered most, both then and now, the one where Gabriel finally figured out how to refine the best of his so-called prog-rock tendencies, fuse them with punk and new wave’s rawer, sharper edges, and thus kick things way into the future. And it all started with Intruder, a creepy hit of atonal menace that really was like nothing anybody had ever heard. Still is.” (Philip Random)
“Devo were impossible to ignore when I first started hearing them in about 1978. Because there had NEVER been anything remotely like them. Even a diehard prog-rocker like me got that. But being the genius I was in my late teens, I found them easy to dismiss as gimmicky fun, a one or three hit wonder at best. I mean, they weren’t actually important or anything. Then one day I was hitchhiking, caught a ride with a punk sort of guy who had the first album on, playing loud. Gut Feeling came on as we were crossing the Second Narrows Bridge, everything steely industrial grey, giving way to the great North Shore mountains, and let’s just say, I realized I was wrong, wrong, wrong … yet again.” (Philip Random)
“Typically tough early Stranglers number about that most essential of human endeavors. Hanging around. Or maybe that’s a Jesus reference. I remember seeing these guys in the mid-80s when they were trying to soften their sound, less punk infused aggro, more aural sculpture. But the audience wasn’t having it, or better yet, the mob. Because the Stranglers had that effect. The aggression they inspired was intense, downright ugly, serious stomping going down at the slightest provocation. Good thing I was thwacked on MDA at the time (also known as Ecstasy, before marketing changed the name and quadrupled the price) and thus in love with all humanity, even hooligans.” (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.
“If you think you ‘get’ the music of the mid-1980s but you don’t know Tupelo Chain Sex, you’re wrong. The cover of 1984’s Spot the Difference may suggest a hardcore outfit, but it’s not remotely as simple as that. Because what hardcore band includes fiddle (c/o Don Sugarcane Harris) and saxophone in its weaponry, not to mention reggae, jazz and other unbound tendencies? And man, did they kill it live! True, some of the lyrics were rather dumb (the stuff about the Jews roaming around murdering blacks – seriously?). Welcome to 1984, I guess. Passion and rage as big as the world, and about as rational.” (Philip Random)
“In which the Forgotten Rebels, straight outa Hamilton, Ontario, remind us (as some now dead guy once said) that junkies gonna junk and dabblers gonna dabble, except with heroin, sometimes the dabblers die anyway, but mostly they just wobble around (if they’re standing at all) like they’re working monster waves a mile from shore. Maybe it feels cool, but it mostly looks dumb. Seriously, the song’s supposed to be taking the piss, but as always with these things, some seem to take it as lifestyle advice. I guess nobody’s to blame but stupidity itself.” (Philip Random)