Second of two in a row from the Swans, 1988 being the year that they gave us not one but two covers of everybody’s favourite suicidal love song, both actually quite good. Jarboe‘s version gets the nod here, because she’s got the nicer voice, and it’s more gentle. And we definitely needed some gentle niceness by the time 1988 landed, Winter of Hate in full effect. Not that Love Will Tear Us Apart could ever be mistaken for a song bereft of cataclysm.
“New Mind is the lead track from the Swans‘ fifth album Children of God, and thus the first real evidence that this band wasn’t just heavier than God and/or Lucifer (as their earlier, more resolutely murky stuff had proven), but probably better too – musically speaking. Because holy shit, what an powerful f***ing band! As for New Mind itself, I’m not sure I want to know what it’s about, except to say that it feels like the work of some angry god on a rampage, or maybe one of those Japanese movie monsters that tears an entire city to pieces due to some unexplained grievance. Or maybe it’s all that sex in our souls damning us to hell, which just doesn’t seem fair.” (Philip Random)
“The first thing I ever consciously heard of My Bloody Valentine was Andy Weatherall‘s 12-inch remix of Soon. And it was good, immediately figuring in all the mixtapes I was making at the time, 1991 being a serious watershed year for me. I’d taken the baleful rage and angst of the 1980s further than most, and loved it often as not. But now it was time for a change, and here it was, often as not lyrically vague as it was musically expansive, like 1960s psychedelia all over again, only bigger, richer, pumping cool light and amazing colours. And then the album Loveless showed at the year’s end, and I finally heard the actual original version of Soon, and holy shit, it was everything I could’ve imagined, only more so, the future having arrived.” (Philip Random)
“A hell of a song from a hell of a band that, for whatever reason, didn’t rise up and become insanely huge. Their first album in particular managed to be heavy and cool and entirely necessary without really sounding like anything anybody else was doing at the time. Which was perhaps the problem. Sons of Freedom were unique … in 1988 anyway. The biz just didn’t know what to do with them. Jump ahead three or five years and I suspect things would have played out differently. But then I would’ve been denied Alice Henderson when I needed it. Winter of 1988 into 89. Did it ever stop raining bullshit? Only when the music played.” (Philip Random)
Not to be confused with the 1984 album of the same name, this Julian Cope world stomper spoke a truth that was rather impossible to ignore in 1986. Anger, bile, spite were all officially virtues now if you wanted to survive. It was the Winter of Hate after all. Everybody who was even half alert was shouting down the world, demanding it shut the f*** up. Not that the world was listening. But that just meant we could shout louder, louder, louder. No limit. Which made for some great music if nothing else.
“I saw Blurt warm up New Order way back when, just a two piece as I recall. Saxophone and drums, and driven by a nasty sort of good humour. They were way more fun than the headliners, and better. Which is worth considering when you hear Gravespit (a track that only ever showed up on an obscure compilation album as far as I know) — poisonous as it seems, there’s a smile underneath it all.” (Philip Random)
“Believe it or not, it was actually half-way normal in certain circles to hate the Beatles at a certain point in the later 1980s, mainly due to twenty plus years of over-adulation, overexposure, over-everything. I remember one guy in particular, Ray, who had it narrowed down to only one song, the only Beatles track he could abide anymore, and he didn’t even know the title, just ‘from the White album, I think, the one about Sir Walter Raleigh being a stupid git for bringing tobacco to England.’ Ray was trying to quit smoking at the time, suffering insomnia as a result, so he was miles past pleasantries. The Winter of Hate, we called it – those bile filled seasons of righteous aggravation and antipathy. The polar opposite of the Summer of Love. Ronald Reagan was also to blame.” (Philip Random)
Proof that underneath all the noise and provocation of their early gigs and releases, The Jesus And Mary Chain were first and foremost a damned good rock and roll band doing their bit to keep the western world from imploding. Or more to the point, encouraging the right kind of implosion. Stark and raw, bleak but beautiful, like those first hints of spring sunlight after a long, bitter winter, and even then you know there are some fierce winds yet to blow. Because the Winter of Hate was a long one, no question there. Ended up lasting more than a decade.
A Led Zeppelin rocker from 1975’s Physical Graffiti, but for Philip Random, it was more of a 1988 record. “A pivotal year for me. At the time, it was just something to be endured, one of those phases where the winter winds never stopped howling, even in the middle of summer (figuratively speaking of course). The Winter of Hate we ended up calling it. Aliens with a hunger for human flesh had taken over all the world’s governments and the only thing worth laughing about was that nothing was funny anymore. Musically, this manifested in a lot of pure raw noise as even punk/hardcore wasn’t really fierce enough anymore. Or maybe I was jonesing for some honest, raw, nasty blues – the kind of stuff Led Zeppelin had in ample supply on their biggest, longest, last truly great album. Man did it sound right!”