Post Punk / Songs Of The Free 1981 - 1984
1981 - 1982
01 Soft Cell / Memorabilia / Single A Side March 1981
02 D.A.F. / Der Mussolini / Alles Ist Gut Lp March 1981
03 Birthday Party / Nick The Stripper / Prayers On Fire Lp March 1981
04 Eno And Byrne / America Is Waiting / My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts Lp March 1981
05 Heaven 17 / Facist Groove Thang / Single A Side March 1981
06 Echo And The Bunnymen / No Dark Things / Heaven Up Here Lp May 1981
07 Fire Engines / Candyskin / Single A Side May 1981
08 Aztec Camera / Mattress Of Wire / Single A Side June 1981
09 Siouxsie And The Banshees / Arabian Knights / Ju Ju Lp June 1981
10 Gang Of Four / To Hell With Poverty / Single A Side July 1981
11 New Order / Procession / Single B Side September 1981
12 Pig Bag / Sunny Day / Single A Side October 1981
13 Maximum Joy / Stretch / Single A Side October 1981
14 Bow Wow Wow / (I’m A) Tv Savage / See Jungle Lp October 1981
15 Human League / Darkness / Dare Lp October 1981
16 Japan / Talking Drum / Tin Drum Lp November 1981
17 Altered Images / I Could Be Happy / Single A Side November 1981
18 Josef K / The Missionary / Single A Side February 1982
19 Soft Cell / Torch / Single A Side May 1982
20 New Order / Temptation / Single A Side May 1982
1982 - 1984
01 ABC / Date Stamp / Lexicon Of Love Lp June 1982
02 Associates / Gloomy Sunday / Sulk Lp June 1982
03 Scritti Politti / Faithless / Songs To Remember Lp August 1982
04 Simple Minds / Glittering Prize / New Gold Dream Lp September 1982
05 Shriekback / My Spine Is The Bassline / Single A Side September 1982
06 Siouxsie And The Banshees / Slowdive / Kiss In The Dreamhouse Lp November 1982
07 Orange Juice / Flesh Of My Flesh / Rip It Up Lp November 1982
08 U2 / New Years Day (Us Remix) / Single B Side March 1983
09 New Order / Your Silent Face / Power Corruption Lies Lp May 1983
10 Cabaret Voltaire / Just Fascination / The Crackdown Lp August 1983
11 Art Of Noise / Beat Box / Into Battle With Ep August 1983
12 ABC / That Was Then But This Is Now / Beauty Stab Lp November 1983
13 23 Skidoo / Coup / Single A Side November 1983
14 Birthday Party / Mutiny In Heaven / Mutiny EP November 1983
15 Psychic TV / Orchids / Dreams Less Sweet Lp December 1983
16 Echo And The Bunnymen / Seven Seas / Ocean Rain Lp April 1984
17 Depeche Mode / Master And Servant / Some Great Reward Lp September 1984
18 U2 / The Unforgettable Fire / The Unforgettable Fire Lp October 1984
19 Frankie Goes To Hollywood / Welcome To The Pleasuredome / Welcome To The Pleasuredome Lp November 1984
In its early years post punk evolved at a dizzying rate, one long rush of endless surprise and inexaustable creativivity. The next twist was constantly being anticipated, the latest leap forward, but gradually that creativity began to stall, 1981 marking an important second phase. Styles that had once been subsumed within the larger post punk rhetoric emerged from the genius of the early years to be named and identified as such, not least Goth, built from the cornerstones of The Birthday Party, Bauhaus, Killing Joke and The Banshees Ju Ju , and New Pop, the most dominant element of post punk’s important second phase.
By mid 1981, post punk had shifted decisively to a strategy of entryism, of embracing the major record companies rather than building an independent alternative. Sonic mannerisms that had once seemed charmingly quirky or inspiringly amateur suddenly sounded too earnest, too worthy. Perhaps we all got tired of the doom and gloom, the propensity of overcoat clad, angst ridden young men, but whatever the reason, after so much digging around in the darkness there was an almost inevitable swing back to the light of glamour, escapism and fun.
The most telling example of this phase was Scritti Politti’s rejuvenated leader, Green Gartside. Once DIY almost to the point of death, he did a complete about turn. Rejecting his former Marxist, nouveau squat philosophy, he became the first post punk musician to talk openly about pop as the way forward. Soon there would be a new hierarchy of gifted stars over talentless non entities. If ambition was now a virtue, there was nothing to stop artists embracing the star system. Scritti Politti, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF, even Genesis P. Orridge’s Psychic TV all signed with the majors.
New pop futurism and ‘The Big Music’ of The Bunnymen, U2 and Simple Minds abandoned the core quest for the authentic and revived the dream of self-reinvention. Together with the belief in authenticity another casualty was post punk's modernist confidence that it was possible to make an absolute break with the past. By contrast the second phase was properly postmodern, pillaging everything from Motown to psychedelia to glam. The dream suddenly became reality as new pop rampaged over the surface of everyday life in a way previously thought unthinkable. The main protaganists all enjoyed varying degrees of success and yet, just over 18 monthes later, it was all but over and it appeared as if post punk and new pop had finally run their course.
Of course much of it returned underground although some still lingered in the mainstream; New Order cutting a lustrous path to the dance floor; 23 Skidoo’s move to motorised avant funk; Cabaret Voltaire’s cathartic embrace of structure and groove; Depeche Mode’s workers power imagery and S&M pervery; Echo & The Bunnymen’s glorious chart bound celebrations; U2’s shimmering atmospherics. And yet, despite post punk’s diminishing visibility, there was still time for one last heroic stand.
In the Winter of 1984, Frankie Goes to Hollywood stood at the very crossroads of pop culture as punk’s last blast. Superficially at least, they resembled the Pistols commotion, the BBC ban, the media outrage, the brilliant singles, the disappointing album. And in much the same way they heralded the end of an era. At the time Frankie appeared a viable, potent protest, shining so brightly and raging so hard but post Live Aid, with the pomp and greed of a new ruling pop and rock elite they got lost, like so many others, in an arid musical wasteland of old rockers, careerist charlatans and men who would be God. After six years of post punk terrorism our pop lives would never be the same again.