2. DEATH TO TRAD ROCK 1980 - 1984
Punk was a life jacket for most of us, the Island of Misfits those drowning in a sea of conformity swam to. But by 1980 that island was prime real estate, built over by consumerism and eroded by the never ending waves of conformity. The possibilities that had seemed so real in 1977 had disappeared as though they had never existed.
I recognise now that there was a great deal of unrecognised hurt and damage disguised in punk which took me decades to work out. Some of it was standard teenage stuff, the usual problems we all have being heard above the roar of the machine, but much of it was not. Yet that doesn’t excuse how someone who believed so absolutely in freedom found himself, at 20 years old, with a new job, a wife and a mortgage. After questioning and rejecting the very basis of society, I had become a part of what I was protesting against?
When I look back I struggle to believe that I threw it all away so quickly. Feeling vulnerable and alienated I know I longed for some peace and love and started getting into some deep philosophical shit and somewhat stupidly, hallucinogens. So I grabbed onto the only person showering me with love, attention and money. She was a wild, estate child who I thought was a free spirit, very appealing at 20, but it turned out she was a vicious, manipulative, control freak with a split personality disorder only diagnosed years later. Naturally, love never came into it. Need definitely.
Thankfully, I spent the spring of 1980 in blissful denial in a trippy, hippy, magic mushroom haze, marching around the fields and villages West of Reading with a youthful clan of long haired, spotty boys and beautiful girls, forever hunting down the mystic vegetable before retreating to a cottage where one of their Mum’s served up mushroom tea with mushroom stew, mushrooms on toast, mushroom cake or just a plate of raw mushrooms. The whole world was mushroom as we ruminated on our inner selves, free love, Gong, Jonathon Livingstone Seagull, the Floyds Animals and moving to Wales to live in a tepee. It proved a sanctuary of sorts though it ended badly when Mummy Mushroom and her brood violently refused to give back a loaned drum kit until I threatened to smash up their house. The spell they had cast lifted and I was wrenched from my literally vegetative state to chase the future any way I could, opening my mind to everything, searching for answers I thought must still be out there.
In the past I had daydreamed of a career in pop music, without ever really knowing what I was dreaming about, or having even the vaguest idea of how to achieve it. I had bashed out some prose for Richard Griffin’s No Cure fanzine and forged connections within the DIY underground with the likes of a pre fame Mike Scott’s Another Pretty Face, so as a first step I began my own cassette label, X Cassettes. Cassette culture had proliferated like weeds since the late 70’s when groups and non musicians alike realised they didn’t even need a record to unleash their efforts to the world. While much of it was dross, characterless group demo’s or experimental scrapings, I was determined to deliver quality and creativity. I had largely ignored Reading during the punk years but when I began to search for potential releases, I found it bereft of any action, with just a handful of groups sticking to their own impenetrable circles. With ears pinned to the ground I found some small outposts of activity in the surrounding towns and villages and hooked up with two very different, post punk groups.
Dig! Dig! Dig! with future Transvision Vamp and Bush bassist Dave Parsons in their ranks, were all leather jackets and Gang Of Four guitar, dance music for those who couldn’t and didn’t want to dance, while The Stills were all dark baggy suits and Joy Division atmospherics. Fresh out of school and a little lost, I offered them my slightly older, slightly wiser guiding hand while we set about releasing a Dig! Dig! Dig! EP on No Cure Records, largely funded by 800 show starved teens turning up to a large, ramshackle labour club in the middle of Nowheresville, Oxfordshire. And to think we had been concerned no-one would turn up!
Inevitably No Cure proved a false start as did Open Door Records the following year. Even with a useful finance deal I had negotiated with Illuminated Records the resulting Reading compilation LP and Stills 12 inch were bitterly disappointing. I thought The Stills so far ahead of the pack they couldn’t possibly fail but, with our joint inexperience, a poor single and internal fisticuffs, they barely got off the ground. The one highlight was a headline show at Readings Hexagon Theatre, a night I remember mainly for Sam Brown and meeting Pete De Freitas of The Bunnymen backstage. But that high was offset by numerous lows at poorly attended London gigs in pubs like The Moonlight, The Fulham Greyhound or The Clarendon. Piss stinking shitholes the lot of them.
One night, in the late summer of 1982, after yet another shitty London appearance with no-one there, we made the first of many visits to The Batcave, in Dean Street, Soho. A vortex of the early gothic scene it was a lightbulb for those from the sticks who wanted a bit more from life and with our jumble sale suits, motorcycle boots and lust for life we fitted right in. On any given night you could bump into Marc Almond, Steve Severin, Nick Cave or Gary Glitter and Robert Smith was always propping up the bar. It was a hedonist’s dream of drink, drugs and fucking in the toilets, all to a soundtrack of classic glam, rockabilly and cabaret.
While I was enthralled by everything, from industrial noise to the cleanness, colour and poptimism of new pop, I was particularly drawn to the sickness, dirt, madness and darkness of rock’n’roll encapsulated within The Batcave which had developed as the antithesis of puritanical post punk and hardcore social realism. It was yet another reaction to punks ‘What now?’ a ghost dance in the face of defeat. Fuelled by the pursuit of pleasure it promised a flight from the crushing boredom of everyday life into a common wildness of ritual and ceremony, magic and mystery. Fuck Thatcher, fuck inner city riots, fuck the Falklands war, fuck grim reality.
Hardcore Punk was the big seller in 1983 as the younger kids tried to recreate a harder, faster 1977. Following the failure of Open Door, Illuminated offered to pay all manufacturing costs for a new hardcore label. I named it Criminal Damage but thankfully that opportunist cash in came to nothing although the label did, Yaron Levy of The Stills joining me as a partner in crime. Early on it was tough establishing the label as a viable entity. One of our first signings were The Membranes, their leader John Robb a well known figure in the fanzine world. John was and still is incredibly charismatic and would speed talk for hours with his Blackpool twang before sitting back and cackling like a loony, a kind of Northern Indie John Lydon. He would send me these genius lengthy letters in his scratchy, misspelt style but the thing I most liked about him was his infectious enthusiasm, positivity and realism. Having run his own label and been through the mill a few times, he knew the score, the only musician I ever knew who did.
In the late autumn of 1983, I was asked to resign from my council job, which didn’t exactly come as a surprise as I had been using my time and desk phone to run the label. Signing on again was surprisingly lucrative and with the black market economy in full swing and the label in the money I could even afford a phone at home. I immediately found my exclusion from the work ethic liberating. In the early 80’s everyone was scared for their future and there was an overriding greyness to British culture strangling the country. Thankfully, I was no longer a part of that and was gleefully beating the system and the Tory masterplan.
Illuminated and a slew of smaller labels were ensconced in 452 Fulham Road, now a shiny multi screen cinema but then a ramshackle collection of old warehouses. A short walk from Fulham Broadway tube and close to Stamford Bridge, it was a rabbit warren of offices and storage rooms packed with records. We were given our own small office on the first floor and for a good year practically lived there, meeting groups, taking in London gigs by potential signings and hoovering up everything put in front of us. For a while we even employed our own assistant Caroline Reed, who would go on to manage the Stone Roses. I was living the dream.
Back in the day almost every independent label had a gothic group on its roster and we were no different. So intoxicated were we by this new breed that we soon became almost exclusively goth, signing Ausgang, The Leather Nun, M.A.D. and far too many others. Renowned genre historian Mick Mercer gave us the wink on some and eventually worked for the label. Through Look Back In Anger we befriended Billy Duffy who offered to produce our groups in exchange for tins of baked beans! Consequently, during goth’s peak years we truly had the time of our lives, the Duff connection allowing us to freewheel round the inner sanctum, blagging onto The Cults first UK tour in the autumn of 1984 and their Wembley Arena shows supporting Big Country. Brilliant times and all the while juggling the label, a wife, a kid, a mortgage and signing on every two weeks back in the old hometown.
1.1 JOY DIVISION / Love Will Tear Us Apart / Single A Side / April 1980
Musically, punk had united a motley array of malcontents as a force against, a force screaming ‘Fuck off!’ But when the question shifted to ‘What now?’, it fractured and dispersed, each shard nurturing its own version of what punk meant and its own vision of where to next. Yet, even as the inevitable arguments raged, the common ground remained: Punks revival of belief in the power of music, the by product of which was a fabulous diversity of sounds and ideas. Nobody embodied that power and belief as much as Ian Curtis. His suicide in May 1980 at the age of 23 made for instant myth, the sheer commitment of going all the way confirming the authenticity of Joy Divisions words and music in a way that was logical and ultimately inevitable. As Curtis always intended, he joined the pantheon of those who lived too intensely and felt too deeply to make it in a world of half measures and continual disappointment, free of ever tainting his name or iconic work with something as inconvenient as the rest of his life.
1.2 THE BEAT / Two Swords / I Just Can’t Stop It LP / May 1980
For a couple of wonderful years, new pop was informed by the dread and questioning of post punk, just like The Beat’s debut LP, full of bouncy punky reggae pop masking a heart of darkness and confusion. It was the ultimate in danceable depression, songs about suicide, male possessiveness, insanity, self disgust and the incredible ‘Two Swords’ that even questioned the ska revivals anti Nazi raison d’etre.
1.3 THE SLITS / Man Next Door / Single A Side / June 1980
Cut is one of the best LP’s there ever was or is ever likely to be but, apart from this single, the four girly ragamuffin’s records were unfocused and disappointing, their anarchic sensibility overriding any trace of structure. This version of John Holt’s neighbour slagging reggae classic turns the originals wish for peace and quiet into a plea for late night noise, Ari Up whispering and wailing like a ghost.
1.4 A CERTAIN RATIO / Shack Up / Single A Side / July 1980
One of the most under rated Manchester groups, ACR mixed an unlikely array of influences with their baggy shorts and whistles, seizing on the edgy metallic weirdness of Banbarra’s 1975, sexist tribute to living in sin and gorging in arty mutoid funk delight.
1.5 ORANGE JUICE / Blue Boy / Single A Side / August 1980
The immediate post punk years carried with them a surfeit of ‘miserabilism’, a dead end of despair. Everything about Orange Juice immediately felt different, their very name refreshing, the music a spring heeled shambles of Byrd’s and Velvets. And when a new pop course began to coalesce around their label Postcard, independent pop emerged all shiny and bright from the dark.
1.6 THE ASSOCIATES / Even Dogs In The Wild / The Affectionate Punch LP / August 1980
A year or so after I met The Stills they began renting a flat together. It was everything you would expect from five 18 year olds, filthy, chaotic, drink soaked, laced with pharmaceuticals and semi naked girls. One thing I remember is The Associates Sulk and Affectionate Punch playing over and over on the collective turntable. Both ended up covered in scratches, lager, various powders and unidentifiable goo, a metaphor for the times and that flat.
1.7 THE SPECIALS / Do Nothing / More Specials LP / September 1980
The Specials neatly encapsulated the sense of overriding melancholy in early 80’s Blighty. The woozy end of pier organ, the muted tones of Rico’s sax, and Terry Hall’s miserable voice added to the dreariness, boredom and lack of self worth. About as far from the cheery madness of ‘Baggy Trousers’ as you could get!
1.8 TALKING HEADS / Once In A Lifetime / Remain In Light LP / October 1980
While I never liked Talking Heads that much my brother played them all the time. But even I can appreciate this is truly wondrous, a heaving pop song for those who could dance, while those who couldn’t reflected on David Byrnes mid life crisis. ‘And you may tell yourself/This is not my beautiful house!/ And you may tell yourself/This is not my beautiful wife!’ Same as it ever was…..
1.9 KILLING JOKE / Complications / Killing Joke LP / October 1980
1.10 BIRTHDAY PARTY / Nick The Stripper / Prayers On Fire LP / February 1981
Outsiders always ridiculed goth, unable to get past the kitsch horror leanings, death obsession and funereal clothing. Knowing many of the leading players I was far too close to pass judgement, yet given how much it dominated my life for a good couple of years, even I was surprised how little of it features on these discs. Unfortunately, if I so much as hear a tribal drum these days I tend to reach for the off switch. Neither Killing Joke nor The Birthday Party were strictly gothic in the truest sense but like The Banshees and Bauhaus they were the cornerstones of the sound and sensibility. At first Killing Joke seemed vaguely political although that notion was swept away by the dark energy swirling around them. Meanwhile, The Birthday Party introduced the world to one Nicholas Edward Cave who, even in the early years, filled his work with Old Testament imagery, decrepit blues and death rattle ‘n’ roll.
1.11 ESG / You’re No Good / Single A Side / February 1981
This Factory EP, by the South Bronx Scroggin’s sisters, sold naff all but the three tracks still became some of hip hip’s favourite breakbeat’s and were played to death at the Paradise Garage and Chicago Warehouse, the clubs that just happened to invent house.
1.12 D.A.F. / Der Rauber Und Der Prinz / Alles Ist Gut LP / March 1981
D.A.F were a Düsseldorf duo of kinky, homoerotic leather clad boys who used their brutalist Eurodisco stomp and guttural voices to flirt with forbidden taboos. ‘Der Rauber Und Der Prinz’ is really not much more than a four line story about a prince who falls in love with a robber, a bit like a fairy tale but not, if you know what I mean.
1.13 SOFT CELL / Memorabilia / Single A Side / March 1981
Soft Cell came from a similar place, sonically and spiritually to D.A.F. although there was no-one quite like Marc Almond. 22 years old, wonderfully uncool with a voice wavering all over the place yet bursting with an all too human passion, he explored the seedier, tackier side of life, living out his fantasies in the clubs and alleyways of old Soho.
1.14 PIGBAG / Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag / Single A Side / May 1981
How odd that this motorised, free jazz funk thing, littered with squalling, squeaky horns and underpinned by the sixties Tarzan TV series theme should eventually turn into the shock dance hit of the era.
1.15 ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN / No Dark Things / Heaven Up Here LP / May 1981
Heaven Up Here was when I realised Ian McCulloch wasn’t just a gobshite scouser in love with himself, and that The Bunnymen’s soaring mix of post punk and pomp rock stirred that anything is possible feeling deep within. Its eleven songs seemed to acknowledge that amongst all the angst and the pain, what life is really all about is seizing onto each precious moment of hedonistic chaos while trying desperately not to trip over in the mad dash to escape the prospect of a living hell on earth. And that feeling of occasional blissful relief never really goes away either, whether you’re 20, 50, or presumably 70. ‘No Dark Things’ itself renounces wishing for death to choose life, and ultimately, just like the album it came from, it is the sound of turning towards the light rather than being crushed by the dark.
1.16 DURAN DURAN / Girls On Film / Single A Side / July 1981
No matter how much I may have sneered at the part they played in the death of music as rebellion or provocation Duran Duran’s irresponsibility and cheap glamour were undeniably exciting, even for an ex-punk immersing himself in an underground of noise and independence. My wife’s 17 year old sister was obsessed with them. They encompassed every fantasy for every teen girl on the cusp of womanhood with the promise of a fabulous life in front of them; glamour, wealth, cars and yachts. What could possibly go wrong? I saw her a year or so ago for the first time in over 25 years. Aged and battered by life’s bitter blows with all her dreams gone, I barely recognised her.
1.17 GRACE JONES / Walking In The Rain / Nightclubbing LP / July 1981
Grace Jones and the stupendous rhythm brothers Sly and Robbie, bent and shaped post punk songs like ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Warm Leatherette’ and ‘Nightclubbing’ into their own brand of irresistible funky reggae gold dust. ‘Walking In The Rain’ was one of her more defiant gestures: ‘Feeling like a woman/Looking like a man/Sounding like a no-no/Mating when I can’.
1.18 TOM TOM CLUB / Genius Of Love / Single A Side / September 1981
Blondies ‘Rapture’ and the Tom Tom Club’s ‘Wordy Rappinghood’ forced me to pay more attention to the new rap thing. Up to that point, with ‘The Message’ yet to come, it was pure novelty, a passing craze that would never last! Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth’s follow up to their chipmunk infected smash was ‘Genius Of Love’ a reverential tribute to black music that is still played in hip-hop DJ’s old skool sets to this day.
1.19 HUMAN LEAGUE / Love Action / Dare LP / October 1981
Phil Oakey is a top bloke in my book. We all knew that pop was always about the endless self-regard and ego of the performer, but he knew instinctively that pop exists to make us feel that our lives are worthy and to transform the mundane into the magical. Somehow, with the help of two, attractive, everyday, shop girls, he reconstructed what was effectively a prissy art project into a new pop concept that sold millions. Genius.
1.20 BOW WOW WOW / Prince Of Darkness / See Jungle! LP / October 1981
Musically Bow Wow Wow were extraordinary; highlife African rhythm’s, spaghetti western guitar, rabid vocal chants and joyful pure pop choruses. Cut by Malcolm Mclaren from the same cloth he sold to Adam Ant, their ideas were extraordinary too, boasting Mclaren’s visions of home taping, celebrating the absence of work, the rejection of fathers as necessary parents, and how the rise of portable technology would make music omnipresent in people’s lives but less important. Those concepts wouldn’t become reality until the 21st century.
1.21 JAPAN / Cantonese Boy / Tin Drum LP / November 1981
Japan singer David Sylvian was once described as ‘too fragile to fuck’. Even so, in my more lurid fantasies I would definitely have given it a go. But, what attracted me more was that just like John Foxx era Ultravox!, Japan had once been considered the ultimate Anglo art fag nightmare when they were infact rebelling against the mundane realities of every grey day urban Britain as much as the Pistols. Tin Drum was their last record featuring songs with titles referencing communist China, while not actually being about China, sung by a dandy singer who epitomised the essence of western decadence. They don’t make them like that anymore.
2.1 FUN BOY THREE / The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum / Single A Side / March 1982
Terry Hall was always a miserable bastard but on the first Fun Boy Three single he said what we were all thinking and feeling better than anyone else ever could. And all in a little over three minutes.
2.2 THE CLASH / Know Your Rights / Single A Side / April 1982
The Clash disappeared off my radar soon after London Calling. There was just too much other stuff going on. As they trooped off to America, all traces of what they had once been slowly turned to dust. Then came Combat Rock, introduced by ‘Know Your Rights’, their angriest song since 1977, and they were back again, although this time they were just passing through on their way to the knackers yard.
2.3 ABC / Date Stamp / The Lexicon Of Love LP / June 1982
Early in 1981, I produced a couple of issues of a new ‘super’ glossy fanzine titled Bits with Richard Griffin of No Cure. Martin Fry of ABC used to send every UK fanzine a cassette of their first demo with a stylish handwritten ABC advert/article. We put it in the first issue because we were trying to up the ante and produce something of quality and distinction, and judging by Fry’s manifesto, so were ABC. It was no surprise when they contributed a more thoughtful, intellectual approach to the new pop theories emerging from post punk and proved that gawky, ordinary boys from Sheffield could make literate and creatively ambitious pop better than most.
2.4 YELLO / Pinball Cha Cha / Single A Side / June 1982
In our expeditions to The Batcave there was one song that seemed to capture the whole feel of the place although we didn’t have a clue what it was called or who it was by. Somehow we got hold of a mix tape of the regular DJ set and slotted in amongst the glam and rockabilly there it was but without a track listing we were still none the wiser. Thirty years later, with the tape long gone, I tried in vain to hunt it down until one evening, completely by chance while idly sampling songs on iTunes, there it was, coming out of the speakers like a long lost friend.
2.5 DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS / Lets Make This Precious / Too-Rye-Ay / July 1982
On first listen Dexy’s were little more than an entertaining sideshow, vaguely aligned with 2-Tone. While I eventually warmed to the young soul rebel rhetoric it was only because I was reminded of Joe Strummer with a bag full of classic soul instead of rockabilly. Then came the seriously curved ball of Too-Rye-Ay’s new, ‘new soul vision’ with Dexy’s as raggle taggle gypsy’s, swinging their violins. Surprisingly the music was even better second time around, with Kevin Rowland toning down the clever, clever pretensions and concentrating more on his own passion and rousing Irish melodies.
2.6 SIMPLE MINDS / Glittering Prize / New Gold Dream LP / September 1982
Like Dare and The Lexicon of Love, New Gold Dream was an album which for one dazzling moment made us all believe that new pops ideals had won, and that from punks doubt and endless questioning, it was possible for hit records to be made which had the ability to crash through all the misery and celebrate life no matter how hard actually living it might be. ‘Glittering Prize’ captures that moment perfectly although we soon discovered our new belief was a lie.
2.7 SHRIEKBACK / My Spine Is The Bassline / Single A Side / September 1982
Shriekback started out in the avant funk zone making a weird type of quasi disco. By the time of ‘My Spine’, nearly all that experimental stuff had been dropped and they were very nearly groovy.
2.8 SIOUXSIE & THE BANSHEES / Slowdive / A Kiss In The Dreamhouse LP / November 1982
On record The Banshees were just too icy, too detached, and bereft of melody. That all changed with the addition of Magazine guitarist John McGeoch particularly on A Kiss In The Dreamhouse. The only Banshees album I can listen to, it represents a dive into full blown modern psychedelia where for the first and possibly last time the imagery is sensual and exotic. ‘Slowdive’ is a seductive drone in which Siouxsie invents her very own dance craze.
2.9 MALCOLM MCLAREN / Buffalo Gals / Single A Side / November 1982
Convinced that a rediscovery of the earthy and ethnic was imminent Malcolm Mclaren introduced the pop kids living in monochrome, small town Britain to the technicolour wonders of New York hip hop. They haven’t looked back since.
2.10 EDDY GRANT / Electric Avenue / Single A Side / December 1982
This is a real sugared pill hiding much darker truths. Disillusioned with Britain’s rampant racism and class struggle, by 1982 Eddy Grant had relocated to Barbados, but he left us this as a leaving present, a soliloquy to a real street in Brixton and the site of the 1981 riots.
2.11 BAUHAUS / She’s In Parties / Single A Side / April 1983
Deep in the midst of gothic splendour, I was overdosing daily on thundering drums, scratchy guitars and hollered mantras and could spot a goth and their music at a thousand paces. It was so exhausting I barely bothered to listen anymore. But Bauhaus were different because they had been one of the first and the best. Listen to the rhythm on their last ever single and wonder at the subtle metallic dub influence beneath the scraping guitar scree, a long way from the usual tired clichés.
2.12 YELLOWMAN / Zungguzung / Zungguzung LP / June 1983
Roots reggae had almost disappeared from my thoughts when dancehall arrived so fresh and thrilling, I pricked up my ears again.
2.13 LIQUID LIQUID / Optimo / Optimo EP / June 1983
Post punk funk disco from New York, Liquid Liquid were best known for ‘Cavern’, nicked wholesale by Grandmaster Flash for ‘White Lines’.
2.14 23 SKIDOO / Coup / Single A Side / November 1983
There seems to be an awful lot of white boy funk grooves on these discs although I make no apology for that. Punk had always denied all black musical forms except roots reggae but In the post punk climate, the name of James Brown began to be whispered, funk being another way out of the ‘What now?’ musical impasse. Much of it coalesced around The Pop Group and Bristol, where in any club on any given night you could hear a mash up of punk, soul, funk, jazz and early hip hop. 23 Skidoo weren’t from Bristol, they were from North London, but they followed the same path, allowing black music back into their intellectual post punk rhetoric and releasing the classic ‘Coup’, the absolute peak of alternative British punk funk.
2.15 MALCOLM X / No Sell Out / Single A Side / November 1983
The simple cut ups of Malcolm X speeches grafted onto hardcore computer beats dragged the Nation of Islam spokesman and early hip hop into people’s consciousness at a time when political comment in pop had stopped and hip hop was only being heard by a select few. Records like this helped send it overground.
2.16 TALK TALK / It’s My Life / Single A Side / January 1984
I should mention here that I met Talk Talk creator Mark Hollis when his drug fiend brother Ed produced our Southend goths Anorexic Dread, but I won’t because I can’t remember him at all. But no matter because I remember ‘It’s My Life’. To think pop music used to sound like this.
2.17 THE FALL / C.R.E.E.P. / Single A Side / August 1984
Early 1984, word went around the Indie world that The Fall were less than happy with Rough Trade and were actively seeking a new record label. Illuminated suggested that signing The Fall would make our name and they would stump up half of the required advance if we came up with the rest. Following a few phone calls to start negotiations, it became apparent that they were expecting an advance of at least £35,000, and while Illuminated were still keen there was no way we could get hold of that kind of money quickly, bearing in mind my house at the time was worth around £20,000. Do I regret it, not at all, but I guess the records we would have got were the classic ‘C.R.E.E.P.’ and The Wonderful And Frightening World of The Fall LP, both heavily influenced by Mark E’s new wife Brix, and the start of the most creative, commercial and lucrative period in the groups twisted history.
2.18 LLOYD COLE / Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken? / Rattlesnakes LP / October 1984
Rattlesnakes sneaked up and caught me by surprise. Another twangy, Scottish pop record, I adored it. Whether it was Cole’s obvious love of Lou Reed or his songs about what it was like being male, educated and intelligent yet completely obsessed with girls and sex, made me think it was one of the best LP’s I’d ever heard.
2.19 THE SMITHS / This Night Has Opened My Eyes / Hatful Of Hollow LP / November 1984
In 1984 nothing looked like The Smiths and nothing sounded like them either. In seriously adult times they bought adolescence back to the charts, providing fantasies of innocence for those in the awkward space between childhood and adulthood who dream of wanting something more from life, yet know deep down they will ultimately relinquish those dreams and buckle down to a life of terminal mediocrity. In an age when mock sophistication and money was all, The Smiths spoke of retreating from the world, hooked on the glamour of the misfit.
2.20 JESUS AND MARY CHAIN / Upside Down / Single A Side / November 1984
I met Alan Mcgee of Creation Records a couple of times. He was nothing less than a big mouthed, arrogant, prize cock, totally obsessed with the sixties, with not a punk bone in his scrawny body. So, I desperately wanted to hate ‘Upside Down’ even though it was a genius leap in the dark, the most terrifying rock noise of all time. But I still couldn’t rate Mcgee, and even now I can’t reconcile the weedy pussy he clearly was with the rocknrolla gangster he’s perceived to be.
2.21 FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD / Welcome To The Pleasuredome [Edited Version] / Welcome To The Pleasuredome LP / November 1984
Frankie Goes to Hollywood stand at the crossroads of 80’s pop culture as punk’s last blast. Superficially at least, they emulated the Sex Pistols in almost every way, shining so brightly and raging so hard that they blew away any remaining trace of new pop and post Bob ‘fucking’ Geldof and Live Aid led us back to an arid musical wasteland filled with old rockers, careerist charlatans and men who would be God. Our pop lives would never be the same again.