Tag Archives: post-punk

Q&A= the Chameleons (grandfathers of shoegaze?)

BAND?  THE CHAMELEONS

ALBUM?  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE

YEAR?  1983

DRUGS?  PINTS OF BITTER & PLENTY OF CIGARETTES.

WHO WERE THEY?  A FANTASTIC QUARTET FROM THE MANCHESTER-AREA CONSISTING OF MARK BURGESS (BASS & VOX), DAVE FIELDING & REG SMITHIES (GUITARS) & JOHN LEVER (DRUMS).  TYPICALLY LABELED ‘POST-PUNK’ (BUT WE’RE PUTTING IT OUT THERE THAT THEY MIGHT BE THE TEMPLATE FROM WHICH SHOEGAZE WAS BORN, MINUS THE ANGER).  CHAMELEONS RELEASED THREE STUDIO ALBUMS IN THE 80’S, THE FIRST POTENTIALLY BEING THEIR BEST.  

WHY SHOULD I CARE/LISTEN?  GREAT SONGS AND FANTASTIC GUITAR SOUNDS TO BEGIN WITH.  SCRIPT OF THE BRIDGE MIGHT JUST HAVE THE STRONGEST A-SIDE* OF ANY DEBUT ALBUM WE CAN THINK OF START TO FINISH. IT MIGHT ALSO HAVE ONE OF THE WORST ALBUM COVERS OF A DEBUT ALBUM (sorry Reg), BUT THAT JUST GOES TO SHOW “YOU SHOULDN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER”.  THIS RECORD HAS BEEN AN UNDERGROUND CLASSIC FOR DECADES, HAS AGED QUITE GRACEFULLY FOR BEING ALMOST 30 AND IS JUST AS POWERFUL AS EVER.  IF YOU DON’T OWN THIS ALBUM YOU PROBABLY SHOULD.  

  *[WE’RE TALKING ABOUT THE RUNNING ORDER OF THE ORIGINAL RELEASE.  MCA DROPPED SONGS & CHANGED THE ORDER FOR THE U.S. VERSION.]

 

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Wall of Voodoo…..more than ‘mexican radio’

YEAH, YEAH, WE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE THINKING, “MEXICAN RADIO”.

CERTAINLY THAT BIZZARE HIT SONG OFF OF THE 1982 ALBUM CALL OF THE WEST  PUT THE NAME WALL OF VOODOO INTO QUITE A FEW EARS, BUT IT ALSO SEEMS TO HAVE PERHAPS RELEGATED THE BAND INTO THE “QUIRKY ONE-HIT-WONDER” OBLIVION SHARED BY THE LIKES OF RIGHT SAID FRED, THE VAPORS, FALCO OR DEE-LITE.

IT IS NO SURPRISE THAT IRS RELEASED ‘MEXICAN RADIO’ AS A SINGLE, AS IT IS PERHAPS THE SAFEST AND MOST GENERALLY ACCESSIBLE SONG ON AN OTHERWISE STRANGE, UNIQUE AND DARK RECORD.  FILLED WITH DYSTOPIAN NARRATIVES AND POP-HOOKS WE CAN ONLY VAGUELY DESCRIBE AS ‘POST-PUNK SPAGHETTI WESTERN’,  CALL OF THE WEST IS A STRIKING AND BRILLIANT ALBUM……

BUT SO ARE THEIR FIRST EP, WALL OF VOODOO, AND THEIR FIRST ALBUM DARK CONTINENT.  IT SEEMS AS THOUGH THE BAND FOUND ITS SOUND EARLY ON (the 1st track on the ep ‘Longarm’ actually) AND ONLY STREAMLINED IT OVER THEIR (SCANT FEW) RECORDS; DRUM MACHINES COUPLED WITH LIVE PERCUSSION, CATCHY POP CHORUSES PITTED AGAINST ANGULAR DISCORDANT GUITAR, KEYBOARD MELODIES SAILING OVER SOMETIMES LUNATIC SINGING. SOME HAVE COMPARED THEM WITH DEVO, BUT WE FIND THE COMPARISONS SLIGHT AT BEST.  WALL OF VOODOO CLEARLY DEMONSTRATE THEIR SUSTAINING ORIGINALITY AND THE REFINEMENT OF THEIR SOUND BY THE TIME CALL OF THE WEST WAS RELEASED.  PERHAPS LESS ANGRY (but no less strange) IN SOUND THAN DARK CONTINENT, CALL OF THE WEST FINDS THE BAND WITH A SLIGHTLY MORE POLISHED SOUND AND A HONED SENSE OF SONG CRAFT.  SADLY THE LAST FULL-LENGTH ALBUM OF THE “CLASSIC” WALL OF VOODOO LINE-UP,  NOTHING ELSE LIKE IT HAS EMERGED IN THE 29 YEARS SINCE ITS RELEASE (save perhaps a few echos heard in the Pixies in moments).

VOCALIST STAN RIDGEWAY HAD A SUCCESSFUL SOLO CAREER AFTER LEAVING THE BAND AND GUITARIST MARK MORELAND (RIP) & CO. CONTINUED ON AS “WALL OF VOODOO” FOR A FEW MORE YEARS, BUT NEITHER (in our humble opinions) EVER CAME CLOSE TO MATCHING THE UNSETTLING CHEMISTRY THAT OCCURRED ON THE FIRST EP, DARK CONTINENT OR CALL OF THE WEST.

HENCE THE REASON WE’RE SUBMITTING IT FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION…..

 


http://www.myspace.com/wallofvoodoo

http://grooveshark.com/#/artist/Wall+Of+Voodoo/404064

a very very short word on Killing Joke

    1983.

      killing joke.

        fire dances.

          one of the best albums they ever did (next to Revelations perhaps?).

            perhaps we’re too sheltered at times, but we never hear anyone listening to or mentioning this album.  which is unfortunate.

              quite a champion post-punk-pop record.  give it a spin sometime.

Dif Juz – the (still) hidden gem of 4AD

THE EIGHTIES WERE GOLDEN YEARS FOR THE 4AD LABEL, SHOWCASING SUCH SUCCESSFUL ACTS AS THE COCTEAU TWINS, DEAD CAN DANCE, THE WOLFGANG PRESS, THROWING MUSES, PIXIES, MODERN ENGLISH AND THIS MORTAL COIL.  AS MUCH AS WE ADORE MANY OF THESE GROUPS, OVER THE YEARS THE LESSER KNOWN 4AD BAND DIF JUZ HAS BEEN STEADILY GAINING RANK OVER THEIR PEERS ON OUR TURNTABLE.

WHY DIF JUZ WAS NOT MORE POPULAR IN THEIR TIME IS ONE OF THOSE UNANSWERABLE QUESTIONS, A MUSICAL MYSTERY THAT DEFIES LOGIC OR REASON.  PERHAPS THEIR INSTRUMENTAL BLEND OF POST-PUNK GUITARS, DUB BASS LINES AND JAZZ-INSPIRED POLY-RHYTHMS WERE JUST A LITTLE TOO AHEAD OF THEIR TIME.  OR THEIR ABILITY TO SWITCH FROM DRIVING, JANGLY, ANGULAR ROCKERS TO SUBDUED ATMOSPHERIC MELODIES WAS SIMPLY OVERLOOKED AND UNDER-APPRECIATED.  WHO KNOWS?!  FORTUNATELY FOR US THEY’VE LEFT SOME FINE ALBUMS AS PROOF OF THEIR TALENTS.

THE ALBUM  SOUNDPOOL (1999) IS A COMBINATION OF DIF JUZ’S FIRST TWO E.P.S, HUREMICS AND VIBRATING AIR (BOTH 1981), AND THE SONG ‘NO MOTION’  WHICH APPEARED ON THE 4AD COMPILATION LONELY IS AN EYESORE (1987).  NOT TO DIMINISH THEIR LATER RECORDINGS, BUT HUREMICS AND VIBRATING AIR  ARE WHERE DIF JUZ TRULY SHINE BRIGHTEST.  THE GUITAR WORK OF BROTHERS ALAN AND DAVE CURTIS IS AN ACHIEVEMENT IN MUSICAL SYMBIOSIS, THE DRUMMING OF RICHARD THOMAS SIMPLY OUTSTANDING AND THE DUB-HEAVY BASS OF GARY BROMLEY A PERFECT GROUNDING FOUNDATION.

UNLIKE MANY OTHER RECORDINGS FROM 1981, DIF JUZ IS AGING VERY VERY WELL, PERHAPS STRENGTHENING THE ARGUMENT THAT THEY WERE INDEED AHEAD OF THEIR TIME AND ARE STILL DESERVING OF SOME MUCH-NEEDED RECOGNITION.  WE SAY, JUST BUY IT!!!



1979….don’t forget our B-52’s

LOOKING BACK 32 YEARS AGO AT A BIT ‘O POP MUSIC HISTORY, 1979 WAS AN INTERESTING YEAR;  THE AGE’D DINOSAURS OF ROCK HAD OVER-EXCESS-ED THEMSELVES INTO DIMINISHED POPULARITY, POST-PUNK WAS STARTING TO KICK ASS AND “NEW WAVE” HADN’T BEEN TOTALLY TAKEN OVER BY THE CORPORATE MUSIC GIANTS.

A (VERY) FEW NOTABLE ALBUMS RELEASED IN 1979:     THE BRITISH ONSLAUGHT= JOY DIVISION ‘UNKNOWN PLEASURES’, THE CLASH ‘LONDON CALLING’, JAPAN ‘QUIET LIFE’, THE DAMNED ‘MACHINE GUN ETIQUETTE’, THE FALL ‘DRAGNET’, WIRE ‘154’, GARY NEWMAN/TUBEWAY ARMY ‘REPLICAS’, SIOUXIE & THE BANSHEES ‘JOIN HANDS’, MOTORHEAD ‘OVERKILL’ AND XTC ‘DRUMS & WIRES’.  IN THE US=  DEVO ‘DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE’, BLONDIE ‘EAT TO THE BEAT’ AND THE B-52’S ‘S/T’.

I KNOW THERE ARE MANY FOLKS THAT WOULD RATHER SHOOT THEMSELVES THAN HEAR “ROCK LOBSTER” AGAIN, OR WHO ASSOCIATE THE B-52’S WITH TRAUMATIC SCHOOL DANCES OR DRUNKEN GIRLS AT PARTIES SCREECHING ALONG TO “LOVE SHACK”…..BUT THAT’S ONLY ONE SIDE OF THE FACADE,  or, ONE SIDE OF A BAND THAT DESERVES TO GIVEN A BIT MORE CREDIBILITY THAN JUST A NOVELTY ACT.

LOOK PAST THE BOUFFANT WIGS, THE VINTAGE DRESSES (WHICH IS AN IMAGE STILL RIGHTFULLY THEIR OWN) AND STAGE ANTICS AND HEAR A TOTALLY UNIQUE SOUND COMING OUT OF ATHENS GA IN ’77/’78 – OR, IF THE VOCAL PRESENTATION OF FRED SCHNEIDER TURNS YOU OFF LISTEN TO THE SWEET-HARMONIES-to-SCREAMS OF CINDY WILSON & KATE PIERSON- OR DIG THE REMARKABLY SUBTLE, SOPHISTICATED AND CATCHY GUITAR WORK OF RICKY WILSON (PART SURF, PART POST-PUNK, ALL GARAGE!)- OR THE RHYTHMIC INTERPLAY BETWEEN THE DRUMS AND ORGAN.

IN SHORT, WE CAN’T MAKE YOU LIKE THE B-52’S, BUT HOPEFULLY PAUSE, RECONSIDER OR RE-EVALUATE THE MERIT OF WHAT’S GOING ON IN THIS BAND MUSICALLY (ON THEIR FIRST AND SECOND ALBUMS) AND THE PLACE THEY SHOULD OCCUPY IN THE  POP CANNON AS A TRUE AMERICAN ORIGINAL.


WE PRESENT THESE FOLLOWING VIDEOS FROM 1978 FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION (WOW, WHO WAS SITTING ON THESE?!) AND TO QUESTION THE COMMON CONCEPTION OF WHAT “PUNK ROCK” TRULY MEANS – ENJOY!