Julian Cope’s Album of the Month
- Joy Division — Autosuggestion (6.07)
- Blue Orchids — The Flood (4.18)
- The Scars — Horrorshow (3.00)
- Josef K — Sense of Guilt (3.06)
- Fire Engines — Get Up & Use Me (3.12)
- Artist’s Studio — Jungle Gardenia (4.04)
- Subway Sect — Ambition 1977 (2.53)
- Tubeway Army — Jo the Waiter (2.40)
- Richard Hell & the Voidoids — Another World (5.30)
- Mars — Helen Fordsdale (2.27)
- Red Transistor — Not Bite (3.48)
- Solipsik — See Saw (2.22)
- Rema Rema — Rema Rema (4.21)
- A Certain Ratio — All Night Party (3.12)
- Theatre of Hate — Rebel Without a Brain (3.49)
- Spizzenergi — Soldier Soldier (3.46)
- Scritti Politti — 28/8/78 (2.39)
- Sleepers — Linda (4.15)
- Human Switchboard — Fly-In (3.12)
- DMZ — Don’t Jump Me, Mother (3.21)
- ESG — You’re No Good (3.07)
- Kleenex — Ain’t You (3.01)
- Section 25 — Girls Don’t Count (4.26)
- Ed Banger — Kinnel Tommy (4.06)
- John Cooper Clarke — Psycle Psluts (5.42)
- Crispy Ambulance — The Presence (12.55)
Legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus once told a tale of how, back in the early ‘50s, some downtrodden lanky white dude chanced upon the club Mingus was playing, blagged his way on stage, then commandeered the double bass, from which said untutored stranger proceeded to extract sounds and FX the likes of which Mingus claimed never to have heard again. No one knows to this day who the dude was. My story is less mysterious but sadder. In 1979, a smart, cool-looking guy called Richard Sanderson came backstage after a Middlesborough show and gave me a bedroom recording of his quartet Drop. In his manner, style and quiet confidence, Richard was the Peter Hammill of Post-Punk; anguished, lean and nobly Norman. I loved every song on the tape and played it to Bill Drummond and Dave Balfe, who rejected it outright for being too much like ‘The Teardrops and the Fall’. I was aghast at their not recognising the sheer confidence and succinctness of Drop’s songs, but this was in mid-79, when many bands featured that ‘sound’. Anyway, I visited Richard and he gave me another bedroom tape, on which there were yet more new songs, and all great. But I was by that time experiencing problems of my own, success mainly, but also because I was absolutely caned on acid most of the time, and finding it hard even to keep my own shit together. So by the time I’d found time to hook up with Richard again … he’d become Edwin Collins! Unlucky. Unfortunately, the spirit of the artists of those Punk and Post-Punk times was way ahead of the technology and its technicians, so Drop’s classic set was never even captured in a studio. Oh, the fucking absolute tragedy! Worse still, there really must inevitably be umpteen similar sob stories to be told up and down the UK’s culturally impoverished landscape. With all of this in mind, let’s just enjoy the racket brung forth on POSTPUNKSAMPLER 2 and give thanks that it was even captured on tape in the first place.
The Songs, or ‘And There Will Your Heart Be, Also’
1. JOY DIVISION — Autosuggestion (Fast Records 12” EP 1979)
By this late stage in the rock’n’roll game, it’s surely difficult for younger generations to understand why a legend such as Joy Division should have been forced to share space on a 12” vinyl sampler with two unknown acts. But, yes, you heard right … this exhilarating and truly classic ‘Vox clamentis in deserto’ Curtisian call-to-action known as ‘Autosuggestion’ first appeared on EARCOM 2, an obscure 12” Extended Play released by Sheffield’s Fast Records, alongside the Thursdays (who they?) performing Otis Redding’s ‘Dock of the Bay’ plus Baszax’s foul-tasting NE progressive rock. Whoa. But why were the Div even on this record, I hear y’all cry? Well, as Ian & Co had trod the boards the previous year in the guise of the fairly awful and slightly dodgy punk band Warsaw, it took more than a simple name change to convince cynical North West scene heads that the Div was a goer. So re-paying their dues by bequeathing breath-taking sonic artworks to undeserving parochial post-punk samplers was clearly part of their Cosmick Covenant on the way to the, ahem, top. (Not so) simple as that.
2. BLUE ORCHIDS — The Flood (Rough Trade 1980)
‘The Flood’ by the Blue Orchids
3. THE SCARS — Horrorshow (Fast 1979)
‘Horrowshow’ by the Scars
4. JOSEF K — Sense of Guilt (Recorded 1981)
Commencing with a bracingly atonal Martin Bramah-esque lead guitar signature that parodies the Teardrop Explodes’ single ‘Treason’, Josef K’s driving, pulsating ‘Sense of Guilt’ was a fine post-glam racket, as a SCARY MONSTERS-like ecstatic dual lead vocal told an undefined tale over ever-returning semi-choruses of rapturous almost chords. From the Blue Orchids to the Chills, from A Shallow Madness to the Laughing Clowns, great Post-Punk music was often achieved purely because each musician involved was 1) too selfish, 2) too caught up in the moment, or 3) too untutored to contribute tonally to what the others were doing. When the sonic harshness was finally discovered whilst listening to the playback over studio monitors, many obstinate and opinionated musicians then simply defended their own corners by acting mardy and refusing to budge: “Are you playing a minor there?” “God knows!” Yup, during the Post-Punk era, reconciling the irreconcilable was a breeze.
5. FIRE ENGINES — Get Up & Use Me (Codex 1980)
‘Get Up & Use Me’ by the Fire Engines
6. ARTIST STUDIO — Jungle Gardenia (Recorded 1982)
Conceived as a duo along the same lines as the Associates, Glasgow’s Artist Studio followed their fellow countrymen in the Thin White Cop-out’s footprints, letting rip with this fabulous period piece of Flying Lizards play Chinagirl-im-Berlin. Propelled along by a Chinese water torture remedial drumbox and an a/cutely cumbersome and overtly ornate bass guitar, the duo tells us a traditional tale straight out of … well, HEROES I guess. So, although Uncle Ziggy’s post-LET’S DANCE abortions may have ruined him for all future generations, boy did his influence run deep on my generation. And the reason was? Well, as evidenced by the rich plundering encountered herein, my generation could never escape the skinny get because so much of his exotic schtick was – in modified form (natch) – at least good enough to commandeer for yerself. Sheesh, what a giveaway!
7. SUBWAY SECT — Ambition 1977 (2.53)
Included for the benefit of hindsight, this 1977 studio edition of the original Subway Sect replicates fairly accurately the sound that so enthralled me on the White Riot Tour, but which was destined for oblivion after Vic Godard & Co. fell out with manager Bernard Rhodes. While the arrangement here is almost exactly the same as that contained within the grooves of the later 45, there’s a stuttering J. Maher-esque Buzzcockian nervousness on this versh which makes me yearn for a proper ‘Official Bootleg’, kind of on the lines of the Buzzcocks’ own TIME’S UP LP. Still, this’ll do me righteously for the present.
8. TUBEWAY ARMY — Jo the Waiter (2.40)
Commencing in exactly the same acoustically-driven manner as my own ‘Unisex Cathedral’, Gazza’s homoerotic tale of being groped in the gents displays a melancholic Subway Sectarianism that might not be accidental: hell, even the name of Gazza’s band is just a far more terraced-up versh of Subway Sect. Located in the boneyard of Tubeway Army’s first LP for Beggar’s Banquet, there’s a charming & disarming Desperate Bicycles-plays-BEARD OF STARS D.I.Y. element to ‘Jo the Waiter’ that stood in fair opposition to the rest of Gazza’s clattery Chrome-informed Thin White Muse. Anyhow, regarding this particular song, the absence of an ‘e’ at the end of Joe turned out to be a cunning clue: Jo was Gazza’s waitress girlfriend of the time. Ah, sweet.
9. RICHARD HELL & THE VOID-OIDS — Another World (5.30)
Despite fielding a musical troupe whose combined ages added up to more than the entire Liverpool Punk Scene combined, Dickie Bug-eyes occasionally pursued his metaphor just far enough for the more appreciative among us to get a clue as to what the fuck he was on about. Which means that while Hell’s lyrics contained herein are clear enough evidence for me to surmise that I’d have hated that existential fucker right up close, nevertheless the music and the manner in which it was performed renders this track nothing less than a Masterpiece. I mean that in both the modern sense AND in the old time descriptive sense. For, despite naming this sonic epic after a dreary NYC daytime soap opera, Richie and his combined Oids (din’t all big fans call’em that?) herein predicted the entire soon-comin’ avant-clatter of the following year’s No Wave scene in Manhattan, not to mention the obsessively Heathen Haggis Funk of Josef K and the Fire Engines, then still three long Caledonian winters away.
10. MARS — Helen Fordsdale (2.27)
Delivered to the world aboard Brian Eno’s none-more-hip 1979 avant-garde NY punk compilation NO NEW YORK, Mars were indeed privileged to arrive on the coattails of such an esteemed sonic adventurer. Unlike DNA’s TIN DRUM-esque kindergarten tantrums and saxdrûûler James Chance’s lousy-unlusty ensemble the Contortions, however, Mars fully deserved their place on Eno’s record (and then some), by delivering up to us ‘Helen Fordsdale’, a veritable blueprint for a ten-year Rock Career … all done in a two’n’arf minute song. NO NEW YORK’S other showcased act was Lydia Lunch’s extraordinary Teenage Jesus & the Jerks, an example of whose canon of work I should really have included on this compilation, but – here in remote Wiltshire – had no access to any in digital format. Soz, me dears.
11. RED TRANSISTOR — Not Bite (Unreleased)
Poor Von LMO. Poor Rudolph Grey. Like many No Wave artists excluded from Eno’s wonderful-but-too exclusive 1979 NO NEW YORK compilation, Von LMO and Grey’s own wonderful Red Transistor was passed over in favour of some right unadroit twats. Unfortunately, while time has been far kinder to Red Transistor than to most, this still fabulous hunk o’Chrome-play-NEU 2 at British Aerospace has been far upstaged by Von LMO’s own obsessive pan-dimensional Black Light trip into the astral salad. I’m talking (of course) about 1996CE’s ‘x+y=0’. Still, in context with the rest of the Post-Punk programme, Herrs. Grey und Von LMO acquit themselves marvellously here, dontcha thunk?
12. SOLIPSIK — See Saw (M-Squared 1981)
‘Seesaw’ by Solipsik
13. REMA-REMA — Rema-Rema (4AD 1980)
Taken from their sole 4AD 7” EP, this obsessively psychedelic pslab of 1980 Post-Punk soul slopped a pungent stew of refusenik chanted vocals and plenny Suicide 2nd album keyboard FX over the hoariest of all soul riffs, i.e. that venerable sucker that Grand Funk had half-inched for their 1970 epic ‘Heartbreaker’ and which the Doors just couldn’t resist re-nicking the following year for 1971’s ‘The Changeling’. Oh, and all the cranky lead guitars came from future Ant Marco Pirroni
14. A CERTAIN RATIO — All Night Party (Factory 1979)
‘All Night Party’ by A Certain Ratio
15. THEATRE OF HATE — Rebel Without a Brain (Burning Rome 1980)
Considering this single was produced by Clash guitarist Mick Jones, and the band itself led by guitarist/songwriter Kirk Brandon, quite how Theatre of Hate achieved this extraordinarily heathen sound is beyond my ken. For a start, there be no guitars. Instead, sticky dub drumming propels a harsh, stentorian sax’n’bass riff more reminiscent of PAWN HEARTS-period Van Der Graaf Generator than anything then-current. WTF? Tuneless, dirgy, haunting and utterly captivating, ‘Rebel Without a Brain’ is a genre in itself. Still, Kirk & Co. were clearly a loosely-packed ensemble, as evidenced by their being happy to release their excellent 1981 live LP HE WHO DARES WINS, despite the band’s synthesizer having been nicked from their van hours before the show!
16. SPIZZENERGI — Soldier Soldier (Rough Trade 1979)
‘Soldier Soldier’ by Spizzenergi
17. SCRITTI POLITTI — 28/8/78 (Rough Trade 2005)
Back in 1979 when the Teardrops and Bunnymen played lots of London area shows for Final Solution, Kevin Millins’ underground promotion company, the bills often featured Scritti Politti along with A Certain Ratio, Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres, etc. However, that earliest incarnation of Scritti was like a post-This Heat/Art Bears-style ensemble, delivering scratchy agricultural funk instrumentals with earnest Uppercrusty thoroughness. Released on the 21st century Rough Trade retrospective EARLY, this track sums up England 1978 about as well as any I’ve yet heard. The embodiment of the Post Punk Inclusiveness? Methinks ‘tis so.
18. SLEEPERS — Linda (Seventh World E.P. 1978)
Obviously sharing the same obsessions with stripped down soul as early Joy Division, Talking Heads, Manicured Noise and the Teardrop Explodes, San Francisco’s the Sleepers took the concept of ultra austere instrumentation to its very limits on ‘Linda’, the lead vocals, drums, and R. Dean Taylor guitar figure being swamped throughout by a monumental emptiness. It’s as though a fetishist on the level of Joe Meek or Kim Fowley had been deployed purely to undermine the overall balance, ensuring listeners’ sense of extreme tension breaks only when the bracingly atonal lead guitar theme presents its skinny neck to the metaphorical chopping board, nothing less than blood sacrifice.
19. THE HUMAN SWITCHBOARD — Fly-In (Under-the-Rug 1978)
The Human Switchboard E.P.
20. DMZ — Don’t Jump Me, Mother (Sire 1978)
Showcased here at their heaviest, DMZ coulda been mistaken for a De Twat power trio of the 1970 variety, had they dropped all the Troggs songs in favour of such lost shriekers as ‘When I Get Off’. Furthermore, if only Sire Records hadn’t co-opted mock-schlock-meisters Flo & Eddie as producers, maybe DMZ’s sole patchy studio LP offering woulda sounded a little more contemporary and competitive. Nevertheless, ‘Don’t Jump Me, Mother’ is a particularly cyclical song in the best Detroit Tradition, and most serpently exhibits one of the finest proto-metal drone riffs of All Rock Time, singer Mono Man’s urging vocal and Paul Murphy’s thunderous drop-in/drop-out drums duck’n’diving and truly elevating this sucker to the stratospheric. Now is that Yowzah or what?
21. ESG — You’re No Good (Factory 1981)
E.S.G. 12" E.P.
22. KLEENEX — Ain’t You (Sunrise 1978)
23. SECTION 25 — Girls Don’t Count (Factory 1980)
Inspired Idea 1: write a lyric that disses all the most essential things in life.
Inspired Idea 2: as a vehicle for your lyrics, construct a highly remedial early Siouxsie & the Banshees-type sub-‘Metal Postcard’ riff.
Inspired Idea 3: employ Ian Curtis and his manager Rob Gretton to produce it, then demand that their mixdown be so brutal that the Glitter Band’s ‘Angel Face’ sounds schmaltzy in comparison.
Inspired Idea 4: bark out the lyrics with all the wall-eyed gusto of an institutionalized teenage lobotomy.
24. ED BANGER — Kinnel Tommy (Rabid Records 1978)
‘Kinnel Tommy’ by Ed Banger
SUSPENDED SENTENCE E.P. by John Cooper Clarke
Contained within ye bard’s magnificent 1978 debut 7” SUSPENDED SENTENCE EP, this side-long poetic tour de force remains one of the Seventh Wonders of the Punk Era, and still makes me yearn for some confident bardic motherfucker to attempt a similar feat. Produced and co-organized/orchestrated by Martin Hannett, Clarke performed his English Biker A-Road Epic over an inspired smorgasbord of drumbox, synthesizers and guitar noise, all so masterfully hand forged that I cannot reach a useful musical comparison. Imagine MC Pitman toasting over a shambolically punky version of ‘I Feel Love’, and you’re some way to reaching Clark’s singular pleasure centres... but not a lot. Interesting note: the Fall’s Mark Smith made an entire career out of re-writing Clark’s triumphant declaration at 3 minutes and 11 seconds into the track: “for the Gonad-a-go-go Age of Compulsory Cunnilingus-ah!”
26. CRISPY AMBULANCE — The Presence (Factory Benelux 1981)
According to legend, Jesus loves the Stooges but only journalist Dave McCulloch loved Crispy Ambulance. Yup, the wetweek who told SOUNDS readers Ian Curtis topped himself for them was, at the time, the only fucker proto-Emo enough to give the Ambulance positive column inches. Which is tragic really, because ‘The Presence’ still sounds entirely contemporary, skilled in its execution, and useful if only for being so Goddamn long! Moreover, at a time when bands like the Ruts were being hailed as genii for copping the Clash’s entire reggae’n’rock schtick, why was the twangy bass guitar of Crispy Ambulance so off limits as to be a Drone Too Far? I mean, we bass players all did it just to get louder on shit amps: it wasn’t even Hooky who came first, even though he was emphatically the Supreme Master of the form as handed down to our entire generation via H. Czukay. Know worrah mean?
And with that final mouthful, I shall quit this hefty Part 2, safe in the knowledge that I’ve (once again) most serpently wound some fucker up who really did deserve to be included herein. Still, there’s plenty to listen to here, for ‘twas a massively fertile time; which is why, ultimately, I’m still part Post-Punk Motherfucker with a Post-Punk Wife whom I fell for back in ‘81, when she was just 19 years old. I reckon Dorian probably bought/scored even more of the above sonic selection than I did at the time. Besides, never having been forced to endure a Teardrop Explodes re-union has, with hindsight, ensured that my cherished memories of these Post-Punk songs have remained un-contaminated with age.
- Knowing absolutely sod all about psychedelics back in the day, I’ve retained a coupla Mark Smith’s letters from 1978, specifically because they were useful at the time for Mark’s detailed illustrations of psylocibin mushies. Back then, Mark lived with the Fall’s manager Kay Carroll, who was a lot older and would always add lovely and extravagantly poetic PS’s.