domingo, 31 de mayo de 2015

The Undertones

The Undertones slam-bang punk-pop drew its strength from one simple fact: you didn't need a secret handshake to enjoy it. John and Damian O'Neill mated infectious guitar hooks to '60s garage, '70s glam rock, and Feargal Sharkey's signature vocal quaver. Those qualities came together on their breakout hit "Teenage Kicks," whose simplicity harked back to '60s ideals of when the song was king.

The Undertones formed in Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1975. However, they avoided references to their hometown's sectarian strife for "more songs about chocolate and girls," as their second album phrased it. But gigs were scarce in a scene dominated by show bands, and the boys felt sufficiently discouraged to consider quitting -until Belfast record shop owner Terry Hooley released the 'Teenage Kicks' EP on his Good Vibrations label in September 1978. 

The song captivated Britain's top DJ, John Peel; suddenly, as Damian O'Neill recalled, people were asking for autographs at the job. The frenzy attracted a deal from Sire Records, which released the band's rough-and-ready debut in April 1979. That fall, The Undertones earned kudos as a support act on The Clash's American tour. So did 'Hypnotised', which showed a band already straining against the Ramonesy thrust of earlier singles like "Jimmy Jimmy" and "My Perfect Cousin." 

However, The Undertones entertained some notions of growing up, which started when they switched to EMI. 'Positive Touch' (1981) unveiled exotic instrumental flourishes like horns, slide guitars, tack pianos, and even xylophones; its brief residency in the U.K. Top 50 provided the first inklings of trouble. 

The band returned after a lengthy lay-off with 'The Sin of Pride' (1983), which flirted with '60s soul and psychedelia. But its singles -including a slick remake of The Isley Brothers' "Got to Have You Back" and the grungy "Love Parade"- made little impression, and the album peaked at number 46 on the U.K. charts. Sensing a thankless competition with their younger, cheekier selves, The Undertones split up in the summer of 1983 after a series of summer festival gigs. 

Sharkey launched a short-lived solo career, while John and Damian O'Neill won critical plaudits -but little sales- for their tough-minded political band, That Petrol Emotion. Hopes of re-forming the original lineup for John Peel's 50th birthday fell apart after the O'Neills' father died. The band mulled an offer for five gigs in 1994, but blamed Sharkey's skittishness for scuttling the deal.

The boys skirted their former frontman's reluctance by recruiting Derry's Paul McLoone for two hometown gigs in 1999, and haven't looked back. The reissues kept coming, while the "Teenage Kicks" (2001) documentary gave fans a fond review of the band's history. 'Get What You Need', the first new album in 20 years, earned a thumbs-up from fans on its September 2003 release. Twenty-five years after "Teenage Kicks" put The Undertones on the map, the pride of Derry seem more ubiquitous than ever. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

Talulah Gosh

Avatars of the British twee pop movement, Talulah Gosh formed in late 1985 when economics student Amelia Fletcher and struggling artist Elizabeth Price met at an Oxford area club; both were wearing Pastels badges, and their common love for indie rock prompted them to immediately found their own group. Originally intending to form a post-punk variation on '60s-era girl groups, neither of the aspiring vocalists had the time or energy to find compatible female musicians, so they instead recruited Fletcher's 15-year-old brother Mathew on drums, her record-store clerk boyfriend Peter Momtchiloff on guitar, and Chris Scott on bass; Rob Pursey, who rounded out the initial Talulah Gosh roster, exited after only three shows. 

The band bowed in March 1986, opening for The Razorcuts; their introductory song was "Pastels Badge," a celebration of their origins. Soon Talulah Gosh made their recording debut with "I Told You So," one side of a split flexi-disc with The Razorcuts issued on the tiny Sha-La-La label (whose owner, Matt Haynes, went on to co-found the highly influential Sarah Records imprint). A session for the BBC Radio One's Janice Long show followed before they signed to the Edinburgh label 53rd and 3rd, releasing their debut EP, 'Steaming Train', in 1987; the group's jangly, winsome songs and cotton-candy vocals won them a fervent cult following, and placed Talulah Gosh at the forefront of what the U.K. press dubbed the "shambling" scene. 

Prior to the release of 'Steaming Train', Price left the band, having grown tired of their haphazard, out-of-tune live shows -guitars broke, amplifiers shorted out, and cymbals crashed over, forcing the group to attempt to repair their instruments between songs. With Eithne Farry sharing vocal duties, Talulah Gosh returned to the studio in 1987 to record their second EP, 'Where's the Cougar, Matey?'; a single, 'Testcard Girl', followed, but after a final John Peel session, the group splintered in February 1988 to allow its members to continue their university careers. The Fletcher siblings and Momtchiloff later reunited in Heavenly, which also featured original Gosh bassist Rob Pursey. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 30 de mayo de 2015


Fronted by Robert King and featuring Paul Research on lead guitar, John Mackie on bass, and Calumn Mackay on drums, the band's original sound was angular and offset with a dance-based rhythm section, as evidenced by their 1979 single for Fast Product 'Horrorshow / Adult/ery'. The band's popular set-closing song "Your Attention Please" appeared as a free gold flexi-disc in the first issue of the influential London-based style magazine i-D. This aforementioned song would later be included in the band's 1981 (and sole) album 'Author! Author!', but in the meantime the group maintained an ever-mounting momentum and attention via singles releases and constant touring, and soon they were noticed by John Peel. Peel invited the band to record two of his legendary Sessions, once in February 1980 and another in May 1981. 

By the time the band started recording 'Author! Author!', their sound had matured from being rough and aggressive to something more melodic. From that album sprang perhaps the most recognizable Scars song out there, "All About You", which was the only single launched directly from that album. Calumn Mackay left Scars the year prior to the album's release, so Steve McLaughlin took over drumming duties for the band at around this time. The band continued to receive positive attention and increase their fan base as they were first able to co-headline gigs with The Comsat Angels, then headline gigs with Josef K as their supporting act. Scars even managed to land a full-page spread in Smash Hits. By that time, the band was headquartered in London.

In the summer of 1982, Scars landed a supporting slot with Australia's The Church as the headliners. This was to be the beginning of the end for the band. Having been together -and constantly playing live gigs- since they were all teenagers in 1977, the glue that held the band together started to weaken. Robert King left the band and the rest of the band members, in turn, tried to keep the band going as a cohesive unit with Paul Research taking over lead vocal duties. The band recorded a song called "Bone Orchard" for a planned second album that never materialized; at year's end, the Scars were no more. King would soon go on to modest but temporary success as a solo artist (the synthpop-ish "Paper Heart" being the most notable of his recordings), but by the mid '80s the various Scars bandmates have been content to continue being musicians and pursuing other interests beyond the glare of the limelight. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

Rain Parade

Of the bands who emerged from the West Coast Paisley Underground scene of the '80s, Rain Parade were the group that paid most explicit homage to psychedelic music of the '60s at its most unfashionable; as punk and new wave gave way to what became alternative music, Rain Parade were the first band to declare, at least musically, that the hippies may have been right about something after all, as their languid tempos, streamlined melodies, modal counterpoints, and impressionistic lyrics evoked a cool, graceful approximation of psychedelia. 

Rain Parade was formed by guitarists David Roback and Matt Piucci, who met when they were roommates at a small college in Minnesota. Both had a keen interest in music, and while their heads had been turned by the explosion of punk rock, both were fascinated by bands like Love and The Byrds, and as Roback told a reporter, "Rain Parade was very much a recasting of our punk interests in more musical terms, inspired by our fascination with music history." Piucci decided to leave school in April 1981 in order to move to California and make music, and Roback followed suit. They formed a band called The Sidewalks to perform '60s-style garage rock, but soon they started exploring the more refined branches of psychedelic rock, and they evolved into Rain Parade, with Piucci and Roback joined by David's brother Steven Roback on bass, Will Glenn on keyboards, and Eddie Kalwa on drums. When Rain Parade began playing out in the spring of 1982, they discovered they weren't the only band in town that had embraced sounds of the '60s, and along with The Dream Syndicate, The Long Ryders, Green on Red, True West, The Three O'Clock, and  The Bangles, they became part of a scene that was dubbed "the Paisley Underground," though each band clearly had their own sound and influences. In mid-1982, Rain Parade recorded and self-released their first single, 'Look What She's Done to Your Mind b/w Kaleidoscope', and as their local following grew, the following year they struck a deal with ambitious independent label Enigma Records, and released their debut album, 'Emergency Third Rail Power Trip'. Zippo Records, distributed by the well-connected indie label Demon Records, issued the album in the U.K., and soon Rain Parade were becoming a critical favorite with a growing fan following on both sides of the Atlantic. David Roback, however, quit the group before they could begin work on their next recording, and he soon re-emerged with the band Clay Allison, which gave way to Opal, featuring former Dream Syndicate bassist Kendra Smith. As a quartet, Rain Parade recorded an EP, 'Explosions in the Glass Palace', that was issued in 1984, and the group became a five-piece again with the addition of guitarist John Thoman, who came aboard in time for a tour of Japan that produced the live album 'Beyond the Sunset', released in 1985. Rain Parade signed a major-label deal with Island Records, and the band recorded their second full-length studio effort for the label, 1986's 'Crashing Dream', which featured new drummer Mark Marcum. However, the album's very '80s production, full of synthesizers and gated drums, put off their core fans without attracting many new ones, and before the year was out, Rain Parade had called it a day. 

Roback would later find mainstream success with the group Mazzy Star, while Steven Roback formed Viva Saturn and Matt Piucci cut a memorable album with Tim Lee of The Windbreakers, 'Can't Get Lost When You're Goin' Nowhere', under the group name Gone Fishin. Piucci also sat in with Crazy Horse for the sessions that produced the 1989 album 'Left for Dead'. In the fall of 2012, Matt Piucci, Steven Roback, and John Thoman assembled a new edition of Rain Parade to play a benefit after Windbreakers guitarist Bobby Sutliff was seriously injured in an auto accident. For the benefit, Piucci, Roback, and Thoman were joined by guitarist Mark Hanley, bassist Alec Palao, and drummer Gil Ray. Following the Sutliff benefit, the new edition of Rain Parade headed out on a brief tour, and in late 2013, they were part of a pair of shows (in Los Angeles and San Francisco) in which they shared the stage with three other iconic Paisley Underground bands, The Bangles, The Three O'Clock, and The Dream Syndicate. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC] 

viernes, 29 de mayo de 2015

The Pandoras

Formed as a garage punk band in Los Angeles during the early '80s, The Pandoras debuted with a 7" EP in 1984 on the Moxie label. That same year, the group recorded 'It's About Time' with producer Greg Shaw, but splintered later in the year. Vocalist/guitarist Paula Pierce recruited three new players, while the old band toured for a short time, using The Pandoras' name as well. Pierce and her new lineup released 'Stop Pretending' in 1986 on Rhino, and then moved up to the majors with an Elektra deal. An album ('Come Inside') was recorded but never released, and The Pandoras were summarily dropped from the label, only to re-surface in 1988 on Restless. A far cry from their beginnings, the 'Rock Hard' EP contained several libido-obsessed homages to crotch rock, as did the 'Live Nymphomania' LP, recorded at a Dallas concert. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

Hazel O'Connor

Although her career seems to have been more as a media sensation than as a musician at times, British-born singer, songwriter, and actress Hazel O'Connor has stayed active and productive since her breakthrough role as Kate in the 1980 film "Breaking Glass". The soundtrack album for "Breaking Glass", which O'Connor wrote, was a huge U.K. hit and spawned several singles, launching her musical career, although she continued to act on British TV and in several stage productions while maintaining an active touring schedule with her band Megahype. Among her many albums are the 1980 debut, 'Breaking Glass', that same year's 'Sons & Lovers', 1981's 'Cover Plus', 1984's 'Smile', 1993's 'To Be Freed and Over the Moon...Live', 1995's 'Private Wars', 1997's 'Live in Berlin', 1998's '5 in the Morning', 2000's 'Beyond the Breaking Glass', 2002's 'Acoustically Yours', 2003's "best of" 'A Singular Collection', 2005's 'Hidden Heart' and the double-disc 'Fighting Back', and a 2008 version of 'Smile'. Throughout her career, O'Connor has used the tremendous pressure and scrutiny that accompanied her sudden fame as a central metaphor in her work, detailing the often-baffling complexities of modern life in a media-driven world. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

jueves, 28 de mayo de 2015

New Model Army

To their impassioned cult of fans, New Model Army were one of the best post-punk outfits Great Britain ever produced. Combining the gut-level force of punk with the anthemic political fervor of U2 and The Alarm, as well as the urban protest folk of Billy Bragg, NMA sounded like few other bands mining similar post-punk territory. Their attack was hard, spare, and precise, but as time wore on, they were just as likely to deliver modern-day folk-rock replete with acoustic guitar, violin, and harmonica. Throughout their career, they remained staunch advocates of the British working class, occasionally tempering their leftist, anti-Thatcher political fury with moments of personal introspection. Their shout-along anthems often borrowed the football-chant feel of Oi!, but NMA were far less given to rabble-rousing, instead aiming for intelligent dissidence. True, that could sometimes translate into preachy sloganeering, but NMA's best work earned them tremendous acclaim in the U.K., where their singles regularly placed in the lower reaches of the pop charts. U.K.-specific lyrical references, coupled with visa problems that sometimes made touring difficult, unfortunately ensured that they were all but ignored in the U.S. Still, they maintained a strong following in Europe, and leader Justin Sullivan managed to keep them going for more than two decades. 

New Model Army were formed in the Yorkshire town of Bradford in 1980. In keeping with the band's intellectual bent, their name was taken from Oliver Cromwell's anti-royalist military force, whose hierarchy was based on ability rather than social class, and which temporarily succeeded in toppling the monarchy in the mid-1600s. Early on, guitarist/vocalist/bandleader Justin Sullivan adopted the nom de punk "Slade the Leveller," which despite its aggressive ring was an esoteric reference to the Levellers, a radical democratic faction of Cromwell associates. The concept for New Model Army grew out of a meeting between Sullivan and writer Joolz Denby, who went on to become a respected poet, novelist, and spoken word artist in her own right; the two also became lifelong romantic partners. Bassist Stuart Morrow was the first to sign on, and after a rotating succession of drummers, Rob Heaton became a permanent member, as well as Sullivan's frequent songwriting partner. Denby, for her part, served as the band's manager early on, and while the job ultimately proved too time-consuming, she continued to design the band's cover art and occasionally provided backing vocals in the studio; the band also backed her on several albums of her own, credited simply to Joolz. 

New Model Army spent a couple of years gigging around Yorkshire and building a substantial buzz in the British music press. In 1983, the group issued its debut single, 'Bittersweet', which landed them a deal with the indie label Abstract by the end of the year. Their first release for Abstract was the politically charged 'Great Expectations' single, which reached the British indie singles charts and set the stage for their debut album, 1984's 'Vengeance'. Songs like the antiwar "Spirit of the Falklands", the frustrated "Small Town England", and the militant title track further defined NMA's perspective. In its wake, the non-LP single 'The Price' was a smash on the indie charts, and major-label EMI stepped in to sign the band.

New Model Army's first single for EMI, 'No Rest', climbed into the British Top 30 in early 1985, marking the first of the band's 12 pop chart entries. It was followed in short order by the album 'No Rest for the Wicked'; however, bassist Stuart Morrow left the band that May, prior to the LP's release. Sullivan and Heaton cut the mostly acoustic 'Better Than Them' EP before finding a permanent replacement in 17-year-old Jason "Moose" Harris. Following the non-LP single 'Brave New World', Harris made his album debut on 1986's Glyn Johns-produced 'The Ghost of Cain', which expanded the group's acoustic folk influence and featured contributions from harmonica player Mark Feltham. The single '51st State', a critique of Britain's relationship with the United States, was a hit in Europe, and a dance remix of "Poison Street" was successful in the U.K.; additionally, album opener "The Hunt" was later covered by Brazilian metal band Sepultura

"White Coats," a track from a self-titled 1987 EP, became NMA's biggest hit in some time, adding keyboards to their sound. Guitarist Ricky Warwick briefly joined their touring lineup that year before moving on to found The Almighty. Produced in part by Tom Dowd, NMA's next album, 1989's 'Thunder and Consolation', was widely acclaimed as their best ever, with an even stronger folk influence thanks to the presence of violinist Ed Alleyne-Johnson. The single 'Green and Grey' was also tabbed as a highlight of the band's career, and both "Stupid Questions" and "Vagabonds" charted in the U.K. Chris McLaughlin joined as a second guitarist for the supporting tour, but bassist Harris later departed and was replaced by Peter Nelson, formerly of Brotherhood of Lizards. Nelson debuted on 1990's 'Impurity', which also featured new second guitarist Adrian Portas.

After one more album, the 1991 double-live set 'Raw Melody Men', NMA left EMI to sign with Epic. They released only one album, 1993's 'The Love of Hopeless Causes', which spawned the single 'Here Comes the War'. Several CD compilations of the group's singles, as well as B-sides, radio sessions, and other rarities appeared during the early-'90s reissue boom. The band, though, fell mostly silent during the middle of the decade. In the meantime, Sullivan and Joolz formed a four-person performance collective dubbed Red Sky Coven, which offered an informal mishmash of music, poetry, comedy, and spoken word. Sullivan reconvened New Model Army in 1998, still with a core of Nelson and Heaton, and with a supporting membership of guitarists/keyboardists Dave Blomberg and Dean White. This lineup, augmented by strings and brass, recorded 'Strange Brotherhood' for the U.K. label Eagle. Its supporting European tour produced another live album, the double-disc '...& Nobody Else', released by Attack Attack. That label also issued the studio follow-up, 'Eight', in 2000; it marked the group's first album without longtime drummer Heaton, who was replaced by Michael Dean. The odds 'n' ends collection 'Lost Songs' appeared in 2001, and a Sullivan solo album ('Navigating by the Stars') in 2003. 

Sad news came in 2004 with the death of Heaton, but as New Model Army turned 25 they continued to soldier on. The studio album 'Carnival' appeared from Attack Attack in August 2005; it featured Sullivan, Dean, Nelson, Blomberg, and White. 'High' followed from this lineup in 2007 with 'Today Is a Good Day' landing in 2009. After recording a series of albums they felt sounded traditional and "band in a room," the group decided to try something more polished. As a result, they recorded their 2013 effort 'Between Dog and Wolf' with engineer Joe Barresi (Queens of the Stone Age, Tool) mixing. After their 'BDAW' world tour, the band used live recordings as well as six new tracks for a follow-up mini-album titled 'Between Wine & Blood', which was expected in September 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 27 de mayo de 2015


After leaving the Buzzcocks in 1977, vocalist Howard Devoto formed Magazine with guitarist John McGeoch, bassist Barry Adamson, keyboardist Bob Dickinson, and drummer Martin Jackson. One of the first post-punk bands, Magazine kept the edgy, nervous energy of punk and added elements of art rock, particularly with their theatrical live shows and shards of keyboards. Devoto's lyrics were combinations of social commentary and poetic fragments, while the band alternated between cold, jagged chords and gloomy, atmospheric sonic landscapes. 

Magazine performed their first concert in the fall of 1977 and were signed to Virgin Records by the end of the year; by that point, Dickinson had left the group. The band recorded its first single, 'Shot by Both Sides', as a quartet; Devoto had written the song with his former Buzzcocks partner, Pete Shelley. Appearing in early 1978, the single gathered good reviews on both sides of the Atlantic and charted in the U.K., peaking at number 41. Before they recorded their debut album, keyboardist Dave Formula joined the lineup. 'Real Life', released later in 1978, continued the confrontational, arty pop-punk of "Shot by Both Sides". Following their first tour, Jackson left the group and was replaced by John Doyle. The new lineup recorded the band's second album, 'Secondhand Daylight' (1979). 'Secondhand Daylight' was somewhat of a departure from the debut, featuring more keyboards, smoother rhythms, and streamlined lyrics from Devoto. Despite its ambitiousness, the record was poorly received by the press. During this time, McGeoch played with Siouxsie & the Banshees, while Adamson, Formula, and McGeoch were part of Visage, along with Steve Strange. At the beginning of 1980, the band released its third album, 'The Correct Use of Soap'. 

In the summer of 1980, Magazine released 'Sweetheart Contract', which became their second and last British chart hit, peaking at number 54. After it hit the charts, McGeoch left the band to become a full-time member of Siouxsie & the Banshees; he was replaced by Robin Simon. Magazine toured America and Australia and recorded a live album called 'Play', which was released at the end of 1980. Simon left at the end of the tour, with former Amazorblades guitarist Bob Mandelson taking his place. 'Magic, Murder and the Weather' was released in the spring of 1981; it proved to be Magazine's last album until three decades later. Devoto left the group in May of 1981 to pursue a solo career and the band broke up shortly afterward. 

Devoto's activities after the breakup of Magazine included a solo album (1983's 'Jerky Versions of the Dream'), an appearance on This Mortal Coil's 'It'll End in Tears' (lead vocals on a cover of Big Star's "Kangaroo"), two albums as part of the duo Luxuria (1988's 'Unanswerable Lust' and 1990's 'Beast Box'), and an album with Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley as ShelleyDevoto ('Buzzkunst', 2001). Adamson was more active than any of his former bandmates; he played with The Birthday Party and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and recorded regularly as a solo artist, beginning with 'Moss Side Story' (1988). McGeoch left the Banshees in 1982, joined the Armoury Show (beside Doyle) for four years, and then linked with John Lydon's Public Image Ltd. from 1986 through 1992. He passed away in 2004. In 2009, Devoto, Adamson, Formula, and Doyle -along with Devoto's Luxuria partner, Noko, as guitarist- reunited for a handful of performances. After Adamson departed and was replaced by Jon "Stan" White, the band recorded 'No Thyself' -its fifth studio album- and released it in 2011. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 26 de mayo de 2015


Laibach is an industrial group whose members prefer to be known as a collective rather than reveal individual names; they've been seen as fascists and of practicing Germanophilia because of their music's Wagnerian thunder and their military attire. According to Laibach, "We are fascists as much as Hitler was a painter." Since fascism needs a scapegoat to flourish, the members of Laibach mocked it by becoming their own scapegoat and willingly sought alienation. Showing a ridiculous lust for authority, Laibach's releases featured artwork influenced by anti-Nazi photomontage artist John Heartfield, and the group's live shows portray rock concerts as absurd political rallies. In interviews their answers are wry manifestos, and they never break character.

Formed the same year longtime Yugoslavian leader Marshall Josip Broz Tito died, Laibach started activity in 1980 in the industrial coal-mining town of Trbovlje in the center of what is now Slovenia. They took their name from the nearby city Ljubljana's title during Nazi occupation. Their first performance was canceled by authorities for their controversial use of symbols, and military service kept them away from performing until June of 1981. Laibach first played Ljubljana in January of 1982, and the 'Ljubljana-Zagreb-Beograd' collection captures some the group's performances from this time from cassettes sold at shows. The 'Laibach/Last Few Days' cassette from 1983 was the group's first proper release, and cassettes from labels like Staal Tapes and Skuk followed. Milan Fras joined as vocalist, and his distinctive growl and grim stare still make him the group's most recognizable member. An appearance on Yugoslavian TV with shaved heads and military attire provoked the state to issue a ban on the name Laibach in Ljubljana that was not lifted until 1987. 

Around the time of the EP 'Panorama/Die Liebe's release, a concert was planned and posters put up overnight with only Laibach's trademark cross representing the group. Both concert and poster are captured on 'M.B. December 21, 1984'. Laibach soon joined the like-minded artist collective Irwin and theater group Scipion Nasice Sisters to form the organization Neue Slowenische Kunst, or NSK. NSK became involved in the group's concerts and Irwin's artwork would often be displayed at venues. The group's debut studio album, which also featured the cross only, was released in 1985 but was reissued in 1999 as 'Laibach'. 'Baptism', from 1986, includes the group's soundtrack to the NSK stage production "Baptism Under Triglav". Laibach's music had remained a challenging combination of military marches and tape loops that only fans of Throbbing Gristle, Nurse With Wound, and the like paid much attention to, but things were about to change. 

Wax Trax! in America and Mute in the U.K. gave 1987's 'Opus Dei' Laibach's first widely available release. Included were bizarre thumping cover versions of Queen's "One Vision" and one-hit wonder Opus' "Life Is Life," and videos of both were shown on MTV. A worldwide tour followed, and Laibach was invited by John Peel to do a Peel Session and Michael Clark commissioned the group to provide music for his dance company. The idea of covering pop music in Wagnerian style was expanded on 1988's 'Sympathy for the Devil EP', which included multiple versions of the Rolling Stones' classic, and 'Let It Be', which reproduced the whole of the Beatles' album, minus the title track. 'Let It Be' included a version of "Across the Universe," sung by fellow NSK members Germania, whose ethereal female vocals would show up on many later releases. Another world tour followed, and a bootleg video of a Dallas, Texas, concert showed up on the short-lived Videophile label. The group's success caused various early recordings to be reissued, and 1990 saw Laibach return to more orchestral work with its soundtrack to a NSK production of "Macbeth".

Laibach celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall with the 'Oktober/Geburt Einer Nation' single, containing more of a techno slant and a remix credited to the mysterious Kraftbach. Released in 1992, 'Kapital' fully embraced minimal techno and focused on the growth of capitalism in Eastern Europe. A world tour (with each member's skin painted silver) and more reissues followed. A return to bombastic cover versions was heard on the war-focused 'NATO' as the former Yugoslavia fell apart. The techno was left up to the new side project 300,000 V.K. and its debut, 'Also Sprach Johann Paul II'. The 'NATO' world tour was documented on the limited-edition CD and video box set 'Occupied Europe NATO' in 1996, the same year the band released the religious-themed and cover version-filled 'Jesus Christ Superstars'. That album's live show toured the world on and off until the release of 2003's 'WAT', a return to techno and the band's first pop album to contain primarily self-penned material in a while. 

The 2004 compilation 'Anthems' featured two CDs: one compiling singles, the other remixes. 'Volk' from late 2006 reimagined national anthems from around the world, including those of Germany, Italy, the U.S., and even the Vatican. Their 2008 album 'Kunst der Fuge' featured "Laibachian interpretations" of Johann Sebastian Bach's "The Art of Fugue", then in 2012 the film "Iron Sky" arrived with a Laibach score including the 'WAT' track "B Mashina," which was also released as a single. That same year, London's Tate Modern museum hosted an overview of the NSK's work, including a Laibach concert, a recording of which was released by Mute as 'Monumental Retro-Avant-Garde'. In 2013 the EP 'S' arrived, featuring a cover Serge Gainsbourg's "Love on the Beat" along with three original songs that landed on the group's 2014 album, 'Spectre'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 25 de mayo de 2015

Mick Karn

Born July 24, 1958, Mick Karn first studied wood and wind instruments such as bassoon and clarinet. However, it is his highly distinctive fretless bass voice for which he is most renowned, an accolade placing him next to Jaco Pastorius. According to Karn, bass went unnoticed and his mission was to get it noticed. Even on early Japan recordings, his wiggly bass can be heard. By their swan song, 'Tin Drum' in 1981, he was dubbed one of the best bass players in the world. He'd already supplied bass and sax work to Gary Numan's 'Dance' album and was the first Japan member with a solo record: 'Titles'. In 1983, Japan's live album, 'Oil on Canvas', brought his playing to new ears: jazz legend Jan Garbarek. The following year brought an unlikely collaboration with Peter Murphy of Bauhaus. 'The Waking Hour' became Dalis Car's only album and soon Karn was again a solo agent teaming up with close friend Steve Jansen to produce 'Dreams of Reason Produce Monsters'. Session work with Kate Bush and Joan Armatrading bridged Karn's solo efforts, which were few and far between, often odd in title and texture ("Beard in the Letter Box", "Plaster the Magic Tongue"). The early '90s saw a more prolific Karn who formed the label Medium with Jansen and Richard Barbieri. All three joined guitarist David Torn to produce his best efforts: 'Bestial Cluster' (1993) and 'The Tooth Mother' in 1995. Between these came an experimental project, 'Polytown', again with Torn and drummer Terry Bozzio. Its muscular and at times funky prog rock is not for the fainthearted. Karn found time to spend on his sculpture and a San Francisco sabbatical eventually bore the album 'Each Eye a Path'. 'The Concrete Twin' was released in 2010. Diagnosed with cancer the same year, Karn died on January 4, 2011, at the age of 52. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 24 de mayo de 2015

The Jacobites

Following the breakup of the seminal British post-punk outfit Swell Maps, frontman Nikki Sudden embarked on a solo career, then concurrently formed a new band called The Jacobites. Far more classicist than Swell Maps had been, The Jacobites gave Sudden a chance to exercise his penchant for straightforward, elegantly wasted rock & roll, drawing chiefly from the Stones and the Faces while adding elements of singer/songwriter rock (Neil Young, Bob Dylan) and crunchy British glam (T. Rex, Mott the Hoople, David Bowie). Having issued his solo debut in 1982, Sudden formed The Jacobites in 1984 with his brother, ex-Swell Maps drummer Epic Soundtracks, and guitarist Dave Kusworth. Bassist Mark Lemon rounded out the charter lineup, and the group made their LP debut with a self-titled effort on the indie label Glass in 1984; they also released an EP, 'Shame for the Angels', that year. A second album, 'Robespierre's Velvet Basement', appeared in 1985 and was something of a critical and underground success. Originally slated to be a double LP, it spawned another album's worth of outtakes from the sessions, which were released on a German label as 'Lost in a Sea of Scarves'.

Soundtracks left later in 1985 to join Crime & the City Solution, an offshoot of The Birthday Party. Two more Jacobites EPs -'Pin Your Heart to Me' and 'When the Rain Comes'- appeared before guitarist Kusworth left the group in early 1986 to pursue a solo career. Although Sudden kept The Jacobites name for his shifting backing group for several years afterward, for all intents and purposes they were no longer The Jacobites in spirit. Nonetheless, the 1986 compilation 'The Ragged School' introduced their music to American audiences when it was released on Twin/Tone at the urging of Paul Westerberg, and another compilation, 1988's 'Fortune of Fame', further enhanced their reputation.

In 1993, with plenty more solo releases under his belt, Nikki Sudden reunited with Dave Kusworth in a new version of The Jacobites proper, which also included guitarist Glenn Tranter, bassist Carl Eugene Picôt, and drummer Mark Williams. A flurry of releases on small labels followed -1994's 'Howling Good Times', 1995's 'Old Scarlett and Heart of Hearts', 1996's 'Kiss of Life'- which were scarcely available in the U.S. and more popular with mainland Europe than the band's native U.K. The garage rock label Bomp issued the reunited Jacobites' fifth album, 'God Save Us Poor Sinners', in the U.S. in 1998, and in 2002, the Secretly Canadian indie label began to reissue The Jacobites' early output as well. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

Immaculate Fools

The British band the Immaculate Fools became so popular in Spain that they eventually moved there. Formed in London, England, in 1984, the Immaculate Fools was comprised of Kevin Weatherill (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica, bass), Paul Weatherill (acoustic bass, backing vocals, percussion), Brian Betts (acoustic guitar, slide guitar, percussion, mandolin), and Barry Wickens (violin, dulcimer, acoustic guitar, accordion). Although the group landed on the charts in Britain, their hybrid of Celtic music, folk, and alternative rock found even more success in Spain and Germany. In 1987, their LP 'Dumb Poet' was released in America by A&M Records and the Psychedelic Furs-esque track "Tragic Comedy" was a minor hit on college radio. The band toured with Bob Dylan, Iggy Pop, Simple Minds, The Stranglers, and The Rolling Stones; however, they grew tired of the English music scene in the late '80s and relocated to Spain, where they were superstars. In 1997, the Immaculate Fools broke up after Weatherill departed from the group. Calling himself Dirty Ray, Weatherill abandoned the Immaculate Fools' Celtic touches for gritty blues on his solo debut 'Primitive'. Influenced by John Lee Hooker, Howlin' Wolf, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave, Weatherill recorded the album with Simon Anderson (percussion) and Rainy Moor (electric organ). [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

sábado, 23 de mayo de 2015

Nina Hagen

Born in East Germany, Nina Hagen had already gained a reputation as a flamboyant rock singer by the time she emigrated to the West in 1976, where she formed a band, signed to CBS Germany, and released the debut album 'Nina Hagen Band' in 1978. It was followed in 1980 by 'Unbehagen'. Hagen's first U.S. release, 'Nina Hagen Band EP' (1980), was a four-song EP consisting of songs drawn from her two German releases. She moved to New York and made her first English-language LP, 'Nunsexmonkrock', in 1982. That and its follow-up, the Giorgio Moroder-produced 'Fearless' (1983), charted briefly, and "New York New York" was a Top Ten dance club hit. But Hagen left CBS after 'Nina Hagen in Ekstacy' (1985). In 1988, she celebrated her marriage with the EP 'Punk Wedding', released in Canada, and in 1989 she returned to the German market with 'Nina Hagen'. In 2010, Hagen released 'Personal Jesus', which featured 13 faith-based tracks that dutifully blend rock, blues, soul, and gospel into a sound that’s distinctly hers. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]

Diamanda Galás

A fiercely confrontational avant-garde performer noted for her wailing, four-octave vocal range, Diamanda Galás was born and raised in San Diego, CA. Galás was the daughter of Greek Orthodox parents and her singing was roundly discouraged, although her prowess as a classical pianist was nurtured; ultimately, her strict upbringing resulted in a reckless, drug-fueled youth prior to her entrance into the University of California's music and visual arts program. Galás made her performing debut in 1979 at France's Festival d'Avignon, which led to an invitation to assume the lead role in composer Vinko Globokar's politically charged opera "Un Jour Comme un Autre". In subsequent solo performance art pieces like "Wild Women with Steak Knives" and "Tragouthia Apo to Aima Exon Fonos", Galás further honed her unique, shattering vocal style, inspired by the Schrei ("shriek") opera of German expressionism (a form employing a system of four microphones and a series of echoes and delays). 

Galás made her recorded debut in 1982 with 'The Litanies of Satan', a provocative work comprised of a vocal adaptation of a poem by Charles Baudelaire. After the prison-themed performance piece "Panoptikon" (documented on a self-titled 1984 release), she began developing a trilogy of albums known collectively as 'The Masque of the Red Death'; released independently between 1986 and 1988 as 'The Divine Punishment', 'Saint of the Pit', and 'You Must Be Certain of the Devil', the three records catalogued Galás' litany against the AIDS epidemic, which claimed her brother, playwright Philip-Dimitri Galás, in 1986. With 1990's 'The Singer', she made her first subtle advances into the realm of pop music; reprising some of the same gospel material that snaked through 'The Masque of the Red Death', the record also featured her covers of Willie Dixon's "Insane Asylum" and Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You." The 1993 a cappella effort 'Vena Cava' preceded 1994's 'The Sporting Life', a collaboration with former Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. A record of Galás' 1994 radio work 'Schrei X' followed in 1996, in tandem with her first book collection, "The Shit of God". She returned two years later with 'Malediction & Prayer'. The solo live recordings 'Serpenta Canta' and 'Defixiones: Will and Testament, Orders from the Dead' were released in November 2003, followed by another live music set, 'Guilty Guilty Guilty', in 2008. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 22 de mayo de 2015

Fad Gadget

For all intents and purposes, Frank Tovey was best known as the man behind Fad Gadget, one of the most significant cult acts of the post-punk boom. As Fad Gadget, Tovey and his revolving door of conspirators released several singles and four full-length albums that stretched the boundaries of pop music during the late '70s and early '80s. And after Tovey started making records under his own name in the mid-'80s, he continued to remain as unpredictable as ever, working within the realms of Cajun, blues, and folk, in addition to furthering his journey into experimental electronics. 

Humorous, dark, strange, puzzling, wild, honest, confrontational -these adjectives exemplify Tovey's lengthy body of work and his legacy of daringly physical performances (Tovey's stage antics included numerous acrobatic feats and a penchant for shaving his copiously foamed body.) While Fad Gadget's contemporaries included the likes of Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, Wire, The Normal, and Soft Cell, Tovey and company's records never quite achieved the underground notoriety or the chart success enjoyed by his peers. Regardless of the level of recognition, Tovey's unique contribution to electronic music is undeniable, and so is his influence upon it. As the years go on, the recognition continues to gather steam. 

As a youngster, the London, England-born Tovey became a fan of Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan, and Lou Reed. He knew from an early stage that he wanted to become involved with music and eventually earned a degree in fine arts from Leeds Polytechnic in 1975. After finishing his schooling, he returned to London and put together some songs made with an electric piano, a drum machine, and a tape recorder. Through the help of a flatmate, Tovey met up with Daniel Miller at the local Rough Trade shop and gave the man behind The Normal's "Warm Leatherette" his primitive recordings. Miller loved what he heard and signed Tovey to his Mute label, a groundbreaking pro-electronic label that was just lifting off the ground. 

Tovey made his first public appearance as Fad Gadget in July of 1979. Two months after that, the first Fad Gadget single, 'The Box', was issued. Just as funny as it was frightening, the predominantly electronic single featured two songs that remain touchstones of Tovey's lengthy career. Another key single, 'Ricky's Hand', was out in shops the following March. The sleeve boldly claimed that, save for an electric drill and the vocals, the two songs on it were made entirely from synthetic sources. A third single was released just prior to the first full-length, 'Fireside Favourites', which was released by the end of 1980. While Tovey did the lion's share of synth work on the album, percussionist John Fryer, bassist/guitarist Eric Radcliffe, drummer Nick Cash, and synthesist Miller chipped in with contributions.

'Incontinent', the second Fad Gadget LP, was issued almost exactly a year after the debut. Aside from the return of most of the usual suspects, Wire's Robert Gotobed played some drums, Peter Bahner played some bass and guitar, and David Simmonds provided extra synth and percussion work. Slightly darker than its predecessor, a decrease in the reliance upon electronics made for a wide-eyed, if unfocused, sophomore album. 

The albums 'Under the Flag' and 'Gag' were released in 1982 and 1984, respectively. The move into dance and soul-influenced territories -along with relatively traditional production values for the time- resulted in lighter and less urgent music, but Tovey's lyrics steadfastly refused to approach anything resembling mundane or fantasy-based. Tovey was more likely to be compared to Bob Dylan than Gary Numan, as his lyrics favored the everyman over machines and aliens. Personnel-wise, 'Under the Flag' featured guest vocal turns and saxophone blurts from Alison Moyet (Yazoo), and 'Gag' included some guitar work from Rowland S. Howard (The Birthday Party).

After 'Gag', Tovey decided to start recording under his own name and released six albums on Mute between 1985 and 1992. Just prior to that phase, he also paired up with Non's Boyd Rice for 1984's 'Easy Listening for the Hard of Hearing'. These records were frequently more challenging the ones released as Fad Gadget, and Tovey's switch in names allowed him to expand his creativity. He decided to learn how to play instruments properly, a move that was prompted by his daughter. Asked by his daughter to play one of her songs, Tovey realized he couldn't really play anything, so he took up the guitar and made a conscious decision to write and record with more traditional instrumentation. 1989's 'Tyranny & the Hired Hand' witnessed Tovey at his most organic. The labor-inspired album featured covers of modern and traditional protest songs. And for his following two albums, 1991's 'Grand Union' and 1992's 'Worried Men in Second Hand Suits', Tovey continued his folk streak with a trio of Irish musicians dubbed The Pyros

In 2001, Tovey dusted off Fad Gadget and began performing again under the name. In addition to an appearance at London's Elektrofest, Tovey opened for Depeche Mode on his labelmates' 'Exciter' tour. Mute released 'The Best of Fad Gadget', a two-disc set of ace material, B-sides, and remixes. New material had been written and plans for new recordings were laid, but Tovey unexpectedly passed away in his home on April 3, 2002. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC


Eat are a British alternative rock band. They were active in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and then reformed in 2014. They have released two albums on The Cure's label Fiction. Although achieving reasonable success in the UK, the band failed to attract attention in the United States. 

The band started out playing a distinctive mixture of swamp blues, hip hop and funk, showcased on their 1989 album 'Sell Me A God'. At this time they undertook tours of Europe with The Jesus and Mary Chain and Phillip Boa. Band tensions led to the abandonment of a second album in 1990, although they toured in October on the back of an NME single of the week, 'Psycho Couch'. However, a combination of internal feuds ("It got to the point where we just couldn't bear to be in the same room as each other") led to a complete split and meant that the band was effectively on hiatus from 1990 to 1992. The band returned with a different line up, a completely different sound - of pop and psychedelia - and the album 'Epicure' in 1993. Despite positive reviews, and extensive airplay, Eat had evidently run its course, and in 1995 Dolittle left to join members of The Wonder Stuff in Weknowwhereyoulive, whilst Howard joined The Wonder Stuff's singer Miles Hunt in his new project Vent 414

Paul and Max Noble formed U.V. Ray who released 'The Suitcase EP' in 1991 and subsequently T.V. Eye in 1992, who featured a pre-'Dennis Pennis' Paul Kaye on lead vocals and recorded 'Killer Fly' (1993), featuring new recordings of two previously unreleased Eat tracks as b-sides, for Go! Discs. Paul Noble and Louis Jones from T.V. Eye went on to form Warm Jets, while Max Noble emerges from time to time with The Blue Aeroplanes. Eat reformed to play two back to back sell out gigs at The Half Moon, Putney in October 2014, with Malcolm Treece, formerly of The Wonder Stuff, replacing Max Lavilla on guitar. [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2015

Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (D.A.F.)

Deutsch Amerikansiche Freundschaft ("German American Friendship"; most commonly abbreviated to D.A.F.) was founded as a five-piece industrial noise outfit in Düsseldorf in 1978, but ultimately winnowed down to a two-man group consisting of vocalist/lyricist Gabi Delgado and drummer/electronic musician Robert Görl. Their early development is linked to the Düsseldorf based group Der Plan, whose members all played in D.A.F. on its first album, 'Ein Produkt der DAF', minus Delgado, then a member but absent for these recording sessions. Released on the German AtaTak label in 1979 and later re-issued on Mute, 'Ein Produkt der DAF' heralded the beginning of the German branch of industrial music: the first recordings by Einstürzende Neubauten, made two years later, bear a striking resemblance to it. 

By the time 'Ein Produkt der DAF' made its bow, Delgado and Robert Görl had already decided to split off from the larger group, which re-formed as Der Plan without them. For a time, Delgado sang and played near-atonal guitar while Görl played drums and synthesizer, and a gig of this type held in 1979 at the Electric Ballroom in London takes up the second side of their debut LP on Mute, 'Die Kleinen und die Bösen' ("The Small Ones and the Evil Ones.") The first side consists of a studio recording, the last session made by the larger D.A.F. and produced by Conny Planck, who would have a significant impact on their sound in subsequent projects. The anger and ferocity of 'Die Kleinen und die Bösen' was remarkable even in the midst of punk -German icons were viciously sent up, such as in their rabid cover of "Ich Bin die Fesche Lola" (one of Marlene Dietrich's fetching songs from "The Blue Angel"). "Die Lüstigen Stiefel Marschiren über Polen," ("The Funny Little Boots Are Marching over Poland') was an angry and hard yet tongue in cheek, atonal disco song about the invasion of Poland by the Nazis; such material was deliberately calculated as offensive in the politically liberal, historically humiliated, terrorist-plagued society current in Germany circa 1980.

By 1980, D.A.F. had settled in London and Delgado had permanently retired his guitar; they signed with Virgin Records who sent them back to Planck to produce their masterpiece 'Alles Ist Gut', which exploded in the rock underground in the middle of 1981. D.A.F. had narrowed its instrumentation down to just Delgado's voice, Görl's monolithic drums, and a 16-voice sequencer that put out a single repeating pattern for whole songs; in doing so, they had moved out of art-punk and into what they called "Electronic Body Music" or EBM. Planck's crisp production, in addition to some subtle, well-placed effects, produced in 'Alles Ist Gut' an electronic dance album that was state-of-the-art in 1981; "Der Mussolini" became an international hit and a monster in the dance clubs. Delgado's lyrics, equating fascism, religion and dance music, were edgy, his singing both macho and raw. Görl's drumming and sequencing was unrelenting in its funkiness, authority and experimentalism -though outwardly professing themselves as "apolitical" (nonsense!), D.A.F. were reclaiming Nazi-styled jingoism for the gay German disco clubs, complete with a marching boot beat- it was politically "wrong," yet irresistible. 

Despite their innovations, solid technical ability and raves from the critics, D.A.F. were certainly never ready for prime time. When other artists in the club genre were dancing around the issue of alternative sexuality, D.A.F. was fairly "out" about it -their album covers were blatantly homoerotic and lyrics often dealt with sadomasochism. While D.A.F.'s big, industrial-inspired dance sound certainly had some measure of commercial potential, the group didn't, and they were way ahead of their time -too far ahead. 'Gold und Liebe' followed, much in the vein of 'Alles Ist Gut', though offering some further refinements in terms of sound and style. Some critics argue that 'Gold und Liebe' represents D.A.F.'s "personal best," though 'Alles Ist Gut' is such a defining statement in retrospect it would seem hard to top. With 1982s 'Gold und Liebe', D.A.F. decided to disband amicably, as the sequencer they used proved too limited to sustain them artistically beyond what they had already done.

For a time, both Delgado and Görl pursued solo careers, which proved a mixed blessing; Görl's weak singing sank his best efforts, whereas Delgado's lone solo outing suffered from equally weak musicianship. In 1985, they temporarily re-formed to record another album of house music, this time in English, '1st Step to Heaven', which disappeared without much fanfare. Although Görl and Delgado kept the door open for more collaboration the opportunity did not arise until 2003, when they recorded '15 Neue D.A.F. Lieder' including "The Sheriff," an anti-George W. Bush song. D.A.F. also played a limited number of festivals in Germany that year, mostly to the embarrassment of the other acts on the festival bill, so intense and timely their performances were. Unfortunately, this did not lead to a full-scale reunion, and in early 2007, Delgado declined to join the group for another round of dates. Delgado was replaced, with his blessing, by another singer, and the band renamed D.A.F. Partei

Though their impact on the emergent forms of house and techno was huge, D.A.F. has never achieved the recognition they so richly deserve. Nevertheless, for the longest time even Kraftwerk weren't recognized for their contribution to hip-hop, and perhaps ultimately D.A.F. will get their due: they represent one of a very few direct links between avant-garde punk and techno, and flung their lance into the future farther even than Throbbing Gristle. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 20 de mayo de 2015

Cabaret Voltaire

The band formed in Sheffield in 1973 and experimented widely with sound creation and processing. Some of these early experiments were first documented on the Industrial Records cassette '1974-1976' (1980), then later on the triple album CD set 'Methodology '74/'78: The Attic Tapes' (Mute 2002). They eventually turned to live performance, often sharing the bill with Joy Division. In one incident, Mallinder was hospitalised with a chipped backbone after the band had objects thrown at them. However, the arrival of punk rock brought a more accepting audience for their industrial, electronic sound and they were championed by Sheffield punk fanzine "Gunrubber" edited by Paul Bower of local band 2.3.

In 1978, Cabaret Voltaire signed to Rough Trade Records. With Rough Trade they released several acclaimed musically experimental singles and EPs, including 'Extended Play', 'Nag Nag Nag' and 'Three Mantras', and albums such as 'The Voice of America' in 1980, and 'Red Mecca' in 1981. The 27th June 1978 edition of NME had a review by Andy Gill who said "I firmly believe Cabaret Voltaire will turn out to be one of the most important new bands to achieve wider recognition this year. Wait and see." And, certainly, years later they were seen as one of the bands that instigated the electronic music scene. Watson left the band in 1981 to work for Tyne Tees Television and went on to found The Hafler Trio with Andrew M. McKenzie before becoming a BBC sound engineer and then a soloist. On 25 June 1981 the band performmed on the John Peel show and performed 4 songs recorded by the BBC: "Black Mask", "Greensborough", "Walls of Jericho" and "Jazz the Glass".

During this time, Cabaret Voltaire toured Europe, Japan and America without major record label support, releasing 'Hai!', a live album recorded in Japan, in 1982. In late 1982, Cabaret Voltaire decided consciously to turn in a more commercial direction. The group enlisted American dance music producer John Robie to remix "Yashar", a track from their 1982 album '2x45'. The 12-inch single was released by Factory Records in May 1983, and received extensive play in dance clubs. In August 1983, the album 'The Crackdown' was released on Some Bizzare / Virgin Records and reached number 31 in the UK Albums Chart -over 60 places higher than their previous (and then only) chart placing. In 1984, the singles 'Sensoria' and 'James Brown' from the album 'Micro-Phonies' (also on Virgin) charted on the UK Indie Chart, as well as getting play in the underground dance scene.

In 1987, the band released 'Code', on several tracks of which Bill Nelson played guitar. This was followed by the house-influenced 'Groovy, Laidback & Nasty' in 1990. A series of completely instrumental works under the Cabaret Voltaire name were released on Instinct Records in 1993 and 1994. The last Cabaret Voltaire release to feature Mallinder on vocals was the 'Body and Soul' album in 1991. Since the mid-late 1980s, Kirk began a solo career under several names, including Electronic Eye and Sandoz, while Mallinder relocated to Perth, Australia and records with a collaborator under the name Sassi & Loco and, more recently, in another collaborative effort the Ku-Ling Bros. Mallinder also helps run his own Offworld Sounds label and contributed to synthesizer and programming on Shaun Ryder's solo album 'Amateur Night at the Big Top'.

In 1996, Mallinder reported to Inpress magazine's Andrez Bergen that "I do think the manipulation of sound in our early days -the physical act of cutting up tapes, creating tape loops and all that- has a strong reference to Burroughs and Gysin; in terms of the Dada thing, there's a similarity between the Dadaists' reaction to the bourgeoisie and the war and our own position -we felt alienated from popular culture ourselves. I think those kinds of attitudes become embedded within you, but I'm not sure how it relates now...". Hopes of a Cabaret Voltaire reunion were raised when Kirk dropped hints in the late 1990s, the most significant being in the notes of a reissue of 'Radiation', but this never happened. In a special "Depeche Mode/History of Electro-pop" edition of Q magazine, Kirk suggested he is still considering resurrecting the Cabaret name, but this time he plans to "Get some young people involved".
In 2001, Watson appeared in the documentary film "Made in Sheffield", where he discussed the early years of Cabaret Voltaire. Since that time, Kirk has resurrected the Cabaret Voltaire name and has released new albums with New Zealand band Kora called 'Kora! Kora! Kora!' and Sheffield band, The Tivoli called 'National Service Rewind'. The new material was recorded at Western Works studios. The experimental "Sensoria Festival of Film and Music" is named after the Cabaret Voltaire song, and has become an annual event held in Sheffield since 2008. In July 2014, Berlin's Atonal Festival reported that Cabaret Voltaire were to perform at the festival. The performance -the first in twenty years- will see a setlist of all new material performed by a line-up "consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk", the lone remaining member of the "group". [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

martes, 19 de mayo de 2015

The B-52's

The first of many acts to cement the college town of Athens, Georgia, as a hotbed of alternative music, and one of the first American new wave acts to fuse retro-styled rock & roll with dance-friendly rhythms, The B-52's took their name from the Southern slang for the mile-high bouffant wigs sported by singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, a look emblematic of the band's campy, thrift-store aesthetic. The five-piece group, which also included vocalist Fred Schneider, guitarist Ricky Wilson (Cindy's older brother), and drummer Keith Strickland, formed in 1976 after a drunken evening at a Chinese restaurant; the bandmembers had little or no previous musical experience, and performed most of their earliest shows with taped guitar and percussion accompaniment. 

In 1978, after gaining enough confidence to venture into a recording studio, The B-52's pressed up a few thousand copies of the single 'Rock Lobster', which became a modest hit on the nascent alternative rock circuit. The B-52's soon traveled to New York City, playing their first paying gig at the famed rock club Max's Kansas City. Subsequent appearances at CBGB brought the group to the attention of the New York press, and in 1979 The B-52's signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. for the United States and Island for the U.K. and Europe; Island founder Chris Blackwell flew the band to the Bahamas, where they quickly recorded their self-titled debut album, a collection of manic, bizarre, and eminently danceable songs that scored an underground club hit with a reworked version of "Rock Lobster." The following year, they issued 'Wild Planet', which reached the Top 20 on the U.S. album charts; 'Party Mix!', an EP's worth of reworked material from the band's first two proper outings, appeared in 1981.

Hoping to expand their musical approach, The B-52's recruited friend and fan David Byrne to produce their third album, but by all accounts, the bandmembers (and their record labels) were not happy with the results, which emphasized a darker, funkier sound and minimized Ricky Wilson's guitar and the group's playful side. Ultimately, Byrne and The B-52's walked away from the project, and six completed tracks were released as an EP, 1982's 'Mesopotamia'. After a Schneider solo LP, 1984's 'Fred Schneider & The Shake Society', the group returned to the studio to record 1986's 'Bouncing Off the Satellites'. While the album tried to put a brave face on a difficult situation, Ricky Wilson was seriously ill while recording the LP, and on October 12, 1985, Ricky died; originally his death was attributed to natural causes, but it was later revealed that he had succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses. In light of Wilson's death, The B-52's found it impossible to promote the new album, and they spent the next several years on hiatus. 

In 1989, The B-52's finally returned with 'Cosmic Thing', which became their most commercially successful effort to date. Marked by Strickland's move from drums to guitar and club-friendly production from Don Was and Nile Rodgers, the album launched several hit singles, including the party smash "Love Shack," "Roam," and "Deadbeat Club." In 1990, Cindy Wilson retired from active duty, leaving the remaining trio to soldier on for 1992's 'Good Stuff'. A year later, dubbed The BC-52's, they performed the theme song for the live-action feature "The Flintstones". In 1996, Fred Schneider released his second solo album, 'Just Fred', produced by Steve Albini and featuring accompaniment from members of the Didjits, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Six Finger Satellite, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Cindy Wilson returned to the group for a tour supporting the release of the 1998 hits collection 'Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation'. Four years later, the double-disc compilation 'Nude on the Moon: The B-52's Anthology' would dive deeper into their catalog by featuring rare tracks, live recordings, and remixes along with the hits.

In 2008, after 16 years away from the studio while the band toured periodically, The B-52's returned with a new album; released by Astralwerks, 'Funplex' was a slick, synthesizer-driven effort produced by Steve Osborne. Meanwhile, Fred Schneider recorded a handful of singles and EPs with his side project The Superions, and in February 2015, Kate Pierson issued her first solo album, 'Guitars and Microphones'. In April 2015, The B-52's released a digital-only archival release, 'Live! 8-24-1979', recorded as the band opened for Talking Heads just six weeks after their debut album was released. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 18 de mayo de 2015

A Certain Ratio

Though formed in Manchester's late-'70s punk scene, A Certain Ratio used an increasing amount of electronics throughout the '80s to become more of a dancefloor-oriented band, much like Factory labelmates New Order. The group (whose name is a pointer to a Brian Eno song) was formed in 1977 by vocalists Simon Topping and Martha Tilson, bassist Jeremy Kerr, guitarist Peter Terrell, and guitarist/trumpeter Martin Moscrop -drummer Donald Johnson later joined as the drummer. New Order manager Rob Gretton was impressed by early live shows, and spread the word to Tony Wilson, who signed A Certain Ratio to his fledgling Factory label and became their first manager. In 1979, ACR released the drummerless 'All Night Party / The Thin Boys', their debut single, and recorded the studio and live sides that were released the following January as 'The Graveyard and the Ballroom'.

The punk and industrial grind of ACR's early live shows soon became more danceable and funk-inspired -second single 'Shack Up', a Banbarra cover, even reached the American R&B Top 50. The proper debut album, 'To Each...', appeared in 1981 and was produced by the band and Martin Hannett. The following two albums, 'Sextet' and 'I'd Like to See You Again' (both 1982), expanded A Certain Ratio's sound further, encompassing Latin and jazz elements. But Tilson left the band in 1982, and Topping opted out a year later, leaving vocal duties to Kerr and Johnson. Also, Andy Connell joined the group as keyboardist, replacing Peter Terrell, yet he left within three years to form Swing Out Sister

Frustrated with its lack of commercial success, the group recorded just one more album for Factory, 1986's 'Force', though the company released a singles compilation ('The Old and the New') around the same time. The next year brought 'Live in America' (on the independent label Dojo) and a major-label contract with A&M, where they fared no better; the full-length 'Good Together' was released in 1989, while 'ACR:MCR' followed one year later, and neither release left much of a commercial impression. The band moved to old friend Rob Gretton's label, Robs Records, which issued 'Up in Downsville' in 1992. Creation Records later acquired the rights to ACR's back catalog and released a remix album, 1994's 'Looking for A Certain Ratio', with help from Manchester alums Graham Massey, Electronic, The Other Two, and Sub Sub, among others. 

After a five-year hiatus, A Certain Ratio returned in 1996 with 'Change the Station'. Although the band did not release another studio album for over a decade, much of its discography was reissued throughout the early 2000s on the Soul Jazz and LTM labels. 'Mind Made Up', technically the band's ninth studio release (counting 'The Graveyard and the Ballroom'), was released in 2008 on the French label Le Maquis. As funky as any of their prior releases, it featured the vocals of longtime collaborator Denise Johnson on three songs. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 17 de mayo de 2015

The Yachts

Power pop/new wave group The Yachts was formed in 1978 by Liverpool art-schoolmates Henry Priestman (vocals, keyboards), Martin Watson (guitar, vocals), Martin Dempsey (bass, vocals), Bob Bellis (drums, vocals), and J.J. Campbell (vocals). They signed to Stiff Records after a supporting spot for Elvis Costello in 1977, releasing the endlessly catchy 'Suffice to Say' single (produced by Will Birch) before following Costello to Radar Records. They released two power pop classics, 'Yachts' (1979) and 'Without Radar' (1980), before disbanding in the early '80s when power pop fell from favor. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC


X were far from the first punk rock band in Los Angeles, and they weren't the first to achieve some level of nationwide recognition, but in a very real way, they were the ones who put the L.A. punk scene on the map. X were the first L.A. punk band to be taken seriously by the rock press on both coasts, and at a time when many wondered how punk could thrive in the land of all that was mellow, X played music that was as raw, passionate, and powerful as anything coming out of New York, London, or any other major city. X's melding of punk's speed and ferocity with the sounds of rockabilly, blues, country, and other roots music styles would prove to be wildly influential in the years that followed, as were the off-kilter harmonies of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. Their first two independently released albums were critical favorites and sold remarkably well by small label standards, helping establish Slash Records as a major independent label. And while they never enjoyed the commercial breakthrough that many believed was their due, X were massively popular in their home town and could successfully headline large outdoor venues like the Greek Theater, proving there was an audience for punk in the City of the Angels.

X was formed by bassist, vocalist, and songwriter John Doe (born John Nommensen Duchac), who moved to Los Angeles in 1976. Born and raised in Baltimore, where he'd played in a number of forgotten bar bands, Doe had discovered punk rock after hearing Patti Smith's 'Horses' and was eager to form a band in his new home town. Through a newspaper ad, Doe met Billy Zoom (born Ty Kindell), a gifted guitarist originally from Savannah, IL who had been playing rockabilly, blues, and R&B in L.A. for years, and had backed Gene Vincent during the rockabilly icon's last shows. Like Doe, Zoom had discovered the Ramones and wanted to play music that was fast, loud, and honest, and they began jamming together. Shortly before meeting Zoom, Doe had met Exene Cervenka (aka Christine Cervenkova) who, like Doe, had recently arrived in Los Angeles (in her case from Tampa, FL) and was interested in poetry. Doe and Cervenka were attending the same poetry workshop, and bonded over their shared tastes in literature. Doe and Cervenka started dating, and when he read one of her pieces and thought it had the makings of a good song, he asked her permission to sing it in the band he was forming with Zoom. Cervenka said she'd prefer to sing it herself, and before long, she was rehearsing with Doe and Zoom, with her enthusiasm compensating for her lack of musical experience. Naming themselves X, the new band went through a handful of drummers after making their debut at a house party in 1977; their original drummer was a guy named Mick Basher, and reportedly, K.K. Barrett of the Screamers and Nicky Beat of the Weirdos sat in with them on occasion, but when Doe saw The Eyes performing at The Masque, L.A.'s first punk club, he saw their drummer was just what he and Zoom had been looking for: someone whose style was smart but simple, and who hit a big snare drum really hard. That drummer was D.J. Bonebrake, and he played his first gig with X in February 1978. 

It didn't take long for X to make a name for themselves on the L.A. punk scene, and later the same year, the group recorded their first single, 'Adult Books b/w We're Desperate', released by the seminal West Coast punk label Dangerhouse Records. The single sold well, and X's song "Los Angeles" appeared on the label's sampler LP 'Yes L.A.', but the band was unhappy with Dangerhouse's business practices, and opted to record their first full-length album for Slash Records, an offshoot of the key L.A. punk ‘zine. X had also won a valuable ally in Ray Manzarek, former keyboard player with The Doors; Manzarek was impressed with X's bold music and literate songs, as well as their open admiration of his former group (they had taken to covering "Soul Kitchen" on-stage). Manzarek played keys at a few X gigs and offered to produce their first album. Recorded on a slim budget of $10,000, 'Los Angeles' was released in April 1980, and immediately received rave reviews from punk fanzines and the big-league music press; it was an immediate success in the band's home town, and as word spread nationwide, the album sold over 50,000 copies, an impressive sum for an independent punk album. Along with steady touring, fans outside of California were seeing X thanks to the documentary "The Decline of Western Civilization", which focused on the L.A. punk community and gave the group a healthy amount of admiring screen time. 1980 also marked the year Doe and Cervenka became man and wife, with their relationship informing the lyrics to many of their songs.

X's second album, 'Wild Gift', appeared in May 1981, a few months after the release of their single 'White Girl'. Also produced by Ray Manzarek, the critical reception for 'Wild Gift' was just as enthusiastic as it was for 'Los Angeles'; sales also matched those of the debut, and before long, X were not just L.A.'s most popular punk band, but one of the town's biggest bands period, and became the first unsigned rock band to headline L.A.'s Greek Theater. Major labels finally came calling, and X signed a deal with Elektra Records, who released 'Under the Big Black Sun' in July 1982. Manzarek once again produced, and while the bigger recording budget resulted in a fuller sound, the group's approach was essentially the same, and while critics and fans were once again impressed with X's passionate music and street-level lyrics, radio still wasn't ready for them, and the album failed to sell significantly better than 'Los Angeles' or 'Wild Gift', despite plenty of touring and occasional television appearances. The same fate befell 1983's 'More Fun in the New World', as the band continued to sit at the top of the heap in L.A. without making significant headway elsewhere. 

In 1984, Doe, Cervenka, and Bonebrake released an album by their acoustic side project The Knitters, while X recorded a bombastic cover of The Troggs' "Wild Thing" which appeared on the soundtrack of the film "Major League". The 'Wild Thing' single was produced by Michael Wagener, who had worked with heavy metal bands such as Mötley Crüe and Dokken; Wagener returned to produce X's next album, 1984's 'Ain't Love Grand', and while one tune from the album, "Burning House of Love," earned steady MTV airplay, the album's more polished sound didn't favor the band, and both critics and fans were disappointed while radio programmers and mainstream audiences paid little attention. Disappointed with the band's failure to break through to a mass audience, Billy Zoom left X in 1985, and the divorce of Doe and Cervenka, who had wed in 1980, didn't help relations in the group. Dave Alvin, guitarist with The Blasters and a collaborator in The Knitters, was recruited to join the band, and while he was an ideal fit for X, by the time they completed the recording of 1987's 'See How We Are', he was offered a record deal as a solo act and opted to leave. Tony Gilkyson, formerly with Lone Justice, took part in the recording of 'See How We Are' and became X's lead guitarist after the album was released. While the album was a strong piece of work, sales were disappointing, and after releasing 'Live at the Whisky A Go-Go' in 1988, X quietly broke up. 

After the band's breakup, Doe launched a solo career with the album 'Meet John Doe' in 1990, and also pursued a career as an actor, appearing in a number of notable film and television projects. Exene Cervenka released her first solo LP, 'Old Wives' Tales', in 1989, and recorded both acoustic and rock music as a solo artist and with the bands The Original Sinners and Auntie Christ; Cervenka also wrote and published poetry, created visual art, and acted in the film "Salvation", where she met actor Viggo Mortensen, whom she married in 1987 and divorced in 1997. Billy Zoom stayed out of the public eye, primarily working in his own shop fixing and modifying guitar amplifiers, while D.J. Bonebrake stayed busy working with a wide variety of musicians and playing with a pair of jazz combos, The Bonebrake Syncopators and Orchestra Superstring. In 1993, after the success of Nirvana's 'Nevermind' had opened up radio to more adventurous sounds, X reunited with Tony Gilkyson on guitar and recorded the album 'Hey Zeus!' Reaction to the album was polite but not enthusiastic, and after the release of 1995's 'Unclogged', a live album drawn from a series of acoustic shows, the group once again retired. In 1998, to the surprise of many, the classic X lineup of Doe, Cervenka, Zoom, and Bonebrake reunited for a handful of shows in Los Angeles. The reunion shows were rapturously received by both fans and critics, and the band has staged periodic reunion tours ever since. A late-2004 stand at the Los Angeles House of Blues resulted in the live CD and DVD 'Live in Los Angeles', and X continue to perform despite Cervenka's announcement in 2009 that she had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC]