jueves, 31 de diciembre de 2015

The Housemartins

One of Britain's more popular indie guitar pop groups of the late '80s, The Housemartins' post-Smiths guitar jangle and subtle updating of catchy, melodic British beat groups earned the Hull-based quartet a substantial critical and popular following within the U.K. Though the group never gained much more than a cult following in America, their balance of simple, memorable melodies and cutting sarcasm helped them rise into the British Top Ten, as well as earn consistently strong reviews. The Housemartins broke up in 1988, just before they fully broke into the mainstream. The group's lead songwriter, Paul Heaton, formed The Beautiful South the following year, and his new band capitalized on the success of The Housemartins to become one of the more popular U.K. groups of the early '90s. 

Paul Heaton (vocals, guitar) formed The Housemartins with Ted Key (bass), Stan Cullimore (guitar), and Hugh Whitaker (drums) in 1984. From the outset, the group cultivated a distinctly English image, blending a cynical sense of humor with leftist political leanings and a low-key, commonplace appearance. In 1985, they signed with Go! Discs and by the end of the year, Key was replaced by Norman Cook. "Happy Hour", The Housemartins' third single, became the group's first hit in the summer of 1986, climbing all the way to number three. 'London O Hull 4', their debut album, followed shortly afterward and, like the single, it cracked the British Top Ten. At the end of the year, the a cappella "Caravan of Love" became a number one hit. 

Due to their success in 1986, The Housemartins were award the BPI award for Best Newcomers. Before they recorded their second album, Hugh Whitaker left the band and was replaced by Dave Hemmingway. 'The People Who Grinned Themselves to Death' followed later in 1987, spawning the hit singles "Five Get Over Excited" and "Me and the Farmer". Though The Housemartins were developing into one of the most popular bands within Britain, they broke up in the summer of 1988, claiming they only intended to stay together for three years. In reality, Heaton and Cook were suffering from creative tensions, as the singer wanted to move into sophisticated jazz-pop while the bassist was eager to explore dance music. This difference in taste became apparent in the groups they formed immediately after the disbandment of The Housemartins. Cook formed Beats International, who had a few hits in the early '90s before Cook became a full-time remixer and producer as Fatboy Slim. With drummer Hemmingway, Heaton formed The Beautiful South, which carried on the aesthetic of The Housemartins, but added more complex melodies and arrangements. Toward the end of 1988, a compilation of The Housemartins' singles and rarities called 'Now That's What I Call Quite Good!' was released. In 1993, original drummer Hugh Whitaker was imprisoned for wounding with intent and arson attacks on a business partner. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2015

The Godfathers

The Godfathers were founded by brothers Peter and Chris Coyne in London in 1985. Vocalist Peter and bassist Chris were joined by guitarists Kris Dollimore and Mike Gibson and drummer George Mazur. Coming ten years after Britain's punk explosion, they nevertheless built on that music's rage and force. Their debut album, 'Hit by Hit', was released in the U.S. on the indie label Link in 1986 and followed by 'Birth, School, Work, Death' on Epic in 1988, which made the Top 100 bestsellers as the title song was played on album rock radio. Their third album, 'More Songs About Love & Hate' (1989), featured the popular college radio track "She Gives Me Love", but was less commercially successful. They released a fourth album, 'Unreal World', on Epic in 1991. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 29 de diciembre de 2015


Scottish industrial dance-rockers Finitribe originally formed in the mid-'80s, comprised of members Chris Connelly, David Miller, Philip Pinsky, Simon McGlynn, Thomas McGregor, and John Vick. 1984 saw the group's first release, the 'Curling & Stretching' EP, followed up by 1985's 'Peel Sessions' and such further EPs as 'Let the Tribe Grow' and 'I Want More'. By 1987, however, bandmembers began to come and go, as vocalist Chris Connelly left to pursue a solo career (as well as a recurring role with Ministry), leaving the core of keyboardist Vick, percussionist Miller, and bassist Pinsky. The now three-piece version of Finitribe pressed on, issuing further singles ("Make it Internal", "De Testimony", "Forevergreen", etc.), as well as full-length albums (1989's 'Grossing 10K' and 'Noise, Lust and Fun', 1993's 'An Unexpected Groovy Treat', and 1998's 'Sleazy Listening'). [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2015

Delta 5

Initially inspired by the success of local heroes The Mekons and Gang of Four, Leeds, England's Delta 5 later emerged as one of the key figures of the feminist new wave. Formed in 1979 by vocalist/guitarist Julz Sale, fretless bassist Ros Allen, and bassist Bethan Peters, the group was begun on a lark, but following the additions of guitarist Alan Briggs and drummer Kelvin Knight, Delta 5 issued their debut single, "Mind Your Own Business", and found themselves thrust to the forefront of the Leeds post-punk community. 

Frequently linked to Gang of Four -in addition to a similarly abrasive funk sound, Delta 5 was also at the vanguard of the Rock Against Racism movement, and Knight even once sat in for Gang drummer Hugo Burnham- the group's role as political leaders increased in the wake of a notorious street attack on its members by right-wing thugs, culminating in the rise of the Rock Against Communism groundswell. Their unique two-bass rhythm section set them clearly apart from their peers, and with the success of their second single, "You", they mounted a successful U.S. tour. 

Upon leaving Rough Trade to sign with the Charisma subsidiary Pre, in 1981 Delta 5 issued their debut LP, 'See the Whirl'. Despite the inclusion of some of their early single sides, much of the record fell prey to over-production, and was a critical and commercial failure. The group split shortly after its release. Much of the group's output remained hard to come by until the 'Singles & Sessions' compilation was released by Kill Rock Stars in 2006. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2015

The Chills

The Chills were one of New Zealand's best and most popular bands of the '80s, making a small but consistent series of chiming, hook-laden guitar pop. Both the songs and the arrangements were constructed with interweaving guitar hooks and vocal harmonies, creating a pretty, almost lush, sound that never fell into cloying sentimentality. Throughout their existence, the band's personnel changed frequently -there were more than ten different lineups- with the only constant member being guitarist Martin Phillipps, the band's founder. Phillipps began playing music with the New Zealand punk band The Same in 1978. Following in the footsteps of The Clean and The Enemy, The Same played mostly covers, creating a raw fusion of British Invasion and garage rock. However, the group never recorded. Phillipps applied the same approach for The Chills, the band he formed in 1980 with his sister Rachel and Jane Dodd (bass) after The Same fell apart. 

In 1982, The Chills signed with Flying Nun, the influential New Zealand independent record label, and released several singles that were never widely distributed in America and Europe. During this time, the group went through an enormous amount of members: future Great Unwashed bassist Peter Gutteridge, The Clean's David Kilgour, keyboardist Frazer Batts, bassist Terry Moore, guitarist Martin Kean, keyboardist Peter Allison, drummer Martyn Bull, and drummer Alan Haig. While these incarnations of The Chills recorded plenty of singles, they never made an album. Released on the U.K. record label Creation, the group's first album, 'Kaleidoscope World' (1986), was a collection of early singles; it was later released in the U.S. on Homestead. 

With the lineup of Phillipps, bassist Justin Harwood, keyboardist Andrew Todd, and drummer Caroline Easther -the group's tenth lineup- The Chills recorded their first proper album, 'Brave Worlds', in 1987. Produced by Mayo Thompson, the leading figure of the cult band The Red Crayola and a former member of Pere Ubu, the bandmembers weren't satisfied with the final result, claiming it was too loose and under-produced. The Chills, particularly Phillipps, were more satisfied with their second full-length album, 1990's 'Submarine Bells', their first record released on an American major label. 'Submarine Bells' was recorded with yet another version of the band, with Jimmy Stephenson replacing Easther, who was suffering from tinnitus. The album was well-received by critics and college radio, yet it failed to break the band into the mainstream in either America or Britain. Two years later, they released 'Soft Bomb', which suffered the same fate as 'Submarine Bells'. 

The following year, Martin Phillipps broke up The Chills again, and spiraled into drug addiction, which led to some serious health issues. He never stopped making music though, and in 1996 released 'Sunburnt' under the name Martin Phillipps & the Chills. The album featured Dave Mattacks of Fairport Convention and XTC's Dave Gregory on drums and bass, respectively. Phillipps joined David Kilgour's Heavy Eights band and continued to round up people to play the occasional The Chills show, going so far as to record an EP, 'Stand By', in 2004. It would be 2013 before The Chills returned with any new music, which came in the form of a single song released online entitled "Molten Gold". Shortly after this song was released, a massive live recording entitled 'Somewhere Beautiful' surfaced, capturing a 20-song set recorded at a New Year's Eve party in 2011. The next year a collection of BBC Sessions from the '80s was released, further stoking the desire of fans for new material. Finally, in 2015 Phillipps and a fairly long-running incarnation of The Chills (multi-instrumentalist Erica Scally, bassist James Dickson, keyboardist Oli Wilson, and drummer Todd Knudson) released 'Silver Bullets' on Fire Records. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2015

Beat Happening

Beat Happening was among the truly seminal and influential American bands of the post-punk era, a paragon of pop minimalism, rebellious innocence, and indie defiance. The linchpin of the Olympia, Washington-based International Pop Underground, they adopted a stance in direct opposition to the accepted norms at the heart of rock music; ignoring all notions of pretense, professionalism, and stardom, Beat Happening created an unorthodox, raw sound that democratically rotated vocal, guitar, and drum duties between members while jettisoning bass altogether. Dropping their last names to further emphasize their everyman approach, members Calvin (Johnson), Heather (Lewis), and Bret (Lunsford) expressed simple truths and simple emotions with simple music, favoring off-key, tuneless vocals and three-chord primitivism over slick, processed packaging; implicit in their work was also a rejection of major-label trappings, as the group steadfastly remained with K Records, Calvin's self-owned imprint and a model of D.I.Y. indie success. 

Beat Happening formed in the early '80s; Calvin, a longtime fixture of the Olympia scene who also helped establish the original Sub Pop fanzine (the basis for the subsequent label), had already founded K, originally a cassette-only project started to release music no other company would touch. An alumnus of the short-lived Cool Rays, Calvin teamed with Heather and assorted friends in the first incarnation of Beat Happening, playing shows whenever and wherever they could as long as the performances were held at all-ages venues; his canyon-deep baritone quickly became as much a group trademark as their sardonic, even juvenile songs. After Bret joined in mid-1983, Beat Happening issued their debut five-song cassette a year later; a sightseeing trip to Japan followed, and while in Tokyo, the trio recorded its second effort, 1984's 'Three Tea Breakfast' EP. Their 1985 eponymous full-length debut, produced by The Wipers' Greg Sage, brought Beat Happening their first widespread exposure, as well as a number of comparisons to the burgeoning British twee pop scene spearheaded by The Pastels. A long layoff followed prior to the release of 1988's remarkable 'Jamboree', co-produced by Mark Lanegan and Gary Lee Conner of the Screaming Trees

The four-song joint release 'Beat Happening/Screaming Trees' surfaced a few months later, trailed by 1989's 'Black Candy'. With the release of 1991's 'Dreamy', Beat Happening's influence on the indie community became increasingly pronounced; not only did the blossoming cuddle-core movement owe the trio a huge debt, but in the summer 1991 Calvin masterminded the International Pop Underground Festival, a now-legendary concert spotlighting over 50 bands -among them Bikini Kill, Fugazi, Scrawl, The Fastbacks, L7, and Mecca Normal- all aligned in their opposition to corporate music. The sublime 'You Turn Me On' followed, but apart from "Not a Care in the World", a track contributed to a 1992 Sub Pop sampler given away free to readers of Sassy magazine, Beat Happening spent much of the decade in limbo as Calvin focused on his Dub Narcotic Sound System project as well as The Halo Benders, a band founded with Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. Despite its absence from the stage and the studio, the trio maintained that it had not disbanded, and reportedly continued practicing on a monthly basis. Ten years after its last release, the band became the unlikely focus of a box set, 'Crashing Through'. The set featured a newly recorded song, "Angel Gone", but nothing else new. In 2015, Domino Records released the career-spanning, band-selected collection 'Look Around', which served as a reminder to anyone who may have forgotten just how good and influential the band was. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2015

Agent Orange

Punk to the core, yet with audible influences from early heavy metal and surf rock, Agent Orange formed in Fullerton, California at the end of the '70s, with vocalist/guitarist Mike Palm, bassist James Levesque, and drummer Scott Miller. The first Agent Orange record, released in 1981 on Posh Boy Records in the midst of Southern California's already hectic hardcore community, cemented their reputation as one of the best skate-punk bands around the area. Two EPs during the next few years were all the band released until 1986's 'This Is the Voice', for Restless/Enigma. A much less energetic LP with brighter melodies and an emphasis on vocal audibility, it was also Agent Orange's last for quite awhile, except for a 1990 live record. The group was resurrected later in the decade, touring the world and recording the 1996 LP 'Virtually Indestructible'. In 2000 Cleopatra released 'Greatest and Latest', a collection of songs from Agent Orange's catalog re-recorded by the band with three new songs, which was later reissued in 2004 on the Anarchy Music label under the title 'Blood Stained Hitz'. In between these two identical issues, Restless released a two-disc best-of titled 'Sonic Snake Session', which chronicled many of the group's defining moments in one set. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 15 de diciembre de 2015

James Chance

One of the central figures of the No Wave movement of the late '70s, James Chance & The Contortions formed in New York City in 1977. They were led by vocalist/saxophonist Chance, a Milwaukee native (born James Sigfried) who also answered to the alias James White. After relocating to the Big Apple to play free jazz, he fell in with the city's avant-garde community; upon adopting the surname Chance and acquiring a wardrobe of outrageously loud suits, Chance formed The Contortions, an abrasively chaotic funk-noise outfit featuring organist Adele Bertei, guitarists Pat Place and Jody Harris, and drummer Don Christiansen. 

After winning acclaim and notoriety for their wild, often combative live shows (the aggressive, nihilistic Chance often picked fistfights with audience members), The Contortions entered the studio with producer Brian Eno to record four tracks for the 'No New York' compilation. After cutting enough material for an LP, 1979's 'Buy the Contortions', the group crashed along with the No Wave scene; as James White, Chance soon resurfaced fronting The Blacks, a bizarre disco outfit comprised of most of The Contortions alumni, albeit with the notable exception of Bertei, and released 'Off White'. In 1982, the highly regarded 'Sax Maniac' album was released on Chris Stein's short-lived Animal label. Unfortunately, the label disappeared quickly taking the album along with it. Chance recorded his final studio project Flaming Demonics in 1983, again for ZE, under the James White moniker. Chance seemed to have vanished in the next decade, but occasionally his original albums or live recordings would surface, only to quickly disappear. In 2003, the small indie label Tiger Style reissued all the official material Chance/White recorded, along with a few ultra-rare tracks, on the three-disc set 'Irresistible Impulse'. The reissue coincided with Chance's return to playing live again, albeit sporadically. The following year, Tiger Style released a two disc compilation, 'Sax Education', containing his "greatest hits" with a second disc of a previously unreleased live performance for Radio Holland from 1981. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 14 de diciembre de 2015

Thee Mighty Caesars

Thee Mighty Caesars were fronted by Billy Childish (b. William Charlie Hamper, 13 December 1958, Chatham, Kent, England), previously of The Pop Rivets and Thee Milkshakes. His new venture subscribed to the ethos that music should be immediate and unpolished. Each of their releases boasted a rough and ready sound akin to U.S. garage bands and noted guitarist Link Wray, dubbed "the Medway Sound" after a river in Kent. 

'Thee Mighty Caesars' was recorded with the aid of The Prisoners (minus Mickey Hampshire) and, unsurprisingly, it sounded similar to Childish's previous venture. 'Beware the Ides of March' was marginally more refined, a trend continued on 'Thee Caesars of Trash' and 'Acropolis Now', which featured members of girl-group The Delmonas in support. 

The deceptively titled 'Live in Rome' mixed previously issued tracks with cover versions of songs by The Damned, Sex Pistols and Chuck Berry, with fake crowd noises dubbed on top. 'Wiseblood' reprised the rough and ready sound of Thee Mighty Caesars, suggesting that Childish felt unhappy with his band's increasingly focused (in his terms) sound. The album was originally issued on Ambassador Records, a label owned by Wreckless Eric, but it was later reissued on Childish's own outlet, Hangman Records. (Hangman also issued his various spin-off projects, including numerous solo albums, one-off recordings and collaborations with Medway poet Sexton Ming).

Thee Mighty Caesars' career was suspended following the rumbustious 'John Lennon's Corpse Revisited', although Childish insisted the break was temporary until the members found time to work together again. However, Thee Mighty Caesars members Bruce Brand and John Agnew were present in his next project, Thee Headcoats. By 1995, Childish had retired from the music business and started a new career as a painter, but not before he played a farewell gig in London backed by all his old bands. Within three years he was back recording with Thee Headcoats. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 13 de diciembre de 2015

The Servants

The cruel irony of The Servants' brief career is that most members of the band enjoyed some level of Brit-pop success, with the exception of singer/songwriter David Westlake. One of the few bands retroactively tied to the so-called C-86 wing of guitar-based British indie bands who actually appeared on the New Musical Express C86 cassette sampler, The Servants were a talented band done in by lineup shifts and bad luck with record companies. The Servants were formed in London in 1985 by the teenage Westlake, whose ads in the music papers' classifieds brought in guitarist John Mohan, bassist Phil King, and drummer John Wills. Named after "The Servant", a twisty 1963 film drama written by Harold Pinter, The Servants signed to Head Records, an offshoot of the then-new Creation label, and released their first single, "She's Always Hiding", in 1986. ("Transparent", its flip, was the song chosen for the C86 compilation.) By the time the four-track 'The Sun, A Small Star' EP was released in the fall of 1986, this lineup of The Servants had already split up. Popularity from the compilation and the championing of BBC disc jockeys John Peel and Janice Long led Westlake to assemble a new Servants, but with the exception of new guitarist and pianist Luke Haines, he couldn't establish a stable band lineup. (For one BBC session, The Servants comprised Westlake and Wills plus Robert Forster, Robert Vickers, and Amanda Brown from The Go-Betweens). When Creation Records demanded an album, Westlake and Haines drafted bassist Martyn Casey and drummer Alsy Macdonald from The Triffids, but puzzlingly, Creation released the album as Westlake by David Westlake rather than as a Servants album, then promptly dropped the band. Glass Records signed The Servants in 1988, and with new drummer Hugh Whittaker (formerly of The Housemartins), they recorded a second four-song EP, 'It's My Turn'. Unfortunately, Glass was more financially precarious than the band knew, and the EP didn't see release until the fall of 1989, by which time Whittaker had already left. Before throwing in the towel, Westlake, Haines, and the new rhythm section of bassist Alice Readman and drummer Andy Bennett, signed to Paperhouse Records and recorded The Servants' proper debut album, 1990's defiantly experimental and aptly titled 'Disinterest', and disbanded the following year. Luke Haines became a Brit-pop star with The Auteurs (which also included Readman) and later formed the stylish electronic outfit Black Box Recorder. Phil King joined Creation house band Biff Bang Pow!, and later, 4AD stars Lush. (He and John Mohan also had non-contemporaneous stints in Felt). Wills joined the Spacemen 3-like drone outfit Loop, then founded the '90s post-rock act The Hair and Skin Trading Company. David Westlake made a proper solo debut in 2002 with 'Play Dusty for Me'. In 2006, Cherry Red gathered The Servants' three singles, radio sessions, and outtakes in the compilation 'Reserved'. Another compilation called 'Youth Club Disco' appeared in 2011 via the Captured Tracks label. In May 2014, Westlake and Haines performed together in London, and the following month Westlake and his band performed at NME's C86 show to celebrate Cherry Red's reissue of the influential compilation. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 12 de diciembre de 2015

Marc Riley & The Creepers

The Creepers were an English rock music group, formed in Manchester in 1982, originally as Marc Riley & The Creepers. After being dismissed from The Fall by Mark E. Smith, Marc Riley formed his own record label (In-Tape) with Jim Khambatta, and his own band. The first single "Favourite Sister" was followed up with "Jumper Clown", which poked fun at his previous band's singer. A Peel Session was the source of the next release in 1984, with a compilation of these early releases, 'Cull', following the same year. First album proper, 'Gross Out', appeared in June 1984. 1985 saw the release of second album 'Fancy Meeting God' as well as a swansong live album 'Warts 'n' All' towards the end of the year. 

Riley then recruited ex-Membranes Mark Tilton and Phil Roberts of Shrubs, and carried on as simply The Creepers. With a more sophisticated sound, the first release under this name was a cover of Brian Eno's "Baby's On Fire", with the album 'Miserable Sinners' following later the same year. After signing to Red Rhino, a further single, 'Brute' and album 'Rock 'n' Roll Liquorice Flavour' appeared in 1987 and 1988 respectively. 'Sleeper: a retrospective', followed in 1989. The band briefly became The Lost Soul Crusaders before splitting up.[SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

viernes, 11 de diciembre de 2015

Public Image Limited

One of the first and most significant post-punk bands, Public Image Ltd. (PiL) were originally a quartet led by singer John Lydon (formerly Johnny Rotten, born January 31, 1956) and guitarist Keith Levene, who had been a member of The Clash in one of its early lineups. The band was filled out by bassist Jah Wobble (John Wordle) and drummer Jim Walker. It was formed in the wake of the 1978 breakup of Lydon's former group, The Sex Pistols. For the most part, the band's early incarnation devoted itself to droning, slow-tempo, bass-heavy noise rock, overlaid by Lydon's distinctive, vituperative rant. The group's debut single, "Public Image", was more of an uptempo pop/rock song, however, and it hit the U.K. Top Ten upon its release in October 1978. The group itself debuted on Christmas Day, shortly after the release of its first album, 'Public Image'. Neither the single nor the album was released in the U.S. 

'Metal Box', the band's second U.K. album, came in the form of three 45-rpm 12" discs in a film canister. It was released in the U.S. in 1980 as the double-album 'Second Edition'. By this time, PiL were a trio consisting of Lydon, Levene, and Wobble; the latter two played some of the drums on recordings, while the position was held by a series of percussionists, none of whom stayed long. The third album, not released in the U.S., was the live 'Paris au Printemps' (1980). Lydon and Levene, plus hired musicians, made up the group by the time of 'The Flowers of Romance' (1981), the much-acclaimed fourth album, which reached number 11 in the U.K. In 1983, PiL scored their biggest U.K. hit when "This Is Not a Love Song" reached number five. By this time, however, Levene had left, and the name from here on would be, more than anything else, a vehicle for John Lydon (though with a comparatively steady lineup). A second live album, 'Live in Tokyo', appeared in England in 1983. 

The following year saw the release of 'This Is What You Want...This Is What You Get', only PiL's third album to be released in the U.S., though by now the group had six albums out. It marked the start of Lydon's move toward a more polished and accessible dance-rock style, a direction that would be pursued further in 1986's 'Album' (also called 'Cassette' or 'Compact Disc', depending on the format), notably on the hit "Rise", as well as on 'Happy?' (1987) and '9' (1989). In 1990, PiL released the compilation album 'The Greatest Hits, So Far', and in 1991 came the new album 'That What Is Not'. After completing his memoirs in late 1993, Lydon decided to put PiL to rest -largely the result of contractual issues- and pursue a solo career. 

The career-spanning box set 'Plastic Box' arrived in 1999, but otherwise the band seemed truly dead until 2009 when Lydon announced he was reviving the project for a short set of gigs in the U.K. The new PiL, featuring past members Lu Edmonds (also a member of The Damned and The Mekons) and Bruce Smith (who also worked with The Pop Group), along with multi-instrumentalist Scott Firth, were so warmly received in their homeland that a U.S. tour followed in 2010. An album of all-new material, 'This Is PiL', followed in 2012. The band supported the release with an international concert tour, and PiL returned to the recording studio in 2014. The group's 2015 release, 'What the World Needs Now', would prove to be the first Public Image Ltd. album to feature the same lineup of musicians as the album that preceded it. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2015

Mental As Anything

Formed on a whim by a group of bored art students in search of free drinks, Australia's prankish Mental as Anything went on to forge a career spanning several decades, their tongues remaining planted firmly in cheek throughout the duration of their existence. Debuting in 1978, the Sydney-based group included singer/guitarist Reg Mombasa (born Chris O'Doherty), his bassist brother Peter O'Doherty, lead guitarist Martin Plaza, keyboardist Andrew "Greedy" Smith, and drummer Wayne Delisle; their first gig was held at a nearby hotel, with a pool table serving as a makeshift stage. Their early shows proved surprisingly successful, and soon Mental as Anything had earned enough of a cult following to record a single, 1979's "The Nips Are Getting Bigger"; it was a Top 20 hit down under, and when their debut LP, 'Get Wet', achieved similar success, the group was off and running. 

Mental as Anything resurfaced in 1980 with 'Espresso Bongo', which generated two more hit singles, "Come Around" and "(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet". After 1982's 'Cats and Dogs' achieved platinum status on the strength of the smashes "If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?" and "Too Many Times", Mental as Anything began attracting worldwide notice, and in 1982 they mounted their first tour of the United States. Fan Elvis Costello produced the single "I Didn't Mean to Be Mean", issued later that same year, and in 1983 the group issued its fourth LP, 'Creatures of Leisure', another Aussie Top Ten hit. Also in 1983, Mental as Anything launched their first group art exhibition, featuring works from each of the bandmembers; among the buyers was Elton John. In 1985 they returned with 'Fundamental as Anything', their biggest hit to date; the single "Live It Up" was a smash throughout much of the globe, reaching the Top Five in the U.K. and Germany. 

After their 1986 collection 'Greatest Hits, Vol. 1' fell just shy of topping the Australian charts, Mental as Anything returned the following year with 'Mouth to Mouth'; after 1989's 'Cyclone Raymond', they mounted a touring art exhibition that traveled across the country, but for the most part, the quintet was out of the limelight for the early part of the next decade, instead focusing on personal lives and the occasional side project (including the O'Doherty brothers' collaboration Dog Trumpet). A Mental as Anything B-sides collection, 'Chemical Travel', appeared in 1993, and in 1995 the band's first new studio LP in six years, 'Liar Liar Pants on Fire', returned them to the Top 40 on the strength of the hit "Mr. Natural". In 1997, Mental as Anything celebrated their 20-year anniversary with the original lineup still intact; the LP 'Garage' appeared the following year. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 8 de diciembre de 2015

The Long Ryders

Although they played the same clubs as most of Los Angeles' "paisley underground" bands (i.e., Dream Syndicate, Rain Parade) and even featured Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn in an early lineup, The Long Ryders were actually more a roots rock group strongly influenced by Gram Parsons. The group was founded by Kentucky native Sid Griffin, a Parsons devotee who moved to Los Angeles after hearing about that city's punk scene, with guitarist Stephen McCarthy and drummer Greg Sowders. The group's first bassist Barry Shank, along with Griffin, had previously been a member of the L.A. garage revivalists Unclaimed. He was replaced by Des Brewer just before the band went into the studio for the first time. The Long Ryders' 1983 debut EP, '10-5-60', was a blend of punk attitude, '60s rock, and traditional country (Griffin played steel guitar, autoharp, and mandolin). Brewer soon left as he was not committed to touring. His replacement, Don McCall, lasted for one tour before he was asked to leave. The band's lineup was stabilized when Indiana native Tom Stevens joined. Their first full-length album, the following year's 'Native Sons', was also arguably their best, and featured guest vocals from former Byrds Gene Clark. Subsequent albums, while still of considerable artistic merit, failed to find an audience despite the band's incessant touring. Reeling from the defections of Stevens in June of 1987 and McCarthy in September, and unhappy with Island's promotional efforts and seeming disregard for the group, The Long Ryders called it quits on December 15, 1987. McCarthy formed Gutterball and, along with Griffin, contributed to the 1993 Gram Parsons tribute album 'Commemorativo'. Griffin, meanwhile, moved to London and formed The Coal Porters; today he works as a music critic and writer, foreshadowed by his definitive 1985 biography of (who else?) Gram Parsons. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 7 de diciembre de 2015

The House Of Love

The post-Smiths guitar pop of The House of Love was popular for a short time in the late '80s and early '90s, as many college and alternative rock fans became converts to their mixture of shiny ringing guitars, pseudo-psychedelic melodies, and bursts of noise. The British group formed in 1986; it featured Guy Chadwick (vocals, guitar), Terry Bickers (guitar), Andrea Heukamp (vocals, guitar), Pete Evans (drums), and Chris Groothuizen (bass). Their demo tape attracted the attention of Alan McGee, the head of Creation Records. McGee signed the band for a single, "Shine On", which was released in May of 1987 to some critical acclaim; it and its follow-up, "Real Animal", both sold poorly. Following a tour supporting the singles, Heukamp left the group. Instead of replacing her, The House of Love continued as a quartet, releasing their untitled debut album in the spring of 1988. Many U.K. critics called it one of the finest records of the year, and the band built up a cult audience. 

The following year the band moved over to Fontana (PolyGram in the U.S.) and released two singles, "Never" and "I Don't Know Why I Love You", that failed to crack the British Top 40. By the end of 1989, Bickers left the group; he was replaced by Simon Walker. The House of Love's second untitled album -often referred to as "Fontana" or "The Butterfly Album"- was released in early 1990 to lukewarm sales and reviews; the band's revivalist guitar pop didn't fit in with England's club-conscious pop scene, spearheaded by The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. After the group's 1990 tour, Walker left the group and was replaced by Simon Mawby. The House of Love returned in early 1992 with 'Babe Rainbow', which received favorable reviews yet weak sales. The continuing lack of commercial success began to wear on the band, leading to their 1993 disbandment, which followed a weak swan song, 'Audience with the Mind'. A few years later, Chadwick emerged with a pleasing solo album, 'Lazy, Soft & Slow', produced by The Cocteau Twins' Robin Guthrie. In 2005, Chadwick and Bickers made amends, played several gigs, and released 'Days Run Away'. 

Over the next few years, several archival releases appeared, including a collection of BBC sessions; then in 2012 came a triple-disc deluxe version of the 1988 debut along with other reissues from Cherry Red. These all preceded a brand-new album from The House of Love, a record called 'She Paints Words in Red', which was released in April 2013. In November of that year, the band recorded their first live album, 'Live at the Lexington 13.11.13', which was released in 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2015

Vic Godard & The Subway Sect

In 1977, Vic Godard, leader of the early British punk band Subway Sect, described how his band differed from The Sex Pistols and the other new groups on the scene: "They just want to revitalize rock & roll whereas we just wanna get rid of it". Subway Sect were one of the more distinctive acts to emerge from the first wave of U.K. punk, possessing a lean, primal sound that owed a strong debt of influence to The Velvet Underground and The Modern Lovers, but while they were playing gigs as early as 1976 and were courted by two of punk's leading impresarios, the original band was just barely documented on vinyl. Godard (lead singer and sometimes guitarist) and Rob Symmons (guitar) were fans of Northern soul, distaff American acts like The Velvet Underground and Television, and classic crooners (particularly Frank Sinatra); they were drawn to the energy and chaos of punk, though they didn't always care for the music. Godard and Symmons had been making noises about forming a band, and teamed up with friends Paul Myers and Paul Packham, calling their group Subway Sect. Packham was initially the lead singer, but when the foursome chipped in to buy a drum kit, it was discovered that Packham had played a bit during his days as a Boy Scout, so he became the drummer and Godard moved to the vocal mike. 

When Malcolm McLaren organized a punk rock festival at London's 100 Club in the fall of 1976, he realized he needed additional bands to fill out the schedule and took the budding Subway Sect under his wing; he booked them into a rehearsal space and ordered them to get their material together, and they played the festival alongside The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and other punk trailblazers. With their unusual sound and stark look (their clothes were all either black or dyed gray), Subway Sect attracted the attention of Bernard Rhodes, manager of The Clash; he took on the band shortly after its appearance at the 100 Club and the group began writing and recording material. However, it wasn't until 1978 that Subway Sect's first single was released, "Nobody's Scared" b/w "Don't Split It". (During the interim, Packham left the group, and was replaced by Mark Laff; Laff quit to join Generation X, and Robert Ward became the Sect's new drummer). "Nobody's Scared" didn't fare well in the charts, but their second release, "Ambition" b/w "Different Story," rose to number one on the indie singles charts in 1978. However, Rhodes was unhappy with the results of the group's recording sessions for its first album; he fired the band, shelved the album, and signed a deal with Godard as a songwriter, bringing the group's first era to a close. 

As Godard dug deeper into songwriting, he embraced his interest in pop styles of the past and classic crooning; his 1980 album 'What's the Matter Boy?', credited to Vic Godard & The Subway Sect, reflected his new creative direction, as did 1982's 'Songs for Sale', an homage to Cole Porter. In 1986, Godard released his first solo album, 'T.R.O.U.B.L.E.', but he grew disillusioned with the music business and quit to become a letter carrier. In the '90s, Godard returned to music part-time and continued to write and record with a variety of collaborators when his work schedule permitted. He recorded an album, 'The End of the Surrey People', for the newly revitalized Postcard label in 1993, sang backing vocals on Edwyn Collins' "A Girl Like You" in 1995, then released the 'Long Term Side-Effect' album on Tugboat Records in 1998. 

After taking a short break, Godard returned in 2002 with a new edition of Subway Sect and released 'Sansend', an album that reflected his newfound interest in hip-hop and sampling. Next up was a 2007 album called '1978 Now', which saw Godard, with the help of ex-Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, among others, rescuing songs he had recorded for the Sect's first album in 1978, but which never saw the light of day. After that Godard released another solo album, 'We Come as Aliens', in 2010, before starting another reclamation project. '1979 Now!' revisited a batch of Northern soul songs Godard and Subway Sect had demoed but never released. Recorded with Cook's help again, along with original Sect bassist Paul Myers and production from Edwyn Collins, the album was released on Collins' AED label in October of 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 5 de diciembre de 2015


Now sadly relegated to footnote status, England's Fingerprintz were one of the few bands that lent credibility to the marketing-inspired expression "new wave." Formed by Scottish-born singer/guitarist Jimmie O'Neill in 1978, the 'Printz slowed down punk's careening guitar rock, adding clever, rhythmic twists and turns, and offering up deftly written stories about lust, angst, and urban desolation. The problem was finding an audience; the music was certainly spot-on, but one can only guess as to what kept hordes of people away. Certainly it wasn't the quality of their recorded work, which, despite occasional concessions to slick production, is mostly smart and insightful. Perhaps it was simply a matter of being out of step with the zeitgeist or simply not getting a break. O'Neill decided to call it a day after the third and final 'Printz record, 'Beat Noir', in 1981. However, the story has a sort of happy ending: O'Neill and fellow 'Printz guitarist Cha Burns formed The Silencers in 1987, a band that reaped much greater commercial success than did the 'Printz. Ironically, The Silencers' records weren't nearly as good as that of Fingerprintz. All three Fingerprintz records are long out of print, which is a thinly veiled recommendation for someone to compile a CD anthology. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 4 de diciembre de 2015

Eyeless In Gaza

Specializing in alternative pop/rock, post-punk, and art rock, the experimental British duo Eyeless in Gaza have enjoyed an enthusiastic cult following since the early 1980s. The music of Eyeless in Gaza has tended to be moody, quirky and atmospheric, drawing on influences that have ranged from Brian Eno, Pink Floyd and Pere Ubu to Roxy Music, David Bowie (especially Bowie's 'Low' / 'Heroes' / 'Lodger' period of the late 1970s) and the seminal Kraftwerk. Eyeless in Gaza experimented with electronics from the beginning, and they clearly admired Eno's breakthroughs in the ambient electronic realm. 

Eyeless in Gaza got started in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England in 1980, when lead singer Martyn Bates joined forces with fellow multi-instrumentalist Peter Becker; they named their group after British author Aldous Huxley's 1936 novel, which Bates was reading when he met Becker. Both of them have embraced a variety of instruments in Eyeless in Gaza; Bates has played keyboards, organ, guitar and drums (among other instruments), while Becker has contributed guitar (both electric and acoustic), bass, drums, percussion and melodica (in addition to helping with the vocals). Eyeless in Gaza's first mini-album was their 1980 EP 'Kodak Ghosts Run Amok', which was followed by their 'Invisibility' EP in 1981 and their full-length albums of 1981 'Photographs as Memories' and 'Caught in Flux'. Eyeless in Gaza recorded frequently in the 1980s, providing full-length albums that included 'Pale Hands I Loved So Well' and 'Drumming the Beating Heart' in 1982, 'Rust Red September' in 1983, and 'Back from the Rains' in 1986. But the duo went on hiatus in 1987, when Bates opted to pursue some solo projects. The two of them were reunited briefly in 1990 when they worked with poet Anne Clark on her album 'The Law Is an Anagram of Wealth', but many of Eyeless in Gaza's followers were wondering if Bates and Becker would ever record together again as Eyeless in Gaza. In 1993, however, Bates and Becker were officially reunited as Eyeless in Gaza after a seven-year hiatus -and the duo's recording career was resumed with 1993's 'Fabulous Library' (which started out as a Becker solo project but became a full-fledged Eyeless in Gaza album when Bates came on board). By that time, music that was loosely defined as alternative rock or alternative pop/rock had become rock's dominant direction thanks to the major commercial success of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and others. Instead of being described as music for the select few like it had been in the 1980s, alternative had become downright mainstream -and the return of Eyeless in Gaza was quite appropriate considering that Bates and Becker were embracing alternative long before it was in vogue. After 'Fabulous Library', Eyeless in Gaza continued to build their catalog with 'Saw You in Reminding Pictures' in 1994, 'Bitter Apples' in 1995, 'All Under the Leaves, the Leaves of Life' in 1996, 'Song of the Beautiful Wanton' in 2000, 'Home Produce: Country Bizarre' in 2003, and 'Summer Salt/Subway Sun' in 2007/2008. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 3 de diciembre de 2015

The Delmonas

Taking their name from the word for a decorative handbag favored by women in the Klaipeda region of Lithuania, British garage pop girl group, The Delmonas began life as The Milkboilers. If that moniker sounds suspiciously similar to that of the Billy Childish-led Milkshakes, it's no coincidence: the trio got its start by singing backup on the lads' recordings (and dating the boys in the band). Sarah (who went with Mickey Hampshire), Hilary (with Russ Wilkins), and Louise (with Bruce Brand) took the lead on a rendition of The Beatles' "Boys" before striking out on their own with a couple of four-song EPs in 1984: 'Comin' Home Baby' (popularized by Mel Tormé) and 'Hello, We Love You' (actually The Doors' "Hello, I Love You.") In both cases, The Milkshakes served as their backing band and Childish and Hampshire wrote most of the originals. The following year, The Delmonas released their first full-length recording, 'Dangerous Charms', which rounded up the EP tracks, three outtakes, and five numbers from a radio broadcast (it was later released as 'Delmonas Plus Delmonas' with additional material from another BBC session). Interpersonal tensions resulted in a recording gap of several years and a revamped lineup for 1988's follow-up, 'Delmonas 5!'. Louise had since left the group and Hilary and Sarah had renamed themselves Miss Ida Red and Ludella Black (the latter possibly in tribute to British chanteuse Cilla Black). They were backed by the first lineup of Thee Mighty Caesars (Childish, Wilkins, and John Agnew). The new combo cranked out a louder, harder-hitting sound. The Delmonas hit the streets in 1989 and continued in the same brassy vein. It featured 'Dangerous Charms'' lost title-track and a couple of earlier numbers redone in French ('Delmonas 5!' and 'The Delmonas' were later combined onto one CD). 'Do the Uncle Willy', released later the same year, was the band's final musical document. It compiled material from previous releases, a couple of alternate takes, and a new version of The Milkshakes' "Lie Detector". On all of their recordings, The Delmonas mixed cover versions from the '50s and '60s with original compositions that sounded as if they came from that era -upbeat ravers in the spirit of The Shangri-Las, Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra, and other tough-but-tender girl acts. If they didn't quite have the vocal range of those artists, they made up for it in attitude and enthusiasm. This spirit was carried over into The Headcoatees, which included Black and Holly Golightly (now Brand's main squeeze), and would fulfill the same function: as backup to Thee Headcoats and as a band backed by them. In 2000, after both groups had called it quits, Black released her first solo album 'She's Out There' (backed, not too surprisingly, by Hampshire and Brand, with whom she had begun her musical career). [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 2 de diciembre de 2015

The Chesterf!elds

Indie pop combo The Chesterf!elds formed in Yeovil, England, in mid-1984, originally comprised of singer/guitarist David Goldsworthy, bassist Simon Barber, and drummer Dominic Manns. Second guitarist Brendan Holden signed on a year later, embellishing the upbeat, frothy melodies that earned The Chesterf!elds a spot on the front lines of the short-lived movement of shambling guitar pop bands dubbed C-86 in honor of the New Musical Express cassette that popularized the sound in question. The C-86 affiliation was further solidified when they signed to Subway Organization, the label owned and operated by The Flatmates' Martin Whitehead and home to acts including The Razorcuts and The Shop Assistants, joining the latter for late 1985's "The Legendary Subway Golden Flexi", to which The Chesterf!elds contributed their recorded debut, "Nose Out of Joint". The EP 'A Guitar in Your Bath' followed in early 1986, and later that year the group resurfaced with the fan favorite "Completely and Utterly". Released in 1987, "Ask Johnny Dee" boasted a more refined sound, and with their debut LP, 'Kettle', The Chesterf!elds reached their creative zenith, combining the energy and abandon of their early singles with an increasingly mature approach to songwriting. 

Holden left the lineup in April 1987, resulting in a revolving door of guitarists including future The Blue Aeroplanes Rodney Allen and former The Loft member Andy Strickland before Barber's brother Mark assumed the role full-time; the singles compilation 'Westward Ho!' closed out the year, and in 1988 The Chesterf!elds left Subway to found their own label, Household. The single "Blame" was their inaugural release on the imprint, followed by their second studio LP, 'Crocodile Tears'. Neither effort earned the same critical praise as earlier records, however, and both Goldsworthy and Manns announced their resignations from the group, with the former later turning up in Furnt. The Barber brothers soldiered on for one more Chesterf!elds single, "Fool Is a Man," before dissolving the group in mid-1989. Simon Barber later fronted Basinger, while Mark helmed Grape -neither group earned the raves or the fame afforded their previous work, however. Goldsworthy reunited with the Barbers to record a new Chesterf!elds single, "Down by the Wishing Pool", in 1994, adding drummer Richard Chant for the sessions; a full-length LP, 'Flood', appeared on the Vinyl Japan label that same year. The group then again dissolved, this time for good. Goldsworthy was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Oxford on November 19, 2003. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 1 de diciembre de 2015


Bauhaus are the founding fathers of goth rock, creating a minimalistic, overbearingly gloomy style of post-punk rock driven by jagged guitar chords and cold, distant synthesizers. Throughout their brief career, the band explored all the variations on their bleak musical ideas, adding elements of glam rock, experimental electronic rock, funk, and heavy metal. While their following has never expanded beyond a cult, they kept their cult alive well into the '90s, a full decade after they disbanded. 

The group formed in 1978 in Northampton, England. Guitarist/vocalist Daniel Ash, bassist/vocalist David J (born David Jay Haskins), and drummer Kevin Haskins had played together as a trio called The Craze before forming Bauhaus with vocalist Peter Murphy. Originally, the band was called Bauhaus 1919 after the German art movement; by 1979, they had dropped the 1919 from their name.

In August of 1979, the group released their debut single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead", on the independent record label Small Wonder Records. Although it did not make the pop charts, it became the de facto goth rock anthem, staying in the U.K. independent charts for years. Three months later, the group signed with Beggars Banquet's subsidiary label, 4AD. The group's second single, "Dark Entries", was released in January 1980. Following their first European tour, Bauhaus released their third single, "Terror Couple Kill Colonel", in the summer of that year, which became a hit on the indie charts. 

After touring America for the first time in September, the group released a version of T.Rex's "Telegram Sam". In October, they released their debut album, 'In the Flat Field', which reached number one on the independent charts and number 72 on the pop charts. The success of the album led to their first hits on the pop charts; both "Kick in the Eye" and "The Passion of Lovers" made the U.K. Top 60 in 1981. In October, they released their second album, 'Mask', which revealed a more ambitious musical direction; the new direction, which featured elements of metal and electronic sonic textures, made the music more accessible without abandoning the dark, foreboding core of their music. 'Mask' was a commercial success, peaking at number 30 on the U.K. charts.

In March of 1982, Bauhaus released the EP 'Searching for Satori', which reached number 45 on the U.K. charts; another successful single, "Spirit", followed in the summer. That fall, the group had a number 15 hit with their version of David Bowie's "Ziggy Stardust". The success of the single propelled their third album, 'The Sky's Gone Out', to number four on the album charts. 

Murphy contracted pneumonia at the beginning of 1983, which prevented him from participating in the recording sessions for Bauhaus' fourth album, 'Burning From the Inside'. Consequently, the record featured substantial contributions from Ash and J, who both pursued more personal and atmospheric directions. After Murphy recovered, the band toured Japan and then returned to the U.K. to promote the summer release of 'Burning From the Inside'. The album was another hit, peaking at number 13. In July, Bauhaus split up. 

After Bauhaus' breakup, Murphy formed Dali's Car with Japan's Mick Karn and then pursued a solo career. Ash continued with Tones on Tail, a project he began in 1981; Kevin Haskins also joined the band after Bauhaus' split. J made some solo records and joined The Jazz Butcher briefly. Ash, Haskins, and J formed Love and Rockets in 1985 after a proposed Bauhaus reunion fell apart because Peter Murphy wasn't interested in the project. More than a decade later, however, with the careers of both Love and Rockets and Peter Murphy at a standstill, Bauhaus re-formed for several live dates in Los Angeles, mounting a full-blown tour in 1998; the two-disc 'Gotham' documented the reunited group's performance at New York's Hammerstein Ballroom. In 2008, the band resurfaced again with 'Go Away White', a studio album they promised as their last statement. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC