miércoles, 31 de agosto de 2016

Tones On Tail

Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash created Tones on Tail as a side project in 1981 with bassist Glen Campling, who was also a roadie for Bauhaus. When Bauhaus broke up in 1983, Ash chose to concentrate on his new group, bringing in Bauhaus drummer Kevin Haskins as well. Their style ranged from light rock to funk to atmospheric synth music. Ash became dissatisfied with Campling, and a Bauhaus reunion was planned, but when Peter Murphy backed out, Ash, Haskins, and former bassist David J, who had been playing with The Jazz Butcher, decided to re-form as Love and Rockets. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 30 de agosto de 2016

Skinny Puppy

Drawing from the pioneering work of artists like Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, and Suicide, the dark avant-industrial group Skinny Puppy formed in 1982 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Originally a duo comprised of former Images in Vogue drummer cEvin Key (born Kevin Crompton) and Nivek Ogre (aka Kevin Ogilvie), Skinny Puppy followed their debut cassette, 'Back and Forth', with the EP 'Remission', the first of many recordings with producer David "Rave" Ogilvie, in 1984. 

Keyboardist Wilhelm Schroeder joined the group for 1985's full-length debut, 'Bites', but was replaced the next year by Dwayne Goettel, whose sampling and synth work proved significant in the development of the Skinny Puppy aesthetic from ominous dance music into a distinct fusion of industrial, goth, and electronic sounds. Subsequent releases like 1986's 'Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse', 1987's 'Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate', and 1988's 'VIVIsectVI' further honed the trio's style, as well as introducing the outspoken lyrical agenda that remained a thematic constant throughout much of the group's work. 

In 1989, Ministry's Al Jourgensen added vocals, guitars, and production work to 'Rabies'; later, he joined Ogre in the side project Pigface. Ultimately, the members' interest in pursuing similar outside projects began to unravel Skinny Puppy: in 1987, Key and Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pink Dots recorded the album 'Their Eyes Slowly Burning' under the name Tear Garden, and in 1990, he and friend Alan Nelson worked as Hilt. A major rift began splitting the band apart, and Key and Goettel often sided against Ogre, whom they felt was more interested in pursuing solo work than in keeping the trio intact; drugs had also become a serious problem, but Skinny Puppy nonetheless signed to American Recordings in 1993 and relocated to Los Angeles to begin production work. 

The sessions for the album, titled 'The Process', proved disastrous; for the first time in nearly a decade, David Ogilvie did not oversee production duties, and the group went through several producers, including former Swan Roli Mosimann and Martin Atkins. Flooding and earthquakes further hampered the sessions, and Key was severely injured in a film shoot. After months of recording, Key and Goettel, dissatisfied with Atkins' work, absconded with the master tapes and returned to Vancouver in mid-1994 to finish production. Ogre remained in California, and later announced he was leaving Skinny Puppy to form W.E.L.T. A few months later, on August 23, 1995, Goettel was found dead of a heroin overdose in his parents' home; in his honor, Key and Ogilvie finally completed the album, and 'The Process' was released in 1996. A multimedia history of the band, 'Brap: Back and Forth, Series 3 & 4', followed a few months later, while Key returned to his new project, Download. Released in 1998, 'Remix Dystemper' featured Skinny Puppy reworkings by Autechre, Neotropic, and Adrian Sherwood in addition to industrial groups like KMFDM and God Lives Underwater

By 2000, the word was out that Key and Ogre had buried the hatchet, reactivated Skinny Puppy, and recording was underway. A 1994 jam between Skinny Puppy and Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV member Genesis P-Orridge was released under the title 'Puppy Gristle' in 2002 on Key's subCON label. The SPV label (which had long been the distributor of the band's albums in Europe) signed the band in late 2003. Skinny Puppy's 'Greater Wrong of the Right' hit the streets in 2004 with members of Tool, Collide, and Static-X making guest appearances. Two more studio albums, 2007's 'Mythmaker' and 2011's 'Handover', followed before the release of 2012's live album 'Bootlegged, Broke and in Solvent Seas'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC] 

lunes, 29 de agosto de 2016

Prefab Sprout

One of the most beloved British pop bands of the '80s and '90s, Prefab Sprout have had a minimum of chart success in the United States, where they're all but unknown outside of their devoted cult following, but singer/songwriter Paddy McAloon is regularly hailed as one of the great songwriters of his era. Critics regularly compare McAloon favorably to Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, and even Cole Porter, but the self-effacing and publicity-shy performer modestly prefers to let his increasingly rare albums speak for themselves. 

Prefab Sprout were formed in Newcastle, England, in 1977 by McAloon (who sings and plays guitar and piano) and his bass-playing younger brother, Martin. In the group's early days, McAloon spun several fanciful tales about the origin of their odd name (one favorite was that the young McAloon had misheard the line "hotter than a pepper sprout" in Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood's "Jackson"), but the prosaic truth is that an adolescent McAloon had devised the meaningless name in homage to the longwinded and equally silly band names of his late-'60s/early-'70s youth. With an early fan, Wendy Smith, drafted into the lineup to sing helium-register backing vocals, the trio released its first single, "Lions in My Own Garden (Exit Someone)," on its own Candle label in July 1982. Written for a girlfriend who had left Newcastle to study in Limoges, France (check the acronym of the title), the song was exceedingly clever but obviously heartfelt. The single's warm reception, including many plays on John Peel's radio show, led to the Sprout's signing to CBS subsidiary Kitchenware Records, which reissued the single in April 1983. Another single, "The Devil Has All the Best Tunes," followed later that year. 

Prefab Sprout's first album, 'Swoon', was released in March 1984. Containing neither of the first two singles (but leading off with the delightful "Don't Sing," their third), 'Swoon' is in retrospect a surprisingly brittle record, full of difficult songs that take unexpected left turns and have all but impenetrable lyrics. That said, there are more ideas per bar in 'Swoon' than in any chart record released in 1984, and the songs' charms reveal themselves after a few listens. Shortly after 'Swoon''s release, drummer Neil Conti joined the group, and in a rather brilliant move, Thomas Dolby was tapped to produce the second Prefab Sprout album, 1985's 'Steve McQueen' (retitled 'Two Wheels Good' in the U.S. due to litigation from the late actor's estate). Dolby smoothes out the kinks a bit, and his keyboards help enrich the album's sound; it also helps that the songs are much better, lyrically opaque but not impenetrable and melodically satisfying. Prefab Sprout returned to the studio without Dolby in the summer of 1985 and quickly recorded an album's worth of material that was initially meant to be released in a limited edition as a tour souvenir. However, several months after 'Steve McQueen' was released, its song "When Love Breaks Down" (which had been released as a single four different times in the U.K. without chart success) finally became a hit, and CBS feared a new album would hurt its predecessor's sales, so the project was shelved. 

The "proper" follow-up to 'Steve McQueen' was 1988's 'From Langley Park to Memphis'. Although it was their biggest hit, thanks to the massive U.K. chart success of "The King of Rock and Roll" (about a one-hit wonder stuck performing his silly novelty song on the nostalgia circuit forever; ironically, it was Prefab Sprout's sole U.K. Top Ten hit and remains their best-known song) and the U.S. college radio success of the genial Bruce Springsteen parody "Cars and Girls," many Prefab Sprout fans consider this the group's weakest album due to the too-slick production and a few subpar tunes. Following that chart action, CBS dusted off the shelved acoustic project from 1985 and released it (in the U.K. only) under the title 'Protest Songs' in June 1989. Issued in 1990, 'Jordan: The Comeback', which McAloon describes as a concept album about Jesse James and Elvis Presley, was released to enormous critical acclaim in late 1990, but unfortunately, its ornate, lush production and suite-like structure doomed it to commercial failure in the U.S., though it was another big hit in the U.K. A fine but unimaginative best-of, 'A Life of Surprises', met similar respective fates in the summer of 1992. 

Many thought Prefab Sprout disbanded at that point, and indeed, Conti did leave the band at some point in the '90s. However, McAloon had written (and in some cases, recorded) several albums' worth of material during the first half of the decade, abandoning them all before finally releasing the crystalline 'Andromeda Heights' in 1997. The album wasn't even released in the U.S., but it was another deserved U.K. hit. An album of subtle beauty, 'Andromeda Heights' shows how far McAloon had come as a songwriter and singer since 'Swoon'. 

A much-improved two-disc anthology, 'The 38 Carat Collection', was released by CBS in 1999 as the group was leaving the label. (Unexpectedly, the group's U.S. label, Epic, belatedly reissued this set as 'The Collection' in early 2001.) Smith left the group during this period, after the birth of her first child. Prefab Sprout, by this point consisting solely of the McAloon brothers, signed to EMI in late 2000 and delivered their Western-themed concept album, 'The Gunman and Other Stories', in early 2001. Unfortunately, the album's release was delayed several months when Paddy McAloon was diagnosed with a medical disorder rendering him partially blind. After an eight-year layoff, McAloon returned to recording as Prefab Sprout and released the self-produced, performed, and recorded 'Let's Change the World with Music'. This set's songs and concept date to 1992 and were originally to be recorded as the follow-up album to 'Jordan: The Comeback'; for various reasons, those sessions never happened. It was initially issued by Ministry of Sound and later in the year licensed by Sony/BMG in the U.K. In 2010, the independent Tompkins Square imprint issued the album in the United States. Both the album 'Crimson/Red' and its lead single, "The Best Jewel Thief in the World," landed on the Icebreaker label in 2013. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 28 de agosto de 2016

Modern English

The summery hooks and warm lyrics of Modern English's biggest hit, "I Melt with You," gave listeners the impression that the band was an upbeat pop act in the early '80s. "I Melt with You" was actually an anomaly in Modern English's early discography. Formed in Colchester, England, in 1979, Modern English was originally a punk group called The Lepers. Featuring Robbie Grey (vocals, guitar), Gary McDowell (guitar), and Richard Brown (drums), The Lepers mainly performed at parties. After Mick Conroy (bass) and Stephen Walker (keyboards) joined the band, they changed their name to Modern English and were signed to 4AD Records. Inspired by the stylish gloom of Bauhaus and Joy Division, Modern English released the singles "Swans on Glass" and "Gathering Dust" before recording their 1981 debut LP 'Mesh & Lace'. Boiling with raw anger, dissonant rhythms, and weird noises, 'Mesh & Lace' confused some U.K. critics while mesmerizing others. A year later, the group streamlined their sound, dropping much of 'Mesh & Lace''s gothic experimentation on 'After the Snow'. "I Melt with You" was included on the "Valley Girl" soundtrack, and its video became an MTV staple. Although "I Melt with You" didn't reach the Top 40 charts in America, 'After the Snow' sold more than 500,000 copies. However, the band's next album, 1984's 'Ricochet Days', was a flop. 

Pressured by their U.S. label Sire Records to release another hit and exhausted from touring, Modern English began falling apart; Walker and Brown were fired from the group. Grey continued recording with different Modern English lineups releasing the albums 'Pillow Lips' in 1990 and 'Everything Is Mad' in 1996. Also in the early '90s, "I Melt with You" was played in a successful Burger King ad. In 2010, Modern English returned with the full-length studio effort 'Soundtrack' featuring production from 'After the Snow' producer Hugh Jones. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 26 de agosto de 2016


More than any pop band in history, The KLF ripped off the music industry for a bucketful of loot and got away with it -as illustrated in their own guidebook to creating number one singles, "The Manual". Bill Drummond and Jimi Cauty applied the tactics of punk shock-terrorism to late-'80s acid house and became one of Britain's best-selling artists (recording also as The JAMS and The Timelords) just before their retirement in 1992. The duo then deleted their entire back catalog -a potential loss in the millions of pounds- and declared they wouldn't release another record until peace was declared throughout the world. 

The son of a Scottish preacher, Bill Drummond (b. April 29, 1953; South Africa) ran away from home to become a fisherman before enrolling in a Liverpool art school in the late '70s. He became involved in Liverpool's punk scene, and in 1977 formed the short-lived punk band Big in Japan with Holly Johnson (later of Frankie Goes to Hollywood) and Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds). A year later, Drummond co-founded the Zoo label (with Dave Balfe), serving as manager and producer for The Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen through the early '80s. After both bands left Zoo for the majors, Drummond followed by joining WEA as an A&R man; there, he signed Strawberry Switchblade, Zodiac Mindwarp, The Proclaimers, and Brilliant. He quit the business in 1986, though, and released the solo album 'The Man' one year later for Creation Records. The album was a satiric goodbye to music, voicing Drummond's hope that he would never be involved in the industry again. 

With his retirement only six months old, Drummond decided to make a hip-hop record. He called an old friend, Brilliant's Jimi Cauty (b. 1954), to help with production and technology. A week later, the duo -christened The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, or The JAMS for short- recorded the sample-heavy pastiche "All You Need Is Love." The single, released that May, was followed a month later by The JAMS' debut album '1987 (What the Fuck Is Going On?)', which continued the sonic piracy with long passages lifted from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and ABBA. As a matter of course, ABBA objected to the sampling, and in September the Copyright Protection Society demanded that all copies be recalled and destroyed. Instead, Drummond and Cauty traveled to Sweden, hoping that a personal meeting with ABBA would resolve the situation. Locked out of the group's Stockholm studio, the pair decided to return to England, stopping only to burn 500 copies of 1987 in a Swedish field. (The incident was photographed and serves as the cover for the best-of album 'History of the JAMS'.) Cauty and Drummond kept the album in the spotlight though, by advertising in The Face magazine five remaining copies for sale at the price of £1000 each. They eventually sold three, gave one away, and kept the last. In October 1987, The JAMS released an edited version of the album called '1987 (The JAMS 45 Edits)', with specific instructions on how to recreate the original '1987' at home. 

A second album, 'Who Killed the JAMS?', appeared early in 1988, but it was superseded by the May release of "Doctorin' the Tardis" (recorded as The Timelords). Incorporating samples from Gary Glitter, Sweet, and the theme to "Dr. Who", the single hit number one in the British charts and eventually became one of the most popular sports anthems of all time. Within six months, "Doctorin' the Tardis" was collected on two JAMS compilations, the 'American History of the JAMS a.k.a. The Timelords', and the British double-LP 'Circa 1987: Shag Times'. Six months later, Cauty and Drummond compiled their knowledge of popular success and the music industry, publishing "The Manual" with a statement of purpose included in the subtitle: "How to have a number one the easy way -The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu reveal their zenarchistic method used in making the unthinkable happen." 

Cauty and Drummond's second novelty single, "Kylie Said to Jason" (credited to The KLF, or Kopyright Liberation Front), proved a flop in July 1989, so the pair changed directions later that year. Jettisoning the beats of their previous work but retaining the samples and effects, the duo played a major part in the development of the '90s boom in ambient music. Cauty and Drummond recorded the classic 'Chill Out' album in late 1989, mixing source material from two DAT machines onto a cassette recorder during a live session. Concurrent to the 'Chill Out' project, Cauty had actually formed another ambient house forerunner, The Orb, with Dr. Alex Paterson. The duo recorded "A Huge Ever Growing Pulsating Brain That Rules From the Centre of the Ultraworld" in addition to material for an album, but split early in 1990 -with Paterson taking the name for his future recordings. Cauty then deleted Paterson's contributions, re-recorded large portions, and released the results credited only as Space.

Obviously, The KLF's ambient recordings weren't going to top the charts, so later in 1990 Cauty and Drummond moved back to acid house and earned the greatest success of their career. The single "What Time Is Love?" -the first volume in what became known as "The Stadium House Trilogy"- hit number five on the U.K. singles charts in August 1990. "3 A.M. Eternal" took over the number one spot in January 1991, and 'The White Room' LP topped the album charts upon its release in March. The final single in the trilogy, "Last Train to Trancentral," also made Top Ten. The KLF's success carried into Europe during 1991, and even the Americans caught on by September, pushing "3 A.M. Eternal" to number five and 'The White Room' into the Top 40 album charts. The U.S.-only "America: What Time Is Love?" reached number 57 in November 1991, and early in 1992 "Justified and Ancient" -the surprising pairing of The KLF with country queen Tammy Wynette- almost reached the American Top Ten. Cauty and Drummond, the best-selling singles act in the world during 1991, were on the verge of becoming superstars. 

The duo had other plans in mind, though. Voted Best British Group by BPI and the Brit Awards, The KLF were scheduled to perform at a London awards ceremony on February 13, 1992. Cauty and Drummond did show up, but horrified the formal audience with a hardcore thrash version of "3 A.M. Eternal" (performed with the justifiably named Extreme Noise Terror) that also included Drummond spraying the crowd with blanks from an automatic rifle and the post-performance announcement, "The KLF have left the music industry." Topping their already extreme actions, Cauty and Drummond delivered the carcass of a dead sheep -plus eight gallons of blood- to the lobby of the hotel after-party. The industry and press reaction was overwhelmingly negative, but Cauty and Drummond had already made their mint. Promising that no more releases were forthcoming until peace reigned around the world, they officially retired from music on May 5, 1992 -the date commemorated the 15th anniversary of Drummond's emergence in the music industry, with Big in Japan. To convince the public that it wasn't simply a scam to sell more records, Drummond and Cauty deleted the entire back catalog of KLF Communications. 

Though The KLF did return one year later, it was not to release music but to provide a commentary on the art world. First, a series of newspaper adverts commanded the world to "Abandon All Art Now." Cauty and Drummond -thinly veiled as The K Foundation- then announced that they would be awarding a prize of £40,000 to the worst work of art that year. Winner Rachel Whiteread (who had also won England's Turner Prize) refused the award, prompting a ceremony in which the K Foundation vowed to burn the prize money. Whiteread accepted the award just seconds before the bills were torched, and donated the money to charity. 

In August 1994, the artists formerly known as KLF managed to outdo themselves yet again. After physically nailing £1,000,000 to a board -an act which necessitated the largest cash withdrawal in U.K. history- Cauty and Drummond showed the money around England as a work of art entitled "Nailed to the Wall." Then, on the island of Jura, in the presence of one journalist and one cameraman, they burned the entire sum as yet another bizarre commentary on the art world. 

Cauty and Drummond's first recording in almost three years appeared later that year. Though peace didn't rule the world in late 1994, the K Foundation honored the historic peace accord between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat by releasing -only in Israel- an ultra-limited-edition single, a novelty cover song entitled "K Sera Sera," recorded with The Red Army Choir. Drummond and Cauty also recorded a track as the One World Orchestra for the "HELP" charity album in 1995. In late 1997, The KLF finally re-emerged (as 2K) and released the single '***k the Millennium' on Mute. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 25 de agosto de 2016

Joy Division

Formed in the wake of the punk explosion in England, Joy Division became the first band in the post-punk movement by later emphasizing not anger and energy but mood and expression, pointing ahead to the rise of melancholy alternative music in the '80s. Though the group's raw initial sides fit the bill for any punk band, Joy Division later incorporated synthesizers (taboo in the low-tech world of '70s punk) and more haunting melodies, emphasized by the isolated, tortured lyrics of its lead vocalist, Ian Curtis. While the British punk movement shocked the world during the late '70s, Joy Division's quiet storm of musical restraint and emotive power proved to be just as important to independent music in the 1980s. 

The band was founded in early 1977, soon after The Sex Pistols had made their first appearance in Manchester. Guitarist Bernard Albrecht (b. Bernard Dicken, January 4, 1956) and bassist Peter Hook (b. February 13, 1956) had met while at the show and later formed a band called the Stiff Kittens; after placing an ad through a Manchester record store, they added vocalist Ian Curtis (b. July 15, 1956) and drummer Steve Brotherdale. Renamed Warsaw (from David Bowie's "Warszawa"), the band made its live debut the following May, supporting The Buzzcocks and Penetration at Manchester's Electric Circus. After the recording of several demos, Brotherdale quit the group in August 1977, prompting the hire of Stephen Morris (b. October 28, 1957). A name change to Joy Division in late 1977 -necessitated by the punk band Warsaw Pakt- was inspired by Karol Cetinsky's World War II novel "The House of Dolls". (In the book, the term "joy division" was used as slang for concentration camp units wherein female inmates were forced to prostitute themselves for the enjoyment of Nazi soldiers.) 

Playing frequently in the north country during early 1978, the quartet gained the respect of several influential figures: Rob Gretton, a Manchester club DJ who became the group's manager; Tony Wilson, a TV/print journalist and owner of the Factory Records label; and Derek Branwood, a record executive with RCA Northwest, who recorded sessions in May 1978, for what was planned to be Joy Division's self-titled debut LP. Though several songs bounded with punk energy, the rest of the album showed at an early age the band's later trademarks: Curtis' themes of post-industrial restlessness and emotional despair, Hook's droning bass lines, and the jagged guitar riffs of Albrecht. 

The album should have been hailed as a punk classic, but when a studio engineer added synthesizers to several tracks -believing that the punk movement had to move on and embrace new sounds- Joy Division scrapped the entire LP. (Titled 'Warsaw' for a 1982 bootleg, the album was finally given wide issue ten years later.) The first actual Joy Division release came in June 1978, when the initial mid-1977 demos were released as the EP 'An Ideal for Living', on the band's own Enigma label. Early in 1979, the buzz surrounding Joy Division increased with a session recorded for John Peel's BBC radio show. 

The group began recording with producer Martin Hannett and released 'Unknown Pleasures' on old friend Tony Wilson's Factory label in July 1979. The album enjoyed immense critical acclaim and a long stay on the U.K.'s independent charts. Encouraged by the punk buzz, the American Warner Bros. label offered a large distribution contract that fall. The band ignored it but did record another radio session for John Peel on November 26th. (Both sessions were later collected on the Peel Sessions album.) 

During late 1979, Joy Division's manic live show gained many converts, partly due to rumors of Curtis' ill health. An epilepsy sufferer, he was prone to breakdowns and seizures while on stage -it soon grew difficult to distinguish the fits from his usual on-stage jerkiness and manic behavior. As the live dates continued and the new decade approached, Curtis grew weaker and more prone to seizures. After a short rest over the Christmas holiday, Joy Division embarked on a European tour during January, though several dates were cancelled because of Curtis. The group began recording its second LP after the tour ended (again with Hannett), and released "Love Will Tear Us Apart" in April. The single was again praised but failed to move beyond the independent charts. After one gig in early May, the members of Joy Division were given two weeks of rest before beginning the group's first U.S. tour. Two days before the scheduled flight, however, Curtis was found dead in his home, the victim of a self-inflicted hanging. 

Before Curtis' death, the band had agreed that Joy Division would cease to exist if any member left, for any reason. Ironically though, the summer of 1980 proved to be the blooming of the band's commercial status, when a re-release of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" rose to number 13 on the British singles chart. In August, the release of 'Closer' finally united critics' positivity with glowing sales, as the album peaked at number six. Before the end of the summer, 'Unknown Pleasures' was charting as well. 

By January of the following year, Hook, Morris, and Albrecht (now Bernard Sumner) had formed New Order, with Sumner taking over vocal duties. Also in 1981, the posthumous release of 'Still' -including two sides of rare tracks and two of live songs- rose to number five on the British charts. As New Order's star began to shine during the '80s, the group had trouble escaping the long shadow of Curtis and Joy Division. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" charted for the third time in 1983, and 1988 also proved a big year for the defunct band: the reissued single "Atmosphere" hit number 34 and a double-album compilation entitled 'Substance' reached number seven in the album charts. Seven years later, the 15th anniversary of Curtis' death was memorialized with a new JD compilation ('Permanent: Joy Division 1995'), a tribute album ("A Means to an End"), and a biography of his life ("Touching From a Distance") written by his widow, Deborah Curtis. In 1999, the Factory label began a program of concert-performance reissues -all overseen by the remainder of the original lineup- with 'Preston Warehouse 28 February 1980'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 24 de agosto de 2016


If Black Sabbath were reborn as an industrial rock band, they'd probably sound an awful lot like Godflesh. Therefore, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Godflesh hail from the same hometown as Sabbath, the tough steel-welding town of Birmingham, England. Although a few other members passed through the Godflesh ranks over the years, the band's undisputed leader was guitarist/singer Justin Broadrick, who was present since the group's inception. Broadrick was influenced early on by heavy metal, as well as such experimental groups as Can (and Lou Reed's 1975 noisefest, "Metal Machine Music"). As a result, Broadrick helped form grindcore pioneers Napalm Death at the age of 15. But after the release of their landmark 1987 debut recording, "Scum", Broadrick quickly grew bored with the group's one-dimensional direction, and exited. 

Broadrick's next project, Head of David, still followed in the same harsh grindcore path as his previous band, although he exchanged his guitar for a set of drums. But like Napalm Death, Broadrick quickly grew tired of Head of David; a telltale sign that his days were numbered with the group appeared when his bandmates supposedly took a liking to Whitesnake (!). After a pair of releases (1986's 'LP' and 1988's 'Dustbowl'), he departed Head of David, and sought to form a new group that would be even more musically extreme and experimental. That group would be Godflesh

Teamed up with bassist Ben Green and an Alesis-16 drum machine (which was eventually replaced several years later by an actual human, Ted Parsons), Godflesh unleashed a pair of releases that sounded unlike anything at the time: the 1988 EP 'Godflesh' and 1990's full-length 'Streetcleaner'. These releases may not sound as extreme nowadays, but Godflesh were one of the first bands to merge metal with industrial, helping to pave the way for countless copycat acts. A healthy buzz began to build around the band, especially in the music press, as many thought Godflesh would become the next big thing. More accessible industrial metal bands beat them to the punch, however (Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, etc.), as Godflesh never broke out of "cult" status, despite issuing further EPs and full-lengths (1992's 'Pure', 1994's 'Selfless', 1996's 'Songs of Love and Hate', and 1999's 'Us and Them') throughout the '90s. 

Godflesh's first best-of compilation, 'In All Languages', was issued in 2001, yet the early 21st century saw Godflesh enter a tumultuous period, when Green exited the group shortly after the release of a new studio album, 'Hymns', that same year. Although a replacement bassist was announced (former Killing Joke/Prong member Paul Raven), Broadrick announced Godflesh's dissolution during the spring of 2002. As a final thank-you to longtime fans, Broadrick decided to re-release an expanded edition of Godflesh's ultra-rare 1994 EP, 'Messiah', in 2003. In addition to his work with Godflesh, Broadrick headed two now-defunct record labels (Head Dirt and Lo Fibre); produced other artists; and also found time for a few side projects, such as Final, Techno Animal, and Jesu

In 2009, Broadrick announced that Godflesh would be reuniting to play the 2010 Hellfest in Clisson, France. While details about other shows remained sparse, the band began to appear at other festivals around Europe, appearing at Roadburn in Holland and the Supersonic Festival in England. Rumblings of a new album began to emerge, and in 2013 the band released its first new material in 12 years, a cover of Slaughter's "F.O.D." The following year, Godflesh returned with two releases, an EP, 'Decline & Fall', as well as the band's seventh full-length album, 'A World Lit Only by Fire'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 23 de agosto de 2016

John Foxx

John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, England), the original vocalist of Ultravox, was one of those cult figures known more through the recordings of others rather than those of his own making. His detached, jolting vocal style inspired mainstream and underground artists across the decades, from synth pop superstar Gary Numan to electro-techno duo Adult. Foxx's three albums with Ultravox, released during the tail end of the '70s, as well as his first two solo albums, 'Metamatic' (1980) and 'The Garden' (1981), are essential listening for anyone with an interest in artful post-glam rock and challenging electronic pop. After a mostly silent span of roughly 12 years, broken up by a pair of early-'90s singles with Tim Simenon as Nation12, he returned more prolific than ever, operating his own label and dividing his recording schedule between ambient work (including collaborations with pianist Harold Budd and Cocteau Twins guitarist Robin Guthrie) and song-based material (recorded with Louis Gordon) that often recalled 'Metamatic'. As a graphic artist, he designed book covers for Salman Rushdie and Anthony Burgess, and he also co-directed LFO's video for 1991's "LFO." [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 22 de agosto de 2016

808 State

A pioneer of the acid house sound, 808 State formed in Manchester, England in 1988 when Martin Price, the owner of the city's legendary record store Eastern Bloc and the founder of the independent label Creed, first joined forces with local musician and producer Graham Massey. After teaming with collaborator Gerald Simpson, 808 State recorded its debut EP 'Newbuild' in 1988, and also began remixing tracks for groups like the Inspiral Carpets. After Simpson exited to form his solo project A Guy Called Gerald, Price and Massey enlisted DJs Andrew Barker and Darren Partington (known together as The Spinmasters) for the recording of 1989's 'Quadrastate' EP, which earned the group a huge club hit with the track "Pacific." After signing with ZTT, they released the album '808:90', which was embraced by the burgeoning rave culture. 808 State's next single, "The Only Rhyme That Bites," recorded with hip-hopper MC Tunes, marked a dramatic shift into hardcore rap, but was another huge hit. A series of diverse singles followed, culminating in the 1991 album 'Ex: El', which featured guest vocals from New Order's Bernard Sumner and Bjork; the same year, 808 State also wrote, produced and performed the music for the MC Tunes LP "The North at Its Heights". In 1992, Price left to work as a solo producer, later forming his own label, Sun Text. The remaining trio continued on in 1993 with 'Gorgeous', and handled remix work for the likes of David Bowie, Soundgarden, and Bomb the Bass before returning with the experimental 'Don Solaris' in 1996. The '808:88-98' compilation followed two years later. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 21 de agosto de 2016

The Distractions

This Manchester, England new wave band was first formed in 1975 by college friends Mike Finney (vocals) and Steve Perrin-Brown (guitar), together with Lawrence Tickle (bass) and Tony Trap (drums). Restructured under the influence of the Buzzcocks towards the end of 1977, Finney and Brown stabilized the line-up with the addition of Pip Nicholls (bass), Adrian Wright (guitar) and Alec Sidebottom (drums), who had previously played with The Purple Gang in the 60s. Their live set included ‘Doesn’t Bother Me’, ‘Pillow Talk’, ‘Valerie’, and ‘Paracetomol Paralysis’, mixing the spirit of punk with a taste of the 60s. 

After supporting most of the main bands in the Manchester area, they made their recording debut in January 1979 with ‘You’re Not Going Out Dressed Like That’. This resulted in a contract with Tony Wilson’s Factory Records label, and the release of ‘Time Goes By So Slow’. Originally, the b-side, ‘Pillow Fight’, was to be the main track, but was flipped over at the last minute. Both good pop songs, they had the potential to climb the national charts, but failed through lack of radio play and promotion. At the end of September they signed to Island Records and released a re-recorded version of ‘It Doesn’t Bother Me’. In 1980 'Nobody’s Perfect' was issued, a mixture of new and old songs from their early live set, followed by the singles ‘Boys Cry’ -a remake of the old Eden Kane hit- ‘Something For The Weekend’, and the EP 'And Then There’s'. All received favourable reviews, but commercial success remained elusive, causing the inevitable split in 1981. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Cocteau Twins

A group whose distinctly ethereal and gossamer sound virtually defined the enigmatic image of the record label 4AD, Cocteau Twins were founded in Grangemouth, Scotland, in 1979. Taking their name from an obscure song from fellow Scots Simple Minds, the Cocteaus were originally formed by guitarist Robin Guthrie and bassist Will Heggie and later rounded out by Guthrie's girlfriend Elizabeth Fraser, an utterly unique performer whose swooping, operatic vocals relied less on any recognizable language than on the subjective sounds and textures of verbalized emotions. 

In 1982, the trio signed to 4AD, the arty British label then best known as the home of The Birthday Party, whose members helped the Cocteaus win a contract. The group debuted with 'Garlands', which offered an embryonic taste of their rapidly developing, atmospheric sound, crafted around Guthrie's creative use of distorted guitars, tape loops, and echo boxes and anchored in Heggie's rhythmic bass as well as an omnipresent Roland 808 drum machine. Shortly after the release of the 'Peppermint Pig' EP, Heggie left the group, and Guthrie and Fraser cut 1983's 'Head Over Heels' as a duo; nonetheless, the album largely perfected the Cocteaus' gauzy formula, and established the foundation from which the group would continue to work for the duration of its career. 

In late 1983, ex-Drowning Craze bassist Simon Raymonde joined the band to record the EP 'The Spangle Maker'; as time wore on, Raymonde became an increasingly essential component of Cocteau Twins, gradually assuming an active role as a writer, arranger, and producer. With their lineup firmly solidified, they issued 'The Spangle Maker', followed by the LP 'Treasure', their most mature and consistent work yet. A burst of creativity followed, as the Twins issued three separate EPs -'Aikea-Guinea', 'Tiny Dynamine', and 'Echoes in a Shallow Bay'- in 1985, trailed a year later by the acoustic 'Victorialand' album, the 'Love's Easy Tears' EP, and 'The Moon and the Melodies', a collaborative effort with minimalist composer Harold Budd

With 1988's sophisticated 'Blue Bell Knoll', the trio signed an international contract with Capitol Records, which greatly elevated their commercial visibility. After 1990's 'Heaven or Las Vegas', the Cocteaus severed their long-standing relationship with 4AD; notably, the album also found Fraser's vocals offering the occasional comprehensible turn of phrase, a trend continued on 1993's 'Four-Calendar Cafe'. In 1995, they explored a pair of differing musical approaches on simultaneously released EPs: while 'Twinlights' offered subtle acoustic sounds, 'Otherness' tackled ambient grooves, remixed by Seefeel's Mark Clifford. On the other hand, 1996's 'Milk & Kisses' LP marked a return to the band's archetypal style. Cocteau Twins quietly disbanded while working on an uncompleted follow-up. Posthumous releases followed, such as 1999's 'BBC Sessions', 2000's 'Stars and Topsoil', and 2005's 'Lullabies to Violaine'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 19 de agosto de 2016


Children of bands like The Pop Group, Josef K, and Gang of Four of the U.K.'s vibrant anti-rockist, post-punk scene of 1978-1981, Manchester, England's bIG fLAME were a self-proclaimed "tense and quirky three-piece pop group," combining the restless talents of bassist/vocalist Alan Brown, guitarist Greg O'Keefe, and drummer David "Dil" Green (the one who looked like Harry Connick, Jr. with a squirrel on his head). They favored three-song 7" singles over 12" releases and LPs; their encore-free gigs lasted less than half an hour; the longest song they recorded is well under three minutes; there weren't any songs with "baby" in the title; there weren't any guitar solos, just lots of atonal screeching, off-kilter rhythms, and vocals that weren't so much sung as they were yelped. During their four-year existence, they issued six singles and appeared on a handful of compilations, including the famed "C-86" cassette released by NME. After they broke up, Brown joined The Great Leap Forward. In 1996, Dan Koretzky's Drag City label issued 'Rigour 1983-1986', which compiled the trio's entire recorded output. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC] 

jueves, 18 de agosto de 2016

The Armoury Show

The Armoury Show had a sound to match the seriousness of their name, beginning with the grim vocals of singer/guitarist Richard Jobson. Formed not long after the dissolution of the Scottish punk group The Skids, The Armoury Show debuted in 1984 with the single "Castles in Spain," a dark, ferociously energetic guitar epic with booming vocals and explosive percussion. Also consisting of John McGeoch (guitar, vocals), Russell Webb (bass), and John Doyle (drums), The Armoury Show didn't get the attention or record sales of Jobson's former Skids bandmate Stuart Adamson's group Big Country, but their songs weren't as accessible. The Skids were criticized for being overly pretentious before they hit the skids and Jobson carried his old band's later, more weighty tone into The Armoury Show. Taking inspiration from U2's soaring anthems and Simple Minds' moody art rock, The Armoury Show waited until they were ready before they signed any of the label deals they were offered and ended up on Parlophone. The group released three singles -two versions of the fiery "Castles in Spain" and an extended mix of "We Can Be Brave Again"; they issued their only LP, 'Waiting for the Floods', in 1985. Jobson was also an actor -he delved into spoken word poetry, too- but he began turning down roles to concentrate on The Armoury Show. However, the band never really took off. After two more singles in 1987, the group rode off into the sunset and Jobson became a broadcaster. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 17 de agosto de 2016

The Weirdos

One of Southern California's earliest punk bands, The Weirdos released two EPs during the late '70s before breaking up; consistent reunion gigs during the '80s kept their name alive, and the group returned to the studio in 1988 for 'Condor', released two years later. The backbone -and only constant members- of The Weirdos, brothers John and Dix Denney (vocals and guitar, respectively), formed the band in 1977 with bassist Cliff Roman and drummer Nickey Beat. By the time the band recorded the 1979 EP 'Who? What? When? Where? Why?', drummer Danny Benair (later of The Three O'Clock) was an active member; another EP followed one year later, but the Denney brothers were deserted soon after. 

Though The Weirdos didn't release a single record from 1981 to 1990, John and Dix continued to record at home and re-form the band for occasional live shows. By 1988, they added original members Beat and Roman for a new edition of The Weirdos and signed to Frontier Records for 1990's 'Condor', which also included bassist Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Frontier released the 'Weird World' compilation in 1991, after which the group again took an extended vacation. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

martes, 16 de agosto de 2016

Tin Huey

Hard to believe, but as the decade turned from the '70s to the '80s, scenemakers and post-punk trendwatchers were looking for the next burgeoning proto-alternative scene to be emerging from...well, Akron, OH. Famous for being both the birthplace of Pretender Chrissie Hynde and home of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Akron (aka "Rubber City") coughed up enough interesting bands in the late '70s to warrant the fleeting attention it received, e.g., Devo, The Rubber City Rebels, and Tin Huey. Led by Chris Butler, Tin Huey were a group of post-punk Zappa/Beefheart fans who played artful (and at times arty) punk-pop with touches of free-form jazz blowing and eclectic smartassness. For reasons that can only be chalked up to over-enthusiasm, Warner Bros. signed them hoping that their radio-friendly cover of The Monkees "I'm a Believer" would break big. Loaded with raving guitars and tuneful vocals, and recorded without a whiff of condescension, there was nothing else on Tin Huey's fine and only record that sounded remotely like it. With songs like "I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts" and "Chinese Circus," Tin Huey were closer to the art rock Dadaism of Frank Zappa and the lovable weirdness of Pere Ubu than the pop of The Monkees. In a story as old as rock & roll itself, Huey's record sold dismally and the bandmembers split up about a year after they were the second biggest catch (after Devo) to come out of Akron. The band's two high-profile members, Butler and saxophonist Ralph Carney, carved out interesting solo careers, Butler initially with The Waitresses (their big hit was "I Know What Boys Like") and more recently as a solo act; Carney as a member of The Swollen Monkeys and regular contributor to Tom Waits' recordings. Thanks to the Collectables label, Tin Huey's sole album, 'Contents Dislodged During Shipment', finally saw its CD debut in 2003. 'Before Obscurity: Bushflow Tapes' followed in 2009. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

lunes, 15 de agosto de 2016

Skeletal Family

No doubt influenced by the emergence of gothic punk in the early 80s, the Skeletal Family emerged from Bingley in Yorkshire, towards the end of 1982. Early demos recorded in September and December featured the input of Anne Marie Hurst (lead vocals), Trotwood (b. Roger Nowell; bass), Stan Greenwood (guitar), Steve Crane (drums) and Karl Heinz (synthesizer). After a debut single, ‘Just A Friend’, on the Luggage label in March 1983, the band signed to Yorkshire’s established indie, Red Rhino Records. By this time, Howard Daniels had taken over on drums. ‘The Night’ shared the same influences championed by the band’s ‘goth’ counterparts -The Cramps, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party. ‘Alone She Cries’ in January 1984 featured new drummer Martin Henderson, and was followed by ‘So Sure’ in June, alongside 'Recollect', a 12-inch EP comprising early demos. By the advent of 'Burning Oil' in August, Skeletal Family had attracted a sizeable following, principally through support slots to The Sisters Of Mercy. This ascent continued with ‘Promised Land’ in February 1985, where they were aided by Graham Pleeth on synthesizer, the a-side backed by a cover version of Ben E. King’s ‘Stand By Me’. 'Futile Combat' fared well in the UK independent charts, securing a contract with Chrysalis Records, but singer Hurst had left to join Ghost Dance. Recruiting drummer Kevin Phillips and Katrina on vocals, it was a new, more commercial Skeletal Family that issued ‘Restless’ in March 1986 and ‘Just A Minute’ in August, but neither made significant headway and the band were soon dropped (a fate that Ghost Dance would soon come to share). [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

domingo, 14 de agosto de 2016

The Residents

Over the course of a recording career spanning several decades, The Residents remained a riddle of Sphinx-like proportions; cloaking their lives and music in a haze of willful obscurity, the band's members never identified themselves by name, always appearing in public in disguise -usually tuxedos, top hats and giant eyeball masks- and refusing to grant media interviews. Drawing inspiration from the likes of fellow innovators including Harry Partch, Sun Ra, and Captain Beefheart, The Residents channeled the breadth of American music into their idiosyncratic, satiric vision, their mercurial blend of electronics, distortion, avant-jazz, classical symphonies and gratingly nasal vocals reinterpreting everyone from John Philip Sousa to James Brown while simultaneously expanding the boundaries of theatrical performance and multimedia interaction. 

It was commonly accepted that the four-member group emigrated to San Francisco, CA, from Shreveport, LA, at some point in the early '70s. According to longtime group spokesman Jay Clem- one member of the so-called Cryptic Corporation, the band's representative body- they received their name when Warner Bros. mailed back their anonymous demo tape, addressed simply "for the attention of residents." Finding no takers for their oddball sounds, The Residents founded their own label, Ralph Records, for the purposes of issuing their 1972 debut "Santa Dog," released in a pressing of 300 copies which were mailed out to luminaries from Frank Zappa to President Richard Nixon. Their debut full-length, 1974's 'Meet the Residents', reportedly sold fewer than 50 copies before the group was threatened with a lawsuit from Capitol Records over its cover, a twisted Dadaesque parody of the art to "Meet the Beatles". 

The follow-up, 1974's neo-classical excursion 'Not Available', was recorded with the intention of its music remaining unissued; locked in cold storage upon its completion, only a 1978 contractual obligation resulted in its eventual release. Released in 1976, 'Third Reich 'n' Roll' was the next official offering, a collection of pop oldies covers presented in a controversial jacket portraying Adolf Hitler clutching an enormous carrot. After a 1976 concert in Berkeley, CA which cloaked The Residents behind an opaque screen, wrapped up like mummies -the most famous of only three live performances mounted during their first decade of existence- they issued an abrasive 1977 cover of The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction," which became an underground hit on both sides of the Atlantic at the peak of the punk movement. As the decade drew to a close, the group released a flurry of recordings, further building upon their growing cult following -among them were 1977's 'Duck Stab/Buster & Glen'; 1979's 'Eskimo' (purportedly a collection of native Arctic chants); and 1980's 'Commercial Album', a compilation of 40 one-minute "pop songs" that aired on San Francisco radio only because The Residents played them during the advertising time they bought. 

In 1981 The Residents embarked upon their "Mole Trilogy", a prog rock collection of albums -1981's 'The Mark of the Mole', 1982's 'The Tunes of Two Cities', and 1985's 'The Big Bubble'- recounting an epic battle between a pair of tribes named the Moles and the Chubs; a lavish, multimedia tour, "The Mole Show", followed. In the interim, the group also mounted another ambitious project, the "American Composer" series, although only two of the projected titles -1984's 'George and James' (a reinterpretation of songs by George Gershwin and James Brown) and 1986's 'Stars and Hank Forever' (celebrating John Philip Sousa and Hank Williams)- ever appeared. Instead, in the wake of financial and corporate difficulties which resulted in the creation of a New Ralph label, The Residents issued the one-off 'God in Three Persons' (a talking blues outing), and 1989's 'The King and Eye' (a reinterpretation of Elvis Presley standards). 

After losing control of the Ralph label as well as their back catalog, The Residents regained the rights to their music in 1990 and began reissuing long out of print material as well as the new "Freak Show", a meditation on circus sideshows and carnival dementia. Four years later, 'Freak Show' was reissued as a CD-ROM, marking the group's first leap into the new digital interactive technology; 'Have a Bad Day' followed in 1996, and included the soundtrack to the CD-ROM game "Bad Day on the Midway". 

In 1997, the band celebrated their silver anniversary with the release of the career-spanning overview 'Our Tired, Our Poor, Our Huddled Masses'. 'Wormwood: Curious Stories from the Bible' followed the next year, with 'Roadworms' (songs from 'Wormwood' as performed in the stage show) being issued in mid-2000. They followed that up with the 'Icky Flix' DVD, an incredibly detailed collection of their videos that featured both old and new soundtracks, 5.1 digital stereo Surround Sound, countless hidden videos, and in-depth histories of each individual track. A subsequent tour incorporated the DVD, while guest singer Molly Harvey joined the band on-stage for some truly creative duets. Several high concept projects followed the 2002 compilation 'Petting Zoo'. The first was 'Demons Dance Alone', a complicated pop album that recalled the catchier material from 'Duck Stab' and 'The Commercial Album'. The live retrospective 'Kettles of Fish on the Outskirts of Town' contained three CDs and a DVD. Despite the release of so much old content, new material wasn't in short supply. Their releases throughout the latter end of the 2000s' first decade included 'Animal Lover' (2005), 'Tweedles!' (2006), 'The River of Crime' (2006), 'The Voice of Midnight' (2007), 'The Bunny Boy' (2008), 'The Ughs!' (2009), 'Ten Little Piggies' (a sneak peak at projects in the pipeline, released in 2009), and 'Coochie Brake' in 2011. Much of it, of course, was highly conceptual. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

sábado, 13 de agosto de 2016

Poster Children

Poster Children are a high-energy punk-pop band that formed in 1987 in Champaign, IL. Playing what they call "post wave" music, their three full-length releases illustrate why they have a die-hard cult following: their ability to write hard yet melodic songs and their do-it-yourself philosophy, which includes driving their own tour bus, creating all of their own artwork and T-shirt designs, and having their own record label. A longtime college favorite, Poster Children continue to gain fans with each hyperkinetic release, including 1990's 'Daisychain Reaction', 1993's 'Tool of the Man', 1997's 'RFTM', and 2000's 'DDD'. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

viernes, 12 de agosto de 2016


Models were one of the pioneers of post-punk and new wave in Australia. Although the band never achieved the international recognition of compatriots such as INXS and Midnight Oil, they reaped several chart hits in their native land. Models formed in Melbourne, Australia, in 1978. The original lineup consisted of Sean Kelly (vocals, guitar), Pierre Voltaire (bass), Ash Wednesday (synthesizer), and Janis Friedenfelds (drums). Voltaire was eventually replaced by Mark Ferrie; in 1979, Wednesday left the group, and Andrew Duffield became the new keyboardist. By 1980, the band's live gigs produced a buzz in the music industry; Models were subsequently signed to Mushroom Records that year, releasing their debut LP 'Alphabravocharliedeltaechofoxtrotgolf'. In 1981, Models became an opening act for The Police. Their performances led to an international distribution deal with A&M Records. However, the group was unable to sustain a consistent membership. Models lost Friedenfelds in 1981 and replaced him with Buster Stiggs. A year later, Stiggs and Ferrie split, and Graham Scott (drums), John Rowell (guitar), and James Freud (bass) were hired to fill the void. Models started to alter their sound as well, becoming more danceable. Models were rewarded with their first big hit, "Barbados," in 1985; it reached number two on the Australian pop charts. The band's next single, "Out of Mind Out of Sight," skyrocketed to the top; it even landed at number 36 in America. The group recorded one more album, 1986's 'Models' Media', before disbanding in 1988. In 1990, Kelly and Duffield formed the short-lived Absent Friends, followed by The Dukes. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

jueves, 11 de agosto de 2016

Robyn Hitchcock

Robyn Hitchcock is one of England's most enduring contemporary singer/songwriters and live performers. Despite having been persistently branded as eccentric or quirky for much of his career, Hitchcock has continued to develop his whimsical repertoire, deepen his surreal catalog, and expand his devoted audience beyond the boundaries of cult stature. He is among alternative rock's father figures and is the closest thing the genre has to a Bob Dylan (not coincidentally his biggest inspiration). 

Starting his career as a folkie in Cambridge, England, Hitchcock has been compared to such other British folk-rock figures as Roy Harper and The Incredible String Band, specifically because of his acoustic guitar and loopy vocal style, though his rock voice bears shades of John Lennon and Syd Barrett. Switching gears early to front The Soft Boys, a punk-era band specializing in melodic, chiming jangle pop and clever lyrics ('Underwater Moonlight' remains a classic of the genre), it wasn't long before he quit the band life and made his solo debut. 'Black Snake Diamond Role' (1981) confirmed his reputation as an oddball thanks to his titles "Brenda's Iron Sledge" and "Acid Bird," among others. The psychedelia of 'Groovy Decay' (1982) followed, as did the all-acoustic 'I Often Dream of Trains' (1984). By 1985, Hitchcock's unpredictable songsmithing coalesced on 'Fegmania!' Later that year, the live document "Gotta Let This Hen Out!" demonstrated his command of the stage. In 1988, he landed his first major U.S. label contract with A&M Records and followed the signing by releasing the ambitious 'Globe of Frogs' (1988) and 'Queen Elvis' (1989). He continued to record ('Perspex Island', 1991; 'Respect', 1993) and receive college radio airplay, though once the momentum of the A&M years begun to lag, Hitchcock bounced back in 1996 with the return-to-form 'Moss Elixir' (Warner Bros.), which embraced his folk roots. 'Storefront Hitchcock', the soundtrack to the Jonathan Demme-directed concert film, followed in 1998. 

Upon release from his contract with Warner Bros., Hitchcock self-released 'A Star for Bram' (Editions PAF!, 2000), a collection of outtakes and leftover recordings from the 'Jewels for Sophia' (1999) sessions. In 2002 he released 'Robyn Sings', a double-disc collection of Bob Dylan songs culled from various live appearances in America and abroad during 1999-2000. The stripped-down 'Luxor' followed in 2003, released in conjunction with his 50th birthday. In 2004, he took not only a bit role in Jonathan Demme's remake of "The Manchurian Candidate", but released 'Spooked' (Yep Roc Records) a one-off collaboration with alternative country artists Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, recorded over a period of six days in Nashville. A Japanese-only compilation of his work was released in 2005, while 2006 offered 'This Is the BBC', a collection of his BBC sessions from the '90s, as well as 'Olé! Tarantula', a new batch of surreal pop tunes recorded with members of the Minus 5.

In 2007, Hitchcock became the subject of a documentary by director John Edginton ("Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death... and Insects") -a behind-the-scenes look at Hitchcock's work with Nick Lowe, John Paul Jones, Peter Buck, Bill Rieflin, Gillian Welch, and other collaborators in The Venus 3 project. A companion live EP of The Venus 3's subsequent American tour was released at the same time. In late 2007, Yep Roc began reissuing all of Hitchcock's earlier work, culminating in the boxed collection 'I Wanna Go Backwards'. Hitchcock delved back into the archives for 2008's 'Shadow Cat', a collection of unreleased material from the latter half of the '90s, and also for 'Luminous Groove', a box set of early Egyptians releases and rarities. 'Goodnight Oslo', his second release with The Venus 3, and the live CD/DVD set 'I Often Dream of Trains in New York' arrived in 2009. The following year, Hitchcock dropped 'Propellor Time', a collaboration with The SmithsJohnny Marr, Nick Lowe, and John Paul Jones (as well as The Venus 3) that was three years in the making. An all-new solo outing, 'Love from London', arrived on March 4, 2013, a day after his 60th birthday. 'The Man Upstairs', a self-described collection of "new originals, classic covers, and little-known gems" produced by legendary folk producer Joe Boyd, was released in 2014. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC

miércoles, 10 de agosto de 2016

Bruce Gilbert

Were his pioneering art punk work as the most experimentally inclined member of Wire Bruce Gilbert's only claim to fame, he would still be an important figure in the avant-pop world. Gilbert's work outside of that group, however, is at least as intriguing. 

Born in 1946, Gilbert was already 30 when Wire formed, a former art school student with a background in the British avant-garde music underground of the late '60s. This atypical interest is an enormous part of what made Wire so unlike the other bands of the first wave of U.K. punk, as the esoteric leanings of guitarist Gilbert and bassist Graham Lewis meshed with the somewhat more straightforward style of singer Colin Newman and drummer Robert Gotobed. Over their brilliant first three albums, Wire expanded the sonic boundaries of not just punk, but rock music in general. 

Wire's final release in their initial incarnation was "Crazy About Love," a 15-minute drone that pointed the way toward Gilbert's next projects. Partnering with Lewis in the duo Dome, Gilbert released several increasingly experimental albums between 1981 and Wire's reformation in 1986. The partnership's pinnacle was 1982's 'MZUI/Waterloo Gallery', a combination of ambient music and found sound that's among the most unusual and absorbing records of Gilbert's career. 

During Wire's second incarnation (1986-1991), Gilbert actively pursued a solo career; as this edition of Wire moved more and more into a skewed but subversively commercial pop direction, scoring college and alternative radio hits like "Kidney Bingos" along the way, Gilbert's solo records completely dropped all pretense of pop music. 1984's 'This Way' contains Gilbert's first score for the avant-garde Michael Clark Dance Company and a pair of lengthy minimalist electronic pieces akin to Steve Reich's early-'70s work. 1986's 'The Shivering Man' has more of an odds and ends feel, collecting several of Gilbert's commissioned works from the era. (A CD compilation of tracks from the two U.K.-only albums, 'This Way to the Shivering Man', was released by Wire's U.S. label Restless-Enigma shortly before that company's demise in 1990.) 1991's 'Insiding' is the best release of this period in Gilbert's career; its two lengthy pieces, ballet scores commissioned by dancer Ashley Page, unfold and develop intriguingly over their allotted 20 minutes each. The EP-length 'Music for Fruit' was released later that year. Gilbert also helped Lewis on his own post-Dome solo project, He Said, during this period. 

After 1991's 'The First Letter', which was released by Newman, Lewis and Gilbert after the departure of Gotobed, Gilbert followed his almost entirely electronic muse onto the dance floor. By the mid-'90s, he was a fixture in London's techno clubs, DJing and remixing under the name DJ Beekeeper, most often performing inside a garden shed above the dancefloor for a touch of Wire-like visual humor. At the same time, Gilbert also released 1996's 'Ab Ovo'; that year, Wire reunited for a special performance of "Drill" commemorating Gilbert's 50th birthday. He continued to work with Lewis, releasing the collection 'Yclept' in 1999 and collaborating on "Alarm to the Audible Light", a sound installation at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in January 2000. Gilbert teamed up with Panasonic as IBM for an early 2001 show. During this time, Wire were preparing their next phase, which culminated with the release of 2002's furious 'Read & Burn 01', but Gilbert also remained busy with other projects such as his soundtrack for the film "London Orbital" (Gilbert and Wire performed at the film's premiere in October 2002). He remained with Wire until 2004, departing after the release of that year's 'Send'. That year, he also released 'Ordier', which was compiled from a 1996 live performance. After spending a few years contributing to multimedia projects like 2006's Soundtrack for an Exhibition for the Musée d'art contemporain de Lyon, Gilbert returned with the album 'Oblivio Agitatum' in 2009. He remained as prolific as ever in the 2010s; in 2011 alone, he reunited with Pan Sonic's Mika Vainio for a commissioned live performance for the Netaudio London festival in May; issued the single 'Monad' on Touch in August; and had the short story "Sliding off the World" (originally a 2006 spoken-word piece) published in the anthology "Murmurations" that October. His album 'Diluvial', a "seven-piece reflection on climate change and creation stories" that also featured multimedia artists Naomi Siderfin and David Crawforth, began as installation piece before Touch released it in 2013. [SOURCE: ALLMUSIC