More from Song and Circumstance. I didn’t know that Talking Heads stopped doing live shows after they stopped making sense. Byrne certainly wasn’t lacking in ambition; rather, he had developed too grand of ambitions. Simple “touring”—in which people will pay to watch people make sounds—probably seemed insufficient for the artiste.
My wonderful girlfriend gave me Song and Circumstance, a biography of David Byrne’s thoughts and influences and aesthetic contexts. It’s pretty heady and academic reading, but Byrne is a pretty heady artist so the book is a great resource. It’s funny that Byrne/Eno wanted to make interviews and reviews for RIL more productive by supplying a reading list.
12 mind-blowing compilation CDs available for download!
i’ve been listening to the first 3 albums this weekend and i already can’t believe how fucking awesome this project is. seriously influential!
Pretty sure I posted about this before, but here it is again. I play music from this comp on the show like every week. I highly recommend adding it to your library.
This comp has some of my favorite songs by bands I hadn’t heard of until I downloaded it. Go go go!
Clash magazine’s New Order cover via Creative Review
Designer Howard Wakefield was commissioned to create a cover for Clash magazine that celebrated 30 years of New Order. The above graphic is his response. But how did Wakefield come up with this grid of coloured squares, and what do they represent?
“When I think about imagery and New Order, I instantly think of all the sleeves,” says Wakefield of his approach to the commission, “but rather than showing a montage of them, which have been much seen, admired and recognised, I wondered how recognisable are they?” I was curious to find out,” he continues, “if I reduced them in some way, could they still be recognisable? I tried blurring and distorting them, but they rapidly became something else, however by simplifying them to their basic colour elements, they appeared to remain true to their iconic designs.”
Pylon - “Dub” (1980)
Via Rodger Lyle Brown’s Party Out Of Bounds, a history of the Athens music/party scene, here is the DB Recs press release for Pylon’s debut single.
Representing rural raucousness, recording righteous racket, rocking really rampant, ready righton rogues release rip-roaring robust rollicking rolypoly record right now.
Never knowing the meaning of the word nix, another effort graces your desk having utilized the same studio, engineer, producer, and distributor that brought forth The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” and Kevin Dunn’s “Nadine.” PYLON from hep capital Athens, Georgia has laid down two songs written by the band in their first vinyl effort. Members Vanessa Ellison, Michael Lachowski, Randall Bewley, and Curtis Crowe vary in age from 23 to 24, and played their first publig show in Athens at the 40 Watt Club in March 1979.
The band had originally planned to record to “Feast on My Heart” and “Human Body”, but decided to do their new songs “Cool” and “Dub” instead. The title and lyrical mantra of “Dub”—I’ll eat you for breakfast!—are a reference to Interview magazine’s Glen O’Brien’s review of the band’s first New York show (opening for Gang of Four). “Those kids must listen to dub for breakfast,” he had determined. The members of Pylon didn’t know what dub was.
Donald Byrd and 125th St, NYC - “Love Has Come Around” (1981)
Essential summer jam.
Antidepressants? Hell no. Bump this loud and give in to it.
James Murphy and Pat Mahoney’s glorious DJ set Fabriclive 36 has been in constant rotation at my household, so much so that me and my ladyfriend have begun tracking down all the original tracks from the mix. “Love Has Come Around”, track three on FL36, injects the first moments of dancefloor romance into the proceedings; it’s a sense of longing that punctuates the set’s euphoric highs and deep disco cuts. My girlfriend in fact goes one step further and calls the whole mix a story of a relationship because it all takes place between the two halves of Peter Gordon’s “Beginning Of The Heartbreak / Don’t Don’t [Please Don’t Leave Me]”.
Like many of the songs on Pylon’s debut album, “Stop It” feels more like an incantation than a song-song. Vanessa Briscoe growls her laconic warning to the kids over and over again: Don’t rock and roll! No! One feels tempted to dismiss the track as typically postpunk contrarianism: A rocking track about not rocking. Clever! But the band did take their own words to heart; they disbanded after a handful of shows opening for U2 because the music proved more exhausting than fun. Indeed, a few years later Pylon would be revered by a whole generation of bands, and Briscoe would be hidden away from the spotlight, working quietly in a Xerox copy-shop.
Pete Shelley - “Homosapien” (1981)
SIMON REYNOLDS (interview excerpted from Totally Wired): Phil Oakey [of the Human League] told me that the one record that should be brought up in any discussion of the birth of synthpop is the one record that never gets mentioned: Pete Shelley’s Homosapien. Which was produced by you.
MARTIN RUSHENT (the recently deceased super-producer behind the Human League’s Dare!): Buzzcocks had split, and Pete came down to the studio to do demos. I’d started to use some of this new electronic gear I’d bought, and we came up with the album Homosapien. Which we thought was a bunch of demos. I said to Pete, “I’ll punt these demos around and see if I can get you a solo contract.” Bang, everybody’s coming back, wanting to release the demos.
We’ve already learned this from the Rykodisc reissues, but the point is worth repeating: David Bowie will often remove the best track from an albums sessions. In Black Tie, White Noise’s case, it was “Lucy Can’t Dance,” a track that is A) a better summation of everything Black Tie, White Noise was trying to be as an album, B) a repudiation of the near-misogyny of Tin Machine’s “Baby Can Dance,” C) the best song of the sessions with the best lyric Bowie’d written in over a decade. Nile Rodgers was convinced it was the song that was going to make the album explode onto the charts forever:
“He had another song, ‘Lucy Can’t Dance,’ which was a guaranteed Number 1 record, and everyone around was totally perplexed when it only appeared as a bonus track on the CD. He was running from success and running from the word ‘dance.’ Imagine David Bowie and Nile Rodgers together, and we come out with a song ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’. Smokin’!! I was already accepting my Grammy. But he was not budging. It was an exercise in futility- no matter who I tried to call, it fell on deaf ears.”
It’s just as frustrating for listeners to have a song that’s truly great and have it be shoved to ‘bonus track’ status. Of course, having be a ‘bonus track’ on a CD means it might as well be an album track in it’s own right, but it’s wedged after an unnecessary remix of Jump They Say. And of course there’s always just the association of ‘bonus track,’ and especially since it’s coupled with a remix, ‘Lucy Can’t Dance’ loses any importance just by association. Plus it’s easy to assume the album is over once “The Wedding Song,” a clear bookending reprise-of-a-song, ends. Why keep the CD running? (And yes, in the digital age of the playlist, these concerns are meaningless. But it’s still insulting to a great song.)
But it’s undeniable- this song’s got everything the rest of the album should have. A killer, propulsive beat, great hooks, great delivery, and now let’s look at how great these lyrics are. Bowie delivers some of his best, funniest, quippiest couplets of the decade. Examples:
But you can’t buy me off in this serial world / Oh but who died and made you material girl?
Now you’re looking for God in exciting new ways / I say trust Him at once which is something these days
or, the real best line:
So I’ll spin while my lunatic lyric goes wrong / Guess I’ll put all my eggs in a postmodern song
Ahh, so good! That’s such a great line. And he throws these out between the repeated hook of “lucy can’t dance to the noise but she knows what the noise can do,” which is almost hypnotic in it’s repetition. It’s all just so smart.
David Bowie - “It’s No Game (Part 2)” (1980)
I said to Hendrik in my proposal for this week that I wanted to “free these albums from the chains of ‘his best since Scary Monsters’.” It’s important to note how the album Scary Monsters was a colossal shadow over Bowie’s head for the rest of his career. At the time, people went apeshit over it, giving it ratings like “7 out of 5 stars” and heaping the sort of insulting ‘return to form’ kind of praise to it. Insulting because Scary Monsters was really just the ‘next Bowie album’ at the time. It’s got the same backing band, half of the same producers, mostly the same approach to songwriting.
The difference was that Scary Monsters was the perfect distillation of everything Bowie had been doing on record for the past four years. The friction between manic and devoid-of-humanity that Low and “Heroes” mixed with ground-breaking pop music led to the more water-treading Lodger, an album that was trying to put more ‘pop’ in the avant-garde. With Scary Monsters, he found the perfect mix of ‘catchy’ and ‘experimental.’ “Ashes to Ashes” is one of the most bizarre number one singles ever put out. David Bowie proved to himself and everyone that he could be himself and still relate to everyone else in the world.
But then for some reason, he decided to switch tack completely and follow Scary Monsters up with it’s polar opposite: Let’s Dance. Thus, David Bowie in the 1980s began.
Gang of Four’s “To Hell With Poverty” single came out July 3, 1981. Here they are playing it on TV a couple of months earlier.
Paul McCartney - “The Back Seat of My Car” (1971)
It’s filled with songs that feel tossed off, filled with songs that are cheerfully, incessantly melodic; it turns the monumental symphonic sweep of Abbey Road into a cheeky slice of whimsy on the two-part suite “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey.” All this made Ram an object of scorn and derision upon its release (and for years afterward, in fact), but in retrospect it looks like nothing so much as the first indie pop album, a record that celebrates small pleasures with big melodies, a record that’s guileless and unembarrassed to be cutesy.
Family Fodder’s wonderful “Film Music” single came out June 30, 1981. Here’s somebody’s homemade video for a short edit of it.