Archive for the ‘Goth’ Category

E80's post-punk band Wasted Youthvery once in a while you come across a song with a chorus that gets stuck in your head. Recently, for me that song is “Rebecca’s Room,” by London post-punk band Wasted Youth. I dare you to not be singing along with the chorus by the end of song. The single was produced by the legendary Martin Hannett, and released in 1981. The band had a short life, only active between the years ’79 to ’82, but attained cult status in Europe. Their music was very much on the darker Goth side but they could also knock out more upbeat catchy songs, as evidenced by “Rebecca’s Room.” After the band broke up in 1982, guitarist Rocco Barker moved on to Flesh for Lulu.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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If you had the opportunity to play DJ for a night, wouldn’t you take it? That’s exactly what I did for my birthday this weekend. Decided to rent out a local club for a couple of hours and invited friends to dance the night away before opening to the public. The challenge? The playlist had to be limited to two hours. Fortunately, the DJ gave me a bonus hour, as long as I didn’t play any later-in-the-night favorites. So, for hour three, I had to reel it in a bit but still managed to throw in some favorites while trying to appeal to the masses. The music covered many genres and spanned a few decades but, of course, the bulk of the songs were from the ‘80s.

I started off the night with something relaxing and danceable and then moved into some minimal wave favorites. This was followed by some early ‘80s post-punk, gothy material that flowed into new wave and synthpop. Even managed to slip in some LCD Soundsystem without a hitch. The last part of hour two was a mixed bag of glam rock, indie, and punk. Hour three was filled with ‘80s new wave staples, jangle pop, and some indie classics. All in all, tried to get in a little something for everyone. The dance floor moved all night and there is nothing like hearing your favorite songs on the big speakers. Might have to make this an annual event.

Pretending to work the decks.

Playing DJ v2

Here’s the complete playlist:

Torch – Soft Cell (1982)
The Last Song – Trisomie 21 (1986)
Watching Trees  – Eleven Pond (1986)
Romantic Me – Polyrock (1980)
Disorder – Joy Division (1979)
Primary – The Cure (1981)
Last Year’s Wife – Zero Le Creche (1984)
A Day Without Me – U2 (1980)
Everywhere I Go – The Call (1986)
Ahead – Wire (1987)
Nowhere Girl – B-Movie (1982)
The Damned Don’t Cry – Visage (1982)
I Die: You Die – Gary Numan (1980)
Messages – OMD (1980)
Up All Night – Boomtown Rats (1981)
Lawnchairs – Our Daughter’s Wedding (1980)
I Can Change – LCD Soundsystem (2010)
Dreaming of Me – Depeche Mode (1981)
Angst In My Pants – Sparks (1982)
Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) – Eurythmics (1984)
Why? – Bronski Beat (1984)
The Cutter – Echo & the Bunnymen (1983)
Glamorous Glue – Morrissey (1992)
The Jean Genie – David Bowie (1972)
Candy – Iggy Pop (1990)
Dreaming – Blondie (1979)
Janie Jones – The Clash (1977)
Anything Anything – Dramarama (1985)
Sheena Is a Punk Rocker – The Ramones (1977)
Last Caress – The Misfits (1978)
Eighties – Killing Joke (1984)
Mandinka – Sinead O’Connor (1987)
Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) – Flock of Seagulls (1982)
To Look at You – INXS (1982)
The Ghost In You – Psychedelic Furs (1984)
Blue Savannah – Erasure (1989)
Rattlesnakes – Lloyd Cole & the Commotions (1984)
Love Is the Law – Suburbs (1984)
Crash – Primitives (1988)
Chamber of Hellos – Wire Train (1983)
She Bangs the Drums – Stone Roses (1989)
Ceremony – New Order (1981)
Inside Out – The Mighty Lemon Drops (1988)
A Million Miles Away – The Plimsouls (1983)
We Are Not Alone – Karla DeVito – (1985)
Masquerade – Berlin (1983)
Mad World – Tears for Fears (1983)

If any song could fill a dance floor back in the day it was Killing Joke’s “Eighties.” The relentless beat combined with an infectious guitar riff made it hard to stay in your seat. The video for the song perfectly matched the frantic pace. It features singer Jaz Coleman behind a presidential podium shouting about the struggles of living in the eighties, interspersed with images of religious and political leaders, war, punk rockers, and the frivolous extravagance of the decade. As I was doing a bit of research on the song, I came across an interesting tie it has to Nirvana that almost resulted in a lawsuit.

Released as a single in 1984, “Eighties” would later be included on Killing Joke’s fifth album Night Time. The song didn’t chart in the US but did appear on the soundtrack for the 1985 John Hughes’ movie Weird Science. It also had minor success in the UK, peaking at #60 on the singles chart. The song would come into the spotlight again in 1992, when the band claimed Nirvana plagiarized the riff of the song (at a slowed down pace) for the single “Come as You Are.” There are disputes of whether a lawsuit was ever filed but by 2003 all was forgiven, as Dave Grohl took leave from the Foo Fighters to record with the band. As I listened to both songs, there is a definite similarity but I’ll take “Eighties” over “Come as You Are” any day.

 

I look for any occasion to get a group of ‘80s music lovers together, and NYE seemed like the perfect opportunity. Since we’re both not too keen on venturing out on NYE, my husband and I decided to throw a dinner party to ring out the year. Fortunately, all attendees either grew up in the ‘80s or had a love of ‘80s music. With that kind of crowd, I couldn’t help but put together a playlist of songs from the era that included old favorites, rediscoveries, and new music I’ve come across this past year. Oh, we also attempted to play some games but the music took over and our living room became a dance floor until the wee hours of the morning.

Along with the usual suspects (Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, The Smiths, etc.), the playlist included songs from bands I had forgotten about over the years. Bands such as The Members (“Working Girl”), The Producers (“She Sheila”), Wire Train (“Chamber of Hellos”), and Felony (“The Fanatic”) found a much overdo spot on the playlist. Although sharing forgotten songs with the group was enjoyable, it was the unearthed gems I was most looking forward to playing. For a few, it was the first time hearing some of the songs and for others they brought back fond memories.

One of the bands I recently rediscovered is The Bolshoi. I knew of The Bolshoi back in the day but embarrassingly had never listened to any of their songs. My current favorite (and one I can’t seem to stop playing) is “Can You Believe It?” off their 1987 LP Lindy’s Party. It features an addictive, bouncy synth line and a heavy drum bass. I’ll definitely be seeking out more from them for a future post.

 

Another band discovered this past year is The Monochrome Set. From what I’ve come across they were favorites of Morrissey and Johnny Marr. This is another band that I’ll be exploring and posting about in the New Year. The song “He’s Frank” was first released as a single in 1979 and re-released as a slightly different version years later. I prefer this version, in which they sound like a cross between the Violent Femmes and The Velvet Underground. Just as above, there was no official video for the song available.

 

I’ve been away for a while but am looking forward to sharing more classics and overlooked songs of the ‘80s in 2016!

With her quirky style and unusual vocals, Lene Lovich was one of the most unforgettable artists of the early eighties. My first glimpse of Lovich was in the video “Lucky Number.” Although it was released in 1978, it received pretty good airplay on MTV in the early eighties. The song’s combination of punk and new wave sound fit in well with the time period. The video featured Lovich in her signature braids looking very much like a Goth flamenco dancer. I had never heard such odd vocals and seen such an eccentric performance before (I had yet to encounter Nina Hagen). Taking a look back at Lovich’s career, you realize how much she influenced artists like Cyndi Lauper, Bjork, and Gwen Stefani, among many others, and it’s evident she didn’t get the recognition she deserved.

Due to her English accent, I mistakenly thought Lovich was British but she was actually born in Detroit, Michigan (her mother and siblings moved to England when Lovich was 13). She also had a very unconventional background, which most likely contributed to her theatrical stage persona. She attended several art schools, was a cabaret and go-go dancer, played sax in a funk band, wrote songs for disco artist Cerrone, was a member of a West Indian soul band, dubbed screams for European horror films, and worked in fringe theater groups. After brief stints with other bands, Lovich and partner Les Chappell signed with Stiff Records in 1978 and released the album “Stateless,” which includes the single “Lucky Number.” The song was a hit, reaching #3 on the UK charts.

Lovich went on to record two more albums and one EP with Stiff records before breaking with the company after the release of 1982’s No Man’s Land. There were rumors that Lovich, under pressure from the record company, refused to tone down her look and act for the bosses at MTV so they broke ties. She didn’t release another album until 1989, and took a long leave and returned in 2005 with another album. Lovich continued to make guest appearances on stage with other artists and in 2012 formed the Lene Lovich Band and toured throughout 2013. That same year, she started her own record label, Flex Music, which allowed her to gain control of the back catalogue of her music. She is now in the process of getting ready for a European tour with talks of a new album and an American tour.

New Toy” is off the EP of the same name released in 1981. It was written by Thomas Dolby, who also plays keyboards and appears in the video. It was a hit in the US dance clubs and peaked at #53 on the UK singles charts.

 

The video for “It’s You, Only You (Mein Schmerz),” has Lovich dressed up as a Spanish bride and a Zorro-like character. The song was the first single released from the album No Man’s Land, and had minor success on the US dance charts.

 

With Halloween approaching, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight videos that capture the holiday spirit. One of the first videos that came to mind is Siouxsie & the Banshees’ mystical “Spellbound.” Not only because the video contains some great images (black cats, fire, masks), but the song was, and continues to be, one of my favorites from the group. With its great opening guitar, pounding drums, and Siouxsie’s signature vocals, it’s no wonder the song has found a place in pop culture, showing up as recently in the show True Blood.

“Spellbound” was the first single released from the Banshees’ fourth album, 1981’s Juju. The album was a commercial and critical success in the UK, and is considered a landmark album of the post-punk period. Melody Maker cited it as “one of the most influential British albums ever” and guitar player John McGeoch was singled out for his work on “Spellbound” by critics and fellow musicians. Johnny Marr of The Smiths praised the efforts for its cleverness and “mysterious” quality. In 2006, McGeoch was named one of the greatest guitarists of all time by Mojo magazine for his work on the song.

 

England’s Sad Lovers & Giants are one of those bands who should have received more recognition during the early ‘80s post-punk era. They had a great atmospheric sound that was prevalent during that time period but were overshadowed by bands such as The Cure, who they were often compared. They recorded under the Midnight Music record label, known for their experimental and post-punk roster which included The Essence and The Snake Corps. I first became familiar with the band through their song “Colourless Dream” and was immediately taken with the multi-layered guitar work and haunting keyboards.

Sad Lovers & Giants formed in 1980 in Watford, England, and developed a following within their native country and Europe. They released two singles in 1981 under the Last Movement record label (“Colourless Dream” and “Things We Never Did”) before signing with Midnight Music in 1982. Their first album, 1982’s Epic Garden Music, combined a psychedelic sound with gloomy layered guitars. Their second album Feeding the Flame, released in 1983, continued the melancholy, moody sound and drew comparisons to Joy Division. Just as the band was building a following outside of England, they split up in 1983. They reformed with a different lineup in 1986 and released three more albums before Midnight Music dissolved. Returning, yet again, with another reformed lineup in 2009, they are currently working on material for a new album.

The band’s second single, “Colourless Dream,” was later included on the 1988 reissue of the album Epic Garden Music.

 

“Echoplay” is the lead song off their debut album and sounds very much like a hybrid between Joy Division and The Cure.

 

When I started going to dance clubs in the late ’80s, I’d regularly pester the deejays to play The Damned‘s “Alone Again Or.” It never failed to elicit the best goth moves from the dance floor. A remake of the 1967 song by the group Love, it’s quite faithful to the original version. (The band acknowledged Love as one of their influences). The single is off the album Anything, released in 1986. It didn’t have any chart success in the US, but hit #27 on the UK charts. The video is a surreal mix of desert landscape, horses, motorcycles, trucks, and flamenco dancers.

 

The Abecedarians are another great find I came across in my late-night internet searches. They have the distinction of being the only American band to have recorded under the legendary Factory Records label, the company that produced records for such artists as Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, and Orchestral Maneuverers in the Dark. Having a haunting-like quality to their music that reminded me of the new wave bands from England of the time, I was surprised to discover that the trio hail from Los Angeles. They also have a big sound, which belies the fact that there are only three members in the group.

Forming in 1983, the Abecedarians released their first single, “Smiling Monarchs,” under the Factory label in 1985. It was mixed by New Order’s Bernard Sumner and is a pounding, synth-heavy track. After leaving Factory, their music moved to more of a dark, atmospheric sound. It was the work off of their 1986 mini LP Eureka that captured my attention, and made me wonder how I could have missed them back in the day.

“Beneath the City of Hedonistic Bohemians” is a single off the mini LP Eureka. It’s an energetic, drum-driven track with pleasing guitar work throughout. It’s the song that first piqued my interest in the group and feel it’s one of their best tracks.

 

Having a darker but more melodic sound, “Misery of Cities” is another single off the Eureka LP.

 

Some of my favorite bands in the eighties were from the goth genre. Bands such as The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission, The Cure, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and T.S.O.L. These bands had heavy rotation on MTV and had plenty of airplay on college radio. This was a genre I thought I was well-versed in until recently when I decided to dive in and take another look and see what I had missed back in the goth heyday. Zero Le Creche is a band I stumbled upon while scouring the internet for “the best goth songs ever.” I kept seeing the single “Last Year’s Wife” on many best of lists and decided to seek them out.

It turns out that I couldn’t find much on this band, for good reason – they only released two singles. An English band formed in the early eighties, Zero Le Creche were just taking off when the lead singer, Andy Nkanza, left the band and inexplicably disappeared. They quickly got a new lead singer and released one more single in 1985 before disbanding. They were categorized as goth because there was no other genre that really fit. The band was said to bridge the gap between the Psychedelic Furs and Bauhaus. A record company cobbled together enough studio recordings to release an album in 2008, which pays tribute to how much interest there still is in the band. I plan on purchasing this album in the near future and I suggest you give it a listen. You won’t be disappointed.

“Last Year’s Wife” was the first single released by the band in 1984. With soaring vocals and a catchy guitar hook, it had me from the beginning. Considered one of the great goth classics of the eighties, it makes you wonder what else this short-lived band could have accomplished. I wasn’t able to track down any footage of the band and not sure if any exists.

 

The second (and last) single was 1985’s “Falling,” featuring a new lead singer sounding very much like Richard Butler. It’s another catchy tune with an irresistible chorus that matches anything put out by the Psychedelic Furs, the band which they are so often compared.