Thursday, 7 January 2010

A playlist from my formative years

Having had several playlists on lastfm for a while now, I've decided to blog about my first one, which I imaginatively called "My formative years ... mainly stuff I heard on John Peel plus some other gems, from where I have no idea" and then it got truncated. Anyway, if you click on the preposterously long link above, you'll find the actual playlist.

Right then, down to business. These are not in any particular order other than those which came to front of mind first ...

Magazine - A Song From Under the Floorboards (1980)

A brilliant song from a band who I must admit I struggled with a bit at times. The Correct Use of Soap from which this track come has some stand-out tracks, of which this is the strongest, but also some other ones which quite frankly annoy me. Their first 2 albums, Real Life and Secondhand Daylight, have grown on me over time but I seem to enjoy them more when I hear the odd track in isolation.

Wire - Outdoor Miner (1978)

This was probably the first Wire song I knowingly heard, and certainly the most accessible. I remember having the Harvest label 7" version on white vinyl in the late 70's, which made it even more likeable, in a sad sort of way. Whilst this track made it into my list, pretty much all the tracks from their first 3 albums, Pink Flag, Chairs Missing and 154, are brilliant, with Pink Flag being one of my top 10 albums of all time. The later albums had their highs but always felt a bit hit-or-miss, although The Read and Burn releases marked a return to form.

Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)

This is probably the most obvious Joy Division track, and not necessarily their best, but the reason I've included it here is that it's their first song that made me sit up and take notice. Of course it wasn't long before I worked my way through their back catalogue of what in those days was just the 2 albums, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, with Still joining the ranks a short while later. I still have the first 2 albums on vinyl, meticulously preserved. I absolutely refuse to discuss the Paul Young cover version.

Killing Joke - Turn To Red (1979)

Killing Joke were the 2nd band I ever saw, after the Revillos, some time around the time of the release of their second album, What's This For. This track was not one of the first I heard or bought, but is undoubtedly one of my favourites. I picked it up as the limited edition 10" version, with numerous inserts, a while after getting hold of their first album and the Wardance 7", the latter alas without the conscription insert. What I particularly like about Turn To Red is the punk-dub style which was completely new to me at the time. With Alex Paterson once being a Killing Joke roadie, it's no surprise that this track appears on various Orb compilations and mixes.

Magazine - The Light Pours Out of Me (1978)

Another great track by Magazine, but bizarrely I only heard it on the John Peel show when someone sent in a request to play the Bauhaus version and he decided to play the original instead.

A Certain Ratio - Shack Up (1980)

I came across A Certain Ratio by accident while ferreting through the bargain bin in the old HMV shop in Oxford Street. I picked up this on 12" for the princely sum of just 22p, and then only because it was on the Factory label. It took a few plays for it to get to me, but I soon had to track down their other releases. Their early singles, All Night Party, Shack Up and Do the Du, along with the first vinyl album, To Each, are all excellent and worth tracking down. Their cassette only release, Graveyard and Ballroom, has been reissued on CD with some bonus tracks, and there are a couple of early live recordings out there too.

New Order - Ceremony (1981)

Whilst New Order are probably best known for their later material, this one is my favourite. It still has the Joy Division sound, and I think was written when they were still a band ... I seem to recally a live Joy Division version on Still. I remember the bronzed 7" sleeve being particularly susceptible to collecting finger prints from mass handling. I also remember hearing a live new order concert where Sumner told the audience something like, "this is my Cermony guitar", and then later being at a New Order concert when one of the audience shouted the same when he changed guitars.

The Associates - Party Fears Two (1982)

I can't claim to really being an Associates fan, and I'm not sure I've even heard that many of their tracks, but for me this was a stand-out song. Perhaps they are worthy of further investigation on lastfm.

The Human League - Empire State Human (1979)

I'm not sure if this was their first single, but if not it was one of the first, and quite frankly a million miles away from Dare. I think this was recorded when the 2 guys who left to become Heaven 17 were still in the band. I kept an interest in the Human League for a short while after this release, with Reproduction probably being the last record of theirs I liked. The later, more pop-driven material left me a bit cold, although I do remmeber seeing a particularly angry looking Phil Oakey shouting the lyrics to Lebanon on some music TV show or other.

Simple Minds - Chelsea Girl (1979)

The only track of theirs, past and present, that I really liked. I had a friend who was heavily into their early material but it never did much for me.

Tuxedomoon - What Use (1980)

This one is a bit of a cheat I'm afraid. The reason being that I did not discover Tuxedomoon until fairly recently, but I felt justified including them here on the grounds that, had I heard this at the time I would have liked it ... hope that makes sense. I had of couse heard the name of the band but for some reason their music just bypassed me.

John Foxx - Underpass (1980)

John Foxx is one of those artists who I wish I'd given more time to, but he kind of got lost amongst all the other music I had to listen to. I have recently acquired a couple of his back catalogue, The Golden Section and In Mysterious Ways, so am catching up, but this early track is a masterpiece and every bit as good as Gary Numan and Tubeway Army. What I've yet to do however is get hold of any pre-Midge Ure Ultravox! albums which feature John Foxx.

Killing Joke - Nervous System (1979)

Taken from the Turn To Red 10" from way back in 1979, this is another Killing Joke classic. A brilliant blend of punk and dub, with stunning results.

Joy Division - Shadowplay (1980)

This is a brilliant track from Unknown Pleasures and possibly my favourite on that album. It still contains some of the raw quality from their Warsaw days, whilst at the same time demonstrating the more subtle elements of their later material.

Wire - I Am The Fly (1978)

Another classic, short and sharp, punk-pop song from the brilliant Wire, appearing both as a 7" single and also as an album track on their 1978 classic Chairs Missing. Not sure these guys put a foot wrong between 1977 and 1979.

New Order - Everything's Gone Green (1981)

This was the first New Order record which marked the departure from their Joy Division roots towards the more electronic sound associated with New Order today. It was released as a 7" single with a sleeve design issued in multiple colours. I remember having 4 or 5 of these at the time but alas these are now long gone. It also appeared on a 12" on Factory Benelux, with a couple of additional tracks Mesh and Cries and Whispers which were pretty darned fine too.

A Certain Ratio - The Fox (1981)

Appearing on the Do the Du 12", the To Each album and Graveyard and Ballroom cassette, this is one of their stand-out tracks which defined their early sound, merging post-punk with funk, which still sounds very fresh and relevant to me today.

The Psychedelic Furs - Sister Europe (1980)

Prior to their brilliant, but more pop sounding 2nd album, Talk Talk Talk, the Psychedelic Furs released a couple of brilliant singles and debut album. Sister Europe was the second single I believe and I remember being completely blown away when I first heard it on the radio.

The Psychedelic Furs - Mr Jones (1980)

Although this appeared on their second album, Talk Talk Talk, it was released as a single the year before in 1980. I can see why perhaps it didn't find a place on their first album, but to some extent I'm not sure it fits well on the 2nd one either. Maybe it should have been left as one of those obscure 'between album' singles. Regardless of where it should/shouldn't fit, it's a great track, ful of post-punk punch.

Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Furniture Music (1979)

This was a great single, on red vinyl, from Bill Nelson after his time with the band after Be Bop Deluxe. Without the internet in those days to use for research, I never realised at the time that his roots were from the early 70's, but this track along with Revolt Into Style slotted perfectly into the post-punk sound. When I can spare a few minutes I think I'll have to search out some Be Bop Deluxe to see what I missed.

B-Movie - Remembrance Day (1980)

Originally released as one of the tracks on the b-side of their Nowhere Girl 12", this was eventually released as a single in its own right, probably more than once. I loved this track from the first time I heard it on the John Peel radio show, and was delighted when it appeared in his festive 50 of that year.

Theatre of Hate - Legion (1980)

This track was released as a double A-side single, remember those kids, along with Original Sin. I have to confess to only hearing this, again as a John Peel festive 50 track, some time after hearing Rebel Without a Brain, but it's probably by favourite Theatre of Hate track. It has such a raw energy and unique sound, and has a true to form short, sharp punk sound.

The Rezillos - Destination Venus (1978)

As the Revillos, the second coming of the Rezillos, were the first band I ever saw, I have to confess a rather large soft spot for them. I'm pretty sure this was not on the original version of the Can't Stand the Rezillos album and was only ever originally released as a 7" single. It has subsequently appeared on the Mission Accomplished album and the CD version of Can't Stand the Rezillos. This is just such a great track and one of the last ones they released, certainly taking them out on a high. I've just seen the picture sleeve for this on discogs for the first time. I did have the 7" but alas mine only came in a plain sleeve, which for a vinyl obsessed spotty youth was almost catastrophic at the time.

The Cure - Jumping Someone Else's Train (1979)

I'd heard, but missed out on buying their previous 2 singles, Killing an Arab and Boys Don't Cry so this was the first Cure record I could really claim to be my own. Released on the Fiction label, it soon became pretty rare, particularly once the Cure had established themselves in the mainstream. During a moment of madness (and slight financial crisis) I regrettably sold it along with many of my other late 70's vinyl. Fortunately this sort of material is easy to get hold of on CD or download these days, but it's not the same as handling a great looking 7" or album sleeve.

Heaven 17 - We Don't Need This Fascist Groove Thang (1981)

This was the first single by Ian Craig Marsh and Martyn Ware following their departure from The Human League. I can't remember where I heard this first, it may have been John Peel or one of the other radio one DJ's at the time, but I seem to remember John Peel also playing a version of this by the Fire Engines and commenting that every band should cover the song in their session. Anyway, a truly great song with a great message.

Steven Brown - Out of My Body (1991)

This is probably the most recent track in my list, and again it's a cheat as I only heard it recently, but as Steven is from Tuxedomoon, and given what I said about them earlier in the post, I felt happy with including it here. I have this track on a compilation CD by Steven called Decade but it originally appeared on his Half-Out album from 1991. This is a really great song from an outstanding musician so if you're not already familiar with his work then please check it out.

XTC - Are You Receiving Me? (1978)

XTC must be one of the most enduring post-punk or new wave bands from the late 70's. Their ability to produce the perfect pop song is, in my opinion, unsurpassed, and this is but one fine example. This was recorded at around the time of their Go 2 album but only appeared on it as a bonus track on the CD version.

Bill Nelson's Red Noise - Revolt Into Style (1979)

This is another brilliant track from Bill Nelson. Released in 1979 as a blue vinyl 7" on the Harvest label, it remains a firm household favourite to this day.

Wire - Mannequin (1977)

This is Wire's first single, relased on the Harvest label in 1977. An absolute classic which, along with their first album, Pink Flag, no self-respecting music lover should be without.

The Police - Born in the 50's (1978)

I imagine there are several people wondering why I have a couple of tracks by the Police in this list, but this one from their first album, Outlandos D'Amour, is brilliant.

The Cure - Primary (1981)

This is one of my favourite tracks by the Cure. The scratchy and swirly guitar intro gets me going every time I hear it. It came out as a single and is also featured on the third album, Faith, for which the cassette version came packaged up with a bonus film soundtrack called Carnage Visors.

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Helter Skelter (1978)

One day I will create a playlist of all the great covers of Beatles tracks. This one would definitely feature in the top 5, along with the Banshees' version of Dear Prudence, Here Comes the Sun by Richie Havens, Ticket to Ride by Husker Du and Tomorrow Never Knows by The Mission. The track appeared on Siouxsie's first album, The Scream, from 1978.

The Skids - Charade (1979)

I'm not sure if I ever knew or whether I'd forgotten, but this was produced by Bill Nelson. I may be imagining this, though I suspect not, but I have a vague memory of a thankfully long forgotten radio one DJ saying that this record was good until the singing started. So I'll dedicate this one to you. I still like the Skids but ...

Patti Smith - Frederick (1979)

Released as a single and an album track on Wave from 1979, this song is pure and raw late 70's New York sound. Along with Dancing Barefoot this is probably my favourite Patti Smith track.

Steven Brown - The Thrill (1991)

It wasn't until I started documenting my playlist that I realised I'd included a few 'cheats' in my list. I think I must have created it after discovering Tuxedomoon and the solo efforts of their various members, Steven Brown and Blaine L. Reininger. I probably should replace it with something that I did grow up with, The Fall seem conspicuous by their absence, but maybe I'll leave that for another day. Cheat or otherwise, it's still a great track and is another from Steven's 1991 release, Half-Out.

The Sisters of Mercy - Temple of Love (1983)

Although shunned by many, I've always had a bit of a soft spot for the odd smattering of Goth. It was a tough decision to choose between this one and Alice, as both were brilliant. Their first 2 albums, First and Last and Always and Floodland remain firm favourites, reminding me more of my university years than school. I never got to see them but did see The Mission and The Cult a couple of times.

Wire - Dot Dash (1978)

Yet another perfect punk-pop song by Wire. I really cannot praise their 1977 - 1979 period highly enough. Not sure this track ever made it on to an album other than as a bonus track on a CD re-release, but a gem nevertheless.

The Rezillos - (My Baby Does) Good Sculptures (1977)

One of the band's earliest singles from 1977. Just a great song, and a brilliant vocal combination between Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife.

Martha and the Muffins - Echo Beach (1980)

This is one of those songs that had the potential to get played to death and become annoying, but somehow it didn't and remains a classic to this day. I thought I heard it on the radio recently but was sadly disappointed when after the distinctive introduction it went into some other song. Full marks to a modern artist/producer for recognising the brilliance of the track but needless to say I prefer the original.

Leyton Buzzards - Through With You (1979)

This was a great, sneeringly good punk song, on the b-side of Saturday Night Beneath the Plastic Palm Trees. Not sure I'm ever going to be prepared to forgive 2 of the band from forming Modern Romance though.

The Police - Next to You (1978)

Another great track from their debut album, Outlandos D'Amour.

Joy Division - Transmission (1979)

Another classic Joy Division track. I missed this at the time but soon tracked it down after hearing Love Will Tear Us Apart. I saw the video later on which was just mesmerising.

Siouxsie and the Banshees - Love In a Void (1979)

For some reason I always thought this track was on their 1978 album, The Scream, but it would seem not. Anyway, a blisteringly great song showcasing Siouxsie and band at their very best.

The Skids - Working For The Yankee Dollar (1979)

Another great single from the Skids. I had this one as a limited edition 7" doublepack which contained a cover of All The Young Dudes by David Bowie.

Patti Smith - Dancing Barefoot (1979)

Another great single from Patti Smith's 1979 Wave album. The Mission used to do a fairly decent cover version of this at live shows.

Killing Joke - Wardance (1980)

A brilliant single by Killing Joke at their very best. The b-side, Pssyche, was pretty good as well. I had this on 7" but never the version with the call-up papers.

The Psychedelic Furs - We Love You (1979)

Brilliant debut single featuring the classic lyric "I'm in love with Anthea and Donna and all that sh*t that goes uptown top ranking". Came in several different colour sleeves, I think I had the green one.

Joy Division - Isolation (1980)

I could have chosen any of the tracks from Joy Division's 2nd album, Closer, but the reason I've chosen Isolation is that it was one of the first I heard, and one of the first to make an impact. I grew to like the rest of the album soon after but this one stuck with me.

Warsaw - They Walked In Line (1978?)

I'm still not sure to this day whether the Warsaw album was ever officially released. I had a bootleg version many years ago, with a blown up version of the Unknown Pleasures cover accompanied by bonus 7". I remember the day the postman delivered it, it was my first bootleg and I was so excited. The whole album was brilliant and quite amazing it lay unreleased for so long. I'm sure it must have been released officially by now?

So there you have it, a brief explanation of the tracks which I grew up with. No doubt there are many bands that I should feature who also had an impact on me. Names like The Fall, The Damned, The Jam, The Clash, etc., spring immediately to mind. Also there's no mention of bands like The Smiths, Echo and the Bunnymen, etc., but they kind of fall into a different category for me. Perhaps I'll get round to extending this playlist to include the Fall, etc., and create another playlist for the Smiths, etc., one day.

I'm still buying (very occasionally these days) and selling off some of my old vinyl records and CDs, so if you're interested have a look at my records and CDs for sale.



  2. Hi Gaby, glad you like the playlist and reasons for me choosing these tracks. It was great fun compiling it. Please feel free to share the playlist and blog with anyone you think may like be interested.

  3. interesting! (i'm victorme from You like mostly music from late 70' and early 80, it was a great time, even R.I.O was born these years!

  4. australian sound please like the birthday party,nick cave and the bad seeds or the Church.

    much appreciated

    PS:your playslist = my playground