(post-) punk gems, v. 22 — Delta 5

Thanks for checking out my latest bit of patter on post-punk paraphernalia–namely the music, of course, as we seek out little rays of sunshine to get us up and over “hump day.”

Delta 5’s two-bass funk-punk had the spacing and room to breathe I associate most closely with Thelonious Monk, and like their Leeds-based brethren Gang of Four (and, if less so, The Mekons), members spent time in art school and formed bands that were critical darlings that found that one hit ever-so elusive. As Roz Allen recalled, the basses were set up “one trebly and funky (Bethan) and one more double-bass-like (me)”–see full interview here. Delta 5 started out on Rough Trade Records, hung out at the BBC in February 1980 with John Peel and, over a year later, released their lone LP, See the Whirl (PRE, July 1981). The critics reacted with mixed reviews. Mick Sinclair in Sounds noted, “… this is frighteningly good … The whole thing is just too intoxicating …”, while Graham Locke in NME found little upon which to hang his hat: “The songs rush by, waving flags of bright noise, shiny and smart but imparting nothing.”

Here’s Delta 5 on their first single (and Allen’s favorite track), “Mind Your Own Business” (1979), with the arresting lyric, “Can I interfere in your crisis?” Were we really so polite back in the day?

I don’t know what it was like to be at the musical heart of the post-punk era, when so many great singles and LPs fought for the attention of critics, DJs, and fans. The result, of course, was plenty more losers than winners and–in some cases–even the winners didn’t hang around terribly long. It’s nice to be able to mine the archives to discover underheralded gems, but also bittersweet, knowing how many bands emerged and vanished all-too-quickly. A good hook matters, but often not as much as happenstance.

Enjoy the rest of your week, and I hope you’ll tune in again come Sunday!

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