(post) punk gems, v. 34 — Medium Medium

Thanks for tuning your browser’s dial to radio-K-SAT on this fine, fine day. I figure V. Putin must have received an advance copy of *Sound System,* tuned into “Spanish Bombs” and “Charlie Don’t Surf,” and called up that punchy Kid Obama to talk him down. Let’s hope this works.

Certainly the best thing to come from Stealing All Transmissions is the opportunity to hear key players’ first-hand accounts of making music (and selling music) back in the day. I’ve recently gained the acquaintance of a long-standing member of one of my favorite bands from yesteryears, and perhaps we’ll do a short interview and the highlights will end up here. I’m not saying anything just yet, but Medium Medium, a quintet out of Nottingham, is considered to be a big debtor to this band’s sound.

This catchy ditty, with the characteristically British, semi-anemic saxophone intro, came out in February 1981, and doesn’t technically qualify as underheralded, since it reached #48 on the US disco charts–punk, on the disco charts? Why not?

Medium medium didn’t last much longer, alas, but they’re around again now — see http://www.mediummedium.com/ — and most of the band still has fabulous hair.

Do let me know if you’ve picked up *Sound System*–I figure the $40 boxset in the US (see here–is this available in the UK?) would be a fine, fine gift for any aspiring teenager music fan. That’s less per LP side than we paid when The Clash’s debut came out. Nice work, gents.

#postpunk gems, v. 27 — Heaven 17

Well, finally, the Heat Miser has taken his wares elsewhere. He chased us out of Ohio, up to Ontario, and even to Quebec City. Merci, but no merci, Mr. Miser.

As you may know, Heaven 17 included Human League ex-pats Martin Ware and Ian Marsh, and the band took its name from the fictional pop group mentioned in passing in A Clockwork Orange. As reported in NME, the inspiration for their debut 7″ came from an afternoon of persuing Record Mirror, “picking out all the words from those absurd disco song titles. We were laughing at those phrases, thining they’re pretty good and then we just chucked in ‘How Much Longer Must We Tolerate This Fascist Groove Thang.’ We were pissing ourselves for days.”

Following the single’s spring 1981 ascent to #30 on the UK charts, the BBC found it considerably less funny, and dropped it. Why? Their legal department deemed it libelous to say “Reagan, Fascist guard.” So, they recorded another version substituting the phrase “Stateside cowboy guard.”

Like Elvis Costello’s SNL appearance in 1977 (in place of the Sex Pistols, who couldn’t get visas), when he launched into “Radio, Radio.” Lorne “they broke their promise” Michaels banned EC from SNL for 12 years. I love these moments when “the man” feared popular music, offered testerical reactions, and confirmed for all of paying attention that this music deserved closer attention. Fun times! And definitely way more fun (and political) than wardrobe malfunctions.

Here are the gents, avec La Roux, at it more recently at Abbey Road:

Have a dance-worthy week!