post-punk gems, v. 64 — Cabaret Voltaire

Various artists (Rough Trade, 1985).

My introduction to Cabaret Voltaire came by way of a mind-blowing compilation tape from Rough Trade: If You Can’t Please Yourself You Can’t, Please Your Soul (1985). I was familiar with Yello and The The, and Marc Almond of course, but I hardly knew what to make of Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel (a ridiculously offensive name, but the beats!), Coil, Einstürzende Neubauten, and Test Dept.

Cabaret Voltaire’s “Product Patrol” offered no conceit of plug-into-amps instrumental mastery, which of course followed up on their earlier experiments, including “Western Mantra,” which is 35 years old today.

Yes, it’s 20 minutes plus, but still capable of wow-ing even the heaviest of ADHD-ers with its beats and pure audacity. CV got started in Sheffield in 1973, signing with Rough Trade in ’78, and found an audience in punk devotees shortly after. They made a beautiful racket in different incarnations for years, and Richard Kirk is still at it as recently as last year. Nicely done!

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(post-) punk gems, v. 45 — Essential Logic

Happy Wednesday, folks! It’s an early taste of winter here in Ohio, with the high temps through Sunday hovering just above freezing. I hope your local climate is a bit more user-friendly in the coming weeks.

Essential Logic: “Music is a better noise.”

When The Beatles were in ascent, there was an odd relationship in the US, especially, between the LP and the single: they were expected to be mutually exclusive. Then the industry figured out that the single could represent the LP, and lo: everything changed, or  not quite everything.Following her departure from X-Ray Spex, Lora Logic formed Essential Logic and, in the DIY spirit of the day, they formed their own label for their debut single, and then released wax on Virgin and Rough Trade. Shortly after the November 1979 release of their debut LP, Beat Rhythm News, they released “Flora Force” as a 7″–which, of course, was not on the album.

Within a couple years, Essential Logic flirted with a more consonant sound, and “Music is a Better Noise” stands up well, 30+ years after. (Not the original video, of course.)

post-punk gems, v. 23 — The Feelies

Welcome back to radio-K-SAT, and I hope you’re having a nice kick-off to summer. Today I turn our attention to the western edge of the Atlantic to hail The Feelies, the paterfamilias of the Hoboken scene (see: Yo La Tengo and others), just across the Hudson from Manhattan isle. In September 1979, Stiff Records announced the recording deal on the same day Bauhaus released their nine-minute (!) debut 12″ single, “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” The Feelies’ arrangement with Stiff/Rough Trade got started with the October 1979 release of the super-fun “Fa Ce La,” the lead single of the appropriately titled debut LP, Crazy Rhythms (Feb 1980).

If bands like Monochrome Set and Pere Ubu were already modeling new and anxious modes of shoe-gazing masculinity, The Feelies upped the ante in terms of the emotional timbre (tremble?) of the times, leaving their mark on bands such as R.E.M., The Smithereens, Sebadoh, and Sonic Youth.

It was de rigeur, of course, for bands in the UK & US to cite the Velvet Underground and The New York Dolls as key influences, so it was especially gutsy for The Feelies to speedily cover this track by The Beatles on their debut LP, and to infuse with more energie nervosa than even Lennon displayed in the fab four’s final concert at Shea Stadium. Enjoy!