Saturday 27 March 2021

The Saturday List #301 - My Top Twenty five Post Punk/New Wave Tracks

 I had planned to stop this particular series of music playlists lists  after Saturday list #300, but to be honest, I've enjoyed putting them together so much and got such an amazing response, I've decided to do a few more. This one complements the previous list. In 1977 I got into punk rock. By the end of 1978, although it took me a few years to accept it, Punk had to all intents and purposes ended. I didn't really get into the newer, more hardcore punk bands that seemed to be emerging and the early bands had either split or were morphing into something else. I think that when Siouxsie and The Banshees released The Scream it was both the last great album of the Punk Era and the first great album of the Post Punk Era. By the time The Clash were releasing London Calling, they had left their raw punk sound behind. Rotten had split the Pistols and was making far more experimental music with Public Image Ltd. The labels had left the punk scene behind and were pressuring the bands they'd signed to be more poppy. 

This list started as a Top Twenty, but there is just so much good music that having selected twenty, I realised that there were at least five more tracks I couldn't leave out and none I wanted to delete. So here we go. This is why I picked them.

I start with Big Audio Dynamite and E=MC2. I loved The Clash and was devastated when they split. When Mick Jones formed BAD I didn't really take any notice, until I got tickets to see Simple Minds at Milton Keynes in 1986. I hadn't even bothered checking the support acts, but it was a great bill, with The Waterboys, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and Big Audio Dynamite. When BAD started playing, I was transfixed. They were absolutely amazing. I immediately bought the album and decided that I actually preferred BAD to the Clash. The band never really made it but are in my top five bands. I saw them playing a Rock Against racisim gig on Clapham Common for free. As the sun went down they played this. A beautiful moment.

Next up is Rise by Public Image. I believe Lydon to be a genius, even if I sometimes wince at what he has to say. He is honest and doesn't pull punches. This song is beautiful and inspiring. It has helped get me through many a bad day. The importance of the Pistols cannot be overstated, but this is the best track he's written.

Howard Devoto was the original singer with The Buzzcocks. He disappeared and then re-emerged with Magazine. Shot by Both Sides is a top notch track. I was surprised when I heard it. Devoto sounded nothing like he sounded on Boredom and Times Up. I soon realised it was a masterpiece. No record collection can be complete without the first album by Magazine. It really is a post punk classic.

I saw Joy Divisions first gig at The Marquee, supporting the Cure. To be honest, I was rather underwhelmed. Their music was slower and darker than the high energy punk I loved at the time. When Love will tear us apart was released, I realised I'd been hasty in my judgement. It is an awesome track. Ian Curtis was a troubled soul, but the band made amazing music. 

A Teardrop Explodes fronted by Julian Cope were a much touted band. My great mate Brian Shillibeer loved their big amphetamine soul sound and dragged us to the Lyceum to see them. They were rather good. Brian is a man of great musical taste, who was far more appreciative of a good melody than I at the time. I think his tastes have stood the test of time well. 

Brian was a big advocate of artists like Joan Armatrading and The Waterboys when most of our friends group was hung up on three chord thrashes. He also was very into Reggae, so has always been an excellent guy to have a beer with. Reward has always been my favourite track by the band. Another band I'd have expected to do far more.

Siouxsie and The Banshees were one of the bands that successfully transitioned from punk to something far more musically interesting. I think Christine is a superb track. It always appears to me that people who don't know the work of the Banshees miss the fact that they make excellent music. 

Wire are another band to transition from punk to a more experimental style. Another band that I've been unable to understand their lack of chart success. My wife hates them, but I think they are extraordinary. Map Reference is one of the best pop singles. I can't figure why it didn't bother the charts, except for the fact that Wire were very anti commercial. 

Tears for Fears are the first band on this list that I've not seen. I wasn't overly into their big production pop sound, but this is a monumentally great track. They are one of the bands that I always wanted to hate, but have to admit are actually rather good.

The Saints cover of Save Me by Aretha Franklyn was yet another punk band that transitioned to something else. By the time they recorded this, the band was falling apart. How they managed to make such a wonderful album as Prehistoric Sounds is a testament to their talents as a band. I've often spoken about how important this track is to me. It was what got me into Aretha, so I owe them a big debt of gratitude. They were the first Punk band I actually saw, at The Roundhouse on the 6th June 1977 as a fourteen year old.

The Triffids were another Aussie band that seemed destined for great things, released a few albums that didn't bother the charts and disappeared. Calenture is my favourite and Bury me deep in love is a fine track, perhaps the best on the album.

I was absolutely in love with Debbie Harry, I'd forgive her anything, even ditching punk for a pop/disco sound. People often miss the fact that they were a brilliant band and that Chris Stein is an amazing songwriter. I thought long and hard about which song to pick, settled on Rapture, as it best exemplifies the bands post punk sound.

Elvis Costello is a huge figure in the story of the 1970/80's music story. Part of the Stiff Records stable, the man who championed The Pogues. I never really knew what to make of him at the time. He had punk credentials, but was anything but punk. He was the favourite of another good mate of mine, Dermot Fanning, who I got into punk and was our bands roadie for a while. Dermot loved the Olivers Army album I preferred the earlier stuff such as the Angels want to wear my red shoes and Alison. This was a cause of much heated debate. I saw Elvis Costello in 1978 supporting Aswad in Brockwell Park in Brixton. It was rather good. 

Which brings us nicely to Martha and The Muffins. Dermot loved them and dragged us all to Dingwalls to see them. They were a Canadian band and rather good. They seemed destined for big things, but ended up as one hit wonders. A shame really as I rather liked them.

The B52's are a fascinating band. I've seen them a few times. The last time was at The Hammersmith Odeon, which was a traumatic experience. I'd split from my missus, but we had tickets to see them with friends. We both went and had a suitably polite night. Fortunately the band were great. I always wanted a Love Shack, but I guess if I got one now, I'd be in the same situation I was in in 1994 when I last saw them.

Manicured Noise were a Manchester band that you have possibly never heard of. They were regulars on the London Scene in the late 1970's. I saw them a few times, as I recall mostly at the Moonlight. There is little info about them, but they were very good. I'd not heard their music for a long time, but found some tracks on Spotify and thought that Faith is well worth including.

The Monochrome Set were another band I'd seen around the same time. Another band that I lost touch with, but well worth a listen. I saw them quite a few times, possibly the last time around 1985, with a good work mate of mine, Nick Perks, who to my amazement I discovered was also a big fan.

Blue Zoo started as Modern Jazz. They were favourites in the Orange Hill 6th form common room in 1980. I have to confess I'd forgotten about them, until they booked the studio for a reunion gig. Luckily their was some music on Spotify. I have their first three singles in a storage box somewhere. A rather good pop band. I saw them as Modern Jazz with a few mates at The Moonlight club. Didn't think much of the headliners, a little known Irish band called U2. Wonder what happened to them.

When I first heard Once in a Lifetime on a pub jukebox, it blew me away. Remain in Light is by far the best Talking Heads album. If you don't own it, download or buy it.

The Psychedelic Furs had a rather unexpected hit with Pretty in Pink. The band rented a flat from the Dad of a mate of mine, Roy N'Koju. His Dad said they were the worst tenants he'd ever had. They could write a great song though.

No such list would be complete without The Fall. I chose their rather incongruous cover or The Kinks Victoria. I always suspected that this was Brix Smith's influence, trying to get Mark E.Smith to earn enough to buy her a new outfit. To my amazement, it was a brilliant cover. It demonstrates rather well what a great Pop band The Fall could have been if Mark E. Smith had been motivated by cash rather than belligerance.

Simple Minds transitioned from being a run of the mill scottish punk band into a mega stadium, big sounding rock act. This sound is best exemplified by Waterfront. I loved the band until I saw them at Milton Keynes Bowl in 1986. It was the day England lost to Argentina in the famous 'Hand of God' match. Kerr being a Scotsman, took great delight in taking the mickey out of the England fans at the loss. He lost a fan that day. A couple of years ago, I gave them another chance at The Roundhouse, but I still found Mr Kerr rather grating.

Damaged Goods by The Gang of Four was very much the sound of post punk New Wave in 1978. Quite a disturbing, yet great track. I had a girlfriend who had an obsession with The Gang of Four for a while at that time. It rather put me off them when we split, but they are worth a listen.

Ian Dury was a force of nature. The Blockheads were a pretty amazing band. Had they had a traditional singer, they could have been the worlds greatest funk band, but they had Ian Dury, so they were altogether more interesting. I could have chosen any track by the band, but I went for Sweet Gene Vincent, not least because you get two tracks for the price of one. 

Dexy's Midnight Runners were a massive band in the early 1980s. Formed by former Killjoys frontman Kevin Rowlands, the band had a Smash hit in 1980 with Searching for the Young Soul Rebels and the single Geno. They then went Celtic for Come on Eileen. Rowlands is the nearest thing Punk had to Bowie, continually reinventing himself. All of his incarnations are worth a listen, but Geno is my favourite song by the band.

I finish with The Only Ones. I saw them as a 15 year old punk at The Roundhouse, supporting Eddie and The Hot Rods on Xmas eve in 1977. I thought they were awful, thought Pete Perrett was the most out of tune singer I've ever seen. When Another Girl, Another Planet was released I dismissed it. Didn't even bother listening. When we bought a Ford Galaxy with a CD player, I  bought a bunch of Punk collection CD's to keep me company on the road. One of these had this track on. After a couple of listens, I realised I'd got it completely wrong.  Don't make the same mistake I did!

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