Rendez Vous – Distance (EP: Distance 2016)
Rendez-Vous is a 5-piece French band that was founded in 2012, in Paris. They make energetic, pumping post-punk, with electronic aspects here and there. As you have just heard, they sound quite angry, and they are able to deliver that anger and energy, channeled through songs to us. These are quite young guys and there’s plenty of testosterone in their music, and also in the interviews they do. I’m not sure if you have also noticed, but it’s hard to find some interesting backgrounds on younger bands like this. They all seem to display an aura of mystique, the desire to be unique, and be a bit of controversial in the interviews that they do. If you read the answers, they are trying really hard, too hard sometimes. But that makes them more the same than unique I think. Or I’m becoming an old cynical fart.. At the same time, I don’t care because to me it’s about the music. They are working passionately in the studio and have recently put out their first full length album Superior State in 2018. Also they are touring a lot, and instead of shoegazing, the audience is violently dancing and jumping and trying really hard to bruise one another. I think it’s a kick-ass track (Distance). Also, if you’re playing the guitar, the riffs are easy to learn and play, a lot of head nodding and fun is guaranteed. How about our second song of this week
INSTA OUTCAST Tower Of Strength 2020 – Remission International
This was all over Instagram. Now the song will sound familiar, but it’s a new release; Wayne Hussey, lead singer of The Mission and friends have remade the classic Mission anthem Tower Of Strength. Tower Of Strength was first released by The Mission as single in 1988 and then again in 1994. It charted twice in the UK top 40. This summer Tower Of Strength was rerecorded and it was released last Friday in support of workers dealing with Covid-19 globally.
Wayne Hussey: The song had apparently been adopted as an anthem by some NHS front line workers, and it got me thinking that I would like to contribute something to the greater cause at this unprecedented time. And the only thing I could really contribute is music”.
So he set this thing up, and if you’re the singer of the Mission, you have a LOT of interesting friends you can ask for help. Therefore collaborators on this EP include members of Siouxsie and the Banshees, Gary Numan, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Ultravox, Guns ‘n Roses, Trentemøller, The Cult, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus and the Cure. Wow.
Of course this version is available to listen to on all streaming platforms but I’m going to ask you Goof, as well as our listeners, to help this cause by buying at least the digital package. It is priced at only £2.99. It’s not much, is it? For the price of a coffee you’ll receive all five versions. Personally, I’ll order the T-shirt, which is awesome.
Come on, help these legends to help those who help others in this crazy pandemic. The front line workers are the real Tower of Strength.
Ministry – Effigy (With Sympathy 1983)
Most people think of totally other music than this when they hear the name Ministry. Right??
Well, Ministry was founded by multi-instrumentalist Al Jourgensen. On release, the album With Sympathy received positive critical reviews. Music Magazine “Rolling Stone” noted that any lack of originality in the synth-pop concept was “hardly worth complaining about, because Ministry manages to do something many far more innovative bands neglect: they write catchy dance songs.”
I must say that you can hear what Jourgensen would evolve into after this record.. You can hear that (eventhough he puts on a manufactured Britisch accent, because he’s an American) his singing is “charged with anger and a certain passion. While mostly in synthpop you hear very sugary and polished vocals.
Jourgensen’s dissatisfaction over his record deal led the band to depart Arista in early 1984. Jourgensen later disowned the album, maintaining that he was pressured by Arista management into producing the album in the then-popular synthpop style, which is in contrast to the harder industrial and heavy metal sounds he developed afterward He compared this experience to that with Milli Vanilli.
However, I don’t exactly believe this is true. Al Jourgensen said that he has nothing to do with writing the tracks or choices on With Sympathy. I think he wanted to become the next Joy Division and when Arista wanted to continue the commercial sounding path, he went another way. Also: some of the tracks on this first album were released earlier in 1981 om the label Wax Trax! That proves that Jourgensen was making this sort of British-inspired synth music well before he signed on to Arista for With Sympathy. Assuming that Wax Trax! allowed him to write and record what he pleased, then the major label didn’t have as much influence as Jourgensen claims. I am absolutely shure that he did in fact like the album very much.
Anyways.. I, however, find the album an essential 1980s dark synthpop record—an album stacked with tracks worthy of both new wave and goth dance floors.
After this first album Ministry would set-off into industrial territory for good. They made several really worthwhile and good albums in the 90’s. My favorites are Filth Pig and of course Psalm 69. In fact, if you listen to what Ministry did in the 90’s, you can clearly hear that Rammstein copied their sound (Song structures, repetitive power riffs and singing style)
The Big Picture: The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki 1995)
My research of Ministry also made me think for some reason about the movie: The Doom Generation from 1995. In which the protagonist (played by James Duval) continuously wears T-shirts from the band Ministry.
The movie is about 3 teenagers coming of age. But not as cheerleaders or in a popular way. No, these industrial/goth teens pick up a stranger, who leads them on an increasingly surreal and murderous roadtrip. It all takes place in the dark side of mid-’90s pop culture. The styling in this movie is perfect for us lovers of the darker side of music and pop-culture.
It certainly feels like the style that Oliver Stone chose for Natural Born Killers. It’s basically about being a hormonally charged adolescent, because there’s no middle ground: everything is either eye-wateringly boring or a matter of life and death. “Everyone is against you and out to get you and no one understands you”.
The soundtrack features: Coil, Front 242, Slowdive, Nine inch Nails, Curve, Love & Rockets, Aphex Twin, Jesus & Mary Chain.
INFECTED CLASSIC Let me Go by Heaven 17 (1982)
This really starts with the story of the British Electric Foundation. This was a founded in 1979, based on the idea that it should be possible to make music with just synths and a drum machine. It was a band/production company formed by Human League members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. They produced several acts but the best known BEF project was Heaven 17, with lead singer Glenn Gregory. Gregory had actually known them for many years, he’d been singing and playing bass guitar in bands with Ian since 73. In early 81, after the original Human League broke up, Martyn Ware asked him to join Heaven 17, a new band resulting from the Human League break-up.
They were named after the band in (Anthony Burgess’ novel and Stanley Kubrick’s film) A Clockwork Orange. They recorded 5 albums but from ‘81 up until their split in 1988 they had never played live. Ware: “It was the start of MTV, and we figured that instead of touring, why don’t we – in a very modern way – service all the world’s markets simultaneously by spending the money on making good videos?”
I like this song for many reasons. It feels bubbly, catchy and it sounds good. Of course you have recognised the Linn Drum, but did you hear the bass? This was one of the first tracks using the Roland TB-303, the bass synthesiser that later would be made immortal by acid house. When the Roland TB303 was released in 1982, nobody wanted to use it because the 303 didn’t sound anything like a real bass. It only started to get used late in the 80’s in Chicago. They picked it up for cheap with a TR 707 (Transistor Rhythm) and created house music. So that Heaven 17 used it in 1983, almost immediately after release, for a serious production/record is quite cool. The only band I know of that also jumped on the 303 very early was Shannon with “Let The Music Play”.
Another fun fact; In the 80’s, singer Glenn Gregory also visited Trevor Horns’ studio and worked with him and his team. Glenn is featured on productions of ABC, Tina Turner, Grace Jones, and Propaganda.
So in this song, the singer has given his all in his relationship, but all has fallen apart and the relationship is over, no matter how hard he tried. The twelve inch version is also excellent by the way, I will include a link to that in the shownotes as well. For a dance track it is very melancholy. It is also a special, melancholy song for me personally as this reminds me very strongly of the time that I used to spend a lot of time with a large group of friends, all in our early 20’s. We went out several nights a week and were really close. We were young, creative, beautiful and we had our whole lives before us. The mood of this song perfectly fits the melancholy feeling I get when I think back to those beautiful times. “Once there was a day, We were together all the way, An endless path unbroken.”
The Chameleons – Don’t Fall (script of the bridge 1983)
The 1980s were an incredible era for music. It was the decade where U2, The Cure, and Echo & The Bunnymen released a flawless body of work throughout its entire ten years. Also in this decade Hiphop broke through. Heavy metal aimed for world domination and many innovators in music were at their peak. Also Music television was at its finest and underground music scenes were thriving. The eighties were great. Another innovative and highly soon-to-be influential band to emerge from that period were The Chameleons, a four-piece band from Middleton, a suburb of Manchester.
Like many others, Mark Burgess started The Chameleons in this post-punk period together with 2 friends he knew from school. Mark started learning to play ten minutes after buying a bass guitar, and then formed a group in 1981. Shortly after, the band released their first single ‘In Shreds’ on CBS Records the following year. Only to find themselves dropped after one single over alleged artistic differences between themselves and the label. While not exactly seen as the end of the world at the time, for a band who’d already become firm favourites with Radio One DJ John Peel, there wasn’t exactly a shortage of interest in signing them up.
Nevertheless, this bad luck with record labels seemed to trouble them throughout their short career as a creative force. Having been picked up by Statik records soon after, the band recorded their debut album Script Of The Bridge over a six-week period.
Statik was affiliated with Richard Branson’s Virgin empire, and it wasn’t long before label interference got in the way once more, and after Statik put out a reduced version of the record for the US market (only 8 of the 12 tracks were included on this release). The band spent the next two years trying to get out of their contract, eventually doing so at the tail end of 1985.
After the long awaited second album finally came out, but unfortunately, by that point they’d missed the commercial money- train enjoyed by many of their peers from back in the day. Of course it was not only the fault of record labels, because The Chameleons didn’t want to play ball with them or be flexible on anything.
They continued to make exceptionally flawless music until splitting in 1987 after former associate-cum-manager Tony Fletcher sadly passed away.
So in summary: In the midst of great post-punk bands, The Chameleons managed to make a very distinctive sound. While other bands were making (great, but still) variations on only a few themes. The Chameleons with their dual layered guitar sound and passionate and powerful vocals by Mark really cut through. Their music really left their mark in the era of the 80’s and in my opinion sounds fresh to this day. It was hard to pick a single track from them.
Pain by Boy Harsher (2014, debut)
The two people behind Boy Harsher are Gus Muller and Jae Matthew. They met in Georgia eight years ago. Jae was writing and directing some really cool video projects. Gus wrote music scores for movies and was really into Jae so he offered to write the music for some of her videos and slowly they turned into a band.
Their style is interesting. It oscillates between dark-wave, synth pop, minimal, EBM, goth-trance, etc. They list Yello and Suicide as influences, as well as Severed Heads and This Mortal Coil. The band has put the Road Tunes playlist of their 2019 tour on Spotify, so you can hear what they were listening to recently while on the road:
The track Pain is not only an EBM hit, it has become a staple of techno after parties in Rotterdam, Paris, London and beyond. “This track, It came together really fast. Totally accidental, really, says Gus. I had the hook in my head: “Pain breaks the rhythm” and went from there. Singer Jae: “That song came from such a specific moment – the emotion behind the song Pain is the cyclical, feedback loop of our abject heartache. We were in a real rough spot, hated one another but would always wind up sabotaging space by sleeping together / being really cruel about the whole thing. And as any crisis, it felt so close-up, extreme. It was a fucking mess.
Since they both come from a cinematic background. If Boy Harsher were a movie, what would it be? Jae: I like to think of it as a perverse neo-noir, existing in some hot swamp city. Like Body Heat, by Lawrence Kasdan, but much weirder. Lynch’s Lost Highway is maybe a cliché, but it’s a confusing, erotic masterpiece. Plus, I hope Boy Harsher could be like that someday. Augustus: Agreed.