Psychic TV – Godstar (allegory & Self 1988)
“Godstar” is basically a rock ‘n’ roll tale about the life and death of Brian Jones, one of the founding members of The Rolling Stones. If the lyrics didn’t give it away. It sure was that guitar riff or part of it, from “Brown Sugar”.
We discussed Throbbing Gristle earlier in Season 1 episode 12 “Belgian Delights and Cats Whiskers”.
So, Alex Fergusson was a member of the experimental outfit “Alternative TV”, with whom Genesis P-Orridge from Throbbing Gristle performed at one point. By the way, the whole “TV” thing in the band name, comes from their focus on being a visual; or video act first, and a musical band second.
Psychic TV made their live debut in the Autumn of 1982 as a part of the “Final Academy”, a multi-performance event dedicated to and featuring William S. Burroughs (this figure is worth some attention on his own. Notorious drug addict and genious at the same time).
In November 1982, Psychic TV’s debut studio album, Force the Hand of Chance, was released by Some Bizzare Records. Lyrics were handled by P-Orridge while the music was written by Fergusson and sound experiments primarily created by Christopherson and Geff Rushton, foreshadowing their later work as Coil.
At that time: The live shows of Psychic TV featured a lot of improvised noise elements. But a few years later, into the second half of the eighties: Fergusson and P-Orridge completed their third proper studio album, Allegory and Self (1988). And it was around this time, that they became interested in the acid house and techno movements.
So this album from 88 leads with a pair of amazing, radio-friendly and catchy songs.
Godstar’ sounds very much of its time, but mixes some classic rock angles and even explicitly name-dropping the Rolling Stones, which the band is aping or copying to a certain extent. But with gothy, new wave elements.
“Godstar” proved to be Psychic TV’s one and only hit single and P-Orridge claims its popularity was overshadowed by the Rolling Stones’ management coercing BBC Radio 1 to stop playing the song. Still, its ’80s spin on ’60s rock sound, showed bands like the Stone Roses and Primal Scream the way to the dance floor.
Each Moment Like The First – James Holden, The Animal Spirits (The Animal Spirits, 2017)
James Holden started out as a Trance producer in the early 2000’s, when he had a reputation as a master of euphoric melodic trance. But instead of just churning out similar floor fillers, he has gone on a personal crusade against dancefloor conservatism with spiritual mixes, loose timing, and multi-culturally influenced collaborations.
The Animal Spirits is an album full of these collaborative projects, expanding his live setup. It doesn’t even resemble “dance music” in the traditional sense anymore. The album was recorded live in one room in a London studio: single takes, no overdubs, no edits. While his modular synth is still leading, his collaborators’ contribute live improvisations while Holden is a bandleader rather than the producer or frontman.
It may not be perfect but I love the live feel of the track as well as Holden’s arpeggio’s which bring a beautifully melancholic atmosphere to the song. The instruments on the album are special as well you will hear saxophone, cornet, Ghaïta and table drums. The whole album The Animal Spirits is absolutely worth a listen. Recommended.
The Names – Nightshift
Belgian Post punk cult band, The Names, started in the winter of 1978 as The Passengers. They quickly gained attention on the Belgian scene and from the local press. One year later, after a series of successful gigs, they recorded a first E.P. that attracted the interest of Manchester’s prominent label. Which one would that be -à Factory Records 😊
Their first serious studio sessions (at Stockport’s Strawberry Studio) was the single “Nightshift”. It got enthusiastic reviews in the UK and abroad, it marked the start of a long and fruitful collaboration with producer Martin Hannett. This single was representative of their overall sound: dark, modern rock in similar fashion as Magazine, Comsat Angels and early New Order.
With this recording and high impact stage performances, The Names achieved the status of cult band of the post punk scene.
Although their first album from 1982 (Swimming) found certain popularity, and benefitted from the Factory connection, it failed to elevate the band onto a higher commercial plateau.
Indeed times were changing, and 1982 saw a rapid thaw in the ‘cold wave’ which had frozen the alternative rock scene since the turn of the decade. Great White Hopes such as Wire, Joy Division, Magazine and Josef K were long gone, while the stars of others faded as the radio began to play different tunes.
1981 had seen New Order release Movement, while the Cure exchanged Faith for Pornography. By the close of 1982, however, the bright new pop of Temptation and Let’s Go To Bed had appeared as singles, and even Cabaret Voltaire were beginning to flirt with the mainstream.
Matters were made worse when drummer Luc Capelle was injured in a motorbike accident soon after Swimming was released.
Sensing that the writing was on the wall, The Names struggled on until their demise in 1982. Their final single was “The Astronaut” and Martin Hannett travelled to Brussels to produce the track with them.
Eleven O’Clock Tick Tock – U2 (Boy – 1980)
This is from the “Boy” recording era, but although the studio version was released as a single it didn’t appear on an album until it was included on the 2008 remastered edition of Boy.
This song was written by a 19 year old shocked and religious Bono, inspired to write these lyrics after watching a show by the psychobilly/punk band The Cramps in London. “It was the peak of Goth and the gig was filled with candles,” Bono recalls “Voodoo was the order of the day, there was the atmosphere of Black Mass, and I was thinking it was the night of the tragically hip. There was a lostness in the looks on their faces. It was that sepulchral make-up, white face, dark eyes, it felt like the end of the world. To a very young boy from the suburbs of Dublin, it seemed there was no life there at all. But there might have been more humor there than I was capable of spotting at the time.”.
The song was recorded in Dublin with producer…. Martin Hannett. Remember him? Yeah, he also worked with Joy Division and is prominently featured in the movie 24 hour party people, which we discussed last episode. Along with the B-side, “Touch,” this is one of only two songs Hannett ever produced for the band. I guess Hannett may have been a bit too intense for these young Irish boys. Steve Lillywhite would produce the rest of the songs for their debut album, Boy.
You can hear The Edge’s signature guitar sound, which came from running his guitar through a cheap echo unit called a Memory Man. This gave him the distinctive sound that makes his guitar play so recognizable.
The title Eleven O’Clock Tick Tock doesn’t actually appear in the lyric. It is probably about the crowd at the Cramps concert Bono went to in London, the song title referring to the sight and sound of all these young goth kids spilling out onto the streets at 11 o’clock, the time crowd were forced to leave the venue (“I hear the children crying … and I know it’s time to go”).
39 Steps – Stay Faithless (Slip Into the crowd 1986).
Their band name is inspired by a book from 1925, which Alfred Hitchcock made into a movie in 1935: The 39 Steps. It’s about an accused but innocent man on the run in London. Anyway: The band 39 Steps was founded in 1983 after a man named Chris Barry returned to his home town of Montreal from a two-year stay in London, where he was playing music. Upon his return to Canada, he was eager to start a new musical project after soaking up all of the emerging goth scene in London. He invited his old bandmates from “The 222’s” Pier Major and Joe Cerratto to join him in the endeavor.
A little over a year later, they were invited by Woody Allen to appear in his multiple Academy Award-winning film, Hannah and Her Sisters. You can see 39 steps playing in the classic scene where Dianne Wiest brings Allen to hear the group. “Don’t you realize you’re witnessing genius?”
In the film, Allen is less than impressed with 39 Steps’ musical gifts, instead concerned about his physical safety. Things get wild at live performances by 39 steps.
In 1986 their indie debut album, Slip into the Crowd, was picked up and released on RCA Records in the United States and Canada, with the accompanying videos for “Stay Faithless” and “Slip into the Crowd” garnering significant rotation on MTV in Canada. After this record they recorded a follow-up album, recorded in Debby Harry’s home studio in New York (Blondie).
39 Steps enjoyed a considerable amount of commercial and critical success for a band of their type in the 1980s. They were the supporting act for groups as diverse as the Cult, the Kinks, Psychedelic Furs, and at one point even Meat Loaf, before being kicked off of the tour for allegedly ridiculing the headliner to his face. That is punk ladies and gentlemen.
They disbanded in 1991 after a severe legal battle with their record label.
Eighties – Killing Joke (Laugh? I nearly bought one – 1992)
Jaz Coleman, Killing Jokes’ lead singer, wrote the lyrics, inspired by the novel “The Coming Race” by the English writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1871. (You can hear the reference to the book in the line: “I’m in love with the coming race.”) The book is about an undiscovered race that lives underground and has superpowers. In an interview Coleman explained the song’s meaning, stating: “It was looking forward to the trans-human future that is upon us now.”
Nirvana stole the guitar riff for their 1991 hit “Come As You Are.” It’s a obviously a copy, so Killing Joke considered legal action, but after Kurt Cobain died, they didn’t follow through with the lawsuit. In fact, Dave Grohl and Jaz Coleman later became good friends, and resulting in Grohl playing drums on their 2003 “Killing Joke” album.
This song was written in a farmhouse in Switzerland. The band had come across it when they played in Geneva in ‘83. They loved it there, and the band members came back there several times. This is where they came up with this track. Coleman remembers hearing Geordie Walker play the guitar riff for the first time when he was going upstairs to his room. “When he knocked that riff out, it was so memorable, it kind of embodied everything that was happening at that time.” said Coleman.
The video warns against the dangers of authoritarian politicians. In the video, Jaz Coleman is shown as a leader speaking in front of both Russian and American flags. The video footage includes shots of various political figures, a shot of Jaz’s melting face, a dog wedding and Killing Joke fans waiting outside of the Hammersmith for a Killing Joke show. In another warning against totalitarian regimes the album cover of “Laugh? I nearly bought one” features a group of Nazi’s bringing the Sieg Heil Salute, being blessed by the Pope.
Asylum Party – Pure Joy in my Heart
And we have a special contribution tonight from far away Lima, Peru. Yes, we are very happy to have fans listening to The Infected all over the world and it was a pleasure to discover that Jorge from Lima is not only enjoying our show but actually had a great suggestion for a track we should play. And I have to say it is an excellent choice. This is a song by French post punk band that was quite active in the late 80s until early 90s and they made a huge impression. They are also a favorite of ours and therefore part of several of our personal playlists. We’ll leave the stage to our friend of the show Jorge to introduce you to the final track of tonight’s episode.