In this episode we take you along for a wild ride. We have horrors stoties, death rock, killer tracks, and you can hear your funeral right here on our show. But first, come with us to the weird world of blue sunshine, where we unearthed the recipe for the Perfect Murder…
The Glove- Perfect Murder (Blue Sunshine, 1983)
The Glove is a project by The Cure singer Robert Smith and Siouxsie and the Banshees guitarist Steven Severin.
In June 1982, Robert Smith was on the verge of a breakdown. He’d been taking improbable amounts of drugs, was exhausted from the production and tour of the Cure’s album Pornography, and from a fight in the band that led to the departure of bassist Simon Gallup.
The current Banshees guitarist had a nervous breakdown In October 1982, shortly before starting an important European tour, due to alcohol and the stresses of touring. The band fired him. Just like in 1979, Robert Smith was asked to fill in. In November, he officially became a member of the Banshees.
With Smith now officially in the band, Severin and Smith booked a studio in late 1982. The first song that they recorded was “Punish Me with Kisses.” But in January 1983, two months after Smith rejoined Siouxsie and the Banshees, Siouxsie and drummer Budgie left England to record an album on their own as the Creatures.
Meanwhile, Severin and Smith had both started working on a project they would call the Glove. However, since Smith was still contractually banned from singing with another band, they recruited Jeanette Landray (a former Zoo dancer and girlfriend of Severin’s bandmate Budgie) as the lead singer. Smith did sing on two of the songs, “Mr. Alphabet Says” and “Perfect Murder,” which is the song we’ve just played for you.
Smith describes the recording sessions as “unreal”: “We spent 12 weeks in the studio but actually recorded for about five days. The rest of the time was spent having an endless party to which we invited a succession of people. It was like a station — once they got really out of it, they’d be moved on, and the next batch was brought in. In between all this, we’d record a piece of piano or drum“. They didn’t sleep much, so the duo stayed up most of the nights watching horror movies.
These horror movies also inspired the track’s title, Perfect Murder, and their album, Blue Sunshine. In the horror film, Blue Sunshine, people who took the LSD from a batch called “Blue Sunshine” became bald, wide-eyed psychotic murderers ten years later.
The Big Picture: Blue Sunshine (Jeff Liebermann)
Brace yourself: for a drug infused, murderous, disco party. This piece of obscure 70’s cinema is about a bunch of students that dropped a powerful dose of LSD known as “Blue Sunshine”. And now, ten years later, these students are having the terrible acid flashback. They’re losing their hair, they can’t stand loud noises, and they’re all turning into homicidal maniacs. For instance, there’s a scene where one of these student-turned-maniacs can’t stand the loud disco music and starts killing everyone in sight.
At a first glance, it looks like a typical B-movie from the 70’s. Even though the plot is anything BUT typical. What I really loved is the cinematography and camera work. The shots are interesting and well thought through. They definitely build up tension. Much better than one would expect from a B movie. But the acting is pretty terrible and pace way too slow for what we’ve gotten used to in recent years.
It’s more of a horror film than any other genre, but it can’t exactly be confined to just 1 genre. It is a unique viewing experience, and begging for a remake with more budget and better acting I think.
Lowlife – A Sullen Sky
Back in the early 1980s two well-known bands would emerge out of Grangemouth Scotland: One of these was the Cocteau Twins, formed by Robin Guthrie and his longtime pal Will Heggie, along with Liz Fraser. The other was Dead Neighbors, a Psychobilly band that was described as “Scotland’s answer to The Cramps”.
Robin Guthrie has a brother called Brian and he was the manager of Dead Neighbors. After a few years with the Dead Neighbors, the bass player left the band together with manager Brian to form a new record label (Nightshift Records) and band that was called Lowlife.
Lowlife made their own signature sound with deep atmospheres and mysterious songs over the years and albums that followed. They tell beautiful and dark stories with their music I think. Very well balanced between words and music.
The strange thing is, at the same time the band lived the rock n’ roll dream to excess. You may have read about the extremes experienced by the likes of Motley Crue (there is a documentary about that on Netflix). And Lowlife did the same.
I would not have thought this, because the band created music of the greatest beauty, style and passion, yet as people they were a strange and bizarre mixture of drug taking and whiskey drinking hell-raisers. There are examples where they decided to wire up the door handle at the rehearsal room shut. And squash whole packs of bubble gum to the hair of band members. Or launch fireworks at each other. They were a mix of Jackass and those ‘Home Alone’ movies.
In 1987 they made the album where this track is on (Diminuendo) and it was assumed by many that Lowlife would end up on the famous 4AD recordlabel with this album. But 4AD wasn’t interested. Also other labels were not willing to make a move. Maybe they were also scared of the band’s wild reputation and behaviour. They were known to be unmanageable after all.
They went on, on their own label Nightshift, but that was in financial trouble at the time.
In 1997, after 5 albums and playing fewer and fewer shows to progressively smaller audiences, Lowlife effectively called it quits, although there was never any “official” announcement of a breakup.
Talking Heads – Once in a Lifetime (Remain in Light, 1980) https://open.spotify.com/track/1Tr4K5MU5XYE44umXGDndd?si=cnax9do5STG6sUCVLIFYdQ
This is the Infected Classic. David Byrne about his lyrical inspiration: “Most of the words in ‘Once in a Lifetime’ come from evangelists I recorded off the radio, I was picking up phrases I thought were interesting directions. Inspired by the sermons that bring the religious middle class in an obedient trance, Byrne uses the evangelist’s timing in the way he sings, and he impersonates them with the glasses and suits he wears.
This song is about the monotony of middle-class people living “unconsciously” in this religion induced trance. Waking up one day, you realize you’re unhappy about the youth you have lost and dissatisfied with the things you have in life. By then, these emotions are ultimately useless, like trying to remove the water at the bottom of the ocean. Like water, life moves on, and we are carried along.
Byrne: “Maybe I’m fascinated with the middle class because it seems so different from my life, so distant from what I do. I can’t imagine living like that.”.
Brian Eno produced the album. He surprised the band by counting the track differently when working on it. Eno counted the one as the gap before the phrase begins, and he arranged the track accordingly. His way of counting created a kind of syncopation with the song’s phrasing, making it feel strange, which only adds to the lyrical theme.
The video was one of the first that got a lot of MTV exposure. Byrne didn’t invite the band. He appeared in the video all by himself. The full band didn’t appear in a video until two years later.
The trance-type dance that Byrne came up with for the video became part of his live stage act. Eventually, that grew into an entire set of very peculiar dances the whole band did when performing, like running in place when playing “burning down the house.” Their live performance looked so striking it drew the attention of director Jonathan Demme, who filmed a few of the shows and turned them into the famous concert film Stop Making Sense.
David tended to “forget” to give writing credits to his fellow band members and actively tried to outshine them. For the Stop Making Sense tour, he pulled another trick, drummer Chris Frantz recalls. David told the band to wear dark, preferably black, clothing for the tour. He appeared in an enormous oversized white suit, automatically making himself the center of attention of the shows and, ultimately, the movie.
They came up in CBGB’s in New York, together with punk acts like the Ramones, but the “punk” label didn’t suit them. Since it hurt their chances of getting played on the radio, their label boss, Seymour Stein, came up with a new term to describe their music: New Wave. This term was supposed to make them more appealing to listeners looking for a more modern, refined sound.
Your Funeral – I Wanna be You
It’s a very short song, so I suggest we play it loudly 😊
Before I start about the track: Scientists have examined what the perfect length of a song should be. They had the assumption that songs should be short and sweet, but wanted to proof this. The assumption was made with examples that The Ramones, The Beatles and some of The Pixies’ most famous tracks clock in at under two minutes. The outcome of this research: the ideal song length or golden ratio, is 2 minutes and 42 seconds. And what is the length of this song by Your Funeral? Exactly! 2 minutes and 42 seconds.
Back to the music: Your Funeral was an all female Death Rock band from Denver, Colorado. They only released 1 single with 2 tracks in 1982 and that’s it. And that obscure single is on Spotify, I must give Spotify props for having more and more obscurities on their platform, because that was totally different a few years back. Anyway: Even though it’s an all-female band, the vocals sound like early Robert Smith to me. Did you recognize that maybe?
I could not find more on this band, so let me elaborate about the genre that is Death Rock. The term “death rock” was first used in the 1950s to describe themed Rock ‘n Roll songs about a morbid but also romantic view about death. The term later re-emerged to describe the sound of several West Coast punk bands in the early 80’s.
You can recognize it by a driving and repetitive rhythm section and simple guitar chords with a lot of fx pedals for added atmosphere. These bands basically took Punk and added dark yet playful themes borrowed from horror movies, surrealism, religious imagery. So it comes to no surprise that lyrics are typically introspective and deal with dark themes of isolation, gloom, disillusionment, loss, life, death, etc.
The Cramps we featured last week also did this, bit on the east-coast of the US, although they did not label themselves as a death rock band.
Etienne Daho – Soleil de Minuit
Etiénne Daho is a French cult hero with an Algerian background. He has released several pop hit singles and has been active since 1981. His last official album, Blitz, was released in 2017.
This song is from a 2015 release, although the original is older. I just love the lyrics. They don’t make a perfect story but are more of a train-of-thought stream of consciousness type of affair. Soleil de Minuit means midnight sun, and the song references dark themes and melancholic visions.
I love the atmosphere of the track, I really like Etienne Dahots singing, he is not trying to show off.
He’s not trying to pull any tricks or trying to be clever or forced about the way he is singing, he is just adding to the atmosphere and that low, whispery voice is just great.
Hørd – Silence (Parallells 2018)
Hørd is a solo project, created at the end of 2013 by Sébastien Bassin from the city of Bordeaux in France. He was in a band but wanted to make music that he liked and stay away from guitars for a while. Because he had been playing that since he was 13 years old. So he jumped into the uncomfortable process of purely creating music with synths. I know what I’m talking about, because I also had synths, MIDI equipment and there was always trouble. Everyone uses his/her own approach and Sebastian usually starts with a bassline and a beat. Then the main themes and ideas start to pop-up. After that, there is a long effort between arrangements, variations, harmony experiments, lyrics and mixing. He likes this process because of the intensity he says.
His music is inspired by 40 years of electronic music, mixed with some contemporary dark and electronic music. There is also a bit of goth and some pop accents here and there. He has been perfecting his sound for around 10 years now, with 4 albums and 3 EP’s. Quite productive if you ask me.
According to Sebastian, nowadays it’s somewhat easier to create that 80’s dark sound. Synths and other materials to record and build a home studio are cheap. And there really is an equal opportunity for everyone. But it is harder to get your music noticed these days. Internet is great to spread music and find shows. But it’s also a big ocean for a band to exist in. Money and the right contacts are fundamental to stand out. And with big platforms like Spotify and Apple not sharing most of their revenue with the artist, the struggle is real.