Friday, March 10, 2017

40 From 40: 1983

Before we start, to commemorate yesterday's International Women's Day we put together a special 40 From 40, forty female-led songs for each year from 1977 to 2016.

Next up in our actual attempt to playlist and contextualise forty years of the devil's music is a year of notable advancement in myriad forms. The American underground raged, the forward thinkers got to work on synthesisers and sequencers, rap found its voices of street level anger and charismatic poetry as it edged inch by inch closer to mainstream approval, and post-punk and new wave devolved into intelligent voices, pop oddity and some wild swings in between. Stuck as to what should represent the alternative, NME featured both Test Dept and Einsturzende Neubaten on its cover during the year. More telling was a August edition leading on Anarchy In The Arcades, a wonderfully tut-tutting 'it's dangerous for your health, kids' piece about video gaming that maybe betrayed a certain panic about the way youth culture was heading. If it wasn't those machines it was video comfortably into its hostile takeover phase of radio stars, the rise and rise of MTV helping create iconic looks in an instant. A second British Invasion was spearheaded by Culture Club, Eurythmics and Let's Dance Bowie, but Michael Jackson was about to take them all on with first the Motown 25 moonwalk and then all nine minutes of Thriller. The industry had a backup plan too as CDs went on sale in America and Tracey Ullman sold us a new concept in compilations. If you want a vision of the future, imagine Ashley Abram rubber stamping a final tracklisting - forever. Anyway, here's what else was going on that year in forty installments.

The Fall - Eat Y'Self Fitter
A MIT-DEM! From Perverted By Language
The Birthday Party - Sonny's Burning
Classic Nick Cave reputation enhancer at the start, from The Bad Seed EP
Minutemen - Bob Dylan Wrote Propaganda Songs
From What Makes A Man Start Fires??
Sonic Youth - Kill Yr Idols
The first recorded days of art-rock's dissonant post-Glenn Branca finest, from Confusion Is Sex
The Three Johns - Men Like Monkeys
Three men called John (one of whom had co-founded the Mekons), an insistent drum machine and some agit-noisepop sloganeering. From an EP of the same name, now collected onto the compilation Volume
New Order - Blue Monday
5p on every 12" sold, they say. Now on some versions of Power, Corruption & Lies
Kraftwerk - Tour De France
Now to be found on Tour De France Soundtracks
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel - White Lines (Don't Do It)
Liquid Liquid - Cavern
The former is a re-recording by the Sugarhill Records house band, by the way, not a sample
Rip Rig + Panic - Keep The Sharks From Your Heart
Tropical jazzy post-punk everything from a couple of the Pop Group and Neneh Cherry on vocals. From Attitude
Depeche Mode - Everything Counts
From Construction Time Again
Yello - I Love You
From You Gotta Say Yes To Another Excess
Run–D.M.C. - It's Like That
From the self-titled album
JoBoxers - Just Got Lucky
Surprising to learn they were considered too overly macho and aggressive at the time, with their flat caps and braces look despite essentially being a soul-pop band. Mind you, one of them later formed Earl Brutus. From Like Gangbusters
The Rain Parade - This Can't Be Today
Let us now briefly consider the Paisley Underground, the harmonic post-Byrds/Big Star psych-pop enclave based in early to mid 80s California that influenced Prince and from which the Bangles emerged. This is the best thing that emerged from it not touched by Hoffs, from Emergency Third Rail Power Trip
The Smiths - This Charming Man
From The Smiths
Echo & The Bunnymen - The Cutter
From Porcupine
Aztec Camera - Walk Out To Winter
From High Land, Hard Rain
The Chameleons - Second Skin
From Script Of The Bridge
Shriekback - All Lined Up
From Care
The Lotus Eaters - The First Picture Of You
Classic, classy one hit wonder territory, from No Sense Of Skin
The The - This Is The Day
From Soul Mining
R.E.M. - Talk About The Passion
From Murmur
Care - Flaming Sword
Paul Simpson, who was in Teardrop Explodes early on and more notably Wild Swans, on vocals, Ian Broudie, who had been in Big In Japan and would become the foremost Lightning Seed, on everything else for a handful of charming singles later collated on Diamonds & Emeralds
The Go-Betweens - Cattle And Cane
From Before Hollywood, and no, that's not the right version on Spotify
Billy Bragg - A New England
From Life's A Riot With Spy Vs Spy
Violent Femmes - Blister In The Sun
From Violent Femmes
Virna Lindt - Attention Stockholm
Here's a weird one, almost forgotten now, but Lindt was a big deal at the time - appeared on The Tube, interviewed in broadsheets - a Swedish sometime professional interpreter discovered by the man who found Mari Wilson, who vanished after two albums of sing-speaking over retro-lounge jetset John Barry spy chic. From Shiver
The B-52's - Song For A Future Generation
From Whammy!
Fun Boy Three - The Tunnel Of Love
From Waiting
Kissing The Pink - The Last Film
Current stars of the Top Of The Pops reruns, with the multiple drummers and Donald Stott on keyboards. From Naked
Tracey Ullman - They Don't Know
From You Broke My Heart In 17 Places
Captain Sensible - Glad It's All Over
Do seek out Dolly Mixture's own records, by the way. From The Power Of Love
The Replacements - Willpower
From Hootenanny
Elvis Costello/The Imposter - Pills & Soap
Initially released under a pseudonym, see. From Punch The Clock
Robert Wyatt - Shipbuilding

Tom Waits - In The Neighbourhood
From Swordfishtrombones
Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence
From the soundtrack of same
Cocteau Twins - Five Ten Fiftyfold
From Head Over Heels
This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren
From It'll End In Tears

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