Thursday, August 18, 2016

Everybody Up! 18 - The U.S. Bombs Screaming Overhead


1. SIGUE SIGUE SPUTNIK "Love Missile F1-11"

Here we have a fascinating chapter in British musical history.  Formed by Tony James from Generation X after Billy Idol went fortune finding in the United States, this was a band like no other; a concept so totally, jarringly out of step with the earnest, grassroots alternative music of the day, yet too scary and weird for pop and too early to properly piggyback on hip hop and the resurgence of American dance music, they burned too bright, too fast.

Co-opting mass consumerism, early sampling techniques (with tons of uncleared samples, naturally), electronic manipulation of live sound, androgynous space-age outfits, "A Clockwork Orange", Cold War chic, rabble-rousing and maximum style over substance in a deliberate attempt to create a phenomenon, a movement, a moral panic, just ANYTHING that could increase the group's profile and generate sales. 

Their debut album had paid-for adverts in slots between the songs.  Gigs were often marred by violence.  They re-invented boastful myth-making and the grandiose statement, in a style later used by everyone from Oasis to These Animal Men.  They were perfect, and I should love them. 

But I don't. 

I wish I did.  But as it turns out, I like substance with my style, and all of their other songs were merely watered-down versions of their one true classic.  Luckily that classic is "Love Missile F1-11", as eventually (in a somewhat bizarre twist) covered by Bowie in 2003, thus closing the circle of glam.

One of the (no doubt uncleared) samples towards the end of the single version - as presented on this compilation, for the avoidance of doubt - runs thus: "soon, the whole world will know my name."  As the song fades out, you'll have just enough time to feel gutted that that never came to be for Sigue Sigue Sputnik.

2. HANOI ROCKS "Up Around The Bend"

Scandinavian rock time, and it's Finland we're visiting today.  Hanoi Rocks were a marvellously ill-mannered glam metal band, though sadly not detectives...  Though that's coming, oh yes, that is coming.

This was actually my first time listening to this band, whom I am familiar with in a relatively roundabout way: I am a fan of an article written by Carol Clerk for the Melody Maker which followed the group through a booze-fuelled tour of Israel during Passover, which is a contradiction in terms. 

It was originally published in the 16 April 1983 edition, which is some eleven years before I started reading the dear departed publication, but I read it in a brilliant compilation of chaotic interviews called "On The Other Hand, There's A Fist", given away free with the 19 October 1996 issue.  I recommend you check it out if you're able.

Where was I...  Oh, the song!  It's pretty damn good actually.  A Creedence Clearwater cover played with aplomb and obvious admiration, but not nearly as interesting as you'd expect from a band with a rhythm guitarist called Nasty Suicide (who is now a pharmacist, apparently).


I was about to ask why this wasn't "Temple Of Love", then I realised I'd still be listening to disk five for the first time if it had been.  So here is a shorter offering, albeit one still in keeping with their general modus operandi...  Which is odd in itself, as this is yet another cover version.

Even odder: it's a Hot Chocolate cover!  Which makes one wish they'd gone for "You Sexy Thing" instead, for maximum contrast.  In context, the story of a young lady's suicide after a lifetime of disappointment is far more appropriate for goth echoheads than cabaret-ready disco funksters, so perhaps it actually makes less sense the original way around.

Given that this is a song by a mid-eighties goth band on which you can practically here the dry ice being flooded into the venue, there's not much more to say here, so here's a Sisters Of Mercy Fun Fact: their drum machine runs an advice page on their website.  Hey, even moody sorts can have a laugh, y'know.

4. MORRISSEY "Glamorous Glue"

Here's our most controversial entry of the week - for it was during the performance of this song at Madstock  '92 that the infamous photo of Morrissey draped in a union flag was taken, later to be displayed on the cover of the NME as proof positive that he was a racist.  Bet he voted Leave, and all.  I'm not even going to get started with either of the debates I just foolishly brought up - I only mention it for historical context. 

Moving very, very swiftly on, this is brilliant stuff; a stomp, a romp even, if you will, sounding far more fun and hip-shakin' than the Morrissey/Smiths branding would ever suggest.  Plus there's a great bit where you get to shout "London is dead!" over and over, which is great for those of us in literally any other part of Britain.

Great run thus far.  Can't see how this could get any better...

5. SUEDE "Metal Mickey"

OH MY GOD IT'S SUEDE!  Here's one of my top five favourite bands ever with one of my top fifteen favourite songs of theirs.

(I got into them as a teenager.  There was a lot of list-making back then.)

If you were there, I won't have to describe for you the excitement of hearing Suede for the first time; you'll remember the electricity from the Brit Awards performance, bristling with contempt for the establishment, or you'll recall them standing out a mile from the baggy also-rans and the grunge hangers-on via early MTV adopters or on an ostensibly "alternative" Radio 1 broadcast.

Ignore for a second that the lyrics make no sense and that the title somehow makes even less sense, as I really can't be subjective about Suede, particularly not their first three albums - and the b-sides from the first two albums - all of which was nearly perfect except for "Starcrazy", which wasn't.  But that's one song on one album.

The only slight black mark on this offering, and the rest of their debut album, was that for a band that could have been the next Sex Pistols, the production style really filed the edges off of the spikier material, of which this is but a sample.  Still, this is very good stuff, and still crackling with revolutionary fire for anyone of a certain age and persuasion.

Join us next time for the entry you've all been waiting for: the one with the name of the blog strand in!  Plus we'll be checking in with Mark E. Smith, Carter USM and Saint Etienne.  You can't miss that one, surely?

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