So, this is the blogosphere. Is that what those “in the know” are calling it, or do I have my geek terminology wrong? That’s entirely possible since I’ve never even visited a blog site in my life.
You read that right. Not once have I taken the time to read a blog, not even music ones. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m still a paper-and-ink man. I like to sit down with my paper in an easy chair and a cup of coffee. But I do recognize that the world is changing and I need to get with the times, so here goes nothing.
This is my blog for Goldmine. Welcome to it. I hope you’ll visit again. Basically, it’ll be a stream-of-conscious rant about the current state of pop music, with my thoughts on certain news items that come to our attention, some off-the-cuff reviews of records I like or have an irrational hatred of, and a few random suppressed memories that, thanks to years of therapy, will come flooding out in the coming weeks. Most of all, I hope the blog will make you smile on occasion, but even more than that, I hope it gets you to go out and discover music outside of what’s playing in your i-Pod. It’s a great big world out there, people, so get out there and explore.
I have a wide range of musical tastes. Breaking it down genre-wise, I’m into everything from ’60s British Invasion stuff to late-’70s punk to Motown to the shoegazer uprising of the ’80s to the indie-rock of today. So, I’m going to cover the gamut.
By the way, if you’re wondering, the title to my blog refers to a line in the Iggy Pop and The Stooges’ song “Search And Destroy.” Hopefully, you all liked the cover story we did on Mr. Pop, who is one of the coolest people on the planet.
Anyway, let’s get to it:
Channeling a power station’s worth of energy into brilliant three-minute pop songs, late-’70s punks the Buzzcocks turned out punchy, melodic singles like Ford produces cars. Unforgettable songs like “Orgasm Addict” and “What Do I Get?” made them a pillar of the punk revolution.
Howard Devoto was one of the Manchester, England band’s original architects, but he only stuck around long enough to help make the Spiral Scratch EP. In 1977, he left the Buzzcocks to form Magazine, a band that took punk to places nobody thought it’d ever go.
And now, the band’s four studio albums will be reissued on April 24. At a time when innovation and musical exploration was spit upon by the punk mob, Magazine wiped off the gobs and set about creating wiry, funk-infused post-punk that made the “blinders-on,” conformity of punk of the time seem impotent and uninspired. That Magazine is barely remembered today is a crime.
But EMI is doing its part to rectify the situation, re-releasing Real Life, Secondhand Daylight, The Correct Use Of Soap and Magic, Murder and the Weather in digitally remastered glory, with a plethora of bonus tracks, including B-sides and other ephemera.
They arrived at Goldmine headquarters on Friday and I’ve been listening to them almost non-stop since then. 1981’s Magic, Murder and the Weather was the band’s swan song, and also it’s most enigmatic and cinematic effort. But overall, sonically it’s a dark, swirling journey that’s perhaps the most satisfying listen of the four, employing thin, slightly dissonant guitars, jazzy piano, synth and organ parts, and smooth rhythms to great effect on tracks like “Come Alive” and “Vigilance.”
Real Life, though, is where it all began for Magazine, and it showed the band was not to be trifled with. Released in 1978, it put clean guitars front and center on the stylish, super-charged “Motorcade,” with its trebly bass lines and sudden tempo shifts, and the whip-smart single “Shot By Both Sides,” one of the best songs punk ever produced — the edgier, original single version included here is even better. The taut, cutting guitars, firecracker drums and snotty vocals and clear hooks make it a brilliant musical chase sequence, and the spotless production couldn’t be more perfect. I take it back. Real Life is Magazine at its best, a theatrical, dynamic work that should be required listening in schools.
Which isn’t to say that Secondhand Daylight
and The Correct Use Of Soap
aren’t worth the price of admission. In fact, many consider The Correct Use Of Soap
to be Magazine’s finest hour, an album where Magazine discovered its inner Sly And The Family Stone, with its deadpan, cold-as-ice cover of “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin),” and transitioned away from easily accessible constructs to encompass a wide range of genres and disparate influences. There will be more on the Magazine reissues in a future issue of Goldmine
, so stay tuned. Just my two cents worth, but this is the reissue series of the year.