Gravity – Fred Frith (1980)

Gravity is a 1980 solo album by English guitarist, composer and improviser Fred Frith from Henry Cow and Art Bears. It was Frith’s second solo album and his first since the demise of Henry Cow in 1978. It was originally released in the United States on LP record on The Residents‘s Ralph record label and was the first of three solo albums Frith made for the label. Gravity was recorded in Sweden, the United States and Switzerland and featured Frith with Swedish Rock in Opposition group Samla Mammas Manna on one side of the LP, and Frith with United States progressive rock group The Muffins on the other side. Additional musicians included Marc Hollander from Aksak Maboul and Chris Cutler from Henry Cow. Gravity has been described as an avant-garde ‘dance’ record that draws on rhythm and dance from folk music across the world. AllMusic called it one of the most important experimental guitar titles from Fred Frith. …”
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Gravity [Full Album] 1:09:37


Sex Pistols – God Save the Queen (1977)

“‘God Save the Queen’ is a song by the British punk rock band the Sex Pistols. It was released as the band’s second single and was later included on their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. The song was released during Queen Elizabeth II‘s Silver Jubilee in 1977. The record’s lyrics, as well as the cover, were controversial at the time, and both the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Authority refused to play the song. The original title for the song was ‘No Future’, with the lyrics themselves being a general expression of the band’s view of the Monarchy or any individual or establishment commanding general obligation. … The single was released on 27 May 1977, and was regarded by many of the general public as an assault on Queen Elizabeth II and the monarchy. The title is taken directly from “God Save the Queen‘, the national anthem of the United Kingdom. At the time it was highly controversial, firstly for its equation of the Queen with a ‘fascist regime’, and secondly for the lyric ‘there is no future in England’s dreaming’. … Johnny Rotten has explained the lyrics as follows: ‘You don’t write ‘God Save The Queen’ because you hate the English race. You write a song like that because you love them, and you’re fed up with them being mistreated.’ He intended to evoke sympathy for the English working class, and a general resentment towards the monarchy. …”
Telegraph: God Save the Queen at 40: how the Sex Pistols made the most controversial song in history (Video)
The song that had one British politician wishing for the Sex Pistols’ ‘sudden death’
YouTube: God Save The Queen (Live), God Save The Queen – 1/14/1978 – Winterland, God Save The Queen

Return of the Giant Slits – The Slits (1981)

Return of the Giant Slits is a slippery, glorious mess that will infuriate anyone expecting the Slits to revisit their debut. The nervous energy that powered Cut is seemingly replaced with a relaxed smoked-out vibe that belies the group putting their Jamaican influences– as well as their interest in other world musics– front and center. At times, this might make the record sound like aimless noodling, the band just biding time on the label’s dime while someone behind the mixing board packs a new bowl. However, while this tact has little in common with the pogo grind essayed by their more traditional punk rock contemporaries, they’re right in line with the off-the-wall antics of their more open-minded countrymen, like This Heat and especially the Pop Group. For Return, it’s not a case of less energy, but repurposed energy. The inclusion of Pop Group drummer Bruce Smith in the group has a lot to do with the album’s success. He provides a deceptively primal backbeat that meshes perfectly with the odd angles the group explores. On ‘Earthbeat, he pounds out a simple tribal beat, a fine backdrop for the song’s two-note bass motif and Ari’s environmentally-conscious warbling. …”
W – Return of the Giant Slits
Genius (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Earthbeat (Official Video)
YouTube: Return of the Giant Slits 16 videos

The Nuclear Observatory of Mr Nanof – Piero Milesi (1986)

“Piero Milesi is an Italian composer who approached minimalism from a unique angle on Modi (Cherry Red, 1982 – Cuneiform, 1984). The six movements of Modi No 1 (1980) is heavily influenced by Steve Reich and achieves the same kind of emphatic transcendence of Michael Nyman‘s scores. The three movements of Modi No 2 f (1980)or chamber ensemble and soprano represent a substantial innovation of Steve Reich‘s method. The melody (that has Japanese overtones) is much more relevant, and the fluctuations in the percussive pattern are more elegant and complex. The oscillation reaches a point in which the instruments follow two asynchronous waves of pulses, with the voice floating across both. The piece changes dramatically in the third movement, with the pulse becoming much stronger and the fluctuations becoming much wilder. Most of his work was for the cinema and the theater, as documented by the soundtracks collected on The Nuclear Observatory of Mr Nanof (Cuneiform, 1986). The 13-minute Mr Nanof’s Tango is actually a flute-driven elegy caressed by sympathetic strings and lulled by minimalist repetitive patterns in the strings and keyboards. Excerpts from the one-hour piece The Kings of the Night include The Procession, which creates suspense by releasing a flock of drones, and Three Figurations, a sort of frantic gamelan that generates a sort of tidal wave of sound amid symphonic staccatos. One of the most intriguing selections, The Presence Of The City, is actually a piece (mostly rollicking piano figures) that evokes a lifeless soundscape, possibly a nocturnal one. …”
W – Piero_Milesi
Cuneiform Records (Audio)
amazon, iTunes

The B-52’s – Rock Lobster / 52 Girls (1978)

“They say that if you give a monkey infinite time with a typewriter, eventually it would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. The same could never happen with ‘Rock Lobster.’ The confluence of influences is too unique to ever occur again in nature. Who would think to blend a Carrollian poem about crustaceans with atonal caterwauling, piercing Farfisa organ stabs, vintage Jersey Shore suntan lotion slogans, and a seriously raunchy riff played on a four-stringed guitar? Such a singular pop concoction could have only emerged out of the beehived heads of the B-52s. First released in April 1978, the song heralded the group’s arrival on the national scene, taking over radios like an alternate universe Beach Blanket Bingo theme tune beamed to Earth from the Planet Kitsch. It also established the Georgia quintet’s reputation as a beloved groovy-a-go-go party band without parallel, kicking off a stream of hits, albums and concerts that continues to this day. …”
People (Video)
W – “Rock Lobster”
Genius (Audio)
YouTube: Rock Lobster (Live), Rock Lobster / 52 Girls – 1978

Wild Things – The Creatures EP (1981)

Wild Things is the first release by British duo the Creatures (singer Siouxsie Sioux and drummer Budgie). It was issued on 25 September 1981 by Polydor Records as two 7″ single records in a ‘double-album’ style card cover, and is usually referred to as an EP. It peaked in the UK Singles Chart at No. 24, and the pair performed “Mad Eyed Screamer” on Top of the Pops. … The initial idea for Wild Things, and the Creatures, came about during the recording sessions for the Siouxsie and the Banshees album Juju. While bassist Steven Severin and guitarist John McGeoch took a break, Siouxsie and drummer Budgie created the song ‘But Not Them.’ Deciding that it was complete as a drum-and-voice piece, they left it alone, and quickly recorded four more minimal tracks to accompany it. The result was the Wild Things EP (so named by Severin, who upon hearing it, said it sounded like something the creatures in the book Where the Wild Things Are would have danced to on their island). The only cover version on the EP was the Troggs‘ ‘Wild Thing‘; Siouxsie added extra angry lyrics to the original ‘Wild thing, I think I hate you/but I wanna know for sure/so come on, hit me hard/I hate you’. ‘So Unreal’ drew inspiration from the novel The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin, and ‘Mad Eyed Screamer’ from local characters met in Hyde Park, London. The duo incorporated the songs ‘But Not Them’, ‘So Unreal’ and ‘Thumb’ into Banshees concerts for many years afterwards. The erotic sleeve art featuring Siouxsie and Budgie half-naked under a shower was inspired by the pictures of Man Ray; the artwork caused some controversy. Another shoot, inspired by the John Millais painting Ophelia, featured the singer naked under many flowers and shallow water. …”
Genius (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Mad Eyed Screamer, So Unreal, Wild Things, But Not Them, Thumb

Ace of Hearts Records

Ace of Hearts Records is a Boston-based independent label founded in 1978 by Rick Harte, who also produced all its releases. It recorded and released Boston area post-punk and garage rock bands in the early 1980s, including Mission of Burma, Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, Roger Miller, Neats, Lyres, The Real Kids, John Felice, Nervous Eaters, Del Fuegos, The Neighborhoods, Martin Paul, Wild Stares, Infliktors, Classic Ruins, Crab Daddy, Chaotic Past, Tomato Monkey, and Heat from a DeadStar. Rick Harte started Ace of Hearts Records in 1978. Harte’s specialty was well-produced, tightly played recordings, with great stereo separation and a walloping bottom end; Harte’s covers, printed on expensive heavy stock, were strikingly attractive – everything was done with meticulous care. … Harte recorded late at night, when studio rates went down, until daylight. His method was painstaking, layering electric guitars, acoustic guitars, and feedback. …”
Ace of Hearts Records

Steve Reich – Octet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase (1980)

“Have you ever repeated a word over and over again until it loses meaning? Cognitive science calls this ‘semantic satiation.’ Now imagine that someone could do the same thing for instruments and you’ll have a clear idea of the power of a Steve Reich composition. In this selection of three longer examples, we get exactly that: an unraveling of music’s genetic code, transformed from within. It is for this more than any other reason that I’ve always been wary to use the word “minimal” in reference to Reich’s music, which is endlessly complex and never fails to engender new discoveries with every listen. The instruments in Music For A Large Ensemble fit perfectly in a vast sequence of aural DNA, as logical as it is mystifying. Every voice is given ample breathing room in a piece that, while densely layered, is as airy and ordered as a puff of windblown dandelion. Strings waver with the unrelenting heat of a desert sun, horns ebb and flow in a brassy wash of equilibrium, and a vibraphone rings out like magic over all. Although the music moves mechanically, its feel is decidedly organic. This earthiness is maintained in the Violin Phase, which consists of a repeated motif that, as with all of Reich’s “phase” pieces, is knocked just slightly out of alignment by the doubling voice, like two turn signals rhythmically staggering and realigning. This is the most localized of Reich’s phases, clearly rooted as it is in the bluegrass fiddling tradition. The violin grinds like dirt or sand, small particles swirling and separating yet holding fast to some invisible predictability. After two such strikingly different pieces, the Octet somehow comes across as the most intimate. The inclusion of wind instruments, and in particular the clarinet and flute, adds a crystalline contrast in texture and melodic shifts, bringing us to a glorious and sudden silence. …”
ECM Reviews
W – Octet/Music for a Large Ensemble/Violin Phase
Discogs (Video)
YouTube: Octet / Music for a Large Ensemble / Violin Phase 3 videos

Burning Spear – Jah no Dead (1980)

Winston Rodney OD (born 1 March 1945), better known by the stage name Burning Spear, is a Jamaican roots reggae vocalist and musician. Burning Spear is a Rastafarian and one of the most influential and long-standing roots artists to emerge from the 1970s. Winston Rodney was born in Saint Ann’s Bay, Saint Ann, Jamaica. As a young man he listened to the R&B, soul and jazz music transmitted by the US radio stations whose broadcasts reached Jamaica. Curtis Mayfield is cited by Rodney as a major US musical influence along with James Brown. Rodney was deeply influenced as a young man by the views of the political activist Marcus Garvey, especially with regard to the exploration of the themes of Pan-Africanism and self-determination. In 1969, Bob Marley, who was also from Saint Ann, advised Rodney to approach Coxsone Dodd‘s Studio One label after Rodney sought his advice during a casual conversation. Burning Spear was originally Rodney’s group, named after a military award given by Jomo Kenyatta, the first President of an independent Kenya, and included bass singer Rupert Willington. The duo auditioned for Dodd in 1969 which led to the release of their debut single ‘Door Peep’ (the session also included Cedric Brooks on saxophone). They were then joined by tenor Delroy Hinds. … His profile was raised further by an appearance in the film Rockers, performing ‘Jah no Dead’. …”
YouTube: Jah No Dead (12″, BS 001), Jah No Dead (Live)

In The City – The Jam (1977)

“… In The City was The Jam’s debut album, and as such it was the rawest, most punk album of their catalogue. Frontman Paul Weller would turn 19 only five days after the release of In The City, so ‘Art School’ kicks off the album with a celebration of the freedom of going off to college, particularly a very permissive art school. ‘Slow Down’ was a cover of an old blues song by early rock and roll artist named Larry Williams that ha7d been covered by many other artists, most notably the Beatles. Not too many punk groups dabble in the blues, but The Jam make a great cover out of it. Before they had even been signed, ‘Slow Down’ had been a common song of their early live sets. Of course, the album’s other cover stands as one of the greatest punk rock covers of all time. I’m talking, of course, about their cover of the ‘Batman Theme.’ Okay, I’m kidding a little bit, but I do love their cover of it where they give it a blisteringly fast drumbeat and a classic mod bassline. It was another obvious song for them to cover as it had already been covered by the Who and the Kinks. The album’s title track, ‘In the City,’ became their first single, although it was an unsuccessful one at the time. The song actually steals its title from an obscure Who B-side of the same name. It’s a sort of celebration of youth culture, but it’s also got a very political section about police brutality that almost seems out of place, in which Weller sings: ‘In the city, there’s a thousand men in uniform/And I hear they now have the right to kill a man.’ While it sounds reminiscent of modern day America, I would like to remind you that only 10% of police officers in the UK carry guns, meaning that if a cop wants to kill you, he has to really want it.  …”
Punk News
May 20: The Jam released their debut album In The City in 1977 (Video/Audio)
W – In The City
Genius (Audio)
Discogs (Video)
vimeo: In The City (HD) TOTP