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Post-punk

Related: industrial music - new wave - post- - post disco - punk

Definition

Although punk continues to exist, the term "Post punk" is generally used to refer to the particularly fertile and creative time that followed the initial UK punk rock 'explosion', roughly spanning 1978-1982. If the first wave of punk bands such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, etc tore up the rule book, then the bands that followed were able to explore, experiment and innovate in the spaces they opened up. Typically more introverted and arty than classic punk rock or the more pop oriented New Wave music, post punk laid the groundwork for "alternative rock" by broadening the idea of what punk and underground music could do, incorporating a variety of older styles and inventing new one's. It found a firm place in the 80's college rock scene, and left behind several major sub genre (notably, goth rock). However, post punks biggest influence remains in the vast variety of sounds and styles it pioneered, many of which proved very influential in the later alternative rock scene.

Championed by late night BBC disc jockey John Peel and record label/shop Rough Trade (amongst others- including Postcard Records, Factory Records, Fast Product, Mute Records, etc, etc), 'post punk' could arguably be said to encompass groups and musicians as diverse as --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_punk

No Wave [...]

Stuck between Punk Rock noise and New Wave explorations, the No Wave scene was born in New York where it lived a short life in tight connection with downtown's avant-garde artistic crowd. Mostly an attitude towards music, it was characterized by the refusal of traditional Rock 'n' Roll format (chords, chorus...) and the incorporation of exterior influences such as Free Jazz (the Loft Scene), contemporary and black music (funk, disco).

Rough Trade Records

Founded by London record shop owner Geoff Travis in 1978 Rough Trade have a long reputation for finding important artists - having released records by, amongst others, Cabaret Voltaire, The Fall, Aztec Camera, Scritti Politti, The Go-Betweens, The Smiths, and James. There was a change of owernship in the mid-nineties, but now Travis has taken the label and its imprints back. --author unknown

Rough Trade was just one of the first-wave of post-punk indies, alongside Industrial, Small Wonder, Fast Product, New Hormones, Industrial, Cherry Red, and more. But it became the movement's unofficial leader, the universal enabler: encouraging other people to set up labels, advancing them money, even providing a base of operations. "I was really close to Rough Trade", says Daniel Miller, founder of Mute. "I didn't have an office, so they let me have the records delivered to their premises, do my mail-outs from there...." Even more vital was Rough Trade's efforts to build a independent distribution network in alliance with regional retail/label/distribution outfits like Probe, Revolver, and Red Rhino. Without effective distribution, the do-it-yourself ethos was just shouting into the void. Nationwide independent distribution held out the possibility of genuine communication: reaching a scattered audience of likeminds, recouping your costs, carrying on. --Simon Reynolds, http://members.aol.com/blissout/postpunk.htm

Jenna Alden on Post-Punk

Eighties nostalgia is all the rage, and we've heard plenty about it. Each week brings a new announcement of the most recent 80's relic to be reclaimed, from "Transformers" comic books to breakdancing. And the thing is, it's not just that that the icons of 80's culture are in abundant supply; it's also that the critique of retro culture itself has become inextricably linked to our generation's identity, or lack thereof. Cries of postmodern crisis, of a bankrupt pop culture, of an age of non-innovation have become all too familiar to those of us who maintain hope that maybe, just maybe, our generation could someday contribute something significant to the cultural landscape. With each report of nostalgic returns, it's hard not to fear that we're being locked further into our reputation as a generation of regurgitators. -- Jenna Alden, June 2002 [...]

Post-punk revival

With the growing interest in the consumption of post-punk records from the early 80s, there has emerged an eagerness among critics to cite the post-punk elements in the music of contemporary bands, as well. In New York in particular, the press makes innumerable references to The Rapture, the Liars, and Radio 4 as harbingers of the "post-punk revival." On the West Coast, there's Erase Errata, Numbers, the Quails, and the now-defunct Subtonix.
These bands incorporate the post-punk or no-wave aesthetics to the extent that they take more traditional rock music forms and twist them into something different; they may also acknowledge having drawn inspiration from bands like Gang of Four and Fire Engines. To describe Erase Errata or The Rapture by dropping a laundry-list of obscure post-punk greats, however, is shortsighted; and to focus on those qualities of their music that are reminiscent of the past as opposed to those which signal the expansion of musical horizons stands in direct contrast to what they aim to accomplish. The post-punk revival, if you want to call it that, is -at its best-not a rehashing of 80's musical idioms, but rather a return to the experimental mindset that gave birth to a realm of integrated genres in the first place. -- Jenna Alden, June 2002 [...]

Simon Reynolds on Post-Punk

By 1981, many of the post-punk dabblers in disco and funk had transformed themselves into the entryist, chart-oriented movement called New Pop movement. Bands like Scritti Politti, Heaven 17, the Associates, ABC, Culture Club, Human League, and so forth combined black American rhythms and production techniques (from Motown to Chic) with English art school cleverness (gender-bending and androgyny, deconstruction of glamor and romance from within, playful critiques/parodies of capitalism, etc). By 1983, though, the New Pop hegemony, having lost most of its edge and intellectual content, inspired another rock purist backlash that entailed a "whitening" of the sound and a return to the guitar. But this was not a response to the racial politics of the day, but more to the aspirational attitudes associated with the mulatto chart music of the day (Wham!, Duran Duran, etc). The rockist renegades returned to various privileged moments in rock's own history: rock at its whitest and least indebted to the blues (Velvet Underground, the Byrds); eccentrics like Captain Beefheart whose freak image and avant-garde fractures helped concealed his debts to rhythm and blues; and the post-punk groups who'd dabbled least in black music (The Fall, the Buzzcocks). Other sources like rockabilly and garage punk, became, thanks to the passage of time, reconceived as "white" origins rather than the products of transcultural mixing that they actually were. -- Simon Reynolds, 2001

Simon Reynolds on Post-Punk (2)

Perhaps this very earnestness is the reason that the post-punk era has suffered serious neglect from retro culture, which has pillaged damn-near everything else. But there are signs, finally, of a resurgence of interest: Chicks On Speed covering songs by The Normal, Malaria, and Delta 5; compilations of avant-funk such as 9 O'Clock Drop, In The Beginning There Was Rhythm, Disco Not Disco, and Anti-New York, as well as reissues of records by ESG, Cabaret Voltaire, This Heat, ,,, The Native Hipsters, and 23 Skidoo; the NYC post-punk documentary film Downtown 81; Messthetics, a series of bootleg CD compilations of long-lost UK D.I.Y singles; the emergence of post-punk influenced bands like Life Without Buildings, Lightning Bolt, Erase Errata, Playgroup; Joy Division and PiL echoes in Kid A.... Not forgetting the timely Rough Trade Shops--25 Years, a 4 CD celebration of the record store that spawned both the legendary label and the distribution network that was British independent music's spine for 15 years. Maybe now is the time to re-open the memory banks.... -- http://members.aol.com/blissout/postpunk.htm

The Slits

The Slits were a mostly all-women band. The punk rock trio was formed in 1977 by members of the bands The Flowers of Romance and The Castrators. The members were Ari Upp (Ariana Foster), with Viv Albertine and Tessa Pollit replacing founding members Palmolive (Paloma Romera) (who left to join The Raincoats), Kate Korus and Suzi Gutsy. They were also augmented by male drummer Budgie (aka Pete Clarke, formerly of The Spitfire Boys and later to join Siouxsie and the Banshees, and indeed marry Siouxsie herself). At their outset, the Slits played a brand of brash, fun, snotty, catchy punk rock. However, their originally extremely raw and raucous live sound, captured on a legendary Peel Session, was cleaned up and considerably polished by the time of their reggae influenced, dub heavy, Dennis Bovell produced 1979 debut album Cut (Island Records). As well as the exceptional music this album contained, it was also notable for its cover art, a photo depicting the band naked save for mud and loin-cloths.

Their sound and attitude became increasingly experimental and avant-garde during the early 1980's, when they formed an alliance with Bristol post punk mavericks The Pop Group, sharing a drummer (Bruce Smith) and releasing a joint single, "In The Beginning There was Rhythm/Where There's A Will" (Y Records). However, by the time of their second 'official' LP release Return Of The Giant Slits(a 'semi-official' bootleg of poorly recorded early material having been released in the interim by Rough Trade), many felt that their initial energy, exuberance and innovativeness had deserted them. Various Slits became involved with On-U dub-jamming project New Age Steppers along with free improvisers such as Steve Beresford and also a young Neneh Cherry. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Slits [Apr 2005]

CDs

  1. Nine O'Clock Drop - Andy Weatherall [Amazon US]
    1. Nice mover - gina x performance 2. Dominatrix sleeps tonite - dominatrix 3. Coup - 23 skidoo 4. My spine (is the bassline) - shriekback 5. Genius - quando quango 6. Water line - a certain ratio 7. Vegas el bandito - 23 skidoo 8. Black and white mix up - 400 blows 9. P2E remix - torch song 10. Warm leatherette - the normal 11. October (love song)'86 version - chris and cosey 12. Looks lie we're shy one horse - colourbox 13. Warrior charge - aswad

  2. In the Beginning there Was Rhythm - Soul Jazz records[1CD, Amazon US]
    TRACKLISTING:
    1. Shack up - Certain Ratio 2. Coup - 23 Skidoo 3. To Hell with poverty - Gang Of Four 4. Being boiled - Human League 5. She is beyond good and evil - Pop Group 6. In the beginning there was rhythm - Slits 7. 20 jazz funk greats - Throbbing Gristle 8. Knife slits water - Certain Ratio 9. 24 track loop - This Heat 10. Sluggin' for Jesus - Cabaret Voltaire 11. Vegas el bandito - 23 Skidoo

  3. Liquid Liquid - Liquid Liquid [Amazon US]
    Most of the groundbreaking no-wave funk released in the early 1980s on the 99 label is in limbo, but Grand Royal has seen fit to reissue three Liquid Liquid EPs plus live tracks. Who were Liquid Liquid? A bunch of white art-school types, whose "Cavern" formed the basis for "White Lines"--the following lawsuit sank both 99 and Sugarhill Records. This EP is as much Steve Reich as James Brown as Fela Kuti and sums ups most of New York City's musical obsessions of the period. Minimalist bass, trance-like vibes and occasional melodica and you're left wondering why anyone would choose to listen to acid-jazz, when we have godhead such as this. --D. Strauss

  4. ESG - A South Bronx Story [Amazon US]
    The four Scroggins sisters (Renee, Deborah, Valerie, and Marie) and neighbor Tito Libran burst on to the music scene from left field in 1981 with the remarkable success of "UFO" and "Moody" off their debut 12-inch record. Thanks to the ascendance of hip-hop, the South Bronx was very much on the musical map at the time. But ESG's minimalist funk, which featured live instruments, was closer in spirit to what was coming out of the U.K. at the time--PiL, Gang of Four, and the Factory label (which released ESG's first three songs). Their approach also had kinship to New York bands Konk, Bush Tetras, and Liquid Liquid (the latter two would become their label-mates on the semi-legendary 99 Records). "Moody" entered permanent rotation at New York dance clubs such as the Paradise Garage, while "UFO" became a hip-hop building block, used as sample material for at least a dozen other records (and still counting). The appeal of the tracks lay in the taut interaction between Deborah and Valerie's bass and drums, abetted by Marie and Tito's congas as well as Renee's sparse but precise guitar and unadorned vocal style. The stripped-down nature of the sound lent itself to hip-hop producers' layering on top of it and has helped the music successfully weather the intervening decades--there's none of that "What were they thinking with that synthesizer sound?" problem that afflicts some early '80s music. The CD includes much of their 99 Records output and tracks from their self-titled 1991 release on the Pow Wow label. The 99 Records label itself went down in legal flames, and that Renee Scroggins' apparently owns the rights to the music is noteworthy in itself. But the historical significance and sheer listenability of the music make this a most welcome reissue. --Bob Bannister

  5. Disco not Disco[Amazon US]
    1. Walking On Thin Ice - Yoko Ono 2. Cavern - Liquid Liquid 3. Tell You Today - Loose Joints 4. Spatisticus Autisticus - Ian Dury 5. Over And Over - Material 6. Wheel Me Out - Was (Not Was) 7. Kiss Me Again - Dinosaur 8. I Walk - Don Cherry 9. Voices Inside My Head - Common Sense 10. School Bell/Tree House - Indian Ocean 11. Macho City - Steve Miller Band
    Three great Arthur Russell tracks, 'Tell You Today' and 'School Bell/Tree House', 'Kiss Me Again'. Ian Dury is a Sly & Robbie production.

  6. Disco Not Disco 2 - [1CD, Amazon US]
    TRACKLISTING: 1. Bostich - Yello 2. Let's Go Swimming - Russell, Arthur 3. Timewarp - Grant, Eddy 4. Spectacle (Sean P edit) - Can 5. White Horse - Laidback 6. Problems d'Amour - Alexander Robotnik 7. Radio clash - Clash (2) 8. Ciguri - Material 9. Sting - Waits, Barry 10. Listen to the Rhythm Band - MD 20 20 11. Get down - Case, Connie & King Sporty 12. Fourteen days - Lex (2)

    Conventional wisdom equates late-'70s/early-'80s disco with velvet ropes and coked-up supermodels, but Joey Negro and Sean P.'s ongoing Disco Not Disco series makes a convincing case for the N.Y.C. discotheque as a place where bold genre-blurring experimentation thrived under the guise of recreation. Where Disco Not Disco 1 spotlighted avant-funk bands, part deux works like an electroclash crash course, with a collection of tracks that suggest Kraftwerk was a more important influence on East Village culture than the Velvet Underground or Ramones. Several nations come together under one groove here: the Clash and Can get cross-wired with Yello's classic "Bostich" and Material's "Rapper's Delight" redux "Ciguri," and if much of DND2 sounds dated... well, isn't that why you're listening in the first place? -- Gern Blandsten

  7. Rough Trade Shops - Post Punk Vol.1 (2003) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    Disc: 1 1. I Found That Essence Rare - Gang Of Four 2. Georges Five - Les Georges Leningrad 3. We Are All Prostitutes - The Pop Group 4. Die Matrosen - Liliput 5. Out Of The Races And Onto The Tracks - The Rapture 6. Mind Your Own Business - Delta 5 7. Shoplifting - The Slits 8. Delayed Reaction - The Rogers Sisters 9. Sunny Day - Pigbag 10. You're No Good - ESG 11. Another Song - Swell Maps 12. You - The Au Pairs 13. Fade Away - New Age Steppers 14. Careering - Public Image Ltd 15. You And You - DNA 16. The Leanover - Life Without Buildings 17. For My Country - UK Decay 18. Skank Bloc Bologna - Scritti Politt 19. Sex Machine - The Flying Lizards 20. Disco Pope - The Prats 21. Groupmegroup - Liquid, Liquid 22. Ex Lion Tamer - Wire Disc: 2 1. Too Many Creeps - Bush Tetras 2. Robot - The Futureheads 3. Contort Yourself (Original Version) - James White And The Blacks 4. Asbestos Lead Asbestos - World Domination Enterprises 5. The Fish Needs A Bike - Blurt 6. Debbie Harry - Family Fodder 7. Like You - Gramme 8. Definitive Gaze - Magazine 9. Lola - The Raincoats 10. Sink - bIG flame 11. Last Words - 23 Skidoo 12. Yes I Do - Chicks On Speed 13. Tongue Tied - Erase Errata 14. I Bloodbrother Be (4,000 Love Letter) - Shockheaded Peters 15. Industrial Estate - The Fall 16. Searching For Mr Right - Young Marble Giants 17. Deaf - Crispy Ambulance 18. This Is Pop? - XTC 19. White Mice - Mo-Dettes 20. Bop Bop - Fats Comet And The Big Sound 21. Aerosol Burns - Essential Logic 22. Stretch (Disco Mix/Rap) - Maximum Joy

  8. Anti Ny (2004) - Various Artists [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
    1. Launderette - Goldman, Vivien 2. If I gave you a party - Sexual Harassment 3. Drum mode - Gray 4. Love attack - Konk 5. Girl's imagination - Del & Byzanteens 6. NCR - Ike Yard 7. Exterior Street - Death Comet Crew & Rammellzee 8. Drum mode (Paul Mogg version) - Gray 9. Launderette (Munk version) - Goldman, Vivien 10. If I gave you a party (Syrup version) - Sexual Harassment 11. Exterior Street (Protein version) - Death Comet Crew & Rammellzee 12. NCR (Funkstorung version) - Ike Yard

    A definitive compilation of NY post-punk centred round the infamous Mudd Club, incorporating the dance ethic of disco and reggae, the newly-emerging voice of hiphop, and the experimentalism of rudimentary synths: the first real melting pot world music. The seven original tracks from 1978-82 sound like they could easily have been made yesterday, and the five remixes don't mess around too much with the originals. Can't recommend this too highly if you love raw, vital dance music. grantc via amazon.com

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