Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Real Life...Now & Show # 333

In 1976, Howard Devoto who was then a member of the Manchester band Buzzcocks, stepped away from the band and the Punk scene that was to follow in 1977 after the release of the Spiral Scratch EP and just twelve live shows. Later on in 1977, he re-emerged with a new band Magazine. The band would be careful to not fall into the entrapments of what other Punk bands were doing at the time, Howard wanted to do something different citing David Bowie's Low and Iggy Pop's The Idiot as the bands musical background references. With a line up in tact featuring John McGeoch (guitar/saxophone), Barry Adamson (bass), Bob Dickinson (keyboards), Martin Jackson (drums) and Howard Devoto on vocals the band recorded their first single, “Shot By Both Sides”/”My Mind Ain’t So Open”. The song has its origins in Devoto's Punk/Buzzcocks past, it was an old riff that Pete Shelley gave Devoto (the very same riff would resurface in the Buzzcocks song "Lipstick") the result was a powerful song that would eventually be defined as Post-Punk. The song while it contained the energy and urgency of Punk, also featured seemingly experimental/darker elements. Lyrically, the song stemmed from a political argument between Devoto and a friend in which she said "You'll end up shot by both sides". This song was also a step in a new intellectual based direction in which Devoto wanted to incorporate into the bands lyrics. This style can be heard in its infant stage on Buzzcocks Spiral Scratch EP. Following the release of this single, which reached # 41 on the UK singles charts and the recording of one more single "Touch and Go/"Goldfinger", Magazine signed to Virgin Records. They then began work on their full length debut as the "Touch and Go" single hit the shelves.

Prior to the recording of the bands "Shot By Both Sides" single, keyboardist Bob Dickinson left the group, to be replaced by Dave Formula who would be added just before the recording of the bands first full length album, which would appear in June of 1978. The album which would be titled Real Life was recorded by John Leckie and would be recorded partly in Abbey Road Studios. In the 41 minutes and 24 seconds that are contained on this album, there are nine songs. Within these nine songs, there are complex often experimental musical elements and intellectual thought provoking lyrics that define the album and make a strong statement. There are outsider oriented lyrics and words that drift in amongst the textual and swirling keyboard sounds of Real Life. Some of the interesting tracks on the album include “Definitive Gaze” which lyrically draws on sci-fi filmic elements and starts the album with its hypnotising basslines and encircling keyboards, “My Tulpa” which touches on spirituality, “Shot By Both Sides” a re-recording of the song fleshed out more, it is less bass and thrashy than the original single version.

Also included on the album are the songs “The Light Pours Out Of Me”, a song which identifies with a sense of detachment and can be seen as anthemic and defining as “Shot By Both Sides”. The song “Motorcade” is almost six minutes and is a haunting pieces that picks up and slows down throughout, while lyrically it has been said to have been influenced by an article written about a South American dictator. “The Great Beautician In The Sky” is an almost demented Circus sounding song which heightens the element of outcast-based lyrics evident on this album, while “Parade” ends the album. This track is slower paced and sounds directly influenced by the songs featured on David Bowie’s Low album, and is an ill-sounding track that has lyrics such as “Sometimes I forget, we’re supposed to be in love, sometimes I forget my position”, which can be seen as relating to Devoto’s experience with his Punk beginnings and a sombre way to end out the album, drenched with synthesizers, piano, and keyboards. Real Life is at times a complex album that addresses music intellectually and captures the essence and urgent nature of Punk, while drawing on other influences without wavering. It is unpredictable with a dynamicism that would redefine Howard Devoto musically, artistically and it stands as unique now as when it was originally released in 1978.

The musicians in the band should be taken note of as well, besides Devoto, guitarist John McGeoch who Howard Devoto met prior to Magazines formation, would go on to play with numerous Post-Punk oriented groups such as Visage, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Public Image Limited. He has often been called "The New Wave Jimmy Page". Bassist Barry Adamson has been involved with bands such as The Birthday Party, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Visage, Pan Sonic and Depeche Mode. In addition to releasing several solo albums/recordings, Adamson also has been involved in a great deal so soundtrack work on films such as David Lynch's Lost Highway, Natural Born Killers, and The Beach. Martin Jackson would later join The Chameleons and Swing Out Sister.

The Play List:

1. Queens of the Stone Age - Turning of the Screw
2. Black Sabbath - Evil Woman (BBC Session 1970)
3. Pavement - Sunset
4. The Reducers - Things Go Wrong
5. The Rowdies - Negative Malfunction
6. Notekillers - Eyelash
7. The Cheap Speakers - Alibi
8. The Psychic Alliance - Tri-Scare-A-Tops
9. The Poly Shores - Llama
10. The Unsettlers - Cincinnati Shakedown
11. New Country Rehab - Log Train
12. Olenka & The Autumn Lovers - Odessa
13. The Kinks - Holiday
14. The Deadlies - Save the Waves
15. The Surfdusters - The Reef
16. The Cramps - I'm Cramped
17. Link Wray - Scatter
18. Big Star - She's A Mover (Alternate Version)
19. Talking Heads - 1.2.3 Redlight (Live San Francisco 1977)
20. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - I Stand Accused
21. Orange Juice - Lovesick
22. Magazine - The Great Beautician In The Sky
23. Magazine - Parade

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 4th. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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