The Desperate Bicycles – Blasting Radio

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

The years immediately after the 1st wave of punk resulted in some fantastically diverse musical genres. Post-punk and new wave were great, but I’ve always been enamoured with the DIY scene of the late 70’s (that’s Do-It-Yourself for those of you who are anti abbreviation). Bands took out the middlemen and recorded / released the records on their own. There was some overlap with punk (The Buzzcocks come to mind), but most of these bands had a ramshackle quality that conveyed its own unique charm. The Desperate Bicycles formed for the sole purpose of releasing a record (sample lyric: “It was easy, it was cheap, go and do it!”) and can best be described as the missing link between The Fall and Television Personalities. The band released material from 1977 to 1981, including their sole album, Remorse Code. Released in 1980, it displayed a fuller sound in comparison to the preceding singles from ’77 and ’78. Whereas the earlier material got by on sheer enthusiasm, the album sounded like it was performed by a band with musical chops. I love every single track this band has put out, but I have a special affinity for Blasting Radio, the closing track from Remorse Code. Opening with one of my favorite lines in music “I feel like one half of a sandwich”, it proceeds to find a home in the listener’s heart over it’s 4 1/2 minute run time. A melody anchored to the bouncy bass line, you can’t overlook the guitar minimalism or Danny Wigley’s slithering vocals. A perfect musical document from the late 70’s / early 80’s DIY scene. The band has steadfastly refused offers to reissue any of this material – fortunately their entire recorded output (minus a single recorded as The Evening Outs, after the Desperate Bicycles called it a day) is available for download here. I believe the band is ripe to be rediscovered by another generation (or two or three). Simply perfection. 

Bel Argosy – Let’s Hear It For Bel Argosy

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In my early years of driving, I’d roam the streets of suburban Philadelphia with my favorite cassette tapes blasting as loud as possible. I wasn’t a very good driver, but I felt like the King of the World (say it in Leo’s voice) when my music was playing. At some point I went slightly more HI-FI and began to play my CD’s (compact discs) through the cassette deck by way of a Sony Discman. It seemed that the golden age of cassettes had run its course. Or so I thought. Recently cassette tapes have begun to make a comeback, even scoring their equivalent of Record Store Day with Cassette Store Day. If you’ve ever made a girl (or boy) a mix tape, you know the feelings of nostalgia that a cassette tape can evoke. Bel Argosy hail from Brooklyn, NY and recently released their stunning debut EP on cassette tape (and as a free download).

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Television Personalities – Part Time Punks

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Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.

Any scene or movement naturally opens itself up to the mockery of outsiders. In the late 70’s Daniel Treacy & Edward Ball led a few acts that were associated with the punk scene, though the music was simultaneously more melodic AND shambolic. O-Level (Ed on vocals) made fun of fake punks by way of the song Pseudo Punk. Television Personalities (Dan on vocals) tackled the topic from a slightly different angle on their 2nd release of 1978, Part Time Punks. The music feels like it will all fall apart at any minute, sounding like teenagers practicing music at home (in fact, that is exactly what it was). It feels more in line with what was labeled “twee” or the C-86 scene of the mid 80’s and not punk. The chorus is a joyous sing-a-long “Here they come / la la la la la / the part-time punks”. The Clash and Swell Maps get a shout out (among others). This is probably the most famous song by the TVP’s and showcases a lighter side of the band before they explored a darker path (sans Ed Ball). This is a must have track for any fan of the late 70’s punk, DIY, and post-punk scenes. I love these lyrics:

They play their records very loud
And pogo in the bedroom
In front of the mirror
But only when their mums gone out
They pay 5 pence fares on the buses
And they never use toothpaste
But they got two fifty to go and see The Clash.
Tonight!

Here they come
la la la la la la
la la la la la la
The part time punks!