The Desperate Bicycles – Blasting Radio

desperatebicyclesfront

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. 

The Smiths – William, It Was Really Nothing

TheSmiths

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.

If anything, the last piece on Electrafixion reminded me that I haven’t written anything about one of my favorite bands, The Smiths. I can easily trace the progression, looking back on when I was a 15-year-old wannabe hipster – John Lennon & The Beatles, The Cure, Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, and finally…The Smiths. The Smiths seemed to be an entire universe, a demographic of people. If someone knew The Smiths, you could be sure they were cool (indie hipster elitist alert!). The lyrics of Morrissey seemed to reach out to disaffected youth, the outsiders, the bookworms, the sensitive souls.  The music composed primarily by Johnny Marr was insanely memorable – a nice bonus. For me, it was a Godsend. I have fond memories of singing along to The Smiths at the top of my lungs. Some of those memories are from 20 years ago, some are from last week. How do I choose which song or album to feature, since I love everything? “William, It Was Really Nothing” was released as a non-album single in 1984. The lyrics may or may not be about Morrissey’s brief friendship with Billy MacKenzie, singer for the Associates (another band I adore). A jangly, catchy number, it features classic lyrics that you can sing along with after hearing the song just once. In other words, this is a quintessential song by The Smiths. The track hit #17 in the UK and was later re-released with different artwork as a single in 1988. The 12” record version of the 1988 release was etched with the statements “ROMANTIC AND SQUARE, ARE HIP AND AWARE” and “THE IMPOTENCE OF ERNEST”. The Peel Session version of this track was not included on the laughably titled The Smiths Complete box set, but you can find that on the 1987 single of “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me”. That one boasts a slightly fuller sound, and is a nice contrast to the original cut (I prefer the original). At any rate, these songs will apparently be packaged and repackaged endlessly – it doesn’t change the thrill of hearing Morrissey sing “Oh, the rain falls hard in a humdrum town / this town has dragged you down / And everybody’s got to live their life / and God knows I’ve got to live mine”