Post-Punk Comix

The pop charts in the post-punk era was not only a golden age for the 45 but also for record company marketing gimmicks. Singles came in coloured vinyl, picture discs, wrapped in newspapers, with double grooves, and multiple sleeves and stamps.

They didn’t always work though, even for established bands like The Skids. In 1980 their third album The Absolute Game made the Top Ten of the album charts but all the singles from it tanked despite being given a gimmicky promo push by Virgin Records. The first single “Circus Games” was wrapped in a poster of the band but only got to #32, while “A Woman In Winter” which stalled 10 places lower came with an 11-page comic called Pirate Gold which starred the band in a ripping yarn about lost treasure.

It’s not exactly Stan Lee and Jack Kirby but still a clever idea and a sign of just how creatively healthy and competitive the pop scene was at the time. Those were the days when a noisy post-punk band like The Skids could appear on the cover of Smash Hits and I guess the comics and glossy posters were an attempt to sell the band to that crowd instead serious young men in overcoats.

It’s not as if these were bad records either, “Circus Games” was stonkingly catchy and “A Woman In Winter” was glorious, uplifting stuff with guitar work by Stuart Adamson that sounds like a rehearsal for Big Country. Should have been an Xmas hit. I bought it with the comic but would still have done if it came in a gravy-stained brown paper bag. Maybe Virgin should have asked Richard Jobson to make his lyrics more coherent instead.

Download: A Woman In Winter – The Skids (mp3)

Tees Up

As summer is over I wasn’t going to put up any new t-shirt designs until next year, but I’ve sold a few in the past month so I guess it must still be warm somewhere. As usual this is only $14 for a limited time so get it now. Early Christmas presents maybe?

Download: Procession – New Order (mp3)

This was New Order’s second single but is less well known than it’s b-side “Everything’s Gone Green” probably because the latter points more toward the direction the band was to take. It’s a slight song but I always liked it, especially those lovely synth washes.

Lucky Dip

Download: Zerox – Adam & The Ants (mp3)

Some pre-warpaint and pop stardom Adam Ant for you. Their second single from 1979.

Image: Jackie by Andy Warhol (1965)

Lucky Dip

Download: Science Friction – XTC (mp3)

The first time I ever saw XTC they were performing this song (their debut single) on Magpie of all places. That show was always hipper than Blue Peter.

This one is for all those who have suffered during this past week of Gilbert O’Sullivan, Cilla Black, and Leo Sayer.

Daleks In Love

Dr. Who & The Daleks, the 1965 film with Peter Cushing as the Doctor, was on TV here the other week. It was the first time my kids had seen Daleks so I hyped up them up beforehand with tales of how much they scared me when I was young.

Now, my kids love Ray Harryhausen films so they’re not some jaded modern youths only impressed by state-of-the-art CGI, but sadly the Daleks didn’t frighten them in the slightest. Admittedly it isn’t a very good film, and it probably didn’t help that in it these supposedly terrifying machines were incapable of moving on a carpet. But still, at no point did either of the kids hide behind the couch which was very disappointing.

But the kid in me always gets a kick out of seeing the Daleks in widescreen colour instead of the grainy, black and white TV figures of my youth. The adult in me didn’t mind the lovely Jennie Linden either, that’s the young lady the Dalek is getting fresh with in the picture above. Careful where you’re pointing that plunger.

Download: Dalek I Love You (Destiny) – Dalek I (mp3)

Dalek I Love You was a post-punk synthpop group from Liverpool who weren’t all that successful and it’s members more famous for other bands they were in. Formed by Alan Gill and David Balfe who later joined The Teardrop Explodes (where Gill co-wrote “Reward”), the lineup at one point also included Andy McCluskey before he formed Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. This was a single from their 1980 album Compass Kumpas by which time they’d shortened their name to Dalek I. Didn’t make any difference to their record sales though.

B-Side Beauty

Here’s one last great flipside for the time being. This ethereal beauty was the b-side of “Mr. X”, the second single from Pauline Murray’s 1980 album with The Invisible Girls which you should all know by now I think is one of the all-time great post-punk records. God knows I’ve gone on about it enough times.

This was a non-album track not included in the first CD reissue of the album so I’ve had a few requests to post it again since I first did years ago. It’s now on the latest version along with a bag-load of other new extras so it’s not so rare anymore, but you can’t beat the crackle of the original vinyl.

Download: Two Shots – Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls (mp3)

B-Side Beauty

“The Staircase (Mystery)” was The Banshees’ 1979 follow-up to their classic debut single “Hong Kong Garden” and I’ve never thought it was anywhere near as good as that. I kept the single all these years because of the flipside though, Siouxsie showing her Glam love with a cover of the T.Rex track which is a lot of glitter-stomping fun.

This is another b-side that was unavailable anywhere for years until the 2004 release of the Downside Up collection of Banshees’ b-sides. That seems to be out of print now so this has gone back to being rare again.

Download: 20th Century Boy – Siouxsie & The Banshees (mp3)

B-Side Beauty

Had another stroll down 45 memory lane the other day and pulled this plum out of the singles box. You probably all know the a-side “Plain Sailing” from her 1982 student-bedsit classic album A Distant Shore, but it was the other side I loved more. “Goodbye Joe” is a cover of a Monochrome Set song and is a beautiful little gem of a track. Those were the days when you were more likely than not to find such hidden treasure on the other side of a single. We got our money’s worth back then.

I have posted this track before but I think it was long enough ago — eight years! — to warrant doing it again. Another reason is it’s only available on a rather expensive Cherry Red boxset which is a shame. Such beauty shouldn’t be so rare.

Download: Goodbye Joe – Tracey Thorn (mp3)

What’s it all about?

The sentimental musings of an ageing expat in words, music, and pictures. Mp3 files are up for a limited time so drink them while they're hot. Contact me: lee at londonlee dot com




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