Pop Group

These abrasive, militant British punks rage against racism, oppression, hunger and anything else that’s a world problem; as usual, there’s no solution, only anger. The seminal Bristol band synthesizes Beefheartian structures and tribal dance beats to create a didactic soundtrack that barely lets you breathe. Their two primary albums are alternately brilliant and intolerable, with…

James Blood Ulmer

Although most of his early stints were with jazz organists like Hank Marr, Larry Young and Big John Patton, guitarist James Blood Ulmer is inextricably linked with pioneering saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Ostensibly the first electric guitarist to apply Coleman’s harmolodics theory to his own music, Ulmer’s debut finds him heavily indebted to the saxophonist. Tales…

Liquid Liquid

Along with labelmates ESG, Liquid Liquid exemplified the minimalist funk movement that swept New York’s music underground in 1981. The band’s impressive five-song debut (one side recorded live) fuses metalphones with congas, marimba and other percussive gadgetry to create hypnotic urban-tribal funk. Except for the vocals, that goal is realized. Successive Reflexes also works, although…

Fire Engines

Fire Engines were the most manic of the new Scottish pop crop that surfaced around 1979: primal rock’n’roll drawing more on raw passion (via guitar din and repetitive noise) than melody or captivating structures. The quartet offered no traditional hooks, just six-string fire and aggressively unpleasant vocals. The group’s two enigmatic albums have a lot…

Raincoats

Somehow, the Raincoats’ old records have gotten better since they were made. After Kurt Cobain repeatedly cited the neglected English post-punk band as an inspiration (and other bands, from Sonic Youth to the Voodoo Queens, chimed in), his band’s record label reissued the London quartet’s three studio albums with nice liner notes. The vinyl-only Fairytales…

Mekons

Punk’s reigning contrarians, the Mekons, were formed in Leeds, England, in 1977 by art students Jon Langford and Tom Greenhalgh. Their first single, “Never Been in a Riot,” took dead aim at one of punk’s sacred cows, the Clash’s “White Riot,” and the Mekons have gladly been outsiders ever since. The group has survived countless…

A Certain Ratio

Manchester’s A Certain Ratio (ACR) was one of the first new wave-era outfits to use horns and other instruments to play a soulful brand of contemporary music that defied prevalent trends but proved significantly influential. The Graveyard cassette compiles ’79 material — half studio work produced by Martin Hannett, the rest live from their hometown’s…

Dance

Dance for Your Dinner introduced a promising New York funk outfit heavy on rhythmic interplay, fronted by the seductive Eugenie Diserio, who veers cuts like “She Likes to Beat” closer to Donna Summer than authentic funk. Helped on drums by Material’s Fred Maher, the four songs live up to the band’s intricate intentions. In Lust…

Athletico Spizz 80

Whatever band British vocalist Kenneth Spiers led — Spizzoil, Spizzenergi, Spizzles, Athletico Spizz 80 — he’ll always be best remembered for one novelty hit, 1979’s “Where’s Captain Kirk?” The charm and wit of that single was nowhere to be found on the subsequent Do a Runner, which was mired in the band’s predilection for science…

Contributors

These folks either wrote reviews that appear on the site or wrote for Trouser Press magazine. If anyone listed below cares to E-mail us with a link you’d like added, just let us know. And ditto if anyone is AWOL from this list. Grant AldenDavid AntrobusJem AswadTroy J. AugustoMichael AzerradCary BakerMichael BakerEmily BeckerJohn BergstromArt BlackJohn…