King Crimson

Led by guitarist Robert Fripp, King Crimson was a seminal band of our time. Formed originally in 1969, the band had, from the outset, pivotal influence on both heavy metal and art-rock. (Its large footprint also stretched into the world of prog rock.) The ever-principled Fripp refused to let Crimson become a dinosaur and broke…

Harm Farm

Because of their San Francisco home, prominent use of violin and spirited instrumental forays into ethnic territories, Harm Farm has no doubt gotten used to seeing the name Camper Van Beethoven mentioned in the first paragraphs of their clippings. CVB’s hijacking of original violinist Morgan Fichter would have doomed lesser bands, but Harm Farm survived,…

Jody Harris

Jody Harris has worked with such New York luminaries as the Raybeats and James White and the Blacks, but remains one of the most underrated guitarists on the scene. His schizophrenic solo album proves him to be an accomplished composer as well, turning his talents towards straight pop (“It Happened One Night”), rockabilly (“I’m After…

Section 25

Blackpool’s Section 25 followed in the Joy Division tradition, anchoring their songs to basso depresso vocals and upfront drums, backed by synthesizers and guitar. Though lacking that band’s intensity, they did nicely reproduce the atmosphere. The self-produced Key of Dreams presents nine examinations of paranoia and anxiety, using lurking glissandi, curious touches of Doorsish piano…

Buzzcocks

Inspired by the Sex Pistols, Manchester (England) natives Howard Devoto and Pete Shelley formed the Buzzcocks in 1976, specializing in high-energy, staccato delivery of stripped-down pop songs. With John Maher (drums) and Steve Diggle (bass), the Buzzcocks cut Spiral Scratch, the UK’s first self-released punk record. Though ragged and rudimentary, the 7-inch features the frantic,…

Jah Wobble

Jah Wobble (John Wardle) was a close friend and confidant of John Lydon when he was still Johnny Rotten and the Sex Pistols were on the fast road to hell in a handbasket. When the singer ankled the group in 1978, he, Wobble and ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene formed Public Image Limited, where the budding…

This Heat

In 1976, Charles Hayward of Gong (and Phil Manzanera’s Quiet Sun) joined with Charles Bullen and Gareth Williams to form This Heat. Though arising from art-rock and the British school of fusion jazz, This Heat quickly developed into an experimental band largely dependent on tape loops and production tricks. This Heat covers two years of…

Richard Hell & the Voidoids

With his fierce poetic nihilism, Richard Hell embodied and helped set the initial style for ’70s punk rock. Recently arrived in New York from a Delaware boarding school, he invented the Neon Boys with Tom Verlaine in 1971; several years later, they changed the name to Television. He co-founded the Heartbreakers with Johnny Thunders, thereby…

Throbbing Gristle

Raised on William S. Burroughs and Philip K. Dick, and inhabiting a science-fiction-now world of industrial depression, Britain’s prolific Throbbing Gristle produced some of the most confrontational and unpleasantly fascinating music of recent years, ostensibly as a means to radicalize the listener into abandoning bourgeois romanticism for a realistic view of life. Second Annual Report…

John Cale

John Cale’s musical career in the Velvet Underground amounted to two albums on which his viola-scraping and genuine musical training played a pivotal role. Since then, he’s been a diverse and unpredictable artist, exploring both classical/avant-garde “serious” music as well as more shoot-from-the-hip rough rock. Throughout, the inscrutable Welshman has surrounded himself with able and…

Red Crayola (Red Krayola)

Rock is a young person’s game, but extreme literate weirdness is best left to those who’ve been around the block enough times to know where the real bizarre shit can be dug up. Red Crayola first surfaced on Texas’ International Artists label during the psychedelic ’60s. Barbecued Texas original Mayo Thompson (guitar, vocals) would remain…

Depeche Mode

Born in England’s new romantic movement, Basildon’s Depeche Mode immediately proved capable of making flawlessly captivating electro-pop tunes with simple formulae. What set them apart at the outset (how times change) was their complete reliance on synthesizers, offering post-modernistic gloss to comfortably familiar (but new) material. Over the years, the increasingly successful group has grown…

Penetration

Originally inspired into existence by Patti Smith and the Sex Pistols, Penetration emerged from northern England (Durham, near Newcastle) in 1977 with a great punk single, “Don’t Dictate.” Led by singer Pauline Murray, the band’s brash amateurism had been converted into competent musicianship by the time of Moving Targets, released at first on glow-in-the-dark gimmick…

James Chance

Arriving from Milwaukee with a saxophone on his knee, James (Siegfried) Chance/White/Black quickly became the linchpin of the budding New York no wave movement, appearing in Teenage Jesus and the Jerks with Lydia Lunch. More than any of his contemporaries, Chance turned harsh, abrasive music into an art form; at one time or another, almost…

Robert Rental and the Normal

Emerging from the do-it-yourself school of synthesizer playing, Robert Rental teamed up with the Normal (aka Daniel Miller, founder and leader of Mute Records) for this show, reproduced on a one-sided album. The compendium of noises involved bears relation to music only by inference, though it is an impressive display of live electronics, tape loops…

Ultravox

Originally lost in the gap between glam-rock and punk, Ultravox (initially operating, from 1974 to ’76, as Tiger Lily) became prime movers of the electro-pop and new romantic movements when they combined synthesizer with the direct and danceable pop music of the new wave. Produced by Brian Eno, Steve Lillywhite and the group, Ultravox! marries…

Pink Military

With many of her early Liverpool compatriots on their way to worldwide fame and fortune, singer Jayne Casey formed Pink Military after the short-lived but seminal Big in Japan folded in 1978. Pink Military’s one album, recorded after two years and numerous lineup changes, is an eclectically derivative (yet amusing) hodgepodge that is neither stunningly…

New Order

Following the bizarre 1980 death of Ian Curtis and the remarkable success of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” guitarist/singer Bernard Sumner and the two other remaining members of Joy Division transmuted into New Order, adding guitar/synth player Gillian Gilbert before recording Movement. Proceeding from a projected creative future of Joy Division, New Order sold million…

Basement 5

Basement 5 came out of Island Records’ London art department playing a blend of reggae and synth-pop under the production auspices of Martin Hannett. 1965 — 1980 waffles between both forms, never quite achieving the hoped-for marriage, but does sport a number of light ditties with heavy political overtones. The contrast between roots and futurism…

Polyrock

Formed in 1978, Polyrock was one of the first New York groups to explore post-disco/new-sensibility dance music. The sextet led by ex-Model Citizens singer/guitarist Billy Robertson gained unquestionable artistic credibility through the patronage of Philip Glass, who (with his producer, Kurt Munkacsi) produced and played on their two original albums. Polyrock combines minimalist repetition (the…