Local Heroes SW9

  • Local Heroes SW9
  • Drip Dry Zone (UK Oval) 1980 
  • Local Heroes SW9/Kevin Armstrong
  • New Opium/How the West Was Won (UK Oval) 1981 

Unlike the Gang of Four, this English trio (which included future Soft Boy Matthew Seligman) offered radical political perspectives that are neither simplistically axiomatic nor delivered amid musical fireworks. The Heroes’ brand of dialectical materialism largely avoids slogans; while its more fluid rhythm’n’pop derives from a similar basis, odd bits of pop and tricky turns here and there replace the Gang’s jagged-edge approach.

The first album, Drip Dry Zone, is more accessible if less ambitious than the second, which is actually half the Heroes and half a solo outing by guitarist Kevin Armstrong. His side is less precise, more indulgent and meandering, but once acclimated to his tracks’ reggaefied lope, you may well find that he’s not as spaced out as he seems, but is as engrossing as his group. (After the Local Heroes ended, Armstrong continued to work with Thomas Dolby, who had briefly been a member.)

[Jon Young]