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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Only After Dark by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor

Only After Dark by Nick Rhodes and John Taylor - Classic Album Reviews

For decades, we have accepted the orthodoxy that 1976 was rock music's Year Zero; that the rise of the Sex Pistols was the defining moment in modern rock history; that punk rock is the musical and ethical measure against which every new band and movement must be compared.

But, clearly, this is bollocks. The first wave of punk bands had a brutal revolutionary energy, but, between them, the Pistols, The Damned and The Clash produced barely a handful of enduring tunes. The wider punk movement, meanwhile, lapsed into the selfparody of Generation X and Sham 69.

Post-punk, on the other hand, that glorious period of DIY confusion straddling the late-'70s/early-'80s, produced a raft of bands whose naive fusion of dub, punk and disco, synthesizers and guitars, politics and pretentious art theory continues to inspire bands to this day. The year that John Lydon formed PiL -1978 - is alternative rock's true Year Zero; the point at which underground music began to embrace its own endless possibilities - and the true anarchic do-what-you-want punk ethic.

LCD Soundsystem, Soulwax and Hot Chip have newer influences and different approaches, but. clearly, they share an experimental philosophy (and some guitar sounds) with their post-punk forerunners. Like Talking Heads or The Human League, today's disco-punks retain the right to stand out, take chances, break rules and, possibly, make fools of themselves.

In Iate-1970s Birmingham, in particular, the freaks struggled for air. This is the city that gave the world Black Sabbath and, on the streets, it was like punk and new wave hadn't happened. Little wonder then that, in this stifling atmosphere, the Rum Runner, a club night for “misfits, art students and music fans" - and the birthplace of Duran Duran - quickly became a euphoric hive of activity. These are the tracks they played.

Compiled by Nick Rhodes, who DJed at the Rum Runner, and John Taylor, 'Only After Dark' is the Duran duo’s attempt to capture the spirit of that age. It is. obviously, a partial and personal account of the post-punk period. Specifically, it charts the emergence of a largely Bowie-inspired British scene which found common cause with an international network of artists who shared Bowie's future-pop aesthetic.

They may not sound alike, but Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno's outre glam-rock; The Normal and Kraftwerk’s electronic experiments: and the art-school punk of Wire and Magazine all share a restless energy, not to mention a common, implicit hatred of dreary, "authentic" rock music.

That battle, against the Stereophonies' of this world, is still being fought 30 years later, of course, which may explain why so many of these tracks - Donna Summer's peerless Euro disco anthem T Feel Love', Psychedelic Furs’ rasping 'Sister Europe' or Mick Ronson’s exotic, feminine strut ‘Only After Dark’ still sound so fresh.

Elsewhere, younger readers may be amazed to hear Ultravox and Gary Numan doing their startlingly good bit for the cause. Like Duran Duran, they would all go on to make some terrible records, but, back then, even Simple Minds were dark, charged disco-punks. Clearly, it was a very special time for music. This is an essential guide to some of the most darkly stimulating music ever recorded. No track here is short of brilliant.

Track Listings

1. Being Boiled (Fast Version)
2. Computer Game (Theme From The Invader)/Firecracker
3. Always Crashing In The Same Car
4. Sister Europe (Album Version)
5. Changeling
6. Only After Dark
7. Underpass
8. Warm Leatherette
9. In Crowd
10. True Wheel
11. Are 'Friends' Electric?
12. Robots (Single Edit)
13. I Feel Love
14. I Am The Fly
15. Shot By Both Sides
16. Private Life
17. Passenger
18. Slow Motion

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