In the late 1960's, Johnathan Richman was really into The Velvet Underground. After travelling to NYC and living in squalor for a while as he unsuccessfully attempted to break into the scene, he went back home to Boston and founded The Modern Lovers.
After recording two batches of demos in 1972, struggling for some time to find a label that would release their music, a trip to Bermuda inspired Richman to decide he didn't want to play hard rock music anymore and the band broke up. By 1976, he'd formed a new version of the Modern Lovers to channel his new mellower output, and luckily for us the label that accepted him decided to release those 1972 demos as 1976's The Modern Lovers.
If you start looking into punk music, you're going to end up with someone recommending Television's Marquee Moon as one of the best, and first, punk albums of all time. However, it's not really punk. It's sometimes called "post-punk", which is impressive considering that in 1977 punk had barely begun existing. Some say "proto-punk", but others disagree because proto-punk can only be applied to bands pre-1977 that influenced the eventual emergence of punk. Sometimes it's qualified as "art-punk", but I think that is overly broad to the point of meaninglessness.
The main thing that seems to qualify Marquee Moon as "punk", at least musically, to some people, is the fact that vocalist Tom Verlaine sounds like shit. To my ear, which has grown up listening to Win Butler and Jeff Magnum, Verlaine sounds perfectly normal, but I'm assuming back in 1977 to have a vocalist who is so unapologetically warbly was probably pretty punk rock. The entire sound of this album is original, interesting, daring, different ... isn't that what punk is about?
That said, I don't think there is anything punk about this album. If this album came out today, it would just be called indie rock, and there wouldn't be any debate about it at all.
What I love the most about this album, aside from the fact that it is really, really great, is the fact that I can hear little bits of almost every band I love in it. The bands that stick out the most would be White Denim, who use virtuoso dueling guitars to similar effect, and Tulsa, who, for their brief existence, built an entire dreamy album around soloing progressions. You've got aforementioned Win Butler, warbling away...
As this writer points out it can be hard to nail down who influenced who, ultimately, because everyone's just a warped version of someone else. Is it fair to say anyone was influenced by Television, who doesn't specifcially cop to it? I love that writer's tear-down of emerging punk:
The Ramones were louder, the Pistols nastier, the Clash purer, Nick Lowe more clever, and Wire more violent, but Television was different. Television wasn't a band you could easily copy like the others. [...] What I'm saying is that Television was DIFFERENT than anything I had heard before. The Pistols were really just super-fast Mott The Hoople (great band), Ramones a raunchy surf band, the Clash a raw pop-reggae band, Nick a great popster, and Wire...well, another bunch geniuses who took Punk higher, but later than Television.
What is punk, really? That's the question. What's the answer? I'm still trying to figure that out, but at the moment my conclusion is that punk isn't really anything at all, at least not during the 70's and early 80's, just artists taking chances by meshing rock with other genres, trying new things, and doing it loudly and with much enthusiasm. It's toally understandable that people get the ideas of DIY and punk conflated.
My favorite thing about music, by far, is that there is so much of it. My taste, over the years, has slowly grown and shifted, and all along the way I keep finding more and more music that I enjoy. New music, or old music, there's always more of it for me.
I recently decided that my knowledge of punk music was severely lacking--considering I appear to be a person who will now have strangely colored hair perhaps for the rest of his life, I thought that it would be bet to remedy this.
Thanks to the playlists in Apple Music and on Spotify, it will be pretty easy for me to listen to lots of different kinds of punk, to pick out the stuff that appeals to me the most. This song, by The Undertones, is a classic I'd never heard before. The record version sounds slightly different from this live take, but that's alright, the important thing is that the song is great. I love the vocalist's voice, I was sure he was a woman on the recording, sort of like The High Strung's Luck You Got.
I really like this song a lot. Whenever it comes on, I end up thinking about how I want to write a "vampire novel", except a really clever one where being a vampire is a metaphor for being a jaded, cynical misanthrope. I love the first two lines:
at first it was different
and then it got boring
This is a somewhat local band, from Southern California, and yet I've never seen them live. That's disappointing.
Relatedly, a while ago when I staged an indie rock concert at a friend's house, this song came up in the mix I was playing between bands. I overheard some guy trying to impress a girl, talking over this song and misattributing it to Mikal Cronin, and then acting very surprised when the song just quickly fades out without a proper ending (on the recorded version, not the version in this video). I'll always think of that when I hear this song, too.
While I occasionally forget, I know in my heart of hearts that *The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is the best album. Sorry Lifter Puller, I love Fiestas + Fiascos, but The Lamb really takes the cake.
I think I've realized that these days "Back in N.Y.C." is the song I enjoy the most across the album. For a long time it was "Chamber of 32 Doors", but there's something about the thumping bass, synth arpeggio, and the syncopated drums that just do it for me. Gabriel's amplified machismo wail, the bizarre porcupine-cuddling bridge, and it just sounds so amazing! Ugh. Words are dumb, they're not good enough to describe how good this song is.
You're sitting in your comfort you don't believe I'm real,
You cannot buy protection from the way that I feel.
Your progressive hypocrites hand out their trash,
But it was mine in the first place, so I'll burn it to ash.
When you go to download The Lamb from a popular music torrent website, there are a total of 14 versions of this album to choose from. It can be daunting to try to figure out how to choose... Do you get the original release on vinyl? Or the original German vinyl? The 1985 original CD release? The 1986 original Japanese 'Black Triangle' CD release? The 1994 Atlantic remaster? The 2008 Virgin 5.1 or stereo remasters?
Any consensus on which version is "best?"
This guy likes the original releases:
The 2001 Classics LP 24bit has unfortunately sibilance issues...stick to any pre 1994 Remaster. They are all derived from the same master regardless of EAC peak readings...The PBTHAL German rip is good but the 1st CD pressings are superior.
The 2009 remaster is brickwalled, though not to the extent that later Genesis albums in the same remaster series were. Just comparing the file sizes of the CD-quality FLACs will make this clear. The Charisma CDs and pbthal's rip of the original German release are probably your best bets. The 1994 "Definitive Edition Remasters" aren't bad either.
This guy likes Black Triangle:
Firstly I compared the two 1999 Japanese issues, TOCP-53067-68 and VJCP-68096-97:
VJCP-68096-97 sounds pretty much identical in sound to the '94 DE to me (not bad at all but a little "smiley-faced"). The TOCP-53067-68 is a little brighter - too much so for me.
The 1986 Black Triangle is a whole different beast. No smiley-face EQ, solid mids, full bass. I love it.
The 1985 CD issue sounds mid-way between the Black Triangle and the DE in terms of top end + mids, but with rolled-off bass. There's no rumble from Rutherford's bass pedals; very poor.
And on the 5.1:
Is anyone else disappointed by how incredibly bad the 5.1 mixing is on the DVD and SACD releases? It seems to me like they've just put a big reverb on everything and panned it to the rear channels! Terrible!
Personally I grabbed the Black Triangle release and it sounds pretty amazing, much better than the 'definitive edition' remaster I started off with 11 years ago. Although the bass line on "In The Cage" was so pronounced it was driving me a little crazy... but that just might be my headphones.
Anytime anyone writes about The Lamb, this is worth mentioning:
Note that nearly every edition of this album has the wrong division between "Fly on a Windshield" and "Broadway Melody of 1974"; the latter is supposed to start with the line "Echoes of the Broadway Everglades", but due to an error in CD pressing, which has been copied on nearly every subsequent release, nearly everyone gets the track divisions wrong, including vinyl rippers.
I want to say that this music video is too ridiculous, garish, and cheesy to be appropriate, but then I remembered what song I'm writing about. This song is ridiculous, garish, and cheesy, which is a big part of why my ears immediately perked up.
This is a modern song, and the first 14 seconds of it sound like they were legitimately transported forward in time from the late 70's slash early 80's. I really mean this, too, in the sense that there's a lot of bands that are clearly influenced by the 80's, and there's a lot of songs that sound like they're clearly stabbing toward sounding like an 80's song but just don't make it quite there. This song, on the other hand, plants a solid landing. This is an 80's track that has been influenced by modern production values, not the other way around.
Even the songwriting is appropriately groan-inducing, like the entire bridge which sounds like a rejected verse from Labyrinth:
oh honey now
don't you come crying to me
we're all gonna die here
but life will go on
down in the ocean of dreams
The rest of this Sylver Tongue EP is not very good, but this song is basically absolutely perfect as far as I'm concerned.
Someone did not like this album. This blurb from this Pitchfork review of it captures the difference between them and I.
Halfway through "Kingsize", the album opener full of pungent abstract lines like "I beckon the cupcake, the huge capitalist clit," Hval pauses the song to whisper the question, "What is SOFT DICK ROCK?" How you react during the silence she lets hang in the air for a beat after the question—whether you laugh out loud or frown perplexedly—will probably determine how you feel about the rest of the album.
But for me it's really all about how she sings this:
St-statistics and newspapers
tell me that I am unhappy
I also love how uncomfortable and weird the music video is.