Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 7): Paranoid Visions "The robot is running amok" Ep, 1986

"The scene in Dublin was stagnant, violent and divided. (...) Every gig was a bloodbath and seemed like the last gig ever, and would end up with the bar robbed, glasses and blood everywhere, and police riot shields and truncheons and a "barred forever" tag for the band... (...) Punk was a dangerous four-letter word, and so the scene and bands and most of the people either emigrated or burned out through lack of interest." (Trapped in a Scene, 2009)

This is the context Paranoid Visions sprang from in the early 80's. It could not be further from the cheesy image of the "Celtic tiger" so popular last decade or the rose-tinted (green-tinted would be more correct I suppose) picture that horrendously horripilating bands such as bloody Dropkick Murphy's unequivocally paint about Ireland, the Paranoid Visions's Dublin was akin to "a bleak authoritarian Catholic slum, overrun by the rich elite and the violent inbred poor". Not so romantic indeed. 

As you have guessed - perspicacious you - the seventh part of The Tumult of a Decad will deal with Paranoid Visions, from Dublin, Ireland. Now, I know I claimed that the series would be about British anarchopunk bands and the Republic of Ireland is, of course, not part of the United Kingdom. However, I chose to include them for several reasons. First, because of the band's crucial role in opening up the Dublin DIY punk scene to and creating strong ties with Belfast and England's; second, because PV, although they clearly had their own specific sound, were, in terms of genre and aesthetics, rooted in the UK anarchopunk world; and third, because I really enjoy them and I could not think of a better anarcho record released in 1986 than The robot is running amok (apart from The ungovernable force but that would have been too obvious a choice, right?). I think these are alright enough arguments and Terminal Sound Nuisance is the domain I rule over with a kind, merciful but firm hand. 

Oddly enough, I discovered PV later than most of the 80's British anarchopunk bands, during the year 2006. I am not sure why or how I could have missed them, especially considering that they were proper big at some point in Ireland, but there it is. And when I did listen to them for the time (it was the Outside in cd), I tended to confuse their moniker with Nightmare Visions (you know, that raw and punky death-metal band with an Electro Hippies member in it), a silly but barely forgivable mistake that still showed that Paranoid Visions and I did not get off on the right foot. I guess that now that they have reformed and are making music with Steve Ignorant, they must be quite well-known again but they were hardly mentioned at all in my corner of the punk scene 10 years ago. And neither were Nightmare Visions now that I think about it. The validity of this statement still stands unfortunately.

The early years of the band were fairly chaotic apparently, because of the difficult background of the time and the lack of stable lineups, but PV still managed to record three demos between 1982 and 1984. The first one, recorded in 1982 but apparently released in the following year, was Destroy the myths of musical progression (a Riot/Clone reference? How great is that!), a very captivating demo which, for all the sloppiness and the shit sound quality, still indicated that PV had some good ideas in terms of songwriting. The demo has a genuine haunted feel, almost psychotic and industrial at times, with very harsh vocals (that really remind me of Napalm Death's Hatred surge's actually), some postpunk moments and a dissonant sound. To be honest, it is all over the place but if a blend of Riot Squad, The Deformed and Exit-Stance could be your thing, I strongly recommend it. I am unfortunately not familiar with the second demo, 1984's Blood in the snow, but both demos were originally released on PV's own label, the poetically named FOAD records, and re-issued on Bluurg on one single tape. The third demo, From the womb to the bucket, released in late '84, is far more relevant to today's topic as it included two songs, "Strange girl" and "Detention", that would be reworked for inclusion on PV's first Ep, The robot is running amok.

By the time From the womb was recorded, PV had enrolled a synth player (who didn't stay for long), a female vocalist and one lad called Skinny on bass, who would leave to squat in London later on where he formed the mighty Coitus. This demo is absolutely fantastic if you care to ignore the raw sound (three of its songs were recorded live in the practice space, so be warned). This is pissed but moody anarcho-postpunk at its very best, with obsessive tribal beats, a dark and tense atmosphere and an angrily nihilistic vibe, cracking guitar tunes, polyphonic anarcho-tinged vocals and delightfully goth synth parts. It brought to mind Polemic, The Deformed, Tears of Destruction, even early Amebix, as well as the All The Madmen bands. A truly great recording that, although it does not aptly represent what PV would become and be known for, would undeniably send chills to current days' "youtube dark punk lovers". Strangely, the demo contained an anti-abortion song, "Slash the cord", that did not seem to fit and make sense with the otherwise anarchopunk lyrics and symbolism. Apparently, the band changed the words afterwards and turned it into a more conventional anti-police song, but still... Very unsettling... Anyway, this demo was also distributed through Bluurg and it coincided with the Subhumans coming to play in Ireland, a great success that would be followed by many more British DIY punk bands crossing the Irish Sea like DIRT, Poison Girls or Disorder. Through their implication in the making of the scene and their musical progress as a band, PV were certainly gaining momentum at that time and the next logical step was a vinyl output which would materialize with the grandiose The robot is running amok.

Recorded in early '86 and released six months later on FOAD as the band had staunch DIY ethics (it was licensed to All the Madmen records in England), this Ep saw PV leave the goth/postpunk sonorities behind (an unusual move at the time, you might say) and embrace whole-heartedly what they would be renown for from that point on: catchy, anthemic punk-rock displaying both a love for shock value and an emotional depth. The robot Ep has four songs, going from the fast and snarly, snotty punk scorcher, to the more introspective, melancholy mid-paced number and the epic, desperate singalong anthem. That's multilevel catchiness for you. The four songs are truly memorable but my favourite would be "Strange girl", a gloomy, poignant, heart-breaking song about Ann Lovett, a 15-year old schoolgirl who died giving birth in a field (childbirth outside marriage was still socially unacceptable then and this tragic event apparently opened up important debates about women's rights at the time). The horrid topic notwithstanding, "Strange girl" is intensely catchy, emotional even with both anger and sadness being barely contained and surfacing potently in the music. A tour de force indeed. The three other songs are of the same caliber, with "Something more", an upbeat vintage anarcho hit tackling the inhumane treatment of animals and the risk of a nuclear holocaust (two birds, one stone), "Detention", another moody, introspective and anthemic mid-tempo number about the prison system and isolation and "Paranoid", a heavy and quite pummeling but also subtle dementia-inducing song about state and physical abuse. The production is a bit thin in places but the urgency and intensity of the songs are never lost and that's what makes a record great. The presence of three singers certainly gave PV an interesting and unique edge, with Deko's threatening raucous gnarls being perfectly complemented with Aisling's high-pitched voice and Brayo's clear pissed off shouts. The polyphonic arrangements between the three undeniably enhance the music's intensity and angry nihilism but also its multilayered tunefulness. The comparison challenge feels a bit cheap when dealing with such an amazing work, but imagine a battle royal between DIRT, Polemic, The System, Chaos UK and Stiff Little Fingers taking place in a rough and dirty street of Dublin.

PV went on to release more excellent records afterwards, the great Schizophrenia Lp from 1987 (to be heard if only for the crucial hit "Newtownism" that makes singing in the shower such a pleasant experience) and the Autonomy Ep from 1988. Of course, a write-up about PV would feel incomplete without mentioning their war on U2 (who were recently elected "Ireland's most dreadful band") that saw them openly taking the piss out of Bono and his boys on I will wallow (though to be fair, it is as much a criticism of the mainstream americanized music industry than it is an attack on U2) which led to people cheekily painting "FOAD2U2" across many an Irish wall. 

Is there a more fitting conclusion to Paranoid Visions' tumultuous 80's career? I think not.

There are a few skips, sorry for that.

Monday, 14 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 6): Disrupters "Alive in the electric chair" 12'', 1985

Sometimes, a name can sound so evocative that, even if you are unsure of its actual meaning, you just fall in love with it. Take the word "thoroughly" for instance. The first time I heard it (probably during that excruciatingly boring class about Wordsworth and Byron that I had to take), I did not know what it meant exactly. I was aware that it implied some kind of serious business since the teacher would frown with an air of utmost gravity and make an emphatic hand gesture whenever he uttered it. But more importantly, I loved the sound of the word and how the syllables fitted with each other. It brought images of intellectual sophistication to my mind and, despite the relative obscurity of its actual meaning, it made me feel pretty smart - which is what studying is all about when you think about it - now that I had a word like "thoroughly" in my bag of tricks. I henceforth used "thoroughly" carefully and parsimoniously, almost religiously, as if a bad use of the word on my part would somehow decrease its power. 

I fell for the Disrupters a bit like I did for "thoroughly". The first time I heard the name "Disrupters", it immediately clicked with me. Even before I got to hear them, I knew instinctively that I was going to love them and although the Disrupters never really conjured up images of glamour and refinement like "thoroughly" did, this superficial - and completely artificial - knowledge of the band made me feel good. Here was a band that I didn't know but was absolutely sure to love because they had such a great name. They had a dis prefix and the name sounded both punky and political. How could I not like them? 

I don't remember exactly how or when I first came across the Disrupters but I understood that they were that one anarcho band on the Punk and disorderly Lp with the song "Young offender". It was the early 00's in Paris so finding Disrupters records was near impossible and access to the internet was extremely limited for me. So I did what I always did whenever I became obsessed with a band that I just needed to hear, as if it were a crucial matter, one of life-changing proportions: I bothered older punks about it. I remember a particularly startled look upon a mate's face when I claimed that the world (meaning "me, myself and I") needed a Disrupters discography. But it was sadly to no avail, as no one really seemed to either know about the band or care enough to tape me something from them. And then, one day, in 2002, I received the distro list of Punk as Fuck, a massive distro based in France with tons of streetpunk but also some old-school anarchopunk. I almost fainted when I realized that he had a Disrupters tape, Gas the Punx (A collection 1980-1988), which was a whole discography tape, no less. So I wrote a letter to the distro with a list of what I wanted and included a check with it. I remember not hearing from the guy for months and at some point I thought the letter had got lost or that I had been ripped off. And then, out of the blue, I had a phone call one day with the distro guy asking me if I still wanted the records (there were the cd discographies of The Mob and Zounds as well, two bands that had been on my list for some time, and the order would prove to be a life-changing move). Finally, the parcel came and, at last, I was able to listen to the Disrupters wholly. And of course, I loved them and the tape, released on Pablo's Resistance Productions, came with a massive booklet full of lyrics and cool drawings (which my mum accidentally threw away, but that's another story entirely).

Welcome to 1985: three mullets and one moustache.

Today still I have a soft spot for the Disrupters, probably as much for the memory of my youthful obsession with them as for the actual music and stance. And I still think they picked a top name. Now that I am older and that my spectrum of obsessions has considerably broadened, I think it is a fair statement to say that Disrupters are one of the many 80's anarchopunk bands that are cruelly underrated. Contrary to a lot of other bands from that scene, they played for eight years (with a one-year hiatus though) and were rather prolific (perhaps too much so in hindsight), with two full albums, three Ep's and one 12''. They had their own record label, Radical Change, which released some classic anarcho records from Self-Abuse, Icon AD or Revulsion (the latter, being also from Norwich, were regular touring partners of the Disrupters), were politically active and greatly helped in the making of the Norwich DIY punk scene, for instance including a song from a then young local band called Deviated Instinct on Radical Change's compilation Words Worth Shouting, whose cover was also drawn by young Mid (the backcover was actually done by a Parisian, a good friend of mine, who used to follow Haine Brigade on tour in the 80's... small punk world, innit?). Nowadays, although the band reformed a few years ago, the Disrupters' legacy is seldom discussed or examined. So it was only a matter of time before I dealt with this Norwich bunch.

Forming in 1980, the Disrupters were part of the second wave of British anarchopunk, the one that emerged in the very early 80's. Their first Ep, from 1981, Young Offender, was a gloriously sloppy, snotty, teenage angst-fueled, punky offering, a genuine two-chords wonder that, for all its simplicity, managed to sound catchy and spontaneous, somewhere between The Epileptics and The Synix. The second Ep, 1982's Shelters for the Rich, was perhaps moodier and better produced (or just produced, really) and it is my favourite early Disrupters record. It retained that lovable punk urgency and amateurism but catchier riffs and a more brooding atmosphere made it a stronger effort. The first album, Unrehearsed Wrongs, from 1983, also comes recommended as it displayed some heavier moments while keeping the tuneful hooks. But to me, the band's real crowning glory was their last record, Alive in the Electric Chair. 

Released in 1985 and recorded during two sessions (you can hear the difference if you focus), it is, by far, the band's most mature and best written work, one that epitomizes what the Disrupters did best: raucous, simple but catchy punk-rock anthems with a dark undertone. The vocals always played an important role in making the band remarkable, as they sound warm and raucous but also threatening, able to convey a very real sense of frustration. The Disrupters were possibly punkier than a lot of their anarcho colleagues, and this unashamedly rock'n'roll aspect does shine through on this 12'', especially in the record's singalong quality. I am reminded of mid-80's Kronstadt Uprising on that level, but also of bands like Blitz, The Underdogs, One Way System or The Defects who, if you care to feel the music instead of just hearing it, all had a dark and desperate tone permeating their anthemic boisterous songwriting and that is exactly where the Disrupters succeeded on their last record, in the balance between the two. Darkness and frustration are always lurking. On the surface of the very rocky riff of "Give me a rush", behind the hauntingly spiteful screams of "Rot in Hell" (arguably the band's best song) and the desperate chorus of "I'm still here", in the melancholy reggae-tinged "Tearing apart"... Alive in the Electric Chair is a magnificent punk-rock record, simultaneously inhabited with a dark, heavy simplicity and a catchy, uplifting raucousness. The very upfront bass-lines work well here with the rather clear sound of the guitar and its smart leads, the drums are reminiscent of the cold tribal beats of Crass and I cannot imagine a better singer for these six songs as he adds a proper intensity and sincerity to the music. 

The lyrics are pretty direct and tackle different subjects, from the nihilistic use of drugs, to the weak liberal politics of the CND, vengeance, depression and the prison system. And as a bonus, you even have a short comic entitled PC Porker goes undercover which always makes me giggle and the traditional runout groove etching with "Tell us about the money Johnny" on side one and "Come back Ian, I'm pregnant" on the other. I do hope Johnny was able to pay his debt and that Ian was a good dad. 

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Interlude: ale to Our Future, a Grave New Zine

I know it might hard to believe for some but the internet is not solely useful to push the like button when your crush displays her or his new ironic tats on Instagram. Call me old-fashioned all you like, it is also a great tool to get in touch with interesting, like-minded people. 

A few months ago, D-Beat extravagant and Discharge philosopher Rodney Shades, also renowned for his falsetto prowess in the mighty Thisclose, sent me his fanzine in response to the write-up I did about Thisclose in The Chronicles of Dis series. Yes, you read that well a FANZINE. With actual paper, ink and typos, like in the old days. I was of course thrilled and humbled by this friendly gesture motivated by a common love for the affairs of the Dis and, upon receiving the second installment of said zine, I figured that I might as well throw a few words about Our Future.

I romantically stuck that one to my bed

Also the name of Rodney's label, and although I suppose it is meant to evoke No Future records, the phrase Our Future never fails to remind me of Disclose's song "Future extinction" (in fact, I am hearing it in my head right now) which I see as a positive sign of prophetic proportions. 

Here is the fanzine's editorial line:

The first issue of Our Future revolved around the early 90's collaboration between Extreme Noise Terror and The KLF that culminated at the 1992 Brit Awards when ENT played to a surrealistic audience of toffs in bow ties and cocktail dresses (check the video if you haven't, it epitomizes the expression "wtf"). Following this focus on music blending hardcore-punk and techno music, there is also a short but excellent piece about Exithippies which reconciled me with this Japanese bunch. 

The second issue of the zine deals with Discharge's cursed and polemical Grave new world Lp (often said to have caused many breakups since 1986) from several angles and not just through their new haircuts. There are long, detailed, fascinating interviews with then guitar player Fish (formerly from The Skeptix) and with the Discharge tour manager during the band's catastrophic trip to the U$ of A. You will also find an analysis of the Lp from a diachronic perspective and a text about Grave New World, an early 90's band from Tokyo with Crow's singer, that I found extremely interesting. 

Both issues are packed with reproductions of old photographs, flyers and posters. The real strength of Our Future lies in its high contextualization of bands and their musical outputs. The writing is always thoughtful and accurate and exemplifies how we - as punks or whatever - are capable of documenting and reflecting upon our own history and culture. This is nerdy in the best sense of the term. 

And if you are not convinced already, just look how great Our Future looks when placed close to a Discharge record. 

A Discharge nature morte

This is a top read and a great effort at keeping the fanzine culture alive and - more importantly - relevant, educational and fun. So do yourself a favour and check what Our Future has to offer here. And while you are at it, check the great 24-song compilation The new wave of the grave new beat which features glorious acts of Discharge orthodoxy such as Bombardement, Lifelock Thisclose and Monadh by 5,000 (Scatha fans take notes on this one).   

Hear nothing, see nothing but read something.     


Friday, 4 August 2017

The Tumult of a Decad (part 5): Famous Imposters / The Dead "Open your eyes / Your future is held in one hand. Your death is held on the other" split Ep, 1984

I may be stating the obvious here (it would not be the first time really, in fact some would argue that it is one of my special moves), but have you ever noticed how few punk-rock split records were released during the first half of the 80's? There were a lot of compilations, to be sure, but very few splits between two bands, which nowadays is a bit of a punk tradition. In the realms of British anarchopunk, the instances I could think of were mostly released after 1984 (the Crass / Poison Girls split Ep being a notable exception), collaborative records like the Blood Robots / Reality Control flexi, the Oi Polloi / AOA Lp or the Shrapnel / Symbol of Freedom Ep. I wonder why that is. I wish I had something smart and insightful to offer about this tendency but I really don't. Perhaps bands didn't really consider the split record medium as being worthwhile and would rather strive to occupy both sides of the vinyl or be part of a compilation with many more bands. As for the date, it could be suggested that the post-'84 period corresponded to a steady decline of popularity for punk music which meant that record sales decreased and bands and labels got perhaps more cautious with expenses, so having two bands instead of one on a record could have looked like a good - and safe - idea for everyone involved. From the 90's on, the practice certainly spread and now it is so common that people only really thinks about the format when it is time to find a correct spot for the record and decide which initial letter to base the classification on (usually the better band of the split but there have been rumours of other techniques as well... Crazy, right?).

So today, as my linguistic acrobatics might have inferred, we are going to have a split Ep of vintage English anarchopunk, released in 1984, which was kind of a rare thing, as you know if you bothered to read the first paragraph without snoozing (this especially, but not exclusively, happens when one reads Terminal Sound Nuisance just after lunch): the Famous Imposters / The Dead split Ep.

Let's start with Famous Imposters, although they are technically on side B. They were from Sunderland, a city close and rival to Newcastle (in terms of football at least), in the sunny English Northeast, a region which produced phenomenal punk bands throughout the years as we already saw with the Reality Control post. Last time, I complained (well, whined really) that Reality Control should rightfully be more famous or, at the very least, that someone should make a RC shirt so that I could wear it with pride and a smug expression on my face. Well, it is even worse for FI since they have not even had the privilege of a discography compilation (yet, I hope it's "yet") even though they were also exceptionally good. In this day and age when I see quality moody anarcho bands like Passion Killers, Hex, Hysteria Ward or Vex being reissued, the absence of any FI retrospective breaks my heart.

The band formed in 1982 and quickly became heavily involved with the Sunderland Music Collective and its independent venue called The Bunker, where all the best British punk bands of the era played (there are more than a few good live recordings floating around if you care to look). FI were originally a four-piece, with Raf on the bass (he was responsible for the Acts of Defiance fanzine), Anth and Teaser (who left in 1984) on the guitar and Andy (formerly in Barnley's Societies Vultures) on the drums. The name "Famous Imposters" was taken from a Bram Stoker's novel entitled Famous Impostors (go figure why they changed a letter...), so with a reference to a classic Gothic author, you can already guess that FI's music is not going to be particularly cheerful or of the ciderpunk variety. And rightly so since the band played what we call nowadays "postpunk". Now, I have already written about how the term "postpunk", since the so-called "postpunk revival" of late, has come to refer to a very specific kind of postpunk among the DIY punk scene, namely its dark, melancholy, goth-tinged aspect, which would be perfectly fine if it did not also result in dozens of clones all sounding exactly the same. But that's another debate entirely. My point is that FI's music, if it were released tomorrow, would be undoubtedly a smashing hit for the hordes of post-2012 "dark punks" and "goth-punks". In terms of dark and melancholy anarchopunk, the first 1983 demo From the cradle to the grave is an absolute gem, full of emotions, passion and intensity hardly affected by the thin, punky production. There were ace anarcho bands going for that sound at the time, each of them trying to build their own identity by bridging the gap between the Crass ethics and politics and goth or postpunk music. In essence, From the cradle to the grave is an emotional, vulnerable even, punk recording that borrows heavily from The Cure and Southern Death Cult in order to create sorrowful but tense and tuneful, catchy songs that are just... well, beautiful really. This is "shower-level" catchy, let me tell you.

The two songs on the split with The Dead, "Open your eyes" and "Fighting again" (in a superior version to the one on the demo tape), are in the same vein but benefit from a much better production which allows more space for musicianship (there are some pretty neat and intricate guitar parts on "Open your eyes" and genuinely cracking drum beats) and for the elaboration of the darkly enticing melancholy mood that the band aims for. As I mentioned, The Cure and Southern Death Cult are relevant points of comparison and I am also reminded of Zounds for the Beat element, of The Mob and No Choice for the sensitivity and the moodiness (although the songwritings clearly diverge), and of Kulturkampf, contemporaries of FI and almost neighbours from Barnsley, who, I feel, shared a similar creative intent, a similar sensitivity and expressive drive. This is just great anarcho music with heart and sincerity and the way the trio works so well together reinforces the emotional power of the music. This is almost perfect music in the sense that, given the templates, the songs couldn't really have been better. Following the split Ep, FI recorded the Would anything change 12'' that would be released on Children of the Revolution records in 1985, not long before the band split. The sound on this one is even poppier and more introspective, with a distinct folk influence, but the overall mood, atmosphere and motivation are quite similar. You could say it is another way of expressing the same thing, like a different hour of a same day. Makes sense?

Though it is just a (hopefully educated enough) guess, I am pretty sure the two texts that appear on the foldout were written by FI (I mean, one is framed with flowers and ends with "Together we CAN learn, together we SHALL overcome"). The first and longer one is about commitment, sincerity and dedication to the politics we display and the importance of sharing "our dreams and hopes, (...) our joy... to share our love". The sheer honesty and openness of the tone that does not try to conceal the fears and insecurities is completely coherent with the mood of FI's lyrics and music. The second one is much shorter and is a call to action questioning our apathy and sincerity. And I really like the two blindfolded punks on each side of it. As for the lyrics themselves, "Open your eyes" basically summarizes the second text's content into music while "Fighting again" is - you will never believe it - an antiwar song.                      

Other side, other region with The Dead from Whitehaven, a rather small coastal town in Cumbria, in the English Northwest. Unfortunately, little information about The Dead (which I will call TD from now on cuz I'm lazy) can be found and the KFTH page about them is down and so is the whole site for some reason... Bummer. Incredibly enough, there were no other UK punk band using that moniker at the time. You had Screaming Dead, The Living Dead, The Undead, Dead On Arrival, Dead Man's Shadow or The Dead Wretched but just one called The Dead, which I really like for its dark simplicity. The band's first demo was self-released in 1982 under the name To our glorious dead and it was not as morbid an affair as the title suggests. It is a pretty rough and ready recording with possibly too many songs (and solos) for its own good. There are, however, a couple of genuinely solid tracks on this one, especially those with a synth, which adds a welcome postpunk touch to the otherwise pretty typical anarchopunk sound of the day, somewhere between The Mentals and The System, for the band did have some catchiness in them. On this first demo, the vocals were almost exclusively handled by a male singer, something which would change by 1984, a prolific year for TD since they recorded two demos and the two songs for the split (I am sadly clueless about the actual order of release). Not only did the band drastically improve in terms of songwriting with a spectacular turn toward tasteful goth-punk (and more synth!), but Claire also mostly took over on vocals, and even though the male-fronted songs were clearly much better by then, she just had the perfect voice for the genre.

The '84 self-titled demo included different versions of "Duty calls" and "Burke & hare" that were re-recorded for the split with FI during a session that may have been the same one than that of the Rest in peace demo (again, an educated guess). Thanks to a much more focused sound and a tighter production, TD easily penned some of the best female-fronted goth-punk songs of the era and - I know this is becoming a running gag by now but what can one do when it is just the plain naked truth - would their '84 materials be reissued today, all the modern "dark-gothy punx" would fall from their chair and smudge their make-up with tears of frustration before the greatness of the music. TD had everything, an upfront singer with a spontaneous but ethereal, ominous voice, a great dark atmosphere, a punk but still fragile energy, real songwriting skills and a top sense for macabre melodies (but then, perhaps too many solos...but that's always the risk when you have an actual guitarist in your band). They were just brilliant. Imagine the catchiest melancholy cross between A-Heads, Awake Mankind, Skeletal Family and Paranoia with a spoonful of the All The Madmen sound. Yeah, that good. That they weren't offered some kind of record deal is quite baffling and disappointing since it also means that I will probably never be able to find a TD shirt as well... My life is miserable indeed. If it hadn't been for all those solos...

Anyway, the two songs from the split are everything even the most demanding goth-punk with an anarcho bias could wish for. They have a dream-like quality and an almost uplifting sadness with the synth adding a thick distinct layer without being overbearing. The vocals are tuneful and adequately melancholy and passionate while the bass offers some really lovely hooks. The drums are quite loud in the mix which probably confers even more of a danceable punk sound to the songs. Well, I can definitely imagine myself dancing awkwardly to The Dead, never too far away from the bar but close enough to the centre of the dancefloor so that I can display some of my spectacular dance moves that have become the stuff of legends throughout the years.

The Dead (and to a lesser extent Famous Imposters) were one of the many ace bands that History has forgotten about and I hope that my nonsensical blabbering did them some justice. This wonderful split Ep was released on Scrobe records (it was also a zine apparently) from Cumbria, a label that may have been short-lived but still had an awesome logo.