What’s Blowing My Mind, 2015 Edition (Part 4)

Posted in Dancing about architecture on May 8th, 2015 by bill

“Your mind…blow it, blow it.”
-David Bowie, “The Gospel According to Tony Day”

Shriekback

For a few months in 1983 there was a station in Philadelphia that played quote unquote Modern Rock, and for that brief period it was like a window onto a whole other world had opened. Despite the fact that it is a large city on the Eastern seaboard, Philly is a bit of a backwater burg whose musical tastes run toward the Springsteen end of the spectrum. (With some notable exceptions — for instance, Philadelphia absolutely loves Bowie, for reasons that no one has been able to fully explain; he has opened several of his tours there, and David Live was recorded at the Tower Theater.) So it was a bit of a shock to the system when suddenly there was a radio station that would play New Order, the Cure, and other more obscure post-punk artists.

It was at this time that I was introduced to Shriekback, whose debut album Care appeared in 83. The song that got airplay was “Lined Up,” which was unlike anything I’d ever heard before. I could try and describe it to you, but in this age of the YouTube, I can just embed it right here instead, so I think I will:

This song employs what I now know as the classic Shriekback strategy of deploying the tools of funk for different — more sinister — purposes. This kind of stuff hits me right where I live, so I started looking for more Shriekback, but it was not easy to find. Care was released by Warner Brothers in the U.S. but deleted almost immediately; I did not see a copy of it until many years later. It was not until a trip to Cambridge, Mass. with my senior class in 1985 that I ran across a copy of Shriekback’s second album, Jam Science (and I am talking, of course, about a real, old-fashioned vinyl record here). I wore that motherfucker out over the following months, and introduced it to everyone I could. As always, it was very satisfying to be into a great band that no one knew about.
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