Now to the point. I borrowed that audacious tag-line, because there’s actually a number of contenders for that title, “greatest post-punk band you never heard.” I’m too young to have experienced the originals first-hand. While I may have heard a few cuts by Joy Division, Bauhaus and The Cure as early as 1981 on a college radio station, I didn’t get into post-punk until 1985.
By then I’d read about some of the bands in Creem and Trouser Press, and gotten some dubbed tapes of Joy Division, Bauhaus, The Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen. In college I focused on post-punk for my Fester’s Bucket O’ Nasties radio show. By then I’d been clued into The Chameleons, Comsat Angels and The Sound thanks to Jack Rabid’s The Big Takeover zine, managing to track down a few vinyl albums to play on the show along with The Teardrop Explodes, Magazine, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Pere Ubu, Gang Of Four, Wire, The Monochrome Set, Killing Joke, Virgin Prunes, Associates, The Fall, Public Image Ltd., The Slits, The Au Pairs, The Raincoats, Liliput and even (early) Simple Minds.
By the early 90s, most of those bands were reissued on CD with the exception of Comsat Angels and The Sound, which remained out of print until Renascent reissued them in the mid-00s. Since then, rarities from Associates, Ludus, The Wake, Crispy Ambulance, Section 25, Josef K, The Blue Orchids, The Names, Wild Swans and The Lines have trickled out. While I knew I hadn’t unearthed every single post-punk release, I kind of thought I’d gotten a handle of the most significant bands nearly 30 years after the fact. But I was wrong.
There was still a handful of bands I hadn’t heard of. Seven of these thirteen bands were completely overlooked by Ira Robbins in all the versions of the Trouser Press Record Guide, were never mentioned by Jack Rabid that I know of, and with one exception, weren’t even included in Simon Reynolds’ encyclopedic Rip It Up And Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-1984. I could easily feature more, but these reflect the mood I’ve been in for a nocturnal, driving and intense sound, the original incarnations of “dark wave.”