The Birthday Party, article and audio recalling New Zealand debut, 30 years ago

0219Jonathan Ganley on The Birthday Party at Mainstreet Cabaret (Aukland Neww Zealand), 3rd May1983.

Friday May 3 2013 marks 30 years to the day since Nick Cave and The Birthday Party played their first New Zealand show at Mainstreet nightclub on Auckland’s Queen St. Photographer Jonathan Ganley provides the images and the story from the audience, while Simon Grigg of Propeller Records and tour promoter Doug Hood give some background and recollections of this legendary but shambolic performance, and the subsequent chaotic North Island tour.

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30 years ago, May 1982 – the Cure “Pornography” LP

How do you start describing an album which has been in your top three albums of all time pretty much ever since you first heard it, almost 30 years ago?  An album which, through a process of aural osmosis has penetrated your mind and inhabited every nook and cranny.  An album you know so well that, even if you haven’t listened to it for 12 months, as soon as you put it on every lyric and musical nuance is recalled instantly.

Pornography, by the Cure is that LP, it is a stunner, and it was released thirty years ago this month in May 1982.

Drop me on a desert island with this LP, First and Last and Always, Killing Joke’s debut, In the Flat Field and Henry’s Dream, and I could see out thirty more years.

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30 years ago, May 1982 – 1919’s first Peel session

1919 went under the radar largely, especially if you were not around during their all-to-brief tenure.

Like Play Dead, 1919 feasted, nay gorged, themselves on the Killing Joke sound and cast themselves in that image.  And the scene was all the better for it.  If you are not familiar with 1919 I strongly recommend their “complete collection” CD which has everything released (but not the sessions).

Of course John Peel got on board and had the boys in and they recorded five tracks:

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30 years ago, May 1982 – Siouxsie and the Banshees “Fireworks” single & Kid Jensen session

Odd one this.  Siouxsie and the Banshees, like many bands at that time, were prone to putting out singles between LPs, which were only released on compilation LPs, or as bonus tracks.  “Fireworks” – released 30 years ago this month – is such a track, released between Juju and a Kiss in the Dreamhouse (both are epic goth powerhouses!).

What is odd is that this track, thematically, is similar to Dreamhouse, yet they chose not to include it on the LP.  The Banshees were chameleon-like – they would change the flavour of their sound as they changed personnel and mood, but Dreamhouse moved the sound from the dark to the slightly not-so-dark as it added layers of strings and backing vocals.  Lush production.  Good single, great packaging.

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30 years ago, April 1982 – Sisters of Mercy “Body Electric” single

Leaving the, er, experimental efforts the Sister’s debut single over a year previously, Body Electric launched the Sisters into the maturing goth/alternative scene in 1982.  And, generally, people sat up and took notice.  Compared to the stunning works to follow, Body Electric sounds a bit anemic.

The drum machine’s a bit ratty, the guitar’s a bit thin and the bass is, well, basic, but it was THAT sound – THE Sisters sound – which, along with Bauhaus, would define that early eighties goth sound – plus image and attitude.  Body Electric was a blueprint for what was to come.  Indeed even the artwork and typography – integral to the Sister’s brand – was already well established.

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30 years ago, April 1982 – Killing Joke “Revelations” LP and “Empire Song” single

That difficult third LP.  Killing Joke were in their absolute prime in 1982 having come off the back of their first two, acclaimed, long players.  Their eponymous 1980 debut is a seminal post-punk LP, it’s stark, industrial soundscape described exactly the way millions of disaffected felt at the time, all tinged with the threat of nuclear war, mind-control and big brother.  In fact it is a lesson in paranoia.

Their second LP, 1981’s “What’s THIS For…!” heralded a change in sonic direction.  Their debut LP has a sound which is a pretty straight forward rock sound.  Meaty – yes – but not over-produced which, in a way, is one of the reasons it still sounds so fresh today.  What’s THIS For…! has an altogether darker, denser sound.  The drums are heavily effected, the bass and guitars are pushed to extremes and the Oberheimer’s on overdrive with gated and droning synth sounds.  It sounds like Blade Runner looks, paranoid.

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30 years ago, March 1982 – Tones on Tail “Tones on Tail” EP

I love Tones on Tail {see: discography, gigs & tours}.  If you are a Bauhaus fan, then Tones on Tail are probably already on your radar as they were the brainchild of Bauhaus’s guitarist Daniel Ash (vocals, guitar, synths, sax, hair spray) along with school friend and Bauhaus roadie Glen Campling (bass, keyboards).  They formed in 1982 (the subject of this post is their very first single) and when Bauhaus imploded in 1983 Kevin Haskins joined Tones on Tail on drums.

Tones on Tail always struck me as being a release valve for Daniel Ash.  Bauhaus is dark and intense whereas Tones on Tail is light and frothy – almost poppy – but always challenging and edgy.  Think pop music by David Lynch.  They didn’t last long – a clutch of singles and a solitary studio LP… plus about 30 compilations all mixing up the same stuff.  These were accompanied by a short UK/US tour, and whoosh – they were gone.  I wish they would come back – I think that this is the best thing Ash has done outside of Bauhaus.

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