Sep 172013

Years ago, when I was a college radio dj, some of the dance-oriented djs used to pull a mixing trick at the end of a track: while the record was playing, they would dramatically slow down the rpm and use that to seque to another song with the same or similar bpm. Or, to really make a point, they would slow the song down and just stop the record playing all together. I thought it was a pretty cool trick.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when I’m stuck in traffic driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, and just as the traffic starts to clear, New Order‘s “5 8 6” comes on my cd player. I had always liked New Order, but knew their singles better than their entire albums. So there I was listening to Power, Corruption and Lies, enjoying the car’s acceleration but also noticing that the 1983 track reflected the same Slow Slow Music technique that I had always associated with djs in the 90’s. (If you’re not a New Order fan, fast forward to around 7:05.)

But wait! There’s the technique again, this time as part of Joy Division‘s 1979 “Transmission.” (The technique is pretty obvious on this live version, even if John Cooper Clark talks over some of it.)

Is there a name for this Slow Slower Slowest Music technique? Were Joy Division inspired by some Kraut Rock or Kraftwerk number that I’m not aware of? Can you find other, earlier documented uses of this Slow Music fade out?

I look forward to the elucidation.

Apr 252012

I would’ve categorized this as “News” but…really? “News”?! I received this email the other day from a local radio station and it was entitled:



Here’s a quote from the note:

“A whole new world…” That’s what the legendary Joe Walsh told me as he described life as a sober Rock star. He’s feeling great, and we couldn’t be happier for him. I thought you might want to see the chat I had with Joe…”

Lots of questions come to mind after receiving this email and watching the video.

  1. Who cares? Seriously. Good for Joe but is this “Breaking News” worthy? Even coming from a radio station it doesn’t feel like a big-whoop to me. “Joe Walsh Dies” would be breaking news. “Joe Walsh Has a Sex Change Operation” could also be breaking news… And if it is breaking newsworthy then it begs the question: whoa, how much effing booze has this dude downed?
  2. He says in the video interview that he got sober in 1994. Did I hear that right? So that would be 18 years ago. I’m not a Joe Walsh follower and am not an Eagles fan but if this is right then what about “Joe Walsh is Sober” is breaking in any way?
  3. 1994. Feels like that is about 14—15 years too late anyhoo. Just me?
  4. Joe looks to be wearing a Joy Division t-shirt based on the Unknown Pleasures cover. WTF? This is in fact the most newsworthy piece of information to me.
Sep 212011

Everyone has their decade and judging by recent RTH threads, the 1960s topped many people’s lists for the Best Era of Rock. And although I appreciate the music of the 1960s, a large part of my heart is saved for the ’80s. Much of this connection reflects my personal experiences growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, followed by the watershed experience of receiving my first copy of the Trouser Press Record Guide. But as I’ve become older, I continue to listen to and think about a lot of this music.

So I offer this bridge to our fellow Townspersons who may sneer and consider the 1980s an era of ridiculous fashion and over-the-top musical groups. But it didn’t necessarily start out that way. I paraphrase the mighty Simon Reynolds in his stellar history, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978–1984, that 19781982 rivaled the years 19631967 in the amount of amazing music, the spirit of adventure and idealism, and the way the music was connected to the social and political events of the era.

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the Post Punk Years:

But first, a few words about Punk music.

Continue reading »

Sep 212011

I like some bands that get lumped under the “post-punk” banner, including at least three in particular that I object to frequently falling under that banner: Gang of Four, Public Image Ltd, and Joy Division. There’s a good chance that what I’m about to say is a case of me talking out my ass, at least in terms of the chronology of the term post-punk. I honestly don’t remember it being thrown around when I was a teenager getting into punk rock in the late-’70s/early-’80s. Do you? Do you actually remember that term carrying any weight in 1981, or is this a term that was, as I suspect and feel the blood rushing to my temples whenever I think about it, introduced years after the fact?

Maybe it was already in use in the then-legendary and completely annoying British music press at that time, but in the small world of US underground music fans, I don’t recall the term being applied to second-wave and lesser punk bands at the time. There were “No Wave” bands and other subgenres, but I remember them all being considered part of the broader punk (and New Wave) spectrum.

Life was simple then. There were fewer critical ghettos to annoy me.

Continue reading »

Oct 072010

First, what must have been the commercially released video to accompany this star-studded cover of The Buzzcocks’ most-successful song. A list of the contributing artists appears toward the end.

Then, if the notion of the UK as a small, close-knit music community unlike anything we could imagine in the United States still hasn’t hit you, there’s the following, more mind-blowing homemade video: Continue reading »

Mar 262010

Is there really a need for a set up beyond the title of this post? I really like Joy Division. I’ve liked them since I first heard them in college. I really dislike just about every band that was considered a contemporary of Joy Division (eg, Killing Joke – ugh!) and that has since followed in their wake. I did, however, like the first New Order ep and one of their hit songs from a year or two later, that one about a range of eye colors.

I can’t shake feeling a little weird whenever I find myself digging my old Joy Division albums, as I’ve been doing this morning. Is there an artist for you who is such an anomaly to your tastes that you kind of feel the need to duck from yourself?


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