PUNK ROCK RALLYING CRY
I wanted to do posts on two bands that don't have anything to do with eachother, then I realized both bands were on Rough Trade, so I guess that's the common thread today!
In early rock & roll a lot of songs started out with just the singer singing the first line, a capella, before the band would fall in. This gave the effect of a rallying cry, a call to arms: "Have you heard the news, there's a good-ah-rockin' tonight!" Most of Elvis's early singles started out this way: "Hound Dog", "Heartbreak Hotel", etc. etc. Then there's "Rock Around The Clock", "Great Balls Of Fire", "Blue Suede Shoes", you get the picture. With punk's ushering in of a new era you'd think there'd be lots of similar Punk Rock Rallying Cries, but I couldn't think of any! Johnny Rotten's "Rrright now!" kicks in after about 15 seconds of guitar-'n-drums fanfare in "Anarchy In The UK". Dave Vanian's muttered "Is she really going out with him?" intro to "New Rose" doesn't really count. It seems we have to look at the females; Poly Styrene wasn't afraid to start wailing unaccompanied by loud guitars, in fact almost every X Ray Spex tune starts off with her screeching the song title as loud as she can, but does that really count as part of the song? I can think of just one song in early (post-) punk that really starts like a battle cry, and that's "Aerosol Burns" by Essential Logic, whose singer Lora Logic also (coincidentally?) happened to be in X Ray Spex once.
As much as I love this tune, there's a couple of other Essential Logic tunes that I can't stand. And you're talking to someone who loves his Trout Mask Replica... It's just that Essential Logic sometimes sound like a bunch of school kids who, upon first hearing a Beefheart record, start writing songs that each have 200 breaks and tempo changes in them, and then think they're "like Beefheart".
A Rough Trade act that seems largely forgotten these days is the Monochrome Set. Strange, since they sound not unlike, say, the newly hip Orange Juice. I've read an interview with the guy who designed their "Strange Boutique" LP as well as all the Factory/ Joy Division stuff, and he's flat-out dismissing the band. Well, the Monochrome Set sure didn't take themselves as seriously as those doom & gloom-bands that were around at the same time (check out the hysterical laughing in the run-out groove of their "Symphonie Des Grauens" single). In a way, they were like an English counterpart to the Feelies, combining fast, frantic rhythms with clean, mathematically precise playing. Their drummer used to be in Savage Pencil's early punk group the Art Attacks, which probably accounts for the fast tempos (in that way they're like a pre-echo of the Smiths, another pop band with a punk drummer). Singer Bid had a uniquely fey/snotty style that was sort of hijacked a couple of years later by terrible '80's acts like Wang Chung and Men Without Hats... Maybe that's why they're still viewed as being uncool?
The song posted here, named "The Monochrome Set" after themselves (I can't believe I just said that...), also appeared on their first LP with Adam & The Ants-style Burundi drumming, tho' they predated the Antz by some 6 months! This is the single version on Rough Trade.
Essential Logic - Aerosol Burns (Kill Rock Stars website)
The Monochrome Set - The Monochrome Set
The Monochrome Set - Eine Symphonie Des Grauens (both 1979)