RoD header


va generationunderground1
Artist: Various Artists
Title: Generation Underground
Genre: Punk / Post Punk / New Wave
Release Date: 2nd September 2011
Label: EMI

Album Review

Is it a paradox that EMI, a major label which is completely owned by the Citigroup, is releasing this ‘Generation Underground’? At the end the question is not who was in the Underground scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s but how it emerged. On that front I think that one should blame or thank the CIA for the Operation Mockingbird back in the 50’s which pretty much funded a series of artists in every field of the human expression. This funding was an essential part of the Cultural Cold War. In the late 70’s the Cold War was about to enter its last and from some points of view rather wild phases which at the same time made the underground scene to bloom exponentially. Another interesting thing, semantically speaking is that EMI preferred to leave outside of this collection some bands which were signed like COCNEY REJECTS, SEX PISTOLS, ANGELIC UPSTARTS, KRAFTWERK, SUZI QUATRO in order to favour some others which never belonged to the EMI. Are we serious? They’ve put here the UNDERWORLD and some of their likes?

Let me run a brief review of the bands and songs in this compilation. The NEW ORDER arose out of the ashes of the JOY DIVISION and though in their start they were in the latter’s shadow soon they were recognised as an influential band. This song comes from their debut single in 1981 and the past of the band and its future are both present. ‘Public Image’ belongs to the debut single of the PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED the band which probably defined the term post-rock and in this song they launch their attack against Malcolm McClaren and his exploitative tricks towards the SEX PISTOLS. By the way when the SEX PISTOLS were signed by the EMI there weren’t any tricks played by the company towards them? I don’t think that IGGY POP needs any special introduction; ‘The Passenger’ is one of-all-time classics, in a league of its own. NEW MODEL ARMY was and is one of the biggest Post-Punk bands and in the ‘51st State’ Thatcher gets it in the ear for transforming the UK to the tail of the U.S. In 1981 THE TEARDROP EXPLODES are releasing the ‘Reward’ a song that lingers between the Post-Punk and the New Wave. It is surely a band that deserves to be re-discovered.

Another of the New wave bands was THE VAPORS and ‘Turning Japanese’ was their biggest hit back in 1980, a song that has tremendous fun and it is a party-must. MARTHA AND THE MUFFINS was a synth-pop band and ‘Echo Beach’ was an international hit in 1980. More than a place the song is about a state of mind away from the world. I presume it symbolises a return to the maternal womb. MORRISSEY (no, he is not a racist, everything is a set-up by his enemies most notably the NME who cannot understand his English) at times remembers that he can actually sing and ‘Suedehead’ was undeniably one of his best songs. Another British new wave band were the XTC and in 1979 they release ‘Making Plans For Nigel’ a wonderfully sad song about a worker in the steel industry and his “happiness” about it. The PIGBAG was a Post Punk band flirting with dance aspects and ‘Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag’ was a major hit back in the 1981. Absolutely enjoyable song. Captain Sensible quitting THE DAMNED formed his own band and the ‘Glad It Is All Over’ has something between post punk, reggae and dance aspects while its theme is against the Falklands War.

THE STRANGLERS are one of the biggest bands ever, intelligent and talented playing this Post Punk and New Wave mixture. ‘Walk On By’ is one of their most characteristic songs and it is brilliant. THE WIRE had very striking keyboards and even more striking lyrics, influenced by the Situationists. They never larked off politics and ‘I am The Fly’ is a Punk anthem coming from 1978. DEVO knew something about Surrealism and added tremendous doses of experimentation in their music without actually ever leaving the Punk area. Their performances as DOVE - a Christian soft rock band (!) show something from their provoking aspects. ‘Mongoloid’ was a surreal and catchy song about a dull worker. KILLING JOKE proved to be one of the major influences to bands from MINISTRY and RAMMSTEIN to TOOL, NAPALM DEATH, METALLICA and NINE INCH NAILS and that despite of the fact that never had been commercially successful. How did that happened? Maybe due to their magnificently pessimistic lyrics and their tendency to experiment with more aggressive aspects without forgetting to add a Synth Pop and dance feeling to their music.

ALIEN SEX FIEND is a legendary band which combined Post punk, early industrial and Psychobilly. ‘EST’ is the song largely known as ‘Trip To The Moon’ which back in 1984 was a majorly trippy hit of the band. Let’s ‘Talk About The Weather’ sing RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY, one of the best songs ever written about a devastated love with Chris Reeds’ out-of-the-grave vocals to underpin perfectly the subject matter. UNDERWORLD is an Electronic / Funk band inspired by the KRAFTWERK and ‘Underneath The Radar’ is a fine example why the 80’s should end and never commemorated again. THE BOLLOCK BROTHERS - put aside their inspiring name - as a Punk band never had a great carrier but they had their good moments. ‘Faith Healer’ was a great song but I’m afraid it came way too late. In 1986 the listeners were orientated to different aspects of music even in the underground.

As for the second CD, THE SISTERS OF MERCY open it with ‘Temple Of Love’ featuring Ofra Haza in the vocals. Absolutely fantastic song, need I say more? ESCAPE WITH ROMEO is band that is in the verge of New Wave with Electronic music and ‘Somebody’ is for very sensitive listeners. Anne Clark shows not only why she is a great lyricist but why her songs are so catchy and influential. An almost apocalyptic electro and New Wave soundscape compose ‘Sleeper In Metropolis’, an avant-garde anthem. LIAISONS DANGEREUSES founded by Mania D of EISTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN and Chrislo Haas of DAF (plus Krishna Goineau on the vocals) was one of the early Electro-punk / Neue Deutsche Welle bands. ‘Los Ninios Del Parque’ was one of their best songs and a rare one to find from their debut album in 1981. Another important band is NITZER EBB with its post-Industrial sound. The band members used to talk to the trees and had an occult interest but when they sung they had their own way.

From DAF’s ‘Alles Ist Gut’ (1981), EMI selected ‘Als Wär's Das Letzte Mal’ and not ‘Der Mussolini’ I guess because no one wants to grief bankers suffering from heart attack. DAF are capable of doing this and that’s a part of their influence and legacy in the underground music. I don’t think that anyone will dispute the brilliancy of LAIBACH which are represented here with the rather rare German version of ‘Life Is Life’ of OPUS. A twisted and grand song. FAD GADGET was characterised by his pioneering spirit which at the same time was able to produce great songs and ‘Ricky’s hand’ is not an exemption to this rule. Danceable drill tunes and electro -orchestral approaches can give amazing results when you have the talent and FAD GADGET had it in abundance. When the discussion comes to YELLO it is interesting to remember that this band was always appealing both to the Pop and the Underground culture as well. Electronic rhythms and sardonic lyrics compose the ‘Bostich’, a song released in 1981. Just in case the only song you remember out of them was ‘The Race’.

‘Warm Leatherette’, (1978) which is included here from THE NORMAL, is a rare song inspired by Ballard’s novel ‘Crash’. Minimal electronics with Punk attitude (and technical ability as well) describe this rather weird but fascinating song. This brings us to the term Punk. When it was first used describing this style of music? The answer is here and it is SUICIDE. Indeed, this band first used this term on a leaflet in 1970. On 1977 they released ‘Ghost rider’ inspired by what else but the famous comic book a song that stands between the No Wave and early Punk sounds. THE HUMAN LEAGUE is another band that needs no specific introduction. They played a very unique version of Electro-Pop and New Wave and ‘Circus Of Death’ is not just good but bloody brilliant. In 1980 the TUXEDOMOON release ‘Dark Companion’. It isn’t in the heights of ‘No Tears’ nevertheless it shows the experimental aspect of the band something that would be clearer the next years after releasing the score for a ballet by Maurice Béjart.

‘Mexican Radio’ (1983) was a major hit for THE VOODOO WALL, a New Wave and Post Punk band which infused this song with a tremendous sense of humour. The “I wish I was in Tijuana eating barbequed iguana” speaks volumes! GANG OF FOUR was that important that even Cobain once stated that NIRVANA started as a GANG OF FOUR rip off. They were interested in political/social messages and their Punk music was enriched by Funk and Reggae sounds. ‘(Love like) Anthrax’ launches a lethal attack on the idealist love. If DEAD KENNEDYS weren’t around someone should have had to invent them. Taking shit from no one, song by song they insulted militarism, conformity, punks, politicians, religions pretty much anything. It is a band that deserves to be discovered in vinyl so you can read the leaflets and the press the originals included. As far as it concerns RAMONES they had this tremendous talent to make great and damn catchy music out of pretty bad situations. They are sorely missed.

It’s certain that the personnel of EMI responsible for this collection knew very well what they were doing. It appeals to nostalgic fans, to new fans who want to look back at some history, altogether a commendable release.


01. New Order – Ceremony
02. Public Image Limited – Public Image
03. Iggy Pop – The Passenger
04. New Model Army – 51st State
05. The Teardrop Explodes – Reward
06. The Vapors – Turning Japanese
07. Martha And The Muffins – Echo Beach
08. Morrissey – Suedehead
09. XTC – Making Plans For Nigel
10. PigBag – Papa’s Got A Brand New Pigbag
11. Captain Sensible – Glad It’s All Over
12. The Stranglers – Walk On By
13. Wire – I Am The Fly
14. Devo – Mongoloid
15. Killing Joke – Are You Receiving
16. Alien Sex Fiend – EST
17. Red Lorry Yellow Lorry – Talk About The Weather
18. Underworld – Underneath The Radar
19. The Bollock Brothers – Faith Healer

01. Sisters Of Mercy – Temple Of Love
02. Escape With Romeo – Somebody
03. Anne Clark – Sleeper In Metropolis
04. Liaisons Dangereuses – Los Ninos Del Parque
05. Nitzer Ebb – Getting Closer
06. DAF – Als Wär’s Das Letzte Mal
07. Laibach – Leben Heißt Leben
08. Fad Gadget – Ricky’s Hand
09. Yello – Bostich
10. The Normal – Warm Leatherette
11. Suicide - Ghost Rider
12. Cabaret Voltaire – Nag Nag Nag
13. The Human League – Circus Of Death
14. Tuxedomoon – Dark Companion
15. Wall Of Voodoo – Mexican Radio
16. Gang Of Four – Love Like Anthrax
17. Dead Kennedys – Holiday In Cambodia
18. The Ramones – Somebody Put Something In My Drink


Cover Picture

va generationunderground1


Music: 8
Sound: 9
Total: 8.5 / 10

See also (all categories):

Comments powered by CComment