Category Archives: post punk

Metal Box by Public Image Ltd (Virgin)

metalbox

HAVING just bought the 4 Men With Beards reissue of Metal Box from Piccadilly for an eye-watering 36 quid, I’m struck by a fortuitous piece of weird symmetry when I get home from town after the usual interminable endurance test that is the number 86 bus.

I’ve got the volume on the telly turned down and got as far into the album as Careering – which, pressed on thick 180-gram vinyl, still sounds enormous and magnificent and out there – when John Lydon’s Country Life butter ad comes on (part of a deal for which he reputedly earned a cool five million). Sound and vision somehow match up perfectly.

“It’s all about great butter,” boasts the strapline at the end of the ad.

I wonder if Lydon can even remember when it was all about great music?

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Off The Bone by The Cramps (Illegal Records)

IT WAS a girl who got me into the Cramps, inevitably.

She was older, wiser, more glamorous, more fashionable – hell, she had easily the biggest mohawk in Scunthorpe pretty much through the whole of the first half of the 1980s, probably even the rest of the 1980s too.

These things mattered, somehow.

The council put a parquet dancefloor over the municipal Baths Hall swimming pool in winter and hosted brass band competitions, pigeon club dinner-dances and bands like Chumbawamba, Faith No More, the Cardiacs and the Guana Batz – until 1am! In the morning! Imagine!

Desperately unfunny comedian Jasper Carrott even built a routine around a gig at the venue in the Seventies (“Play Scunthorpe Baths for 50 quid? I’d drink Scunthorpe Baths for 50 quid ..”). How we laughed.

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Unknown Pleasures & Closer by Joy Division (Factory Records)

GROWING up on the right side of the Pennines – the wrong side if you wanted a signal from Granada TV – I missed out on the influence of the Blessed Tony and his So It Goes televised punk-fest, and decent music on telly was pretty much limited to Top Of The Pops (well, if someone like PIL or Earth Wind & Fire were on) and The Old Grey Whistle Test.

John lived round the corner from me in the village where I grew up and we bonded over a mutual appreciation of John Peel’s late night Radio One show. Thanks to the influence of an arty-farty and trendy big brother, John used to wear RAF flying suits, dance like Richard Jobson and play me Kraftwerk, Devo and John Foxx albums. He also brought round the two Joy Division albums but they didn’t really make much of an impression. Probably a bit too subtle for me at the time.

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