Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stuck In The '80s

A funny thing has been happening in my music world this year. Many of the bands I was listening to 30 years ago have been resurrecting their careers and recording new albums. While this is not uncommon in music history, what has been surprising is the general quality of these new records. That is to say, they do not suck. Here are a few examples...

In January seminal post-punkers Gang Of Four put out Content, their first record of new material since 1995. Jon King and Andy Gill, now both 55 years old, are ripping it up with a new rhythm section. Their politics are intact - both when it comes to the ills of society and love - and the guitar riffs are as huge, angular and fierce as ever. The new rhythm section match the intensity of Andy's guitar with muscular deft. Thankfully, there is no aging gracefully here...


Wire also released a new record in January called Red Barked Tree. These guys have been on again/off again for the last 20 years, breaking up and reforming and recording. In the early 00's they returned with a vengeance, ditching their post punk sound for something approaching metal. The last few records have seen the band return to the style of music that they originally broke with, a mix of post-punk riffing, punk rock energy and some quieter, gentler moments. The overall quality of the music is amazing - check out Two Minutes - and the album will be on my end of year best-of list for sure!

I have always been a Duran Duran fan. Sure, there have been some lean years when I didn't buy the records, but I always kept up with them. Their latest album All You Need Is Now came out in March. Produced by Mark Ronson, it is, in my opinion, the logical follow up to 1982's Rio. Ronson clearly encouraged the band to recapture the zeitgeist of their early years, and he has done a bang up job. The songs are good, a mix of catchy dance floor movers and artful ballads. Kelis and Ana Matronic from Scissor Sisters make nice cameos. Simon's voice is great. Nick Rhodes' keyboards are as artfully tasteful as ever, adding just the right amount of gloss and pretention. Roger Taylor's drumming can still keep pace with John Taylor, who has to be one of the better bass players in music today. His signature popping and sliding are what drives the songs, and he sounds fantastic. A remarkable return to form that makes me very happy. I'm seeing them next week in a medium sized club setting - can you say geeked?


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