For whatever reason, my brain isn’t seeing things in the wide-angle, synthetic view that I try to take with my staff picks, so instead this week I’m just going to tell you about 5 things I’ve recently listened to.
Poly Styrene: Talk in Toytown 7” (1980)
Despite being a pretty big X-Ray Spex fan, I’ve never checked out Poly Styrene’s solo material. In fact, when I came across this single I had forgotten she had a solo career, and consequently went in with zero expectations. “Talk in Toytown” is a reggae-inflected, synth-heavy song that I like. While it doesn’t have the anthemic exuberance of X-Ray Spex, it has similar artsy cool to her old bandmate Lora Logic, who I’ve been listening to a lot lately.
Destroy All Monsters: What Do I Get 7” (1979)
Third single by this post-Stooges Ron Asheton band. We’ve had those singles come through the shop a few times and I’ve always passed on them in favor of things higher on the want list. Now I’ve fixed the first of three mistakes. I listen to Destroy All Monsters’ compilation CD all the time… it’s in that pocket of hooky rock and roll where I’d place the Heartbreakers.
Various: Recommended Records Sampler 2x12” (1982)
The copy of this double LP I picked up is warped and the first couple of songs on each side don’t play, but there’s still a wealth of great music here. Recommended Records released a slew of music in the 80s with an eclectic roster that drew from across the left field, from free jazz to post-punk to 20th century classical. All of that and then some is represented here. While some artists on the label are a lot to handle in larger doses (I struggle to get through entire Residents albums), the sampler format works well here.
Pink Lincolns: Back from the Pink Room 12” (1987)
Florida’s Pink Lincolns are one of those bands I stumbled onto semi-randomly in my youth. I can’t remember if I knew their name because Ben Weasel wears a Pink Lincolns shirt on the insert of a Screeching Weasel record, or if I just ordered all three volumes of their Sumo Fumes series of EPs because they were super cheap, but I had them when I could count the number of pieces in my 7” collection on my fingers and toes. The Pink Lincolns may very well be the band who introduced me to Wire, which is crazy to think about. Anyway, Back from the Pink Room still sounds good to me, snotty and obnoxious like Boogada-era Screeching Weasel, but with more nuanced, UK 77-influenced songwriting (think Buzzcocks and Generation X). I come back to this record every few years and I’m always glad I did.
Public Image Ltd.: Commercial Zone 12” (1984)
I thought I wrote a little about Commercial Zone when I chose Public Image’s Live in Tokyo as my staff pick some time ago (turns out I was remembering incorrectly), but I have been on the lookout for this record for a while and finally got a copy. I love the first three PiL albums, but nothing later in their discography has ever moved me. Commercial Zone, a kind of “lost” album between the third and fourth ones, which is about as close as we’ll ever get to another great PiL album. Some of these songs appear on This Is What You Want, but they’re de-sucked here. They might lack the monstrous tone of original bassist Jah Wobble, but they still have some spark of PiL’s original brilliance.