New Order is one of the few bands I’ve loved since childhood and continue to do so well into my adult years. The band’s nervy, dystopian take on synth pop was almost a template for my nascent tastes, mixing deep bass grooves, crystalline synthesizer tones, frantic guitar work, and abstract lyrics about love, loss, society, and other fun nonsense.
In my humble opinion, 1985’s Low-Life was the pinnacle of this style, mixing hard dancefloor impulses with sweeping romanticism to unbelievable perfection. The lead single, The Perfect Kiss, came with an appropriately deadpan video directed by Jonathan Demme. Behold:
I’m writing about the most soulful, beautiful album I’ve heard this year. It just happens to have been recorded over thirty years ago.
I only mention current events in these weekly posts to give context to the words I write and the music I share. The circumstances in which we listen are important. Music might help buffer the hardness of the world, but he world informs it all the same.
That being said, I don’t even know what to say about what’s happening in America lately. Everyone seems to have lost hope. I know it’s not true, but dark attitudes are in the wind. I’m doing my part to remind those around me that things can and do get better. The fact that there’s always beautiful new music is enough proof for me.
This week I’ve only got two things to talk about, but they’re really important to me: Sade and the new Miles Davis biopic, Miles Ahead.
Prince created dozens of songs that will never leave my head, but this one stands out especially strong this week. To my ears, it’s the ultimate track off the second Prince & The Revolution album, Around The World In A Day.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s first hit, Just Like Honey, is one of the greatest rock songs of all time. This is as close to objective fact as you can get in the music world.
If you’re not familiar, you’ll know what I mean:
This song always makes me feel like I’ve been shot out of a cannon.
It’s a shot of pure adrenaline, that irrational rush of falling in love for the first time. Three whiplash minutes to express the insanity that throws into the atmosphere, leaving responsibility and real life below.
The forces of order try to capture the young lovers. A daring chase through the woods ends at a mysterious party, bursting with lights and color. The jig is up, but our heroine has a plan. Slapping handcuffs on her and her lover’s wrist, they take flight into the dark as the song spirals away.
The camerawork, the costumes, and the urgent sense of drama make this one of the best music videos of the 1980s, and all time as far as I’m concerned.
I’ve been in love with Kate Bush for a long time. Her music reached its pinnacle with the album Hounds Of Love, a weird mutant of operatic ambition, entrenched firmly within an 80s pop production framework. It’s as daring and progressive as anything she ever recorded, yet reaches the apex of pop perfection several times within its first half. The second half, subtitled The 9th Wave, takes us out into the open ocean before erasing any boundaries between the reflection and the stars.
I’m going to have to follow up with a post about her Running Up That Hill video.