Posts Tagged ‘Secondhand Daylight’

Magazine an English post-punk band active from 1977 to 1981, then again from 2009 to 2011. The band was formed by Howard Devoto . Devoto had decided to create a more progressive and less “traditional” rock band. Devoto formed Magazine in Manchester, he met guitarist McGeoch, then an art student, and they began writing songs, some of which would appear on the first Magazine album. They then recruited Barry Adamson on Bass, Bob Dickinson on keyboards and Martin Jackson (previously of the Freshies) on drums, forming the first lineup of the band.

After signing to Virgin RecordsMagazine’s front man, Howard Devoto had co-formed Buzzcocks with Pete Shelley after the pair had seen The Sex Pistols in early 1976 and promoted the now legendary Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall gigs. Devoto left the band in 1977, after the seminal ‘Spiral Scratch’ EP had been released, and created Magazine.

Magazine reunited in 2009 for a UK tour, with almost all the remaining members of the “classic” line-up, with the exception of guitarist John McGeoch, who died in 2004.

Enduringly credible, Magazine have always been the connoisseur’s choice and frequently name checked by some of the most gifted musicians of recent years including Radiohead, Morrissey, Jarvis Cocker and U2. The NME rated Magazine in a poll as one of the most influential bands of all time. Magazine’s front man, Their first record was the post-punk anthem ‘Shot By Both Sides’.

Initially, the departure from punk was not complete. “Shot by Both Sides,” the band’s first single, was based off an old riff given by Devoto’s Buzzcocks partner Pete Shelley, and the guts of follow-up single “Touch and Go” were rather basic rev-and-vroom. And, like many punk bands, Magazine would likely cite David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Roxy Music. However — this point is crucial — instead of playing mindlessly sloppy variants of “Hang on to Yourself,” “Search and Destroy,” and “Virginia Plain,” the band was inspired by the much more adventurous Low, The Idiot, and “For Your Pleasure.” That is the driving force behind “Real Life’s” status as one of the post-punk era’s major jump-off points. Punk’s untethered energy is rigidly controlled, run through arrangements that are tightly wound, herky-jerky, unpredictable, proficiently dynamic.

The rapidly careening “Shot by Both Sides” (up there with PiL’s “Public Image” as an indelible post-punk single) and the slowly unfolding “Parade” (the closest thing to a ballad, its hook is “Sometimes I forget that we’re supposed to be in love”) are equally ill-at-ease. The dynamism is all the more perceptible when Dave Formula’s alternately flighty and assaultive keyboards are present: the opening “Definitive Gaze,” for instance, switches between a sci-fi love theme and the score for a chase scene.

As close as the band comes to upstaging Devoto, the singer is central, with his live wire tendencies typically enhanced, rather than truly outshined, by his mates. The interplay is at its best in “The Light Pours out of Me,” a song that defines Magazine more than “Shot by Both Sides,” while also functioning as the closest the band got to making an anthem. Various aspects of Devoto’s personality and legacy, truly brought forth throughout this album.

The album was ranked at No. 20 among the top “Albums of the Year” for 1978 by NME, with “Shot by Both Sides” ranked at No. 9 among the year’s top tracks

Magazine’s second album, “Secondhand Daylight”, was released in 1979, reaching the UK Top 40. The album featured a greater use of synthesisers. That same year, McGeoch, Adamson and Formula joined electronic project Visage, recording and releasing the single “Tar”.

Secondhand Daylight“, the second Magazine album, sounds like it must have been made in the dead of winter. You can imagine the steam coming out of Howard Devoto’s mouth as he projects lines like “I was cold at an equally cold place,” “The voyeur will realize this is not a sight for his sore eyes,” “It just came to pieces in our hands,” and “Today I bumped into you again, I have no idea what you want.”

You can picture Dave Formula swiping frost off his keys and Barry Adamson blowing on his hands during the intro to “Feed the Enemy,” as guitarist John McGeoch and drummer John Doyle zip their parkas. From start to finish, this is a showcase for Formula’s chilling but expressive keyboard work.

Given more freedom to stretch out and even dominate on occasion, Formula seems to release as many demons as Devoto, whether it is through low-end synthesizer drones or violent piano vamps. Detached tales of relationships damaged beyond repair fill the album, and the band isn’t nearly as bouncy as it is on “Real Life” or “The Correct Use of Soap” — it’s almost as if they were instructed to play with as little physical motion as possible.

The drums in particular sound brittle and on the brink of piercing the ears. Despite the sub-zero climate, the lack of dance numbers, and the shortage of snappy melodies, the album isn’t entirely impenetrable. It lacks the immediate impact of “Real Life” and “The Correct Use of Soap“, but it deserves just as much recognition for its compellingly sustained petulance. Even if you can’t get into it, you have to at least marvel at “Permafrost.” The album’s finale, it’s an elegant five-minute sneer, and as far as late-’70s yearbook scribbles are concerned, “As the day stops dead, at the place where we’re lost, I will drug you and f*ck you on the permafrost” is less innocuous than “All we are is dust in the wind.”

After the release of “Secondhand Daylight”, Devoto decided to change producers. He chose Martin Hannett, who produced their next album, “The Correct Use of Soap”, released the following year and again making the Top 30. Following its release, McGeoch decided to leave the band, tired of Magazine’s low sales and their less guitar-oriented songs. He soon joined Siouxsie and the Banshees. To replace him, the band hired Robin Simon, who had been in Ultravox and Neo. That line-up toured across Europe and Australia, recording their next release, the live album “Play”. Simon made some initial recordings and rehearsals for what would be the next Magazine album, including co-writing the song “So Lucky”, but he left the band before the album was released so that he could record the John Foxx solo album The Garden.

This is something of a return to standard operational form for Magazine, who thawed after recording “Secondhand Daylight” to throw together an energetic batch of colourful and rhythmically intricate songs. It’s an unexpected move considering that they enlisted Martin Hannett the master of the grey hues, as the producer. A looser, poppier album than its predecessors — somewhat ironically, a cover of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” is the most subdued song — it features the rhythm section of John Doyle and Barry Adamson at their taut, flexible best and guitarist John McGeoch at his most cunningly percussive.

Save for the called-for razzle-dazzle on “Sweetheart Contract,” keyboardist Dave Formula takes more of a back seat, using piano more frequently and no longer driving the songs to the point of detracting from the greatness of his mates, as the most frequent complaint of “Secondhand Daylight” goes. Howard Devoto’s lyrics are also a little less depressive, though they’re no less biting.

The closing “A Song from Under the Floorboards” — another near-anthem, an unofficial sequel to “The Light Pours Out of Me” — includes sticking Devoto-isms like “My irritability keeps me alive and kicking” and “I know the meaning of life, it doesn’t help me a bit.” His themes of distrust and romantic turbulence remain focal, evident in “You Never Knew Me” (“Do you want the truth or do you want your sanity?”) and “I Want to Burn Again” (“I met your lover yesterday, wearing some things I left at your place, singing a song that means a lot to me”). “Because You’re Frightened” is the closest they came to making a new wave hit, zipping along with as much unstoppable buoyancy as Lene Lovich’s “New Toy” or the Teardrop Explodes’ “Reward,” yet it’s all fraught nerves and paranoia: “Look what fear’s done to my body!” Song for song, the album isn’t quite on the level of Real Life, but it is more effective as a point of entry.

Again without a guitarist, Devoto called in his former college friend at Bolton, Ben Mandelson (a former Amazorblades member). This line-up completed the 1981 recording of the band’s fourth studio album, “Magic, Murder and the Weather”, but Devoto himself quit in May of the same year, months before its release, and the remaining members decided to disband. Magazine’s final studio album, Magic, Murder and the Weather, finds Dave Formula’s washes of cold, brittle keyboards dominating the bitter and cynical music. Occasionally, Howard Devoto’s weary lyrics surface through the icy mix, but it’s clear that Devoto and Magazine have both had better days. It’s not a graceful way to bow out, but the album has enough strong moments to prevent it from being an embarrassment as well.

A year later, “After the Fact”, the first Magazine compilation, was released.

Four ground breaking albums later and the band had parted company, leaving behind an influential body of work which was re-released by Virgin EMI in 2008

In February 2009, original members Howard Devoto, Dave Formula, Barry Adamson and John Doyle were joined by former Luxuria collaborator Noko on guitar to play a handful of concerts across the UK. It was the first time Magazine had played live together since 1980.

In October 2011 Magazine released their 5th studio album, ‘No Thyself’ – their first new material since 1982, and embarked on a UK tour in November which ended at Shepherds Bush Empire on November 11th.

No Thyself” is the fifth and final studio album by the band, and the first since their 2009 reformation. It was released on the Wire-Sound label on 24th October 2011, about 30 years after the release of their first studio album, 

Bass guitarist Barry Adamson, while still remaining a member of Magazine, did not participate in the making of “No Thyself “ due to prior obligations in film music.Guitarist John McGeoch had died in 2004. Both musicians had been so important in previous line-ups Pete Shelley, who had founded the band Buzzcocks with Magazine singer Howard Devoto, co-writing early Buzzcocks material and one Magazine song together, contributed to the writing of the first track. 

The BBC rated the album 9 out of 10, saying: “The surprise excellence of the songs and the music makes this the long-overdue fourth great Magazine album. Thirty years ago, Howard Devoto sang of wanting to burn again. And here he is, doing exactly that.

The Guardian gave it 8 of 10 and said: “No Thyself” could be the fourth album they should have made instead of 1981’s “Magic, Murder and the Weather”, which badly missed departed John McGeoch. Here, guitarist Noko and bassist John “Stan” White (replacing Adamson, who had film commitments) help recapture the sonic blueprint laid down on the first three classic albums”.

Mojo Magazine gave it 8 of 10 and said: “In 10 crisp, playful songs restores the exalted standards of the band’s legend” (referring to the standard 10-track edition)

Magazine were the most criminally underrated band in the past 25 years of British pop . Howard Devoto was a total pop genius, but he was a slightly misshaped pop star and I think nobody really got him. Simple Minds should not have been big, but Magazine should have.

Magazine – Peel Session 1978,

Magazine: The Complete John Peel Sessions” is a collection of 15 tracks the band recorded for John Peel’s legendary BBC Radio One show, stretching from 1980 back to 1978 (just a few months after the band played their first concert). And it captures the band at the absolute top of their game.

A little over half of the album is from the first two sessions, in 1978, and they are by far the most interesting. For the fan, there’s the thrill of hearing alternate versions of the band’s most famous tracks, like “The Light Pours Out of Me”, “Touch and Go”, and “Definitive Gaze”, appearing here as “Real Life (AKA Definitive Gaze)”. Most of the difference is in the keyboards of Dave Formula, who is allowed to go on furious knob-twiddling flights here that were severely toned down for their proper albums. There are also blazing covers of Captain Beefheart’s “I Love You, You Big Dummy” and “Boredom”, which Devoto originally sang on the Buzzcock’s debut, “Spiral Scratch” EP. For the uninitiated, there’s really no better way to be introduced to Magazine than the tracks collected here. From the opening strains of “Touch and Go”, the album’s opener, this record grabs the listener and doesn’t let go. The synths cascade, the the cymbals crash, and Devoto’s voice reaches out across the decades with a youthful urgency that is impossible to turn away from. Pioneering artistic merits aside, it’s simply impossible to stop listening to.

The complete session recorded by Magazine on 14th February 1978 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 20th of that month.

Sadly, the same can’t be said of the rest of the album. Granted, there is not a lot of curatorial leeway in something called “The Complete Peel Sessions” — it’s complete, full stop. You’re as obliged to include the stirring “The Light Pours Out of Me” as you are the strained white-funk homage-cover of Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)”. Admittedly, the last sessions have a few gems: a great rendition of one of the band’s most famous tracks, like “A Song from Under the Floorboards”, the overstuffed !!!-esque dance-funk precursor “Twenty Years Ago”, and “Look What You’ve Done to My Body (Because You’re Frightened)”.

Tracklist: 1. Touch And Go (0:07) 2. The Light Pours Out Of Me (2:57) 3. Real Life (Definitive Gaze) (7:16) 4. My Mind Ain’t So Open (11:19)

Magazine – Peel Session 1979

The complete session recorded by Magazine on 8th May 1979 for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 and broadcast on the 14th of that month. This recording is taken from the repeat on 5 June 1979.

Tracklist: 1. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) (0:18) 2. TV Baby (4:28) 3. Permafrost (8:19)

Magazine – Peel Session 1980,

The complete session recorded by Magazine for the John Peel show on BBC Radio 1 on 7 January 1980 and first broadcast a week later on the 14th. Produced by Tony Wilson.

Tracklist: 1. A Song From Under The Floorboards (0:07) 2. Twenty Years Ago (4:24) 3. Look What Fear Has Done To My Body (7:22) 4. Model Worker (11:18)

Despite a few minor shortcomings inherent to its comprehensive collection, “Magazine: The Complete John Peel Sessions” is a compelling document of one of post-punk’s most fascinating acts in its prime.