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Bristol Archive

The Bristol Post Punk Explosion 1978 to 1982 - Various Artists

The Bristol Post Punk Explosion 1978 to 1982 - Various Artists

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Preorder due for release 12th July

'Too Much Commotion - You Have Been Warned'. The post punk explosion of the late 1970's/early 1980's is regarded as one of the most exciting periods of music making explorations in Bristol. Half a century later (gulp!) the period is now being revisited, seen as being even more relevant as there is the 2020's surge of new acts reviving and mining the seam of the genre. Many of the original Bristol bands in question had either been featured on or been rocket fuelled inspired by the success of a local label's 1980 compilation album of bands from the city on 'Avon Calling', that was lauded, championed and played to death by John Peel. He rated the compilation of Bristol bands above those from Manchester and Liverpool, stating on air 'this really is the standard by which others should be judged in the future. It really is superb with not a bad track on it.'

That local label releasing it was Heartbeat Records, run by Simon Edwards (who also ran Riot City). Heartbeat was part of a coterie of Bristol indie's, such as Fried Egg, Wavelength and Recreational (the latter operating out of another central destination for music lovers, the Revolver record shop). The emergent labels were tapping into the range of musical talent responding to the challenges of a new decade, the Thatcher government tearing down hard fought for certainties and securities, allied to the impact of punk that had shifted the shape of the musical landscape so dramatically. The quasi-psychedelic, archly poetic Essential Bop even got as far as being praised to the skies in the NME by Paul Morley. Art Objects 'a beat combo fronted by a poet' became the better-known Blue Aeroplanes, and Electric Guitars somewhat incongruously signed to Stiff and - sadly - stiffed. Latif Gardez from Gardez Darkx signed with EMI and later Virgin. He would release two albums under the name Mystery Slang. Tim Norfolk from the artful, wacky and tight-fitting Shoes For Industry went on to become a member of The Insects and worked with Massive Attack.

What cannot be ignored all this time on when listening to so much of the Explosion album is the quality - the sheer attack of Art Objects, the angular extremities of Electric Guitars along with the caustic sneer of Fishfood. Then there is the more hipster Danceteria driven, percussive and horny frenetic grooves of Animal Magic, in marked variance to the loose-limbed, guitarless Scream & Dance.  This is all contrasting with more electronic vox ultra uber cool mensch and darker elements of Europeans (featuring later Specimen and Siouxsie and the Banshees guitarist, John Klein), Creature Beat and Colortapes (who had Mike Fewins, ex of The Cortinas, in their line-up).

Much can be found in the sheer lyricism of so many of the songs and groups. Glaxo Babies even recently performed in Bristol in their current iteration, Dan Catsis being the sole original member. The Objects/Aeroplanes main man Gerard Langley regarded the band in their heyday as the 'cornerstone of the Bristol scene' placing them above The Pop Group (usually ranked as being top dogs by national media, though Essential Bop regarded them as 'beatnik fascists') in that status. For Langley the Glaxos were 'both sophisticated and primitive, they were basically pre-post-punk punk. They were real man, and I loved them'. The Explosion album is the tip of the iceberg of the treasure trove of goodies from the era. Archive label owner Mike Darby, who compiled it, makes that plain: "There's easily enough for a great volume two.''

Side one

1. Art Objects - Hard Objects  
2. Glaxo Babies - Christine Keeler        
3. Animal Magic - Standard Man          
4. Electric Guitars - Beat Me Hollow (Demo)    
5. Creature Beat - She Won't Dance    
6. Shoes For Industry - Jerusalem         

Side two

1.Europeans - Europeans                        
2.Essential Bop - Croaked        
3.Gardez Darkx - Bliss
4.Fishfood - Modern Dance Craze        
5.Colortapes - Cold Anger        
6.Scream & Dance - In Rhythm     

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