I have spent a large part of the last week in the 1980s, largely thanks to Spotify’s new recommendation feature.
I was a bit miffed when the page that used to show new releases was replaced by something called ‘discover’, and then I was amused when it started giving bizarre recommendations, but I’m starting to like it. I may not be discovering so much new contemporary music, but I’m finding a lot of old stuff that is new to me.Earlier in the week I got a recommentation to listen to something called ESG because I had been listening to Suicide, so I did and it was bloody brilliant. The first track I heard was keyboard-heavy so I could see where the Suicide link came in. Other tracks had a sort of garage rock feel but were funky. A bit like Talking Heads in places. I thought it was another of those retro bands taking in loads of influences from the 70s and 80s but was amazed to find out they were from the 80s!
I looked them up on Wikipedia and its a fascinating story: the four fabulously-named Scroggins sisters plus some friends formed the band and spent 30 years going in and out of fashion, retiring, reforming, retiring and probably influencing some of the artists that I initially thought they were ripping off.
I went on a bit of a binge, wondering how I never heard of them. I’m sure that if I had heard this stuff when it came out I would have been buying it all up.
On its own that was enough to make it a good week, and then a couple of days later the same thing happened. I was pointed at a new live album by somebody called Information Society and liked it straight away. It started with some Kraftwerk-ish vocoder and carried on sounding a bit like the Chemical Brothers and the Prodigy but with some retro synth sounds thrown in in. There was even a track called I Like The Way You Werk It with some Kraftwerk samples in it.
Yet again I was stunned to find that the band started in 1982. I know that I would have been totally hooked on this if I had heard it then. Better late than never, but I really feel that I missed out on years of listening.
After that I searched out other 80s acts that had passed me by, like the Motels, Missing Persons, Romeo Void and the Smithereens. Some good stuff, but not a patch on ESG or Information Society, which both sound as if they could be current. Listen to Missing Persons, for example, and you just know it has to be the 1980’s to the extent that t made me feel nostalgic even though I had never heard it before.
I’m now wondering what else I missed out on. I was starting to think that I could forget about ever needing to listen to new albums at all as I could probably see out my days exploring the gaps in my experience of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Then I listened to the new Franz Ferdinand album and decided that there id still a place for ‘a bit of new’ after all.