slumberland podcast: crucial selections from Papa Slumber and associates.

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Definition '79 » posted Feb 10, 2008

by Kid Frostbite

I first put this mix together a few years ago when we were recording The Crabapples to show the engineer what kind of sounds we were looking for. I've wound up listening to it quite a bit since then though, and I think this batch of songs pretty well represents a lot of what inspired me to start the label and make music myself: smart, succinct tunes with equal measures of noise and melody, played with maximum passion and minimum nonsense.

  1. The Mekons - Where Were You? (7", Fast Product, 1978) - A spiteful punk rock love song from these Leeds legends. I'll be a heretic and say they're not my favorite band of all time, but the two singles on Fast always do the business for me.

  2. Subway Sect - Nobody's Scared (7", Braik, 1978) - Abrasively amazing artifact is the only real document of Subway Sect's first incarnation. I can only imagine how great an album they could have made at the time, and the recently released 1978 album of re-recorded 1977/1978 tracks only leaves me wanting the real thing.

  3. Swell Maps - Another Song (A Trip To Marineville LP, Rough Trade, 1979) - The Swell Maps kind of epitomize for me the prolific experimentation and restless energy of the early Rough Trade days. A total, glorious mess.

  4. Henry's Dress - Over 21 (7", Slumberland, 1996) - Henry's Dress were my favorite band for years and their records still blow my mind. An amazing mix of a super-catchy song and crazy guitar and bass noise, this song is from a split tour single with Rocketship and might be my favorite Dress moment.

  5. Blank Students - Background Music (Earcom 1 EP, Fast Product, 1979) - The post-punk DIY explosion was full of bands that made one great record or released one great song, and while I don't know anything about this band, the anonymity of it makes me love it even more.

  6. Jasmine Minks - What's Happening? (7", Creation, 1985) - Early Minks singles tend to be more modish and 60s sounding, but this single has kind of a spare, minimal punkiness to it that I always really loved. What a tune, what a band.

  7. Sportique - Definition '79 (Modern Museums 10", Matinée/WIAIWYA, 2002) - Greg Webster and mates delivered three mini-lps and a bunch of singles full of bristly, catchy, immediate punk-pop gems. This song argues for a rebirth of the DIY post-punk spirit of excitement, and I can dig it.

  8. Groove Farm - Just A Silly Phase I'm Going Through (Airspace II LP, Breaking Down, 1990) - Breathlessly fast guitar playing, shout-along vocals and quality indie horns. What's not to like?

  9. This Poison! - Poised Over The Pause Button (7", Reception, 1987) - The two This Poison! singles are just about legendary around my house. Being from Leeds and on Reception there is definitely a kinship to The Wedding Present, but TP! had incredible songs and a sound all their own. The comp on Egg is 100% essential.

  10. The Charlottes - Are You Happy Now? (7", Molesworth, 1988) - The Charlottes went on to some amount of shoegaze-pop fame on Subway and later Cherry Red, but this slice of rushing girlie pop is my favorite record of theirs. Dig the wild drumming!

  11. Mousefolk - Crazy Mixed-Up Kid (Songs Of Love And Hate EP, Teatime, 1989) - One of my absolute favorite post-C86 bands. Mousefolk were mainstays of the late 80s pop tape comp scene, and their is a sweet, homemade sincerity to their sound that elevates it way beyond most of the twee-by-the-numbers bands of that era. Plus, they rocked.

  12. Bubblegum Splash - Plastic Smile (Splashdown EP, Subway, 1987) - Only a few comp tracks and one single from this group, but what a single it is. Super-simple songs, basic buzzsaw guitar and, shall we say, untutored vocals. A great example of punk's "anyone can do it" ethic at the heart of C86 pop.

  13. The Slits - Shoplifting (Peel Session, 1977) - As much as I like Cut, there's something amazingly raw about the earlier '77-era tracks captured in their Peel Sessions and the untitled Rough Trade LP that really gets me going. "Let's Do The Split" is way up there as well - when the Slits played SF last year they had so much fun with it they played it twice. Pretty cool.

  14. The Killjoys - Johnny Won't Get To Heaven (7", Raw, 1977) - Nasty, bludgeoning '77 punk from the Midlands, featuring a young and apparently very angry Kevin Rowland. Pure amphetamine energy, and what a punchy sound. Classic single.

  15. Action Painting! - Laying The Lodger (7", Damaged Goods, 1994) - I have a very soft spot for Action Painting!'s noisier songs, and as much as I love "Classical Music" and "Collapsing Cloud," it's the out-of-control vibe of this single that marks it as my favorite. Magic.

  16. Boyracer - Spiteful Punk Rock Song #2 (AUL 36X EP, Slumberland, 1994) - One of my favorite bands of all time, so many songs to pick from how would you choose just one? This was the band's first Slumberland release and I have very fond memories of hearing them play it live and pogo-ing like a madman with A Turntable Friend's Ulrich.

  17. Buzzcocks - Breakdown (Spiral Scratch EP, New Hormones, 1977) - One could almost say the record that started it all. One of the first independently-released punk singles, and it just happens to be one of the best, IMHO. Howard Devoto's sneered, bored vocals are a perfect complement to the sawed-off, strangled guitar and tumbling drums. Buzzcocks are of course one of the greatest bands ever, but I'm surprised how many people I talk to aren't down with this record. Squares.

  18. Josef K - Sorry For Laughing (7", Crepuscule/Postcard, 1981) - The Postcard label remains a huge inspiration for me, and the alienated strum of this single is one of my faves. Josef K's blend of dark, angular post-punk and pop always surprises and delights, and I just love the trebly, scratchy guitar sound.

  19. Fire Engines - Lubricate Your Living Room (Lubricate Your Living Room LP, Fast Product, 1980) - What is it about Scotland? So much amazing music, and the Fire Engines post-Television/Velvet Underground guitar cacophony stands tall with the best. "Lubricate Your Living Room" was the theme to my radio show on WMUC back in the mid-80s, and even though I've listened to it about a thousand times I never tire of it. If you don't have their records already, the Fire Engines comp that Acute put out in 2007 is not to be missed.

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