EDIT: It is now 84 songs with no repeated bands. I hate the heck out of Spotify, and don’t use it, but I have decided to start creating a playlist based on the music that I heard in alternative clubs in 88-92. It is a work in progress so this isn’t its final form. During those four years I went clubbing on a pretty regular basis, even multiple times a week. So, these are actual songs that were played back then not some fever dream of somebody who wishes they lived back then. Yes, rap/hip-hop songs were played at all of the alternative clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area back then, and I had a whole lot of fun dancing to them! From what I understand this was not as common in other areas of the US, so this list only represents what I experienced and is not indicative of what happened elsewhere.
Hope you have fun listening to this and discover songs that are new to you.
I went to my first ‘alterative’ club in early 1988 on my 17th birthday, and it was called One Step Beyond in Santa Clara California. For whatever reason their age limit was 17 and up instead of 18, and I had a friend that had a car so I know I was very lucky to get to experience this. My friend had graduated in 87 so I was the only teen from my high school that went. My mom was/is cool and never gave me a curfew and let me go.
What did I experience exactly? It was the tail end of new wave, so the older songs were still played regularly. Radio stations refused to play rap songs by certain artists like 2 Live Crew or NWA and alternative clubs such as One Step Beyond were among the only places that you could hear those bands being played. The American government was trying to get such bands banned for offensive lyrics so playing such music in a club setting was actually pretty forward thinking for the time.
Rather than me droning on and on I am going to be posting some songs that I vividly remember being played during that time at One Step Beyond, The Twilight Zone and The Edge. Each place had it’s own unique vibe. The Edge was close to Stanford University so it was where the wealthy students would go if they wanted to go slumming, but there was definitely a gaggle of weirdos that also went there. The Twilight Zone was in an old movie theatre lobby and had the best venue I have ever been to. It has sweeping staircases to a second level where you could look down on the dance-floor and it was all ages. Finally, One Step Beyond. It had the most diverse crowd out of the three. There were punkers, mods, skins, etc… and everybody pretty much got along.
These are in no sort of order and are songs that I heard during that time in the clubs. Notice how eclectic this list is? It’s why I loved these clubs. I think something was definitely lost when the goth nights started to pop up in the early 90’s and left a lot of this music behind.
Desireless – Voyage Voyage (1986)
Red Flag – If I Ever (1989)
Digital Underground – Doowutchyalike (1990)
A Flock Of Seagulls – Wishing (If I Had A Photograph) (1983)
Virgin Prunes – Pagan Love Song (1982)
2 Live Crew – Get It Girl (1987)
My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult- The Days Of Swine And Roses (1990)
Christian Death – Church Of No Return (1989)
Ofra Haza – Im Nin’Alu (1988)
Technotronic – Pump Up The Jam (1990)
Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself (1981)
Specimen – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (1983)
Fake – Another Brick (1985)
Laid Back – White Horse (1983)
Blancmange – Living On The Ceiling (1982)
Grandmaster Flash & Melle Mel – White Lines (Don’t Do It) (1983)
If you have been online for any amount of time in the goth community you will witness younglings who insist that Joy Division is a goth band. When you tell them that they were in a fact a post-punk band they squirm and squeal like a piglet and will call you an elitist or a gatekeeper for telling them the truth.
Why are Joy Division being pushed as a goth band by those who have no idea what they are on about? Because Joy Division quite often had sad lyrics. The younglings insist, and believe, that sadness = goth. If there was any truth to that then wouldn’t tons of country bands be considered goth? Or even Blues musicians? Both genres of music quite often have sad lyrics. It makes absolutely no sense. Seriously.
Joy Division is a very influential band who paved the way for a whole lot of post-punk and goth bands, but they themselves are not a goth band. But how can that be I can hear younglings asking. They quite often will site how producer Martin Hannett in 1979 called them a band with gothic overtones, without realizing that the terms goth and gothic actually mean two different things. The term gothic describes a dark style of architecture and literature, while the term goth is a descriptor for a form of music and subculture. Hannett was basically saying that their music had a darkness to it. Also, the goth subculture didn’t really start going till the early 80’s so he definitely wasn’t referencing that.
What can we learn from this lesson? That misinformation spreads like wildfire online. The internet is both a curse and a blessing for the goth subculture as a whole right now. On the one hand you have people wanting to learn about goth music which is a very cool thing. On the other hand you have people who have no idea what goth music is pushing unrelated genres such as Soundcloud rap as goth, which of course confuses the younglings.
Why do I care so much about this? Because I am sick and tired of seeing them being pushed into a genre that they were never a part of. All of this also raises an important question; why the hell are younglings so hellbent on calling everything goth these days? If they like something they will call it goth because they think that everything they like has to be goth or they aren’t a ‘true goth’. I’m not even joking about that. Instead of being themselves they want to fit inside a self imposed goth box that contains half truths and lies. In the 80’s and 90’s they were never considered goth, and no amount of tantrums by poseurs and wannabes is going to change that.
Everybody is losing their minds over this festival. It’s the culmination of all of the 80’s worshipping that has been going on for the last ten plus years in society. The fact that PiL and Morrissey are on the bill has scared some people off of it, but there is a HUGE issue going on behind the scene that is even more heinous. Philip Anschutz, the man putting this show on, has been donating money to anti-LGBTQ causes: Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council.
The Washington Post broke this story about five years ago, and the Daily Beast three years ago also wrote about it. The Daily Beast story is damning and really dives deep into the issue. When confronted Anschutz claimed that he didn’t know about his money funding those groups and that he would end it. He stated that his company was diverse and that he is for equal rights. Then a year or two after that it was found out, through his tax filings, that he had indeed stopped donating to those three anti-LGBTQ groups. However, he was now donating his money to two other equally problemic groups Dare 2 Share Ministries and Young Life, a youth ministry. On top of that he has been donating millions to conservative and libertarian groups, including ones linked to the Koch family.
I am really disappointed that some groups that I love are playing this show. I won’t stop listening to them, but it makes me wonder whether they actually do care about LGBTQ rights or not. The same thing can be said for all of the people planning to go to this. I think it’s highly hypocritical to go to this while also supporting LGBTQ rights, because they are handing a wad of cash to a man who has been proven to not give a shit about LGBTQ folks. I’m going to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this because I know that not everybody has heard about it. However, if they learn about this and still go then I will be questioning who they really are.
Before I begin I would like to state for the record that I know that Bono is an immense egomaniac and that the band hasn’t made a really good album since the 80’s. I only like their music up to and including this album so I am not one of those modern delusional U2 fans who think they can do no wrong.
I’m pretty sure I bought the cassette of this album in late 1985. It was before Joshua Tree was released and before I transferred high schools so it kind of had to have been that specific year. None of the friends that I had at that first high school liked them so I kind of got into them on my own. I remember hearing New Year’s Day on the radio a few years before and seeing that video on MTV as a young teen. By the time the song Pride, which is on this album, came out they were already on my radar and I decided to take the plunge and buy one of their albums. Thank you mom for giving me the money to buy this!
I can in no way overstate how important this album is to me, because it lead me into liking other bands. I remember reading somewhere about members of The Virgin Prunes growing up with the members of U2. So, I bought one of their albums and instantly got hooked. That in turn made me more open towards other ‘weirdo’ bands like Specimen. Also, I got into a lot of Irish post-punk bands, such as Blue In Heaven, that all had connections with one another or with U2.
So musically what makes this album so darn special? The entire album has a very haunting quality to it. There were hints of this on some of their earlier albums, such as New Year’s Day on War, but they went full force into it on this one. I think the pinnacle of this style on the album is the song The Unforgettable Fire. It’s my all time favourite U2 song and it still gives me major goosebumps.
I know that it’s really ‘in’ to hate all of U2’s work these days, which I think is a shame. Their first five albums are post-punk perfection. If it wasn’t for this album I wouldn’t be the mildly dramatic weirdo that I am today. It made me evolve my musical tastes and widen my horizons.
I don’t normally do music reviews, mainly because it’s kind of daunting since there is so much good music being made right now. However, I have decided that I could make it less difficult if I only review albums that I really connect with on a deeper level.
For those of you who don’t know who these two musicians are here is a rundown. They have been friends since childhood and were briefly in a band called Amuse before they set out on their own paths. David Long used to be in the Irish 80’s post-punk band Into Paradise, and Shane O’Neill used to be in the Irish 80’s post-punk band Blue In Heaven. They have collaborated before on the album Supernaught. I can honestly say that Shane is one of the most down to earth musicians I have ever had contact with, and I think its cool as hell that the both of them are still actively making music instead of only relying on their past output. Moving forward instead of living in the past.
When I first listened to this it struck me as sounding ‘dreamy’. Meaning that the guitar, bass and keyboards moved here and there in the songs in a smooth motion instead of in jagged breaks. It instantly reminds me of the more rhythmic albums by Lycia which can only be a good thing. The guitar in the songs tends to have some reverb while the bass is more straight forward and linear. It’s a nice contrast that really works well and it helps bring everything together. Musically this album fits into an indie box, but not strictly as there are definitely some touches of post-punk and even a little bit of ethereal goth thrown in for good measure.
The lyrics on this album are gorgeous. I’ve always been attracted to bands whose lyrics are on a level playing field with their instrumentation, and this album is a good example of that. My favourite lines have to be from the song Far From Home.
You said I was strong, and I would never break It’s not that easy, it’s not a choice that you make That day when the trucks arrived, I knew I had to leave Never saw what life could be and it brought me to my knees Makes me scared for what’s coming Makes me scared for what’s comingnow
I burnt your name on my skin to remind me Walk the roads far from home far behind me Do you still remember me? I’m not sure if i remember you I have got, nothing that I need
Moll & Zeis is available right now on Bandcamp. As an added bonus the lyrics are also on there, which I wish more bands would do.