Here are more significant bands that I collect and have never seen perform live. The list continues with some notable highlights.
- Pulp – As a former Anglophile, the widespread house/rave/baggy-whatever-the-hell-you-call-it style of the late 80s and early 90s in England was enough to send me packing to the US garage rock underground by the onset of the 90s. The first British band I heard in untold years that attracted my ear in a big way were Pulp. I heard their wondrous “Do You Remember The First Time” on college radio in 1993 when their breakthrough “His + Hers” album was released. I quickly bought it and was treated to a masterpiece like I hadn’t heard in ages. The music was clearly informed by New Wave. Not surprising since the band had been around for a decade by that time. They proffered a tantalizing blend of guitars, drums and keyboards that was a balm for my ears in the rave/grunge era. What sent Pulp to the top of my listening list at the time were the brilliant lyrics of social observation and vivid portraits of very realistic characters that spilled from the pen of Jarvis Cocker. Pitchfork rated their single “Common People” as the #2 song of the 90s. I have no such reservations. I simply can’t imagine any other song of that musically impoverished decade coming within missile distance of its unique blend of passion, anger and pathos. Unfortunately, never once did that band play a tour in the US where I could go and see them. I’ve found out ex post facto of Pulp appearances opening for other [lesser] acts in Atlanta that, had I known at the time, I surely would have made the efforts to see them. The group disbanded in 2001 on the heels of their final, unsuccessful [but magnificent – as produced by Scott Walker] album “We Love Life.” I can’t imagine a better album to bow out with. Nine years later they are now regrouping for a series of concerts in the UK. They finally have an official website and a mailing list so if they hit these shores, at least now I’ll know about it!
- Spandau Ballet – After hearing about these would-be New Romantics, who were also signed to Chrysalis like the pace setting Ultravox at the time, I bought their debut album without hearing a note. What I got was leaden riffs of rudimentary synths capped off with the borderline ludicrous vocals of Tony Hadley. Color me not impressed. Then their next album period saw them switching allegiance to the UK ’81 funk trend. Lame. Then in 1983, I managed to hear the zippy “Lifeline” and I liked it so much, I went out and bought the 12″ single as part of my weekly record shopping. The “True” album was then released and I wasted no time in purchasing that release. It was a smooth R&B blend of tunes that finally gave the “distinctive” vocals of Hadley a sympathetic canvas on which to be daubed. The Vegas in his soul had finally found an out in these new songs of songwriter Gary Kemp. The “Spandau Ballet Over Britain” video concert was shown on MTV and that was it. Sign me up. I became enough of a fan to work my way backward through their back catalogue, eventually becoming the staunchest of defenders of the [brilliant and flawed] “Diamond” album that I had turned up my nose at a few years earlier. At the time of Spandau’s US tour for their fourth album, “Parade,” they were scheduled to open for the faux Power Station, then touring without Robert Palmer [sacrilege!] and with notable UK lunkead Michael Des Barres instead. I had tickets for the Tampa show and come hell or high water, I was going to be there to at least enjoy their opening set. Except that sax player Steve Norman broke his leg and the tour was cancelled. No further chances to see Spandau Ballet materialized until the group limped off the pages of history in 1990. Until their against-all-odds reformation in 2009! But thus far, the shows have been only on European soil.
- The Stranglers – I dearly love this truculent UK band who pre-dated punk yet because of their bad attitudes, managed to ride the coattails of the punk rock explosion, even though they were very talented musicians – and significantly older than their expectorating peers of the Class of ’77. I first heard the very heavy “Black & White” album and that was it for me. I stayed with them until singer/guitarist Hugh Cornwell left the band in 1990. I tried them afterward but it was unacceptable to my ears. I stuck with Cornwell, who continued to write songs that I wanted to hear. That said, I never got a chance to see either The Stranglers or Cornwell, who plays dates here to this day fairly often, just not in the South.
NOTE: In December, 2013, I finally saw Hugh Cornwell live. Here’s the review.
…This topic thread will self-destruct in 10 seconds… or maybe it will continue… and possibly conclude… tune in tomorrow… same Monk-Time…same Monk-Channel!