Cowboys International: Revisited US CD 
- Many Times (Revised)
- Aftermath (Radio Mix)
- Part Of Steel
- Future Noise
- Here Comes A Saturday
- Original Sin
- Lonely Boy
- Nothing Doing
- Too Much Too Little
- Pointy Shoes
I distinctly recall reading about the first Cowboys International album in the pages of Dogfood, the local free New Wave newspaper that I still have a complete collection of in my Record Cell today. I can’t say why I passed up immediately buying the “Original Sin” album in 1979, when I read about it, but it may have been down to one of the “wrong” writers reviewing it. There were a few scribes on Dogfood who I was so simpatico with that I tended to [gulp!] ignore those outside that designation and buy albums that got rave reviews from the writers whom I more closely identified with. Basically, I should have been all over Cowboys International like white on rice at the time, but…
It was some time in the 90s when I corrected this misstep, and bought the US LP in a bin somewhere, but that didn’t mean that I actually spun the disc. Sigh. It remained until attending a particularly fantastic record show in town a decade ago that I stumbled across both of the Cowboys International CDs that had reached the market in 2003. Apparently Cowboy Ken Lockie had relocated to Georgia and had issued the CDs on his own. The scarce little discs [including the long awaited sophomore CI album, “Backwards Life Of Romeo”] have been in my home for a decade now. They are still scarce out in the wilds, but know that one can still buy this CD directly from the label, Pneuma Records, [a.k.a. Ken Lockie himself] at the band’s Amazon store right this very minute. Because if you don’t have this, you should. This is a textbook perfect case of the exact sort of New Wave that would have had me over the moon in the holy year of 1979.
When compiling “Revisited,” Lockie decided to create a new flow of the “Original Sin” album along with most of the single A-sides and B-sides added to the playlist. In one case, there was a single song from the “Original Sin” album that was not available here [“The ‘No’ Tune”] but one more [“Too Much Too Little”] that actually came along for the ride courtesy of Lockie’s 1981 solo album, “The Impossible.” The latter’s appearance here makes sense, though. The Lockie album credits Cowboys International for that track, so it was really an odd one out on the 1981 LP, which, I hasten to add, is safely within my Record Cell°.
That’s why the CD begins with the B-side from “Today, Today.” “Fixation” began with dissonant siren synths over a plodding beat before the rich guitars and bass added a fullness to the shrieking void of the intro. I love how the squealing synths of Lockie were juxtaposed against, there’s no other way to put it, a kickin’ disco bass line and hi-hat that were hijacked from the 1979 zeitgeist and injected with mutant New Wave DNA to achieve a radically different end.
“M[emorie]62” was the first song from the album here, and it was more like a B-side than the two B-sides that opened this disc… at first. Almost a full minute of Residential insect synths played out before the actual song began as a slice of perky New Wave bop; not a million miles away from the single “Thrash.”
Next: …Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1979
° When I actually hear it… another story
One of the greatest albums I have ever heard. That is not hyperbole. That is fact. Ken Lockie was tapped into something very special as the 70s bled into the 80s. Original Sin came out at the dawn of so many possibilities for Pop and Rock that Punk and the New Wave had made possible. Ken Lockie recognized the opportunity and made the most of it.
By the time Original Sin had come out he had worked with PiL on the music that would be Metal Box, only to receive a credit on Radio 4. Keith Levene would return the favor on the last track on Original Sin, Wish. in both cases they are standouts on their respective albums. Lockie had a certain musical adrenalin coursing through his veins and it all came splashing out across Original Sin. (M)emorie62 is a slithering piece of new wave synth pop that added the soul into a sound that was otherwise disembodied by the likes of Gary Numan (don’t get me wrong I live for that particular electronic alienation that Numan perfected). Hands builds on some glam roots into an epic new wave generational anthem.
Pointy Shoes is pure Post Punk. I hold it up there with the best of Magazine. There’s an insular darkness, a rebellious anger…and a harmonica.
Lockie put out a single, Dance House, which was criminally ignored, and followed it up with another assemblage of like minded artist under the production of Steve Hillage in an album entitled The Impossible. Included contributions from Jim Kerr, John McGeogh and John Doyle from Magazine, Steve Shears from Ultravox, John Simon (Robin’s brother) and Preston Heyman. Lockie would show up on backing vocals for Simple Minds’ Sons And Fascination the same year.
I agree. This is a great post-punk album. I remember seeing it in St Marks Sounds in the East Village when it came out but only got a copy about 10 yrs ago. Levene’s contribution to Wish is amazing and Tory Crimes drumming is instantly recognizable. I also noticed a connection to Numan.
Harold G – Welcome to the comments! I’m curious, did you buy the “Revisited” CD or the LP? Was the copy on St. marks the US LP or the UK edition in the colored plastic sleeve?
I bought the Revisited version on CD, but I also have the original version and the Original Sin. Every Saturday I play “Here Comes A Saturday.” ;-)
Pingback: Classic Cowboys International Singles Coming To Your Ears This Friday, Immaterially | Post-Punk Monk
I have loved this album since it came out and always thirsted for more.I played it again at dinner and was pleased that it hadn’t dated like so much else.That is why I’m on this site- it’s that good.
Stephen – Welcome to the comments! It’s a shame that there were only the two Cowboys International albums, along with the Ken Lockie solo album. The caliber of writing and playing by all concerned was truly top notch.
I have The Impossible too as I love all of John McGeoch’s work.
Harold G – Anything that John McGeoch did was worth hearing. I can’t recall anything substandard that he played on. Not only was his playing superb, but he had great taste in chosing his projects. Wait… I was less than thrilled with Heaven 17’s “Pleasure One.”