Songs to the Siren

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Outside the Trains Don’t Run on Time

Gang of Four

1980 (single), 1981 (Solid Gold LP)

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If there’s one band whose influence seems to massively outweigh their own commercial success, it’s Gang of Four. Year-in, year-out, we hear new acts influenced by their funk and dub influenced post-punk rock. This song encapsulates everything I loved about them. It’s angry. political, energetic, and yet it grooves.

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Heart of Glass

Blondie

January 1979 (single), 23rd September 1978 (LP)

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Another landmark record in terms of production, this is one of those records that still sounds amazing over 40 years on. Like the previous song on this blog, it has a hook whereby the time signature sometimes changes. Golden Brown adds an extra beat here and there, but Heart of Glass skips a beat. Reportedly the result of an editing accident which was kept when it sounded great, the result is an iconic “middle 8” section which sounds wrong when repeated in normal time in an extended version.

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Golden Brown

The Stranglers

10th January 1982 (single), 9th November 1981 (LP)

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This is the first of a few great songs which add or skip beats in one of their distinctive hooks.

In this case, a song in waltz time introduces an occasional bar of common time in the distinctive intro riff.

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Flowers of Romance

Public Image Ltd

27th March 1981 (single), 10th April 1981 (LP)

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Just three years after John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) walked out on the Sex Pistols, he was releasing his third PiL album. Moving on from the dub/disco/krautrock influences of Metal Box, The Flowers of Romance was even more experimental. Largely led by huge drum sounds and percussion loops, the sound influenced artists well beyond the punk and post-punk scenes.

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