Way Of Life
Suicide are possibly the bravest band ever. When they burst onto the New York punk scene 1976 they were truly groundbreaking. With Martin Rev’s repetitive and driving electronic noises underpinning Alan Vegas’s Elvis influenced and reverb drenched yelps and screams, they stood out in a way that it would take another two years for DAF to do over on our side of the pond. Their self-titled debut album in 1977 set the benchmark for all the two piece electronic acts that followed. You can see their influence in particular on Soft Cell and Fad Gadget. I saw them supporting The Clash in 1978, braving a terrifying barrage of missiles, gobbing and insults. For sheer guts and bucking the trend they beat the Clash hands down a hundred times over. I fell in love with them at that moment.
The number of artists and musicians they have inspired and influenced is huge: New Order, Depeche Mode, Bruce Springsteen, KLF, Spiritualized, Moby, Soft Cell, The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Sisters of Mercy, Primal Scream and Nick Cave to name just a few. They also kept on performing right up 2015’s Punk Mass at the Barbican in London, shortly before Alan Vega died in July 2016.
Released in 1988, eleven years after that game-changing debut, their third album A Way of Life was written almost entirely in the studio on the first day of recording. Martin Rev explains: "The first session was scheduled for about 2PM. Alan and I just started to warm up and, in the process, started writing some new songs. The engineers decided among themselves to set the recorder rolling and when Ric [The Cars’ frontman Ric Ocasek, who was producing the album] came in an hour or two later ready to work, he asked the engineers if we had already sound checked. They said "yeah and they have basically recorded the whole album". Not that you would know it was recorded so quickly, as it sounds every bit as fresh and confrontational as their first album. Re-mastered, with additional unreleased tracks, this re-issue is not before time and if you have the bucks to spare even comes in a transparent blue vinyl edition for any beardy traditionalists. You don’t need that coffee table stuff though. Just listen to the sounds.
If it was me though I’d be playing this loud through a tinny radio speaker, in the way any Suicide record should be heard. Dating from a time when music briefly felt genuinely dangerous, do yourself a favour and do your best to annoy the neighbours with this.
A Way of Life is out 26th May.
Alan Rider is a Norfolk based writer and electronic musician from Coventry, who splits his time between excavating his own musical past and feeding his growing band of hedgehogs, usually ending up combining the two. Alan also performs in Dark Electronic act Senestra and manages the indie label Adventures in Reality.
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