[1981] – ‘Convertible’ Mix (2005)

The second posted mix from the ‘1981′ box set, the ‘Convertible’ compilation showcases a side of the post-punk sound that usually gets the least attention: its poppy, melody-oriented, hummable, playful persona. Some of this gets lumped under “New Wave,” but for many that term connotes a synth-based sound that ascended later in the decade. The sounds on this mix in some ways reflect a more traditional, sometimes even pre-psychedelic, singer-songwriter-oriented “pre-punk” or “un -punk” approach to songwriting. Some of it foreshadows the late-80s rise of “indie rock” as an ‘antidote’ to excessive perceived synthetic-glam, but in 1981 there’s not much of the anti-artrockist twee feeling of 80s indie. This is simply catchy pop music, a continuation of a long tradition, with a feeling that is nevertheless uniquely informed by the heady musical freedom in the underground of the era.

I put ‘Convertible’ together as further evidence that post-punk was fun, for those under the looming cultural shadow of Joy Division and the other dark-side mopers. The music found here isn’t nearly as “cool” as a lot of the other stuff on the ’81 set, but it simply doesn’t need to be: it’s just right the way it is, simple, well-crafted, cleanly produced. As usual, there are big names (Costello, REM, Go-Go’s, TheRamones, Pretenders) and less so (Go Betweens, Pylon, The Suburbs, The Stranglers, and the Necessaries, featuring Arthur Russell, transitional Scritti Politti, pre -Everything But the Girl Marine Girls), but to my ears again the remarkable thing is the parity, the consistently high quality of the era’s broad zeitgeist, between those who received lots of attention at the time or went on to become mainstream acts, and those who never came close (or never wanted to). More information about the ‘1981’ box set in general (as well as the first mix in the series posted toMusicophilia) can be found here. Keep your eyes open for more mixes from the ‘1981’ set in upcoming weeks, including synthy goodness, weirdo careening, and the very height of 1981 “cool”. Full tracklist and download link after the “more…”.

1 9 8 1 | Convertible

01 Young Marble Giants – Final Day (1981) [1:43]
02 Orange Juice – Poor Old Soul (1981) [2:29]
03 Martha & The Muffins – This Is the Ice Age (1981) [4:06]
04 Altered Images – Happy Birthday (1981) [3:01]
05 The Church- Too Fast For You (1981) [3:33]
06 Scritti Politti – The Sweetest Girl (1981) [4:09]
07 Romeo Void – Myself To Myself (1981) [3:46]
08 Barracudas – Don’t Let Go (1981) [3:28]
09 The dB’s- Black and White (1981) [3:09]
10 Go-Go’s – Our Lips Are Sealed (1981) [2:45]
11 Magazine – The Honeymoon Killers (1981) [3:39]
12 Suburbs – Spring Came (1981) [3:18]
13 Marine Girls – Tonight (1981) [1:22]
14 Pretenders – Message of Love (1981) [3:07]
15 Necessaries – More Real (1981) [2:48]
16 The Teardrop Explodes – Falling Down Around Me (1981) [3:08]
17 Squeeze – Is That Love (1981) [2:31]
18 The Go Betweens – Your Turn, My Turn (1981) [3:03]
19 Robyn Hitchcock – Love (1981) [4:34]
20 The Stranglers – Golden Brown (1981) [3:28]
21 The Ramones – It’s Not My Place (1981) [3:23]
22 XTC – Respectable Street (1981) [3:40]
23 Pylon – Crazy (1981) [3:13]
24 Elvis Costello – Strict Time (1981) [2:42]
25 REM – Radio Free Europe (1981) [3:49]

[Total Time: 79:50]

Download HereSubscribe


15 thoughts on “[1981] – ‘Convertible’ Mix (2005)

  1. thank you so much for that nice selection. lots of excellent stuff to discover for me. i especially loved the dbs guitar goodness, the suburbs (totally ubnknown to me) tuneful ska and pylons. i had always thought that was an rem song from “dead letter office” but no. the original is even better than rem’s cover. even the elvis costello is great and bouncy. i am very much looking forward to the next 1981 mix. what a great year in music! ps not that it’s very important but didn’t “final day” come out in 1980?

  2. Hey, thanks so much for dropping these online now. I have the box set myself, and ripped it recently, so I have to say that I’m especially excited about having the album art now too! keep it up.

  3. this is an awesome assortment of good sounds. you really have a great wide-range taste in music. thank you so much for putting this blog together. it’s brilliant. i will be your frequent visitor now. :)

  4. “We got a chorus box and we’re going to use it.” It’s fascinating how certain audio effects define an era’s sound: this is a disparate group of bands, and I remember listening to much of it at the time, but I don’t remember hearing all the chorus and flange. It was just part of what made it sound more “modern” than descendants of classic rock that dominated radio.

  5. thanks for the mixes – this one rocks – a good friend sent the link to your site – that unmistakable vinyl sound brings me back to childhood days sitting in front of the family record player – i can almost smell it – bizarre…

  6. I got this from you back when you were doing the 1981 box set. (I was the guy with the now-aborted CD Club.) This mix is absolutely one of my all-time mixes of, like, anything. As is the rest of the set, really, but this one’s the pinnacle. Fun & thoughtful. Hey everyone get this one!

    I hope you’ll consider putting up your “women of post punk” mix sometime soon. This became a much fought-over disc between my house and a couple of other friends. Fantastic music and a glossed-over genre that deserves calling out.


  7. Thanks so much, Shawn. I’m pretty sure with the passage of time, this mix, the ‘Feet’ one, and the ‘Heart/Brain’ duo have become my faves. This one is definitely the sleeper, the least-thought-of end of “post-punk”.

    I don’t remember the ‘Women of Post-Punk’ mix off the top of my head, don’t seem to have it on my hard drive (which doesn’t mean I didn’t do one, since I lost a hard drive that had a further revision of the 1981 set and most other old mixes a couple years back). But I’d be happy to make one, now–my first mix-by-request!

  8. Thanks–clearly I did put this together, but I just can’t remember when, or how or where I previously “issued” it. Where did you get it, if you remember?

    I started culling tracks yesterday, and zeroed in on many of the same, so having this tracklist will expedite the process. Thanks! I’ll aim to put it up next week. When you said it was fought about–meaning fought to borrow, or fought about whether it was worthless or not?

  9. My post-punk loving girlfriend (now wife) and my old roommate both wanted this badly, both seeing it as a longlost beloved cassette comp a friend of mine made called Clit Rock that was an early coverage of the Riot Girl phenomenon (e.g. Pretty On The Inside, but not yet Live Through This). We thought the roommate got it, but we were pleased to find recently that it stayed in our possession.

    Your comp was probably four years ago on the heels of doing the 1981 box. You had sent me one – a prized possession BTW – and I asked you to join a club where a bunch of music-crazed folks that didn’t know each other, all with very different micro-tastes, sent CDs to each other once a month. I think you participated once. Physical media. How quaint! Some complained when I lost the energy to do all the spreadsheets and other bureaucratic tasks, but the reality is that with the advent of BitTorrent and Rapidshare and the like, getting a huge uninvited pile of someone else’s predilections has become more chore than joy. Sad that.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s