[1981] – ‘Fire’ Mix (2005)


One element of post-punk that’s generally overlooked in the prevailing narratives (grey overcoats, “art school,” edgy guitars, politics) is that it directly countered the lockstep of punk by vastly expanding, if not exploding, the rhythmic possibilities of “rock” music.  Gone was the polka-like punk stomp, gone was the prog 20-piece-kit pomp; and in their place, a cultural pluralism of percussion, groove, shake, surf, shimmy, disco, jazz, skank, and free-form funk.  You might call it renewed cultural imperialism after 20 years or so of rock-whiteyfying; but perhaps Malcolm Mclaren-touched projects aside (think Bow Wow Wow), the sound to me is one of liberation, not domination; honor, not theft; it’s exploration, not usurpation, in earnest joy.  As evidence, here is the 8th mix from the 1981‘ Box Set: ‘Fire‘.  This is perhaps the most generally encapsulating mix of the broader zeitgeist of post-punk (at least as I see it) after the first mix posted six months ago, ‘Feet;’ and both share a prevailing danceability and buoyant pace, making this another good mix to share with your post-punk neophyte friends.

Loosening up the beats across 24 tracks and 80 minutes are plenty of well-known names: New Order (from their underrated debut, the gloom already beginning to lift); David Byrne going solo and mirroring his contemporaneous work with Brian Eno, along with Talking Heads and beside the Tom Tom Club; The B-52s; INXS (telling you something about just how vibrant 1981 was by being actually quite decent); Wire, in one of their last first-run releases; Prince, already stirring up controversy.  Then there’s queen Banshee Siouxsie in her fantastic polyrhythmic side project Creatures; David Thomas really going all out like a parade, from his first solo album, and sounding about as far from contemporaneous Pere Ubu as you could imagine; The (English) Beat; The Specials with their all-time great and post-Specials Fun Boy Three; Japan with Mick Karn’s singing bass; and A Certain Ratio demonstrating Factory’s shifting modus oparandi.  Rounding it out are Fad Gadget, the Raybeats‘ surf stylings, Loung Lizards‘ snake-skin jazz, The Suburbs, indefatigable Lizzy Mercier-Descloux, Bauhaus, The Raincoats marching to their own drummer (in this case This Heat’s Charles Hayward), and a barn-burner from my favorites, Family Fodder.  And that leaves one more to go–the counterpart to this mix, ‘Ice,’ so keep on the lookout soon.  Full tracklist and download link at the “more…” link.

1 9 8 1  |  F i r e

01  A Certain Ratio – Waterline  [3:36]
02  New Order – Chosen Time  [4:07]
03  Fad Gadget – Make Room (Edit)  [3:18]
04  Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics  [3:12]
05  David Byrne – The Red House  [3:22]
06  Creatures – But Not Them  [3:20]
07  Raybeats – Calhoun Surf  [1:53]
08  Suburbs – Tired of My Plans  [3:33]
09  David Thomas – Crickets in the Flats  [4:59]
10  Killing Joke – Butcher (Edit)  [3:12]
11  Japan – Talking Drum  [3:33]
12  The B-52’s – Give Me Back My Man (Remix) (Edit) [3:04]
13  Lizzy Mercier-Descloux – Room Mate  [2:44]
14  The Beat – Too Nice To Talk To  [3:08]
15  Lounge Lizards – Do The Wrong Thing  [2:39]
16  INXS – Stay Young  [3:24]
17  Prince – Controversy  [3:28]
18  Talking Heads – Houses in Motion (Edit)  [2:51]
19  Bauhaus – Of Lillies & Remains (Edit)  [2:51]
20  The Specials – Ghost Town (Edit)  [3:47]
21  Tom Tom Club – Genius of Love  [4:02]
22  Wire – Midnight Bahnhof Cafe (Edit)  [2:38]
23  Family Fodder – Emergency  [2:39]
24  Raincoats – Shouting Out Loud  [4:54]

[Total Time: 80:14]

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