[Collection] – ‘Post Punk 1980’ Box Set



(The first stream here is a sampler mix, with tracks taken from each of the 8 themed mixes. All eight mixes can be streamed or downloaded at the end of this post.)

(These are sample mixes of other post-punk sets on Musicophilia.)

When my interest in post-punk first blossomed into a bit of an obsession, my mind fixed on two years: 1979, which seemed to have a disproportionate number of the period-defining all-time-great LPs; and 1981, which had its fair share of great albums by big names, but more significantly was seemingly endless in its supply of lesser-knowns of incredible quality and diversity. For this reason, I focused first on 1981 in the eponymous ‘1981’ box set I made between 2003 and 2004, that consisted of nine themed CD-length mixes and a whole additional mp3 “briefcase” disc, which in total featured hundreds of bands and artists. But I’d actually first made a 3-mix 1979 set for friends the year before, which finally blossomed into the (relatively) tight ‘1979: Post-Punk’ set from 2017. For whatever reason, I’d subconsciously always thought of 1980 as sort of a “breather” between these two different high-water-mark years.

Finally, fifteen years on from my first post-punk box, I’ve set out to delve more consciously into that elusive year of post-punk. The result of my reconsideration is this, the final box set in a trilogy of deep-dive explorations: ‘Post Punk 1980’. Having scoured my collection (and finding a few new-to-me gems, too), I could maybe say a slightly lower proportion of my all-time favorite post-punk/new-wave/etc. albums were released in 1980, the kernel of truth in the way I’d thought of the year. But, unsurprisingly, the bigger realization as I assembled this collection was that 1980 was in no way, shape or form a down year. In fact, the explosion of quality-and-quantity nearly matches 1981. At least, I found it harder than ever before to cull and cut, and as such here you have eight themed mixes, and all of them are roughly a C-90 in length, so much greatness is there to explore.

I have again defined post-punk in its broadest sense: as music drawing on long-simmering traditions of art-pop (the early years of which were explored in the ‘Post-Punk: 1968-1978’ mix, and the later years of which were the inspiration for two of my favorite mixes). I’m not particularly interested in clarifying or codifying, but rather more so in blurring: even the core bands one thinks of as defining “Post-Punk” (say, Talking Heads, Joy Division, Gang of Four, Siouxsie & The Banshees, This Heat) show just diverse the music is, and perhaps how fundamentally loose-fitting a name-of-convenience “post-punk” really is. So here you’ll find New Wave, proto-Goth, Art-Rock, Power Pop, etc. etc. and a whole lot of music that doesn’t fit neatly under any genre label. Each of the eight logo-identified mixes focuses not on particular sub-scenes, per se, but on sounds that work together, moods, emotionality, production approaches, etc. I hope that the theme and sound of each mix will be self-apparent as you dive in. It’s entirely possible not every sound will be your bag, but don’t let that stop you trying another and another: post-punk is like the weather, always mutating.

When I started listening to post-punk music, it was already a couple of decades old, but to my young ears it sounded “newer” than anything actually-new I was hearing from the time. Now the music in this set is approaching 40, and so am I (born as it happens in 1980), and yet it still sounds just as timeless and forward-reaching. To my ears, the post-punks of ‘78-’82 concocted a musical ethos of open-eared adventure that defied rules and instead fostered principles, depending less on youth and “nowness” than most pop music does. As evinced by the current-day post-punks heard on the ‘Post-Punk: 2007-2017’ set, that ethos and those principles continue to inspire creativity to this day, both by musicians who explicitly self-apply the name, but also far beyond. The fantastically woozy, adventurous, expansive sounds of current-day underground-ish hip-hop, R&B, arty electronics, etc. (as heard on the ‘Old Souls’ mixes and ‘The Fire’) draw from the post-punk spirit (and production techniques) in the same way as original post-punk drew on dub, funk, Motown, disco, Krautrock, musique concrete, and beyond.

This far-reaching approach to post-punk might not please those who prefer it as something more strictly-defined, a “Post-Punk” proper. But I hope most people, from dyed-in-the-wool folks who were there in 1980, to their neophyte kids and grandkids (!), will prefer the eclectic approach that I take as part-and-parcel to post-punk. In the years after I made the ‘1981’ box set, I slightly regretted giving it such a simplified and definitive-sounding title, as there was so much other amazing music made in 1981 that even I couldn’t finagle labelling as post-punk (but that I think any fan of post-punk should hear, as heard in the ‘Le Monde du Funk’ series and elsewhere at Musicophilia). So I’ve tended to hedge my bets, ever since, and include “post-punk” in the titles. And yet, I don’t think it’s wholly unreasonable to name a post-punk box after simply the year in question: to me, no other umbrella-term genre name in use in 1978-1982 touched so many sounds, and linked up with as many other genres, times, places. That eclecticism is what I hope is ultimately the legacy of early post-punk: it was the solvent that dissolved boundaries, paving the way for the musical and artistic freedom the best artists of succeeding decades have taken as a birthright. And my tiny contribution to how a few people out there think about post-punk, I hope, is that listeners know for all of post-punk’s oft-cited gloom and angularity and intellectualism: it’s truly a joy. It’s certainly been my pleasure, all these years, and I hope it is yours, too.

As always, please buy any and all of this music you can that’s in print, to help support the artists (many of whom, thankfully, are still hard at work), and keep the music available to be heard and to inspire. Thank you for listening!  You can check out the box set booklet directly, with artwork for each mix and the full track listings; and here is the full artist list:

A Certain Ratio · Animals & Men · The Associates · Au Pairs · Bauhaus · The Beat · The Blackouts · Blondie · Blancmange · David Bowie · Bow Wow Wow · The Boys Next Door · Glenn Branca · The Breakers · Buggles · Buzzcocks · The Cars · Chris Carter · Alex Chilton · Chrome · Colored Minds · The Comsat Angels · Elvis Costello & The Attractions · The Cramps · The Cure · Dalek I · Delta 5 · Deutsch Amerikanische Freundshaftt · Devo · The Diagram Brothers · Din a Testbild · Doctor Mix & The Remix · Dome · Dow Jones & The Industrials · The Durutti Column · Essendon Airport · Factrix · Fad Gadget · Family Fodder · The Feelies · Final Program · Fire Engines · Flowers · Flying Lizard · Free Agents · Friction · John Foxx · Peter Gabriel · Gang of Four · Girls At Our Best · The Gist · The Go-Go’s · The Gordons · Half Japanese · The Human League · Husker Du · Ike Yard · Implog · Indoor LifeIn Camera · INXS · The Jam · Japan · Grace Jones · Josef K · Joy Division · Kid Creole & The Coconuts · Killing Joke · Krisma · Lizard · Ludus · Magazine · Manicured Noise · Marilyn · Martha & The Muffins · Material · Minutemen · Missing Persons · Mission of Burma · Mr. Partridge · Moderne · The Mo-Dettes · The Monchrome Set · Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls · MX-80 Sound · Nasmak · Neonbabies · New Musik · Colin Newman · Gary Numan · Iggy Pop · The Only Ones · Orange Juice · Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark · Our Daughter’s Wedding · Pink Military · Pink Section · Plastics · Polyrock · Poly Styrene · The Pop Group · Pretenders · Prince · Psychedelic Furs · Pylon · Reptile Ranch · Martin Rev · Reversible Cords · Rinder & Lewis · The Room · Roxy Music · Ryuichi Sakamoto · The Selecter · Simple Minds · Siouxsie & The Banshees · The Slits · Smokey · Sods · Soft Cell · The Sound · The Specials · Squeeze · Richard Strange · The Stranglers · Swell Maps · Talking Heads · Teardrop Explodes · Television Personalities · Telex · This Heat · Tuxedomoon · Ultravox · Units · Urban Verbs · Les Vampyrettes · The Vapors · Alan Vega · Virgin Prunes · Visage · Scott WIlk & The Wall · Wipers · Xex · XTC · Yello · Y Pants · Yellow Magic Orchestra · Young Marble Giants

Download just the Tracklists & Artwork | Download the ‘Post Punk 1980’ Box Set (1.26GB)

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8 thoughts on “[Collection] – ‘Post Punk 1980’ Box Set

  1. What a way to start off the new year!
    I’ve only had a sniff and it’s the music I love.
    Thank you so much for sharing

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