Episode 31 - Peak Post Punk, Part One

1979. What a year to be alive.

Actually it wasn't that great. Britain, where I grew up, seemed to have been going downhill as the '70s swerved crazily from side to side, with no obvious sign of anti-skid braking. Culminating in the Winter of Discontent, with bodies piling up unburied, as even the gravediggers went on strike (I don't really remember that, but it's entered the mythology). I do remember long cold mornings waiting for the Number 15 to take me to school, when sometimes it turned out the bus drivers had caught the strike bug as well.

A new broom Tory Party swept to victory in May with all that that entailed. More pressingly for me, I was worried my inadequacies in Plato and Greek Prose would expose me in my 'A' Level exams looming on the horizon. Just as alarmingly, there was no immediate queue of girls wanting to have their way with me. I can't say I blamed them.

Musically however, 1979 was as good as it got. For post-punk, anyway. The concept of progress, to which I unconsciously subscribed, suggested that music would just get better and better from hereon in. Punk had metamorphosed into a multi-tentacled, multi-genre "New Wave" thing called post-punk, all of which I found thoroughly intriguing. In fact this 'progress' came to a juddering halt sometime in the second half of 1980. The end of Joy Division spelled the beginning of the end for the post-punk project (whatever that means). Before long Spandau Ballet became an alternative. To what?

My access to new sounds was threefold. John Peel, 10-12, Mondays to Thursdays, Radio 1. The NME. And, equally importantly, the record lending department attached to Coventry Central Library. Innocent times, when a really long undanceable song with no chorus about robot prostitutes could get to number one. A year so brimful of good music that quite a few chart toppers even were wonderful. I didn't find room for Are Friends Electric? on either of these shows, so spoiled for choice were we. Heart of Glass got to number one too! Although the gospel ballad One Day At A Time by Lena Martell made it to the top in 1979, we must faithfully record; as did I Don't Like Mondays, a song I heartily despise.

So many musical styles on this show, you're bound to find something that pleases. If not, I suspect Sombrero Fallout maybe isn't your thing. Part Two to follow very shortly. Tracklist:-

Rudie, A Message to You, The Specials 

Revolution Rock, The Clash 

Fairytale in the supermarket, The Raincoats 

5.45, The Gang of Four

Unconquered people, Israel Vibration

Bouncing Babies, The Teardrop Explodes

Pictures on my wall, Echo and the Bunnymen

Into the valley, The Skids 

Do the Du, A Certain Ratio 

Hot on the heels of love, Throbbing Gristle

Heart of Glass, Blondie

Irie Nyah Keith, Burning Spear

Duchess, The Stranglers

California Uber Alles, Dead Kennedies