We've all heard that pontificating turn of phrase about the old ones being the best, but fuck me if it’s an idiom that doesn’t consistently ring true. These days more than ever I’m getting a lot of pleasure from delving head first in to the back catalogue of bands whose output had either gotten lost in the sands of time or that I’d just completely manage to miss out on due to either my own ignorance or being born in the wrong decade. As such, I’ve decide that I’ll now be taking the time to provide showcase for the forgotten classics that could of been something and the timeless tracks that I just never had the good sense to listen to before. Hopefully you’ll dig them all as
much as I do, at any rate it gives me a platform to name drop semi-obscure bands and artists without sounding too much like a pompous elitist
To start us off today, I’ll be talking about the oft referenced, but rarely talked about (at least in the circles I move in) dance punk group Medium Medium. They came out of Nottingham and on to the post punk scene in earnest way back in ‘81 with their second single “Hungry, So Angry”; the track was and is nothing short of a belter. A full force cacophony of shrieking guitars, pained vocals and wailing sax, all accompanied a slap bass line tastefully appropriated from the funk/R&B genres that many of their contemporaries were experimenting with at the time. Though it was essentially a break up song, there was nothing fey or reserved about the way the song was delivered, it mixed gloomy post punk catharsis and woe with a hubris that wouldn’t sound at all out of place on dance floors of any of the discotheques at the time.
After a slew of positive press and adulation, and a few slots supporting U2 of all people, the band went on tour. Members left and members joined but the time their first and only album “The Glitterhouse” hit the record stores the band decided to call it quits, no more than a year after the single that bought them their fame had been cut. Singer and sax player John Rees, who had always maintained an interest in world music went on to start up the ethnically influenced C Cat Trance (who are excellent by the way) , and the band fell into relative obscurity, whilst other northern post punk groups such as Gang Of Four experienced almost meteoric rises to fame.
Despite all this, I think the “The Glitterhouse” has left a pretty audible mark on modern music of its genus, one I’d say was as prominent and as important as Gang of Four did. To listen to as a whole it sounds like an album The Rapture, Radio 4 or some other band of that ilk could have made or at least ripped off, there’s a rawness to it I’m reminded of whenever I listen to House of Jealous Lovers or something similar.
As good as Hungry, So Angry is, the best song off the album is the one that it shares its title with, The Glitterhouse. It’s a wacked out little ditty based on the ranting of a friend of the band who was going through a mental breakdown at the time and later joined a cult, it comes fully equipped with a hauntingly distant, yet entirely temperamental vocal and is bolstered by sparse, teasingly ethnic percussions. It only lasts about two minutes, one of the shortest on the whole album but there’s something very ghostly about it, both in terms of the way the song comes across and the subject matter itself, all the different aspects of the song seek to gain your full attention and by the time it’s gotten you hooked, it’s gone as quick as it arrived.
So there you have it, an oldie that is truly a goldie, I just can’t get enough of it, and you should check it out too.