Autobiographical Order Nos. 426-428: The Stranglers, Love and Rockets and Depeche Mode

I’m gonna be straight with you: I have some records that I don’t listen to that often, I probably bought because I thought they’d make sense in DJ sets, or I simply found them for cheap and decided they were coming home with me. I honestly couldn’t imagine being a professional DJ and doing an exercise like I’m doing right now. I don’t have a massive amount of records (around 1,000—that’s not too crazy, right?), and yet I’ve still forgotten that I’ve owned something. Having tens of thousands? Forget it.

There are records I don’t play that often, though, and The Stranglers’ No More Heroes is one of them. In the canon of punk, they’re a strange one. Keyboard is as big a component to their sound as guitar, and their compositions are often kind of proggy, which goes against what popular culture suggests we should take away from punk. This album is sometimes considered their strongest, though it’s still a pretty odd record overall, far from standard punk fare, and with a lot more jokey satire (“I Feel Like a Wog” lampoons racism with less-than-PC language, for instance). Is it a good record? Absolutely, though one I don’t listen to that often. The title track is outstanding though. (And check out that warning on the cover—amazing!)

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OK, onto Love & Rockets’ Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven. I’m pretty sure I picked up this one specifically because I saw it used at Red Brontosaurus and my basic brain said “Love & Rockets = goth.” It’s arguably one of their better albums but one of the least immediately satisfying, though I did get requests for “Haunted When the Minutes Drag” at St. Vitus Dance Party. So maybe I’m just wrong about that one.

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Lastly, Depeche Mode’s Some Great Reward. This album, to me, is kind of the dividing line between being a casual DM listener and one who’s fully on board. On the one hand, there’s a lot of camp value: “Master and Servant” distills S&M into a kind of silly dance craze of sorts. On the other, it’s pretty ham-handed in its messages: “People Are People” is innovative in its use of industrial elements in a pop song, but the “we all need to understand each other” message, while admirable, is a bit broad. Plus I’ve always though “Somebody” was a little corny.

But hey, a great record is still a great record, and Some Great Reward has some underrated moments, like the first two tracks: “Something to Do” and “Lie to Me.” I always preferred spinning those to “Master and Servant”; once I found out they were dropping that at the Britpop night (and the ’80s nights for that matter) I figured everyone heard it enough. What’s the point of playing the same music as everyone else, just with different branding? Totally pointless.

Anyway, that’s my quick and dirty for today. More consequential, emotional, lived-experience stuff to come.

 

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