One of the great things about Discogs is that you can see how sought after a particular record or CD is. As of now, 28 people “want” a vinyl copy of Absolution: Rock The Alternative Way. As somebody who has had first hand experience of hearing it, I can safely say that they’re seriously deluded. 72 minutes of music crammed onto one piece of vinyl; when the DJ spun a track (The Mission – Deliverance) from this at the local youth club disco in 1991, we could barely hear it. Playing songs from 12″ singles on either side of it (Pixies – Monkey Gone To Heaven and The Wedding Present – Brassneck) didn’t help either. Trust me, CD is the only way to go for this quality compilation from Polygram TV.
For indie kids and goths, “mainstream” discos were an endurance test. They’d spend all night hanging on to hear The Love Cats or This Charming Man. If they were lucky, the DJ might spin Tower Of Strength early in the evening when the admission inside was still free or reduced. Free before 11.00pm or £2 before midnight. Absolution therefore required pre-going out listening. 18 slices of thrillingly miserable gloom, digitally engineered by Gary Moore. It starts, almost inevitably, with The Cure and Never Enough, the lead single from their epic Mixed Up album – which it concludes in 12″ form (Big Mix). We get the 7″ version here. Despite its guitar-driven style, it’s seen as being of the baggy era and sharing some of the its DNA. Personally I love that period, the remixes on the album really hang together well and Close To Me never sounded better. “But if I had your faith…”
Sounding like The Cult and riding on the wave of an almost industrial wave, Deliverance seemed like a last throw of the dice for The Mission. Over to a super fan, Panagiotis Liakos: “This song brings to mind and soul the awakening of elder gods. It is a pagan hymn and it is a ship full of tears of joy. Long live the light!” Again, we get the shorter single mix which is nice. But for the next number it’s the sprawling and less taut album version of Killing Joke’s Love Like Blood. Somewhat unexpected in this sequence are The Wonder Stuff and the blindingly great pogo-fest Don’t Let Me Down Gently, taken from their second LP Hup which was just as good as the debut. Memories of the Dublin SFX gig in November 1989; the venue bursting at the seams. The quality continues on Echo & The Bunnymen’s ode to Eastern promise, The Cutter and Gene Love Jezebel’s Heartache, a true gothic jam. Bauhaus’ Ziggy Stardust works perfectly next before the Jesus & Mary Chain’s psychedelic masterpiece, Some Candy Talking. Heavily influenced by The Velvets.
“Running through the woods aimlessly is the most gothic 80s thing you can do.”
Siouxsie & The Banshees Spellbound appears between The Cutter and Heartache, a perfect bridge. It’s an exhilarating few minutes, strong dark wave with a clear pop sensibility. You have no choice but to adore it; everything really seems to shimmer, enhanced by the wonderful guitar playing of John McGeoch, who was soon to depart. And later on, side project The Creatures make an appearance – Miss The Girl – all marimba and percussion.
Martha’s Harbour is more famous for its Top Of The Pops performance. So motionless baby. All About Eve got asked back the following week to properly mime it. Julianne Regan’s see-through white dress would mesmerise me the following summer, when they supported The Cure at The RDS. “Stow away, stow away.” Men in black: The Stranglers and The European Female. Magical with a brilliant intro and an Iberian flavour. And then Depeche Mode’s groundbreaking Enjoy The Silence from their masterpiece Violator, turning 30 in March. Elsewhere there’s punk rockers turned goth – The Damned’s marvelous Eloise – followed by the Ramones’ sweetly sung Baby I Love You. Normal service is resumed for the final pair: Fields Of The Nephilim’s Moonchild (remember the dusty look?) which to me sounds like the 7″ First Seal – good to have. To the end: the longer album version of New Model Army’s relentless into-the-abyss No Rest.
Siouxsie & The Banshees – Spellbound
The Wonder Stuff – Don’t Let Me Down Gently
Lest we forget
The Cure – Never Enough