It’s always a really good sign when a band from the classic post-punk period has more than one album, viagra and there’s zero information about them on the Internet — or at least, nothing in English. One band that comes to mind is Spherical Objects, part of the “Messthetics” wave of British DIY artists, who had three albums and nary a wisp of life in their legacy after they called it quits after the early ’80s. Today I serve up Neonbabies, a group of Germans from the NDW period who released three albums from ‘81-’83, plus a sizeable handful of singles — and I can’t find a shred of info on them that’s of any use to me, beyond a discography and a list of band members. Which should hopefully make you very, very curious about what they sound like.
To let a little air out of the bag, they sound exactly like you probably think they sound — but that’s better than 80% of what’s out there, isn’t it?
NEU – “‘72 LIVE” (1972)
I’ve read and re-read the Neu! story to the point of morbid fetishization (how I wish I could’ve been a German music nerd in the early ’70s, so that I might’ve heard their music upon its initial release and been a fan from the very start!), and am always impressed that out of the major Kraut bands of the period that did play live gigs (however few, especially in Neu!’s case), there’s next to no live boots or TV appearance footage of Neu! to be had — except for this, an artifact dug up by the Japanese record label Captain Trip.
The legality of its commercial release in the first place was questionable, since apparently drummer Klaus Dinger put it out on Captain Trip in 1996 without guitarist Michael Rother’s consent, way before the two made up in order to give a proper re-release to Neu!’s three studio albums in 2001. When the Neu! reissues happened, Captain Trip dumped their inferior CD releases of these albums, but kept “‘72 Live” in-print until rather recently. Wikipedia had this to say about “‘72 Live”, in a biased tone:
“[Captain Trip] also released Neu! ‘72 Live! (recorded in DÃ¼sseldorf on May 6th, 1972) whose title is misleading, as the ‘live’ aspect of it pertains to the fact that it was an on-stage rehearsal of poor audio fidelity, and only of interest to Neu! die hards who want to hear their heroes, musically frustrated that they cannot reproduce their hypnotic studio sound on stage. Definitely not a place to start from in the Neu! catalog, and considered their weakest release, it is notable for the inclusion of Eberhard Kranemann, who was involved with Neu! precursors Kraftwerk as well.”
While the recording is of lower fidelity that I would’ve liked, who cares? It’s an important document, and besides, the “motorik” concept that Dinger devised during the recording sessions for the first Neu! album would be damned difficult to keep up in a live setting by anyone, let alone him, due to its rigidity, regardless of its simplicity.
FRICTION – “ATSUREKI” (1980)
“Friction was formed by bassist and vocalist Reck in Tokyo, Japan in March 1978 after he returned from New York, where he played with Teenage Jesus & the Jerks and James Chance & The Contortions. The other founding members were drummer and occasional saxophone player Chiko Hige, who also played with The Contortions, and guitarist Lapis.”
Friction was one of the central bands of the Japanese No-Wave-esque movement called “Tokyo Rockers” in the late 70’s. Here’s their first album, “Atsureki”, produced by Ryuichi Sakamoto of Yellow Magic Orchestra fame. I think my download of it, though, is missing one song. Not sure which one. There’s some catchy shit on here, and if Friction had actually been in New York at the time of the No Wave explosion, they would’ve been welcomed with open arms.
Here’s an interesting note: as NYC had the “No New York” compilation LP, the “Tokyo Rockers” scene had two key compilation records, “”Tokyo Rockers” and “Tokyo New Wave ‘79″.