Tuesday, 14 January 2020

400 Blows - Year Of The Dog (1984)

When I first heard 'Beat The Devil' on the John Peel show (where else?) in 1982, it was so unlike most of the stuff that was around at that time, and sounded so fresh and interesting that I bought the single straight away. The band were formed in 1981 in Croydon, South London by Edward Beer, along with two friends, Alexander Fraser and Rob. That debut single was released on their own Concrete Productions record label, and the following year they signed to the Illuminated label and subsequently released an album, "...if I kissed her I'd have to kill her first..." (a quote from serial killer Edmund Kemper to his sister, who was teasing him about wanting to kiss his teacher). The album was a mixture of tracks like 'Beat The Devil', and numbers with a more up-front dance beat, and this paved the way for their next two singles, 'Return Of The Dog' and 'Declaration Of Intent', both of which featured a more rhythmic structure which was aimed squarely at the dance market. By the time of 'Pressure' and 'Moving' they had fully embraced the dance scene, but perhaps surprisingly I didn't consider this a sell-out, as they kept just enough post-punk sensibility in there to keep them firmly in the indie-dance end of the spectrum. 'Groove Jumping' is one of their best examples of this, with a memorable and catchy tune overlaid with found sounds and effects. The band carried on releasing singles until 1992, but their best work was definitely between 1982 and 1984, and so this collection concentrates on the singles released during those two years. Where the songs also appeared on an album, the single versions are drastically different, and so are worth including as new pieces in their own right. 'Strangeways (Revisited)' is a reworking of the track 'Strangeways', which first appeared on the 'A Sudden Surge of Power' cassette compilation in 1982, alongside other artists in the same genre such as Test Dept and Chris & Cosey. If you haven't heard of the band, and they are a well-kept secret, then do check them out as their first album is a great snapshot of the indie/dance scene of the early 80's. 

Track listing

01 Beat The Devil (single 1982)
02 The Beat Continues (b-side of 'Beat The Devil')
03 The Return Of The Dog (single 1983)
04 French Donkey (b-side of 'The Return Of The Dog')
05 Declaration Of Intent (single 1984)
06 Black And White Mix Up (b-side of 'Declaration Of Intent')
07 Perspective 1 (b-side of 'Declaration Of Intent')
08 Pressure (single 1984)
09 Perspective 2 (b-side of 'Pressure')
10 Groove Jumping (single 1984)
11 Strangeways (Revisited) (b-side of 'Groove Jumping')

As a lot of these 80's post-punk bands will be an unknown quantity for most people, I've included a Youtube link for one of the songs for you to check them out.

Enjoy / Enjoy

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