“Real Life” by Magazine - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1978Album Chart of the Decade: 1970s1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die external-link.png

TJR says

Even before Buzzcocks' seminal “Spiral Scratch” EP was released in late Janaury, 1977, Howard Devoto had announced his departure as the group's lead singer. He didn't really get on with Pete Shelley and his love of King Crimson was at odds with the rest of 'em. He soon got to work in recreating a new more sophisticated outlet for his work. Key to this was teaming up with a young Scottish art student, John McGeoch, and the two soon became five. Their debut single, “Shot By Both Sides” - rooted in the Buzzcocks “Lipstick” which Devoto and Shelley had written together - was issued in January '78 and gave them exposure on Top of the Pops, although it just failed to crack the Top 40, peaking at #41. Still, it was an excellent start artistically, and set them up nicely for their debut LP which arrived in June '78. They lined up: Howard Devoto (26, vocals), John McGeoch (22, guitar and saxophone), Barry Adamson (20, bass guitar), Dave Formula (31, keyboards) and Martin Jackson (22, drums).

The difference to Buzzcocks brand of punk is apparent immediately on the album's fine opener, “Definitive Gaze”, which really is best described as prog-new-wave, with “seasoned” campaigner Dave Formula (he'd been playing in bands since the late 60s) being afforded a lot of space to fill with layers of keyboard, conjuring up mental images of caped wrong uns and floating pianos. Steady. Luckily, they rein him in at just the right time, and the piece stays enjoyable, thanks in no small part to Devoto's sneery vocals, which keep the group firmly entrenched in the punk camp. The strange new sound continues immediately on “My Tulpa” which flirts with a Ska rhythm, of all things. The energy is terrific. Speaking of which, the art-punk mayhem of “Recoil” is another first-half highlight worth returning for. Best on side two is “The Light Pours Out Of Me”, a propulsive bass and synth heavy stomper which certainly recalls the glam era, most notably, whisper it, Gary Glitter's lot. They don't always thrill me, but Magazine's debut is thoroughly peculiar and very worthwhile.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [04:25] 7.3.png Magazine - Definitive Gaze (Howard Trafford, John McGeoch) New Wave
A2 [04:47] 6.5.png Magazine - My Tulpa (Howard Trafford, John McGeoch) New Wave
A3 [04:01] 8.8.png Magazine - Shot By Both Sides (Howard Trafford, Peter McNeish) New Wave
A4 [02:50] 6.6.png Magazine - Recoil (Howard Trafford, John McGeoch) Punk
A5 [05:00] 5.6.png Magazine - Burst (Howard Trafford) New Wave
B1 [05:41] 6.4.png Magazine - Motorcade (Howard Trafford, Bob Dickinson) New Wave
B2 [04:56] 5.8.png Magazine - The Great Beautician In The Sky (Howard Trafford, John McGeoch) New Wave
B3 [04:36] 6.5.png Magazine - The Light Pours Out Of Me (Howard Trafford, John McGeoch, Peter McNeish) New Wave
B4 [05:08] 6.1.png Magazine - Parade (Howard Trafford, Barry Adamson, David Tomlinson) New Wave

© The Jukebox Rebel 2005-2020 All Rights Reserved