“Colossal Youth” by Young Marble Giants - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1980Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

On their February 1980 debut, the minimalist Cardiff three-piece were: Alison Statton (21, vocals), Stuart Moxham (24, guitar, organ) and Philip Moxham (~21, bass). Spare a though for Philip, in a band with his big brother and his girlfriend! They stood out from the crowd, with their unfussy low-key approach, often delivering songs with a simple drum machine pattern, staccato-bass and Alison's equanimous, decidedly non-showbiz vocals. When Stuart's guitar got going, it was invariably muted and, most certainly, devoid of histrionics. Speaking to journalist Richie Unterberger in 1997, group leader Stuart offered some insight into the work:

“We loved things like Devo, Kraftwerk, early Ultravox and were very excited by the kind of early techno thing of drum machines and synthesizers. The Young Marble Giants stuff was very rigidly written for that kind of formula, really. Very stylized, very moulded, for a purpose. It's quiet. It's minimal. My whole idea, really, was this is what's happening, this is what's out there, this is what we know about, and everyone kind of does the same stuff. Let's just turn out backs on that, and see what else there is to do. Being quiet was one thing, and being very minimal was another thing. So we thought right, we'll go against all the grains and see if we can come up with something. Basically we bumped our drum machine down to a cassette, and we used that one cassette for every gig we did. And we used that same cassette to make a record with. We kept it all very minimal and very simple. We did exactly the same thing in the studio as we did live. I think we did about two or three overdubs on the whole album. The album was done in five days, and we mixed it in 20 minutes. The whole idea was to keep it very simple.

My criteria for a great album, there's really two things. One is atmosphere. All great albums are immensely atmospheric. To attain atmosphere, it has to be more than the sum of its parts. The other thing is detail. It's kind of contradictory, but if you think of any good album that is extremely atmospheric, if you listen to the bass line, or the sound of a kick drum, or anything, any detail, it's still absolutely sublime in its details. The songs are good, the riffs are great, and somehow, just by the fact that it's extremely simple, it's very atmospheric as well. It's the quality of Alison's voice, and there's lots of minor chords, and a lot of the songs are very sad.”

The record went Top 3 in the indie chart and came to be regarded as a cult-classic, with folks like Kurt Cobain, Peter Buck and David Byrne lining up to pay tribute. Remember what I was telling you about poor Philip? He fell out with both his brother and his girlfriend, and the band split before the year was out. Groan. Never mind, the bold statement was made, and no-one can take that away. Kudos to the three of 'em for channeling adventurous spirits within all of us, way ahead of their time.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:03] 5.6.png Young Marble Giants - Searching For Mr. Right (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
A2 [02:01] 6.8.png Young Marble Giants - Include Me Out (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
A3 [02:07] 6.7.png Young Marble Giants - The Taxi (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
A4 [02:04] 7.4.png Young Marble Giants - Eating Noddemix (Stuart Moxham, Alison Statton) New Wave
A5 [02:04] 6.4.png Young Marble Giants - Constantly Changing (Stuart Moxham) Post-Punk
A6 [03:31] 6.4.png Young Marble Giants - N.I.T.A. (Stuart Moxham) Post-Punk
A7 [01:54] 6.7.png Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B1 [03:02] 6.2.png Young Marble Giants - Music For Evenings (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B2 [03:15] 7.2.png Young Marble Giants - The Man Amplifier (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B3 [02:37] 5.8.png Young Marble Giants - Choci Loni (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B4 [02:45] 6.0.png Young Marble Giants - Wurlitzer Jukebox (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B5 [02:01] 5.4.png Young Marble Giants - Salad Days (Stuart Moxham, Alison Statton) New Wave
B6 [02:29] 5.5.png Young Marble Giants - Credit In The Straight World (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B7 [02:54] 5.9.png Young Marble Giants - Brand - New - Life (Stuart Moxham) New Wave
B8 [02:25] 5.4.png Young Marble Giants - Wind In The Rigging (Stuart Moxham) New Wave

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