[All throughout the month of November, all NW4NW entries will be based on requests made by you, dear readers. Because of the amount of requests coming in, there will often be more than one entry per week during this month - I recommend signing up for email alerts on the left-hand side of the screen so that you don't miss any of the fun! If you wish to make a request, you may do so either in the comments section of this post, on Twitter, or on the Facebook Fanpage. Don't be shy - tell me what band you want to see featured!]
Strange Reaction regularly, you need to start. It is one of the best Punk Rock blogs going. Scott and Mike E. know their stuff and regularly provide blistering podcasts, spot on record reviews, and stories of living the Life both back in the day and as older, wiser (?) adults. Recommended! I was pleased, then, to see Scott from Strange Reaction throw his two cents in on All Request Month, and more than pleased when among his suggestions was Howard Devoto's second band, Magazine.
Devoto, who has been described as "Brian Eno on steroids," was the original lead singer for The Buzzcocks. He left that band after recording their debut EP Spiral Scratch, hoping to push the envelope a little further musically than the pop-punk structure of The Buzzcocks would allow. Recruiting John McGeoch, Barry Adamson and Dave Formula on guitar, bass and keyboards respectively, and with Martin Jackson momentarily manning the drumset (he'd soon be replaced by John Doyle), Magazine debuted in 1978 with the stunning "Shot By Both Sides." a full album, Real Life, followed quickly on the heels of that single, and is an important artifact of the early Post-Punk sound.
Magazine's sound was both more melodic and more avant-garde than many of their contemporaries. The music was heavily layered and claustrophobic, which perfectly supported Devoto's mildly paranoid and often melancholy lyrics. At times being obtuse to the point of self-parody, Devoto's songs were nonetheless memorable, and Real Life reached the Top 30 on the UK album charts.
Their sophomore effort, Secondhand Daylight, saw the traditional guitar-and-bass sound being downplayed in favor of more keyboard-based material. The material here is not entirely unlike early Public Image Ltd., although perhaps a bit more literate. Not bad, but they still sounded like they were searching for their true voice - a voice they found with 1980's The Correct Use Of Soap. With goodies like "Model Worker," "A Song From Under The Floorboards," and the contemporary non-album single "The Light Pours Out Of Me" (which was appended in the CD reissue), this was Magazine's masterpiece, as well as their best-selling record.
One more album would appear the following year, but Devoto decided to dissolve the band upon the release of Magic, Murder And The Weather. The album showed a band that certainly was not running out of material (the single "About The Weather" ranks among the band's best work), but apparently Devoto didn't want to wait until the tank was empty to stop the car. Two years later, in 1983, Devoto released Jerky Versions Of The Dream, a solo album that featured an outstanding single, "The Rainy Season," and then dropped out of the music world altogether to focus on his love of photography.
Devoto reunited the original line-up of Magazine in 2009 for a series of UK concerts, and rumor has it that there may just be some new material to come...
I thank Scott for his request, and offer two clips to fill it: First, Magazine debuting "Shot By Both Sides" on British TV in 1978, and then Devoto's solo clip for "The Rainy Season." Enjoy!