Post-punk, new wave, no-wave, punk-funk, dance-rock….Turgid. Immediately conjures the image of a ‘Flock of Seagulls’ posturing in a shit club in Bristol.
Now rewind, imagine a warehouse party; walls adorned with projected videos, pimpled young art graduates called Eno and Byrne in awkward discussion over tones of this new sound which combines the vibrancy of 70’s disco with punkish grunge and the naivety of new technology. This loosely defines the ‘scene’ that was developing within the confines of New-York Tri-State area in the early 80’s.
99 (nine nine) Records are one of many independent basement run labels of the day. Its output however was particularly driven by heavy funk baselines and chiming guitar riffs. I first came across the label on hearing Cavern by Liquid Liquid. (Incidentally this song led to the financial ruin of the label following a lengthy copyright battle involving a Grandmaster flash sample-see White Lines).
ESG, a band formed by the Scroggins sisters (I know!), had youth, rhythm and pop sensibility in abundance. Singles such as Dance and Moody sound much like New Order’s 3 minute wet dream. Bush Tetris another 99 staple continued the theme of percussive grooves.
This scene played out in clubs like the Ritz, Mudd and CBGB and despite being well documented by a host of artists/photographers at the time remains largely unrecognised now. Its substance is clearly evident in today’s raft of indie/electronic rock bands.