Alles gute zum geburtstag Schaffel - The musical repercussions of Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 30, 2015 04:05pm | Post a Comment

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the infamous Depeche Mode Riots, in which half a dozen people were treated for minor injuries. Another Depeche Mode milestone is upon us as on 29 August 1989 the band released their 23rd single, "Personal Jesus" and basically invented the "schaffel" subgenre. 

It wasn't their first single to prominently feature electric guitars -- preceding non-album single "Route 66" (a cover of Bobby Troup's standard "(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66") had made use of them to good effect. However, I was always suspicious when electronic musicians added guitars to their synthpop because so often it seemed like a calculated effort to appeal to the musical conservatives. It was with suspicion that I first approached "Personal Jesus" but after the release of the guitar-less "Enjoy the Silence" I breathed a sigh of relief. 

Truth be told, Iggy Pop was probably the first to recognize that combining electronics with the glitter stomp of T. Rex and Chinnichap was a good idea. "Nightclubbing" was released as a single in 1977 and featured a Glitter Band-inspired riff paired with a drum machine. I'm willing to bet, however, that a fair few of the schaffel crowd didn't hear that song until it resurfaced on the soundtrack of 1996's Trainspotting.

One Album Wonders: Jet's Jet

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 22, 2014 01:38pm | Post a Comment
Here is an additional edition of my series of great, mostly obscure, one album wonders. In the album era (roughly the mid-1960s until the mid-2000s), the album was the dominant format of recorded music expression and consumption. It seems that most musicians from that era, if able to scrape together the funds for the recording of one studio album, generally returned with at least one more.  Some, like Sun Ra, somehow released more albums than I've had hot dinners. Even most excellent bands, in my opinion, would have done well to find something other to do with their time rather than keep making records after their fifth album or twelfth year (although there is the Go-Betweens Exception). The following acts mostly date fromthe Golden Age of the LP -- and yet were unable or unwilling, in all cases, to record more than one. 


One Album Wonders: Mother Love Bone's Apple

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 28, 2014 01:26pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. During that period, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album -- Perfect for completists on a budget! This series examines some of my favorite "one album wonders."



Mother Love Bone - Apple

Although Mother Love Bone were credited with attracting major label attention to Seattle, their musical sensibility (and Wood's sartorial) were decidedly at odd with the horde of ripped-jeans-and-ripped-abs tortured bros that would come to characterize grunge after its crossover.

One Album Wonders: Brett Smiley's Breathlessly Brett

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 21, 2014 01:07pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. In that era, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album. This series looks at some of my favorite "one album wonders."

The Moon missions and the children of Major Tom -- the end of the space age and the music that followed

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 20, 2009 03:58pm | Post a Comment
first moon landing

It's the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, and looking back at that achievement it's obvious that one of the many repercussions was evinced in the music of the era. In addition to the space rock of bands like Pink Floyd and Hawkwind and sci-fi minded funk acts like Funkadelic, the glam rock scene, which exploded around the same time, is one of the most obvious manifestations. For a couple of years, glam rock was massively popular in several countries and it spawned hordes of mylar-and-make-up-wearing rockers singing about extraterrestrial love and lonely planet boys. On December 7, 1972, the Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the moon and the space age, shortly after, seems to have drawn quietly to a close. Glam rock seemed to fizzle shortly afterward, but maybe it just went underground, seeking out new frontiers in a different set of clothes.

First, in 1973, David Bowie retired his extraterrestrial Ziggy Stardust and released Aladdin Sane. Although hardly a radical departure, it was famously hyped as "Ziggy goes to America" and represented Bowie's efforts to move in a new direction. Then, in early 1974, glam rock's creator Marc Bolan announced that "Glam rock is dead." His February release, Zinc Alloy and the Hidden Riders of Tomorrow - A Creamed Cage in August, was described by its creator as "cosmic soul." Bowie described his next direction as "plastic soul" shortly afterward. Glam's two most important stars seemed committed to moving on in spirit, if perhaps overstating the change in their music.

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