Originally released in 1977, NYC duo Suicide’s self-titled LP is more punk rock than the Sex Pistols, Television, Ramones, or any other band typically identified with the era. Eschewing raucous guitar riffs for primitive drum machines beats and distorted synths, Alan Vega and Martin Rev had been making music together since 1970, long before the concept of punk was even a remunerative gleam in Malcolm McLaren’s eye. Lots of punks hated them, in fact, with an audience member at a 1978 gig supporting The Clash in Glasgow going so far as to throw an axe at Vega’s head. Rolling Stone called the album “absolutely puerile.” (The magazine later recanted and listed the LP at number 441 on their list of the best 500 albums of all time.)
The first time I heard album opener “Ghost Rider,” I was on my way home after a night out with a friend--a moment that wouldn't have been at all remarkable, except for its soundtrack. “What is this?” I asked, with a barely restrained urgency. Asking this question was no small feat; I was twenty-one, the youngest person working at my hometown’s best record store, and one of the few girls on staff. As a matter of pride, I did NOT want to admit that I didn’t know something about music — especially when everyone else seemed to already know about it. But this was more important than pride. It was inventive, bold, paranoid, intelligent, and very, very dark. It was, as my friend told me, Suicide’s first album.