Amoeblog

A Look Back at the Depeche Mode Riots

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 11, 2015 07:43pm | Post a Comment

Today is the 50th anniversary of the Watts Riots (or Watts Rebellion, depending on your point of view). In that riot, 3,438 Anglenos were arrested, 1,032 were injured, and 34 died. This year (but not today) is also the 25th anniversary of another, less serious uprising, the Depeche Mode Riots, in which five people were treated for injuries.

******


Southern California has hosted its share of riots; there was the San Gabriel Mission Riot in 1785, the Chinese Massacre of 1871, the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943, the Cooper Do-nuts Uprising of 1959, the Sunset Strip Curfew Riots of 1966, the Black Cat Riot of 1967, the Huntington Beach Surf Riot of 1986, the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, the San Bernardino Punk Riot of 2006, the Anaheim Riots of 2012, and the another Huntington Beach Surf Riot in 2013. Some (most) were exacerbated by the authorities, and several were fueled by civil rights aspirations and/or racism. Only one that I know of was fueled by hormones, Anglophila, and ARP-2600s.



In most of the USDepeche Mode were known only as that band who sang “People are People.” 1987’s Music for the Masses only reached no. 35 on the pop charts and of its four singles, non troubled the Top 40. In Southern California, however, Depeche Mode and Music for the Masses were massive and on the final performance of that album's tour they played to an audience of 60,000 fans at the Pasadena Rose Bowl -- there biggest concert ever. The event formed the centerpiece of 101, a concert film by cinéma direct pioneer DA Pennebaker.



Depeche Mode’s follow-up, Violator, was eagerly anticipated by fans who waited three years for its release. The electro-glam single “Personal Jesus” provided a tease when released in 1989 and singlehandedly gave birth to the schaffel subgenere. It cracked the Top 40 which meant Casey Kasem and Rick Dees were obligated to play it on their chart shows, which in turn meant even kids in the heartland heard it emanating from the speakers on their school buses. 


Enjoy the Silence” reached no. 8 in the charts, at that point their highest placing yet. The stylish Anton Corbijn-directed music video was duly played on syndicated Saturday morning video shows and suddenly Depeche Mode were familiar to anyone under 30. I remember a troglodyte stand-up having a bit about how wimpy (gasp!) and pale (the horror!) they were… and probably something to about how music made on electronic rather than electric music isn’t “real” (a surprisingly common view among idiots of the day). Just don’t refer to their music as “progressive techno-pop.”




Violator was released on 20 March 1990. I bought a copy on compact disc from a music store in the Columbia Mall. I heard about the Depeche Mode riots was from a syndicated tabloid “news” show — probably either A Current Affair or Hard Copy. I remember the subtext of the report was along the lines of “How is it possible that so many kids are rioting over a band that I, a journalist, have never heard of?”



The the newscasters’ discredit, though, they probably would’ve had the same reaction had the band in question been U2, INXS, or R.E.M., but none of those stadium filling bands of the era were English and in Anglophile California there weren't just Depeche Mode fanatics but Depeche Mode clones like Cause & Effect and Red Flag. The band's sartorial style, too, was suddenly similar to that of the local “rebel” subculture which was the subject of a series of typically exploitive/concerned Chris Blatchford exposés for Fox Undercover.

Depeche Mode were scheduled to do an in-store signing at the Wherehouse on La Cienega in Beverly Grove, to promote the new album and sign autographs. Fans came from other states and in some cases camped out for four days in oder to catch a glimpse of the band. By the 20th, the line was three kilometers long and contained as many as 17,000 hard core fans. 

After 90 minutes, the LAPD shut down the event out of safety concerns. The boys from Basildon escaped out the back entrance, and hundreds of mounted riot police and police helicopters tried to maintain control. The stores windows were smashed and all hell broke loose. Aside from the five injuries, most of the wounds were of merely disappointment -- something the band and KROQ tried to soothe by giving away a free promotional cassette of an interview conducted by Richard Blade b/w a remix of “Something to Do.”

SEE ALSO: California Fool's Gold -- Exploring Watts, The Cooper Do-Nuts Uprising, and No Enclave -- Exploring English Los Angeles




 *****

Follow me at ericbrightwell.com

One album wonders: The Glove's Blue Sunshine

Posted by Eric Brightwell, February 1, 2015 12:24am | Post a Comment
 THE GLOVE - BLUE SUNSHINE (recorded 1982, released 1983) 



For about 40 years The Cure have been the main creative outlet for Robert Smith but he's engaged in the occasional side project here and there (and there). Whilst not as obscure as Cogasm or Cult Hero, The Glove and their sole album, Blue Sunshine, is a one album wonder that deserves better. 


I suppose that The Glove were as much a Siouxsie & The Banshees side project as a Cure one, since aside from Smith (who was himself twice a Banshee) the Glove was full-time Banshee Steve Severin. They also came about largely because Siouxsie Sioux and Budgie were off recording their own Banshee side project, the first Creatures record. It also owed a lot to the neo-psychedelic direction that the Banshee's had first pursued with 1980's Kaleidoscope


The first Glove song I ever heard was "Mr. Alphabet Says," on the radio. The vocals were unmistakably those of Robert Smith. However, Smith was contractually prohibited from singing on the album so aside from that song and "Perfect Murder" the vocals were handled by Budgie's then-girlfriend, Jeanette Landray. Landray's vocals are fine -- icy and remote but perhaps not entirely memorable. After recording Blue Sunshine, she did appear in another one hit wonder, Kiss That, who released the Mick Ronson-produced Kiss And Tell in 1986.


Blue Sunshine produced two singles, “Like An Animal” b/w “Mouth To Mouth” and “Punish Me With Kisses” b/w “The Tightrope” in 1983 -- the same year that The Cure, then essentially reduced to a duo, released the non-album singles compilation, Japanese Whispers. After the release of Blue Sunshine, that recording's session drummer, Andy Anderson, joined The Cure. Violinist Martin McCarrick later played with Siouxsie and the Banshees. Blue Sunshine has been re-issued many times on various formats over the years although notably in 2006, when Rhino digitally remastered the album and added a bonus disc of studio demos with Smith on vocals. 



*****

We've had a pleasantly wet winter this year in Southern California. In fact, I reckon it's one of the nicest rainy seasons we've had in a decade. Confronted daily with lush greenery in the hills around me and cloudy, gray skies above it's no wonder (to me at least) that I keep hearing Teardrop Explodes songs in my head all day long which means that Alan Gudguy gets to experience me singing "Soft Enough for You," "Treason (It's Just A Story)" and "Metranil Vavin" all day long. If you find yourself in a similar situation, consider adding Blue Sunshine to your neo-psych/raincoat rock repertoire, your cat with thank you.


*****


Follow Eric Brightwell

Your Tuesday night planned... Echo Park or Little Saigon -- what's it going to be?!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, May 11, 2012 07:43pm | Post a Comment
So I'm slated to DJ at the Short Stop in Echo Park on 15 May, 2012 (this coming Tuesday unless you're pulling this from the archives). I'll be splitting the music slanging chores with Joe Skyward (Sky Cries Mary, The Posies, Sunny Day Real Estate, Jean Jacket Shotgun), Jimmy James and Greene Candy Machine




Of my comrades I only know Joe but I don't even know what kind of music he's planning on DJing. As for me, he only told me "No techno!" so I'll ignore anything '80s Detroit just to be safe. I do plan on focusing on the '80s, however -- chiefly Baggy, Bass, Bounce, Electro, Eurodisco, Freestyle, Garage, Italo, Spacesynth, SynthpopVietnamese New Wave -- that sort of thing. 

*****




If you don't go because your typical Tuesdays are too packed with choice you should probably go see
SISU in Santa Ana at the Constellation. They're quite possibly the best band in LA currently -- especially if you like Blonde Redhead, Broadcast, Midnight MoviesRuth Hohmann & Erbe-Chor or perhaps early Pink Floyd

So you're spoiled for choice, really. LA or OC, which is it going to be?


(Wherein Spring Fever breaks.)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 4, 2011 01:12pm | Post a Comment


In my last blog I showcased some of the awful/wonderful synthpop I’ve been enjoying on the advent of this Spring season. Due to the thousands of letters I’ve gotten from my tremendous fan base, I’ve decided to include more.

Before I do, however, I would like to give a shout out to the website Heaven or Hell, which managed to steal a healthy chunk of my time today, which could have been spent cleaning my carpet, brushing the cats, aiding the Japanese, or giving people with terminal bone marrow cancer exfoliating foot baths and zrbts. It’s amazing, isn’t it, how much time can be wasted on the World Wide Web? With that said, please enjoy these videos…



(Wherein Spring Fever takes over the jukebox.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 28, 2011 04:25pm | Post a Comment

Well my little dreamlets, we’re ten days into Spring, and it’s already clear to me what music is going to carry me through into Summer – it’s all about synthetics. Synthpop, that is, of the late 70’s and early 80’s variety.

This amuses me, because for much of my life I detested a lot of the music I’m going to celebrate here. A lot of the hatred stemmed from being so unhappy in the 1980’s; by association, the music “sounded” like unhappiness. Think of it this way: When was the last time you were taking a shower and felt like listening to the soundtrack to Psycho? Exactly.

Some say that synthpop began when Giorgio Moroder teamed up with Donna Summer and created the hit single "I Feel Love." Calling this the “start” of synthpop is convenient, but an over-simplification, because so much came before that informed it. What can be said is that the song was influential, both in terms of inspiring artists who would go on to develop the synthpop genre, and give mainstream audiences a taste for it.

What follows are some synthpop songs that bring me joy. Many can be claimed by other sub-genres of music, but they're all related. Some are guilty pleasures – the sonic equivalent to a Snickers bar, in that they are bad for me, but make me feel great for the duration I’m imbibing – and others I stand by as solid accomplishments. I’m also putting a spell on them: listening to these songs will make you feel a little ticklish in the deepest part of your brain, which will result in your not hating your fellow man as much (even though they totally deserve your hate). Enjoy!

Continue reading...
<<  1  2  >>  NEXT