Tag Archives: the 1980s

Famous Grey Raincoat – an introduction

(This is probably not strictly a daily post but it’s what I’ve been thinking about today)
The years after punk were rich with possibility. The convergence of influences that freed music from the restrictions of big industry made it possible for so much more music to be heard. The first nihilistic roar that came out of London (via New York – or at least that corner that the Stooges lurked in) cleared the air for a more cerebral generation of bands: mostly northern, generally more artistically inclined, often soberly dressed and looking to Europe instead of the US for influence, or at least that Europe occupied by David Bowie and Can.
There was probably no movement as such – there very rarely was, just patterns in the minds of the music journalists that documented the bands who fitted the bill, but there were tags that could be applied. There was of course a certain sound, influenced by Martin Hannett’s production, a high register, low slung bass; chorussed and echoed guitar and an oceanic depth of reverb. The more observant would recognise U2 in this, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The biggest band in the world gained their inspiration from the same sources as many of the bands in this history, and indeed are one of the bands in this history.
Many of the bands in this history are now household names: Joy Division/New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen and U2. Then there are the bands who achieved cult status or even fame outside of the UK: The Chameleons, The Sound and The Comsat Angels. Following them were hundreds of contenders who may have had the thrill of hearing their single played by John Peel or got a live review in Melody Maker before sinking below the radar again.
I haven’t found a history of this specific musical non-genre, so I thought I would have a go myself. This is my statement of intent: if anyone comes across it and has done such a thing, then you can sell me a copy as I want to know more.If not, then give me time and I’ll find it out for myself. There might be a blog, but not yet, but I’ll keep you posted.