Saturday, August 27, 2005

Langhoff Unpublished: 12"/'80s Box Set

Unpublished probably; I sent it to Chuck at the Voice, but before he could find the space for it, a volume II came out and sort of rendered this one less relevant. Not as au courant. I keep thinking I'll buy the volume II and update this thing and send it back, but so far I've had other fish to fry, and it's not like this was my favorite set of CDs in the world, as you'll see below. Gave me a chance to employ a hoary metaphor, reminiscent of the ones buddy Karl and I useta come up with in HS typing class.

Various Artists

Beware, nostalgic dilettantes! There are two overlapping versions of Family Recordings’ 12”/'80s box set floating around, and one has “White Lines” and one doesn’t, which fact would seem to make your decision pretty easy, except the one with “White Lines” doesn’t contain Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Never Stop (Discotheque),” whose pizzicato string propulsion has changed my… well, it made my sad little whole grain breakfast much more enjoyable. If you’re not that dependent upon “White Lines,” no fear, because both sets boast Simply Red’s “Money’s Too Tight to Mention (Cutback Mix)” and Grace Jones’s “Pull Up to the Bumper,” my other morning revelations among 37 or 38 remixed British Chart Hits (some only climbing as high as Slayer’s “Criminally Insane,” not included, but hits still) by Predominantly British People. Most of these 12” singles are interchangeable and quite useless, which fact doesn’t necessarily make them art.

In fact, whether the terms 12” and 80s deserve equivalence depends on whether both sides are equally well served by the association. In this case, the 80s are a wealthy landowner whose skillful pruning of the twin forests Punk and Disco produced an incomparable series of pop wind-up-toys, resulting in much public goodwill and critical acclaim. Though we may question the 80s’ murder of that hoary beast Prog, the decade’s slightly smug patrician benevolence seemed to invite nostalgia from the get. By contrast, the 12” is a wastrel tinker who mistakenly wandered onto the 80s’ estate, got lost in Punk’s self-sufficiency and Disco’s vast repetitions, and used the landowner’s ample resources to force his way into the public eye. By now, the damn tinker’s reputation is way overblown, his contraptions too often empty of invention or joy. The 80s may have produced as rich a legacy as her sister decades, but she suffers from proximity to the 12”.

All except the stuff I said before and anything by New Order, not included.

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