Thursday, January 22, 2009

Listening to Long to One Song: The Wake "Talk About the Past"

"Have you heard the good news? Everybody is a star/Have you heard the good news? Everybody works so hard..."

Tell me if this has ever happened to you before. You find yourself at a dance club, or listening to the radio. Someone plays a song that you have had in your record collection for ages, but that you listen to quite infrequently. They play this song at just the right moment, at just the right volume. You wonder how you have made it so far in your life without noticing that this is surely one of the greatest songs in existence.

Every time in my life that I have listened to the Wake, I think to myself, "When will I ever be able correct the severely questionable level of judgment that I must posses in order to have made it this far in my life having only ever heard three songs from the Wake?" The Wake just happen to be one in a long inexplicable series of bands that I was lazy about searching for for far too long. I looked for the LTM CD reissues of all of their albums and surrounding singles about seventy percent of the time when I went to any given record store. I sporadically go through fervent bouts of searching for their vinyl on ebay, but then go through far more extensive periods of neglecting to search for anything on ebay, let alone the Wake. This last move is likely far more due to subconscious self-preservation of my bank account than laziness really, but you know...

"Talk About the Past" was one of the three Wake songs that I had heard prior to this week. I own the 12", and have always loved it, but it's also one that I would fail to pull out and listen to often enough. Then I heard it at a club, at club volume, while dancing. Everything fell into place right there I suppose. I walked home listening to "Carbrain," (the only other Wake song that I owned at the time) and the next day I pulled out my 12" copy of "Talk About the Past." I lifted the needle over and over again trying to figure what it was about this song that now had me so entranced. I've always marveled over the speed of this song. It's really fast, but it's very well measured at the same time. Every now and then it feels as if the speed will pick up and spiral out of control, but it never does. It doesn't leave you feeling out of breath by the end of the song, just perfectly, properly exhilarated. Vini Reilly of the Durutti Column (another band whose shape creates a giant hole in my record collection) punctuates the piece nicely with outstanding flurries of piano. Caesar's vocals are dreamy, and well, it's very exciting to read on the band's Wikipedia page that this was something of a hit with the "indie" contingent when it was released in 1984. It's combined elements are kind of awe-inspiring upon first listen, and it seems to improve with every subsequent listen. Not that this is something that usually constitutes a hit at all, but if you really think about it wouldn't it be nice if it were? I tend to find that most songs become less exciting the more I listen to them, take them apart, and try to figure them out. The more I listen to this song, the more complex it seems to become. I'm so intrigued by that.

So I suppose that my inconclusive musings on this subject serve as very little more than a testament to the idea of getting out of the house so that you might hear something new, or hear something familiar in a new way. It's something that I so often need to be reminded of, and this was a nice way for that to happen. Since hearing "Talk About the Past," a little over a week ago I came to my senses and purchased the LTM compilation Here Comes Everybody + Singles, as well as another LTM collection Assembly, from This still has me scratching my head over why I didn't think to do it sooner. I also found affordable vinyl copies of both their first full length Harmony, and their first full length for Sarah Records Make it Loud on Ebay. That was just extraordinary luck on my part. I've listened almost exclusively to the Wake within that time period, and I couldn't be happier about that fact.

And of course - once I realized that my casual need to repeatedly hear one particular song had moved into a full blown obsession with this band that by all logical reasoning I should have become obsessed with ages ago - I knew that my research would have to start within the Tangents Archive. I knew that there would be at least one insightful, and well written personal encounter of discovering the music of the Wake to be found there. I was right, and there were two. The first is a review of LTM's Harmony + Singles collection written by Kevin Pearce who once wrote a 'zine called Hungry Beat that was so well written, and well regarded that my clever friend Yvonne determined we should name our club night after it. You can read that review here. The second is a review of Here Comes Everybody + Singles written by Alistair Fitchett who may very well be my favorite pop music writer. This particular review should be able to offer some proof as to why that is. You can read it here.

Purchase Here Comes Everybody + Singles.

Purchase Harmony + Singles.

Purchase Assembly. This includes several live tracks, and both of the Sarah singles.

Purchase Holy Heads. This includes both Sarah full lengths Tidal Wave of Hype, and Make it Loud.

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