Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Suicide - The Second Album (expanded CD)

I bought the first Suicide album when it came out, as I was doing my best to buy anything that sounded interesting from the new music scene that was happening at the time. I'm sure I had read something about the band but I don't know if I was fully prepared for the oddness of this duo. With just keyboards, drum machine and vocals, the sound did not have the buzzsaw guitar edge that I have always loved, so this would have taken a little getting used to. But Suicide did have their own brand of energy'n'madness mixed with a good dose of 50's'n'60's influences for an intriguing and somewhat frightening new force of nature'n'mechanics. Having already been playing NYC for years by the time the debut was released, there were a few more years before this, their follow up, was able to be recorded'n'released and by then I supposed they fell off of my radar and I never followed up on their career.

I have been renewing my interest in the more unique sounds of this time period and have also been reading a fascinating'n'informative book on the duo (Dream Baby Dream) and have come to realize how many releases - as Suicide as well as solo artists - these two have put out that I have not heard and I am beginning to try to rectify that omission. This sophomore effort, produced by Suicide fan Ric Ocasek of the Cars, is much, much more polished, which I sure was a nod towards commercialism, but I must say that I prefer the rawer edge of the debut. Regardless, there is plenty that is worthwhile here.

"Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne", as the title would suggest, is a slick nod to the then-current disco culture and a bit too glossy and not as dangerous as I prefer this band to be. But there are fine pieces of mesmerizing drones, such as the more frantically intense "Fast Money Music" and psycho-sexual sci-fi soundtrack "Harlem", as well as a bit of rockabilly influence in "Be Bop Kid" (Alan apparently did some rockabilly-ish solo work around this time with a full band that I have yet to hear), although there are a number of tracks that kinda slink by without jumpin' out at you, as the best and most abrasive Suicide tracks do. Alan tends to quietly sing throughout, rather than shriek'n'yelp. The bonus tracks include the glossy, slow-disco of their "hit" "Dream Baby Dream" (covered by Bruce Springsteen, of all people, although you can see it in a way as it does sounds like an electronica bastard son of Bruce and Lou Reed) and "Radiation", which is a bit more of a return to form with its ripoff of the "Money" riff and an impassioned vocal performance from Vega.

The 1975 rehearsal tapes, on the other hand, are quite the revelation - menacing in the best way, with its stripped-down sound, other-worldly noises (including random radio signals) and frightening vocal deliveries. Apparently, this is about as close to a Suicide live set from the time as you can get, without the audience abuse! 14 songs and all fantastically maniacal and it actually sounds pretty damn good for an ancient two-track tape!

This set is easily worth it just for the bonus CD, but the second album certainly has enough fine moments, as well. There appears to be a number of other early releases appearing that I will be searching out as this time period for the group is truly fascinating!