Magazine - Real Life
The Members of Magazine
Barry Adamson - Bass, Vocals
Howard Devoto - Guitar, Vocals
Dave Formula - Keyboards
Martin Jackson -Drums
John McGeoch - Guitar, Keyboards, Saxophone
Mar 1978-Apr 1978
Formed in 1977 after Howard Devoto left the now famous Buzzcocks. This was right after they released the independently funded Spiral Scratch EP. Magazine became one of the first post punk bands but never had much success. They broke up in 1981 just as they were about to get big. One of the most underrated bands of the seventies.
This album is very much unlike it's time where two minute punk songs with angst vocals were the norm. Many of the songs on this album stretch over four minutes with many unexpected tempo and dynamic changes. The first time I listened to this album I wasn't very impressed but a month later I had a nagging urge to listen to it again and it became one of my favorite albums of all time. Songs like Shot by Both Sides and The Light Pours Out of Me are on countless punk compilations and are post punk staples.
The overall sound on this album is amazing. John McGeoch is my favorite synth player along with Barry Andrews from the new wave group XTC. They're pretty much the reason why I bought a synthesizer and I still can't figure what they are doing. This may be a very complex album but is never boring. The tempo is pretty fast on most songs and there are quite a few rock out moments. Many people call this ground zero for post punk and I completely agree.
Track by Track
1. Definitive Gaze
Starts the album with a synth sounding bass and awesome organ sweeps in the background. Howard Devoto sounds like a madman as usual and when he sings "So this is real life." I feel like I know exactly what he is talking about. You may not even notice that there is a guitar in this song your first time you hear this, speaking from experience. At three minutes there is a cool breakdown with random but cool synth sounds. The songs ends with the sythn being modulated faster and faster until you hear a beautiful high melody fading out.
2. My Tulpa
Much more rock sounding then the first song with the guitar taking a distorted lead over a very funky organ part. The signing is much more normal sounding in this song which is a good thing for people who don't like his weird voice. The breakdown at two minutes always gets my head bobbing. The saxophone solo near the end of the song is a definite highlight of the album.
3. Shot by Both Sides
The most know and punk sounding song on the album. This song was actually co-written by Pete Shelly while Howard Devoto was still in the Buzzcocks. The strange keyboards take a back seat to guitar in this song. This is fine; the guitar solo in this song is amazing. The most normal sounding song on the record.
The shortest song on this record and a nice addition at that. I still get surprised by its catchiness. The keyboard playing is great as always and I really like the ping type tones near the end of the song. The stop and start section at the end adds a nice touch too.
Starts off very mellow. I still get moved by the guitar melody. When the drums come in the song is truly great. The ending is a very dramatic highlight of the song. Devoto sings "Keep your silence to yourself. You will forget yourself." over and over again till the song ends on a fade out.
My favorite song on this album it's quite the epic. This song was quite scary one night while I was in a car ride home while looking at a foggy bridge I was on. It is a fairly soft song for the first two minutes. The song has a fairly normal tempo until the guitar solo where the song speeds up dramatically. This is one of my favorite solos. It may not be very technical or very hard but the distorted bends leave quite an impression. I love the frantic pace of this song which makes the crashing down part so great. The synth bend when Devoto sings "In the back of his car" is just scary in a way I can't explain. The flawless use of tempo changes makes this a classic in my book.
7. Great Beautician in the Sky
This is the song that got me back into the album after I heard in my head one day. I listened to it pretty much nonstop for two weeks after I got back into this album. This is strange because for many people this is the only song on the album they can't stand. It is a very carnival type song with a very old fashioned feel to it. The keyboard playing is phenomenal. Devoto's voice is very strange on this song and that is what throws many people off but I personally love them. Overall this song has a very interesting structure that is completely unique. I have never heard anything similar. Definitely one my favorite songs of all time along with motorcade.
8. Light Pours Out of Me
I always feel like dancing to this song, it is so funky. The lyrics are great too "Time flies. Time crawls. Like an insect up and down the walls." I have a personal love for the guitar in this song. The sharp high register twitch is always my favorite type of guitar playing. The solo is also great and so is the bass playing. The ending may surprise you but it's still the catchiness song on this album.
The quality is very questionable in this song which takes away from it overall. My least favorite song on the record but I still enjoy listening to it. It has a kind of a piano ballad sound to it. The occasional cool effect makes this song a worthwhile listen. I actually have been liking it more recently.
After listening to this while I was reviewing, this is now my favorite album again. My favorite album is always in constant rotation with Magazine, Fugazi, and Olivia Tremor Control. I really wish more people have heard of this band but I guess that is what makes this album even more special to me.