It’s been a while since the last compare and contrast blog. Still, continuing this occasional series is one I only noticed relatively recently, and I find it hard to imagine that The Wedding Present’s ‘Go-Go Dancer’…
…wasn’t influenced just a little bit by Sonic Youth’s ‘Teenage Riot’:
Ok, so it’s broadly agreed that Wire have been immensely influential and are one of the few bands to have emerged from the punk scene to have been capable of producing genuinely clever and articulate songs. They’ve written a lot of seriously good tunes, too, so it’s small wonder that so many subsequent bands have ripped them off. I’ll be coming to Elastica later, but for now, here’s a compare and contrast with a song by Leeds band Red Lorry Yellow Lorry.
Formed in 1981, The Lorries are generally lumped in with the ’80s ‘goth’ scene on account of their geography and the fact that their original drummer, Mick Brown, would subsequently leave to form The Mission (although whether or not they were strictly ‘goth’ is questionable, but that’s a whole other matter). Still, whether you consider RLYL goth or simply angry post punk, as I do, the vocal melody on the track ‘Hand on Heart’, from their 1985 debut album Talk About the Weather is undeniably similar to that of Wire’s ‘Reuters’ the first track on their classic 1977 LP Pink Flag.
Ok, so I’m no musician – my guitar-playing is, you could say, rudimentary – and I can’t read music and struggle to play by ear. But I am a music obsessive, and can recognise some songs from the crackle of the needle that preceded the intro (or from the silence between tracks on CDs). Anyway, I’m by no means suggesting that these two songs are identical, just that the bassline of Husker Du’s ‘Blah Blah Blah’ has more than a passing similarity to the Sister of Mercy’s debut single, ‘The Damage Done’.
Given the Sisters’ tendency to appropriate and paraphrase, you might have thought that Mr Eldritch had drawn influence from the US punk band… but the Sisters track predates Husker Du’s by a couple of years. So, coincidence…? You decide!
I’m aware that blogs with video or other visual content tend to receive more traffic and more comments than those without it. Perhaps it’s because, with fewer words, they’re easier to digest for those who prefer their blogs to be less challenging. I’m also aware that it requires less effort, at least in terms of writing, to produce a blog where much of the space is occupied by large pictures or videos. My insistence on text-only blogs to date has been a combination of bloody-mindedness, and an enduring habit of making life hard to myself – and believe me, writing more words with a view to receiving fewer hits really is the epitome of maximum effort for minimum reward.
Anyway, this is the first in an occasional series which places two songs side by side in order to play one of my favourite musical games, compare and contrast. But who is ripping off whom?
Today, we pit The Mighty Fall against the mighty funny Spinal Tap. Enjoy!