heard on the wire

Like a red machine

It’s a mark of the genius of The Smiths and New Order — the two great 80s bands — that in the space of two years they both released consecutive LPs that overshadow anything else released at the time.

The Smiths’ Queen is Dead is often hailed as their finest work — and There Is a Light That Never Goes Out as their best song — while Brotherhood is generally one of New Order’s least acclaimed recordings. Conversely, I think both Meat is Murder and, even more so, Strangeways Here We Come eclipse The Queen is Dead — whose standout track is obviously I Know It’s Over — while Brotherhood, dumb closing track aside, is New Order’s finest long player.

However, like The Fall in 1985, there is another band who can lay claim to 86’s best LP. Blending soul, punk and socialist politics into a sound that was completely original, The Redskins only LP, Neither Washington nor Moscow, remains completely unique and completely brilliant.

The Redskins :: Keep On Keepin’ On

Audio MP3

It was the only LP that the band ever recorded. In September they played their last ever gig and disbanded. Singer Chris Dean reportedly moved to Paris and a great voice was never heard again. That last gig featured this astonishing cover of Billy Bragg’s Levi Stubbs’ Tears, which could equally have been 1986’s song-from-each-year-of-my-life.

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