Killing Joke, Love Like Blood (1985)

love_like_blood_12_1985

Artist: Killing Joke
Title: Love Like Blood
Description: single; track Night Time
Label: E.G.
Release date: 1985
First heard: 1985

In 1990, Killing Joke, or Killing Joke’s record company, or Killing Joke’s record company’s PR company, came up with the wheeze of promoting their new record by sending a female stripper to the offices of various music publications. Just doing the job she was hired to do, the stripper was led into the middle of the NME shopfloor where she proceeded to disrobe to the sounds of the new Killing Joke single emanating from a ghetto blaster. I am, in retrospect, deeply proud of what happened next. Male staff members (who outnumbered female staff members by around 10 to one) evacuated the main office, en masse, and gathered in the production room rather than be a party to the degrading display. Our feminist credentials intact, and the exotic dancer’s clothes still on, she was gently guided into the adjoining offices of Shoot, the then-weekly football magazine, where her work was unironically appreciated by young men lacking our snowflake tendencies. I’m pretty sure the magazine reviewed the Killing Joke single.

In many ways, as well as a fun anecdote about the late-80s pre-Loaded male identity crisis (the future founding editor of Loaded was among the embarrassed new men – although it was he who brilliantly came up with the Shoot wheeze), this story illustrates the core difficulty of Killing Joke. One of the keystone British post-punk bands, still crazy after all these years under the stewardship of Jaz Coleman, they are, like Steven Seagal, hard to kill. Like many disaffected aficionados of the blunt-instrument force of much British rock made in the crucible of punk, I flocked to their percussive musical message around 1980, gritting my teeth to Wardance, Change and Requiem via John Peel. (Coleman was furious in a way that only a well-educated former chorister and classically-trained musician who studied international banking for three years in Switzerland can be.) They’ve dabbled in death disco, and been heavily remixed, but Killing Joke remain a racket, as influential as the Beatles to bands too young to have been into the Beatles. But they act as if they don’t want you to like them.

Love Like Blood is, for me, the high watermark of their collective genius. I remember buying the 12-inch in 1985 and playing it continually in my study cell in Battersea, all the while slightly bothered by the cover photo of a ripped warrior wielding a Samurai sword, and the elemental viscera of the lyrics. “We must play our lives like soldiers in the field,” Coleman strains, with feeling. “The life is short, I’m running faster all the time.” There is an existential panic at the centre of this thundering anthem to strength and beauty destined to decay. Is it, like one of Leni Riefenstahl’s mountaineering films, a supremacist paean to human excellence? If so, is that a problem? We are certainly seem to be urged down a quasi-fascistic, Wagnerian path, where “legends live and man is god again.” Paging Mr Nietzsche!

The blood, the rose “cut in full bloom”, the burning hearts, the frustration and despair, love and hate, promised lands and fields; and the refrain:

’Til the fearless come and the act is done

A call to arms, driven by Paul Raven’s stomach-ache bass, Geordie Walker’s mountaintop guitar fanfares and Paul Ferguson’s precision analogue drumbeat over that twilight synth wash, Love Like Blood is a recruitment as much as a pop or rock song, a sincere promise of immortality “as we move towards no end.” Coleman’s lyrics dare us to get onboard. Are we up to the task ahead? Though a gifted man of letters, he is also a man of action. And it’s that sheer physicality that rises up out of these six minutes and 44 seconds of meat beat manifesto. It’s super, man.

The band produced it, and the album, with Chris Kimsey, who cannot go unheralded, a veteran in both engineering and co-production on several key Rolling Stones records and Led Zeppelin III (he also recorded Frampton Comes Alive!) – his marshalling of the Joke’s individual contributions to the overall signature matches that of a drill sergeant. I will always hold a candle for the early Killing Joke triumphs, the likes of Follow The Leader, Unspeakable and The Fall of Because, but it’s no coincidence that the radio version of Love Like Blood became their first Top 20 hit (and, at time of writing, their last). It is, simply, impeccable; fearless; peerless; the deep-rooted sound of a band in full bloom. And yet, queasy listening. Not a relaxation record. But that which does not destroy Killing Joke makes them stronger.

Now put your shirt back on.

 

 

Echo & The Bunnymen, The Killing Moon (1984)

EchoThe-Killing-Moon

Artist: Echo & The Bunnymen
Title: The Killing Moon
Description: single; album track, Ocean Rain
Label: Korova
Release date: 1984
First heard: 1984

Once a Bunnyman, always a Bunnyman. The thought of it sometimes reduces me to panic, but when I sing The Killing Moon I know there isn’t a band in the world who’s got a song anywhere near that.

Ian McCulloch, The Observer, 13 April 2003

Ian McCulloch famously believes that Ocean Rain, Echo & The Bunnymen’s fourth album, is their best. I would have to lay down my raincoat and respectfully disagree with him. I’d say their first album, Crocodiles, remains their best. But I’ll happily concede that The Killing Moon – which in January 1984 promised the moon on a stick from the forthcoming new LP in May – makes a passionate bid for their best song.

It’s interesting how elemental your love for a band can be in your late teens. My first real crossover with Echo & The Bunnymen was when it went around the fifth form at Weston Favell Upper School that one of the cool kids, Mick Monroe, who had a wedge haircut and everything, had thrown away all his records except for those by Echo & The Bunnymen, which can surely only have amounted to one LP and some singles at that decisive stage. (A decade later I worked for Mick when he was an art director at a Covent Garden design agency, although I never satisfactorily got to the bottom of whether or not this was a myth. I prefer to print the legend in any case.)

It was through a much closer friend Craig McKenna that I first heard the Bunnymen myself, by which time their resin-coated reputation was sealed – thanks in no small part to Mick Monroe, who also had pleated trousers and blue shoes, items I attempted to carry off myself in those formative years of 1981 and 1982. By 1983, the Bunnymen had gone overground and boys’ hair in the sixth form was uniformly sticking up and smelling of Boots Country Born, but to know their first two albums was still to mark yourself out from the herd. Among the cognoscenti, even in Northampton, long coats were worn and even danced in at discos. By the summer of ’83, our gang were sockless by default. A knot of us travelled all the way to London to see the Bunnymen play the Albert Hall that year and it was religious. (A single printed sheet of paper was left on every seat, imploring, “LAY DOWN THY RAINCOAT AND GROOVE.” We are talking the highest echelons of cool.)

The 12-inch of The Killing Moon – purchased sight unseen and sound unheard with another Bunnyboy, Kevin Pierce, from Our Price in January 1984, the first landmark release of the year – had a live version of Do It Clean on the b-side, recorded at the Albert Hall. We were there. It was all coming together. I thought I’d heard it all, but The Killing Moon, elegant, aromatic, sincere, torrid, spooky, luxurious, deep, wide and long, was a new day dawning. Lush with strings, hushed with brushes, luminous with muted tones, this self-produced mini adventure knows how good it is.

“In starlit nights I saw you,” coos McCulloch, “So cruelly you kissed me.” It is, of course, his own lips that are “a magic world”, and the sky in the sleeve photo that’s “all hung with jewels.” Self-belief is never left in the dressing room with the Bunnymen in their pomp. It’s not always becoming when a band declares itself the best in the world, but that arrogant sense of entitlement can be intoxicating when embedded in the music – and far more palatable from Liverpudlians, I’d argue. It’s like the Bunnymen owned the road.

The nine-minute Up All Night Mix on the 12-inch never outstays its welcome. But the five-minute single version, which bursts at the seams with minor-chord grandeur and lunar melodrama, is more than enough. Kevin and I played it again, and again, and again. And I’m still playing it. Other songs of theirs – songs to learn and sing – are rougher and readier, sexier, rockier and drugsier, and more demanding of the casual listener (Stars Are Stars, Zimbo, The Puppet, Villiers Terrace), but The Killing Moon is an underground band hitting the big time and playing to the stalls, not just the Gods.

The airtight bass of Les Pattinson, those shards of distorted guitar pouring out of Will Sergeant, the late Pete de Freitas’ tribal exactitude, McCulloch’s possessed incantations and killing croon: for the best part of five years, heaven was down here.

I’ll get me coat.

 

The Fire Engines, Candy Skin (1981)

FireEngines

Artist: The Fire Engines
Title: Candy Skin
Description: single
Label: Pop:Aural
Release date: 1981
First heard: 1981

I wrote at great length about “indie” for the mighty – and mightily missed – Word magazine in 2006. They headlined the piece, with typical panache, Wan Love. By “indie”, I meant that multifarious music which sprang forth from the bowels of punk, taking with it the rigid-digit spirit, but pressing that attitude not just into the noise it made, but the means of production by which it distributed that noise. In 2006, I reluctantly wrote indie’s obituary, as its DIY ethic had long since flown the nest, replaced by a cuckoo of workaday guitar and major label largesse disguised as something “edgy”.

In 1981, indie – the abbreviation not really yet in common circulation (I can’t have been the only young person convinced that the “Indies” chart published initially in Sounds pertained to music from the West Indies) – meant something. It meant The Fire Engines. It meant Pop:Aural, a subsidiary of Fast Product. It meant Bob Last and Hillary Morrison, who founded Fast Product and ran it from a tenement flat. It meant Candy Skin.

The scratchy, discordant, Marxist sounds that emanated on Warholian waves from punk-energised cities like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Glasgow and – in the case of the Fire Engines – Edinburgh, did not necessarily seek to destroy, but to enhance, to romanticise, to drag out of the gutter and aim somewhere higher and more intellectual. Led by Davy Henderson – a handsome, windswept, literate pop star who never was, but ought to have been (trading as Win he even had a song used on a McEwan’s lager ad) – the Fire Engines epitomised a movement, especially north of the Wall, whose cultural glue was civic, even economic (the recording of the Fire Engines’ debut is fabled to have cost £46). That such sweet, romantic music arose from dirty urban centres should not surprise archaeologists of Detroit.

The Edinburgh scene also produced the Scars, Josef K, the Flowers, the Rezillos, Shake (I seem to recall), the Prats and Boots For Dancing. I have chosen The Fire Engines to represent the clan, as Candy Skin has never stopped resonating in my heart since I first heard it on John Peel in the earliest 80s. In 1988, as the new kid in the NME art room, I was asked to design and illustrate the paper’s latest compilation cassette, Indie City. Candy Skin nestled on Side 1 between Blue Boy by Glasgow compatriots Orange Juice and Never Been In A Riot by the Mekons (the first ever release on Fast, which actually specialised in Northern English in its early years). I can claim no credit for the intuitive brilliance of the track listing, but Candy Skin was a constant highlight when mainlining that double-cassette with a surfboarding Noddy on the inlay card.

There are a number of sounds which historians should take note of. Chief among them, the lead guitar, which stitches into this ramshackle tapestry one of the great riffs of the new dawn. It defies “scratchy”, and “angular”, and affects something closer to “tingly”. It tingles. A goosebumping ostinato that crystalises everything about 1981 in one electrifying, melodic phrase, augmented thereafter by an entire jumble sale of bashes, squeaks, voices, vibrations and even chocolate box strings, which unite to attain a certain kind of DIY nirvana. Henderson’s deep quasi-croon speaks of a soulful, sometimes operatic ambition that also gave us Billy Mackenzie, Edwyn Collins and Roddy Frame. The sound of young Scotland, indeed.

In February 2006, a trigger for my Word treatise, I’d been for a haircut at Toni & Guy in Reigate, and asked Mel, my young stylist, to take plenty off the back and sides, thin it out on top, hack me out a side parting and leave me a heavy fringe, enough to cover one eyebrow. She commented, “This haircut’s quite fashionable. A lot of the indie bands have this.” RIP indie. Long live the Fire Engines.

Gang Of Four, 5.45 (1979)

Entertainment!

Artist: Gang Of Four
Title: 5.45
Description: album track, Entertainment!
Label: EMI
Release date: 1979
First heard: 1980

Libraries gave me power.

I suspect I first heard this song in 1980, and not in its year of release, as I know for a fact that I borrowed it from Northampton Record Library, an Aladdin’s cave for audiophiles I first tapped into around this time, and which granted me access to a whole range of exciting vinyl long-players, which I hungrily and methodically borrowed from this glorious, state-run, municipal resource: XTC’s Drums & Wires, In The Flat Field by Bauhaus, the Psychedelic Furs’ eponymous debut, The Crack by the Ruts, so many thrilling new wave platters, each one stamped out at a desk, just like a book, except with records, you took the disc out of the sleeve and compared its scuffs and scratches to a card wherein any such imperfections and blemishes would be logged in biro. (A bit like the illustration of a rental van with the scratches drawn in – although I couldn’t have known this at 15.)

Through this route did I come upon Entertainment!, whose most-likely-to single, At Home He’s A Tourist, had crossed my radar via its lyrics in Smash Hits the year previously, but which – as is now legend – had been denied its Top Of The Pops shot because the band refused to amend the lyric about “the rubbers you find” and had thus failed to breach the Top 40. Never mind. Gang Of Four were a band designed to exist outside of the mainstream. I might not have fully understood their Situationist influences or Marxist politics at 15, but I sure liked the idea of what they were saying about consumerism and war and whatever linked guns to butter.

And I sure loved the way they were saying it, with their minimalist arrangements, atonal duets and all that white space which ran through their white funk. Having been intoxicated at the right age by the guttural, inclement fury of punk rock, it was head-turning indeed to hear the elements in Gang Of Four’s sound so clearly separated and slotted back together: the twanging bass, the precise drums, the sparing guitar, and of course, Jon King and Andy Gill’s arresting vocal symbiosis, perhaps never bettered than on Ether, in which King croons about digging “at the root of the problem” and “father’s contradictions” and Gill simultaneously barks out “H-block! Long Kesh!”

Entertainment! turned out to be my favourite album of all time. I loved it in 1980 when I taped it and played the cassette until the magnetic coating was worn off. I loved it again in the mid-80s when, as a student, I finally purchased the LP I’d previously been loaned by the public sector. And I loved it all over again on CD soon after. It literally never fails to excite me. I never saw Gang Of Four the first time around (and have never seen them in revived form), so the music’s hold on me is purely aural. And intellectual and political, obviously. And I think the reason that 5.45 always rises to the top is that it rose to the top 33 years ago. And lodged there.

It may not have the urgency of Damaged Goods, nor the squalling audacity of Anthrax, nor the sensual throb of Tourist, but 5.45 has a simplicity and directness that’s almost a capella. And it has a melodica; perhaps the most effective and beautiful use of that remedial wind instrument in all of post-punk. Of course it begins – as so many of my favourite songs do – with a bare drum beat, typically unshowy and literal from Hugo Burnham, and easy for an aspiring teenage drummer to copy with two rulers on a stool, as I diligently did. Then that polite, wheezy melodica from King. And when Dave Allen’s bass grumbles in, the shooting match begins.

King wonders aloud, “How can I sit and eat my tea with all that blood flowing from the television?” Even as a kid, I understood this. I was not one for the news at that age, but mainly because it all looked so grey and severe at the end of the 70s. When King paints pictures of dead men lying “flat on their backs” (echoing the “beetle on its back” from Anthrax), assassination “down on the street”, and a “blood war” on a “bourgeois state”, it’s no leap to the footage of “guerilla war struggle” that will have filtered into my brain in that decade from unknown zones in Argentina, Nicaragua, Brazil and Guatemala and, closer to home, Northern Ireland (whose troubles were more specifically addressed in Ether). This was vivid stuff. And he said “eat my tea.”

Repetition is a weapon in the Gang Of Four’s best work – honestly, it’s like The Teletubbies, except with Sandinistas – and so it proves with the mantra, “Watch new blood on the 18-inch screen, the corpse is a new personality.” King and Gill sound like they cannot stop singing this until a ceasefire is called, at which we can all get back to the fried egg we have for our “tea”. And it’s called 5.45 – “quarter to six” – could it be any clearer if it was titled After Noah & Nelly?

I wrote recently about how literate pop music was in the 70s and 80s. Gang Of Four may have not quite made it into the charts, but their debut LP did much to rouse me from my apolitical slumber, aged 14 going on 15. Let’s not post-rationalise; it did not “politicise” me on the spot (I wouldn’t become a Neo-Marxist until I’d left school), but from Entertainment!‘s attention-demanding sleeve, with its “red” Indian and its “white” cowboy shaking hands (“He is glad the Indian is fooled – now he can exploit him”), to the unequivocal chants of “H-Block torture!”, it provided a running buffet of food for thought.

I shall remain forever grateful to Gill, King, Allen and Burnham for the factory reset they gifted me. (And I owe a lifelong debt to Northampton Library and its recordings wing, the sort of place the new government in 1979 would have considered surplus to requirements – glad those days are behind us, right?)

Joy Division, She’s Lost Control (1979)

joy_division_unknown_pleasures

Artist: Joy Division
Title: She’s Lost Control
Description: album track, Unknown Pleasures; b-side, Atmosphere
Label: Factory
Release date: 1979
First heard: 1979

How important were Joy Division to me? Vital. I was just getting into punk, which was really new wave or post-punk, in 1979, aged 13 going on 14, and my mind was both alive to possibilities and a closed shop to anything that I didn’t consider – or which wasn’t handed down to me as – “punk”. This was a both confusing and confirming point at which to be exposed to Joy Division, who had grown out of Manchester’s punk scene and discovered a new seam, all of their own. I didn’t live in Manchester, so I hadn’t seen them on Granada Reports or What’s On. I saw them for the first time on September 15 along with anyone outside of Lancashire, Merseyside and Cheshire: on a national BBC2 youth magazine show called Something Else, playing Transmission. You’ve seen the clip. They talk these days of “game-changers” – they talk of them way too much, actually – but this was, well, something else.

Because of the seismic cultural impact of that appearance – this haunted-looking young man Ian Curtis, who’d been on the cover of the NME at the start of the year (I’d just started buying it, my first grown-up comic), throwing shapes that had no geometric name, and repeating this mantra, “Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio“, while three other men, who looked like they’d just clocked off as juniors in an office, one of them with a beard, created this low, menacing industrial rumble around him – I have been tempted to name Transmission as the pinnacle of this short-lived band’s career. It is difficult to beat for a national TV debut. But then they came back on and did She’s Lost Control.

It’s weird to watch the clips again now, as I remember the appearance in black and white. It’s conceivable that I watched the show on the portable TV upstairs if Mum and Dad had been watching the news at the same time, but then again, it might just be that Joy Division, like Woody Allen’s Manhattan – and indeed, Kevin Cummins’ Manchester – will always exist in black and white. They certainly looked at home in grey shirts. But it was the one at the back, flop-fringed Stephen Morris, whose work on She’s Lost Control proved the real revelation for the budding teenage drummer, which I was at that time (I’d talk Mum and Dad into buying me a secondhand snare and cymbal off a kid at school called … Steve Morris), as he used synthesised drum pads, or “syndrums”, to create that double-handclap and space-age boink signature, and the BBC cameras allowed me a good, close look at him doing it. I was mesmerised, by his dilligence behind the kit, and by the sound he made. I was less interested in guitars, which is why I won’t have noticed that the song’s riff is played on the bass, by the man with the beard. It’s radical in so many ways.

The lyric, though, is its killer. We didn’t know then but know now that Curits was not well, and under enormous pressure at home. Within nine months, he would be dead by his own hand, sealing Joy Division’s legend forever and making their next few releases, notably and most painfully Love Will Tear Us Apart and Atmosphere, whose b-side was She’s Lost Control – eerily posthumous. (When the austerely packaged offcuts double Still came out in 1981, I was so excited to hear new material, I got my friend Dave to play me The Only Mistake down the phone, as he got hold of the LP first. That was another contender for their entry in The 143.) In death, Joy Division became a chart act, and as New Order, they emerged a pop group to rival any other in this country. But the strict Joy Division canon comprises Unknown Pleasures and Closer. And while I am a sucker for the funereal grandeur of the latter, it’s the first album that grips the throat and warms the blood (even if Peter Hook thinks it sounds like Pink Floyd and – ironically – feels that the post-punk Joe Meek, Martin Hannett, had “coloured in” their black and white sound).

Back to the lyric of She’s Lost Control. Like “dance, dance, dance, dance, dance“, it has a mantra, the title, which appears as every other line, emphasised as “she’s lost control again,” in case you didn’t get the grinding, terrifying repetition of this female protagonist’s seizures. The details Curtis adds evoke the mundanity of the symptoms of mental and physical decline: “Confusion in her eyes that says it all … she’s clinging to the nearest passer by … she gave away the secrets of her past … and a voice that told her when and where to act.” The man, ill himself, is a poet of the cracks in the human psyche. There but for the grace of some delicate chemical equilibrium, go we all: “And she turned around and took me by the hand and said, ‘I’ve lost control again.'” As fellow Salfordian John Cooper Clarke intones in Beasley Street, “disaster movie stuff.”

It seems quite clear that it’s the singer himself who has “screamed out kicking on his side” and “lost control again.” He certainly expressed himself in many different ways and walked upon the edge of no escape.

Ian Curtis may not have been here for long, but his artistry and suffering cast a long shadow. View those Something Else clips, even if, like me, you think you’ve seen them enough times. Look deep into his wild, raw insomniac’s eyes and hear his cry for help.

And don’t forget to give thanks to Sumner, Hook, Morris and Hannett, without whom, we might not have known that young man’s genius.

 

Clock DVA, 4 Hours (1981)

ClockDVA4hours

Artist: Clock DVA
Title: 4 Hours
Description: single; album track from Thirst
Label: Fetish
Release date: 1981
First heard: 1981

A piano falls from above
And smashes in front of me

There are some songs in The 143 that may only have entered my personal pantheon in the last few years; instant classics, you might call them. There are others which were instant classics when I first heard them – in this case over 30 years ago – but which have never left me in the interim. Those songs that you turn to frequently, and regularly, for sustenance. Not necessarily the most famous songs in the canon, but the ones that literally never fail to do it for you. As The 143 grows, a number of these will crop up: Little Fluffy Clouds, She’s Lost Control, Heart Of Glass, Le Freak. And this.

Because of the vintage, this might be one of those singles that I bought sight unseen – or rather, sound unheard – having liked the name of the band and read a rave review of it in the NME or Smash Hits and then taken a flyer. Or, I could have heard it on John Peel. I have a feeling it’s the former. I started meaningfully collecting seven-inch singles in 1979, suffused with a 14-year-old’s urgency to buy into punk just as it was burning out, and, I admit, dazzled by the “picture sleeves” they almost always came in. (I’ve mentioned my later love of 4AD sleeves; this magpie attraction started with punk single, whose stylish arcana I pored over.) The magazines would illustrate their singles review columns with postage-stamp reproductions of the sleeves of the day, and these were the pocket-money-clutching consumer’s flags.

The sleeve of 4 Hours – an indie single recorded by an unknown-to-me Sheffield industrial-experimental funk-punk outfit comprising Adi Newton and the late Judd Turner whose name couldn’t have been more starkly post-punk if it had tried – was murky and obtuse, but its horror-movie imagery drew you in. Who was that lurking figure, and who were the couple horizontal? The equally murky and obtuse record within revealed the source: “I see two people, asleep,” groans Newton, delivering a protracted fever dream of vivid, cinematic vignettes which to this day never fail to do it for me.

Over a grumbling bass, a blunt-instrument drumbeat and the pained wail of a sax, we are indoctrinated into a neo-noir nightmare of taxi cabs, falling pianos, distant clarinet, stained sheets, indistinct cities (“this could be New York, this could be London, I don’t care any more”), the pressures of some kind of Orwellian statism (“I could go to work, I know where it is … they will not have to force me, I will go there willingly”), black tie, black suit, black case, and what sounds like a “suction entanglement” but may be “such an entanglement”. The groan is augmented by a muttered version of the same lyric, lagging behind, adding to the unease. Hey, this is uneasy listening. I was so taken with the four-minute 4 Hours, I never thought to check out the album, Thirst, and only heard it years later; it was disappointingly not much like 4 Hours, more squonky, more experimental, less linear.

I’ve read that Newton has reconvened Clock DVA many times since they first split in 1981, and you sense that he is driven, creative man, kept going by the more arty pockets of Europe, and long may that be the case. In this one uniquely intoxicating slab of Gothic “pop concrète“, he has sealed his place in the Valhalla of post-punk immortality.

Let us join them in their dreams. We’re only four moments.

The Rakes, We Are All Animals (2005)

TheRakesCapture

Artist: The Rakes
Title: We Are All Animals
Description: album track, from Capture/Release
Label: V2
Release date: 2005
First heard: 2005

My abiding memory of The Rakes is of telling someone off at Alexandra Palace. The London four-piece were supporting Franz Ferdinand – whose jerky art-rock style they shared – at the cavernous barn, and the gig seemed to epitomise what was suddenly right about British guitar music, as the gloomier Editors were also on the bill. I’ve looked it up and it was December 1, so something valedictory about a better year was in the air.

The Rakes had caught my ear with 22 Grand Job the year before, a calling-card song if ever I’d heard one, singer Alan Donohoe’s lyrics almost impenetrable but you got the idea (“22 grand job, in the City, it’s alright”), and you sensed something very local, very contemporary, very British, and keenly if dissentingly observed. Their debut album, Capture/Release, chimed with the post-punk revival being felt from Franz and Editors to all those New York bands we had to beat. You sense that a lot of angular young men were signed up in Franz Ferdinand’s refreshing, strident wake, especially after their Mercury in 2004 for the triple-platinum debut. The Rakes never quite rode the wave, although I still rate Capture/Release. It was as characterful as Donohoe’s Ian Curtis-like dancing.

We went “down the front” to experience his stagecraft close-up, and it was there that much younger, drunker consumers starting bashing into us. It was not a mosh pit, but an element wished to start one, and having been almost knocked off my feet more than once by the same youngsters, I felt the need to have a word. It was probably inappropriate of me, but it was my fortieth year, and I really, really wanted to enjoy The Rakes.

We Are All Animals remains a defining song: built around a bass/drum skeleton that recalls a marginally funkier She’s Lost Control, Donohoe’s staccato, near-spoken vocal invokes Darwinian theory (“We – are – all – ani-mals – who have lost our hair/Re-tained – some of our teeth and gained – a – choice”), the God delusion and the Pandora’s Box of self-actualisation. All this academia fuzzed-up by guitar that crawls over the chorus like tuneful interference, abetted by a brazen use of the keyboard’s “choral” effect adding cheeky portent. This last conceit recalls the theme tune to quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire as much as Carmina Burana by Carl Orff.

This is catchy stuff, with witty lines that stay in the mind, but you can’t walk off into the night chanting its riff like an anthem by Kasabian (or, for that matter, Editors), as it sort of doesn’t have one. It might have been a hit otherwise. It wasn’t even a single, and that’s worth stating, as V2 pulled five off the album, Thriller style, in search of a breakthrough – if you count All Too Human, which was added later. The Rakes never even cracked the Top 20, while Editors reissued everything until they went Top 10.

As fiery as the Fire Engines or Josef K, but with the added oomph we might credit to the crisp, modulated production of future Adele genius Paul Epworth, something told me that The Rakes were into something good on this album, and particularly on this track, where lines like that have no place in a pop song, like, “biologists and chemists reducing our souls to four letters” and “we’re like a masterpiece that’s glimpsed the artist,” play with your brain while messing with your feet.

If the passing brilliance of The Rakes can be reduced down to a single instance, it’s the way Donohoe pronounces “gorillas” in the line, “chimps or gorillas” as “grillers.” I loved him for for it.

After that, it would be frustrating to follow The Rakes’ progress. But they made their mark on me at a vital moment and I love them for that, too. Within a year, I’d be back down the front at Arctic Monkeys gigs at home and abroad, this time facing up to my mid-life crisis by pushing into other people, young and old. We were all animals, after all.