Thursday 12 September 2019

Live Skull

1984 - 1986

The classic Live Skull line up for me was Mark C, Tom Pain, Marnie Greenholz and James Lo. This combo recorded Live Skull EP (1984), Bringing Home The Bait (1985), Pusherman EP (1986) Cloud One (1986) and that live at CBGB LP which are all choice documents of great Post-Punk 80s NYC noise rock. Pre-Thalia Zedek Live Skull fucking ruled. The ferocious ramshackle charm of these early records is intoxicating. This was a cinema-scope swirling chaotic sonic attack. They had an intrinsic sense of the absurd and macabre that reflected the turmoil that was right outside on their NYC doorstep. They found beauty in the grotesque and revelled in it. 

It's funny, in the mid 80s if you read a sentence containing the words Sonic Youth it would invariably also contain the words Live Skull and Swans. Before Sonic Youth finally hit upon their ecstatic noise-rock heights with their all time classics Sister (1987) and Daydream Nation (1988), Live Skull had already successfully laid the groundwork with their own delirious noise-rock peaks Bringing Home The Bait (1985) & Cloud One (1986). Beyond 1986 they were eclipsed though and Live Skull were done by 1989 thus missing the era of the underground going overground. Now you barely hear them name checked at all, the seminal NYC noise-rock group were then sort of dropped from the historical narrative of underground American rock. Swans got some kind of a post-millennial reputation rehabilitation but Live Skull remain on the outside, languishing in obscurity. God even the fairly impenetrable but awesome noiseniks UT had some reissues and critical attention a while back. 

A campaign is now underway making Live Skull's recordings available once again to the public. At this stage the first (and best) four records have been remastered and added to their bandcamp page. If you love your 80s noise-rock, MX80 Sound, Homestead Records, NZ's scuzzy psych-post-punk groups Scorched Earth Policy, The Max Block etc. (who also existed in this 84/85/86 timeframe) then this is probably your bag...oh and because during 1984-1986 Live Skull were possibly the best band on the planet.

*Also the cover's very funny. I mean a brain in a trophy?! Then the trio of foxy naked ladies running into a mysterious scary sci-fi sea or whatever the fuck's going on there?! This was all part of their outlandish dark charm. Pure pop art gold.

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