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Colossal Youth - Gordonzola

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November 9th, 2015


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01:26 pm - Colossal Youth
I see that there is going to be a 33 1/3 for Young Marble Giants “Colossal Youth” album. I love this album but don't know if I want to read this book. The minimalist mystery of this album is what always intrigued me. When I first heard it, I just couldn't understand where it came from or how it existed. I hear it now and even though its filled with anachronisms in detail and a societal outlook that is hard to explain to anyone born after 1980, I still love it.

Sometimes art needs an explanation, to put it in context, to understand how it came about or how it was a stepping stone to something else. But I prefer this album how I found it, obscure and open-ended. I’m not trying to sound like an old man but the fact that I think most of us teen Americans who heard Young Marble Giants in the ‘80s, first heard them as a song in a mix tape or from than one haunting song on the classic Rough Trade comp “Wanna Buy a Bridge?” Additionally most of us heard them after they broke up, when early punk was become hardcore in the USA, when our music was becoming faster, louder, shorter and more dude-centric.

Kind of the opposite of this:


Young Marble Giants influenced many of the bands I loved in the late ‘80s/early ‘90s but when I first heard them – in the early mid ‘80s -- they sounded like they were from another world. Even more than the non-generic bands that I listened to at the time (Flipper, Arkansaw Man, The Residents… later Tragic Mulatto etc.) I didn’t get them, but I always wanted more. I didn’t really get the subtle differences in English punk/post-punk/new wave etc, but I’ve always liked a good art band. One of any art band’s greatest assets though, is not giving up their influences… to sound like they just came into your head from somewhere where you not only had never been, but a place you couldn’t find on your own.

“Colossal Youth” is haunting, sparse, hinting, political but non-dogmatic, emotional, oddly affecting, and catchy. Somehow it manages to be somehow familiar yet inexplicable at the same time. I love quoting the Big Boys song “Fun, Fun, Fun” at this point of music entries to show how limited the expectation of range punks had in the ‘80s: “I’m a punk and I like Sham./Cockney Rejects are the world’s greatest band./ But I like Joy Division, Public Image too/even though that’s not what I’m supposed to do.” Young Marble Giants were even more outside that realm. Still their songs made it on to mix tapes and were listened to in quieter moments.

I think “Colossal Youth” is a great subject for a 33 1/3 book, I just don’t know what I could possibly learn about the album or the folks who made it that could make “Colossal Youth” any better. On the other hand, I could think of a lot of things that could make it worse.

“Colossal Youth” is simply one of my favorite records of the whole post-punk era:





(You know, I never was a Hole fan so I didn’t realize until right now that they did a cover of “Credit in the Straight World,” -- my anthem of the last month -- that, imho, really missed the whole point. )

Young Marble Giants:


Hole:

Current Music: Colossal Youth

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:villagecharm
Date:November 10th, 2015 07:05 pm (UTC)
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Glad to see you back in these parts. I loved this post, and I love that record. "Final Day" is one of my all-time favorite songs by anyone, and I'm with you: not sure a book could add anything to my experience of this music. I could see a novel or collection of short stories working, but not a straightforward critical/journalistic approach.
[User Picture]
From:gordonzola
Date:November 12th, 2015 01:26 am (UTC)
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LJ is still the perfect place to write like no one is reading.
[User Picture]
From:gypsyecks
Date:November 16th, 2015 08:10 am (UTC)
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i'm so terrible at music that i've never heard of this band or album before. but i liked all the things i clicked/listened to, so thanks for sharing. good stuff. :)
[User Picture]
From:lli
Date:November 17th, 2015 01:30 am (UTC)
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Heh. Thanks for reminding me about "Wanna Buy A Bridge?"
I just went down an internet hole looking for covers of YMG songs.

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