Treading a line between post-punk and dance, the English band Shriekback had only a few minor hits (My Spine (Is the Bassline)
) and then vanished into obscurity, more of a "who were they then" than a "where are they now". They were Carl Marsh, Dave Allen (formerly of Gang of Four), Barry Andrews (formerly of XTC), and Martyn Barker. One notable fan was Michael Mann, who used the band's music in his movies Band of the Hand
from Oil and Gold
) and Manhunter
("This Big Hush"
from Oil and Gold
), and also in at least one episode of Miami Vice ("Underwaterboys"
from Big Night Music
They put out two records on Y Records (Tench
(1983)), two on Arista (Jam Science
(1984), Oil and Gold
(1985)), and two on Island (Big Night Music
(1986), Go Bang!
(1988)). This last album was an obvious push to appeal to a wider demographic. It tanked, and the band soon dissolved.
Except they didn't.
Barry Andrews got Barker and Allen back together in 1992 for Sacred City
, a sort of concept album that was a solid return to form. From there things happened in fits and starts, mostly centered around Andrews. He and all or part of the original members went on to release Naked Apes and Pond Life
(2000), Having a Moment
(2005), Glory Bumps
(2007), and Life in the Loading Bay
(2010). They are currently working on their 13th album.
Lately Barry Andrews has begin blogging on Tumblr
, and in addition to giving teases
of the upcoming album has been posting a bit of history of himself and the band. For fans it's an exciting behind-the-scenes look, but even for non-fans it has a lot of information about the musical landscape of the early-80s.
The notable entries:
Keeping it Real: Defining Moments, ‘Entertainment’, Punk and the Quest for the Authentic.
- A look at punk, post-punk, squatting, and Thatcherian politics.
SQUAT (part 1)
and (part 2)
- Squatting and psycho-drifting, Andrews' early solo efforts
, playing with Robert Fripp's League of Gentlemen.
'All Humming Now.' Situationism, Shriekback and Psychogeography (from Rossmore Road to the Beatles Zebra Crossing)
- The city-obsession that starts with trying to write a non-sentimental landscape song and culminated in Sacred City
Go Bang and after.. Compromise, King Swamp and Butoh
- The story behind the "sellout" Go Bang!
album, and some interesting digs at Dave Allen.
Sacred City (part 1)
and (part 2)
and (part 3)
- An in-depth look at the album that Andrews seems to have the most affection for, drawing together a lot of the strands of the previous works into a whole. Part three talks about the short film he made to accompany the album, and why that was not a good idea.
Inside the Haunted Box of Switches: the keyboard player’s lot is a far from simple one..
- Andrews is a keyboard player, and here he talks about how different of an experience and start that is in pop music than it is for players of other instruments.
Keyboard Playing Part 2: ‘75-79 (or: I'd been to XTC but I’d never been to me..)
- more on being the Keyboard Player and Andrews' stint with XTC.