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Tuesday, July 12, 2005
  We're All Cooking the Same Goose

Magazine: "I Love You You Big Dummy"
The Embarrassment: "Sexy Singer Girl"

A year or two after forming the Buzzcocks alongside Pete Shelley, Howard DeVoto decamped and created the less overtly pop-minded Magazine. One of the first bands to play punk-influenced music that broke from that scene's close-minded doctrine, Magazine helped necessitate the critic's creation of that semantically nebulous piece of jargon, "post-punk". They started up in '77, released their first single, "Shot by Both Sides", early in 1978, and quickly established themselves as a fairly complex and adventurous band operating on the periphery of the punk-rock demimonde. Their best work compares favorably to Wire's Chairs Missing and early Public Image Limited. I'm just starting to get into them, honestly, and have yet to hear much of their catalogue. One of the songs that impressed me most immediately, though, is their cover of Captain Beefheart's "I Love You You Big Dummy". Released as the b-side to "Give Me Everything" in 1978, "Dummy" is more straight-forward than most of Magazine's stuff, the synth hiccups and horn bleats notwithstanding. Still, though, it's an anthemic stomper of a song, with that open-E bass riffing that I love so. In fact, that open-E bass note sounds remarkably like another obscure old chestnut that I've long loved, "Sexy Singer Girl", by the Embarrassment. I believe I've talked about the Embos before, but to refresh, they were an antic punk/new-wave quartet from Kansas in the late '70's / early '80's. Like DeVoto, Embarrassment guitarist Bill Goffrier also moved on to a notable second act, fronting '80's indie stalwarts Big Dipper (who can be heard here covering DeVoto's former partner, courtesy of Mystical Beast). Anyway, "Sexy Singer Girl" is a simple little song, but remains supremely satsifying, in no small part thanks to the afore-mentioned bass-line. To anybody who saw the France try to play this at the Ultramod back in the spring of 2001, I sincerely apologize.
 
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