1978, Music

Real Life (1978) by Magazine

As an album recorded by a band featuring the former lead singer of one of the original British punk bands, but manifestly not playing punk rock, I think there’s a temptation to say this record could be the original post-punk record. (It literally is “post punk” in that sense.) That in itself would make this record a big deal.

But the music inside is absolutely more New Wave stylistically than the post punk that would appear in the wake of Public Image Limited.

These are the kinds of concerns that only historians and music nerds care about and really I should just focus on the music itself, instead of trying to categorize it. Because it’s kind of hard to categorize; it’s got a bit of the herky jerky rhythms of American New Wave and the synths of genre as well, but obviously it’s much more British sounding. I have trouble comparing it to too much existing British New Wave because of its reliance on synthesizers – not yet much of a thing on the British music scene, to my knowledge – and because of its abandonment of most of the attitude so essential to both British punk and New Wave. It’s a fairly unique sound, though it does occasionally sound like other bands or other genres.

I think they did become better songwriters later, so I think that makes the record a little less remarkable. But it is still an interesting attempt to chart a new course, it’s just not one that was very influential compared to what PiL and Wire did not long after. (And it’s a little too conventional, really, to be the birth of post punk.)


All lyrics written by Howard Devoto.

  1. “Definitive Gaze” (music by Howard Devoto, John McGeoch) 4:25
  2. “My Tulpa” (music by Howard Devoto, John McGeoch) 4:47
  3. “Shot by Both Sides” (music by Howard Devoto, Pete Shelley) 4:01
  4. “Recoil” (music by Howard Devoto, John McGeoch) 2:50
  5. “Burst” (music by Howard Devoto) 5:00
  6. “Motorcade” (music by Howard Devoto, Bob Dickinson) 5:41
  7. “The Great Beautician in the Sky” (music by Howard Devoto, John McGeoch) 4:56
  8. “The Light Pours Out of Me” (music by Howard Devoto, John McGeoch, Pete Shelley) 4:36
  9. “Parade” (music by Barry Adamson, Dave Formula) 5:08
  • Howard Devoto – vocals
  • John McGeoch – guitar and saxophone
  • Barry Adamson – bass guitar
  • Dave Formula – keyboards
  • Martin Jackson – drums

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