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Thursday, January 29, 2015

(the) Members - 1980 - The Choice is Yours~, Uprhythm Downbeat*

Name: The Members
Album: 1980 - The Choice is Yours~ Uprhythm, Downbeat*
Year: 1980~, 1982*
Style: Ska, Punk, Funk*
Similar Bands: English Beat, Clash, Ventures, Bad Manners, Madness, Buzzcocks, Rifles, The Jam, The Alarm*
One Word Review: Anthemic Power-Surf-Punk~, Discount-Danceclub-Funk*
Based Out Of: Camberley, England
Label: Virgin~, Artista*
 1980 - The Choice is Yours - Cover & Record
  1980 - The Choice is Yours - Back & Record
Uprhythm Downbeat - Cover & Record
 Uprhythm Downbeat - Cover & Record
1980 The Choice Is Yours (1980)
  1. The Ayatollah Harmony 2:45
  2. Goodbye to the Job 2:25
  3. Physical Love 3:20
  4. Romance 3:12
  5. Brian Was 3:28
  6. Flying Again 3:27/
  7. Normal People 3:25
  8. Police Car 3:50
  9. Clean Men 3:57
  10. Muzak Machine 2:48
  11. Gang War 5:27
Uprhythm Downbeat (1982)
  1. Working Girl 4:09
  2. The Family 4:11
  3. The Model 5:10
  4. Chairman of the Board 4:05
  5. Boys Like Us 4:11/
  6. Going West 4:10
  7. Radiodub 5:52
  8. Fire (In My Heart) 4:19
  9. You and Me Against the World 4:22
  10. We the People 5:28
Album Rating (1-10): 9.0~

Members & Other Bands:
Chris Payne - Bass, Vox~* (JC's Mainmen, Adrian Borland & the Citizens, Newtown Neurotics, Gary Numan, Andy Smythe, Dramatis, Tubeaway Army, Visage )
Adrian Lillywhite - Drums, Percussion~* (Bruce Foxton, King, Kristy MacColl)
John Brand - Engineer~
Dick Cuthell - Flugelhorn~ 9Pogues, Eurythmics, Burning Spear, Specials, Selecter, Fun Boy Three, Steel Pulse, Toots & The Maytals, Jade Warrior)
Nigel Bennett - Guitar, Vox~*Keys* (Vibrators, Hugh Cornwell, Duck Sauce)
J.C. Carroll - Guitar, Vox,~*Keys* (The Wise Monkeys, Frank Tovey, Johnny Thunders, Newtown Neurotics)
Nicky Tesco - Vox~* (Stranglers, Newtown Neurotics, Roger Daltrey)
Buzz Carter - Management~
Robin Eggar - Management~
Chris Gabrinski - Photography~
Joe Jackson - Piano~
Rupert Hine - Producer, Keys~
Albie Donnelly - Sax~ (Supercharge, Graham Parker, City Boy, Boomtown Rats, 
Keith Breeden - Sleeve~
Malcm Garret - Sleeve~
Ian Morais - Tape Operator~
Rico Rodriguez - Trombone~ (Jooles Holland, Burning Spear, Toots & Maytales, Steel Pulse, Delroy Washington, Specials, Bad Manners, The Selecter, Ocean Colour Scene, SFA, Amy Winehouse)
James Lebbad - Design Logo*
Howard Fritzon - Art Direction
Dave Stetson - Cover Photograph*
Monica Dee Lenrow - Photography Inner Sleeve*
Dave Allen - Producer, Programmer*
Martin Rushent - Producer, Programmer*
Simon Lloyd - Saxes, Trumpet, Keyboard Programmer* (Bananarama, Ice House, Thomas Dolby, Lords of the New Church, The Damned, Propaganda, Trevor Jones, Outcasts)
Steve (Rudi) Thompson - Sax (X-Ray Specs, Snips, Lords of the New Church)
Ian Grant - Management*
Rhonda Krauss - Hair & Make-Up
Sue Game - Stylist

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of the Members, and from the looks of the two vastly different album covers, they are either clunky new wave or a horror-rockabilly indie band. The first album has cold war politics imagery all over it, and the second album changes up their logo to look like the Cramps and the band looks slightly menacing, standing in some fire escape stairwell. I bought these albums separately, hardly believing it was the same band, once I filed them next to each other, which was further enforced by the fact that the albums are on two different labels.

Album Review: The Members were one of the original bands to combined Reggae and Punk rock, starting back in 1977. The second of the two albums I have here was a lighter, more ska-reggae influenced album, and even released in the US a full year before it was renamed and released in their homeland. Guitarist JC Carroll has scored a couple of films including Don Juan DeMarco and a Joe Strummer documentary. Like the Dead Milkmen after them, they were from the suburbs, and sang in a witty and imaginative manner. As the times changed, their sound altered from one album to the next, from a Buzzcocks and Power-Pop rawness to a more produced sound with much more brass, evoking later period Clash and a little English Beat.

“The Ayatollah Harmony” is an instrumental that illustrated the reggae beat of rhythm guitar with a bit of a neurotic and dark new wave/punk tempo to sound like the Clash. It brings in surf guitar to take the lead like the Ventures.
“Goodbye to the Job” starts with a rolling drum beat, and stop start tempo. The heavy British vocals begin sounding like Bad Manners or like gruffer Madness. The chanting choir of vocals at the chorus gives an impression of a working class.
“Physical Love” starts out reserved, but ready to explode with its building chords. It relaxed for the moment with a cowbell, and Clash like guitars. The harmonized choir of vocals makes up the chorus. There is a lot of general energy in the singer’s voice, as it hiccups over the melody, but the song wavers in a middle ground that is neither a ballad nor a driving jumping song.
“Romance” was a single. It is composed of a general reggae back beat and a bouncy bass line. The vocals are a deep nasally British sound holds down a basic sing-song melody. This track involves some Madness-like spoken sections and steel guitar surf effects. This is a toe-tapping and friendly skanking song.
“Brian Was” fades up from a very quiet place. The vocals are quiet and polite at first as the momentum builds; it feels like a less-controlled Elvis Costello song. Mid song, it turns into a power pop chanting anthem.
“Flying Again” was also a single. It enters with a rolling drum loop, and is supported by power chords, neurotically pulsing along. This could easily be classified as power-pop punk. The bridge to the chorus builds up slightly off key, only to level out with a catchy hook based on the song title.

“Normal People” starts right off with a straightforward, driving, energetic slam dancing punk rock song with a catchy edge akin to the Buzzcocks. The breakdown takes all the momentum out of the song. It quiets the music down to light drums, faint guitars and the bass beat keeping time. But it has a building potential, and once the spoken word vocals find the phrase to repeat on, they blast off.
“Police Car” has a jangly guitar played precisely, and the song becomes a dark alley Clash-like song, with echoing bully vocals for the chorus, reminding me of the Rifles, who copied the Jam.
“Clean Men” brings some horns into the mix, bringing the jammy slow side of Ska & reggae to the forefront. This reminds me of a couple different Madness songs.
“Muzak Machine” throws a familiar posh doorbell melody played by guitars to start off the song, and it is a driving Buzzcocks type song with a little extra powerpop added in. The chorus is not as obvious, the first time around, but by the second one, it jumps out and builds with applied instruments to the end of the song.
“Gang War” is much lighter, with a barroom piano and bass driving the song in the intro. It moves out of the piano pub and into the street with a pleasant blue collar brawler’s anthem. It feels like a romantic memory describing a violent situation perhaps current, or perhaps of the singer’s youth. Squealing brass matches the melody sax, as the song fades out chanting the title over and over again.

“Working Girl” was apparently a huge hit in the US. And it follows up on the dark bass lines and a little reggae rhythm guitar from the first album. The sound is much more produced and feels like more generic 80’s middle America New Wave (Jessie’s Girl) rather than anything with authentic emotion from the first album.  
“The Family” kicks off with an artificial power guitar, and brass, and the song takes on a sweaty pastel Miami Vice nightclub vibe. The basic melody still feels rooted in the Clash.
“The Model” slows things down with a detective reggae tempo. The horns punctuate the verse sections, and the instrumental choruses are just chill. They lose their focus and just meander around for a while, after what feels like 10 minutes (but is only 4) before one last run through with the horns, and a hiccupping skipping sample (think English Beat) and a horns fade out.
“Chairman of the Board” is a nice steady driving song made interesting with the horns. It feels like a cheap imitation of the Clash, but once you are in there at a live show, I’m sure you would forget all else and just embrace the good vibes. It feels like they ran out of ideas, and just let things ramble in this and the song right before.
“Boys Like Us” has a much more funky approach, as it is a slow parliament vibe. The vocals lead is much deeper like INXS or the Soup Dragons, and are more relaxed. For the chorus, they request a call and response from the band. It evokes a little cheese hired-for-a-party feeling that is trying to be funky. And it fades out as if the party ship is returning back to its own planet, which is just one band member’s apartment behind some 7-11.

“Going West” continues the funky vibe to side two. I’d consider this more of Funk-a-delic influenced than reggae for the majority of the song. The horns show little reggae themes in the chorus. And before bringing anything catchy, the song just quietly fades out.
“Radiodub” was a hit single in Australia. With a reverberating bass beat, and echoing effects, the song carries a bit of a Gang of Four, broken time signatures and angular chords, but those elements are embedded in computer synthesized effects. It is mostly an instrumental, with a few echoing shout-vocals. It really feels like a dance remix, which I think it is (dub). As it builds to the end, there are lazer sounds, cross fading and layers of vocals.
“Fire (In My Heart)” is another example of Clash like jangly punk with is bare bones music and mostly a beat keeping it alive. The horns also add to the song, and the chorus of call and response singing makes it quite anthemic, and a little like the Alarm. But like most of the other tracks, the song tends to meander and grow tedious.
“You and Me Against the World” is a slow swaying side to side acoustic ballad. The vocals are extra deep. The sway gently becomes a swagger by the chorus, with a chanting group of vocals. I think it is trying to be soulful in a country-manner. It is thoughtful, but not that interesting of a song.
“We the People” is gritty and power hungry. The vocals are sloppy-nasally, and are thrown over a marching tempo. The chorus is just the title of the track sang by the lead and a chorus of voices at different pitches. The horns are used minimally to accent the melody nicely. Again, they use a very anthemic way to end an album. The tone of the song for the verse reminds me a lot of the Alarm’s The Stand with the way the vocals are near-spoken over the song. It is a steady and repetitive song that goes on for a little too long.

Stand Out Tracks: Musak Machine~

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